Today, a friend posted an article about the pervasiveness of the “fake geek girl” in our society. It was an interesting read. It’s now hot for girls who aren’t into a subculture that’s considered “geeky” to dress the part and show up at conventions and events, because they’re either looking to meet that type of guy, or they realise it’s a great way to get attention and fulfill the ultimate fantasy of many a geeky guy. It’s a lie, of course, and a game, and I don’t defend it.

Yet, I see why it’s necessary,or why some girls feel pressured to fake it in order to feel accepted by their friends, their significant others, or the group of people around them. It’s not any different than the pressure for women to adhere to the mainstream ideal of attractiveness when going out to a popular club, even if that’s not really representative of who that girl is.

I’ve always been an intelligent, outgoing, unconventional girl who happens to date guys who are the opposite of me (personality-wise, not intelligence-wise). The introverted ones who you won’t meet at bars, and if you see at a party, are afraid to talk to you. Some of them have gone on to become hugely successful. Some are the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. Some are the most memorable and affecting love affairs I’ve had in my life. Some are people I bond with in a way I’ve never bonded with anyone else. I’ve had to work to get to know many of these more introverted, driven people who tend to be both less emotional and less expressive than myself. But it largely works. I know many “geeky guys” who have changed me for the better and helped me grow, and I hope the reverse is true as well. Many of my friends don’t get it. They ask why I date “geeks” instead of more traditional types. They tell me someone isn’t good enough for me based on how they dress, or how they act at parties. I’ve been called a gold-digger (I’m not). I see the judgment from mainstream society, and it annoys me.

What annoys me even more is the sense of non-acceptance from the “geek” community. My boyfriend runs a Meetup for people who like sci-fi. I’ve encountered everything from being ignored and ostracized to having groups of girls make up mean nicknames for me and gossip behind my back. I will literally sit there and NOBODY talks to me, despite the fact that I make friends everywhere I go. Everywhere but hanging out with this group of people.

I’m not a fake geek girl. I don’t play video games, watch sci-fi, and haven’t read a comic book. I’m a writer with a degree in musical theatre. I’ve spent my whole life on stage. I’m not dumb, not an airhead, I just don’t like video games. I don’t like being made to feel I should apologize for being a high-school cheerleader because I’m with a group that got picked on by that crowd when we were all much younger. I was never the girl who did that, although maybe I didn’t stand up for the underdog or talk to the outcasts as much as I should have back then. I’d like to think we’ve all grown tremendously since then.

Yet, when I go to these Meetups, I feel like I’m back in high school. Only this time, I’m not invited to sit at the “cool table”. It feels crappy to wonder why you’re invisible.

The irony is, I have a higher IQ than most of the self-proclaimed “smart kids” who won’t talk to me because I mix up Star Wars and Star Trek. If they wanted to talk to me about books or politics or philosophy or psychology or religion or almost anything else, they’d discover that. I can understand the pressure to be a “fake geek girl”, because if you’re a girl who isn’t into that subculture, and you happen to date guys who are..well, you’re judged. A lot.

I don’t have interest in being someone I’m not. I’m not putting on an exploitative costume or wearing fake glasses or toning down my makeup or replacing my girly-girl fashion style with a witty T-shirt so people will think I’m smart, or so geeky guys or intelligent guys will like me. They already do, with my quirky artist/life-loving manic pixie/insecure, misanthropic extroverted personality. Yet, it sucks not to fit in because a group of people who know all about being judged and not fitting in do the same to you.

I don’t judge the people who are judging me. I accept people as they are. I’m not a mainstream person. I belong to my own set of subcultures, and so I’m interested in accepting others. But it seems as if those who have most often been judged are the most likely to judge….leading a less individualistic person to wonder if it’s just easier to fake it.

I’m not defending the idea of the “fake geek girl”. I get that some girls pretend to be part of a subculture to attract a certain kind of guy, whether it’s geeks or hipsters or musicians or anything else. I’ve already written about that in the past, so it doesn’t bear repeating. It’s uncool, and it doesn’t work. However, I see why some girls who aren’t “geek girls” feel pressured to fake it in order to be accepted, much as with any group out there in mainstream culture. If you don’t, you risk being judged, or seen as less than you are, or worse yet, people never get to know the real you.

I’ve known many of these people for over four years, and not one of them knows the real me.

It is ironic—or not—that a person can feel as much pressure to belong to a subculture to avoid judgment, as to conform to mainstream ideals to find a place to fit in.

The problem isn’t the “fake geek girl”. It’s that we live in a society that requires women to always fall neatly in boxes, usually boxes somehow related to the men with whom they associate, and to dress and act and behave in a way that’s rewarded by both men and women. If you conform, girls like you, guys are attracted to you, and your self-esteem is regularly reinforced. If you don’t, you risk judgment and ostracism and wonder what’s wrong with you. Girls are intimidated because you stand out, and good or bad, that draws the attention other girls want for themselves. Guys are intimidated because you make it clear you’re playing by your own rules, not the standard ones in effect. Mainstream or subculture, women are still put in boxes that define the way in which they’re meant to be pleasing to others. Not that men aren’t, of course, but I maintain women have it a bit harder on that front.

The problem is we live in a world that encourages and rewards the “fake geek girl”, just as it does the “fake Barbie doll girl”. It also demeans intelligent men, sending out the message that all guys would choose the fantasy over the reality, and they would not. The phenomenon of the “fake geek girl” is just another way women have found to manipulate, or to be manipulated, even those who head into things with good intentions. Rather than her intelligence being accepted and encouraged by a community of peers, she’s being rewarded for her sexuality, for her willingness to please, to conform, to be another person’s ideal.

Why can’t we all just be as we are—flawed, interesting, diverse, fucked-up, fun-loving human beings? And why, if you happen to be female, does your sexuality come before all of that?

That’s why I’m not a fake anything, and I don’t belong anywhere in our society. I’m proud of my sexuality, but I own it…not the culture I live in, or the guys who want to buy me drinks, or someone who cares more about how I look in a Star Wars costume than my actual ability to converse and share ideas. Yet, this takes either internal strength or the ability to be an hard-headed human being who won’t compromise ideals to be liked, no matter how much harder that makes things.

I’ve yet to determine which category defines me. Perhaps neither.

tags, ,

Comments are closed.