Girls and geekdom: fiction vs. reality

I shouldn’t have to point out to any sane person why the very concept of “fake geek girls” is, in fact, pure bullshit. But the sad fact of the matter is that the portrayal (or rather, the lack of portrayal) of female members of the geek community in fictional media is definitely not helping.

The most typical (and stereotypical way) of portraying geeks in fictional media is via young white males hanging around geeky places like comic book stores, making jokes about how pathetic they are, and how they have no chance of ever getting girlfriends because they hang out in places like comic book stores that are complete wastelands as far as girls go. Or, we might see those same geeky guys go to a comic/anime convention, and the joke once again becomes that they’re just being dorky guys and they have no chance of meeting any girls at these places.

Girls and geekdom: fiction vs. reality

Usually, it’s meant as a joke on how pathetic the guys are, so we can point and laugh at them. And then also feel a sense of accomplishment when one of them manages to get a hot girlfriend outside of the geek community by the end of the episode/movie/season, and then we can all go, “He got a life, hooray for him!”

Not only is this image completely wrong, but it’s also actually hurtful in its own way.

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Firstly, what’s wrong with having a “geeky hobby” and drawing joy from that? Why can’t you be both a geek and a well-rounded person? And what’s wrong with being a geek? What do you care what I do in my spare time? How is reading comic books any less worthwhile than bird watching, dog breeding, stamp collecting, watching sports, or any other time-consuming hobby? And why can’t you do all of the above if you want to?

Secondly, the idea that there are “geek” places that are a completely devoid of girls is just bullshit, and only serves to further propagate the image that girls don’t know how to have fun and don’t understand geek culture. And what I’m led to believe is that the men writing these movies and shows have in fact never actually been to a convention.

Girls and geekdom: fiction vs. reality

I, however, have been to a number of comic/anime conventions in three countries now (England, Denmark, and Austria) and here are some of the things I’ve observed at them. These may not be true everywhere in the world, but it’s actually been true at most of the conventions I’ve been to!

Girls love to dress up as male characters, even from fandoms mostly considered to be male.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the SVS anime convention in Herning, Denmark. I was driven by a lovely young woman, twenty years old, and while I was being more conventional and dressing up as Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, who did she turn out to be?

Well, duh, Mr. Freeze, of course!

Girls and geekdom: fiction vs. reality

And she wasn’t the only one. At this convention alone, which in the grand scheme of things is a pretty tiny convention, with only around 360 people attending, I also encountered women dressed as:

  • Deadpool
  • Soldiers from Attack on Titan (widely considered to be the most blood-spewing-est anime to come out in the last few years)
  • Hellboy
  • The Riddler
  • Three different Links
  • Four different Monkey D. Luffys
  • Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee

…Just to mention a few.

Now, not all girls were cosplaying as male characters. I would say 60% of them were cosplaying as females, and many of them were in nice beautiful dresses or sexy small costumes.

But what does this tell us? It says that women are certainly not limited in what they like in a character. Girls are attracted to interesting, unique characters just as much as being feminine and pretty. And this is why we’re so often led to cosplay as male characters, simply because there are a greater variety of them.

I even had a conversation with my Mr. Freeze, where she openly admitted she cosplayed as Mr. Freeze because she loves his character as portrayed in Batman: The Animated Series, and loves being able to spew out all those ice puns. But at the same time, we both agreed we’d like to cosplay as pretty princess types at one point. And why should we have to choose between the two?

The girls at these conventions are just as knowledgeable of geek fandom as the boys.

A woman who can list off all the Batman villains in Batman TAS is actually not as rare as you think. At a geek con, that’s downright normal. Girls who own several gaming consoles and play tons of RPGs with a passion? Also not a rarity. And well, maybe it’s just because of David Tennant’s sexy butt, but I can’t help but think that there just might be a few more female Whovians out there than male Whovians.

I had conversations at SVS with members of many different fandoms, all the way from One Piece to the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie, with people from both genders, all of whom were just as into these franchises and fandoms as I was. This is rather unlike The Big Bang Theory, where a woman will just look numbly upon a man talking about the law of Thor’s hammer, isn’t it?

What does this tell us? Well, for one thing, that the very idea of women not knowing anything about geek culture is complete and utter bullshit. Believe me, I wasn’t the only woman raiding that comic book stand (I bought Batman: Hush, thanks for asking). There’s a genuine audience here to cater to, and the portrayal of women in fictional media is not only wrong, but kind of hurtful when you think about it for more than two seconds.

More than half of convention attendees are women.

I’ve noticed this for a good while, and I always make a point of being aware of it whenever I go to a con. But every time, my experience only confirms what I already know: that the female gender completely dominates the scene of anime conventions and cosplay culture!

You heard me right: not only are women present in big numbers when it comes to dressing up in capes and masks for a weekend of fun, but in general they outnumber the males. Granted, not all “geek” gatherings seem to have that much female representation—in my general experience, it breaks down like this:

  • LAN parties will have the occasional woman or two once in a while.
  • Tabletop role playing games in general have just a few women present.
  • Premieres of big superhero movies will have at least a fair attendance of women.
  • At LARP games, one-third of all attendees will in general be women.
  • Anything Doctor Who-related will pretty much have a fifty-fifty showing.
  • And cosplay gatherings will most likely have a predominance of women.

What does this tell us? Where do I even begin? All of the above is the indisputable reality that I’ve experienced by simply stepping outside of my house and going to a local convention in town. It’s not a wasteland for women—quite the opposite.

Women show up, not for some higher purpose, but because they love being geeks and geeking out over all of these things. There’s no need to assume that only men are watching geek movies. Heck, I’m quite sure that a lot of women really appreciate shirtless Thor, in both of his movies.

Girls and geekdom: fiction vs. reality

It seems that movies, television shows, and comic books have yet to catch up to the reality of girls in geekdom, and that’s pretty sad. And it’s insulting to be told by the media that you don’t even exist. So please, spread the word, and if you happen to be a creative person, think twice about the way you portray women and geeks in the things you create.

