This is the week that I decide to alienate more than half of my audience. But it needs to be said:
Don’t date Geek Girls.
That’s right. I went there.
OK, I can already hear the fingers clicking as you write me pissed off e-mails and click the “back” button on your browser, but stick with me here, I swear I’m going somewhere with this and it’s not where you think.
Geek culture is a reactionary bundle of self-contradictions. Because nerds and geeks are frequently ostracized, you end up with a culture that insists that “ostraciziation is ZOMGEVILZ.” Yet, at the same time, because of this very same culture is one of the most insular you might find; non-geeks are derisively referred to as “mundanes”; anyone criticizing a geek is “just like those jocks/cheerleaders/bitchy girls that made high-school hell for everyone”. Geeks foster and maintain the idea that nerds as a collective whole are better, more moral, more open minded and more socially accepting people. This tendency towards withdrawing into themselves extends into all aspects of their lives. It’s notoriously difficult to pull a geek outside of his comfort zone; the world hates and fears him, therefore why should he have anything to do with the world outside of the tiny slice that values him. However, geeks, like all other creatures, crave love, acceptance, intimacy and companionship. At the same time however, they fear the rejection from the opposite sex. Geeks have an unfortunate tendency to be poorly socialized outside of their own peer group, which makes finding a relationship even more difficult. Women are already arousing and intimidating objects of desire in geek culture; trying to socialize with them is venturing in to true terra incognita and there be dragons. Enter the cult of the Geek Girl.
Who Is The Geek Girl?
It’s worth noting that the Geek Girl is different from a girl who is a geek.The Geek Girl is the culmination of geek fantasies. She’s the one with the Triforce tattooed on one wrist and the 1-Up mushroom on the other. She’s the one the thick-framed cat-eye glasses and the purple bobbed hair. She’s wearing a Can’t Stop The Signal tee, knee-length socks, a Hogwarts sweater (Gryffindor House, of course), a pleated mini-skirt and white Chuck Taylors with Pac-Man hand painted onto them. She’s the one toting around the Naruto-branded messenger bag with a copies of Watchmen, Blankets and Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men sticking out the top. She’s waiting in line for the midnight release for Halo 4 and Kingdom Hearts Posterior Aphasia. She’s clutzy in an endearing way, she wants you to protect her and yet she still wants to fuck your brains out. She’s the living personification of a checklist of desirable traits, all crammed into one person. And she only exists in geeks’ minds.
She’s Beautiful. She’s Perfect. She’s A Convenient Excuse.
You see, geeks fear rejection. It’s not terribly surprising; scientists have recently discovered that social rejection activates the same receptors in the brain that physical damage does. Rejection literally hurts. What’s more, when you put yourself and your heart out on the line her rejecting you can feel like a judgement of everything about you. When you combine this feeling of someone denying everything that you are with the social ostracism and humiliation that geeks have often experienced, it’s small wonder that geeks can turn this fear of rejection into a full-blown phobia. And when you’re absolutely terrified of women, when your heart begins to pound and your body begins to shake at the very thought of trying to ask a girl out on a date… well, what better way to avoid ever having to face that scenario is there than to invent a collection of traits and personality quirks that come together so rarely as to be almost non-existant? Now you’re not afraid to approach women, you’re just discerning. You have standards. You don’t want any old girl, you want one who owns a modded Sega Saturn who plays all of the Lunar RPGs in the original Japanese! Who needs to fear women when the one you’re really waiting for isn’t going to show up at the comic book store next week anyway?
She Means You Never Have to Leave Your Own Little World
One of the most common stereotypes of the modern geek is someone whose social skills are next to non-existant; they can’t maintain a conversation about topics that aren’t science fiction, space opera, urban fantasy, video games, computers or comic books. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth to this idea. Geeks tend to focus on their interests with such laser-like intensity that they don’t often devote much time or study to anything outside their immediate sphere. They tend to be loners and introverts and uncomfortable in large social gatherings or with new people. Their early experiences with being taunted, humiliated and judged by others leads them to prefer the company of their fellow geeks almost exclusively; they have their niche and they’re quite happy there, thank you very much. Because of their own self-imposed isolation, geeks can find that their social skills have dwindled to the point that they have difficulty holding a normal conversation with anyone, never mind women. When they run out of the typical ten questions – who are you, what do you do, where did you grow up, etc. they find themselves at a complete loss as to how to proceed. And God forbid she asks about you… how do you explain to someone that you enjoy cartoons and graphic novels without coming across as another case of arrested development? Good God, what if she likes sports?! But hey! Why risk the anxiety of not knowing how to continue a conversation when you know you already have all the same interests in common? The Geek Girl represents safety. She represents familiarity. Dating a Geek Girl would mean that you wouldn’t have to stress out over those awkward moments where you try to find common ground. She wouldn’t find your collection of anime maquettes juvenille, she’d want to know where you got that awesome Kotobuki Tsugumi Bunny PVC, she’s been trying to find one for months! She’ll be enchanted by your stories about how your guild was the first to raid the Lich-King. You can wow her with your knowledge of Joss Whedon quotes and Pixar trivia! Why spend all that pesky time building social skills and learning how to talk to people outside your group when the perfect woman will alreadybe part of your world?
