The Psychology of the Fake Geek Girl: Why We’re Threatened by Falsified Fandom

I’ve been telling myself to stay out of this debate. I’ve been assuring myself that any time spent reading rants, posts, and their circular comments will only make me feel resentful and defensive. I tell myself that the fight is over and no one won. I rationalize that only a few people are ruining it for the rest of us and therefore, those few should just be ignored.  I vow to stop drawing attention to this ridiculous creature, to stop reinforcing the idea that the “Fake Geek Girl” exists.

“Why don’t you just drop it?”  “Why can’t you take a joke?” “Why aren’t you over this?”  I ask myself these things too.

The truth is, I don’t know. But, recently, I’ve been asked by Badass Digest to weigh in on why such accusations have a strong impact on our community, and to provide some of the psychological explanations for why we’ve reacted the way we have to the recent verbal attacks on female fans and to the accusations that some are “fake nerds.” Can we learn anything from this, beyond acknowledging that these claims are rude and unequivocally sexist? We know that it’s absurd. We do! So why does it keep getting dragged into our dialogue? And if we are accused of fakedom, why do we snap back in defense?  We’ve been called some awful, demeaning things in our past. But this “F”-word seems to have climbed the ranks to become one of the most insulting labels. Why so much power? Why are we so deeply threatened by the notion of falsified fandom?

We’re told we’re overreacting. 

I wish it were that simple. Trust me–I’d prefer to raise an eyebrow, flip my hair, and be on my way. But the much stronger reaction to the accusation of being “fake” can’t be explained by just one isolated feeling. This stronger reaction stems from years of repeated, accumulated experiences of insults, indignities, and demeaning messages from other members of the comics community. These experiences–the seemingly harmless comments, the sarcastic jokes, the subtle non-physical exchanges–are called microaggressions.  The theory of microaggressions was developed back in the 70’s to denote racial stereotyping, but was expanded by psychologist Derald Wing Sue, Ph.D. in 2007 to encompass a wide variety and classifications of these subtle and seemingly harmless expressions that communicate “hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults” toward people who aren’t members of the ingroup. These outgroup members might include women, racial/ethnic minorities, LBGT members, and others historically marginalized in our community.

Here are some examples of gender microaggressions in the context of female members of the comics community:

“You sure know a lot about Batman, for a girl.”

“You don’t look like a geek.”

“That’s nice of you to come to Star Wars Celebration for your boyfriend.”

“Did your older brother get you into comics?

“You’re a nerd’s wet dream.”

I didn’t say that men are the only assailants when it comes to gender microaggressions. Women also deliver these seemingly harmless bites.

Why are microaggressions harmful? They seem silly, right? But these comments actually communicate messages that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person. Sure, these incidents typically appear minute, banal and trivial. Sometimes they produce a good laugh. But repeated experiences of receiving them can have a long-term psychological impact. For instance, here are the implied messages about women in the comics community:

“You do not belong.”

“You are abnormal.”

“You are intellectually inferior.”

“You cannot be trusted.”

“You are all the same.”

These messages can therefore be pervasive and potentially damaging to a large group of people. And the reason they are micro-aggressions, Dr. Sue explains, is that the person delivering them may be well-intentioned and non-threatening in nature, maybe not even aware of their own biases. They, too, are have their own experiences that have shaped their perspectives. In most cases, when confronted, the person will deny that they meant any harm, explain that they were joking, and tell the recipient that she is being too sensitive. I cannot emphasis enough the point here:

1. The recipients of microaggressions feel victimized and threatened.

2. Their assailants feel like they did no harm.

3. BOTH ARE CORRECT IN THEIR EXPERIENCES.

Thus the endless cycle of invalidation, misunderstanding, defensiveness and back to invalidation.  We’re seeing the cycle play out now in the context of social media where there seems to be a huge misunderstanding about the definition of “satire.”

Let me be clear about what IS NOT a microaggression:

“You’re not comics.”

“You don’t know SHIT about comics.”

“You are what I refer to as CON-HOT.”

