Geek Girls (2018)
Release Date: March 19th 2018
FOR TICKETS, PLEASE VISIT https://au.demand.film/geek-girls/
The issues explored in Gina Haras’ documentary, “Geek Girls”, may cause people to question whether or not these stories are exaggerated, or whether they are really relevant in our modern day society; after all, the fact of the matter is, in recent years, society has in fact ‘grown up’. The very notion of racism and sexism, whilst not the ugly beast it once was however, still lurks and haunts us from the shadows.
The disappointing aspect of this oppressive side of geek and nerd culture is that we all share a common interest; a game, a movie, a show, a science. A common interest that contains every building block for a mutual respect between each other, but instead becomes course for challenge of ownership or competition. The ugly truth behind that is cemented within differences of race and gender. These are the often untold stories, shared by various groups of women, either working within male dominated industries, or simply trying to excercise a freedom to express their passions and hobbies, without being shunned or ridiculed.
Whilst campaigns like #metoo, amongst others that almost seem like taboo to even mention are considered to be exaggerated accounts of attention seeking individuals, the underlying fact is that there are voices here desperate to be heard. Breaking into any industry that is predominantly filled with men is not a simple undertaking; I can imagine myself in a room full of women discussing my favourite film. Whilst exciting, there is still the feeling of awkwardness and being singled out as the only male in the group. This scenario is going to go one of two ways. In the first, I am included in the conversation like a regular person, passionate about the topic being discussed. In the second scenario, I will be shunned, and ignored, whilst they keep the conversation within their own female alliance. There is however a third scenario, which is all far too common when the gender roles are reversed, and a female is the one trying to become part of a conversation between men, and this is often summed up in a two words; sexism and objectification. This is a truth that is resounded time and time again within Gina Haras’ documentary. “Girls dont play games”, “Eat a $%#^”, amongst countless of other inappropriate messages that cross our digital highways.
Whilst I widely accept the difficulties these women face in embracing the geek culture, there is a very common misconception embodied within this film; the notion that it is just women who are frowned upon and ridiculed because of their hobbies and pastimes. This could not be further from the truth and is something that even I, a grown adult man has had to endure my entire life.
Working in a professional IT field, admitting that we play games, or enjoy anime, feels like you are opening yourself up to an onslaught of ridicule. I recall having dinner at an interstate work training event with a colleague where we basically spent an hour tip-toeing around the subject, talking about sports and fishing before we finally acknowledged our keen interests in video game design and string theory. Why couldn’t we just make a statement as simple as “I play video games”? Why did we have to dance around the subject? The unfortunate reality is that our hobbies are considered childish and abnormal. We are looked down upon because the “norm” tells us we should get a job and stop playing games. Games are for kids. Get married, buy a house, have kids. I’ve had a job since i was seventeen, I’ve been married for almost nine years. I have a house. And in my free time, I run a gaming website and game servers for the community. Why can’t I enjoy my video games whilst you enjoy your sports? Why can’t I watch a film, whilst you work on your car? Why can’t I attend a gaming convention, whilst you go camping?
There is one statement that catches my attention; “Maybe these people legitimately don’t know that there are female gamers out there”. I think back to my own upbringing. Boys played video games, girls played with dolls. This isn’t me making a sexist statement, but is in fact my upbringing. I couldn’t name a single girl in my primary school, secondary, or university that played any games. Growing up, I genuinely was unaware the girls played games.
The question is, who is to blame? It’s a tough question, without a straight answer. Do we blame the parents that keep their young girls from playing with games, sports, and superheroes, because that’s what boys do, and respectable young girls should be doing more feminine things? Or do we blame the industry and its portrayal of the women in it? There are many sides we can point our finger towards, but at the end of the day, neither a single film, nor a single movement, whether feminist or other, is enough to instigate change; but it serves as an important piece to lay the foundations of which this change is to be built upon. Parents need to embrace their children’s interests, which have the power to ignite a life long passion that make a valuable contribution to this industry or culture as a whole. Like Jamie Broadnax puts it, they’re “not ever going to infringe on your space, we’re here to add to it”.
The resounding message in this film however is loud and clear, and echoes this websites’ core ideas and beliefs;
“We love gaming together. We don’t care who you are, where you’re from, age, colour, or gender….
To you we say, Welcome to the family.”
Geek Girls is Screening in Australian Cinemas March 19th 2018. For tickets, please visit https://au.demand.film/geek-girls/