I still haven't been posting much, as things are still pretty busy with family in town. The funeral is on Saturday and the burial is on Monday. Most of the visiting relatives will be leaving on Tuesday (including my mother, so I can finally get my car back--phew!).
You've likely heard elsewhere already, but today is Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars in Support of Katie Day (or whatever people are calling it). A 7-year-old named Katie is a Star Wars fan who loves her new Star Wars water bottle, but one day she told her mom that she wanted to bring the old pink water bottle to school instead. When her mother asked why, Katie started crying and explained that kids at school told her that Star Wars is just for boys. Her mother took to her blog, and from there the word spread. Before long, hundreds (and now maybe thousands) of geeks--especially girl geeks--had left comments in support of little Katie. And she didn't just get comments. She got to accompany a Star Wars: The Clone Wars voice actor to a screening, and she's received numerous Star Wars gifts from ThinkGeek, Clone Wars cast members, and many other people moved by Katie's story. Most of the toys her mother will be donating to charity, and she recommends that anyone who wants to give Katie toys instead donate toys to needy children, as Katie has enough. She certainly has enough support to proudly carry her Star Wars water bottle and backpack around school. And Katie supporters have chosen today to honor Katie by wearing Star Wars clothing and donating Star Wars toys to charities.
I totally support the sentiment of the occasion. I don't remember it very well, but as my mom tells it, in pre-school when all the other girls wanted to play dress-up, I wanted to play Star Wars. Sure, I was a pink princess and little mermaid for Halloween, but I also had a Superman cape (with my initial on it instead of an S, of course) and SilverHawk wings. Social norms, and some interest on my part, kept me only half geeky in elementary school--I really did love The Little Mermaid, and my dad would read me books like A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, which were all right (to his credit, my dad still regrets not reading me Lord of the Rings when I was little, as he had to my brothers). But it wasn't until I reached middle school and began devouring the Redwall series that I really started to grow into my true geeky self. This led to my high school reading of Lord of the Rings, Shannara, Harry Potter, Wheel of Time, and more. Both of my parents were Star Wars fans so we'd been brought up on the original trilogy, and about the time that I got to high school, the prequels came out in theaters. Around the same time we got The Matrix, and it wasn't long before the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies were coming out, too. Yes, there were plenty of great reasons to be a geek.
I was lucky that I was never really teased for my geekiness--at least if I was (chances are I was at some point), I found it so insignificant that I've forgotten it. I'll be clear here: by "geekiness," I'm referring to my love of fantasy, sci-fi, and gaming. I have been teased about my nerdiness--being smart (not teased badly, but enough to make me embarrassed at times about good grades)--and about my dorkiness (I didn't really "fit in" with other kids in middle school). But by the time that I was flying my geek colors, I was in high school, and I had a strong group of friends who loved me for my geeky interests (many were geeks themselves). I even felt perfectly confident doing my presentation on Quenya (one of Tolkien's Elvish languages) for my senior year English class, and that's a pretty intense level of geek.
But I can totally understand Katie's situation. Stores with toy departments split into a Boys' section and a Girls' section are one of many ways that young children are taught what things they "should" be interested in, and what things are "just" for the other gender. I always cite this one commercial I saw about three or four years ago for a Playskool kitchen/laundry set: sink, dishwasher, oven, stove, washer, dryer. As a little girl played and giggled, the voice over cheerily told us something to the effect of "Give her the tools to learn and grow into whatever she wants to be." That is, as long as it's a housewife. Cooking can be fun, but washing dishes and doing laundry are really just chores. Really, who could blame any little girl for having more fun pretending to be a Jedi saving the galaxy than pretending to do the laundry? I recognize that there may on average be some innate differences in boys' and girls' interests, but they are not as great as out-of-date social norms imagine--or force--them to be.
So I am in full support of Katie today. One problem: I have realized that I don't actually have any Star Wars clothing or accessories to wear today! Total geek fail. Hmm, I have things related to Firefly, and Mass Effect, and Dragon Age...but no Star Wars. Maybe I can figure out how to put these lightsaber chopsticks in my hair.* At the very least, I'm with Katie in spirit. May the Force be with you, Katie.
* P.S. Success!