geek girls

There’s been a lot of internet discussion lately about “fake geek girls.” Apparently geek is the new chic, and for some reason (either real or imagined), sexy girls pose in photos with game controllers and/or glasses and caption it “OMG I’M SUCH A NERD <3”

In the past, the words “geek” and “nerd” (among others) were negative. They had connotations of loners, losers, and anti-socialites living in their parents’ basement. There was the idea of bad hygiene and virginity. Also, apparently, they were men.

Now, I’ve grown up wearing the label “nerd.” Not that I need to prove anything to you, gentle readers, but here are some examples:

  • I’ve always been into sci-fi, an interest which I got from my mom. In my house Star Trek and Isaac Asimov were the norm. Shoot, even scenes from Return of the Jedi were shot just miles away (however I was like 6 months old at the time, so I did not fangirl out. YET.)
  • I’ve been a gamer literally all my life. I was 2 when the NES came out and I somehow got my hands on one. When the SNES came out in 1991, the local mall held a contest: the person with the highest score after 5 minutes would win one of these amazing new machines. I got second place and won nothing. However, my mom was so impressed that she spent what little money we had to buy me one. I still have it. I still play it. Gaming has had such an impact on my life that I have a triforce tattoo.
  • Since I was 3 years old, everyone knew me as “that girl in the corner with her nose in a book.” I can thank my mom for that too, btw. Some of those books were sci-fi, and some were science fact. The local library had old textbooks, which I read cover to cover, because that’s how you read textbooks. I now hold a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature, and I still have my old textbooks on subjects ranging from geology to psychology to genetics.
  • Adam West and Tim Burton (separately) introduced me to Batman. (Also probably via my mom again.) I may have latched on just a little.
  • Academically, I’ve always been an over-achiever. I won numerous spelling bees and geography bees in school. I was valedictorian of my high school class. I went to college on a full academic scholarship.

However, even being as nerdy as  all that, nobody ever hassled me for being a girl. I don’t remember anyone ever telling me that I shouldn’t like the things that I like because of my gender. The only time I changed myself to try and fit in was in fifth grade, when my mom* bought me an NFL Raiders jacket, because that’s what the cool kids had. So I wore that while I played Phantasy Star on the Sega Master System. That showed ’em.

I also realize now that I’m a special case. Maybe my little town was just more tolerant**, or maybe they fussed, and I didn’t notice because I was too busy reading interesting things. Either way, I know there were people that had it a lot worse than I did growing up geek. But I never thought that a geek couldn’t be a girl. We were all outcasts together, as we were not the popular kids. If John Hughes movies taught me anything, it’s that we all want to be popular, but not all of us deserve it.

So it pains me when I see things like this. Besides the other errors made by the commenter, “She probably hasn’t even seen the movies.” How can you tell by looking at a picture of someone whether or not they have seen a particular movie? And who are you to judge? Are there nerd police out there, fact-checking that every person that makes any sort of reference to anything pop- or sub- or cult-culture -be it via t-shirt or quote or doodle – has thoroughly researched the source material? Is there a minimum amount of knowledge required in order to wear a shirt that you can buy at Target?

And, of course it’s entirely possible that the nerd police themselves are wrong in their assumptions.  Just check out the comments on this post.

So when trolls learned to use the internet (something that geeks – yes, even females – invented), fake-geek-girl-shaming became a thing. And since real geeks and nerds use the internet too, fake-geek-girl-shamer-shaming also became a thing. Just like calling out anyone on any kind of idiotic bigotry.

But our attacks are different. In fact, I wouldn’t even call them attacks. Rebuttals. Search tumblr for the tag “geek girl” or something like it. Yes, you’ll find the sexy “posed” pictures (which you’ll find for any genre. Some girls just want to be “models”.) But you’ll find way more pictures of real girls: cosplays, collections, comics, etc.

And then there’s this.

And that, it’s just great.

*Got dang, that woman was supportive.
** This is the same town that didn’t condemn me when I started coloring my hair unnatural colors, so there is probably some truth in the tolerance thing.