And hey, who needs to spend time and effort on romance? Who needs a romantic dinner or a hike down to a beautiful lake when you can bond over taking out Hunters and Boomers in Left 4 Dead 2? Bonding is so much easier when you can just talk about video games and comic books instead of having to sweat out finding what you have in common!
She’s An Object To Be Worshiped
A Geek Girl isn’t just a girl, she’s a goddess. She’s a vision of perfection. She’s gone beyond something approachable and now she’s this ultimate being that you can’t believe exists. At one point in her life she was the cute girl you saw at the comic store having a conversation with the clerk about Warren Ellis… but now she represents everything you wish you could find in a woman. She is utterly, incomprehensibly flawless. She doesn’t so much as poop, fart, menstruate or scratch herself. She doesn’t snort when she laughs. Her hair is always perfect, even right when she wakes up in the morning. She doesn’t snore at night. She will never call you names. She will never think that your love of comics is childish. She’ll love you because of your love for the Tom Baker era Dr. Who. She will make all your dreams come true.
She is now what you will compare all other women to. She is the Platonic Ideal and all other women around are just the shadows flickering on the cave walls.
If only you could, y’know. Talk to her.
The best part is, that the Geek Girl will make your life better. After all, being “in love” with this geek Goddess elevates you. You’re no longer just a guy who’s a little awkward around women, a guy who hasn’t had much experience when it comes to adult relationships. Now you’re a man on an holy quest! You are off to conquer the unconquerable and become the one to boldly go where nobody has gone before and find the secret to her heart. Worshiping her, orbiting around her like a trapped asteroid, the tortured nights alone in your room crying the manly tears of unrequited love… these are all part of the epic saga of you.
She Is Not A Person.
The Geek Girl that you’ve been talking about, the one you tell your friends is all you want, the one you insist that is the only one you’ll date… she’s not a person to you. Not really. She’s a fetish, an object. The obsessive love of the Geek Girl isn’t, at it’s base, any different from having a fetish for Asians or Latinas or African-Americans. She isn’t a woman now, she is the exotic other.
The fetishization of the Geek Girl is, at it’s core, a sexist ideal cloaked in the soft tyranny of “worship” and fantasy. By elevating her to the status of Goddess you may think you are paying her the ultimate compliment when instead all you are doing is denying her her own personhood. A girl who is a geek is a woman with all the flaws and imperfections that come with being human. The Geek Girl is a female-shaped collection of ideas, stereotypes and idealized fantasies about what you want in a woman… only without all of the downsides of being a real person. She has a life and interests, desires and experiences. The Geek Girl is defined by two things: her status as a geek and by the man who loves her.
The Geek Girl is, in the end, all about the guy. The purpose of the Geek Girl is ultimately, to validate the man’s existence and interests. By being the beautiful pinnacle of womanhood and a geek, she affirms that – despite society’s prejudicies – that he is, in fact, cool for being a geek. She retroactively transforms all of the scorn and humiliation that he faced for having interests outside of the mainstream into the trials that beset the righteous man by the ignorant who were jealous of his specialness. She eliminates the need to grow outside of his comfort zone because she shares them exactly. And because she is so pure, so perfect, she transforms him from being a castigated loser to a noble gallant lover, a man who’s specialness won the heart of the Goddess.
Ultimately, the Geek Girl is the supporting actress in the movie that is the geek guy’s life. He is the sun that her existence orbits around.
And in the end, if the man is actually able to acquire this Geek Girl, this nerd Goddess? He doesn’t want her.
Y’see, after all of that time and effort building the Geek Girl into a perfect being, he has completely ignored all of her flaws. He’s mentally airbrushed away all of the parts of her that he just doesn’t want to see. He’s convinced himself that he’s in love with an impossible fantasy, something that no woman could ever be in real life. When reality comes crashing in, as it always does, the illusion is shattered and that perfect Geek Girl is revealed to be disappointingly human. Suddenly he’s confronted with the fact that he was never in love with her as a person, just an ideal that only ever existed in his head and he does the only thing he can do: he runs away from the reality and goes back to looking for his fantasy, ignoring the pain and insult he’s left behind.
Let me be perfectly clear: I am not telling you to never date girls who are geeks. I am saying that you need to go into your relationship with your eyes open to reality, and to embrace that flawed, imperfect, all-too-human geeky girl for exactly who and what she is and not a fantasy that she could never achieve.