That awkward moment when George Takei’s Duela Dent Facebook post turned into a geek girl gender war

George Takei posts Duela Dent cosplay

So I accidentally (and I think subconsciously) participated in a not-so-obvious gender battle yesterday. Or perhaps it was never a gender battle to begin with. Let’s discuss. It involved a mistaken cosplay shame meme. An Internet troll posted a meme, shaming a cosplayer’s Duela Dent costume, unaware that she was actually a legit comic book character, but instead believing that she had just put together 3 different ideas into a (very good) mash-up cosplay.

Let’s talk about the language on the meme. “Trying to hard” connotes shaming for effort. Why would we ever shame someone for putting in too much effort? Even if this was, as the meme maker falsely believes, a gender swapped steampunk Joker…. so? If someone tries to do something, and they put hours and hours into it, and it’s obvious they’ve put a lot of hard work into it, why would we try to shame them for it? This raises the question – if it was a male cosplayer with a similar 3 way mash-up, would he be “shamed” for extra effort? Even if the cosplay was executed terribly, if the effort was there, how could we shame someone in the cosplay community for partaking in a hobby we all love so much? But sadly, shaming exists. It isn’t something I ever expected to find so predominant in the geek community, but here we are.

It’s obvious the quality of her costume is incredible. But the meme maker’s issue seems to be with the quality – as well as diversity. It sounds to me like this person doesn’t like cosplay in general, with a statement like that. If they were a true cosplayer, I would doubt they would shame a member of their own community, no matter what they wore! I personally would give a 3-way well executed mash-up costume 5 stars! Mash-ups are hard! I did a “Dalek Princess” at New York Comic Con last year, and I don’t think most people got it. And anyway, if you’re going to be taking issue with any mash up cosplayer, it’s gotta be this guy first and foremost. *shudder*

I’m not sure exactly why I commented the way I did. Oh yeah, that’s right, because I’m an Internet pixie. I make stupid jokes. And I think I did immediately think, “Oh it’s because she’s a woman!” Looking back, yeah, it’s not blatantly about the fact that she is a girl, and a geek. But I think it might be, and even subconsciously, I was wondering, if this sort of thing is related to her gender. Is it that the meme maker (who obviously never heard of Duela Dent) assumed she was doing this for attention? For sexual glances? For something we’d stereotype the “Idiot nerd girl” for doing? What exactly makes the meme maker so mad? Is the meme maker a man?

I put my feelers out to the Geek Girl Pen Pals Facebook community and got some fantastic responses.

Post a comment to let me know what you think about my comment, this meme, and gender roles in the geek community in general. Did this thread get turned into a gender war for no reason? Or is it secretly about the fact that she’s a woman all along? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Other cool articles on the topic
Blogpost # 3: Discrimination in Cosplay
Misogyny and Size Discrimination in Cosplay
The Negative Side of Cosplaying
I’m a Black Female Cosplayer And Some People Hate It