Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why are we even discussing "Fake Geek Girls", anyway?

Well, I know I'm not the only one who is going to be doing this, but hey...I'm gonna do it anyway.

I had a special tattoo post all set up for today - because I finally had my new back piece finished this past weekend - but then this article, "Dear Fake Geek Girls, Please Go Away", caught my attention.

The woman who wrote it, Tara Tiger Brown, has apparently been a "technologist" for fifteen years and is a mentor for "passionate learners" (whether she means people who are passionate about learning about technology or just passionate learners in general, I'm not sure). Well. I'm here to say that she shouldn't be mentoring anybody, because apparently she believes that unless you desire to memorize every single nuance of something that you are interested in, you're a fake.

Now let's get one thing straight - I love to cook, I'm good at it, I know a decent amount about it (including how to "fix" recipes so that they are more to my taste and such), and I even blog about it sometimes. But I don't call myself a chef. However, by Ms. Brown's standards, I have no right to say that "I love to cook" because I'm not utterly obsessed with it. And that, my friends, is just ridiculous.

This gem was in the very first paragraph of her article:
"A geek is synonymous with anyone who has an Internet connection."
Honestly my reaction to this was "haha WUT?" Because I'm pretty sure that not even the majority of people who have an Internet connection would refer to themselves as geeks, and in that case how can the two then be synonymous? Way to make a blanket statement, but of course, that's what this article is all about - blanket statements.
"Pretentious females who have labeled themselves as a “geek girl” figured out that guys will pay a lot of attention to them if they proclaim they are reading comics or playing video games."
I'm sorry, so now the only reason most girls are calling themselves "geeks" is because they think it will gain them attention from guys? Even if that happens once in a while, the fact of the matter is that any self-respecting guy will quickly be able to tell if his new girl is faking her interest in comics or video games or MMOs or what have you. And beyond that, what if the girl really does love comics or video games? Because Ms. Brown is making it sound as if that never happens, or as if it can't happen. Newsflash: just like when a girl proclaims a love of sports, it doesn't mean she's doing so to attract the attention of guys, it also doesn't mean that a girl who "proclaims [she is] reading comics or playing video games" is doing so to attract the attention of guys.

I will admit that there are a couple of positive gems in the article.
"Don’t pretend to love something because you think it will get you attention."
"Being a geek isn’t something you so much decide to do, but realize you are after the fact."
The first of those gems is simply something that holds true in all things, not just geeky things. Love what you love because you love it, not because you think you should love it, have to love it, or because loving it will garner attention. That's just common sense.

The second statement is, to me, a good one mainly because that's the way it went with me. I spent nearly half my life fighting against the idea that I was geeky - hiding it, being ashamed of it, not fostering my geeky instincts and interests in favor of doing things that were more "socially acceptable". And then I met an amazing friend who showed me, for all intents and purposes, how to "be one with my geekiness". I'd always been a geek; but finally at age 19 I not only realized that I was one, I became happy with that fact.

But this "Fake Geek Girls" article would likely still label me as "not enough of a geeky girl". Ms. Brown claims that one must:
"Dig deep, dig to the roots, dig until you know things that others you admire in the subject matter don’t know or can’t do. Then go ahead and proudly label yourself a geeky girl."
Now, I'll be honest - some of the "geeky" things I'm interested in I do know a lot about. More than most people. When it comes to Star Wars, for example, or the Song of Ice & Fire series - I've absolutely dug deep, dug to the roots, dug until I know things that others don't. But with many of my other "geeky" interests, that's not the case. I love Lord of the Rings, for instance, but prefer the movies to the books. I also think The Hobbit was a better book than said trilogy, The Silmarillion was to me one of the most boring things ever written, and The Children of Hurin was passable at best. X Men is a similar example...sure, I watched the cartoon back in the early 90s, but I wasn't really into it until just before the third movie came out in 2006 - when the aforementioned friend insisted that I sit down with him and watch X-Men and X2.

Yet I still feel that I can call myself a geek, and I'm proud of that "label". I am. That said, I played Star Wars Galaxies back in the day and currently play Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have an original Nintendo and go through phases where I'll play it for hours every day for months on end. I became obsessed with the storyline of Red Dead Redemption when my husband played it through, and I'm pretty darn good at Guitar Hero....but I don't think of myself as a "gamer". I agree that it's good to know where to draw the lines, but if I was someone else reading the above and the person ended with the words "I'm a gamer" - far be it for me to call that person a fake. Yet that's exactly what Ms. Brown is doing. And it's wrong.

