geek girls don’t cry

don’t tell me i’ve got to be bummed about my breasts

I am all apologies. I had no idea my web page looked like shit if you were looking at it through Microsoft Internet Explorer. Damn. Damn. Damn. For those of you who never got to read “I Lived With John Travolta” it is now in a more readable, agreeable form. Same with the splash page. I just figured if it looked right on this piece of crap OS/2 box I have at my work desk it should look pretty decent anywhere. Ai ya.

I saw The Slums of Beverly Hills last night. Hmm… it was okay, but if you’ve seen Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore by Sarah Jacobsen, you’ve seen a better version of this film. It was okay in that “quirky teen” kind of coming-of-age film, but I really wanted it to be funnier, and I really wanted the body doubles to get, like, third billing in this film, since we were seeing headless boobies for a good 1/38th of the film.

Yes, that is an exact fraction based off the time spent in the film directly proportional to the time spent looking at boobies in the film, thank you very much.

I’m a little angry about the film, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not just this film, it’s every film that has an awkward girl as it’s heroine…

Sarah Jacobsen’s film is about this girl and what happens to her. You watch her get a job, and interact with friends and boys and find out about sex and masturbation. In films like “Slums” and “Welcome to the Dollhouse” the teen becomes a bit of a hero, and the rest of the family are made to look like dorks. We are looking through the biased eyes of the fifteen year old, and we don’t see the family as a whole. We are watching the girl who’s thinking, “If only my family would all die and then I could be famous.”

I think these films sometimes make the confused puberty-ridden teen a lot more heroic than she ever could be. These films tell you if you’re awkward, you’d better be extraordinary or we don’t really care about you.

I moved around a lot growing up, and I was awkward virgin girl in school and I had a weird family and I was lonely and I didn’t know how to give myself an orgasm, but it didn’t make me like everyone else. It didn’t make me stronger than the average girl and able to handle any crisis that came my way. I would go into a crying shrieking fit if the President interrupted the “Facts of Life” to give a speech. These girls are so stoic that they handle situations with more dignity and respect than their parents.

The Geek Girl in today’s indie film has to be so unattractive that you find them interesting to look at. She’s got to be so awkward that she makes you feel good about your adolescence. She has to hate her body and she has to be teased by every member of her family. She has to hate the thought of one day being a woman. And this last point of mine is my biggest beef: She has to be molested or potentially molested or watch someone be molested by a family member or close family friend. Why is there always a molestation scene in the middle of a dysfunctional-family-teen-girl-comedy? Why? I’m tired of watching a film and before we even get into the plot I’m trying to decide which creepy uncle is going to feel up our heroine’s tits? I’ve been programmed to dislike the heroine’s family. And that’s the part that really gets me… we’re supposed to see her grow up and get stronger and learn about herself and then she always gets into this rape-type-scene and that’s when we see her back down, run away, have a breakdown. That’s where the Geek Girl is no longer a winner. She cannot triumph over sexual abuse.

It’s like they took the best parts of our Judy Blume books when we were kids and added just enough sex jokes that it’s now a taboo film when basically these films are about getting your tits and liking boys and trying to decide when you will go “all-the-way.” If that’s what it is, that’s what it is, and put a funky March Violets song in the back and call it “Sixteen Candles” and be done with it. But if I’m supposed to feel like how I did when I was fourteen and this boy on the bus was trying to put his hand up my panties and I was so scared I sat still and cried— then why make me re-live it film after film after film if you don’t have anything new to say, but you need to get the sex abuse element in your teen comedy/drama. Give the Geek Girl some power once in a while. If she can stand up to the whole school, she can stand up to Uncle Ed who likes to play horsey.

I’m tired of it. I just am. Treat it the way it is, or don’t use it in your film. If you really need to tell the story of child sex abuse, read She’s Come Undone. Then decide if you really want to tell that story. Then tell me if you really understand what it’s like to be a Geek Girl. Read Girl.

We didn’t all grow up with hilarious families where we rolled our eyes all the time at our wackiness. Not all Geek Girls are ugly. We don’t all have uncontrollable breasts or no breasts or weird breasts. We don’t all get our periods in front of the class. We didn’t all have crushes on older, unattainable boys. We didn’t just accept things with a solemn, adult understanding. We cried. We cried because we had no control over our bodies and our futures. Other people decided if we were cool. Other people decided what we had to wear, where we lived, where we went to school. A Geek Girl is at the constant mercy of how the Head Bitch Girl feels at recess that day, or at lunch. Don’t tell me that after I get a little makeup on me, or I get a training bra that the boys will come a-running. Don’t mess with my head and tell me that I wasn’t pretty enough to be cool and “look-how-you-can-look-back-at-yourself-and-laugh.”

I know a mockery when I see one, and if you can keep making fun of me at this age, I don’t want to see your damn film.

I just get so upset because I want to root for these indie films. I want women filmmakers and writers to start making a mark in this industry. I just think they are going about it the wrong way. You don’t make a Geek Girl superhuman so that she can be accepted by Film-Watching-America. You show her like she is… a young, delicate, confused girl who’s about to experience some unforgettable things. She’s about to decide who she is and what she wants to be. She’s so concerned on what’s going to happen to her, she doesn’t hear the teasing anymore, it starts fading away. And one day she wakes up and realizes she hadn’t heard it in a while, and how come she didn’t notice that before? Show the evolution of the Geek Girl in a powerful, honest way. Yes, we should see her temper tantrums, her awkward attempts at sex, her pinings for the boy next door. But we don’t have to see her abuse herself for popularity, get abused by popularity, and get abused by family. Abuse is now what makes a Geek Girl a Geek Girl. That’s the movie industry’s excuse. “Oh, well, she was diddled by her stepfather, so she’s not right in the head.” It was not something horrible that happened to us. We just always were a little different. We liked different things. We liked wearing our clothes a different way. It wasn’t some horrible sexual incident that made us gawky. And even if there was sexual abuse and it makes you feel weird about your body and you don’t know how to dress anymore because you don’t want that to happen again, don’t laugh at it. Don’t point at it and say, “Look what that does to you. That’s hilarious.”

For Christs’ sake, give us a little respect.

I’m sorry I’m so cranky, but this has been on my mind since last night, and it’s just been so many damn films in a row. Even the good films all have sex abuse or someone observing sex abuse or whatever. The Ice Storm, Eve’s Bayou, Welcome to the Dollhouse

It’s funny that now that I’m an adult I’m searching for a younger character that I can identify with, someone that I feel lived my story… I’m looking for an answer to how I looked when I was a kid. I’m trying to find some sort of understanding and I’m furious that I cannot find it, and that it’s not a simple answer and then I think, when I was younger, I just wanted to be one of the Goonies.
Those were the coolest kids in the world. They stayed best friends thoughout their grand adventure and they saved their families from financial ruin. They were the outcasts of their school (aside from the cheerleader, who is there to learn something about Geek Kids) but they weren’t exploited for being different. When I was a kid, I wanted to be just like that.

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  1. Carol ckword2art

    I still look for films and books that reflect and validate my Geek Girl experiences growing up. Not fitting in but refusing to turn myself inside out to try to fit in has been a life long struggle. Having just turned 54 I still can’t say I have found myself or my place, but I haven’t stopped looking, inside or out. I really appreciate your writing about this topic and your experiences. I often wonder how my life could have been different if I had been able to find such voices like yours on the Internet had it existed back then.