Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Rise of the Geek Girl with Jennifer Harlow

            I am a geek girl. I have always been a geek girl. I blame my parents and their Doctor Who, Star Trek, Tolkien ways. No My Little Pony Care Bears for this girl. I grew up watching The Real Ghostbusters, She-Ra Princess of Power and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I wanted to marry Jack Nicholson’s The Joker at age six and even learned how to crack a literal whip after watching Michelle Pfieffer do it in Batman Returns. I named my cat Remy LeBeau after X-Men’s Gambit. At present I have about a thousand comic books, two dozen action figures, and too many trading cards to count in my parent’s basement. In high school I wore graphic t-shirts with the likes of Wonder Woman and The Bride of Frankenstein proudly on my chest. I even went to Comic Con when the only people there were comic book sellers. The only geek box I cannot check off is I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons mostly because no one ever invited me to. Yes, I am a geek girl. A pioneer geek girl. And the struggle was worth it.

            Before the days of Tumblr, blockbuster superhero books, and Twilight geeks were looked down upon, especially if you were a girl. When I was growing up, geek was as big a put down as being smelly or having cooties. It meant you dressed like an elf, would never get laid, and lived in your parents basement with no hopes of escape. And that was just the boys. No one had a stereotypical view of a geek girl because there were so few of us and the boys wouldn’t let us play. Even in the 1990s gender roles were a tad ridged. I grew up with brothers, and my parents wanted me to be me, so I didn’t know better. I liked what I liked. We geek girls simply did not exist. I remember once I walked into a comic book store filled with about six men and all eyes moved to me, but not in the way you’d expect. No, I was like an alien there to zap them with my ray gun and take away all their fun. I was an interloper even with Rogue blazoned across my chest. And forget about when I mentioned to people I loved horror movies and even had a subscription to Fangoria. My grandmother thought I’d grow up to be a serial killer, and when I told boys of my love of Texas Chainsaw Massacre or vampires their faces scrunched up in horror. It sucked.

            Yet I continued to like what I did. I went and saw Shaun of the Dead when every other girl in college was swooning over The Notebook. I never did find my tribe of geeks beyond my family and best friend, who I indoctrinated into the world of geekiness so I would not be alone. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I did. I was working as a government investigator and I had to get a record at a college campus, strolling down the quad when I noticed all the girls wore graphic t-shirts. They all wore glasses. They were chatting about vampires and Comic Con and Battlestar Galactica in co-ed groups. It blew my mind. These people became known as “hipsters.” We had a name, and though it now has a negative connotation, it was nice to be recognized by the zeitgeist. People like Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion, and David Tennant who I’d admired for years became mega-stars and continued to make all things geek, gasp, cool. Even for us girls.

            But we still have a long way to go before equality in the geek culture is reached. Recently there was a big controversy within the Science Fiction Writers Association (I am not a member) where several authors, most female, took umbrage to months of comments in their magazine about their physical appearances, and how Barbie is had a quiet reserve which women should aspire to. This prompted several female members to share their stories about being dismissed and outright sexually harassed by male members. (This goes across genres. Something like 70% of reviews in major news sources are about books written by men, but that’s a blog topic for another time.) This sexism isn’t limited to the publishing world by any means. Girl gamers are still put down in live chats as “bitches” and denied access into guilds. The world of superheroes and superhero movies shows the most disparity.  Skimpy outfits and large breasts are still the norm. There hasn’t been a single female superhero with her own movie or show since the failed Birds of Prey on The WB. Sure Scarlett Johansson kicked butt in The Avengers but unlike her male counterparts her costume was skintight and more was said about her butt than her butt kicking skills. Buffy and Katniss are the exceptions, not the rule.

Hollywood is catching on but really they don’t think us geek girls are a force to be reckoned with. That we don’t like ass kicking babes who aren’t defined by the men in their lives. When I was shopping around my latest book, Justice which features a normal hard-boiled female detective fighting supervillains I got the nicest rejection letters. They loved the story, the loved my writing but either my main character Joanna was too tough (not a Mary Sue) or there was no market for anything superhero with a female as a main character. In other words, it was brilliant but women don’t like superheroes or tough broads. I hope to prove them wrong because I am a geek girl, just as I think you are. We like what we like, and we make no excuses for it. And may our strength and perseverance help continue our rise to equality. Let’s make Wonder Woman proud. 

What about you? Have you noticed the inequality as well? Which superheroine would you like to see on the big or small screen? 

July 8 Guest blog
Mom With A Kindle

July 9 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.  

July 10 Guest blog
Addicted 2 Heroines 

July 11 Interview 

July 12 Spotlight
Mythical Books

July 15 review
The Speculative Salon – 

July 16 Spotlight
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom

July 17 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books

July 18 Interview
Roxanne’s Realm

July 19 review
Turning the Pages 

July 22 Guest blog and review
Urban Girl Reader – 

July 23 Spotlight
Elfie Books

July 29 Interview
Storm Goddess Book Reviews

July 31 interview and review
Musings and Ramblings  

August 1 spotlight and review
Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess

August 2 Spotlight and review
Queen of All She Reads 

August 2 review

August 5 Interview or Character Interview
Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews 

August 5 review
A_TiffyFit's Reading Corner

Book One of The Galilee Falls Trilogy
Jennifer Harlow

Genre: Urban Fantasy (Superhero)

Publisher: Devil on the Left Books

Date of Publication:  5/13

ISBN: 978-0-9893944-0-6 ebook
ISBN: 978-0-9893944-1-3 print

Number of pages: 320
Word Count: 100,000

Cover Artist: Damonza

Book Description:

It’s hard being a regular police officer in Galilee Falls, a city with the highest concentration of superheroes and villains in the country. It’s even harder watching your best friend, the man you’re secretly in love with your whole life, planning to marry another woman. Detective Joanna Fallon has to contend with both. When the vilest supervillain in the city’s history, Alkaline, the former crime boss who can shoot acid from his wrists, escapes from the maximum security prison, the whole city is gripped by panic.

Leading the pursuit is Captain Harry O’Hara, Joanna’s boss and secret lover, and the city’s champion superhero Justice, who caught the villain last time, much to Joanna’s chagrin. Before her father was murdered in a mugging twenty years earlier, Joanna worshiped the hero, but when he disappeared and failed to save her father, that adoration turned to contempt for all supers.

After Alkaline attacks too close to home and targets Joanna as his next victim, tough-as-nail Joanna has to contend with her increasing fear while struggling to choose between her life-long crush and her new-found love.

At turns vulnerable and fierce, equally mordant and winsome, Joanna is an earnest yet emotionally damaged heroine, who despite the tough breaks of her childhood sees the good in people and vow to protect her beloved city at all costs. An ass-kicking petite firecracker with no superpowers of her own, she charges after supervillains unflinchingly, never losing her wit even when facing her toughest fight. With a coy blend of whimsy and vivid imagination, she delivers both humor and thrills in an action-packed and edgy blend of comic book cool, fantasy-noir, and bitter-sweet romance.

About the Author:

Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. 

Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills. 

She is the author of the Amazon Best-Selling  F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad and Midnight Magic Series. For the soundtracks to her books visit  Tales From the Darkside Blog

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bn100 said...

Nice post

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds good to me. And I love the cover--reminds me of covers I enjoyed at the library way back when I started reading in the adult section (and wonderful why all the best books were about guys).

C.L. said...

What an amazing blog post. I really appreciated your comments on something that seems to always get glossed over. Thank you!!!