Monday, June 1, 2015

"Are you like, feminist nerds?"

As a kid who wanted to be an astronaut/engineer/dancer/dolphin/mermaid/writer/artist, I was never once told I couldn’t do something because it was a "boy’s job". Although I suppose my parents were slightly amused by my wanting to be a dolphin and a mermaid, they went with it. They let me pretend to be Peter Pan and Belle and didn’t blink an eye when high-school-senior me declared I would be a writer.

This fantastic childhood meant that I had no idea how hard many women have it when it comes to entering creative fields. There’re centuries of women who used pen names and relatives to get their work out into the world, but it never occurred to me that in another time, I would have been one of them.  

Here’s a quick, applicable story: When we were at Comic Con last week, I found myself solitarily snarfing a sandwich while guarding our table. Everyone else was out browsing Artist Valley or listening to panels, so I had a few minutes to kick back and watch the people stream past.*

A man and woman approached, glanced down at our business cards and magnets, and asked, “So are you, like, feminist nerds or something?” Somehow they made it sound like being a feminist is like being a prostitute, or maybe a crazy aging aunt with a lazy eye.

My first reaction was to make a classic “Uhhhhhhhhh” face. I couldn’t figure out why their first thought was that we were feminist nerds. Then I looked down the row of podcast tables and realized that, at that moment, I was the only woman in sight. Men were behind every other table.**

The thing is, until Denver Comic Con 2015 I hadn’t really thought about the gender split in podcasting. Yet there are people out there who don’t think I should be the co-host of a podcast unless it’s about cooking perfect chicken breasts or getting grass stains out of soccer jerseys. Or there are those who simply forget that I exist.*** 

This frustrates me. Why in the world would someone judge me based on the fact that I can bear children? Does anyone else see how funny that is? It’s ridiculous. Don’t judge me because I’m a woman writer and podcaster. Judge me based on the content I produce. Is it witty and fresh, or does it bog down in the middle and make you want to puke? If you simply don't like what I make, fine. That's wonderful. But if you're going to tell a girl she can't do something because it's not "girlie" enough, watch out. She'll probably turn into a feminist nerd and prove you wrong.   

* Comic Con has THE BEST PEOPLE WATCHING EVER. Even better than the airport.
**And over the course of the weekend, Emer and I noticed that we were the only females^ (who weren’t interviewees) who got behind the mic. Very strange, considering there were other women around…
^Mind you, there are HUNDREDS of female podcasters elsewhere in the world who talk about all kinds of things. This was mostly an isolated incident of uneven women-to-men ratios.
***Shameless Princess Bride reference: "Women in podcasting? I don't think they exist."

Michelle has an inexplicable affinity for alliteration. She can’t help it – it was love at first sight, and love it shall remain. Oh, and sometimes she gets really riled up about people being silly. 


  1. Oh my gosh! If I'd been there, I'd have been infuriated!! Some people just need to be smacked.

  2. Yeah, I really wasn't sure what to say at first... There should be a special sign people use when they call me a feminist, just so I know if they mean it's a bad thing or a good thing.