Thursday December 27, 2012

BENNINGTON -- Geekdom, like many aspects of culture has, historically, been regarded as a bit of a boys’ club. Wired.com bloggers and authors of the recently released "Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and their 21st-Century Families," Corrina Lawson of Bennington, Kathy Ceceri, Natania Barron and Jenny Williams, are part of a movement to tear down the hastily scrawled "No Girls Allowed" sign on the clubhouse door.

"In Geekdom women aren’t as accepted," Lawson said. "So women in Geekdom have a different set of circumstances to face."

The book is in part inspired by the blog Geek Mom, for which all the authors write. The idea came about while the bloggers were writing for Geek Dad, a Wired.com blog which focuses on hands-on projects that parents can do with their children.

"We wanted to make Geek Mom about a little more than that," Lawson said, adding that Geek Mom is more about the world in general than Geek Dad. Recent articles include talking to your children about tragedy in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. As well as a tribute to astronaut Sally Ride, who is looked up to as a hero as the first woman in space and as was posthumously revealed to be the first openly LGBTQ person in space.

"I was 9 years old when I first wanted to be an astronaut, and my first hero was Sally Ride.


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I looked up to her as a woman, a scientist, and an astronaut," Geek Mom blogger Helene McLaughlin wrote in July.

"[The blog is] basically different on any given day but it’s always inquisitive," Lawson , a graduate of Mount Anthony Union High School, said.

The Book

The central themes to the book include hands-on projects, education and learning in general from a contemporary point of view.

"[It’s about] the ability to soak up learning with your kids in whatever method they need," Lawson said. "Even if you’re busy and crazy and lots of stuff to do and kids to juggle you can still have fun with them Š keep a good sense of humor and never forget to use your imagination."

There are sections about homeschooling and helping kids with special needs. Other topics include baking, technology, and pop culture.

"It’s not just about making a Tetris cake," Lawson said. But, she added, the book will teach you how to do that.

"[The bloggers] run the gamut from moms who are tech savvy to moms, like me, who are more about pop culture," Lawson, a mother of four, said. "They’re all moms and they’re geeky about something."

One mom is even a member of Vader’s Fist: the 501st Legion, a group of cosplayers (fans who dress as characters from books, movies, video games, etc.) named for the infamous legion of stormtroopers in the Star Wars universe charged with policing the galaxy.

Lawson is quick to mention that while the blogs are named GeekMom and GeekDad the advice given is gender-neutral, they are named for the common roles that moms and dads have traditionally played. But each blog has more to do more with the role that a parent takes in the child’s life than their gender. Geek Mom is primarily focused on advice to the child’s primary caretaker, while Geek Dad is about hands on projects that often involve construction and tools.

Feminism for geeks and vice versa

Prior to the inception of Geek Mom, Lawson, an avid graphic novel fan, wrote a tongue-in-cheek article for Geek Dad addressing the treatment of women in comics as Superman love-interest and frequent damsel-in-distress Lois Lane titled "Dear DC Comics: Why Do You Keep Fridging Me?"

The article questioned what Lawson saw as the sexism ingrained in the comics industry. Lambasting the authors of Superman for sticking "the premiere investigator in (her) world" behind a desk before mentioning "But, hey, at least in this reality, I’m alive. So far, in other universes, I’ve been killed three times in the last year. I expected to die spectacularly in the big Flashpoint event, since it was supposed to be a nasty alternate reality, but I’m a bit bummed that my death once again had no real purpose save to cause Superman angst. I also died in the DCU Online game, but I suppose that also might be excused since so many heroes die as players move along in that game."

"Fridging" or "Stuffed into the Fridge" is a trope, (a trope is a, usually cliché, literary device), in which "a character is killed off in a particularly gruesome manner and left to be found just to offend or insult someone, or to cause someone serious anguish," from TVTropes.com.

The term came into use when comics author Gail Simone created a Web site called Women in Refrigerators in 1999, stating "It occurred to me that it’s not that healthy to be a female character in comics. I’m curious to find out if this list seems somewhat disproportionate, and if so, what it means, really."

Simone was recently taken off of the popular "Batgirl" comic, much to the chagrin of her fans who rallied around her, claiming that sexism was behind her dismissal.

"Simone was the most prominent of DC’s female writers, often using twitter, tumblr and her message board to interact with fans to promote her projects and talk on various issues from cosplaying to the need for more female, LGBT and minority representation in superhero comics," Lawson wrote in a Geek Mom post about Simone’s dismissal in mid-December.