On “Fake” Geek Girls

There’s been some grousing for a while about “fake” geek girls, girls who – gasp!, shock! - pretend to be geeks in order to get attention! As geek culture has been growing in influence and cultural significance, more people have taken notice of us. This, in turn means that more people are willing to market to geeks… and others are perfectly willing to pander towards them or even exploit them.

The latest go-round of pearl-clutching, beard stroking and deep-seated harumphing was kicked off when Joe Peacock – self-appointed gatekeeper of all things geek – took up arms against this supposed pox upon the community with an article on CNN.com entitled Booth Babes Need Not Apply, complaining that San Diego Comic-Con- amongst other offenders – was “populated with “hot chicks” wearing skimpy outfits simply to get a bunch of gawking geeks’ heads to turn, just to satisfy their hollow egos.”

Now while I’m willing to believe that Peacock’s heart is in the right place, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. In an attempt to comment about “Booth Babes” and “poachers” in geekdom, he manages to dip both feet in a frothy mix of nerdrage. sexism, slut-shaming and epic fail and jam ‘em rather firmly in his mouth.

All Them Fake Nerd Girls

You see, Peacock is quick to inform us, the problem isn’t TRUE geek girls. Oh no, he loves him some true geek girls. No, the problem are the faux geek girls, who parade around in their scandalous token nerd-bedecked undies in order to bask in the attention of the hapless males who flock to them like socially maladjusted bees to a particularly attention-seeking flower.

To quote Peacock:

What I’m talking about is the girls who have no interest or history in gaming taking nearly naked photos of themselves with game controllers draped all over their body just to play at being a “model.”  I get sick of wannabes who couldn’t make it as car show eye candy slapping on a Batman shirt and strutting around comic book conventions instead.

I’m talking about an attention addict trying to satisfy her ego and feel pretty by infiltrating a community to seek the attention of guys she wouldn’t give the time of day on the street.

I’m not entirely sure where to start to be honest. I mean, there’s always the fact that he feels that the best way to “defend” geek culture against these “poachers”  - his words – is to slut-shame them for daring to taunt these nerds with their luscious bodies. Fie upon them for having the temerity to induce nerd boners by being hot and clad in a Slave Leia costume and commit the sin of being unattainable! Oh those tempestuous harlots and their wicked ways!

Of course, not content to stick to mere denigrating women for their wanton displays of girlflesh, leaving men powerless as their involuntary erections sap all blood from their brains, he decided to kick it up to the next level. It’s not enough that these sluts are taking all the attention by pretending to be geeks, but they’re ugly to boot.

Yup. Apparently the fact that they don’t measure up in the “real world”, they have to go after the less-discerning nerdboys because, hey, it’s not like nerd boys are gonna know any better right? . They are, as he so cleverly lablels them “6 of 9′s” because… well, to quote Peacock again:

They have a superpower: In the real world, they’re beauty-obsessed, frustrated wannabe models who can’t get work.

They decide to put on a “hot” costume, parade around a group of boys notorious for being outcasts that don’t get attention from girls, and feel like a celebrity. They’re a “6″ in the “real world”, but when they put on a Batman shirt and head to the local fandom convention du jour, they instantly become a “9″.

Evidently it would be less insulting if they were more objectively hot instead of being “con cute” – hot only because they’re the only girl in the room. Part of what’s so damning about this quote – from somebody who’s presumably interested in helping – is the way he knee-jerks straight to the two most common insults levied at women who are acting in a way men don’t like: call them sluts and then insult their looks. For all that Peacock is interested in supporting “true” geek girls, condemning the “poachers” others for not being hot says a lot about the value that women are supposed to bring to fandom.

 No True Scotsman…

The presence of female geeks means that the fiction we’re reading is broadening and, frankly, getting better in quality. It means nerdy films and television shows aren’t relying on damsel in distress stories and objectification of women to draw readers. It means content is broadening and becoming smarter and more accessible. I want more of that.

That’s all well and good; I agree with him about the appeal of more accessible, less cliched, less trope-bound content in my geeky entertainment. The problem is that as much as Peacock opens greater female involvement with one hand and then limits it with the other:

And be it known that I am good friends with several stunningly beautiful women who cosplay as stunningly beautiful characters from comics, sci-fi, fantasy and other genres of fandom. They are, each of them, bone fide geeks. They belong with us.

They “belong” with “us”? Really? Do I really need to point out how this sounds?

Flaunt it if you got it – and if you’re a geek, male or female, and you’re strikingly handsome or stunningly beautiful, and you cosplay as a handsome or beautiful character, more power to us all. Hot geeks are hot.

Being sexy is great… as long as you’ve passed this ideological test that shows that you are indeed a True Geek and not one of these hideous poseurs. I’m sure Peacock means well, but what he is saying is “Ladies, you are only allowed to express yourself sexually if you follow my rules”.  This is continuing the long-running attitude still prevalent in geek culture that women are allowed to partake in fandom and geek culture if and only if they fulfill specific criteria and even then, only if they participate in the pre-approved manners.

And what makes a true geek, since Peacock knows them so well? How are we to know the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff?

Well, he doesn’t really say. Male poachers, he says, are people like those who perpetuated the Speculators Boom of the 90s, snatching up every poly-bagged Death of Superman and every embossed, die-cut, chromium variant collector’s edition #1 cover from Image and Valiant, only to turn around and sell them for a profit. They don’t care about the art form, only about the money that can be wrung out of it.

Female poachers… well, he doesn’t seem to be entirely sure, other than they’re scantily clad succubi, preying on nerd attention and draining away our precious bodily fluids.

Oh, and also, supposed fake “gamer girls” like the Frag Dolls, nerd-baiting actress/models like Olivia Munn and booth babes.

Hotness and Nerd Street Cred

Famous, attractive women who participate in geek culture are forever getting accusations of not being “real geeks” or “pandering” to nerds. Groups like the Frag Dolls, actresses like Aisha Tyler, models like Olivia Munn and Adrienne Curry and even adult stars like April O’Neil and Dana Dearmond regularly face accusations of being “attention whores” and regularly face demands to justify their nerd credentials.

Why? Well… mostly because they’re hot. And the hotter they are, the greater level of cred they have to prove in order to validate the fact that yeah, they’re actually geeks. They game professionally? They’re not good enough! They’re just corporate shills! She’s a model who shows up at SDCC in costume? She can’t possibly be a gamer/a comic nerd/a Whovian/ a Browncoat/ an otaku, she’s just trying to get attention by being the hottest women in the room. Watching and enjoying Dr. Who suddenly isn’t enough to be a geek. The hotter the person, the more scrutiny she faces.

I’ve known some professional cosplayers – Ruby Rocket, for example – who can quote you chapter and verse about their favorite Green Lantern story arc or explain in great detail why they think that Carol Danvers is an amazing-yet-underused character get accused of being an attention whore because… well, she cosplayed as the Dr. Mrs. The Monarch or Black Cat at DragonCon.

It’s a sad case of how much geeks have absorbed and internalized our own stereotypes of what a geek looks and acts like that  having and displaying sex appeal is automatically suspect.

It’s hardly confined to the professionally pretty either. Women at cons regularly face accusations of being attention whores or sluts for being dressed in an attractive manner or flirting with guys she meets. It perpetuates the idea that women must downplay their looks in order to be taken seriously, whether in the professional world or in the culture she enjoys and wants to take part in.

The Problem With Booth Babes

Where I will give Peacock credit is on the subject of booth babes and the way companies treat nerds:

 As a guy, I find it repugnant that, due to my interests in comic books, sci-fi, fantasy and role playing games, video games and toys, I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence. It’s insulting.

He’s right: it is insulting that the supposed sexual inexperience and social maladjustment of nerds is pandered to by companies. By using sex to sell your product via the objectification of women, you make the woman the product as much as whatever it is she’s being paid to sell you. It drives women away – after all, if the only way you’re seen in geek culture is as a consumable object, why would you want to participate? – and it actively insults male intelligence and sexuality. These companies are saying that they think that guys are stupid enough to be lead around by their erections and and a nice set of cleavage is better able to sell their product than letting it stand on it’s own merits.

But this is hardly confined to geek culture. Sports bars, restaurants, dance clubs, car shows… all of these use scantily clad women to draw in men. We’re not singled out by cynical marketers who’ve never thought to use skimpy clothes, artificial smiles and professional flirtiness to separate men from their money.

Peacock’s rage at the booth babes who taunt him with their curves and bare midriffs and skimpy costumes is misplaced: these women aren’t pretending to be geeks to fuck with your head. They’re being paid to hawk merchandise and the outfits and forced smiles are conditions of employment. The fault doesn’t lie with the employees trying to make a living, it lies with the companies and corporations who gleefully insult you to your face while they attempt to extract money from your wallet.

But What About All Those Phonies?

Well to be perfectly honest… who the fuck cares?

The “fake” geek girl is the nerd equivalent of the welfare queen – a semi-mythical beast who somehow ruins things for everybody by… well, nobody’s entirely sure. Confusing their poor sad boners, evidently. Nobody has ever been able to explain to my satisfaction just how this hurts geek culture. Somebody dressing up in a sexy costume because being ogled makes them feel good doesn’t affect me or my friends’ participation in geek culture in any meaningful way. Putting the blame on these fake geek attention grabbers for narrowly defining the role of women in geekdom only serves to absolve the men who act as gatekeepers, insisting that the only role open to women is to be a sexual object rather than a full partner – while denigrating them for doing so at the exact same time.

The idea of the “fake” geek girl only serves as a way of dismissing or diminishing the presence of women in geekdom; if she doesn’t conform to some arbitrary standard, she’s clearly a fake, only in it for the attention… because if there’s anything women do, it’s spend hours upon hours of time and effort just to rile dudes up with absolutely no payoff. Especially men that she couldn’t stand otherwise.

Peacock’s rage at the supposed phonies in geek culture requires that men be helpless bystanders in their own sexuality, powerless before the fearsome beauty of a pretty woman. At the same time, it requires that women be heartless bitches whose only joy comes from preying on those hapless, helpless geeks. It places the blame on women for confusing men – who couldn’t possibly figure things out on their own, bless ‘em – as to whether she’s a “true” geek, a paid shill or a ruthless Mean Girl who teases the poor geek with the illusion of his heart’s desire only to yank it away, the better to laugh at him in his impotence and pathetic misery.

Never mind that men aren’t passive participants in their sexual interest. Nevermind that it’s the fetishization of geek girls that makes this sort of trickery possible. It’s all the women’s fault for being succubi and feasting on the attention of the men who simply can’t help themselves. Those poachers. Those “6 of 9s”.

Worrying about who’s a true geek and who isn’t is throwing up artificial barriers to fandom in the name of preserving some sort of bullshit ideological purity and misses the point of being a geek in the first place. The whole point of being a geek is not caring about what other people think. It’s about the joy of loving something without worrying about being “cool” or being part of the “in crowd” whether the in crowd is dressed in Dolce and Gabanna or Star Fleet uniforms. It’s about loving things because they’re awesome. It’s not about street cred or being “casual” versus “hardcore”. Its about taking unabashed pleasure in the things you love.

Ultimately, whether you think that women are invading “safe” geek spaces with the hope of basking in the glory of the male gaze or not, it really doesn’t matter. Women who want to be part of geek culture should feel free to take part, fully and without reservation. We don’t need some sort of passport control, checking their credentials and bona fides against some artificial and arbitrary ledger that dictates who is and isn’t a “true” geek.

Comments

  1. Does Ryan Peacock secretly hang out on /r9k/ on 4chan?

  2. And just when I think I couldn't love this blog more, there you go! Another enlightening post, Doc.

  3. Agreed on just about every point. "Fake" geek girls, should they come up, are no different than any other person who tries to pass themselves off as something they're not. If (and that's a dump-truck size IF) they aren't really interested in the things they claim, it'll all come out in the wash. No need for cultural passports/hating.

    Now, I think a distinction should be made between this and someone who is just starting to get into geek culture but not particularly knowledgeable yet. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard guys at my local comic shop back home bash on attractive women behind-their-backs (or sometimes to their faces) who failed to pass their self-appointed tests to make sure she was a "real" geek.