These are examples of actual threats, verbal assaults, and intentionally insulting remarks. There is no doubt they are sexist and I’m not tackling them here. But these comments do trigger an emotional response because they confirm past microaggressive experiences. That is, they reinforce the stereotypes, the deluded beliefs that women lack comics knowledge, that women who affiliate with geekdom shouldn’t look feminine/pretty/sexy, and that male members of the community are responsible for our membership. These instances are like knife-stabs in vulnerable places.

We’re told we’re invisible.

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing right in front of someone and they still don’t see me. I’ve explained to people that the reason I sometimes express my geekdom superficially, through a ridiculous amount of fan-wear, is for the identity recognition.  I admit, I have a deep and sometimes desperate desire to be seen for who I am, for my geek identify to be validated. There’s a part of me that is yelling, “Please see me!” And yet, despite my flamboyance, I’m still overlooked. In my experience, this typically happens in the form of a microaggression– a subtype called microinvalidation.

I recently traveled to a psychology conference, and, upon arriving at the airport for my departing flight, experienced an example of a microinvalidation. At security check, after my technology went through the scanner, I scurried over to gather my shoes and belongings. I picked up my Star Wars hoodie and wrapped it around my Batgirl t-shirt. The thirty-something male TSA agent pointed to my Kindle, the one with the Star Wars comics cover, and immediately looked at the stranger standing next to me: “Is this your Kindle?”  The stranger next to me, a twenty-something looking guy dressed in plain jeans and a pale shirt, shook his head. “It’s mine,” I blurted. The TSA-man then leaned forward and said, giddily, “That’s really awesome. I love Star Wars too.” A compliment. But I couldn’t process the kind words because I was still recovering from being stunned by his assumption that my things do not actually belong to me. A reminder of the widespread belief that Star Wars is gendered. It’s male. The thing I love is for males.

The mistaken identity stayed with me. The negative thoughts of being invisible flooded my mind. Resentment became my in-flight entertainment. But because I insisted on obsessing over a microinvalidation, I dismissed a validating compliment and an opportunity to feel visible. And damnit, an opportunity to geek out with someone who liked my stuff. Ridiculous, huh? I’m guilty of perpetuating the cycle, too.

Microinvalidations are just one explanation of why we’re incited when being accused of being an imposter. But it’s an important one because it refers to a basic human need. Psychologically we have a deep desire to be recognized and to belong. Our social identity– who we are, essentially, to the world– is greatly determined by the groups we belong to. We develop much of ourselves from our groups: self-esteem, purpose, a sense of belonging, approval. Thus, being accused of being an imposter is actually very damaging and fragmenting to our sense of self because it’s like someone is telling us, “you’re not who you say you are.”  Again, these comments seem so harmless and silly, but they undoubtedly exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person. If we’re recipients of these messages, we experience powerlessness, loss of integrity, and invisibility.

We’re told we can’t keep up intellectually.
How are costumes in any way related to comics knowledge? Moreover, how are skimpy costumes related to comics knowledge? And what if these women who cosplay want to be seen in their costume and therefore want the attention? (GASP!). I have no explanation for this imagined fantasy that women who cosplay for attention cannot be actual nerds. But I have to acknowledge that the accusation of being “fake” stings like hydrosulphuric acid because of the underlying message that we’re not knowledgeable enough to read, enjoy and understand comics, especially if we’re wearing a costume that’s seen as provocative or revealing. “You’re too busy looking like a slut you can’t possibly have read all the issues of The Walking Dead.” I don’t get it. I simply can’t form a sensible relationship between skin and stupidity, because these two things operate on completely different, orthogonal planes. But nothing seems more damaging to a woman than the simultaneous attack on both her body and her brain.

