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It's a weird, sad way for an adult to behave.
March 27, 2012 4:31 PM   Subscribe

So Tara Tiger Brown of Forbes.com wrote an article begging fake geek girls to go away. Leigh Alexander of Sexy Videogameland responds with "This is the worst kind of thing to me, because not only is it sad for her, but it sucks for all of us. Women in our space, having once been something of a scarcity, face particular challenges. We lack for companions and mentors. " Followed by The Mary Sue's Susana Polo "So yes, I understand the desire to weed the “posers” out of your personal life and interactions. But I have never, actually, in the flesh, met a “fake” geek girl. Or guy. "
posted by The Whelk (207 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this something you'd need to be a hipster to understand?

To give some anecdata, i've met fake "geeks", they usually label themselves that way and tell everyone they meet, but just like iphones and stuff.

Get off my lawn, etc.
posted by palbo at 4:37 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like that last article:
And I wish, I really wish, that we as a society were capable of honestly evaluating this sort of thing when it comes to women expressing themselves, and expressing themselves in the internet and other male-dominated arenas. But we’re not. We’re not, when we call Sandra Fluke a slut for talking about birth control. We’re not, when we assume that Megan Fox was just being “sensitive” when she quit the Transformers movies because she felt Michael Bay treated her like a prop. We’re not, when it’s practically a Reddit meme to tell any woman who posts a picture of an object of interest that includes her in the frame that she’s “karmawhoring.”
When everything I do in a male-dominated space garners attention, how do I defend myself from charges of 'just doing X to get attention?"

I can't and I don't. I disengage from people who judge me based on the responses of others.
posted by muddgirl at 4:38 PM on March 27, 2012 [49 favorites]


This is how exclusion happens. It's depressingly predictable that a culture made of castoffs and rejects is now policing its own for credibility. In fucking Forbes, no less. It sucks watching your peers turn into your parents.
posted by Errant at 4:39 PM on March 27, 2012 [40 favorites]


"posers?"

When did MeFi become a collegiate clique site?
posted by jonmc at 4:40 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Any time you're tempted to say "She's only doing this so men will pay attention to her" about anyone, you should probably just sit down and shut up.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:40 PM on March 27, 2012 [72 favorites]


Meh, but also.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:41 PM on March 27, 2012


Not sure this internet slapfight is MeFi-worthy, but here's a programmer named Mislav's take on it.
posted by thedaniel at 4:44 PM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


When did fucking Forbes have any authority on anything geeky? They're not even a god financial publication.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:44 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


a *good* financial publication
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:45 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


What if I want to be a slut with a controller and ALSO save Hyrule from the evil machinations of Ganondorf? SILENCED ALL MY LIFE.
posted by muddgirl at 4:45 PM on March 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm only pretending not to be a fake geek.
posted by Zed at 4:46 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Be advised all: she was a geek before it was cool. Yawn.
posted by pompomtom at 4:46 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, get the fuck off my lawn.
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously- it's like if I wrote an op-ed on Fabien Cancellara's chances in the spring classics, and had it published in Good Housekeeping.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:47 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


From the first link: "Girls who genuinely like their hobby or interest and document what they are doing to help others, not garner attention, are true geeks. The ones who think about how to get attention and then work on a project in order to maximize their klout, are exhibitionists."

So ... the person writing a deeply trolly article in Forbes, not a geek, then?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:47 PM on March 27, 2012 [22 favorites]


I have belonged to or followed many subcultures where this type of movement shows up at some point. The "Keep-it-real" police show up about the time things stop being interesting, and a culture slowly starts spinning into obsolescence, putting up ever more rules on what "real" and "authentic" is and what you can or cannot do.

The article uses better language than the pot smoking teenagers that usually take the role of "keep-it-real" police do, but the sentiment is the same.
posted by svenni at 4:48 PM on March 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


They are 'keeping it real.' they're being authentically snot-nosed callow youngsters.
posted by jonmc at 4:49 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Internalised misogyny is a sad thing. I kinda hope the first article was just trolling, because being that insecure is pretty appalling.
posted by howfar at 4:50 PM on March 27, 2012


But seriously, what on earth was that piece doing in Forbes? How did that happen? I can't even imagine the editorial process behind that. Will the Wall Street Journal start running Pitchfork music reviews next? Is the Bloomberg wire going to start running op-eds about how people who eat honey shouldn't be allowed to call themselves vegan?
posted by RogerB at 4:51 PM on March 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


I was linked to the Mary Sue article earlier today, and it resonated with me so hard. There's this idea, especially with geeky women, that you have to collect a certain number of geek points to prove your geekiness, preferably in a variety of geek fields (and I think you might get -10 for every slashfic you write, since that's the wrong type of geek), and before you can talk about any geeky thing with a guy.

But... what's the value of being a completionist if you only want to talk about specific things? If the girl wants to talk about Scott Pilgrim, why does it matter what other comics she's read?

Look, what's wrong with liking videogames and but mostly playing RPG's and the Sims? What's wrong with liking comics but not really knowing the ins and out of Marvel? Someone can still like Star Trek, even if they've only seen the newest movie and 'the one with the whales'. It doesn't make you any more 'real' or 'fake' of a fan for liking some of a genre, but not all of it. I think that's called having discriminating tastes.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:52 PM on March 27, 2012 [36 favorites]


I'm having a hard time getting too worked up about this. Like hipsterism, the surest sign of a 'poser' is calling someone else a 'poser'.

On the other hand I'm tremendously excited that two of the three best programmers on my team are female.

The simple litmus test I look for in any friend is infectious obsessive excitement. I would never have known anything about vintage glasses frames, EVIL cameras or fire art without the 'geeky' women in my life, so I'm really grateful for them.

Cat and girl is relevant as always.
posted by poe at 4:52 PM on March 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Stupid exclusionary bullshit like that can fuck right off as far as I'm concerned. That is some shit that I have absolutely no fucking time for.
posted by Scientist at 4:52 PM on March 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


People that identify themselves by what they like instead of what they do are what's wrong with every subculture ever.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 4:54 PM on March 27, 2012 [34 favorites]


tl;dr you don't have to get every single xkcd joke to find one of them funny.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:57 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tara Brown is the same person who wrote 'Learning to Code Is a Waste of Time.' She's not worth getting amped up about.

The matter of 'fake geek girls' is a trollish mislabeling of a well-known phenomenon: 'geek culture' became quite visible in the tech-fetishizing Web-loving late 90's, and 'geek' is now a fashion badge. None of that is interesting.

Of actual interest: the evolving social patterns of hardcore geeks -- e.g. 'high-functioning' folks on the autism spectrum working in tech-centric fields, the seemingly stereotype-confirming folks who actually do care about the physics of Star Trek and the minute differences between early-80's versions of Dungeons & Dragons -- now that Comic Con is a giant PR event and every teenager is reading The Hunger Games and writing Twilight fanfic.
posted by waxbanks at 4:58 PM on March 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


1. This shit is why I left the rave scene the first time.

2. When my wife lies in bed later tonight trying to get the 108th star in Suikoden on her hacked PSP I'll make sure to tell her she's a fake geek because she didn't play games before she met me.
posted by Blue Meanie at 5:00 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Our kind of Geek, Smiley's Geeks, The Honorable Geek, well, at least we aren't talking about nerds.

Seriously though, if you're really into something hobby wise, I consider you a geek.

So if anyone in Vancouver who isn't coming out to High Gate mall in Burnaby to play Warhammer for fear of judgement would like to make an appearance now...
posted by Slackermagee at 5:00 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, ladies, so don't even pretend you had a crush on Mark Hamill and built your own lightsabres in the '70s because I totally invented that shit.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:00 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since when did listening to that misogynistic meathead Henry Rollins make you a geek?
posted by item at 5:00 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Girls who genuinely like their hobby or interest and document what they are doing to help others, not garner attention, are true geeks. The ones who think about how to get attention and then work on a project in order to maximize their klout, are exhibitionists."

The person who wrote this either doesn't know much about geek culture, is sexist, or both. Geeks are all about showing off: speed runs, Minecraft videos, programming contests, etc. These are primarily about showing off, not "helping others."

Even geeky endeavors that help others can also be motivated by showing off. For example, reputation and peer recognition are often cited as major motivations for open source programmers, an undoubtedly geeky cohort.
posted by jedicus at 5:02 PM on March 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


Will the Wall Street Journal start running Pitchfork music reviews next? Is the Bloomberg wire going to start running op-eds about how people who eat honey shouldn't be allowed to call themselves vegan?

I am holding out for a romance novel review section in the Lancet, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 5:02 PM on March 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


Back when being a geek or nerd was derogatory, it meant something to identify as one. When you heard someone call themselves one, you thought, 'Yes! Someone like me!'. But now those terms get thrown around a lot, and usually means someone who likes anything not 'mainstream', or likes something mainstream enough to have near encyclopedic knowledge of it, or someone who did not consider themselves popular in high school (pro tip: no one considered themselves popular in high school).

And that is fine, that is good even. People having (very) specific interests, people being different has become something to celebrate, to identify as, instead of something to be derided and made fun of. Yay! It just means you can't have a insular little geek crowd by just using the term geek to scare off outsiders.
posted by Garm at 5:03 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


it's like if I wrote an op-ed on Fabien Cancellara's chances in the spring classics, and had it published in Good Housekeeping.

Only if Good Housekeeping had decided to troll its online audience by incorporating a bunch of loosely-affiliated bloggers under its banner and encouraging them to write trashy traffic-generating posts to bring in eyeballs.

Which is pretty much what Forbes seem have done. All of the "what, Forbes, really?" FPPs here recently have been to blog content rather than to pieces that actually ran in the magazine.

Seems like a great way for Forbes to cheapen their brand to me, but probably they're desperate.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:05 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if I want to be a slut with a controller and ALSO save Hyrule from the evil machinations of Ganondorf? SILENCED ALL MY LIFE.

I'm all for that Muddgirl, but you can't do it with a 360 controller YOU PHONEY!

But, with less feeling, meh. Haters gonna hate. I'm a five-dollar n00b, who am I to judge these fake nerds? I frequently pretend to be interested in the sports, like the baseball.

Oh how I love the baseball, and the running around, and the throwing. Do please tell me more about spring training.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:05 PM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


You don't want to lose your geek cred. Lose that, and you're just a nerd. Even worse, you could get knocked down to a loser or wanna-be. And then .. and then, the only rung lower than that: DEFENSE CONTRACTOR.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:09 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seems like a great way for Forbes to cheapen their brand to me, but probably they're desperate.

