Unreal geek girls.
A few years ago there was a huge argument going around about “fake geek girls.” It was the claim that there are women out there who are only into geeky things because it’s popular now and are only trying to take advantage of its mainstream appeal. It may still be a topic in some circles, but it certainly doesn’t have the legs it used to. For my part, I never believed there was such a thing as a fake geek girls. I still have a hard time believing there are geek girls at all.
Let me explain that last part.
When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, geek and nerd culture did not have the popularity and mainstream appeal it does now. Where I was growing up things like roleplaying games, video games, comic books, fantasy, science fiction, and all other familiar geek stuff was in the realm of social outcasts and fringe-dwellers. If you weren’t outright ridiculed for liking it, you were dismissed for taking interest in “that weird stuff.” Where I was growing up, almost one hundred percent of us who liked geek stuff were boys. In my experience, girls simply didn’t have an interest in it. It’s not that we didn’t want them around! It’s that we were taught women had better things to do than read comics or play video games with us. Geek stuff was the haven for we unwanted boys with obsessive imaginations, and women had no desire to talk about Lord of the Rings (over a decade before the movies were made). That’s the reality that was presented to me, in the years before the internet.
Your upbringing stays with you, whether you realize it or not. Despite being surrounded by geek girls as friends or fans or fellow creators, and despite having married a woman who is a proud geek, there’s still a small part of me that’s flabbergasted when I meet any woman who’s in to science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and so on. And that small reaction is not fueled by suspicion or disbelief, like the nonsense that created the “fake geek girls” argument. It’s fueled by the genuine wonder of the young nerd I used to be, who’s having that storybook moment of meeting someone outside his small social circle who he can’t believe is into the same things he’s interested in.
So I’m extra baffled whenever I hear about geek guys shutting girls out of their social circles or trying to put them through rigorous geek tests to prove that they’re genuine fans. When I was growing up, we were dying to meet some girls who were into geek stuff! And on those rare occasions where we had women join us in our tabletop roleplaying games, it was like a goddamn holiday. “We’re having a lady over! Quick! Put on your best shoes and break out the fine china!”