Why are we threatened by the Imposter?
I’ve talked about how the “fake” accusation can be more than just insulting, how it actually taps into some deeper feelings stemming from accumulated negative experiences. But what IF some of these women in question were, in fact, “fake?” What if there are people out there conning us, putting on a guise, attempting to pass as one of us? Why does the imposter, who represents a small fraction of our community, seem to have grabbed so much focus and power?   Perhaps we’re enraged by the “fake geek girl” accusation in the first place because we find imposters to be very threatening.  Here are some reasons why we might be threatened by inauthentic members of our society:

1. The false notion of limited resources: Growing up, many of us experienced our fandoms in the context of collections, acquisitions, and serialized products. Our fandoms seem to manifest as measurable amounts of goods. Our vocabulary includes words like “exclusive,” “mint condition,” and “collectible.”  We know that Comic-Con tickets will sell out. We know that Mondo will only offer 580 Olly Moss Lord of the Rings posters and 285 variant posters. Guess what? They sold out in 3 minutes. Like it or not, we think of our fandom as serialized and limited. We’re a possessive lot and it’s not entirely our fault. The notion of an imposter–someone who doesn’t truly care about the personal meaning and value of the items– is threatening to us because they may take from our precious, vulnerable pot.

The opposite is actually true if we think about intangible goods– the vast amount of knowledge across all geek genres from comic books to fantasy literature to video games. There’s such a large universe that the few imposters–if they really existed–are not realistic threats.

2. The misinterpreted sense of ownership.  When we belong to a community, we develop a sense of deserved ownership. When I was young, I received fan club cards and membership letters to inform me that I belonged to a particular club, reinforcing the exclusivity of the group. Serial numbers, laminated cards, and now, e-mails and twitter groups seem to reify the notion that belonging to a group means we are shareholders and that others are not. Shareholding grants us certain conceptual privileges: We get to decide who else is in or outBut, really, apart from the tangible products, what do we really own?

3. Resentment of the changing culture.
Some of us grew up hiding our geek identity for one reason or another. Maybe we felt insecure; maybe we got bullied for being “out.”   Some of us hid or masked our identities as geeks well until adulthood. For many of us, when we see individuals who appear to have recently joined the community we feel uncomfortable with their different identity development. We had to suffer the bullying! But now that it’s “cool” to be geek, here they come in droves! God, they even look happy. Let’s stop that. That’s a whole lot of projection on people we don’t know. And they don’t deserve it.

The feelings of being threatened, invalidated, and overlooked can happen to any one of us in this community–some psychologists argue that when the threats are ambiguous or subtle (like microaggressions), they can be more damaging because there is no certainty and the assault is denied or ignored. They say that we don’t do any good for ourselves if we latch on to the few experiences that give us the greatest pain–we have to escape the cycle. We should point out the real threats, defending ourselves, correcting lies, demonstrating that it’s not incongruous to be sexy and smart; we’re a disservice to ourselves if we miss opportunities to  highlight and celebrate the healthy validation and recognition happening by both men and women in this community.

In other words, we’ve got to stop being exclusive.   All of us have, at one point or another, experienced bullying, invisibility, insult, attack, or violation. This is the human condition. But I seriously wonder if we’ve pulled these abilities to hurt others from the dark, awful places of our childhood, lashing out quite expertly to newcomers or strangers, in ways we know are the most painful.

16 Responses to “The Psychology of the Fake Geek Girl: Why We’re Threatened by Falsified Fandom”

  1. Jay L. Gischer says:

    This is a really good piece, and I don’t disagree with any word that you have written. But I think you have missed a factor. I don’t find that surprising, because it’s so buried in what, for example, Tony Harris wrote. When you read this, please understand that I don’t endorse any of the behaviors you have described. What I am doing is seeking to understand it.

    The part that you do not seem to appreciate is how vulnerable many male comic-book fans feel. They are quite frequently men who have been sexually humiliated, deemed unworthy as partners because of their interest in comic books.

    This is really a tricky issue to tease apart, but I think the critical ingredient is shame. Of course, I support the idea of consent. No one has to date, or have sex with anyone they aren’t enthusiastic about. But the manner and criteria of rejection matters a great deal. An a priori rejection of a category (“I won’t date men who play D&D”) is common, and experienced as shaming to those men who are in the category.

