Feminist Movers Makers & Shakers: Dames Not Damsels

How would you describe your work and what do you hope to accomplish?

Dames Not Damsels is a nerd feminist podcast that explores nerd culture from a woman’s perspective. Our goal is to bring attention to the female experience in a male dominated culture and relate it back to the world as a whole. By sharing our stories and those of women around us we magnify issues that exist in what should be a joyful experience (nerding out) for all. We hope our work inspires people to examine other’s experiences and learn from them and are inspired to raise up the women in their life.

Why is this work important?

Nerd culture is ever expanding and women in nerd culture is becoming more and more prevalent. As nerd culture is such a male dominated space, there tends to be a dismissive reaction to women, and especially women of color, when they enter it and make it their own. It is important to draw attention to the less pretty aspects of society, including that in nerd culture, in hopes that it may become a more inclusive environment.

Why do you choose your podcast as your main method of engaging with feminism?

Podcasts are an excellent way to have your voice heard. Literally. We have noticed that when you try and speak about feminism, the people you are talking to have a tendency to interject with their own opinions and experiences before hearing yours. Podcasts provide an excellent way for you to speak your mind fully and freely without interruption. They also allow you to reach people outside of your own circle and to get into the ear buds of people across the United States and beyond.

What do you hope people gain from experiencing you podcast?

With each episode we hope that people can see something from a different perspective. We don’t think that people are inherently bad or trying to keep women down. It is a lack of knowledge. Each of our episodes aim to open people’s eyes to what is going on through story telling and discussion. Through new perspectives we hope to help add to a more inclusive and open world.

How do you enlist your community in shaping the goals and methods of your work?

We end each episode with a call to action for moving forward now that we know something is going on. The goal here is to end on a hopeful note and includes a different method of incorporating acceptance and empowering our listeners in their day-to-day life.

What inspired you to embark on this path?

In our first episode we discussed this in depth. The idea initially came from noticing that in our DnD (dungeons and dragons) campaigns we were not speaking as much as the men. There was a difference in the way we communicated and one of them was that we had been socialized to be polite and to wait our turn to speak. This led to a huge difference in gameplay and our own confidence within the world. Discovering this helped us to speak with more confidence and to speak up for other women as well as to share our experience with our male counterparts so that they were aware of this difference and could allow more space for us to talk. We looked around and realized we were not the only ones with this experience and that there was an opportunity to reach more women in the genre.

What was the best advice you were given as a mover, maker and/or shaker?

In the Dames and the Feminist Geek Revolution episode we interviewed Kameron Hurley and she gave us some really good advice. She talked to us about not giving in to keyboard warriors and not playing into their game. She let us know there would be push back from people who wanted us to stay home, stay quiet and not fight. She reminded that we can’t us that getting angry wont help us to accomplish our ultimate goal of empowerment and inclusiveness.

What feminist book are you reading right now and what do you think about it? Is there a particular quote or passage you found especially meaningful?

I am reading Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy. She writes about her experiences as a woman living with depression. She is laugh out-loud funny and can find light in almost anything. A line that sticks with me and that I would like to bring into our work is the following:

“It’s about taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they’re the same moments we take into battle with us.”

― Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

What do you wish people understood about your area of interest within feminism?

Nerds are supposed to understand what it is like to be marginalized. Come on, you’re nerds. You fan geek over things like X-Men which is all about the struggle of what it is like to be different. I want people to understand that women’s experiences are not that different from your own. If we can start looking at people as unique individuals rather than their gender, their color, their religion or what brand of comic book they read, the world would be a better place.

What are 5 ways our readers can support the work you’re doing?

1. Listen to Dames not Damsels

2. Subscribe and rate our show on iTunes. This helps us to be found by people who need to hear a good feminist podcast.

3. Share Dames with a friend who could use a little women in nerd culture in their life.

4. Share your experiences with us and give us topic ideas on our website or our social media pages.

5. Support our show by visiting our Patreon and receive bonus content while helping us keep our show up and running.

Link Love:

ARE YOU A FEMINIST MOVER, MAKER & SHAKER? WE WOULD LIKE TO SHARE THE IMPORTANT WORK YOU DO. LEARN MORE HERE.


Bri Steffens was born and raised in Reno, NV. She studied linguistics in Monterey, CA focusing primarily on Levantine Arabic, though she can speak, read and write 5 different languages in varying competency. She is the mother of a beautiful future feminist named Kairi and married to a wonderfully supportive husband named Devin. In her spare time she enjoys crocheting and reading.

Laura Levin is a Reno native who is navigating the world of freelance marketing and working for herself. She is passionate about anything that requires creation and thought. Art, writing, advertising and design fall into this category. When not working on strategic campaigns, she can be found pedaling around town on a road bike, strapped to a camera or nose-deep in a book.

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