Girls Gone Geek

Geeks are people who have a profound passion for one or many subjects.  Geeks can range from those who enjoy literature, mathematics and science to the most popularized and stereotypical vision of geeks as comic book, sci-fi and video game enthusiasts.  And though academics have once been considered strictly for men, women have been able to push through barriers and now have just as much authority in these subjects as men.  Unfortunately, women are still struggling in the geek-dom of comic books, sci-fi and video games, where their passion for a particular is misconstrued as not being genuine enough for the male-counterpart of the geek-dom.

It also appears that there is no distinction between women who bandwagon and whose main concerns are the fit bodies of the leads in the new superhero movies, and the women who know their stuff.  In terms of cosplaying at conventions, it seems that men have every right to dress as they please—they can be Batman amongst any number of other super heroes or characters, but as soon as a woman dresses up in costume and no matter how much information they can spout out about any certain given geek-dom, they are seen as fake attention-seekers.

CNN Blogger Joe Peacock, opens his “Booth babes need not apply” post with: “There is a growing chorus of frustration in the geek community with - and there's no other way to put this - pretty girls pretending to be geeks for attention.”  However, he also warns female readers that he is not referring to all the women who attend conventions and similar events.  He finds it rather “fantastic” that women are able to participate in what was once a “male-driven” culture; however, he is focusing on the booth babes and the women who aren’t necessarily interested in these subjects, but rather attend these events to flaunt themselves for attention.

Though this might be true for some women, what about the other women who grew up reading comic books or watching Star Wars or Doctor Who?  How can you tell if a woman is a genuine geek?  When asked via Facebook, one male University of Ottawa student answered:

“Any woman who refers to herself as a geek is genuine. Anyone who isn't usually calls themselves nerdy. I.e. using the phrase 'I'm nerdy like that', or turning the adjective into a verb. [It’s] a lot trendier to call yourself a nerd rather than a geek. If you call yourself a geek it shows dedication, and that is genuine.”

Whereas another male student from our university said:

“I think calling women insincere because they are passionate about a certain subject is a bit absurd. […] I would propose back: why would it matter what men think of women with "geeky interests" if they are genuine or not anyway? Women are equal to men so they are free to do as they please, wouldn't you say so? […]In short, I see women as equal, geek, goth, nerd, or jock -- they are all the same.”

But then again, who are we to judge anyone?  YouTuber Andre Meadows of Black Nerd Comedy says it perfectly in his “Rants – GIRL GEEKS & GAMER GIRLS” video

“One thing I constantly hear from geek and gamer girls is that they are constantly challenged.  There are a bazillion video games out there, hours upon years of sci-fi programming. […]  That’s like if a girl came to me and said ‘Hey Andre, I like ‘80s and ‘90s cartoons!’ and I go ‘Oh yeah?  Well do you remember Space Cats?  Oh, you don’t remember Space Cats then I guess you ain’t no ‘80s/‘90s cartoon fan!’ That doesn’t even make sense!  Who even remembers Space Cats?”

Andre makes a very good point.  Why should someone need to prove his or her passion to you?  And how can we truly judge a person’s level of knowledge on video games, comic books or sci-fi?  There is no official system or meter with which to measure someone’s level of geekiness—there will always be people who will know more or less about a certain TV show or comic book than you just as there will always be someone who understands mathematics, science or literature better than you—it’s life.

Elizabeth, a University of Ottawa student who considers herself a science geek more than anything, made her opinion on the situation very clear though she said it is applicable to any type of person.

“You can’t base your opinion of someone upon first meeting them.  Sure, someone can stereotypically look a certain way, but you need to spend a little time talking to people and getting to know them first before making an assumption on whether or not they’re geeks or anything else for that matter.”

We must also recognize the efforts of women in geek-dom.  Women are becoming an important part of the comic book, sci-fi and video gaming geek-dom that suggests our geek world is expanding.  Women are playing bigger and better roles as writers in sci-fi television and movies, as video game animators and comic book illustrators and writers – we can neither forget the beautiful Felicia Day and other geeks for being stellar role models.
In the end, the idea behind “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to the geek-dom world as well.  The only true way of knowing if someone is a geek, is not to judge them based on your own or someone else’s level of expertise, but rather to get to know them and to give them the chance to identify as a geek before being labelled by others.

Here’s a great video of women and their experiences as geeks out in the world, set to the song “Nothing to Prove” by the Double-Clicks.  This video is such a great inspiration—don’t forget who you are and no matter what, never be afraid to be who you are.


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