It doesn't end there, though.
"...when it was harder to learn about something and you did it anyway...that’s when your passions really shined through. That’s what being a geek is."
I have to say that I do look forward to one day reminding my children or my nieces and nephew that I had to "learn about things the hard way" - but I would be a liar if I ever claimed that I wanted to go back to having to do things that way. So does that mean that, because I not only like but prefer things the way they are now, with the world at my fingertips via a computer and, say, Google...that my "passions" don't or won't shine through? That because I learned the vast amount of Star Wars trivia that I know from watching the movies dozens of times, reading the Timothy Zahn etc. books that came out in the 90s, even reading the character/robot/ship encyclopedias (I mean actually holding the books in my hands, turning the pages), that knowledge is somehow "better" than what I've picked up scouring the internet about the Song of Ice & Fire books? Because honestly, I think not. And I don't think the things I've learned the "easy way" make me a "weak geek", either.

Finally,
"And if you think something is interesting but aren’t willing to put the time and effort into understanding it deeply or becoming extremely skillful at it, do everyone a favor and call yourself what you are: a casual hobbyist."
Okay, fine. I'm a Star Wars/Song of Ice & Fire geek, but I'm only a Lord of the Rings/X Men "casual hobbyist".

Um, no.

This comment first implies that one must play the English teacher/Lit professor with all things geeky. Understand deeply? Really? And actually, I'm not the best at just memorizing facts, which means trivia-wise, when it comes to anything (even geeky stuff that I'm very interested in), I'm likely not the person you'd want on your team. But why should this mean that I love the things that I obsess over any less?

And if I choose, say, going to a baseball game, or jetting off to Vegas for a weekend, or having a cookout with some friends over staying home to re-watch Battlestar Galactica or research Song of Ice & Fire theories or re-read Harry Potter or play Old Republic...that does not make me fake; it does not make me a poser. It does not make me less of a geek. Not me, and not anyone else who goes the same route.

Tara Tiger Brown* - you are an insult to my given name, and to geek girls everywhere - and YOU should please go away.


*Is apparently an example of geek elitism, and also likely fits into that small category bad-apple geeks who aren't the accepting, laid back, kind people that I've come to associate with this particular "label".
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4 comments:

  1. I agree with you regarding the outrageous things she said.

    I don't believe that even "skilled masters" are ever done learning. As my dad says, the moment you stop learning is the day you stop living. I know a LOT about swimming. I deeply studied it, did it, taught it, and coached it. My life was swimming from age 6 until 21. I don't even know where I would learn anything new about it. But I know there's more to know. I don't think that anyone ever gets so knowledgeable about their field that they should look down on other people for knowing less.

    And while I'm on a tangent here, who is she to say that people should consider themselves hobbyists only? This woman is insane and an elitist.

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  2. I think this article has more to do with the current definition of the word 'geek' then anything else. She is saying to girls that the word geek has already become to watered down and that we should strive to elevate the word again. That is why she is encouraging people to dig deep, because it should take some effort beyond experiencing the media, or having a passing knowledge of a field, such as cooking. Since it is so easy to become an otaku, as she says, referencing Patton Oswalt we should reserve the word geek for someone who is really passionate about something. It is about setting the threshold higher so that the word still means something. I don't think it was against women specifically, but more against the misuse of the word in her opinion. I do believe that it does her a disservice to focus this towards women, instead of the word. I guess she just wants to try to inspire girls to dig deep and find a true passion rather then do something for attention, which happens far too often in the younger generation. I agree with her sentiment, but maybe the way she went about saying them.

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  3. I have "studied" culinary arts since I was 18 and as you know have just started going to school for it. Probably unlike you and most of this country, I literally read cookbooks. If it can't teach me in some way...I won't even bother picking it up. And like you, I don't call myself a chef...yet :-) I can't tell you over the last two months since I started thinking about gardening how many books I have read and taken notes from, the LITERALLY countless days in front of the Internet reading every page on gardening that I can find separating the keepers from the junk but I am not going to rush and enter any county fairs for my veggies.

    And I will PROUDLY admit that I am an X-MEN geek. I watched cartoon, read my brother's old comic books, and from the first movie I was hooked. My sister bought me the trilogy when it came out in 2002 and when the last movie came out last year she called me and invited me to go and I jumped at the chance. I, like you, have fought my geekiness for so long and now that I have not only accepted but embraced it, I love it. (Mainly because people don't expect it from me lol)

    And you are right on another thing...this author needs to GO AWAY

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  4. hey! thought, since my comment was about this, I should comment over here instead of on your lj entry.

    Why the hell is the original comment even DIRECTED at girls, specifically? I do not see anything particular in this article that aims it an women more than men, whether they are obsessed enough for the author to believe in their geek-ness or not.

    I, also, dabble without being obsessed in a number of things, although there are a number of things I am obsessed with. So I wonder how the author would define being a geek in general rather than as a specific? If I'm obsessed with Harry Potter and I'm a Harry Potter geek, does that earn myself the right to call myself a geek in general or is there some kind of secret test I have to pass?

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