Fandoms belong to everyone, regardless of age, gender, or nationality. That’s what geekdom is all about: A liberating space for everyone, where anyone can act like a crazy idiot if they want, appreciating the things they love and the things that bring some small amount of joy to their lives.

[—Editing/cleanup/revisions to this article provided by Dr. Winston O’Boogie and Elliot Hodgett.]

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  • Immortan Scott

    On Free Comic Book Day this year, there was people of every race, creed, and gender at the comic book store that I go to. And at other comic stores that I’ve been to, it hasn’t been pure-WASP men there.

    • Sofie Liv

      Exactly!

      … I got no more than that, but that’s what I get to when I got to comic book store.
      And well duh obviously, since I am a girl, I am just adding one extra when-ever I step through the door.

  • Anthony Arrieta

    I’ve been in a couple conventions here in Mexico and the attendence of women is pretty big, the proportion is almost 50-50.

    I have this theory that since TV and movie writers are at least two decades behind of what it’s truly current and trendy, they still have the idea that conventions and geekdom in general are male-dominated. But in the last two decades or so (probably started around the mid-90’s), the female to male ratio was starting to become more and more equal. Most writers of mainstream media didn’t notice that, ergo, they’re lost with discredited stereotypes.

    Maybe in the next decade we’ll finally see shows with female characters that are as geeky and passionate about a comic, a videogame or a manga as her male counterparts?

    • Sofie Liv

      Actually the first real convention ever made back in the seventies, were made by a group of girls whom was totally into Kirk/Spock slash fan fiction, and thus invited the actors of Star Trek to this convention where all the attendances got the brilliant idea to dress up as characters from Star Trek, then some-one else saw it, thought it was great, and re-did the success, before you knew it, you had a trend.

      All thinks to a bunch of female Star Trek fans, whom totally dug slash fanfictions.. and nope. I am not making that up.
      So obviously, even back then, there were girls around at these conventions, then at some point males to ownership for some reasons.

      I don’t know mate, I don’t know.. hopefully. I sure hope that’ll be the case.
      I guess it depends on what writers will take over in the next genneration and how they think about their own stuff.

      • Anthony Arrieta

        I was aware of that. It surely is a fascinating story.

        I myself write in a literature online for more than a decade now and the great majority of users in most communities, websites and plataforms are, well, women. I’m not surprised by the fact women are not only equals in terms of numbers, nor the fact that in some fandoms or factions of “geek” related activities, they’re actually the dominant force.

        Then, why the dissonance? If women have been part of geekdom from that long time, why the dissonance between reality and fiction? Are those male writers just plain sexist?

        I think they’re sexist but not in an “active” way: I don’t think they truly believe in things like “women are inferior to men” but I do believe they carry old ideas about gender roles that are still damaging and out-of-touch with reality.

        I guess the best way to deal with this issue is to allow more diversity in the media creation: most writers, directors and producers are white males. I don’t believe they’re willingly racist either but there’s only so much perspective about fiction anybody can get by himself. More variety or authors and creators allows more variety of stories and the ways those stories are told, and since reality is made by all kinds of individuals, if fiction is made by only a faction of such individuals, fiction won’t reflect reality as it truly is.

        • Sofie Liv

          Neither do I think it’s done intentionally.

          But since has “Not thinking.” been an excuse for any-thing? because that’s what is happening, they are not thinking at all.

          They don’t stop in their tracks, look at the people in front of them at their comic con panels and say. “Oh hey look… women.”
          They don’t think, they don’t notice.. and if you don’t take time to think and reflect, how are you going to progress?

          You can’t tell me there was a time there was NO geek girls any-where, sure i’ll buy that they were more rare ones, but none at all?
          I don’t really believe that, how can I? When I actually genuinly enjoy these things that much myself, hell when I was a kid, I lifed inside of these fantasy worlds. You can’t tell me it has no appeal to girls, that would be the same as accusing me of lying about myself and my own interests.

          • Anthony Arrieta

            True.

            That’s the most persistent prejudice: the passive prejudice. The one where people claim they’re in favor of equality but most of the time don’t even notice the problems in media representation of gender (or for that matter, of race or sexual orientation. etc…)

      • Muthsarah

        That…..WHAAAA-??? 1970s proto-K/S slash fic started the convention subculture….?

        Buuhhhhh????

        Source? Seriously, ain’t never heard anything like that before.

        It would be totally trippy to think that the once-male-dominated (especially in popular consciousness) geek convention circuit was founded by women geeking out about something that wouldn’t become mainstream for decades afterwards. Maybe because I’m currently reading a book about ancient mythologies, and about how most Indo-European religions grew out of ritualistic beliefs celebrating a triple-moon-goddess, and how that was eventually subsumed by male-dominated king cults (which once involved ritualistic sacrifice of male king-figures, but eventually turned to sacrifice of surrogate boys, then animals, then just letting the king do whatever he wanted), which eventually reduced female participation in religion/society to the fringes, such that, for a long time, everyone thought it was never any different. And now….even in the late 20th-century….history/ancient mythology repeats itself….

        Bizarre.

        This is blowing my mind, much like when I heard that, 100 years ago, pink was considered to be a boy’s color and blue was a girl’s color. Shook the very foundation of reality back to age three, that did.

        MAIN LESSON: Just because something is as it is, that doesn’t mean it always was as it is, and, thus, it need not always be as it is. Things can change, drastically, and have. Do not assume the past was ever always like the present. The present is nothing but the present. The past, like the future, could be totally different. And that’s just how it is, and always has been.

    • Jerry Nava

      I can vouch for that, in some cons over here, there are even more women than men at them.

      ¿Has ido a La Mole Anthony?

      • Anthony Arrieta

        I know La Mole. Unfortunely, I haven’t. Most conventions I’ve attended are in the northern part of the country.

