Simon Pegg on Twitter: Geek Girls
At this point, it’s been a couple weeks (or something?) since Simon Pegg got into an argument with a feminist on Twitter. The feminist, Courtney Stoker, posted most of the conversation. I’m sure everyone has basically forgotten about it, as is the nature of the internet.
I see this more as a battle of ideas and a lack of distinct lines drawn in the sand, rather than being about what the individuals actually believe. There is merit on both sides and there are negatives about either as well.
Pegg makes a yummy sound at a bunch of slave-Leia cosplayers, and Stoker says he’s objectifying them. How do we know, or who says what is ‘objectification’ and what is ‘acknowledging attractiveness’? Pegg points out the combination of things which make the girls attractive to him–being female and having geeky qualities. Is it fair to fault him for finding this combination of traits attractive? Or are we mad at him for saying it publicly?
Stoker extrapolates from Pegg’s statements that he is objectifying the women and implying that they’re decoration to fulfill his sexual fantasies.
The best way I can explain is this: I went to CONvergence about a month ago, and there were a lot of cosplayers there. Some costumes were worth looking at for a second, whether because they were creative, complicated, interesting, unique, or sexy. (Often it was a combination of these that drew my attention.) I un-creepily enjoyed looking at a number of people, and some of them were sexily-dressed women.
Of course those people weren’t there for my enjoyment, or for me to look at. They’re individuals having a good time at a really great convention and having fun getting dressed up. They were probably noticing other people’s costumes as well. I’m not saying that this is how Pegg views cosplayers, but it is a prerogative that is overlooked.
Again, Pegg was pointing out attractive qualities. I feel the need to qualify that there are types of attraction that aren’t sexual. Any Ace would probably be able to explain this much better than I can, but I’ll try.
I walk into a coffee shop and happen to see a woman in her early twenties sitting, drinking some delicious-looking coffee-beverage. She’s a bit cute; I notice, but I’m otherwise un-phased. Then I see that she’s reading The God Delusion. She has just become attractive, in the sense that I might strike up a conversation with her. It seems like we might have some things in common.
Then I see that she has a Doctor Who button on her bag. She has just moved up another tier of attraction, which might at this point be bordering on physical/sexual attraction.
My point is: Just because someone is pointing out attractiveness doesn’t mean that it’s inherently sexual in nature, nor does it mean that the person whose qualities are being highlighted is being turned into an object in EVERY instance. I do understand that objectification is a rampant problem, and that disrespect occurs far too often in geek culture. However, we don’t need to jump on every comment on attractiveness made by a cis straight guy just because it’s coming from a cis straight guy. It’s important to be able to distinguish between the different sets of language used by people showing appreciation and people who are being oppressive through objectification.
If we’re going to jump on people like Pegg for saying that they’ve got a thing for [insert thing here] because it’s a combination of [other things], then shouldn’t those rules apply in other spaces as well? I think that skeptic women are sexy–a combination of two things I love, as well as appreciating the fact that the person is an individual and not solely defined by being a skeptic and a woman.
It shouldn’t be necessary for someone to say “That slave-Leia cosplayer looks quite attractive. I hope she feels empowered as she thoroughly enjoys this con,” every time they notice a sexy costume. I do thoroughly hope that people feel comfortable and empowered at cons. I would expect the same amount of respect that I give them, and wouldn’t begrudge a single person for non-creepily appreciating my costume or taking my picture.
Image from cosplayoverload.com because Cowboy Bebop was awesome, the cosplayers in the picture are awesomely dressed, and they actually have a corgi.