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The Douchey DM » Misc, Opinion » The Geek Girl Problem

The Geek Girl Problem

The problem with the geek girl subculture is the unrelenting expectation of uniformity.

I have seen countless articles and posts about the problems with the geek girl subculture. Some are written by geek girls and some are simply commenting on us. Many cast stones at select groups of female geeks for a huge variety of transgressions. Girls are too sexy, not sexy enough, too specialized in their interest, not specialized enough, too fake, too judgmental, too obsessed, not obsessed enough, too mainstream, too antisocial, too popular, not popular enough, and on and on and on. Somehow, people have the idea that if geek girls took their specific advice, we will become a unified army of geekdom.

Are you flipping kidding me? REALLY? Despite our different backgrounds, ethnicities, body types, religions, knowledge, skills, and interests, we are expected to share the same point of view because we have vaginas?

Geek girls are free to dress up as Wonder Women at every convention they can get tickets to, and other geek girls are free to think that they are disrespecting themselves by showing off so much skin. Who has the right to judge others for their opinions? You did no share their excitement at getting a Wonder Woman lunchbox in 2nd grade, or their deeply religious upbringing in a small town. Hopefully both sides behave themselves and respect the other geek’s freedom of choice, but neither is better or worse for their opinions, and neither should be expected to change their minds due to peer pressure.

This uniformity expectation also applies to geek knowledge. We keep banging our heads against the misogynistic opinion that there are only a few “real” geek girls, and the rest of us are using geekery to get male attention. Once again, in spite of our innumerable differences, women are all expected to be experts in every aspect of geek culture to PROVE that they are geeks. I have seen it time and time again, especially at public events and conventions. Usually, it’s in the form of a seemingly innocent question about a geeky topic. If the girl fails to answer correctly, *POOF* there goes all her credibility. Suddenly, the woman who spent 74 hours sewing a cosplay outfit, 9 hours in line for a panel, four days writing a Dr. Who blog post, $200 a month on comic books, or maybe is just visiting her very first convention, is lowered to the level of attention-seeking “fake” in the mind of the quizzer (who can be male or female).

Our knowledge on any subject, geek or not, is going to be as varied as our skin color or favorite foods. I hate to break it to everyone, but there aren’t merit badges for knowing more nerd trivia than everyone else. Go ahead and whip out your geek fanboy (or fangirl) penis and prove it’s the biggest in the room. It’s the geek version of driving an inconveniently huge truck or car, everyone knows you’re compensating. Judgmental showing off only drives people away from the culture. Ask yourself honestly, is that your goal?

There is no problem with geek girls, the problem is with geek girls not being accepted and respected for who they are as individuals. People desperately want to belong to a group. Sadly, the easiest way to do that is to exclude others. As geek culture rapidly becomes pop culture, we have to embrace the diversity that inevitably comes with a surge in population. Old stereotypes have to change to accommodate new faces, new interest levels, and new ways of expressing one’s passion.

If Whovians, tabletop gamers, video gamers, comic readers, Trekkies, Potter Heads, Guildies, LARPers, and so much more are considered “geek,” than surely there is room for a huge diversity of women to be considered “geek girls”. We ALL have the right to march in the geek parade, even if we don’t all march to the same drum… or trumpet… or tuba… or baton… or agree there is a parade at all…

(This article was first posted on goldenlasso.net)

Written by

Kimi GMs and plays tons of different tabletop systems, but her favorites are the Wild Talents, Savage Worlds, Traveller, and Pathfinder. She is a regular host on the Happy Jack's RPG Podcast , and attends conventions throughout California. Kimi is an avid cosplayer and also loves to make music with her folk band, The Merry Wives of Windsor. You can check out GoldenLasso.net to read more of her articles about gaming, costuming, comics, and more.

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6 Responses to "The Geek Girl Problem"

  1. shortymonsterNo Gravatar says:

    I like the (wrong) idea that geek girls are hanging out with geek guys to get attention. I’m sorry, I love my friends deeply, and think they’re all stunning human beings in many ways, both the chaps and the chapesses, but if a girl was really wanting to go all out for attention from a large group, there are more socially aware groups of dudes out there. that being said, I’m not taking away from the numerous handsome fellas that I game with, but they’re a minority. All that geek guys are doing with this stereotype is trying to paint themselves at the kind of guy that’s just plain irresistible. I can’t help but think that that might not in fact be the case…

  2. Seth DrebitkoNo Gravatar says:

    I think it is unfortunate that a distinction still has to be made, and we can’t just all be geeks together :/. Definitely agree with the opinions here though.

  3. JackNo Gravatar says:

    I’m having trouble forming my comments in an organized way. Maybe bullets will help.

    -I don’t think you’re wrong; geek girls seem to get more than their fair share.

    -I think this goes beyond gender; for as long as I’ve self-identified as a geek I’ve seen others trying to assert their dominance, because they know more or they’re more committed or something.

    -I think some of it has to do more with “this is something I’m good at, and I measure my self-worth based on how good I am” and less to do with “I want to belong, so have to exclude.”

    -In my experience, geeks are more likely to fall into the social fallacy of “everyone must be included in everything” than excluding people.

    -I think attractive geek girls get more flack, but this may just be anecdotal; if it’s true, I think it’s because most geeks self-identify as outcasts in some way and assume that pretty girls can’t be outcasts (and thus can’t be geeks, as a corollary).

    -If you’re un-ashamedly enthusiastic about something, you’re a geek. If I’m enthusiastic about the same thing, that’s wonderful! If not, it’s still cool that you like things. I think the notion of “geek culture” is bad for geek culture.

  4. skeolanNo Gravatar says:

    Bravo! Well said. It’s cool to see this conversation making its way around the blogosphere and having reasonable, smart folks of both sexes saying reasonable, smart things about it. See also http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/07/26/who-gets-to-be-a-geek-anyone-who-wants-to-be/

    I’d love to see you and John Scalzi on a panel addressing gender and identity issues in geek/con-goer culture.

    I figure: the assertion that some ladies who self-describe as geeks differ unacceptably from “the way geek girls are supposed to be” by judgemental self-important assholes? Despite the fact that there’s just as much variation among geek girls as there is among geek guys?

    That looks an awful lot like a straight-up manifestation of Outgroup Homogeneity Bias to me. See also No True Scotsman Fallacy for common rhetorical techniques to wallpaper over the underlying bias. (Oh look, labels to encapsulate a labeling problem!)

  5. tentagilNo Gravatar says:

    As Jack said I think this problem extends beyond “Geek Girls” into geek culture as a whole. And more then anything I think its a result of the culture expanding and many of those at the core who have labeled themselves “geeks” to separate themselves from the masses are now finding that the masses have joined their little club. These “Hipster-Geeks” can’t deal with the fact that their culture is no longer a niche product which only they know or care about.

    What was once the province of outcasts who were shunned by the popular people is now pop culture and has found acceptance among a much broader audience. That and I think alot of people have started to realize that there really isn’t all that much separating the guy who has memorized the stats of every player on his favorite sports team and the guy who memorized the stats of every monster his favorite game. The definition of geek has shifted dramatically and now you have people who a generation ago would have shunned the geeks, calling themselves geeks.

  6. Andreas DavourNo Gravatar says:

    Why kind we all just be friends… *sigh*
    I wish everyone who is just down on their fellow geeks would just shut up.
    Horray for geeks everywhere, girls and boys!

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