Dark-Vader

The “Fake Geek” is Not The Problem When It Comes to “Fake Geek Girls”

I’ve now been to about twenty conventions. Comic book conventions, lots of gaming conventions, an anime convention, and a couple of conventions that defied categorization in a way that I wouldn’t consider complimentary. (“Are those Pokemon yiffing in the lobby?”)

I’ve sat with geeks of every stripe. Star Wars fans. Trekkies. Browncoats. Role players. LARPers. Cosplayers. SCAers. Comic Book lovers. Gamers. Even people who love civil war strategy games.

I’ve watched conversations rage around me about whether DC or Marvel heroes would win in a fight or if the Enterprise could defeat a Super Star Destroyer. My own Facebook was the site of a 250+ comment thread on whether or not Darth Vader by himself could win against a Star Destroyer taken over by an Alien queen with a two week head start. (That’s…huh. I gotta think about that. -Ed) I’ve seen friendships strain over the wording of a +1 strike bonus for an elf using a long bow while hanging by its knees from a tree. (“It doesn’t say long bow! There’s no way you can use a long bow upside down like that.” “It says bow. The long bow is a bow!” “It’s just a +1.” “Then don’t make a big deal about it.”) I’ve seen people talking about the merits of sword types in different military theaters and I’ve seen a conversation about whether a samurai or a medieval knight would win in a fight that I honestly thought was going to end in a live, to-the-death, demonstration.  There’s even a group out there still saying “frell” instead of “gorram” or “frack.”

And here’s the deep dark truth. I smile and nod a lot.

I mean, I smile and nod a LOT.

I like most geek things, but I don’t like them enough to delve into the obsession that is a bit of a defining characteristic of the sub-culture. I watch the main movies or read the main books, and call it a day. I can’t quote Game of Thrones. I’ve only read the first two Dresden books. I don’t know the extensive backstories of every Avenger (Iron Man is an alcoholic, right?)  I don’t have a definitive vitriolic opinion on Disney’s gutting of the Star Wars extended universe because I don’t know it. (The Old Republic was cool….mostly…right?) I’ve seen the X-Men movies, but I don’t really read comic books. (There’s a new timeline now, or something, isn’t there?)  I’m vaguely aware that Superman died a few years back. (Oh that was in that one Youtube….with Elijah Woods!)

~whispers~ I haven’t even seen all of Doctor Who.

Frankly put. I am a FAKE GEEK GUY. I admit it. I like geek stuff, but I don’t love geek stuff. Not the way most geeks do. I’m an interloper on the geek scene. I’ve seen the movies, but I don’t know the canon. I am not a true fan.

All those things about not really loving the source material and “just watching the movies” or only reading the one book that everyone has read. That–all of that–applies to me.

No one will ever suspect how cool I really am–
that I’m really a rock star, a gigolo, an actor, an astronaut, and James Dean!

But here are some things that have never happened to me. I have never been quizzed about who Data’s evil brother is to prove I like Star Trek. I have never had to justify my place in a midnight line to see Spider-man II by knowing who took up the mantle of Spider-man after Peter Parker’s death. (Peter Parker dies? Really? That’s so sad!) I have never had to explain who Nightwing is in order to participate in a conversation about Batman. (Nightwing is like….Robin on steroids, right?) I have never been asked how battle meditation works in order to voice my opinion that Enterprise shields would probably make a fight with Star Wars technology one sided. (Battle meditation is something that was in that Jedi role playing game, wasn’t it?) I have never had to beat everybody in the room (twice) at Mario Kart to prove I liked video games. I have never had my gender “honorarily” changed by having enough geek interests to be accepted (“you’re one of the guys now”). No one has ever insisted I tell them the difference between a tank and DPS in an MMORPG before allowing me to discuss raiding Molten Core. I have never been dismissed as a faker at a prequel screening because I didn’t know which admiral came out of light speed too close to the planet’s surface in The Empire Strikes Back. I have never been quizzed about Armor Class in order to get past someone who was blocking my path to the back of a game store where my friends were waiting at the tables. I have never been told I’m not a real fan. I have never been shamed for coming to a convention despite my lack of esoteric knowledge. And I have never, ever, EVER been invited to leave a fandom because I didn’t like [whatever it was] enough.

Every one of the things I have listed, I have personally witnessed happen.  To women.

That’s not elitism. That’s sexism.

Rank, blatant, “no girls allowed,” women-should-stay-at-home-and-watch-their-soaps-while-I-go-do-geek-stuff, flagrant, shameless sexism.

Elitism is arrogant. It’s obnoxious. It makes people look like pompous, pretentious, smug assholes who deserve to die alone. And so everything about the “fake geek” movement needs to be called out, ridiculed, peed on, fed belladonna, hit over the head with a shovel, cut into pieces, dunked in organic acid, and buried in the back yard. (You get to complain that your fandom is misunderstood OR be a raging asshole about people who are just starting to be curious about it. Pick one.) So it’s kind of telling that the best thing people can claim when they’re spewing their “fake geek girl” bullshit is that they’re being elitist.

