It’s a tale as old as time. Woman creates something spectacular, something game changing and like we’ve never seen before. And along comes a man ready to take the spotlight with no regard for the woman’s contribution that got him there in the first place. Man becomes household name and woman is forgotten. But it’s 2019, ya’ll. And people like Cher Martinetti have no time for that nonsense.
Martinetti is the managing editor of Syfy Wire’s Fangrrls, a female-centric space for all things geek, and cohosts/executive produces its flagship podcast Strong Female Characters, aka the reason why we’re all here. This podcast has become the ground zero for a month long series for Women’s History Month that focuses and celebrates badass women in geek culture, titled “Forgotten Women of Genre.” Each day they tell the story of a woman who has fought tooth and nail to create, bring to life, or direct the things she’s passionate about in spite of all the obstacles in their way.
We got a chance to interview Martinetti about “Forgotten Women of Genre,” being a woman in geek culture, and what helped give birth to such an important series that helps reclaim what has been lost, erased, or forgotten when it comes to our achievements as women in everything geek.
“I get that feeling of knowing what it’s like sometimes to see men fail up or men take credit for things or get credit for things they kind of didn’t do the work for,” Martinetti began, serving up harsh truths we need to hear. “And it’s something that still happens. And I just realized there’s so many other women that have contributed to entertainment or even like geek media in ways that no one ever really talks about.”
“Forgotten Women of Genre” is about shining a spotlight on those women forgotten when it comes to hit movies, shows, or comic book series that no one recognizes started out with women at the helm. It’s about giving them credit for the hard work, time, and dedication they have put into changing the geek world as we know it.
“No one knows their names. And even now, a lot of women who are doing amazing work, they’re not getting the kind of credit they deserve. They’re not as known or household names as they should be, where as men always are.”
“Forgotten Women of Genre,” which covers women’s stories from Hannah Beachler to Nicole Perlman, is also about inspiring young women in geek culture today and showing them that they can do anything they set their mind to.
“I didn’t start doing this job til my late 30’s. It was only just a few years ago, but up until that point I never really knew how much women could do because you never hear about it,” Martinetti explained before continuing, “If you see someone that shares something in common with you, helps you kind of realize that, “You know what? If that person can do it, I can do it.” And that’s something I deal with every day. Like a lot of times I look at other women that are doing something that I want to do or achieve something that I hope to achieve. I’m constantly looking for that. So I can’t be the only one.”
This right here is the most humbling part of Martinetti’s journey on “Forgotten Women of Genre.” The women chosen are ones that inspired Martinetti herself and that gave her perspective on what she has accomplished and what she can continue working on, fancy degree or not.
“Hearing stories about women, a lot of them didn’t even go to school. A lot of them didn’t even have degrees in what they set out to do. They just had the drive and the passion. They had the talent as well but they also were capable and they also put in the work. And I’m so inspired by how people accomplish a lot and how they accomplish those things. I want to know how people set up their day. Because that helps me. So I can’t be the only person who feels like that.”
Keeping all of this in mind, Martinetti is very aware of the position she stands in. She’s a straight white woman in a position of power. And for her, diversity and using her platform to open the door to women of color or queer creators, is essential to her everyday work at Syfy Wire’s Fangrrls and “Forgotten Women of Genre.”
“I feel like it is my responsibility to use my platform or my position or my advantage to help other people,” Martinetti affirmed before serving up some tea about people who DON’T help struggling women or have brushed aside the contributions done by the “Forgotten Women of Genre.”
“Sometimes it is about being sexist and racist and homophobic and classist, but sometimes it’s people don’t want to help someone that they feel they are going to lose their advantage over. And sometimes it is driven by all these phobias and sometimes it’s driven by they at their core are insecure that they are not enough so they need as many quote on quote privileges to maintain their status in life and I think that’s bullshit.”
And the only way that we are to change this systematic erasure of the achievements of women in geek culture is by sharing information. Using platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram helps get the word out when a woman’s efforts have been brushed to the side. And podcast series like Martinetti’s “Forgotten Women of Genre” give all of us the information and the opportunity to start a conversation that keeps women like Eiko Ishioka and Delia Derbyshire alive and gives their voices back to them.
So, what are you waiting for, dear reader? “Forgotten Women of Genre” are waiting for you to learn about women like Sarah Halley Finn, Margaret Cavendish, and Hannah Beachler. “Forgotten Women of Genre” are waiting for you to be inspired by women like Debra Hill and Margaret Sixel. And “Forgotten Women of Genre” are waiting for you learn that just like Vera West or Victoria Alonso, you can do it too. You can shine, you can create, and you can be part of the change to NEVER forgot the women who defined geek culture.
Follow Cher Martinetti on Twitter.
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