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I Am Not a Fake Geek Girl

What does that even mean, fake geek girl? This term gets thrown around by pimply adolescents and man-boys alike. (Because if you feel the need to put down a woman for not fitting your mental Ramona Flowers fantasy, you are not a grown man.) Just to clarify, no one has called me this to my face, but it happens to other women all the time. And sometimes, the perpetrator is a fellow woman!

But I’m sure I fit the bill for anyone who likes flinging that epithet about.

Not a Fake Geek Girl

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is one of my all-time favorites, but I found the books tediously boring. Tolkien wrote them for the linguistics, not to entertain his readers. I love what J.J. Abrams is doing with the rebooted Star Trek franchise, but I have no patience with the bad special effects of the original series. Out of all of the TV versions I saw because my dad enjoyed them, TNG is the one I liked. Oh, and Star Wars? I prefer the prequels to the original trilogy because, again, I have little tolerance for old school film tech. And I loved Attack of the Clones. Even with the terrible chemistry and even worse dialogue between Anakin and Amidala. (Heck yeah, speeder chase!)

Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones

I am a total Wheel of Time fangirl, but I’ve never read Dune. Despite Tom’s efforts to the contrary. I didn’t read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games until they were popular.

I don’t watch Doctor Who. I thought Firefly was just okay.

My favorite console game is Wii Fit Plus. The only MMO I’ve ever played is World of Warcraft. I’m completely addicted to it, but it’s really the only non-casual video game I like to play. Plants vs Zombies and Words with Friends don’t generally qualify as “real gamer” cred either.

Plants vs Zombies 2 Screenshot

And when playing dice-and-paper roleplaying games, my characters tend to be Ultra Female. In Dark Heresy, I played the only real female class, the Sisters of Battle. My first Sister died after sacrificing her virtue to obtain information for the group. My second Sister (since my first one was killed) used her feminine wiles as aptly as her bolt pistol. When playing a Star Wars campaign, my character was a pampered holovid starlet. My mage in World of Darkness was gorgeous and independently wealthy. And she was totally crushing on her equally beautiful mentor. (Yes, they got together.)


Kari Swift-ChristinaGleason by urasei on deviantART

I haven’t read any comic books. My entire knowledge of the Marvel Universe has come to me via screens large and small.

So there you have it. My geek cred isn’t over the top. I don’t like all of the geeky things that Real Geeks are supposed to like. Should I confess that I’m just a pretender when I call myself a geek?

Well, that’s not going to happen. I got my “geek cred” the hard way, being called a geek and a nerd all throughout school. I got picked on for my lack of fashion sense and for being a favorite of many of my teachers. I read science fiction after I outgrew The Babysitters Club. But I came late to the party when it came to owning my geekiness. I just wanted to fit in when I was in school – and geeks weren’t chic until years after I graduated.

I am a geek, and I will proudly call myself a geek. After all, the dictionary defines a geek as:

: a person who is socially awkward and unpopular : a usually intelligent person who does not fit in with other people

: a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity

…And I’m nothing if not socially awkward! And intelligent, thank you very much.

And you know what? No one has the right to call me or anyone else a fake geek girl. If a woman self-identifies as a geek, she has her reasons. She is not fake because she doesn’t happen to like the same geeky things as you do. So quit it.

Update: This post is not actually supposed to be about me. As I said, no one had ever really called me a fake geek girl – until the comments section here. I used myself as an example to illustrate the point I was trying to make: let’s stop being dismissive about other people’s identities. If someone says they identify as a geek (or a gamer, or a whatever) it’s not any of our business to rain on their parade.

P.S. Thanks for the traffic, despite the ill intent of many of your visits. My analytics look great, and you help prove the point I was making about judgmental people.


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Christina Gleason (836 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I’m a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the care of a psychiatrist, who assures me that people in therapy are often better adjusted than “normal” people who are not, because at least we know what our issues are and are working on them. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead. I have started writing no fewer than five novels, and I hope to finish one of them...eventually.

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{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Who knows, dude May 19, 2014, 5:40 pm

    I hate to leave a “negative” first comment… But I feel like pointing out a few things here.

    “Geeks” aren’t celebrated today for their social anxiety, or their intelligence. “Geeks” are celebrated for the stuff they actually do; Creating movies, being good at video games, who knows.
    This is the same as every other “label” – Save for a few. We label people for the things they DO for other people. Sure, a “skateboarder” may be stereotypically care-free – But we don’t regard someone as a skateboarder just because they’re care free. We consider someone a skateboarder if they skateboard – Nothing else!

    I notice you used a dictionary definition of “geek.” This is highly problematic, as people don’t use the word geek in the same way it’s written in the dictionary – It’s a colloquialism, and will change over time.

    A word of advice: Instead of trying to pigeon-hole yourself into a “nerd” or “geek” sub-culture – try actually doing something! I see that you’ve written an article – Congratulations, You’re a writer!

    Seriously – You are what you do. You aren’t a geek, because you (from the this article) haven’t demonstrated anything geeky about yourself. You are, however, a writer! Continue to write about stuff!