But real elitism, for all it’s haughty, conceited snobbery, is at least egalitarian and universally applied. Real elitism is haughty bullshit that sees no gender.

The “fake geek girl” movement isn’t actually about elitism at all. Elitism is just the ostensible mask it wears to have a somewhat socially acceptable face. (“Oh it’s just about how much we love this thing! We don’t want people who don’t really love it mucking up our squee!”) Everyone knows sexism is bad, but being a jerk about your fandom is…sort of okay.

Except for the fact that every single manifesto or online rant or bloviating geek or asshole calling out a woman…  Every single one of them who blusters about how how FGG’s don’t “love or appreciate [whatever] enough” or “aren’t real fans” or “don’t really know what they are talking about” or “shouldn’t be cosplaying” or “don’t have the right to be geeking out” belies their sexism when they they fail to deliver the exact same bullshit (with equal fervor and frequency) to men.

And they do not.

These sexist dill-holes don’t care about their fandom. (I mean they might, but that’s not what this is really about.) They care about keeping the club boys only. If they cared about their fandom, they wouldn’t stand as gatekeepers to purity only when it comes to one gender while letting the other pass without comment.

It’s fine to be a girl as long as you’re one of the guys. Oh and by the way, we won’t be testing the guys.

If you only give your incredibly difficult voting literacy tests to blacks, but not whites, that makes you a total fucking racist, and when we look back on Jim Crow history, we can see that particular forest for the trees without ever being fooled that it was really about critical thinking skills. So let’s not be obtuse because this is happening in real time and a few people have discovered how to couch their bigotry in some kind of halfway relatable legitimate fuckwadery instead of the blatant sexist kind.

These people are getting a pass on being unbelievably misogynistic, because we can maybe kind of imagine a world where obsessive geeks obsess a little too much about their fandom. We tend to only call out their ridiculous elitism and leave the pink elephant alone.

Simply put, this makes us complicit in the system that is only overly loyal and purist when it comes to women, and it’s time we called this sexism out for what it is. We’re doing a grave disservice to the reputations of our fandoms and ourselves by not calling this behavior out in the starkest terms possible. The reason geek culture is being labeled as a den of misogyny is that we’ve said, “Now now, let’s be inclusive,” when we see the elitism, but meanwhile, we’ve let the sexism slide.

If you only give your asshole, elistist, geek cross-examinations, quizzes, and “prove you’re one of us” tests to women, you’re not just an elitist doucherocket. If it’s invisible sexism, we need to check it, because it’s sexism. If we don’t check it, then we’re reprehensible misogynist assholes.

[Chris Brecheen maintains his own blog at Writing About Writing, and if you get done reading geeky articles, he wouldn’t mind it if you stopped by.]

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Chris Brecheen
at
Chris spends his days wrangling a one year old and always playing the stealth/sniper option on Bethesda games when he isn’t busy teaching English as a Second language and writing his own blog about writing. (chrisbrecheen.blogspot.com) Whether he is “getting into character” at a LARP or thinking about making a very literary ninjas vs. pirates vs. zombies story, he is defined by his pretentiousness.

73 thoughts on “The “Fake Geek” is Not The Problem When It Comes to “Fake Geek Girls”

  1. Hear hear, Chris! Its a wonder why people have gotten away with it for so long. I wonder if perhaps some of the momentum this received was because of the points when geek women challenged those who posed as geek women in certain photo shoots. At the time, the ladies argued that it's nothing like what they are really like and were offended because of how the models were portrayed as 'sexy, handling the controller in a way that suggest handling something else, making lewd joystick comments' kind of ladies. Thus objectifying women in yet another society and rightly upsetting the ladies who truly appreciate their particular genre, and calling them out for likely not even knowing what a Stormtrooper is let alone looking tacky in that "no way it was made by any Kaminoan that knew their craft" getup.

    I know that male geek sexism is older than this, but I do I recall seeing those types of posts prior to more of the 'FGG' commentary that is really overpopulating various fan websites, forums, and chat communities. I wonder if perhaps this was used to piggy-back their way into perceived legitimacy.

  2. I get WHY they tend to get all pissy, I think it's stupid and childish, but I understand that they're frustrated because the girls who wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire in high school are now claiming to be one of them. I get it. But fucking get over it.

    • I would have loved to hang out with some of the geek guys in high school. Even elementary school! I was a nerd then too. But, I wasn't invited to the D&D parties. I spent a majority of my time in school from first grade to senior year by myself with a book while I watched the geek guys having super fun times in their clique.

      Keep in mind, geek/nerd girls were also ostracized and alone in school. Only, sometimes, more so because the nerd boys didn't want us in their clubs either. I've gotten some shit because I never played D&D which makes me not nerd enough. But, I literally had zero friends to play with, that's why.

      • Exactly this. We lived behind books, in Science Club, and Latin conventions. We watched our sci fi movies by ourselves. I’ve never played D&D either–same reason–but in college I played Torg (and later GM’d Torg), Paranoia, GURPS Discworld, and Heroes System. It’s never too late to start playing.

