My little sister has just turned 8 years old and already she is being accused of being a 'fake nerd girl', with boys pushing her to the sidelines of conversations to which she has plenty of value to add.
When the boys in your class don’t 'believe' that you have played Minecraft, even though you’ve spent hours and hours creating fantastic, exciting worlds,
When they don’t 'believe' you’ve seen Star Wars even though you’ve read books on the extended universe and you could probably recite the names of more of its planets than you could countries on this Earth,
When they can’t even fathom the idea that maybe, someone of the female gender has seen Short Circuit, a cult-classic family film about a robot, even though Wall-E is perfectly acceptable viewing for a girl,
When young boys find it easier to believe that this little girl is lying through her teeth than that she, y’know, was introduced to pop culture at a young age, you can see how girls grow up feeling isolated from the sci-fi, gaming and ‘nerdy’ communities.
And yet these young boys don’t respect her ‘girly’ interests either.
“My Little Pony is stupid. No, I haven’t seen it, it’s for girls!”
Boys can make judgements on things they know nothing about, based solely on the fact that they think girls like it, yet when a girl shares a common interest her opinion is meaningless.
When boys grow being allowed to think and speak like this the implication is clear: girl = bad. Whether she’s a ‘tomboy’ or the prettiest princess of them all, young boys treat girls as if they are undeserving of respect.
In other words:
If you draw ponies the boys laugh, if you draw spaceships they laugh harder.
This stifles young girls’ ability to immerse themselves in the things they love, leaving them without a true place to connect with their interests.
And we wonder why there’s not a stronger female presence in the these industries and their products?
We need to teach our boys to stop treating girls as if their opinions and preferences are meaningless in order to develop not only a safe environment for girls to express themselves, but also stronger, more dynamic industries, communities of fans, and products.
Us girls have got plenty to add, if you’ll stop trying to exclude us.