If you’re following me on Instagram (and of course you are, right?), you’ll know that I was at a photoshoot last week. I can’t wait to tell you a whole lot more about the event and share some of the pictures I get from the incredible photographers who were there. I also went to a girl geek brunch, which was a ton of fun and really nice as a way to meet some cool ladies who might someday form part of my Arizona social circle. But it made me ponder more about my geek cred, and what makes me a geek or what kind of geek am I?
I guess the reason for this is two-fold. The photoshoot was great and a wonderful reminder that I’m a creative being, and that this corner of the internet is unique. I remember looking for geeky mom blogs when I was knocked up and not really finding them, which is part of how I decided to start my own. One of the cool ladies at the event said she loved my niche, and that I should go even geekier… I think I knew what she was trying to say, too. But does that then make me fall into some kind of mom-geek-gatekeeping?
At the brunch, I think I was about mid-level obvious geek – I have funky hair and nails, and a clear affinity for the gaming conversation, but I didn’t wear one of my specific gaming related t-shirts or my Tardis earrings. I wasn’t grilling the other ladies on their geek credentials or something, but we did have a great conversation about gatekeeping in geek life, and the ways fandoms work. So, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the subject.
What Kind of Geek am I? – Gatekeeping
In case you don’t know about gatekeeping, it’s a phenomenon that I think is common across a range of fields, but is particularly problematic for women geeks. It’s that thing where you might wear a t-shirt with your fav superhero on it, but as a woman, you’re scoffed at, asked if you ever read the original comics, asked if you even know XYZ about the character.
In gaming, I experienced this a lot. I’d talk about being a gamer, or a JRPG fan, or whatever else. Beyond the true idiots who might just respond with “oh, so you played The Sims?” (no offense to the Sims, but it was originally marketed to girls aged 9-14 and dismissed by most men as a fake game for girls) there were even people who might have meant well who were pretty awful about my passion for gaming. I’d say I was a Final Fantasy fan, had played all the games from the very first one on NES, but that wasn’t enough. How many times had I played FF8? Did I find all the hidden weapons? If I REALLY like JRPGs, I had to have also played this other title, and that one, and that one.
It’s something I try not to do. If you say you love gaming but the last time you played was back on the older consoles, or you’re an arcade fiend, or you are a pinball wizard, that’s awesome and I’m glad you have things you like. I really do try hard not to judge, not to get into gatekeeping, not to tell people that they can’t really enjoy something because they aren’t as passionate or knowledgeable as someone else who also enjoys something. As such, while I’d love to feature more geeky stuff on my blog and on my social channels, it’s important to me that no mom ever feels like she isn’t geeky enough to be a part of my tribe of geeky moms. We already struggle with feeling good enough as moms, or good enough in our jobs, or pretty enough or thin enough or whatever else – I never want to make anyone worry if they are geeky enough.
So, with that, here are some of the geek things I enjoy.
What Kind of Geek am I? – Gaming
The first thing that comes to mind with my geek cred is my lifelong love of gaming. I’ve been playing games since I was a little girl on the NES, then the SNES, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and now PlayStation 4. I also had a Nintendo Wii and Wii U along the way, as well as a DS and 3DS. Then there are still the games I played on Mac and PC.
I generally prefer single player, story/character-driven experiences. I loved Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana and Secret of Evermore back in the day, and continued to play all the numbered Final Fantasy games except XI. I’ve adored pretty much all things Bioware, so Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Horizon Zero Dawn was the first game I ever platinumed. But I also enjoy 4X games and have sunk far too many hours into Civilization titles. Then there’s my love of Stardew Valley, which finally abated. I’m an Assassin’s Creed fan and love pretty much any ninja/stealth game, especially if it includes hiding dead bodies in the environment (Mark of the Ninja, OMG!). I have enjoyed a couple co-op games, like Helldivers and Alienation, but I’m not really a fan of shooters or PvP games.
Oh, and I also like board games and unique card games. I have some amazing memories playing Gloom, Exploding Kittens and Funemployment with friends, as well as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride and a strange but wonderful Wikipedia game.
What Kind of Geek am I? – TV/Movies
I’m a bit of a mixed bag on this one. I love some superhero content, but I’m not a sucker for all of it. I thought Wonder Woman was so well done, and I found Black Panther even more inspiring for women. Seriously, Shuri needs her own spin-off as a Disney princess or something, because I simply adore her and need to see so much more of her. But I’m not a pure Marvel fangirl. I’ve seen most of the movies and enjoyed them, but I’m not going to go seek out the ones I missed. And the Netflix original series were good, but the only one that really grabbed me was Luke Cage – the rest I quit after a couple episodes.
On the other hand, I LOVE Black Mirror, and I watched the full range of Netflix geek stuff, like Stranger Things, Sense 8, 3%, The OA and whatever other random SciFi I’m forgetting now. I really enjoy Doctor Who, but I’ve only watched the modern series and not the older ones. I’ve also only rewatched a few episodes, so please don’t expect me to quote lines with you.
