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    • CommentAuthorWood
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.41)
    One of the person who has been the most vocal about the (non-)problem of fake geek girls (and the actual problem of misogyny within the nerd community) is Rachel Eddidin who is, among other things, an editor at Dark Horse. You might want to read :

    An Open Letter on the Idea of Geek Cred
    Dear Fellow Geeks,

    No one is hurting you when they wear superhero t-shirts without memorizing every title the character has appeared in. They’re expressing enthusiasm—novice enthusiasm, but enthusiasm nonetheless—for something you care deeply about and have done your damnedest to evangelize. That they don’t have the same degree of geek cred does nothing to diminish yours.

    When you go after people for being less die-hard than you, you become the same people who marginalized you for being geeky. I understand how frustrating it is to see someone represent a culture in which you’re deeply invested and think, “I could have done that SO much better,” or “He or she does not fucking speak for me.” I understand this as a geek, and as a far-left liberal American, and oh, boy, do I understand it as a queer woman in geek culture.


    "I don’t fucking care about your approval."
    You know what is goddamn EXHAUSTING? Caring about something, and working your ass off to get good at it, and then never getting to engage with other enthusiasts (or, often, professionals) because EVERY GODDAMN CONVERSATION has to start with you jumping through hoops to prove you’re the real deal, because unless you can juggle three cover variants while reciting the clone saga backwards in French, your tits disqualify you from any subjects more advanced than “Condescending Comments about Vertigo 101.”


    The “Fake Geek Girl” “Issue”
    When you choose to validate your own identity by denigrating and otherwise marginalizing others, you are doing irreparable damage the community you’re claiming to defend. I don’t care how hard your life has been, or how miserable middle school was for you or how many times you got called names for your comic-book collection. You are an asshole. Remember kindergarten? Throwing sand means losing sandbox privileges. You’re out of the club.


    Idiot Nerd Girl Has A Posse: Taking Back The Meme
    There is no Idiot Nerd Boy meme.

    I hate the Idiot Nerd Girl meme. I hate it for much the same reason Feminspire writer Jessica Bagnall hates it: the entrenched geek misogyny that informs its pretty pink face. I hate it because it’s a convenient distillation of everything I hate about the “fake geek girl” strawman. I hate it because it vilifies enthusiasm. I hate it because, as a member of the geek community and a geek-industry professional, and especially as a feminist geek, I nurture a deep and abiding dislike for gatekeepers.



    Who are you to say she's not ?





    Geek Masculinity and the Myth of the Fake Geek Girl
    At the same time, though, geek culture is a haven for guys who can't or don't want to fall in step with the set of cultural trappings and priorities of traditional manhood in America. At least in theory, geek culture fosters a more cerebral and less violent model of masculinity, supported by a complementary range of alternative values. But the social cost of that alternative model--chosen or imposed--is high, and it's often extorted violently--socially or physically. The fringe is a scary place to live, and it leaves you raw and defensive, eager to create your own approximation of a center. Instead of rejecting the rigid duality of the culture they're nominally breaking from, geek communities intensify it, distilled through the defensive bitterness that comes with marginalization. And so masculinity is policed incredibly aggressively in geek communities, as much as in any locker room or frat house.


    And really, I don't see what I could add.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.42)
    @wood - and I totally agree with Rachel Eddidin. However, what I think she's missing and what I'm attempting to bring to this debate is that there is a push to treat geeky subcultures as a commodity demographic and exploit them, and sexist images of women being grafted onto caricatured versions of elements of these subcultures is one way that this is attempted.
    • CommentAuthorWood
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.43)
    You mean, you're worried that girls want to look like this ?



    That hasn't got much to do with being a "real" or a "fake" geek, now, has it ?
    •  
      CommentAuthorglukkake
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.44)
    I keep wanting to say things and then just select all, hit the delete button and say "nope."

    It's too close to the holidays for fem-rage and dealing with this tired shit.
  1.  (10932.45)
    @Badbear:

    Actually, judging by that picture Wood just posted, maybe we aren't the only ones who think cubism is sexy. I mean... that's some pretty impressively distorted anatomy and form... ;) (Which raises the question... should Escher Girls be renamed Picasso Girls? Les Demoiselles D'Arkham? Baby Got Braque? Ok, I'll stop now.)

