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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.


The Psychology of the Fake Geek Girl: Why We’re Threatened by Falsified Fandom

I’ve been telling myself to stay out of this debate. I’ve been assuring myself that any time spent reading rants, posts, and their circular comments will only make me feel resentful and defensive. I tell myself that the fight is over and no one won. I rationalize that only a few people are ruining it for the rest of us and therefore, those few should just be ignored. I vow to stop drawing attention to this ridiculous creature, to stop reinforcing the idea that the “Fake Geek Girl” exists.

“Why don’t you just drop it?” “Why can’t you take a joke?” “Why aren’t you over this?” I ask myself these things too.

The truth is, I don’t know. But, recently, I’ve been asked by Badass Digest to weigh in on why such accusations have a strong impact on our community, and to provide some of the psychological explanations for why we’ve reacted the way we have to the recent verbal attacks on female fans and to the accusations that some are “fake nerds.” Can we learn anything from this, beyond acknowledging that these claims are rude and unequivocally sexist? We know that it’s absurd. We do! So why does it keep getting dragged into our dialogue? And if we are accused of fakedom, why do we snap back in defense? We’ve been called some awful, demeaning things in our past. But this “F”-word seems to have climbed the ranks to become one of the most insulting labels. Why so much power? Why are we so deeply threatened by the notion of falsified fandom?

We’re told we’re overreacting.

I wish it were that simple. Trust me–I’d prefer to raise an eyebrow, flip my hair, and be on my way. But the much stronger reaction to the accusation of being “fake” can’t be explained by just one isolated feeling. This stronger reaction stems from years of repeated, accumulated experiences of insults, indignities, and demeaning messages from other members of the comics community. These experiences–the seemingly harmless comments, the sarcastic jokes, the subtle non-physical exchanges–are called microaggressions. The theory of microaggressions was developed back in the 70′s to denote racial stereotyping, but was expanded by psychologist Derald Wing Sue, Ph.D. in 2007 to encompass a wide variety and classifications of these subtle and seemingly harmless expressions that communicate “hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults” toward people who aren’t members of the ingroup. These outgroup members might include women, racial/ethnic minorities, LBGT members, and others historically marginalized in our community.

Here are some examples of gender microaggressions in the context of female members of the comics community:

“You sure know a lot about Batman, for a girl.”

“You don’t look like a geek.”

“That’s nice of you to come to Star Wars celebration for your boyfriend.”

“Did your older brother get you into comics?

“You’re a nerd’s wet dream.”

I didn’t say that men are the only assailants when it comes to gender microaggressions. Women also deliver these seemingly harmless bites.

Why are microaggressions harmful? They seem silly, right? But these comments actually communicate messages that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person. Sure, these incidents typically appear minute, banal and trivial. Sometimes they produce a good laugh. But repeated experiences of receiving them can have a long-term psychological impact. For instance, here are the implied messages about women in the comics community:

“You do not belong.”

“You are abnormal.”

“You are intellectually inferior.”

“You cannot be trusted.”

“You are all the same.”

These messages can therefore be pervasive and potentially damaging to a large group of people. And the reason they are micro-aggressions, Dr. Sue explains, is that the person delivering them may be well-intentioned and non-threatening in nature, maybe not even aware of their own biases. They, too, are have their own experiences that have shaped their perspectives. In most cases, when confronted, the person will deny that they meant any harm, explain that they were joking, and tell the recipient that she is being too sensitive. I cannot emphasis enough the point here:

1. The recipients of microaggressions feel victimized and threatened.

2. Their assailants feel like they did no harm.


Thus the endless cycle of invalidation, misunderstanding, defensiveness and back to invalidation. We’re seeing the cycle play out now in the context of social media where there seems to be a huge misunderstanding about the definition of “satire.”

Let me be clear about what IS NOT a microaggression:

“You’re not comics.”

“You don’t know SHIT about comics.”

“You are what I refer to as CON-HOT.”

These are examples of actual threats, verbal assaults, and intentionally insulting remarks. There is no doubt they are sexist and I’m not tackling them here. But these comments do trigger an emotional response because they confirm past microaggressive experiences. That is, they reinforce the stereotypes, the deluded beliefs that women lack comics knowledge, that women who affiliate with geekdom shouldn’t look feminine/pretty/sexy, and that male members of the community are responsible for our membership. These instances are like knife-stabs in vulnerable places.

We’re told we’re invisible.

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing right in front of someone and they still don’t see me. I’ve explained to people that the reason I sometimes express my geekdom superficially, through a ridiculous amount of fan-wear, is for the identity recognition. I admit, I have a deep and sometimes desperate desire to be seen for who I am, for my geek identify to be validated. There’s a part of me that is yelling, “Please see me!” And yet, despite my flamboyance, I’m still overlooked. In my experience, this typically happens in the form of a microaggression– a subtype called microinvalidation.

I recently traveled to a psychology conference, and, upon arriving at the airport for my departing flight, experienced an example of a microinvalidation. At security check, after my technology went through the scanner, I scurried over to gather my shoes and belongings. I picked up my Star Wars hoodie and wrapped it around my Batgirl t-shirt. The thirty-something male TSA agent pointed to my Kindle, the one with the Star Wars comics cover, and immediately looked at the stranger standing next to me: “Is this your Kindle?” The stranger next to me, a twenty-something looking guy dressed in plain jeans and a pale shirt, shook his head. “It’s mine,” I blurted. The TSA-man then leaned forward and said, giddily, “That’s really awesome. I love Star Wars too.” A compliment. But I couldn’t process the kind words because I was still recovering from being stunned by his assumption that my things do not actually belong to me. A reminder of the widespread belief that Star Wars is gendered. It’s male. The thing I love is for males.

The mistaken identity stayed with me. The negative thoughts of being invisible flooded my mind. Resentment became my in-flight entertainment. But because I insisted on obsessing over a microinvalidation, I dismissed a validating compliment and an opportunity to feel visible. And damnit, an opportunity to geek out with someone who liked my stuff. Ridiculous, huh? I’m guilty of perpetuating the cycle, too.

Photo by LJinto

Microinvalidations are just one explanation of why we’re incited when being accused of being an imposter. But it’s an important one because it refers to a basic human need. Psychologically we have a deep desire to be recognized and to belong. Our social identity– who we are, essentially, to the world– is greatly determined by the groups we belong to. We develop much of ourselves from our groups: self-esteem, purpose, a sense of belonging, approval. Thus, being accused of being an imposter is actually very damaging and fragmenting to our sense of self because it’s like someone is telling us, “you’re not who you say you are.” Again, these comments seem so harmless and silly, but they undoubtedly exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person. If we’re recipients of these messages, we experience powerlessness, loss of integrity, and invisibility.

We’re told we can’t keep up intellectually.

How are costumes in any way related to comics knowledge? Moreover, how are skimpy costumes related to comics knowledge? And what if these women who cosplay want to be seen in their costume and therefore want the attention? (GASP!). I have no explanation for this imagined fantasy that women who cosplay for attention cannot be actual nerds. But I have to acknowledge that the accusation of being “fake” stings like hydrosulphuric acid because of the underlying message that we’re not knowledgeable enough to read, enjoy and understand comics, especially if we’re wearing a costume that’s seen as provocative or revealing. “You’re too busy looking like a slut you can’t possibly have read all the issues of The Walking Dead.” I don’t get it. I simply can’t form a sensible relationship between skin and stupidity, because these two things operate on completely different, orthogonal planes. But nothing seems more damaging to a woman than the simultaneous attack on both her body and her brain.

Why are we threatened by the Imposter?

I’ve talked about how the “fake” accusation can be more than just insulting, how it actually taps into some deeper feelings stemming from accumulated negative experiences. But what IF some of these women in question were, in fact, “fake?” What if there are people out there conning us, putting on a guise, attempting to pass as one of us? Why does the imposter, who represents a small fraction of our community, seem to have grabbed so much focus and power? Perhaps we’re enraged by the “fake geek girl” accusation in the first place because we find imposters to be very threatening. Here are some reasons why we might be threatened by inauthentic members of our society:

1. The false notion of limited resources: Growing up, many of us experienced our fandoms in the context of collections, acquisitions, and serialized products. Our fandoms seem to manifest as measurable amounts of goods. Our vocabulary includes words like “exclusive,” “mint condition,” and “collectible.” We know that Comic-Con tickets will sell out. We know that Mondo will only offer 580 Olly Moss Lord of the Rings posters and 285 variant posters. Guess what? They sold out in 3 minutes. Like it or not, we think of our fandom as serialized and limited. We’re a possessive lot and it’s not entirely our fault. The notion of an imposter–someone who doesn’t truly care about the personal meaning and value of the items– is threatening to us because they may take from our precious, vulnerable pot.

The opposite is actually true if we think about intangible goods– the vast amount of knowledge across all geek genres from comic books to fantasy literature to video games. There’s such a large universe that the few imposters–if they really existed–are not realistic threats.

2. The misinterpreted sense of ownership. When we belong to a community, we develop a sense of deserved ownership. When I was young, I received fan club cards and membership letters to inform me that I belonged to a particular club, reinforcing the exclusivity of the group. Serial numbers, laminated cards, and now, e-mails and twitter groups seem to reify the notion that belonging to a group means we are shareholders and that others are not. Shareholding grants us certain conceptual privileges: We get to decide who else is in or out. But, really, apart from the tangible products, what do we really own?

3. Resentment of the changing culture. Some of us grew up hiding our geek identity for one reason or another. Maybe we felt insecure; maybe we got bullied for being “out.” Some of us hid or masked our identities as geeks well until adulthood. For many of us, when we see individuals who appear to have recently joined the community we feel uncomfortable with their different identity development. We had to suffer the bullying! But now that it’s “cool” to be geek, here they come in droves! God, they even look happy. Let’s stop that. That’s a whole lot of projection on people we don’t know. And they don’t deserve it.

The feelings of being threatened, invalidated, and overlooked can happen to any one of us in this community–some psychologists argue that when the threats are ambiguous or subtle (like microaggressions), they can be more damaging because there is no certainty and the assault is denied or ignored. They say that we don’t do any good for ourselves if we latch on to the few experiences that give us the greatest pain–we have to escape the cycle. We should point out the real threats, defending ourselves, correcting lies, demonstrating that it’s not incongruous to be sexy and smart; we’re a disservice to ourselves if we miss opportunities to highlight and celebrate the healthy validation and recognition happening by both men and women in this community.

In other words, we’ve got to stop being exclusive. All of us have, at one point or another, experienced bullying, invisibility, insult, attack, or violation. This is the human condition. But I seriously wonder if we’ve pulled these abilities from the dark, awful places of our childhood, lashing out quite expertly to newcomers or strangers, in ways we know are the most painful.


Dr. Andrea Letamendi is clinical psychologist who writes in-depth perspectives about heroes and villains from science fiction, fantasy, and comics. She is a consultant to writers and creators in the comics industry to help ensure the accuracy of psychology as depicted in fiction. She regularly speaks as an expert panelist at comic conventions around the country and, in her spare time, obsesses over all things Batman and Star Wars.

[Editors Note: You can find Dr. Letamendi on Twitter: @ArkhamAsylumDoc or at her website: Under the Mask]

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  • Anonymous

    The formatting on this article made it really hard to process and read, but it sounds like the author has provided a good explanation. I just could have understood it better with less random bolding and italicizing.

  • Guest


    Honestly, I think I went the other route and stopped referring about myself as a geek, except in the case of a description. I don’t label myself a geek anymore, I don’t seek to be a part of the geek crowd or to be validated by geeks anymore, because I got so fed up with the many levels of elitism (much of it which is gender based) that I

  • R.M. Jones

    *grumbles about accidental enter key and not being able to delete post*


    Honestly, I think I went the other route and stopped referring about
    myself as a geek, except in the case of a description. I don’t label
    myself a geek anymore, I don’t seek to be a part of the geek crowd or to
    be validated by geeks anymore, because I got so fed up with the many
    levels of elitism (much of it which is gender based) that I just decided to say screw it and go my own way. Admittedly, this is perhaps my way of dealing with most groups as I would much rather choose to stand outside the group and freely take what I like from it rather than having to constantly be tested to stay within it. I got my friends and we geek out about stuff, what more do I need?

    I do think though that one of the reasons why these micro-aggressions are so frusterating (such as your example with the airport situation) is that since we constantly get these messages, since we are SO visible now, the idea that I am somehow special and unique for liking something annoys the crud out of me. Honestly- the fact that he was so excited to discover OMG A GIRL! likes star wars would have put me off just as much. Because I’m not special! Because I’m not this strange being! Because the reaction of me being special and different for liking it is labeling me a exception rather than the rule of geekdom, and that is just as confining to my gender as a whole as someone saying I don’t really like something.

    I mean, really. Women are so freakin’ visible online in fandom that I boggle at the idea we somehow are so special for being geeky. It just goes to show how deep the bias of the person is, and it’s tiring.

  • Captain ZADL

    I’ve always thought that there’s no such thing as a “fake geek” because that’s kind of the point of geek / nerddom. Obviously I’m not in the majority, so I am happy to see this kind of thing get called out for what it is. Thank you for writing, and never stop speaking out.

  • Anonymous

    I always found the “fake nerd girl” accusation really weird. When I was a teenager, in the 1990s’, being a geek wasn’t something to be proud of, even as a guy. I long resisted the idea that I was one, even though in high school I looked like one to the point of stereotype. In those years, knowing that girls were geeks too would have made me feel better because the most hurtful cliché about geeks was that they were such a bunch of losers, they would never get any girlfriend. I remember some late night talk show host during the Pantom Menace release making the joke that every guy waiting in line wondered why none of them got a date since Return of the Jedi.

    Now that more women are calling themselves geeks, they can’t really make that joke anymore. That’s why it baffles me when some people throw the fake geek girl accusation. As if being a geek was better in those years. And seriously, are geeks so cool that a Hollywood actress would pretend to like something she doesn’t like just to get their approval?

  • Kimmi Марковић

    Great post, Drea!

  • Anonymous

    Thorough and interesting analysis. The only thing I can think of to add is the sense of superiority and triumph one may feel in “exposing” a fake geek girl, as if this cements their status as Champion of Geeks. Some geeks are highly arrogant and view debates as something to be won, as opposed to something to inform and enjoy, and so it wouldn’t take much stretching for them to see “fake geek girls” as a way of proving how mighty they are as geeks – not only can they conquer lesser geeks, they do not deign to waste their time on pretenders!

  • Amy W

    Wow, lots of food for thought. Even though I’m a geek girl in general, I’m not a comics geek, so I personally haven’t had to deal with much of those particular accusations/insults/etc. But I AM a nerd and I WAS bullied a lot in school (and mostly through micro-aggressions) and so much of this rang true, just in general, about how people feel belonging. Great article!

  • Chanel Diaz

    The only thing I get from this is what I get from EVERY Human Rights Campaign Throughout History.

    An Unprivileged Group (There are Always More Unprivileged Groups) wants to be ‘Equal’ to the Privileged Group. “Human Rights” are always said. But when that Unprivileged Group Becomes (Somewhat) Equal to the Privileged Group, they and the Older Privileged Group Continue to Make ANOTHER Group, Unprivileged. There is NO ‘Human Rights’ as Ultimately Spoken About.

    It’s just the Cycle of Hypocrites of Everyone just wanting to ‘Abuse’ someone else. And those Ultimately Abused are always going to be Ones on the Bottom of Hierarchy, girls and women. Not Geek Boys and Men (who act more like Spoiled Rotten Brats of Children.), who Act like THEY are on the Bottom of the Hierarchy.

  • Brian McDonald

    I actually saw a guy in a comment thread that because HE had experienced persecution for being a geek growing up that persecution should be a REQUIREMENT before you could claim to be a geek. I was stunned. So, someone made your life hell, and your first instinct is to pass that on? Man, I’m GLAD that kids today don’t have to hide their geekdom. I think it’s fantastic that people of every shape, size, gender, and level of interest can call themselves “geeks” with a sense of pride.

    I think the reason the “fake geek girl” thing is getting such close, heated attention is that there’s so much cognitive dissonance involved. We want to belong, we want to be popular, our interests are now popular, RAGE! There’s such a sad insecurity behind that attitude, but when it’s expressed in insults or exclusion, it stops being sad and starts being infuriating. The heat is uncomfortable, even scary, but if it makes people understand that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated, I think it’ll be worth it.

  • JH

    The reason I tend to mistrust other girls in fandom, personally, is that a lot of these same girls or ones like them, used to fake an interest in things I liked in order to make fun of me later. There’s no gaurantee that these girls aren’t out to do the exact same thing. They nearly drove me to suicide (and laughed about it) once already; I do not need more of that same bullshit!

  • Glenn Simpson

    Just a few random thoughts, less about the article specifically but around the topic in general.

    First off, I think the concept that the “fake geek” is a problem is, as the article suggests, silly. However, there are a few minor-but-understandable issues buried down deep inside of it.

    1. As a long-time reader of comics, if the comic-con I wanted to attend was sold out and I knew that there were people there (of either gender) who only wanted to come because they wanted to dress up for attention, I might be irritated.

    2. It seems that if someone had only ever been exposed to men being interested in something like Star Wars, they might be reasonably surprised the first time they met a woman who was interested, leading to some confusion.

    3. I recall in the 90′s, playing the X-Men standup game with strangers, including a teenage girl, who said that she loved the X-Men and “had all of their comics”. Now, while it’s possible she had a collection going back to 1963, I don’t think that was likely. More likely she was either lying or thought that the Jim Lee series was the first and only X-Men series. None of which makes her a bad person, but it was amusing to hear, and generated some eye-rolling on my part.

    4. It has been my experience that a majority of the people who like fantasy have something in their reality that they wish to escape. The most obvious of those being a less-than-desired appearance or personality. Which means that when I see someone who has what I would consider to be a more-than-desired level of appearance who likes this stuff, it rather begs the question in my mind – what are you trying to escape? I wouldn’t say it generates “hatred” but just a mild curiosity, bordering on confusion. Obviously there are lots of things people might want to escape – I know a guy who is good-looking but he grew up in a small town and hated it, so that was his reason for a need to escape. But from a statistical point of view, from my experience, that’s less often the case.

    So I don’t think I would call myself a “hater” but there are a few situations where I might raise an eyebrow or mentally express some doubt about a situation.

