HI, everybody! Welcome to another Fangirl Friday with yers truly, moi. That would be Andi.
So about six months ago I was following various conversations about geekdom and feminism and managed to land on a site called Lady Geek Girl and Friends.
I was so enamored with it that I promptly subscribed and for the record, it’s probably one of the only sites for which I get notifications that I will take the time and go read each blog for which I’m getting those notifications.
It’s that good.
Why? Well, because there are a vast array of writers over there, all coming from different backgrounds and perspectives, who all engage with feminism, intersectionality, and the myriad ways identity can play out within the rubric of geekdom. Plus — and this is something you might not see anywhere else to this extent, at least — LGG&F often analyzes pop culture through a religious lens, and that was something I hadn’t really pondered very deeply, so I appreciate the broadening of my horizons in that regard.
So I was absolutely THRILLED when three of the writers at LGG&F (including LGG herself!) agreed to answer some questions that I put to them, which makes me giddy with fangirl-ness, since I don’t just fangirl over fictional characters and scenarios. I also support my fellow geeks in geekdom and fandom who are doing this kind of work, and who are providing this kind of analysis to the various fandoms with which I engage, but also with ones I don’t. I’ve discovered comics, games, movies, and programs that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, so my time with LGG&F — though not much yet — has been well spent.
Now, an intro to those who join us here today.
Lady Saika wields a (metaphorical) red pen by day and a hot glue gun by night. When she’s not writing, editing, or sewing, catch her cosplaying, podcasting, or just curling up with the latest issue of Bitch Planet.
Lady Geek Girl plans on taking over the world with geekdom and intersectional feminism. By day she is a mild-mannered youth minister who carefully keeps her writing and blogging life a secret from her very conservative employers. In her spare time she can be found doing yoga, obsessively watching geeky shows, or living it up at her local gay bar.
MadameAce spends her days writing, drawing, and making crafts to sell at conventions. When she’s not crafting, she’s reading up on all the latest science journals (which are filled with things and words she doesn’t understand). She loves all things sci-fi and science-y, especially evolution. Her parents are creationists.
Thanks so much for joining us, all of you! So without further ado, let’s get this party started…
ANDI: So can you tell our readers your creation story? That is, when did you launch and what made you decide to do the type of blog you do?
Lady Geek Girl: At the time I was blogging on LiveJournal and found I had a lot to say about intersectional feminism and geekdom. I was constantly analyzing shows, comics, movies, books, etc. I thought it would be cool to start a site where I could talk about such things, but knew that I would probably not be able to regularly update it or run it effectively by myself, so I started talking to some of my friends who were also interested in such topics, and it just grew from there.
MadameAce: I joined the site because one day while Lady Geek Girl was over at my house she forced me to get a WordPress account and write a post.
Lady Saika: I joined up after Lady Geek Girl first messaged a group of friends about writing… I was a lot more religious when I started than I am now, so the idea of a site that embraced geeky feminism and didn’t reject religion was very appealing to me. Shortly after joining as a writer, my deep-set editing instincts took over and I bullied — I mean, I gently cajoled Lady Geek Girl to let me set some editorial standards and offer concrit/feedback before posts went up. Now I work both sides of the coin, editing some days and writing on others.
ANDI: I love how it seems to have started as sort of an organic process, through a network of friends. And the cool thing is, there’s a lot of different perspectives and approaches on the site, but through a specific lens. The LGG&F blog analyzes geekdom from a “religious, feminist, and queer perspective.” That’s a triumvirate you don’t find on many geekdom sites. At least not usually all at the same time. So how did that mix come about?
Lady Geek Girl: Well, that’s pretty simple — I’m a woman, I’m pansexual, and I studied theology all through my time at school. I was always intensely interested in sex and sexuality and combining that with my love of everything geeky seemed like an obvious step. Plus, geek culture really helped me come to terms with my sexuality, so I’m interested in making sure there is more representation so others can learn that they are normal no matter what genders they are attracted to. I wasn’t always a feminist, though, and actually came to be a feminist because of religion. While at school I studied feminist theology and learned about women fighting for their rights in religious institutions and religious thought. Women are always misrepresented in media, and I always felt the best way to change the world was through art, so I felt analyzing things from a feminist perspective was really important. Religion is intimately connected to all aspects of my life and I am very knowledgeable about religion, so I wanted a space that I could talk about that as well. Plus, I noticed that very few, if any, feminist blogs discussed pop culture from a religious feminist perspective and I thought our blog could offer some unique insight that wasn’t found anywhere else.
