One Equal World

Finding Acceptance In “Inclusive” Subcultures

Posted on: March 10, 2017

People dressed up as superheroes at Comic Con, Los Angeles.

Comic Con, Los Angeles (2016).
Photo credit: Lauren Elisabeth / Shutterstock

We often think of nerds as the picked-on rejects that band together over common interests such as Dungeons & Dragons or Star Trek. The theme of outcasts coming together is a popular one in fiction, and one that you would think would lead to nerd culture being progressive and inclusive.

And while that may be true for some people and groups, nerd culture has some serious issues with inclusivity. From the toxic nature of so many online video games, to the continued over-sexualization of women’s bodies in art, to nerd culture’s blatant courting of fascism during GamerGate and in support of Donald Trump. Nerd culture has a long way to go before it can actually call itself inclusive.

No one knows this better than EmilÆMaxima. EmilÆMaxima is a transwoman who wrote an essay for The Establishment about her experiences as a nerd before and after her transition.

When she came out and announced that she was transitioning, she was met with a lot of questions about whether she would still play video games or like Star Wars, as if those interests were reserved exclusively for men. She notes that, even though there had been girls in their social circles throughout her life, her friends still seemed to think of women as outliers in nerd culture, as if they somehow didn’t belong.

But she also found that women’s experiences of nerd culture were very different than men’s, and often quite hidden. She quickly learned that there were chat rooms and events that men weren’t privy to, where women could be themselves and not have to worry about being harassed or assaulted. She learned, first-hand, that women have a hard time of it in nerd culture, especially online, where anonymity often emboldens men to act like complete monsters.

Finding acceptance for who we are can be difficult, but it’s essential that we do so. And if ever don’t feel accepted by a certain community, it’s time we change the dynamics of that culture.

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