  • Ladies Making Comics

    I liked what Cracked said about the crusade against “fake nerd girls”– that it’s like declaring your intent to hunt unicorns; they’re not real and even if they were, your goal would be to kill something wonderful.

  • Not So Young Democrat

    I had the same reaction. I guess I don’t actually socialize with other nerds/geeks enough cause I didn’t know this was a “thing” until I began reading criticisms of the concept. I felt the same as you, I would have loved to have more girls into geeky stuff when I was growing up. Crude/sexist comments wrt appearance make sense cause I don’t think geek guys are any better about that than other guys (in some ways maybe worse), but trying to make women feel like they’re not real fans is really weird to me.

  • davemahan

    Honestly, whenever I do a convention/expo, it’s the female audience that actually spends money on things. Dudes tend to buy a print or two, but female con-goers are willing to drop money on original art and bigger price items like that. Most female convention attendees that I have met (either people who purchased my art, or my female friends who go to shows) are always on the lookout to support independent artists instead of the big name people. I know that sounds just as sexist as the majority of remarks you are writing about, but it is something I have noticed in my own convention experience.

  • Chanel Diaz

    That’s exactly what Confuses me about that. Why would boys/men be appalled to just meet attractive females, in general? I mean, isn’t that the whole point of the (I would Argue, Sexist) Booth Babes? The only difference is that the “fake geek” girls aren’t getting paid to look ‘Pretty.’

  • Kate

    So people who might be seen as conventionally attractive (and of course they have always been attractive, and were never an awkward teenager at all) are not allowed to read fantasy? I don’t think it’s up to any of us to judge or try to decipher why somebody enjoys a particular genre…

  • Amy Sanders

    I am not a big comic book fan but I do love to play video games and I get the same reaction from hard core gamers who are male. ” You play okay…for a girl.” I would get so ticked off at that sexist comment. I wasn’t going around telling him “you play pretty good for a douche.”
    I loved your article. Thank you for opening our eyes to this problem.

  • Anonymous

    It makes me so sad because I really wish there was a quicker way to change the culture. I mean after all we’re at a point where they’ll remake white male superhero movies that have been done only a few years ago rather than dare make a Black Panther movie or a Captain Marvel movie or a Wonder Woman movie.

    It’s all so damn white and hetero male-centric and it just makes me sad sometimes. Because as awful as the fans are it’s the culture that backs them up and validates these attitudes.

  • De Baisch

    You’re right. There is no guarantee, but there’s no guarantee they will do it either. Prejudice is not becoming of any geek.

  • Chanel Diaz

    I’m almost afraid to ask in this Context of our Discussion, but what’s so Unconventional about Captain Marvel, other than Lack of a Movie? I’m not really familiar with the Character, that’s why.

  • JH

    I just can’t take that risk again though. I’m still not mentally healed enough, to this day, and how fucked-up is that? I can’t do it, my mind won’t let me. Maybe it’ll take medication, I dunno. Just….not yet.

  • Anonymous

    Oh she’s a woman. My point was kind of there are virtually no superhero movies or TV shows that aren’t about white males.

  • Ta Vrána

    Interesting article, I have never considered some of the points you made. Personally, I feel there is another danger of the Fake Geek Girl – it’s scaring away the newbies.

    My experience: in a last year or so, I’ve become interested in comics (DC, mostly). I’m having fun and I would like to participate in the fandom… but I am scared of being labeled Fake Geek Girl for not knowing everything someone arbitrarily decides is Common Geek Knowledge. Because I don’t. I love reading the stuff but heck, is it confusing sometimes! And as I said, I am very new to this.

    Because of the Fake Geek Girl, I know there are people waiting for me to show a hole in my knowledge and expose myself as an intruder. Reading comics suddenly starts to feel like battle preparation and participating in fandom like an exam.

    Which, obviously, is no fun at all.

  • Chanel Diaz

    I thought Captain Marvel was male :p. XD

    Can you Specify the Character you’re talking about.

  • Anonymous

    I know! When I was young, I saw a bunch of movies where the prom queen realized at the end that the nerd was better than the jock because he was more sensitive. If it happened in real life, the geek would quizz the prom queen about Doctor Who and ridicule her if she didn’t get it right.
    WTF is that all about?

  • Shelly H

    So it irritates you when a convention is sold out and non-fans get in? If you’re such an insider, why aren’t you getting your tickets before they sold out? And should conventions only be for hardcore fans? Should casual fans who only enjoy one part be excluded to make room for the so-called hardcore fans who think they’re more entitled to a weekend with friends, parties, talks, and shopping than anyone else?

    A casual fan’s money is just as good as yours, and you’re not entitled to special treatment just because you’re a more dedicated fan than someone else.

    Also, a teenager lied or was confused about the extent of his/her knowledge? Sounds like you ran into a teenager who wasn’t well-versed in comics. What did her gender have to do with it?

  • Glenn Simpson

    Well, not to say the fake geek girls exist, but in theory the reason you wouldn’t want to meet one is because while it would appear that you have something deeply in common with this person and that might give you hope of getting a date from her, you’d soon find out that she was going to reject you just as hard as any other woman because she doesn’t really share your interests.

  • m.s.

    Captain Marvel has been both a man and a female

  • Glenn Simpson

    I think (again, in theory) that the difference is that in the movie, the prom queen has come to understand what makes the nerd great; in the case of the hypothetical fake nerd girl, the prom queen doesn’t really like or understand the nerd, she has just decided to call herself a nerd.

  • Glenn Simpson

    I didn’t say that. They are allowed to do whatever they want. I said it sometimes mildly confuses me when I find out they enjoy doing so, and possibly might want to double-check the information being supplied to me. As you clearly state, it might be that they had a period of time when it made more sense, and the habit stuck. Nothing wrong with that.

  • Chanel Diaz

    Oh, then I would most definitely Support a Movie with a Female Captain Marvel. :)

  • Anonymous

    You’re missing the point. Why, in the example I gave, should the geek assume the prom queen is a fake geek? This is what it’s all about: assumptions and baseless accusations based on look and gender.

  • Anonymous

    This stupid comment started out simple, but became way too long to read … so you should probably skip it.

    This was a nice article, but I have to admit it’s always disappointing to read about another person’s experiences bumping into the lamer segments of the geek community. The meanness, it makes me sad. Anyway, I’m totally with the author throughout the meat of this article up until she creates that list. It’s not that her arguments are wrong exactly, but I think they’re a little bit off the mark. Here’s why.

    I don’t see items 1 and 2 as being discrete/unique problems, they seem more like two sides of the same coin, or maybe even just the same problem called two different things. I could see the more unpleasant members of geek communities using “a false notion of limited resources” to justify their attempts at exerting control over said communities, but I don’t think their sense of entitlement is based on their conflating participatory culture with tangible goods. That seems like a bit of a stretch to me. I think their sense of ownership/entitlement is at least partially the product of modern internet culture. I don’t want to get too crazy into tl:dr territory, but I really want to explain what I mean here. So … some history.

    When I was growing up geeky, back then we were definitely called nerds by the way, there was nothing more painful than being ostracized for loving the things that made you happy. Whether it was comics, sci-fi, video games, d&d, whatever, these things helped the nerdy among the general population find and build communities. So it was all the more shitty when non-members of your community would target you for abuse because the things you loved were different from the things they loved. I was personally lucky in that as I grew from a wee boy to a wee man, I was always able to make connections through nerdery. And the “crazy” thing, women were always a part of these communities (with the possible exception of the early days of MTG). If you were hanging out with us, or wanted to hang out with us, you were one of us. It was that simple, but it also required more work in some ways than it does today. We had to hang out in meat space to do anything really fun together back in those primitive dial-up days. I’m not sure why, but for whatever reason we were a pretty egalitarian bunch. The guy wearing the Han Solo t-shirt had exactly as much geek cred, and not an ounce more, as the girl in the Sailor Moon outfit. And believe me, we were very happy for the presence of women in our d&d games, anime clubs, and comic book stores. It was proof positive that being a nerd didn’t condemn you to a life of loneliness. It was great.

    But we also had a strong sense of ownership of our little communities. Look at the language I’m using to describe these communities, e.g. “ours/mine”. In my experience though ownership in this sense didn’t translate to control or possessiveness. I’m struggling to explain exactly what I mean here, so bear with me on this one. Metaphor time! I own my dog, and I take pride in my dog. He is goofy, and crazy, and stupid, and perfect, and objectively speaking, he is the best dog in the universe and there is nothing you can do about it. But when we’re out walking and people see him and, overcome by his awesomeness, want to pet him I don’t say “Fie! He is my dog! Away knaves!”. I would never deny a nice person, even a virtual stranger, from engaging with my dog. That would be a dick move. And this is basically how our little nerd communities worked. We were proud of them, we loved them, we loved to organize events for us and all of our friends like us, but we never turned away anyone for any reason (unless they were being unruly, threatening, abusive in any way etc.) The attitudes I see espoused in today’s geek communities seems like a natural evolution of the internet generation.

    It seems like a lot of kids growing up in the high bandwidth era, I really don’t know what else to call it, have a sense of entitlement that just didn’t exist when I came of age in the far flung 90′s. A lot of contemporary geeks want what they want when they want it, and they’re accustomed to getting it. Whether that’s music, comics, anime, video games … there’s really nothing that isn’t available for free online. On internet forums the formerly fun games of oneupsmanship (in terms of possessing obscure bits of nerd lore) and debate have become toxic. Terms like nerd rage and flame war didn’t exist when I was nerding it old school. If you had a disagreement with someone you had to have it to their face, and in most cases that imbued any disagreement with a modicum of civility. And don’t even get me started on the digital cesspool that is online gaming.

    Now I clearly can only speak to my experiences and generalizations will always be just that, but even so I think a big part of what’s made my geek life so amazing is that there was a sense of shared suffering among us. That is to say, if you were spending time with us, doing nerdy things at nerdy places, chances are you were escaping from something else. You could let your nerd flag fly without fear of being singled out or excluded, and as a result we didn’t really have any interest in excluding others. But right now it’s 2012. The nerds have won, we should be living in a nerdtopia, and in many ways we are. Sadly though some bigoted and entitled apples are spoiling our fun from time to time. On the plus side though I think places like The Mary Sue are part of the solution. Looking back at this year I’m saddened by all of the hate that I’ve seen coming out of certain segments of the nerd community, but I’m also really happy that this stuff has been exposed. And it’s thoughtful pieces like this that highlight exactly what’s wrong within a community that seems in some ways content to plod forward without acknowledging its shortcomings. And the commentors here! This is turning into a love fest, long-winded though I’ve already been. I love coming to this site more than any other just to see what conversations people are having. You guys are all great, and again I think part of the solution. Anyway uh … I’m so far off topic now. Enjoy not living through the apocalypse today everyone!

  • Chanel Diaz

    Or maybe she would reject because she wasn’t a ‘geek’ solely to date the ‘geek’ boys/men?

    I get the ‘theory,’ what’s your Point? It still doesn’t make it any less Sexist for the Harmful Expectations it Forces on Girls/Women. Cue the “Ideal Prostitute and Stripper,” except it sounds more like the Attempted Materialization of the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl.’ Which is much more LIKELY than these “Mean Girls” wanting to hurt male geeks by pretending to be geeks.

    This whole conversation is about why keep insisting this theory, if everyone keeps saying it’s as likely as the Mayan’s being right about the World Ending?

  • The Gaf

    ^ Everything you just wrote explains the need for this article.

  • Elias Algorithm

    I look it as the geek guy going “wait, now I STILL have to learn basic social graces? This isn’t fair! You with the boobs! Get out!”

    I’ve always found geek girls easier to talk to. Geek guys get way too competetive about their pet fandom. Or reworded however it takes to make that not come off as such a blanket statement.

  • Axeymoron

    First off, thanks, The Mary Sue, for publishing this article. As ever, this subject confounds me. Maybe it’s a generational thing; I’m 44, so my nerd abuse happened in the early 80′s — a time when, trust me, it was most definitely NOT cool to be different. The only thing that protected someone wearing a “HULK” tee-shirt from the Izod and Panama Jack crowd was the occasional roving band of Iron Maiden-wearing heshers. (And sometimes they were only saving you for themselves.)

    I realize most of the abuses Andrea talks about are psychological in nature; verbal put-downs and the like, but trust me, in those days… if I could make it home from school with only verbal abuse thrown my way, I counted myself lucky.

    It’s probably why I roll my eyes at the growing number of navel-gazing sensates that not only scream “I’VE BEEN INSULTED!” to the heavens, but then go even further as to take insult where it was never even intended. “Microaggression” is probably a perfect example of this, though I will agree that passive-agressive behavior can be extremely annoying.

    Just come out and say it, right?

    So thank you, Andrea, for pointing out some of the self-induced stuff. That’s bloody rare. I get taken to task from time to time for asserting my equalist arguments into feminist discussions — though admittedly this is because I get along with feminists much better than with misogynists, so that’s who I end up having discussions with in the first place.

    My hackles are usually raised when someone blurts the all-inclusive “there are no fake geek girls,” when, in fact, they know there ARE fake geek girls. They just choose to ignore this because they want to hop along in the happy “every kid is a winner and gets a soccer trophy” cloud that our uber-PC reactionary society had begotten.

    (Hint: there are fake geek girls. They’re called prostitutes. I realize very few geek girls have ever actually encountered hookers at cons — possibly because they don’t recognize them or are not approached by them — but trust me, they’re out there, and I know more than a few dudes, including myself, who have been targeted by them.)

    (You can’t get more fake than someone dressing up as something they are not simply to make money. Illegal or not. I put a chunk of the “Oh I’m just here doing a modeling gig” booth babes in the fake category as well.)

    Here’s the thing: we’ve been called names, and have been abused or marginalized for years. It comes with the freaking territory. Sticking “girl” at the end of “geek” seems just a bit sensationalistic to me. Why does gender even matter? It doesn’t; some nerds will always try to marginalize other nerds any way they can. You show them your belly — that’s where they attack.

    Part of the problem is when you (the general “you”) start listening to the morons rather than the intelligent people on whatever forum you’re being marginalized on. It’s the equivalent of the hot chick (or dude) at the bar being paid compliments by 99 out of 100 people, but it’s that one drunk idiot at the end of the bar going “lol ur fat” you can only really focus on.

    The negative is what draws some of you. I dunno. Anyway, great article. I agree with some of it. Thanks for the podium.

  • Chanel Diaz

    It’s a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. But at the same time, the ‘geek’ Boys/Men are doing their Part for the Patriarchal Culture to keep the Womenfolk Down while Bringing Up the Culture that got themselves into this Lower Hierarchy Position in the first place.

    I can’t help but ask, “Why Keep Up this Unfavorable Culture, if it would Benefit you Greater to Destroy it?”

  • Dr. Drea Letamendi

    Thank you, Kimmi!

  • Dr. Drea Letamendi

    You’re right– gender shouldn’t matter. I agree with that. However, the “fake” accusations recently have been in response to seeing women expressing their fandom through cosplay/costume wear. Oh–I don’t think prostitutes are fake geek girls. That’s an assumption too. How do you know some prostitutes don’t also enjoy comics? ;)

  • Claude Gaudette

    Marvel has had several characters use the name Captain Marvel over the last few decades. Currently it is being used by Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel aka Warbird. The original Captain Marvel, created in the 40s by Fawcett Comics and then purchased by DC, is now being referred to (stupidly) as Shazam, because they gave up trying to explain why due to a copyright dispute over the name they couldn’t call him Captain Marvel on comic-book covers or on licensed merchandise featuring the character.

  • Axeymoron

    My objection is the all-inclusivity that seems to prevail in these “fake geek girls” discussions. Anyone who says “all” of anything is inherently wrong. A lot of people in America were raised on assumptions that “all” of something is this, that, or the other, and in nearly every case (though stereotypes are usually based on majorities) they are proven wrong in some way. “All” is my biggest objection.

    And I’m sure some prostitutes do read comics. Some of them don’t. The ones that don’t read comic-books or watch comic-book movies or television — and then dress up as comic-book characters — in order to make some easy cash at cons are the ones I usually qualify as fake.

    My opinion isn’t canon, it’s just opinion. Fake boobs and pectoral implants annoy me too. But I realize I may be in the minority.

  • Chanel Diaz

    That’s interesting, because I knew there’s a DC ‘Captain Marvel’ and Marvel ‘Captain Marvel.’

    So Marvel’s got the Rights to the Name, that is Extremely Similar to their Own Name, to say the Least? ;D

  • R.M. Jones

    I strongly suggest seeing a therapist. No, seriously. if you have that much trouble trusting a person then you NEED to seek help to sort through those issues rather than piling your insecurity on some unsuspecting woman. Because it’s not fair to make a person feel crappy because you have some major issues and not work to get over those issues.

  • De Baisch

    I’m no shrink, but based on my personal experience, it sounds like there might be a bit of anxiety along with your depression. It wasn’t all that long ago that a snide remark or even an eye roll from someone would hang on me for days or weeks.

    Definitely seek out some help with that. I know it’s hard to open up to actual people about that sort of thing but it will do wonders for you and may not even require medication.

  • Captain ZADL

    SHAZAM, I say. ;)

    I’m a huge fan of the original myself, and his sister, Mary Marvel, who was not a sidekick, but an equal in power and ability from the first time she appeared.

    The Marvel Captain Marvel has never held the same appeal for me, and I kind of resent the fact that they stole the name from a character that pre-dated their company. Still, another good strong female character would be a nice addition to the movie line. :)

  • Chanel Diaz

    You see, I have no Captain Marvel Knowledge. Woah, on that.

    I, too, can’t help but Hate those Copyright/Name Battles when the ‘Thieves’ don’t even use them Properly.

  • Smoke Tetsu

    Black Nerd Rants did a vlog about this but he also did a video talking about how “geeks” or “nerds” also do this sort of thing to their peers no matter if they are the same sex or not… It’s ironic because they then turn into what they hate the most… I’ve had this happen to me in the past.. in fact it could almost be the story of my life…

    I’m most definitely not making an excuse for all that, more like the opposite. It just seems to me that at least to some level feeling insecure and wanting to bolster your security by making oneself feel superior to others especially when that person seems threatening is one of those bad parts of human nature… and what’s more threatening to someone who’s felt ostracized and disenfranchised for much if not most of their lives than someone who resembles a person who would be doing just that for them but is now co-opting what made them happy?