ANDI: I agree that few feminist blogs discuss pop culture through that lens, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy LGG&F, because it gets me to think about pop culture through that perspective, which I don’t often do.
MadameAce: I’ve always been kind of all over the place when it comes to religion. I was raised Protestant, went to Catholic school, and joined a bunch of Mormons in college. I can’t say that these parts of my life have been very feminist, but since religion is such an important part of who I am, I needed to find an outlet to reconcile my beliefs with the reality of my situation. My upbringing pretty much taught me that I was less important to God because I’m a girl, and LGG&F has really been able to help me come to realize that that is not true at all. The site not only helps me with my faith, though. It also provided a way to be open about my asexuality in a safe environment. I can’t say that being asexual has given me the same problems in the church as being say, gay or pan, but it definitely came with its own set of challenges and judgement.
Lady Saika: I did my time, thirteen years of it, in Catholic school! While my passion for the Church came and went over the years, I was at my most devout when I joined up with the site and was eager for a way to reconcile my beliefs about God with my beliefs about my sexuality (i.e., that I didn’t think being bi was a bad thing) and about feminism. In the end, I ended up ditching the Church in favor of finding spiritual fulfillment elsewhere, but over a dozen years of religion classes still left me with plenty to say about religious themes in geeky material. It’s also left me with a, well, not accepting, but at least understanding perspective of where the other side is coming from in an argument, because I used to be there myself. LGG&F has been a part of my life through all of this, and has given me an outlet to vent about these things through the lens of similar issues in nerdy media.
ANDI: I have really enjoyed these perspectives on the blog, because my relationship with organized religion throughout my life has not been amicable. I say that as someone who did go to Catholic school for a while, but left after about three years. I also grew up in a non-religious household (the Catholic school was the best school in the area and employed some secular teachers), so religion wasn’t something that I spent time trying to reconcile with other aspects of who I am, but I have always been cognizant of different faith traditions and the rich histories they have. I never really thought about using it as a lens to approach geekdom, and so it’s been fascinating for me, unpacking a few things while reading various blogs on LGG&F.
Moving along, LGG&F has quite a lineup of regular writers, from an array of backgrounds and identities. I really enjoy all the different perspectives and I will say that every blog I’ve read on the site makes me think, whether I agree or not. So how does LGG&F choose its writers and what does LGG&F look for in terms of contributors?
Lady Geek Girl: Honestly, at first most of the writers were friends of mine who held similar beliefs and geeky interests as me. Now we require that all our writers be intersectional feminists. They have to be open, accepting, and nonjudgmental, as well as being talented writers. We specifically look for writers with diverse backgrounds and perspectives as well.
MadameAce: Those of us who originally wrote for the site were not that diverse at all. By actively seeking people with different backgrounds, our site has become more inclusive. I’ve also found it to be very educational for myself as well.
Lady Saika: I would definitely agree with MadameAce — while all of our founding writers were queer, we were also all cis white women. It was very clear to us right away that we needed more diverse voices to thrive and really speak to issues from a variety of perspectives. Reading and editing the posts of these writers over the years has challenged me to become a better, more engaged, and more intersectional feminist and a better ally to the marginalized groups I am not part of. We are always looking for more writers to expand these horizons and we would love to hear from anyone who’s interested!
ANDI: And again, if you’re interested in applying for a writing spot at LGG&F, please do!
So what was your very first experience with geekdom (or, what made you a geek?)
Lady Geek Girl: My first experience with geekdom was probably Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Wars, both of which I was a huge nerd for. But the fandom that made me the fan I am today was definitely Harry Potter. Harry Potter was my first experience with fandom, fanfiction, and interacting with other fans. I analyzed everything about those books and it definitely affected the geek I am today.
MadameAce: Star Wars and Final Fantasy really influenced me growing up. I’m pretty sure, though, that the first time I engaged with fanfiction and whatnot was after [crossover role-playing game] Kingdom Hearts came out.