    It really sucks. With stuff I love and get enjoyment of… I'd love for other people to get into it and enjoy it as much as I do. But when you're given the disapproving stink-eye or uncomfortable oggle every time you try and ask about what a good place to start with Batman is…. well, it doesn't make the culture/community any more appealing. And of course, none of this does any favors for the relationship between geek culture and it's treatment of women.

    /inhale

  4. Patrick says:

    Okay. So even though personality-wise I fit the nerd stereotype to an almost cartoonish degree, I'm not much of a comic-book/video-game guy. So please explain to me: what would any woman, attractive or otherwise (or anyone else, for that matter) even gain from *pretending* to have geeky interests??

    • zoreta93 says:

      I would guess acceptance from a group. If there's a group of people you want to get closer to, feigning interest is one way to do it- not for the attention, but just because you want to get to know someone.

      I'll admit that, despite the fact that I have not watched many episodes (yet) and I don't know even half of the history of Dr. Who yet, I own a shirt that has the portal man going through an orange portal and out the TARDIS. I know every in-and-out of the portalverse and could write a full essay on a number of its themes, and I have been drawn to Who by seeing what my Whovian friends reblug on tumblr, but at the same time wearing it gives a false statement of wear my interests lie- a false statement that has garnered budding friendships with friends-of-friends who noticed said shirt.

      There is also the odd case of someone being more aware of a work's fandom than the work itself, where they're exposed to the fandom more, but don't know the nitty gritty of said work. Said person might well where a costume to a convention, even early on in their passion, because they want to draw in said fandom- but might not know that much of the work itself.

      • VintageLydia says:

        I'm guilty of the last part. I follow a lot of geeky feminists on Tumblr originally for what they posted about Sailor Moon, but they post a lot of things about a wide variety of media and I am very familiar now with the basics on DC (particularly the Batman franchise) Game of Thrones, Adventure Time and a few other things even know I've never read the books or comics, or watched the TV shows. I can recognize and name several characters and recite basic story lines and I've used that as a way to easy myself into certain media I would've avoided before.

        Am I a fake geek girl? Well, I'm female, moderately attractive, and I only know the surface facts about a wide variety of topics, but I only really know a LOT about Sailor Moon and a few other manga and anime–almost none of it made in the last decade and almost all of female-centric. I'd probably be called out as "fake" by some people.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Change one word in that sentence and "fake" doesn't apply anymore.
          "I'm a moderately attractive male who knows the surface facts about a wide variety of topics but I only know a LOT about <insert franchise here> and a few other manga and anime–almost none of it made in the last decade."

          And yet no one says this moderately attractive guy is "fake" or just dressing up as Captain Harlock (or Tuxedo Mask for that matter) to revel in the attention of geek girls.

          On a bit of a tangent, anyone who thinks someone in a costume is a "fake" has no idea the time, money and love that goes into making those things, let alone the cost of going to Comicon.

          • "Said person might well where a costume to a convention, even early on in their passion, because they want to draw in said fandom- but might not know that much of the work itself." – And–might I add–there's nothing wrong with that! We all start somewhere. And if that person is expressing their interest and wanting to learn about it more, I think that's great and they should be welcomed in, not shamed out.

    • attention

    • A geeky boyfriend? Its not unusual to pretend to be interested in something in ordinary to attract a mate. I've feigned interest in Fifty Shades of Grey in attempts to attract women.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      "So please explain to me: what would any woman, attractive or otherwise (or anyone else, for that matter) even gain from *pretending* to have geeky interests??"

      The Rawness put it the best –
      "What sexual affection conquests are to a man, flattering attention and ego boosts are to woman."

    • the first thing that came to mind was http://questionablecontent.net/963 I've learned from feining interest in things in order to get closer to people (I admit I have done it, not with geeky things, well not stereotypical geeky things) if I don't end up actually liking it, I'll probably give up on it and likely the people really quickly.

  5. Love love love this post. You’ve made clear every point I’ve ever had trouble articulating. Keep up the good work!

  6. In the comments of that GeekOut article one guy said that anyone who couldn't name 10 superheroes each from DC and Marvel had no business being at ComicCon. I mean, seriously? The funny thing is I'm pretty sure this criteria only applied to girls.

    • If that applied to everyone who attended, SDCC attendance would drop by 85%. SDCC =/= comics convention. Most of the people going are more interested in movies, tv, books, non-Big 2 comics and other pop culture-y things.

  7. Yes! A bunch of people I know read that Peacock article and said something like "this article is wrong about some things, but every congoer has seen these attention whores at it – no one can deny that".

    Yeah, and so what? I see girls and guys at con I judge as never having showered. I've also seen those I judge as enjoying the costume making and showing off the effort of cosplaying for than they enjoy the social company of the kind of geeks that think their Rikku costume is some kind of sexual invitation. At no point did those girls ask our lot to turn our wallets, or to take her picture or anything. They don't get in our way.

    I think sometimes insecure geeks get jealous of the attention she receives, feeling like their cosplay can't possibly compete. And other geeks cue up to flirt with her in some deluded idea that she's interested because of what she wore, and then get mad when she's actually just there for herself, and doesn't want a love connection. To those and to Peacock, I say: Get Over Yourself.

  8. This is the perfect response to that article. The slut shaming, sexism, treating women as "the other" in a group, you nailed everything wrong with it. One day people will realized there's no single way to be a geek.

  9. EXACTLY! I don't need hot fake geek girls to mock my nerd boner, when I have regular girls to mock my nerd boner. er.. wait.. NEVERMIND!

  10. Sumiko Saulson says:

    I laughed all the way through the article, but this…____"They “belong” with “us”? Really? Do I really need to point out how this sounds?" – That's perfect. ________As a woman, I can tell you that I certainly have experienced subcultures of which I was a member feeling that I was somehow obligated to date within their confines. You know what? Attacking women for dating OUTSIDE of the circle is another way of attacking our credibility. A man is never considered less credible if he dates a girl who doesn't like comic books, doesn't go to conventions, hates video games and is bad with computers. The reverse is not true of women, so there's a double standard, I feel.

    • QDefenestration says:

      Eh, never say never. Most of my friends would look down on a guy dating someone who had no interest in geek culture or at the very least openness to learning about it. "Why would you settle for someone you have nothing in common with." "It's weird that you're dating someone just because she's hot." Etc.

      • Sumiko Saulson says:

        I would never claim that my personal experience is universal: for one thing, I'm 44 years old. Things very well may have changed with that regard since back in the 80s and 90s when this experience occurred – a lot of things have changed, certainly. A lot of things I did then that were considered nerdy (playing video games, following a small number of comic book titles faithfully, and chatting/posting on the old school BBS systems) are very common place now: lots of girls play video games, read comics and post on the modern equivalent of bulletin board systems [Facebook] these days, and most of them are not nerds. Sometimes I think I'm an ex-nerd: I mean, the girl with the action figures on her desk who could build a tower from parts purchased at Fry's existed back in 1993.

        I might be a little bit out of touch. :)

    • Paul Rivers says:

      I didn't see anywhere in there where he attacked someone for dating a "booth babe", he says he doesn't like them showing up to geek stuff.

      In which case, actually, that's a constant theme of any group, and gender is rarely the issue.
      - In high school, some of the skateboard guys complained about the "skateboard girls" who showed up, but clearly the girls had no interest in skateboarding, they just wanted to hang around the skateboard guys
      - In college, guys would complain about the girls who would go to the bar and make out, not because they were actually interested in each other but just for male attention
      - If you *really* want to hear some angry comments, ask actual lesbians about the "straight" girls who will make out with them, sometimes even date them, then tell them "oh, gee, I was just experimenting, I'm really straight, tehehehee!".

      That doesn't even get into other groups that actually require you to pass some sort of test to get in – racing, competing, etc clubs.

      Do women complain about guys who appear to show up to groups "just to get laid"? Yes, yes they do constantly. Repeatedly. Without end.

      Many people go to conventions because they want to be surrounded by people with interests similar to theirs. It makes sense that they're annoyed by the clingers that show up with no interest in the actual convention, but consistently come out with no interest other than getting attention from the opposite gender.

      If you actually read his article, it's very clear all he's personally saying it that he finds them really annoying, and that he loves that girls show up with an interest in whatever the geeky thing is, he's only talking about the total attention whoring with absolutely no actual interest in whatever the con is about.

      What he's saying is it's like someone showed up to a motorcycle rally, then for the big ride they're driving along in their sedan. It's annoying, and not impressive, and you're going to get flack for it, and you're definitely going to be seen as "less credible".

  11. I strongly disagree with his statements; he's got a point, but he transforms it into raising the question about who is allowed to call herself a "real" geek, presumably to treat the person according how she "scores".
    The thing I love most about the geek community is its openess among themselves and towards curious "outsiders", it's not a club where the cool kids need to follow the popular dresscode, it's not big competition and hell, it shouldn't be! To me, geekish mostly means being confident or unconcerned enough to talk about video games at parties and taking the bus to the Comic-Con while cosplaying, as much as dressing like a Vulcan WITHOUT knowing half of the Star Trek series.

  12. "…to seek the attention of guys she wouldn’t give the time of day on the street."

    "They’re a “6″ in the “real world”, but when they put on a Batman shirt and head to the local fandom convention du jour, they instantly become a “9″.

    It actually sounds like Peacock has a very low opinion of "geeks" as well.

    • Nah, just ugly women. I mean, I can't even geek guys to pay attention to me when I throw on a Batman shirt… I must be REALLY ugly in the real world!

      • Nah, you're not ugly :)

        I think what you said kind of hints at the assumption that Peacock had built into his argument as well though: that geeky guys have naturally lower standards, OR that geeky guys are naturally rated lower by women (the two seem related).

        I don't think this is the case, and I think it's playing into the stereotype that guys into geeky things are pimply, socially awkward, or otherwise undesirable in some way.

        Maybe I'm looking into that too much though.

      • Baconstrips says:

        I think you problem is the shirt need to be a size or 2 too small, obviously

  13. I think writing an article about this topic is very significant, because it has become a recent topic of controversy with recent conventions. I feel like it's something so ingrained within the geek mentality that you have to sacrifice some positive attributes in order to be a true nerd or really be immersive. Men feel like they are being insulted by the illusion of a perfect woman, but you are absolutely right where it's just people using a standard business model to get attention.

    Peacock's article is really misguided, but I'm seeing where it comes from. It links into your entitlement article so well, because being a geek isn't something that rules you over another person. I think with girls specifically, it's harder for them because pop culture aims sheerly at the male demographic which leads to the amazing hot woman who knows everything about Spiderman. Being a geek has always been considered gender-specific with men and nowadays every man can be considered geeky about something. I think the "fake" geek girl can be considered harmful just because of how it supposedly represents other women.

    I bring that up, mostly because I think the people who really get mad about "fake" geek girls, are actually true geek girls. I've known other female geeks who were raging on about some of the actresses you mentioned, including Zooey Deschanel. Like, they act like fakes or fetishy to appeal male tropes (Pixie Girl, Perfect Girl, Tomboyish). I'm not sure if men are quite so offended by fake geek girls because it centers around the common enjoyment of geekery. But women get more antagonistic about the fake or true female geeks because of how it directly represents them and you can't tell if someone of that popularity is really being a fake or not.

    • Soledad says:

      Seeing as how I touched on this in a comment about another article, I figured I'd pop back in. I'm replying to Scott mostly because I want to use a quote from his post as a jumping-off point.

      First, some disclaimers. No woman deserves to be treated badly, harassed, slut-shamed, or anything of the sort because of what she's into, who she dates/doesn't date, or undergo extended scrutiny that a guy wouldn't undergo. Yes, it's sexist and horrible. I also think Peacock's article was misdirected and expressed his view poorly.

      That said…

      " I'm not sure if men are quite so offended by fake geek girls because it centers around the common enjoyment of geekery."

      Obviously, men are offended, or articles like this wouldn't get written… and it's precisely because these girls are fake. The idea is that they're going to enjoy these things *with us*, or else, why would we care? A hot girl playing Zelda the next table over at the Interwebs cafe is just that; a hot girl playing Zelda. If I'm sitting next to her, and I don't already know her, my day is not the least bit affected by whether or not she's there at all. So I wouldn't care one way or another what she was doing unless I was involved somehow.

      So, that brings us to the confusion and frustration that causes geeks to lash out.