    Harris repeats the phrase “hanging off them” twice in his screed. This implies unwanted, or at least unwelcome touching. Surely this is seen by some men as inappropriate, insincere and borne of a desire only to humiliate them. In short, objectification. Regardless of intention. We construct masculinity to mean, among other things, “A man is always ready to have sex with any partner”. This does not, however, match reality, but it leaves men with no model for refusing sexual contact without feeling ashamed of doing so.

    Thinking back on my own history of attending cons, I can think of one instance of something like this happening to a friend. A woman came up in costume and became more friendly than he felt appropriate. He felt extremely uncomfortable until he managed to say, loudly, “You remind me of my sister.” This got his message across.

    We also live in a culture where a man’s libido is fair game in trade. Our sexual interest is used for profit on a daily basis. On the retail level, this is tolerated by all, and celebrated by some. But on a personal level level, it’s much more threatening and demeaning.

    The best description I can muster of this feeling is, “You’re only here because you think I’m desperate to have a woman pay attention to me. You aren’t actually interested in either comics or me.” Now that’s a pretty sad statement, but I think a number of these men feel it. I’ve had some say as much to me.

    I am wary, in general, of the trope of the sexually manipulative woman. I think so many of the cosplay fangirls are not of this variety. But it would not take many encounters with someone who was such a one to leave a powerful impression. In any case, feelings of sexual humiliation are in play, and they are powerful.

    I’d very much like to hear what you think.

    • Andrea says:

      Very well said, Jay. I really appreciate that you shared this point of view. I’m not sure that I could have explored it that well given my perspective (I’ve never seen this happen and, as a cosplayer, I don’t violate boundaries this way). But “I’ve never seen it” is a poor defense. In the same way that I’ve said some people tease females “all in good fun,” I could see these unwanted advances toward males the same way. And that’s not right either.

    • ArctanGentleman says:

      Jay, I don’t believe what you’re saying is universal. Not saying you’re wrong, just saying I don’t think ‘hanging off’ necessarily means contact, people can hang off words, flitter about, or even ‘lend’ themselves out for attention. One man’s implication is another mans false presupposition. I don’t think it’s a major player, I don’t even think it’s in my game… but if it’s in yours, fair enough. I just want you to understand that there are other viewpoints. I have heard yours before, once, so I can’t say that it’s not shared… but I wonder by how many.
      I, too, once told a girl, “You look like my…” But, in all fairness, she did. She really did.
      “You aren’t actually interested in either comics or me.”
      This is, however, very relevant to what you’ve said… it’s an issue of either A: experience, or B; self esteem. Overstimulation or Discomfort. It’s very biological in nature… I wonder how true it is that they’re not interested.

  2. Ramona says:

    This “fake geek girl” conversation seems to be stirring up a lot of self-doubt and self-reflection in the women’s community. I REALLY want to point out that just because fan-boys perpetuate the male gaze culture doesn’t mean we have to buy into it too.

  3. Kol Drake says:

    Wow.. nice to see your ‘faked girl nerd’ article over at ‘The Mary Sue’! I remember hearing / reading your comments back on the Internet radio show — Hour 42 — with Peter Pixie and El Secreto. You were still working on your doctorate then… and now, here you are… geeking out as sweet as ever. Great article btw.

    Happy Holidays and MTFBWY in all your endeavors

  4. wesley says:

    Hi! I stumbled upon this blog after reading the article on MarySue and I’m looking forward to exploring around (psychology AND comic/sci-fi connections, sign me up!). I loved the article and I think it nails it, especially from a woman’s perspective. After a second read, I could help but feel a lingering sense of something missing and I think Jar sorta touches on it. It’s quite possible that I might append this comment after I chew on it some more. I posit this, what if –

    It’s also an extension of a male geek’s ‘reaction’ to their historical (fear of) rejection? I would hypothesize that this extends to many males and their interaction with attractive women in general, but perhaps it’s especially acute in the this particular environment. This theory would be predicated on several assumptions.