Lady Saika: My first experience with fandom was definitely Harry Potter — I spent my formative teenage years lurking on fanfiction and meta communities and devouring fic after fic. Going back further, though, probably the first “geeky” thing I remember engaging with was the original Wizard of Oz book series. My mom had read all fourteen when she was young, and I inherited both the series and her love of it. Some people scoff at them as creepy, but they’re full of fantastic heroines going on weird adventures and I still love them dearly.
ANDI: Perhaps we could at some point delve into the theorizing about the original Wizard of Oz as a Populist metaphor and maybe see how that holds up through the other books…oh, myyyyyy. History geek alert. Or perhaps you already have and I just missed it on the site! Yikes! Anyway, perhaps some of our readers will comment below about their first encounters with geekdom. But for now, tell us three things that have come out of your experience with LGG&F that have changed your perspectives about something.
Lady Geek Girl: Hmmm… that’s a tough one. I think I learned a lot from other writers, specifically I learned a lot about race issues that I as a white person wasn’t aware of. I have become more aware of the good and bad side of fandom. Before I started this site I thought all geeks were just so accepting and a great community, and while that’s definitely often the case, I have really experienced some of the darker side of fandom. But I don’t mind; no group is perfect and we are here to help make people more aware. And lastly, I would say that this site has allowed me to be more open and honest about my life and experiences. It’s liberating to be able to write about my sexuality, feminism, and religion so openly.
MadameAce: I’ve always struggled with the English language — spelling and grammar totally escaped me growing up, so I’d say that first and foremost, I’ve learned to be a better writer. My experience on here has also helped me to be more critical of the media I consume and to recognize how it affects both myself and other people. Like Lady Geek Girl, I’d say that it also taught me to be more open and honest and to express myself.
Lady Saika: I’ve never been an arguer, so one thing that LGG&F has definitely helped me with is organizing my thoughts in a way that forms a coherent argument. I may still not be able to hold my own in a verbal bout, but I have gotten quite good (she says modestly) at doing so in type. To that end, LGG&F has also helped me to figure out what I actually think about things. I was once writing a post and attempting to argue one side and the editors pointed out that I wasn’t doing a great job of supporting my argument – I realized it was because I didn’t really believe what I was arguing. With their help I flipped the script and pounded out a post I was really proud of, and that much better reflected my thoughts on the issue. I also definitely agree with the other two — I’ve definitely been able to become more educated about issues that don’t directly affect me in order to become both a better ally and a better editor!
ANDI: I love how a site that provides perspectives for readers can also help writers become better at their craft, and also provide a space for people to address issues with each other in constructive ways, and strengthen ties and alliances. Are there, however, any geekdom topics LGG&F will not address?
Lady Geek Girl: We’ll discuss pretty much any issue as long as it pertains to geekdom in some way. If there are any problems, those are usually discussed and addressed by the administrators and the individual writer. Obviously, though, we have a viewpoint we want to get across so we won’t allow someone to, say, write a pro-TERF post or something like that. Anything that doesn’t fit with an intersectional feminist perspective would not show up on our site.
MadameAce: We were definitely not as intersectional in the earlier years, back before we were as knowledgeable about the issues we talked about. So some of the earlier posts had problems or said things that we would not put up with now. We’ve gone through our blog a couple times either to delete or edit any of the more problematic posts we’ve published. I’d like to say that I caught them all, but we’ve got over 3,000 posts up now. I would not be surprised if I missed one or two. Embarrassed over the things I used to say, but not surprised.
Lady Saika: Our basic rule on post topics is that it has to be related to speculative fiction in some way, or at least be presented in a medium that’s considered “nerdy” (e.g. video games, comics, webseries, etc.). Typically that means sci-fi, fantasy, horror, superheroes, steampunk, time travel — that kind of thing. Additionally, the post has to deal with some aspect of intersectional feminist critique — it can’t just be a review of a movie’s cinematography or whatever unless the thesis is that the cinematography portrays women differently than in other action films, or something like that. Our two exceptions to the topic rule currently are Sherlock Holmes adaptations (because there’s very little else with such a fandom history) and Fifty Shades of Grey (which we justify based on it being originally a fanfic of a story that is in our wheelhouse, and also based on it being too temptingly ripe for feminist critique).