        But in high school nobody wanted us at all. We were the shadows at the back of class. It wasn’t because we weren’t pretty enough either (I hate that stereotype, especially since it’s just not true). It was because we were Geek Girls, which was a category that wasn’t even as accepted as Geek Guy. Honestly, if others want to hold us up to a standard, they need to realize that we had it worse. We were lonlier.

    • Funny thing…I was mocked relentlessly by boys for being a huge and knowledgeable Pokemon fan in grade school. I was mocked for drawing monsters, kicking ass at Super Smash Bros., and being enthusiastic about Metroid.

      But NOW those same people as adults get to claim they can play gatekeeper in geek culture because apparently girls didn't like them in grade school.

      They don't get to have it both ways.

    • Funny how a girl can have something in common with a guy *and still not want to date him*. You'd think maybe girls are thinking in terms of 'having something in common' = 'maybe friends' instead of remembering that guys often only think of women in terms of whether they can sleep with 'em.

    • I'm really fucking sick of guys complaining about how girls refused to notice them in high school… cause very often it is the same guys who refused to notice any nerdy girls who might have been interested in them because they weren't "really girls." Y'all send us the message loud and clear that the only way to be treated like a human being is to reject femininity in all of its forms and become one of the guys, and then you bitch and moan about how no girls like you without giving a second glance to any girls outside your "girl radar." We were not all just sitting around surrounded by adoring male suitors deciding who is worthy of our sexual attention. Eventually, we find partners (men and/or women) who desire us as our WHOLE selves.

    • But that's not even true. I was a geek girl in high school, before it was chic and all that. The geek boys were still dreaming of Seven of Nine, and pining after their classmates who looked like her.

      Geek boys didn't give me the time of day either. Now that we're all older and more mature, they do give me a lot of time and attention. And I could be pissy and resentful and say "you probably would never have asked me out in high school". But I don't, because I'm not a collossal moron.

    • larathia hit the nail on the head.

      Something in common = have to date/be attracted to/given a chance? No one is owed these things; not men, not women. Not even 'owed' friendship. What a ridiculous notion.

      No one is trying to be 'one of them' we just want to like the things we like openly without having our motives questioned. No one gets a cookie for 'letting' us do the things we like which also happen to be the things other people like.

    • IOW, even if you try to spin it another way, they are still misogynists who view fandom as their own special little fiefdom, from which they get to decide whether or not women will be excluded. Disgusting.

    • You assume none of us hung around with them in high school, took them to our proms, decided to leave the prom for a bookstore with them, or heck, frantically ran home to tidy up our websites because we’d just found the courage to give them our domain names. (Revealing your internet self was more intimate when I was in high school, before everyone had cell phones.)

      I was the girl who was into nearly everything geek guys are now into, but before it was cool.

      And assumptions are dangerous.

    • YOU get over it. Who the fuck cares if some girls didn’t like them in high school? It’s a shit excuse and you should feel bad for even giving it the time of day. Plenty of people were unpopular and couldn’t get dates in high schools. Only people who were assholes already use that as an excuse to be an asshole later on.

  3. That's actually BS, too, dustagorn – I was a geek since near-babyhood. No, I wouldn't piss on childish misogynists if they were on fire in high school or now, either, but I was there reading comics, writing scifi, playing D&D. I'm not "now" "claiming" to be one of "them", and neither are most of the women and girls who are geeking out.

  4. To reiterate what Zenka said, when you state that people are "claiming" to be a part of the fandom, you are making a statement about whether or not that person is allowed to be a part of the fandom. It comes across that if you're pretty, you can't be a nerd (bad news for Felicia Day). Also, if the whole "fake geek girl" thing was started by women against other women, it's because of ingrained sexism, ie, a need to be "one of the guys" and prove that they, unlike those women, are not fake geek girls.

    John Kovalic has had a number of awesome comics about Fake Geek girls, this one being one of my favourites. http://www.dorktower.com/2013/07/15/geek-equality-dork-tower-15-07-13/

    I hope that with so much discussion about it we can end this stupidity so that my three-year old daughter (who loves Superman, can recognize a Tardis and has her own set of dice) will never be subject to it. I also hope that everyone will heed the call to stand up and call it out when they see it.

  5. I think NOT calling it out when you see it is a Critical Failure.

    I want to know what kind of assholes have arrived in fandom. Seriously. Because when I was in high school, this shit wasn't so common (maybe I was lucky, or just didn't see it). When girls wanted to game with us, we were "Rock on, what kind of character you wanna be?" and conventions seemed to have a pretty even split. I still have a picture of five different people at a convention posing all together in their Doctor Who costumes. Three of us were guys, two were gals, and no one made a fuss about it as far as I can remember.

    Now, for reasons utterly unfathomable to me, I see people who claim to be guys claiming that some girls are "fake" and all I can think is "Wait – what? Who the fuck are YOU, asshole?"

  6. Thank you. I just wrote about this two days ago, and I avoided using the word "sexism." (It's makes women even bigger targets when we try to call it out.) While I've had many good responses to it, I ended up having /r/cringe link to me, and I had to get trash some terribly sexist comments from that crowd. I don't even want to know what they were saying about it on reddit.

    http://wellinthishouse.com/i-am-not-a-fake-geek-girl/6380/

    Anyways, thank you for writing this.

