Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Japanese Geek Cafe for Women

By now, oh faithful readers, you know that I'm all about equality in gaming, not singling out genders, sexual orientation, religions, and all that. But even I have to admit that this café in Japan is a stellar idea and I want to visit it.

The Ataraxia Cafe, located on Osaka, is strictly aimed towards female geek customers. No boys allowed. It's the first of it's kind in Japan, with a ban on "regular people and men." If you're not a geek, you can not enter. If you're a dude, you can not enter. I'm not sure what their stance is on transgender, but I'm sure they would be open to that, as long as you can speak geek.

They have created a space for women to enjoy their nerdy hobbies, watch anime, work on costumes (there's a crafting section in the back!), read manga, or play video games. The cafe offers free wi-fi (which is near impossible to find in Japan), sewing machines, mannequins, and other essentials to female customers who want to get their geek on.

How they weed out the geek from the non-geek? I have no idea. You do have to be a member, at the cost of 5,000 Yen per year. I have a feeling that the sign-up form requires you to answer some questions (which could easily be Googled) along with proof that you're a woman. I guess a license is in order for that? Maybe a birth certificate? I don't know. I'm more curious about how one proves their geekyness. I've always held the stance that you don't have to show your geek card to like a fandom. It doesn't matter how long you've been into an anime, a comic, or a movie. You like it and you like to talk about it? Cool. You're a geek. So I'm not on board with this cafe being a "geek" only place and having to prove that you are one to be a member.

But, I appreciate places such as this opening up as a spot for women to meet others who share the same interests. Even in the digital age, it's still difficult to meet peers who like your hobbies. Gaming, anime, and comic books in particular are very male dominated in the West, and women are harassed daily if they show an ounce of interest in these fields. I would relish the chance at having a cafe, or a Starbucks, or a social hangout that was female only. I know that I'm not the only woman who appreciates the art of GTA. And a social space such as the Ataraxia Cafe is as good of a place as any to make new friends.

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