Paging Dr. NerdLove Episode #09: Faux Geek Girls, Posers and Booth Babes

Everybody seems to be on the look out for “fake” geek girls and attention whores… but why? Are there that many posers in geek circles? Why do geeks have this paradoxical fetish for and fear of geek girls?

This week, Dr. NerdLove talks with Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Cara Ellison about geek girls, the need for booth hunks and what nerds and geeks can do to make fandom a more welcoming place for women… without making them feel like potential dates or eye-candy.
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  • Bunny

    The main thing I think female geeks dislike about the "fake geek girls" is the way they tend to brag about using men. (at least the ones I've known) I've actually talked to a girl who would brag about "never having to pay for anything" by using men at cons to buy her things. Those of us who are there to actually socialize honestly kind of feel annoyed that we see these girls using their bodies to abuse men's wallets. I guess it's the same distaste for "mooches" only with additional distaste for giving decent women a bad rap.

    Of course there is also the extended version of that, which I've seen happen three different times with friends, where a girl would pretend to be into the geeky stuff until they manage to get the guy hooked into a relationship, then manipulate the guy to give up all of his geek friends and geek activities and geek stuff. They didn't share the interest to begin with, but just wanted to land a meal ticket and then "fix" him to be what she wanted. The guys end up miserable and usually losing everything by complying, or in the divorce.

    Just a thought.

    • Mel

      That isn't something specific to geek culture, though, right? I mean, "gold diggers" who go after men by whatever means necessary for their money exist in various parts of society. That's what it's about, not some huge problem of fake geek girls. *All* people need to take heed of signs that people getting friendly with them aren't being genuine in their interest and just want to use them, not just geek guys.

    • First of all, I’m not really sure where you are finding these people, but it seems like the motive for these women you are describing is just not plausible. To pretend to enjoy a whole set of less-accessible interests just to get a boyfriend with those interests and then proceed to change them. That seems like way too much work. Way easier to pretend to like football and get a non-geeky guy.

      Secondly, this whole “poor unsuspecting geek guys” trope is kinda insulting to geeky guys. I would wager that these guys knew that these women were not into the same interests as them, but didn’t care all that much, because sometimes people are attracted to each other based on other factors besides a fanatical love of Doctor Who.

      Thirdly, I actually have an issue with this whole outrage against fake geek girls attitude, for two reasons:

      1. There are geeky girls that don’t look like geeky girls. Example: me. Some of us dress girly and wear makeup, and this attitude is really damaging to women who are not necessarily oozing geek all over the place, because when we try to engage our geeky interests, we are dismissed as “fake” or “just looking for male attention,” when we are genuinely participating in a hobby or interest that we’ve been into since our first growth spurt. This attitude creates a barrier for people who are possibly weekend geeks, or internal geeks, from participating in the culture, and it’s not ok. There is no ownership of geekdom, if you identify as a geek you are geek, and I shouldn’t have to prove my geek cred to anyone just because I happen to wear a skirt and flip flops to a summer expo (yes, I’ve been actually accosted and quizzed on my knowledge of various subjects).

      2. Back to to there is no ownership of geekdom. I’ve been a geek most of my life, but with the mainstream popularity of internet memes and anime and all sorts of snippets of geek culture that leaked into mainstream culture, there are bound to be people who are older and are just discovering new geeky interests. This wave of geek culture in mainstream media is bound to ignite the occasional dormant interest of non-geek women. Women who are new to geek events and cons and expos should not feel this animosity, rather we should engage and teach and accept new people. If you (or any of DNL’s readers) were picked on in school or excluded from some sort of social activity because you didn’t fit the image that social group was trying to project, when you label women who are trying to participate in the geek culture as “fake geek girls”, then you are doing the same exact thing, and it’s not ok. The reason I’ve always enjoyed being a geek is because of the camaraderie and the feeling of inclusion I got when I was around fellow geeks. The feeling of being free to say any old silly thing and not feel like someone is going to make fun of you (maliciously) or ostracize you, why are we withholding this feeling from new people trying to join in?

      • Mel

        Yes to all of this. The reasonable way to deal with exploitive people is to call those specific people on their behavior if they tell you about it. Not to start quizzing and being suspicious of/hostile to women with geek interests who aren't doing anything harmful.