No doubt! But can you blame them? Print is dead, man, missing, missing.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:11 PM on March 27, 2012


If it is any consolation, all of them are fake geeks. Here is the actual definition
posted by Renoroc at 5:11 PM on March 27, 2012


Authenticity is a false god.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:14 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nerd, geek, dork.
posted by The Whelk at 5:14 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Luckily for me I'm fat, which reduces doubt about my authenticity. Apparently only hot girls lie about being geeks. (Yes, I have had that explained to me.)
posted by Karmakaze at 5:14 PM on March 27, 2012 [27 favorites]


I'm sorry, when did geek culture start giving a fuck what Forbes thinks? Did I sleep through that meeting?
posted by lumpenprole at 5:15 PM on March 27, 2012


Dear Fake Geek Girls everyone,

Please like the things that you like, do the things that you enjoy, and ignore the blithering idiots that claim that they are the arbiters of all things [X], and that therefore you are doing it wrong.

Have fun!

Regards,

HTWRT
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:19 PM on March 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


Also, this old comment still seems relevant.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:23 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Fake Geek Girl has been with me ever since I was eleven and found that I really liked Batman: The Animated Series, when my fear of being labeled a fake geek girl said that if I didn’t become an expert on Batman, the moment I made some kind of mistake or omission I’d be branded as “fake” by the person I was interacting with. Not a novice, a learner, someone who was worth teaching and bringing into the community, but a fake, a poser, somebody who deserved to be kicked out. Where was the “geeks in the mainstream” discussion fifteen years ago when I was getting into Batman? Right, it wasn’t there, because geeks were not getting into the mainstream at that time. But the Fake Geek Girl idea was there.

I hate to break it to her, but that shit goes on with dudes too. In fact, it goes on in varying degrees in almost all human interaction. No true Scotsman and all that.

Also, there is being a geek, and then there is the Geek subculture. You can be a geek if you want, but to be a member of the Geek subculture, you have to submit to all the mores and standards and strata of said subculture. If you want the cred, you have to put in the work. It's the same for all subcultures.

Of course it's a weird, sad way for adults to behave. There are a lot of weird, sad people who find some kind of power in being an alpha in some subculture.
posted by gjc at 5:23 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


27 March 2012

To: All Geeks
From: Geek Culture
Re: Forbes Magazine

It has come to our attention that we have received numerous favorable mentions from the online version of popular business magazine Forbes. While this publicity may, at first seem flattering, we are currently investigating the theory that these mentions are, in fact, a ruse to capture our increasingly lucrative market share of eyeballs. Please rest assured we have our Top People working on the situation and we will keep you advised as new developments arise.
In the meantime, please refrain from giving out fucks until our investigation can be concluded.
Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
The Geek Board
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:24 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


She hacked her Xbox to run an NES emulator.
posted by drezdn at 5:24 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


My geek credential, all framed and lovingly preserved, is rapidly losing value in this inflationary spiral of geekdom. Step off you n00bs, poseurs,* and wannabes!



this asterisk isn't for "poseurs," it's for the Oxford Comma. representin'.
posted by chimaera at 5:25 PM on March 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well if there's anything that riles up all the geeks, it's somebody being wrong on the Internet. Especially if they're wrong about geeks.

>>What if I want to be a slut with a controller and ALSO save Hyrule from the evil machinations of Ganondorf? SILENCED ALL MY LIFE.
>I'm all for that Muddgirl, but you can't do it with a 360 controller YOU PHONEY!


Case in point: Totally wrong. I was saving Hyrule with a 360 controller last night! It has all the buttons in more-or-less the right places so it's great for Gamecube emulation.

posted by neckro23 at 5:25 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Didn't geek originally refer to the sideshow performer that bit the heads off of live chickens?
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 5:26 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Newsflash: adolescents (of both sexes) commercialize and ruin every subculture by co-opting them to impress each other.

Oh, wait, that's not news.
posted by Mooseli at 5:29 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, wait, that's not news.

And the way that you can tell is because it's in Forbes.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:30 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


When my wife lies in bed later tonight trying to get the 108th star in Suikoden

You can't do that, Blue Meanie. Gremio is dead. Sweet, sweet Gremio.
posted by Nomyte at 5:30 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


People that identify themselves by what they like instead of what they do are what's wrong with every subculture ever.

That makes no sense whatsoever. What, do I have to be in a U2 cover band to be a U2 fan? Write Firefly fanfic to be a Firefly fan? I guess I better start writing my 30 book comico-serious fantasy masterpiece or else I'll be a poseur of a Pratchett fan.
posted by kmz at 5:31 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Hi! We're Forbes! Is there some gender policing you need us to do? 'Cause we'll totally help you with that, once we're done telling Black kids and the poors how to live! Credit default swaps? What on earth are those, silly?"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:31 PM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


That makes no sense whatsoever. What, do I have to be in a U2 cover band to be a U2 fan? Write Firefly fanfic to be a Firefly fan? I guess I better start writing my 30 book comico-serious fantasy masterpiece or else I'll be a poseur of a Pratchett fan.

How about this: what you like is not who you are.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 5:33 PM on March 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


On Reddit, one of the best ways to farm karma is to post something misogynistic every two weeks or so about how geek girls are posers if they have the audacity to do something like get a Triforce tattoo.

A couple months back, someone submitted this ersatz comic — a sulking rant wrapped in speech bubbles. Near as I can tell, the dam burst. Nearly every single comment points out the bitterness and hypocrisy involved in trying to treat geekdom like a status you have to qualify for, as though we're still in the high school cafeteria.

(And yet the post still has 385 more upvotes than downvotes. The paradox of Reddit.)

Someone made this mocking response. I love it. Sometimes I wish I could nuzzle JPEGs.

When Reddit says these things, the misogyny isn't all that latent. They could just as easily be spitting their venom at bros who play Call of Duty and like Lord of the Rings, but somehow it's always the women who are the fakes and the posers. But I can't figure out why the author, a woman, is singling out geek girls. (I have theories, but in the interest of setting a better example I'll keep my asshole opinions to myself.)
posted by savetheclocktower at 5:34 PM on March 27, 2012 [19 favorites]


Case in point: Totally wrong. I was saving Hyrule with a 360 controller last night! It has all the buttons in more-or-less the right places so it's great for Gamecube emulation.

Forbes: I've been outed. These damn nerds are too crafty, and not just the crafting nerds (who are especially crafty). Agent Haddock returning to base.

Next time, let's sow dissent among Classic Who fans and Reboot Who fans. It will be a bloodbath.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:36 PM on March 27, 2012


How about this: what you like is not who you are.

Why not? What I like is not the only thing that I am, but it is a part of what I am. I am large, I contain multitudes.
posted by kmz at 5:41 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reboot Who? Pfft! Meet the new boss, same as the old boss! I won't get fooled again!
posted by box at 5:43 PM on March 27, 2012


Geeks used to be solitary creatures. Now they're not, because there is an internet. If you thought being a geek made you strange, hooray! You're not! If you thought being a geek made you special...

Look, you're just not that special. Sorry.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:44 PM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Forbes.com has been a bullshit version of the magazine since its inception. There has never been any reason but name recognition to give them any credibility. Articles like this should come as no surprise.
posted by rhizome at 5:45 PM on March 27, 2012


Upon showing my brother-in-law the library, with a wall dedicated entirely to comicbooks, he said, "Wow, you must be some kind of supergeek to have all that."

"I'm not a geek," I replied.

"What are you, then?" he asked.

"Middle class," I said as I slowly stroked my lovelies.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:45 PM on March 27, 2012 [36 favorites]


Please let your lovelies be your comic books.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:47 PM on March 27, 2012 [50 favorites]


I don't usually think of myself as a geek - the word has associations with gaming and programming that just don't apply to me - but then I find myself in conversations at parties with someone who tells me about a new Morris dance he's learning and I tell him about some awesome birds I saw recently and then I remember that oh yeah, I'm a dork!
posted by rtha at 5:47 PM on March 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


Why not? What I like is not the only thing that I am, but it is a part of what I am. I am large, I contain multitudes.

I love classic Star Trek and disco records. I love the movies of Akira Kurosawa and the red wines of Spain. I read and write comics, both online and in print. These are not who I am. I'm comfortable just liking things. I don't need them to be an obsession or over-the-top identifier for me.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 5:48 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please let your lovelies be your comic books.

We have a close family.

posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:49 PM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


I read the original last night and was angry enough that I wrote my own response. And then almost immediately, I got some bad news about my family. Bad enough that I took today off from work to deal with it emotionally.

So of course, the logical place for me to go was my friend's comic book store. I sat on the floor and read comics and just hung out with people I love. It was probably better than anything else I could've done today.

I don't care about being a geek. I don't care about putting a label on who I am. Yes, I like comics. They're probably my favorite thing on this earth. But I love them for who they've brought into my life. If I had to choose comics or choose my friends, I'd choose my friends without any hesitation.

And I guess that's ultimately what bothered me about the original piece -- to me, all these things I love don't make me who I am. They've opened doors for me to form connections with people, and that's great and I love it. But it's those connections -- those relationships -- that matter to me. All the rest of it is just stuff.
posted by darksong at 5:55 PM on March 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think some of the No True Geekdom comes from similar feelings as this, that shallow folks in boardrooms are creating an image aimed at marketing something to a subculture.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:58 PM on March 27, 2012


I think some of the No True Geekdom comes from similar feelings as this, that shallow folks in boardrooms are creating an image aimed at marketing something to a subculture.


I don't think anyone has a problem identifying manipulation on that level. Its the creeping paranoia of seeing manipulation in other places that adds to the 'No True Geek' thing.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:05 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can we all do a collective eyeroll and move on?

An 'ACERAMO' if you will.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:08 PM on March 27, 2012


This does not appear to be an anti- nerdbait rant, more of a weird geekier-than-thou one-upmanship competition.
posted by Artw at 6:08 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I love about the "idiot nerd girl" meme isn't that she's a girl, or that she's a nerd or even an idiot.

No, what I love is what it says about the democratization of technology and tech culture. Look down at your smartphone. It's a million times more powerful than anything we had not too long ago. Years ago, only the nerds had this. Now everyone does.

And "everyone" includes idiots.

Look, I remember when the word "font" was completely new. Only typographers knew what a font was. Now we make fun of average, everyday people for not using the correct fonts, or mistaking the now-commonplace knowledge of fonts for the previously arcane.

I love it. What a world.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:08 PM on March 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


I wish people would just...stop doing stuff. Just...ugh.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:12 PM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, BTW people concerned about fake geek girls- if you're picturing Zooey Deschanel's character from New Girl, she isn't real.

BTW Forbes editors who kind of secretly want to sleep with Zooey Deschanel's character from New Girl, she isn't real.

