You simply must go read this piece from John Scalzi, it is too brilliant. Some jerk on CNN posted about how the attractive women who just go to Comic Con to dress in revealing cosplay outfits aren’t real geeks and are only there to get the attention. John Scalzi has an appropriate response, which was more intelligent than my initial, “Fuck that noise.”
Who gets to be a geek?
Anyone who wants to be, any way they want to be one.
Geekdom is a nation with open borders. There are many affiliations and many doors into it. There are lit geeks, media geeks, comics geeks, anime and manga geeks. There are LARPers, cosplayers, furries, filkers, crafters, gamers and tabletoppers. There are goths and horror geeks and steampunkers and academics. There are nerd rockers and writers and artists and actors and fans. Some people love only one thing. Some people flit between fandoms. Some people are positively poly in their geek enthusiasms. Some people have been in geekdom since before they knew they were geeks. Some people are n00bs, trying out an aspect of geekdom to see if it fits. If it does, great. If it doesn’t then at least they tried it.
Many people believe geekdom is defined by a love of a thing, but I think — and my experience of geekdom bears on this thinking — that the true sign of a geek is a delight in sharing a thing. It’s the major difference between a geek and a hipster, you know: When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.”
Any jerk can love a thing. It’s the sharing that makes geekdom awesome.
I am a geek, though I used to identify a lot more with that title than I do now. A lot of the reason behind that is that I often felt excluded, like I had to prove my geekiness more because I was female and don’t look like one of the comic book nerds in The Simpsons. Like I had to prove my geekiness at all. I don’t like Magic, OK, I’m not into your card games, isn’t that fine? Can’t I just really like to talk about Harry Potter and watch movies and read graphic novels. Seriously, someone talk to me about Harry Potter, I can go for days. Not even joking. Let me link you to my old fanfiction — LOL nope.
Do I have to know how to tap mana and build roads in Settlers of Catan and know who the Cylons are? Cuz I don’t really know any of that stuff, I probably just said all that wrong. And I absolutely hate playing RPGs like D&D because other people are so damn slow at making decisions. KILL ME NOW.
I’m still a geek though. I’ve spoken at Comic Con, so I’m legit.
Geek culture is male dominated, and that’s fine, but it often means that it’s less than perfectly female friendly. And there is a general sense of “oppression from being different” that many geeks have, a sense that normal people are bad. Normal people are preppy or cheerleaders or cool and they’re all mean to geeks. But somehow a lot of geeky stuff is mainstream now, and instead of being all HOLY HELL LOOK AT ALL THIS AWESOMENESS some of the “hipster geeks” are all like “well I was a geek before it was cool”. OH BLOW ME. Let us all be people who embrace weird shit and share our passions with one another! Even the cheerleaders who like Twilight and the jocks who like Game of Thrones.
More awesomeness from Scalzi in the comments:
As with any culture, its aspirations are sometimes confounded by the real live people in it.
Brad R. Torgersen: “I think Joe Peacock is simply expressing despair over the fact that to be geek is now chic.”
If only he could have done it in a manner less antagonistically sexist.
Lila: “I’m curious: do people ever accuse a male of just pretending to be a geek for attention?”
I have yet to hear of such a construction.
I’m serious. I want to give this man a “fighting sexism in geekdom because it’s the right thing to do” medal. Is that a thing? Can it be a thing?