When I wrote “Do You,” I wanted to specifically avoid centering my voice and experiences in fandom since it was meant as a response to specific attacks against women who are not me, but with that done I can get back to talking about myself. Am I kidding? Who knows! But let’s get down to brass tacks. “Boobs” was a big word the other day and I’m sure that some genital based slang got thrown around too somewhere. Which is a perfectly fine word to self identify with if you’ve got a pair whether they’re the ones you were born with, added later, or are detachable.
What isn’t fine is defining women as the owners of breasts and vaginas, whatever clever euphemism you’re using. Not all women have both or either (and not all who do identify as female), for any of a number of different reasons. I- for example- am a trans woman who does not particularly enjoy being erased, even as part of a misogynistic diatribe. When I hinted at there being other intersections of privilege and oppression at work in female geek circles, that was one of the herd of elephants. Just like how the vast majority of cisgender female geeks would prefer to be accepted and included as equal participants, so to do trans* geeks of the full spectrum of gender identities.
The other part I wanted to bring up is that I really want to make it as clear as possible that there is no “debate” or “other side” to the issue of women lashing out at other women as a consequence of internalized misogyny. It’s not a valid question to ask if and how women should self identify in geek circles. It’s not up for discussion. What is up for discussion is dismantling the attitudes and behaviors that lead to this kind of incident. Any time that you set out to police another woman’s identity or choices that are not doing demonstrable harm to anyone else, you are immediately in the wrong. I really am not trying to hear anything about allegedly obnoxious behavior by this or that group of female geeks. There are Buffys and Cordelias, Rainbow Dashes and Raritys. Neither one is inherently better than the other.
The point of the “Do You” philosophy is that you let other people self determinate to the same degree that you expect from them. I was on the bus a few hours after posting up “Do You and Other Words of Wisdom” flipping through the comments from my phone while on the bus to work and several girls got on the bus chattering away about pokemon, anime, and about a dozen other topics in the span of about five minutes. They certainly weren’t operating at my frequency, but they were engaging with each other in a positive way and that’s really all that mattered. So the next time you see something that irks you in fandom, take a second to really examine where that feeling comes from. Are they actually taking away from your (or anyone else’s) ability to engage respectfully, or are they just operating on a different frequency?