    Most geeks are ‘accustomed’ (that might not be the word I’m looking for) to rejection, in some form, real or perceived, from women and especially attractive women. This applies to many men in general, but likely at a lesser probability for the ‘non-geek’ men.

    Some men feel the need to ‘put-down’ attractive women for a variety of reasons, a common one being the establishment of some sort of ‘control’ over the dynamic. This usually takes the form of disparaging her intelligence, personality, or presumed promiscuity.

    The ‘geek guy’ twist on that behavior could include casting doubt on a geek girl’s ‘cred’. In a sense, it’s quite possible that this behavior flows from the following thought process (some of it subconscious)

    “Here’s a cute/pretty/hot cosplay girl.”
    “Many cute/pretty/hot girls/women have rejected me in the past (HS) or present”
    “She might be just like them.”
    “She’s ‘intruding’ in ‘my’ world which will result in A) rejecting me again if I were to approach her out and/or B) draw attention from less-geeky guys here and/or C) show preference towards less geeky guys here.” (Yes, that’s a lot of assumptions, some of which at times are irrational)

    It follows from that, that a guy will typically seek to establish some sense of power/control by ‘knocking her down a peg’, aka “She’s not all that.” For better or worse*, this involves directly questioning her geek cred.

    *Depending on where one stands on direct vs passive-aggressive behavior.

    So there’s definitely often deep-seeded insecurities revealing themselves in this interactions. And I still haven’t touched upon the thought process of

    “Cute/pretty/hot girl likes comics/sci-fi. Where was she when I was in high school and being shunned by the in-crowd? Would I have had a chance with her?” I feel like there’s something there, like latent resentment possibly, but I haven’t fleshed out that train of thought.

    And yet there’s also the parallel to sports fandom (its own for of geekery, really) in which ‘hardcore’ fans of a team/sport deride ‘bandwagon’ fans.

    “I was a fan of X team/sport before it was cool/mainstream to be a fan of that team/sport”

    This could seemingly lead to this parallel geek assumption – “I was a fan of the X-Men since whatever year. You weren’t known to be a fan then, therefore, you must be a bandwagon fan.” And this also manifests itself in questioning the girl’s fandom. I know in the sports world, I used to be guilty of this, and probably still am on occasion, though I’ll try to be more conscious of not doing that.

    That’s all I can think of at the moment. I think it’s quite possible, or I’m hopeful for it at least, that our particular community might be better equipped to address and correct this within our group (vs fixing it across all of society, e.g. airport example). I, for one, would love to see this somehow become a panel at various conventions (throw in an ‘exclusive’ to juice attendance) as a way to educate people to be more aware of their behaviors and how they affect others. 🙂

  5. Jay, Andrea, I’d like to say that exchange up top is the most intelligent, articulate one I’ve seen on a message board in…ever. People like you give me hope. Of course, that’s all just in keeping with the tone and content of the piece. I’ll be following now.

  6. Rowan says:

    As a teen who is growing up in this brave new world were it is now COOL to be a nerd, this article was very interesting, especially the part about the “resentment of this changing culture”.

    When I was in Junior High I was really interested in Doctor Who. I watched episodes with my sister and we seriously geeked out about it. We joined fan websites, watched the older Who from the seventies, and I even learned to knit so I could make a super long scarf. All this was grand, but whenever I tried to share this great show with my friends, and a few others, it was dismissed as “that weird British show” that I liked. No one was interested except some older people in my town who remembered it from their childhood and people I met online. That all changed when Matt Smith became the Doctor.

    Suddenly it seemed like every kid in school was a Whovian. People were talking about their favorite episodes and favorite Doctors. Doctor who shirts were THE thing to wear. Our school even had a “Doctor Who Day” for a dress up day at our homecoming. I wish I could say that I was excited to accept this sudden surge in popularity. Unfortunately I did not feel as excited as the school was about this.

    I felt a mix of emotions, ranging from “I told you so” to “these people only like the show because it is popular”. I even accused a girl that I knew of being a “fake fan” and said she just liked the show to get attention. (Icky teen drama that ended badly. I still feel bad about it. I lost a potential friend that day. :C) I started to stop watching episodes because of all the “fake fan” hype that the show was getting.