        • Jerry Nava

          Had the same problem. I live in the show, I’ve only been to La Mole once, it’s pretty ok tbh

  • Dex_Meridian

    The issue might be that the middle-aged men writing a lot of mass-audience-aimed things (Chuck Lorre and Big Bang Theory being foremost in my mind) are from an era where young men replaced a lot of human interaction with comics, early video games, and sci-fi shows/movies.
    Thanks in part to the internet, young men and women use these things as a means to interact on a common level. Among other things that people nerd out over, including sports and cocktail selection and gym regiments. As pointed out above, most people are nerds about something or another.

    • Sofie Liv

      Believe you me, the big bang theory is by far, by faaaaar the most obnoxious out of all of these examples.

      The jokes where the joke is that girls just stands around looking numbly at the men when the guys go into geek mode are just endless, and they never ever stooop.

      Hell, it looks like the women are comitting a sacrifice for their little hubby love when-ever they decide to actually sit down and do some-thing geeky with the guys like watching Doctor who or what-ever.

      And you know what the real ironic thing is about it? The only one of the main actors, the only one of them whom is a geek and a hardcore trekkie… Is the woman playing Amy!

      And yet it doesn’t even occour to the show writer to include a geeky female character or maybe, I don’t know, make Amy into a geek to?

      I don’t even understand these couples, they have nothing in common at all as couples.

      And yes as a romantic couple you can have comic books as a comic interest, hell, I could actually only see myself end up with a fellow geek, I need to have that in common with any future love.
      … Also I want to be able to dress him up so we can go as pairs to conventions, I am talking like Green Arrow and Speedy or some-thing like that!

      And yes, yes they are. I’ll even say being a nerd about some-thing is a hell of a lot better just sitting around day and night doing nothing. It gives lifes some substance if you ask me.

      • Dex_Meridian

        Agreed on all counts. My big problem with the “comic book store” set-ups is the idea that Marvel and DC superheroes are the only comics that exist. Sure, they are dominant, and something can be said for the adolescent male fantasy inherent to them, but my wife and I bonded over Harvey Pekar books, and Greg Rucka’s lead female detective character in “Stumptown.”
        Also (not to brag or anything, but I’m so totally bragging because my wife kicks ass), during a movie discussion the other night, she demanded that we see the new Godzilla.

        • Sofie Liv

          Yeah I am a european so I absolutely grew up with tons of European comic book titles.
          My favourites ones while I grew up were titles such as “Asterix.” “tintin.” “Valiant.” “Valhalla.” “Scrooge McDuck” “Elf Quest.” ext.. it was first as I was much older I got into DC and Marvel, and then it was through the movies and tely shows.

          Also, I am I also totally going to see Godzilla this thursday! I am very much looking forward to it!

      • drumstick00m

        Thank you both for posting these thoughts on the world wide web. Been feeling them for the longest time about Big Bang Theory and unable to find others who agreed. Talking to siblings or immediate friends from college was like talking to a brick wall.

        • Sofie Liv

          you’re welcome mate 🙂

      • Hitchmeister

        Good luck finding some guy who’ll dress up as Speedy for you. 😉

        Actually, I do mean that. If you do, he’s bound to be a keeper and I’d like you to be happy.

        • Sofie Liv

          Hehe, thanks.
          One should think that would be doable, I mean, with my faboulus looks and personality.

          Seriously though, i’ll take it when it comes. i have yet to have any boy-friend at all, simply because.. I kind of turned any-one down whom was interested in me.
          I just never really felt it, and I am not exactly in a desperate need of one.. yes I want a boy-friend, I am not ashamed to say it, I would like to find love one day.
          But neither am I desperate, my life is not revolving around it or any-thing, i’m pretty content as I am.

  • What do you think of The Guild?

    • Sofie Liv

      I… have no idea what so ever what that is..

      Gimme a link or some-thing, i’ll check it out.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guild I guess it wasn’t a major show…

        • Jerry Nava

          Wait it aired on TV? All I remember from the Guild is that it was on youtube and Felicia Day was in it, didn’t care much to watch it because I’ve never cared about World of Warcraft/MMOs

          • Jill Bearup

            I don’t think it aired on TV, unless you have a web TV box or something.

            I loved the Guild. And I don’t play MMOs. Well, OK, that one flash-based one, but that doesn’t require interaction with other humans, so eh, doesn’t count. 🙂

          • Sofie Liv

            It looks interesting enough, I just might check it out later.

            Right now I have a ton of Adventure time go through though..

          • Muthsarah

            I don’t have a lot to contribute to this discussion (which is odd, since I feel I SHOULD have an opinion….I just don’t), but I will second/third/fourth/fifth “The Guild”. It’s on Netflix here, dunno what your options are. I liked it. But everyone else I know LOVES it. And most of us aren’t MMORPGers. At least of the graphical variety (we were hipster text-based MMORPGers, BEFORE they were cool).

            As for Adventure Time, don’t burn yourself out on one thing. It’s fun at the time, but when you reach the end, you’ll be full of regrets. Space things out. Alternate. Delay the inevitable moment when you’ve run out of new episodes. Moderation, grasshopper. And other Buddhist stuff.

            I should totally see Adventure Time too. But YOU, missy, should see yourself some The Guild. It’s both very personal (from Felicia Day’s perspective) and goofy, and pretty sweet at times. It gets geek culture. And it loves it, warts and all.

            P.S. You know Felicia Day, right? You…HAVE seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, yes? Yeeeeeeesssss….???? The Guild actually preceded it, being an inspiration for it, and a key reason for Day to get cast in that now-landmark musical.

          • Bouncy X

            well i’m sure the fact Felicia worked on Buffy with Joss Whedon way before any of that stuff helped her get the part a little. 😛

          • Jerry Nava

            Really? You may have raised my interest on it a bit…wait, you mean all MMOs are not flash based? My life has been a lie!

          • Magdalen

            It was written by Felicia Day, funny stuff. Plus it has Will Wheaton!

    • MichaelANovelli

      I believe their intent is calamitous!

  • Murry Chang

    Part of it is that some of us are older and remember when being a ‘geek’ and a ‘nerd’ were negative things. Back then, being a LotR fan would get you harassed constantly for liking to read books. If you liked to use computers? Ha good luck ever getting a girl to talk to you. I think there are a lot of guys that feel the girls are faking being geeky just to set them up for a fall down the line.

