Girl Geeks

Posted by Crystal On November 16, 2012 4 COMMENTS

Given the recent ‘girls in cosplay’ controversy, I thought I’d put in my two cents worth about what it’s like to be a girl-geek or girl-nerd.

Firstly can we just drop the girl bit?  I mean, that part’s kinda obvious.  If you walked up to me in the street you wouldn’t have to double check that I was a girl (at least I hope not!).

Secondly, why do we feel the need to label ourselves geek or nerd? Because it’s cool now?  I guess.  People on the outskirts of ‘accepted’ social circles, especially at school, have always felt the longing or need to fit in. Some not as much as others I grant you, but I would have liked to fit in at school. Then again, looking back at it, I’m kinda glad I didn’t. Possibly not the best to be ‘one of us’ when the ‘us’ consisted of girls who felt the need to celebrate their stupidity as if it was the coolest thing in the world. At school, I was often called ‘Posh’, with a derogatory sort of tone, as if to say ‘not one of us cool kids’. Most of the time I found this quite amusing, considering my family had very little money and I was attending a state-run school in a low-income suburb.  (Those who have heard me speak on the podcast, know I don’t sound posh).  I did snap one day and said to all of them, ‘You only call me that because I’m smarter than the rest of you!’  Which shut them up for a bit, because they weren’t used to me talking back to them. I’m quite sure that some of them were at least as smart as me, they just didn’t apply themselves (you know you’re getting old when you start to uses phrases like that), and it would mark them as outcast if they showed any sign of being interested in learning.

I digress somewhat, so back to the topic at hand;  The question was why do we feel the need to label ourselves?  I don’t really remember being called ‘geek’ or ‘nerd’ at school. Perhaps ‘nerd’ a couple of times. They were more American terms, and if they were used here back in the 80’s it was in the same derogatory sense. Now, thanks to nerd-culture exploding onto the popular scene with TV shows like the Big Bang Theory and the Internet worming its way into everybody’s everyday lives, suddenly everyone is proud to be a nerd or a geek.  And if you’re not one you’re happy to know one. Personally I don’t know anyone who is pretending to be a nerd or geek. Though I have seen murmurs on the interwebs about this occurring. The most notorious one recently is the hot girls/guys dressing up in sexy outfits to attend ‘our’ cons. ‘Our’ cons, people! The ‘cool’ people are invading our cons!!!  Meh, I don’t really care to be honest with you.  Aren’t these cons all about celebrating the things you enjoy most?  If the thing you enjoy most is parading around in a sexy geek costume and being ogled, then why not?  I would suggest you don’t do it at an event labelled ‘family friendly’ but otherwise, who am I to judge?

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Until recent years, I’ve actually never felt being a nerd or geek was being part of a culture. I just happened to have interest in things the ‘main-stream’ weren’t interested in.  I also had the collector’s mental affliction, but fortunately not the money to feed the addiction, or I’d be inundated with stuff I don’t particularly care about any more. As it is, I have a dozen or so folders of the Star Trek Fact Files sitting around gathering dust & taking up space.  (Not that I’m no longer interested, but you can get all that info and more online now). Now suddenly it seems geek/nerd is a ‘culture’ or ‘sub-culture’ or whatever you want to call it.  And apparently there are people out there who don’t think girls should be or can be a part of it.  Um, why?

Look, you’re either a geek/nerd or your not.  If you want to call yourself one, fine, if you don’t, that’s also fine. How do you define a geek/nerd anyway?  Do you identify with others who have that label?  I’m sure there are any number of tests on the internet you can take that will tell you whether you are or not. Basically, it’s like this – If you are interested in stuff that other geeks/nerds are, then you’re probably ‘one of us’.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or not. It’s  never been about ‘challenging cultural norms’ for me.  It’s just about following my own personal interests.

Sure girl-geeks are not well represented in the popular media (Amy Farrah-Fowler, not withstanding).  You don’t see too many female versions of Leonard, Howard & Raj. I can’t think of many examples at all, with the exception of Daria (as pointed out by NCP crew member, Luke).  Will it take an explosion of girl-nerd characters on popular TV shows for them to be accepted? Can we then finally lose the term ‘fake-geek’?

[Note: I just looked up Big Bang Theory on IMDB to check on the spelling of Amy’s last name and on the CBS poster pictured the tag line is “Smart is the new sexy.”  Make of that what you will].

And, seriously, who really cares if you’re accepted as a geek or not? Why are people trying so desperately hard to fit in?  It’s like high-school all over again.  One of the biggest turning points in my life was in my early-twenties when I made the conscious decision just to be me and not care (or at least try not to care) whether people like me or not. They either will or they won’t and there’s nothing you can do about it. (That actually worked for me right away but that’s another story)

My advice to girls?  Hang out with the people you like. Enjoy doing the things you do.  Don’t worry about being labelled as anything.  Just be yourself and enjoy life!  I can’t promise you’ll be happy all the time, no one is, but you can at least lose the stress of trying to fit in. There are enough other stresses in life.

If it really does bother you, and if anyone challenges your geekness/nerdom and  you truly are ‘one of us’; just go into the biggest nerd-rant of your life. Your status will be secured!

4 Responses so far.

  1. Ben Kane says:

    I really enjoyed your post Crystal. The way I think about things is that I like what I like and I don’t really worry about too much else.

    I don’t really know much about this con controversy but it sounds pretty silly. It seems so negative and petty to care about something so trivial.

    Perhaps there should be a Monty Python like quiz to get into a con – ‘Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see’.

    Once again just wanted to say I really like your post and keep up the great work on the podcast.

  2. Crystal says:

    Thanks, Ben. Really glad you liked it.

    Your Monty Python idea is brilliant. We just need to stop the bridge keeper from asking about the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow.

  3. Nikki Harbeston says:

    Nice article. This affirms the fact that fitting in is just not important for me anymore. I’m a nerd, so be it.

  4. Crystal says:

    Good for you. Thanks for the lovely comment 🙂

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