      We're bombarded constantly with all sorts of negative statements and ideas about how we're *not* supposed to treat women at conventions (or elsewhere, for that matter, but I'm sticking to cons since the article focuses on them); don't ogle, don't flirt, don't hit on her, don't even TALK to her, you socially-maladjusted cretin. Then some girl comes along who's obviously looking for attention (…or is she? Does her costume necessarily let one assume that she is, even if it's, say, Lum from Urusei Yatsura? That's the first problem), and something misfires in a geek's brain; she wants attention, but you'll be shamed for giving it to her, especially if she wouldn't otherwise touch you with a ten-foot pole. Speaking as a guy, I hate it when women feign interest in me just because they're bored and their boyfriend isn't around. It's not flattering, it's annoying. But if I tell her to feck off, she has ammunition to complain that she's being ostracized from geek circles because she's a girl. So, what am I supposed to do? Part 2 to follow.

      • Soledad says:

        Now, let's add the fact that I'm single into the mix. I want a girlfriend, and I'm a guy, so that means I have to make the approach. But, any possible way I can approach someone is considered shameable, especially in this kind of environment.

        Is she attractive to me, whether she's wearing a hot costume or not? "You're just talking to her because she's hot, you shallow asshole. You don't know anything about her."

        Try to make eye contact and gauge interest? "You're just ogling her because she's wearing a bikini, you shallow asshole. Stop staring at her."

        Talk to her about something other than her costume, the obvious elephant in the room/opener? "You're just pretending to care about what she likes because you want to get into her pants, you shallow asshole."

        So, no matter what I do, I get shamed as yet another pathetic nerd "lining up to flirt with girls" at cons – because the default assumption is that they don't want to have anything to do with me, and I should know better.

        Thus, the Catch-22. How am I suppose to get a girlfriend? The usual answer is, "nobody owes you a relationship." Well, sure, but if I want one, am I not supposed to pursue one? Usually I get told I'm not supposed to want one, either, and if one magically appears, then hooray, but Lord forbid I take the initiative.

        So, this is how frustrated anger starts. I'm not angry, obviously, but it is a bit of a double-bind. As someone on another forum put it, the source of which I sadly can't recall, "we're tired of women being presented as the carrot on the end of an extremely long stick". You can't tell which ones want attention, or which ones are just there for the con. You can't tell which ones are dateable unless you approach, but you can't approach. And all the while you're being shamed for being attracted to them.

        My solution is to just not interact with women I find attractive, because if they're of any quality whatsoever (more than just looks, of course; let's say she is a Felicia Day-type geek who's both cute and talented), I'll probably want to date them, and of course, they don't want to date me, and it's depressing. But then, I get shamed for avoiding them. It's… horrible. It really is.

        And again, none of this is the fault of said women. It's no one's fault, really; it's just the result of the kind of dynamics inherent in being someone who's not attractive to women, but wanting to date them, and also being the kind of guy it's still socially acceptable to shame the living fuck out of for trying.

        • Soledad says:

          Finally, before anyone posts to tell me that there are other ways to meet people besides conventions, you can apply every possible negative thing I've said above to any possible setting. Women don't want to be approached on public transit, at their jobs, on the street, doing activities they enjoy, on the Internet, at coffee shops, at the gym, at clubs… even trying to meet people through friends is impossible (most of my friends are couples, many of them poly – the one or two times I asked someone to introduce me to a friend, they either refused or freaked out). The only place that it's "valid" to approach someone is on an Internet dating site, and the response rates are abysmal. So, the response to that is to sit around and wait for one of them to show interest in me. They never do. So, here I am.

          Frustrated? You betcha.

          • Patrick says:

            I've never been to a comic con, so forgive me if this question comes off as ignorant, but aren't there women there who are NOT blatant geek-bait liable to be approached by hundreds of slavering horndogs? Regardless of the environment you're in, if you're only going for the ultra-visible mega-hot women, you kinda have to deal with the fact that you're going to be up against some serious competition.

            (also, I hear that salsa-dancing classes have far more favorable female-to-male ratios than comic cons – plus socially-sanctioned physical contact, hurrah!)

          • I'm in the dance community, the ratio between women to men in classes varies a lot regardless of the dance. I've been in classes pretty much evenly split between women and men, men heavy, and women heavy. Usually its pretty even.

          • To Soledad, I do understand where the frustration comes from with geeks being stuck in a situation as pop culture leads us to believe that we are below normal people. But that's why we judge people on an individual basis, because some geeks do fuck-up, while others do strike that balance and are great social butterflies. It's as you said, a hot girl playing Zelda is just someone playing Zelda who happens to be hot. It's just a byproduct that comes from the male-domintated industry and how you can appeal to them.

            My point focuses more on female frustration. Because I men DO have a market that can satisfy to their needs and wants on a more consistent levels. Geeks are a Majority, as are Males and Females. But Female Geeks are a minority that aren't represented well within pop culture and usually only come down to the people that only Dr. Nerdlove is mentioned. (Especially Aisha Tyler for her podcast and the intelligence of geeky symbol, Kari Byron) It's like what Charle is mentioning where geeks are quite accepting of all types of female physicality, but they are primarily represented as the sexy booth babe.

          • Soledad says:

            @Scott: Yes, I fully agree with you. My replying to your post wasn't meant as an attempt to contradict or derail your original point.

            @Patrick:

            "aren't there women there who are NOT blatant geek-bait liable to be approached by hundreds of slavering horndogs? Regardless of the environment you're in, if you're only going for the ultra-visible mega-hot women, you kinda have to deal with the fact that you're going to be up against some serious competition. "

            Thanks for this; you reminded me of a few points I'd left out.

            Firstly, salsa dancing counts as "things they enjoy doing". In other words, "I'm here to do X (where X is enjoy the con, dance, read my book at Starbucks, run my errands), not get picked up". I've heard enough women complain "why can't I dance with a guy (to use your example) without him thinking I want to go out with him?" to get the impression that it's just not cool to go places and do things women enjoy because you want to meet them. That leads, again, to a paradox whereby the only way to potentially meet someone is to not want to meet them.

            Secondly, two things. By going after the "non-ultra-mega-hot babe", you get to deal with the defensive, "What, you're gonna talk to me because Firiona Vie over there won't give you the time of day?" attitude, plus… well, it's the fact that I'm now being shamed if I do in fact prefer Firiona Vie – AND I'm immediately assumed to not be good enough to talk to her. Let's face it, you don't know what I look like or how I act… but have you immediately pictured Comic Book Guy, all unshowered, neckbearded, and Cheeto-stained? Regardless of my appearance, bearing, or intent, I'm a nerd and I want to talk to a cute girl. Shame on you, Nerd. What makes you think you're good enough to even breathe the same air as her?

            But, if I *agree* with that assumption, I lack confidence. Approach; get shamed. Not approach; get shamed. Shame shame shame shame shame. Wow, nerds are angry? wotta surprise.

          • I think maybe part of the problem is that you are approaching a con as if it's a singles event rather than a fandom event. When I've gone to conventions, it's to hear more about the topics/shows/etc. I'm interested and to find out what other people have to say about them, not to find a romantic partner. I'd imagine many women go for the same reason. So can you see how it might be frustrating if most of the people who end up going over to talk to those women aren't really interested in their opinions about Dr. Who or Cowboy Bebop or whatever, but only in whether they'd agree to go on a date? Especially when they already feel insecure about whether they'll be respected as a "geek" because they're female.

            In any context, I think you're most likely to be successful at happening to hit it off with a woman if you approach her like a *person* rather than like a *girl*. Because every woman is a person with opinions and interests and reasons for being where they are that have nothing to do with dating (unless it *is* a singles event). Look at the women around you at the con as fellow fans, just like the guys there are. Hey, there's a *person* checking out the newest volume of a manga you love, or wearing an awesome costume from your favorite TV show. Great, go talk to them about it! But if the only reason you've gone over to talk to them is because they're female, and you would never be interested in striking up a conversation with a guy in that context, then the fact that you're only interested in them as a woman and not as a person is probably going to come across in what you say and your body language, and the woman is going to want to go talk to someone who actually cares about her thoughts on the shared interests the con is supposed to be about.

            You may feel you're being unfairly shamed, but I guarantee most women in that situation are not avoiding you to shame you for approaching them. They're avoiding you because it makes *us* highly uncomfortable to be in a situation where we constantly have to worry about whether a guy is talking to us because he sees us as a fellow fan or only because he wants into our pants. What does it matter? Well, it matters because if the woman is enjoying the conversation because it's about topics they're interested in, and smiles and laughs and gets animated about it, but doesn't happen to want to go on a date with the guy she's having the conversation with, she often ends up being accused of leading the guy on or being a tease, or even having the guy in question make nasty comments about her to other people along those lines. So it's easier just to avoid the possibility of that sort of "misunderstanding" in the first place by backing off from anyone who shows any signs of being on the prowl.

            Even a woman wearing a skimpy costume, who may very well be hoping to get the attention of guys, is well within her rights to only chat up guys *she* actually finds attractive too. If a woman you didn't find attractive came over to talk to you and seemed to be angling for a date, would *you* feel obliged to carry on an extended conversation?

            It might be hard to get into this mindset, but I wonder what would happen if the next con you went to, you only talked to women you saw if you'd talk to a guy in the exact same context. And if you pretended they were just another guy fan for at least the first few exchanges of the conversation. What kind of conversations would you have them? Hopefully ones more focused on the topics of the con, on your mutual interests, and so on. If you hit it off because you have a lot in common or you enjoy each other's company, great! *Then* you start considering asking them out. And if not, oh well, no more a big deal than if you exchanged a few comments with some random guy fan.

            If you can pull off that mindset, I think you might find yourself at very least having better conversations with women, which puts you in a much better position to connect with a woman on other levels as well.

          • Mel, you're absolutely right. A few additional notes, though. Firstly, despite focusing on girls at cons in my posts, I've never even spoken to a girl at a con. I'm simply using a con as a metaphor for a larger picture – that it's impossible to approach someone with the intent to get a date without being negatively labelled. Places like cons just exacerbate the problem.

            For example… well, everything you said is spot-on, and very good advice. Except… talk to a girl like I'd talk to a guy? Fine, but at the end of the conversation if I decide I like her, and I ask her out, that opens me up to "you were just pretending to care about my opinion because you wanted to get into my pants." Whether it's true or not, it's what she'll assume. That is, if she hasn't assumed I wanted to hit on her immediately upon opening my mouth and told me to get lost faster than I could say "I like your costume".

            So, talk to her like you'd talk to a guy, and only talk to her if you'd talk to a guy under the same circumstances… so, who do I decide to talk to, then? If I can't give preference to anybody, cute girl or no, do I just go talk to people completely at random? Cons are a bad example, I suppose, because I don't go to them to meet people, I go to see panels and buy stuff. But if I wanted to meet people, I have no "right" to focus on the kinds of people I'd want to meet? Am I in the wrong to only hang out with the Firefly fans or should I talk to Sailor Moon fans, too? I'm single, and I want a girlfriend… so should I hang out with my married friends all the time or go to places where there might actually be single women?

            I guess what I'm getting at is that people keep telling me it's okay if someone else decides they don't want to talk to me for any reason at all, but I'm a bad person if I decide I *do* want to talk to someone for any reason other than "they're here". Especially if I prefer to interact with women I find attractive because, well, I'd like to date.

            "If a woman you didn't find attractive came over to talk to you and seemed to be angling for a date, would *you* feel obliged to carry on an extended conversation? "

            Tell you what – if it ever actually happens, I'll let you know. But if it did, I would talk to her until the conversation came to a close, either naturally or by her asking me out. And if she asked me out, I'd say thank you, but I'm not interested. I suppose I have that luxury simply by virtue of it never happening. If it happened every ten minutes, I might be a bit more brusque.

            tl;dr version – I see a woman. I think she's cute. Am I allowed to go talk to her or not?

          • If you want to approach women for the sole purpose of getting a date, your best bet is to go to singles events where the women are also there in order to get a date, and to make use of dating websites… where the women are there in order to get a date. If you approach a woman (online or offline) in that sort of context, and they act like you're doing something wrong, they're the ones in the wrong place and you're better off not getting to know them.

            In any context where the woman is likely not there looking to get asked on dates… You run the risk of being seen as an annoyance rather than a person of interest. You say that you don't actually talk to women at cons, so where is it that you are trying to talk to women and having them react badly?

