Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A celebration of geek girls in song
July 23, 2013 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Nothing to Prove (SLYT) The Doubleclicks rebut the "fake geek girl" meme in this awesome song.

The video includes a shot of MeFi's own John Scalzi, among several other supportive celebrities.
posted by Gelatin (138 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome!
posted by Captain_Science at 8:30 AM on July 23, 2013


Sent to Daughter ASAP... she might interrupt her Veronica Mars Marathon to watch it.
posted by mrgroweler at 8:33 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I liked that. Well done!
posted by cashman at 8:40 AM on July 23, 2013


+1 so much.
posted by odinsdream at 8:40 AM on July 23, 2013


Aubrey, on the left in the opening shot, the cellist, is a friend and former sometimes-bandmate of mine. Those two are fantastic and funny.
posted by cortex at 8:41 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Excellent.

I feel kind of sad that the only geek icons I recognized were men. Some of the women appeared likely to be famous geeks, but I couldn't tell you who any of them were, whereas I recognized all of the men shown. I am not sure if this is my failing, or someone else's, but it's unfortunate.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:41 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is that Adam Savage at 2:04? (This is awesome, BTW.)

Just saw the credits; it was!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:42 AM on July 23, 2013


@ZenMasterThis: Yes, it is.

I agree, jacquilynne. I mentioned Scalzi after the jump because I didn't want the FPP to focus on a well-known male writer when *everybody* in that video is awesome, and there are so many more awesome women in it than men.
posted by Gelatin at 8:45 AM on July 23, 2013


So this is a thing? Cuz I don't remember my interest in Live Role Playing, comic books or Sci Fi being challenged because of my gender at any point.
posted by Gwynarra at 8:48 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


BUT BUT HOW CAN THEY HAVE THOSE BOOBS AND VAGINA I DESIRE SOOOOO MUCH BUT BE ANYTHING LIKE ME?!?!? HOW?!
posted by basicchannel at 8:48 AM on July 23, 2013


So this is a thing?

Sadly, yes.
posted by Gelatin at 8:53 AM on July 23, 2013


So this is a thing? Cuz I don't remember my interest in Live Role Playing, comic books or Sci Fi being challenged because of my gender at any point.

It is extremely a thing; happily it's not a universally a thing, chance and circumstance and the people you get your nerd on around will make a big difference. It is great that you didn't have to deal with it, so, high-five for good outcomes in your experience. Lots of other women have not been as lucky there, unfortunately.
posted by cortex at 8:55 AM on July 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm face blind, so I didn't recognise any of the geek celebrities. But I really liked the little girl whose sign just said 'buuuugs!' and had a diagram of the butterfly life cycle. She rocks.
posted by Dreadnought at 8:55 AM on July 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Weeping at my desk.

Double plus good. Would watch again.
posted by blurker at 8:56 AM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Aw, this is great. MY PEOPLE!
posted by Catseye at 8:57 AM on July 23, 2013


So this is a thing? Cuz I don't remember my interest in Live Role Playing, comic books or Sci Fi being challenged because of my gender at any point.

Previously.

And yes, this kind of odious misogynist gatechecking (shit, this isn't the term I'm looking for but the right term has slipped my mind, help?) has been rampant since pretty much forever.
posted by kmz at 8:57 AM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


So this is a thing? Cuz I don't remember my interest in Live Role Playing, comic books or Sci Fi being challenged because of my gender at any point.

Yes unfortunately it is. If you haven't experienced anything like this that's fabulous. I'm 40 and have been geeky my whole life. A gamer and roleplaying type geek. I have so many stories about the sort of crap referred to in the video.

The cool thing is, it has changed a lot for the better. Many of the women in this video are younger and kids. It actually made me tear up a bit remembering what it was like at a young age.
posted by Jalliah at 9:00 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


gatechecking (shit, this isn't the term I'm looking for but the right term has slipped my mind, help?)

Gatekeeping?
posted by cashman at 9:01 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes! That's it.
posted by kmz at 9:03 AM on July 23, 2013


So this is a thing? Cuz I don't remember my interest in Live Role Playing, comic books or Sci Fi being challenged because of my gender at any point.

Yep. Browsing my local computer game stores is an exercise in being patronized
posted by Phalene at 9:04 AM on July 23, 2013


Yep. Browsing my local computer game stores is an exercise in being patronized

Local computer game stores? I'm so glad you've reached us from 1995, but I regret to say that things haven't improved much in the intervening years.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:09 AM on July 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yep. Browsing my local computer game stores is an exercise in being patronized

Ha. Now that I'm older I treat going into one as game. Now lets see if I freak people (guys) out this time. The funniest ones are the well meaning young guys who assume I'm looking for something as a gift or for my kids. The look of confusion when I launch into a detailed conversation about particular games or ask informed questions is priceless at times.
posted by Jalliah at 9:12 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jacquilynne:

Some of the very accomplished women in that video (aside from The Doubleclicks themselves) are Amy Berg, Marian Call and Kelly Sue DeConnick.
posted by jscalzi at 9:14 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Local computer game stores? I'm so glad you've reached us from 1995, but I regret to say that things haven't improved much in the intervening years.

GameStop Corp FAQ circa 2013 says:
GameStop has 6,614 stores in operation, of which 4,434 are located in the United States, 343 in Canada, 413 in Australia/New Zealand and 1,424 are in Europe. Our stores operate primarily under the names of GameStop and EB Games. Our stores sell new and used video game software, hardware and accessories for video game systems from Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft. In addition, the company sells PC entertainment software, related accessories and other merchandise.

I'm face blind, so I didn't recognise any of the geek celebrities. But I really liked the little girl whose sign just said 'buuuugs!' and had a diagram of the butterfly life cycle. She rocks.

Is there such a thing as name blindness? Because I can recognize and remember faces from my toddlerhood on, but have a really hard time remembering names.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:15 AM on July 23, 2013


Because I can recognize and remember faces from my toddlerhood on, but have a really hard time remembering names.

I call that "I've been smoking marijuana."
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:18 AM on July 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


I can only assume Bulgaroktonos is trying to harp on "local" excluding GameStop (though it doesn't really), because otherwise his comment makes no sense whatsoever.
posted by kmz at 9:19 AM on July 23, 2013


Phalene: “Yep. Browsing my local computer game stores is an exercise in being patronized”

Bulgaroktonos: “Local computer game stores? I'm so glad you've reached us from 1995, but I regret to say that things haven't improved much in the intervening years.”

Yeah, geez. If we want to be patronized now, we just go to Metafilter. It's so much easier than having to go to a store.
posted by koeselitz at 9:20 AM on July 23, 2013 [23 favorites]


No, Gamestop doesn't count because it's not really a computer game store; it's a console game store. It's also not really "local" in the sense that term is usually used. It was also first and foremost a joke that wasn't intended to patronize anyone.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:22 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Sorry, Bulgaroktonos. I think I read tone into your comment that totally wasn't there.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:25 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was also first and foremost a joke that wasn't intended to patronize anyone.

I am such a nerd.

And the video is awesome by the way -- to be immediately sent to my geeky women friends. And the geeky men too.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:30 AM on July 23, 2013


Was not expecting this to make me cry. This is why I love the internet, despite all its (numerous) warts.
posted by ashirys at 9:34 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My daughter and son are both dorks, just like their dad. We don't read comics or go to cons, we just dance and sing around the house like a pack of idiots. Do we get a song?

(oh wait we can write our own never mind)
posted by davejay at 9:44 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I started playing D&D (and RPGs in general) back in middle school, we always had a slight majority in the number of girls in our troupe vs. guys. I'm really glad we never had much of an issue with jerky attitudes.

Now, at 32, it's looking pretty likely that I'll soon be getting out the books and running a tabletop game for a bunch of ~13 year old girls.

Love this video. Excluding people sucks.
posted by mrgoat at 9:49 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


@davejay: The song isn't just for people who read comics or go to cons. As someone pointed out upthread, the video has a shot of an adorable little girl who celebrates her love of bugs. There are scientists and writers and video game players and everything.

