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. As a guy and a geek and/or nerd, I can see where guys like Joe are coming from. Growing up as boys in general we’re told that girls are better. Girls are more mature, they’re smarter, they’re nicer, they’re well-mannered, they’re just… better. Then we hit puberty and we’re told guys are only interested in ‘one thing’ and girls want commitment, they want maturity, they want emotional connections, they’re just… better. For geeky guys, we’re told that we’re doomed to a life of virginity and being single because those girls don’t want some little nerd playing with joysticks, they want real men who burp, drink beer, like sports, etc.
    So, guys form little cliques and keep girls out from either resentment, fears of inferiority or who knows. Then, a girl or girls show interest in what we’re interested in and we feel like “Hey, maybe we have some common ground after all.” Then, if it turns out to not be what we thought, we feel betrayed and get angry.
    I don’t know much about Olivia Munn, I don’t care about her enough to look up how much of a gamer she is but it seems like she’s been a punching bag for many gamers because she just doesn’t seem to be very into gaming although she was on G4′s main show for everything gamer and geek. I agree that Joe is off on Frag Dolls and Cosplayers, I wish I had the commitment to be a cosplayer and if taking that kind of time for a hobby doesn’t qualify you as geek, I don’t know what does.

    The thing is, what makes someone a ‘geek’ or a ‘gamer’ is as subjective as what makes someone ‘punk’. Some people only accept the hardcore; people who live, breathe, digest and sweat the industry. Personally, I know casual gamers and hardcore gamers. I actually take more offense to guys calling themselves gamers when they only play sports games. I think Sara Underwood may just be seen as another pretty face for Attack of the Show but she likes mobile games like Angry Birds and she obviously really, REALLY likes geeks and geek culture. That’s great, more of that.

    Maybe that’s what it’s about, not just what you present but what you take in. Maybe Joe’s problem is that Felicia Day is someone who labels herself a geek and makes herself known as one and also provides geek content because geekiness so consumes her that she spreads it to others through her work while the others just say it and leave it to you to accept or not and someone like Joe won’t because more work needs to be done to fill his or someone’s nebulous criteria.

    • Thank you for your comment, Tim.
      The only thing I would say to you is… that’s what YOU were told. It’s not what all guys were told. It’s not what the guys *I* grew up with were told. And I was never told that women were better than men. I was told we were equal.
      But I do believe that many men grew up thinking this way, and it’s unfortunate that someone told you that. Because it’s not true. It’s just not. And for you, it was true for a very long time. I hope it’s not true for you anymore.
      I also believe many women grew up thinking that men were “better” and we were the 2nd sex… there to serve a man. The hangover ideals form our elders.
      But times have changed.
      And conversations like these make us realize that we all have an identity. Some people just take longer to figure that identity out. And that’s okay.
      As a community of geeks, we shouldn’t try to root them as “fake geeks”, we should try and find out what their interests are and steer them in the right direction.

  2. I will wear my superhero shirts, band shirts, and miscellaneous pop culture shirts because I freakin love all that awesome stuff! And i will play my Sonic games on Sega and read my Harry Potter and LOTR books…Enough said! Thats who Ive always been and theres no changing that! & I will never wear them just to “grace a man with my presence” ugh that made me so mad! You should never assume a girl is fake because she’s into interesting things! Great article! You definitely get it :)

  3. Great point in the article MM linked to, “Fake Geek Girls: How Geek Gatekeeping Is Bad For Business” . . . “Oh no actually, false alarm. Turns out she’s just a person who is into stuff to varying degrees. There’s no such thing as a Fake Geek Girl.” Well said. Not everything has to be about the sex of person and what he/she is “supposed” to be interested in. Stereotypes . . . boo!