            If they're contexts in which people aren't normally there to socialize with strangers–e.g., grocery store, book store, public transit, walking down the street, hanging out with friends in the park–then yes, at least some of the time you're going to be seen as an irritation, not a welcome conversation. Because those people have other things they want to be doing that don't include having a conversation with a stranger (any stranger! I'm just as annoyed if a random woman insists on talking to me about something on the subway when I'm trying to read my book), and they're going to be particularly wary of giving friendly signals to a stranger who's a guy for the reasons I mentioned above (assumptions being made, followed by hurt feelings and possible retaliation). Unless you're really good at reading people's interest and making small talk, I don't think these are good places to try to pick people up.

            Contexts where people *are* there mainly to socialize, and would reasonably expect to do some socializing with strangers, I think you'd have better luck. Cons fall into this category. Also any sort of club, class, or meet-up group around a specific interest. Parties held by friends. Etc. As I said before about cons, if you go up to people in this context specifically to get a date, you'll probably give off a vibe that women will notice. But if you're honestly interested in what a woman has to say about whatever the two of you are talking about, and you're continuing to talk to her because you're enjoying the conversation itself as well as because you find her attractive, and she seems to be enjoying the conversation too, it would be odd for her to be offended if you suggest getting together some other time. Part of it is in how you phrase it–saying something like, "Hey, it's been great talking to you, I'd like to stay in touch. Can I get your number/email address?" is more likely to stay in her comfort zone than outright asking her to do something specific at another time right then (because that puts her on the spot, and may make her wonder if that's all you've been thinking of the whole time). And with the former option, you can then suggest something fun for the two of you to do when you call/email her. It takes the pressure off both of you. Or if you can find a way to move directly into a more date-like scenario (say the meet-up's finishing up, you ask if she'd like to grab a coffee/snack with you), that's also relatively low pressure vs. asking for a date at some future point right then.

            You'll notice when I said to only talk to a woman if you'd talk to a guy in the same context, I didn't say you had to talk to all women indiscriminately or that you had no "right" to talk to specific women. It's fine if you decide to only talk to women you find attractive. Just try to approach women where you *also* see a reason to think you'd enjoy talking to them that would apply if they were a guy instead. "Hey, that person's a Firefly fan!" works just fine. The problem is that if you are *only* approaching the woman because she's attractive, not because of anything unrelated to dating that interests you as well, then it's going to be obvious immediately from the way you start the conversation (because if there's nothing else about her that strikes you as conversation-worthy, you're going to be stuck with vague generics or physical compliments, both of which scream "I'm only interested in you for your appearance).

            Make sense?

          • "Make sense?"

            Yes, it does. Thank you.

            I originally misread your "talk to them like you'd talk to a guy" as "don't single them out because they're a girl". You didn't say that, but other people I've talked to about this *have*. So, I got confused.

            "You say that you don't actually talk to women at cons, so where is it that you are trying to talk to women and having them react badly?"

            I'm not. That's the point. I'm afraid to talk to anyone outside of a social event because I've been bombarded with so many messages of "Don't bother women, you goddamn nerd!" that I feel like it would be unwelcome.

            As for online dating, singles events, and socializing with friends, none of it has worked very well and I'm kind of floundering for options. That, however, is irrelevant, I guess.

          • Okay, I think I may see your real problem then. You've been complaining a lot about how women treat you if you show any interest in them. But apparently you're not actually showing interest in any women because you're too afraid to. So this treatment you've been accusing women of isn't anything that's actually happening to you, it's just what you imagine will happen?

            It's incredibly unfair to preemptively blame women for treating you in a way that they haven't yet. Think about it. How is that any better than the behavior you think would be so unfair of women–preemptively assuming that you are only interested in their looks? You feel judged by women, but you're judging them to a huge degree without giving anyone the chance to prove you wrong.

            It sounds to me like you have some very problematic views about how women think and behave, and *that's* what's holding you back, not anything actual women are doing. If you're going into potential dating situations (like singles events and online dating communities) with the idea that women are hostile/judgmental/just looking for a reason to dismiss you, that is going to come across in your interactions and turn women off. A woman doesn't want to be seen as a generic representation of all womanhood, only capable of behaving in certain set ways, any more than you want to be seen as a generic representation of male nerddom.

            If you want to find a romantic partner, I go back to my initial advice. Teach yourself to see women as people first, and female second. Strike up conversations with women you *don't* find attractive, for whatever reasons you might strike up a conversation with a guy, and you'll find you can enjoy it for the same reasons you can enjoy a conversation with a guy–common interests, shared opinions, etc. If you can get comfortable taking with women in general as people, it'll be a lot easier to approach women you do find attractive as people too, without the attitudes that will set off alarm bells in their heads.

          • Soledad says:

            "So this treatment you've been accusing women of isn't anything that's actually happening to you, it's just what you imagine will happen?

            It's incredibly unfair to preemptively blame women for treating you in a way that they haven't yet."

            I should clarify, then.

            These reactions that I'm speaking of – the shaming, etc – it's all online, and not directed at me. My friends post articles from feminist websites to their Facebooks, lecturing guys about how rotten they are. They complain about guys who approach them. I go on dating websites, and the forums are filled with women complaining about guys trying to approach them. Folks I follow on Twitter talk about publically humiliating guys for trying to approach them. So, when I say "I", I'm speaking in the metaphorical sense. I, Joe Geek, Random Guy. Not me, specifically, Soledad. I mean, part of the reason this article exists and I'm commenting on it is because of the stereotype that geeks are horrible sexist losers merely for being interested in cute cosplayers.

            I see how women treat other guys who approach them, so I don't approach them. Except, as you suggest, online.

            As for my own problems, I have spoken to people close to me about it, both male and female. None of them have said that I don't treat women like people, and my own experience shows me that I'm quite capable of talking to one and holding a conversation as an equal, and as a person. I'm quite social, and my friends all like me.

            It's possible they're lying, or just don't see it since they're not judging me in that respect. All I know is that everyone tells me "You're a great guy, I can't understand why no one is interested in you" – meanwhile, they themselves, of course, are not. They mean someone else.

            I'm particularly sensitive to attention whores because they love to target me. I was at a party the other night, actually, and some gal was flirting with me. I immediately thought, "What's the catch?" – and all was revealed when she started talking about her fiance. And, before you say she wasn't actually flirting, there's no other way to take a dirty joke and a wink.

            I'm almost 100% positive your original advice doesn't apply to my situation, but I will keep it in mind, anyway. Thank you for taking the time to discuss it at length.

          • Fair enough. I'll just say that if the women you're following on Facebook, Twitter, etc. are the sort of people who'll make fun of someone just for showing polite interest in them, then maybe you are surrounding yourself with jerks. None of the women I know talk about how awful a guy is unless he's done something actually awful–like, you know, telling her that women can't make decisions for themselves or freaking out at her for turning down a date. I think the majority of us are flatterd if a guy shows interest in us, even if we don't feel the same way–as long as the guy is respectful about it.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "I'm particularly sensitive to attention whores because they love to target me. I was at a party the other night, actually, and some gal was flirting with me. I immediately thought, "What's the catch?" – and all was revealed when she started talking about her fiance. And, before you say she wasn't actually flirting, there's no other way to take a dirty joke and a wink."

            lol, this has described me to a "T" – absolutely. I had this same kind of problem for the last several years – girls would again, and again, and again get a boyfriend then flirt with me egregiously.

            I would love to write a ton, but I don't have the time right now. But let me say – you aren't going to learn what they want, just by reading about what they don't want. Spend to much time reading the negatives, you create your own self-fulfilling prophesy.

            Seriously, if girls are flirting with you egregiously when they're not available, it's almost certainly that you're attractive, but you're not pursuing the girls that you're interested in.

            Seriously – girls bitching about what they don't like tells you almost nothing about what they *do* like. You don't learn what they like (and in some areas, it's extremely different from girl to girl) by constantly worrying about what they don't like.

            A friend of mine learned "game", and there's a lot of crap in there, but he managed to sort through it and started being far more successful in dating. I watched what he did, and literally – everything that women complain about it something that – in other circumstances – they really like.

            He slaps girls on the ass. In some circumstances this is a big negative, in others (where he does it) they really think it's just fun sexy time.

            I see him flirt with girl after girl and act like a total manwhore – and this just causes more and more girls to like him.

            Most of the stuff women complain endlessly about is the exact same stuff that you actually need to do to date a girl – in a different context. If you eliminate these behaviors from what you do? Then they start calling you a nice guy doormat, who they're sure "someone" wants to date you – but just not them.

            You just don't learn what women like by reading about what they don't like.

          • Mel is dead on about talking to a woman at a convention because she is a person and a fan first, and get dating out of your head. If she continues to seek out your interactions, then you can ask if you can walk with her to the next event, or sit down for a snack and talk, and take it from there.

            Women at cons want to be fans, not "potential date material." Women at dating events want to be potential date material. That is more appropriate. This is a good rule for any public place women are in as well. We're not looking for dates.

            I think Mel used the example of how would you feel if every time you talked to someone all they wanted was a date.

            Now if I were frustrated about not getting a date, that might be a bad analogy since that would sound great to me. So try this on.

            How would you feel if every time you talked to someone, at the end of the conversation they asked you to help them move furniture? Eventually you start suspecting that all anyone ever wants to speak to you for is to get you to schlep their stuff around, and you'd be irritated.

            Now if someone had a genuine relationship with you where you had been having interesting conversations for a couple of days at a convention and you felt like you got along well with them as a person, then if they asked you. "Hey, I have to help break this room down. Could you help me stack some chairs? We could continue our conversation on the evolution of Batman in popular culture."

            Would you be more willing to move furniture?

            It's something to think about.

            There's nothing wrong with asking a woman out on a date. There is something wrong with launching it out of nowhere and only having interest in her as potential dating material when you are both in a situation that is not centered around dating.

            Just like it's okay to ask a friend or acquaintance for help moving furniture, but you might not get the same response if you ask a stranger. Especially if that person cannot go twenty minutes without someone asking them to stop what they're doing and start hauling tables around.

            That wouldn't be a very fun convention.

            (for the record, I'm not saying that dating for women is as tedious as moving furniture. I am saying that getting asked over and over when you just want to be left alone and enjoy being a person and a fan, is.)

          • I'm not exactly sure if every woman at a single's event or dating even want to be potential date material. At more than a few single's events, there has always been at least a few women that seem to actively discourage men trying to talk to them. As far as I can tell, they are using the single's event as a place to hang out and have fun with their friends. Its there right to do so but they are kind of spoiling the single's event by doing so.

          • Well, as far as "rude or not rude" goes. I think it is fair to say they should expect to be approached if they are at a single's event specifically for dating. They have lost their justification for being irritated by it in that venue.

            A girl just trying to read a book in a coffee shop, or stand in line for a Dr. Who panel at a con does have a right to feel burdened and irritated about being approached as "dating material".

          • SS L. Perf says:

            I superheart you Mel.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Your frustration is your own. Interested in dating someone? Ask. Get a no? Move on. Learn to let it go with grace and go right back to whatever was interesting about her in the first place. If you're talking to (not hitting on) a cosplayer because of their costume, you can safely assume you have a shared interest in whatever franchise her costume is from.

      • Hey Soledad, if you're interested in meeting women at a con, you should check for ones that have speed dating. I know there was one at NYCC a few years back that got a good review http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/10/21/comicsal… and it's apparently done at other conventions also.

        As for asking the woman out: instead of asking her as the conversation is dying down, it might be better to ask at a peak during the conversation. I think the Doctor may have written this or maybe it was another advice site, but it's something that's worth considering either way. If you ask her at an awkward point or as the conversation is dying down, that's the image she'll have of how the date will go and will be less inclined to say yes, but if you ask at a high point, she'll factor in how much fun she's having with you and will be more likely to say yes. It's still possible to get her to say yes doing it the first way, but the second way may work better.

  14. Dr. Nerdlove, if you haven't read a Kurt Vonnegut story called Miss Temptation, you should. It's in the anthology Welcome to the Monkey House.

