Nerdy Ladies and Geek Credibility

There’s been a lot of speculation on teh internets in the last week on what it means to be a Geek Girl and whether or not it’s appropriate or needed to reference your gender when describing yourself thusly. There’s also been talk about whether or not “attractive womenz” can be geeks without being seen as pandering to a target demographic. Also some rumblings about geek cred in general. What is geek? Who is geeky? DEFINE PLEASE.

Dire questions for the ages. Like trying to define cool or hip or…it’s a labyrinthine process that only ends in tears. Since that way = madness, I will not even attempt.

So should ladies have to describe themselves as “Geek Girls” rather than just geeks?

At first I was like: Hell No!

But now I’m like: Why not?

This is how Geek Girls fight on the internet!

What does it say about a person if they are uncomfortable with peeps referencing their own gender? It goes back to this whole thang that pops up every now and then when it comes to blogs written by women: I want your perspective, but not as a woman, as a person.

Inevitably (not hatin’, just sayin’) it’s a guy because being a white male entitles you to not ever think about being a white male. The entire existence of the world is crafted around submerging you into a comfortable bubble which echoes back everything you love and hold dear as being “normal and cool” while everything else is foreign, bewildering, and frustrating. You simply tolerate it because when you express this frustration/bewilderment, the other beings around you with less comfortable bubble lives get fucking pissed.

The truth of the matter is: Experiencing popular culture/nerd and geek culture is different for everyone (I’m throwing my weight behind this being true for a lot of men/women specifically). Not because we say so, just cause IT IS WHAT IT IS. And there is value in naming your experience. Am I right? I think I’m right…

At times my experience as a woman seems irrelevant, but at times it seems very relevant. As is any bias or lens with which you view the world. Owning up to it and being honest about it is totally cool.

What’s all the fuss about then? Apparently if you are pleasantly shaped and easy on the eyes – you have to work harder to be seen as legit. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SERIOUS? This is especially true for Geekdom, in which the entrance is closely guarded by cave trolls and a bull with a nose-ring that wants you to memorize, recite and argue geek trivia as if he were your 8th grade history teacher.

Which is fucking stupid. I should not have to pass a fucking quiz to be a geek. I geek, therefore I am. Simple as that.

Especially since it’s been determined by Dr. Me that ladies and men respond differently to their fandoms. I like costumes, fanvids, mix CDs and knitting hats. Also writing reviews and occasionally some fan fiction which will NEVER see the light of day. My husband likes memorizing facts, reciting quotes, podcasts, arguing points about said facts and to some degree hoarding. Well, we both kinda like hoarding. An aspect of geeking is collecting, which we only do based on our swelling or shrinking pocket books.

So when Geek Girls get called out on the carpet and asked to explain why the more attractive of our gender SHOULD NOT get to be called geeks if they don’t know the name of Han Solos’ shaggin wagon…I kinda balk. Shouldn’t they be fine if they’re willing to dress up in a screen-accurate character costume and be ogled/scrutinized by 10,000 people on the convention floor? Provided they are not being paid for it, of course. Then, it just gets a little weird. Kinda sad. Who knows though – they may like their job. So, go for it ladies. Get that money. How is it anymore demeaning than some of the male attention seekers/profit-earners I’ve seen at conventions?

BUT IT’S PANDERING TO MALE SEXUAL FANTASIES DAMMIT. OBVIOUS PANDERING! WHY AREN’T YOU LADIES MAD AS HELL ABOUT THIS!? Waaaaatch:

Who says your geekdom or your experience of it is the be-all and end-all of nerd? Popular culture and nerd culture run the gamut – science fiction, fantasy, gaming, comic books, technology, etc.

There’s Twihards and Shakespeare nerds and Jane Austen nerds and you know – Literature People. There are people who go fucking apeshit over science and math and history and grammar and music AND all sorts of weird ass things that you probably don’t give a flying crap about.

Invalidating their experience or taking away their cards is not going to earn you any points. It’s the folks who are embracing all the weirdos (and their extra income) that will win the day. You are just going to be a sad floppy sack in the corner.

MODERATION IN ALL THINGS AKA GROW UP

Real nerds hug it out.

Nerdiness, and my experience of it, is best enjoyed with a side of moderation. As are most things. Balance, ya know. Does this make me less geeky? Probably in someone’s estimation. But I like living my life the way it is and wouldn’t change further immersion in geek culture for my love of crappy reality TV, clothes shopping and yoga classes.

Being too crazed over one thing isn’t EVER attractive. Even on super attractive people (I’m talking about you, Tom Cruise). What is attractive? Appreciating that some people will like different things and you will not always agree.

What are those revelations called again? Oh right, growing the fuck up. Not spending the rest of your life indulging in juvenile fantasies of being ostracized or winning the hot chick or befriending the most popular guy in school.

People who play those games for the rest of their lives will always lose. So it’s best to come over to the losing side NOW and enjoy the free cookies.

Frankly – the world would be a lot better place if we could all get over ourselves and stop pretending like our comic book collection, perfect nose/teeth, special mutant ability or any other such nonsense makes us “better than someone else.”

An ego created with the illusion that it is better or more perfect is surely doomed to lead a sad life. Versus being cool with who you are and awesomely respectful and appreciative of the diversity all around you. You COULD ALSO DO THAT.

I’m thankful that most of us can get over the chest-thumping BS indignation and get back to enjoying our privileged ass lives that allow us to argue and obsess about trivial shit like this.

Frankly I’m now most interested in this question:

Is this backlash against the pretty ladies a more peripheral response to the shifting demographic of geekdom? I seem to remember lady monies dominating the last few years at the box office in the Twilight sense and in general a greater recognition of “us.” So are the men (and men apologists, you know who you are) getting pissy cause it’s getting harder to tell the good guys (nerd girls) from the bad (sexy charlatans)? Or are they pissed because we’re invading their territory with our own take on what it means to be nerdy therefore widening the dichotomy and stepping on their toes?

Afterall – it’s easy to deal with that ONE geeky girl in the group. It’s much harder when there are one hundred, one thousand or one million.

Instead of "rob banks" substitute "nerd angst." Again - take a clue from comic books and squash that shit with a squishy one.

LINK LOVE: “THIS MEANS SOMETHING”

-The Drama Starts Here w/ a Post by Zooey Mae.

-And then the response by The Nerdy Bird.

-Next – Zooey Mae hits back.

Some other people get involved.

This person too.

A professional weighs in.

AND THEN SOME PEOPLE GO OFF ABOUT FAKE GEEK GIRLS:

Do Attractive Geek Girls Need to Justify Themselves?

Why are all the hot girls pandering to nerds? WHY!?

I’m mad that Megan Fox likes Comic Books and Stuff. SO READ THIS.

And then a dude gets pissed when teh nerdy ladiez don’t approve of him defending their honor. They are stupid, don’t understand humor and misinterpret everything he says. “WTF ZOMG I HATE EVERYONE WITH A VAGINA.

Some lovely insight.

Like a glass of warm milk and cookies before bed.

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About tinyheroes

Mindy Crouchley is a 33 year old woman with a degree in English and Technical Writing from Portland State University. She has accumulated three+ years experience in the Marketing and Communications field - with an emphasis on creating digital media content. She has been reading comic books since she was 10 years old. She currently lives in outer southeast Portland with her spouse Dan Robertson, her baby girl, and their dog - Jabba the pug. She spends her free time devouring books, crafting cosplay, video gaming, attending comic cons, writing stories/screenplays, attending book to film adaptation club meetings, volunteering, and watching copious amounts of TV and movies.

11 responses to “Nerdy Ladies and Geek Credibility”

  1. Ravyn says :

    I didn’t follow any of your links yet, but I am somewhat on the fence about this. There are two things about chick geeks that bother me lately, specifically HOT chick geeks. One is that when it comes to television shows on GSN or the like, the female hosts seem like they were chosen on their hotness scale first, and their actual interest/knowledge of the material they are presenting dead last. I hate watching Olivia Munn giving me information about an upcoming video game all the while having this lost little puppy dog look on her face. It’s like getting important news stories from a 5th grader.

    Secondly, the only people that ever seem to qualify their geekdom with the added “girl” seem to be those hot chicks that are solely around to be eye candy. That is not to say that hot chicks can’t be geeks! There are people like me, who ended up being a geek because they were the only group who would have in their clique in high school — and then there are these girls who were probably quite popular and suddenly decided that having an asymmetrical haircut and wearing a cape could be fun.

    So, I think the reason people often ask you questions to pass a geek test is probably because we (ask a geek community) have been hurt before. And you are one of the hot ones. However, you are also a real geek! 😀

    • Ravyn says :

      That should read “the only group who would have ME in their clique in high school”

      And “as a geek community”, not “ask”.

    • tinyheroes says :

      LOL – I didn’t mean to imply I was a “hot geek girl” or that anyone had ever asked me Geek Trivia questions before to prove my geek status!

      I wish. I wish I could shimmy into hot pants and underwear at a convention without fear. No siree!

      Thanks to Dan, I know a lot more about Star Wars than I ever wanted to know so I could probably pass most preliminary questions with ease however.

      I do get the Olivia Munn hate and some of the backlash seems legit. But the idea that every single attractive female (I don’t count myself among them, I swears it!) who claims to like Star Wars or X-Men is “pandering to nerd boys” seems to be yet another nerd boy fantasy.

      As many peeps pointed out in the articles – geekdom is reigning supreme right now so nearly everyone knows about it through pop culture. Cartoons featuring superheroes were popular and mainstream when we were kids. I meet more ladies who got into comic books (and continue to read some superhero stuff, despite it sucking major balls) because of animated cartoons in their childhood.

      So – if it could happen to me, a white lower middle class white girl in my early-twenties, I’m going to give other ladies of similar backgrounds the benefit of the doubt.

      My thoughts are that everyone geeks out about something. Whether it’s conventionally nerdy or not. So to indicate that no one could claim that mantle unless they were picked on in HS (I wasn’t in HS, managed to skirt most of that by being an approachable and well-known “freak” rather than geek) or could ramble off particular trivia is a little odd to me.

      Especially if the determining factor is attractiveness or success.

      The idea of perpetuating HS stereotypes into your late-twenties, thirties, etc is also off-putting. We’re all adults now and we can put away the shame of labels and hopefully embrace whatever passions we have without fear of reprisal.

      So perhaps these ladies too are casting off the shackles that bound them (I admit to giving up my comic books and love of country western music to conform in middle and HS) and coming back around to things they loved in their childhood.

      Which is awesome – as long as we don’t let the baggage fester forever and ever.

      It’s such a cracked out idea to try and label geeks though. I see the varying “degrees” of geek, but to completely shun someone out of the club that’s supposed to be a haven for the shunned. Uh, what the hell?

      I feel this way about Twihards (God help me) as well. It’s tough to approve of their reasons for geeking, but geek away they do.

      Again – I don’t want to excuse the Olivia Munns of the world. But I can see her point of view: babies gotta eat. I can’t fault a girl for getting hers, particularly when so many dudes are probably getting theirs to hers. If you know what I mean. Despite her being obnoxious (I don’t know personally, don’t tune into G4).

      I just find it “interesting” that suddenly nerd boys can’t handle all the cleavage and cluelessness when you open up a mainstream comic book and are practically poked in the eye by a fucking nipple. And if you complain are told “it’s business as usual and what the dudes want.”

      Really? You have a problem with this ALL OF THE SUDDEN?

      As for Munn and those like her who are legitimately going through the motions – I can’t imagine that it’s much fun to be a personality for shit you don’t really care about. That’s why I like blogging for no pay – I can write about whatever the fuck I want. Nerdosity or geekiness or mainstream be damned!! And I can swear too. WOOT!

      • tinyheroes says :

        *late-twenties. Getting senile already!

      • Ravyn says :

        Word! I agree with everything you said except for the part where you said that you’re not a hot geek girl. To that I say “Ahhh OOOO Guh!” and make my eyeballs fly out of my head ala some manner of Tex Avery cartoon.

      • Addie says :

        So much of it is related to social juvenile hierarchies and their affiliated coping mechanisms. Using your geek status as a means to bolster your self-esteem as a kid or high schooler is a totally valid and healthy coping mechanism. If you’re still using it as an adult, when the bullies are of an entirely different breed, then you need to adapt your coping mechanisms and fucking grow up – as you said.

        I feel like a lot of this has to do with maturity, and an area where otherwise very mature individuals can maintain a blind spot. I wasn’t bullied as a kid, but I’ve been bullied plenty as an adult, and I can say this: it gives me zero authority to be a dick to anybody who reminds me of my past traumas. Being a dick would be acknowledging that maybe I’m not ready for adulthood.

  2. Addie says :

    I’m going to have to read through that thread when I have the energy for it – lately I’ve been dealing with my own lady-geek issues to a degree that’s been exhausting me, so it’s hard to feel up for just yet. Then I’ll have to re-read this, but in the meantime – I’m with you.

    I’ve said it before, but Geek Feminism covers this topic pretty often, on the idea of geek feminism and what counts for “geek cred”.

    In terms of whether or not one should put gender in front of their geek credentials, I do it as a reminder that there is something else from the default. As long as certain spheres are dominated by one group, it’s important to call out when you’re the odd one out. It means you’re seeing things differently and you probably have some interesting insight to provide if the majority would just listen. Nobody’s claiming to be a “female Twilight geek” because that would be redundant in the same way a “male Star Wars fan” is. But if you’re a male Twilight geek or a female Star Wars fan, I like knowing that, because you’re making things a lot more interesting, you know?

    You should check out the Tiger Beatdown blog post on Game of Thrones – the post itself kinda sucks, but the comments are really interesting, and a place where I’ve been able to hash out some of my thoughts. Your comments about the gender differences in geekdom reminded me of that thread – some asshole came in and totally derailed the thread, and the owner of the blog ultimately called him out for being pedantic, because that was the thing – we were all talking about the really interesting larger themes and issues, and he wanted to drill down on the details, and picked apart our “arguments” (which weren’t arguments in the first place) along the same lines.

    It’s an interesting topic and I think the frustrating part for me at this point is that it keeps playing OVER and OVER and OVER again because the dudes are so mired in their privilege that they think this is the first time it’s ever come up. It’s utterly exhausting (my current version of that endless iteration is “Wait, why is concern about safety a part of your geek identity in any way whatsoever?” That’s like explaining why stress is unhealthy or sex is fun – it’s one of those things that seems OBVIOUS about the human condition – until you run into some lucky bastard for whom it isn’t part of their day-to-day. And they legitimately don’t understand something that is part of your every waking breath. It’s tiresome.

  3. Addie says :

    Oh, also:

    “Is this backlash against the pretty ladies a more peripheral response to the shifting demographic of geekdom? I seem to remember lady monies dominating the last few years at the box office in the Twilight sense and in general a greater recognition of “us.” So are the men (and men apologists, you know who you are) getting pissy cause it’s getting harder to tell the good guys (nerd girls) from the bad (sexy charlatans)? Or are they pissed because we’re invading their territory with our own take on what it means to be nerdy therefore widening the dichotomy and stepping on their toes?”

    … it’s all of the above. You remember that post I shared on FB about the Dragon Age player who whined because the love options in DA2 didn’t cater enough to the straight male, and he was squicked out by Anders hitting on him?

    • Addie says :

      Also – a lot of geekdom has relied on a sense of exclusivity – “only a few of us ‘get it’, so therefore we are better than everybody else” that is being deeply threatened by geek becoming chic.

      I think a big part of it is that these people used their geek identity as a self-esteem boost – a really shoddy self-esteem boost – and so of course other people assuming the identity is threatening to them. If you’re gaining your self-esteem from your geek identity, then you’re not just into geeky things for the love of it, but you’re also into geeky things because it’s what makes you better than everybody else. When everybody else is into geeky things, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. I have no doubt this is why “traditional” geeks are fighting back with such a vengeance – their entire sense of self-worth is being threatened.

      Geek Feminism talks about “geek cred” most often in the field of video games, because the explosion of casual gaming in the last few years has led to this discussion really often. If you identify as a gamer because you play Farmville, are you pissing on the people who identify as a gamer because they can beat DA: Origins on Nightmare? Only if those people aren’t secure in their own identities. I think that there are some valid areas where “follow the money” is leading to a dilution of quality in regards to nerdy commodities, but those are exceptions, honestly – in general, I feel like we can only gain from a broadening of the customer base.

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