    You kids are lucky these days that being geeky is cool, and I’m lucky that liking to play with computers translates into a decently paying job, but the mental scars are still there for a lot of us. I’m not trying to make excuses for assholish behavior here, just putting myself in the other mans shoes for a while to try to understand why the assholish behavior may come about.

    • Gallen_Dugall

      …or getting an arm dislocated for blowing a test curve.
      Things are not the same today, but while nerds and geeks aren’t the primary focus of “bullying” any more I do believe that the actual bullying has gotten worse so when it does happen it tends to be much darker. The guy that dislocated my arm was eventually quite repentant about it, but these days I think people wallow in their irrational anger and hate much more. I don’t know why.

      • Murry Chang

        I think you’re probably right. A lot of the kids who would be ‘on the fence’ about bullying someone might not do it these days, leaving more room for the kids that really dig tormenting other kids for whatever reason to do worse things.

    • Sofie Liv

      Actually… I havn’t gone untouched either.
      There was a time in my life, back when I was still in school, I hid the fact, from all of my class-mates, that I am role-game player.
      I am both a table-top player and a Larper, that was considered very uncool, in spite of the Lord of the rings being a thing, and I got teased so much with it at the place I had come from, that I down-right kep that fact about myself, hidden at my new place.

      It became this most awful game where I had to hide where I had been in the weekends, or come up with alternative stories to what I did. It was awful, i felt awful, it nearly destroyed me.

      And well, I don’t have to tell, just how awful it is, to be struggling with these things in your real life, in ordinary school, where people call you unnatural because you sit all day with your fantasy book, because facing up to them is also hard.
      Only to go to the place where you are supposed to be safe, the geek place or comic book store or what-ever, and there, there is also suddenly a douch bag exclaiming you don’t belong there because of your gender.
      That hurts, a lot. It made me want to lock myself up in a room and never come out.

      And I don’t think medias continual way of portraying geeks as a social looser is helping either, I havn’t seen any-where where geeks have been potrayed as just normal, and in genneral competent people. The stereo-type is still. “Looser.” and. “This is such a looser way to spend your time.”
      While other things such as.. car racing. “IS SO COOL DUDE!”

      I don’t see how one thing is less worthwhile than the other, it gives life substance to have an hobby like that, and if it gives happiness to people, what right do people have to call it a looser thing.

      That’s hurtful, this genneral portrayal is hurtfull towards both boys AND girls. It’s so ignorant.

      • Murry Chang

        Human nature is a real bastard sometimes:(

        • Sofie Liv

          yeah… being different as a kid is a bitch.

          I was only fourteen when I bought the big “Universal monsters collection box.” with all the original black and white universal movies, because I really dug that stuff all-ready back then. And I still do, I love that box.
          That certainly wasn’t called normal behaviour at all, I pretty much got pointed at for doing that, and that’s just one out of many stories.

          So don’t assume just because I am younger I have gone untouched, I havn’t, at all…

          I was even asked, when I was twenty, very seriously by a person I shared room with in england while I lifed there. She asked me deeply seriously.

          “Do you know that you come across as kind of weird, are you aware of that?”

          And I could only answer.

          “Yes, I am deeply aware of that. People has made me aware since I was five years old, so how could I not be?”

          Since then I have taken ownership of it of course, though I must admit, I am tearing up just a little bit writing this.

          • Murry Chang

            That’s the right thing to do:) Geeks owning our weirdness is why we inherited the Earth!

          • Sofie Liv

            Dude it’s the only thing to do, you either take ownership or you’ll get destroyed internally.

            No wonder so many geeks gets so easily offended moving directly into “Defensive.” mode, snapping at any-one whom critisises them, for some it’s the only way they know of to protect themselves.

            Now, i’ve been born with having an almost none exsistent temper, it’s been one of my main problems growing up that I rather step aside than taking a stand, i’ve had great support from my closest family, and in my later years I have gotten brilliant psykological help, helping me standing firmer in myself.. not every-body are that lucky.

            I am in a point of my life now though, where I am pretty tired of having to constantly making a statement.
            I don’t wish to loudly announce that I am a geek girl as if it some kind of a cause to fight for, I don’t wish to have it a big deal that I merely exist. I just want to calmly be and enjoy my stuff calmly, while sharing the things I like with fellow enthusiasts.. that’s just the point I reached.
            Tired of having to make any sort of point, so people say any-thing against me or my interests.. quite frankly, at this point in time… they can bite me. I don’t care any-more.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    As someone who writes fiction I’ll say that the gender of characters is one of the last things I define about them. It has little bearing on who they are as characters… unless babies need to get made or if recreational sex needs to happen. My characters typically have bigger issues to deal with.

    On the issue of “fake nerd/geek girls” technically there are fakes in every niche culture. Religion is a great universal example. You can’t go to any church/temple/mosque anywhere in the world without finding people that go there to make connections, promote their business, advance their careers, and sell things – religious institutions have to buy stuff like anyone else and guess who they prefer to buy from? Anywhere there’s a captive market of like minded individuals where just showing up grants you a status and a certain level of acceptance you’ll find people taking advantage of this. Once upon a time awareness of this simple fact in the highly consumer oriented geek/nerd culture was a given. You walk into any convention and it’s mainly about selling stuff (if they stop making money they stop happening) with the added benefit of socialization with like minded people as a side.

    One day some douche-brahs picked up this simple logical fact and fashioned it into a bludgeon to be used against anyone outside their insular cliques being particularly vitriolic towards females (probably because they felt less likely to be physically corrected in their abhorrent behavior for doing so) and the response has been a branding of anyone to even broach the issue and treat them to equally hateful vitriol without further rationalization.

