Fake. Geek. Girls? Michele Morrow

Time out.

While I’ve been on hiatus, a dude over at CNN named Joe Peacock decided to write a ridiculous article on women and the world of geeks.  I feel like my readers here at HelloGiggles would like to have a say on the issue.  How do you define Geek?

According to Joe:

“I find it fantastic that women are finally able to enjoy a culture that has predominately been male-oriented and male-driven.”

“Fantastic.”  “Finally.”  “Male-Oriented.”  “Male-Driven.”

Although veiled in some sort of pro-feminist wording, this thought process is incredibly obtuse.  I am disinclined to spend any more energy into explaining why this statement is condescending.

Joe tries really hard to align himself with whom he considers “real geeks” (Felicia Day) and throws down hard on whom he considers “fake geeks” (Olivia Munn, Frag Dolls, Booth Babes, Cosplayers, etc).  In Joe’s assessment:

“The presence of female geeks means that the fiction we’re reading is broadening and, frankly, getting better in quality. It means nerdy films and television shows aren’t relying on damsel in distress stories and objectification of women to draw readers. It means content is broadening and becoming smarter and more accessible. I want more of that.”

Ehhh…. huh?  Let’s back up about 35 years and roll forward, shall we? :

Star Wars (1977)  Leia, Princess of Alderaan, was a master marksman spy for the Rebel Alliance.  She choked and killed Jabba the Hutt.  She inspired millions of women to be strong and outspoken.  And she definitely made me want to wear a “Metal Bikini”.

Alien (1979)  Ellen Ripley is considered one of the best protagonists of all time… by everyone.  Gender assignment step aside.

Metroid (1986)  Samus Aran rocked young gamers around the world.  This kickass space bounty hunter took on Mother Brain (*ahem* also a female).

Although Joe never specifically addresses his own criteria on what it takes to be a “real geek”, he does go out on a limb to differentiate that monetizing your own geek material (Felicia Day) is more far more awesome and respectable than landing an audition (Olivia Munn) or being skilled at video games (Frag Dolls) or being booked as a model (Booth Babes) or participating in “Cosplay” (normal girls who play dress up for conventions).  The latter are mostly all considered “poachers” to Joe:

“They’re poachers. They’re a pox on our culture. As a guy, I find it repugnant that, due to my interests in comic books, sci-fi, fantasy and role playing games, video games and toys, I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence. It’s insulting.”

Booth Babes are subject to exploitation by the companies who hire them for various “geek” conventions (Comicon, E3, etc).  They’re simply independent contractors.  It’s a great job if you live in Los Angeles, especially while pursuing a career in entertainment.  The hours are flexible and you get to meet a lot of interesting people.  The gigs are always different, and you have the freedom to turn down an offer should you start finding your own success.

The “problem” Joe begins to identify plays into the “Reality Celebrity” craze that has taken over media as a whole.  Some people (both men and women) have made their name in the geek-sphere by “faking” it.  And he’s right.  Some have…. as they have in every single industry I can think of.  From padding resumes to padding bras — it happens.  And many of those people actually learn while they climb up the ladder.  They want to learn.  They’re eager to learn.  However, there will always be some that will do anything it takes to be accepted by the “Popular Geeks”… god it hurts to write those words.

All that aside… just because a female is wearing a Batman shirt (as Joe implies) doesn’t mean she’s trying to grace a man with her presence.  Maybe she’s just getting into Batman.  Maybe she really likes Batman.  Maybe someone is shining the Bat-Signal on her chest so Batman himself will come kick your ass for gawking at the way the logo spills over her breasts.

I want to thank Dan Nye Griffiths from Forbes.com who wrote a fantastic response to Joe’s rampage on women: “Fake Geek Girls: How Geek Gatekeeping Is Bad For Business”.  It’s a great read.

GEEK:  THE FOUR LETTER WORD

Everyone has the potential to be a geek in some way.  But there are varying degrees.

Straight up:  I’ve never been into comics and I’ve haven’t read a single Harry Potter.  I don’t really love First-Person Shooters.  And, I’ve never seemed to get into Dr. Who.  My apologies.

But I still have all my He-Man action figures.  My old NES sits on display with the original gold Zelda cartridge.  I’m a guild master (and NPC!) in World of Warcraft.  I was Princess Leia four times for Halloween.  You can’t touch me at air hockey or Ms. Pac-Man.  I’ll wear my Spirithood in the middle of summer because it makes me feel good.  I wish Firefly never got canceled.  All I ever wanted was a purple unicorn as a kid… until I learned about dragons.  And that’s just the tip of my nerd iceberg.