As a wise person put it, being a geek isn't about what you love, it's about how you love it.
posted by Gelatin at 9:56 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Do we get a song?

there's specifically a woman in the song who says she's a geek and has never been to cons - i'm in the same boat. if you and your kids are being bullied out of spaces where y'all are just trying to have a good time dancing around and there are specific gender based attacks associated it with it, then this song is for you! otherwise, i'm sure you guys will make your own delightful song.
posted by nadawi at 9:58 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it annoying that, "people don't take me seriously, I'm a scientist, not a secretary!" and "I owned 200 video games before I met my boyfriend!" are classified in the same category.

Sure, sexism is sexism, but it's hard for me to take seriously any "culture" that's based entirely around playing make-believe. Whether this is through playing video games or dressing up as fictional characters from TV, none of it is real.

And then they throw in a slide of a woman who *programs particle accelerators*. She's turing sci-fi into reality, people! What puts her in the same category as someone who "still likes MMORPGs"?

I guess I view "geeks" as portrayed in the majority of this video a lot like rabid sports fans. They watch every game and show up to cheer all dressed in team regalia, which is fine and I'm sure they have fun, but really they make no difference. The people that everyone wants to see, who are creating the stories that people will recount for years, are the players. But in "geek culture" the actual players are almost an afterthought.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:58 AM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


it's hard for me to take seriously any "culture" that's based entirely around playing make-believe. Whether this is through playing video games or dressing up as fictional characters from TV, none of it is real.

Neither is fiction, and that's a pretty darn major part of culture.
posted by Gelatin at 10:01 AM on July 23, 2013 [19 favorites]


Besides, playing make-believe is pretty much called "life".
posted by cashman at 10:01 AM on July 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


What puts her in the same category as someone who "still likes MMORPGs"?

Both of them have nothing to prove.
posted by Gelatin at 10:02 AM on July 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


tylerkaraszewski - At least some of the women in there were artists and writers and designers, and suffer employment discrimination, just along with the scientists.

I mean, they make their money off make believe, but nothing wrong with that.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:02 AM on July 23, 2013


This thread totally needed a software engineer dude telling us who the real geeks are.
posted by bleep-blop at 10:03 AM on July 23, 2013 [35 favorites]


She's turing sci-fi into reality, people! What puts her in the same category as someone who "still likes MMORPGs"?

i dunno - a lot of the guys i grew up with who went on to stem careers were the video game playing, make-believe, rpg group going, turning cordless phones into head sets so they could repel down their house while still discussing math class, nerds. there's a reason why people who work at nasa site star trek as an influence. we dream about the near future and some people take those dreams and go create it. accepting that women like this same sort of make believe, and not shoving them out of those spaces, might result in more women scientists and engineers.
posted by nadawi at 10:03 AM on July 23, 2013 [19 favorites]


This thread totally needed a software engineer dude telling us who the real geeks are.

Lewis's Law in action.
posted by jedicus at 10:06 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, sexism is sexism, but it's hard for me to take seriously any "culture" that's based entirely around playing make-believe.

"Make-believe" can empower someone who is in a disempowered or disenfranchised situation, which is as real as it gets.

All of the women in the video are treated similarly for being female in male-dominated cultures. Being dismissive about their expression is exactly what they're talking about.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:06 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


oh - and if anyone missed it - kelly sue deconnick discusses a tangential issue.
but here’s the pickle: people deny that this happens. We’re told that the insults to our dignity working women face are in our imagination, that it’s a thing of sexy Mad Men past. It’s WOMEN who make this a thing, right? (Hysterical, don’t you know.) We’re to the point where I meet young women who won’t identify as feminists because the struggle is over and it’s only a thing if you make it one.

Bullshit.

It’s not a natural assumption to leap to the conclusion that I got my job because of my marriage. It’s the product of deeply-ingrained sexist thinking. I can name for you a half a dozen men who did, in fact, get their first big two gigs because of who they knew and their dignity and their qualifications have never been called into question. I’m lucky if I go a week.
posted by nadawi at 10:08 AM on July 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's really very fascinating (and horrible) that geeks as a whole used to get so much intense grief and bullying from non-geeks. And now that the outside world has largely celebrated them, catered to them, or left them alone, all the intense grief and bullying is coming from other geeks who are exactly like you in their geekdom. THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE. This is a particularly misogynist-flavored part of a larger trend of geeks (and I'm talking about the bad geeks, not the good geeks like you, sweet mefites) turning ugly, vindictive, weirdly judgmental and scene-policing, etc. etc. Maybe it's always been that way and it's only more obvious now. But it's pretty unsettling.
posted by naju at 10:09 AM on July 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


oh motherfuck that typo is going to haunt me. cite! cite! not site.
posted by nadawi at 10:10 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


First let me say, fantastic video.

I have a friend who's an avid table-top gamer and con-goer. The guy is smart, classically handsome, and ridiculously charismatic—the kind of person you want to hate for his overabundance of natural gifts but can't because he's such a damn great guy. So this fella's girlfriend is a gorgeous blonde, 6'0 tall, with comic-book proportions and, prior to meeting him, no discernible geek affinities or affiliations. Still, she's supportive of and genuinely curious about his geeky hobbies and is excited to accompany him this year to her first ever convention.

At a party recently, where 90% of the female attendees were die-hard geeks, my friend's girlfriend was met with suspicion and derision as she talked excitedly about the costume she was preparing for the con.

I can't help but think of that every time I see one of these posts.
posted by echocollate at 10:10 AM on July 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


And then they throw in a slide of a woman who *programs particle accelerators*. She's turing sci-fi into reality, people! What puts her in the same category as someone who "still likes MMORPGs"?

Bobak Ferdowsi, aka "Mohawk Guy" from the NASA Curiosity team, helped land a robot on another planet using frickin' laser beams, and was also a fixture at SDCC this year, complete with Star Trek officer cosplay. I'm pretty sure he's excited about both, so why should anyone else be different?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:10 AM on July 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


zombieflanders - ha! bobak was one of the people i was specifically thinking of in my comment.
posted by nadawi at 10:12 AM on July 23, 2013


i dunno - a lot of the guys i grew up with who went on to stem careers were the video game playing, make-believe, rpg group going, turning cordless phones into head sets so they could repel down their house while still discussing math class, nerds. there's a reason why people who work at nasa site star trek as an influence.

Yes, fine, and Adam Savage, who appears in this video, is known for having some of the most elaborate costumes annually at comic-con, but he's known a lot *more* for spending a whole lot of time doing pop science for the benefit and entertainment of millions of people besides himself.

I'm not down on sci-fi or video games or dressing up in costumes as an entertainment medium, I'm down on it being equated with doing the real equivalents of the things depicted in the fiction.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:13 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bobak Ferdowsi, aka "Mohawk Guy" from the NASA Curiosity team, helped land a robot on another planet using frickin' laser beams, and was also a fixture at SDCC this year, complete with Star Trek officer cosplay. I'm pretty sure he's excited about both, so why should anyone else be different?

He also appeared on an episode of Tabletop, Wil Wheaton's Web video series about gaming, along with (MeFi's own!) John Scalzi and the drummer for The Presidents of the United States of America.

I mean, come on!
posted by Gelatin at 10:13 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not down on sci-fi or video games or dressing up in costumes as an entertainment medium, I'm down on it being equated with doing the real equivalents of the things depicted in the fiction.

Whether or not they're making any money from it or what they accomplish (whatever that's supposed to mean?), the women featured are really getting shit for being interested in the stuff they're interested in. In the real world. And that's the part that sucks.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:16 AM on July 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


Adam Savage, who appears in this video, is known for having some of the most elaborate costumes annually at comic-con, but he's known a lot *more* for spending a whole lot of time doing pop science for the benefit and entertainment of millions of people besides himself.

And before that he was known for creating special effects for science fiction movies.
posted by Gelatin at 10:18 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm down on it being equated with doing the real equivalents of the things depicted in the fiction.

where do you land on the girl who like bugs? should she be ashamed to have not accomplished anything real yet?
posted by nadawi at 10:19 AM on July 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm not down on sci-fi or video games or dressing up in costumes as an entertainment medium, I'm down on it being equated with doing the real equivalents of the things depicted in the fiction.

