The concept of our 11th guest’s bibliography is awesome (listen to the episode here). Chris-Rachael Oseland has a spot-on awareness of why people connect with the fandom properties that her cookbooks are based on, and she obviously cares deeply for her large and diverse audience. Most of her books assures the reader that they will find recipes for gluten free, lactose intolerant, paleo safe recipes, and other dietary restrictions within the pages, and in the Second Edition of Dining With the Doctor: The Unauthorized Doctor Who Cookbook, she says that the recipes are laid out in episode air order, so that anyone who wanted to binge Doctor Who and also cook along with the show would be able to avoid spoilers. For fans who worry about buying fan-produced art with spoilers attached, that level of consideration is incredible!
A little more than a year ago I went to the now closed Geek Bar Beta in Chicago (the former storefront is now a pop-up Saved by the Bell-themed restaurant) which was exactly what it sounds like: A bar for geeks. You could play games or read a comic book while you drank, and there were many geeky-themed meet ups for every fandom. What stuck out to me the most, though, was how out in the open their anti-harassment policy was. On multiple walls, people were reminded exactly what harassment was and that it would not be tolerated. That kind of dedication to making sure all of their customers felt safe and welcome warmed my heart.
We discussed in Sean Fewster's episode that the geek community has an inclusion problem; Sean talked extensively about gatekeeping in geek culture, arguing that male geeks in particular can have a reputation for blocking people from their space by questioning a person’s geek credentials, especially when that person is female. But Sean also pointed out how wonderful it is when everyone is included.
“I don’t want to be the lone geek reading the black and white comics in the corner anymore, I want to have as many people as interested in this stuff as possible being there and being interested in it all the time.” - Sean Fewster
My opinion: I personally think that geek culture has the ability to change - I’ve always thought that this is a culture that has a high level of self inspection. Maybe I’m relying on stereotypes, but geeks often share a common experience of being told that the things that we were interested in were strange or dumb and that we couldn’t hang with the cool kids when we were growing up, so we’ve forged that belief into our day-to-day lives as adults. I wonder if the gatekeepers of geek culture were reminded their behavior is the same lack of inclusion that they’ve all felt on one level or another, if that culture would start to change. Everyone just has to be conscious about it and make a conscious effort. That’s where people like Chris-Rachael Oseland and Sean Fewster come in: they’re professional geeks who take it upon themselves to come from a place of authority, and to encourage other geeks to exhibit the same consciousness that they are promoting.
I am always warmed when I see geeks happily doing all they can to include people. It doesn’t seem like it should be that big a deal that a cookbook has recipes for gluten free and paleo diets, but what it means to someone who follows those diets strictly is huge - whether it’s out of necessity or choice, it’s important to even have that choice available. Often people with dietary restrictions are accustomed to being on their own, so it’s phenomenal when someone takes the care to think about them. We should all follow Chris-Rachael Oseland’s example and consider everyone else’s experience in our everyday lives.
You can buy Chris-Rachael Oseland's Dining With the Doctor: Regenerated this holiday season. Pre-order here.