  15. One thing that strikes me (and links right back to the Doctor's point about pretty women being judged more harshly in nerdy circles) is that nerds apply so much of the stereotypical criteria to themselves in terms of who 'looks' like a geek and who doesn't…yet so many guys are still largely dismissive of the nerd girls who aren't particularly conventionally attractive.

    I'm going to land in some hot water for this, so I'll clarify: the nerd community is, by large, more accepting in terms of bodies and physical appearances that don't look like something strutting across a runway in Paris–but I still feel like less-than-perfect male bodies are still preferred to similar female physiques. It's like–nerdy guys want nerdy girls, but the less they appear to resemble someone who looks like your stereotypical image of a hardcore D&D player, the better.

    I think that's why there's so much fuss (and skepticism) when thin white girls and twiggy Asian women are held up as nerdy icons. It's the best of both worlds–geeky AND hot! Too good to be true, sexy! (And yes, I specified the two because, as a woman of color, it's rare to see much racial diversity in the women crowned as nerd princesses).

    I guess I just wanted to say that as many guys claim to want 'authenticity' in their nerdy women, there are still a few too many who bypass the nerd girls right in front of them for one superficial reason or another. And that can be frustrating.

    • VintageLydia says:

      TELL ME ABOUT IT! I know a lot of geeky girls and many of them aren't, as you said, "thin white girls and twiggy Asian women," and got passed right over or ignored by geek guys because "they're just one of the guys" or otherwise not showing up on their radar, but then have the audacity to be pissed that the hot girls in revealing cosplay won't give them the time of day and cry "FAKE!" It's why I mostly stayed outside of geeky social circles and avoided conventions that were gender mixed until I already met the man I was to eventually marry–because he takes my interests at face value and doesn't quiz me to make sure I'm "whatever" enough.

      • For that matter, this exact issue means it's not a picnic for the thin white girls and twiggy Asian women either. I'm a "twiggy Asian woman" and it's uncomfortable to be openly fetishized before I say or do anything. And then it's uncomfortable to be automatically resented by other nerd women before I say or do anything. It's why I hardly ever talk to anyone other than my friends when I'm at conventions.

        • Understandable. We can't win no matter if we fit the standard of beauty or not. It would help if we didn't feel like we are simply viewed as sex objects… hunting for that one person that doesn't view us that way.

    • I feel the same way! I was at a Con a few weeks ago, and you would not believe how many guys I heard complaining about how they wish a geeky girl would talk to them, how the hot geeky girls were so great and amazing… So I'd walk up to them and start a conversation, and they'd get put on this disgusted facial expression. For all that nerdy guys want to feel superior to the "outside" world, it's amazing how physical asethics for women are still tightly enforced.

      • Soledad says:

        Marty,

        This is the kind of comment that makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

        You complain that guys only like women who are conventionally attractive and look disgusted when you talk to them… but IMHO, judging by your picture… you ARE conventionally attractive. I'd go so far as to say you were downright cute, and I certainly wouldn't make the sign of the cross and back away hissing if you tried to talk to me. Then again, you also look to be about ten years my junior, so if *I* tried to talk to *you*… well, let's just say it wouldn't be you who looked like the horrible person in that situation. Oh, hello Pedobear…

      • Late as hell to the party, but… Agreed. I'm overweight and look, I don't think I'm entitled to a guy finding me attractive because *I* think he should be. I also don't complain about guys not noticing me in general. What I complain about is that when I will be talking to a guy, even flirting with him, DURING THAT DISCUSSION he will moan and complain about how no girls EVER flirt with him. What he MEANS is that no girls he thinks should be talking to him are flirting with him, but he says it right to my face as if I'm NOT a girl. This isn't something that's happened once, it's something that happens often, while I'm simultaneously assured that any woman can get laid anytime she wants to and women have all the control in sexual relationships boo hoo hoo.

        I was tempted to include defensive information about whether other men ARE interested in me and how often I have sex, but I realized that assumes the validity of inevitable arguments to the tune of "well you're fat/ugly/etc, so what you say is irrelevant." It's enough for ME to know how many people I've been with and that I didn't have to coerce or trick them with my feminine wiles to get them in my pants, and to point out to those who plan to say those things that I preemptively see what you did there, and thanks for proving the point.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      "I guess I just wanted to say that as many guys claim to want 'authenticity' in their nerdy women, there are still a few too many who bypass the nerd girls right in front of them for one superficial reason or another. And that can be frustrating."

      I say as a guy that this is the other side that is SO true. Whenever a guy complains about "women", you almost always have to replace "women" with "women I think are really hot, but not the women I'm not attracted to"….

      If you don't realize this, it can be *extremely* frustrating, and even if you do it's really got to be a real pain if you actually don't fall into the > 50% of attraction.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        …I will say as a guy that there's another weird thing that happens, I sometimes avoid talking to women I find unattractive not because I don't want to talk to them – but out of insecurity that I'll be leading them on, and doing to them what attractive girls have sometimes done to me.

        It's not really their fault – there's no socially acceptable way to say "I'd love to talk to you, but there's almost no chance that I'll be attracted to you right?" – for *either* gender, without possibly being very insulting. It's…erg.

        • WynneL80 says:

          That's silly. Just talk to them like you'd talk to a sister or something. If you keep your mannerisms platonic and friendly, there's no reason to fear you'll be leading them on, and avoiding them will just make them feel like lepers. If it becomes uncomfortable, you can listen to your instincts and say something overt, but otherwise, how can you be sure they're even attracted to you and not just looking to find a friend? Maybe you're not their type, either, but you give them a good vibe of some kind that makes them want to be social with you. Hell, maybe your lack of interest is even what appeals to them–they want to talk to you because they feel you *won't* hit on them, and that makes them feel secure around you.

          Conventionally attractive guys frankly don't appeal to me. I'd rather date a scrawny ginger than Thor. Yes, Chris Hemsworth is gorgeous, I recognize this, but we'd just be friends no matter how many ladies think he's dreamy. I could easily see him mistaking my interest in him as a person for attraction, but I really wouldn't even want to sleep with him for one night. Even if he's got a great personality.

          I know it can be awkward to figure this stuff out, but you could be missing out on some great friendships this way. And possibly more, if she has a friend you *would* find attractive, that she'd introduce you to. Being the little matchmaker that I am, if it were me, I might just be crestfallen and walk away if you tried to avoid me not because I'd wanted to date you, but because I wanted my *friend* to date you–and to be frank, it wouldn't be likely to happen if you treated me like a plague, because I would naturally think you just weren't as nice as you first seemed.

  16. My initial reaction when I first spotted this article was "Wait a second … did the Doc update on a Thursday?"

  17. Shanna Germain says:

    Fantastic. Yes. Yes. Yes. I hate the exclusionary vision that so many people seem to have for geek culture. Brilliant post. Thank you so much.

  18. Gentlemen! Your attention please! Are you tired of being alone? Are you tired of the “hhot” geek girls not paying attention to you? Here’s my simple, 5 step solution:
    1. Stop going for the “hot” chicks and go for the average women who WANT to be with you!
    2. Don’t take it personally if a woman says “no” irregardless if she’s a bitch about it or not. It’s her perogative and if she can’t be civilized then you’re better off without her.
    3. Repeat step 1 and 2.
    4. Repeat step 1 and 2.
    5. Take a break and watch some Doctor Who…then repeat step 1 and 2.

    Ps: I love geek guys and have tried my best to snatch one up as my one and only…but too many of them seem to turn into the same asshats that used to stuff them into lockers the minute a woman shows any interest in them. *sigh* :(

    • Minor nitpick: It's "regardless" not "irregardless".

    • Soledad says:

      "Stop going for the "hot" chicks and go for the average women who WANT to be with you!"

      So many questions. What if the guy's not attracted to the average woman? Should he overlook his lack of attraction? Women get really angry when they're told that they should date a guy they don't like out of charity. What if the average woman doesn't want to be with the guy who's complaining, either? I, personally, can honestly say no one, of any attractiveness level, wants to date me. What's my solution?

      • Welp, then I guess you just have to get used to being lonely until you get very, very lucky. Women shouldn't go out with a man due to charity. However, if they don't want to be alone forever, an average looking woman isn't going to go panting after Brad Pitt and hoping that he'll marry her because she immediately feels attracted to him.

        Why don't you chat up a woman you can stand looking at for any amount of time and then see if it builds from there? It isn't about doing her a favor. It's about doing yourself one.

        • Soledad says:

          "Why don't you chat up a woman you can stand looking at for any amount of time and then see if it builds from there? It isn't about doing her a favor. It's about doing yourself one. "

          Part of the problem is that women seem to have a rather skewed, all-or-nothing perception of what (some, many?) men actually find attractive. My personal experience is that if I attempt to chat up *anyone* who isn't morbidly obese and ugly enough to crack a mirror, someone, somewhere, will accuse me of only going after "hot" chicks. Perfect example? Marty, up yonder. She thinks she's not cute enough for guys to talk to. I think she's really cute. If I were her age and chatted her up and she turned me down, would that count as me "only going after a hot chick"? She certainly doesn't think she's hot, she said so herself; or, at least implied it by talking about how guys look "disgusted" whenever she talks to them.

          If she's hot, I'm only talking to her because she's hot. If she's not hot, I'm only talking to her because she's the only girl in the room. As a nerd, I. Can't. Win.

          Another part of the problem, I think, is that everyone assumes that guys *only* like professional models – which is pretty much not true. I'm kind of confused by all this assertion that geeks as a whole don't like "average" women, because all of the women in my social circle (and that's a lot, lemme tell ya) could be considered average and they're all both taken, and in the case of the poly ones, have two or three other guys on the side.

          • Well, then if you really want to get to know her you'll have to convince her that you're serious without being creepy. Tall order, I know, but nothing creeps a woman out faster than unearned puppy dog eyes. Also, women tend to respond a bit better to men if they come in with something that is not obviously a come on.

            There is, I think, an art to introducing yourself to a person while playing off of whatever is going on around you beyond talking about the weather or how crowded a place is. Depending on where you are and what you're doing you'll have better luck finding someone that you have something on common with. My job requires that I learn how to start up a conversation based on what a customer is wearing, their kids, or something like dog food in their shopping cart.

            Anyway, best of luck.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            If I were her age and chatted her up and she turned me down, would that count as me "only going after a hot chick"? She certainly doesn't think she's hot, she said so herself; or, at least implied it by talking about how guys look "disgusted" whenever she talks to them.

            If she's hot, I'm only talking to her because she's hot. If she's not hot, I'm only talking to her because she's the only girl in the room. As a nerd, I. Can't. Win.

            Are you getting this from the "hot chicks", from your friends or from internal monolog? Because, seriously, as long as you're not creeping people out, fuck the opinion of third parties.

      • I think the true meaning of this step is mostly to help some guys refocus and re-calibrate their standards to something more practical, healthy, and meaningful. It's not necessarily a "lower your standards" comment. It's more like "Hey guys, please stop thinking the universe is obligated to issue you a hot girlfriend." There are many guys who aim for, say, the so-called 10s* that are not good for them simply because of differences in ideology, interests, etc. These guys end up judging girls solely on looks (unconsciously and consciously), which is very unhealthy for everyone involved but especially the guys.

        *I hate the idea of rating people on looks because it's so subjective. I am very certain my 10 would be a 1 on someone else's scale, and vice versa. Also, I have different scales for types of beauty (ie classic Asian female beauty vs. modern Asian male beauty vs. classic film female leads vs. action film female leads).

    • So, the less attractive women are of less worth. Gotcha.

  19. I'll stop complaining about booth babes and half naked women at cons when I stop being treated like a lesser human being because I don't look like that. In the mean time these girl can suck it. Yeah I'm bitter.

    • I seriously don't get why it's bad of me to call out these girls for dressing like slave leia. whether you like it or not, when you dress half naked anywhere you want some form of attention. Don't st here and complain about how women are always been objectified when you're helping the cause.

      • Slut-shaming much?

        • yep. sue me.

          • I mean… most of the costumes for girls are friggin' "slutty"… What are girls supposed to do? Only pick the -not attractive ones- so that you feel more comfortable?

          • does this mean my 500lb lard ass can go completely naked to feel more comfortable? I'll put on princess leia earmuffs though. THERE. COSPLAY.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Counter-examples:
            Major Sheppard, Leia in any non-slave costume, Amidala in any non-arena costume, any Star Trek outfit that's not Deanna Troi or the mini-skirt, Kaylee and Zoe from Firefly. . .there's plenty of others. There are plenty of non-revealing female geek cosplay outfits. Should someone pick those to make me or anyone else more comfortable, no.