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:13 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only thing that's even remotely new about this is that 'geek' -- or the locus of behaviours and tropes and identifications with cultural products that the nerd/geek label lives inside -- has acquired enough cachet in popular culture to be something that young people find attractive.

Which is a very mildly interesting trend, but it's kind of been dead-horsed as a topic, especially given the tendency towards analysis-fetishism of the folks concerned.

I leave aside the depressing, simple-minded tribalism of labels like those in the first place and the whole sexist thing, of course. I guess there's a lot of red meat for internet disputants here, but much heat and no light is the prognosis, as usual.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:13 PM on March 27, 2012


Forbes.com has been a bullshit version of the magazine since its inception. There has never been any reason but name recognition to give them any credibility. Articles like this should come as no surprise.

Forbes.com is more like a hybrid blogging network/op-ed site like Huffingtonpost. but it still uses the Forbes magazine brand to give the "contributors" more legitimacy.


Anyway, isn't the solution to this just to come up with, and spread, a new word?
posted by Bwithh at 6:13 PM on March 27, 2012


I'm so glad I'm an unabashed dork and don't care if people think I'm cool or have earned my geek cred or whatever.

Now excuse me. I have a science fiction book about unicorns to write and I'm so fucking excited about it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:14 PM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Any time you're tempted to say "She's only doing this so men will pay attention to her" about anyone, you should probably just sit down and shut up.

You're only saying that to get chicks to favorite you.
posted by clarknova at 6:21 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's true!
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:22 PM on March 27, 2012


I fake all my geekery.
posted by Artw at 6:24 PM on March 27, 2012


This whole thing is quite funny. The whole "I was into geeky stuff before you" seems like a self-referential paradox, in that it currently seems to be required by parts of the culture, but at the same time it seems a really un-geeky thing to do, as geeks don't really care about that at all. Kind of like the Cretan liar paradox.
posted by carter at 6:25 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the real social concern here is less fake geek girls than fake lesbians in bars who are all WOOOOOOOO.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:25 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I fake all my geekery.

I geek all my fakery. And I faked things before you. I suffered for my geeky faking. And now you come along, and clothe yourself in fakery, like you somehow earned it. But you didn't. You are are fake faker. Of geekery.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:29 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I gake all my feekery.
posted by jonmc at 6:30 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was a feek way gefore it was bool.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:31 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't even know WTF a MODOK is.
posted by Artw at 6:37 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't even know WTF a MODOK is.

Look at Newt Gingrich.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:46 PM on March 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


When my wife lies in bed later tonight trying to get the 108th star in Suikoden

Worst sexual metaphor ever.
posted by bongo_x at 6:50 PM on March 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


Is there no concern for fake boy geeks, or do they get a pass? Sorry if that’s covered in the article, I couldn’t read it because…it looked stupid.
posted by bongo_x at 6:53 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


We’re not, when it’s practically a Reddit meme to tell any woman who posts a picture of an object of interest that includes her in the frame that she’s “karmawhoring.”

When everything I do in a male-dominated space garners attention, how do I defend myself from charges of 'just doing X to get attention?"


To the Reddit women who are faced with this dilemma, here's a solution:

Create a spreadsheet / database / log detailing every post you make on Reddit. Record the upvotes/downvotes, # comments, etc. Differentiate between posts with pictures of you in the frame and posts without pictures of you in the frame.

Show there's a strong correlation between the number of votes you're getting and the inclusion of yourself. Toss in some measures like the correlation coefficient, significance of the correlation, etc.

Plot that shit.

Label the chart "Karmajohning: you dirty little Reddit slutmen"

Combining SCIENCE! and snark. Reddit would eat it up. They like getting spanked like the dirty slutmen they are.
posted by formless at 6:56 PM on March 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: Authentically snot-nosed callow youngsters
posted by Bill Peschel at 6:59 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


All this plus the extensively line-toeing Mass Effect 3 coverage makes me think that the Forbes tech section is written completely by that stoned, egregiously pissy class of journalism majors that seemed to run rampant (and late) in the halls of my college paper. Lots of reddit-in-lieu-of-actual-coverage and self-congratulatory narcissism.

Hey! Maybe they were right: print is dead and they were the ones who killed it.
posted by dubusadus at 7:09 PM on March 27, 2012


There are a few topics I think almost always make problematic topics for essays. One of them is "Who Invited You, FUN-HAVER?" There are certainly havers of fun who aren't welcome, but it's really something to think carefully about.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:11 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


*has fun*
posted by jonmc at 7:14 PM on March 27, 2012


These are not who I am. I'm comfortable just liking things. I don't need them to be an obsession or over-the-top identifier for me.

The things I like are totally a deep part of who I am. And I think that's because the books and movies and music that I love are are precisely so beloved to me because they're in dialogue with my deep fascinations and certain questions that are recurrently on my mind. For a geeky example, I saw The Hunger Games last weekend (yes I'll keep this short), and I was so entranced by the depiction of the lead female character (who was brave and protective and who had interesting and compelling flaws that weren't written to make her primarily an object of resistance and conquest) that I suddenly confronted the unacknowledged thirst for female role models in my life as a child/young adult. It crystallized my own feelings about the expectation on women to show vulnerability to men and my complicated relationship with my mother and sisters, and my now kind of geeky interest in the series hearkens back to that resonance and self-realization. I think my articulation of those reasons is definitely "who I am" in one way or another.

The things that I like typically aren't sci-fi or role-playing or computer related, they're like Ingmar Bergman movies, so I've never really been a candidate for stereotypical geekery, despite the company I keep. But the things I like deeply define who I am!

And on that note, I think the "fake girl geek" phenomenon can come from a rather sad place. If anyone blamed me or called me a fake geek for giving up on popular sci-fi after reading Harlan Ellison and Piers Anthony as a young girl and then realizing that people were defending them, idgaf. I got tired of getting kicked in the ribs every other page while trying to immerse myself in an escapist world. Sometimes, as a girl, I found the ideas compelling (Dungeons & Dragons! Fun role play with friends!), but the reality of the culture was too hostile (really, we ran into another prostitute? And you have to sleep with her to get the item we need?), and I found myself in a weird middle ground between knowing a little but not wanting to learn a lot, and feeling the pressure to prove myself to my friends.

Also I know plenty of girls who take the sexy, geek-tattoo, Instagram-my-hobby route, who also happen to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Trek universe and a crush on William T. Riker. There are a lot of different ways to do geek.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:24 PM on March 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


I don't even know WTF a MODOK is.
Here you go.
posted by kavasa at 7:27 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this just a stupid "I was into them before they were cool" thing? There's certainly a continuum of involvement in activities like reading comics or playing video games, but you must be insecure in your identity to get mad at someone calling herself a geek because she played Rock Band. I admit, I might think it was a bit amusing, but this hostility is not good for anything.
posted by demiurge at 7:39 PM on March 27, 2012


I found this video through knowyourmeme and I feel like I've come across the ultimate undeniable videotape evidence of secret world government black helicopters or something
posted by Bwithh at 7:42 PM on March 27, 2012


I think the hostility comes from a place of insecurity, if that's not obvious. But if geek guys can't see through shallow ploys for attention (or don't want to), why would you want them to keep them as your territory. Maybe just find a nice guy.

Dudes calling it out like it's only a "girl thing" (ha) are pretty much summed up by that mocking response savetheclocktower posted. It's garden variety misogyny in both cases, nothing new. (Combined with holier-than-thou hipster/geek cred.)
posted by stoneandstar at 7:45 PM on March 27, 2012


Of actual interest: the evolving social patterns of hardcore geeks

To Dian Fossey, maybe. If she wasn't dead.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:49 PM on March 27, 2012


I never really cared about superhero comics.

I've watched like maybe twenty episodes total of the new Doctor Who.

I never had a NES, and have never managed to really find any love for any of Nintendo's properties.

In fact I don't even own any consoles any more.

I had no awareness of "The Hunger Games" until after the movie came out and the internerdosphere started having opinions about it.

I haven't bothered watching or reading "A Game of Thrones" either.

But apparently these are all CRUCIAL THINGS that a geek HAS TO KNOW ABOUT.

I guess I'm not a geek any more. Guess I'll tear up my geek cred card, and go back to making my comic book about a cyborg/robot/upload lady who's become smeared across multiple realities and is trying to stop a hive-mind from assimilating the whole Solar System.

I mean seriously, is "geek" entirely about which media you've consumed now? Fuck that. When I was a kid, yeah, I consumed some weird media. I also hid from the world and (a) fooled with computers and (b) drew. And also had terrible, terrible social skills. I think that last is what really made me A GEEK.

My social skills still kinda suck but "geek" seems to have been co-opted. I guess I'm just me.
posted by egypturnash at 7:49 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Okay, I'm going to devil's advocate a little. I Really Mind the girls who get into geek stuff to find boyfriends who will eventually make money and buy them shit or whatever. Or I did. I couldn't tell you if that's a problem as much now as it was when I was younger (during one of those waves of OMG WE'RE ALL GOING TO BE MILLIONAIRES when a bunch of my female acquaintances suddenly Saw The Light about geeky guys), but, on principle, it's a problem. Not because I really care what anybody does to get a boyfriend, but because it encourages guys to think that's what women *do*. That girls, as a category, are out there to be pursued and fucked and that they don't have legitimate interests of their own.

I'm not sure it's a current problem across the board or something, but when you know someone like that, it can be a bit RAR-inducing and make you paranoid about the motivations of others. Not because it made it less okay for me to be the girl who was the Trekker-from-childhood who played MUDs, but because it suddenly rendered it less-okay with the male population that girls who played MUDs or whatever were, in fact, not *also* skinny, pretty, and willing to flirt with them. Like, in the mid-90s, I don't remember guys who'd never even seen a picture of me telling me that I "must be fat". I dunno.

But now I mostly feel old and I'm going to go back to avoiding multiplayer anything and pretending this doesn't happen anymore.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:51 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Waitaminnit. So now "I was uncool before uncool was cool!" is cool now?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:58 PM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I checked out of Brown's piece when she started dropping names. Really, if you're trying to bolster your opinion by telling us who your spouse is or where your friend's kid got their crafts project posted, you're immediately disqualified, no matter what you're opining on. That nifty +3 sword of exclusion of yours swings both ways.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:59 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


TheWhiteSkull: Look, I really think Cancellara has a chance. I mean Boonen is going to be the marked one after his season so far. Gilbert is simply not doing it right now. Thor is a possibility, but BMC is kinda overloaded with leaders. Fucking Friere is always up then, ready to pounce, but I don't really dig him. I'd love a Chavanel win, but he's more of a stage winner than a classic. But it would be awesome to see a new name hit it big.

