Why do Geek Girls trash other Geek Girls? My ramble.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why do Geek Girls trash other Geek Girls? My ramble.

I hate it when something's bouncing around in my brain and it won't form thought. But, instead of trying to make this conform to something I'm just going to write.

Why do female geeks feel the need to judge/compare/denigrate other female geeks "geekness"?

I've had it happen to me. I've had it happen to friends. Most recently E. Foley from Geek's Dream Girl got "graded" by a gal from The Walking Eye Podcast about a speed dating event she did.

Just to be clear, the speed dating event was for geeks...at GenCon. And the podcaster didn't just dismiss E out of hand. She went into detail and then a conversation ensued in which she picked another geek girl apart and the guys in the podcast were the defenders.

Honestly? Jen from The Walking Eye isn't the issue here. She's just one female geek I've heard do this. I listened to her speak and, while she's not my speed in the female geek department, I'd never tell someone else she wasn't "geeky enough".

Granted, I've had the thought about certain women out there. Women who are billed as geeks and may not be what I consider a geek. But when someone asked me flat out, I declined to comment.

Why?

Because, in my opinion, it's hard enough to live this life without me trashing other people.

Maybe it just comes down to the fact that women are naturally competitive with one another. Maybe it's insecurity. Maybe it's the inner cattiness/defensive bitch factor that seems to be part of our make up (some of us just control it better than others)

I don't see geek guys calling one another out for not being geek enough.

But maybe that's because female geeks tend to be more willing to admit they don't know something, or show more vulnerability, or...hell, I don't know.

See? I told you this wouldn't make sense. ;p

21 comments:

  1. I don't think geeky guys call one another out for being geek enough. They just brag about their geek cred and leave it at that. They let the geek cred "speak for itself".

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  2. People love to put other people don't for some reason. I've noticed this kinda thing mentioned on other blogs, like wedding related blogs, where people make fun or trash a creative or different wedding.

    Can't we all just get along? Everyone has a different "rating scale" for all kinds of things (hotness, lameness, geekiness). Opinions make us all different but that doesn't give us the right to put others down bc they don't "live up" to our opinion/scale.

    Did any of that make sense? LOL. Great post though!

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  3. This is starting to remind me of "throwing shoes", brought to us by the lovely Miss Havi Brookes (http://fluentself.com).

    Put down in life in general are just poor taste, weak people trying to either lash out at the strong, or people whose goals are at odds with someone elses and who can't just succeed by excellence.

    Geek girls out there: I wish you the best of luck. If it's as prevalent as it sounds, you have all my respect for being strong and holding out as much as you do. Kudos.

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  4. There have been a couple articles like this in the last week. I can't tell if it's coincidence, confirmation bias, or a trend.

    Geek guys don't put each other down, as a rule. But, don't think we aren't competitive. We are all looking for alpha geek cred. But we get there by bragging instead of ragging. We are also quick to call someone a n00b, a poser, or someone who takes it TOO far.

    Geek guys can also be notoriously bad sportsmen. I have heard some titanically bad stories come out of CCG rooms at cons.

    I think that geek girls handle the competition differently in the same way that any group of girls handles competition differently from guys. I don't feel qualified to elaborate on that. But I think you can translate pretty much any article on the difference between girl cliques and guy cliques in high school to apply to geek culture.

    There is a bit of an odd silver lining, though. It wasn't too many years ago that there simply weren't enough girl geeks for them to compete. That lines are being drawn, however bad that practice is, at least means the population has grown enough for there to even be an issue.

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  5. I'm fortunate (and, admittedly, extremely spoiled) in the fact that I sort of insulate myself from other people's opinions of me as a whole, let alone other women, geeky or not. I guess being a self-employed, stay-at-home recluse will do that XD

    That said, I think there may be some Queen Bee Syndrome going on here. Now that geek culture is slowly working its way into the mainstream, it's becoming less of a novelty to be a Geek Girl. Quite a lot of women now are basing the premise of their blog or their business on the fact that they are one of the prized Geek Girls, and now that there are so many of us, that means we actually have to compete for attention wherever we set up shop. I don't know about you guys, but when I see another female business owner proclaiming to sell geeky products, I silently think to myself "Dammit, get off my turf!" I refrain from vocalizing these feelings, of course, because being nice to people is always more beneficial, and I don't want to be doomed to have nothing but guy friends forever.

