Saturday, May 11, 2013

Expertise, Comics, and Geekdom

The writers of this blog read/discussed comics last week, so I wanted to write something about them. I mulled it over for awhile. What should I talk about it? I’ve read a few things, like the new Batwoman and New X-Men. I’ve liked most of the things I’ve read so far but I wouldn’t consider myself an avid comic fan. I quickly decided to drop the comic book idea. It’s not that I dislike comics, I just didn’t feel like I was qualified to talk about them.

I explained this to a fellow blogger and they asked, “Why don’t you feel qualified to talk about comics? I think a man with the same amount of exposure to comics as you would not question his authority to speak on the topic.”  Touché. There’s my topic!

If I don’t feel like I know enough about comics to write about them, how many would I have to read to be an expert? Personally, I’d want to have a firm grasp on all the major superhero comics like Batman, Spider-Man, and the Avengers. I’d want to be up to date on their on all of their current plots and know their past histories. Essentially, I’d want to be an expert before I said anything.

Of course, I don’t have to be an expert to give my opinion about something but in the realm of comics I feel like my knowledge, as a woman, would be called into question. It’s not enough to generally like something. In order to be taken seriously, I need to know absolutely everything. If I don’t know everything, well, that would just make me a “faker.”  

There are others who have written about how women must qualify their background and display their credentials before talking about comics or games. Noah Berlatsky phrases it well in the article “‘Fake Geek Girls’ Paranoia is About Male Insecurity, Not Female Duplicity”, “Geekdom is built on cultural knowledge; on how much you've consumed; on what you've consumed; and on how long before everyone else you were able to consume it. That knowledge is—deliberately, essentially, intentionally—used, and meant to be used, as an identity, and, therefore, as power.” Unless I can field all types questions, my knowledge would potentially be challenged. This isn’t limited to geekdom but happens in other realms outside of housekeeping and child rearing (academia, sports, politics, to name a few). Women are just held under tighter scrutiny.

I wanted to bring this up because this fear of being challenged/not knowing enough actively dissuaded me from making a post about comics today. It dissuaded me from writing about something I like. For any girls or women who might find this post, I’d like to encourage you talk about the things you’re interested in. Anyone should be able to engage in a discussion about something they like regardless of if they’re new to it or a long-time fan.

- J. 

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