The Fem-Nerd’s Dilemma

5 Aug

I’m a proud fem-nerd. I love comic books, books in general, video games, and sci-fi/fantasy shows. (Oh my gosh, have you seen the new Camelot series? Go Netflix it. Now.) I’m also a feminist. Not a hairy-legged, grumpy-type but one none-the-less. Somehow, because we live in a world where geekery is directed mostly toward men, I encounter moral dilemmas being both. I can’t pick up a game featuring female characters where I don’t have to look at an inordinate amount of cleavage. Every time I think a heroine is going to be awesome, she winds up taking off her clothes. If there’s a male hero in the picture, she winds up being his sidekick.

And I know that I’m a little bitter about this subject because I’ve been coping with it for so MANY years, but yes, if you’re wondering, there have been improvements to the nerd industry as of late. For instance, in many games, you get to choose your character’s gender and sometimes even his/her clothing so that you don’t have to reveal more than necessary. Hooray! Yet even where strong, independent female heroes exist, the industry usually pushes her to the point of being nearly/completely butch. Which brings me to my real problem with this industry. There is very little balance between being an unfortunately-dressed, feminine heroine and being a masculine, tough and rigid woman.

I can think of one perfect example for this in the Mass Effect series. I LOVE that I get to have a fem-shep and that her uniform is exactly the same as a man’s. However, no one involved with the development of this series seemed to flag that her mannerisms are decidedly manly. Or if they did, they decided that it would be best to leave her that way.

Real ladylike. She also does things like cracking her knuckles and slouching with her legs crossed man-style. There are lots of women who think that the creators of the game were right not to differentiate between fem-shep and male-shep’s animations because to do so would have perpetuated gender roles and I can see that argument. I liked that fem-shep had a deeper voice and a muscular build. I just would have preferred that she was a tiny bit more gender-neutral instead of man-ish.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s women who are made too sexy–women in costumes and with personalities that make absolutely no sense. Let me take you there.


This is Bayonetta from, you guessed it, the game Bayonetta. She’s a witch and–here’s a fun fact–her clothes are made from her own hair so that when she casts a spell, her clothes…disappear. By the way, the developers for this game claimed they marketed it for women. Girls, you want to see that? If you said yes, keep it to yourself for now. I’m going to continue to pick on her, though. Bayonetta gets in a lot of hand-to-hand brawls and yet she has gigantic holes and open places in her costume. She also has super long hair and glasses. If I were fighting her, I’d have a lot of advantages. I’d have a clean shot at her back, I could pull her around by her hair, and I could blind her by crushing the glass in front of her eyes.

Is she the only one at a tactical disadvantage?

I would choke her with her own hair.


Here are some ladies who “fight with the power of love.” Carol Ferris in the front there (Blake Lively in the Green Lantern movie) has ta-tas that would fall out in the middle of battle and a ridiculously-placed collar.

And nobody goes trekking around developing countries with that much exposed skin unless she wants to catch malaria.

So where’s the balance?

My favorite heroines are those who live in a man’s world but make it as a woman because they are equally smart (or smarter) or equally strong (or stronger). I like to see a woman who is independent and tough while still being a lady on her own terms.

I like women who are like me and don’t we all? Maybe we all need to be careful that in calling ourselves feminists that we’re not just picking on ladies who aren’t like ourselves. I hope that one day I can read my favorite comic series or play my favorite game without feeling icky over the women represented in it. I hope that as women gain in numbers in nerd arenas, that we will begin to see heroines in a perspective that doesn’t make them sex figures or best bros.

Until that day, I continue to try to see the good in things and the improvements that are being made. Though a lot of movies and series present me with ambivalent and bittersweet feelings, I pray that the inward virtues of women outshines our bodies.

The most bittersweet of all movies for me.


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