Also, I'm more of a geek than all of you because I programmed on punch cards and played Adventure on a teletype.
posted by Argyle at 8:00 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hm, I don't think it encourages guys to believe anything they don't already. Good on those women for at least reaping some benefit from misogyny. (Maybe.) It seems somewhat clear from the classic sci-fi/fantasy/geek stuff that I've read from before ~these democratizing times~ that [stupid/hot/skinny/easy] and [smart/fat/ugly/cockblock] were archetypes men pulled out of thin air based on their fantasies and joyfully fellowshipped over in fiction and when socializing en masse.

The internet & so on have definitely made gendered hate speech more palpable, I think, though. But I think that's more a function of anonymity? (Unless you're talking about men who chatted with who hadn't seen your picture in a non-internet context.)
posted by stoneandstar at 8:01 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


How about this: what you like is not who you are.

No, but it is a partial definition of you.

You are your world experiences. Some people may not want to be classified by what they do - if they can't do anything, or if all they do is, say, be a janitor, and it's something they hate. It's much more interesting to say, "I'm a survivalist", or "I'm an anime nerd", or "I'm a gun freak."
posted by Malice at 8:31 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think Cancellara and Chavanel both have chances in races that won't necessarily end in a sprint (so de Ronde, for instance), and that both Sagan and Nibali have to be careful that they don't mark themselves out of races by trying to counter attacks from Cancellara. However, I think it really is Boonen's year, and I think he really wants a monument to go with the two Belgian races he's won so far. I agree that Gilbert really needs to pull something together if he's going to get anything in the Ardennes this year, but don't discount Thor, Vansummeren or Vanmarcke. I am enjoying seeing Cavendish miss selection after selection.

Also: Mobile Suit Gundam, Blake's 7, Robert E. Howard, Junji Ito, D&D Basic Set.

On a more serious note, I think that there is a sort of geek inferiority complex in here, alongside the misogyny and snobbery. It's sort of saying "I wasn't popular in high school, so how dare someone who is popular or attractive claim to be a geek." I wasn't popular in high school because I was a geek. I was unpopular in high school because I was awkward, introverted, and a bit smelly. Geeky things helped me during this time, but so did learning how to make friends, not necessarily defining myself by my interests alone, and getting the hell out of high school.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:37 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, this stuff happens off the internet, too. The most benign version is then they assume I'm there with my boyfriend/to get a boyfriend (when I had a girlfriend, I got a some of 'I'm glad you're here for the right reasons, which was just plain weird), but there's also a lot of 'oh, you're interested in Y? You must not have heard of X, Z, and Q before, which are clearly so superior', and a lot of questioning about exactly what types of comic books/board games/video games I'm into before deciding if I counted or not.

Guys go through the same thing, but not with the same rigamorale. I mean, taking that 'hot women pandering to nerds' thing... if a male actor admitted to knowing Klingon, would anyone assume that he was just faking being a nerd? Or would they just assume that the dude's a huge nerd?
posted by dinty_moore at 8:38 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The weird part about all this is all three articles mention, either directly or obliquely, that the mantle of "fake geek girl" is predominantly one applied to younger women—high school kids, college kids, whatever—who apply the label "geek" to themselves without upholding its tenets, like painfully deep obsessions with obscurities or social ineptitude or whatever. But if our target is really supposed to be teenagers, then why is this any more or less worthy of scorn than, say, the teenage punk dude who really wants you to know how straight-edge he is, or the girl who's decided to own every single piece of designer clothing and act like a prima donna because that's what celebrities do, or any of a hundred other personas teenagers try on when they're young?

I mean, that's the point of being a teenager, right? You try on identities like clothing until you find one that fits, and you suffer the indignities that come with those identities until you either have a Breakfast Club moment or you grow up and realize you don't have to fit yourself into a pigeonhole anymore? In that light, it seems really weird to criticize teenagers for pretending too hard to be a geek, when pretending too hard is what teenagers do.
posted by chrominance at 8:49 PM on March 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: I think we're in agreement, but why the Cav hate? We're watching the most dominant sprinter in a generation. I think Cancellara is fueling up on furious anger and in one of the remaining monuments is simply going to solo away like two years ago. Watching Radio Shack Nissan is going to be a soap opera. With Canc, Jens, Horner and the rest of the hardmen, there will simply be no room for excuses by Schleck. Can't wait to see them in person at Tour of California.

Also: Traveller, stealing linesmen's sets from boxes, building red boxes, and RPN calculator.

On topic: People like to self-identify as an outsider and when outsider behavior becomes the norm, they effectively lose their identity.
posted by Argyle at 8:53 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


First Things First: whenever anyone says any variation of "he/she's only doing that to get attention" what it means is, "I deserve the attention they are getting more than they do." Well, unless you're talking about a kid acting out in class or something.

Anyway, this pisses me off because it's talking about the people I consider friends. Take my friend J. J is an avid gamer, is married to an accomplished DM, has a huge collection of geeky stuffed toys which she is totally OCD about the maintenance of, she and her husband collect every new board game that comes out and host regular "game nights" for their friends, etc. She also is a member of a Pole Dancing team, has a stripper pole set up semi-permanently in their apartment, recently hosted a "corset party" where she spent half the night in little more than undies and a pair of tasselled pasties which she was showing everyone how to properly twirl, clearly relishes attention, and has described her life growing up, to me, as "a slut who lived to corrupt nerdy boys."

What about my friend S? S is obsessed with Sci-Fi/Fantasy, gaming in all of its forms, steampunk, costumes, etc. Any conversation with her will almost instantly jaunt into geeky subjects of which she will ALWAYS have deeper knowledge. She's an attractive woman who attended a women's college and never got any interest from men until she came to law school, and now, in her last semester, has still never dated or done anything of the type. She is now very intent on getting into the game in that regard, but very nervous as well, and is pretty sure that she would be kinky on a number of levels, and is trying to ease herself in eventually by tying her sexuality into geekish obsessions for kinks before she tries anything.

Or my friend E. She is probably the foremost and most socially popular star of my Gilbert & Sullivan theater group. She is in a very happy, long-term relationship, but is also an actress and diva, and obviously adores attention, which is good because she has an infectious personality. One of her big hobbies is taking geeky pop-culture properties and then fantasy-casting them with our group of friends and staging readings which she adapts into scripts for us.

I could go on and on, but all of these people want attention. I, in fact, don't know anyone who doesn't want attention. (Okay, one friend of mine is perfectly fine without it, and she is awesome.) They all want attention in different ways, and for different things. None of these women are socially awkward (okay, S is, a little bit, but not very, and she's not shy.) All of them are into odd things, and all of them devote themselves whole-heartedly into those things.

I know that J and S would both immediately describe themselves as geeks. E might not, I don't know. I do know that we have fun and this kind of label-border-patrol bullshit is pathetic and transparent. Identifying oneself by what one likes maybe isn't the best thing, but I get it and it seems pretty harmless to me. Fighting for superior ground in that identity is pathological though.

I'm, among other things, pretty obsessive about The West Wing. Years ago, my roommate was a bartender, and one of his regulars was a geek who came into the bar (actually a Pizzaria Uno. In the East Village. So... sad place to be a regular) wearing a WW shirt. Conor mentions that I'm a big fan, and the regular defensively states that I can't be a bigger fan than he is. Conor responds that I would probably never try to make a pissing contest out of it, so yeah, you win. (Conor had wallpapered his room in in-their-original-packaging comic book action figures, BTW.)

I'm reminded of two things, and I'll just leave me rant here.

Zero Charisma


As Cool As I Am
posted by Navelgazer at 8:55 PM on March 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


I mean, taking that 'hot women pandering to nerds' thing... if a male actor admitted to knowing Klingon, would anyone assume that he was just faking being a nerd? Or would they just assume that the dude's a huge nerd?

As far as I recall, Vin Diesel got nothing but love from the geek community for coming out as a D&D fan. I don't know if there was any backlash from women against pornstar Sasha Grey for doing the same thing, but that might have been a special case.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:05 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not a fan of the original article, which does read like poorly paid linkbait, but expending thousands of harsh words on a shitty forbes.com article is like bringing a howitzer to a paintball game. It's just not cricket. Technically speaking, it's not even paintball.
posted by melissa may at 9:06 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


This cute young girl was telling my fifteen year old son how much she liked Call of Duty Black Ops, especially Nuke Town, and he started telling her how he only plays indie games and console games are a sellout.

I would have nudged him or something had she been a little closer to him in age.
posted by mecran01 at 9:28 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can't do that, Blue Meanie. Gremio is dead. Sweet, sweet Gremio.

You got me to log in just to say that the 108th star is totally attainable. You just have to make sure no one else dies until a certain point in the story.
posted by vaghjar at 9:29 PM on March 27, 2012


This sort of bullshit from actual geeks is a part of why I stopped identifying as one. (Not that I think the writer of the Forbes writer is one.) Both of the response articles were great, but the original sucked and I'm already hiding positive comments about it from my FB stream.
posted by immlass at 9:38 PM on March 27, 2012


Upon finding the geek inadequate the tribe take him or her down into the valley where a replica of the Starship Enterprise's bridge has been carved from pure porcelain. There the "fake" geek is tied to an altar at the wrists and ankles using the scarves of the 4th Doctor. At this point the tribe shouts "Gooble gobble, Gooble gobble, one of us, one of us," in order to appease the gods of the cult movie. The larger football geeks are then summoned, carrying the reams of paper containing the stats of the baseball geeks. These are placed on top of the "fake geek". Next, the comic book geeks place copies of The Death of Superman, of which the tribe is never in short supply, around the altar. In the climactic part of the ritual the hipster, authentic geeks toss their hand-rolled cigarettes onto the pyre. As the "fake geek" the chalcedony white of the Starship Enterprise seems to glow like a sun. The fire is ultimately extinguished when the wine snobs release a downpour of their finest merlot onto the pyre, symbolically spreading a grapey blood across the dwelling place of James T Kirk.

The outlier dealt with the tribe once again splits into the factions of The Republicans (represented by the Elephant) and The Democrats (represented by the Donkey). Tomorrow they will be at war but today they are united in their judgement of this one poor soul. A priest remains behind in order to remind the music gods that the "fake geek" enjoyed Dave Matthews Band and keep its spirit from reaching taste maker heaven.