    Also it seems to me the more laser focused a person’s interest the quicker they are to call out “poseurs” or exclude others. This happens a lot with cliques… and growing up schools encourage this such as with team sports and many people internalize it whether they realize it or not..

    I’ve had friends who where only my friend when they thought my fandom was a laser focused on one thing (such as anime, gothic stuff, doctor who, what have you) and stop being my friend when they see my interests branch out. At that point I wasn’t geeky enough of whatever enough for them.

    So stuff like this whole “fake geek girl” thing didn’t start happening yesterday nor is it just happening to girls. There are lots of people who would accuse just about anyone for being fake for this or wannabe for that or poseur for the other.

  • cadiajo

    Sadly, female fan marginalization isn’t even just prevalent in the geek community. I have an interest in some geeky things, listen to metal, and love hockey but don’t necessarily “look the part” for any of them. People will assume that I play an RPG because I’m banging the GM, that I go to Paganfest to get with the band members, or that I watch hockey games because I’m a puckbunny. It somehow all gets reduced to sex, regardless of attractiveness or attire.

    Some might make the argument that female fans are just whining because sometimes men are shunned from fandoms that are predominantly female or at least geared toward a feminine audience. Bronies, for example. However, the insults thrown at them are often of a homophobic/sexist nature so even when it happens to men, it’s still somehow femaleness that is wrong.

  • Smoke Tetsu

    As an aside one thing that raises my heckles is his mentioning of Hipsters. It seems “hipster” is the new word people throw around loosely as if it’s a racial slur. Some people would label me one simply because I like Apple products for example or because I wear black rimmed glasses.. or hell.. if especially if they see both or other aspects about me. I don’t think that sort of thing is any more cool than calling a girl a “fake geek girl”.

  • Hammy

    There is this cool project going around that deals with this same issue. The project’s goal is to show the geek world that you can’t judge someone based on their looks. You can’t tell if someone is a ‘geek’ just by looking at them. I encourage every girl to get involved with this so we can finally get over this issue and just realize that anyone and everyone can be a ‘geek’ if they want to. The way the project works is you just take a picture of yourself holding a sign of your fandom. Saying that you like comics as an example. That way everyone can see that this subculture is just a diverse as the world.

  • Chanel Diaz

    Oh, how I KNOW that even ‘Bronies’ can be just as Hypocritical.

    Just to get to the TIP of the Iceburg that even Discourages me to get Involved: You ever heard of “Bronies Before Hoenies?”

    Now let’s see how that Materializes in Real Life:

  • Anonymous

    Before the geek culture exploded, I had a lot of illusions about the people in it. I thought we were smarter, more sensitive. It hurts to be that wrong.

  • Anatasia Beaverhousen

    ((Sorry this was meant to be short, but it ended up way longer than I intended.))

    This makes a lot of sense to me. I’m always feeling worried or guilty about stuff. If I can’t remember something off the top of my head, a vague detail or something such, then I’m laughed at and the old “it’s because you’re a girl” reason is trotted out. If not I have to “prove” myself, just my word is never taken, I have to be able to reel off an encyclopaedic knowledge of something I like, or I’m accused of “faking it.”

    I’ve never cosplayed in my entire life. I’ve always wanted to, but I never have. This is because all the cool female characters I admire have the most ridiculous skimpy costumes, the idea of wearing one makes me feel physically ill because I’m completely uncomfortable in my own skin. That or, the ones that aren’t totally skimpy, like The Bride’s tracksuit from Kill Bill, or things along those lines, I am scared to wear them because I’m afraid people will think I’m wearing it to look cool, rather than because I like the character. Or the character I like has a completely indistinct look to them, like Buffy or Ripley, which defeats the object of cosplaying a little bit.

    But it’s not just cosplay. It’s everything.

    I’m a gamer, but it’s hard to say you’re a gamer when you’re a girl, because of the whole “girl gamer” attitude problem. You always end up worrying about the attitude of the guys in the game shop, when I buy a game I’m always worried they’re thinking, “oh she’s buying this for a boyfriend” or “she’s buying this to look cool, because it’s a guys game” or if I’m buying something more casual, because sometimes I like to play casual games to turn my brain off, like The Sims or pokemon, I worry they’re thinking things like “oh, of course she only plays casual games, she’s a girl.” Half the time I just end up buying my games online so I can avoid the whole headache.

    I’ve been reading comic books since I was 7 and became obsessed with Spider man, but I detest going into Forbidden Planet, the only comic shop in a 30 mile radius of my house, because the guys in there glare at anyone who isn’t a personal friend of theirs, not just the girls. I browse the shelves looking at books I haven’t read and might like to give a try, and stuff I’m already into and have plenty of. So I end up worrying about that too, like if I take the latest walking dead or Buffy to the counter, I worry they’re thinking, “she’s only reading this because of the tv show” or “she’s a girl, so Buffy must be the only comic she reads.” I once went in and asked if they had the Johnny the Homicdal maniac directors cut, because I’d just discovered it and found it pretty entertaining, I was told “the graphic novels are on the shelf” – obviously I had already looked before I asked, and I eventually found it along side the t-shirts, no where near the other graphic novels, but then I was given a scornful look and I then worried that they thought I was only getting it, because of Invader Zim – which I’ve never watched.

    When I buy other comics I like, such as Hulk or Deadpool or Batman, I worry that they’re thinking I’m buying it for a guy or that I’m attempting to earn geek credentials. I once went in with a non-comic book friend who asked me to explain the history of the x-men, and rather than answer her, I said I would explain it later, because I was worried that one of the guys that work there would overhear, in case I got a small piece of information wrong, or that I couldn’t recall something important off the top of my head and I was afraid that they’d think it was because a girl, instead of the truth which is I stopped reading x-men quite a while ago and it’s no longer fresh in my head.

    I love the things I’m into, but I spend half my life worrying about whether or not I should be loud and proud and go out of the house wearing an Iron Man t-shirt, or if guys will assume I just got into Iron Man because of the movies and should just wear something with Hello Kitty on it instead.

    I wish I could stop worrying about what guys will think, but I can’t help it.

    Because you do always hear the same things, over and over. All my life I’ve heard it and I’ve got loads of examples of guys making me feel, whether it was intentional or not, like crap and not good enough to like the things that they like.

    “No wonder you can’t play this game, you’re a girl”, – (after playing GTA Vice City for the first time, for five minutes, never having played one of them before.) “You can’t like Star Trek, you’re a girl” – (I’m a life long Trek fan – though I hate the reboot, despite the presence of the completely lovely Cumberbatch, I’m a TOS, TAS, TNG, DS9 super fan with a vague liking for some episodes of VOY and ENT, though not nearly as much as the others.) “You can’t possibly play Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, you have no know more than what’s in the movies you know,” (from a guy who was actually my friend, who then went head to head with me in a 6 hour bout of reading the entire box of cards to each other, at the end of which he begrudgingly admitted that I knew just as much as he did about it.)

    So I always end up in the position where, if I’m not an expert on something within five minutes of first hearing about it, I feel like crap and that I’m letting other girls down, or that I’m constantly having to prove myself. My friend who was the Lord of the Rings fan wouldn’t just take my word that I was a big fan, I had to spend 6 hours answering the most obscure questions about one or other of the special features buried on disc 4 of the extended edition, or you would only know if you had listed to the cast commentary, all of which I had done, but I had to prove it.

    I once had to explain the history of the clone troopers based on expanded universe stuff from Star Wars to my DnD group, but still got laughed at when I had a mental block and couldn’t remember Plo Koon’s name off the top of my head.

    There’s only so much space in my head for information, but because of the way that I’ve been treat before I make it a point that when I get into something, I have to learn everything about it, because if I’m put on the spot to prove myself I don’t want to let other girls down.

    I wasn’t very familiar with Captain America when that movie came out, it hadn’t been one of my regular titles, and at the time it came out I had been reading a lot more DC than marvel. It had just been one of those books I’d never been interested in reading, but when I saw the movie and enjoyed it, I made a point of trying to learn the entire history of the comic books and picked up a lot of trades and back issues, and really enjoyed them, but despite now possessing a great knowledge of the history of the character, I’m still told I only like it because of Chris Evans. I don’t even fancy Chris Evans, but that doesn’t matter, I didn’t read the comics before the movie came out, so that’s the box I’m in.

    I know that when they make the Deadpool movie, despite the fact that I’ve got a bunch of my guy friends into the comics, who had never heard of Deadpool before I introduced them, when we go to see it, I will be standing in the queue, wondering if the guy behind the ticket counter is thinking “I bet she’s only coming to this because one of those guys is her boyfriend” OR “she’s only seeing this because of Ryan Reynolds.”

    It honestly hurts my head sometimes with the amount of worrying I do. I really wish I didn’t have to worry, I suppose I’ll stop worrying when I have to stop proving myself.

    When the day comes that I can say things like, “I like Sherlock Holmes” and it isn’t immediately followed by, “So you like Sherlock Holmes? So you fancy Benedict Cumberbatch then?” to be replied to with, “Yes, I like Sherlock Holmes, but I’d read all the books and shorts before the BBC series came out and I’d even heard of Benedict Cumberbatch, but yes of course I fancy him.”

    When I can say, “I like Sherlock Holmes” and it’s followed by, “Cool, me too” – it will be a happy, happy day indeed.

    I apologise for both the length of this post, and how rambly it became as it went on, I’m sure I made a point in there somewhere.

  • Anonymous

    This debate sadly always seems to boil down to the following motivations:

    1. You’re too pretty to be a nerd, I hate you for not fitting the ugly fangirl stereotype and for being prettier than me. Go back to cheer-leading, or trying on shoes or getting all the attention from the guys that I want.

    2. This is ours, you (read: girls) cannot have it.

    3. You’re too pretty to be a nerd, if you were real I’d have to acknowledge that there are other reasons (read: me being a douche) for not having a girlfriend.

  • Kaitie Kudara

    While I will say that fandom can be ridiculously overwhelming at times (I’m still frightened and I’m sort of a part of it), but don’t let that stop you. I’ve been reading comics heavily for five years now and I still couldn’t tell you Iron Man’s major plotlines other than “Demon in a Bottle,” and that’s only because I heard someone else mention it once. Like who you like and focus on being knowledgeable about them (not because you want to prove yourself to anyone or anything, but because you yourself want to know everything about them), regardless of what other people think about them. And if you have good friends who also like comics, they’ll help you out with the parts you don’t know.

  • Melody Petersen Christensen Di

    I think the whole fake geek girl fears are about geek men, so easily ridiculed and teased, just find sexy females who say they love geekdom threatening because those women embody their own fantasies & fears of rejection. Most of the people they’ve dealt with who are remotely attractive have generally been the source of torture growing up. They see sexy women in geeky costumes as wolves in sheep clothing. Its been that way all their lives, one form or another, why not now?

  • Theresa Ramseyer

    Amen. That’s exactly what I have come across. I was 7 when the first Star Wars came out, and not even born yet when Star Trek first appeared. We weren’t a movie going or a comic reading family by any means. I didn’t see SW the original until I was in my late teens, and much the same for ST.

    I’m interested, as I am in other series and comics and so forth, but I simply don’t have all the money and time in the world or ability to keep up with everything I’d like to, or even most of it. I don’t have cable/dish/satellite, and my internet is dial-up.

    I see myself as a geek, but I’m not an obsessive one, and I’m definitely NOT fake because I don’t know every little detail. But I don’t mind learning, and if you’ll talk to me and explain things as necessary, point me in the right directions and be a little patient, instead of looking down your nose at me, or shoving me aside, you might discover that I can share your interests and your fandom too.

  • Laura Truxillo

    1) They want to go to a con to have fun. You want to go to a con to have fun. The way you have the fun is different, but it’s still con-fun. Look at Dragon*Con. About half the people there want to dress up and strut their stuff. It’s amazing.

    2) It seems like that’s something that would be moderately understandable ten or twenty years ago, but unless you live in a cave, away from the internet, and NEVER go to cons, it’s ridiculous to still have this experience now. It’s like the people who keep saying that there aren’t women at conventions or not a lot of women. There ARE women, they just don’t SEE THEM. Literally, it’s a thing that happens where guys will just kind of glance over women in a geek setting without really registering them, possibly because they think they’re only their with boyfriends or something. Either way, it’s a pretty ignorant idea to still have these days.

    3) Wow. You’re…you’re kind of a douche in this story. Darn, that poser teenage girl. Shoot, were you never a teenager trying to join what you saw as a “cool group?” Hyperbole is a thing that happens. Hells, if I were in a new nerdy group, and Flash came up, I’d probably blurt out something like, “Oh man, I love Flash, got all the comics.” Bless me, father, for I have sinned–I only have a little more than half of volume III, and only a handful of volume II. I would’ve lied and led those men on with my fakeness, saying something like that. How awful.
    No, seriously. Your snide little “Unless you have every comic dating back to 1963, I very much doubt that!” attitude seems like it needs to be conveyed with a Comic Book Guy snort. Geeze, darn those kids, getting excited about comics. But hey, take them literally and shoot ‘em down (and yeah, your attitude probably did, even if you didn’t say it out loud), rather than build ‘em up and share something cool with the newbies.

    4. You. Don’t. Know. What goes on in anyone’s head. You really don’t. Guess what–most human beings are a massive ball of squirmy insecurities and screwed-up-ness. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. So your experienced statistical point of view is worth bupkis, because unless you were asking every one of these seemingly well-adjusted and happy people what their damage was, you really don’t know. At all.

  • Anita Chainsaw

    That pretty much sums up my own experience. After years of being a sci-fi and fantasy fan, reading tons of books, and not really having a fandom community to share it with, I got into LARP…. and got branded a fake who was only in it for the attention because I couldn’t commit all of the rule books to memory – which happened because a) I was very new to it, and b) I was in my senior year of college and had a full course load, an internship, extracurriculars, and a part time job. It did feel like a battleground, and those particular people are out of my life, but the feeling of being unwelcome remained. The same people applied it to other areas of knowledge, and their criticism sucked all the fun out of things I actually enjoyed. I don’t want to see anyone else go through this – all of these things are supposed to be fun, and we were all newbies once, in some respect.

  • Ben Lundy

    There’s a lot of truth in this analysis, but some stuff I can’t get behind too. Admittedly, I’ve never seen the “fake geek girl” issue play out in the real world. Either I don’t go to enough cons, or my LCS happens to be populated with unusually progressive thinking fans, or something, I don’t know. But I walk in there all the time with my fiance or female friends and no one bats an eye. In fact, I encountered the opposite scenario– my fiance, who is not a comics reader and just goes in the shop with me because the owner is nice and we usually pick up my books while we’re out running other errands, was assumed to be a fan by two male members of the staff, despite her total lack of geek apparel. Maybe we are just fortunate to live in the community we do.

    The analysis is correct in its extrapolation of the causes for resentment by the male “geek” community toward the ever-growing ranks of female peers. It’s comparable to the way many geeks celebrate that what they like isn’t mainstream. They also want to cling to the all-but-dead notion that their corner of reality is a boys-only club, that sexism and misogyny will never be questioned by pesky feminists and they’ll never have to face the pressure of engaging the opposite sex as long as they stick to the safe cubby holes of male-dominated interest. It’s the same type of sexism women have faced in the last couple of decades as they climbed up the ladders of companies and joined the ranks of scientists and engineers.

    Where I think the analysis derails is the concept of microaggressions. I understand they exist based on the examples provided, but I think anyone who lets them have a significant impact on their self-esteem is hypersensitive to the point that they’ll be offended by almost any kind of assumption another person could make about them. To me it damages the legitimacy of complaints about real sexism in geek culture to line “microaggressions” up next to them, much like crying wolf dilutes the likelihood that people will take notice when something truly threatening takes place.

    I often experience microaggressions. I am an adult who collects and builds with Legos, so many times when I buy a set, the cashier assumes I’m buying a present for a child. Or, they just shoot me a quick glance that says, “weirdo.” That goes doubly so when I collect the stereotypically “feminine” sets with pink and pastel bricks. Do I take that kind of reaction seriously? No, I shrug it off and move on, knowing that the person who made such a casual assumption or judgment has no ability to impact my life unless I let them. It is part of life that people who don’t know you are going to judge you based on the norms they’ve experienced.

    Just as often, I experience the same assumptions in reverse. I can’t tell you how many times people have assumed I’m a video game fan (I’m not) because of my other interests– and, I’d wager, because of my gender and appearance. Co-workers have asked me about things like Call of Duty and Halo and I have to tell them I have no idea what they are talking about. Again, do I let this bother me? Do I conclude that everyone must think I’m a fat, brain-dead man-child because I’m the one in the office who, stereoptypically, is the right demographic for video games? No.

    Let’s not confuse uninformed assumptions with outright aggression, and certainly let’s not pretend that they are equal transgressions. Again, I’ve never seen it myself, but accusing a woman at a convention of being a “fake nerd,” especially when coupled with the implication that they have no place at a convention or don’t deserve to participate in the staples of geek activity, is heinous. A stranger guessing that a Star Wars product belongs to the first male in front of him instead of the first female is just a harmless mistake.

  • Anonymous

    Good post. This is essentially the main problem : that if you’re female, you can’t ‘win’.

    No matter that your apparent gender is only one part of what you are/enjoy/ know/want to be part of/are fascinated by/interested in/want to spend countless hours lost in the passionate conversation about….too often the ability to enjoy the latter is barred by other people’s reaction to former.

    It’s sad when those of us who don’t occupy a ‘default-setting body’ don’t fit in elsewhere yet are put off finding what should be their natural home because the non-default appearance triggers a shedload of barriers to overcome – even if the effects of words are purely emotional or psychological, this can be as effective as steel walls in putting people off.

    Meanwhile those in the default bodies with the same interests and levels of social skills doesn’t have the extra hurdles to leap over. It keeps some from doing what they really enjoy and finding out who they really are, because they can’t get over the accumulated micro(or macro)agressions.

