Review: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs
Published by Quirk Books on May 12, 2015
Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.
This really turned out to not be a book for me.
I found some things that irked me, very little amused me and nothing really informed me.
I’m still a little unsure who the correct demographic for it is as it is quite basic in all the details (be sure to take water to that con!), so current “geek girls” will not find much in here they don’t already know either through experience or common sense. I suppose it could be used by young girls who aspire to become “geek girls”? Young boys in hopes of finding a description of their dream fangirl? Or maybe just geek girls that have been too introverted to find their place, people that are super fans but somehow are completely unaware of events and online spaces where they can meet like minded people?
It even has a sections that range form how to write fanfic to how to use twitter. Twitter? And Facebook? This is a guide for geeks that also includes instructions for how to use these forms of social media? Maybe it’s for Grandma Geek Girls? I am really not sure who is unaware of Twitter at this point. But never the less, I won’t go so far as to say there is no market or demographic for it. I am just firmly aware that I am not included in whatever that market may turn out to be.
Now, I can’t help but comment on the section about Feminism. There are 5 myths that Maggs speaks to argue against. They are really examples of sexism and/or harassment in various geek communities.
I will confess I have never been to a con and I am not a gamer. I may be online a fair amount and admin a genre forum, but I also avoid all the “scandal-drama”. So I may be the least qualified person to react to this section of the book.
I have had the experience of running across the occasionally challenged male that seems to have some misconceived idea that gender differences also correlate to intellect differences or “right to be there” differences (more in my major that was 90% male than in any fandom related things). But there are immature jerks in both genders and there are so many different types of jerks, I just ignore it and don’t let it hold me back. It is unfortunate that it is ever an issue, but I feel it is more their problem than mine.
I will also acknowledge that perhaps my areas of geekdom don’t have the same levels of problems as women face at cons or in the gaming world and I don’t want to trivialize any single instance of sexism or harassment. It should NEVER happen.
But, I guess my point is I prefer to focus on the positive and I don’t let the actions of jerks (that I know exist) define the rest of geek-dom. So for some reason I couldn’t help but cringe when reading this list because I felt like it came across as harsh rather than supportive. Now I will say the author disputed every single one of these myths with examples or explanations. But I still couldn’t get over actually giving some of these “myths” page space in the manner it was approached. I will also confess that I have never heard that “Feminist geeks hate men”. What? Evidently
The idea that we hate men and want to take over the world is a bummer stereotype perpetuated by the media, and it harms our awesome fight for the future of humanity.
Thankfully I read the wrong media. I have never seen a reputable media source claim that feminist geeks hate men.
Ultimately, I think my biggest concern with this section is that it seemed to be more of an outcry about the injustices or misconceptions related to gender within fandoms rather than useful information on how a geek girl should handle a situation if they do happen to run into a case of sexism or harassment. If this is a guide for geek girls, why not help them by giving some good advice and support?
It probably didn’t help that I couldn’t help but read this book and hear upspeak at times. I may just have a lower tolerance for the style it is told than other people, so to be completely fair, I decided to include a quote. People can choose for themselves if this speaks to them in a way that makes them want to read the book:
Being a geek girl is the best thing ever and here are all the ways you can do more nerdy things that are awesome and don’t ever apologize for it because you are the best person out there and I’m so proud of you and you’re beautiful.
There were sections for all sorts of different types of Fangirls from LoTR, to Dr. Who, to Marvel to even my favorite: Game of Thrones. These sections contained several sections:
- Defining Characteristics – which contained a list of supposed traits.
- Key Accessories – A list of ways you could show your love for the book/movie/comic. It would include hair style and accessory suggestions.
- How To Become One – a list of the obvious. Read/Watch said area the fandom is for. Seriously, what this section necessary??
- Unending Debates – Common conversations or controversies within the fandom
All this section did was help me realize I am just not “girly” enough to embrace a book that tells me what earrings or leggings to wear to help identify which form of fangirl I am.
Actually, I’ve decided I am not a fangirl, I am just fan.