- March, 2012- notes from the writings of Barnabas Hutchinson, Martian Xenoanthropologist, University of Titan. Co-director of the "Don't let the Earthlings Know We are Here" institute.
posted by sendai sleep master at 9:51 PM on March 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


I definitely had a phase in my late teens when I was trying to feel as though I could appropriate certain masculine cultural signifiers for myself, and at that point I did definitely attempt to fake, say, knowledge of the Marvel universe. I wasn't that interested in it, but I liked the idea of being the only girl who knew what the boys were talking about. I wasn't a pretty girl, and I have never really had many social skills, and I already knew a lot about Star Trek and calculus, and I figured I could round out my knowledge base a little and get some grounding in comics and anime and maybe I could be popular in college. I liked the idea of being the girl who had the key to the boys' club. I didn't want to make myself sexually attractive to geek guys; no, I wanted to be one of them. (I was socially naive enough to believe that this was possible.)

A funny thing happened when I got to college, though: I majored in computer science. Suddenly I had a much better notion of what it was like to be "one of the boys" because I could observe it pretty much constantly in the lab. And I realized that it had been a stupid goal to have. Boys are just like girls, in aggregate. There are constant, boring struggles for status, and members of the opposite sex never really fit in and tend to be surrounded with idiotic drama, and the social skills are actually just as hard. Harder, really, because I was in Girl Scouts for a long time and at least got practice understanding girl social dynamics. Operating efficiently in a Boyzone was a new thing for me and it wasn't as easy to grok as I'd assumed it would be.

At this point I'm a professional software engineer and I figure if that's not geek enough for you, you can go fuck yourself. I like the things I like, whether they're stamped with the official Geek Council Seal of Approbation. In fact, some of the things I like are actually stamped with the official Geek Council Seal of Disapprobation.
posted by troublesome at 10:06 PM on March 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'm still amazed that anyone would aspire to be a geek. Back in the day it was something you'd sadly admit to yourself only after it became too obvious to deny. ("Oh god, I am a geek!") And any public revelation of geekhood would usually be accompanied by jokes about how that person would never, ever reproduce, die a virgin, etc. If there were geek girls back then they kept pretty quiet.

Now the meaning of the term seems to have broadened to include the kinds of people who used to be called fans or enthusiasts, and being geeky is somewhat admirable and authentic. So hooray for progress, I guess.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:12 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting how the word geek has replaced the word fan or hobbist.
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe because it's broader? Language geek sounds charming, language fan sounds odd.
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 PM on March 27, 2012


It may have something to do with changing technology. The term fan (or fanatic) became a thing in the 1930s when the first generation that grew up with mass media was beginning to define itself. Geek seems to have taken off in the 80s when personal computing and video games began to be a force in pop culture. So now that computers (and their offspring the Internet) have become the mass media, geek is nudging out fan as the preferred term.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:44 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I Really Mind the girls who get into geek stuff to find boyfriends who will eventually make money and buy them shit or whatever.

Is this a real thing? I feel like I know a lot of different kinds of people, but I have never met this one.
posted by naoko at 11:07 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Interesting how the word geek has replaced the word fan or hobbist.

You know what word I miss? Maven. Maven is a good word.
posted by furiousthought at 11:12 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


from Yiddish, from Hebrew mevin: understanding

Go Maven.
posted by The Whelk at 11:20 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mavening
posted by The Whelk at 11:20 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plural is mayvinim.

Oh look Clarissa, a Mayvinim of Whovians.
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 PM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


although it seems to carry a meaning of expertise or skill in the area, I suppose you could put deep trivia and interest in there, but Maven shades a bit more toward action, like someone who is really into RPGs is an RPG Geek but one who really understands how to make a great game is a RPG Maven.
posted by The Whelk at 11:24 PM on March 27, 2012


I Really Mind the girls who get into geek stuff to find boyfriends who will eventually make money and buy them shit or whatever.

Yeah, sure. My dedication to Mike Mignola comics, video games and Dr Who really has me making bank. I'm just rolling in the cash monies. I use gold doubloons as slingshot ammo.

*cries*.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:34 PM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


lets all discuss Mignola's panel placement and sense of page
posted by The Whelk at 11:48 PM on March 27, 2012


Guys, I'm taken.
posted by Artw at 12:23 AM on March 28, 2012


I read through all the links and all the comments because I thought this was about women who are circus geeks in the tradiitional sense of one who bites the heads off live chickens. Because I'm not into that, and I wish those particular geek girls would go away.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:17 AM on March 28, 2012


Geek seems to have taken off in the 80s when personal computing and video games began to be a force in pop culture.

It put the switchover point in the seventies: before then, it was a proud and lonely thing to be a fan, but in the seventies you got the mass acceptence of science fiction/fantasy (Star Wars, Alien, Battlestar Galactic, undsoweiter), playing RPGs as a popular hobby, the first hobby computers and in general a greater acceptance of not quite mainstream hobbies and pursuits.

All of which took ages to perculate through pop culture and our collective awareness, got a massive boost with the mainstreaming of the internet and now has become so ordinary that all our cultural signifiers about who is or isn't a geek have become obsolete, at the same time as other, more "mainstream" pursuits have been geekified as well.

So if you're into comics or science fiction or playing video games or farting around on the puter or any of the other thousands of things that used to make you a nerd, you're no longer automatically a geek, which leads to allt his angst and drama and trolling by insecure people.

Myself, I've adopted the old Damon Knight definition of science fiction and now define geek as "that person we point to when we call them a geek".
posted by MartinWisse at 1:21 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what word I miss? Maven. Maven is a good word.

That's so Maven.
posted by clearly at 2:13 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Myself, I've adopted the old Damon Knight definition of science fiction and now define geek as "that person we point to when we call them a geek".

Which would make this the equivalent of unresolvable genre discussions.
posted by Artw at 2:15 AM on March 28, 2012


ehhhhh - pigeonholes and labels and "lifestyles"....

I do however appreciate SVG's (Leigh Alexander) blogpost on this topic, particularly:


The author of the article takes great pains to establish her own authenticity and attack the authenticity of others, for... why again? Presumably she feels threatened, like her "geeky" pastimes should remain secret forts that everyone needs to know the password to get into. It's a weird, sad way for an adult to behave.

It's true we're fascinated with authenticity and the lack thereof these days. But here's a little news flash to the author: Curiosity about other societies and people, and a desire to be included, is a perfectly valid reason to adopt or espouse a new hobby. If the acne-clad pungence of the basement stereotype around certain hobbies has now been dissipated, it's totally logical that new faces would be attracted to our culture, hoping to get involved.

Yes, probably they want to be liked. Probably they will try hard. This does not make them "fake." It makes them human. It's normal. Everyone, whether they will admit it or not, secretly wants to be liked.

And didn't you hide inside your computer games and fantasy books because when you were young you tried to be liked and you failed? And now even though that was years ago you're going to make sure you get your revenge? Seriously, how old are you?


And on Forbes:

Sidenote: Forbes has really been batting a thousand lately when it comes to "geek interest" writing; my guess is they've hired new writers that they don't have to pay very much, and relying on the guaranteed forum and Reddit hits that come from telling superfans of "geek culture" what they want to hear.

posted by infini at 2:46 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


now define geek as "that person we point to when we call them a geek".

Nope.

Geeks are people with obsessive interest in things of no value to the real world eg "he spent all night geeking out over errors in the wikipedia page on lightsaber fighting styles"

Nerds are people with obsessive interesting in things that do have value eg "he was really perplexed by Loschmidt's paradox, so he stayed up all night reading about the development of irresponsibility in macroscopic systems governed by microscopically reversible interactions"

Don't get me wrong, some science is also the domain of geeks. Like Taxonomy.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:50 AM on March 28, 2012


irresponsibility = irreversibly, an ironically irreversible mistake.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:51 AM on March 28, 2012


>Waitaminnit. So now "I was uncool before uncool was cool!" is cool now?

No, now it's uncool again.

Do keep up.
posted by pompomtom at 3:06 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


unabashed dork...a science fiction book about unicorns to write

Roger Zelazny already wrote an SF book about unicorns.

{
The title story, "Unicorn Variation", was written as a result of Zelazny having been asked to contribute to two different upcoming anthologies — one collecting stories set in bars, and one collecting stories about unicorns. When Zelazny mentioned these requests to his close friend George R. R. Martin, the other told Zelazny of a third upcoming anthology — one which would collect stories about chess — and jokingly suggested that Zelazny write a story about playing chess against a unicorn in a bar, so that he could sell the story three times. Zelazny did just that and then went on to win a Hugo Award for the story.
}

So your topic choice doesn't mandate dorkiness in its handling.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:15 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


So no one here has ever had a hobby group destroyed by someone coming in and the group stopped being about Georgian silversmithing and becoming instead Who Is She Sleeping With Now hour?

I don't know if knitting groups or cooking classes or whatnot are subject to the same phenomenon in reverse, but I can't see why they wouldn't be. I'm tempted to join a cooking class and see for myself.
posted by winna at 4:38 AM on March 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


I just think that now that Cav is wearing world champion's stripes, he should at least make an effort to climb a hill every once in a while- otherwise it starts to look bad. Also, I think Wiggo, Froome and Boasson Hagen are going to get pretty sick of dragging his ass up and down mountains, and if any of them wind up with any sort of GC position in the Tour or the Giro, he's not going to get much help. My prediction is he will leave the Tour after winning a couple of sprint stages, forgo the green jersey, and concentrate on the Olympics.

Also: Los Bros Hernandez, Patrick Troughton, MERP, 2nd Romana, Hitchhikers' Guide radio play on cassette, yakusha-e from the Katsukawa school

This thread has been fantastic
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:55 AM on March 28, 2012


Man, Forbes, what a bunch of poseurs.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:17 AM on March 28, 2012


Actually, I'd be content if they just did away with Big Bang Theory.

Although that's mainly just because it's so badly written.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:54 AM on March 28, 2012


I'm all for that Muddgirl, but you can't do it with a 360 controller YOU PHONEY!

Of course you can. Plug the 360 controller into your computer. Free Hyrule in an emulator.
posted by Jpfed at 6:21 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


(cross-posted from Sexy Videogameland)

I have such a brain-crush on Leigh Alexander. She's both compassionate to the author and deadly about where she's gone wrong.

But since we're all picking nits... I do find a little troubling this assumption that there's something wrong with girls brutally quizzing and excluding each other over trivia. No, really!

When I was working in games journalism, it was back in the dark days when there was usually exactly one woman on the press bus. And sometimes---not all the time, not even most of the time, but sometimes---she would be glaringly less knowledgable about the subject than anyone else. I don't think this was because she was a phony who was attention-whoring; as far as I could see, she liked games as much as anyone, and tried to learn as much as anyone, and accepted the guys' attention without being very concerned with it. Instead, I always suspected it was because, having been the only woman on the bus surrounded by guys who wanted her to succeed, she'd never been mocked for not knowing something, the way every guy had with their peer group. And consequently, she never felt the absolute pressure of "I must do better at this"!

