I’ve been sitting on this blogpost for a very long time. Months and months in fact. Which in itself is pretty relevant to the subject matter of it.
When I first heard about the book Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It I have to admit I was puzzled by it. The title seemed to sum me up, I am after all a female fan of Doctor Who, but I didn’t really understand why the book was necessary. I don’t watch and enjoy Doctor Who or any of the other geeky or sporty things I like differently because I’m female, so why was it necessary to have a book about being a female fan?
It was released and I heard positive things about the book but remained bemused. Then the nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards were announced and Chicks Dig Time Lords was nominated in the Best Related Work category, and went on to win it. I decided I probably needed to give the book a go to see if I could work out why it was so highly regarded, bought a copy of it and put it on my bookshelf.
Roll on spring 2013, my understanding of a lot of things had changed and my eyes had become opened to many new things (the internet is a wonderful educator). For reasons I absolutely do not remember I picked up my copy of Chicks Dig Time Lords and started to read the first essay. I read a handful of essays on my first sitting, and then over the next few months read the whole book an essay or two at a time – wanting to spread them out and give myself time to think about what they’d had to say.
I was so very wrong in my first assessment of the book. I completely misinterpreted what the book was about and why it existed. The book isn’t a collection of essays about being a female Whovian, it’s a collection of essays by and about Whovians who happen to be females. And that is such an important distinction, one I needed time and learning to be able to spot, let alone understand.
For all manner of geeky things there are a range of publications both print and digital that give fans a voice. I’m aware that whilst these publications exist women’s contributions are generally less common than men’s. That is what this book has done – it’s given a safe space for women to share their thoughts and opinions. I do think the balance has started to shift a little since the book was published in 2009, but there’s still such a very long way to go.
As a female geek and sports fan I have always known that my voice is a quiet, frequently unheard and sometimes unwelcome one. My presence in both arenas has not been without its difficulties, my gender has time and again gone against me – from dismissive comments assuming the nature of my interest (apparently it’s all about the hot men) to suggestions that my knowledge needed to be tested to ensure I did genuinely belong there. My stories are sadly common amongst female fans, and I count myself lucky (and isn’t that in itself a sad state of affairs) that my experiences whilst irritating, patronising and downright unreasonable are firmly at the very mild end of the scale of the abuse experienced by other women.
I have plenty of thoughts and opinions on the things I am passionate about. I shy away from sharing them publicly, particularly on my blog. There have been odd posts over the years, but far too many times there have been little voices telling me I don’t know enough, don’t have the background, don’t belong, shouldn’t be writing about that particular topic. And so I haven’t.
(As an aside, the one post I did write that always comes to mind is the one I wrote on my old blog about The Sarah Jane Adventures. Someone whose opinion I really respect read it, and misinterpreted a really ambiguous sentence I’d written. They commented about it, and it still makes me cringe to remember years after. A lesson learnt.)
This is the year I’m going to make a change. I have this space all of my own and I’m going to use it to be me. I’m going to write posts about things I love and care about, and actually hit the publish button. I’m going to write more posts about the random thoughts that often fill my brain, things that leave me pondering but I convince myself no one else could possibly care about.
One of my concerns about writing about these things is that I won’t be any good at it – but as I tell my Beaver Scouts the only way to get better at something is to practice. I think it’s about time I took my own advice. I’m going to ignore the voice in my head that comes up with all the reasons why I shouldn’t, I’m going to stop caring about the fact I’m a girl, stop caring about the fact I might get something a bit wrong, and I’m going to take the leap and just get on with it.
My blog, my thoughts, and there’s no one who can tell me what I can and can’t do.