You seemed to have missed the entire point of this video, and indeed the whole pushback on the "fake geek girl" nonsense. These are people talking about doing what makes them happy, not what someone else thinks they have accomplished or contributes to society, and getting questioned on it every time they try to do it. It doesn't matter if it's writing comics or dressing up as their favorite character or smashing particles in a multibillion dollar machine.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:20 AM on July 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


My son gets an earful if he ever makes the mistake of calling something a "boys game." I guess it's working. In preschool the other day, his best friend was playing superheroes with him and a kid came up and told her she couldn't play action figures because she was a girl. My son apparently said plainly, "She can too play action figures, she's doing it right now."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:20 AM on July 23, 2013 [37 favorites]


As someone who's achieved slightly more than half of her projected lifespan, can I be a geek woman?

Gwynarra: "So this is a thing? Cuz I don't remember my interest in Live Role Playing, comic books or Sci Fi being challenged because of my gender at any point."

Oh yes. I used to get very fussy about having a GM's badge at RPG conventions because even with one, with the game books and pregenerated characters in front of me, I'd have people come to my table, sit down, and wonder when the GM was going to get there. I'll note that the Live Action side of roleplaying is generally less of a boy's club than tabletop.

This has gotten better over the years, partially because the demographics really are getting more even (which is why the backlash now) and partially because I look older, which seems to trigger less skepticism. I am waiting, though, now that I'm not assumed to be someone's girlfriend, when I'm going to be assumed to be someone's mom.

tylerkaraszewski: "Sure, sexism is sexism, but it's hard for me to take seriously any "culture" that's based entirely around playing make-believe. "

I have a hard time taking seriously any culture that revolves around adult men manipulating a ball, yet my country still shuts itself down every Superbowl Sunday. It's a subculture, and it's no less serious than most other subcultures.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:22 AM on July 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


I'm not down on sci-fi or video games or dressing up in costumes as an entertainment medium, I'm down on it being equated with doing the real equivalents of the things depicted in the fiction.

Thing is you're missing the connection. Some examples of specific people have been mentioned here. In my life experience there is a correlation with the entertainment expressions of geek culture and people into it doing the 'real' thing.

A good many of the geeky women I've known who are into these sorts of fun entertainment fandoms are also interested in or pursuing the 'real' thing.

Without trying to stereotype too much I've found it just more likely to find D&D players in science milleu and gamers in computer/technical fields then others. At least that's what I've found.

I went back to University after 30 and joined in with a larp group. Every single one of them, the few females included were in computer science. I was the outsider taking liberal arts. The rarity.

These sorts of cultures just seem to mesh.
posted by Jalliah at 10:23 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not down on sci-fi or video games or dressing up in costumes as an entertainment medium, I'm down on it being equated with doing the real equivalents of the things depicted in the fiction.

Perhaps you missed the part about the song being about not having anything to prove to anyone to be able to be a part of geek culture?

It's funny, because this concept came up in another thread recently, but to mangle what might be a quote from someone famous: the inclusion of exceptional women does very little for the case of equality. It's the inclusion of mediocre women that is necessary for real equality.

The takeaway from seeing an accomplished scientist in the video shouldn't be "well OK, I guess she can be a geek then". Men from all walks of life (and all levels of accomplishment) can step right into geek culture, and nobody will ever tell them they're faking it, or they need to prove themselves to be allowed in. The same should be true for women as well.
posted by tocts at 10:23 AM on July 23, 2013 [20 favorites]


I'm not down on sci-fi or video games or dressing up in costumes as an entertainment medium, I'm down on it being equated with doing the real equivalents of the things depicted in the fiction.

Luckily, as the video mentions, they don't need your fucking approval.

I may have added a word.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:25 AM on July 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's the inclusion of mediocre women that is necessary for real equality.

Yep. I tend to mentally categorize myself as Not a Geek because, although I like a bunch of geeky things, I often feel pressure to be more dedicated to them if I want to be a "real" fan. So I've tended to preemptively exclude myself from fandom before anyone can judge me and find me lacking.

I'm a casual fan of a lot of things. I happen to be female. This does not make me a Fake Geek Girl; it makes me a regular person with a wide range of interests. It may or may not make me a geek, but who cares? I should be able to enjoy Star Trek without having a strongly reasoned preference for Kirk or Picard. I should be able to love a video game without getting 100% completion, or even beating it for that matter. And I should be able to do that without being accused of faking interest for the attention. I'm fortunate that I haven't had to deal with that sort of accusation, but I can't help but think it's at least partly because of my voluntary withdrawal from geek culture.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:35 AM on July 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


I guess do what you want. I might find dressing up as Storm a lot less impressive than building the Hubble telescope but you can tell me you really don't care what I think and I should fuck off. Fair enough.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:43 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meetings are finally done for the morning so I got to watch this and it is awesome. Made me laugh a lot and cry a little.

/only a month till hawkwatch season starts!
posted by rtha at 10:45 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm so excited this is finally out to the public with the video!

I'm working on a project that is... um.... a lot like this song and The Doubleclicks' whole oeuvre, and I got to listen to it early for... reasons.

So yay, glad I can openly share it with other people now!

I tend to mentally categorize myself as Not a Geek because, although I like a bunch of geeky things, I often feel pressure to be more dedicated to them if I want to be a "real" fan.

Me too, and now that I'm working on a project about Geek Girl culture and the "Fake Geek Girl" phenomenon, I'm extremely worried that I'm going to get outed as Not A Real Geek.

Which is soooooooo fucked up.

Especially when I talk to the cast of my project and they're like, "It's lightSABER, right, not lightSAVER?" Then I realize, oh, I'm a geek, alright.
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 AM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I might find dressing up as Storm a lot less impressive than building the Hubble telescope

The point is, the person dressing up as Storm could be the very same person building the Hubble. Or, if she is shamed and gatechecked out of geek culture, she might see a male-dominated STEM class and think "ugh, they're not gonna accept me either" and give up and go on to get that Communications degree instead.
posted by misskaz at 10:48 AM on July 23, 2013 [26 favorites]


I guess do what you want

* wipes tear *

Your generosity will never be forgotten.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:54 AM on July 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


The point is, the person dressing up as Storm could be the very same person building the Hubble. Or, if she is shamed and gatechecked out of geek culture, she might see a male-dominated STEM class and think "ugh, they're not gonna accept me either" and give up and go on to get that Communications degree instead.

I realized I wasn't making an argument, but simply expressing my opinion. I never meant to imply anything like "she shouldn't be just as accepted dressing up as one of the x-men as any man would be". My whole "point", if you can call it that, was that I don't take dressing up as x-men seriously (regardless of the gender of the person doing it). I don't. But like I said in my last post, you are all free to ignore my opinion and there is no particular reason you should care about it.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:58 AM on July 23, 2013


Your opinion is not so much ignored as riddled with bullet holes and set on fire.
posted by bleep-blop at 11:00 AM on July 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


My whole "point", if you can call it that, was that I don't take dressing up as x-men seriously (regardless of the gender of the person doing it).

And the whole point of the video is that the people who enjoy $ACTIVITY, be it comic books or astronomy, don't need your approval to enjoy it.
posted by Gelatin at 11:04 AM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


And the whole point of the video is that the people who enjoy $ACTIVITY, be it comic books or astronomy, don't need your approval to enjoy it.

Which I conceded.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:06 AM on July 23, 2013


I have a friend who's an avid table-top gamer and con-goer. The guy is smart, classically handsome, and ridiculously charismatic—the kind of person you want to hate for his overabundance of natural gifts but can't because he's such a damn great guy. So this fella's girlfriend is a gorgeous blonde, 6'0 tall, with comic-book proportions and, prior to meeting him, no discernible geek affinities or affiliations. Still, she's supportive of and genuinely curious about his geeky hobbies and is excited to accompany him this year to her first ever convention.

At a party recently, where 90% of the female attendees were die-hard geeks, my friend's girlfriend was met with suspicion and derision as she talked excitedly about the costume she was preparing for the con.


One of the things you might be missing is that there’s a chance that a lot of these women have been asked repeatedly if they’re attending a geeky event or watching something or showing an interest in something is if they’re husband/boyfriend is with them, or has the same interests as them. It can be whether they’re attending a con, it can be wanting to go to a lecture, it can be how they got their job (see Kelly Sue).

What the guys are really asking is if their male significant other is the only reason why they’re there – if so, that means that the women in question are not really interested, they don’t know what they’re talking about or are just being polite, and therefore not worthy of consideration or to be ‘real’ geek. The possibility that the person might have a boyfriend but would have been interested in the subject or gotten the job or made that cosplay outfit without them? Not really considered a possibility.