  4. I don’t know about my geek-cred., but I’m really tired of people acting like I’m a faker because I don’t like RPGs…GASP! I mean, I have a degree in Computer Science and can have an intelligent conversation on many topics, from Dune to Manga, to many “geek-approved” movies. Am I Queen Geek? No. Do I want to be? Not if it means I have to stay up all hours doing something I don’t like because someone else thinks it quintessential to being a geek…but I’ll kick your A$$ at Soul Calibur all night, and you’ll like it. ;)

  5. I totally agree with M.C. Silver. On the other hand, I think it’s hard for girls to voice opinions on things that are “nerdy” because of nerd shaming. I know I have kept my mouth shut on things that I don’t have extensive knowledge of, just a new interest, because I didn’t want to be shamed by my male friends. I really don’t think that it’s fair that they think they monopoly on this wonderful lifestyle and that girls know nothing. That being said, I will never back down on the nerd things I know by heart, no man can make me do that.

  6. Great comments, too!

  7. This is a great piece. :)

  8. I love Sara’s comment. Half of these so called “hot gamer girls” are not gamers/”geeks”. They love this so called attention they get from male gamers. Seriously if you play games good for you, just don’t make such a big deal that you have a vagina and play games, you’re not unique and its way overdone. Some of us actually just want to play games!

    • Women do not “love” the attention they get from men in the gaming world. Some women love the attention they get from men in GENERAL, regardless of being a gamer or a geek or whatever. Anyone who is a woman who is a part of the gaming world knows that it can be really difficult to be in that world and not face sexism and downright harassment. You’re kind of assuming that “geeky” men do not harass women or have sexist views, and so it’s okay to only be mad at the “hot gamer chick” for what she is *apparently* doing. Are we being mad at girls because they are attractive and also happen to like games? Cause that is just silly.

      Furthermore, check out this article about just some of the sexual harassment that ordinary women who want to play games face on a regular basis from the male part of the gaming community. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/us/sexual-harassment-in-online-gaming-stirs-anger.html

    • Firstly, I think “half” is a large assumption, but I understand the comment. Like I said in the article… “from padded resumes to padded bras”… it happens in every industry. But let’s ask the question: why do these “hot gamer girls” like the attention they get from male gamers? Because sex sells. I’m sure it beats waitressing. And can we 100% assume that these stereotyped women have ZERO interest in geek culture? I don’t believe can truthfully judge such a thing.

      Regarding the vagina part of the comment, I’d counter with I’m pretty sick of the dicks as well. TROLLS EXIST. And some are obsessed with becoming the equivalent of a Reality TV Star – famous for the sake of being famous. Men and women alike. There is no difference.
      This *isn’t* a gender war.

    • Im a girl and i play games! i always thought that was unique because idk a lot of chicks that actually love video games! and i dont mention it often because i feel like i’d be trying to show off…

  9. Despite PC gaming, loving the book series Wheel of Time truly makes me a geek. All fantasy games would be non-existent if it were not for WoT.

  10. It sucks that society only questions the motives of women. Notice how he doesn’t question men’s interest in geek culture. I think both men and women are willing to fake interest in something “geeky” to make themselves sound cooler. It isn’t just a woman thing. It is a shame that he feels woman haven’t been liking geek culture from the beginning. That kind of thinking is a fallacy. Women like video games, Star Wars, and collectables just as much as men. It is insulting to think that the writer believes that just now we are getting into these geeky things. I write a geeky blog and define aspects of what I like as geeky, so I appreciate you addressing the issue of sexism in this culture. Thanks for the article!

    • I completely agree that it’s not just girls who fake it. I’m sure it’s intimidating when a guy dates a girl who worked in a video game store for five ears, has an extensive comic and video game collection, collects action figures and knows more than he does (ahem that’s be me lol). I once dated a guy who I kept telling to read The Walking Dead comics because he was interested in the show and he admitted to never reading it but then two days late we were out and he said to another guy “oh yeah man you gotta read the comic it’s so much better than the show.” I was like “oh you read the comic?!” lol. Guys fake being geeks too. It’s not just women.

  11. The entire ‘I’m a hot girl, but I’m such a geek’ thing is so overplayed. Next…

  12. It’s also important to note that Geek is a very encompassing term. There are not only video game geeks, but also music geeks, literature geeks, etc.

  13. Yes thank god for the day a woman can show that she is both feminine and has a brain!

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  15. Women who are confident in their identity and interests are just so intimidating :-)

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