A sermon my minister gave on medication yesterday made me think about the fake geek girl “debate” that has been raging across the Internet. She wasn’t talking about chemicals like Zoloft, Cymbalta, or even the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Anything can be used as a medication, she said, if a person is using it to avoid pain or discomfort.
My minister illustrated her point by invoking a scene from Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451. Guy Montag, the main character, enters his living room and proceeds to read a book of poetry to his wife and her friends. This action may seem innocuous, but Montag lives in world in which books are burned with zeal and people are medicating themselves against reality by administering a dose of 24/7 entertainment.
Soon after Montag reads the poem, one of the women starts to sob. She gets angry about how awful the poem made her feel. But instead of owning up to the fact that she has been shielding herself from sadness all her life, she blames Montag. She makes him responsible for her unpleasant experience.
Thanks to my minister, I think I have an idea why the fanboy rage has been burning so bright this year — at least when comes to the antagonism surrounding female cosplayers.
Women who dress up as female characters from comics, video games, or television have the potential to make male fans associate unpleasant feelings with characters they have idolized for years.
Sure, some will commend the effort that women put into bringing a character to life. But others will be disappointed by her portrayal of, let’s say, Power Girl. They’ll complain that her hair is the wrong color, her boobs are too small, or that she’s “too fat” to pull off the outfit. They also have to confront the possibility that, contrary to the scenario that plays out in their head when they masturbate, this real-world version of Power Girl may have no interest in sleeping with them.
Rather than accepting this disappointment, or admitting that it might stem from fantasies fueled by inaccurate and hypersexualized portrayals of women in media, some men have chosen to lash out at women. They’ve made it clear that they want women to take responsibility for the letdown they experience when their expectations aren’t met, or the unshakable lousiness that comes with being rejected.
Yet one of the hallmarks of maturity is acknowledging that how you manage your feelings is your responsibility. Yes, there are times when other people should be held accountable for triggering unpleasant emotions. An overbearing boss, for example, who berates you and holds a pink slip over your head, should receive blame for the fear and anxiety you experience when your livelihood is threatened on a daily basis. But there’s a huge difference between sustained psychological abuse and someone popping your fantasy bubble with a reality pin. Recognizing that difference is part of being an adult.
Geek women have fantasies about men that are based on unrealistic expectations too. The difference is that, to the best of my knowledge, geek women haven’t threatened a man for daring to ask questions that might inject some reality into their fantasies, they haven’t targeted a man for failing to meet their expectations, and even if geek men fall short (and some definitely have), I have have yet to see a woman use their disappointment as justification for spreading malicious memes around the Internet.
People who use fantasies to medicate themselves against the potential pain of social interaction with the opposite sex have no one to blame but themselves for loneliness and hurt feelings. That realization, of course, is difficult to accept, which is why many fanboys would rather lambast fake geek girls than swallow the bitterest pill of them all.