Misogyny – a central theme in geek culture? And its greatest threat?

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The picture above is from the great Tumblr site Repair Her Armour.

It is, as its creator puts it, a blog:

“[…]dedicated to show and change the looks of ridiculous female armors (and other outfits) that women tend to have in media; such as games and comics.”

That line reminds me of a certain favourite Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, where the two are reading comics (oh, the meta…)

Their dialogue is about one of the heroines in the comic book they’re reading, and goes as follows:

Hobbes: Is one of her superpowers being able to fit that figure into that suit?
Calvin: No, all the Amazon women can do that.

I mean, anyone reading a classic JLA comic – or any other superhero comic for that matter – must at some point have wondered how in the hell the female heroes actually got their costumes on….and whether all the male heroes were asexual, or perhaps wearing tights in order to keep everything in place…

The average heroine has a figure that would put most porn actresses to shame – and can’t really be that practical when fighting crime…most of them would struggle with clasping their hands together in front of them without their breasts doing a popcorn imitation. OK, the costumes might serve as a distraction, but it’s basically got the same problems as capes:

Even if we look at some of the strongest heroines in geek culture, such as Lara Croft, you’ll find that they fit the mold, so to speak. Lara’s breast size increased rapidly from version to version of the Tomb Raider series, and while she might not wear an outfit like the one below, from Broken Armour, I challenge you to guess whether the animators spent more time on animating her jumping between ledges or her crawling around on all fours, booty pointing towards the player.

Here’s the broken armour outfit…which is actually included for its modesty:

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Look at the hit series Big Bang Theory. In it, the scientific, smart and successful women have to have certain physical and mental defects, while aspiring to be more like the main heroine is Penny, a blond, very attractive woman who might have little to no success in her aspirations, is far from as intelligent as the other women – but is sexy and the centre of attention for all the geeky scientists, who, when push comes to shove, are more interested in the fit, young doe, than in the strong women. One great example is the scientist Leslie Winkle, who has a short affair with Leonard, but clearly upsets the balance of things by being a strong woman….

Recently, we’ve had several cases of women within or on the periphery of gaming and geek culture being on the receiving end of some pretty horrific treatment – mostly, it seems, because they’re women. Women who don’t fit the mould that has cast anyone of their gender as over-sexualised and to a large extent subservient to men.

OK, this might not be something that’s unique to gaming and geek culture. Sadly, it’s more or less everywhere you look.

It is, however, worrying for someone who likes to think of himself as a geek – as someone who loves computer games, comics, science and all things internet.

I’ve always thought that geek culture was very much rooted in science fiction, in the sense that it is somehow about moving forward towards a better future, or at the very least a future where killing happens in virtual environments and not in actual reality.

I think and hope that it can bring us forward by being based on imagination, dreaming, creating and sharing through mediums such as the internet. That might actually move us towards the Singularity where man and machine meld.

For that to happen, I think that the inherent value of the culture needs to be more obvious to people, who like to dismiss it as consisting of a bunch of teenage boys. OK, they might be really good with programming, but no way are we letting them control parts of our society…wait….they are the guys with facebook, google and all of the smartphone apps…damn….

So some of the people who you could say belong to geek culture are already powerful. And Hollywood sure loves it some superheroes. In other words, you could argue that this is the time that might belong to geek culture. If the culture doesn’t shoot itself in the foot by being inclusive – but only for 49 per cent of the population…it might be an argument with flaws, but the image below speak a 1000 words about what the current situation is like within at least parts of geek culture, an why women might feel excluded from it:

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