Why women of color struggle to find a place in fandom


It’s like everybody was a nerd or a geek in high school. In music/theater? Geek. In the second highest math class? Nerd. Wore glasses? Nerdy geek.

It’s now socially acceptable to be a little bit of a nerd or geek, but it’s still not cool to be an actual nerd or geek.


Caucazoidal and 50+ is when the doors really fly open. It’s crazy to me.


You know what that makes the women of colour who have to put up with that shit?

Ain’t they just.



Same here. The whole “gamer geeks despise women” gamergate thing really startled me.

I spent considerable time as a geeky young man in literary-SF fandom, and, while it was heavily male, women were eagerly welcomed and included, and it was never an “all-boys” club.

Indeed, I know several women who had their first real social experience with being valued for their intelligence and humor and wit and talent, rather than their looks or their bodies, when they joined fandom. Valued as human beings, for the first time.

Now, sure, in every crowd of geeks there are some as-yet-poorly-socialized adolescent boys who will awkwardly try to mimic what they imagine a “manly man” would do - and I’ve seen some of those get stern but affectionate correction from both the women they accosted and older men in the group.

Lit-SF fans, AFAICT, were trying hard to be consciously non-sexist from (at least) the time the '70s women’s movement explained things to everyone.

But media fandom and sexed-up cosplay and isolated, unsocialized gamer geeks have made for some very different ‘fandoms’ over the years.

Some of which appall me, I confess. (The drooling fanboys, not the sexy costumes.)

But, hey, I never really even liked Star Trek. (I was reading Le Guin, Ellison, Delaney, Tiptree, Dick, etc., at the time, and ST:TOS just seemed so… pedestrian by comparison. But everyone expected me to like it. because that and “Lost in Space” were the only SF on TV.)

So I don’t really know what to say.

[sigh] “Not my monkeys, not my circus”, I guess.



As a cis male and an unashamed feminist I still make assumptions from deeply rooted prejudices based on gender. Nothing as bad as some of the specific examples you cited, but definitely in the micro-aggression realm. Usually along the lines of being trying to be overly helpful (because I’m a man and “I Know Things/I Can Do Things”) or (sigh) mansplaining. I usually realize later what I did and have to kick myself for it.

In these situations, I do feel that heart is in the right place (I genuinely am trying to assist in some way) but my rationale is wrong – based on things I know not to be true. It’s hard to break a lifetime worth of social conditioning about “the way things are.”

Anyway, I salute you.


I’ve had to adjust how I approach things now because of that overly helpful bit. I try to stop and ask, “Did you need any help?” first these days. I can’t fault a gal for not wanting anything to do with me. I’m heavily tattooed, and rough looking. Ten years ago, I’d say no to me.

It’s definitely a different headspace to be in.


This made me so angry to realize. I had always thought everyone dealt with this, but to suddenly find yourself not having to? I was, and am still am, furious. The kind of men that argue against feminism don’t see it because they just don’t have to. It’s maddening.


I’d disagree with the last statement - they dislike all women.

The most toxic often seem to consider themselves utter losers. They realize that they are utterly unappealing to women (and to most men, as evidenced by being relegated to the geek ghetto). Naturally their resentment at their status easily morphs into misogyny and general misanthropy. As they understand they have no hope of a relationship, they focus on sex, which many nerdly pursuits have historically been happy to cater to (comics, manga, anime, film, etc.)

They know they’re repellent. Which means they don’t want women of any sort hanging around. After all, the presence of females can only bring them constant reminder of their loathsomeness as well as open disgust and anger at the geeky outlets for their sexual needs.

Of course, most of these “men” (really boys) grow into and then out of this stage in a matter of years, while making the lives of the women (and girls) that they meet during that time miserable. However, until recently, that would have been nearly none, as society was structured to isolate the detritus where they had only others like them for company (except for those few girls so unfortunate as to have similar interests).

Now, the “space” they inhabit turns out to be valuable and even more disastrously, interesting.

Worse still, the invention of the Internet has allowed their poisonous attitudes the opportunity to touch real people.

There were good reasons why young men have historically been isolated from civilized society. A not insignificant number are simply not fit (at least for a few years). And some few (not young at all) will never be fit.

The question is, what do we do with them? Short of liquidation, most of them have almost nothing to lose.

(And yes, I was certainly not fit for female company between 14 and 17. Not so much on the sexualization (I had my pride), but massively high in the disdain/arrogance combined with acute discomfort in the presence of girls. Luckily for both sides, I interacted with precisely zero of them until I could mature into at least a semi-civilized human being.)


Holy shit on five pounds of crack (do people still smoke crack? maybe meth is a more relevant reference, but I digress …). I want this @ethicalcannibal post on a pillow, framed on the wall, required reading for every incoming freshman. I have to present on gender and negotiation at a library conference in less than a month, and I’m incorporating this post. Yes! Now I can count time spent here as work.


Or you put up with less. The fantastic thing about growing older as a woman is that I find I simply put up with less. Sure, I’m better at ignoring it, but I also feel much less compunction about calling people out. For example, I am not shy about voicing my opinions in meetings, etc. I had a guy at work call me “abrasive” for doing so. At 25-30, I’m not sure I would have said anything. At 44, I damn well told him that was inappropriate and asked if I was a man would he feel the same.

ETA: I’m really not abrasive. I have a southern accent that is just shy of a Blanche Dubois-Scarlett O’Hara lovechild, and frankly I find this works in my favor when calling people out.


My favorite sassy TV characters all southern.


This is so well written. Thank you so much. I want to share this with everyone I know.


This is one of the very few instances where it works in my favor. I’ve struggled with it as a professional who works with people around the world. I once had a grad school professor tell me I needed to get rid of it if I wanted to be taken seriously. It took me years to understand how wrong she was. I’ll elongate my dipthongs until the day is done, thank you very much, and bless your ever-loving sweet heart if you don’t like it.


Sure they are. A sassy New Yorker or Bostonian would genuinely come across as abrasive, and a sassy Californian is just an everyday smartass.

I think Kitty Forman from That 70s Show gets honorable mention as a sassy Midwesterner, though.


There’s always The Gate to Women’s Country as a solution. :wink:


Bless their heart.


Thanks. I’m very flattered.


Kitty foreman is my hero. The actress that plays her was in She’s Out of Your League (i think, too lazy to look it up). The main character’s family were all deplorable and deeply unlikable, with the exception of her. She’s pretty much the only reason i made it through that whole movie.