So, what’s happening is that these women are being confronted with someone who is someone they’re always being accused of being, and have probably at some point had to struggle to show that they aren't – a woman who is here because of her boyfriend. And look, there’s nothing wrong with that, or getting into a new hobby or interest because of a significant other - I’d never have had any interest in the history of stage magicians if it hadn’t been for my boyfriend, and he hadn’t heard of the SCP wiki before me. But it can be super hard to internalize after years of being told X is bad, are you X? over and over again, that being X is actually just fine.

See: All of the panels that I've attended over the years about women in geek culture called ‘I’m not here with my boyfriend’. They mean well, but so what if you are?

Though if the fake geek girl thing would just die in a fire, that would solve your friend’s girlfriend’s problem, too. It’s just another symptom.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:07 AM on July 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I tend to mentally categorize myself as Not a Geek because, although I like a bunch of geeky things, I often feel pressure to be more dedicated to them if I want to be a "real" fan.

My experience is that to some extent, the way people fan things can be a bit gendered. I'm trying really hard not to speak in absolutes here, because I know people who fall outside the gender roles I'm about to describe, but I've observed it as a bit of a pattern.

I think many male geeks relate to their fandoms in a very knowledge/fact collecting sort of way, much like, say, male sports fan collect stats about who won the batting title in 1956 and how many RBIs the lead-off hitter of their favorite team has this season. They know all the starship classes, even the ones that never appear on-screen, and which episodes were on what stardate and why the stardates aren't in proper order.

At the same time, I find that many female fans don't relate to their fandoms in that same knowledge collecting sort of way. It's not that they are unknowledgable about the things they like, but their knowledge is less listy and encylopedic.

Sometimes in geek circles NOT having that listy, encyclopedic knowledge makes it very hard to be part of the conversation. You mistake a Defiant class starship for an Intrepid class starship and suddenly everyone assumes you can't possibly know anything at all. You might *like* Star Trek every bit as much as the male geek standing next to you and feel the same giddy excitement at the prospect of meeting Patrick Stewart or William Shatner or Kate Mulgrew, you might even have a more nuanced understanding of the series long arc of the character relationships than he does, but because you don't like it in the same way as men do, you may not be welcomed into the fold.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:08 AM on July 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


My reaction: big smiles, then shrieking laughter and the Batman bit, and then unexpectedly bursting into tears. This is wonderful.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:08 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


i'm so glad i'm not the only one who found myself suddenly tearing up while laughing.
posted by nadawi at 11:26 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the girl who wants to be an astronaut. Even if she doesn't get there, she'll live a more interesting life for trying.
posted by jb at 11:27 AM on July 23, 2013


Sometimes in geek circles NOT having that listy, encyclopedic knowledge makes it very hard to be part of the conversation.

I find this to be very true in my hipster vinyl-collecting music circles as well. I really like music, and finding new bands, and I spend a good amount of money buying LPs and going to shows. But the dudes are always like "This band's bass player also played on this one recording of that band's album" or "I can't believe you don't know about this lead singer's side project that only put out one 7-inch in 1989" or whatever. I generally downplay my interest in music for fear of sounding like a fake or poser when quizzed because I just don't pay that much attention to those particular details. And the quizzing feels very gendered to me as well - it's not that they necessarily are trying to be gatekeepers, but at the same time I can practically see a coolness meter next to my head as I'm being judged for this stuff. Wow, this GIRL knows everything about every member of Broken Social Scene? Be still my heart, it's my very own manic pixie dream girl. Personally, I may know every word to every song on an album but not even know the names of the people in the band.

The sad thing is I'm 37 and way too old to be caught up in how cool other people think I am. I am better at fighting it internally now, but still hate that it exists.
posted by misskaz at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


i'm so glad i'm not the only one who found myself suddenly tearing up while laughing.

I can say without fear of contradiction that you were not the only one.
posted by Gelatin at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, what’s happening is that these women are being confronted with someone who is someone they’re always being accused of being, and have probably at some point had to struggle to show that they aren't – a woman who is here because of her boyfriend. And look, there’s nothing wrong with that, or getting into a new hobby or interest because of a significant other - I’d never have had any interest in the history of stage magicians if it hadn’t been for my boyfriend, and he hadn’t heard of the SCP wiki before me. But it can be super hard to internalize after years of being told X is bad, are you X? over and over again, that being X is actually just fine.

Yea, you could be right, and I can empathize with that position but I can't sympathize with that behavior.
posted by echocollate at 11:48 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


See: All of the panels that I've attended over the years about women in geek culture called ‘I’m not here with my boyfriend’. They mean well, but so what if you are?

Yes, this, a thousand times. It is so weird and so wrong that I don't like telling people how I discovered Linux and the free/open source software community--my boyfriend at the time built my first computer and talked me into letting him put Linux on it. Before that I'd barely used a computer outside enforced computer lab time at school, but I quickly fell in love with the possibilities of computers and the Internet and became passionate about free/open source and have gone on to do some pretty neat things with online educational outreach and have provided a lot of support for the FOSS community. How I got there shouldn't matter, and neither should it matter that yes, often times I am at the Linux Expo or FOSS dinner with my boyfriend. That's us over there in the corner arguing good-naturedly about GPLv3.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:48 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, hell, I feel like an impostor just writing that comment above because I don't code or engineer networks and after a few CS classes realized I simply didn't want to. It sucks so much that women have to try so extra-hard to excel and be amazing in order to be taken seriously in tech and geekdom, and while I am blown away every day by the women I know who do excel (there are so many!), there's not really a good space for those of us who want to share and support the things we're passionate about without teaching ourselves to code or build networks or robots or write video games or comic books.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:58 AM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and more recently, GenCon started a "spouse activities" programming track. You might think they'd get credit for "spouse" instead of "wife/girlfriend" except that (a) they pretty clearly just wanted to be able to abbreviate it SPA and (b) they made the icon for those events a ball and chain. Seriously. A ball and chain. (After a couple of years of people complaining about the icon, they made the icon you'll see on the page now.)
posted by Karmakaze at 11:59 AM on July 23, 2013


Very awesome and very much needed but...

I was very sad til about 2:39. Because before I clicked on the link, my thought was, "I know they mean well, but I get the feeling this video is only going to feature white and Asian girls and women."

The song was basically halfway over before that fear was dispelled. Progress is good, but, as always, there's still more progress that needs to be made.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:01 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


+1 for pretty much outright weeping while cackling heartily. This is awesome, heartbreaking, and necessary.

Like misskaz, I run in hipster vinyl-collecting music circles, although I have always methodically developed an encyclopedic knowledge of most of my favorite artists. Unfortunately, any attempt to pitch in with my $0.02 in a conversation among male music geeks is often met with a chorus of incorrect/misguided "well, actually..."-style pseudo-clarifications, a good old-fashioned game of 20 (or 40, or 60) questions or, worst of all, conferment of the title of MPDG.
How many men have said, "Wow, girls like [band]?!" or "Did your boyfriend introduce you to them?" TNTC. Or when I deign to bring a dude home: "Wow, I've never met a girl who has so many records!" Tee-hee! My ability to really, really like stuff must have been unwittingly compromised in a wash of estrogen, perfume, and shopping bags!

Something like ten thousand years ago, I was briefly interviewed by a cohort of David Letterman as part of a feature his show was running on my then-favorite band. Although I had flown thousands of miles to be at the show, and was very clearly a bona fide fanatic fully independent of any gendered or sexual aspect, the very first question I was asked when the camera started rolling was "Would you sleep with [lead singer]?" This was for television, mind, and the interviewer only Went There after I signed the release form.
Naturally, that question was the only footage of me they chose to air. I managed to play it off quite wryly, which got a lot of laughs from the studio audience, but it made me feel sick in the pit of my stomach -- my rabid fandom was so quickly reduced to opining on whether I wanted to bang a dude in the band. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Because ladies, amirite?

