Dec 102012

This morning I got up, made coffee, assembled a breakfast of a hardboiled egg and freshly baked christmas cookies, and started scrolling through the twitters. I saw this tweet, felt crotchety, and fired off a tweet of my own: Does Patton Oswalt realize this joke is where the fake geek girl myth comes from? I was disappointed, because I like that guy’s stuff, and I usually identify with his jokes, because they feel like in-jokes for me and my crowd. Then I still felt crotchety, so here we are.

I’ve seen this general thing in a few places lately on the internet, this idea that sci-fi/fantasy, fan space, and the internet are things by and for virginal men. Which makes about as much sense to me as saying that they are by and for only cat lovers.*

This image of “geeks” being unfuckable troglodyte males has really got to go! Was this ever true? I don’t know, maybe, but not in my time in fandom. I’ve spent my life having numerous friends both in and out of fandom, with no particular gender divide. That is, if the stereotype were true, all my nerd friends would have been male, and that just isn’t the case.

And I’m not exactly a snot-nosed baby millenial here, either. I’m in my thirties. I may not be familiar with all of fandom history – I’ve never seen a mimeographed fanzine, for instance – but I do have a little bit of time and a lot of grey hairs on my side. When I found fandom fifteen years ago, it was like water for a dying houseplant. It was energizing, diverse, and fun. If it had been a collection of unattractive males living in their parents’ basements that I had to break into by trickery, sluttiness, or a cold slog of paying dues, I wouldn’t have loved it and I wouldn’t have stuck around. So yeah, maybe this icky fantasy of a stereotype was once true for some people, but if so, we are way beyond it now, so can we toss that baggage off the Cliffs of Insanity already?

You know what traits most geeks I know have in common? They’re enthusiastic, smart, and laugh a lot. In fandom spaces and on the internet, we’re conversing, socializing, making jokes, and having ideas, even though some of us are introverted or have social anxiety or both. There’s so much joy and laughter in our shared culture, that it makes me angry when people label it in hideous ways. The “sex-obsessed untouchable” part of the stereotype enrages me more than the “all males” part, because it is more personal and cruel.

Know what the joy and laughter of shared culture can lead to? Love, friendship, sex.** Know what misrepresenting yourself and your culture as a homogenous blur of vaginaless cave-dwellers leads to? Sitting around in a dark hut with all the other dwarves eating stale straw and turnips.*** I think I’ll just frolic in a circle around those jerks, thanks.

* Which I also actually saw in the wild recently! That expose-y article thingy about the Oatmeal mentioned that the creator had a dog comic that he wasn’t going to post because the internet only likes cats. I think that’s how it went, anyway, and I don’t want to look it up to check.

** Love and friendship don’t “lead to” sex. Many people don’t even have sex as a goal. These are simply three possible outcomes which are related to, not dependent on, each other.

*** Not to malign turnips, a perfectly cromulent vegetable. Also, don’t get pissy with me for using something out of the Last Battle if the reason you don’t like it was that you got tricked by the series and felt betrayed when it turned out to be all Christian allegory. I first read Narnia in my church library between activities on Sunday mornings, so I always knew what it was.

  11 Responses to “Geeks of all genders with sex lives!”

  1. I identify like crazy with your entire fifth paragraph. Also with this line from the fourth:

    “If [fandom] had been a collection of unattractive males living in their parents’ basements that I had to break into by trickery, sluttiness, or a cold slog of paying dues, I wouldn’t have loved it and I wouldn’t have stuck around.”

    Luke McKinney had a pretty good Cracked column about the “fake geek girl” myth a few days ago (here) but it didn’t really get to the heart of the matter (the male geek identity) the way yours does. Thanks for being so right so eloquently – it inspires hope.

    • Thanks for the nicest possible first ever comment on my blog! No lie, this will convince me to blog more.

      There’s been so much written about the wrongness of the fake geek girl myth, and I think the amount that the myth is shitty to men, not just women, has been overlooked. Like, guys, you’re pissing on your own shoes to buy into this myth. Just stop.

  2. Yes but….

    No, actually, I quite agree with you. But, playing devil’s advocate, where is the line between, on the one hand, encouraging a destructive and untrue stereotype, and, on the other, showing a willingness to laugh at ourselves? Well, put that generally, there is no answer. But I wonder. Maybe it’s all about context. Maybe it’s okay when speaking to a group that is very clearly “us” but not so cool when speaking to a group that might take it seriously. I dunno. I wonder.

    Nice blog; glad it’s here. Good post; happy you said it.

    • You bring up an interesting point. First, like most things, that line won’t be universal – you’re going to draw it in a different place than my brother would. Best we can hope for is a nice grey blurred area where a whole bunch of people drew their lines near each other.

      Second, I think we get closer to finding that line by examining how many times we can use a joke before it isn’t funny anymore. On one hand, you’d think that’s a very low number, but on the other hand, we geeks love our references, quotes, and in-jokes like crazy.

    • I think we’re in a good place with regard to that if the question stops being “do I amuse myself playing off this crappy stereotype?” and starts being “is this joke funny and/or productive enough to justify feeding into this crappy stereotype?”

      If somebody asks that question in good faith and their answer is “yes”, I’m satisfied.

      edit: This edit is just jen testing the function to edit other people’s comments.

  3. This.
    I am 51 and have been around fandom since I wad a teen. My dearest, smartest, sexiest, kindest friendships ( and yes some lovers) are through that connection. Men and women who accept diversity, are smart, funny, kind etc.
    Thanks for pointing out the stereotypes can go and weren’t ever all that accurate in the first place.

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