The CBS show The Big Bang Theory drew some criticism this week when the promo for this week’s episode featured the women of the show entering a comic shop with the voice over saying “the girls go where no woman has gone before”.
The promo is suggesting that women don’t go into comic shops, or read comics reinforcing yet another set of stereotypes about geek culture.
The idea that women don’t go into comics shops or read comics is a fallacy, of course. You only need to flip through the three years of the Women Read Comics in Public if you need convincing (which if you do WHY ARE HERE?)
So when a show like TBBT helps to spread a frustrating stereotype that I spend like a lot of time fighting it really pisses me off.
But I decided to watch the episode because just as in comics sometimes the teasers don’t exactly adhere to what they are teasing. So how was the actual show in depicting the reception of the women? I took a look at some stereotypes about women and comics and comic shops and rated the episode.
Stereotype One: Comic shops patrons are all dudes who see you only an object of lust.
The scenes of the girls entering the comic shop where pretty over the top. All the men immediately turn and stare at the women. The shop owner has to twice tell them to stop staring including threatening to “turn a hose on them.” Fail!
Stereotype Two: The owner or staff will ignore you and make you feel unwelcome.
Since the the shop owner knew the women and their boyfriends this point wasn’t really touched upon. He asked them what brought them there and didn’t seemed surprised they might want to read comics. Win!
Stereotype Three: Shop owners/staff push “girl” titles like Fables.
He does take the time to ask what they think they might like. They ask what their boyfriends and he says mostly superheroes. He then names off a bunch of superheroes including Wonder Woman, Power Girl and Batgirl.
HA! No he didn’t. Despite seeing glances of Wonder Woman in the background and shot showing both a Power Girl and Huntress trade, not one female character is named.
And after name checking several MALE characters he offers them … Fables. Fail!
Stereotype Four: Superhero comics are not for women!
Well, we already saw that reinforced in the staff recommendation. But actually the women reject Fables and instead for for Thor, because he is hot (everyone including the shop owner agree). We later see the women saying that the comics are stupid. So fail? Actually they end up getting immersed in a argument about Thor’s hammer which results in them grabbing more superhero comics and having more arguments about Thor’s Hammer including name checking Red Hulk. Win!
Stereotype Five: Male geeks know everything about geekdom!
The men of the series can’t believe it when they arrive home to hear the women discussing comics including the line that “Maybe Thor is a new nail polish.”
In the end? The teaser was frustrating because it DID reinforce the stereotype that women and comics don’t mix. For those who watch the show it was a mixed bag.
I know it’s just one show that already parodies the world of geekdom but in the world women and geeks, which has resulted in “the Fake Geek Girl” meme, horrible trolling by dudes who think the geekdom and comics are just for them, and verbal diarrhea from creators like Tony Harris about female cos-players, this just felt like another thing, particularly the teaser, that could make women feel unwelcome.
And that’s stupid.