        Consider that, even though the creepy behavior from men that gets discussed here is much more prevalent than gold-digging or what have you, women don't go around quizzing every guy who talks to them about how he handled his last five relationships and how he feels about boundaries–we see what the guys do, and only avoid the guys who are actually doing something creepy. By all means, if a women gives off a vibe like she's just trying to get you to buy things for her, avoid her–you don't have to assume her intentions are good any more than women need to assume a creepy-acting guy has good intentions. But don't be hostile to women who aren't doing anything more than wearing nice clothes or make-up and existing.

      • JonnyDero

        "First of all, I'm not really sure where you are finding these people, but it seems like the motive for these women you are describing is just not plausible. To pretend to enjoy a whole set of less-accessible interests just to get a boyfriend with those interests and then proceed to change them. That seems like way too much work. Way easier to pretend to like football and get a non-geeky guy."

        And yet, I personally know faux geek girls – and for that matter, REAL geek girls – who do this. Not many, and it seems a rarity, thank God, but it happens; and the excuse is always the same. "I can't GET a non-geeky guy, I can't get a normal guy! A geek is the best I can do!"

        I know geeky guys who've gone through this; I've experienced this myself. Women who admit they hate 'teh Dragons and Dungeons' but who soldier on through because they 'don't have a choice' – or in one memorable case, as I was told, 'I date geeks because they're all love starved nerds, who'll do anything you want. Normal guys want you to DO stuff in return!'.

        Like I said, it's a rare thing and there aren't a lot of women out there like this. But, never underestimate to what lengths a golddigger with low self esteem will go, to get a boyfriend.

  • Faith is the woman form Mirror's Edge i think

    • Dr_NerdLove

      Thanks. That was going to drive me crazy.

  • Jamie

    The idea of women having to "prove" themselves to men to demonstrate that they really do enjoy the interests they say doesn't only exist in geek culture. My best friend loves football and mentioned it as one of her interests in front of her college class. As soon as she said this, five guys in her class jumped on her for it. They asked her if her favorite team was her boyfriend's, too; how many points does a touchdown count for; if she only likes the Patriots for Tom Brady. She then rattled off countless stats about football and actual reasons why the Patriots were her favorite team. The guys were impressed and quickly shut up. This idea that if a man likes something, it's accepted, and if a woman likes something, she has to prove it, seems to be apart of almost every "male-dominated" culture today.

    • Manny

      I dunno man, this whole "Geeky Guys are acceptable" is relatively recent stuff too
      I mean, my habit of being a huge video game enthusiast was criticized a lot by my family, friends and romantic interests
      people made so much fun of me for being a nerd in middle school, that my main goal throughout high school was to pretend to be like everyone else and never talk about my hobby.

      • That's not quite the same thing, though. You felt as if your hobby wasn't accepted by outsiders. Women who have geeky interests get that to some extent too, plus they have the additional issue of having to prove themselves to people who should be part of their own community.

    • R.Gagnon

      "This idea that if a man likes something, it's accepted, and if a woman likes something, she has to prove it, seems to be apart of almost every "male-dominated" culture today."

      Yea-well said. There's this really interesting article that explored female fans in Football Fandom. Basically there's been a lot of backlash against female fans, as though they there only to attract men by playing the part of the quintessential hot tomboy Betty (Archie comics) so-to-speak. You know, the women who can drink beer with you, fix cars, and look hot doing it. Anyways, the researcher interviewed a shitload of women who called themselves football fans, and found that they (obviously) weren't there for the dudes. Shocking. They were impassioned about the sport, had loud debates over plays, wore their team's colours, etc. They had some really interesting things to say about the idea that they had to prove themselves as "real" football fans. This whole policing of people's level of "fan-ish" is so bizarre, I try to track the article down-I think I read it on JSTOR.

      As you said, this whole issue of women having to "prove" themselves in arenas believed to be dominated by men definitely isn't limited to geek fandom unfortunately (although, I suppose geekery can maybe include hardcore sports fans as well- "basement fantasy baseball" anyone?). Female metalheads used to have to justify their presence (a way to prevent themselves from getting sexually harassed) at concerts by wearing the standard black t-shirt and jeans, and downplaying their femininity to show that they weren't women, no-they were metalheads. A distinction male fans never had to make for themselves (probably because of the high machismo in metalhead culture). A&E did a documentary on women in male-run gangs ("Gangsta girls") where they explored two main groups of women associated with LA gangs. There were the girlfriends of gang members who wore a lot of makeup and tight clothes, and the female gang members who dressed like their male peers, walked like them (walked like they had brass balls), dropped their voices, and overall, looked like men. These women had to prove themselves through their style, but also through really aggressive acts (more so than they guys) to justify their positions. But geek fandom is different (I'd like to think), it's a world that is supposed to be based on acceptance and openminded-ness, and the fact that people give such a shit about the validity of another person's interest in fandom is so sick to me.

