Who takes credit for nerd culture?

Well, too often, men do.

Today at work, my male coworker asked me, "How many nerdy things did I teach you about?" The unspoken answer was, obviously, "All of them."

This past summer while at work, I voiced my desire - not to anyone in particular - that I wanted to see Captain America: Civil War, but that I hadn't seen any previous Marvel movies. A male coworker that shall not be named immediately laid out a plan for me, speaking so fast that all I got was "Hulk", "Iron Man", and maybe the word "badass."

Up until I said anything that day at work, my interest in superhero films and comics had been totally squashed. Years of people telling me that "you just won't understand", a lifetime of marketing toward Boys Only, and friends who said "it's not your thing" effectively killed any desire I had left to watch the big green guy destroy New York City for the thousandth time.

But watching the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe order was a fabulous experience. It was all new to me. I hadn't even known what Iron Man did; I thought he was a Transformer who just turned into a robot when he was pissed. And I never thought the Hulk would have intelligence or a personality. I didn't even know Black Widow or Scarlet Witch existed; didn't know women were at all important in these male-focused movies.

When I fell in love with Peggy Carter's mean right hook, I wasn't thinking about that male coworker who suggested the order I watch the movies in. When my heart soared at the sight of Bucky and Steve repeatedly putting their lives on the line for each other, I still wasn't thinking about him. But he said that today, and somewhere inside me an ember caught flame and sparked a riot, and I'm frustrated. I'm uncomfortable. But most of all, I'm tired. Tired of being told -and having it implied - that men have taught me everything I know not just about everything in general, but specifically nerd culture. Listen: I grew up on Harry Potter and Nintendo 64. I have been to about 10 conventions, cosplayed, performed in a musical about the last 200 pages of the last Harry Potter book, and now dedicate my artistic passion to touring the country and performing music about books. I don't need a man. Literally.

The lessons I learned from watching the MCU movies were not from my male coworker. They came from the characters, and no one can teach you that. I don't trip over myself to thank anyone for introducing me to anything - certainly not comics. I'm fully aware that I haven't been "bro enough" to join the comics craze, and I don't need reminded now that I relate to Tony Stark and Steve Rogers on a personal scale. Besides, what kind of person focuses on the fact that it was them who got you into something instead of just rejoicing that they now have a new person to talk about the Winter Soldier with?

I walked into a comic book shop about a month ago, only my second time venturing in one. I couldn't believe I was setting foot in there; before, the thought made me shake in my boots. The man at the counter was very helpful and talked my ear off about comics X Men vs movie X Men, but when I was passing my credit card over the counter to pay for my new haul, a UPS man walked in the door. He ambled up to the counter behind me, breathed down my neck, and said, "Oh wow. A girl." The comic book shop man looked just as uncomfortable as I did. He didn't say anything, just let the UPS man continue. "I hear times are changing. This is the first time I've seen a girl in here in twenty years. They think they can handle it now. Oh well, I just like looking at 'em."

I walked backwards to the exit door. The comic book shop man called after me, "It's not twenty years, I promise."

It's not that I'm surprised by these misogynistic comments. I'm just tired, and when you speak, I speak. Women own nerd culture too. And women will take credit for our own passions. You may have suggested it, but I cultivated my love for it. Don't overstep. Leave me alone to think about Wanda Maximoff's self love arc, please.

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