    To be fair it hasn’t gotten quite as bat guano insane as if you question a person’s commitment to their faith, where physical violence is the universally accepted response, however it remains a horrible open wound in the nerd/geek culture that can’t be closed because we can’t have a conversation about it. Except me because I’m a horrible misanthrope. Frankly I find it easier to take everyone at their word because it just doesn’t matter to me… once again; I’m a horrible misanthrope.

    One rare instance where personal fandom I think does matter is in the people who actually run franchises, who are far too often just business people with no emotional stake in what they run, but they try to pass themselves off as one of the crowd with all the success of a horrible youth culture oriented public service messages written by middle age folk. If your only investment in a project is a paycheck the product will show it.

    • Sofie Liv

      Well, as a writer, I would have to say… Gender does matter, it changes how you look upon a character.

      Some-times, it just wouldn’t be the same if a character wasn’t a man or wasn’t a woman,

      How-ever, a woman can be many different things, and people are all different and can have so many different personality traits. What you can do with a character, what you can create, is limitless regardless of gender, and we do have the ability to explore where all these different paths could go, if we so choose to take that path.

      Really, the way I see it, it’s not that media shoudl start making more “Male characters whom just happens to have boobs.”
      That a bad idea, that puts up a sign that being feminime is in fact.. bad, even for women.

      What we just need are more different, varied, unique, female characters. Whether they exsists in the foreground or background, who cares, we just need a larger number of them. And a greater variety of them.

      • Gallen_Dugall

        To be clear the way I build a character is something like this
        Characters need a context, some place and time where they exist. In many historical places and times gender could be a serious aspect of the context of their world but if not then not
        After that characters have to have motivation. While it is possible I think a character whose motivation is driven by their gender is a bit limited outside of a minor character
        Then a character has to have capabilities, things they can and cannot do outside of a normal audience assumptions range. Gender can play a role here too but those differences are pretty minor from my perspective
        After that characters are defined by those characters around them and how they interact. This is the first point where (for me) gender becomes a serious concern because of the potential for interaction bias and romantic interest. I don’t often get this far with secondary characters.
        Pretty much the same things goes for sexual orientation, it’s just not a huge factor in who a person is, people are much more complex (and interesting) than their sexuality.

        As for the “Male character with boobs” argument I think it’s a valid part of an argument. Another part is that characters in general are written very emptily in general on the theory that this enables audience projection into that character. This is why Spiderman is no longer a nerd, Batman is no longer obsessed and Superman no longer always does the right thing. Because male are very unrealistic cardboard cut outs it creates the impression that when they do the same thing to female characters they are making them male but in reality men are not as depicted in mass media any more than women are.

        I write science fiction, often from an alien point of view, and any alien trying to learn about Humanity from our mass media would come away with some very bizarre misconceptions about relationships, sexuality and gender, which I played around with in my first novel “Ambassador to Earth”

  • $36060516

    I agree with other people here who replied that the people making these shows you’re complaining about are older and in their youth (where they are probably drawing their memory from) it was less common to see girls in the comic shop in America. In your essay you mention how anime and cosplay fandom is dominated by women, which is true, but most of these portrayals of geekdom you’re complaining about (and rightly so) don’t even include anime or cosplay (at least in any depth other than superficial “aren’t these people dressing up in costumes weird? lol” jokes) because the people writing them are middle aged guys from a time before the exponential explosion of manga’s popularity in America.

    This is not a defense of the way things are, just an observation of how it may have gotten this way, and how it may improve as my generation is replaced by yours.

    • Sofie Liv

      That’s still ignorance though isn’t it?
      It’s like saying.. “They are not thinking.” which.. yeah, that’s probably it, they are not thinking.. but that’s hardly an excuse, that’s.. ignorance.

      If you don’t take your time to think and reflect, to look at what is right in front of you at your little panel at comic con, then how are we going to progress?

      Shouldn’t writers in particular being the ones trying to progress themselves as much as possible, by having a look out-side on the world?

      Also, you can’t tell me there was no girls at all whom were interested in comic books back then, you just can’t.
      I mean, I am pretty damn sure that even if I had been born fifty years ago, I would still have been attracted to the concept of comic books and monster movies, because that is the kind of person I am.

      The kind of person whom is just born with a highly imaginative brain that likes that sort of stuff, it just latches right unto it, always have done. So no.. you just can’t tell me that.

      Also we all know for a fact that it was a bunch of female trekkies whom created the first convention ever back in the 70’s, because they totally dug Kirk and Spock slash stories.. women.. women made the first convention.. fourty years ago.. they were around back then, it’s a fact. And they did watch Star Trek.

      Hell, some of the first exstened univers books written for the star Wars univers, were written by women, shortly after the original movies came out, so those women must have seen the movies. Thusly, they were around!

      So.. what the hey?

      • $36060516

        I do agree it’s lazy writing. I didn’t intend to defend the status quo.

        Female Trekkies did create the first convention but Star Trek conventions were almost always separate from comic book conventions in America. Over at the comics conventions and shops it was more unfriendly to women. I never went to Star Trek conventions, myself, so can’t speak to what they were like. I only went to some comic cons.

        I do agree that women geeks and women writers of geek-friendly fiction and comics and TV etc. have existed since the beginning of geekdom, but I also feel that my experience was that it was pretty rare to see them in the comic shops I visited when I was heavily into comics from the 1980s to the 1990s One of the shops I went to had a young woman behind the counter because she was the daughter of the owner and it seemed very unusual that she was there. The “Comic Book Guy” on “The Simpsons” was the usual sort of person working in such shops. The shops often featured posters of female superheroes wearing objectifying costumes that would have turned off any women coming into the shops and made them feel like they were not welcome.

  • Zyz
    • Sofie Liv

      Urhm.. But if we don’t talk about it or never bring it up, just pretend like it isn’t there.

      How would it ever change?

      • Jerry Nava

        THIS.
        I hate it when people snarkily react to an issue by saying “well duh we already know that”, newsflash, not everyone does, if we shut up about it less people will care and nobody will ever do anything about it.

        • Sofie Liv

          And even if you do know about it, what will that mere knowledge help if you don’t use it for any-thing or bring it up.

