Geek Girls Rule! #223 – Sexy Geek Girls, Yay or Nay?

Ok, to be clear, I’m not asking if you LIKE them.  I honestly don’t care. I do.  I know many people who do, and many people who don’t.  To each his own.  But someone commented on “Geek Girls Rule! #191 – Sexism in Geek Culture” asking me what I thought of the geek cheesecake out there:

Dr. Ether:  “I was going to ask, what do you make of all the tumblr blogs of sexy geek girls in barely anything but a comic/nerd tee and glasses often exposing themselves? I find these types of images (offensive to) both male and female geeks. For women it presents this as the only valid way is fitting into person, while for guys it assumes we are all pathetic pervs for whom these ladies are doing a favour as we are incapable of getting a girlfriend.

I have actually been mulling over this question for a while.  Because as I said in my response to him, I am ambivalent about this.  I remember being “the smart one” in high school.  I didn’t date a whole lot, when I did it was, um, less than good most of the time (although I still feel very fondly toward my first junior high boyfriend, who was and is also a raging geek).  So when I discovered fandom, and that I could wear sexy costumes and guys found that appealing, it was really, really powerful for me.  And the fact that I could discuss comics and role-playing games just seemed to make me hotter to them.

So on one hand, it’s not good to find all your validation from outside sources, particularly concerning your looks or perceived “hotness.”  I mean, it’s playing into the “male gaze” and reinforcing patriarchal norms.  BUT when you’ve felt/been ugly for most of your life, been the nerdy weird girl at the back of the classroom, or mocked for wanting to dress up like a superhero, and then when you do dress up like a vampire queen or superhero at a convention, and people LIKE IT, it feels kind of empowering.  Like you’re sticking it to all those guys (and/or girls) who wouldn’t date you in high school because you were weird, fat, ugly, whatever.

The next part of what I want to discuss is that we don’t get to tell women what to do with their bodies.  If women want to dress sexy and pose with game controllers or whatever, they get to do that.  I don’t care if you (the general you, not anyone in particular) don’t agree with it, it’s their decision, regardless of whether they’re doing it to subvert the patriarchy or play into it.  Partially because from where we sit, we don’t know why they did it.   Also, don’t assume they’re posing like that for guys.  Some of them are posing that way for themselves, other girls, everyone.

And the last part is that there is nothing that says hot girls can’t actually be geeky.  I mean, lately we’ve had the internet kerfuffle of that blogger accusing Felicia Day of not being “geek enough.”  Does anyone say that about the guy who plays Sheldon on Big Bang Theory?  The idea that women have to provide “geek cred” to be taken seriously, particularly if they are at all considered attractive by the guy doing the interrogating, is bullshit.  Geek dudes tend to take dudes who say they’re geeks at face value, unless they commit some gross geek social faux pas, but when women declare themselves geek we have to whip out a geek resume of impressive length and volume.  And that’s crap.

Look, as much as I love my Nightcrawler tattoo and showing it off, I shouldn’t have to pull my skirt up and show it to someone to get them to take me seriously as a Marvel fangirl.  If I’m in a comic or roleplaying store, I shouldn’t have to answer 20 questions about what I’m into, why I’m into it, yes, I actually run games, no I don’t just play Vampire, no I don’t LARP, yes, I run rule-heavy systems like GURPS, etc… ad nauseum.  I should be able to walk in, declare myself geek and receive the same answering chorus of “One of Us, One of Us,” that the dudes get.

Yeah, as a buddy said at Westercon this last weekend, I’m sure that there are some of those “Geek-cake” girls who are just doing it because it’s profitable.  But there are a number of us out there who like being both sexy and geeky, and at first glance you’re not going to be able to tell us apart.  The Frag Dolls may have been a manufactured team, but no one denies they actually can play Halo.

From the Geek Husband What Rules:  “And if some normal girl is pretending to be nerdy because she’s making money at it, that means we’ve won.  It means They have to pretend to be Us, not Us pretending to be Them.”

If you like the blog or the podcast, or if you would like to enable more geek-cake photos of yours truly, please, please, please donate to keep us going.  Donations go to pay for the podcast hosting and website domain, primarily.

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4 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #223 – Sexy Geek Girls, Yay or Nay?

  1. Hey thanks for the very long response. It’s a good one too.

    I utterly get the empowerment thing, as I too have gone from being the short, geeky, unpopular boy at school, to the now a podcaster, professional scientist, cyber goth. My wife is much the same.

    As for the rest that’s spot on.

    The ‘well it’s more proof we have won’ is pretty true. Just look at how much geek stuff is now behind some of the largest film and tv franchises. Most homes these days even have consoles.

    I guess my initial question was really just born out of the the fact that I get tired of a lot of the responses you see to such images, of course mainly from guys. It leaves me thinking ‘Come one you’re really not helping your self here, and your giving the rest of us a bad image’.

  2. I’m not so sure it means we’ve won. It may just mean we’re the latest sub-culture to be fully commodified.

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