I’ve watched all the early Star Wars movies a few times (missed the most recent ones thanks to mom life), and I’ve seen my fair share of Star Trek films and series, too. I like both universes a lot, mainly because of the allegories and symbolism rather than the true stories or characters. But Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher were amazing, and awesome geek lady role models.
I think Disney now counts as geek culture, too. Or so I’m told. I obviously saw all the early Disney movies, and even the more recent films. I always imagined myself as Belle, mainly because I was a bookworm and would have fallen in love with that library… and because I liked men who were a bit gruff and rugged. I like the way the modern princesses have evolved, and Moana is all kinds of great.
What Kind of Geek am I? – Books and Comics
I am a self-proclaimed bookworm. I learned to read from a very young age, and to be honest, I don’t have any memories from before I could read. It’s just always been something that I could do, which is why it’s something I want to start teaching Harley soon. I’ve always wanted her to be a bookworm, and she shows tons of interest in books and reading, which makes me ridiculously happy.
Right now, I’m on an SF kick, particularly Afro-futurism but expanding to a wide range of other SF. I’ve also been trying to read more SF written by women, in large part because I find the characters more interesting and varied and the storylines more intriguing. I have read a lot of the classic SF and fantasy stuff, and many of the “must read” books on the list. Some of them have stood the test of time in the best possible ways, while others have simply become far too dated to enjoy as anything other than an “oh, so that’s how this other author I like was inspired”.
Some of those must reads are great, though. I read all the books in the Harry Potter series, and from book four I had them delivered on the day they were released thanks to Amazon – I swear, we should all be sad that Instagram wasn’t around back then because the packaging for those were AWESOME. I also read the Hunger Games on a weekend away, and of course I read The Lord of the Rings (although I could never get into The Hobbit). Oh, and can we all agree that the best kids SF was A Wrinkle in Time and The Dark is Rising? SO GOOD!
That said, becoming a mom seriously cut down on reading time. I have made it a point to always read before bed, but when I’m often only crawling into my bed after 10 at night, and need to stop reading by 11 at the latest or else live with far too little sleep, my reading time is severely limited and my to-be-read pile seems to be growing faster than I can get through it.
I used to have a decent collection of comics and graphic novels. We sold a bunch of them before we moved, only bringing a scaled down version with the most important titles. However, as much as I’ve enjoyed certain stories and ideas, I don’t tend to reread my comics often, and I’m not one to debate comics vs other media. I don’t know the original storylines from most Marvel or DC comics and generally stick to reading the Vertigo and Dark Horse stuff instead, like Chew, Locke and Key and The Unwritten. I haven’t actually bought any comics in years, so I’m probably behind on everything and have pretty much zero geek cred in this department.
What Kind of Geek am I? – Fashion…
Not quite sure how much I can say here. I used to have my whole t-shirt collection provided to me by swag bags and giveaways as a video game and tech journalist. Before we moved, though, I realized that I didn’t really LOVE most of the shirts. They either didn’t fit me properly, or I didn’t care about the game. So I gave the majority of those shirts away. I still have a couple, either from awesome games I want to support or the Evolve stuff where the merch lasted longer than the game. I do have a beloved N7 hoodie, though (see Bioware love above) and I continually check out their merch to see if I could get more stuff on sale. I’d also like some Assassin’s Creed hoodies, but I now live in the desert and I’m not sure how many hoodies I can justify.
I feel most like myself with funky hair and funky nails. I’m not sure if this is a geek thing or a me thing, but it’s how I feel best. Black hair with funky colored streaks or section, dark nails or crazy nail art – it’s all part of my identity and how I feel best. I’d love to dress like a steam punk lady, but I also like fun 1950s swing dresses. Mostly, I’ve become a yoga pants kinda mom what with working from home and all that, and I’m okay with that.
What Kind of Geek am I? – Nerd Stuff and Parenting
So, it’s something I write about often but I’m not sure I’ve ever been super clear about why. I want to pass the love of geek stuff on to my kid. I’d love for her to become a gamer, for her to become a bookworm, for her to enjoy some of the same fandoms that I do. But even more than that is all the nerd stuff.
Like any parent, I want to give my kid the best possible start in life. That means helping her to hit all her milestones, and even surpass them. I want to register her at a local school that does immersion Mandarin so that she can grow up bilingual. I want to teach her to read from a really early age. I want to take her with us when we travel the world, let her experience different cultures and lifestyles. I want to do activities to help her see the joy in engineering, science, technology, art, design, as well as all the physical stuff like rock climbing, ballet, gymnastics or whatever else she likes. She is such a sponge at this point, and I want to help give her the best start by showing her that all of those things are fun and exciting, so that she can try it all and then decide what she likes as she gets older.
So child development, and the science behind it, is incredibly interesting to me. It’s why I share so many thoughts on the subject, and hopefully make it easier for you if you’re looking for fun ways to help your child grow up to be a fun, empathetic, emotionally-aware genius.
What kind of geek are you? Do you have certain fandoms that you enjoy? Do you like seeing the child development stuff, or do you wish I’d share more of the gaming and books, or both?