Why We Need To Stop The 'Fake Geek Girl' Shaming

Why We Need To Stop The 'Fake Geek Girl' Shaming

It's not up to you to decide who can identify with our community.
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The other day, my dad and I were chatting about "Deadpool." He had just seen the movie and had a couple of questions about the larger X-Men universe. When he asked about the character Negasonic Teenage Warhead, I explained that her real name was Ellie Phimister and that she was a minor character in the comics. The writers of the "Deadpool" film just picked her because the thought she had a cool name and completely rewrote her powers from precognition and telepathy to the ability to generate explosions. After my information dump, my dad gave me a quizzical look and asked me how I knew all that. I explained that I looked it up, saying that comic books and superheroes are something I love, so I’m always looking to learn more about them. But that’s not the full story.

A good deal of the reason I have an extensive knowledge of Marvel movies and comics is to be prepared for the inevitable interrogations. It’s a nearly ubiquitous experience of being a female geek – you’re standing in line for the midnight release of the newest Star Wars movie, or trying to strike up a conversation about "Mass Effect," or just out buying groceries in your Batman T-shirt, and some dudebro approaches you and begins quizzing you on obscure trivia about your fandom of choice. Although I’ve found them to be a minority, there’s a very vocal and aggressive section of male fandom insistent upon weeding out the “fake geek girls.” The guys I know tend to be far more enlightened than this, but for the faction of you who still lives fear of the invasion of these geek impostors, let me put your mind at ease.

There is no such thing as a fake geek girl.

There are only two things necessary to be a fan of something — enjoyment derived from the media and a self-identification as a fan. That’s it. There isn’t a certain number of comic books you have to read before you’re a real superhero fan. You don’t need to have watched every piece of Star Trek media ever produced to earn the right to wear that T-shirt. There are no fake geeks, just people with varying levels of interest and investment in a subject.

The only purpose of fake geek shaming is to exclude newcomers, particularly women, from fandom. It’s part of the reason so many women are too intimidated to get into geek culture. If you don’t have an instant encyclopedic knowledge base, there’s a distinct possibility you’ll be humiliated out of the fandom. And look, I get it — it’s hard not to feel possessive over something you love. Even while I worried about being quizzed about my knowledge of "Deadpool," I sometimes found myself thinking “But I liked 'Deadpool' before he even got a movie! You guys haven’t read any 'Deadpool' comics! I spent hours on YouTube watching and re-watching all the cut scenes from his video game before you guys had even heard of him! He belongs to me more than he belongs to you!” But every time I had these thoughts, I stopped myself. Because "Deadpool" actually doesn’t belong to me at all, and it’s pretentious and immature to think he does. I’m not the gatekeeper who decides whether someone can be a fan of him or not. And neither, elitist geek guys, are you.

I don’t know why women are automatically assumed to be faking an interest in science fiction or comic books. What would the purpose of that be? “To attract men!” the elitist geek guys cry. “Why are you assuming everything women do is for men?” I reply. “Some (read: a lot of) things are not about you!” (Also, why would a woman seek out a community that’s often hostile and unwelcoming to women and glorifies scantily clad, oversexed female characters and think it’s the perfect place to get a date?) So when you dispel the myth that this interest is all for men, what argument do you have left? Don't women like stories with fighting and action? I’m pretty sure the scores of female fans disprove this. Science fiction and superheroes are only appealing to men? Sorry, but women actually invented both superheroes ("The Scarlet Pimpernel" by Emma Orczy, published in 1905, was the first instance of a masked hero with extraordinary skills and a secret identity) and science fiction ("Frankenstein," Mary Shelley, 1818)! These genres you hold so dear were created by and continue to attract women. The only reason for male dominance in these fandoms is the deliberate exclusion of women as creators and fans throughout their histories. Yep, geeky media isn’t inherently more attractive to men. All we have here is a classic case of sexism.

I’m pretty sure none of us popped out of the womb able to tell the difference between a Halfling and a Gnome or knowing who Ed Brubaker is. We all started somewhere. So instead of expecting everyone to possess instantly the knowledge we’ve taken years to amass, let’s understand that people are at different stages of learning about and consuming our favorite media. Instead of quizzing and shaming newcomers, let’s suggest to them our favorite series and arcs. Let’s stop pretending a geek identity is something you only unlock at a certain level, and instead, give people the freedom to explore and enjoy geeky media at their own pace. Let’s realize that geek culture is often a place where outsiders find belonging, and that exclusion is therefore directly contrary to this community’s ideals. And most importantly, let’s identify fake geek girl shaming for what it is — sexist, elitist bullying designed to keep women out of male-dominated fandom.

Cover Image Credit: From author

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.
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I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

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15 Thing Only Early 2000's Kids Will Understand

"Get connected for free, with education connection"

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This is it early 2000's babies, a compilation finally made for you. This list is loaded with things that will make you swoon with nostalgia.

1. Not being accepted by the late 90's kids.

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Contrary to what one may think, late 90's and early 00's kids had the same childhood, but whenever a 00's kid says they remember something on an "only 90's kids will understand" post they are ridiculed.

2. Fortune tellers.

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Every day in elementary school you would whip one of these bad boys out of your desk, and proceed to tell all of your classmates what lifestyle they were going to live and who they were going to marry.

3.Bunnicula

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You could never read this book past 8 o'clock at night out of fear that your beloved pet rabbit would come after you.

4. Silly bands.

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You vividly remember begging your parents to buy you $10 worth of cheap rubber bands that vaguely resembles the shape of an everyday object.

5. Parachutes.

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The joy and excitement that washed over you whenever you saw the gym teacher pull out the huge rainbow parachute. The adrenaline that pumped through your veins whenever your gym teacher tells you the pull the chute under you and sit to make a huge "fort".

6. Putty Erasers

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You always bought one whenever there was a school store.

7. iPod shuffle.

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The smallest, least technological iPpd apple has made, made you the coolest kid at the bus stop.

8. "Education Connection"

You knew EVERY wood to the "Education Connection" commercials. Every. Single.Word.

9. " The Naked Brothers Band"

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The "Naked Brothers Band" had a short run on Nickelodeon and wrote some absolute bangers including, "Crazy Car' and "I Don't Wanna Go To School"

10. Dance Dance Revolution

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This one video game caused so many sibling, friend, and parent rivalries. This is also where you learned all of your super sick dance moves.

11. Tamagotchi

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Going to school with fear of your Tamagotchi dying while you were away was your biggest worry.

12. Gym Scooters

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You, or somebody you know most likely broke or jammed their finger on one of these bad boys, but it was worth it.

13. Scholastic book fairs

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Begging your parents for money to buy a new book, and then actually spending it on pens, pencils, erasers, and posters.

14.Go-Gurt

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Who knew that putting yogurt in a plastic tube made it taste so much better?

15. Slap Bracelets

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Your school probably banned these for being "too dangerous".

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