That “Fake Geek Girl” thing.

As usual, I’m late to the Internet’s big shouting match, so I probably have very little to say that someone hasn’t already said. Still, going ahead and saying what’s on my mind even if it’s not unique is my normal MO, so I’m going to go ahead anyway.

So there’s this idea out there that there are Fake Geek Girls going to Geek Conventions because they really want attention and can’t get it otherwise. Some folks seem really offended by this idea, others seem to think there’s nothing wrong with it, and some people think the whole idea is crap, and more than a little sexist besides. I’m in the latter camp.

Laying aside for a moment the idea of whether Fake Geek Girls even exist, the idea that they’re a problem is plainly insulting to Geeks. If merely having breasts in a geek space were really enough to get our attention, we’d deserve whatever that got us. As a matter of fact, though, it’s simply not true. Most geeks are reasonably well-adjusted adults, the highly-visible teenagers and man-boys in our ranks notwithstanding. There are even quite a few women who self-identify as geeks, who are presumably not that interested in the main.

Now, with that disposed of, let’s investigate this idea of “Fake Geek Girls.” To begin, let’s consider the first part “Fake Geek.” Are there really Geek Poseurs out there spoiling our culture? Or is that whole idea just silly?

There are basically three kinds of people at Cons — Geeks, Pros, and Organizers. Because there’s no minimum threshold of knowledge for geekdom, anybody who pays to go to a Con gets to be a Geek. Wanting to do geeky things makes you a geek. Wanting to hang out with geeky people makes you a geek. Anybody who doesn’t want to be a geek needs to steer well clear of a Con. So is a cosplayer who has no idea who she’s cosplaying (or, for that matter, that what she’s doing *is* cosplaying) a Fake Geek? Not hardly. Being dressed like BatGirl makes you a geek, whether you like it or not. I mean, unless you’re twelve, it’s Halloween, and a BatGirl movie came out that year. Then you can probably get a pass. Otherwise? Geek. By definition.

Pros are the people who make and sell geeky things. They may be geeks themselves, but there’s no expectation that they have to be. Gene Roddenberry was not a geek. George Lucas is not a geek. So the gal at the software company booth isn’t expected to be a geek either. Simple commercial interest excuses them from geekdom. So are booth babes Fake Geeks? They’re not, because they aren’t posing as geeks, they’re paid to be there. They are Pros.

I mean, to be clear, we still don’t like Booth Babes as a practice. They’re sexist and insulting, even if we deserve the insult because they work. But they aren’t fake geeks.

Organizers are the people who run Cons. They’re above suspicion as geeks, because if they weren’t geeky, they’d hardly be involved in an annual Ode to Geekdom, much less pouring out blood, sweat and tears to make it happen. Unlike with Pros, there’s no commercial interest here, they’re mostly volunteers, which means that they’re just a little (okay, a lot) more dedicated to community-building than your run-of-the-mill geek. This doesn’t mean they can outscore you in Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer. It does mean they’re not fakes.

Now, despite what I said earlier I have run into one other group of people at Cons. Especially at RadCon, there are people who are there just because they’ve heard it’s a good party. Party People aren’t fake geeks either, because they’re not even making an effort. They paid for their badges to get access to room parties. Are they a problem? I think so. Are they fake geeks? Nope.

So what are we really concerned with? The idea seems to be that attractive women don’t get to be geeks. After all, we geek guys have long salved our wounded manhood with the idea that our extensive knowledge of Spiderman comics makes us awesome despite the fact that we look and smell funny. If someone can be attractive *and* intelligent (in the way that we define it,) that challenges our manhood, and makes us desperate to prove that an attractive person, especially a woman, is our inferior. Frankly, that’s pretty pathetic. We can and should be better than that.

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