I own more records and attend more shows than any man I've ever met in my life. I have traveled all over the world to see bands and regularly spend more buying music than I do buying food. I've met hundreds of other women all over the world who feel the same way. We are a thousand shades of geek. And dudes, we are not your goddamned manic pixie dream girl.
posted by divined by radio at 12:03 PM on July 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


Oh, and more recently, GenCon started a "spouse activities" programming track. You might think they'd get credit for "spouse" instead of "wife/girlfriend" except that (a) they pretty clearly just wanted to be able to abbreviate it SPA and (b) they made the icon for those events a ball and chain

And all the people in the pictures are women, and they are all knitting and doing yoga/meditating. WTF.
posted by mrgoat at 12:11 PM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


And all the people in the pictures are women, and they are all knitting and doing yoga/meditating. WTF.

This is even more confusing to me because most of the knitters I know are giant fucking nerds.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:33 PM on July 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


tylerkaraszewski, thank you for providing me the best example yet for my theory that nerd hierarchies are heavily rooted in Productivity! (Basically, it seems that one of the key components in nerd self-loathing and geek hierarchies is how 'productive' we are. That automatically denigrates any kind fun for its own sake, and tends to elevate those people and hobbies that best mesh with the capitalist system.)
posted by jiawen at 12:37 PM on July 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


thank you for providing me the best example yet for my theory that nerd hierarchies are heavily rooted in Productivity!

There's something to this, but I'm not sure it's really a geek/nerd thing. You could go find any random person who's watching Desperate Housewives or whatever non-nerdy TV show, and ask them, "Is there something else you *should* be doing right now?" and they'd probably have a list of "productive" things they'll tell you they're neglecting.

I think what your hinting at about nerds or geeks might really be more about difficulty than productivity, and then, especially a certain kind of intellectual difficulty. This might be why: con-attendee dressed as spock < Gene Roddenberry < Stephen Hawking. Wearing a costume is less intellectually challenging than writing a sci-fi show is less intellectually challenging than theoretical physics. It's also why, although video games (especially certain ones) have geek credibility, gaming as a hobby probably doesn't rank as high on the geek scale as building robots or writing software. The latter are generally more intellectually challenging. Thus video games are sort of a geeky frivolity compared to say, building an autonomous model helicopter. Even if the second one isn't "productive" in a "I can sell this for money" sort of way.

I am basing this hierarchy largely on my own perceptions.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:25 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wearing a costume is less intellectually challenging than writing a sci-fi show is less intellectually challenging than theoretical physics

You realize that most cosplayers make their own costumes, right? Creating a costume based on an original that doesn't necessarily have to obey the laws of anatomy or physics is pretty damn hard, and can be an intellectual challenge. Not to mention creating designs based off of existing characters with some changes (Steampunk versions of characters, Disney characters as superheroes, ect).

Cosplayers work harder at their costumes than I do at my job, is what I’m saying.

(But even if they didn't, they don’t deserve to get shit for liking something. Nobody deserves that! There’s no cutoff line for you must be this geeky to talk about star trek in public! I’m just miffed to see cosplayers relegated to a less difficult role because reasons)
posted by dinty_moore at 1:33 PM on July 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


This notion that All Your Time should be spent doing something Productive (you should get paid, you should be contributing something important to society, etc.), and that any sign that you have not been the correct kind of productive should be denigrated, is poisonous and needs to die.
posted by rtha at 1:38 PM on July 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


To be clear, I don't think the geek hierarchy (geek scale, whatever) should exist. Geekiness is cool, regardless of type.
posted by jiawen at 1:40 PM on July 23, 2013


You realize that most cosplayers make their own costumes, right? Creating a costume based on an original that doesn't necessarily have to obey the laws of anatomy or physics is pretty damn hard, and can be an intellectual challenge. Not to mention creating designs based off of existing characters with some changes (Steampunk versions of characters, Disney characters as superheroes, ect).

1) I apologize for my initial couple posts in this thread. I shouldn't have thrown out my own opinion just because I felt like stating it.

2) I realize that cosplayers mostly make their own costumes. I realize this is not trivial work, especially in the most impressive cases (though, ironically, most of the work for that costume was hired out to professionals).

3) I still think personally (which is why in my last post i said "I am basing this hierarchy largely on my own perceptions"), that I, or most people, could learn enough to make something to wear to comic-con and look decent with a lot less mental exercise than if I were to want to engage Stephen Hawking intelligently in a discussion on physics, or take a TV show from concept to cult favorite.

Also I'm just presenting a theory here to refine jiawen's theory. I'm not making a value judgement on this sort of hierarchy, or even trying to decide how prevalent such a perception of hierarchy is.

Geekiness is cool

I sort of respectfully disagree. "Geekiness" is enormously broad and "cool" is enormously personal and there is plenty of opportunity for the two concepts not to overlap.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 1:45 PM on July 23, 2013


This video is really cute! Thanks for posting - also, thanks for whoever linked to the women in the video; I feel bad I didn't know who most of them were either. I have quite a few friendsd who have sad stories about not being welcomed at various geek/nerd events and shops. This comment gave me pause:

Or, if she is shamed and gatechecked out of geek culture, she might see a male-dominated STEM class and think "ugh, they're not gonna accept me either" and give up and go on to get that Communications degree instead.

I really wish geek culture and STEM were disassociated. As a lady scientist who is not interested in comic books, science fiction, tabletop games, or video games, graduate school was a very lonely time. There were few women in my program and even fewer people who would accept someone as smart and worthwhile to hang out with if they were not into geek culture. I work in industry now, so it's a bit better. But, social situations are still tricky. I still meet people who think they know more than me about the topic in which I am currently a researcher (and they are very much not) because I mentioned earlier that one of my favorite shows is Project Runway and I'm not that into gaming. I keep waiting for geek culture to wane. I know it's not right, but because of this lack of respect, I occasionally feel a bit like tylerkaraszewski's hierarchy in that I'm more of a "real nerd" because I put my brain where my mouth is and got a career in the hard sciences -- much more so than "fake nerds" who just read about it. The latter is, of course, not true. Because, honestly, I'm just not part of today's geek subculture, and that's fine, but it would be even more fine if people didn't think STEM iff geek.
posted by bluefly at 1:54 PM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wearing a costume is less intellectually challenging than writing a sci-fi show

Hahahlol. I'm procrastinating on finishing the shot list for the geeky web series I start shooting Saturday (which I also wrote). And yet I can't entirely wrap my brain around how difficult it is to do cosplay well.

I suppose anyone can just buy a Star Trek uniform shirt and call it a day, but the people who actually dress as specific characters? I'm sorry, but I am WAY below them on the geek hierarchy.
posted by Sara C. at 1:59 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


My whole "point", if you can call it that, was that I don't take dressing up as x-men seriously (regardless of the gender of the person doing it).

And this has what fuckall to do with the video and the post?
posted by kmz at 1:59 PM on July 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


that I, or most people, could learn enough to make something to wear to comic-con and look decent with a lot less mental exercise than if I were to want to engage Stephen Hawking intelligently in a discussion on physics, or take a TV show from concept to cult favorite

But come on - you're not really saying that unless an endeavor is "difficult", then it should not be done at all, are you? That doing something just for fun, especially if it's not intellectually challenging, is bad?

Most people are never going to actually be able to take a TV show idea from bullshit to broadcast, no matter how smart they are or how hard they work. But they can contribute to culture by playing in the universe of some TV show or movie or comic book. And they can do that while also doing other, possibly more "productive" things, like....teaching physics to high school students, or writing technical manuals, or running a particle accelerator.
posted by rtha at 2:00 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I also think it's a false equivalence -- especially in this particular discussion -- to compare a cosplayer to Stephen Hawking or J.J. Abrams or the like.

Very, very few people are the world's foremost expert in an area of the hard sciences. Even fewer people create popular television series out of full cloth. (I was actually going to use Ron Moore as my TV show example, but then I remembered that, genius that he is, his entire oeuvre is based on pre-existing IP.)

I think that if you have to be Stephen Hawking to be considered a "real geek", then there aren't many real geeks out there.

Also, I've never noticed anyone giving male geeks shit for not being Gene Roddenberry or Neil Degrasse Tyson. Interesting how high the bar gets raised when you try to both like comic books AND have a vagina at the same time.
posted by Sara C. at 2:06 PM on July 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


But come on - you're not really saying that unless an endeavor is "difficult", then it should not be done at all, are you? That doing something just for fun, especially if it's not intellectually challenging, is bad?