    Then things twisted around for me. The worst point was when someone told me I wasn’t a TRUE doctor who fan because I wasn’t caught up with a all the episodes. This particular guy who accused me of being fake drove me insane, as he was one of the “cool” kids at school who had a reputation of being sort of a womanizing jerk. (It probably didn’t help that I had told him about the show years ago, but he didn’t believe me.) But when I thought about how upset I was getting over the inccident, I often felt like I was overreacting and being a huge hypocrite.

    I’m now really glad that lots of people are liking an awesome show, and I don’t feel resentful, but I still feel weird about the whole situation. I’m not sure if this belongs in the “fake geek girl” discussion or not, as it wasn’t overtly a sexist situation, but somehow I feel like if I were a guy, my loyalty to the fandom wouldn’t have been questioned. The guy who called me fake whovian is the same guy who said that female superheros were boring as a rule, and often makes the “harmless”microaggressions to the female nerd group at our school. But because I had called a fellow nerd girl fake, I felt like I didn’t have the right to be upset about his behavior. It’s an endless pingpong game of my emotions bouncing between feeling guilty and feeling wronged. This article helped me organize some of my thoughts on the issue, and it put some feelings I had into words that I couldn’t have come up with on my own. I would just like to say thanks for that!

  7. Ian says:

    For older geeks, there were hardly any women in the hobby. In 1986, the gaming club at my university had 200 odd members. Less than 10 were women.

    I think from older geeks there is some resentment, as you said: “we were social misfits, and now that being a geek is cool, all these women want to be geeks?”

    Being a gamer was something most women only barely tolerated. And many of them didn’t tolerate it. I know the same thing was true of comic nerds (I’m not one).

    The misogyny in gaming goes far, far deeper than that. (Especially online gaming), but I think it is part of it. Males can take women joining into the hobby as validating instead if they want, or see gender as, in most circumstances related to gaming, not very important at all.

    But there are some old wounds, and wounded people are often not very nice.

    • sak says:

      I think you are right in assuming that the lack of females in the geek community early on has left us behind. The irony is that apparently some guys feel they are entitled to question geek girls validity because of this when in fact this is just one more instance where girls have been missing out. When geek guys were getting bullied for their nerdy interests I (and every geek girl I know) wasn’t even getting acknowledged as being able to have those interests (much as the problem we’re apparently still facing – go figure).

      Growing up, my parents didn’t even take my interest in nerdy things seriously. For example, when I managed to get them to buy a NES console it was mostly viewed as being meant for my younger brothers (even though they were much too young for a gaming console to be a natural thing to get them back in those days). So, while boys might have experienced being bullied because of their interests, most girls have in addition been expected – by the adult community – to actually quit their nerdy behavior way earlier than the boys. I remember my dad explicitly starting to question my love for cartoons when I was around 13 years old (“aren’t you too old for kids movies?”).

      I would also put a lot of blame on the widespread notion that boys and girls are fundamentally different. This leads to 1) girls and boys being expected to play within their gender and 2) the misconception that different genres of toys can be exclusively appealing to one gender. So when most of the things that fall under “nerdy interests” today just happened to fall under the boys’ section once upon a time, this means that ever since girls have had a harsh time of getting a foot in the door as kids. The chance of other girls discovering the nerdy interests were of course much smaller (which girl would get a Batman comic or a video game for Christmas, without actually asking for it explicitly?) and the possibility to play with the boys who shared my interests was practically non-existent.

      When I combine this with getting pretty much the same walls put up when I, as an adult female, am forced to keep trying to claim my right to enjoy my interests I find the guys who assume they’re the only ones who have paid a price for being different extremely self-centered.