Being a Geek is an identity.  YOUR identity.  OUR identity.  Being a Geek is being part of a community.  You should be passionate about what you love and don’t let anyone stop you from learning more.  No one should put you down for not knowing enough.  True Geeks love sharing information.  If they don’t… we call them “TROLLS“.

What makes YOU a Geek?

=mm=

comments

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  1. Felicia Day actually tweeted something to the effect that she was tired of being held up as a “real” geek girl in response to this story.

    And then John Scalzi, aka @scalzi, posted this: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/07/26/who-gets-to-be-a-geek-anyone-who-wants-to-be/

    Which was pretty awesome. The more people who weigh in on stuff like this the better! My wife and daughters are happy to be geeks, and I want my youngest to feel free to geek it up as much as she wants, so keep smacking people like the article’s author (who probably expected a lot of ‘yeah, you tell ‘em man!’ type answers) with reality.

  2. I feel like geeky girls get the short end of the stick.
    We get ridiculed by non-geek guys who think we’re weird and unattractive.
    Then we get ridiculed by non-geek girls who think we’re weird and therefore deserve to be pushed around.
    Then we get ridiculed by geek guys because we’re women and therefore we obviously don’t really know anything about geekdom… because we’re women. (I agree yet want to break the fake nerd girl meme at the same time.)
    Because you know what? It *is* annoying when some less socially awkward (this isn’t applying to everyone, just myself) girl waltzes in and thinks that just because she watched two episodes of this or played half of that has to broadcast it to the entire world.
    Nerds/Geeks are kind of like hipsters. The real ones aren’t on a constant quest to prove who their are. They just are who they are.

    • I totally get where you’re coming from. But you know what’s crazy? Those girls that waltz in after watching two episodes of “x” show… are incredibly insecure and dying to be socially accepted… by SOMEONE. And maybe they really liked the show and or video game and wanted to learn more. We don’t know. We don’t know how they’ve been treated by men who possibly just treat them like a piece of meat. Possibly they’re just looking to fit in. Just like you and just like me. It’s all about perspective and everyone (men and women) have a story. Now… I’m not saying this does not exist – there are people who are obsessed with becoming “reality stars” in whatever little circle, never seeming to escape the dreaded cliques of high school. But maybe, just maybe, most of these women aren’t as vapid as we may judge. Our knowledge may be greater, and maybe they’re getting some sort of “unfair” pass to “know less”… but as long as they’re honest about it, I hope that geek culture seeps into every aspect of their soul.

  3. I enjoyed this rant :D, and Michele you should check out this kickstarter I just found out about, I think you’d appreciate it :D (it’s old school wood block japanese video game art) http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1499165518/ukiyo-e-heroes?ref=live

  4. I’m a cosplayer myself. I don’t do it to grace anyone with my beauty or anything. I do it because it’s FUN. Screw anyone who thinks I’m not a real geek because I cosplay. It’s how I show my true inner geek.

    Also, I love my Spirithood and wear it in the summer as well. :D

  5. When I met my husband at the end of college, I was definitely on the outside of “geek” culture. I hadn’t played video games since  grammar school and was fully entrenched in writing, feminism,  19th century literature, etc. Pooh-pooh on SciFi, Fantasy and other “escapist realities.” I affectionately teased my husband about being a nerd (but still carried quarters in my purse for any arcade machines we found). After we’d been dating a few months, he turned to me and said, “You know more about Star Trek than I do, you fix your own computer and you still have all the maps memorized for Super Mario Two. I hate to break it to you, but you’re a nerd, too.”

    Me, a nerd? No, no, I grew out of that. Right? And even worse, a Trekkie?! Nooooo . . . 

    I made peace with my “geek” interests once I started to ask myself questions. WHY are we supposed to grow out of our interests? Why are we supposed to all fit into a certain mold? And girls most particularly. Why is the assumption that the predominant reasons why a woman might still be interested in geek culture as an adult are either 1) she’s faking it for attention,  or 2) her life is kinda sad and that’s all she has (she must be fat, ugly, single or lives with many cats) so just ignore her. Borderline cases may be subjected to condescending quizzing by self-appointed arbiters.

    I accepted myself and let my inner nerdy girl leap to the outer and fly her flag high. I cannot emphasize enough how much happier I am because of that (and how much smarter geek culture is than most things out there). There’s such a greater acceptance for geeks/nerds now, but why is it conditional? Why is it that as an attractive woman, I have to fight to be taken seriously or justify my interests if they cross into that protected realm? Why do I have to prove that I’m not just attention seeking? There’s a true nerds heart beating underneath my symbol of the Klingon Empire tee-shirt, no matter what the body looks like under there, too.