    Doing this is much easier when you have the confidence that comes from validation and the backup of others (or even just the absence of demolishing confidence that comes from not triggering a state of ‘nonstandard person alert’ in the target group)

    I must also say it’s really heartening to read so much support here and elsewhere from so many people who reject all the selfish exclusive BS. Race, sexuality, gender, whatever. Enjoy what gives you joy, share it round :)

  • Jerilyn Nighy

    Here, much older woman here who knows this stuff inside and out; I’ll gently guide you. “Armor Wars” is the only other arc worth name-dropping. Iron Man fandom (and superhero comics in general), focuses primarily on runs by specific writer or artists singly, or a writer/artist, or writer and artist duos. Yeah there are story lines here and there or graphic novels mentioned by title, but it’s all about the names on the cover (example, Iron Man, know artists Gene Colan and George Tuska, and the creative team of David Michelinie and Bob Layton). If you absolutely must know everything there is to know / catch up quickly about a particular interest, go to the fan sites and lurk for a bit. For example, in the case of Iron Man, .

    Older readers of superhero books learned most of their stuff from reading these in the 80′s (but they might not admit that):


    (The reason I’m mentioning this is so you know that those who purport to be knowledgeable got there by shorthand, as well. They weren’t magically gifted).

    For comics in general, bone up on old issues of The Comics Journal, read some of the history books, or ask someone like Mark Evanier, who is friendly and accessible online. He knows everything and knows/knew everyone (he was Kirby’s friend and professional assistant).

  • nolan

    Unless you make a career biting the heads off of chickens, you cannot reasonably expect anyone to sympathize with you when someone else distorts or misinterprets (as you clearly have) what it truly means to be a “geek”

  • Sorkatani Loki

    I’m not disagreeing with this article – it has extremely valid points which should be taken on by all. What I would like to say though is that I find the whole ‘fake geek girls don’t exist’ belief to be a little naive as well. I only say that because I have known girls who are not really interested in geek culture to go out and pretend to be into Star Wars, videogames etc in order to get attention from guys. ‘Geek pulling’ as they called it. Behaviour like that by a small few can be really harmful by reinforcing negative sterotypes. So while the whole ‘fake geek girl’ belief held by some male gamers needs to be addressed I just feel that there needs to be at least some consideration given to girls who do pretend to be geeks, while few, and the impact it can have.

  • Kate Drew This

    I often wonder how I am seen in all of this, as I came late to geek culture. I have often felt as though people decrying the “Fake” girl are talking about me.

    Meaning, I was a teenager when I got into comics and saw “Star Wars” for the first time, and LOVED them. I didn’t feel like an outcast before, and I was picked on for being weird, but it was lighter, more “She’s a crazy artist” picked on (and my friends were other crazy artists, so I wasn’t lonely).

    No one ever told me that I couldn’t like these things because I was a girl, and the boys that I met were thrilled that I was a newbie to the culture and I found myself inundated with loaned movies and comics.

    Maybe that’s because I never claimed to be anything other than new? My online handle was “Novice” for years on the comic blog scene, and I was met by nothing but kindness (and I’m not talking the condescending “kindness”) from male comic bloggers…yet I was very aware that other women were not in other parts of the internet.

    Thinking on it, I may have just gotten lucky, in that Dorian Wight, Kevin Church, and Mike Sterling steered me away from several internet spaces that they knew would be unfriendly to my status as both a novice and a woman.

    Whatever the reason I escaped a lot of this, it baffles and pisses me off that others are being subjected to it.

  • Jenny Thurman

    I suspect actually the issue is often that the mythical prom queen has, as you said “come to understand what makes the nerd great” while actual nerd “girls” are all about the actual fandoms and certain boys – and grown men – are not terribly happy to discover that the prom queen is a person with her own thoughts and feelings and not just someone that exists to validate his own existence.

    It’s not so much a conscious “you should exist only for me!” as it is a nagging feeling that the women they see have gone off script and that’s wrong – so therefore there must be something wrong with the women.

  • Octochan

    My theory is that the concept of ‘geek’ and all associated licensed properties and merchandise are still thought of as a guys only sort of thing. As stated above, people assume women aren’t interested in Star Wars. Geekery is almost by definition a boys only club. And when women say that yes, we are indeed geeks also, guys will try to reassert their geek identity by saying, essentially, that as a female, you cannot also be a geek. Geek == girl. The phrase “fake geek girl” is to cloud the fact that there is no way to prove to their satisfaction that someone could be a “real” geek girl in the first place.

  • Grim Lily

    I can relate to this.

    A few years ago I started gaming online. I had always been a fan of fantasy but had never done a fantasy MMO before, so I tried it out and got really into it. After a while I became of a guild that was mostly male, although there were some women as well. I became part of their raidgroup and as soon as it was known I was a girl, I noticed I wasn’t taken as seriously as some of the other raiders. I felt that I had to prove myself a lot more than some of the other guys in the group, partly because of my lack of gaming experience and partly because I wasn’t taken as seriously as soon as I opnened my mouth on voice chat and revealed i was a girl.

    There was definitely a fair amount of elitsm going on in the guild. My gaming experience wasn’t as extensive as some of the other members of the raidgroup, and I felt like I was often looked down on because of that.

    When I tried to say something in the voice chat i’d be shut down or not listened to, or I was ridiculed for not having a certain achievement because I hadn’t played as long as some of the others. It’s those little things that can really ruin your overall game experience after a while.

  • Grim Lily

    That’s as it should be! I don’t understand when people are being looked down on just because they haven’t been part of the scene for years before.

  • Liz Marvin

    This fake geek girl mess is turning fandom into high school. I’ve already dealt with high school bullying once, I have no intention of letting bullies hit me again. If you need me I shall be putting on my fighting trousers.

  • Bekah Hernandez Gerber

    I was going to write yet another impassioned list of very real threats and insults I have been on the receiving end of as a female nerd. The rape threats on World of Warcraft with real-world stalking, the loud comments about how adorable I am for “trying” to be smart because I knew the X-Men continuity when I worked at a comic book store, the constant calling me a dyke or a queer. I’ve even been told I deserved sexual assault for being a cosplayer. But a list doesn’t do any good, because most people don’t care how much abuse we go through.

    Here’s the issue with the “fake geek girl” thing: who appointed you lord almighty king of the geeks to decide who is or is not a geek? Who the fuck are you people? If someone sees themselves as a geek, stfu. We were all severely bullied for being geeks ourselves, why do it to each other? This is ridiculous.

    I am tired of being told I am stupid, worthless, pathetic, an ugly dyke, and should kill myself and I am VERY tired of getting the most hate FROM FELLOW GEEKS. And before anyone says this is an isolated incident, that this isn’t the whole world, I’m now 25. I’ve been gaming since kindergarden and started watching Star Wars a bit after that. I’ve been in this world nearly my entire life. My father is a gamer, too, and told me stories about when he was growing up. It was NEVER this bad. It has gotten worse lately because a bunch of little boys that don’t deserve to be called men are getting angry we’re in their turf. GROW UP.

  • Bekah Hernandez Gerber

    I used to work at Forbidden Planet. If it makes you feel any better, I was daily told “you know a lot…for a girl” or “how cute you think you know comics”. I was the X-Men expert in the store, and when co-workers would tell buyers to come ask me questions about it, they would either laugh, ask where the real expert was, or talk to me like I was five. One memorable guest very slowly, like i was retarded, asked if I knew what Star Wars was.

    I made a point of going to every woman in that store and offering my help. I know how isolating this world is. Then, when it came time to downsize the workforce, guess who went first? You betcha. Two girls. Even though I outsold a number of the guys. I still go back to the store every week, and my former customers still come to me to ask for help. That’s just sad.

    Find another, non-judgemental store. Or go on a Wednesday and talk to one of the women.

  • B. Clay Moore

    What I still don’t understand is why anyone cares if someone is a “real” fan or not. At any major convention you can find men and women who wouldn’t pass “fandom tests” dressed as superheroes or characters from pop culture. So what? Why do we deny they exist? OF COURSE they exist. Why do we care? Who cares what their motivations are?

  • Glenn Simpson

    People wanted to know what the men were thinking. I have told you what the men are thinking. I’m not saying it’s not sexist or whatever, I’m saying that’s what the men are thinking. Should it change? Sure. Is it going to? I don’t know. And I can only speak for myself – I would assume the prom queen is not a geek because most geeks I know lack the qualifications to be a prom queen. Nothing wrong with that – it’s a different set of skills. And trust me, regardless of why a woman is in the room, the only interest a single man has in her is whether or not she will go out with him. Maybe once it’s established that she won’t, they can move on to other things, but that doesn’t make it less disappointing.

  • Glenn Simpson

    I like how my “I might have some doubt in my mind” or “I might roll my eyes” gets turned into “WHY ARE YOU BEING EXCLUSIONARY!”
    Like in #3 – I never said a word out loud. All I did was assume that a teenage girl probably didn’t really understand what “having all of the X-Men comics” really meant, and I found that amusing. It was just an example of how people can sometimes be into something and not really understand it completely, and overestimate their own knowledge.
    And why is it I can’t read minds and understand the backgrounds of the people who are into fantasy, but you can assume that the guy who has never met a female Star Wars fan must surely have really done so by now? Sounds like a double standard.

  • Amy Jones

    The most offensive thing to me is assuming there is a prototypical “geek”, and if we don’t fit that, we’re not it. Everyone is different shades of geek – I dabble pretty well in comics, am a frequent but not hardcore gamer since MSDOS, love many MANY things Sci-Fi but (SHOCK) haven’t watched BSG yet (more of a TNG/Star Trek gal), and will always be a raging Math Geek. It’s honestly baffling to me that we can’t get over what you HAVEN’T done and suggest some things that you might enjoy as well. “Oh, you like Sandman? Did you know Neil Gaiman wrote an episode of Doctor Who? You should really give it a shot!” We’re at our heart a community with a lot of subsets, we should really try more often to find a common ground, not try to exclude people who don’t fit our expectations.

  • SailorQuaoar

    I don’t agree or endorse bullying people because of an assumption that they are feigning interest in something, but fakers exist, of all genders (there’s more than 3 right? I can’t keep up).
    I’ve seen this whole “fake geek girl” debate come up on a lot of sites, but I don’t know how big of a deal it is…none of the sites I’ve been to, or in real life, have I seen “systemic bullying” or whatever based on things you like be that big of a deal.
    Sure, most fans are genuine, but posers DO exist, and sometimes those posers are women.
    There are definitely times where I’ve pretended to be interested in something because I wanted to get into a social group.

    On the other end, if you’re a passionate fan of something, then why should it matter what others think?
    For example, I like Bionicle, both the toys and the lore. However, barely anyone I know likes it or even knows what it is, and even people I know online don’t like it.
    But I’m okay with it being obscure and I don’t expect anyone else to care. The fact that no one around me cares about it doesn’t hamper my ability to enjoy playing with legos.
    I’m also a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, and many people in that fanbase endure insults like being called manchildren, hambeasts, perverts, furries or autistic on a near-daily basis just for playing the games or drawing fanart.
    But I still gotta go fast, no matter what they think.

  • Nicole Kiser

    That is an excellent explanation and I think it’s very close to the truth. There was probably always bad apples in nerd communities, but the internet amplified, unified, and spread their message in a way that was impossible In Real Life. It’s always the jerks and the crazies that have the loudest voice, the rest of us get drowned out.

  • Anonymous

    As an old school nerd, who remembers watching the original run of Trek with Shatner before he learned to act, I have come to the conclusion that the male nerd community treats girls in the nerd community shabby, and call them fake in some cases, because these guys DO NOT LIKE GIRLS.

    This is not to say that male nerds are of the Bear persuasion, though some may be, but they are just flat bitter.
    In the countless Cons I attended over the decades, I observed that there was not just an inability to deal with the better sex, but an actual hostility, unless the girl was family, or unattractive in some way, or into Klingon cosplay.
    I suspect from talking to these early nerds that they had a desire to date attractive women, but their raging lack of social skills and basic hygiene and good genetics had resulted in non-stop rejection, which resulted into antipathy to any attractive or even ordinary girl that shared their nerd interests, because they were misogynist at heart.
    My sister got her heart broke by one of these bitter elitist nerds who wiped out a good college relationship, because he had never been able to shake his early nerd bitterness to women, which was expressed in his comic art and writing, since he did amateur comics as an artistic effort in college.
    Mike was normal in male relationships, but spikey and mean not just to my sister, but in all his later dating efforts, and his comics reflected this hostility.

  • Victoria Fletcher

    This interested me because I didn’t realize when people talked about fake geek girls they meant anything other than those girls who act like they like something because it’s popular. So when i say I don’t like fake geek girls, those are the ones I mean. The ones who love Batman. Not cause they give a crap about the character, or the movies, but say they love him cause he’s popular right now, or because they just think Christian Bale is attractive.
    ANY person who loves movies, TV shows, books, comics, video games, role playing, board games, cosplaying etc… whatever is a geek. Whether it’s a love that’s deep and very detailed, or perhaps they just love reading comics every now and again. If you have real love for something then you’re a geek. That’s always been what I’ve defined geekdom as, loving something so much you want to spend time in that world.

  • Jesse Hester

    This new word, microaggression–why does it contain the word “aggression”? The act of saying something that’s not a threat can’t be aggressive, by definition. One of the main problems I have with “social justice” types is that they seem to love to make up new words and change the definitions of existing words in a way that exploits people’s prior definitions. Why can’t you just call things what they are? An insult is an insult. A rude or offensive remark is a rude or offensive remark. They are not acts of aggression.

  • Molly Spurgeon

    Wow…fantastic article. I also think people latch onto groups (whether they be comic lovers or even certain ethnicities) who have historically experienced hardship or bullying BECAUSE they identify and think they will be unconditionally accepted. Sadly, to be met by the very people who bullied and were excluded with bullying and exclusion feels like the lowest of the low. That person ends up feeling like they don’t/couldn’t belong anywhere.

  • Chanel Diaz

    Dang it, you say one Word and your Whole Reply gets Deleted. I was Only trying to explain where the ‘H** in Hoenies’ come from. I don’t remember my whole post nor do I know my Old Text is ever going to come back. But I’ll just say that ‘Bronies’ are Not that much better and can be just as Hypocritical as ANY Other Fan Group:

    If you ever heard of “Bronies Before Hoenies.”

    The Image makes no sense at all because the Ponies they Admire are Female (‘Hoenies’) and the Term ‘Brony’ still Doesn’t Sound Fitting for Females (‘Filly’/'Mare’).

    To see how this “Saying” gets Applied in Real Life:


    Ouch, the Brony Community just had to make up another word for ‘h**.’ Not just that, I even remember Finding a Similar Image from Above From Google about Mrs. Cake being a “Whorse,” because of the Baby Cakes Episode and I can’t find the Specific Offending Image Anymore but only have this Reassurance as my Proof that something Sexist was being thrown at the Character:

    From being Bullied themselves, the Bronies Preach ‘Love & Tolerance’ but enough of them don’t seem to Grasp the Concept, “Practice What You Preach.”

    People will say things and act like Diamond Tiara & Gilda are the Worst of the Worse when those Characters, as Mean as they are, at least seem like Equal Opportunity Offenders and Don’t make up any Sexist or even, so far, Specieist Names Against Others.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, I was wondering how to say that, and you said everything I wanted to and then some. Very well put! I’ve always been pretty geeky but never identified myself as a “Geek Girl” for the same reasons, I just don’t want the conflict. It seems like some people think there’s a prerequisite for liking this comic or that book and calling yourself a fan, that if you’re not hardcore enough, or if you haven’t seen every single episode (or read every single book) at least 5 times then you’re not part of the club. But there’s ALWAYS going to be someone more extreme than you, so using that as a scorecard is pretty pointless, especially when the whole idea is that everything is done out of love for whatever you want to do, not just as some arbitrary geek status symbol. It really does scare away the newbies, so that instead of reaching out and socializing about what they love, they go and read in their isolated little corner, which is probably one of those shared bad childhood experiences that many geeks have had that makes some of them so touchy as adults.

  • Anonymous

    So true!

  • Reut Cohen

    *slow clap* I salute you! and I find this article validating in a very terrific way :)

  • Dara Crawley

    But that in and of itself I think is reflective of what is mentioned in the article. As a female geek or nerd there is always pressure to prove your fandom. It’s not just that you like things and want to signify geek/nerd-dom as part of who you are. It is also that you feel the need to prove your nerdiness. For women of color I think this can be doubly so. When it comes to females, males tend to change how they act, a socialized and expected behavior,but in the nerd community the moment a woman is attractive there is an assumption of inferiority and what not or over-niceness. Buying all the merchandise can be about just trying to prove “I AM A NERD STOP QUESTIONING IT”. Female nerds want to be treated like human beings first.

    I never really understood that there was antagonism towards women whose brothers got them into comics. That is as sexist as it goes. I never heard of a male geek/nerd being criticized for his dad or older brother getting him into comics. Besides when you think about it we tend to drift toward what we’re around. When I was growing up the DC animated universe was HUGE. Both my brother and dad enjoyed it, so I got a taste for it. Our tastes are shaped by our environment and other people. Why should this be shameful?

    On that note I think the male nerd community still is shocked by the existence of blerds, females, and homosexuals..Sometimes I’m glad I’m not pretty in a conventional sense people seem to approach me differently than my pretty female friends. But I think that maaaay have something to also do with my being black, but I dunno.What I find funny is when I go to cons with my lesbian friend and guys not only treat us like we don’t know what we’re doing, but hit on her and act like I don’t exist(or are clueless how to approach the 6″2 chocolate woman in front of them)

  • Ken Arromdee

    A Hollywood actress would not pretend to like something because she thinks geeks are cool, but because being a Hollywood actress is about projecting an image, and if you think your audience will go for someone who likes certain things, you may very well pretend to like those things. Nothing to do with geeks being cool but a lot to do with geeks having money and watching movies and TV shows–you know, the kind of stuff that an actress makes money off of.

    Hollywood actresses are part of the mass media, and the mass media does this all the time. Of course it doesn’t just happen with females–remember Stu Levy as “D. J. Milky” at Tokyopop?

  • Ken Arromdee

    Claiming to be on the bottom of the social hierarchy gives you power over people.

    But that’s true for everyone, not just for guys.

  • Ken Arromdee

    I’d think that a teenager who lies about having a complete X-Men collection counts as a fake geek. Of course, gender has nothing to do with it, but that just proves there can be fake geeks of either sex.

  • Ken Arromdee

    That line of argument is basically the “you’re too sensitive” claim applied to a man.

    The original poster claimed to have experienced “repeated, accumulated experiences of insults, indignities, and demeaning messages from other members of the comics community”. But I bet that if anyone told her to go see a therapist for her issues instead of piling her insecurity on unsuspecting men, the reaction here would have been pretty negative. Why is it considered appropriate to say the equivalent to a man who has experienced indignities?