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  6. I think much of it's down to the shaky position of "girl geeks" in the geek community. There's still a widespread assumption of the default geek as male. Girls have more to prove, especially if they're conventionally pretty. You want to differentiate yourself from the other girls, you want to remind everyone you're in the club... some part of every demographic likes to push themselves up by comparison through pushing others down. I think the reason it's more common among female geeks than male geeks is that there's less pressure on that front. Nobody's threatening the geekitude of the male geek.

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  7. Building off what @maggiebloome said, I'd theorize that it's similar to the way women are the most vigorous when it comes to policing feminine appearance and feminine behavior vis a vis male approval or perceived sexyness. Female geeks are a minority in a male-dominated subculture, a male-dominated subculture that values women for their hotness and their exoticness perhaps more intensely than the dominant culture. And women are trained from a very early age to compete with one another for male attention. Which means policing one another and cutting one another down for not being "enough" in whatever context.

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  8. I went and listened to that podcast. You have a "strong opinionated woman" who happens to style herself as a geek in the presence of men of the same geek demographic who are known to be socially awkward, and she's shocked, SHOCKED I SAY, that some of them fell speechless in her presence? Well what the hell did she THINK would happen?

    As far as the one-upmanship that we geek girls apparently tend to do to each other, it's there but not in the quantity I expected it to be. I took it as more her gripes about the event and the mix of guys there more than anything.

    That being said, I can see how Jen could think that what E. is doing with the dating profile service could be seen as "taking advantage" of the socially awkward geek (mostly of the male hetero persuasion). But E-harmony, match.com, plentyoffish, they're all in the same business, they're just not targeting the niche that Geek's Dream Girl is.

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  9. Here's my take on why we see this behavior.

    Geekerey, in general, is a bit of a "boys club." That's getting less true every year, but the numbers still say it's a majority male subculture. Unfortunately the stereotypes of how many of the early women came into geekery were far too often true: It was the girlfriend of a geek trying to include her (or worse, her demanding to be included) or it was the girl who saw the chance to be the center of attention from a huge group of guys that just don't get much of a chance to talk to girls. Let alone girls that share their interests!

    These two stereotypes are very frustrating to anyone who wants to engage in genuine geekery. The guys hate 'em because they take up space, and waste everybody's time. (*sigh* "Fine. Let me explain how Attacks of Opportunity work...AGAIN.") Women hate 'em because they mean nobody takes them seriously, and also because they take up space/waste time.

    These stereotypes are much less common now than they are 10 years ago, but I think every woman still feels the weighty stare of presumption on them every time they're introduced to new peers.

    From there, it's a very easy route to affirm those stereotypes and simultaneously be rid of any potential competition by simply directing them onto another woman. It's the Dark Side. Quicker. Easier. More Seductive. Add to that already being insecure about your place in the peer group because of all these geek girl stereotypes you have to fight every day, and it happens more often than it should.

    As for guys not calling each other out for being not geeky enough, it's just not true. It happens ALLL the time. You're not a real geek if you like Star Trek better than Star Wars, Pathfinder vs. 4E, console gaming vs PC, indie vs. trad, the list goes on and on. What? You don't like Firefly? Get. Out.

    The demarcations are more broad and generally have to do with one geek's tastes not lining up with another's, but they're still very much there.

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  10. I think in environments where women feel they have to prove themselves, one of two things happens. Either the women bond or they compete to attach themselves to the men (as one of their own, not romantically) and differentiate themselves from the other women. And geeky women still have the feeling that we have to prove to each other and to geeky boys that we're not just posers, we're not just doing it because it's cute or fashionable, we actually care.

    And what's one of the best ways you can prove you care about something? We see it all the time on the internet--flame wars/arguments about everything from Lucas's special Star Wars editions to the guy lambasted my DM for not adhering as strictly to the rules as his. I think that female geeks tearing down female geeks is in that vein, only perhaps with a little more urgency if the "mean girl" feels like her geek cred is on the line.

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  11. While boys and men are socialized to the physical beat-down, women are socialized to the beat-down of minutiae. We shred each other into confetti, verbally and socially. Would I like to think Geek Girls are above this? Yes. Are we? No. Not yet. I think that, by and large, MOST geek girls are much more likely to break this social pattern, but there will always be people who try to use it. The trick is, not to put up with it. No, we don't resort to tactics, rather than facts. Geek girls already have to deal with questions about whether we exist at all, whether we really know our stuff, the misogyny in gaming, the fact that we're not yet seen as a driving force in media. We don't need to destroy each other. Of course, the simplest response of all is: If you tear another geek girl down, Ms. HULK SMASH.
    ;) Then we keep working on it.

