It’s a tradition here at The Geekiary to highlight our favorite women in geek culture at the end of every year, and doing so feels even more important now as we head into a frightening political climate. Attacks against women online and in real life are spiking as certain groups feel empowered by recent political events.
We here in geek circles aren’t immune from this shift as we see attacks from Gamergaters and the Sad Puppies, who make these spaces feel unwelcoming. But that’s why it’s important our tradition continues.
This list is compiled by members of the Geekiary staff and isn’t an inclusive list of all the amazing women in geek culture throughout all of 2016. Please add your favorites in the comments!
Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder, Stranger Things) – Nominated by Jamie
Single mother struggling to keep her kids’ lives normal. Doing her best to be aware of her sons’ friends and interests, respecting their space and boundaries, and willing to risk being perceived to be crazy in order to save her kids. Faced a literal monster from another world and stayed to fight. Grabbed an ax in case it came back. More than that, resourceful enough to figure out a way to communicate with Will when he was in another dimension. Not 100% perfect, but determined, resourceful, loyal, and fierce.
Kate McKinnon – Nominated by Tara
She played the best character on this summer’s all-female Ghostbusters team. She’s been hilarious portraying Hillary Clinton and many other characters on SNL. Did anyone not fall in love with Kate McKinnon this year? Point made.
Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick, Vikings) – Nominated by Tara
Lagertha has had some rough periods on History’s Vikings, but one by one she has overcome every crappy thing that has happened to her through sheer force of will. I don’t want to say too much in case someone isn’t caught up with the show (because a LOT has happened in recent episodes!), but I will say this: She’s a leader, she’s a warrior, and she takes what is hers without being, you know, a horrible person. She’s literally the epitome of a bad ass woman!
Leslie Jones – Nominated by Khai
This actor and comedian was one of the funniest people on SNL long before she joined the cast of Ghostbusters. She’s been speaking out against the way black women are pigeonholed into certain roles for a long time, and what made her stand out this year was her reaction to a series of vicious misogynistic and racist tirades earlier this summer. As you might remember, a bunch of whiners unhappy with the all-female Ghostbusters remake hounded Jones on Twitter. The actor went toe-to-toe with the trolls – she wasn’t afraid to show her hurt, but didn’t let it stop her from calling out the hateful language. Jones even asked Twitter to ban the worst offenders (they did). At her urging Twitter is even developing filters users can enable which will keep trolls off their feeds. Jones’ spirit is as inspiring as her talent. We’re proud to include her as one of our favorite women in geek culture this year.
Gail Simone – Nominated by Khai
Gail Simone is a comic writer who has worked for both Marvel and DC. The list of titles she’s worked on reads like a pull list for people who enjoy solid storytelling, but Simone is more than a talented writer. She’s also a powerful advocate for inclusion and representation in the comic industry who backs up her words with actions.
Have you heard the term “women in refrigerators”? Simone coined that term back in 1999 with a list of all the women in comics who had been used as plot devices instead of characters. She made this year’s list for two reasons. First, one of her stories is included in Love is Love, the beautiful comic tribute to the victims of the Pulse tragedy. In addition, earlier this month she flat out refused to write any more books without LGBTQ and POC characters, saying, “If you are a publisher and that’s a problem, hire someone else.” She topped that off with a call to buy books written by LGBTQ+ authors. Long story short: Gail Simone is one of our non-problematic faves, and this year she’s killing it.
Carrie Fisher – Nominated by Tara (seconded – Farid, thirded – Angel)
This amazing woman has been part of entertainment and pop culture for decades, and sadly, she was taken too soon. We would be remiss if we didn’t give her a spot in this year’s favorite women list, because she spent most of her life being nothing but bad ass. As we said in our recent tribute to her, She Gave Us Hope. She was open about her personal struggles and so became more than just a Star Wars Princess/General – she became a hero in her own right. And she will be greatly missed.
Storm (Ororo Munroe) – Nominated by Farid
The year 2016 has been a rough one for mutants in the Marvel Comic Book Universe. Not only does the whole world still hate them due to a disease known as M-Pox, the threat of extinction looms over mutant heads because of the Terrigen Mists. With the weight of the entire mutant race on her shoulders, Storm spent 2016 trying to protect her species. Of course she has made mistakes along the way (like thinking that X-Haven would be safe), but her strength of will has enabled the X-Men to face the biggest of threats. In a span of eight months (by the Marvel Comics timeline) she and her team have faced and survived the Death of X, Mister Sinister, Apocalypse, the World Eater, and is now ready to fight against the Inhumans for survival.
Extraordinary X-Men Issue 17 IvX tie-in showed Storm questioning her own beliefs and showing readers that she is a character with complex layers. An orphan, a thief, a Goddess, an X-Men, a Queen, a leader, and an icon for the real as well as the comic book world, she is someone who learns from her mistakes and will do anything it takes to safeguard her own kind and others.
Jyn Erso (Rogue One) – Nominated by Angel
The Star Wars franchise continues to be diverse and that continues to anger people who would prefer for the protagonists always be straight white dudes. For that reason alone Jyn Erso would earn a spot on our 2016 Women in Geek Culture list, but it’s not the only reason. Jyn is the reason that the Rebels had a chance to fight back at the Empire. She’s the reason they had hope. She inspired a feisty bunch of people to band together and head out on a nearly impossible mission, knowing they may not ever return. Without her the Empire may have won.
Who were your favorite women in geek culture this year? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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