  7. This is amazing, I applaud you on calling this bullshit out because its getting out of hand.

    As a female who was basically raised in geek culture (No joke my parents first date was to see A New Hope.) I have constantly had my "geek cred" questioned, mocked and belittle simply because I have a pair of boobs.

    I often get told, after shocking some dudes with my knowledge of Marvel Comics(616, I'm meh on Ults), "OH I guess your dad taught you well" I quickly have to correct them that no, my dad was not the comic book geek, he was more the Trekkie and RPer, that it was my mother who started my love of comic books. (No for real, TRY and start shit about Steve Rogers around my mom and it will end with you curled up and shaking in pile of your own tears)

    Its wrong that young girls are having to fight a damn battle just to be allowed into fandom.

    So thank you, this is spot on and I hope more "real" geeks read it. Hopefully it will make them think before they harass a girl with trivia while she's simply trying to buy the latest Deadpool comic.

  8. So… is it honestly just me who never had a problem being the geek girl? I mean, I WAS invited to the larp parties (probably because i'm a strong willed biatch who would throw a fit if I wasn't invited lol) and I hung out with the nerds and the geeks, and we were WEIRD. It was awesome. I was the only girl sure, but that's probably because I was the only one at my school who didn't give a damn about image and was totally happy to nerd over Star Wars in the cafeteria.

    I've honestly never been questioned, and I wonder why. Is it because I grew up in NZ and then the UK instead of the US? I refuse to beleive there's less sexism there than in the states. Is it perhaps because I never tolerated jackasses and had an aura of "i'm meant to be here, go on, have a go if you think you're hard enough". I dunno. I'm sure my time will come and i'll have to beat someone over the head with a copy of the dungeon master's guide (though Ptolis would be the better weapon, that book is HUGE). Or maybe I never really thought about it and was always with a guy. I dunno. I mean, thinking back, MTG I attended with a male best friend. I never went on my own. Roleplay I attended with my male flatmates and kindred geek spirits, went on my own after they all lamed out and decided rp wasn't for them but i'd already been included into the fold. Maybe i've managed to avoid it simply by way of having a "prop man" on one arm. That or my tendency to wear stupidly short skirts during that period of my life totally distracted the guys into a stupor bwhahaha. What? I have magical legs, how dare you suggest otherwise.

    But no, in all seriousness, this isn't an issue i've ever encountered and i'm really wondering HOW I managed to avoid this douchbaggery.

    • I don't think there's *more* sexism here, but I do think we have some unique cultural contexts. The "fake geek girl" phenomenon popped up a few years back largely in the U.S. convention circuit as a response to women doing cosplay who were determined not to love the thing they were cosplaying "enough."

      While it's always been there, and I've never tolerated groups that would do such a thing, it's definitely ramped up in the last decade or so.

    • I didn't think I had a problem until I got into US comics in my teens. (UK comics like 2000 AD are sold in the newsagents) Then lo and behold the mansplainers (nearly all of whom had leather coats and didn't believe in washing) came out of the woodwork. Several of the blokes in comic shops, including those who worked there, would go 'you like Kitty Pryde? Here, have a read of my Excalibur collection. also I would recommend Legion of Superheroes and you might like Robin and Superboy.' But the mansplainers would ask if that was the first comic I'd picked up. And if I knew its entire history, including the spin offs and the Silver Age stuff and the major bust ups and then *explain* it to me even If I said I already did, thanks, they'd ignore me and continue to explain that the comic I was reading wasn't cool or hardcore or dark enough (dark always seemed to go hand in hand with wearing a thong for a costume).

  9. "Frankly put. I am a FAKE GEEK GUY. I admit it. I like geek stuff, but I don't love geek stuff."

    By suggesting you are a "fake geek guy" and that "fake geeks" exist, you are saying that "fake geek girls" also exist.

    They do not. You are not a "fake geek" if you haven't seen Doctor Who. You are not a "fake geek" if you can't quote Game of Thrones.

    If you like geeky things, you are a geek. Stop breaking the thing up into "fake" and "real".

    Better still, stop breaking it up into gender, for god's sake. My female friend goes to soccer games. She is not a soccer girl fan. She is a soccer fan. Geeks are geeks. Why is the label "geek girl" there? That itself makes them stand out of the group.

    "I am not a true fan." The fact we have guys like you deciding what a "true fan" is still shows there are issues with this entire "geek" label.

    • He was using a literary technique of adopting the language of the opposing side to point out its flaws. The very fact that "fake geek guy" is brought up points out that it sounds awkward and unfamiliar because — gasp! — it's not a topic like "fake geek girl" is. It points out that the key word is not "fake," but "girl."

      Which is, of course, the point of the article.

    • Way to miss the entire point, which was exactly that – no, "fake geeks" don't exist. If they did, then by the definition of those who claim they do, he would be one. Yet nobody has ever called him out on it, while they continually call out the women.

      Why should it not be broken down by gender if it ONLY HAPPENS TO ONE GENDER?? That's like saying we shouldn't call restaurants Mexican restaurants or Italian restaurants because they're all serving food. Yeah, but this one only serves tacos and that one only serves pasta. If nobody ever calls out guys for being "fake geeks," then clearly "fake geek girls" are a gender-based phenomenon.

    • I think his reason to use the terminology was to connect with as many readers as possible.

      Because he used the direct terms that people encounter on a daily basis, you can relate as passionately as he does.

      I think I would have read it but never connected with it unless he used those terms.

  10. THIS.

    I'm a panelist for maybe 20-25 con panels a year. I vary between being an attendee, a guest, or staff at conventions. I'm a Masters-level cosplayer. I'm an award-winning spec-fic author. And yet this weekend as I walked with my husband through a dealer room, he was approached repeatedly by salespeople trying to hawk an expansion or book or game while I was utterly ignored. Sometimes they yelled around me to reach him. It got so predictable that we were laughing about it.

    Frankly, I spend more in the dealer room than he does. Their poor target selection cost them real money at a show where I know many vendors didn't break even. Aw. /fake geek tear/

    Purple Monkfish, I think attitude does have a lot to do with it. Not that one should be obnoxious and pushy about one's right to exist, but just a calm assumption that of course I'm here to play this game of Pathfinder, which seat is mine? can carry all but the most extreme jerks. I'm pretty open about the stuff I don't know, so there's no grounds for a "faker!" accusation, but I'm pretty upfront about I'm going to be here participating anyway.

  11. Honestly, growing up, I never experienced this requirement to prove my own fan-ness. I was lucky enough to find friends that were happy to include me, even in things where I would have failed such a test.

    I have, however, had to watch it happen to my daughter. And the sad thing is, it wasn't one of her peers grilling her. It was a 20 something guy who just happened to see us admiring a display of comic themed t-shirts, and she was telling me who all the characters were. So then, this grown man approaches us, and spends a half an hour grilling my daughter over as much obscure comic related trivia as he could think of. He asked about things involving storyarcs that were written well before she was born. Hell, I'm pretty sure a couple of his questions referenced things written before HE was born. Of an 8 year old girl. Because she was telling her mother about the comic characters on the t-shirts. When I finally got fed up with him continuing to dig for anything he could come up with to try and stump her, he then declared "she knows more than any girl…I mean anybody her age."

    I really can't believe that anyone could claim, with a straight face, that it was about ensuring that an 8 year old was a "real geek". And any sort of claims about it being the women in question not giving dating them in school, or girls only doing it to have guys drooling over them fall apart when the behavior is directed toward a child. In fact, all the excuses for the "fake geek girl" behavior become really disgusting when you realize that they aren't just targeting grown women.

  12. "Seen all of Dr. Who" isn't really a thing, even, with all those lost episodes, some of which have turned up… no one can authoritatively say they've seen 'em all.

    • No. They’re not “lucky.”

      Have a conversation with an adult female human being (aka “woman”) is not the result of luck. It’s the result of acting like a human being who recognizes women as other human beings.

      If some “male geeks” are universally avoided by all women then probably these “male geeks” are creeps and/or assholes.

  13. I really can't agree with any of it. I have never experienced any sexism. I was always rather popular in the gaming world, never been quizzed or asked to leave. In my time and age, guys were happy to have girls with them and it didn't matter if they were true geeks or not. Just the interest itself was enough.

    So yah, maybe times are different now. It certainly wasn't like that when I was growing up, and it certainly isn't like that now. Never had to deal with that kind of BS and now, we are waaay past that.

    • So because you haven't personally experienced it, it isn't like that? Clearly all the other people (both men and women) who either have experienced or have witnessed it are, what, lying?

      Your experience =/= everyone's experiences.

    • I hope by "can't agree" you meant something like "haven't personally experienced." Because a casual Google for "fake geek girl" will reveal how very real it is, and even the comments on this post kind of indicate that I haven't made it up or anything. :-/

  14. Actually, one of the reasons I wasn't *more* geeky in high school is because I was having the geek gatekeeper role played on me at HOME.

    Literally, I was the only kid who wanted to program and build my own PC and learn how all the circuitry worked (I always wanted to be a hacker/maker.) These opportunities were disproportionately offered to my brothers. Meanwhile said brothers didn't want me playing video games, because they didn't trust me not to break stuff. I don't know if it was because I was a girl, or 4 1/2 years younger, or both. But that's what happened. So I got my own hobbies, was still pretty geeky, and moved on.

    When it came time to make geeky male friends in high school, I was a bit intimidated. I didn't have the beautiful depth of knowledge they did. When I finally did befriend them, I ended up losing 80% of them in one semester because I wouldn't date them. They were my best friends. <– Guess what? That sucks too.

    I'm still playing catch up, and I still get questioned on my knowledge/geekiness, but then I usually start talking about SQL and math puzzles and they shut up.

    And people wonder why more women aren't in STEM.

  15. This is why I still dont really call myself a geek – because so many men have told me I'm not, since I only watched a few episodes of star trek (gasp!) and never bothered with the latest catastrophe that was star wars (no Han, no interest!). Nevermind that I'm a browncoat forever, watched just about all the comic movies that've come out (sorry green lantern), say frack, or will take the first opportunity to don an outfit and LARP or RPG…for years now. Ive just found it easier to claim Im not a geek and then (rarely) have someone laugh and go 'um, seriously what are you talking about? Youre dressed like an elf!" But its because every time I tried to claim I was one, I was hit with "Oh yeah, comic books? Who's this guy then? How many reboots did Superman have?!" "You never even played D&D, clearly you cant be a nerd about anything else" "Pff, you've not even seen the old Doctor Who". Thank you for pointing out how stupid it all sounds!

  16. I remember being in sixth grade and being teased relentlessly by this group of boys who thought it was unfathomable that i was just getting into reading x-men comics. The result? I stopped reading them in public and eventually stopped reading all-together because I felt like it was something I wasn't supposed to be a part of.
    I was already a bit of an outsider back then(shit i'm still an outsider now but that's beside the point.)

    Women are already expected to prove our worth at every turn. You'd think that a subculture that is so willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to the source material would also be willing to be more accepting but they're not and it sucks major butt.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this.

  17. 1. Love the article.

    2. Super sad that even the women who've commented on this very thread have each felt the need to establish their geek cred before the end of their comment, lest they be taken less seriously. Not slamming them here, just that sexism can be so unfortunately ingrained and internalized in all of us.

    3. "I ended up losing 80% of them in one semester because I wouldn't date them. They were my best friends. <– Guess what? That sucks too."
    Ugh, I empathize with this so hard, though it didn't happen to me till I was in my early 20's. Girlfriendzoned FTL. And I'd suggest that the people on this thread who are all, "I've never seen/experienced this! What is everyone talking about!?" ought to look for this very phenomenon before they open their mouths any further (unless they want to fit that other foot in).

  18. I'll be honest, I don't in general get along with female gamers. Because honestly, we all know that girl that is involved in gaming just because her boyfriend is into it, or the girl that just likes the attention of a bunch of guys. So to me, yeah those types of girls are a problem. They annoy me in a way that few other things do. Mostly because they ruin shit for me.

    I love seeing men talk about this issue and their misguided attempt to come to the defense of women. Because honestly, no girl with actual balls needs a guy or facebook friends or other girls or anyone else to look someone in the eye and tell them to STFU. I have never once in my entire life had to "prove" that I am a hardcore gamer, because I carry myself in a way that says "I am here to game, not flirt with your dumb ass". Sexual harassment I've had to put up with, but really who the hell hasn't in life? AM I horribly scarred by it? No. Has it effected my enjoyment of the hobby? No. You know why? Because I am confident enough in my self and what I like to do that no one is going to screw that up for me. Unlike geekery real confidence and fortitude is something you can't fake.

    • And…those motives really don't apply to children, and believe it or not, this behavior happens to little girls who are FAR to young for any of that to apply to just the same as it happens to the women whose motives are being questioned.

    • Do you think that at the age of five I had a boyfriend who introduced me to games? The answer is no, by the way.

      The only reason you don't get along with female gamers is because they can smell your elitist crap from miles away.

    • Good for you being confident. Not everyone has that. Not all of us are confident in ourselves. And you know what, maybe that girl who you this likes all the attention never got any before, but someone saw her and thought she was pretty or large busted and pointed it out to his friends and bam, now she's an attention whore.

      Elitism might not be as bad as sexism, but it just as annoying to anyone who likes stuff.

    • “I’ll be honest, I don’t in general get along with female gamers.”

      With that attitude, it’s not surprising. You’ve drunk deep from the cultural kool-aid that says that confidence is indistinguishable from competence.

  19. So confident that you had to make an entire post that boils down to "I'm not like those bitches?" The reason you don't get along with female gamers is because you assume that every single one of them only games because their boyfriend does, and even if that's true, who the hell cares? You are part of the problem. And here's the thing, women don't "need" men to tell people to shut up on our behalf. We do it fine, if you weren't so busy trying to prove how confident that unlike those bitches you are you might have noticed that those bitches have been speaking out on this for quite some time now. In response they get, at best, demands for sandwiches and at worst, women have been doxed or threatened with rape over it. I can't speak for them but that would ruin my enjoyment of the hobby. It would probably scar me too. No amount of confidence makes a doxing coupled with a rape threat not scary as hell. And for the record, real confidence means you don't have to denigrate others to feed your superiority complex.

  20. Will write more later when I'm not so exhausted but for now I just want to share something I posted over at the Butt-Kicking Women Write About It blog yesterday.

    "We have to call out the miscreants at the time they’re being jerks. We have to say “Not cool, dude” or “Don’t be a dick” (thank you Wil Wheaton) or just say “Not acceptable!” And we have to do it over and over again. If someone says a woman is worth less in some capacity just because she is a woman, that person needs to be hauled up short and told this behavior won’t be tolerated. Do not debate about why we’re worthy. That's just the same a trying to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. Just call their bullshit for what it is and move on.

  21. I once had a guy derisively ask me if I even knew -anything- about the Flash, or if I was just wearing the shirt. The shirt I was wearing had Captain Marvel's logo, because Captain Marvel is my favorite DC superhero. Red + Gold lightning bolt does not automatically equal the Flash. But because he was a man, and I was a woman, he automatically assumed he knew better than me when it came to comics.
    Ask any girl who's even slightly geeky, and she'll have her own story. shit sux bruv.

  22. Curious to see what happens out our next convention. I've been cosplaying for about 30 years, and I've just made a "partner" costume for my husband. He's only cosplayed once before and is the 'fake geek" in our family…

    • I'm not sure exactly what your experiences have been, but in my case the quizzes haven't been tied to the "right" to participate but more of a contest. I think there's a pretty big difference between "How much do you know?" vs. "Prove that you are one of us."

  23. I have to say that I agree with most everything Chris said. I have an appreciation for Geekery-likers and Geekery-lovers alike. I bash on guys and girls who take on the title of Geek or Nerd just for the irony or the sake of being part of a sub or counter culture. They have no appreciation for anything geeky nerdy, they just want to look like a geek or nerd to seem different. I won't judge someone if they can't tell me who took up Spiderman's role after Peter Parker died, but I will get irked if I see a guy saying "Wibbly-wobbly timey wimey" and pretending to be experts in all things Doctor Who without even knowing The Doctor's name (Yes, that's a joke to throw off the psuedo-nerds) So on the flip side of that coin, there are false geeks worthy of bashing, but the baby-nerds and such are just as much geeks as we are. -Steps off soap box-

    • But it sounds like… you're annoyed about people pulling things out of their behinds, not necessarily about people claiming to be geeks who aren't geeky enough to meet your standards. That is, your problem isn't "fake geeks" per se (at least in the "you don't know enough to call yourself a geek" sense), it's people making false claims about their actual level of knowledge. You wouldn't rag on someone who, for example, told you that they'd seen a few episodes of Dr. Who and liked the show, and considered themselves to be a geek because of it; you'd just rag on someone who'd seen a few episodes, then was pretending they were the World Expert on all things Dr. Who, right?

      I think anyone reasonable would largely agree with you there. People pretending to know things they, in fact, don't are often pretty annoying. No "fake geek" accusations required. In fact, even Mr. "World Expert" may, in fact, be a real geek (if a novice one), it's just that he's also a lying sack of crap.

  24. As far I can tell the FGG backlash is believed to have started with a Facebook post by Tony Harris, since deleted. In it, his rage was directed not at women insufficiently into geek stuff, but specifically at women gaining attention for their cosplay without having earned the right to that attention through either sufficient geeky devotion or sufficient physical attractiveness. Googling for "con-hot" may find you reaction pieces or some place where the original is preserved in a screenshot.

    So sexist, but beyond that. Misogynist, with a hint of "you need to talk to a therapist about this; seriously, you show signs of scary deep-seated issues with women".

    But also, it was about attention. It was about some small part of the collective attention moving away from the ultra-obsessed who'd spent their time in memorizing tiny little details (hey, some people have near-idetic memories; some people don't) and over to people who "just" slapped on a costume. (Because we all know that costume creation time is either zero or doesn't count – after all, it's not something Tony Harris does so it either must not exist or must be totally unimportant)

    And also, disgust with the female body. Really, you can't read more than a sentence or two of that without feeling the hatred of non-playboy-centerfold-shaped female bodies come and cover you like slime on some kid who just said "I don't know".

  25. It saddens me how much I agree and can relate to this. I've never actually been labelled as a fake geek girl, I've just been excluded simply for being a girl. My family wasn't really that well off and I live in a country where getting any comics or merchandise is close to impossible unless you order it online, so most of my knowledge of fandoms came from TV when I was a kid. I also always loved games, but could never really afford them and guys never included me since to their knowledge girls didn't 'know how to play'. By the time I was older and made friends that were more mature I actually had an inferior complex when it came to anything fandom or game related. I seriously wanted to play with them, but since I never had any experience I was afraid I would only prove that girls couldn't play, and I didn't partake in anything until I could afford it alone and got good enough and until I felt confident to join.
    It was the same when talking about comics, plots and characters. I only knew the movie or tv version and obviously didn't know the original plot from the comic or whatever. And since being constantly aware that because I was a girl I wasn't good enough I had this urge to learn as much as possible, if suddenly someone asked me anything. It saddens me how much I missed out as a kid because of this, but now with the internet and everything I try to make up to it. I never got used to reading comics, but I try to catch up by just reading summaries of major plots or combing down a wikipedia article about it. I only grew out of my inferior complex when I got older and 'boy's opinions' didn't affect me that much any more, also I made great guy friends who never put me down for my gender or lack of knowledge, but actually enjoyed sharing stories and ideas. I've also got a great boyfriend who, just like you phrased 'likes geek stuff, but doesn't love geek stuff'. Which means I sometimes have a more extended knowledge of the back story and he enjoys it when I explain it to him. Same as he has a large collection of games and doesn't mind sharing and teaching me to play.
    In the end I wish more girls got lucky as I did now and not as I did when I was a kid. And I'm also glad to know that lots of guys are being aware of this and are not allowing this bullshit to continue.
    So, thank you and stay golden!

  26. I'm a lot like this guy in the sense that I like geeky stuff, but more of a casual fan than a hardcore follower of geek culture. And yes, I agree that it's unfair for women to be under more scrutiny and need to prove their "geek cred". The way I see it, as long as you (whether you're a guy or girl) know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek, then call yourself a geek by all means 🙂

  27. I know that I have a broad, but not deep, knowledge of geeky things. I have rarely, if ever, been accosted for not knowing something or being legit or not. My memory is not what it once was…I don't always remember something that I have seen a dozen times.

    Also, that knowledge in topics waxes and wanes as my involvement in things goes up or down. When I played a lot of Advanced Squad Leader, I knew way more about WWII weapons and equipment than a normal person would ever need. But I rarely play now, and if someone were to ask me if a certain tank had smoke canisters or not, I would have a blank stare in response.

    And there are some areas of "Geekdom" I have never had an interest in, or the money to get involved in. I watched the original Star Trek reruns every Sunday afternoon. But when ST:TNG came out, I never watched an episode. Same for any other Star Trek series that followed. I just didn't have an interest in it. I didn't have a bunch of consoles growing up (My first was a Sega Genesis I bought during college). So I don't have much experience with NES games. But I did have a C64, so I got some geek cred from that, I guess.

    It took me a long time to be comfortable with my geeky things (like telling people I play RPGs, and read fantasy books they have not heard of). Then it took me awhile to realize that I was OK to be different in the geek world, too. I didn't need to worry about trying to experience EVERYTHING a geek "should" watch or do. Even if I wanted to, it can't be done.

    If someone decided to call me out today, I wouldn't care and place that person in the jerk column. If someone did it to me earlier, I would clam up or leave. If I had to deal with it regularly, I don't know what I would have done.

    I have two young daughters. They have varied interests, and some are "geeky," or boy things (at that age). And I worry about them getting "called out" because they are not a boy, or why would a girl like Star Wars, or whatever (my seven year old's birthday party was Star Wars themed). I have seen a little of it, and she takes it in stride most of the time, but I worry that she will be afraid to be herself or express herself. We definitely need much less of what Chris describes.

  28. Wow, how things have changed. When I was in Jr highschool (late 70s) I *was* quizzed (100 questions!) on Star Trek before being permitted to join the four geeks who served as the school's official trekkie society – and I have a penis!

    We would have *loved* to have had a female in the group – BUT THERE WEREN'T ANY WHO GAVE A SHIT.

    But that was before "geek" became a style, an image, a *look* that a woman could decide to wear deliberately – and YES, many of them do that because they believe it looks sexy (which is often true, but not always).

    Am I saying all geek girls are fake? Of course not. Only some of them. Actually there are way more *real* geek girls now than there were when I was going to cons, that's for sure, and that's a sign of progress.

    But back in the day, there simply WEREN'T ANY FAKE ONES because our culture hadn't assigned any sexuality to it as a "look".

    Today, I assume you have to weed them out somehow, right?

    I mean, I did take the Star Trek test. Penis and all.

  29. I'm reasonably sure that any of my geeky friends in the time span between our early teens to mid-twenties would have been more than happy to have any girls hanging out with us whether they were "real" geeks or not.

  30. I consider myself extremely lucky. I was into D&D since the 70s, and when I met this girl, on about our 3rd date, I tentatively bought up the fact that I played RPGs. She laughed and dug out a box that contained her copy of the AD&D core books, as well as a binder of her characters from highschool. She is now my wife and mother of our 5 year old daughter.

  31. You, sir, are amazing. I wish I could give you a cookie. I've been a gamer since I was a child (it all started with Super Mario and Duck Hunt). My personal favorites are the Final Fantasy (own all but Crystal Chronicles, online versions and X-2–which was nothing but a dress up game) and Legend of Zelda series. I have also been known to lose hours playing Diablo III, Xenoblade, and other assorted games. When I first met my husband 12 years ago, he got me into D&D. No I don't just play D&D (3.5), but Pathfinder, World of Darkness, Exodus, and BESM regularly. We've been married 10 years now and our 8 year old son playes with us. However, it seems when I'm in game stores buying stuff, it's assumed I have no idea what I'm doing or buying something for a boy. I don't go all hardcore on stuff, although I admit I have a horrible obsession with Doctor Who–and my husband hasn't helped a bit, lol.

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  33. I got sick of being questioned and just started leading with proof of my geekery a long time ago. I do it without thinking now, and it probably makes me look like an elitist snob, even though it started as a pre-emptive defense. I never really thought about it like that before, so thanks for the thought provoking piece! I should really stop doing that now!

  34. Men who would have loved to hang out with geek girls when they were in high school or whenever – fine. I’ll take you at your word that you don’t think you were giving off signals that girls weren’t welcome.

    But stop pretending that just because you didn’t know of any women or girls who shared your interests back then, that means they didn’t exist.

    Seriously, fuck you.

    Looking at you, “Mark Markham” and “As If.”

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