  6. I don’t understand why there has to be so much definition of what is a geek, nerd ect ect blah blah. Do what makes you happy! If that is playing WoW or cruising the 40k Universe, reading sci-fi or bashing each other with fake swords while shouting awesomely silly slogans, go nuts. It’s all about fun and enjoy another aspect of life and imagination, not building walls around a niche and endless ly fighting over who is what, what is what and what goes where.

  7. you dont have to be into Star Wars or comic books to be a geek! I’m a geek about music, hair, make up, films, books…geeks, in whatever form they come in, are judged and ridiculed enough without turning on each other?

  8. I love this website. I never (and still don’t) consider myself a feminist, but it’s kind of alarming to me when I consider the way women are thought of/talked about/and treated. I’m an optimist, but the world is factually just a very rough place for women as a whole. I’m glad to find an empowering, thoughtful website for young women and girls. The reality may be bleak at the moment, but it’s posts like this one that remind me that the tide is turning. Thanks!

  9. This jerk of a “reporter” wrote this article with about as much thought and factual research as an artcle in the National Inquirer. This guy should be black listed to the point he has to find an entirely different job. I’ve come to be a fan of several girl gamers/ geeks ever since I first stumbled upon a video by Danielle,AKA Trade Chat or Panser.

  10. I agree with Wil Wheaton on the subject.

  11. because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”- John Green

  12. Thank you so much for writing about this. I was trying to tell friends why I thought Joe was being way to negative (and yeah a little sexist) about the whole thing. Most of these “booth girls” are either just getting into it or could be just doing a job. If he doesn’t like it he can pretend not to look and not find away to alienate new comers to a sub culture (Can I call it that?) that should be open to all walks of life.

  13. I’m in 100% agreement. And anyways, I’ve always thought geeks/nerds were people who were passionate about something…ANYTHING. Whether it’s video games, comic books, scifi, cosplay, funny looking lamps, et cetera. I never got into comic books as a kid, but I cracked a lot of skulls playing Counter-Strike and Tomb Raider. When I got to university, an entire world of geeky things opened itself up to me: Mass Effect, He-Man, Legend, Miyasaki, and a whole lot of other things. No one treated me like a pretty girl impeding on their geek culture. Everyone was welcoming and eager to teach me about it! Guys like Joe–who put limits on who can and can’t join the geek culture–are what gives geeks/nerds such a bad rap. So good for you, Michele. Way to stand up for the rest of us who are just PASSIONATE about…well, things.

  14. I guess I could be a geek on the account of playing video games such as World of Warcraft, diablo 3, Halo, and many more. I’ve just always loved games. I’ve loved pokemon since 12, Sailor moon, cowboy beebop, flcl, and some other anime. I’ve loved star wars since 10 and went dressed as Padme Amidala when Star Wars Episode 1 hit theatres. I love sci-fi books, and shows. Idk if I would really catagorize myself as a geek, I just like these things.

  15. I don’t really understand this. Geek-ery has always been something that has appealed to women in some way in my opinion. Many anime shows are centred around a female (or females) who are strong and powerful, like Sailor Moon for example. Now I’m not talking about Serena, she was a whiney baby, but back in the day didn’t every little girl want to be a Sailor Scout? How about Leia? Or Capt. Janeway from Voyager? These TV shows and movies appear to be trying to cater to a broader audience that just so happens to be women. So what the hell boys, get over yourselves.

  16. Buffy!!! And my true love in this universe… the amazing Bruce Campbell.

    I don’t even understand what this guy’s problem is. He must have a really hard time getting women.

    There are pretenders in every avenue of interests. But most of the time, I don’t care if I’m impressing a guy. It matters to me if he is impressing me.

  17. some of this is true but being skilled at gaming doesn’t make you a geek? if you dedicate enough time to become skilled at a game, you deserve the title geek and gamer and nerd if that’s what you want to be called.

  18. Nice article, your geek disclaimer cred made me laugh – I can relate.

  19. why do some guys just think it is too impress guys. I love fantasy , love comics and love to draw . He just made us into girl who get into in for guys ?? He thinks it is impossible for girls to have a mind of their own and indeed also love a lot of geek stuff. And by the way maybe we should stop defying people and just do what you love and like without putting a label on it.

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