  8. angelynx-prime says:

    What troubles me in all this are these two ideas (and I apologize if they aren’t what’s being expressed, but they are what I pick up from the discourse): (1) women who wear less revealing cosplay are Real Cosplayers, but women whose outfits are more revealing are just in it to show off their bodies; and (b) that women who cosplay, in general, do it first and foremost with their effect on male viewers in mind. In my own experience, this is not necessarily so. Cosplay is hard, dedicated work and takes a lot of skill, craft, and invention. We aren’t responsible for the costumes the creators have put on our favorite hero/ines, we just try to copy them as exactly as we can and embody them the best we can once we have them done. Are there cosplayers who play up the cleavage and the cutouts and the spike heels? Do even I wonder if we need another Slave Leia? sure. But there are plenty more who are just into portraying a character they love, and don’t mean to tease or threaten anyone. –Admittedly, I speak from the anime/manga fandom, which probably has a different demographic and certainly a different history from American comics, but I’m still sorry to see so much unease and discomfort around what one would wish to be fun.

  9. I think that Jay and wesley really helped re-iterate my thoughts, and I’d like to explore further.

    I feel it boils down to legitimacy.

    When I grew up, being a geek was a badge of shame. It’s something I’d get beat up just for looking like one and talking to other geeks. As a result, we banded together. And other geeks banded together, and so on and so forth, until we reached critical mass. If a girl wanted to join us, she could have, no questions asked. Why? Because there was nothing to gain from it other than being with other geeks.

    Fast forward to SDCC 2012: I had tickets to see Chris Hardwick and on the way, we passed by two extremely attractive girls dressed beautifully in Disney Princess-esque gowns. They were talking to the bouncer in the back door, saying that they knew Chris and they were supposed to “be on the list”. He refused and even though I wasn’t involved, I felt vindicated. Chris Hardwick is legit, and I felt that these girls should be ashamed of themselves for trying to dress up and use their beauty to get what they want. I even remember saying to myself “And that’s why we don’t trust self-proclaimed geek girls”.

    I later realized that was Chloe Dykstra, and she was probably supposed to be “on the list”; however, I felt that there was something deep driving my immediate reaction. Growing up, we were mocked, beaten, and shamed for being something no one else thought was cool. Now that it’s cool, how can we trust those who claim to be legitimate?

    If someone uses their beauty/razzle-dazzle to get attention, then we assume that their authenticity is as deep as their presentation. In Chole’s case, the bouncer and I only saw the surface. Especially at SDCC, where booth babes are meant to lure us in.

    We’re guys. So, we’re driven to visual presentation. However, we’re also geeks, so we’re smart enough to realize those instinctual urges, and often react against them, instead of with them.

    I love that this conversation is getting the attention it deserves. I’m very critical of people who claim to be geeks (men or women), but I’ve also learned that immediate reactions are just that: reactions based off of past experiences. They are not reacting to you, they are reacting to their past.

  10. Lee Drake says:

    I believe this to be an issue that all people deal with within all social circles. Weed out the outsiders and burn them at the social stake. Those of us old enough to remember the Dark 80s will know this all too well.
    It just so happens that the social flavor of the year fell in our favor. With that come the torrent of “fakers.”
    I recently had a conversation with a friend who asked a question that had never crossed my mind. While complaining about the “fakers” who didn’t know Adam West from Kevin Conroy and why they didn’t belong, she simply replied, “I can understand the hurt you must feel, but have you considered that maybe some people are legitimately curious about your lifestyle?” I was dumbfounded.
    I think that as a “social outcast” social group, we’re not used to being the ones studied and pondered over. Why not accept new people who may be trying the water before diving in? Why not take those extra minutes to explain why you don’t Floop the Pig (or do you)? Why not try having a long winded explanation over why the Master’s search for more Regenerations was the best damn storyline in all of Doctor Who history (it’s not) with someone who has only seen Matt Smith waltzing around the Tardis?
    Yes, there are fakers. But, there are also many people who actually are curious as to what the hubbub is all about. If they don’t like what they see, they’ll move on. If they do, you may have just caused the beginning of a beautiful geekdom!

    We all start somewhere. Some of us are just late bloomers.

    • Andrea says:

      I agree, in the sense that there are some universal principles about ingroup/outgroup at play here. Thanks for the comment.

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