Mocking someone for not knowing things is cruel. But it's a very potent teaching tool. To take an example outside of geek culture: A good friend of mine, white as the driven snow, started playing with a jazz ensemble whose members were entirely African-American. And when I, equally a product of white music classes, hung out at their rehearsals, I was shocked to see how vicious they were to each other over musical mistakes. If the drummer lost the beat, if the sax player hit the wrong note, if anyone screwed up---even something as small as a bad approach to a note---they would be berated endlessly, and it wouldn't stop for days, as everyone competed to come up with the most memorable way to remind them of their screw-up. This kind of behavior was totally alien to me---I'd always learned that making someone feel bad would destroy their love of music, so we should never do that.

That was when it became clear to me that the black kids dominating all the school bands had nothing to do with innate ability (hey, I was 14!). They weren't inherently better; they worked harder. And they worked harder because they were learning in a culture where people were willing to make other people feel bad in order to make them perform better.

So you're right, the authenticity policing is juvenile and exclusionary. But I sometimes wonder if it isn't what makes people know more, and if dropping it wouldn't mean surrendering a lot of knowledge. Now, if you think knowledge about fantasy worlds isn't particularly worth having, then it's no great loss. But if you think that... Then you are *definitely* not a geek!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:29 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mocking someone for not knowing things is cruel. But it's a very potent teaching tool.
Yes, it's called the British, or god forbid, the Australian education system.

I had this Aussie prof that would sort graded assignments from best to worst and hand them out, heaping praise or shame as was warranted. This was about 30 mins once a week.

Cancel Big Bang Theory.

How can that shit succeed and yet 30 Rock only barely survives? At least Numb3rs isn't on anymore.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:45 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can that shit succeed and yet 30 Rock only barely survives?

I would take 2 hours of government mandated TBBT every night if it meant that everyone responsible in any way for 2 and a Half Men would be flogged in public every day for the rest of their lives.
posted by elizardbits at 6:58 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]



Argyle: "Also, I'm more of a geek than all of you because I programmed on punch cards and played Adventure on a teletype."

I made card houses out of punch cards and played ADVENT on a teletype (and later a terminal). Is that close enough?
posted by Karmakaze at 7:01 AM on March 28, 2012


I would take 2 hours of government mandated TBBT every night if it meant that everyone responsible in any way for 2 and a Half Men would be flogged in public every day for the rest of their lives.
posted by elizardbits at 9:58 AM on March 28 [+] [!]


Conflict of interest: both shows are by the same guy, Chuck Lorre.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:09 AM on March 28, 2012


Now, if you think knowledge about fantasy worlds isn't particularly worth having, then it's no great loss. But if you think that... Then you are *definitely* not a geek!

This is why I stopped identifying as a geek. There are too many things on the "must know" list these days that I just don't give a shit about. My ongoing effort to watch every Classic Who episode in existence doesn't mean I care about Firefly or Game of Thrones. The fact that I've been running an Amber/Everway PBEM for almost 11 years doesn't mean I have to care about the innards of the new edition of D&D. Etc., etc., etc. I love my geeky hobbies, but the inside fan policing was lame in the 80s, when I was too young and insecure to tell people to fuck off like I should have, and it's no better now. The fact that it's women doing it to other women and specifically over (in theory) male attention (OMG those cute non-geek girls are stealing OUR RIGHTFUL CLAIM on potential geek boyfriends) just makes it more annoying.

Women in geeky area are not like Highlander. There can be more than one. It's OK.
posted by immlass at 7:14 AM on March 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Now, if you think knowledge about fantasy worlds isn't particularly worth having, then it's no great loss. But if you think that... Then you are *definitely* not a geek

I remember I was reading about the fan geek reaction to the new Trek movie. There was one particularly notable comment that I recall, it was something like: "but if they split into a parallel reality that means that Picard won't meet the probe and spend a virtual lifetime on that planet and learn the flute!!!!"

This smacks me of mental illness.

And moreover, for most of those things, that "knowledge" of I don't know, eleven bloodlines or something in LOTR...it's not knowledge. It's just facts. It's like memorizing 1000 digits of Pi.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:36 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm with GraceDissolved on this one. I worked with a Fake Geek Girl.

I was one of two initial developers at a software startup: "Senior Director of Product Development," and sysadmin-by-default (no idea what I was doing but since I seemed to be the only one in the company who could USE GOOGLE and was the on-site "techie," well, I figured it out). Eventually, we grew to a team of about six programmers. I was the only female; Fake Geek Girl worked in marketing (but you knew that, didn't you?).

Fake Geek Girl had watched a few episodes of Dr. Who and Star Trek; not a fan, but her husband liked them and occasionally she was in the room. She was pretty but could pull off the nerdy sweet look even though her boots cost $400 (and she had a lot of 'em). Think of Annie from Community, with a little more librarian--but keep that pout and add some fawning over the standard nerd desk accoutrements. Absolute catnip to the 20something dorks under my wing.

Fine, whatever. I've got nothing against pretty! I'm no troll either. I've got nothing against fashion! Wear a feather boa to the office and I will slow-clap your high-flying freak flag. I've got nothing against people being friendly at work--it sure beats office assholes.

However.
Fake Geek Girl, when she needed something...did the flounce-and-pout to the nearest coder. No matter what it was: hauling a file cabinet from one side of her cube to another, a(nother) change to the website, fixing her printer, making a chart in Excel, etc. Her requests were almost always Not That Person's Job...and when they actually were, they were items that were already on our agenda but she wanted done on her timeline, not the already-planned and very tight dev schedule. And of course they would drop everything to help.

What tipped it off that she was Fake Geek Girl? She would never, ever, ever try to fix it or do the work herself. If you gave her directions on how to do what she needed done? Get this: a *short sigh* and another pout. Sometimes even a hair twirl! Until the target nerd did her work for her.

So when the author or GraceDissolved or others like me get a little grar-y about Fake Geek Girls, it's not because we're sexist, self-hating women. It's because the Fake Geek Girls reinforce sexism, and play on it to use others and get ahead. We self-rescuing Princesses wear--and defend--our geek badges because we earned them.

This is also the woman who, when noticing Mastering the Art of French Cooking on my bookshelf (yes I had an office copy! easier to hit the grocery on the way home prepared...) remarked, wistfully, "someday I'd like to learn how to roast a chicken."
posted by mimi at 7:38 AM on March 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fake Geek Girl, when she needed something...did the flounce-and-pout to the nearest coder. No matter what it was: hauling a file cabinet from one side of her cube to another, a(nother) change to the website, fixing her printer, making a chart in Excel, etc. Her requests were almost always Not That Person's Job...and when they actually were, they were items that were already on our agenda but she wanted done on her timeline, not the already-planned and very tight dev schedule. And of course they would drop everything to help.

This has nothing to do with geeky interests.
posted by immlass at 7:55 AM on March 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


It sounds to me like that has nothing to do with her being a geek, fake or not. It's about her being lazy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:56 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or what immlass said.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:56 AM on March 28, 2012


Hmm. I don't see what geekiness or fake geekiness has to do with that situation, mimi - seems like you simply don't like girls who manipulatively flirt with guys and get them to do their work. That's always existed in all sorts of variations. But what Star Trek or whatever else has to do with that isn't really registering with me. I'd comment on someone's Tardis desk figurine too even though I've never seen a single episode. If I worked with a bunch of geeks who were into stuff I was kinda clueless about, I'd probably try to fit in with them too. I'm just seeing "this person says she likes [baseball/music/bicycles] but doesn't REALLY like [baseball/music/bicycles] in the way that I do and therefore she is a bad person." But part of being social is taking an interest in things that the people around you are interested in. Especially in a work environment (oh please god save me from March Madness.)
posted by naju at 7:56 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


lolz
posted by naju at 7:57 AM on March 28, 2012


My precious real geek girl can cook almost anything.....can tell you more about dogs than you'll ever need to know...Can program Siftio cubes (thanks Ask mefi) and the big lego robot in her sleep...I could go on for days...why do we need the distinction of "Geek Girl"? Doesn't that separate them from the boys? My child is perfection.....she needs no labels, she does her thing....we are so proud of her....And we'll always, encourage and support. I'm not sure how to feel about this.....
posted by pearlybob at 7:59 AM on March 28, 2012


See, you're missing that she would do the Fake Geek thing as a huge part of that woo.
posted by mimi at 8:00 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember I was reading about the fan geek reaction to the new Trek movie. There was one particularly notable comment that I recall, it was something like: "but if they split into a parallel reality that means that Picard won't meet the probe and spend a virtual lifetime on that planet and learn the flute!!!!" This smacks me of mental illness.

...I've read accounts of two completely different women who had honestly and sincerely taken out web sites pledging their eternal troth to Severus Snape. Not the actor Alan Rickman, the fictional character.

Married.
They insisted they were married to him.

And then when they learned of each other's existance they began an over-the-internet battle trying to suss out which one of them Snape "really loved."

....Speculating on the canon of the Star Trek universe? Not so crazy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:01 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Roger Zelazny already wrote an SF book about unicorns.

...

So your topic choice doesn't mandate dorkiness in its handling.


There are few things dorkier than a Hugo Award.

(This is why I consider myself a dork, not a geek or a nerd. I'm not interested in proving my interests are cool or legitimate based on some superficial exception or prevailing sense of irony. There is no way to make a cool unicorn. Parry Gripp's space unicorn? Still hella dorky. Why are we so afraid to be dorks, anyway? Grumble grumble.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:02 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would take 2 hours of government mandated TBBT every night if it meant that everyone responsible in any way for 2 and a Half Men would be flogged in public every day for the rest of their lives.

Line up George Lopez for his daily flogging and I'll do three. Throw in the cast of NCIS and I might even do four.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:08 AM on March 28, 2012


There is no way to make a cool unicorn.

I liked Wrede's Jerk Unicorn in the books of enchantment. Unicorns are beautiful and wonderful and mysterious and boy do they fucking know it.
posted by The Whelk at 8:11 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone should look at this book cover. Hee!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:16 AM on March 28, 2012


See, you're missing that she would do the Fake Geek thing as a huge part of that woo.

Or maybe she's just mildly interested in geek stuff and thinks it's cute, but not enough to obsess about it. I've seen this kind of story play out similarly with non-tech women who weren't geeky. Resent her for being a ditz or being in marketing if you like, but the "OMG HDU talk about common geeky interests with MY GEEK MEN" doesn't reflect badly on her.

