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A Nerd-Girl’s Paradise

It’s time we female geeks rescue ourselves

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 9:40 a.m. CDT

My big summer project has turned out to be redecorating my Chicago apartment.

It all started because I told my landlord I was moving in order to gain a dishwasher and a vent above the stove. He countered with an offer to put both of them in and then some. That has created an interesting discussion among my friends about women and comic books that has been more disturbing than you might have thought possible.

By the time the renovations were done the kitchen was taken back to its foundation and that made my old furniture suddenly seem a little shabby. Before I knew it, I was updating everything else. What emerged was a more accurate picture of me that, as it turns out, is a cross between a little science, a lot of DC comics, and some sci-fi for good measure.

I already knew that, but apparently most of my friends were caught off guard.

There’s a few classic DC comic posters, an amazing bat signal an artist cousin of mine cut out of iron, and a few insects suspended in glass that are hanging in the kitchen. There’s more but you get the idea. Any nerd girl would feel right at home.

Several friends have commented that I had created every 10-year-old boy’s dream home, but they missed the point. This place was a celebration of the nerd girl.

The nerd world at large is just starting to catch up with the women’s movement from 40 years ago. All of a sudden, women who are into gaming, science, sci-fi and graphic novels are speaking up about being ignored or even put down by their male counterparts.

I’m one of those nerd women and it’s about time we defined ourselves instead of always standing in the background. It’s about time because, frankly, we’ve been here all along.

I not only watched the original Star Trek series in its first run, I dreamed of being Captain Kirk, not Lieutenant Uhura. Gene Rodenberry felt he was being ground-breaking by having a multi-cultural cast and including women in bigger roles — and he was — but that doesn’t mean that his female audience in the 1960s wasn’t dreaming about leading the charge.

We aren’t a new creation just catching up with all of the guys. Think Marie Curie, the pioneer in physics and radiology, or even Sally Ride, the youngest and first woman astronaut in space. We’ve been around for awhile and we’ve been making contributions in environmental science, biology, and even comic books, although that’s been an even harder glass ceiling for us to break.

Gail Simone, former lead writer for DC Comics’ Batgirl, was fired last December and many believe it was because of her outspoken comments about the disproportionate number of women who are maimed, raped, beaten and murdered in comic books and movies. She called it ‘women in refrigerators’ and was even roundly chastised in social media, which is a disheartening comment about how male readers may see women in general. Largely disposable accessories.

A population that was most likely bullied during their formative years ought to have a little more compassion for a similar group. Nerd-boys ought to stick up for us more but if they continue not to, we can become our own super heroes more and keep speaking up for ourselves, and use our purses to get our point across in a way that has proven to be effective.

Comic Con was this past weekend in Chicago and my entire family was there, as usual. There was artwork I would have liked to buy, but the ridiculous portrayal of the women isn’t something I want to display in my home.

It’s been reported that Simone will soon be the lead writer for a new Tomb Raider series, which is good news for not only my older generation, but also little girls who can grow up with a better idea of what’s possible that goes beyond the label survivor.

Maybe we can start to look for the super heroes we admire and support them by buying their stories and artwork and just rescue ourselves. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and tell me your own super heroine story.

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Martha’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. This column has been edited by the author. Representatives of fact and opinions are solely those of the author. Martha can also be contacted at www.MarthaCarr.com or via e-mail at Martha@caglecartoons.com.

©2013 Martha Carr

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