Fourth Wall Feminism: Breaking Through the Marketing Barrier

GameStop, Inc.

On a daily basis, Nerd related media (and yes this is a real thing now) finds themselves with a conundrum: how do they market to millions of female fans in a way that will make them profit and not piss them off in the process? The problem is, up until recently thought regarding the female geek market has been…well…pretty pathetic.

Superman GlitterUntil very recently, if you wanted a Batman t-shirt that fit you like a woman, it was pink. Glitter, pastels and cute little chibi versions of famous characters have been the norm for some time. While there is nothing wrong with pastels and glitter, it is alarming to me that the industry thinks that glitter is a good substitute for character. We may need to blame Twilight for that one. I like Batman. I like the iconic logo. If I want to wear it across my chest, I want to wear it like Batgirl and not like BatBarbie. Sure, I could buy it in a man’s size, but then I looked sloppy. The times, they are a changing.

Scroll through Think Geek, Hot Topic, or even better Her Universe. You wanted something Nerdy that looks good? Ladies, it’s on. Espionage Cosmetics recently ran an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign for their nerdy Nail Wraps and highlight a whole blend of nerd makeup (yes that’s a thing). Based in Washington State, the girls are smart, funny and pretty fierce Gamers and comic fans. Oh yeah, they go to conventions to.

Then, there’s what doesn’t work. A marketing rep recently pushed a comic our way, insisting that it was “totally a feminist thing.” Okay, we’ve already got a problem. A feminist thing. How about, here’s a comic with an amazing story, and hey, the main character happens to be a strong female? I’m leaving out the name of the comic, because I don’t want you to even give it a second thought.

It only got worse from there. The main cast of characters is as follows: a skinny blonde, a busty brunette, and just for flair an African American woman. Like something out of a Hentai film, within the first few pages all three of the girls proved no match for an attractive man with energy tentacles. Think about that for a minute. Energy. Tentacles. When the girls return to base, they are chastised like children by the father of one of the girls, who also happens to head the group. It gets worse. The busty brunette? Same name as a famous porn star. In later issues, she faces a man who raped her. The major kicker; he’s done up to look like a big sexy hulking man, rather than a terrifying awful figure. I can’t even express all the ways this is not okay.

The truth is, there are still television shows being cancelled because “girls don’t buy toys.” I’m sorry, but have you seen girls lately? I know more girls (and adult women, am I right ladies?) that have collections of action figures than I can count. Dolls are great, but Nerf guns are way cooler. There are of course the obligatory pink guns, but I can look past it as long as it shoots as fast as the orange one in my opponent’s hand.

In short, Nerd Fashion is working. Comics are working to catch up. Girls buy toys. Marketing, we’re coming for you. Plan accordingly.

 

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