(All unicorn jokes to me go straight into Zelazny Amber geekiness and how weird it is that the icons of Order are descended from a crazy hunchback and a unicorn.)
posted by immlass at 8:19 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


See back when we hung out at the computer lab trying to program in Basic on Dos 1.0 I don't think they'd invented these words yet...

back then, we were dorks.
posted by infini at 8:23 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of unicorns and feminism, I liked this cartoon (t-shirt) for its clever analogy between the socialized imaginariness of the pinup body/beauty standard and the myth/fantasy imaginariness of the unicorn. That poor rhino!
posted by RogerB at 8:30 AM on March 28, 2012 [9 favorites]


Married. They insisted they were married to him.

Yes, but only on the astral plane.

Oh snapewives. You will never stop being hilarious.
posted by elizardbits at 8:41 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is no way to make a cool unicorn.

Read Zelazny's story and tell me if you still hold this to be true. His unicorn is an arrogant beer drinking asshole that is planning to destroy mankind.

Why are we so afraid to be dorks, anyway? Grumble grumble.

In my personal dictionary, nerds, geeks, dorks, they're all uncool. But nerds and geeks are at least somewhat self-aware of aware of it and have some redeeming features...nerds have math skills, geeks have lots of meaningless trivia, what's left for dorks?
posted by Chekhovian at 8:45 AM on March 28, 2012


*salutes elizardbits*

I wouldn't even know how to begin to explain Bit of Earth or Crystalwank. If you can sum it up, go 'head.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on March 28, 2012


what's left for dorks?

Cetacean insemination?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:48 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


In my personal dictionary, nerds, geeks, dorks, they're all uncool. But nerds and geeks are at least somewhat self-aware of aware of it and have some redeeming features...nerds have math skills, geeks have lots of meaningless trivia, what's left for dorks?

Unbridled enthusiasm.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:48 AM on March 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


Outgrowing peer pressure
posted by infini at 8:51 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


On a more serious note, I think that there is a sort of geek inferiority complex in here, alongside the misogyny and snobbery. It's sort of saying "I wasn't popular in high school, so how dare someone who is popular or attractive claim to be a geek." I wasn't popular in high school because I was a geek. I was unpopular in high school because I was awkward, introverted, and a bit smelly. Geeky things helped me during this time, but so did learning how to make friends, not necessarily defining myself by my interests alone, and getting the hell out of high school.

I can't speak to the female side of things here, but the male group dynamics that set this situation up are a deep, dark well of self-loathing. Just that Attractive Women Pandering to Nerds video by itself is a testament to that, starting from the premise that no one attractive and popular could possibly seriously be interested in the same things that nerds are, thus any interest must be feigned, false, and only hiding some evil motivation. They often go on from there to decide the evil motivation must be discovered by rigorous interrogation and that leads us to here.

I totally understand (and have been a part of) the Outsider mentality that makes you fiercely distrustful of anyone who shows interest in things you also like, but it's actually a very sad state of affairs when you start to assume that the only conceivable reason for anyone to show enthusiasm for things you like is either to get at your wallet or ensnare you in some long con game. People like things, and the fact that some nerds have been socialized to fear deep down that liking Star Trek and D&D makes them worse people doesn't make other people's genuine interest in that stuff any less genuine.
posted by Copronymus at 8:58 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


"OMG HDU talk about common geeky interests with MY GEEK MEN" doesn't reflect badly on her.
Really? Take their virginities, please.

Fake Geek Girl would also pout and go OMG DR WHO IS THE BESTEST at me. Until it stopped working because if I had to show her how to do something more than twice, I was too busy.

So yeah...this couldn't have been about her faking being interested in nerdy shit to get someone else to do her work, this must be about me hating other women flirting with my precious mens.
posted by mimi at 9:01 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


That venn diagram really stands out for me, as I get called a geek every so often, but I personally don't identify that way, as I dress fashionably, have strong social skills and don't obsess about specific things. Geek as a word has really come to mean someone who is wearing their "outside" status on their sleeve, and since out is the new in, that becomes a positive and supportive statement about someone's ability to impress people without conforming. A modern day technology-focused equivalent to cool.

On the other hand, I work closely with a guy who comes to work in terrible clothes, isn't afraid to say "that's a complete load of shit and you know it" to coworkers who can fire him, is shockingly intelligent, and is very, very obsessed with his area of expertise. I personally think he's a fantastic guy, I adore working with him (even though we've been known to shout at each other), and ultimately can't imagine why nobody calls him a geek -- he's the geekiest adult I've ever known, by the 80s definition, and if geek now describes what we used to call cool, then I'm going to say that he's the coolest guy I know -- which is a pretty geeky thing to be.
posted by davejay at 9:04 AM on March 28, 2012


Read Zelazny's story and tell me if you still hold this to be true. His unicorn is an arrogant beer drinking asshole that is planning to destroy mankind.

Interesting, though, that your argument that a story about a talking, chess-playing unicorn is not dorky seems to center on traditionally male values and grizzledness. As if it's the rainbow girl taint that makes unicorns dorky. That seems to come up a lot in nerd hierarchies. Slash fiction is less than mainstream paranormal romance is less than epic fantasy is less than soft sci-fi is less than hard sci-fi is less than military hard sci-fi, and so on. The bottom of the ladder is incredibly tainted by girl cooties.

Fuck that, I say. I'm not interested in how cool things are but whether they're engaging and interesting and fun and stir the passions of my [sparkly, girl] heart. Maybe that's not useful because it's not math. Maybe it's ridiculous that I know your friend's complaint about Star Trek is ridiculous because there have been many points of reiteration between the two timelines already and there's no reason to believe Picard won't rock his flute and the original timeline is intact, anyway. Maybe that would be less ridiculous and cooler if I was spouting socially acceptable minutiae about James Joyce or whatever (have you ever spoken to a Joyce scholar? The trivia is indistinguishable in nature from what you find among Trekkies. It just has the legitimacy of the ivory tower behind it). But it's fun and it makes me happy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:07 AM on March 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Mimi, we're not "missing" it. You failed to demonstrate it. Instead you tried to draw weird boundaries like "cannot spend $400 on shoes" and it came across as just...weird. Dressing like a librarian and having a Dalek figurine does not a Geek Poseur make. I live in the UK. That is par for the course.

Anyway: The response articles and this thread made me <3. The "Slut with a Controller" meme showed up on my FB friendslist a few weeks ago, posted by an old school friend (female). Now, I presume that I pass as a geek gal. I say "presume" because in my day-to-day circles there's not really any scene policing and I found the whole mini-rally against Cute Girl with Pony Tail kind of...stupid. I was not aware that an invasion of cuckoo-Geek slatterns was an imminent threat to any of the things in my life that I enjoy. I remain uncertain why I should be concerned, or feel threatened, or to try and pin any disenfranchisement I should feel as a female gamer/sci fi/fantasy enthusiast on those gals. There are far more deserving targets for my "hurrumphs"

Interesting aside: someone in the aforementioned post responded that they liked the message, but not the slut-shaming, and the OP accused them of reading too much into it. When....the comic...calls her a slut. NO ONE EVEN POINTED OUT THE CONTROLLER. They were too busy hatin to do their TRUE DUTY as GEEKS and it was HEARTBREAKING.

Now, I *am* accustomed to the defensiveness of niche or traditionally underground subcultures when bits of their "turf" are dragged into the mainstream. I understand and to a degree can sympathize with it. I am guilty of those moments. Especially when something that you may have been mocked for suddenly comes into fashion and now it's cool to say you like it.

But hey, you know what? I'm 28. If somebody in my knitting circle wants to call me a geek because I point out that "Sci Fi" and "Fantasy" are two different genres, then in the next breath say how much they "love" Harry Potter, then fine. Just like if someone wants to tell me I'm not a real Star Wars fan because I think Parts I-III are goddamn awful and ruin everything that was awesome about the original trilogy then FINE BE THAT WAY YOU ARE AWFUL AND WRONG they are entitled that opinion. I may be geeky, but I am a WOMAN GROWN and I'd prefer to spend more time doing the things I love to do than worrying if those things will earn me enough validation from other people who like those things, or to put everyone else who says they like that thing through some thing-liking gauntlet that only the most likingest-of-thing thing likers can win.
posted by menialjoy at 9:25 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Unicorn Variations" also features a Bigfoot who supports himself by selling plaster casts of his footprints, saying to the protagonist "Let's make tracks."

I think one of Zelazny's most distinctive traits was his fearlessness in throwing in cool stuff, no matter how ridiculous their premises might sound out of context. Kind of dorky, really.
posted by Zed at 9:27 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


We are all exceptions to the rules, what does that make us?


after all I'm a menopausal Civilization player who may not know more than how to get and keep my resources and faintly remembers that GIGO is more important that LIFO though its debatable
posted by infini at 9:27 AM on March 28, 2012


...oh, and maybe I lied a little bit. My *real* first reaction the comic was: "Zelda is a terrible example for a "real geek" game. Everyone plays Zelda. Children play Zelda." The real Geek should say like "in Platinum League" or you've "I am playing Eve at all ever."

Both are pretty high standards, and I pass neither of them, but that is NOT THE POINT.
posted by menialjoy at 9:29 AM on March 28, 2012


Really? Take their virginities, please.

None of what you're describing has anything to do with nerdiness other than it being the currency in your office. The same thing happens with male groups who are interested in sports or cars or any other consuming pursuit. The gatekeeping isn't any less annoying than the playing dumb and not doing a fair share of work. That office dynamic sounds poisonous for the poor guys who have to work with two women who both apparently hold them in contempt.

I may be geeky, but I am a WOMAN GROWN and I'd prefer to spend more time doing the things I love to do than worrying if those things will earn me enough validation from other people who like those things, or to put everyone else who says they like that thing through some thing-liking gauntlet that only the most likingest-of-thing thing likers can win.

Co-signed.
posted by immlass at 9:30 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I asked my teenage daughters what they thought, here's what they said.
posted by Argyle at 9:40 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


None of what you're describing has anything to do with nerdiness other than it being the currency in your office. The same thing happens with male groups who are interested in sports or cars or any other consuming pursuit.

In my mind this distinction actually supports her argument since someone acting interested in nerdy things to gain social currency with specific people is the same thing is someone acting interested in sports when they don't actually care. Hardcore sports fans go on and on about how much they hate band-wagoners and I guess I don't really see the differentiation between the two types of behavior. Either way it's fake because the people buying into it feel like they HAVE to act a certain way or be interested in certain things, and it's irritating to the people who actually enjoy them.
posted by brilliantine at 9:42 AM on March 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fuck that, I say. I'm not interested in how cool things are
Those early Sansa POV chapters, before the world came crashing down on her, so painful to read.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


omg Argyle, that was great.

