I don’t feel comfortable. Maybe it’s my anxiety, but I’m not so sure. My palms are sweaty. My breathing escalates. I feel their eyes on me. You don’t belong here, they snicker.
I pause. Well . . . Why don’t I belong here?
I’m talking about my recent visits to various comic book and gaming stores. Now, I love gaming. I’ve loved it ever since Sonic the Hedgehog came out on Sega, followed by the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro games on PlayStation1, various PlayStation 2 games, and now my PlayStation 4. I’ve gleefully wasted countless hours of my life mashing buttons and yelling with glee at the screen. I’ve finished my favourite games multiple times, and if I’m ever not responding to Facebook messages, it’s probably because I’m gaming—can’t talk, killing zombies. But for some reason, whenever I visit a nerdy store—filled with things I love dearly and would gladly spend my money on—the eyes of other patrons tell me I don’t belong.
Is it because I’m a woman?
Is it because I don’t “look like a gamer”?
Is it because I wear pretty floral dresses and bright red lipstick?
Is it because I wing my eyeliner sharp enough to cut the haters, have my nails done and carry cute handbags?
Whenever I go into these stores, I feel like I have to justify myself. I have to prove I like these things. I have to prove I’m not a poser. Because obviously, my appearance is directly linked to what things I can and can’t enjoy, and how good I am at said things.
It is not posing when a female enjoys games, anime, comic books or other like things. Believe it or not, we’re not trying to act cool to impress boys (or girls). Here’s a crazy idea: maybe we enjoy it—just like you.
Instead of judging and hating each other, we should be promoting acceptance, love, and mutual enjoyment of cool and quirky things. After all, aren’t we the same geeks that were (most likely) picked on in school? Teased for liking things that weren’t the norm? Stereotyped as nerds and weirdos?
I am a nerd. I am a geek. I’m a weirdo. And I’m a girly girl. But you know what? I’m proud of that. I love these things, and I can’t wait to experience more. And if you’re ever tempted to judge someone else, maybe you should take a good hard look at yourself. Stop looking at me with those eyes. I do belong here—F off. I can’t hear you over the sound of me winning, anyway.