“Fake” Geek Girls

Let’s get one thing public here, right off the bat.  I am a self-identified “geek”.  I wasn’t one of the “cool kids” in high school, though I stood up for myself enough times to never be outright bullied to my face.  I’ve always managed to find my fellow geeks in whatever city I reside. [Please note: although I am sure that there are people who will react with vehement outrage, for the sake of argument, I am going to use the words "geek" and "nerd" interchangeably.]

I read fantasy and sci-fi books for pleasure, although those have mostly been put on the back-burner due to books I am reading to review here.  I’ll be making an exception later this month for Cold Days, because I love the fantasy fluff that is Harry Dresden.   I will forever be thankful to those who introduced me to favorites such as The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Diamond Age, and A Mote In God’s Eye.  I audibly squee-d aloud when I saw the trailer for The Hobbit for the first time, and I can’t wait to buy the boxed set with the other three LOTR movies and have my own marathon.

I love to play video games.  I owned an original Nintendo, as well as an Atari, but now my tastes run more towards MMOs, especially since first person shooters make me nauseous.  I am terrible at pinball and most other arcade games, but I will feed machines tokens or quarters until my fingers cramp.  I’m a member of two different online forums devoted to gaming, and some of those forum members are people who I count among my closest friends.  I’m also a member of the Bay Area Nerd Girls.

I’m not really into anime, tabletop RPGs, Doctor Who, or Star Trek, but if you are, that’s cool, and I know enough about these to understand why you think they’re cool.  The recent Avengers movies have piqued an interest in comic books, but I already loved the Fables series from Vertigo.

I believe that you can’t stop the signal, and that Buffy will live in my heart forever.

I also love to watch football, paint my nails, wear high heels, and I hate going out without makeup on.  I own about as many pairs of (stiletto) shoes as I own video games.  I’m going to learn how to sew so that I can dress up as a character I know almost zilch about, but I really, really love the costume.  I’m friendly, gregarious, I wear push-up bras and v-neck tops, I moisturize and exfoliate daily, and I will talk frankly about sex and sexuality.

Apparently, those last four sentences negate everything I said previously.

Geeks and nerds have been their own subculture for as long as there has been geeks and nerds.  As a group, they have shared identity of being the outcasts of popular society, the people who value intelligence over appearance, and who are interested in things that most of popular culture ignores or mocks as childish.

There is also a pervasive sense of superiority, as though memorizing the stats on a particular Pokemon card is somehow more important and shows higher intelligence than knowing the statistics of a favorite sports player.  This superiority often boils over into “we’re better, because we don’t care what anyone looks like, as long as they are smart.  We accept everyone!”.

Except, as shown in geek circles lately, that is adamantly, vehemently, not the case at all.  Geekdom has just as much misogyny, racism, and elitism as every other social strata.  I wrote a post earlier this year about how the girl-on-girl hate within geek and gamer communities needs to stop, because if we engage in it, we make it okay for the male members to do so.  And oh, they have done so.

Congratulations, You Fail at Reading Comprehension

For starters, we have Dirk Manning, of Image Comics, sharing this so-misogynistic-it-hurts image on his Facebook account, with the added caption, FILE UNDER: “Lest We Forget…”:

Dirk Manning, You’re a Scrotum

Congratulations, Dirk, your words indicate that you are an asshole.  I didn’t even need to see a picture to judge you!  And your continued commentary with Jennifer de Guzman shows that you really don’t get it.  Not only are you someone who creates and influences geek culture through comics, Dirk, but your tacit condoning of this discourse, through sharing this image, perpetuates the idea that girls who are attractive and wear revealing clothing are not only “sluts” and “whores” but that there is no way that said girl can actually be a nerd.

You Wimmins With Your Wily Ways

Up next on the awful misogyny docket is Tony Harris!  Harris has also found geek fame through his work in comics (like Ex Machinawhich even I, with my limited comics knowledge, have heard good things about), and he too finds the attractive women who are edging their way into geek culture threatening.

He starts his rant by judging cosplay girls on their attractiveness (and, um, not to be superficial here, but buddy, you’re nowhere near a 10 yourself), calling them “con-hot”.  Judging from what I can extrapolate through his poorly written diatribe, Harris would define “con-hot” as women who are average looking in real life, but somehow, when compared to a Real Nerd Girl™ at a con, they MAGICALLY seem super hot!  Harris goes on to then insult the male con-goers by indicating that most of them rarely talk to women, especially attractive women, and lack confidence to speak to women in general.  I hope his derogatorily stereotypical comic book fans never have to speak to a female cashier, or, heaven forbid, a woman working behind the counter at their favorite comic book store!  He then goes on to rant that these Actually Average-Looking Women get off on the thought that they are the masturbatory fodder for these guys who they would “never speak to (outside of a con)”.