Of course not, I'm just scoring it lower on some hypothetical hierarchy of importance that I fully admit likely has no rational reason to exist.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:06 PM on July 23, 2013


I'm just scoring it lower on some hypothetical hierarchy of importance that I fully admit likely has no rational reason to exist.

But you're arguing against a point no one seems to be making, while giving the impression, however unintentionally, of applying exactly the kind of hierarchy of importance this video was made to contest.
posted by Gelatin at 2:14 PM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


because I mentioned earlier that one of my favorite shows is Project Runway

i'm a nerd who loves basically all reality competition shows. sometimes i get my nerd cred questioned because i prefer big brother uk to game of thrones. to me this video is saying there is no reason to say what a nerd or geek is or isn't, especially as that particular charge is levied far more at women. you're a scientist and don't like d&d? awesome! another (imaginary) woman works at the pretzel shack to earn enough money to make a faithful genderbent green lantern? awesome for her too! it's a big umbrella.

i'm eager to watch this generation of girls grow up. there's lots of engineering toys/science camps/stem outreach that is being aimed at them specifically, there's a lot less "and boys get erector sets and girls get ponies." i hope that grad school is less lonely for the future geek girls the years to come.
posted by nadawi at 2:16 PM on July 23, 2013


Sometimes in geek circles NOT having that listy, encyclopedic knowledge makes it very hard to be part of the conversation. You mistake a Defiant class starship for an Intrepid class starship and suddenly everyone assumes you can't possibly know anything at all. You might *like* Star Trek every bit as much as the male geek standing next to you and feel the same giddy excitement at the prospect of meeting Patrick Stewart or William Shatner or Kate Mulgrew, you might even have a more nuanced understanding of the series long arc of the character relationships than he does, but because you don't like it in the same way as men do, you may not be welcomed into the fold.

Huh. This is exactly why I consider myself more a dork than a geek; I love music but don't have training, I watch Dr. Who but don't have the encyclopedic knowledge, and so on for many things. I've definitely experienced what you describe (as you say, it crosses gender roles.) Thanks for sharing that.
posted by davejay at 2:18 PM on July 23, 2013


i'm a nerd who loves basically all reality competition shows.

I think this is not all that uncommon.

Matt Mira, who is one of the Nerdist folks, tweets about Chopped a lot.
posted by Sara C. at 2:19 PM on July 23, 2013


But you're arguing against a point no one seems to be making, while giving the impression, however unintentionally, of applying exactly the kind of hierarchy of importance this video was made to contest.

I'm proposing a refinement to a theory of hierarchy-based-on-productivity that jiawen brought up in her comment that has a dozen favorites.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:20 PM on July 23, 2013


sometimes i get my nerd cred questioned because i prefer big brother uk to game of thrones

Big Brother UK was used on a key episode of Doctor Who. 'Nuff said.
posted by Gelatin at 2:22 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


That little bugs girl just slayed me. It's a two-second shot, but it's more powerful than all the other more eloquent or clever signs. If I label myself a geek girl, that's all I'm trying to do: hold up a clumsy handdrawn sign proclaiming the things I love. Buuuugs! Gaaaames! Let's play!

She's the reason I just signed up for the Big Sisters program, so I can hang out with some rad little kid and just love things. Gatekeepers be damned.
posted by Freyja at 2:24 PM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


i do think it's pretty common. i think because i like some of the "girlie" ones too it makes me suspect or something (seriously - the first few seasons of design star were so good! love the white box challenge).
posted by nadawi at 2:26 PM on July 23, 2013


I'm proposing a refinement to a theory of hierarchy-based-on-productivity that jiawen brought up in her comment that has a dozen favorites.

...which was in response to your continued followups to your initial derail, but whatever.
posted by Shmuel510 at 2:28 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


It sounds to me, tylerkaraszewski, like a) you're asserting a very different sort of theory, rather than refining the one I suggest, and b) you're supporting hierarchies, where I'm more interested in eliminating them.
posted by jiawen at 2:35 PM on July 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was just thinking: what makes something "geeky", beyond immersing yourself in it?

As far as I can tell, geekiness boils down to this question: do you care about doing something more than you care about the negative social cost of doing it? If you do, then you're a geek.

For instance, reading the latest best-seller doesn't mark you as a geek, even if you buy and rabidly consume every best-seller than comes out, and can talk for an hour about [insert popular mainstream author name]'s books. If you're reading science fiction books, however, you're a geek. It is the social stigma attached to being a reader of science fiction that makes the activity geeky.

If you're a geek man: the things you liked got you teased or beat up or ostracized when you were younger, and you stuck it out and grew a thick skin, and now you do what you want without fear of being a social pariah, especially because geeky things are getting less geeky every day. Good for you.

If you're a geek woman: it wasn't that long ago that women couldn't vote or wear pants, for fuck's sake, so dealing with the social ostracism of doing geeky things isn't really the same caliber. It still sucks, though, no less than it does for geek men. Nevertheless, you do what you want without fear of being a social pariah. Good for you.

If you're a geek man encountering a geek woman: you may say "oh look another geek" and that's fine.

Unfortunately, some geek men see a geek woman and, because women are objects to them rather than people, they think "oh, she hasn't suffered for her interest in this; girls never get teased or rejected for being a geek. So she's not a REAL geek."

Also, some geek men (sometimes the same ones, sometimes not) don't consider our culture's history of suppressing women's interests -- seriously, PANTS -- and so they think "oh, she only likes [some geeky thing] now that it's cool to like it, she's not a REAL geek."

And that's where it all falls apart. Even though the label "geek" is now being used as a way of bonding together, the term is still equated with being a social outcast, and (again with the objectifying of women, and the lack of consideration for the social stigmas women have suffered for so long) many geek men don't believe women can be/are being socially ostracized. So, "not a REAL geek."

I'm probably totally wrong, but that's what was on my mind while I was eating lunch.
posted by davejay at 3:11 PM on July 23, 2013


> "At a party recently, where 90% of the female attendees were die-hard geeks, my friend's girlfriend was met with suspicion and derision as she talked excitedly about the costume she was preparing for the con."

> "As a lady scientist who is not interested in comic books, science fiction, tabletop games, or video games ... There were ... even fewer people who would accept someone as smart and worthwhile to hang out with if they were not into geek culture."

These kinds of things make me both sad and pissed off.

The gatekeeping aspect of geek culture goes well beyond the "fake geek girl" accusation this video is designed to combat. (This is not a dig at the video. I liked the video. There's no requirement that you have to fight every injustice at once.)

I don't know why there's such a widespread attitude that people who aren't "in the club" - which can mean all sorts of things - should be treated like social poison, but I've encountered it over and over and over.
posted by kyrademon at 3:33 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Came here to say this is freaking awesome. We geeks should stick together and rule the world.
posted by UseyurBrain at 3:47 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Timely and kind of related: http://thewalrus.ca/watching-like-a-girl/

It's not just the geek girls who get to run the gauntlet of skepticism and sexism. For all the time male geeks spend distinguishing themselves from the jocks, as someone who has been at various times seriously into stuff both nerdy and sporty, the behaviors look pretty similar from my end.
posted by colbeagle at 4:39 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


kyrademon and colbeagle's comments remind me of the time a Korean (as in raised in Korea) friend snapped and started chastising the Korean Americans for being so judgmental about what music she listened to. "I listen to what's on the radio! You guys think musical taste is so important and shows how special you are and what tribe you belong to. I like pop music because that's what I've been exposed to and I didn't have access to anything else."

It was a needed reminder that while getting excited that someone shares your love of Guided By Voices is fun, thinking less of someone because they do not is pretty dumb.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, some geek men see a geek woman and, because women are objects to them rather than people, they think "oh, she hasn't suffered for her interest in this; girls never get teased or rejected for being a geek. So she's not a REAL geek."

I'm female - I definitely got teased for shaving 1/2 my eyebrows off to make Romulan eyebrows in grade 7. And I'm pretty sure that having the Star Trek compendium in my locker in grade 9 didn't exactly help my street cred or attractiveness. There may be a reason that I couldn't get a date with someone my age to save my life.