          Issues that are not brought up regularly will just fade away to the background of peoples mind.. You need to be just a little bit active about it at least.

          • Zyz
          • Sofie Liv

            So you want me to not talk about it at all?

            That still seems like a poor progression, and well, who knows.. who knows what might happen right?

            One of our contributors the other day, were contacted by the director of “Delgo.” due to a review he made of this said movie.

            Yes, you’re right, this article most probably wont change a thing but maybe… just maybe.

            There’ll sit some person out there, look at it, blink, and then use some time for reflection and thinking about these issues, and that’s really all I can ever ask for.

            This is not a political agenda.. I am not taking any political stand point or putting any political philosophy into it at all, I just look at some-thing I exsperienced by myself going to a con.

            And write about how my real life exsperience over many years, fares against what I have been showed in Media.

            Also I just finished a video about Superman, it’s right there in the Raw Feed upload, also i’l probably release a review about the new godzilla movie this friday.. dude i’ve mainly made reviews for this site as it is, for the last two years i’ve made a new review at least every second week, and I still am.

            This was a deviation I took because it’s some-thing that meant some-thing to me personally, and I would like to bring it up, in a fair article, portraying geek girls, not in that shallow Anita Starkison manner where she wants to exclude every-thing, but as I see them, where I only wish for more inclusion.

          • $36060516

            Yikes. I feel kind of bad for the Delgo guy. Not that I’m going to watch the movie.

            Not that you asked or needed my validation, but I think you’re right to call for more inclusion as many times as it takes to get it done.

          • Sofie Liv

            Oh don’t feel bad for him, he told it was a very friendly encounter and there might come an enterview up because of it 😉

          • Muthsarah

            It’s a media review site. That means that they review specific bits of media (movies, TV shows), but also sometimes the bits in-between (trends, popular criticism at large). If you don’t like the latter, that’s fine. But you’re going a bit far by telling someone else that it’s pointless for them to express themselves. That’s an opinion best kept to yourself. You have the right to express YOURself, but if all you’re gonna do with it is to tell someone else NOT to express themselves as they want to…what exactly are you trying to do?

            Personally, I like these general criticism articles better than any other. They draw on lots of issues, don’t really require the reader to have seen all the works mentioned to understand the general point, and spark debate on issues of taste that can’t be easily reduced to “did you/did you not like X movie”? And, based on the number of comments the last couple in particular have received, lots of others like these articles as well. They’re excellent starting points for debates on broader issues. That’s a good thing.

  • John Wilson

    I think its more about the demographic. Its more focus on mainstream nerd doing sitcom things then realism. Not saying I like the show. I think its obnoxious. But I see where there coming from. I think once we get the mainstream nerd girl. Then we’ll see more nerd girls in shows like this. I think its really funny that anime nerds girls are much better then any other portrait of nerd girls on t.v.

    • Sofie Liv

      But clearly that suppoed demographic is wrong all-ready now, as there clearly are girls out there enjoying all of these things going to comic book stores.

      What-ever demographic they are targeting doesn’t actually exsist in that way as potrayed in the movies and TV shows.. and yeah Big Bang is by far the most obnoxious thing about these things -_-;

      • John Wilson

        There a game show called “King of the nerds” that you might get where you are. Its a pretty good portrait of nerds.

        This reminds this of a movie I saw a while ago that had a part where a hot girl who doesn’t like Sci fi books is given sci fi books by a hot guy. They use actual authors names which was a nice touch. But one of the books was by Phillp K Dick. Dicks books are far out there and are not the kind of books you give to someone with barely a understanding of what Dick talks about. It was like they got a list of popular Sci fi authors without knowing what they wrote about. That what “Big bang” reminds me of.

        • Sofie Liv

          Actually, all the references they use in the big bang theory are correct, at least as far as I can tell.
          I do believe the writers are actual nerds liking this kind of stuff, problem just is they are fifty some-thing year old nerds whom apparently never bothers to have a look around in an actual comic book store to see what type of people hangs out there.
          And just have vague memories of how it used to be in their old country town where there only lived like a hundred people and had one tiny comic book store.

          I’ll might just youtube that game show, thanks for the tip.

          • JD

            Its terrible.

  • dann

    yeah, there’s nothing to be proud of when you’re a “geek”, male or female. Just means your a loser who’s 40, a virgin, and still lives with your parents. And knows a lot about something normal people don’t give a fuck about.

  • Arturo Garza Flores

    I honestly don’t get the idea of why are boys so afraid about girls ruining everything about their beloved geek stuff. Most stories in the vein of what Sofie was talking about at the beginning carry a very disturbing undertone, how a so-called geek , no matter how awkward or socially maladjusted he may be, can still score with a non-geeky girl. As far as empowerment fantasies go, that’s very immature and kind of pathetic.

    Personally, I would love to meet more girls I can talk geeky stuff with. I don’t need to overreach because a movie or tv show says I should. That’s not how real life works. Finding people with similar interests is a great, easy way of living happily and socially fulfilled.

    Also, I would like to ask Sofie two things:

    1. Do you plan to continue your overviews of episodes of MLP? I’ve been enjoying them so far.

    2. Can you please take a look at an editorial I wrote regarding MLP, bronies, and online misconduct?
    http://arthurcrane.deviantart.com/art/Oh-Brony-Why-You-So-Internet-454050039

    • Sofie Liv

      1. No I wont be writing any-more of those, it just didn’t work out, time pressure and all of that, and not enough readers so I rather focus on other things.

      2. …. wauw that’s a lot of text, i’ll have to come back to you on that one okay?

      And yeah.. yeah it kind of is. It’s not really taking ownership of your own interests, it’s having no pride in yourself.
      “Oh, comic books were the sad thing I did when I Didn’t have a life, now I don’t need them any-more!”
      Dude what the hell? That’s kind of rude towards us other people whom also enjoy this stuff, even as just an occasional thing to spice life up with.

      • danbreunig

        1. That’s a shame, because the latest two-parter has so much to it that it could easily work as a true series finale with everything coming to a head. It would make one last written recap all the more appropriate.