However my ability to digest what was being said was kind of stilted by my insane jealousy that your daughters have a sister, near their age, who share interests.

p.s. that "hair stuck in headphones" problem never goes away (unless the hair does).
posted by menialjoy at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2012


Those early Sansa POV chapters, before the world came crashing down on her, so painful to read.

You know, I'm an adult woman, and that's really condescending.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:12 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Geeks like things that geeks like.

Cliques like things that cliques like.

You can very often, unfortunately, have cliques of geeks.
posted by sendai sleep master at 11:55 AM on March 28, 2012


The cliques of geeks are weekly in a pique.
posted by Zed at 12:10 PM on March 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is the cliquey thing really a geek thing? Or more of a fandom thing?

Fucking fandoms ruin everything.
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


no no no, Fandoms fuck everything.
posted by The Whelk at 12:13 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought that was The BusBoys.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:39 PM on March 28, 2012


But only on the astral plane.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:18 PM on March 28, 2012


and that's really condescending
Hmm? My implicit point here is that agency is what makes a character interesting and cool. The Beer drinking unicorn is interesting because it has menace behind it. The unicorn has some say in events. Contrast that with say Bella, who is basically an empty vessel for outside events...not very interesting as a character. Zero dimensional even. Or harry potter, more or less an ignorant stooge responding mostly to the tugs he feels on his strings. YA Lit tends to this, even when the authors are more subtle than Rowling. The whole point is to ask what happens when one does not quite have control of ones feelings, reactions, etc.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:53 PM on March 28, 2012


Hmm? My implicit point here is that agency is what makes a character interesting and cool.

Your explicit point seemed to be to draw a comparison between an adult woman arguing for open enjoyment of one's interests and a fictional eleven-year-old girl.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2012


brilliantine: "In my mind this distinction actually supports her argument since someone acting interested in nerdy things to gain social currency with specific people is the same thing is someone acting interested in sports when they don't actually care. Hardcore sports fans go on and on about how much they hate band-wagoners and I guess I don't really see the differentiation between the two types of behavior. Either way it's fake because the people buying into it feel like they HAVE to act a certain way or be interested in certain things, and it's irritating to the people who actually enjoy them"

But that assumes a false binary where the only options are "hardcore fan" and "completely uninterested" when what really exists is a continuum.

I say I'm a Red Sox fan and what I really mean is that when I think about baseball at all, the Red Sox is the team I support. I watch them play at Fenway when I happen to be in the country, own a couple of t-shirts and follow @runscored_bos on Twitter. That's about the extent of it.

I say I'm a Discworld fan and when I say that what I really mean is that I have signed copies of the books and buy all the tie-in stuff like the games and maps and that I write filk and draw fanart and go to conventions and dress as characters from the books and win Discworld trivia competitions against other fans from all over the world and once wrote an in-universe Discworld cryptic crossword.

There is room in this world for Discworld fans who haven't read all the books and don't take part in any of the extra stuff I do. If they enjoyed what they read, then they're still a fan and I'd be an asshole to call them "fake" or "poseurs".

Similarly, the fact that I couldn't quote you batting averages and don't watch every single game won't stop me from counting myself a Red Sox fan.

If we all restricted ourselves to interacting only with people who liked not only the exact same things as us, but also to the exact same extent then the world would be pretty goddamn boring.
posted by the latin mouse at 2:18 PM on March 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hardcore sports fans go on and on about how much they hate band-wagoners and I guess I don't really see the differentiation between the two types of behavior.

That was my point, with the caveats that I think those hardcore sports fans are assholes and wouldn't want to work with them and I think Tara Tiger Brown is an asshole based on her Forbes piece and wouldn't want to work with her either.

But that assumes a false binary where the only options are "hardcore fan" and "completely uninterested" when what really exists is a continuum.

Also some people are broad in their interests and not very deep and some people have very narrow interests that they explore deeply. Geekhood traditionally values the latter engagement over the former. This is part of my decision not to classify myself as a geek any more: I'm interested in a lot of geeky things but my depth level for most of them is limited.

As someone said upthread, making small talk a is social lubricant, whether it's about baseball statistics or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (not my cuppa but I was conversant with it when it was on) or cars or whatever. If geekiness requires people to be antisocial at the office (not to mention to mock women for being interested enough in whatever people talk about in the office to carry on a conversation), I can see why people reject geeky technical identities in favor of brogramming--something I never thought I'd be able to say.
posted by immlass at 2:43 PM on March 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


You can't do that, Blue Meanie. Gremio is dead. Sweet, sweet Gremio.

You got me to log in just to say that the 108th star is totally attainable. You just have to make sure no one else dies until a certain point in the story.


I totally cried when I got my Gremio back, and I think we saved right beforehand so we could watch it over and over again. This pattern was repeated with FFX-2 and my 100% perfect ending there.

Totally not a geek, though. >.> I just play video games.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:10 PM on March 28, 2012


The Beer drinking unicorn is interesting because it has menace behind it.

I recopied that sentence just so I could sit here and savor it.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:36 PM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sparklelord is my favorite unicorn.
posted by TheKM at 8:23 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting, though, that your argument that a story about a talking, chess-playing unicorn is not dorky seems to center on traditionally male values and grizzledness. As if it's the rainbow girl taint that makes unicorns dorky. That seems to come up a lot in nerd hierarchies. Slash fiction is less than mainstream paranormal romance is less than epic fantasy is less than soft sci-fi is less than hard sci-fi is less than military hard sci-fi, and so on. The bottom of the ladder is incredibly tainted by girl cooties.

Yeah, well, that's because slash/ship fandom sucks, by and large. (Unless it's smut, or smut variant.) Because this. Having fun imagining Holmes and Watson are bumping uglies is one thing, but when you get these truly weird ideas about gay men (and men in general,) in your head, along with the bizarre concept that the characters are actually written to be in a gay relationship to each other.

It's a fandom not actually based on the material present. I find it bizarre that so many fangirls claim they love a TV show or character for something that it doesn't even have.

It's one thing when it's 13 year-olds girls into this kinda stuff, like for yaoi, sex with actual boys/men can be intimidating, and this can be a safe method to explore, but there are enough grown-ass woman who are *seriously* into slash/shipper stuff that it's kind of disturbing, who will seriously lose their shit that Harry and Ginny are in a relationship AND THAT IS NOT THE TRUE SHIP.

There is a reason why that kind of fandom is looked askance by a great many people, and it's not just "oh boys are sexist."
posted by Snyder at 12:51 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


On topic, the fake gek girl thing is something I've never seen, though I have often wondered about the diluting of the term (seriously, liking Batman at this point is not particularly geeky, what with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight being all huge box offices smashes and whatnot,) but in a gender neutral way.

I have seen the intense desire for male attention in geek circles, from women who I doubt anyone would accuse of being a fake geek. I've called it them Queen Bees, and I dunno if I picked it up somewhere. There was a lost of incestuous drama and serial dating/sleeping together. Often they were not conventionally attractive or appealing. Already into the subculture, they realize that it has a high male:female ratio, and seem to enjoy the sexual attention that comes with less "competition," especially from horny geek males.

I've seen a few geek females decide to garner as much male sexual attention as possible, consciously or subconsciously, but they definitely acted like the only game in town. In some ways, they had the attitude of the stereotypical alpha geek, that is to say loud, opinionated, obnoxious and overbearing to everyone who disagreed with them, (think Jack Black's character in the film version of High Fidelity,) but in a purely sexual realm. Instead of constantly reminding everyone how they knew more about geek minutiae than everyone else, they constantly reminded everyone about their sexual desires and would tend to only interact with males as it pertained to sex.

Now that I think about it, I have seen some male versions of this too, but it is a bit less commonplace, in my experience. It's tiresome in both cases.
posted by Snyder at 1:12 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a reason why that kind of fandom is looked askance by a great many people, and it's not just "oh boys are sexist."

But it doesn't entirely. Neither does paranormal romance. Neither does epic fantasy. But they aren't looked upon as positively by those in the SFF/geek world as genres predominantly written by men. Rattle off examples of writers who have done these genres well, and you're told they're exceptions. Do the same for some male-dominated mode of writing and it's the rule. There's got to be something going on when a genre is defined by its biggest weaknesses rather than its strengths, and I suspect sexism is one of them.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:29 AM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


In defense of shippers:

It's a fandom not actually based on the material present. I find it bizarre that so many fangirls claim they love a TV show or character for something that it doesn't even have.

Obviously there are some crazies, but in my experience the vast majority of the slash community is the smut/smut variant type.

And why is this so weird? First of all, not all slashers/shippers are literally insane people who will write Rowling hate mail over her making a pretty logical relationship choice. Second, the point is that they fall in love with certain characters (this is pretty common among any fans) and are interested in the interpersonal dynamics they can extrapolate in the environment of a fantasy world. And third, smut is just not as readily available to straight women as straight men, so part of the imagined-romance thing is the tailor-made erotic implications that are more appealing to a swath of straight female sexuality. (And include more variety than just Fabio-types.) Not that weird!

It's one thing when it's 13 year-olds girls into this kinda stuff, like for yaoi, sex with actual boys/men can be intimidating, and this can be a safe method to explore

I've always thought this was kind of a condescending bullshit explanation, when I started reading slash as a teen ("oh my god, porn made for me") it led directly into me searching out real-life sexual experience, which I soon discovered was awesome. I'm sure it works that way for some girls, but why can't adult women get hot and bothered imagining a man seducing another man? I still read Star Trek slash on occasion when I'm bored.


The elements of fetishism and misrepresentation are big problems, no doubt, but I don't really see people pathologizing guys who are into lesbian porn on such a personal level. Like, they're just dudes, not spinsters, apparently. But basically conflating normal shippers with the inappropriately weird is kind of strange and biased. (Also, I read a lot of slash in that teen phase, and I never assumed it resembled anything like real male feelings/gay male relationships. It was just hot.)
posted by stoneandstar at 10:13 PM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ontopic, another response from a female FSVO gamer:

The worst flavour of all of this is that it's another example of girls turning on girls, when there is enough of this kind of thing coming from (some, by no means all) guys. Until very recently, I worked part-time in a Gamestation store. I got a fair bit of clear stereotyping from some male customers, a bit of 'where are all the men?' and 'I remember when this shop was run by real gamers', but more often there was just a slight undercurrent of milder prejudice. That feeling you get when (as part of a normal conversation) you tell a guy you like a particular game, only to be quizzed and then dismissed when you admit you haven't heard of that one item, or secret location, or glitch, is demoralising and unnecessary.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:01 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


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