  • Chanel Diaz

    But Men are the most guilty for it if you ever bother looking into History or have ever taken an Ethnic Studies Class.

    Women weren’t even ALLOWED to be Abolitionists by Men.

  • cadiajo

    Just to be clear, I didn’t mean to defend all of brony culture, nor to imply that the female fans and characters were exempt from the sexism of their detractors (I didn’t even know about the whole “bronies before hoenies” deal) only that femininity is used against them as an insult. Femininity, whether it be inherent (loaded term, I know) or manifested just isn’t tolerated very well in fandom, it seems. Insults like “u r gay 4 lykng ponies u f**” or “u r such a p**** b****” which are prevalent in fandom are devaluations of genders that aren’t cis-hetero-male.

  • Chanel Diaz

    When you said, “Bronies, for example. However, the insults thrown at them are often of a homophobic/sexist nature so even when it happens to men, it’s still somehow femaleness that is wrong.”

    I just couldn’t help but Strongly Agree because I think it’s True that when Men are Insulted, it has to do with the Idea that “Femaleness” AND “What Is Considered, Femaleness” is Wrong.

  • Michael Gonzalez

    As a fellow geek let me just say I’m proud of you for embracing your inner geek and acknowledging who you are instead of letting society tell you who you “should be”. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • la.donna.pietra

    Ah, yes. The real heart of the matter. Women are sexual objects to men, first and foremost, and how silly of us to think otherwise. Thank you so much for setting us straight.

  • Joanna

    People like fantasy cos real life is boring. I mean, why have AK-47s when you can have freakin’ LASER rifles, man? And like, I pretty much have an ok life (job, friends, family, boyfriend) but it’d still be kinda nice to fight dragons or have adamantium claws or get freaky with blue genderless aliens. Everyone has a certain amount of escapism they like to indulge in. Ours just happens to be sci-fi and fantasy.

  • Not Nearly Alice

    I found this article to be really interesting, I love psychology and nerdiness and combined it’s just great; however I am a teenage female and whilst I do identify myself as a geek/ nerd I’m not that into comic books, I prefer manga and whilst I do love various fandoms (AT, Doctor Who, Sherlock ect.) I’ve found that it’s an uphill battle for it to be recognised as being nerd. Even my family and friends refuse to adknowlege this as ‘geekiness.’ I’ve never been called out online as a fake geek girl but I understand that it occours primarily there. I have found that it hurts when my friends accuse me of fake geek girl-ness because I am paranoid that perhaps it true. It makes me worried that maybe I don’t know enough about the fandoms I like or the things which I do like are not geeky enough for me to use the lable of ‘geek.’ I know that to others it may seem foolish clinging to this identifier of ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ even when questioned but I see so many awesome people I admire and such an amazing community of people collectivly working together to show appreciation and share knowlege of this one thing that it makes me want to be part of this. I may not know as much about the fandom’s I like than others but I damn sure love them as much. For me it’s not about gender, I believe that accusing anyone of being fake hurts because it isolates you from an identity and the communtity that surrounds it. (I apologise for any spelling errors but it’s Christmas Eve in half an hour! :P

  • Laura Truxillo

    To answer the second question first, because there’s a marked difference between magically knowing the mind of every person you meet and simply having engaged in social geek activity in the past twenty years. As I said–there’s a boatload of women in nerddom, just all the heck over conventions and the internet, hanging out in comic shops, etc. But we get written off as “the exception” if we’re seen at all. You CAN’T go to a convention without meeting, or at least seeing female nerds. It’s not a possible thing.

    For the first, you don’t have to say a word out loud. Attitude goes a long way. It wasn’t just an example of how “people” can sometimes not understand it completely in the context of your comment and of this article–it was “this girl” didn’t. If it’s about the fact that yeah people, especially wee newbies, don’t always know the depth and breadth of fandom, then it’s an example to disprove the notion of “fake geek girl” as a gendered thing. That sure didn’t seem to be what your comment was saying. If anything, it’s part of the problem. Didn’t you ever encounter a guy who made a wrong statement about nerd facts or fandom? Why does this incident with a teenage girl stick out and bear mention? Because the fact of the matter is, when women mess up on nerd trivia or don’t know but want to, it’s “women don’t get comics.” Not just “they’re new and just getting into it.”

  • Laura Truxillo

    “but I think anyone who lets them have a significant impact on their
    self-esteem is hypersensitive to the point that they’ll be offended by
    almost any kind of assumption another person could make about them.”

    What you’re doing here feels like a tone argument. “People would listen to you more if you said it like THIS.” etc. And you’re playing into exactly what the article said–”You’re being too sensitive.”

    Neither here nor there.

    You say you have experienced microaggressions for buying Legos. It’s possible, but it still gives you NO FREAKING IDEA what we’re talking about. Try it this way: “I know just what you mean about discrimination, Gay Friend. When I buy toys, people call me weird!” It might be an annoyance, or even a little hurtful to deal with, but it is nowhere near on the same level.

    The sexism in geekdom is a symptom of a larger problem. Since the “fake geek girl” issue got some wind, it’s what we’re talking about, but women deal with this crap every day, in and out of our hobbies.

    You get a dirty look and snickers for buying Legos. Purchasing the Legos is something you chose to do. And the interaction lasts for a few minutes. Women don’t generally stop being women. These microaggressions? What makes them damaging, if you REALLY didn’t get it from the article, isn’t that “Oh my gosh, that one thing was so sexist!” It’s that we deal with them over. And over. And over. And over again. We deal with it from the time we’re kids, we deal with it in school, sometimes from our own parents and teachers, we deal with it in our hobbies and at our jobs (I’m from a part of the South were old men think joking verbal harassment is cute and funny. Barring that, boy howdy, do I love the fact that men feel like they can tell me to smile for them, sweetheart, both at work and just walking by).

    One guy calling me “sweetheart” and telling me “a pretty girl should smile” or something along those lines. Bit of a creep, but whatever. On the tenth? Thirtieth? Hundredth? There’s a point where you just lose count, where all the little bits become almost accepted. Is that a well-rounded female-character posing in a pointless bikini while the menfolk get to keep all their clothes on? Of course it is. And so it goes. It’s water torture. Drip. Drip. Drip.

    This is what we live with. Not just for being geeks, but for being women. If I snap at the three hundredth stranger and tell him “Don’t call me sweetheart,” I’m the one who needs the attitude adjustment.

    David Willis had the best term for it–it’s the background radiation of our lives. At some point, just for sanity’s sake, we become less consciously aware of it. But it’s always there.

    I don’t even have a response for how you think casual sexism is even slightly comparable to being mistaken for a gamer because you have the interests commonly associated with gamer. (For that matter, hey, my coworkers thought I was a gamer too for a while. Because, well. Nerds.) Seriously. What.

  • Anonymous

    I can disprove your entire article in two words: Tanya Tate. BOOM! Done. She’s a porn star who, like other fake geek girls, has discovered the financial gold mine that just waiting, ready to tap, by pandering to the male geek. She has no love of comics. But she knows that if she dresses in character — with the requisite plunging neckline (her Green Lantern Arisia costume represents an especially low-water mark) — she’s given a license to print money. Money. Bottom line. That’s where the fake geek girl begins and ends…with money. No surprise then that they’re scorned and shunned by those who aren’t too weak to succumb to their all-too-obvious and in-your-face “charms.”

  • Anonymous

    You’re absolutely right, Ken. He gets it. I just want to quote the whole thing, it’s SO right.

  • Anonymous

    ^ Truth.

  • Anonymous

    Another accurate, truthful rebuttal to this wrong-headed article.

  • Jess

    I have to say, this is one of the few articles I’ve read on this issue where the comment section was not riddled with crummy logic and attitudes. Everyone seems so nice and sensitive…hooray! It put me in such a better mood than I was in before. : )

  • Max Bosshart

    It really bothers me when an individual comes out and makes a statement that basically claims “I am the speaker for [insert specific group of people].” Who appointed you to speak for this group? In this particular instance you’ve claimed to know what men are thinking. Seriously though, who appointed you the spokeman for the male gender? How is it that you can make a blanket statement about men. Especially when you’re implying that what men think is something ignorant and bigoted. I don’t think like that and I am a man. The big thing is I know that I think like me, like Max, no one else. I don’t know what you think, or that other guy thinks, so who the fuck am I to say “this is how men think.”

  • Dr. Drea Letamendi

    I don’t know how ONE porn star who happens to dress as Green Lantern disproves my “entire article” but hell, I’ll play. In the article, I talk about two major issues that may explain some of our strong reactions to the “fake” accusation. One is that women in our community have experienced repeated messages that invalidate their experience as a geek. ( I admit that some of us are more hypervigilant about this than others perhaps due to their past experiences. I EVEN admit that I’m guilty of this, “looking” for invalidations where they might not even exist.) The second is that we, as a community, feel threatened by imposters because of the nature of our fandom (the constructs of limited resources and group membership, ingroup territorial behavior, blah blah blah). No where do I say that “fake geek girls” DO NOT exist. I only describe why the notion, the IDEA of imposters, seems so threatening to authentic geeks, if there even is such a thing. Booth babes, porn stars, actors, etc. who happen to have a vagina and who have found a way to profit from geek’s wallets sure do exist. They’re called entertainers, and there happens to be a market for this, and ALL businesses that sell product to a consumer base are exploiting SOMETHING, so the “it’s for money” argument really is old news. BOOM.

  • Dr. Drea Letamendi

    I hope you know (I feel bad breaking this to you) but all strippers, phone sex operators, and prostitutes are usually “faking” something when you hand over money ;)

  • will

    ummm, that proves nothing. no one ever said there aren’t women that fake it, the point is that a LOT of women that do honestly live and love Geek Life are accused of being fake for no other reason than they’re female.

  • will

    Are there any guys that only pretend to be into geeky things? any? at all? if there are, then why aren’t guys affected the same way the ladies are? Vin Diesel CLAIMS to be into comics and games… but he doesn’t match the “typical” geek look. yet I’ve never heard anyone call him fake or claim he’s lying. either accept everyone or question everyone… the pretenders will eventually reveal themselves and the rest of us will party on.

  • Martin G.

    Folks commenting that they disagree with the portion of the article which denies the existence of “fakes” should brush up on their reading comprehension, or at least give the article a second read, since it makes no claim that there’s no such thing as “fakes” (people pretending to be a part of the community in some fashion for some perceived gain to themselves).

    Seem a bit more like part of what’s being identified are the breadth of ways in which the false positive rate of identifying “fakes” is insanely, and unjustly, high. That is, a very significant population of the woman in the community are assumed to be “fake” until they can somehow prove otherwise.

  • Kristen McHugh

    The principle in an all-encompassing inclusive stance isn’t to give people nerd cred, it’s to say that no one gets to be the arbiter of who is and isn’t a geek. Either we’re all free from, or we’re all subject to the judgment of whomever decides they’re King of the Nerds that day. And if profit is a determining factor, no creators, studios, or publishers are going to pass the test. There is no purity here, it doesn’t work that way. Everyone geeks out about something, and does it in their own way. As long as you’re not hurting someone (and prostitutes/sex workers aren’t necessarily hurting anyone) then why does it matter?

  • Kristen McHugh

    If it helps in the slightest: If you find that part of your identity which you want to feel positive about and be recognized for, is that of, “Geek,” there are plenty of people who share that identity and will welcome you. Yes, it’s hard sometimes and your family may not get it, but as long as you know what it is that you love, it’ll get easier. Whether it’s manga, STEM, television, film, books, or gaming: you love what you love. :)

  • Martin G.

    New? Ok, I guess in the grand scheme of things, the 70′s are new. But the word has fairly particular meaning within psychology. You’re certainly free to disagree with the term that some psychologist chose to use to describe the class of behaviors 40 years ago, but the article is written by a psychologist using a pretty well defined term of her field. So arguing that the wrong word is used is kind of sidestepping the entire point.

    You seem to clearly disagree, but personally I’m fine with the word “microagression” being used to describe a fairly systemic presence of insults and offensive remarks in a community targeting at a very specific subgroup.

  • Anonymous

    And they can get over it. Let’s not waste any time holding the hands of the special snowflakes.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, you found an angle that allowed you to write an article that reflected your area of expertise. [golf clap] Well done. But why bury the lead? Were you attempting purposeful obfuscation? See, the REAL argument isn’t WHY anyone feels any particular way. The REAL argument is whether fake geek girls exist. Despite everyone’s attempts to shoehorn in 235+ years of grievances and slights, the question was never more complicated than just that. I say they do, YOU say they do, but a legion of social justice warriors out there continue to insist — wrongly, and wrongheadedly — that fake geek girls do not exist. And that’s what was always so exasperating about the argument…ANYONE WITH EYES CAN SEE THAT THE FAKE GEEK GIRL EXISTS! Duh!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, that’s good to know! I’ll be sure to pass it along to your boyfriend. ;)

  • HUX

    This is exactly me. The constant worry that I’m not allowed to like the things I like, and even with all the time I spend worrying about it I still haven’t found any way to win. A lot of the time I just keep my interests to myself.

  • Jeffrey Miller

    Leave it to someone on the internet to find a way to be condescending to someone who’s clearly put in the time, money and effort to HAVE an expertise. So this article didn’t address what you wanted it to. Doesn’t mean the article doesn’t successfully address a completely different topic or that you have to try to discredit it. That’s just ignorant. What’s exasperating to YOU isn’t the point. What’s exasperating to GENUINE geek girls is part of her point. The article isn’t trying to disprove the existence of “fake geeks,” girls or otherwise. Nor is it taking the side that they exist. It’s trying to answer the question of why these regular online (and in-person) accusations are a big deal to genuine geek girls, by incorporating very real psychology to explain the deep foundations of their own resentment. If this is too intellectual for ya’, I’m sure there’s someone somewhere else foolishly and simplistically arguing the mere existence of “fake geeks.” Of course there are “fake geeks,” just as there are fake anything else (anyone who thinks geeks are, in any way, unique in this regard are sadly mistaken). But by regularly talking about the small minority of fakes, we’re further damaging the reputations of those who are genuine. And no one’s asking you to hold their hands. They don’t need your bedside manner. They need you to shut up and stop treating them like they’re either special or fake. Who cares? They’re here. Get over it.

  • Anonymous

    You must’ve had a stroke as you were writing that last paragraph. I could care less WHO does or doesn’t show up at cons, and I care even less how they dress. I treat everyone — male or female, fan or non-fan — exactly the same…like they don’t exist. Their specialness or fakeness is not relevant to me; I’m not there for them, I’m there for me. Way to miss my point, which I will cheerfully repeat for you: the REAL argument was whether fake geek girls exist. They do, so that’s a big FFFFUUUUUU to all the social justice warriors who claimed that there was no such thing.

  • Joanna

    Lol at forever alone guy.

  • Joanna

    I don’t know why people see booth babes or actors as a “bad” thing. They’re hired for their looks to sell a product for their employer. It’s like seeing a model on a perfume ad and thinking “Pfft! I bet she doesn’t even WEAR the perfume. What a phoney!”
    Realistically, if you and so many others don’t like having your sex drive pandered too in geekdom you should really rally together and maybe appeal to the companies who are guilty of such pandering.

  • Ben Lundy

    I think you’ve misconstrued my post as a denunciation of the author’s analysis. My main reason for posting was to caution against letting little things that are NOT a big deal get compared to big things that ARE, because I think that weakens the case that aggression against women in geek communities is a serious problem. Everyone is going to have their own definition of what IS a big deal and what is NOT, and I’m just expressing mine.

    You’re right that I’m not a woman, and I don’t know what it is like to have to contend with sexism minute after minute, day after day. As I said in my first post, I also don’t even know what it’s like, as a man, to witness that happening to women on a regular basis. I work at a major university for a living and am surrounded by educated, progressive people. I’m lucky in that my own circle of friends and my LCS seem to be similarly forward-thinking. But as the author herself said, “All of us have, at one point or another, experienced bullying, invisibility, insult, attack, or violation.” I know I have had my fair share even though it wasn’t because of my gender, and I don’t think it’s fair to imply that my experiences are less valid.

    My gut response to the article was concern that addressing the problem of sexism in geek culture is going to be harder, not easier, if we think we have to start micromanaging people’s speech to the extent that “microaggressions” are considered “more damaging” than actual threats and verbal or physical harassment. Since I was very young, my dad taught me that there are certain things in life that you just have to “shrug off.” Another way to put it is, “pick your battles.” I still think that’s good advice.

  • Merciful_budah

    It seems this debate needs to shift away from Fake-Geek girls and towards fake-geeks. Yes indeedly there are some fake-ass dudes entrenched in this world.

    I strongly agree with your “resentment of the changing culture” points. I think many (male and female) correllate the changing face of geek culture and conventions to an influx of wannabes and posers. It’s hard not to, especially when it’s observably true. I certainly think its wrong to assume that it’s just women (you should meet the football team who I saw Thor with), just as it’s not just men making sexist assertions to those they view as noobs (see anime fans).

    It seems the main thing to take away from this, is it’s not nice to be mean to someone just because they’re a girl (go figure, right?). You should be mean to people because they genuinely don’t know what they’re talking about (And because you’re generally of a sarcastic sort. And to clarify, I don’t mean make fun of someone because they don’t know who Terrax and Firelord are, I mean make fun of them because they just spent 20 minutes arguing with you about whether or not Cain Marko is Professor Xavier’s son because they are FAKING their knowledge and breadth of experience. You should never be embarrassed to say you haven’t read something or are unfamiliar with a storyline. If people bite your head off for that then fuck ‘em. Someone who really loves comics (or whatever) should be happy to tell you about what you’ve missed.

  • Jesse Hester

    I just read the Wikipedia article. In my opinion, using the term in the context of geek fandom trivializes the racism faced by blacks in the US circa 1970. I also take issue with Sue’s (2010) characterization of “Denial of the Reality of Sexism” and “Denial of Individual Sexism” as “microaggressable themes”. It would seem that the whole concept of microaggression has a built-in defense mechanism against criticism, i.e., the denial of the existence of the reality of microaggressions would appear to be a microaggression, according to the definition of the term.