    @Oddcult:

    I've never seen "White Knight" used in a way other than to dismiss the outrage of someone not in an excluded group over the treatment of said excluded group. Regardless of its veracity or not, the term is used to separate victims from allies. Really, you're the first person I've seen use it as a sociological descriptor rather than a really vicious divide-and-conquer strategy by, usually, white straight male geeks who see anyone who calls them on their crap as a traitor posing as an ally to score karma points.

    Not necessarily disagreeing with what you're saying (although I'm also not quite sure I'm clear on your first point--maybe you could elaborate further?) but I just don't think White Knighting is a really good way of describing what you're describing, simply because of how it's used to shut down conversations on the Internet.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.46)
    @Wood

    "That hasn't got much to do with being a "real" or a "fake" geek, now, has it ? "

    I think I have to agree, although I do think Oddcult brings up a good point (for a potentially different conversation).
  2.  (10932.47)
    Ok.

    Fake geek girls.

    I would like to first start out by saying that when I visit the owners of my favorite comic book store, the ones that started me on my comic book path when I was 12, the ones that told my family what to buy me for Christmas, there will invariably be some new young man working in the store filing backissues, and he will invariably come up to be and try to talk to me and tell me what to get, and the owners invariably tell him to leave me alone because I know what I'm doing.

    Also, I've been countered by people on many an occasion with "pfft, what do YOU know about Batman?" or trying to correct me on some kind of early Neil Gaiman lore, and I have often found myself having to start off on the conversational battlefield with the heaviest artillery of obscure knowledge, just to assure others I've got the "geek cred" they doubt I possess.

    HOWEVER.

    I think @Magnulus had a fair point in comparing fake-geek to fake-punk. I think of it as similar. I think that feeling hurt, betrayed, let down, disappointed, etc from the over-exposure of something that used to be a niche culture of is a totally legitimate reaction.

    (The sexism involved is not. Lets' just all agree that singling out women in the wave of "fake-geek" is indeed sexism and is ridiculous, yes? It's only a form of prejudicial profiling, because yes, predominantly the geek world has been ruled by men of poor hygiene, so women will stand out a bit more)

    Here's the thing. Comic books and science fiction have ALWAYS attracted a similar kind of archetype of human being. In the book Men of Tomorrow (great book), it describes how the early comic and sci-fi fans had a whole penpal communication system set up, and describes it so perfectly similar to the early days of the geeky internet, it's astounding. Geek culture has been a small haven for safe and comfortable social interaction for a great number of people. As for myself, being a very nerdy geeky kid, I found the indicators of fandom to be like a secret code of symbols and sigils to find people of my kind.

    When I was in highschool, I had an outfit I wore that was just like The Prisoner, and the fact that my Russian teacher got it made me ecstatic. One of my best friends to this day I met because in a highschool art class I looked at what he was drawing and asked him "Is that Grendel?" to which he responded "YOU KNOW GRENDEL?!" Now, I wasn't a huge fan, but I was a comic book person, and I was aware of my culture. The people I found who read comic books were also quite likely to talk shop about Star Wars, would hang out and watch some Star Trek TNG, would be somewhat bookish and awkward, and had a tendency towards obsessive information catalouging and collecting. These were my people. I wore my Star Trek pins proudly, and there was but one single girl in my highschool who appreciated it. We were unpopular, dressed terribly, and dove into the fiction of the future together. One of the few relatives I can actually have a conversation with I'd met when he showed up to a family reunion at age 12 with a copy of Wizard. None of my macho uncles could deal with his nerdy fanboy tone, but he was my people, and we've been comrades ever since.

    Now, it's different. Now, people own lightsabers and have no idea who Wedge Antilles is.

    Similarly, now, people have mohawks and wear CBGB tshirts, and have never listened to a punk album.

    Trying to find people of your own ilk is becoming more and more difficult, because the uniforms people wear and the titles people self-proclaim don't necessarily match the level of obsession/dedication/insanity that it previously did.

    And yes, it is terribly easy to go down the path that @PurpleWyrm described ("YOU WEREN'T THERE MAN!! YOU WEREN'T THERE!!"), and yes, that is incredibly stupid. (I compare that argument to a gay person being upset that people don't get beaten in the streets and just get to walk around being married these days) But that loud and somewhat elitist reaction obfuscates the legitimate and understandable loss of having a culture to which someone felt that they belonged, and has now become far more diluted.

    Here are some words from Neil Gaiman's tumblr:

    This question and answer reads as follows:

    Q: How would you want people to remember you 100 years later?

