Lauren Berkley in her cat suit. Photo by Nate Buchman Photography.
In “geek,” “nerd” and comic book cultures, the media’s fascination with a female beauty ideal marginalizes and ultimately contributes to a larger dismissal of women as cultural participants and, sometimes, human beings. Women who wish to participate in this culture are sometimes treated as decorations, and often challenged to ‘prove’ themselves as real fans.
Last week, aspiring comic book artist and college student Grace Morris described hostile treatment and challenges to her fan status, which she attributed to males’ reactions to her gender, while shopping for vintage comic books. She and other sources traced this treatment to the ‘male entitlement’ prevalent in some geek, nerd and comic book cultures, an attitude that they say has led to sexual harassment and assault of female fans at comic book conventions.
Grace Morris’s depiction of Batman and Robin
Nerd, “geek” and comic book cultures can become safe havens to bullied children by creating communities where individuals can explore their interests in a safe and supportive environment. According to some, though, members of these communities can create new social hierarchies similar to those they fled from, thus forging new victims.
Graig Weich, a comic book artist at Beyond Comics most recently known for casting supermodel Coco and America’s Next Top Model winner Adrianne Curry in the book Gekido #1, remembers being bullied as a child. He came to comic book culture because of this treatment, and eventually entered the industry to give hope to children victimized in a similar manner.
On May 23, college student Elliot Rodger shot and killed six people in a Santa Barbara, Calif. sorority house after releasing a manifesto blaming women and the men involved with them for his actions. Rodger justified the shooting by holding that women intentionally withheld pleasure, which Rodger felt entitled to, choosing instead to give affection to other men. The behavior of Rodger, who had a history of mental illness, has created a widespread debate on the relative influence of mental illness versus misogyny on Rodger’s mindset.
A map from The Guardian shows Syrian refugee populations abroad.
Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Lebanon has been the main destination for Syrians fleeing violence in their home country. According to The Guardian, Lebanon took in 844,021 refugees – the highest number compared to other host countries – as of January 2014. Due to its strong Sunni community, the northern city of Tripoli has attracted many Syrians.
For a Deutsche Rundschau article last year, I spoke to college student and Tripolitan Lulu Annous about changes in her town brought by the Syrian civil war. In a previous blog post, Annous shared insights regarding poverty, an increased military presence and her own experience with gunfire in the streets.