    Fortunately, I’ve come up with a new term to describe this phenomenon. A microoutgrouping (Hester, 2012) is defined as the private labeling of one or more behaviors of one group of people by another, separate group of people with a term meant to evoke images of oppression or violence, whether or not the behaviors are conscious or motivated by malice. The purpose of a microoutgrouping is to offer a simplistic explanation of the emergence of complex social phenomena in terms of one group of people oppressing or conspiring against another group of people. An accumulation of such micrououtgroupings leads to an outgrouping, which is defined as the creation by an “in”-group of an outside group on which the “in”-group can blame the emergence of complex social phenomena considered unfavorable. If a member of the created outgroup takes issue with this simplistic, accusatory explanation, the objection itself will be used as evidence of the validity of the explanation. For example, during the Third Reich, Jews were outgroupped via a series of microoutgroupings. Social phenomena such as the emergence and spread of leftist ideologies and the trend toward international markets were in this way explained in terms of “Jewish Bolshevism” and “conspiratorial Jewry”. At the time, claiming that these social phenomena were the result of complex interacting forces instead of the Machiavellian machinations of “International Jewry” was itself seen as subversive and pro-Jewish.

    Bad things happen when one group actually does say, “Hey, let’s oppress that other group.” But Really Bad Things don’t usually happen that way. Instead, Really Bad Things happen when one group says, “Hey, you know who’s been oppressing us?”

  • Kenny Zaborny

    This, exactly. The world of the geek is too broad to ostracize anyone. I like comics, scifi, and video games but I’m not an expert in any of them. In fact I haven’t watched BSG, I can’t get into Dr Who, and I haven’t seen a Star Wars movie all the way through. I prefer Star Trek and novels about superheroes. Comics are just too expensive anymore and I have other things to spend my money on. The icing on the cake is when other geeks hear that my main hobby is restoring cars. They immediately write me off as a geek-wanna-be, even if I did just pull up in my 81 Delorean. Does it bother me? Back in HS I learned that I don’t define myself by who accepts me. If they think I’m beneath them then they aren’t worth my time.

  • Cathe’s Comicz

    Never felt “fake” and never really was targeted… I guess it’s always been me, but in many forms, so when I started writing and drawing comics, it became my natural next step. It was only one time, at Comic-Con– I attended back when it first started- free as a friend.. then later free as a pro- and the firs ttime, I felt like an outsider. not fake-fandominatrix, but not part of the inner circles. now I create my own circles so it doesn’t mean anything to me. Love meeting Jill P, Gail, and all of my other creator/devourers. Still need to get my tribble fixed, though

  • Ron

    ISTM that boys who get isolated for being geeks develop an exclusionary clan mentality as a defense mechanism. Thus, they don’t trust outsiders who want to enter the clan later in life, imagining that they were part of the part of the oppressing high school Everyone Else (since otherwise they’d have joined the clan in high school).

  • Anonymous

    Just because the term was first coined while examining racism doesn’t mean it can’t be used in the context of other social phenomenon, and that usage doesn’t imply some judgement of “equal oppression.” Not that I think it’s terribly useful to try to rank such things in the first place. About the only use of such ranking is to just get the people complaining about the negative behavior to shut up because after all, if it’s not as bad as genocide, it’s not worthy of analysis or discussion.

    I do think your assertion that it has an in-built defense against criticism is a bit of an oversimplification. These aren’t black and white questions. If someone were to simply deny something exists without actually arguing the point coherently and with evidence beyond mere anecdotes then it is remarkably easy to lump in as effectively propping up the original problem if it does actually exist. So if sexual prejudice of some form does exist in the culture (which I do believe, for what it’s worth), then simply denying that it exists does actually serve to keep that sexual prejudice in place by allowing those who promote it (intentionally or not) to continue without criticism for their behavior. So I think the point is that denying the problem CAN be a microaggression in and of itself if it’s objectively denying the existence of a REAL problem.

    That is not to say that the behavior you describe can’t also exist. But that’s my point about it being an oversimplification. One still actually has to dig into the root issue and the behaviors of those responding to it, either in support or not.

    Also, I think your last remark is also a pretty severe generalization. At least in my opinion, slaves deciding to do something, even something violent, in order to overcome their position as slaves, is a Really Good Thing, and springs from saying, “Hey, you now who’s been oppressing us?” Again, I think it comes down to a deeper examination of the actual issue at hand.

  • Anonymous

    Part of the reason I keep coming back to the site. ;)

  • Rick McDowell

    This is a very powerful read, for me. I can’t say that I have consciously tried to discourage any of my female friends from their geek-centric interests. But, it wasn’t until the past 2 or 3 years that I have seen this new crop of young, attractive female fans that have been popping up. I was excited about this, at first. Until, after a few conversations, that by any standards many a hardcore could easily label “Newbie” status, I found myself first questioning, and then eventually attacking these individuals as a whole.
    I’m quick to admit error in my ways. From my heart of hearts, I assure you that my percieved “deffense” of my virtues wasn’t aimed at the discouragement of feminism within geek sub-culture, in general; I have several good female friends who I have shared fond memories and interests with over the years. For me, personally, it stems from an inherant distrust of the archtype of woman that some men would consider “Conventional”, or “Attractive”. Understand, that my geekdom is the core essence of what I am, and growing up in the 90′s, the attractive girls spit on me, laughed at me, and acted like my existence was a slight on the future of human evolution. That treatment was certainly a contributing factor to my own low self-esteem, and problems with intimacy. Being that this level of treatment was all too common back then, I can say with absolute sincerity that others developed serious issues from this kind of treatment, and they themselves have gone on to associate a pretty face with something that poses a threat to their sanctity and well-being.
    The fact of the matter is, many of these new “Geek Girls”, fake or otherwise, still are less likely to want to persue a relationship with these same individuals who’s interests have contributed to the way the culture is today. And, to them, they feel insulted and threatened by that. Now that in recent weeks the epidemic of this sexism has been addressed, I would like to see dialouge opened as to reflect on the changes impact on those who have felt victimized by attractive women their whole life.
    I get that spitting on the pretty new girl is not the right thing to do. But how many of these pretty new girls know what kind of personal hell these guys have been through, in terms of their own alienation, much less care? The issue of Feminism in comics goes far beyond boys versus girls, when the fact of the matter is, many of these male fans have been demasculated and feminized by male and female peers for a big portion of their lives.
    I want to let go of my annimosity. But that’s going to require therapy well beyond my financial means. On the bright side, maybe I’m completely wrong about the fact that one of these girls will never find loving qualities in me that would suit her needs in a potential mate. I’d like to think there’s a fairy tale ending for me. But, my life experience has proven otherwise to me. And its that same life experience that drives me to excapism, retreating to comics, gaming, science fiction, in the first place…

  • Tanya Mueller

    Very well-written article, and I can see your points. It can be extremely invalidating to hear someone question your “right” to be part of the club, but I can’t seem to get past the idea that “Fake Geek Girl” does not exist.
    I remember when LOTR movies came out, and there was a huge influx of new members, almost exclusively girls, on LOTR forums who would call themselves LOTR fans and suddenly be Tolkien experts just because they saw the movie and thought Logolas was hawt. I have no problem with people just loving the movies without reading books, but I do have a problem with them calling themselves geeks. Judgmental? Probably.
    But I keep thinking about other areas of pop-culture. If you go to a Ren Faire to have good time, but don’t dress up or do the whole bit with lingo and mannerisms, then you don’t call yourself a Ren Faire buff, and if you did, you’d get called out for being a fake. When I used to do a lot of clubbing, there always were posers who would come to a rave but would not dance. Again, if you’re shy, whatever, it’s cool, but don’t call yourself a club kid in that case. To those people who take certain things seriously, it can be offensive when someone waltzes in and lightly plants themselves in the middle of the club. IF you’re a newbie and want to learn, I can’t imagine that the true geeks would not be welcoming. And if they are jerks, then eff them. They don’t matter.
    What’s different about geek culture? Whenever something becomes more mainstream, there will always be posers who try to jump on the bandwagon while pretending to be more hardcore into whatever it is than they really are. I probably would not be as snide about geeks as I was about “club kids”, because there’s more grey areas, but I don’t get the defensiveness.
    And about that – I get the defensiveness, I REALLY do. I have moved to US from post-USSR Russia and for years I felt like I was supposed to be responsible for everything that USSR/Russia did. Every time Putin does something, there will be someone who will act like WTF am I thinking? Hell, I don’t know, I’m not him. So I just shrug and move on. The fake geek girls are not real geeks, so why take it personally when guys talk about them? If you know a fake geek guy, point it out. If a person is questioning your cred, admit your new-ness, or call him out on his blanks. And then move on.
    Geek culture is very sexist to begin with (have you LOOKED at females in mainstream comics/movies?) so why get surprised when you get confronted with a representation of that culture? I mean, when you walk into the rain, you don’t get surprised that it’s wet. I’m not saying to stay home, I’m saying to bring an umbrella. And maybe some rain boots, so you can jump in the puddles.
    And lastly, sometimes a sonic screwdriver is just a sonic screwdriver. Sometimes people didn’t mean anything by asking if you’re at a Star Wars event for your boyfriend, they are just trying to make a conversation and maybe covertly figure out if you’re single.
    This comment probably reads very preachy, but I really don’t know how to phrase it any better, so I apologize for that. And maybe I don’t get the US geek/women culture, but in Russia it was considered pretty cool for a girl to be into sci-fi/LARP, etc. so maybe I just don’t get this issue with my heart, just my brain, which is not the same.
    Again, this is very well thought out article, thank you for posting it.

  • Chanel Diaz

    If you ever heard of the Brony Phenomenon, or just the fact that there are Male Fans of the show, ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.’ A show that centers on 6 Main Female Characters, Ruled by a Female (although, she’s Princess and Not a Queen) Ruler, and are All part of a Society that is Supposedly, Egalitarian. I believe to be RIGHTFULLY Surprised to meet Sexist Bigots when I just go to a Forum expecting what is Preached by Practically the Whole Fandom to be “Love & Tolerance,” to Rave about my Favorite Female Baddies, only to be made aware of how much of a b*tch those ‘female’ characters “are.” I also can’t help but Find how the Male Baddies don’t get as much ‘Hate & Intolerance’ as the female characters who are considered ‘bad,’ do. The Male Baddies like Discord are even considered to be ‘cool.’

    Sexism is EVERYWHERE. And you’re just saying to Tolerate it, basically? Why even bother believing in Human Right Issues at all, if you’re just going to let ANY Marginalized Human Group get their Rights and Respect taken away? I consider this Site to be a Feminist one and the “Fake Geek Girl” is a Feminist Issue rather than just an Average Everyhuman Issue like RAIN because of the sad fact that a lot of boys/men don’t take girl/women’s positions in ANY group, seriously other than that they don’t belong there.

  • Tanya Mueller

    I wasn’t saying to tolerate it. I have specifically said to call out those who question your geek status. I just don’t understand why we would be surprised or shocked at latent sexism of male geekdom. It’s there, it’s perpetuated, and if we want to be part of the group, we need to deal with it rather than let it dominate us. And if we let it traumatize us, then we have let them win. But why that should mean that we will not acknowledge the fact that there are posers out there?

    I’m not sure at all what you were trying to say about My Little Pony (and yes, I know about the Bronies, and that they get judged by girls, too), so I would appreciate it if you could explain it a little more. Is your point that people who are into the series still can get judgmental?

    I am a feminist, and am very aware of the sexism in everyday culture. People are full of biases. That’s how everyone operates. What we, as feminists, can do is to change those biases. US culture says, “girls can’t be geeks” – so prove them wrong! I don’t get the whole “I don’t really know anything about ABC, and I was made uncomfortable by those who do, so I got scared and never went back.”

    Eff them. Learn the stuff and make it your own. It’s not that hard to get the info, especially now in the age of the internets and googles.

    Did you really think I was discussing rain? Seriously? Sexism is an “everyhuman” issue, because everyone is affected by it, whether they are on the receiving or giving end of it. It’s actually pretty sexist to insist that it’s a “women” issue. It makes it seem like only we should be concerned about it and it absolves men of having to deal with it. Let us, womenfolk, fix the geek problem, right?

    I am also not sure how you jumped to such conclusions that I would let any human group get their rights taken away? I thought you said something about practicing what you preach.

  • Chanel Diaz

    These articles are made to call out those who question girl/women’s geek status. This one’s just explaining how off-putting it is, especially if you’re a female.

    “if we want to be part of the group, we need to deal with it rather than let it dominate us.”


Sounds like what I just said about ‘Tolerating’ the Sexism, because it’s natural for humans to want to socialize with other humans. And Sexism being ‘Everywhere’ you don’t just “deal with it.”


    “And if we let it traumatize us, then we have let them win”


Or you just let ‘them’ win by not letting their Biases be known.
I think there are worse situations than ‘Posers’ because of the Double-Standards of ‘who’ is considered a ‘Poser.’ If you want to go Poser-Hunting and Waste your Time with that Quest, go do it, I won’t argue that, but nobody here really cares about ‘Posers.’

    What I care about and I’m not saying this is you, why Assume females are more likely to be ‘fakes’ when it is natural for Anybody to want to escape into any fiction. Girls like Comics, Games, and Watch TV and Movies, too. Not mentioning how often those very
    Mediums can be very sexist because of the ol’ “Most Writers Are Male.” Girls and Women are No Less wanting to Escape into SOMETHING because in Real Life, we have to worry about “Glass Ceilings, Sl*t-Shaming, Domestic Violence, Sex-Objectifiation, Infantilization, Rape, and etc.” I’d say girls and women are the MOST Likely Wanting to Escape into the Closest Power Fantasy, we can get from a Medium, And yet, you don’t find it extra foul there are people who think girls and women are “faking” about ‘escaping’ and you don’t seem to fully Understand why we call out Sexism in Geek Culture, whether it be of the Official Creators or the Fandom?

    I’m not arguing all your points, just correcting a few like, “so
    why get surprised when you get confronted with a representation of that culture?

    That’s why I mentioned the Bronies’ Hypocrisy (“Love & Tolerance”). Yeah, “Girls are Bad, too,” but you got to be kidding if you think the male and female’s Emotional Torture by Society is Completely Comparable. You call yourself a Feminist, but shouldn’t it be obvious that girls and women have it worse than boys and men?

    I can’t even enjoy myself in a fandom of a show by a FEMINIST Cartoonist. You never heard of Lauren Faust or her goals
    of the show? That’s why I said I had a RIGHT to be surprised.

    “Did you really think I was discussing rain? Seriously?”

    You couldn’t tell I knew your Metaphor was Poorly Written? Nature has no biases, and everyone suffers the same consequences. People Don’t Act like Nature, so Don’t Compare Human Bigotry to

    Maybe you should look up Feminist and Reread
    my Reply. At the end I was saying how Feminist Issues are different from an Average Everyhuman Issue because I Equate Humanitarianism (for the benefit of all human beings) with Feminism (Feminism is a part of Humanitarianism) and Average Everyhuman Issues are like dealing with a Rainy Day or Tripping On A
    Rock. Annoying, but EVERYONE deals with those Problems Equally, Unlike Marginalized Groups who Unnecessarily Suffer at the Hands of those who are ‘Privileged (Heterosexual, White, Male, Able-Bodied, etc).’ I don’t consider Sexism, Racism, Homophobia, Transphobia, Ableism, Ageism, and etc., ‘Average’

    You might want to Look Up ‘Privilege,’ too.

    “I am also not sure how you jumped to such conclusions that I would let any human group get their rights taken away?”

    Well, maybe the ‘Rights’ was Over Exaggerate, forgive me, but you Sound like you’re Contributing to the Problem by just telling us “womenfolk” to basically just “grow some skin,” when we get told that so many times when we talk about our ‘Rights,’ in general. This “Fake Geek Girl” Issue is not something we, as human beings, should Normalize in the first place.

    If you are aware of Human Rights Issues, the First Step to Taking a Human Group’s Rights has Always been by taking away their Dignity, Pride, and Respect. And I really don’t want to Take that First

    “Practice What You Preach”

    It’s what I try to do everyday, it doesn’t make it easy being a woman who faces so much ‘Casual Sexism’ everyday, sometimes I can Forget, Over Exaggerate, and Stereotype, but I Never hold people’s Male Identity against them.

    If you call yourself a Feminist why are acting as if we have already achieved Equality and everyone suffers the same Pains? That’s why this “Fake Geek Girl” is such a big deal, because women
    suffer more for these stupid exhausting notions and infuriating actions than men ever will. It happens SO MANY MORE TIMES, for women, than for men, too. Yes, Sexism affects everyone, and therefore it up for everyone to fix it, I never implied that “only women fix it.”

  • Dan Houser

    A dude here. Wow. Great article. Will share. Kickass message, and valid psychological points. :) Like the site, too. A good friend of mine posted a link here, and will be back to read. :)

  • Tanya Mueller

    Ok, clearly, you haven’t read anything I wrote carefully, and, what with all that you’ve typed, I don’t feel like it’s going anywhere productive. So, I’ll try one more time, and I’ll try to be concise (though will probably fail in that).

    Tolerating and dealing are not the same thing. Tolerating is a passive term, dealing is an active one. First and second wave feminists did not get us where we are today by flailing and freaking out about issues. They got down to business and carried on, and did what they felt needed to be done. They knew that the playing field was not level, but they did not let that stop them. THAT IS MY POINT.

    The rain metaphor is not about equating rain with sexism, it’s about dealing with it proactively, rather than being affected by it.

    What do you think will get your point across better? Ranting and accusing the other person or showing by example?
    If someone tells me that I don’t look like I geek, I tell them, “Hey, thanks for the compliment,” because I realize what they mean is “You don’t look like the stereotype of a geek that I have in my head”. If they call me out on something I claim to be a huge fan of, I prove my claim by knowledge, and if I am not that big on something, I will admit that up front. People are a lot likely to listen (and to apologize, for that matter) if I’m polite and non-confrontational.
    You need to think about what your goal is. So far – based solely on your comments – it seems to be about accusing those whose views differ from yours of ignorance and “siding with the enemy”. My goal, on the other hand, is to fight stereotypes one male geek crowd at a time. Not by pandering to them, because that would not make sense, but by being open, honest, and setting boundaries of what’s ok and what is not. Believe it or not, it actually works.

    I call myself a feminist, because it’s who I am and what I stand for. I did some comic illustration for someone in UK at some point, I was active in Save Farscape campaign, among other things, so it’s not like I haven’t stuck my neck out (not that you’d know this, you little assuming rant-baby). And don’t frelling assume I don’t know first hand about rape or domestic violence, so let’s not even go there.