        2. Very well-spoken/written, Arturo. The “get-out-of-jail-free-card-to-ruin-others’-day” mentality really hits home.

    • danbreunig

      Sometimes the trick lies in the actual finding.

      And I’d love to see the never-to-be-seen gender-flipped version of that fantasy with the geek girl winning the non-geeky “normal” guy in the end.

  • rpdavies

    My ex-girlfriend really liked her sci-fi, especially surprising as she came from Cameroon. She claimed she got into it by watching films & reading her brothers comics.

    The film we watched together that she liked best was The Wolverine.

    During our time together I managed to get her into Alan Moore’s work, though some purists might cringe at me showing her the films based on his comicbooks.

    Thanks to her being called Nadia I found out about the anime Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water, complete with a lead character from Africa.

    She didn’t seem that impressed with it sadly, & even before we split our chances of cosplaying as Nadia & Jean were minimal.

  • LunarArchivist

    I mentioned this elsewhere, but it’s worth saying here as well, even if it’s just my crazy theory.

    Personally, I think the negative backlash against “fake geek girls” has its roots in negative experiences from high school, specifically interactions with the stuck-up teenage fashionista/trend follower. I’m pretty sure everyone’s familiar with the stereotype: the attractive, snooty, stylish, immaculately dressed girl who was at the apex of the high school social food chain, mindlessly followed what was considered “in” or “cool”, looked down on anyone that didn’t do the same, and immediately dropped a fad once it ceased being popular or went too mainstream. The kind of girl who looked down on geeks and nerds, mocked them, and generally made their lives miserable.

    Flash forward to today, where geek chic prevails and being a hardcore fan has gone is now considered “in”…and the problem should become immediately apparent. I suspect that the more vocal, misogynistic fans are concerned that the women “invading” their fandom are not there because of any genuine love for the material, but because they’re just mindlessly following another trend and will not hesitate to leave once the fad is over. They’re mentally associating these women with divas/princesses who tormented them in high school and releasing years or decades’ worth of pent-up aggression and anger.

    Then again, it could just be the blowback from aggressive feminist tactics, something that veteran Linux hacker Susan Sons described as a “sexual moral panic”:

    http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/girls-and-software

  • Skylar Zenas Mullins

    I live in the south. (Asheville, north Carolina) given common stereotypes you definetily wouldn’t expect to see a large number of women at a con down here. yet when I wen’t to a comic/game/anything geek related convention hosted by UNCA I found almost the same thing. more than half the people there were women. I found the same result going to a rinky-dink con being held in the basement of the local convention center. if it’s that way here I think it’s safe to call this myth, if not busted, at least on it’s last leg.

    as far as the constant denigration of geek culture goes. old stereotypes die hard. people are unfortunately not born with a mirror in their hand so it’s all to easy to mock others for there interests while completely oblivious to the definition of irony they are so well demonstrating

    • Sofie Liv

      Well… if it’s like that in both England, Denmark, Austria and North Carolina.. it’s some-thing that deserves to be busted and busted haaaard.

      Some-body should make a documentary or some-thing. Man, I don’t have the resources for that, I can just make silly enternet videos -_-;

  • Moppet

    It always felt strange that even as “nerdy: as two of the female characters can be that they still insisted on leaving them in the, “I can’t believe they like that stuff” mindset. I realize it’s mostly played for comedy, but it really could stand to be done away with. At some point the joke is played out, and you have room for female characters that do like the geeky stuff. For a second, and by second I mean one episode, Penny was addicted to an MMO. Addiction is a bad thing, but I always found it a little sad that the first time we see Penny enjoying something the guys liked it was treated as a negative (mind you, their depiction of Age of Conan was, um, questionable).

    It’s easy for me to say these things, I have to assume there must be people out there that really just never meet girls/women into certain matters of subject. Where I’m concerned it’s impossible to see things in such a way, myself, my very family, is very much awash in an interest in games, movies, comics and more. My parents both played video games before I was even born, they owned an intellivision, and apparently I had things to say about their choices while playing games before I was even birthed. My parents loved the Star Wars movies, my Father has a collection of Star Wars minis still in the boxes from ages ago. My mother read magazines full of long term (continuity) comic panels while in the Army, and comics besides. My parents and their relationship alone show that something like the Big Bang Theory doesn’t understand a lifestyle, regardless of gender, that was being lived decades before the show itself was ever conceived.

    If that wasn’t enough, my own life experience beyond my family is full of examples of girls and women having great interest in things that the writers seem unable to believe the female leads of the Big Bang Theory could possibly like. That’s not even getting into the female personalities this site shows off that have an obvious love for geeky stuff. As I said, maybe there are just plenty of people out there without an experience like mine, so they never meet girls or women into this stuff, but as someone that grew up in an environment drenched in geeky enthusiasm [that included plenty of females] it’s hard for me to imagine.

    • JD

      but there is a difference between a normal nerdy middle/high school kid and how the male characters back grounds have been set up on this show.PHDs at 20 take a lot of work, in college at 12 you dont tend to meet a lot of girls your own age.

    • Sofie Liv

      Thanks for that, I love that you pointed to your parents both having been geeky types for a very long time. As the main argument I have heard for this kind of behaviour is;

      “But it didn’t use to be like this, and they are just portaying the past. So they are stuck in the past yeah, but it must come from some-thing.”

      And I just had to say… there was no girls with geeky interests in the past? Get out of here, I don’t believe that.
      I can’t think of myself as any less of a super hero enthusiast even if I were born fourty years in the past, I just can’t, that’s how much I dig that stuff.

  • FullofQuestions1

    There’s a con a little ways away from my college campus that actually focuses on and celebrates female geekdom. And yeah, that makes it being called “Conbust” a little weird (I wonder if that’s intentional or not), but I really have to go there sometime in the next four years. Good article, Sofie!

    • Sofie Liv

      Sounds a little weird to me.. I can’t say I like it when people turn to the. “Us Vs. Them.” attitude.

