Past events would strongly suggest the geek world isn’t ready to have it’s #metoo moment. (Mentioning the given name of said past events is like saying “Voldemort” so I’ll decline to elaborate further here). But here’s another perspective.
“Maybe we started this whole thing in 2014?!” Gina Hara, director of upcoming documentary Geek Girls says. “The women who have made their passion their career, the women in science, tech, gaming and comics – these women have been standing up and making noise long before the #metoo movement.”
“It’s only now their voices are being heard.”
Haro says there is definitely a shift happening in the world right now, and #metoo is part of that.
“It’s special not because people are speaking up, but because they are being listened to. And that is new.”
But that doesn’t mean it was easy for the women in Geek Girls to share their stories.
“At the beginning I didn’t understand why,” Hara says. “All these women have had experiences with cyberbullies and they just didn’t want to be in the spotlight any more than absolutely necessary.”
“The amazing women in the film were brave enough to decide to speak up for the common good, to share their experiences and tell people both about the good and the bad.”
“I see these women as role models for all the young girls out there feeling weird and geeky.”
Hara says Geek Girls shows “the other side”, the voices of women quietly working behind the scenes in a world that was established by men to suit a male culture.
“For these women, not only is it hard to break in to these industries, it’s even harder for them to stay there,” Hara explains.
Hara has been working and experimenting with the moving image since she was a teenager. Starting with little video pieces shot and edited on VHS tapes led to a Masters Degree in filmmaking.
She says Geek Girls is an important film “on many levels”.
“On a personal level it is a big deal for me to stand out there and talk things about growing up as a geek,” Haro tells me. “Intimate things, embarrassing things. Things I was bullied about or things I ought to hide in order to fit in.”
Hara wanted to educate people, and draw attention to how easily we judge or dismiss one another.
“Yes, Geek Girls is a feminist film about nerdy women, but it is also so much more,” Haro says. “It’s a film about acceptance and in our times, there is nothing more important than that.”
And how important is having female role models in the geek space?
“It is paramount,” Hara says. “I definitely feel the lack of women role models from my childhood.”
“And not just the geeky ones.”
When people asked Hara what she wanted to be when she grew up, she always said “a filmmaker”.
“I remember sometimes people laughed at my answer and said ‘but you are a girl’.”
“It was in Hungary in the 90s, but still now, how many women directors can you name?” Hara says.
Hara says the discrimination is usually subtle or even invisible to her. Comments to her face are rare, but sometimes happen.
“Being interrupted, having less opportunities, not being included are just the most common examples,” Haro says.
“Both as a geek and as a filmmaker my credit and knowledge are always questioned and I always have to work harder to be taken seriously, to be given a chance.”
Are the fandoms themselves are changing to accommodate a growing, more diverse audience?
“As our society changes, all sub-cultures follow,” Haro says. “Cyberbullies, gatekeepers and trolls don’t live in a vacuum, they are our neighbours and cousins.”
“We all need to keep up to work of educating ourselves and listening to the diverse voices around us. I would like to be optimistic.”
Geek culture is becoming more and more mainstream and inclusive, Hara says. Geeks are less ostracised and our confidence is growing.
“There is a lot of positive change, but it’s up to all of us to keep this up.”