Thursday, July 25, 2013

Little Geek Girls: Don't Say Superheroes are "Just for Boys"

On Tuesday, Kirk Hamilton at Kotaku shared a music video by The Doubleclicks entitled "Nothing to Prove."  I'll be honest and say that the song itself doesn't do much for me and sounds a bit like a song that would be performed by Carrie Brownstein on an episode of Portlandia, though I guess comparing a song to a song by a member of Sleater-Kinney isn't exactly an excoriating review. The aesthetics of the song notwithstanding, it was the visual content of the music video that really resonated with me. In particular the woman holding the "Don't tell my daughters that Lego, Robots, and Superheroes are for boys."

That sentence struck me like lightning and with almost perfect timing. As regular readers of this blog know, I am the father of two young girls I call History and Mystery in my blog posts and who are the two "Twin Princess Superheroes" referred to in the right sidebar. To give you a picture, this is them on a "Fancy Day."

As you can see, they are wearing Fancy Nancy-esque clothing with sunglasses, domino masks, and History is holding forth a Captain America shield. This is them at their "Princess Superheroiest," well accepting when they where their Bell and Aurora dresses kitted with Merrida bow and arrow and Iron Man masks and "Boomers." All of which is to say that they have acquired many of their mom and dad's geek obsessions. I cannot express how much fun it is imagining playing D&D with the twins when they get older. I'm giddy right now thinking about it.

As you might guess, my daughters live a pretty happy life. They have parents who share their interests and who play are willing to play any game or support any interest. But that's not to say that these young innocents haven't already faced the dreaded "you aren't allowed to be interested in that" assertion by some of their peers. There was one student at their school - a student that History had a crush on no less - who saw that History and Mystery were wearing superhero tennis shoes (Cap and Iron Man) and who took it upon himself to point out to my daughters that "Superheroes" are for boys. What's more, the boy also pointed out the "Blue" is for boys too.



Are you kidding me?! This kid tried to lay claim to a color? Ugh.

Back to the story. This young boy's attack upon their preferences was the first time that my daughters had been told that something was outside their purview. Sure, Jody and I have told the girls that we cannot afford certain things or that they have to wait until they are "bigger kids" to play Advanced Squad Leader with dad, but we've never told them that any given entertainment was reserved for a particular subset of society. Jody and I find that concept to be absurd on its face. No one is going to stop me from DVRing REAL HOUSEWIVES (OC and Jersey only), and certainly no one is going to tell Jody she cannot watch JUSTIFIED or THE AVENGERS because she's a woman.

So after this boy attacked my daughter's love for superheroes Mystery comes home weeping. She's upset that she's no longer allowed to like Captain America - who has fought off more Closet Monsters than I care to imagine - because he's for boys. Needless to say, it didn't take me long to inform my daughter that Captain America is for everyone and to give Mystery several real world examples of the women in my and Jody's life who are fans of "Steve." After which we watched a couple episodes of EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES and called it good. My daughters seemed satisfied. Heck, History started wearing blue (Mystery's favorite color) in solidarity with her sister.

But the story doesn't end with having a supportive mom and dad who have supportive friends. Sadly, this little punk has already sown the seed of a mental weed that must be constantly pursued and extracted as quickly as possible. I've already had History ask me if there REALLY are any female race car drivers and heaven knows what the next moment will be. One thing I do know, I'll have to be vigilant. It's no longer enough to just share the things I'm passionate about with my daughters. I now have to be prepared to help my daughters defend their enjoyment.

I'm happy to do it, but it's something that shouldn't have to be done. Stop attacking "Fake Geek Girls." Some of the kindest, warmest, and giving people I know are Geek Girls (yes I'm talking about you Jody, Susan, Shawna, and America...and many others). There is nothing fake about them.

And for those of you who spend the time "vetting" to see if a "Fake Geek Girl" is actually a real geek. You know that vetting time would be far more enjoyable if it was just a normal conversation where you both geek out right? Sure, you might end up fighting about whether Alan Scott or Hal Jordan are the better GL or how big a jerk Dan Didio is, but I guarantee that you will be more likely to leave that conversation with a friend than you will if you begin your "conversation" with an oral exam in which you scrutinize even the slightest error.

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