Digital Changeling

March 31, 2013

The Phantom of the Fake Geek Girl: Why do Geek Women Believe in Her?

Filed under: Comics,Costuming,Feminism,Games,Mythos,Programming,Steampunk — Eva @ 11:01 am

The storm of “fake geek girl” articles seems to have abated but in the heat of that I got into an interesting conversation with @koboldstyle I want to write about.

 Why do geek women attack other geek women?

To answer that question, I have to back way up to when you joined a geeky hobby for the first time (sorry, this does presuppose geeks are reading this).

What makes you identify as a geek? Do you love a particular subject like anime, comics, or tabletop RPGs? Have you spent weekends at conventions or reading fan sites? How about long evenings glued to your computer learning the intricacies of a programming language or discovering the possibilities of open source projects for the first time? When did you first realize that particular part of geekdom was a part of you?

When you started out learning about and loving the geeky things you love, did anyone tease you because you were new? Maybe because you didn’t quite know everything yet or got something wrong? Did anyone assume that you weren’t a geek because of how you looked or talked or the username you wore?

Not everyone experiences this kind of hazing when they join a geek community, but a lot of people do. Many parts of the geek community are defined by knowledge and when you’re perceived as not knowing, people can be vicious.

Now imagine the knowledge tests and teasing didn’t stop when you proved your knowledge the first time. Imagine that every time you met new geeks they assumed you were an outsider. So you prove yourself and prove yourself… and prove yourself… and there’s just no end to it. Your old friends understand you, but every time you meet someone new you have to start all over again.

Gentlemen, this feeling is familiar for a lot of geek women. It happens to them, over and over and over. I know you’re thinking, “I would never do that to a fellow geek,” but what if you didn’t see them as a geek to start with? What if they’re “just a girlfriend that tagged along” or “just hanging around because they want to date that one guy”? Are you sure your internal geek-identifier isn’t ignoring people it should give the benefit of the doubt to?

Back to the ladies. You’ve spent your time proving again and again that no, you aren’t “a pretty face trying to snag a boyfriend” and no, you aren’t “a girlfriend who tags along.” Where do these stereotypes come from and why do you have to deal with them? You start to think, are there women out there who are “a girlfriend who tags along”? Did they create that stereotype?

And then you get mad. “What the f**k!,” you think, “Why do I have to deal with the fallout from what those stupid posers do?” “Why can’t they get the hell out of geekdom so I don’t have to deal with this stereotype anymore?!?”

 You’ve walked into a trap. Are there any posers out there? Probably a few. Are there enough of them to justify the stereotypes? Not a chance in hell. But you’ve accepted that the stereotype must be true. If so many people assume it’s true about you, how can it not have a basis in fact, right?

Not all geek women go down that route of logic, but a few do and that’s how we end up in a place where women write articles about how fake-geek-women are ruining geekdom and how the posers should all get out. That’s is how we end up with women devaluing other women based on how they entered hobbies (so what if you’re the girlfriend of a geek? how does that make your interest in something geeky invalid?).

I’m not blaming anyone for believing what they’ve been told over and over. If you’re told anything often enough you’ll believe it. But right now women are accepting second class citizenship in many parts of geekdom. That’s not where I want to be.

Men, don’t do this to geek women in your life. Assume we’re inside the club instead of constantly making us prove ourselves. Women, don’t do this to other women either. Question the things that geekdom tells you about yourself and your gender.



If you’re wondering what the whole “fake geek girl” kerfuffle is, here’s some reading material.


Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away

The Girlfriend and The Geek

 Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be

Confession: I’ve been a girlfriend

“Oh, You Sexy Geek!”: “Geek Girls” and the Problem of Self-Objectification

The Girl Geek Community is Hidden, Ever Wondered Why?

May 24, 2010

Book Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger

Filed under: Books,Reviews,Steampunk — Eva @ 12:55 pm

Romance, mystery, adventure, airships, and werewolves… Changeless delivers all those things, and not in the trite way that you might think.

I started reading the first book in the series, Soulless, largely on a whim, and I liked it quite a lot. Fortunately the second book, Changeless, had just come out so I picked that up too. I think the author managed to balance light and fluffy pulp-steampunk with interesting characters and a neat self-consistent system of supernaturals.

The main story revolves around Alexia, a half English, half Italian, young lady without a soul. She lives in a world where having too much soul allows people to be turned into Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghosts. The fact that she lacks a soul means that she can temporarily negate the super-powers that come with immortality with just a touch. She’s also very smart and practical with an amusing no-nonsense attitude. Naturally she gets involuntarily sucked into all sorts of supernatural weirdness including mysteries, affairs of state, and some romance.

There is certainly a bit of Mary-Sue-ism going on in the overall premise and plot. Some of the concepts are so over the top they can only be seen as parody. However as my husband pointed out to me recently, just because there’s a Mary-Sue element doesn’t mean a work can’t be good.

The actual execution of this book is so good that I think it pulls the ideas off with flying colors. The author has built believably flawed characters who frequently have to fend for themselves and don’t always get what they want, a mystery that is often non-obvious, and a story with many intertwined character goals and a lot of twists and turns.

I have to say, I love the color in this book. Ms. Carriger obviously did quite a bit of historical research into Victorian daily life, social conventions, and fashion. This is all mashed up with the fact that society has strangely advanced steampunk-tech and immortals in the form of Vampires and Werewolves. The immortals provide a good deal of the politics, and the tech is worked into the story rather than being pure window-dressing. The result is a very compelling and visually rich world.

Since it is a sequel, reading Changeless will reveal quite a bit of the ending to the first book in the series, Soulless. I really enjoyed Soulless, so I would recommend reading the books in order.

The only caveat I have is that Changeless ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. The main story is wrapped up, but some issues that arise near the end of the book are left unresolved. I assume they’ll be handled in the third book, Blameless, which is due in September, 2010.

Changeless is a light book. At it’s heart it’s a pulp-adventure with a mystery, some romance, a bit of supernatural, and a dash of steampunk. It pulls all of those elements together into a very pleasing harmony. I thought it was well written and a lot of fun to read. I’ll definitely be looking at more of Ms. Carriger’s work in the future.

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