Thursday, 5 November 2015

Nerdversity Thoughts: What does it mean to be a geek girl in today's culture?

This controversial comic was shown to us and I thought it'd be a good time to talk about this subject. Note: we are NOT trying to attack or discredit anymore, We are not trying to be gatekeepers of anything and these are merely observations and opinions.

There;s no denying that pop culture is now on the rise and with it, a new generation of pop culture fanatics, however, lets start at the very beginning: Back when geek culture was starting out in the 50s and 60s, it was largely male orientated. Most of the authors were male, the biggest selling comic books were aimed at men. It's clear that Captain America and Batman weren't aimed at girls and neither were John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. This was still the time when computers, comic books, sci-fi anthologies, table top RPGs and the like were still underground things and up until very recently, children were still being beaten up and called a "nerd" for playing CHESS, that's not counting reading Spider-Man comics in the school yard. Majority of the bullies were male, but there were women who were bullies on to the geeks.Even well into the 80s and early 90s, there were very few female contributors to the Geek culture.

How do women fit into this? well, first off, let me say that yes, we are in agreement that there are many women who have been playing games since the Atari 2600 or been playing D&D since Version 1, reading sci-fi anthologies from the 60s and even been shovelling quarters into arcade machines and pinball tables. They have suffered their own fair share of abuse from men and other girls over the years as well.

Now for the sciencey bit - It's no surprise that women are fantastic liars and are much better at it than men and can also hide their true intentions better than men. I'm not saying all men suck at lying and I'm not saying that all women are perfect liars either, but as a general statement. It's also been proven that women can tell absolute lies and still beat a polygraph test. On the flipside, humans are social creatures and we have always separated ourselves into groups from day 1. We find people we most associate with and get along with. When it comes out groups outside our social circle and hobbies, this is where things get different. People have a desire to belong somewhere. This is where it ties in back to geek culture. When we meet a new social circle and culture, we want to fit into that circle and culture, so our brain tells us we have 2 ways, we can lie and fake our way in and hope it works, or we can earn our place like the other members,

In the last 15 years or so, we have seen pop culture start to rise from an underground thing to multi billion dollar phenomenons. To many, this is a good idea, some people who've been in the geek community a long time are less reserved at the idea. Thanks to shows like The Big Bang Theory promoting geek culture and it being heavy prevalent everywhere else, especially mainstream conventions getting mainstream non-geek media attention, geek culture is extremely popular at the moment and shows no signs of stopping, however, this is where many fandoms have run into a problem. The Fake Geek Girls. They are the sort of girls who buy geeky clothing because it's cool, keep geeky TV shows on the air and generally cause headaches for people in many fandoms, especially when they post things like this:

The other thing we should mention is that one of the other theories as to why women are badgered and questioned in the geekdom is this: The older fans of things and have been around the longest are very weary of who they let into the community due to them being bullied about it, especially now with many of the things they love being billion dollar earning franchises, so when someone who has shown NO interest in a subject before and has laughed at them previously for having the Batman lunchbox now has an interest in Batman, are they here for the right intentions?

One other theory is the "Gatekeeper" theory which, I think is an awful name for it, but women seeming hate having to prove their credentials over men. The reason that they state is simply that men don't try to be something they're not, they tend not to lie to each other due to the "Bro Code". It also stems from the fact that whenever someone new enters a group, they test each other's knowledge on a certain subject to make sure they're not trying to run their mouth and fake their way in and they actually are credible enough to talk with the group. Remember, it's NOT just women who get this sort of treatment, men get it too, regardless of whether it's geek culture, cars, sport or whatever else. 

There IS a distinction between new fans and fakes and this is what we're trying to separate here. Fakes wear geeky clothes, cosplay in rather revealing clothing, but know NOTHING about the subject matter that they're trying to be a part of. They only want to be there because they want to be popular and get noticed,  New fans are the kind of people that have a strong interest in something but are just starting out and need a helping hand on reading material, viewing order etc etc and they want to earn their place in a culture and community.

A survey was released recently that showed that women are closing the gap on gender differences in video gaming, which many have said that the era of the fake geek girl is dead. I disagree as the results only show a 44% markup of females who play video games. It doesn't go into detail as to what games they are playing and what platforms. Many people wouldn't consider Angry Birds or Farmville actual games, more time wasters, Now, if the breakdown had more accurate information in it, we could see the real figures and the 44% is too vague a number.

These types of fakes are the reason why women get harassed at conventions, be they there for the popularity or there to enjoy themselves. Bringing this subject up is a very dangerous thing in the geek community as many choose to attack the people who bring this up and would rather protect the fakes, but another question is aside from the fakes, It is why women who go to their local game store to buy a some new models for Warhammer 40k often get "you buying that for your boyfriend?" and are often laughed out of the store, despite the fact they may have been playing since the early days at their local club. 

In my personal and honest opinion, we shouldn't be protecting the fakes and blaming the men for asking the questions. They've had their cultures ruined by fakes who are only there to get their popularity and then leave, moving onto their next one. We as a geek community should band together and help remove them because we think women who play D&D and video games are awesome.

Once again, I hope you've enjoyed this article and please note, this is just an opinion, based solely around observations within the communities and at conventions. Do not take this as fact, we encourage you to do some research and make up your own mind regarding this subject.