          • Exactly. There are less sexual options for those who wish to be less sexual, but no one should have to downplay their sexuality in order to be respected.

            Sexy =/= less of a person.

        • Let's be honest here; if you're walking around in a Slave Leia costume, you aren't "expressing your sexuality," you're doing it for attention. That's not "slut-shaming," it's the truth (also can we stop just yelling out SLUT-SHAMING like it instantly invalidates what the other person is saying?).

          Of course, on the flipside, if you're walking around in a custom-made recreation of the Space Marine armor from Warhammer, you are also just doing that for attention.

          • yeah but at least you're showing off HARD WORK and TALENT for attention.

          • manybellsdown says:

            You know, I made a Princess Leia bikini once, when I was younger and thinner. It was hard work.

            Sure, it probably didn't take as long as full Space Marine armor, but it wasn't just a question of spray-painting a bikini gold and slapping a skirt on it.

            Why'd I make it? Because I felt like this was sort of the "holy grail" of women's geeky costumes; something I, who saw Star Wars in 1977 as a 3 year old, needed to do once in my life.

          • "(also can we stop just yelling out SLUT-SHAMING like it instantly invalidates what the other person is saying?)"

            I don't know, but can we stop yelling out "[so-and-so] is doing [xyz] for attention" like it instantly makes it okay to treat [so-and-so] like garbage? Especially when the attention-whore diagnosis seems to involve more than a little mind-reading?

          • I don't see where I wrote "that makes it okay to treat these people like garbage."

          • You clearly don't understand what slut-shaming is. If someone wants to dress revealingly, that is within his/her right! There is nothing inherently wrong with that unless you have a very sex and women negative world-view.
            Try a little googling and educate your before you comment on something you know nothing about.

          • oh shut the fuck up

          • go back to tumblr

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Watch it.

          • Not only do I not think anything is wrong with scantily clad ladies, I am a fan of scantily clad ladies.

            But let's not pretend it's some "liberating form of self expression" or something.

          • Hannah Solo says:

            Hi Max, I almost never get involved in internet comment threads, but I felt the need to interject something here… for me, wearing what I want IS a "liberating form of self expression." It's one of my favorite things about living in the U.S.A. Women don't really have a space where we can express our sexuality without being ridiculed or shamed for it. (Think about it… how many "slutty" costumes do you see women wearing on Halloween? A lot of girls feel that that's the only time they can wear something audacious like that.) We also grow up in a culture where women are taught to be ashamed of their beauty, that there is something wrong in taking pride in it or, God forbid, flaunting it. We're taught to downplay compliments– "Wow, your hair looks so good today!" "Really? I don't think my hair is that pretty." It took me a very, very long time to be able to respond to sincere compliments with a "thank you!" instead of deprecating myself a little. So, yeah, for me, admitting that I'm beautiful, celebrating that and letting the world know that I won't be shamed into submission is a liberating form of self expression.

            tl;dr: Haters gonna hate.

          • MikanGirl says:

            I just wanted to applaud your comment! That is exactly how I feel about the situation.

            Girls are told to be pure and beautiful – the "saint" side – because otherwise they're sluts/only looking for attention. Yet we're expected to have a "naughty" side as well, or otherwise we're just prudes. Sometimes, wearing slutty costumes in what we consider a "safe" or "pre-approved" environment isn't about attention. It's about gaining control over our own sexuality and beauty.

            Example: I frequent a goth club. I often wear thigh highs, short skirts, high heels, and corsets with dramatic eye make up and "kinky" jewelry. But I guarantee you, I don't do it for the attention. I have large boobs and I get unwanted stares and catcalls on public transportation, streets, and stores enough as it is. I don't want or need more attention. Wearing those clothes to a club that I think of as safe and non-judgmental, surrounded by friends and the other regulars, is a way of taking back what I feel is sometimes stolen from me in my daily life by those stares and catcalls. It's a way of saying "Yes, this is me, this is what I feel beautiful in and I refuse to feel dirty when you look at me."

            If there are sometimes guys at that club who are pissed because I don't feel like flirting with them, or if I do flirt, don't want to go home with them…it's just not my problem. I refuse to feel responsible for that.

          • Thank you both for expressing so eloquently what I couldn't figure out how to say.

          • being attractive is so difficult :(

          • MikanGirl says:

            There's a difference between having people yell at you on the street about how huge your boobs are and feeling attractive. I never actually felt attractive until I found that club and was able to use it to make my own identity. For years, I felt like all people ever saw when they looked at me was boobs and that I was probably worthless as a girl without them. I had body image and weight issues like crazy and have been counting calories since I was 16. I've worked very hard the past couple of years to build my self-esteem to a level where I felt like I could be comfortable in a relationship.

            But thank you for the sarcasm.

          • Sumiko Saulson says:

            You know, I agree with you.

          • Max, is there a way you feel near-universally and constantly judged, and are usually found wanting? Imagine for a minute that you did something that essentially communicated, "Yeah, fuck that, I applaud what I can do in this arena." That's what the dressing up is.

            I went to a costume party the other day dressed as an Olympic athlete and I GOT LITERALLY APPLAUDED for the casual way I presented my own body. And I got a prize. "Good goddamn, it's a body, get over it" is how I would like to feel – only I know (because I see it every day) that my body is not just a body, it's an object a lot of other people feel free to evaluate, judge, and weigh as more important than my personality, simply because i was born female.

          • Me being me, I tend to be oblivious to all that objectifying nonsense. A lot of women aren't, because they're raised to internalize all that and see their own bodies as someone else's intellectual property.

            I would love to see the day when it can all be just bodies. But until then, consciously CELEBRATING your body, in whatever way you want, is indeed a liberating form of self expression for some people.

          • "Not only do I not think anything is wrong with scantily clad ladies, I am a fan of scantily clad ladies.
            But let's not pretend it's some "liberating form of self expression" or something."

            It is, actually. When you've spent your whole life feeling insecure about your body and feeling the need to hide it, that moment when you finally feel confident enough to show it off and feel great doing so, is INCREDIBLY liberating.

            Don't be so quick to make assumptions about why someone does what they do.

          • "also can we stop just yelling out SLUT-SHAMING like it instantly invalidates what the other person is saying?"

            Well, if you disagree with slut-shaming, and all of their points are based in slut-shaming logic, than it does kind of invalidate what they're saying. Or perhaps not "invalidate" but warrant being called out and/or disagreed with.

      • Thing is.. It's not the women who dress sexy that are objectifying women. It's you, and your reaction to them.

        It's a product of our fucked up society that when we see a person being sexual we think "sexual object" instead of just "sexual PERSON."

    • maybe you're "being treated like a lesser human being" because people can sense you're, as you have admitted, "bitter"

  20. His name is JOE Peacock, and he's written a clarification of the article at his blog: http://joethepeacock.blogspot.com

    • Paul Rivers says:

      hey, thanks for posting that. He specifically responded here – http://joethepeacock.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-res

      But I really love his response on the whole thing here – http://joethepeacock.blogspot.com/2012/07/speak-y

      "This is pretty much what I thought about – most of the responses to his article as well –
      The hardest part of this whole experience has been knowing that the people who are most angry, missed the point of my article. Everyone who has posted a scathing rebuttal of my original piece goes off on some sort of tangent, sometimes accusing me of saying things I didn't say, and other times isolating on one sentence or one paragraph while willfully ignoring (or, attempting to claim it was "padding") the rest of the piece."

      It's so true of most of this stuff, sadly.

  21. Do geek guys worry about girls they don't deem attractive having cred'? For the most part I think it comes down to women still being seen as objects . If you don't have looks then you may as well be invisible. I doubt you'll see anyone ranting about a non-conventionally attractive girl faking her love of comic books.

    • Soledad says:

      If you reread Peackock's article, he does complain about those girls. He calls them "6 of 9s", implying that they're not attractive and the only reason they get any attention is because they're around nerds who short-circuit at the sight of boobs.

  22. I find it funny everyone is in such an uproar over this sudden realization of just how suffocating this subculture has finally turned into. Its alittle more gender biased, but all the same quite similar to all the other subcultures out there, i.e. prep, jock, goth, gangsta, etc.

  23. SS L. Perf says:

    Thank you for this response.

    It's only recently I've seen this barrage of attacks on the so-called fake geek girl (I'm more into the anime/manga community who just seem to go after to "weeabos"). It does amaze me how women are constantly questioned about how authentic their interests and the assumption that we're doing things to get the attention of men. If you're pretty you can't possibly be interested in something like video games or manga. If you're ugly, you're not pretty enough to like video games and manga. If you're spending a lot of money to travel to go to a con and you're costume leaves you half naked, you're obviously faking it, let me ask you a question. If you're costume covers your body, you're probably a TRUE geek, but you're not sexy enough. *facepalm*

    What it boils down to is getting over this idea of what makes someone a "geek," deciding on who determines why you are one, and ultimately getting over yourself; stop assuming that my interests in something has to do with you.

  24. I think the issue here isn't hot ladies being unattainable, it's hot ladies pretending to be attainable for attention. Let's not pretend this doesn't happen; I have lady friends who admit to doing this all the time.

    There is an argument to be made, however, that the blame lies not with these hot ladies, but with the guy nerds who will throw money and attention at anything with cleavage and a Batman logo.

    If us nerd guys promise to stop giving unwarranted attention to these people, this problem will go away.

    • No. Seriously, that's what you took away from this article?

      The issue is the company hiring these 'hot women' to lure those poor socially maladjusted nerds into thinking with the wrong organ which is insulting to everyone involved. It perpetuates sexism along with the idea that men have zero discipline when it comes to their raging labidos.

      While a small percentage may dress 'hot' for attention for the most part women who attend the cons are doing it (surprise!) for their own enjoyment. Oh, the good old 'women only dress like that for men's attention' bullshit. It may surprise you that women dress to look good for themselves and that includes cosplay. Try rereading the article with a more critical mind before spewing out blatantly wrong and sexist ideas.

      • I'm pretty sure that women, like men, dress to look good to both other women and other men. AKA People dress fancy for attention from other people.

        No one dresses up fancy when they're alone in their house.

        • Eponymous says:

          Dude, I dress up fancy when I'm alone in my house, because I think dresses are hella inconvenient in public, but I like the way the skirts swish around my feet. If I were to wear them outside, it would be for the same reason–and definitely not because I wanted attention. >_>

        • Yes – women and men dress nicely so they will appear more attractive to other people…. SO?

          " hot ladies pretending to be attainable for attention" holy shit that is a bunch of sexist bullshit.

          Since when did dressing nicely or revealingly = "attainable" by which you mean "easy'? willing to have sex? Actually I'm not sure what you mean by that.

          Sorry – women can show some cleavage without being required to sleep with any man who looks at her.

          WTF

          • "Yes – women and men dress nicely so they will appear more attractive to other people."

            That is indeed what I said. I'm glad we agree.

            "" hot ladies pretending to be attainable for attention" holy shit that is a bunch of sexist bullshit."

            This is a thing that happens. I don't see how this is sexist (maybe I should have said "people" instead of "ladies," but the article wasn't really about men doing this. We definitely do though).

            "Since when did dressing nicely or revealingly = "attainable" by which you mean "easy'? willing to have sex? Actually I'm not sure what you mean by that."

            That's not really what I was saying. The illusion of attainability comes more from attitude (aka flirting and whatnot). Devicat brought up the "dressing hot" stuff.

            "women can show some cleavage without being required to sleep with any man who looks at her. "

            Another thing I agree with. I'm pretty sure we don't really have significantly different opinions on this.

          • lady_vixxen says:

            Ah, flirting and whatnot. According to today's social rules, being friendly and polite and not immediately screaming "GET AWAY FROM ME!" and throwing large heavy objects is considered flirting. I have decided to be a righteously rude person from now on when I cosplay because I'm sick of people touching me.

          • That is too true actually, just being nice now-a-days, people think you're flirting or "into" them, it's because of all this hyper-sexualized stuff going on around us, everyone's thinking or talking about sex, sex is mainstream…when in all actuality, all this "expressing my sexual freedom" "showing a little cleavage" stuff is actually harming us. Dressing more conservative and keeping those sexy and intimate parts about you hidden and only for your lover would end a lot of problems, but no one will agree with me I'm sure.

