I’m getting SO tired of the “girl geek posers GTFO” meme.
This topic has been on a slow boil at the back of my mind for months. It came to a head yesterday when I read an article by Joe Peacock of CNN’s Geek Out!, who thinks sexy girls falsely passing themselves off as geeks are a pox on the geek community.
Let’s break it down.
Is the the fact that tech companies hire hot girls to peddle their wares an awful practice? Yes.
Does that mean there is a proliferation of women professionals passing themselves off as geek icons without the background to back it up? No. And certainly not enough to merit an article like this.
It is one thing to decry the use of models at exhibit booths. It’s quite another to claim that many professional women in tech, who do this as a career, are misrepresenting themselves. Which is basically what Joe is trying to say here.
Curiously, the only example he provided of the latter case, aside from Olivia Munn, is of one gaming journalist’s misdirected haterade on beloved geek maven Felicia Day. Which isn’t really a valid example when you consider that this colossal douchebag was dead wrong about Felicia’s background and expertise as a professional geek.
Clearly I think Joe is being an asshat and perpetuating a dangerous stereotype among the geek community. But do you know what’s even worse? When you see this kind of unwarranted witch hunting coming from your own gender.
It all started earlier this year when I read an article by a Forbes columnist–and a woman–who self-righteously laid down the line for “fake geek girls”: they needed to drop the act and stop pretending they had the credentials to sport geek pride.
The article reeked of entitlement and snobbery, and to be frank, made me want to scream and pull my hair out. I’m intentionally not linking to it. Here is someone claiming to support the community of women in tech blasting her own gender without regard to how it will actually affect geek girls.
Because guess what? These geek girl posers she speaks of? Her words will fall on their deaf ears.
They don’t care. If they’re using the geek moniker to advance themselves, clearly they’re not interested in whether or not anyone thinks they’re a “real” geek. They’ll keep on trucking with or without approval.
Even worse, if they actually process what’s being said they’ll think this message doesn’t apply to them. If they have the self confidence to declare themselves a geek whether or not they are, they probably have the gumption to proudly declare after reading such an article “yeah, those poser geek girls need to stand the eff down!”
Instead, here are the people her words truly reach: insecure, self-esteem-challenged girls and women paralyzed by imposter syndrome that probably ARE certifiable geeks. Her words will immediately make them question themselves.
How do I know this? It made me question myself immediately when I first read it.
Am I really a geek? A tech PR person by trade, a lot of people would look at me and dismiss me as another “poser” not fit to wear the geek cloth. Yet I consider myself a technophile, gamer, coding n00b and I’m very geeky about non-tech areas like sports, fashion and beauty. Immediately after reading this article, I began to question what has been a quiet notion of myself being a geek. Am I really a geek? Do I deserve to give myself this title?
It reminded me of years ago when a good friend of mine and brilliant writer was being torn down by Internet critics for being a self-professed geek because she did not conform to their “standard” of geekiness. This is someone who was able to fenagle a press pass to Comic Con nearly every year, someone who interviewed brilliant author and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman in the flesh, someone who writes for a web site entirely dedicated to chronicling the depths of the comic book industry.
Yet she did not live up to someone’s narrow-minded definition of the term “geek.”
This is a bullshit reasoning. We should be encouraging women to geek out. We should be happy that the word geek is becoming a positive word. Women already have it tough enough in the male-dominated geek world. And yet we want to make it even tougher by telling them they have to prove their geekiness.
Honestly, it makes me sick.
Do I need to tell you how many hours I spend playing games to merit calling myself a gamer? Until now I’ve been ashamed to admit I’ve logged ~200 hours playing the fantastic Valve game Left 4 Dead. That’s not to mention all the other games I’ve played recently, like Portal and Portal 2, Assassin’s Creed, Borderlands, Deus Ex: Revolution, and more.
Or get a passing grade on a StarTrek quiz before I can call myself a Trekkie? I’ve only watched three seasons of TNG so far but I’m already a huge fan. Perhaps I’m one sliver Trekkie?
Or have read a certain number of comic books and graphic novels before I can consider myself a comic book geek? I’ve read The Dark Knight, Watchmen, Sandman, Ender’s Game, The Middle Man, Portal and Left4Dead comics and loved them all.
It reminds me of the insidious “neg” pickup tactic detailed in The Game. Let me insult you so you feel inclined to prove yourself to me and stroke my fragile ego.
Just remember that the only women who are going to play this game with you are the very same women you WANT in the tech industry: sincere people who really do want to contribute to the community. This kind of elitist behavior is going to leave a bad taste in their mouth and may ultimately scare them away for good.
Do you really think that’s a game worth playing?