We received an interesting question through our Tumblr account the other day. I was trying to decide how to respond but I couldn’t. At least not in a nice neat little blurb, for the issue is far more complex than a few sentences.
How do you, as a company, deal with Internet hate directed towards your models? How do you feel you’re different than other cosplay modeling websites out there concerning hate for different body types, etc?
The first thing I want to address is what you might call the elephant in the room.
GeekGoddess is a company and as such is run with the goal of generating a profit. Before we can even talk profit we’ve got to talk responsibilities. We’ve got overhead costs for the website, marketing costs, convention costs and then there is the whole not-so-small matter of paying our Goddesses, Photographers and editors. A lot more time, effort, and MONEY may go into making a set than you think. This truth is further compounded by a commitment that Jessica Nova and myself made to our Goddesses before we even launched the site.
The majority of websites where ladies takes off their clothes start by paying their models very low sums of money until they grow bigger. We don’t agree with that. Once you’ve decided to be naked on the internet you can never really take it back. So we wanted to pay a fair wage from the very start. Because we pay a respectable amount we can demand quality, but it also means our costs are higher than other companies of our size and age. Which brings me back to the ultimate truth, we are trying to make money. Money to grow the company, money to pay even more Goddesses, and even some money for ourselves.
When you are trying to make money you are beholden to your market. As a result any decision we make, any action we take will be a combination of many factors; what is best for our Goddesses, what is best for GeekGoddess, what is best for the community and what fits within our moral code. I know it is a little weird these days to hear a company talk about morals, but both Jessica Nova and myself are moral people and we need to be able to live with ourselves and each other.
Now onto the question of bodies. We’ve received a few comments, in addition to this question, regarding the lack of “plus size” models on our site. And I’d like to address this.
Our current Goddesses possess a range of body types. Based on the standards used in the modeling world at least 3 of them would be considered “plus-size”, though i’m not asking you to necessarily agree with those standards.
As we grow it is one of our goals to add more variety including some fuller figures. Though it’s important to keep in mind she’s got to apply before we can add her. Regardless of shape, size or color any Goddess we add will have to measure up to our current Goddesses and be an epically geeky/nerdy lady.
Now onto the topic of how ladies in the nerd world are viewed for their bodies. It’s more than just her body, it’s what she does with it. We are a US based company and as a whole the United States seems to be having some trouble shedding our puritanical roots. Women are given more freedom over time but with that freedom comes expectations and restrictions. The push and the pull of stereotypes. The Virgin and the Whore. Those are the categories and options that society gives, you are either the virgin or the whore. Stereotypes never work because people are more complicated.
So what are these stereotypes and how do they relate to nerd girls?
The virgin: If you want respect, if you want to be seen as someone with intelligence and something genuine to offer the world, you are not supposed to show you want sex, talk about sex, or dress in a provocative manner.
The whore: If you want to have sex, if you talk about sex, if you look sexy or show off your body then immediately you must be a woman of loose morals with no real value to give other than that body.
These stereotypes are perpetuated by society even as advertising campaigns make it clear that all a woman has to offer the world is her body and her sex. But only if that body is unrealistically perfect. How confusing a girl must feel growing up these days.
Commercials tell her to dress in an outfit that is barely there while the rest of society tells her that in order for her to be respected she must be viewed based on her mind and not her body.
Men are told to want the scantily clad beauty while being subconsciously shown that she is an object, that she wants the attention and that she doesn’t deserve respect. This sets him up for failure and maybe even a kick to the groin later in life, maybe many kicks. It has also led to many of the problems regarding the appropriate way to react to a cosplayer that are plaguing conventions today.
Thankfully humans are, at least in theory, capable of independent thought and should be able to rise above the choices society has made for them.
GeekGoddess aims to show that a woman can be sexually liberated, be sexy and be empowered. She can be naked and still kick your ass at halo. She can be wearing skin tight latex and still roll a natural 20 to save the day. She can have amazing cleavage and still hold a lively and intelligent debate.
But change is hard and often painful. While we are confident society’s views can mature and change and women can be seen as whole beings we know it won’t happen overnight. Becoming a Goddess will bring you attention… but some of that attention will be negative. It’s not acceptable or appropriate; it’s just the way things are. Even as I write this there is someone somewhere calling one of our Goddesses fat or ugly. Trolls are everywhere. And there will always be someone out there looking to bring themselves up by putting someone down.
We can’t stop them. We don’t have to support them. We can speak out against their hatred and fear and jealousy. We can stand up for our Goddesses and all other nerdy woman. We can educate the men and women that don’t realize they are harming the community. But we’ll still need to knock the occasional Troll off the bridge. And that won’t end until all of nerdom comes together to reject the Nerd Bully in all his or her incarnations and return to our roots of acceptance over cruelty.
As for what other companies do? I can’t be sure how they feel or what their goals and motivations are and I won’t try to guess them either. No good would come of it. I can only hope that everyone joins with us to make the realm of the nerds and geeks a more accepting place to be.