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  12. I think that this has already been mentioned, but just to reiterate, it's not just geek girls that trash other girls. ALL GIRLS TRASH OTHER GIRLS. That's a sweeping statement but it's fairly true.

    I may not be as big a geek as another girl but compared to my coworkers I might as well have antennae. And as a geek, who gets flack from the rest of the non-geeks, I guess it would be pie-in-the-sky to expect or at the very least hope that geek girls could be supportive of one another.

    However, as I prepare for Dragon*Con, I fully expect to see whispering about the authenticity or FIT of a girl's costume, hear remarks about a girl's lack of knowledge on a topic & even have geeks vs geeks as the different fandoms get thrown together in a great jumbled mass. And I would be naive to think that I won't be a target or even guilty of some of the same behavior.

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  13. This happens pretty much in every group. I see it everyday as a teacher. I think the part that hurts a little is that you fight so hard to even be accepted and then watch members of your own group turn on each other.

    I admit I have never had my geek cred questioned but I do see similar things with guys. I just think it takes a different tone. We don't question if you belong but rather if you are worthy.

    I try to teach my students that life is a lot more fun if people respect each other.

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  14. The question is why do Geeks today want ALL the geeks to be exactly the same? Like all the same things?

    When I was growing up, being geeky meant you liked different things from other people.

    Now all of a sudden there is a check list?

    That's ridiculous, and pretty much the opposite of what the geek culture is about, at least the opposite of how it came about.

    Females who bash other females show just how incredibly insecure they are.

    And seriously what are WE as female geek population competing for? Attention? Twitter followers? Blog readers?

    That's sad.

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  15. I need to send ya my book "Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change"
    http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Against-Mean-Other-Hating/dp/097901736X/grrlcom

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  16. "I don't see geek guys calling one another out for not being geek enough."

    Have you ever gone to a party where techs or geeks are attending? more often than not, guys are standing around comparing BUZZWORDS to see who has the biggest... tech knowledge.

    In fact, it seems like one of the most repeated kind of conversation as they try to figure out who is king of the geeks for the party pecking order.

    I personally, find it exhausting and boring.

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  17. Being male, I'm afraid I've no true insight into how this happens. I think it's an interesting subject, though.

    Strangely enough, whenever the topic of competing geek girl cred is brought up, I'm more often than not reminded of this article by E Foley and the rumors of rivalry between herself and the article's subject that apparently followed:

    http://geeksdreamgirl.com/2008/11/03/open-letter-to-shelly-mazzanoble/

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  18. Guys don't call each other out for not being geek enough? Well, they may never SAY so, but they do it incessantly. Get two or more geeks in a room and as soon as one says something "geeky" the rest immediately have to find some way to one-up them or correct them or reveal some unknown nugget of trivia that challenges what was said. They don't come right out and say "You're no geek. You would have known that if you were." but the implication is clear. Of course there ARE some who aren't content to let that be implied and will actually say it, but in my experience, that's considered gauche.

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  19. It's true, geek girls trash other geek girls. The also trash geek guys. Geek guys trash each other, and trash geek girls. Thus, is it even worth drawing a distinction between the two genders? Being "geeky" is a lifestyle, not a physical feature. Your gender really has no bearing on your "geekyness" at all.

    So you could worry about the above. Or you could simply jump on the bandwagon and realize that girl=boy. Yes?

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  20. I have admittedly taken issue with other geek girls myself. In almost every case, it has been an issue with other female WoW players. I play games because I enjoy them. I simply have a big issue with other girls who seem to enjoy the social male attention more than the actual gameplay. When it starts to interfere with MY raiding (for example, randomly shouting about some sexual story for no apparent reason when we are discussing a boss in a 10-man raid) then I get annoyed and question the "geek cred" of said geek girl.

    The honest truth is that being an attention whore doesn't mean you aren't also a geek. I guess as a feminist I just want to be able to play these social games on an even playing field with some level of respect and far too often it seems to be the other geek girls that spoil it.

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  21. Maybe it's related to the idea that geek girls are highly coveted (among the geek guys), and the backlash against geek girls where guys accuse us of not really being geeky--of posing as geeky in order to win the attention of geek guys. Geek girls feel like if they prove that they're geekier than some other girl who claims to be a geek girl, then it validates their true geek status.

    It's nasty though. I'm always happy to find another girl with geeky interests, no matter whether she's less or more geeky than I am.

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