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You Gotta Fight, for Your Right, to Nerd Out

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I saw this video a few nights ago, and really liked it.

The video features two men discussing the “Fake Geek Girl” in geek culture.  Sometimes, the term is “Fake Nerd Girl.”  Both terms are interchangeable, as well as demeaning.

I’ve been accused of being one before, and it pissed me off.

 

The term is used to describe a girl that either:

  • Pretends to like something nerdy (a TV show/comic book/board game/etc) for the sole purpose of garnering attention for liking said nerdy thing,
  • Claims to like something nerdy, despite only seeing/reading/having knowledge of a small part of it, or
  • Only associates herself with something nerdy to associate with other people or friends who actually enjoy the nerdy thing.

 

The video covers these points pretty well, but I agree so strongly with some of the rebuttals that I’d like to repeat them.

I think the actual problem here, which is talked about several times in the video, is the idea that girls being nerds is a strange idea.  (Keep in mind that in this context, I am using the word “nerd” to convey a person who enjoys lesser-known pop culture items and/or pop culture items that specifically and particularly deal with art, strategy, or science fiction.)  The fact of the matter is, anyone can like or appreciate anything they want.  There are no “boy interests” or “girl interests.”  Decidedly categorizing other people’s opinions and saying they’re wrong for going against the “right” opinion is ludicrous.

The men in the video address the lack of female nerds in recent decades (or, more accurately, their lack of presence), but I think it goes deeper than that.  It’s almost as if being a female nerd is insulting to our male counterparts.  Like we weren’t “allowed” to be nerds for so long that it was accepted as a status quo, and, by liking or enjoying nerdy things now, we’re breaking some silent code of ethics.  The idea of women parading around openly as nerds has been stifled for so long that it would be unthinkable to shatter that illusion now.

While the female nerd population has grown and become more mainstream in recent years, the thought of a culture suddenly appearing out of a need for attention is absurd.  I speak from experience.  We, women, have loved nerdy things for a long time.  Some of us were even willing to come out of our nerd closets way back when it wasn’t very socially acceptable.  We’ve had to resort to purchasing mens clothing in the past because our favorite nerdy items and characters wouldn’t dare appear on a babydoll T-shirt.

So much of that scene is old hat now.  Sweaty, pimply boys don’t reach in unison for their inhalers every time a girl walks into a card shop.  Nor are men intimidated by playing against women in card or video game tournaments.  Unlike the Big Bang Theory wants you to believe.  We go along with these tropes because they make us laugh and reflect on a time when being a nerd girl was weird and, at times, unwelcomed.

But that time is no more.  All nerds, from all walks of life, are welcomed with open arms into the nerd community.  The more the merrier.

I don’t say all of this out of naïvety, of course.  There will always be bad apples in the bunch.  And there are girls out there who pretend to love something nerdy for the sole purpose of getting attention for it.  But there are exponentially more women who are coming around to the idea of nerdiness.  Finally stepping outside their comfort zone and wondering, Could I like this, too?

Maybe they already like something nerdy and want to know more about it.  In what universe would that be looked down on?  Automatically calling every woman out as being a Fake Nerd Girl, especially for their lack of knowledge in spite of their desire to appreciate the craft, is destroying any chance of real nerds coming out of their shell.

So please, rethink the next time you want to call a Fake Geek Girl out.  It’s very likely that you’re wrong.

 

ETA: Read this shit.  This is an excellent read, and so relevant.

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