    A: It’s odd. I do not want people to remember me. BUT I want people to keep reading and discovering my books and comics and poems and so on. Honestly, I kind of like the idea of being semi-forgotten, so that each person who stumbles across something I’ve written, and likes it, can think of me as their own private discovery — this obscure 20th/21st century author, who no-one else in their school, pod, zone or L5 colony has ever heard of. But they have. And then if they meet someone else who has, they will know they have found a kindred soul.

    That’s what I’d like.


    And that's something I miss. I was in junior high wearing my Sandman T-shirt, getting crap for all the kids for thinking that I was into Metallica, but when I found that one other person in my school that knew what Sandman was, I'd found a kindred soul. I found one of my best friends that way. Now, Neil Gaiman is one of the most popular writers on earth. The meaning is different.

    For so many introverted people, geek culture was not only a way to find each other, but a safe place for the socially trodden upon to continually congregate. Now that safe place and source of community is being diluted and shared with the masses, many of whom are rather unkind to the stereotypical geek. Look, people who just like CGI action flicks are NOT the same thing as people who read monthly Marvel titles. These groups are suddenly expected to share the same cultural space, and are going to feel ousted from the domain they've been supporting for decades.

    There is a gentrification of geek culture, and I think it's understandable and justifiable for nerds and geeks to feel frustrated at the newcomers who wear nerdom as a personal identity having only skimmed the very surface. For many geeks, that identity and community has become an important part of their social survival. (similar to that of punk)

    Does this justify singling out women as being more "fake-geek" than men? No, not at all.

    But I think some frustration is justified, and isn't uniformly a signifier of sexism or elitism.
    • CommentAuthorWood
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.48)
    @Rachael

    For so many introverted people, geek culture was not only a way to find each other, but a safe place for the socially trodden upon to continually congregate. Now that safe place and source of community is being diluted and shared with the masses, many of whom are rather unkind to the stereotypical geek. Look, people who just like CGI action flicks are NOT the same thing as people who read monthly Marvel titles. These groups are suddenly expected to share the same cultural space, and are going to feel ousted from the domain they've been supporting for decades.


    OK, so I don't live in the USA, so maybe I'm lacking context, but could you give me some practical examples of how this phenomenon is affecting your personnaly ? Or anybody else ? Who is being ousted from where ?
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.49)
    @Wood

    I think it's people's own baggage getting in the way, i.e., they feel anxiety or what have you around a certain other kind of person ("the pretty people") and so they form their own groups under the title nerd but then the pretty people start identifying that way and then you have pretty people showing up at nerd places and suddenly those places are no longer anxiety-free.
  3.  (10932.50)
    Well, think of it this way: it's a little like white boys calling each other "nigger". Appropriation by the privileged disallows full reclamation and ownership of a term of abuse by the people who were subject to it. Nothing's actually been stolen - the people now using that word are the same sort of people who originally deployed it as a term of abuse - but for many of the victims it sabotages the healing process.

    That said, the sexism is idiotic and the surest way back to a reviled social status is to insist on exclusivity. It's not surprising though: abuse a person badly enough for long enough and then give them some power, see what happens. Israeli foreign policy, for instance.

    If you doubt that the persecution of the obsessed and bookish is serious enough to warrant such ill-feeling, I refer you to Asimov: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”
    • CommentAuthorWood
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.51)
    So what's the answer ? Ban pretty people from conventions ? How is that not elitist ?

    Also I notice we're totally not speaking about "fake geek girls" anymore.

    Also would you walk up to your favorite author and tell him "I wish you sold less books because all these new readers of yours are not real geeks and they don't deserve you" ?
  4.  (10932.52)
    @ Wood - "OK, so I don't live in the USA, so maybe I'm lacking context, but could you give me some practical examples of how this phenomenon is affecting your personnaly ? Or anybody else ? Who is being ousted from where ?"

    I think that is my problem with the fake nerd/fake punk comparison. The difference to me is when I was a teenager, punk shows were a place where you didn't have to see the jock/frat assholes from school at a show. Then a few years later they started going to the shows and ruined everything. Comics aren't a place. Yes, conventions are, but enjoyment of comics or video games or whatever do not require you to go to one. I haven't been to comic convention since the 90's. I still enjoy my "nerd stuff" with no interference.
  5.  (10932.53)
    @William Joseph Dunn -

    I disagree. Punk is a scene as much as geek is a scene. You can listen to music at home just as you can read comics at home. The issue here is community.