  • progSHELL

    What I object to most about the booth babes is the idea that I’m supposed to be enthralled by a conventionally attractive woman dressed in very little clothing. It’s not 1933, so pictures of pretty women with their clothes off aren’t hard to come by. The artifice of it just turns me off (see also: strip clubs.)

    Now, I think that the Fake Geek Girl thing is mostly bullshit, especially if you are at a convention. Why would you hang around with people you have nothing in common with for days on end. However, I feel that porn stars do have a reason to embellish their geekyness. I’ve got no proof, but a porn star posting “I love Star Wars guys” seems more like a calculated buisness move than anything else.

  • Thank you for remembering Beyond Good & Evil; I cosplay as Jade (hi, Gen Con Indy goers!), and maybe a dozen people out of several thousand will even recognize who she is.

    • Dr_NerdLove

      Beyond Good and Evil is one of my favorite games from the first Xbox. It's a shame it never really got the recognition it deserved.

  • Vic

    So, Cara Ellison thinks we should not believe a woman's specifically, explicitly stated feelings on a particular matter simply because they are not the feelings Cara Ellison thinks they should have. Instead, we should assume the woman is only saying those things because she is being coerced, paid, or brainwashed. That's disgusting.

    DNL, would you have let a man get away with saying something like that?

    • Dunbar

      What the hell are you even referring to in the podcast?

      • Vic

        Listen to the part where they talk about the "motorboating" incident.

    • Dr_NerdLove

      Would you have believed it if a man said it?

      • Vic

        No. No more than when a woman said it. Because I believe that , absent some specific evidence to the contrary, when a woman says something, that's what she means.

  • KMR

    I believe that the "geek" title should be something that one gives oneself, not something that one has to earn from someone else based on some arbitrary standard. If a person feels a strong enough interest in something (or multiple somethings) that they choose to call themselves a geek over it, then they are a geek. There's no magic formula or rubric that says, "You must have X of the following interests, and you must know Y pieces of trivia about each of them in order to qualify as a 'true' geek." Or at least, there damn well shouldn't be.

  • Hugh Myron

    Nobody resents "geek girls." I know many female gamers, and I'm totally fine with them.

    When people say they resent them, what they mean is that they resent women who are sluts with controllers. Women who may nominally be interested in games, but actually just use it to get attention and free advertising.

    Mostly, this includes people such as Felicia Day, Olivia Munn, etc, but I'm sure everyone knows a female in their group of gamers who just uses games to get sexual validation.

  • JonnyDero

    So here's the thing.

    "Why do geeks have the paradoxical fear and lust at the same time for geek girls', to paraphrase you. Why? Because, most nerds and geeks have been exposed to the girl who fakes attention and fakes affection for a geek, in order to get what she wants.

    As stated by another of the commenters above – gold diggers. It's that simple. Or whatever you want to call them.

    And no, I'm not saying all geek girls are fake, or are gold diggers; that is not at all anything I'd ever suggest. But there are fake geek girls – let's call them geek sluts, or geek teases – who are in this because, and I'm actually quoting one who just told me the truth, once: "You're a bunch of love-starved nerds and you'll do whatever I want, and buy me anything I ask for."

    And like I said… I think enough geeks have had that experience in the past. And in the past the geek slut, the gold digger, was a little easier to spot, for there being so few girls in the room, as it were.

    Now, that the fandoms and fan bases, conventions and such are more open, accessible, and have more girls that are actual geeks in their own right, and actually interested in the media, well, regardless, we naturally flinch a bit when a cute girl appears out of nowhere and tells zit-faced, bad-posture geek guys like us 'oh wow, you are so. Sexy."

    It's hard to tell, sometimes, the nice geek girls from the sluts who are looking for a easy mark and a sucker, so yeah. We're a bit cautious and that's what's being said here. I'm not saying 'Gurls out of the clubhouse!'

    … I'm saying to the gold diggers, what in one fandom a friend of mine calls the 'furry sluts': "No, I'm not a target, I'm not your sugar daddy, and I'm not an easy mark and no, you're not moving in with me. So fuck off."

    (The girls who actually like LOTR, Battlestar Galactica, gaming or what have you: Well.. er, don't read the preceding. It's not about you at all.)