        • I've dressed fancy in my own house, I've dressed fancy outside of my house, sometimes it's for other people but most of the time it's for me, I like to have fun with it. That's why I made up a reason why my character in a LARP I was in was wearing an evening gown, I just felt like wearing one that day.

  25. I will say that when I'm attracted to a girl I think is a geek and then find out that she isn't, it's disheartening.

    But that's my problem, not hers.

  26. Neko_Onna says:

    Who ISN'T in a community for attention? Really, I can love Battlestar Galactica at home with no one around just fine, thanks. If I choose to go to a con, I'm there for the attention I'll get from(and give to) the other people who share my passion. I'm there for the interaction. So, while these faux female geeks may be seeking out a slightly different form of attention (or really, probably not that different- a lot of guys dress up because it plays into their fantasy of what is "sexy" too) they are there for the same thing.

  27. As a female cosplayer and frequent con attendee, I sometimes feel like I can NEVER make any crowd of critics happy. I dress up as a pretty female character? Then I'm a dirty harlot of a poser who's taking advantage of those poor geeks. I crossplay? Then I'm a horrible geek girl who's denying geek boys the opportunity to see a girl dressed up in sexy female cosplay because "it's their only chance to". Also, I might be a "dirty dyke" Since I can never make anyone happy, I have come to the conclusion of "What the hell, I'll cosplay whatever I want because it's fun."

    This isn't even touching on my "geek credentials".

  28. Who the fuck cares? Women, or at least we should. We are the only ones it's actually affecting. And yet, we seem to be the least outspoken about this phenomenon.

    Fake geeks do exisit. What people fail to realize is that they are both genders. It is really highly annoying when you think you've met someone really interesting, that they don't actually know what they are talking about. But that's all it is for guys, annoying. You move on.

    However, the ripple effect of all the complaining and annoying memes about it has made it more difficult to be a geek girl and seriously upped the fetishization of the hot geeky girl.

    In my 30 years of being a geek, never before had I needed to prove my status to the extent that I do now. Even during the many years before I met another woman into geeky things. And I don't even cosplay, that would probably just make it worse. To the point of people actually quizzing me on C++ syntax if I mention that I'm a programmer or I wear any coding joke tee.

    Selling yourself as a sex object – booth babes, some cosplay, and "modeling" – in order to get attention is only perpetuating the idea of women as… sex objects. Whether the person is a true geek or not, it's damaging to the rest of us. Going to a con dressed as slave Leia isn't empowering. You might as well have a sign over your head saying "look at me, I'm an object of your sexual repressed youth."

    Empowerment is being sexy, feeling sexy and being in control of your sexuality. What's the difference? Dressing like an actual female character instead of one that is clearly designed as a sexual object. Slave Leia is by definition an object owned by Jabba, you can't get any more clear than that. It's not how much or little clothing she has, it's her role.

    That's not slut-shaming. It would be if I said she deserved it. No one deserves to be treated like an object and harassed. Sadly we don't live in a culture where it's possible to separate the woman who dresses up as a sex object, who she really is and the rest of us double Xers.

    As for the comments about talking to/not talking to girls in certain places. Why are you putting so much thought into it? Unless she's not a nice person, chatting her up like she's a complex and fully developed human with her own well formed thoughts, opinions, wants and needs isn't going to be annoying no matter the setting. If the conversation goes well, tell her so and ask for her number. If she's mean? Best you know early. It's not rocket science.

    • you "feminists" could take a lesson from this reply

      • whats even more annoying is that women cosplayers who work super hard on their craft get NO attention. all you have to do is throw on some mask and a bikini and bam OH MY GOD AMAZING COSPLAY!

        • And how is that the fault of the women? I'm pretty sure it's the *guys* who are saying "Oh my god amazing cosplay!" and (theoretically) dismissing the others. If they're the ones giving the problematic response, then the problem is with them, not the women in bikinis.

          Feminists want equality for ALL women, regardless of what they wear and how they behave. Or do you have some different definition in which only women you deem worthy should be treated well and everyone else deserves their situation somehow?

    • The thing is that getting mad at women who play into sexism by allowing themselves to be objectified is like getting mad at women who, you could say, play into sexism by allowing themselves to take jobs where they're paid less than their male counterparts, or by allowing themslelves not to report sexual harassment or assault. Obviously in my two examples, going against the established ideas of "correct" female behavior (as defined mainly by men) will open you up to much harsher reprocussions. But it's all part of the same societal system. If women are socialized by the media and society in general to believe that their worth is determined by how desirable they are to men and to see only certain ways of presenting themselves as attractive, and some women end up buying into that to the extent that the only way they can feel good about themselves by presenting themselves in those ways, it makes far more sense to get angry at the system that perpetuates those ideas in the first place.

      Speak up, for sure. Let's try to get all women to understand that they don't need to buy into those ideas, and that doing so many be harmful to all of us in the long run. But I'm not sure how identifying them as the enemy and slinging insults at them, while ignoring the deeper roots of the problem, is going to help or change anything.

      • I think you are misinterpreting. I agree with you, the root cause is our patriarchal society of the cycle of fear and control that produces othering. However, does that mean we aren't allowed to point out to to people – no matter the gender – how they may be participating in it? Is it not up for discussion out of the fear of blaming or being called out for an assumed anger?

        Isn't the way to fixing the society is to change how we participate in it?

        That original article is vile – especially the 6 of 9 crap. The entire fake geek nonsense has spiraled out of control and for the most part has been detrimental to women in the geek culture, be it life long members and more importantly new comers. That's why we should care. And that's what's pissing me off.

        • This, this, this. The structures are made up of people. You can't blame individuals for creating the problems, but they are responsible for reproducing them – and thus, able to change things.

          You can't tell people what to do or think. But you can point out problems and implications in their behavior and leave it up to them if they want to continue. Some people want to (women being "object sexy", men writing bullshit "6 to 9" articles), but some will take it to heart.

    • VintageLydia says:

      Wait wait wait I'm not a Star Wars fan by any stretch, but isn't "Slave Leia" also the same Leia who strangled her "owner" to death and won her liberation? Forgive me if I'm wrong and it's literally been over a decade since I've watched that scene, but I'd say that's pretty empowering.

  29. Ugh, thank you so much for this article. I want to happily second the chorus of "IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER" whether someone is "qualified" to label themselves, as a geek, (or any of its umbrella subgroups: otaku, gamer, comics nerds, etc.) What the fuck do I (or anyone else) care if a self-proclaimed "geek" plays only Farmville, the occasional Pokemon, or is an internationally ranked Starcraft tourney champ?

    Also, as a geeky girl who (at conventions, at least) also cosplays hardcore and dresses to the nines, I've had several encounters with people who feel the need to test my ~nerd cred~ before they take me seriously. Similarly, there are people who don't BELIEVE that I know what I'm talking about when I discuss something nerdy. Sorry, asshole, it's not as if my breasts and a skirt present a physical barrier to holding a game controller, or wearing makeup means I can't be part of Star Trek fandom.

    (Also people who think that because I'm well dressed I'm also an acceptable target for touching, stalking, catcalls, and what have you, but that's something else altogether.)

    • And the most outrageous part is, they only quiz you because you're a chick, and they're a dude.

      If anyone ever tries to quiz me in order to accept or reject my "nerd cred," I ask them who appointed them gatekeeper of geekdom, and why they think they're entitled to QUIZ ME, because they're a guy and I'm a girl? That, my friends, is some arrogant bullshit.

  30. I bet you all wouldn't complain about being oggled at if the guy way "hot" (I don't mean stalking, touching) I know I'm probably going to get a LOT of flack for this comment but you all know it's true… Look, I admire everyone's persistance for equality for women, but my problem with a few feminists and the doc's articles in regards to feminism is the fact no one wants to admit women aren't always the perfect helpless creatures they are thought to be. They do fucked up shit too in regards to gender and dehumanizing. As a woman, while I'm for womens rights it's hard to take seriously at times too because women can be completely vile themselves…

    • What are you even talking about? I will say this, both in an out of the bounds of geek culture, I have received harassment, looks, catcalls, what have you, from men both attractive and unattractive. It does not make it less objectifying, irritating, or (on occasion) threatening when an attractive man can't figure out where my eyes are, or starts speaking to me like a three year old, or pulls up next to me to make kissy-kiss noises out the window.

      At no point in this does doc (or as far as anyone I can tell) depict women as ~perfect helpless creatures~ or as people who aren't… people, who can be as small minded or terrible or idiotic as people can be. The audience he directs his articles towards is predominately men, and so the advice he gives and the examples of idiocy he draws on are mostly drawn from, and for, guys.

      Maybe you haven't realized, but the point of equal rights for all people is that they really are there for ALL PEOPLE, regardless of gender, or how silly or fucked up they individually are.

    • no need to worry Cathy most booth babes are not fake geek girls they are paid eye candy who exist to be looked at otherwise they wouldnt be there (most of them). you are right the slave leia thing isn't empowering nor liberating unless ones idea of being free is walking in public naked for which places exist for that .

      • " booth babes are not fake geek girls they are paid eye candy who exist to be looked at"

        I hope you meant 'who are hired to be looked at'. I really, really do.

  31. There is also the fact that to dress up for a comicon or anime convention or sci-fi convention, most women have to forgo about 80% of the clothing they regularly wear in public. And then get blamed because they are "only doing it to turn men on" and they "aren't real geeks". Winning, it just doesn't happen.

  32. Snuggling tight and nuzzling the back of her mind and never repeats it to anyone until

    many years later when she writes a book in which she turns racial stereotypes

    upside down. This leads over time to withdrawal, loss of hope,

    and there aren’t enough good examples of LGBT free relationship advice represented in the media. Some women lie because, as caring creatures they want to do with greater social acceptability, both from the family and the community”.

  33. I cant hep but disagree there are girls; out there that act like that. They are the ones that I school had you tried to bring out anime or fantasy in a conversation would have laughed you out of the room. I think all girls that cosplay do it for the attention. They are just attention whores. They know nothing about the culture and are ignorant sluts and cunts. I hate nerd girls. They are all complete bitches. Learn the culture if you are going to parade around it it you whore

  34. You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

  35. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard guys at my local comic shop back home bash on attractive women behind-their-backs (or sometimes to their faces) who failed to pass their self-appointed tests to make sure she was a "real" geek.

  36. 'Geek'-next-Door says:

    I'M A 'FAKE GEEK GIRL'… (Part 1)

    ***[TL;DR] I ended up rambling, but basically I talked about why I've been called a Fake Geek, why women can be horrid to guys approaching them (coz they're human), why they try and get attention sometimes (coz they're human), what women want (other humans) and how to get them to go out with you (treat them like humans).***

    Had to reply to this article purely because it struck a chord with me, having been accused of being a 'fake geek' before, and also because I think both Peacock and a lot of male commentators in this comments section show an innocent lack of understanding about how girls minds work.

    WHO THE SMEG AM I?
    > I'm a 23yr old woman and University student. I can't objectively tell you whether I'm hot or not (I don't consider myself to be). However I can tell you that I'm a UK size 8 (no idea what that is in US), I have some curves, and I dress in a relatively feminine way (long hair, and I'm very partial to a 50's style dress or pencil skirt when the occasion allows – skinny jeans, converse and hoodies otherwise.) And I get hit on a fair amount, maybe a few times a week depending on how much time I spend out-and-about.

    WHO CALLED ME A FAUX GEEK?
    One of my closest and oldest male friends (one of many, historically I've had more male than female friends since I decided, age 3, that train sets were infinitely better than barbie dolls) is also a massive geek/nerd. I'm talking living in his parents house in a room full of tech, working as a computer engineer and sporting a rather fetching Starcraft tattoo. At one point, we were briefly 'involved', but we want different things, and work better platonically. He has teased me about 'pretending' to be a geek because I have a passing interest in various nerdy things. I love documentaries/non-fiction reading, dabble in gaming (mostly strategy and occasionally MMORPG), used to draw cartoons, follow cosplayers online, watch the odd anime, read the odd manga, particularly love Dr Who, Pokemon, Harry Potter (and also adore into Black Adder, Monty Python and Red Dwarf – British is usually best!) etc. In short, if you show me a nerdy meme, I'll get it. If I like it, I'll forward it to whichever or my friends is most into that fandom.

