OPINION - Women like me are transforming nerd culture — it’s chic to geek out on Comic Con

·4-min read
 (Handout)
(Handout)

It’s taken me until adulthood to admit it, but here it is: I’m a geek. Looking back, there were plenty of clues. My family’s obsession with Doctor Who was one. Every Saturday we would gather religiously on (or more often behind) the sofa to watch the Doctor fight it out with the villain of the week.

Another was my love of Harry Potter, which branched out over the course of years to encompass Marvel, Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons. And that’s before mentioning the gaming habit I’ve developed over lockdown.

The point is, I’m quite far gone. And for the entirety of my childhood, that was something to be ashamed of.

Geekiness was a space that belonged to men: men would be the ones in the comic book shops, most often reeking of body odour, wearing T-shirts with obscure slogans on and talking about their love of card games.

Geekiness did not apply to women, and if it did, they were required to either be quasi-genderless — that applied if they didn’t put much effort into the way they dressed — or of the sexy cosplay variety, dressing up as a Pikachu with far too much skin on display. And how dare they have opinions about the latest comic-book adaptation?

Growing up I learned to put geekiness in a box. If you wanted to fit in at school, you didn’t mention it. If you mentioned it as an adult to the wrong people, they would look at you with something approaching pity.

With that in mind, I’m looking forward to Comic Con this year with a passion that might seem strange until you’ve been there yourself.

Comic Con, which is finally back in London this May, offers both casual and not-so-casual geeks the chance to celebrate the stuff they love.

At an event that massive, this includes everything from young adult fiction to anime, spanning author panels, celebrity interviews, dressing-up competitions and stalls selling the latest merch.

And one of the best things about it is the sheer amount of women who attend, too. Not just women in sexy cosplay — though don’t get me wrong, they go too — but women on panels, talking about comics; female authors discussing their latest novels; women interviewing Marvel stars about their new blockbusters. I struck up a conversation with several about gaming; one was dressed up as a Cyberman and nobody batted an eyelid.

Here was an inclusive space where I felt like I could be as geeky as I wanted, and that felt like a breath of fresh air.

In the past five or 10 years, of course, the geek space has changed. Women are now an integral part of the industry in a way that they certainly weren’t before, while geekiness itself has become almost cool.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that the event is one of those rare, joyful spaces where you can celebrate being who you are.

So roll on the bizarre costumes; the eye-watering displays of colour; even the indecently-long autograph queues. Comic Con is back, and it’s time to book tickets.

Why I buy into Selling Sunset

All hail the gods of binge-watching: real-estate reality TV gold Selling Sunset is hitting our televisions once more.

Though it’s the show that people love to hate, I’ve always nurtured a soft spot for it that is best summed up in one exchange between returning antagonist Christine and newbie Chelsea Lazkani, below.

In it, they’re comparing the ages of their children and swapping notes on sleep training. In the next breath, they switch to talking about the multi-million-dollar house that they’re surveying as part of their work as estate agents.

These women are balancing high-flying careers with starting families — and sure, they have nannies to help out, but it’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that often confines women to the role of wife and mother rather than working professional.

These women aren’t ashamed to be both, and flaunt it: perhaps other shows could learn a thing or two from it.

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