    See how labels work?

    • Christina Gleason May 19, 2014, 8:48 pm

      Wow, you can certainly be condescending when you want to, “dude.” I’m not a writer because I wrote “an article.” I’m a writer because companies hire me to write for theirs websites. And I’m not a geek because I used a few hundred words to describe some of the things that I get ragged on about by other geeks, I’m a geek for a variety of reasons that would take up entirely too much space to enumerate in a single blog post. (And likely bore people.) I do plenty. Writing a Warhammer 40k novella-length fanfic, running a successful WoW guild, and having written a popular LOST theory blog back in the day… I was trying to avoid the humble-brag thing, but here I go getting all defensive because someone is wrong on the Internet.

      And no, geeks are not necessarily celebrated for what they “do,” even though many geeks “do” plenty. There are plenty of geeks who never really “do” anything outside their little circle of friends. Not everyone has the talent to create or be particularly outstanding at whatever things they are passionate about. You can read comic books in your basement for years at a time and be a comic book geek; you don’t have to pen your own comics or star in YouTube videos where you squee over the latest developments in the Marvel (or DC) universe.

      If you can “geek out” over one of your passions with another fan, you’re a geek, I’m not going to tell you otherwise.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go join a discussion about how the latest episode of Game of Thrones totally ruined the Eyrie scene that played so much better in the books. ;-)

      • Who knows, dude May 19, 2014, 10:04 pm

        I never stated that a geek needed to be creative, or publicized.
        The bottom line is this – You are what you do.

        If you do “geeky” stuff, then you’re a geek. You chose to write (Congrats, you’re a writer – regardless of whether you are hired/paid) an article, where you did little to demonstrate your geek-dom, but clearly attempted to defend it.

        You also managed to straw-man me with some of this:
        ” You can read comic books in your basement for years at a time and be a comic book geek; you don’t have to pen your own comics or star in YouTube videos where you squee over the latest developments in the Marvel (or DC) universe. ”
        -Note: I never claimed that geeks had to publicize, sell, or get creative – Reading comics is DOING. Watching a film is doing. Hell, your response features a couple of things you’ve DONE (Notice the theme?) that are geeky – an obvious (but necessary) demonstration of your geekhood.

        Really though – Why didn’t you include the Warhammer 40K novella fact as part of your article? You are what you do. You are what you do. You are what you do.

        I wouldn’t call myself a writer, because I don’t often write for pleasure (I’ve never been paid to write, either). I don’t call myself a geek either – I don’t feel as though I partake in many “geeky” activities.

        You are what you do. You are what you do. You are what you do.You are what you do. You are what you do. You are what you do.You are what you do. You are what you do. You are what you do.

        • Christina Gleason May 19, 2014, 10:30 pm

          “Really though – Why didn’t you include the Warhammer 40K novella fact as part of your article?”

          Honestly? I’d forgotten about it. I was reminded when I checked out my deviantART account this evening. And it wasn’t supposed to be about proving my own geek cred…it was about not stomping on anyone else’s identity.

        • flootzavut August 26, 2014, 11:09 am

          If you are so determined to say “you are what you do” and somehow disqualify the writer as being a geek because of that, I can’t help but wonder if you read the article properly.

          I ended up here via a post about how the fake geek girl thing is less about the fake and more about the girl when it comes to gatekeepers to fandom. I don’t know the writer any more than any random person does who stumbles across this. But I can pick out a whole litany of geekish behaviour in this piece.

          Just in passing – in fact, in pointing out the things about which some might say she is not geeky enough (and going by your definition of “you are what you do” including things like reading comics as opposed to writing them) – these are things she mentioned which would be considered geeky either by self professed geeks or by onlookers:

          - she watched and loved the LOTR trilogy, the ST reboots, liked TNG, watched Star Wars (no matter how much the purists may side eye anyone who prefers the prequels: for the record, I don’t think they’re as bad as they’re made out to be but give me the original trilogy any day), as well as Marvel on film and TV
          - she has read The Hunger Games and HP – just not till they’d already become popular
          - she plays and is addicted to WoW, and has also played dice-and-paper RPGs
          - she was smart in school, read(s?) sci-fi, and is socially awkward.
          - SHE SELF IDENTIFIES AS A GEEK.

          I saved the most important till last, but seriously, this was an article written about all the ways she isn’t geeky “enough” by some estimations, about why she might be called a fake geek girl, and I still managed to pick out a whole bunch of geeky behaviour from it. Ironically, the kind of behaviour that many of us (because yes, I am a geek girl too) got teased about and vilified for before being a geek became cool.

          Her follow up comments clearly reveal that the geekiness noted in the article isn’t the full measure of her geekiness, any more than this one article is the full measure of her writerliness, but if you read this article and managed to miss all the geeky qualities she does exhibit, that says more about your reading comprehension skills than about her right to self identify as a geek.

          So maybe you should get over yourself, stop being so patronising, and quit policing how other people ID themselves, hmmm??? And maybe you should read articles properly in future before commenting. Sheesh.

