Becoming nerdy has become not only acceptable but also adorned; people have drawn a line in the sand to make sure that you can easily spot the fakers.
I’m using nerd as an umbrella term, as I’m sure you’ve heard what might distinguish a nerd from a geek or from a dork. Alas, if you feel like you fall under any of the stereotyped sections, congrats, you are a full-fledged nerd — unless of course you’re a girl.
So you’re not the most popular person on the planet. Your hobbies kind of make you an outcast and expressing your love for varying fandoms causes some to look upon you in judgment — so what? It’s not you, it’s just the presence of your ovaries.
I’m sorry, did you think that was heading somewhere else? Oh, you thought I was just talking about the conventional geek. That gentleman in suspenders with a stuffed backpack of science and math books, that dude with unwashed hair and a Lord of the Rings t-shirt or that guy in your class that plays an anime character from a series you probably haven’t heard before. Are you noticing a trend?
In 2013 we have turned things upside-down. It’s cool to be uncool. You can let your geek flag wave free! You can’t take the sky from me! But tread lightly; this can only apply to certain kinds of geeks.
What better way to get a guy’s attention than dressing up like Black Widow? You think food is a way to a man’s heart? Nope. Try telling him that you are down to watch Dragon Ball Z while you wait for the new Avengers trailer to release. Want to get him real worked up? Ditch your girls’ night to play Call of Duty in nothing but your jammies.
Sadly, this is the only context to which nerdy girls are received — in contrast to a nerdy guys. If a geeky guy meets another geeky guy they immediately bond over wherever their fandoms cross. An elitist geeky guy meets a geeky girl and deep down he thinks she can’t tell the difference between a sonic screwdriver and an 11-inch wand with a phoenix feather core.
Girls have a hard time confessing their geeky traits because that exposes them to the automatic scrutiny of the all and powerful nerd gods. When this first happened to me I completely didn’t notice. I thought I was just being asked about my love for a fandom. But in retrospect I could tell I was being quizzed.
I identify myself as a huge fan of science fiction. Notice that I had to say “I identify,” almost like that minority box you might check when filling out paperwork. That’s because if I was to say “I am a fan of science fiction,” I might as well have volunteered my love for The Hunger Games.
You’d think that if we as people made the huge movement of turning the term “geek” from a scrutinized insult into a glorified honor that we would learn to be a little more inclusive.
Women can be geeks, and in their own right. We may not have watched every season of Pokemon but heck we might remember liking Misty as a character and think she’d make a great costume for an event or Halloween. Some would think it was for attention, an excuse to bind two things men can’t resist: a hot body and nostalgia over a TV show. Why is it, then, when she can’t name all of the legendary Pokemon she’s an attention-hogging slut in a midriff?
I couldn’t call myself a nerd for a very long time. I was more comfortable calling myself a “dork” because it was the more noncommittal term. A way to say, “I’m nerdy but I’m not trying to be cool about it.” I never watched the first seasons of the original Dr. Who. I still have yet to grasp how Dungeons and Dragons works. I grew up watching Sailor Moon, Card Captors and Yu-Gi-Oh but God forbid I watched Lizzie McGuire instead of Beyblade.
If it wasn’t bad enough coming from guys, women themselves are beginning to turn on their fellow lady geeks. Saying that the “fake nerd girls” are the ones making it worse for them. SourceFed Youtube contributor Meg Turney said in a video response to the topic, “It makes people uncomfortable [about] participating in our community” — because that is what you risk destroying when I feel like I need prerequisites in order to join what’s been referred as a “boys’ club.”
I think the bigger question lies in the suspicion of all the naysayers out there. Bob “MovieBob” Chipman said late last year in a podcast called The Original Geek Girl, “if there really are these fiendish scheming fake geek girls running around out there pretending to be the real thing, why would you be mad about that?”
This is exactly what these critics should be asking themselves. If you are indeed a real geek then you should see this as an absolute triumph. Not only does this allow the secret geeks to reveal themselves, but also you’ve helped bring people into the culture.
At the Calgary Comic Con a geek asked Wil Wheaton to talk into her camera and give a message to the her daughter about why it’s awesome to be a nerd. In the four-minute video on YouTube, which I recommend everyone to watch, he says “It’s not about what you love but how you love it.”
It’s not about getting all the references in this article or about having a certain reproductive system. We are not only the geeks the Nerdverse deserves, but actually what it needs right now. Although winter is coming, we’ll still live long and prosper until all is well.
I know. I’m a nerd — but I’m also a girl.
Graphic: Mike Tremblay