In terms of content, all of our writers are 18+ (or the age of majority in the country they’re writing from) so we have written about any number of “adult” topics — as long as they’re framed in a geeky context and dealt with in a thoughtful, inclusive, and feminist light, we don’t have any topics per se that are off the table completely.
ANDI: Thanks for that — and I appreciate MadameAce’s response about being embarrassed about some of the things she formerly wrote, but not being surprised. Being able to see your evolution as a writer and a thinker and to see how your views have changed to incorporate new information and perspectives is a gift, I think. Would that we could all be open to that.
So since LGG&F started, what trends have you noticed in terms of queer, feminist, and religious representation in geekdom/fandoms?
Lady Geek Girl: I think we have gotten a lot more female representation recently. Marvel has upped its game in that regard, even if the movies don’t always reflect it, and movies like Mad Max [Fury Road], Ghostbusters, and Hunger Games have definitely changed the landscape. People are finally realizing that having interesting female characters is entertaining and makes money.
MadameAce: I’ve found that many people in fandom are also becoming more aware of social justice issues. A few years ago, I’d be hard-pressed to find any asexual interpretation of characters in fanfiction, but that’s no longer the case. I’ve been able to find so many fics about asexual or other queer characters that are well-thought out and not at all exploitative.
Lady Saika: I’ve been very heartened to see issues of representation becoming more mainstream, and more to the point, becoming financially successful! People scoffed at the idea of a young Muslim woman superhero headlining a comic, for example, but Ms. Marvel’s had nearly thirty issues so far and is still going strong. Transgender representation is another issue that has been gaining steam over the past few years — for probably the first ten years I was reading fanfiction, I can’t point to a single fic where even a side character was imagined as transgender. Now, that sort of thing is very common in fanfic and headcanons, but it’s also becoming more common to see transgender characters in mainstream media as well. We’re slowly winning the war based on the faulty argument that women/people of color/queer people/disabled people/whatever aren’t a viable market to target media toward, and it feels good.
ANDI: I’m one of the Ms. Marvel fans. Heh. I, too, have been noticing these trends and I hope that the representation along the lines that you’ve addressed here continues. So if you could write stories for any TV series or comic series, what would it be? That is — what fandom would you love to be a writer on?
Lady Geek Girl: DC Comics and the DC Comics movies! I am a long suffering DC fan. I love the characters but often hate the lack of progress that DC Comics has made when compared to Marvel and their movies have largely been only okay or just plain bad. I would also enjoy writing for the Star Trek reboot movies. I think I could bring a lot to those movies.
ANDI: “Long-suffering.” I am so there with you when it comes to DC.
MadameAce: I have enough of my own stories and fanfiction to work on, so I can’t say that I’ve ever really thought about writing for something else. That said, I would also totally want to work on some of the DC movies, because they’re just so bad as they are now. Sometimes, I also think about what I would have done differently had I written either Twilight or The Inheritance Cycle.
Lady Saika: If you’d asked me a few years ago, back when it might have been possible to save it, I might have said Supernatural, but I’ve hardcore broken up with that show and the fandom since then. Now I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the Steven Universe writing room — I doubt very much that I could do the show better than them, but I’d be fascinated to see their creative process. In the meantime I’ll stick to poking away at the same fanfics and original fiction projects that I’ve been working on for the last few years.
ANDI: It’s always sad when you have to break up with a fandom. I have an on-again/off-again relationship with Supernatural. It’s been off for the past couple of years, excepting a couple of drinks now and again. But Steven Universe — definitely would love to sit in on a writers’ room there.
Do you have any secret plans for LGG&F that you can share (so that they’re not so secret anymore)?
Lady Geek Girl: We have a lot of plans, but nothing I necessarily want to discuss just yet. We all have jobs outside of this and pretty busy lives so I don’t want to say what we have in the works only for it not to happen for another couple years. For now, I’d say just stay tuned to our site and keep a look out for some new and exciting things.
ANDI: OH, definitely! Thanks to all of you for joining us here at Women and Words. Really appreciate the time you all took and please, keep on keepin’ on with LGG&F! Fangirl luv to all of you.