    But therin lies the issues. I'm not an uber-fan of anything. And people are tribal, they like 'us and them', they like 'alliance OR horde'. If you don't pick a side, then you're not 'enough' anything.

    I've had similar issues with music. I happen to be very into live music, run my own gigs and help at festivals too. The fact that I will happily head bang for a few hours at a metal show in the same weekend as skanking in the ska tent, swooning over some rockabilly guys, and chilling out to reggae doesn't sit well with everyone. Nor does the fact that just because I like a subculture, doesn't mean I want to spend every day in band T-shirts, or say I love a whole album, when actually there's some gems and a lot of rubbish.

    • 'Geek'-next-Door says:

      (Part 2) WHAT DO WOMEN WANT?
      It really varies. I've been on dates with geeks, engineers, musicians, artists and outdoor sport instructors – and I wouldn't rule out some of the guys that I've met who wear suits to work either. I like intelligent and passion in a man (the fact that my boyfriends have all had specialist subjects was part of what attracted me), but also when they have the respect to ask you out 'properly' (be that a nice restaurant or a DIY picnic) that really helps.

      But other girls I know are REALLY into geeky guys, even if they aren't like that themselves. Is it bad for them to have that as their type? My friend I previously mentioned is more the skinny, pale type than the bronzed and buffed male underwear model, and yet he's been rather successful with girls. Some of my other male acquaintances are more conventionally attractive, and less niche in their interests, but have suffered from painful shyness around women, there's no hard and fast rule. Plus MOST women I know will put personality over looks. That isn't to say they'll date a man they find unattractive (and they shouldn't feel pressurized to do so). But I, and women I know, have had boyfriends who they felt initially ambivalent to, looks-wise, but who they fell for (and grew attracted to) based on personality. It's not a myth.

      WHEN SHOULD YOU APPROACH THEM?
      Again, no hard and fast rules. It's usually predermined on mood. If you're in a rubbish mood, or stressed and busy, or simply not looking, then being chatted up will rub you up the wrong way. I've lost count of the number of times I've been approached by guys and thinking 'really? now? but I'm dressed like a slob and my hairs a mess!' Usually it's flattering, as long as they are sweet about it and not overly pushy or creepy (complimenting hairstyle, book I'm reading or something else non-sexual is fine – if we don't know each other, keep your opinions or my bum to yourself haha!)

      But when I'm really focused on finishing my emails for an upcoming gig I'm organising, and the only reason I'm IN the pub is to use the wifi and enjoy a cheeky pint of Hobgoblin (glass of dark beer) then I'm sorry you're inconviencing me. So if a women looks busy, not the best time.

      HOWEVER – PRO-TIP: Most women will actually give you signals if they want to be approached. We generally realise that males are visual creatures, and so will present ourselves in a more visually attention-grabbing way if we want your attention. But it's more complicated than that…
      If you see a girl in a convention (or indeed a night club) is the skimpy costume/dress she's wearing MORE visually arresting than her usual attire? (She may wear mini-skirts everyday, and therefore this is normal, not 'look at me'). She may also want attention, but in a general way (i.e. 'I just got dumped, and my ex is dating a different geek who's boobs are bigger than mine – am I even attractive anymore? Oh yay, that guy LOOKED at me!', Or 'my friends get more attention than me in class, and I'll never match their grades, at least I can pull this leia outfit off! Or even 'EVERYONE – LOOK AND MY MIGHTY COSTUME MAKING PROWESS – I have tracked down the rarest of materials and fashioned an epic creation worthy of GODS!' – Often both women and men express insecurity by trying to outdo one another, we all know this.)

      OR, and this is the kicker… She may be crying out for male attention, she may be flaunting herself for all to see in the hope that a guy will come over and ask her out. But that guy may not be you. Just as there's sometimes girls that are into you but it's not mutual. For whatever reason, she's fishing and you're not quite who she hoped would bite. Sorry, it sucks both ways – girls are equally crushed when they dress up for a guy to try just to find out he doesn't see them that way. Evolution tells women to attract mates visually, society reinforces that message, and the cosplay and conventions conspire to make the perfect conditions. However, rest assured that if she is looking for male attention at a convention, she is specially interested in nerd-attention – because a cheap minidress, a local nightclub, and alcohol to reduce inbitions is a HECK or a lot easier than slaving over an expensive costume, heading to a convention centre and basically standing sober your underwear in the cold light of day (just imagine!)

      • 'Geek'-next-Door says:

        CONCLUSION – SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
        I'll break it down, but I make no garentees:
        1) See a lady who you like
        2) Check – does this look like a bad time?
        3) If not, go over and approach her, as other commentators have said, like a normal person. Converse about a topic to hand – that could very well be her costume, but keep it tasteful (remarks about how accurate it is, or how much effort it clearly took would be fine – for God's sake keep eye-contact). One compliment is enough to get started, if you give her another, it should be sincere and based on what she just said (i.e. 'no way! I didn't know that!', asking for recommendations are good – show you value her opinion, intelligence, kindness or humour as appropriate)
        4) Read her body language – You're an adult, you should pick up on this easily, but a few reminders: People turn their feet/hips towards what their most interested in at the time, this is a good first sign, as if if they mirror your body language. Generally, women naturally shift their body language to appear smaller if flirting, while men do the the opposite by puffing out their chest etc. In heterosexual sexual interactions, the subconcious drive is to emphasize the difference between genders.
        5) Don't be overly pushy. Never make unasked physical contact the first time you meet someone (depending on circumstances, you could make the first move on a date, but at this stage it would be presumptuous). Also, beware moving too close and backing her into a corner, sounds silly, by you are probably bigger than her and it's easy to be unintentionally intimidating.
        6) No means no. If she senses your interest is more than platonic and says no thanks, then push the issue. Ideally, the conversation has meant you're still interested in potentailly becoming friends (or at least carrying on the conversation), and if so be honest and say so. It's fine to say 'fair enough, you are pretty but guess that dinner invitation wouldn't work, but you're more than welcome to join my friends and I for a drink later, they'd love to hear about xyz' or whatever. The rudest thing you can do if she's been polite and friendly is walk away as soon as you realise you're not getting any. That makes a women feel her only value is physical, most women have had it happen and it hurts. (Note: if you become friends, you may actually become more than friends later. It's too early to tell, and don't have that as your goal, if she grows to see you that way it will happen organically just by getting to know you.)
        7) Take it further. If all the signals appear to be there and you're genuinely getting along, ask her out. But not necessarily dinner. If depends on the situation and the individuals what is appropriate. The safest bet is usually a coffee as it's casual. Make it clear that you've listened ('I need to go now, but maybe we can talk about xyz more over a coffee sometime?') Give her your details or swap cards or something. If you ask for her number it can put pressure on some people as they lose control over if/when to contact you.
        [Bonus tip: the best second dates are activities. Over coffee talk about an interest of yours that she hasn't experienced and offer to show her - my last boyfriend took me rock-climbing and if worked brilliantly as a second date - less formal than dinner, allowed him to show off a skill, and let us both see each other in a new environment.]

        Above all, don't stress. Women are people too, if they take a liking to you they'll be just as nervous as you are, and really excited that you approached them. If they don't fancy you but you get along, they you'll have made a new friend. If they're rude back, then you know they aren't worth your time in any capacity, and you won't go home thinking 'if only I'd talked to the hot cosplayer girl'!

        Best of luck guys, hope you all meet someone lovely :) x

  37. 'Geek'-next-Door says:

    (Part 3) CONCLUSION – SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
    I'll break it down, but I make no garentees:
    1) See a lady who you like
    2) Check – does this look like a bad time?
    3) If not, go over and approach her, as other commentators have said, like a normal person. Converse about a topic to hand – that could very well be her costume, but keep it tasteful (remarks about how accurate it is, or how much effort it clearly took would be fine – for God's sake keep eye-contact). One compliment is enough to get started, if you give her another, it should be sincere and based on what she just said (i.e. 'no way! I didn't know that!', asking for recommendations are good – show you value her opinion, intelligence, kindness or humour as appropriate)
    4) Read her body language – You're an adult, you should pick up on this easily, but a few reminders: People turn their feet/hips towards what their most interested in at the time, this is a good first sign, as if if they mirror your body language. Generally, women naturally shift their body language to appear smaller if flirting, while men do the the opposite by puffing out their chest etc. In heterosexual sexual interactions, the subconcious drive is to emphasize the difference between genders.
    5) Don't be overly pushy. Never make unasked physical contact the first time you meet someone (depending on circumstances, you could make the first move on a date, but at this stage it would be presumptuous). Also, beware moving too close and backing her into a corner, sounds silly, by you are probably bigger than her and it's easy to be unintentionally intimidating.
    6) No means no. If she senses your interest is more than platonic and says no thanks, then push the issue. Ideally, the conversation has meant you're still interested in potentailly becoming friends (or at least carrying on the conversation), and if so be honest and say so. It's fine to say 'fair enough, you are pretty but guess that dinner invitation wouldn't work, but you're more than welcome to join my friends and I for a drink later, they'd love to hear about xyz' or whatever. The rudest thing you can do if she's been polite and friendly is walk away as soon as you realise you're not getting any. That makes a women feel her only value is physical, most women have had it happen and it hurts. (Note: if you become friends, you may actually become more than friends later. It's too early to tell, and don't have that as your goal, if she grows to see you that way it will happen organically just by getting to know you.)
    7) Take it further. If all the signals appear to be there and you're genuinely getting along, ask her out. But not necessarily dinner. If depends on the situation and the individuals what is appropriate. The safest bet is usually a coffee as it's casual. Make it clear that you've listened ('I need to go now, but maybe we can talk about xyz more over a coffee sometime?') Give her your details or swap cards or something. If you ask for her number it can put pressure on some people as they lose control over if/when to contact you.
    [Bonus tip: the best second dates are activities. Over coffee talk about an interest of yours that she hasn't experienced and offer to show her - my last boyfriend took me rock-climbing and if worked brilliantly as a second date - less formal than dinner, allowed him to show off a skill, and let us both see each other in a new environment.]

    Above all, don't stress. Women are people too, if they take a liking to you they'll be just as nervous as you are, and really excited that you approached them. If they don't fancy you but you get along, they you'll have made a new friend. If they're rude back, then you know they aren't worth your time in any capacity, and you won't go home thinking 'if only I'd talked to the hot cosplayer girl'!

    Best of luck guys, hope you all meet someone lovely :) x

  38. If Ryan was really a "geek" he would have said 7 in the real world, 9 in cons, to make the pun "7 of 9"…just sayin.

  39. In all honesty I think that "geeks" from when they were young were ridiculed for being geeks, and now that it's become popular and mainstream, they feel threatened and feel like they have to defend their "geekdom" from the outsiders trying to peek in. Like some of the same people who used to bully geeks are now becoming geeks themselves and that doesn't sit right with those who were bullied.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] melodramatic whinge about women who dare to be beautiful and go to cons, with nice rebuttals here and here.  Also relevant is the (idiotic) Idiot Nerd Girl meme and the quest to reclaim [...]

  2. [...] Look, geek men. We’re all tired of saying this. [...]

  3. [...] This piece from July by Dr. Nerdlove on “Fake” Geek Girls predates the current hoohah but sums up many things: The “fake” geek girl is the nerd [...]

  4. [...] cool and hip now to be “geek-chic” and that there is even a movement out there against “faux geek girls.”  Basically, if you claim to love comic books and video games and geek culture, but haven’t [...]

  5. […] bullying is linked to misogyny: if women are “not sexy enough” for the male gaze, misogynists feel they somehow “d… [This is rape culture.] We have to fight misogyny at all levels of society as well as in […]

  6. […] là que pour décorer, pour être un objet sexuel  jetable ? De la même façon que l’étiquette « fake geek girl », c’est devenu une façon de plus de minimiser et marginaliser les femmes, les empêchant de […]

  7. […] Profesionales del cómic como Breth Booth y sus fans se quejaron de que aquello era una calumnia porque Asselin no se mostraba adecuadamente reverente y ello implicaba que no era una profesional del cómic de verdad… […]

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