It seems the new way to drum up a lot of nerdy outrage online these days (and therefore a lot of page views) is calling out "fake geek girls." The latest is this article by Joe Peacock over on CNN, which rails against booth babes (who are paid, although Peacock doesn't seem to know that) and other girls who don skimpy costumes solely for male attention, in essence "pretending to be geeks."
I've been asked to comment on this trend several times, but I've avoided it because I like Epbot to promote geek girl culture through positive means, not negative ones. Meaning I'd rather point out and applaud the good stuff, and not dignify the bad with more press. I like to think if we all subscribed to this philosophy, then most haters would pack up and go home once they realize they're not getting the attention they're trolling for.
Still, I'm going to weigh in on this quickly, just so I can refer back to this post later as my "official stance" on that elusive thing called "Geek Cred."
Here it is:
WHO IS THIS HELPING?!
Ok, that's more of a question than a stance, but I'd love it if everyone would ask themselves that before writing any more articles or comments calling out "fake" geeks. Who is that article helping? How is it improving anyone's experience or life or attitude toward their fellow fans?
At best, you'll have people agree with the author and shake their fists angrily about all those awful "posers" who are "ruining" the con experience for the rest of us. Woohoo. Let's all get angry and congratulate each other on how wittily we're tearing other people down, thereby making ourselves feel somehow superior.
At worst, however, these articles and the attitude they represent will lead to further judgement and hatred of female geeks, who in turn will feel an increasing need to somehow "prove" themselves.
So let me get this straight: We've gone from being ostracized as geeks to accusing the "cool people" of pretending to be geeks? Is this some kind of generational revenge? Are we trying to get our day in the sun as the popular clique now, dictating who can and can't eat at our metaphorical lunch table?
With that said, I'm not sure I'd call writers like Peacock "misogynists," simply because I hate hateful labels, and - at the risk of inspiring some ire myself - sometimes I find myself agreeing that the whole booth babe mentality is pretty repugnant. And, yeah, when I see a hot girl in nothing but Batman underwear getting more attention on the con floor than the non-hot girl who spent months crafting an amazing costume, I get a little irked. But you know what? THAT'S NOT THE HOT GIRL'S FAULT. Hot girls make awesome costumes, too. And being hot certainly doesn't disqualify someone from being a "real" geek, for Stay Puft's sake. So who am I to judge? Who are any of us to judge?
Look, instead of decrying the fact that guys will always like boobs, and instead of judging any woman who dares flaunt a little sexuality as being somehow less of a fangirl, let's focus on the good stuff:
Times are changing, and with them comics, video games, and nerd culture. As women flood the geek and gamer market, content producers are being forced to make their content fit a more diverse demographic. That means stronger female lead characters, and more of them. It means more women being involved in creating that content. It means, quite simply, that geek girls are on the rise.
So don't let the Geek Police get you down, ladies, because things are looking up. Look at Katie with her Star Wars bottle. Look at 6-year-old Bryden with her Spock cosplay. These girls and others like them are going to grow up into a geek culture more open and accepting and female-friendly than the one we're in now, because they will make it that way just by being themselves. And frankly, I couldn't be more excited about that.
In fact, I think I just found a better stance on this geek cred thing:
"Stop qualifying, and start celebrating."
And that's my final word.
So let's go celebrate, my friends.
UPDATE: If you're interested in further reading on all this, John Scalzi and Forbes both posted their own rebuttals/reviews today, and Joe Peacock has posted a response to all the criticism.
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