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.