Enough With This “Fake Geek Girl” Crap

For those who have been so fortunate as to remain unaware of the “fake geek girl” concept, let me just catch you up to speed: “fake geek girl” is an accusation that women who claim to be interested in what has come to be considered “nerd culture” are only doing so in order to win the attention of men.  It is also the idea that this nerd culture-~-comics, gaming, science, computers, etc.-~-is somehow off-limits to women.  The following is an actual example of the meme:

(The rest of the images used in this post were created as parodies, but the one above was not, just to be clear)

So first of all, it’s totally possible to enjoy the movie “Back to the Future” without understanding the psuedoscience referenced.  But second, who is to say that a girl couldn’t a) understand that psuedoscience (I can tell you right now that there is no such thing as a flux capacitor) and b) enjoy movies that contain elements of science to them?

Who is to say that women can’t be genuinely interested in things we consider nerd culture?

Look, I grew up with mostly male friends.  Pokemon cards were collected, and I probably still have the original Gameboy Color games that went with the series, back when the versions were things like Blue and Red.  I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was 10. I have seen every Star Wars movie and I still hate Episode II and yes, the original trilogy will always be the best.  I took Advanced Placement Physics in high school and understood what on earth was being said, most of the time.  I’ve read comics and I love the movie adaptations.

That doesn’t mean that I know all the same things as other people who identify or are identified as nerds.  I haven’t read every comic series and I don’t play a ton of video games, but there are aspects of nerd culture that I enjoy, and that I am a part of.  And to say that this is impossible, or that I pretend at this for male attention, is absurd, offensive, and sexist.  In the words of Youtube personality albinwonderland, “There is no such thing as a fake geek girl. There are only girls who are at different, varying levels of falling in love with something the society generically considers to fall under the nerd culture category.”

Not that there aren’t aspects of sexism embedded in nerd culture itself.  The Hawkeye Initiative is a fan-driven project that aims to illustrate the absurdly sexualized outfits and stances of women who appear in comic books.  Oftentimes, women are just prizes to be won by heroes throughout their journeys, but even when they themselves are the heroes-~-even when they are part of the action-~-they are reduced to over-sexulaized images.  Think about how women often appear in video games: they are scantily clad, with tiny waists and big boobs.  They are Barbie on steroids with a sword.  It’s out of control.

On top of that, subjects we typically associate with nerd-dom, like math and science, are fields that women are typically-speaking driven out of.  We hear all the time about women dropping out of STEM fields, right?  This isn’t something I’m making up.

So just to be clear, now we have a subculture that we call nerd culture that has inherent strains of sexism in it coming from the comic book and gaming communities, and that academically is slanted against women, and men are going to accuse women who decide to be a part of said subculture anyway of FAKING IT?  Why would we voluntarily expose ourselves to extra sexism if we could avoid it?  It doesn’t make any sense.

I’m not saying that there couldn’t hypothetically be a woman out there somewhere who pretends to be interested in superheroes and Star Wars in order to gain a guy’s attention.  But that doesn’t mean that women who engage with nerd culture on the whole should be accused of false fandom.  That’s just ridiculous.  Why should women be subjected to weird quizzes about their knowledge of comic books just to prove they have a genuine interest, and if they can’t duplicate their harasser’s understanding of the subject, they’re accused of just pretending for the sake of attracting men?

Fellows, just a tip: if you want to find a woman who might actually share your interests and respect your hobbies, STOP ACCUSING WOMEN OF BEING FAKE NERDS.

But there’s another level to this problem, and that’s the type of woman who gets accused of being a fake nerd girl.

That’s right, folks: it’s not EVERY woman who is accused of faking it.  Just the ones that our society deems “desirable” and “feminine”.  A slightly different brand of sexism leads our society to say that some women wouldn’t be faking it, some women are real nerds, but those women aren’t really considered to be women by the geek community.  It’s a subtle but still disgusting way of saying that these women aren’t trying to get guys because it wouldn’t work, and that’s just sad.  I was one of these de-gendered individuals at one point, someone who was a geek but not really a girl, and it still baffles me that we cannot see that a person can be both.

Look, no matter how you frame it, the Fake Geek Girl meme, and moreover, the idea that there are “fake geek girls” is fundamentally sexist.  The underlying assumption is that there are certain hobbies that rely on a sort of intelligence or a certain identity that women cannot truly attain, and for this reason the profession of interest in these subjects is clearly false.  We should be embracing the idea that women want to be a part of nerd culture, to go into IT and the sciences, to read comic books and play video games, instead of driving those women away.  There’s no reason to believe that women can’t be genuinely interested in nerd culture, and nerd men aren’t doing themselves any favor by pushing us away.

I’ll just leave you with this:

Note: credit for the parody “fake nerd girl” memes goes to uproxx.com.  The image above is from the Tumblr of a user called Breenicole0301.

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~ by Randi Saunders on January 8, 2013.

3 Responses to “Enough With This “Fake Geek Girl” Crap”

  1. The problem lies with putting “girl” in there. You don’t see guys going around saying, “Oh I’m a geek guy.” So why should girls say, “I’m a geek girl.” or “I’m a gamer girl.”? Quit making things about your gender if you want people to see past it.

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