    @Wood -

    Sorry, that should read: "These groups are suddenly expected to share the same cultural space, and geeks are going to feel ousted from the domain they've been supporting for decades." and by where, I mean the social niche.

    Personally, I can list things like Doctor Who or Star Trek as areas of geekery that used to lead me to people of like minded outlooks and quirk, but no longer do.

    In the US, growing up in the 80's, going to high school in the early 90's, my love of classic Doctor Who was singular. To be a Doctor Who fan you had to be able to enjoy black and white television, british sensibilities, cheap sets, low budget effects, and decades long continuity. You'd probably dig the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, probably read Douglas Adams books. You were a geek of serious standards. You were willing to be a fan of something that nobody else liked or cared about, and you thought it was AWESOME. That's a certain personality type. That fits certain niche.

    Doctor Who has become a hip new media phenomenon. Young women are going "squeee!" over the Doctor as someone to crush on. They likely do not have knowledge of Roger Delgado as the Master, sure, but that's not the point. Moreso, the relationship is with something completely different. Someone who likes modern Doctor Who is probably a fan of Firefly and Buffy. I, as a classic fan of Doctor Who, gravitate towards the audio plays, Blake's 7, etc. To find someone who likes Doctor Who is an easy task these days, and means very little similarly to what it did when I was young.

    I don't begrudge people for enjoying this new show, but it's hip now, and different. That awkward dork that I was in my youth would not have found comfort and camaraderie in it's fan base.
  6.  (10932.54)
    @ Rachæl Tyrell - hmm, I guess I never thought of it as "a scene" because I'm pretty much a hermit now anyway and just enjoy my stuff as just "my stuff". :D
  7.  (10932.55)
    Sorry for the long ranting, all. This is something I've put a lot of thought into this over the past few months, and have had countless conversations about with the fellow. He's one of the punkest people I know, having lived in the squat that this beer took it's inspiration from, and also one of the geekiest, having worked at both Forbidden Planet and Orbital. I, for the record, am not a punk, and know nothing about the punk scene other than what I've learned from those few I've known. However, the correlation between the two scenes comes up ridiculously often.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.56)
    @Rachael

    Doctor Who has become a hip new media phenomenon. Young women are going "squeee!" over the Doctor as someone to crush on. They likely do not have knowledge of Roger Delgado as the Master, sure, but that's not the point. Moreso, the relationship is with something completely different. Someone who likes modern Doctor Who is probably a fan of Firefly and Buffy. I, as a classic fan of Doctor Who, gravitate towards the audio plays, Blake's 7, etc. To find someone who likes Doctor Who is an easy task these days, and means very little similarly to what it did when I was young.


    That may be all true, but that does not make the people who are new fans of the show any less "Whovians" than individuals like you. They may enjoy it in a different fashion, or for different reasons, but their newness doesn't make them any less a Who-geek and I think that's my problem with the "fake X nerd" idea; it's a group of people, inherently, saying that if someone else doesn't fit a particular mold or meet certain criteria that don't exist then their interest is less valid.
  8.  (10932.57)
    Slightly OT, but I think that there is a national context for this. In my experience growing up in the UK Doctor Who, Douglas Adams, Pratchett are not seen as niche geek/nerd interests but part of the wider cultural landscape. We all grew up with it as part of our childhood as much as Blue Peter or John Craven's Newsround.
  9.  (10932.58)
    @RenThing - I'm not defending either the "fake" nor the "girl" part of "fake nerd girl". I'm defending the idea that many geeks feel they are being ousted from where they felt they belonged. The more socially awkward had previously found a haven in certain arenas of geekery, and many of those geeky places are now filled with more mainstream people who are not as accepting.

    Also, your comment is why, exactly after what you'd quoted me as writing, I stated:

    I don't begrudge people for enjoying this new show, but it's hip now, and different. That awkward dork that I was in my youth would not have found comfort and camaraderie in it's fan base.
  10.  (10932.59)
    @Steve Toase - From what I understand, geek culture is far more cool and hip in the UK in general than it ever has been in the US. I don't think that's off topic at all. Perhaps that is a difference that should be considered more when discussing such things.
    •  
      CommentAuthorsneak046
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2012
     (10932.60)
    I'm with glukkake.

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