  • Erica Stanley May 20, 2014, 7:24 am

    This is really great. I think it’s probably the only opinion on this subject that I can say that I 100% agree with, it’s so positive but so original. There’s no hate of ‘ooooo you don’t like all of the fantoms’ or ‘woowww you call yourself a geek’, like yep I do geeky things and identify as a geek so i’m pretty sure that i’m a Geek. Its the same thing with the gamer girl ‘issue’, and sometimes i’m afraid of even telling people that I play video games, and it’s such a small deal, but I feel that there would be backlash from it. So yeah, a really great article and thanks for writing it!

  • geek chic May 22, 2014, 3:33 am

    “But I came late to the party when it came to owning my geekiness. I just wanted to fit in when I was in school – and geeks weren’t chic until years after I graduated.”

    that part really sucks. the whole thing about being nerdy or geeky is being outcast for your extreme passion for something. there isn’t a geek chic, sure everybody wants to fit in but often times people are labeled as geeks or nerdy when they show extreme enthusiasm for something. being a geek is being passionate about something to a point where people think its weird; audio nerds, scifi geeks, gamers, fanboys/fangirls. you don’t just choose to embrace geekiness because its in style, being a geek is something people pick up on when they accidentally hit that button, you start geeking out about a movie, or a hobby, or a game because your passionate about it. its really dumb to think that you just get to suppress this part of you, your passion for whatever it is tends to engulf the person you are and how others perceive you.

  • Charlie Ward May 22, 2014, 11:11 am

    I don’t like Firefly, Dune, or the LOTR books either. But I’m a guy in a superhero shirt, so no one ever calls ME a “fake geek”.

    In any case, “geek” is kind of an outmoded concept these days, anyway. Everybody likes geeky things now. It’s gone mainstream to the point where people WANT to be called “geeks”, as evidenced by this very article. Why can’t we all just like what we like without having to label ourselves and/or each other?

  • TechyDad May 26, 2014, 11:16 am

    Like Charlie, I’m never going to be called a “fake geek” for the mere fact that I’m a guy. That’s idiotic. First of all, there aren’t “levels of geekery.” If there were, there would be women who would be far geekier than I am.

    I like superheroes but couldn’t tell you what happened in the latest issue of X-Men. (There is still a comic titled “X-Men”, right? Or am I missing a sub-title or three?) I like games but have never played Ticket To Ride or a dozen other games. Even the ones I do play, I don’t play often. (I don’t get together IRL with people who like gaming enough to have regular gaming sessions.) I’ve dressed as a character (The Doctor), but only for Halloween & Purim – not at a Comic Con. I’ve never even BEEN to a Comic Con.

    I wrote about the Fake Geek Girl thing also. (Shameless Plug: http://www.techydad.com/2013/08/geek-culture-is-bigger-on-the-inside-why-fake-geek-girl-is-wrong/ ) What saddens me (beyond the blatant misogyny) is the “you can’t be allowed to join this community I’m a member of because you’ll ruin it” mentality. Haven’t we geeks experienced the “you aren’t ‘cool’ enough to join us” enough times? Don’t we know how it feels? Why do some of us feel like we must do this to others?

    If someone wants to be a member of the Geek Community, I’ll welcome them regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or level of “geek knowledge”. Of course, it’s not up to me whether someone is a “member of the Geek Community” just like Random Jerk questioning a woman for being a “Fake Geek Girl” has no power to boot her from the community. However, I’d rather make someone feel welcome than excluded because that’s how I’d like to be treated myself.

  • Jonathan Nathan June 7, 2014, 2:25 am

    I hate the inherent misogyny of the FGG meme as much as anyone, but you should really watch the original Star Wars trilogy again. With the exception of parts of the very first one, there’s really nothing dated about those effects. They look much more real and lived-in than the prequels, mostly because they are actual real things that existed and were built by people instead of drawn on a greenscreen. Also, the films are just better. Like, objectively, from a film-theory standpoint and from a quality-writing standpoint.

    Again, this is not me calling you a Fake Geek Girl. I hate that whole thing that the misogynists of the nerd culture keep doing. I just really think you should watch the original trilogy again. It’s soooooo good.

    • flootzavut August 26, 2014, 11:14 am

      This is gonna come off really weird probably, and I’ve no idea if the OP will share my delight, but it makes my geeky little heart so happy that anyone would come across this post and have their concern for the writer be that they should watch the SW original trilogy again. Ahhh geekdom, I love thee <3

      • Jonathan Nathan August 26, 2014, 2:49 pm

        I believe we are all called upon, in this world, to speak up when we see that which is wrong. Sometimes that means telling street harassers to knock it off. Sometimes that means volunteering for a political organization or campaign. And sometimes it means insisting that someone needs to watch the original Star Wars trilogy again.

        Also, the OT is waaaaaaaaaaay more feminist-friendly. Doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test, but it also doesn’t have a woman literally dying of a broken heart because her man left.

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