    I never claimed that sexism does not exist, or that we have achieved equality. But you know what? I know that I have worth, I know what I achieved, as a woman. And that gives me the balls to not mind the douches who can’t get over the fact that a girl knows more than them, is better looking than them, and will probably not date any of them (being married and all). And by acting cool, by showing that I am not there to take their precious status away, because I got my own, by playing on their level (as opposed to stooping down to it), by the end of the evening I might make some of them think, and possibly start changing their mind about the geek girls. And hey, when (I’m hoping it’s a when, not if) there’s more of us like that, we can change the way society views us. Career women used to be seen as soulless b!tches in the 1980′s, but now everyone is more or less ok with them/us. Gay people are gaining more acceptance in mainstream because of people like George Takei and Ellen DeGeneres, who are less into ranting and shoving their point down people’s throats and more into being open, honest, and cool.

    If you wanna insist posers are a myth, have at it. I’ve seen them, they come in both genders, they manifest differently, but whatevs. Believe whatever you want to believe.

  • Tanya Mueller

    I tend to agree with Ben’s point.
    To make my case – I am a Russian woman who moved to US in mid-90′s. I have worked in fashion industry and graphic industry. I have been told things like I don’t know how to fix a computer because I’m a girl. I’ve been judged as a woman, as a feminist, as an atheist, as a club-kid, as a designer, as a geek, as a Russian, as an assumed commie, etc. I’ve experienced domestic violence and physical and mental fundie wrath.
    On the other side of equation – I’ve been a regular in my local comic book stores, buying ElfQuest, Kabuki, Poison Elves, etc. I’ve been an active campaigner to Save Farscape. I’ve done some comic illustration, as well as a brief stint on drawing playing cards for a dystopian RPG startup.
    So now that we know where I’m coming from – seriously. Pick your battles. Deal with your own insecurities and then you will see that the geek community is not as hostile as you may think. I’ve done my share of raging battles, but I found that it’s humor, not vitriol that works best to convince someone that you’re not the strawperson that they think you are. I also found that it’s pointless to waste your time and effort on someone bent on not accepting you, while there are plenty others who are not as vocal, but a lot more reachable.

    If someone thinks that you are fake, then getting defensive only serves to prove their (misguided) point. Because they are not going to take the time to wonder why it is that you are defensive. They will just assume it’s because you can’t back it up. So prove them wrong.

  • Tanya Mueller

    I don’t think Glenn was saying that casual fans should be excluded from cons. I think he was saying he may be irritated if he knew he couldn’t go because of people who have no interest in cons other than it will give them hip platform for easy attention.
    Also, WTF on the “if you’re so hardcore, why don’t you get your tix before they sell out?” have you ever tried to get tickets to a hot concert and it sells out in minutes and then you see a ton of tickets for triple the amount on secondary sites, so you KNOW it wasn’t the fans who bought all the tix?
    I think no one here is trying to equate “fake geek girl” with “casual fan”, why is it so confusing to people? I have NEVER EVER had a problem with fandoms I don’t know, because I’m usually pretty upfront on my knowledge and I do my homework before opening my mouth.

  • Anonymous

    Of course there are fake geek gals, just as their are fake jock guys or fake thug or fake anyone. There are always people who pretend to belong to group for fear that no one will accept them for who they are–and/or because they like the perceived status one gains from being in said group.

    Being “hot” and being knowledgeable about a geek subject is considered contradictory because being extremely good-looking and smart in general is considered contradictory. In many ways it can be self-fulfilling as groups of people ignore what the “hot” person says and only notice their looks. An infamous case was movie actress, Hedy Lamarr, who had some pretty great inventions, but they were ignored for years, if not decades, because of her extremely good looks.

    The irony of course when after years of having people ignore what you say and only focus on how you look the same people get angry or dismissive when someone stops trying to be smart and just get by on their looks, thus completing a vicious cycle.

    Yes, we tend to focus on the negative over the positive in general. It’s so common as to be cliche that in a room full of thundering standing ovations, performers often fixate on the few people NOT applauding, or out of countless rave reviews, we fixate on the few negative ones.

    The problem with not being exclusive is that throughout human history people engage in classism, dividing themselves into various classes. You can’t help it because that’s what the human brain does, look for patterns, be they characters on a page, sounds in the airs, symbols on a screen. With people we look for gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, height, weight, hair color, are they for the Coke or Pepsi, X-box or Playstation, Kirk or Picard, Star Trek or Star Wars, JRR Tolkien or JK Rowling, Crunchy peanut butter or smooth peanut butter, pop or soda, ketchup or catsup, mountainfolk or plainsfolk, cattle herder or sheep herder or nerf herder, lower class or middle class or upper class, college grad or vocationally trained, boys or men, girls or women, etcetera, ad nauseum.

    We will always subdivide into groups, but can we have Equal Respect for those who are different from ourselves? That’s the question and often the answer is “No”, “Kinda”, “Well, maybe but it’s hard”, depending on any given moment of the day. The small consolation is that it’s not limited to being a fake geek gal. Misery (like Anger, Envy, Joy and most, if not all, emotions) loves company.

    IOW, we’re not alone. Join the club.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Jesus Henrietta (“Someone’s in my fruit cellar!”) Christ. I finally get around to this mother of all articles and the highest thread deteriorates into exactly the same circle jerk that has been happening all over the ‘net for weeks.

    Everyone’s so pissed off about this that we can’t even have a discussion without taking sides, which I’d equate to the pizza (because mmm, pizza) being cut into quarters rather than halves, since most (not all) of the people that frequent TheMarySue agree on the finer points.

    For the record, the prom queen + nerdy boy scenario is terrible. It’s clearly a mostly male fantasy to have your cheesecake (mmm, cake) and Transformers too without having to actually perform the necessaries of any relationship usually established by dating and learning about the other person via conversation and shared experience.

    @la.donna.pietra I assure you that Glenn doesn’t speak for everyone. I am quite capable of making an ass out of myself without assistance, thankyaveruhmuch, Glenn.

  • Alasdair Murray

    Wow, that was a really sad post to read. :(

    There’s something incredibly depressing about the thought of someone voraciously reading up about some character’s backstory or whatever, not because they’re interested in it, but so they can answer questions on them and not feel like they’re ‘letting down the team’. Geek culture should NEVER be about ‘doing homework’; no one should ever be made to feel like they MUST read this or that or they won’t be a ‘real geek’.

    Not that I really have any suggestions, nor am I in the position to make them. I mean, it’s easy to say ‘just do what you like and don’t worry about what other people think’, but that’s much easier said than done, especially when you’re not the person being judged yourself.

    Even so… I feel if you’re only reading/buying/watching something because you feel you HAVE to do so in order to ‘prove yourself’, you’re not likely to enjoy it, and that’s not a very happy way to live. And if it doesn’t even help, because even when you know something really well your friends still don’t think you’re a ‘real fan’, you have to wonder what’s the point. Again, easier said than done, but: if your friends just won’t accept you as a ‘real geek’ no matter what you do, maybe you need to find some new friends who will?

    I mean, it depends where you live, but there are more welcoming geek groups out there that will accept people without constantly judging them. It’s funny you mention cosplay – I’ve always had the impression that the cosplay community is actually one of those more welcoming parts of geek culture, so perhaps you should find the courage to explore that. (Mind you, I’m being a bit hypocritical here, as I’ve never cosplayed myself…)

  • Nicolas Rinear

    This article and comments section just changed me, shedding light on my subconscious and promoting change. It has uncovered the reasons for the extant negative aspects of my otherwise idyllic life. The comments section specifically has really brightened my day. Having been born into geekdom/nerdery through my super geek dad, I’ve actually been struggling with how to reconcile with the idea of posers for over thirty years. Now I realize I’m just making myself unhappy trying to disseminate a stranger’s authenticity, while 99% of them are happy, nerdy, geeky and awesome and I should really stop being so damn judgemental and just make some new friends, dammit. I spent so many years being the only geek in my school, town, social circle, that I dont think I fit in even with people who will dissect Doctor Who episodes with me, or play board games for hours, or just talk about comics til we’re skeletons. But you exist! So many genuine people, with so much love for comics! This comments section is responsible for an explosion of optimism in my heart, so if a short, bald, fat, bearded man tells you your shirt is awesome, remember, that’s a sincere compliment, and a celebration of our shared geek love.

  • Chanel Diaz

    “Tolerating and dealing are not the same thing. Tolerating is a passive term, dealing is an active one.”

    You still sound like you’re tolerating the sexism because you don’t get why everyone’s just talking about the “Geek Girl” Phenomenon, rather than instead of the “Fake Geek People,” phenomenon. Even if you may be just ‘tolerating’ it by a little bit, you’re clearly not affected by it, because you don’t see it. Almost Everyone here sees it (there are people who actually see something wrong here), but I guess we’re the “crazy ones” for actually speaking up about it.

    “First and second wave feminists did not get us where we are today by flailing and freaking out about issues. They got down to business and carried on, and did what they felt needed to be done. They knew that the playing field was not level, but they did not let that stop them. THAT IS MY POINT.”

    We are ‘dealing’ with it ‘proactively’ by talking about the
    Biases that unfairly say “girls and women are most likely to be fake-geeks.” We “get down to business” by just talking about our favorite Medium Stories and what we love most about it.

    Sexism, no matter how big or small affects everyone, and it affects them in every facet of their lives, especially women, and that can’t be denied no matter how much we want it to, if we truly want to stop it. Sexism is still a Complex Issue that Stems from SO MANY Factors that cause it and I get confused just trying to keep up with it all. I mentioned how women are thought in general, not to belong in any group, and if we just keep NOT mentioning the
    Injustice, we’ll Never get the Opportunities to Prove Ourselves in the first place.

    It’s like when people will latch themselves to a Specific Feminist Forum and tell us that we shouldn’t be talking about Sexist T-Shirts Aimed at Girls and Women that say Backwards Phrases like “Gold-Digger” or Talk about “Proper Male & Female Etiquette (,” when we should worry about the “real issues.”

    Women having their faces splashed with acid will always be ‘worse’ than women not being told they don’t belong in ‘ geek groups’ but it doesn’t mean anyone’s wasting their time talking about either one or both. They’re BOTH Important.

    I’m not Threatened with the ‘Posers’ you care about, I’m Threatened with people who don’t just accept girl and women’s ‘proof’ they know about their specific ‘geek topic.’

    “You need to think about what your goal is. So far – based solely on your comments – it seems to be about accusing those whose views differ from yours of ignorance and “siding with the enemy”.”

    How can I not think you’re “siding with the enemy” If you’re not going to Complain, ‘Educate’ people, or at least Acknowledge that calling female people who don’t act like “Perfect Model Angels,” Sex-Specific Insults is WRONG & HYPOCRITICAL when their
    Slogan Cites ‘Love & Tolerance?’ Yet, you’re sooooooo certain how “females are bad, too.” It’s really hard for me to Believe you’re an Active Feminist when you don’t see how the Emotions of people Affect them a lot and Language is
    Part of what Maintains our Sanity, being Social Creatures and All. I mean People kill themselves for being called WORDS. “Words Don’t Hurt,” I don’t believe it, but apparently you do.

    “My goal, on the other hand, is to fight stereotypes one male geek crowd at a time. Not by pandering to them, because that would not make sense, but by being open, honest, and setting boundaries of what’s ok and what is not. Believe it or not, it actually works.”

    Yeah, I agree, we have to take Action, but most Effective Actions are from ‘Smart Planning and Communication.’

    For an Action Instance, I would certainly not ‘pander’ to sexists and I thought that’s what everyone here tries to do with these “open, honest, and setting boundaries” topics. I have my boundaries and it’s not being a Bigot nor a Hypocrite when you can’t see how one’s group discrimination is connected with your own.

    “I call myself a feminist, because it’s who I am and what I stand for. I did some comic illustration for someone in UK at some point, I was active in Save Farscape campaign, among other things, so it’s not like I haven’t stuck my neck out (not that you’d know this, you little assuming rant-baby). And don’t frelling assume I don’t know
    first hand about rape or domestic violence, so let’s not even go there.”

    Rant-Baby, ouch. Did your geek male friends teach you proper name-calling skills instead of just ‘Agreeing To Disagree?’

    Don’t like discussions? What do you say to your Physically/Sexually Assaulted girls and women, you clearly know, when they try to get something through to you? Because apparently you don’t mind missing my point entirely when I thought I clearly said in the BEGINNING you’re wrong if you think the geek world is INHERENTLY SEXIST. You don’t have to be sexist to be a geek. I’ve looked in the Dictionary, it’s not there (Though, if it was, I most certainly would Actively Change it by Convincing Others Not to use it like that.).

    That’s why I don’t understand how you’re doing “your part” by sounding like you don’t make a big deal out of sexism? Sexism and everything else like it is a BIG DEAL. You’re not listening to me, you’re not listening to what this “Fake Geek Girl” is, you
    just think I’m talking just to talk. You’re still Ignorant and Need to Listen to Other People, too, even if you have done ‘more’ like “stuck your body out to protect someone else from getting shot.”

    I do my part for Feminism by Trying to Treat Everyone Equally and Fairly, regardless of their Marginalized Group and Call Out Bigotry (Like this man only without the YouTube Video. I don’t
    know how to do Creative Videos like this, yet.: IN PERSON and on the Internet. I gave you the Links to make it Easier for you to Understand my Viewpoint, but you still say I’m “crazy.” I don’t know what they do in Russia, and America’s not much better, truthfully too, but I actually try to give Concern to those who clearly are in Distress from their Countless Unfair Experiences.

    Yet, if you Hate Talking about Sexism so much, why even bother with the INTERNET. You “waste your life” here just as much as everyone else here who uses the Internet does. I’m the LEAST WORST person you’ll ever meet.

    Women should never stop talking about Serious Issues. We’re NO ELLEN, but talking less about our Life Experiences, I believe, you don’t, will not get us to Equality.

    I also believe there’s a ‘Time & Place’ for such Serious Issues, too, yet you’re acting like I’m ‘Off-Topic.’

    Men will surely not learn the error of their ways if we don’t speak out about it when we’re Granted the Podium. That’s how “Sexual Harassment” got started in the Work Place, by trying to make a system that protects people from such Abuse. People had to SAY it was Happening, First. It’s not Fun to Talk About it, I’m sure, but Necessarily. You’re an American now, you heard how Women in America today can still get fired for being “too pretty.” Are you going to say they shouldn’t say how SEXIST it is
    before they Start their Petitioning, Lobbying, and Boycotting? Action Speaks Louder Than Words, I’m sure, but you can’t just Jump Into Action without Knowing what you’re doing First. Nor is any Small Action Insignificant, like you’re Implying.–abc-news-topstories.htm

  • jenniburger

    This phenomenon isn’t limited to Geekdom. It happens in many other subcultures, hobbies, and even professions.

    Case in point #1: My profession. I am a wedding and portrait photographer. In my line of work there is a seriously HEATED debate about WHO is considered “professional” and who is a “Fauxtographer”. This is happening because photography has exploded – everyone has a camera, and everyone is interested in it. Professionals and serious amateurs feel THREATENED by the influx. They’re afraid of losing money and status.

    I only went to community college. I didn’t study under a masterful photographer guru. I am self-taught in most aspects of running a photography business. Am I not a professional? It’s my ONLY job. It’s what I do. How am I not a REAL photographer?! What gives these other photographers a right to judge who is and is not a real professional photographer?

    Case in point #2: When I was a teenager I spent my free time online, learning to code, building websites, and ok, trolling chat rooms for pedophiles to send the sub7 trojan to. (my greatest joy was making a grown man interested in meeting up with a thirteen year old girl think god was talking to him via his computer.) Nobody really knew this beyond my internet buds because everyone else saw me as a “punk”. I loved punk rock. I dressed in my crazy get-ups, dyed my hair crazy colors, and had tons of fun with it all. I went to shows, too. However, I was called a “poser” by various people who found out that I spent most of my free time on computers and reading books. I also didn’t want to do drugs with these “real” punks, so that was another strike. How could I possibly be a REAL punk if I was such a GEEK? Thing is, I never claimed to be a “Punk” or a “Geek”, I was just ME!

    No matter what “thing” you’re into, there’s always going to be those who demand your credentials. There’s plenty of other examples, I’m sure, and there will be more in the future. The best thing we can do is give this whole situation a swift “whatever” and render it inert. (yeah… that’s not going to happen.)

  • oddhuman

    This is an excellent article! I loved Dr. Letamendi’s insight in the psychology of cosplay panel at NYCC, and I was so excited to see that she wrote an article here. This is one of the best descriptions of microagressions that I’ve seen in awhile, and I’ll definitely be referring people to this when I inevitably draw a blank when explaining them to other people.
    Please keep up the excellent work! I’d love to see more of your writing on The Mary Sue :)

  • Paul C Elmore

    Excellent article.

  • Claudia

    I guess the trouble is, by definition, geekdom is a somewhat ‘exclusive’ club, formed traditionally by people who were excluded elsewhere. And so some (rather insecure) people lose sight of the fact they should be welcoming and understanding, perhaps because they’re constantly on guard about being rejected, so they reject first. I mean, I’m an amateur geek at best – I like comics, but haven’t collected for years. I like sci-fi, but don’t have encyclopaedic knowledge of any series, films or books. I have no knowledge of hacking or tech whatsoever. I *do* love geeks – their enthusiasm, their humour and so forth. But I presume that some people would reject me for not being their idea of ‘geek’.

  • Wolfeski

    The reason people are put off by people like you is because you’re desperate. fandom can be done tastefully but if you’re just like SOMEONE NOTICE ME then it’s just annoying. and since you are the person being annoying, you’ve contrived this whole psychological case to try to explain it to yourself, but the truth is, you’re probably just annoying. Geekdom is in the mainstream now, this isn’t the 90s.

  • Dianne Whitehead

    All I can say is, wow! The world is becoming so politically correct that soon the only conversation we will be allowed to have with one another will be regarding the weather. If a person is so delicate and insecure that they cannot accept the fact they will NEVER be liked or loved by everyone, than maybe they should just stay at home with their mommy.. Seriously, now we are talking about “micro” aggression as some new big thing to worry about? Sorry, but there will always be a**holes in the world, get over it. If some insecure cretin questions something about you that you believe to be unfounded and untrue, IGNORE them, walk away, find some new friends. This whole thing sounds like something dreamed up so that a sad group of people can feel important about themselves because they want to think (and I use this term lightly) they are being “discriminated” against or want to whine that “the boys are being mean to me”. Some folks need to find something more important and valuable to do with their time, seriously. Gook luck.

