Geek Masculinity and the Spectre of the Fake Geek Girl

Rachel Edidin looks at what happens when an alternative model of masculinity gives rise to a nasty strain of misogyny.

I’ve been thinking about fake geek girls–or, more, the tenacity with which the geek community has latched on to the bugbear of the fake geek girl. Even in a community with a reputation as argumentative, the intensity and volume of the vitriol directed at the fake geek girl is unprecedented. It’s flat-out weird.

So, what makes the fake geek girl such a threatening spectre? What, exactly, does she threaten?

“Geek” is a gendered noun. There’s a GeekGirlCon, but no GeekGuyCon: every con is GeekGuyCon, unless it specifies otherwise. You don’t say “geek guys” the way you say “geek girls”: once you’ve said “geek,” the “guy” is pretty much taken as read.

When a label is gendered, it carries all the attendant baggage. What does that mean to geeks? Well, we, as a culture, regulate masculinity very closely. It’s valuable in ways femininity isn’t, and that makes it more fragile as well. The worst words you can call a man are the ones that question his masculinity, or, worse, imply that he’s feminine. Even “girl” gets thrown around as an insult.

Take a moment to think about what that means–to women, but also to men; and particularly to the way men are taught to see women. Girls in a guy zone become a threat. They taint what they touch by association. A girl who’s into guy stuff, that’s understandable, an upgrade; but a guy into girl stuff is a broken machine.

If you start there, it’s easy to see how we might have become predisposed to looking at female-identified geeks with suspicion. They’re other. They don’t fit the narrative. They require qualifiers, not just “geeks,” but “geek girls” or “girl geeks”: already a step removed from the real deal.

So, when I say that “geek” is a gendered noun, and that its default gender is masculine, I’m saying something about how it intersects with a specific set of cultural values–and, by extension, I’m saying something about the value of masculine identity to the geek community.

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

It’s not surprising, then, that being a woman in geek culture was for a long time a profoundly gender-deviant act. “Girl” and “geek” were a zero-sum dichotomy: to claim space in one, you had to relinquish equivalent claim to the other. Recently, though, there’s been a dramatic change: a sudden surge not only in the visibility of women in
geek culture, but of the visibility and popularity of more traditionally feminine avenues of engagement with that culture–stuff like cosplay and crafting, both overwhelmingly female-dominated areas. At the same time, women are finding ways to reconcile geekery with femininity, which means that geek identity is no longer unimpeachably
male. For the first time, there are visible swathes of geek culture that aren’t only female-majority, but unabashedly girly–in a culture where feminization is very directly equated to deprecation of value.

And all of this is happening in a community primed to respond aggressively to newcomers, and particularly to female newcomers. Some of that comes out as direct aggression. Some of it comes more subtly, in the form of perpetually challenging or dismissing credentials.Thus, the new stratification of “real” vs. “fake” geeks, where “real” is conveniently identified as the more traditionally male dominated modes of engagement.

Keeping that definition narrow and making sure it discourages newcomers also guarantees that you’ll keep a staunch set of female allies. For those of us who had to mortgage significant parts of our identities at the door, it’s hard not to see the new generation of geek girls as interlopers, getting a free ride where we had to laboriously claw our way in. When you’re part of an underrepresented group, it’s easy to fall prey to a reductive fallacy that there’s only room for one way to be female (or Black, or disabled, or queer, or…) in geek culture, and anyone who approaches that identity from a different angle threatens your claim to it–not so different from geek culture’s own struggle to maintain a discrete identity as our iconography and media bleed their way into the mainstream. If those
people can be geeks, what will be left for me? And if the tent is that big, what, ultimately, is membership worth?

The truth is, of course, that it’s not a zero-sum game: insularity and identity-policing will consume geek culture faster and more thoroughly than any legion of imaginary interlopers. For decades, we’ve prided ourselves on being forward-thinkers, early adopters, willing to challenge cultural norms and think and work outside the boxes imposed on us. Imagine how far we could go if we could then stop replacing them with boxes of our own design.

 

For more about the intersection of geek culture and gender issues, read Dr. Nerdlove’s “Nerds and Male Privilege

 

 

This article also appeared at Comics Alliance

Photo—mikemol and richcz3/Flickr

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About Rachel Edidin

Rachel Edidin is a comics editor, freelance writer, and academic expat. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with a nice man, a lumpy cat, and enough boxes of comics to build a reasonably respectable fort.

Comments

  1. It’s about what you bring. If you bring content that enriches the experience, i.e. costumes, crafting, theme food, or – why not? – technical expertise needed to make the laser show happen, then nobody cares if you are male or female. But if all you bring is your grudge against “patriarchy” and “nasty strain of misogyny” that nobody but you can see, then you are a troll, and you are treated as such.

    • Aris Merquoni says:

      Trust me, BASTA!, there are plenty of us who see it. The plural of anecdote is not data, but if you have to throw out every single anecdote in order to make your model work, maybe it’s you with the problem?

      • > Trust me, BASTA!, there are plenty of us who see it.

        Pretty much a tautology, given that “seeing it” is what basically defines “you”. Some room is of course left for the exact meaning of “plenty”, but even if “plenty” were “everyone except BASTA!”, it would still not render your argument any less tautological.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    I’m not so sure that male geeks are by nature less attached to traditional muscular masculinity or are naturally more cerebral in their gender outlook. Maybe as a very general rule, but it’s not like sci fi cons are great places to go to escape gender straightjackets.

    The human capacity for snobbery never ceases to amaze me, and the post-modern post-Gen-X mass media culture just aggravates it further. People will stake their claim to authenticity over anything imaginable nowadays. They will split hairs for hours over who really is a member of the club and who’s actually a fake. There’s an obsession with splitting the “real” ones from the “pretenders,” as if this has any real meaning.

    It seems particularly absurd that people would be obsessed with authenticity when they’re dealing with fantasy and fictional characters. How can you dress the most accurately like a fictional character, when it’s a *fictional* character?

