Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs

"It's never been a better time to be a geek girl." So says the description of The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs. It is subtitled "A Handbook for Girl Geeks" and so I was immediately drawn to it. I don't know that I qualify as a "geek girl", but I at least make camp on the fringes.  I am a proudly self-proclaimed nerd, whether it be of the book or any other variety and there are certainly things I geek out about, therefore a book aimed at similar girls must be read. Sam Maggs wrote this book to reach out to all the Girl Geeks whom she felt were being overlooked and marginalized by "the often male-dominated world of geekdom."

Maggs' book gives permission (not that we need it) to all the girls out there who feel like they are being told they aren't allowed to like something, or like it as passionately as they do, because they are girls. This is a fabulous feminist manual for teaching us that we should like what we like and not care what anyone says. It embraces all the wonderful things out there that maybe we used to think were just for the boys: video games, comics, anime, Star Wars, Comic-Con, or anything else out there that makes us geek out.

She begins her book by lauding all geekiness.

My geekiness has made me friends all over the world, women who continue to be the most intelligent, well-spoken, and wonderful people I know.... What's more, regardless of their particular fandom, geek girls are devoted to supporting women in media., constantly pushing an agenda of acceptance, diversity, and fair representation.

This book is a primer for anyone curious about any aspect of the "geekdom". She breaks down some of the most populated fandoms by their defining characteristics, key accessories, tips on how to join in on the fun and details the unending debates among those that are members. I was surprised at how many of these she listed while also knowing there are thousands more. She talks about Potterheads, SuperWhoLockians, Ringers, Otaku, Trekkies, Star Warriors, Batgirls, YA Book Nerds, Whedonites, Girls Who Game, and lots more. She is also clear to point out that everyone is different and even within the fandoms, there are distinctions. And while I definitely nerd out to a lot of things, I only identified with a few she listed, but it's always fun to learn about someone else's passion. She also gives excellent advice for anyone wanting to attend her first convention. From the ginormous Comic-Con in San Diego to several smaller conventions around the U.S. and Canada, Maggs will help you get there and have a great time.

The feminist in me loves the feminist in Maggs. She brings a strong sense of girl power into her love of the geeks. I especially appreciate her drawing attention to the concept of the Bechdel Test. This is a test created by Alison Bechdel used to call out gender bias in films, television and other forms of entertainment. Simply answer three easy questions:
1. Are there two female characters with names?
2. Do they talk to each other?
3. Do they talk about something other than a man?

This may seem silly, but it is shocking how many things fail this once you put them to the test.

Finally, I love the list of resources at the end of the book for anyone wanting to expand her geekiness or find other like-minded ladies. I've marked them all and I'm making my way through one website at a time. And I have to love someone who says this:

"I'm nobody's sidekick, love interest, or token female. I'm driving this ship. I'm a fangirl, a feminist, and a force to be reckoned with."

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