  • alrightyeahuhhuh

    I’m sorry that you had a tough time. I got made fun of a lot, too. Never spit on, though, that’s awful. I’m very sorry.

    I have been told that I am attractive, but I was very geeky and was bullied as a child/young adult as well. So the “pretty new girls” may have more in common with you than you know.

    I would say that you should pursue therapy, if possible. I realize it’s expensive, but it could be a big help to you. I had many problems myself, and while the therapy was a big investment, it was absolutely worth it.

    If you have animosity towards women because of your past experiences, you may have put yourself in a position of living what has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The girls who tormented you in childhood were absolutely wrong to do so. But if you are continuing to approach women with hostility and mistrust, as if they are one and all the same as those girls, it is highly likely that they are picking up on your negative attitude towards them, which obviously is not a great basis for a fairy tale romance. One of the things I have learned is that by projecting past hurts or personal issues onto other people, you make it much more likely that you will live out this reality you create for yourself, because rather than truly meeting people and having a chance to appreciate them for who they are, you are meeting yourself – over and over again. You put yourself onto them. If you suspect that the women you meet are not trustworthy and feel animosity towards them, as you said you do, you are more likely drive them away, to defend yourself, which will make you lonely, which will lead to more animosity, and so on …

    These are just my thoughts. Obviously I do not know you, and have only a brief comment to work with.

    I totally hear you on the expense issue in regards to therapy but if you are really unhappy with your life, it is worth it.

  • Susan Davis

    To be fair, I’m not interested in Star Wars. Just Star Trek. And Final Fantasy VII (The original game and Advent Children, although I can take or leave Crisis Core). And Assassin’s Creed. And Prototype (the first game, not the second, because they completely butchered the protagonist from the first game, among other annoying modifications and plot holes) And Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (aka. Lucifer’s Call, only they had to change the name for US sensibilities).
    *ahem* Which is to say, I completely agree with you. :3
    I also think that ‘fake geek girl’ is insulting, not just because of the ‘fake’ but also because of the ‘girl’, although that’s more endemic to culture as a whole. I mean really, if you say ‘girl’ that kind of calls up the 5-10 year old age group. Maybe not as insulting as calling an African American man a ‘boy’, but I do find it annoying. That and ‘baby’. I am not a baby. I am not a girl. I am otaku(aka. geek)! Hear me roar!

  • Jay Demetrick

    I think there is a bit of a panic in the straight male geek community over the “Fake Geek Girl” because sometimes when geek guys marry and often after their first child is born or a few years into the relationship, his wife demands that he sell off/get rid of his comic book collection/fan collectibles or she even throws them in the garbage and he’s told to “grow up” and leave his geek passions behind. I worked at a comic book store and we would get these sad, wistful souls coming in with their collections and their stories of how they’ve been persuaded/forced by their spouse to give them up. Geek friends of these guys whisper in horror of these tales and that has fueled the “parable” of the Fake Geek Girl. She is the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the “casual fan” who will become bored of it and then turn on her geek guy. It’s a hard thing for women in fandom to deal with because sadly, it happens.

  • Scott Mortensen

    claiming insider knowledge that can’t be articulated into words is condescending and it does not add to debate, it negates it. Which is what you want.

  • Scott Mortensen

    “The most important thing about me is….”

  • Scott Mortensen

    This person is a parody of us. But neither of us are necessarry.

  • Phil

    Great article, interesting read! I wonder if the Fake Geek Girl inspires so much hatred from some people because Geekdom used to be the place they could go to escape from the social pressures and social rejection they feel in other aspects of their lives. That they can go to an LGS or a Comic Book Store and totally geek out over comics or Magic without fear of shame or embarrassment. If there are Geek Girls there, certainly that adds this whole other element of potential rejection, potential awkward feelings of dealing with women, or potential to be judged by someone of the opposite sex (which is often worse than being judged by people of the same sex). But, beyond that…Geek Girls share the same passions that you do, and by sharing this, there’s no way that these Geek Girls can judge you *simply for playing Magic* because they do that too. However, what makes Fake Geek Girls potentially worse is the fear that they are really deep down laughing at these “Geeks” because they don’t share this passion…i.e. since these Fake Geek Girls don’t consider themselves to be Geeks, they can make fun of the Geeks in a way that Geek Girls cannot.

  • TheSmilingLunatic

    All of us were thrust into the comic book world in some shape or form, whether it be from comic books, movies, graphic novels, video games, etc. We can be thrust into it at any age too. I’m a guy and I’ve had other guys question my knowledge of the comic book world, simply because I haven’t watched the Batman movies as much as they did. Heck, I haven’t even seen all of BTAS just yet. I have the dvds, but I have other things to do… like work. lol.

    But in all honesty, I don’t just go out to a convention and call guys/girls fake. The only ones I call fake are the ones that have no interest in cosplay or comic books whatsoever, and are just at the convention to just get attention by cosplaying as someone who shows their big boobs to everyone. It’s not cute. I actually asked a woman at a convention this past spring if she was into many comic books. She literally told me that she didn’t care about cosplay or comic books, that she was just there to meet boys. Okay, sure… You’re at a convention to meet…what I’m guessing is some buff guy dressed in a Superman/Batman costume, who PROBABLY won’t appreciate you as much as the average nerd… and yet, it’s still 50/50 that he won’t take you to his home to “sleep over” because you know absolutely nothing about comic books or cosplay…You just bought that costume at a halloween store to get laid…
    ^ THOSE are the fake geek PEOPLE or “geek guys/girls who turned out to be posing as a geek guy/girl to get laid.” Take your pick.. Everyone else I admire and look forward to meeting at conventions.

  • TheSmilingLunatic

    I don’t see how that makes sense. First of all, being persecuted as being a nerd/geek in school doesn’t make it okay to label other people. He should’ve stood up for himself, and then all would’ve been well. And secondly, you can become a nerd/geek at any time. Doesn’t have to be in school, hell it could be when you turn 50 or 60.

  • TheSmilingLunatic

    Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s… Looking back at it now, even back in the early 2000s people were still saying that on shows… That geeks and nerds would never get a girlfriend, or even have kids for that matter… Look at us now. :)

  • TheSmilingLunatic

    Wow. I never said that to a girl… Worst thing I ever said was “How many have you read this month?” …referring to comic books of course. :P
    I hung out with a bunch of girls at the library after school. Guys too, but the guys more or less wanted to go out and drink and drive, and I was more worried about my studies and wanted to read more comic books.

  • Lex Icon

    Great article. I grew up reading and collecting many comics. I never ran into the sexism in the comics community. I’m sure that it happened but I might never have been so immersed to recognize it. That being said I was always considered the geeky kid in school. Having an overeager appreciation for knowledge in general had already set me apart from me peers. Naturally I can empathize with those that were victim to aggression, micro or full fledged. For the last 6 years I have played World of Warcraft. I played far too much logging a full 365 days (24 hours comprising the day) of time. In the time that I played WoW I saw elitism, sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. Every single societal ill had manifested itself in the microcosm. I don’t find any of this disheartening. People have always created and defended a bullshit hierarchical structure. What I do find interesting is the difference between the descriptions in your sub-culture and mine. In WoW girls aren’t thought of as being inferior. Many of the best players in my guild and across many guilds. If there was any kind of different treatment of women it was that they were sexually objectified. Mind you, most of that happened from the younger members of the gaming community, those in their teens and early twenties. If a girl’s voice was every heard across Ventrilo or any other in game vocal communication system they were honed in on by missiles of naive sexual adoration. On the other hand, there were a handful of WoW girls that used that to their advantage. They would exchange gifts, flirtations, cyber sex or real life favors for preferential treatment in the game. In my guild we kicked out a female for this. There’s no need for that and there’s also no need for the eager beaver guys to be distracted by that either. No one is off the hook, both sides were guilty. But in WoW at least, in my experience, women were not second hand citizens. They weren’t accused of being posers, fake, etc. In any sub-culture, as in real life, you can choose who you associate with and how you allow others to treat you.
    I choose to surround myself with people that aren’t the way the assholes depicted in this article are. I’d advise others to do the same.

  • Erin Beavers Cochran

    Comment I made to another article, also applies here – I have been harassed for supposedly being a ‘fake geek girl’ before because I guess I don’t look geeky enough, and I think it’s ridiculous, but in a way I understand where some of the ‘fake geek girl’ haters are coming from. In middle school I had glasses, braces, bad hair, and was the epitome of nerdy-ness, I was constantly made fun of and bullied because being a geek was uncool. Now that being a geek is cool and some girls are ‘faking it,’ I think that geeky girls who went through what I went through as a kid feel like they paid their geek dues and are legitimate geeks, and they don’t want to be supplanted by the very trend-following girls who used to be so cruel to them. So I’m not defending their behavior, I’m just saying I can understand where it stems from.

  • Nathaniel Martin-Long

    Being a geek I had to deal with a lot of hazing and bullying growing up in the mid 80′s and early 90′s. I’m actually glad to see that the term geek is more a compliment now as to the derisive insult it used to be in years past. This whole ‘fake geek’ thing, however, is something that I just don’t understand at all. Maybe it is because I’m male and I probably will never truly understand some of the things that women have to deal with a conventions and from the ‘geek culture’ in general, but I really don’t understand the whole concept of saying someone is fake when they’ve taken the time to make a costume or you find them reading a comic by what would be considered one of the lesser writers of a given comic series.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that is someone is so wrapped up in a given thing or concept, be it Dr. Who, or Batman comics, or the writings of Harlan Ellison, that they have to criticize someone else for their lack of knowledge (as though it makes the former more superior to the latter), I can’t help but think that this is a sign of some kind of mental/social problem and the former should really consider seeing a therapist to talk about why they seem to think it is okay to treat someone else like dirt because they can’t quote line 5 of paragraph 6 of page 15 of the screenplay of Batman Begins. It strikes me as just another form of hateful discrimination.

    And if the a woman (I choose the female gender since the topic is about the ‘fake geek girl’ phenom which I still don’t understand, but in reality it could be either gender) is getting involved in some aspect of geek culture as a means to make fun of said geek culture, it strikes me that they are suffering from a heavy dose of cognitive dissonance. Why are you getting involved in something that you don’t like in order to make fun of someone who is into said disliked culture? While not exactly an accurate metaphor, but to me that is like going to a Klan rally dressed up in a Boy-George outfit and complaining about getting your ass kicked when you tried to make fun of the white-sheet wearing douchenozzles.

    I dunno… it just blows my mind that someone will deride a woman who hasn’t read enough Batman. While I’m not a huge comic junky, I’m a big sci-fi and film nerd (I call myself a collector of classic trash; read: b-movies) and when someone also in the geek/nerd community says that they haven’t seen Babylon 5, my jaw hits the floor. I don’t treat them badly. Instead my usual response is “so, when do you want to come over and start watching five seasons of pure beauty? i’ll supply the dvds and pizza, you bring the beer.” If they are just checking out what the geek culture is, all the better because that means that I can share something that I really enjoy with that person.

    I fear I may have wandered off topic, but I think that is partially due to my still not understanding the ‘fake geek girl’ term because I just don’t see how you can be a ‘fake geek’. Even if you are a newbie to Dr. Who or Bab5, if you like it but aren’t hardcore obsessive about it, you’re still a geek in my eyes. If someone says you aren’t a real geek, they are just being a dick. Much like those people who whine about whether something is or is not canon because it wasn’t written by the original author or painter or whoever came up with the concept.

  • Jeff Blanks

    I tried to stand up for myself in school and it didn’t do me a damn bit of good. Better to have done it than not, though.

  • Jeff Blanks

    One word: HIPPIE.

  • Anonymous

    Oh my goodness, this is soooooo very much the furry fandom right now!

    There’s a fresh influx of people coming in, and the older furries, the “Grey Muzzles”, are all growling and snarling at the new kids. “They aren’t REAL furries,” the howl, “They’re just here for the rave!” And yes, they even complain that…*gasp*…women, yes, REAL WOMEN are joining!

    Women that look like they could skip the line at any nightclub are hanging out in the Headless Lounge, sweating up a storm and sharing the cans of N-Bac before suiting up again and joining the fursuit parade.


    The more challenges presented to a community or a society, the better. Challenges are what make us better.

  • Charlie

    Wow, really? People are taking this WAAAY too seriously. I remember when I was in the military and 100% of the women in my division had sexual relationships with superiors and then subsequentially were discharged from the military as someone would anonymously rat them out. (This is a fact of my life, something only a dilusional person would ignore.)

    I think the problem is that nerds lack some form of maturity. In that, “most” male nerds didn’t go through high school with the opposite sex drooling over them. Hence, the problem is compounded with the scarcity of females and the males inability to deal with or ignore the change in environment. Also, it is generally accepted that females receive special privileges, especially in a setting where females are rare. In a setting where you have stupid, immature nerds; this special privilege is given almost immediately and a noob girl may not even notice. In addition, the environment topics change to a more flirty nature and less serious.

    Reply to some girl above that worked in a comic book store:
    Hey, I’ve had other males accuse me, a male, of not knowing my stuff. Guess what?! I’m a mature adult and I didn’t care. I wish more females were more mature to deal with this. I have gamed with girls too, but few girls wanted to compete at the level that the average male competes at. Even dikes don’t game as hard as me. I have no idea why anyone would accuse a girl of being a dike because she liked comic books. I have no idea why that even makes sense. I think if you are offended by retarded comments from stupid boys, then maybe you need to find a better job or a better gaming group.

    In summary:

    Sensitive female nerds need to stop whining about being picked on for being girls. You always have the choice of joining a female only sport/club or group. An alternative, is to try dressing up as a boy and find out that MEN have it 100x more difficult (Try listening to hundreds of perverted dick jokes every day, it’ll drive you crazy. Oh and, hundreds of “that’s what she said” *sigh* so stupid…). Or better yet, play anonymous online games. Why are 100% of the competitive games dominated by 100% men? I’m certain women could win if they tried…

    Similar examples of this male conspiracy:
    What about chess?
    The top 10 chess masters cheat to keep women out.. That’s what she said, LOL!

  • Melissia

    I was persecuted IRL for reasons unrelated to being a geek, do I count to people like him?

    Probably not.

  • Glenn McBride

    Silly me, I thought this would be an interesting article. No…wait, written by a female? Abandon thread!

  • Noneof Yourbusiness

    *necros the post*
    As a fellow Old School Nerd, I have to say the bulk of this is spot-on.

    Do not take this as a justification or excuse for geek/nerd behavior. Being a geek, while seen as ‘cool’ in public with shows such as Big Bang Theory, is considered a stigma in common society, specifically American culture. Being a geek is considered being “weaker” than normal males, because the the strong anti-intellectual thrust aimed at the grade school level, and for most people that is where social patterns are formed.
    Access to women of ANY kind are seen as impossible because geeks do not fit the mold established as the big, strong alpha male. So male geeks do three things that are toxic: build a HUGE resentment towards women in general. Build a completely impossible mental image of their Perfect Woman in their heads, fueled by images of women in comics (usually portrayed as Damsels in Distress, or Scenery Porn). Form their own tight-knit tribes of fellow believers, partially for companionship, but mostly for survival in the harsh wasteland of anti-intellectual society.
    The tragedy of this is the geeks from that culture formed as I was growing up are now the adults determining what constitutes Geekdom, carrying that rejection and misogyny with them. Geek girls are seen as intruders into their firmly-established all-male tribes, and as they were attacked for their geekness they can now attack in turn. They have someone THEY can bully and persecute, on their terms. Their stunted views of women lead them to see women as literally incapable of grasping comics, sci-fi, etc. Thus if a geek girl claims like knowledge, or even interest in the same subjects, in their minds it must be either to set them up for the scorn and rejection they have come to expect from ALL women, or a failure of that women to meet the impossible mental ideal of the Playboy Playmate with the encyclopedic knowledge of all things geek (but not quite as good as the geek himself).

    In my humble opinion, the Rise of the Geek Girl is a welcome thing. But the change in geek culture will be a sea change, brought on by younger geeks who have not grown up in that stifling, male-only, anti-intellectual environment start taking the reigns.

  • Anonymous

    I cannot add to your post. You said what I feel, but better, and without my personal snarkiness. Well said.

  • Emily

    I hope you realize that this article was about you.

    > Okay, sure… You’re at a convention to meet…what I’m guessing is some buff guy dressed in a Superman/Batman costume, who PROBABLY won’t appreciate you as much as the average nerd…

    Please stop projecting.

  • Kimberley Lang

    Had a guy drop me on fb because his knowledge of The Doctor only went back to 9. Sometimes men become overly emotional when a ‘chick’ knows about something other than lip gloss…

  • Anonymous

    Looked at one way, I am a Fake Geek Girl. Looked at another way, I am someone who refuses to be a follower.

    I honestly dislike comics and never had time for games except the ones I made time for. I love a few movie franchises and tv series but lack the motivation to become a trivia fanatic. I joined a fan community for awhile and it was fun but not life-changing. I used to read scifi voraciously when I used to read. I make fun of collectors mercilessly, especially those I’m married to.

    For most of life I didn’t have to self-identify as a geek because I was singled out as one, even though I was a girly girl. It was early adulthood before I learned my intelligence was questionable.

    What gets me is this – if people love geeky ideas and culture, shouldn’t they want to extend those beyond an isolated group? People who single out others to exclude, based on what – gender? attractiveness? inauthenticity? – are self-marginalizing. That only makes sense if geek is all you’ve got. Geek girls I’m pretty sure don’t need to do that.

  • George M. Anderson

    I believe you are right in this. I can remember the elation I felt when I found my first gaming group here in Nashville and the pride I felt when I realized that I finally belonged to a social group. I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore and could finally talk about what I was into without fear of reprisal or ridicule.
    I, too, think that this kind of behavior needs to be called out whenever it shows up but with the understanding that many of these people who object to “fake geek girls” are really trying to defend what is perceived as “their turf” without realizing that by keeping everyone out, they are ensuring that such fandom will be relegated to the sweaty backrooms that they started out in.
    And by the way, the forum poster you mentioned is an a-hole. Life is not suffering.