I don’t even know where to begin here.  For starters, he clearly has contempt for the men who purchase his comics.  Or, at least, for his idea of the type of men who purchase his comics.  Harris, do you REALLY think that your core audience is best portrayed by Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons?  Do you have any idea how offensive that is?

He also has contempt for the women who purchase his comics, or who choose to do homage to comics (his or comics produced by others) through an artistic portrayal of a character.  His idea that these women are preying on the men who attend cons is patently ridiculous, and speaks volumes about his experiences with attractive women.  Clearly, women will spend hundreds of hours sewing, hundreds of hours in a gym, and hundreds of dollars to attend a con in perfect canon cosplay, just so they can get harassed by you and your ilk.  Dismissing their labor of love as fake and contemptible just makes you look like an ass.

A Short Lesson in Fallacy

I would like to educate anyone on my blog with the No True Scotsman logical fallacy.  When you are generalizing a group of people (say, that all nerds are socially awkward and unattractive), and you are presented with someone who doesn’t fit into the generalization but is still an avowed member of said group (say, Felicia Day), and you claim that they are not REALLY a member of that group (say, calling her a glorified booth babe, and saying she doesn’t contribute to the geek community), you are committing this particular fallacy.  You’re smarter than that, okay?  So knock it off.  There’s no such thing as a “true geek” or a “true nerd”; please quit acting like there’s some test or checklist you have to pass to use the term.  If you wouldn’t test an unshaven overweight man with bad acne about his geek cred, then you shouldn’t test the attractive girl either.  You’re stereotyping and generalizing a community that encompasses a broad spectrum of humanity.

For those of you who are also self-identified geeks, let’s clean up our community a little, shall we?  I’d like my community start by addressing the Five Geek Social Fallacies, and adjusting some behavior after recognizing that we are allowing and perpetuating bad behavior in our community through them.

Redemption is Possible

I do think that the geek community can overcome all of this, but only if we STOP judging and marginalizing one another based solely on appearance, or perceived sexuality, or what they are geeky about.  Isn’t inclusivity, regardless of first impressions, supposed to be the geek creed?  Or am I missing something here?  Are geeks really just as elitist and snobby as the jocks and cheerleaders who used to ostracize and mock us, and who now want to BE us?  Are you really so petty that you can’t believe someone can be attractive AND be smart?

Geek is the new cool.  Nerd chic is a real thing in fashion.  If you want to become rich and successful, one of the best ways to do that is to get into programming languages.  The Avengers broke records at the box office.

We’ve made it.  We’ve arrived.

So please, stop acting like it is the end of the world when someone is new to the party.  Stop treating geek culture as a super exclusive tree-house where you only get to play if you can answer obscure trivia questions about some alternate universe Superman Comic that happened in 1990.

Welcome people with open arms, and share your passions.  THAT is the geek community I know and love, and I hate seeing it turned into a way to slut shame, belittle, and otherwise engage in the same fuckery that we claim to reject in other communities.

Posted on November 13, 2012, in Feminism, Media, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I know this is too long of a post to just get a “like” on, but it’s a lot to take in. So I’m leaving you an I.O.U. comment, too. I want to form a good response, but it’ll take me longer than two minutes to come up with one. :) Until then, I have to say you’ve given me quite a bit to think about! (That’s a good thing.) Let’s just say my paradigm has been shifted.

  2. Great post. I’ve been sitting here for some time now writing about why people would think I’m not a geek or a nerd (e.g. “Personally, I’ve never seen a Star Trek episode, I don’t know what a Cylon (I had to check the spelling) is, or what they have to do with toasters, I don’t like Star Wars, and in fact I watch, and have watched, very little TV.”) but I’m not sure it’s appropriate. But, if someone says that I’m not a geek, because, e.g. I don’t like Star Whatever, then that’s just as stupid as saying that someone is not a geek because they like to dress up, put make up on, and go out partying (or even just go out).

    What makes a geek is the interest in geeky things, not looks or habits, or even what geeky things they like.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. A while back, there was a “true geeks” like Tesla article about being a true geek was doing things for interest and not doing them for simply getting laid. The example was some guy in his laboratory tinkering with something and a girl is propositioning him and the “geek” is more into his lab work and the “fake geek” drops what he is doing in a hot minute for the piece of tail.
    Real geek-ery is something that has to be authentic to truly be geek. <3

  1. Pingback: 21/11/12: Theresa May is terrified of immigrants, Universal Credit and Comic Book Guy is sexist – In The Sprawl

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