This week the Internet sphere was abuzz after an article about “Booth Babes” was published. It opened the floodgates of the “Geek Girl” validity dialogue even though the article itself does not claim that all Geek Girls are the booth babes that brands pay to cater a product -- it does, however, bring to light a very unfortunate reality: the fact that many think it’s ok to bring one’s geek cred into question.
So let’s clear up a few things here that, for the most part, we hopefully all agree on:
Geek girls come in all shapes and sizes and look DIFFERENT. No we don’t all look like what the media sometimes portrays us as, whether it’s the hot girl with brains or the plucky girl with glasses. We aren’t the idealized or exploited versions of women that often get attention.
We are real in the way that, like all people, we have imperfections.
We are unique. And the assumption that we’re burgeoning in what is known as a predominantly “male” culture is not a surprise, but needs to be clarified. Most of the women I know who are proud geeks have been geeks all their lives. Like many geeks growing up many of us have previously enjoyed our interests on our own. We used to be few and far between but the social media age has helped us connect with more fellow Geeks and so we are more noticeable. No one really geeks out on their own anymore.
Along with many women who are known to represent us in the different social spheres, groups like the League of Extraordinary Ladies, Defective Geek girls, and the Geek Girls Create are just a few examples of LEGIONS of groups that actively reach out and interact with like-minded people.
Gender doesn’t matter. We have assembled to share ideas and reach out to anyone who is passionate about anything. What we look like should be of little importance compared to what we bond over and what we contribute to help our wonderful community grow. It’s the things we obsess over, that shared love for that creative spirit in the medium or in the people that dissect it, that builds the bridges between us, with (hopefully) no reservations or judgments.
That’s why “Geek” can be added to almost anything we collectively obsess over.
Now, the thing that disturbs me the most about the issue at hand goes well beyond gender. What it comes down to is how much it is like what we once stood against:
Many fail to understand that by holding people to an expectation of what they should like in order to be considered a geek is OUTRAGEOUS.
It makes us no better than those who didn’t let us into their trendy “cliques” because we didn’t meet their social “Cred” requirements in the past. Not letting people into our world doesn’t make us any different that the people who thought we were weird or not cool enough because we didn’t meet THEIR expectations.
We don’t have to become what we once hated.
So stop in the name of creative spirit!
Now that our interests have widened the palette of Pop Culture, they’re not just more easily accessible to us, but also to people who may not have been exposed to these things as long as we have. They pick up a book or get exposed to different movies or shows more easily; they see a shirt or a replica necklace and like it. This “like” grows into interest in the fandom, but sometimes it doesn’t go further than a passing phase. While it is annoying, it doesn’t directly affect us, so there should be no reason for anyone to bully those who aren’t as passionate about things as we might be. Sure, there may be many people who pose as geeks for personal gain or to promote a brand or some who think it’s a cool trend to follow. But let’s not let others spoil what we cherish. We’ll recognize people who are truly interested. We should be happy that the many interests we have been passionate about are getting new supporters who would probably love to learn more about it from the long-time fan like you and me. As ambassadors for creativity in the worlds we obsess, our roles go beyond consuming; we can give back and build upon what we love, thus becoming a part of the narrative, even if only in our minds or among our group of like-minded creative friends.
Above all, the core of Geek Culture needs to set the precedent. Because of the multitude of things we can be geeks for is so immense, the “Geek Snobs” need to break the habit of holding others to what they think it means to be a geek. You can be a geek for just about anything you’re passionate about. Sci-fi geek, Disney geek, underwater basket weaving geek, fishing geek, math geek, fantasy geek, makeup geek, plant geek, baseball geek, music geek, medieval torture device geek, fitness geek, knitting geek, country geek, etc.
We are each our own unique geeky combinations. If we desire the freedom to express ourselves, then others can too. We’re going to be seeing a lot of combinations we didn’t encounter before and that’s the beauty of exploring this new terrain. So let’s build this culture with an open mind.
Go forth and geek on!!!