Dangerous Geek Women

You can imagine my excitement when I found out the biggest geek-fest of the year was putting on a panel called “The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con,” which was to feature some of the most prominent lady-faces of geekdom. And you can imagine my confusion when the talk was mainly focused on how geeky each woman found herself and what made her so geeky.

Why are these women dubbed “dangerous”? I wondered.

Surely it isn’t just because they happen to have vaginas and penchants for video games?

Each panelist (Leah Cevoli, Holly Conrad, Adrianne Curry, Abbie Heppe, Clare Kramer, Kristen Nedopak, Milynn Sarley, Stephanie Thorpe, and Patricia Tallman) is a tour de force in her own right, especially in the world of cosplay and extensive comic book and movie collections. So why was it so important for them all to validate their geekitudes?

Moreover, why is being a geek woman such a novelty?

Here are some theories:

The Sex Factor

When you lay a comic book next to an issue of Playboy, they look eerily similar: the boobs; the suggestive glances; the cries of distress that actually sound/read more like sex grunts… I mean, how can you have a libido and not have to lock your door to guard yourself from untimely parental intrusions when reading either one? What I’m getting at here is that geeks and the bros who throw geeks into lockers have way more in common than they think. And by that I mean hormones, tissues, and lotion.

And, let’s face it, every single woman on Comic-Con’s “Dangerous Women” panel fit the mold for every geek’s fantasy: beauty with at least some understanding of sci-fi references.

And a Raptor Jesus costume.

The Double Standard

Which brings me to my next point: what’s upsetting about The Sex Factor isn’t that women should never be able to express their sexuality. It’s that, given the very different way in which super-men are portrayed (with the impossibly massive muscles, the Protector Complex, and the permanent flex-pose), it’s pretty clear the target audience comprises straight boys. In other words, straight boys aren’t supposed to look at Superman’s abs and think, “Ooooooo yeah, Superman, mmmmmmmm, oh baby!” but, “This is what manhood is. I want to be like Superman.” Whereas they’re supposed to look at the women and say, “;SDL AO;SID ALS;ALSJD OIL; K; *jizz*” And that’s all. That’s all.

Eliminating the Threat

So, again, why are the aforementioned women “dangerous”? And, most importantly, accepted by this universe where women are as objectified as they are in just about every other medium?

I know so many of the people reading this might be shaking their fists at me, saying things like, “But these women are STRONG. And they have SUPERPOWERS. Why do you have to READ INTO EVERYTHING? Stop being an IRRATIONAL WOMAN, VICKIE.”

But as a self-identified woman, I always have to wonder why “strong women” nearly always have to run around half-naked. And my theory is this: the idea of a woman as strong and valuable as a man is still so taboo that the only way to reach that delicate balance and not offend male readers is to constantly undermine a woman’s strength with her sexiness.

“She’s so strong,” say teen boys, “but still so attainable. In fact, she wants to be objectified. Look at the way she’s sticking her booty and boobs out. Look. Loooooooook.”

So were the panelists all that dangerous? Or were they picked simply because they’re so feminine they don’t pose any threat to the expectations or masculinity of their fans?


But I’m not gonna lie, the counterarguments to my theories might just hold some water.

After all, in my heart of hearts I know femininity should never, ever be equated with weakness: Isn’t masculinizing women some form of sexism? Isn’t suggesting that, to be a strong woman, you have to be just like a man sooooooooo First Wave?

And it is. So the last point I’ll leave with you is this: There is absolutely nothing wrong with being feminine, no matter what gender you are. What’s irksome about the predominantly straight male geek world and the panel in question are the expectations raised for women, and the impossible standards geeky women are made to compare themselves with. As well as the very narrow, very rigid boxes everyone — men, women, and the invisible non-binary — is thrown into.

To me, being “dangerous” means shaking up the status quo. To me, the ultimate solution would be to widen the possibilities by showing way more gender diversity.

But, again, these are just my theories. What say you, Come-peeps?