    I’m the most real geek, however. My favorite character is one that you never heard of, because he has yet to be invented, so he will never become a cliché, and no one else will be able to copy my devotion to him. I’m so cool that my favorite band never really existed, so they will never sell out. Beat that.

    • Rachel Edidin says:

      “I’m so cool that my favorite band never really existed, so they will never sell out. Beat that.”

      I’m so cool I *started* my own imaginary band. But you’ve probably never heard of it.

      • wellokaythen says:

        Imaginary bands are so last week that I pity how derivative you are. I use the following emoticon ironically. : – )

  3. “When a label is gendered, it carries all the attendant baggage. What does that mean to geeks? Well, we, as a culture, regulate masculinity very closely. It’s valuable in ways femininity isn’t, and that makes it more fragile as well. The worst words you can call a man are the ones that question his masculinity, or, worse, imply that he’s feminine. Even “girl” gets thrown around as an insult.”

    You’ve got it backwards there. We value what men can do for society, for women, for others (ie not themselves). Geeks are often opting out of the rat race, possibly intentionally, because they feel they got the wrong end of the stick to play the game, or think the game is crap period. They get called on their masculinity precisely for that reason: they opt out of their provider and protector role. They get shamed trying to make them “man up”.

    The worse words to tell a man is that he’s not a man period. To question his identity itself.

    It doesn’t have to do with some supposed hatred of feminine stuff.

    Women are considered to have some inherent value, doubly so if they’re physically attractive. Men are considered only valuable for what they do, or can do. Very few men are valuable for what they are.

    But then when you have someone who is considered to have higher value come into a place with people who self-selected out of the value-game itself, it’s going to bring resentment. Not because men hates women. But because the poor hate the rich.

    • You nailed it in the last paragraph.

    • Great comment, Schala!

      I am SO tired of seeing the gender oppression of men force-fed into Gynocentrism Machine and come out … the oppression of women! We don’t hate men for having “feminine” qualities … we hate them for having certain human qualities — things like softness and vulnerability — that only women are allowed to have.

      I never see gynocentrists analyze the abuse some women absorb when they take on a ‘male’ role and conclude that this shows how much we hate men.

    • You’ve got it backwards there. We value what men can do for society, for women, for others (ie not themselves). Geeks are often opting out of the rat race, possibly intentionally, because they feel they got the wrong end of the stick to play the game, or think the game is crap period. They get called on their masculinity precisely for that reason: they opt out of their provider and protector role. They get shamed trying to make them “man up”.
      Damn straight.

      And if you look at geeky guys notice that their presence isn’t all that bad when, there is something that they can be doing for others. If there is a computer broken and the geeky guy is the one that can fix it, he’s presence is welcome. Otherwise he is considered a blight on all that is good.

      Sounds a lot like how sometimes when women are valued for the things that they can do, but not as people.

  4. Seven words:

    Fan Girls

    and

    Fifty Shades Of Grey.

    Do we want to talk about the objectification of sexes and genders in regards to fandoms now? I have many friends who are geeks, nerds, wonks, dorks, freaks, what-have-you. Some are male. Some are female. We’ve never amongst ourselves felt the need to specify which of us have female anatomy by designating them as “girl-X” or “woman-X”.

    You’re making a lot of assumptions about men, too. I’m a guy who’s into “girl stuff”. I bake. I read shoujo manga. I straighten my hair and use product in it. I babysit my niece. I enjoy shopping for new clothing. If society sees me as a “broken machine”, it’s society’s problem, not mine.

    • > I bake. I read shoujo manga. I straighten my hair and use product in it.
      > I babysit my nice. I enjoy shopping for new clothing.

      … and am a Good Man.

  5. Yes, geek is a gendered noun, however, that was not something geeks chose. The label was and remains a pejorative applied by both sexes as a means of defining socially awkward, usually tech-oriented males.

    The policing you see in geek culture is normal. Every subculture policies itself, and every subculture is defensive about outsiders coming in, particularly those from groups who marginalized them to begin with.

    I suspect that this article is in response a rant a fanboy wrote about women doing cosplay but no real interest in the characters they dress up as. He has a point. There are lots of people who are now “interested” because they saw a movie or TV show, but have no real interest in the community itself or the source material. Many of those people, particularly women, would ignore or mock fanboys in any other setting. For hardcore fans, that is insulting. They formed the community out of a true love for the material, and here is someone who could not tell you who they are dressing up as essentially hijacking their community.

    But I am curious when cosplay became “feminine”. I have gone to a dozen cons and seen scores of men and boys dressed as their favorite characters. I know it has at least been happening since the first Star Trek cons. When did that become something only girls do?

    I think saying that the “‘real’ vs. ‘fake’ geeks, where ‘real’ is conveniently identified as the more traditionally male dominated modes of engagement” is a convenient conclusion if one wants to play gender politics with this. Geeks have the same negative reaction to anyone they think is posing, although I will grant you that this may get directed more harshly at women because of how women typically treat geeks. People are more suspicious of those who treat them badly than they are of those who ignore them.

    The truth is, of course, that it’s not a zero-sum game: insularity and identity-policing will consume geek culture faster and more thoroughly than any legion of imaginary interlopers.

    I doubt geek culture will fall to pieces for policing itself. After all, we certainly have not seen other insular, identity-policing cultures like feminism, the gay culture, and various ethnic subcultures falling to pieces. It simply depends on the way they police themselves. If they exclude everyone, as the far-right does, then they will fall apart. The geek culture primarily wants people who are legitimately interested and invested in the subculture, so it is not going to collapse by kicking out those who treat it as a fad.

    • Someone gets it. Geeks, a group that has long been treated poorly by quite a lot of women, the butt of jokes, now gets some women wanting to enter the group and is surprised there are misogynist behaviours in some? Well DUH, go to a group of women who’ve been through similar shit as a man and you’ll be cupping your balls everytime they reach for scissors or a knife. Considering how much some of these guys have experienced women mocking them it’s no big surprise that they’re going to have trust issues, many are probably victims of bullies and now women who enter will probably remind them of that.

      If you were doing a female activity and had heaps of men give you shit about it and then a few men wanted to join because it looks fun or cute, would you be wary of them too? Geekland is traditionally a male space and thus you will get some who want to keep it that way, for them it’s probably an escape from the group that would laugh at them n treat em like shit. It’s not hard to understand, it’s not right but it happens.

      The way to fix this is to go way back to high-school n stop people bullying each other, women need to stop bullying geeks, men need to stop it. These individual geeks also need to learn to trust n throw away their sexism as many geeky women get bullied too.

      “People are more suspicious of those who treat them badly than they are of those who ignore them.”
      Amen to that.

      In geeky areas I’ve been in many women were there too and welcomed, infact they had plenty of white knights and got special treatment because they were female, some resented that but some of them LOOVEEEDDD the attention. Cue another reason why some people aren’t trusting of women in geekland, attention seeking, women that know that their femininity will garner them attention they wouldn’t get elsewhere and they use that. You can see it sometimes in guilds where some guild leaders will get special treatment to those girls, and those girls milk the fuck out of it.

      The misogyny is around for a reason, it’s not a good excuse but it’s there. Women need to change their behaviour on the whole along with the men in geekland in order to weed it out. But good luck at articles like these every addressing that issue of women’s bad behaviour in geekland.

    • Mr Supertypo says:

      I agree. Like it.

  6. Good analysis. Males who embrace the geek lifestyle DO pay a heavy social price. They ARE marginalized and that predictably leads to a certain level of bitterness and defensiveness.

    Conventions, clubs, and so forth are the famous ‘safe space’ that male geeks have carved out for themselves, where they can open up, relax, and be among people who understand and appreciate not just their interests, but their whole worldview.

    Ever talked to any women who resented men intruding into women’s “safe spaces,” no matter how benign the intent? Yeah; it’s pretty much like that. Injecting women into geekspace resets al the interactions; a new level of tension appears as everyone tries to figure out if they’ve just been thrust back into the “compete for the girl, you loser” bar scene or if there should be a new type of “can girls be part of this?” model in the works… and nobody’s saying which path they’re pursuing, least of all the women themselves.

    That doesn’t make integration impossible. But it means that the difficulties are real and legitimate, rather than just being “nerd paranoia” as the grossly-misnamed Nerdlove would dismissively call it.

  7. In my mind, if you haven’t bitten the head off a chicken, you can’t call yourself a geek.

  8. wellokaythen says:

    And then the men will complain about how hard it is to meet women who share their same interests, when those women are going to the same cons that you are. Alienating geek girls is just totally counterproductive.

    • Dr. Anonymous says:

      So what? Is it productive to tell men who have been ostracised their entire life that the reason for this is their own beliefs and behaviours and if they only changed that, then they would be all happy.

      • YES!!!!

        Absolutely yes. If a Person A has certain behaviors and beliefs that cause problems for Person A they must change their behaviors and beliefs in certain ways to avoid having those problems. Even if Person B has a role to play in those problems, Person A still needs to change themselves first because you can’t really change other people.

        If you have a geek guy who is troubled by the fact that he can’t get a date obviously needs to change his beliefs and behaviors when it comes to dating. He doesn’t have to stop being geeky, or loving Star Wars, etc. However he needs to change himself as it relates to the areas of his life that troubles him. Which means he has to either stop alienating women or else accept the fact that he will never know heterosexual connection.

        Seriously, the idea that men who have problems with women need to change how they relate to women, is simply obvious.

        • Dr. Anonymous says:

          Yes, because all of society looking down on nerds. Women telling men that their hobbies are loathable for two decades, until it gets hip and starts making money is off course all the fault of the men.

          • multiple likes

          • wellokaythen says:

            I will be the first to agree that the interactions between (among?) the sexes is often unfair. Of course it sounds completely unfair to ask men who have been mistreated by women to be nice to women. That is unjust. The objective reality is on your side.

            In the meantime, I’m thinking pragmatically. How do I get what I want within a system that is patently unfair? I said “IF” you want to find women who have similar interests, here is a set of behaviors that will help with that, and here’s another set that will make that more difficult. Absolutely unfair, asymmetrical, double standard, you name it. Do you want to be right, or do you want to get what you want? Sometimes you can’t do both.

            Also, it seems important to distinguish among different populations of people. If a geeky man is treated like garbage by some women, are those the exact same women he’s going to meet at a con? Maybe, maybe not. Holding all women accountable for the actions of a subset is just bad logic.

            Are the women telling men that their hobbies are loathable the same women who you meet at a con? Somehow I doubt it. So, geek girls have to pay for the crimes of all women who have ever insulted a nerd? Talk about overkill.

            I would give comparable advice to women in a similar situation. If you want to meet members of the opposite sex who share your interests, don’t alienate them when they express interest in the same things you do. Or else stop complaining about how hard it is to find men/women. Check your own behavior and see if you’re being counterproductive.

            • I’ve had women in geekland try to shame me for being a geek. Hell some guys shame other guys heaps too there. All the jokes about being virgins whilst both are playing an MMO. So yes you can even have women in geekland who will mistreat men, the same kinda women who mistreat geeks because they see themselves not as geeks but as gamers, etc.

            • Dr. Anonymous says:

              “I would give comparable advice to women in a similar situation. If you want to meet members of the opposite sex who share your interests, don’t alienate them when they express interest in the same things you do.”
              Alyssa Bereznak, more need not be said.

        • Quantuminc,
          you nailed it. You gve the best answer to this post. Let me translate your device to the situation descibred by Rachel Edidin:
          Absolutely yes. If a Person A has certain behaviors and beliefs that cause problems for Person A they must change their behaviors and beliefs in certain ways to avoid having those problems. Even if Person B has a role to play in those problems, Person A still needs to change themselves first because you can’t really change other people.

          If you have a fake geek girl who is troubled by the fact that she can’t get accepted by other geeks, she obviously needs to change her beliefs and behaviors when it comes to relating to geeks. She doesn’t have to stop being a fake geek girl. However she needs to change herself as it relates to the areas of her life that trouble her. Which means she has to either stop alienating geeks or else accept the fact that she will never know geek acceptance and respect.

          Seriously, the idea that women who have problems with men need to change how they relate to men, is simply obvious.

          • Great switcheroo point. When in doubt switch the genders

            • wellokaythen says:

              Not quite a point-for-point gender switcheroo, more of switching an orange for an apple. I didn’t get the sense that these geek girls are shunned because of their behavior so much as for just being female. That’s hardly a question of needing to change their behavior or not in order to fit in. There is no chance of NOT alienating male geeks in this case, so there’s no behavior that the girl geeks really could change about themselves, except for just not showing up.

              If the geek girls need to be punished so that they can feel what it’s like to be shunned so they can change the way that all women treat male geeks, well, lots of luck with that strategy. How’s that working so far?

            • wellokaythen
              ” I didn’t get the sense that these geek girls are shunned because of their behavior so much as for just being female.”
              Well your sense is no substitute for soild evidence. Fact is, we don’t know for sure if fake geek girls can do something about their situation, just as we don’t know if a particular geek has a shot at romantic success.
              It is funny how sexist you sound; in your view here the women have no control over their destiny and are just objects of male actions and the men are responsible for their fate as well s the fate of the women around them.

            • wellokaythen says:

              Trying to put myself in the position of a single male geek at a con: here’s a woman who shares some interest in things I really like, and she likes to dress up in costumes. (Let me repeat: Costumes.) I would like to have a romantic or sexual relationship with her. Should I shun her or be nice to her? The logical answer seems clear to me, but maybe that’s just me.

              And, yes, it is all terribly unfair to just about everybody.

              I didn’t think my messages would be taken so far afield and interpreted so broadly. I don’t know where I said women have no control over their own destiny, but I can see where that might be inferred if a reader piled on some other assumptions about my motivations.

              I make no claims about anyone’s romantic success, beyond the advice that being hostile to a group of women would probably not increase a man’s romantic success with that group of women. I remain confident in the wisdom of that as a very general social rule. If it’s sexist to say that, then I am sexist. To be fair, I never claimed I wasn’t sexist.

              (In fact, several months ago on the GMP I pre-stipulated all ad hominem statements about me. Whatever people say about me is completely true. I accept all labels. So, yes, I am a sexist pig who hates women, geeks, and really anyone who disagrees with me. You nailed it.)

            • Should I shun her or be nice to her? The logical answer seems clear to me, but maybe that’s just me.
              The difference is when the pain and anger set in logic tends to take a back seat.

            • Not all geeks are the same. Some welcome women, others don’t. You speakof geeks as a collective vs individuals.

            • wellokaythen
              “I didn’t think my messages would be taken so far afield and interpreted so broadly. I don’t know where I said women have no control over their own destiny,…
              I am sorry, my words were at lest misleading. What I intended to say, that in the particular situation of geek boy meets geek girl you remove female agency and shift the whole responsibility for the interaction on the boy; you said:
              “I didn’t get the sense that these geek girls are shunned because of their behavior so much as for just being female.”
              I see little evidence for this assumption being true and I view it as sexist, because it reproduces gender stereotypes.
              Here is the situation geek boy meets geek girl and their interaction doesn’t go as they both wished; it is a priori not clear who is responsible.
              wellokythen:
              “Trying to put myself in the position of a single male geek at a con: here’s a woman who shares some interest in things I really like, and she likes to dress up in costumes.”
              You describe the woman as passive, but this is unrealistic. Usually she will act in certain ways and she will have a certain body language; and experience tells us those things will influence how the geek boy will relate to her (unless geek boys are a seperate species).
              QuantumInc gave a good and very generic advice:
              “Absolutely yes. If a Person A has certain behaviors and beliefs that cause problems for Person A they must change their behaviors and beliefs in certain ways to avoid having those problems.
              Even if Person B has a role to play in those problems, Person A still needs to change themselves first because you can’t really change other people.”

              It is ironic that in a post about the problems some women/girls have, people switch to the problems men have and what they should do about it,
              instead of focussing on how women can solve their problems.

            • wellokaythen says:

              I agree, on the whole. It goes both ways. If women want to be on better terms with men, they should examine their own behavior to see if they are aggravating the situation. Or, perhaps they are overreacting, or maybe they are unconsciously doing things to alienate men when they don’t have to. Of course geek girls who have a bad time at cons need to check out their own behavior and see how much responsibility they have.

              That audience isn’t really here, though. Tell all women all over the world that if they don’t want to be shunned, they need to treat geeky men better. Okay. Lots of luck with that. Where would I post such a message to all of womankind? I’d also need to know what the tipping point is – how many women have to apologize or change their behavior before I can stop being hostile to all of them? 10%, 80%, 100%….

              Meanwhile, men who feel hostility and fear towards women as an entire group need to put their experience in a larger perspective. Are the women you meet in the geek world the same women who have tormented you in the past? Maybe so, maybe not. If I act like a jerk to every woman because of the actions of a subset of women, then I’m hurting myself as much as hurting them.

            • Anti-bullying campaigns in school is a start of where to tell women n men to stop being dipshits towards geeks, or any group.

        • So in this case, women are yet again innocent angels that do no wrong and it’s up to men to change even though the women are assholes? How many guys do you need telling you that the women ARE DOING SOMETHING NEGATIVE TO THE MEN TO CAUSE THEM TO REACT THAT WAY before it sinks in?

          • wellokaythen says:

            I keep coming back to what I wrote above. Are the women who hurt you the same women who show up at geek events? I wonder if “the women” getting actively shunned are the original perpetrators, or are they just the most convenient targets?

            • wellokaythen says:

              You could be totally justified in shunning a particular person. Maybe she done you wrong, and you’re just returning the favor. You may be completely in the right. People can behave abominably towards others, and women are people, so women can behave abominably. If you’re asking me to say that women can be horrible to geeks, I wholeheartedly agree. Men feel pain, and no one’s doing anything about it.

              I for one am not saying anyone is obligated to change his behavior. If you don’t want women to feel welcome at the same events you go to, then you could try to be mean to them. Actively try to alienate them, if that makes you feel better about the situation. I doubt it really will make anyone feel better in any real sense, though, and it will backfire in a lot of cases. Make girl geeks look like even bigger rebels, and watch what happens.

              I guess I’ve been assuming that many male geeks would like to date women and would like to figure out how to make that more possible. Calling them fakes seems like a deeply flawed strategy to achieve that outcome.

            • If you’re asking me to say that women can be horrible to geeks, I wholeheartedly agree. Men feel pain, and no one’s doing anything about it.
              I think that’s the problem. It’s not that no one is doing anything about it but rather “doing something about it” is coming in the form of basically giving a lip servicing “Yeah those women shouldn’t do that stuff….” followed by page after post after article after wave and wave of “…..but you shouldn’t treat women that way”.

              If something is to be done about the way guys alienate girls in geek communities then something has to actually be done about the treatment they received in the first place at the hands of girls. But time and time again the mistreatment that the geek guys received is skipped over and all the spot light is put almost solely on the mistreatment that girls receive from geek guys.

            • Mr Supertypo says:

              @Danny, to make a analogy, the geek guys accepting that kind of girls, is kinda like women who has been raped and mistreated by men, and now forced to live right next to them? I dont know if this analogy is valid?

            • Let me tweak that a bit.

              Let’s just say mistreated rather than bringing in specific acts (lest we get bogged down in which acts are worse than others) .

              From there let’s say instead of “forced to live right next to them” something more like “not being allowed to mistreat men in kind”.

              In short if we were talking about a situation where women who were mistreating men had a history of being mistreated by men, would we ignore the mistreatment that was inflicted upon them by men (or at best give some lip servicing “i’m sorry that happened to you BUT….”) and only concentrate on what they are doing to men?

            • EXACTLY
              It’ll take time, trust, n both groups working together to end it. Start by stopping women act like assholes, write articles, lots of them, about women stopping their asshole ways towards geeks if you truly want to weed out misogyny. It seems there are plenty of articles telling geeks to change their ways whilst ignoring the responsibility of women in this matter, you need to go back to the origins of the misogyny in the first place instead of letting women off the hook n telling men to overcome their trust issues which exist for good reason albeit go too far.

            • I never really disliked them around, I just had a severe social anxiety disorder and thought most men n women of my age range were C***’s. I had a few female n male friends but I was able to judge a man’s character easier, women were more of a mystery but also they were more of a wolf in sheeps clothing whereas the asshole guys were just wolves with their teeth out. But I did see others who had anxiety with women around, but on the whole at the geek events I went to women were embraced but also given sooo much attention due to most of the guys being single.

              I see why women get alienated if there are men who’ve been through shit like me, geeky men are plentiful and the ones I saw were generally treated like losers by the rest of society whereas geeky women were rare, some were posers who just wanted attention, others were into it just like the guys were. It’s only natural we would be cautious of someone from a group that has such a low amount of people as it’s low chance of seeing good or bad in them to prove they are different from “normal” women. With the guys you get plenty of opportunities to see like-minded guys who don’t bully you.

              The most common thought of women in the geeky areas I went to was probably the guys wanting to have sex or date them….There was also quite a bit of white-knighting going on. I was friends with one of the women (yes she turned out bad, classic attention seeker with issues who was a terrible friend ;) ) who sat close to me and I could see others giving me the evil eye over it all, it made me feel sad for them.

              Are non-geeks so surprised women get such a cautious welcome in geekland? What’d they expect? That geeks magically welcome them with open arms when their status of being asshole/good is still in question due to rarity and being the gender that torments them the most?

            • Most common thought the guys had for the women in the geeky areas I went to was probably the guys wanting to have sex or date them.***

        • @QuantumInc:
          If you have a geek guy who is troubled by the fact that he can’t get a date obviously needs to change his beliefs and behaviors when it comes to dating.

          Well, maybe there are some guys who just want to be left alone after being bullied and sometimes beaten into hospital? Maybe not all guys in this situation see “Not being able to get a date (with a girl!)” as their most pressing issue!

        • Dr. Anonymous says:

          So to translate this, when switching genders.
          When women feel that they are unwelcome in the board room, of course it is the women who are obliged to change.
          When unconventionally attractive women complain about shallow men, of course it is the women who are obliged to change.

          • I know I’ve heard these arguments before, or something close to them. I’m pretty sure they’ve come from feminist groups, and instead of “women” have to change, it’s “men”. Be it the boardroom, the sci-fi convention or video games in general, everything needs to become more female friendly. I’m not surprised the hypocrisy is getting returned back.

  9. My boyfriend is 100% Geek with pretty much everything that entails, including a lot of social awkwardness, shyness and social exclusion since childhoid. He’s a computer engineer, plays RPG’s and Magic The Gathering, hates sports, etc. etc.

    He said to me once, ” If cool people become geeks, geeks will have to become something else, because the cool people will never associate with us” – he has also said “attractive women are never truly geeks because everybody loves attractive women and nobody loves geeks.”

    I think geeks accept women who are “real” geeks (science nerds, socially awkward etc) but the are suspicious of women who they think adopt geekiness as a fashion. They perceive that thise women could adopt geekiness whenever they wanted and go mainstream, whereas real geeks can’t.

    • “They perceive that thise women could adopt geekiness whenever they wanted and go mainstream, whereas real geeks can’t.”
      Sounds about right. Your iphone doesn’t make you a geek.

      • Also you don’t see many/if any arguments of how women are wasting their life, not growing up because they play games yet you see OOOODLES about the prolonged adolescence because of adult male gamers.

        • I remember someone here said “woman are woman based on who they are, men are men based on what they do”. this is right on the money especially when it comes to video games.

          To society a man playing video games is all they need to know about him, he’s defined by it.

    • Right on target, Sarah. Just full-time low-wage workers resent someone wealthy enough to “open a little boutique downtown and run it part time because it’s so fulfilling,” so do geeky guys resent someone who occasionally dabbles in unpopularity for the thrill of it. “Slumming,” it used to be called.

      • I don’t understand the resentemt towards ‘dabbling,’ Copyleft. For example, I dabble in MTG. I think it’s fun to play in casual tournaments. It’s fun to play with friends and boyfriends. I think deck building is fun. I know I have a preference for control decks and get excited when I see a card that fits what I want. But hey, I have no interest in ever making it to a pro-tour nor am I crazy competitive when I play. I love winning, but I’m not going to get pissed of when I don’t. I think it’s great to get involved in the fantasy world. But I don’t know every single card from every single set. I don’t watch *all* of the coverage or look at the spoilers for a new set the minute that they come out. But I do get excited to see a new set and annoyed when I’ve finally perfected a deck and the cards leave standard and I need to spend more money. I’m not great at every mechanic nor do I know every deck that’s being played competitively (and sometimes I don’t play a really good card simply because I know that it’d just confuse me). I haven’t been playing since I was 10. It was a mixture of not knowing about the game, my parents not wanting to spend the money on it, and never being invited. I simply enjoy having fun with playing and learning. Does that make me a bad person? And especially since I’m a conventionally attractive woman? Am I not allowed to have a casual hobby without being accused of something sinister?

        • A casual-pretender level of Magic: The Gathering player isn’t your level. You’re way above that, you’re not slumming it.

          Someone slumming it would have someone else, possibly paid for, build them a deck. They’d barely know the rules, let alone how their deck works. And they’d look at you sideways if you brought in special rules, set-specific functions etc.

  10. Being suspicious of people who want to join your group for superficial reason or because it’s now considered “cool” doesn’t just involve video games but every part of our lives.
    We don’t want to share our interest with someone who isn’t genuine about there’s.

    With Geeks it’s a bit different because while there’s been a rise in video games, only certain video games on certain platforms are seen as acceptable to play and Geeks still face the negative stereotypes they did years ago.

    So now someone can kill time playing a game on their smartphone but still consider you a geek for owning a console with a collection of games.

  11. “For the first time, there are visible swathes of geek culture that aren’t only female-majority, but unabashedly girly–in a culture where feminization is very directly equated to deprecation of value.”

    So geek = guy, and guy > girl, so geek =/=girl, because geek > girl? As usual, the problem boils down to “men are bad” – geek men are just out to oppress women out of geekhood.

    Would it surprise you to learn that a lot of black people resent white rappers? Its almost like members of typically disparaged groups resent when members of elevated groups decide to participate in elements of the disparaged group’s culture.

  12. Not buying itNot says:

    BASTA (gets it), Schala (gets it), ballgame (gets it), Jacobtk (gets it).

    Women in general are the center of the social establishment & society in general, now way would a group of people who are rejected or fled by choice should bring or even accept their main tormentor among themselves!!! & as if that wasn’t ridiculous in itself, the main tormentor (Social bully) is making demands of undeserved respect for unearned lack luster abilities, talents, hobbies & in general basic interests that believe it or not differ than what men are interested in.

    Your ideology shouldn’t be enforced on people who are asking to be left alone, you have the rest of the world to stick your claws in period.

  13. Not buying it says:

    Most of us diehard geeks the older we get the mor we lose interest in marriage, intimacy, female attention or allure, most sports , friendships that are not based on hobbies, intellectual endeavours or even boyish one’s, competitive to death at certain individual or group level, …etc, your social needs and aspirations are yours & the general public, so take your gender based demands to them.

  14. There’s something astoundingly saddening and somewhat terrifying about a guy who makes things like “social reject” or “can’t get a date” into an integral part of their identity. Off hand one would identify a passion for science fiction and video games etc. as the defining feature of being a geek. However the etymology of geek is pejorative. 15th century geck = a fool 20th century geek = someone who lacks social graces and has an obsession with science technology, sci fi. This quality of being the bottom of the social dog pile is a big part of how the mainstream imagines “geeks” and “nerds”. Inevitably there are many who do have intense social problems, myself included. However if you had to describe yourself, and the first thing that comes up is your social problems then that’s just sad. It’s also problematic because then, for that person to improve their social life, they would have to alter their sense of personal identity. I’m being somewhat hypocritical here, as I have this problem too. However at least I know that my social problems are a problem that I need to fix. I can’t wait for other people to fix it for me.

    In general there are problems with how men and women relate to each other. Maybe a lot of men here feel that they got the short end of the stick, but so do a lot of women! (The metaphorical stick is more of a twig really.) There are men who get involved with geekery because they want to drop out of the rat race, the intense competition between men, the constant need to get laid, to seem tough, etc. However there are also women who get involved with geeky communities becaus they don’t want to compete with other women, or feel like trophies for the men, or the lack of agency, or doing things super-subtly to avoid impinging on men’s agency. It is unfair that men who do this are accepted, but women who do this are seen as a problem by the established members of geeky communities.

    Not all geeky men have social troubles, and yet it is something we associate with geekiness, and there are a lot of men who seem to identify this way. Regardless of the supposed connection, I don’t think we can make the claim that a passion for technology or Star Wars requires social troubles. However if there are both geeks with bad social skills and geeks with good social skills, and they both go to VidCon then what do they do when they run into each other?

    Sometimes it seems like there might be an impending schism in the broader geeky community. At first it seems like a schism between those who are more invested in it, and those who are less invested, the true geeks and the posers. However the people who are more invested seem to be saying that they feel threatened by the posers because of the bullying they faced early in life.

    I felt some pretty intense bullying in middle school. Unless you got hospitalized by your bullies I probably had it worse. Four or five guys doing their best to harass me, half the school watching, all of the teachers just happen to be looking the other way. However the idea of claiming that every dude with more social status than I is a threat is silly to me. Admittedly I’ve become somewhat obsessed with certain psychological and sociological concepts that seem to explain that kind of bullying though. However I refuse to accuse people who are more mainstream or of higher social status than me, even if they insist on attending the same conventions and other social events as me.

    People who see someone who has social success in mainstream circles, and yet also has similar interests, and feel threatened by that, clearly they are acting out irrationally due to trauma. They need to admit they have a problem and deal with their trauma. Blaming women and posers for invading their space doesn’t help.

    • Dr. Anonymous says:

      So in this suffering competition. Does developing clinical depression due to being bullied count? Does suffering from ADHD and an IQ in excess of 180 and being bullied for both count?

      I have heard lots of women describe how somehow they (the women) were worse of because they felt excluded than the men who where bullied, beaten and taunted, and somehow this should be regarded as a privilege for men.

    • QuantumInc says:

      tldr? I don’t blame you, sorry for the length of lack of organization.

      There are a lot of people, myself included who have faced intense and traumatizing bullying and social ostracism in our childhoods. Like any trauma there are good ways and bad ways to deal with that. Attempting to bully and ostracize people who enter your geeky spaces is not a good of dealing with that trauma, and just creates additional victims.

      I don’t think that low social status or a lack of social skills is necessarily connected to liking science, technology, fantasy, or Sci Fi, even though people tend to equate that with the word “Geek”. However there might be a conflict between those who are more social adept and those who are far less, even if they’re into the same media with similar levels of passion. If one person makes friends easily, was popular in high school, has a loving girlfriends, and a second guy has no friends outside of conventions, was heavily bullied in high school to the point of psychological trauma, and feels like a fat ugly troll around women, can their their shared passion of for Star Wars unite them? It can be a good start but the first guy needs to realize his privilege and the second guy needs to realize that he has a serious problem he needs to work on for a long time, probably including psychotherapy.

      • I do not attempt to bully or ostracize people merely for trying to entering any of “my” spaces, geeky or not.
        However, I’m not either a clerk whose purpose is to cater to their needs and whims.
        Everyone’s got to bring something to the table. Don’t call me a misogynist just because a qute smile won’t earn you any freebies.

        It can be a good start but the first guy needs to realize his privilege and the second guy needs to realize that he has a serious problem
        And this is of course not only applicable to guys.

    • I was physically, mentally, n sexually abused at school. I was hit by teachers, tripped n broke my arm by one kid, regularly had my manboobs groped n nipple twisted, got into lots of fights, every day multiple times a day verbally taunted, socially excluded and this happened for about a decade during school. I ended up with a suicidal depression and an extreme form of social anxiety disorder which has left me jobless for 10years. Do I win the “my life wsa worse at school award?”. I didn’t let myself get depressed, IT JUST FUCKING HAPPENED. I didn’t sit there thinking, oh I should be depressed, I should be so scared of people even though I am twice their size, I should make my life so restricted because I totally have control over my amygdla which was making me fear for my safety around humans.

      Thing is for a person like me, women were a problem. It’s not just blaming women over the problem, women were actively being C***’s which made things worse, would you trust women if the majority of your experiences with them were negative? It’s not fair to blame all women which I realized but seeing as I’ve been there I do understand why so many are cautious with women in their group, and too many articles n people like yourself loveeee to gloss over this fact that some women can really be evil lil fucks and that can really make people cautious of them especially when they are young.

      These women are innocent routines are getting very old, does anyone believe women even have agency anymore and are responsible for their actions or are we just going to try act like women do no wrong and the men are the ONLY ones at fault here? I guess that’s a female privilege, never given enough responsibility for your negative actions, you’re seen as more innocent than you really are.

      Newsflash, geeks don’t just wakeup n start hating women, they don';t sit there n think I should hate women because they’re nice, decent humans. Most probably do it from some treating them like shit and they haven’t learned that some women are assholes, others are great (which I finally learned after 21ish).

      • Mr Supertypo says:

        Wow that was strong Archy, respect!
        I think there more needs to be done to shed light on the bad behavior of women as group. Also because, to make your point stronger, just the insinuation the women as group can do no wrong and they have no responsibility is pure misogyny. The essence of that myth (female innocence) cant be anything else than the highest and purest form of sexism. Misandry and misogyny of the worst kind.

        Women as group, can be just as bad as men, and it not enough to know this as a intellectual exercise but actions need to be done. Actions like talk about it, and encorage inquiry and articles to shed light on this “phenomena”. The mediatric cover on this subject is sickening.

        • “I think there more needs to be done to shed light on the bad behavior of women as group. Also because, to make your point stronger, just the insinuation the women as group can do no wrong and they have no responsibility is pure misogyny.”
          Women don’t act as a group and neither do men. I think it is absurd to hold women responsible for the actions of other women. Aren’t they individuals?

  15. Drew Bowling says:

    Concerning this, “Geek culture fosters a more cerebral and less violent model of masculinity, supported by a complementary range of alternative values,” I have to strongly disagree. Geek culture not only harbors but embraces the same mean-spirited, aggression-ready masculinity found in traditional masculinity except now it’s mutated into a less obvious bastard so as to appear less threatening. It’s every bit as toxic and exclusionist as old school masculinity. I don’t know how people keep thinking that the males in geek culture are somehow less malignant than the archetypal NFL fans so commonly singled out as traditionally masculine. Geeks/nerds are every bit as likely if not happily willing to perpetuate sexism and Leave It To Beaver-era masculinity as any other male.

    • Not buying it says:

      @Drew Bowling

      I think you’re carrying on the same old anti-male shaming tactics that a politically correct famous ideology likes to throw around at any males who are not falling in line with the rules (white night,chivalrous, …etc) they want men to follow, will you can go ahead follow it for yourself, Sir, some of us will not treat women any different then men & are not interested in the same things you are interested in, Sir.

      My 15yr old thesis /research project is more important then any relationship based on the demands of a self entitled princess (girlfriend or wife) , in a materialistic society that demands men to participate in unrealistic & unfair games called relationships period.

  16. ““Geek” is a gendered noun. There’s a GeekGirlCon, but no GeekGuyCon: every con is GeekGuyCon, unless it specifies otherwise. You don’t say “geek guys” the way you say “geek girls”: once you’ve said “geek,” the “guy” is pretty much taken as read.”

    I’ve always hated this argument. I went to an event one time, and the washrooms were labeled co-op and women’s. Was the co-op bathroom the men’s washroom? Yes, was it so because it was specifically for them, or because it was the only option they had? Our society has made it clear that men aren’t aloud to have their own things. There used to be men’s golf clubs, but those were deemed sexist and attacked. Now we have golf clubs and women’s golf clubs. Using your argument, this means the co-op clubs are men’s clubs, but they aren’t, they’re co-op. The reason there isn’t a male counterpart isn’t because the co-op is the men’s version, it is because men aren’t aloud to have their own version.

    he fact is, geeks is the generic term used by all, geek girl is a gender term used to distinguish women above the generic. The fact there is no geek guys isn’t because geek is gendered as male, it is because men aren’t entitled to an identify based on their gender. For example, how often do you see reports saying “…## dead, including women and children…”? Even when killed, men aren’t entitled to be identified based on their sex. It isn’t that men get to claim the generic term, it is that they aren’t entitled to claim a gendered one. To demonstrate further, Avril Lavign (sp?) did a song trying to push the term skater boy into the vocabulary. It didn’t stick. Why not?

  17. wellokaythen says:

    There is a middle way here. When I suggest “play nice,” I don’t mean “be a doormat.” I don’t mean be the stereotype of the “Nice Guy,” i.e., the person who lets everyone else walk all over him. One can be polite and minimally respectful without being either a jerk or a lovesick puppy dog.

  18. Joseph Hare says:

    I can’t believe I’m going to wade into this discussion, but here goes…

    I’m a fan of comic books. I have been since my mom and dad gave me their comics when I was about 4 or 5 years old. So let’s say since 1979. My dad had a lot of Silver Age DC and Marvel and other assorted westerns, horror, and war comics. My mom had superhero stuff, as well as romance comics, some Archie stuff, and some random mystery/suspense type stuff. I never thought as a kid about those books saying anything about my parents based on sex but more on individual tastes. The same way as I got a bit older my mom encouraged me to read the classics(it was our deal if I wanted weekly comics), so she had me reading everything from Swiss Family Robinson to Hound of the Baskervilles to Tom Sawyer to Little Woman to Wuthering Heights to Emma. I don’t run into a lot of men with a soft spot for the Bronte Sisters the way I do, but I digress… I suppose the point I am hoping to make is I approach every creative work for the work. I guess I grew up in a bubble, because I don’t feel that I think of anything as a “man’s book or movie” or a “woman’s book or movie”. It makes me sad though that people assign all these designations to things like artists, books, movies, and music when people really should focus on enjoying whatever appeals to their hearts and minds.
    Men create things, women create things. If that thing appeals to you why not simply enjoy it? I enjoy a lot of old movies and as much as I enjoy a good western or war picture, I also love musicals and romantic screwball comedies. I just see them as movies. I know it gets trickier with “geek” culture (God, I hate the sound of that), but again I think it really doesn’t have to be. I sell just as many Walking Dead collections to women as I do to men. I have a female co-worker who writes notes to herself in Star Wars languages, knows how to sword fight, and can tell you anything about comics from Fables to X-Factor to Batman to Polly and the Pirates. We all know at the shop that there’s comics that are maybe for certain age groups and there are comics that might appeal to one person’s tastes more than another but we don’t sell men’s comics to men and women’s comics to women. We just sell comics! If you ask me for my personal recommendation, I’ll be as likely to show you Starman, Blue Monday, DC Comics:New Frontier, Chicken with Plums, Building Stories, or Fun Home because they’re simply damn good books. If we’re blessed that you come into our shop, I also don’t care whether you can tell me what heroes lived on Earth 32 in the original Pre-Crisis DCU or if you can only recap last week’s episode of Big Bang Theory. I just want to have a chance to send you home with some example of this wonderful world of comic books that you will enjoy and hopefully you’ll come back for more. I have that perspective as a retailer, and I try to have it as a fan. After all, my true passions in so called Geek Culture really only boils down to classic monster movies, Doctor Who, classic comic strips from the 1890s to 1970, Golden Age through Bronze Age comics, and a smattering of indie and contemporary books. I have never played Magic the Gathering, could care less about video games, I hate zombies, I don’t know much of anything about Battlestar Galactica or Firefly, and I have no real interest in ever dressing up as anything other than me to go to a comic book convention. Am I a fake geek? I don’t sound very convincing, do I?

    Also does the fact that I have a collection of anything Audrey Hepburn mean I’m a broken machine as a man? Maybe. I’m just glad my gory horror movie loving , comic book reading, Catwoman costume wearing fiancee doesn’t think so! :)

    • Hi Joseph Hare!
      Thank for sharing your story. I truly enjoyed every single letter in it. :-)
      (And I can’t even begin to tell how much I envy you your “gory horror movie loving , comic book reading, Catwoman costume wearing fiancee” ;-) )

      I was an avid reader in my youth and early teens, so much so that in addition to the homework I went thru’ most of the old classics like Alexandre Dumas, “Three Musketeers”, etc, in my early teens.
      Nowadays however, not so much.

      In response to your “Men create things, women create things. If that thing appeals to you why not simply enjoy it?”
      I think that in our days, men are mostly chastised if the things that appeals to us is not as often created by women as they are by men.

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