I never was made fun of for role playing - but that was because I was too nervous to ask the geeky guys if I could join them in that weird (but awesome looking) fantasy game they had going, the one with the large books.
posted by jb at 8:44 PM on July 23, 2013


That made me happy.
posted by homunculus at 8:45 PM on July 23, 2013


okay - shaving off half my eyebrows was pretty funny. You would have thought that I would have realised that they take longer than a night to grow back...
posted by jb at 8:45 PM on July 23, 2013


LOVED IT.

I particularly loved "Who died and made you Batman?" (laughed so loud I startled the cat), "Be respectful and I won't eat you", and the little girl with the BUUUGS. So awesome.

Thank you for posting this!
posted by Lexica at 8:53 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


An aspect of gatekeeping that doesn't really get as much consideration in the whole fake geek girl thing is the whole GATEKEEPING thing more literally, that is, keeping newbies out.

My girlfriend (shit, fiancée, gotta stop calling her girlfriend) is planning on joining our D&D group at the end of the month. I've got her a Japanese copy (her native language) version of the player's handbook off Amazon, got a friend to make her her own dice bag, bought her her own pair of tubes (all for her looming birthday), and now one of our members is starting to give me and the DM shit for letting her in. Yes, she's completely inexperienced, but so were two other (male) members of our group, and he didn't have any problem when the girl he wound up schtupping (who was my roomie at the time) joined, or any problem with the other dude who's never played but wants to join.

It's important to remember that this kind of shit happens at all stages of development, not just to the pros who know every single Doctor's name in alphabetical and chronological order.
posted by GoingToShopping at 9:32 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I definitely got teased for shaving 1/2 my eyebrows off to make Romulan eyebrows in grade 7.

BALLER

(I'm going to invent a time machine, go back to then, and invite you to Spring Formal or out for ice skating or whatever passed for a date back then. We will go in full Romulan cosplay.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:53 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think tylerkaraszewski has a point and it's similar to what bluefly and kyrademon are saying. Everything I see on MetaFilter and in daily life suggests that the biggest part of mainsteam geekdom is consuming and repackaging entertainment media. There are many people with a consuming interest in something that's not entertainment media, and they can be frozen out of the conversation by "traditional geeks" and, frankly, find the entire geek social scene kind of boring.

That woman who works with particle accelerators may not like Doctor Who or whatever. Yes, some men may not take her seriously — but all women suffer from gender-based professional discrimination. That doesn't make all women geeks.

I'm not sure there's anything special about "fake geek girls." It's the same two factors you see in any other social scene: misogyny ("you're a woman, you're different, you wouldn't understand") and the tyranny of the mainstream ("you're not into what my friends are into, I have nothing to say to you").
posted by Nomyte at 9:57 PM on July 23, 2013


Does there have to be anything special about it for it to be sucky and annoying?
posted by Sara C. at 10:00 PM on July 23, 2013


I think it can be problematic for reasons like the ones Metroid Baby lays out. No one deserves to have their interests dismissed. You don't need to spend weeks on DIY boning for your Princess Amidala costume to earn equal treatment. Maybe you just really like Episode I for some reason. You don't have to be a Tumblr-blogging, fanfic-writing, GIF-posting, box set-owning geeky geek to be taken seriously.
posted by Nomyte at 10:13 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This video about women who are announcing that they no longer feel it necessary to defend their interests to anyone-- that they, in fact, have "nothing to prove"-- has also inspired me to comment that I feel that they do, in fact, have to prove something. I feel like that's an important contribution to this discussion.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:56 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


That woman who works with particle accelerators may not like Doctor Who or whatever. Yes, some men may not take her seriously — but all women suffer from gender-based professional discrimination. That doesn't make all women geeks.

No, what she was expressing (since she volunteered for the video) is that she does happen to be a geek about computers/physics - and that her interest in science has nothing to do with impressing men.

Interestingly, the scientific unit I've worked for (public health with strong ties to OT and PT) is dominated by women. And I gather the field is skewed that way too. But it's also doesn't have a geeky culture the way other fields like astronomy, computer science, can have.
posted by jb at 4:53 AM on July 24, 2013


I'm not sure there's anything special about "fake geek girls."

so, women should stop complaining because the situation is bad all over? women should stop trying to stake their place in a subculture they've been part of (and marginalized in) the whole time because you think it's silly? women should just brush it off when things like this or this are said?

maybe you're unaware that this is the latest piece in a long conversation? that all these women (and a few men) didn't just wake up a few days ago and think "hmmmm. what can we make too big a deal out of of?" i'm not even a tiny bit surprised this conversation has been hijacked by those telling us geekdom is dumb and that it's not really a problem for women anyway, but i'm still bummed about it.
posted by nadawi at 6:36 AM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


A Day Inside Comic-Con's Hall H: Worshiping in the Ultimate Movie Church (via the always-awesome Alyssa Rosenberg)
A panel called “Women Who Kick Ass” follows Hunger Games. It’s in its fourth iteration, and the fact that it’s in Hall H on Saturday is a surprise. On the surface, it makes sense for this to follow Hunger Games, and it’s also likely the Con intended it to be something that would allow for the room to clear out a bit while shuffling in more people from the line that still snakes off across the street outside. But, all the same, there’s something gutsy about placing a frank discussion of Hollywood sexism, feminism, and the limited opportunities for women in the entertainment industry right before 20th Century Fox and Marvel come out to present superhero-heavy slates.

And "Women Who Kick Ass" is the most fascinating and enriching panel I attend at Comic-Con. In particular, its discussion of how sexism still rules far too often in Hollywood is terrific, with panelist Katee Sackhoff (of Battlestar Galactica fame) discussing a time an unnamed male actor pulled her arms out of their sockets while filming a fight sequence, in what she believes was recourse for her questioning him earlier in the shoot; and fellow panelist Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black discussing how a male crew member inappropriately hit on her when she was just 18 and bound to a bed for a shot. The moderator is good, in that she knows to get out of the way when the women on the panel — particularly Michelle Rodriguez — cut loose, and the content is engaging throughout.

For the most part, the dudes I’m sitting near either pay respectful attention or check Twitter, though there are some jokes from an older guy in front of me about how stupid he finds all of this. Then Rodriguez uses the phrase “destructive male culture” — as part of a larger answer about how women need to take more agency in telling their own stories — and something in the crowd flips. A certain subset of the audience begins to get more and more vocal, and when the panel runs slightly over, as all panels have done during the day, the vocalizations begin to get easier to hear, even to someone sitting clear across a giant room in a place that tends to eat sound from specific individuals in the audience; one really has to make a ruckus to be heard.

The final question — from a young woman about what aspects the perfect kick-ass woman would have — turns into a digression about the many roles that women play in real life and the few that they are asked to play onscreen. It’s all fascinating stuff, with Sackhoff talking about wanting to see someone as kind and strong as her mother onscreen, and Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira talking about the effectiveness of female political protestors in her native Zimbabwe, the sort of story that would almost never appear in a Hollywood film — but the longer it goes on, the more restless the crowd gets. When Rodriguez grabs the microphone again to follow up on a point made by another panelist, for the first time, the audience ripples with something close to jeering anger. When the panel finally ends and the five women on it proceed off to the side for photographs, something done at the end of most Hall H panels, someone shouts something from the audience, to a mixture of supportive laughs and horrified gasps, and the women quickly leave the stage. (I was not sitting close enough to hear what was said, but I confirmed with several people sitting in the immediate vicinity that it was a young man shouting “Women who talk too much!” after the loudspeaker asked attendees to voice their appreciation for the participants in the “Women Who Kick Ass” panel.)

It’s an ugly moment, an unfortunate capper to a great session, to be followed by many of the guys sitting around me offering up tired lines like “I hope they feel empowered now!” and several recitations of the Twilight mantra about ruining the Con. To be sure, most people in the room were respectful. But at a certain point, there needs to be an accounting for the fact that there is an ugliness that burbles beneath the surface of too many Comic-Con events, sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional. That’s not a task for the Con itself. It’s a task for nerd culture, and one that will require an earnest attempt to understand why this sort of ugliness rises up so often around women, lest all the nerd culture stereotypes prove unfortunately true.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:04 AM on July 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


it was a young man shouting “Women who talk too much!”

Then what the fuck are you doing at the panel, asshat?

I'd love to have seen that panel. Are Comic-con panels recorded, usually? Posted somewhere? (I guess I can google...)
posted by rtha at 9:33 AM on July 24, 2013


it was a young man shouting “Women who talk too much!”

