So, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet in the blog, but I’m a pretty huge geek. Like, I’m the computer-science/zoology-double-major-vice-president-of-the-school’s-Magic-the-Gathering-club-playing-in-two-Pathfinder-games-while-GMing-one-takes-MIT’s-free-online-courses-for-fun kind of geek. So it shouldn’t be too much of a shock that I would want to talk about a recent, very-gendered Forbes article that has the nerdosphere arguing with itself.
Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away – Forbes
I was originally going to talk about the layer of sexism badly hidden beneath the geekier-than-thou, get-off-my-lawn mentality in the article, but a friend of mine linked me to an article on The Mary Sue that already did that way better than I could. So, instead, I’m going to talk a little about the myth itself, and the assumptions thereof. And it will be in list form!
Fake Geek Girl Assumption #1: Fake Geek Girls Exist
This is the obvious one. So, a girl (really, anyone) claims to love Dr. Who but hasn’t seen anyone but Matt Smith play the Doctor. Let’s look at some possibilities:
a) She absolutely loves the show, but only got into it a month ago, and wants to finish series 6 before going back to watch David Tennant or some classic Who.
b) She’s a “real geek” in some other area — say, Tolkein. Like the rest of us, there are parts of geek culture that she genuinely enjoys, but has only dabbled in. Dr. Who is one of them.
c) She, like many of us, is broke as fuck, and chose a healthy diet or an okayish apartment over Netflix. She’s also a musician with an ethical objection to piracy, so torrents aren’t an option. Sure, she could ask her friend to borrow her collection on DVD, but then her friend might remember that she still has her copy of the complete original series of Battlestar Gallactica!
d) She’s waiting for a friend or two to get some free time so they can watch the whole new series together, from the beginning.
I’ve never actually met a Fake Geek Girl, but I’ve met plenty of geek girls (I know, anecdotal evidence. Shoot me). Maybe it’s because I’m not immediately dismissing someone as fake when I find out that they’re not as invested in one particular aspect of geek culture as I am? I’m not saying that there has never-ever-in-the-history-of-the-universe, been a real Fake Geek Girl, but I am saying that such people are not nearly common enough for a magazine that isn’t even actually about geek culture to be publishing on it as if it is A Thing.
Fake Geek Girl Assumption #2: Geek Girls Want The Attention That Geek Guys Pour Over Them
Obviously, this varies from person to person. Some girls love having guys fawn, even obsess, over them; others find it annoying as fuck. Guess which one I hear about more often?
Fellow straight geek guys: Would you like it if every time you walked into your FLGS, one of the most socially awkward, annoying, and unhygenic girls there rushed you and followed you around the store unless explicitly told to leave you alone? (and sometimes, not even then?) That, with genders reversed, is more often than not what the “attention” that Fake Geek Girls supposedly want means for actual geek girls.
As more girls have entered the community, our problem of some guys fawning over them has waned, but it is definitely not a thing of the past. We, geek guys, have a lot to do as a community if we want to actually be the cool, welcoming, accepting group of folks we like to think we are.
(Also, geek girls: please, please, please call us out if we’re making you uncomfortable. Social awkwardness and coming from a male-dominated community can lead to some shitty, creepy behavior, but many of us just don’t know better. See the entire Captain Awkward blog for examples.)
Fake Geek Girl Assumption #3: Getting Into Something Through Your Significant Other Means You’re Doing For Attention (Or Sex)
Eventually, if a Fake Geek Girl fakes around long enough, she evolves into a Fake Geek Girlfriend (or so I’m told). Such women commit such heinous crimes as partaking in mutually enjoyable activities with their significant other, trying new things, and *gasp* trying to at least understand something that their boyfriend has put his heart and soul into, even if it seems silly!! Sometimes, they even continue the activity after the relationship has ended!!!!11111111
Despite what some may say, geek is still definitely a Guy Thing. Even as the numbers in our community shift closer to 50/50, women playing online games are forced to take male avatars and stay out of voice chat to avoid “TITS OR GTFO.” Companies continue to hire booth babes to garner attention at cons and expos. Bikini mail is still a thing. In such a male-dominated community, is it really all that surprising that a decent chunk of the girls there were first brought to the community by a boyfriend?
Directly because of former significant others, I currently:
– Listen to Flaming Lips, The Postal Service, Regina Spektor, and probably a few other bands that I’m forgetting
– Watch Dr. Who
– Frequent local coffee shops
– Know how to set up and work in a darkroom (Though I haven’t done so recently. I miss photography…)
– Go to art museums
– Know the owners of my local LAN center
When one is in a romantic relationship, one often does things with their partner that make them happy, because they like seeing their partner happy. Sometimes, one discovers that they enjoy an activity that they do with their partner in its own right. Why do we question only motives when this happens to girls, with geeky things?
For that matter, why do we have this myth at all?