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About the author

Vickie Toro

Hi, friend! I’m Vickie Toro. I’m the lesbian in Lesbros, the creator and one of the writers of BAMF Girls Club, and the Frumpy Girl who commiserates with your Style Ineptness. I’m a Potterhead, water-dancer, and overall TV junky. Also sports movies make me cry.

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  1. Miss Andrist

    Dangerous women? Dangerous like Hilary Clinton? Dangerous like Catharine MacKinnon or Marilyn French or – god forbid – Andrea Dworkin?

    Or dangerous like Storm?

    For one thing – starting with, GENDER != SEX. Gender is society, sex is biology. Sex is pretty immutable – a constant we are born with, defined at the cellular level. Gender, well – it’s not even real. Gender is like the square root of negative one. We use it, so it exists – but it’s not real. It’s imaginary, it exists only in our heads, and we have to express that shit with symbols.


    The hyperfeminization and hypermasculinization in comic books is no accident. And the degradation of the females, using their sexuality as its vehicle, is instantly obvious: dress the male characters in the same cosutumes, heels and all, and it suddenly becomes impossible to ignore the ridiculousness applied to any character who is not male.

  2. Wendy

    Unfortunately, comics are by and large written by men. They are also largely read by men. And, as you point out, there’s the Playboy factor – and you don’t have to be 18 to by Spider-Man! I don’t think this is likely to change, even if more women wrote/drew for the books, and more women read them, because now, the mostly-naked superheroine is ingrained as convention. Even Golden Age heroines were scantily-clad by mid-century standards, so this has been going on since the 40s. Some maverick artist starts drawing Wonder Woman with sensible costuming, and people are going to scream. (Oh, wait, that already happened…) Personally, I’d be happy if the spandex suits they wear smashed their boobs just like spandex does IRL. Such a small thing really, because now, they’re just naked-but-no-skin-colored.

    Geek women are dangerous because we make them nervous. We make their palms sweat and remind them that they aren’t one of the bros who gets all the girls (never mind the fact that most geek grrls want nothing to do with the bros). We can talk to them on their level, AND we have boobs. I think it makes their brains short out. I’m speaking in really broad terms – I know plenty of geek guys who don’t act like total buttheads when it comes to women in general and geek women in particular. Unfortunately those guys are not the vocal ones, the Anita-Sarkeesian-trolls are.

  3. Craig Anderson

    On one hand, yes. It is totally okay for women to be sexy. I often feel like the JudeoChristian Patriarchal culture that we live in, is just SO ingrained in our collective psyche; that any time a woman tries to break out of the simplistic virgin/whore complex, other women immediately go on the attack, accusing her of degrading herself for a male audience. [whew] So, women really can’t win. It’s either: cover yourselves up and be accused of “trying to be like a man”, or let it all hang out and “degrade” yourself.


    God, yes, absolutely there is a problem with the way that women are portrayed in comics, and I don’t see how other men can’t see it. I’m okay with characters such as Catwoman being sexy. That’s her whole schtick. She’s a slinky, bad girl, and a thief. Catwoman is SUPPOSED to be sexy. But when they pull that stuff with EVERY female character, it gets to be a little much. If you showed a male character standing with his arms akimbo and his head thrown back every time he was standing still, comic book geeks would say: “What’s he doingthere? That’s stupid. Why does he look like he’s POSING?”. But every time a woman is standing still, she’s expected to throw one hip out to the side and pout with her boobs thrust forward. That looks ridiculous to me. Not because I don’t LOVE it when women pout and stick their boobs at me, but because it looks out of place.

    Okay maybe part of it is jealousy. “Wait! How come none of the women *I* know bend over and let me look down their cleavage any time they’re doing a simple task!!”. But to deny that it exists is just painful suspension of disbelief. 🙁

  4. Ben

    I think Zoe Washburne from firefly is an example of the ideal female badass in a show/comic/game. There are a large amount of complaints from feminists about games and comics and movies for objectifying the female characters as sex symbols, which I am not arguing at all, it is an unfortunate truth. As much as I love sexy women, it would be better I think if more characters in stories were like Zoe Washburne. female roles, Badass and strong, and still wearing clothes. less objectification would most likely be good for a better fairer tomorrow.

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