Then what the fuck are you doing at the panel, asshat?


Probably saving his seat for the next panel. :|

On the other hand, it's kind of nice that people who would not normally go to these sorts of panels get some exposure to them, maybe have something to think about? But goddamn.

Some SDCC panels are available in some shape or form. Hall H ones especially are often recorded and posted. I'd check youtube in about a week? Otherwise, there's plenty of liveblogs available.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:18 AM on July 24, 2013


so, women should stop complaining because the situation is bad all over? women should stop trying to stake their place in a subculture they've been part of (and marginalized in) the whole time because you think it's silly? women should just brush it off when things like this or this are said?

maybe you're unaware that this is the latest piece in a long conversation? that all these women (and a few men) didn't just wake up a few days ago and think "hmmmm. what can we make too big a deal out of of?" i'm not even a tiny bit surprised this conversation has been hijacked by those telling us geekdom is dumb and that it's not really a problem for women anyway, but i'm still bummed about it.


In all honesty, what the hell? That's quite a lot you put into my mouth. And "hijacked"? I'm not sure you've left a conversation to be had here, but what I wrote is that

(a) not everyone who likes things self-identified geeks like self-identifies as a geek
(b) no one deserves to have their interests dismissed because of their gender, among other things
(c) sticking with the "fake geek girl" framing sets up the unnecessary expectation that you have to be a dedicated, deeply embedded insider in a specific entertainment subculture

Maybe these conversations would go further if people didn't start with the least charitable reading.
posted by Nomyte at 10:46 AM on July 24, 2013


not just you hijacking the thread - basically everyone trying to move the conversation from a discussion about a video that was made as a response to an ongoing conversation within the self-identified geek movement to a conversation about how geekdom is only consumer culture or that this isn't a real problem or not all women are geeks or whatever.

a) this video is made by self identified geeks discussing the issue of being told their self identification is wrong for reasons that directly or indirectly boil down to "vagina"
b) yes, but we're discussing something specific.
c) this is a point actually refuted in the video that this thread is based upon - the point is made that casual or deeply interested, girls should be able to call themselves geeks without being asked for their bonafides (and that geek can describe a lot of things and a lot of different personal investments). and, we didn't come up with "fake geek girl" - that's something that was hurled from the other side to question our position.

i think these conversations could go further if people didn't see a keyword that ticked off a specific pet peeve and fill the thread with their opinion on that matter which is only barely tangential to the topic, like tylerkaraszewski admits to doing. really, i think the thread went off the rails there.

i don't think they did it on purpose - there is this thing, though, that when women say "x is a problem" the conversation inevitably moves to "men have problems with x too" or "no your problem is y" or "is x even a problem" and "i know you're talking about x, but i really think we have to go back to the entire premise of abc." i think most of the time it's accidental - it's the clash of people who have a lived history coming up against people who are intellectually moving an abstract to them idea around - but it's still pretty crappy and disappointing to watch basically every single time.
posted by nadawi at 11:28 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think you're still steamrolling over everything in this thread other than the stuff you want to see as "all that other stuff you people wrote, whatever that was about."

The overt message in the video is that women don't have to prove anything. The mainstreaming of "geek" is very new, and it's not an unproblematic subculture. If women can participate in it more freely, it can expand and improve in all sorts of ways, and possibly get less problematic. So I feel a dissonance that a lot of the women in the video try to establish geek cachet in stereotypical male-nerd ways, like "I've been reading comic books since I was 5" or "I have more games than my boyfriend."

To give a personal, concrete example, I work at a tech company. Last week, a female employee sent out a company-wide social email with this "nerd PSA." A positive conversation ensued, including other female coworkers. The conversation about "girls can be geeks too" can also be a conversation about social policing and enforcing subculture boundaries, which I think is bad.

But I think we have very different ideas about what I'm trying to say, so I'll make this my last response and wait to see yours.
posted by Nomyte at 1:12 PM on July 24, 2013


. So I feel a dissonance that a lot of the women in the video try to establish geek cachet in stereotypical male-nerd ways

but that's the point - these aren't male nerd ways. these are nerd ways. women didn't just show up liking stereotypical nerdy things last year. these are lived stories, not props in trying to make a point. some girls have been reading comics since they were little, some don't go to cons, and some really love bugs. if these girls want to call themselves geeks, they can. these women aren't enforcing subculture boundaries, they're lending their voice to opening them up. they're also showing that geeks come in all shapes and sizes and colors and that you can't just look at someone and decide what they like or don't like (like, hot girl can't really like comics, or asian girl must love anime, etc).

also, if you're going to complain about putting words in peoples mouths, please don't put things in quotes i didn't actually say.
posted by nadawi at 1:40 PM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


stereotypical male-nerd ways

When I was 11, my friends and I went four-ways on a subscription to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Comic. Can you get much nerdier/geekier than that? We were three girls and one boy. My first science fiction was borrowed from my mom, who (notably) is a woman. My female teacher told me about the first con I ever attended (and later submitted art to their art show).

The gender balance in different areas of fandom varies considerably. While my RPG playing friends would talk about the dearth of girls and women in their circles, my experience is that convention committees, fan fiction groups, fanzines, etc, are often dominated by women (numbers-wise). (actually, this makes me wonder: why have cons been so bad at having good sexual harassment policies when - our local ones at least - have female-majority concons? don't know).
posted by jb at 3:17 PM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's really very fascinating (and horrible) that geeks as a whole used to get so much intense grief and bullying from non-geeks. And now that the outside world has largely celebrated them, catered to them, or left them alone, all the intense grief and bullying is coming from other geeks who are exactly like you in their geekdom. THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE. This is a particularly misogynist-flavored part of a larger trend of geeks (and I'm talking about the bad geeks, not the good geeks like you, sweet mefites) turning ugly, vindictive, weirdly judgmental and scene-policing, etc. etc. Maybe it's always been that way and it's only more obvious now. But it's pretty unsettling.

Late to this particular party, but I just wanted to say that this narrative is kind of uncanny in its resemblance to a lot of coming-out stories -- queer person from non-accepting environment moves to big city where they can finally feel comfortable being out, and then finds that they are too femme, or not gay enough, or not white enough, or too political, or not political enough, or too skinny, or too fat to be accepted even in the gay community.

In the panopticon, the prisoners become the guards. We can do so much better.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:15 AM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


en forme de poire: "...I just wanted to say that this narrative is kind of uncanny in its resemblance to a lot of coming-out stories..."

We had a panel about just this topic at WisCon a couple years ago. As you said, there are a ton of parallels. My biggest realization from the panel is the amount of internalized phobia we have to deal with, either as geeks (nerd self-loathing) or as queer people (internalized bi-/homo-/transphobia). And how we so often feel the need to establish our cred by punching down.
posted by jiawen at 11:41 PM on July 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was a pretty unpopular little kid - one of the designated targets. I remember being in first or second grade and one day, laying into one of the other designated targets with sarcasm and other handy verbal tricks. And suddenly the mob was with me. I was on the picking-on side for once, one of the crowd instead of the outcast. And it felt wonderful. It was so clear that the defense against exclusion was to make someone else the victim first, and it was so very easy. And some time later, still riding the edge of that heady rush, I realized what I had just done, went home, and cried myself sick. Because it's one thing to do that sort of thing if it's just what you're taught to do, and another if you know exactly how much it hurts and do it anyway.

I understand the temptation to find an other and throw all your venom at them, because making sure someone else does not belong is the easiest way to convince yourself that you do belong. I can even empathize with the need to violently reject that you're doing any such thing, because that realization hurts. And stopping the cycle means that not only do you have to face your own ugliness, but risk putting yourself right back in that outcast box you scrambled so hard to escape.

I don't forgive, exactly, but I understand.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:01 AM on July 29, 2013


Surprise – Kick-Ass 2 is actually about the triumph of girl geeks! (spoiler-filled review of the upcoming film)
posted by zombieflanders at 10:53 AM on August 16, 2013


then what the fuck are you doing at the panel, asshat?

He probably thought a panel about women meant that he would just get to see boobies. None of this thinking crap!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:45 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older It hit me this morning that perhaps all of my endl...  |  3-D Scans Reveal Caterpillars ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments