Nothing to Prove

It’s funny, isn’t it? No matter what community you belong to there’s always someone who thinks they have a little more right to be there than you do. We’ve all encountered them; those bullies who puff up their egos by testing your knowledge and brandishing you a failure if you don’t bash the pretend buzzer quickly enough. As if being able to rattle off a list of facts makes their interest in the subject infinitely more valid than yours. Just like all bullies, making you feel less adequate is only a way of covering up how threatened they feel by you; pushing their awkward insecurities down like an overfilled rubbish bin they can’t be bothered to empty. Still, it’s not nice. It’s rotten. I fucking hate bullies!

I am not in any way cool. I might be infatuated with the beauty industry, keep my eye on fashion and buy clever ingredients to cook sexy food, but I’m also a massive geek.

I’ve played video games since I was a little kid and, weird as it is, I got so involved with the stories in both Red Dead Redemption and The Walking Dead video game that I shed a little tear at the end of each. I don’t care. Red Dead Redemption was incredible. If I could go back in time I would wipe my memory of the RDR plot so I could enjoy the story in all its gun-toting glory all over again. What a beautiful use of time travel technology that would be. And just so you know, my John Marston was Hugh Jackman. See? A great hunkering geek.

I’m also a very long-time professional wrestling fan. Being a wrestling fan is like holding a trump card in the Geek Olympics. Slam it down on the table and you’re immediately a gold medalist. Nobody can beat you. It is the least cool thing on the planet to be a wrestling fan. We’re all weirdos. Try being a woman in your early thirties telling people you spend a lot of time watching greasy boys and girl running round in Lycra jumpsuits pretending to beat each other up. They look at you funny. That’s OK. I think it makes me more interesting.

What’s always curious though is how unwelcoming geeky communities can be. I wrote a piece on a while back on why some wrestling fans are so determined to be mean to each other. But when I watched the music video at the bottom of this post this morning it reminded me of how women in traditionally geeky groups can feel like they have to prove their worth to that family. I’m a little sad that it still goes on.

When I launched in 2009 I changed my nickname ‘Rae’ to ‘Ray’ to be deliberately vague. There weren’t that many women writing about wrestling at that time and I thought I might squeeze through the gate of the wrestling boys club if, just for a moment, they thought I was a dude. Anyone who read anything I wrote or listened to my couple of early podcasts would certainly have figured out I was a lady, but it served its purpose.

I would never even dream of doing this now. A lot has changed for me in these four years. I grew into myself. I own being a woman now. Some women still feel like they have something to prove to the mouth-breathing, self-appointed guardians of  geek world though.

Here is my advice to women – especially young women – having their fun ruined by silly boys who think girls can’t be as geeky as they can. Stop playing their game. Don’t choose an ambiguous name so they’ll think you’re a guy. Be yourself, don’t be afraid to be feminine and enjoy as much or as little of that community as you feel you should. There are no exams at the end of the class. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there’s something you don’t understand. You have nothing to prove to anyone. You have as much right to be a card-carrying member of the geek squad as any man.  Stop helping them push the rubbish down and they’ll soon get sick of the smell.



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