The Invasion of ‘That Guy’

I think perhaps I’m out of touch with the scene – I always thought it was really bad form to wear the tshirt of the band you’re going to see to their gig, and even worse to wear the tshirt of the band that you’re seeing and that you’ve only just bought. I know I’m not the only one, for instance there is this Nothing Nice to Say strip.

However, recently I’ve noticed people doing it more and more, when I saw Streetlight Manifesto there was a veritable sea of Streetlight tshirts, including lots of the new one for that tour, obviously bought at the gig. Now, yes, I do live in my many band tshirts, but I’d never wear one of the band I was going to see, it just makes you look really, really unoriginal.

In my opinion the way to do it is to wear a witty or related top – for example I wear my Bomb the Music Industry tshirt to see Streetlight, both awesome American ska-punk bands, or I wore my Ska-Gal and the Hands of Ra top to see The Meow Meows, who contain ex-members of Ska-Gal. Of course this too has its problems, as shown by this 21 Dead Monkeys comics. Or you avoid the whole situation by not wearing a band tshirt at all, which is normally where my Pokemon tshirt comes in.

Ok, so it’s not like smoking in the mosh pit (those were the days…), or touching people up while they’re crowd surfing, but I do think it is kind of lame. So, either this is proof that at 21 I’m out of touch with the scene, and old and past it, or I’m hugely elitist, or there are a lot of other people going to gigs and wondering what on earth is going on.

On green hair and women’s bodies

At the moment half my hair is dyed green. This is not a big deal to me, I’ve had unnatural coloured hair for over two years now, and for another year or so before that, my hair is part of my identity but at the same time it’s something that’s as unusual to me as my glasses. This is not true with a proportion of society, and for some reason the green really seems to attract much more attention than any other colour I’ve had.

Sometimes this attention is fine, overhearing a child on the tube ask her mum if I was wearing a wig, and when correcting announcing she wanted to dye her hair was adorable, and most of the comments I get are genuinely flattering. However, some of the time it is fairly obvious ‘I like your hair’ really doesn’t mean they like your hair at all, and it’s just like being a 15 year-old goth with men shouting at me out of their car windows all over again. The other one I get is ‘you’ve got green hair!’ Well, yes, I know. These I can ignore, my appearance has always got me more attention I’d rather not have.

Buying something in a shop and having the sales assistant reach over and touch my hair however, I can’t ignore. Ok, so she complimented my hair, but she also totally violated my personal space. At the time I was shocked, and a bit amused, now I’m really quite angry. Just earlier today I was sitting in a cafe at my uni, drinking tea, reading The Waves and listening to music, and some guy said ‘I like your barnet’, and it’s nothing, I just ignored him, but for me to have been able to hear it over my music he must have said it really loudly, because of course I want everyone to stare at me.

All these little events aren’t much on their own, but together they make me think how much my body is assumed to be common property, just because I stand out. It’s not always men of course, but it does often make me think of the theory of male gaze when it happens, and of the way women’s bodies are under so much scrutiny. I can sympathise with the way famous people have to deal with being told they look too fat, too thin, too old, but more I can sympathise with ordinary women who deal with this not because they choose to stand out in some way, after all I don’t always mind the attention my hair and clothes gets me, but because they happen to have large breasts or, worse, walk along a road. How dare they?

The second of those links I’ve only just seen, the timing of it is odd, and it makes me think maybe I’m getting off lightly. I think I’d rather be insulted than have suggestive comments made, maybe my punk-inspired clothes, glasses and perpetual pissed-off or terrified expression help me, they’ve always felt like a bit of a mask. Still, my immediate reaction on hearing a car beep shouldn’t be to swear at it, one day it will be someone I know.

Related to this is the case of Sophie Lancaster, kicked to death because she was a goth. I was lucky when I was a goth, I think the only physical thing that happened to me was having stones thrown at me on the beach, by kids from my school of course. Oh, and the very first time I remember going out in obviously gothic clothes, aged 13, I got ‘Pippi Longstocking’ shouted at me by significantly older boys because of my striped socks, I’d been told my dad had dies maybe ten minutes before. At least I had more important things on my mind than taking much notice of some idiots. The fact that nearly 9 years later I’m still taking abuse from people I don’t know because of my appearance is sad, as is the fact I don’t even really get angry very often now.

It seems that as a female who identifies as belonging to an alternative sub-culture I get to either be abused or leched at on the street. I refuse to change the way I dress, this is not my problem, this is the problem of people who think perving on under-age girls is acceptable, but I do wish I could think of some productive way to make them realise how unacceptable their behaviour is.

Geek Style and the female gaze

Yesterdaystumbleupon gave me this link, from the blog Painfully Hip.It’s kind of old now, and these kind of articles aren’t that uncommon, but this one made me stop and think. I’m used to talking about the male gaze, after all, I read comics, I spend much of my time sighing at the stupid, revealing costumes, indistinguishable faces, hips that just won’t unsway and general, unrelenting sexiness of the women. But what about the female version?

The article, much as I do sort of agree with what the author has to say, geeky boys really are cute, and the bog glasses have developed into a worrying obsession with me, I want some as my next pair, I have a few issues with it. For a start, the title: ‘The Modern Nerd’s Guide to Getting Laid, No Sympathy Involved’, way to perpetuate the stereotype that all men think about is sex, or the one that geek’s are unattractive, which is ironic considering the topic of the article.

Then there’s the whole concept of the article – a woman telling a man how to dress, because of course men, especially geeks, are unable to dress themselves and there is nothing more important than appearance. Though I have done this myself, two of my female friends and I took one of my male friends shopping, I was pretty shocked by the facts that he didn’t know what size he was, bought clothes way too large and never tried anything on, and yes, we did pretty much tell him what looked good and to buy it. This to me seems to be the female gaze, the act of moulding the way a man looks, of infantilising them, especially enforcing the stereotype that geeks are unable to cope with ‘normal’ society, unable to looks after themselves.

Still, I do like the lack of trying to change the type of person,”but you are a geek and that’s probably never going to change” is a relief from the usual total change of personality seen on makeover shows. The article is sympathetic to the whole idea of being a geek, as long is it is the sexy, hipster type, but, where is the mention of female geeks? Do we not need to be told what to wear? Do we not exist? Is there even a stereotype of what a female geek looks like? I doubt me with my punk/psychobilly style counts, but just get me talking about comics or Warhammer books or Dungeons and Dragons, or rather try to get me not to.

It seems that, while simultaneously trying to embrace and break the geek stereotype the author of the article actually reinforces some of the most depressing parts of it, which is a shame, especially as she is right, geek boys are hot, and so are geek girls.