When I read Seanan Mcguire’s livejournal entry on being cred checked at the San Diego Comic Con, I was reminded why I avoid places like cons where I might encounter such attitudes. Heck, I used to avoid wearing branded clothing of any kind, always fearing to be called out as the fake girl – geek or not. I was a proud anti-fan, a thin layer of disdain covering terror and anxiety.
I’ve made progress in recent years. I acquired and wore a Faye Valentine outfit for Halloween two years ago. I would have worn it again last year, but it no longer fit properly thanks to a change in diet and a lot of time at the gym (yay!). But I did not dare to wear it anywhere near the local anime convention, and no one I saw on Halloween actually knew who I was dressed up as – although one guy did recognize Cowboy Bebop as the origin of it. On a night full of drunken revelry, I was safe, but I was sure if I went to a place where “real” cosplayers and anime fans gathered, I would be called out as the dilettante fan that I am. (I like some anime, but I wouldn’t pass a spot quiz on most canons.)
I began to watch sports with my husband soon after we started living together, and I began to express some fandom of the Chicago teams, since I grew up around there. I figured that geographical origin would allow me to claim some amount of credibility with my calling myself a fan, but I didn’t stop there. I finally learned the basic rules of pro football. I read articles on football, though I did not delve into its history as much as keeping up with current events.
Now and then, my husband and I would go to a bar to watch a Monday or Thursday night Bears game, and I would be able to hold my own with the men watching the game. I knew coaches and players names, recent histories, basic stats and perceptions. As much as the average fan not involved in a fantasy league might know. I purchased some t-shirts to express my support for the team, and I began to wear them around.
Then, this past August, I got cred checked.
I was wearing my t-shirt, a nice navy blue with an aged banner of “BEARS” across the chest in white and orange. It’s a nice soft shirt, very comfortable. I walked into the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and then the nice young man behind the counter sees my shirt. I notice him noticing and smile, because I like to have a little camaraderie with fellow fans, not so common out here in Boise, ID.
“Are you a real fan?” he says. “Or are you just wearing that…” He trailed off at the end there. I’m not sure what he was going to say, but I felt an immediate urge to prove myself beyond just answering in the affirmative.
Me: Yeah, I’m a fan. It’ll be interesting to see how Trestman does this season replacing Lovie.
Him: They fired Lovie Smith? Uh, is Urlacher still with the team?
Me: No, he’s retired now.
For those not following football, head coach Lovie Smith was fired at the end of the last regular season, having failed to take a 10 and 6 Bears team to the playoffs. Marc Trestman was brought in as his replacement. Brian Urlacher has been a backbone of the Bears defense for years. These developments are things that fans should know, right? That’s why I know them.
But he felt perfectly justified in asking the girl if she was a real fan or not.
This isn’t just comics, or anime, or geeky pursuits. Even something as girly as My Little Ponies has now become a boys club, as Kameron Hurley wrote recently.
And now I’ve met the fake Bears fan girl.
What’s next? Barbie? Romance novels? Don’t look now, there’s the fake chemistry major girl – you know she’s just in the STEM program to meet boys!