      But hell! I just might be a lot of fun, you should go check it out Yulia, have fun there 🙂

      • FullofQuestions1

        It’s not “us vs. them.” It just has some panels, etc. centered on certain topics. It’s also on the campus of an all women’s college. Guys are allowed there; I know several who went this year.

        • Sofie Liv

          sounds awesome, go support that 🙂

  • I’m from Portugal and i can say with some certainty that female gekdom is a bit of a wasteland. And it would seem to be weird for me to say this since i do know a very pretty girl who’s a major horror film nerd, we used to watch horror films in the theater, she was my mate to go with for watching a newly released horror film, though it all ended when she and her husband got their first child. Priorities.

    But i have to say that in my country there is not a big female movement in geek culture. Maybe the newer generations of girls who are now teens will one day bring ballance to the force and become as numberous as the boys, but from up to my generation and even youngers, from the 40s to the 20s, it’s still a male predominant thing. There’s still this culture that there are boys and girl things. You will find them going to comic book movies on their own free will, but it’s more because it’s the big spectacle film then their love for comics and whatnot.

    I’m affraid this is both a cultural and generational thing, specially in countries like my own. You guys in the USA and UK and northern europe have it more normalised in regard to the genders, but that is not an universal thing, i’m affraid to say.

    • Sofie Liv

      Have you ever been to an actual convention? You know where people dress up and met?
      That to me, seems to be the exact place where it becomes apparent that the female population in geekdomn is actually.. quite huge, and even dominating in that particular area, which is cosplaying specifically.

      Gamer girls tends to be a lot more quiet about it than gamer guys and just.. kind of casually play it at home, I know a ton of girls whom enjoy video games, RPG games, superhero movies ext.. so well.. this is just my personal exsperience of my own country.

      That doesn’t mean it has to be true every-where at all… it’s just my honest go real personal expserience where I have put an afford into observing the female population at places I gennerally go to.
      And well, i’m a girl at these places! So that makes it at least one allready there -_-;

      • There aren’t geek conventions in my country. It’s a too small market for that. You guys there have the benefit of the almost interchanchabikity of the danish/swedish/norwegian consumers, and also the benefit of having German soo lose to you. In here it’s far more insulated.

        I’d love to one day visit such a convention, but i would need to travel abroad, which is not an advisable option both due to this economy, which hit my country very hard, and also because i’m recouvering from a spinal surgery where i got a prostesis put in my spine for treatment of a severely herniated disk. In fact,i was operated 3 times in the period of a little more then a year. A bit of a bother that. So that does put a bit of a stop to such interest.

        • Sofie Liv

          Oh that’s a shame.

          Really to the danish cons, there aren’t really anybody from Sweden or norway, maybe a handful, but not enough that it would make any difference if they weren’t there.
          We just have a very loyal convention community, our conventions are nothing compared to the big countries, they are very tiny and cute in comparison.
          And it’s pretty much the exact same people meeting up every single time.
          Which is actually pretty nice in its own way, because you star forming this community at these cons, where you meet people, talk with them, and recognise them the next time, then hang out again.
          So yeah in sieze perspective, we are small enough that people can find each other and recognise each other from other cons.

          I guess we just have the culture for it and that’s it.
          We also got a very unique cosplay contest culture, where the main event at the cons are these cosplay shows where the cosplayers, not only show their cosplay, but make entire sketches with them, with sound and light and all of that, and a lot of people spend all year just prepairing themselves for these contests.
          My sister won at the last one! With this thumbelina act! And yeah she’s Thumbelina, she build that thing herself, she’s really good ^^
          oh and her bit first starts at 0:40, the first girl is just the CO of the show, my sister is the one in the GIANT ball gown, that she made herself.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXnDbPxG1gQ

          Spinal surgery?
          Oh… geesh.. that sounds painfull.
          I sure hope you’re not in to much pain, back pains are the worst! Because you can’t do any-thing.
          I wish you well, hope you’ll feel better soon.

          • I’d love to visit one of your cons, just to enjoy the cosy mood of the event. I wouldn’t understand what you would be saying most of the time (you have no idea how exotic danish or swedish or norwegian sounds to us here), but that’s not the point, right?

            I have recently noticed that you guys do have a long tradition in horror films. Only recently it has been made better known to outside of Scadinavia thanks to the sucesses of the Cold Prey movies (which i enjoyed a lot), but it seems to me you guys do take it quite seriously and are pretty good at it. It’s great to discover things not known betore.

            Yeah, back surgery is not fun. But fortunatly for me it hasn’t been that dramatic, the recouveries have gone well except for the resurgency of the discal hernias but aparently it’s not that uncommon to occur so i have been takijg n a bit of a phylosophical stanse on it. i can’t do much about it. It can induce in a bot of a mood swings in me, but that might be a caused by the boredom of recouvery, because i can’t do much. I can’t travel much, i can’t walk too much but i can’t stay for long either lied down or seated in the same place… it’s boring, really. The internet and chatting in foruns and meeting people like you on foruns sure helps, let me tell you. Otherwise, i would had exploded with total boredom by now.
            The good thing is that i have been discovering some great TV shows that have kept me distracted. Like your own The Killing show and Breaking Bad which i discovere and devoured at the same time, and now i have been watching great TV shows with like an hunger to know more. So that’s good.

          • Sofie Liv

            Well never say never, it’s all about what you decide to spend your limited money on isn’t it?
            I am paying for my own trip to an english con in a week, but that also mean I wont be able to afford some sound equipment I would also like.
            It’s very much all about choices and focus, what do you choose to spend your money and time on? And then focus on that choice.. sadly, none of us can have everything.

            But, if you ever make it to a danish con, give me a notice, i’ll meet you there and show you around.
            And as for languet, you don’t even need to worrie, all danish people speak english and people at the danish cons are only delighted to have foreigners there, you become like a rock star already every body wants to hang out with and speak to!

            Oh yeah, when I had a crick in my back and couldn’t move from my bed.. that’s when I truly got into one piece.
            I have no freaking idea why, for some reason I just thought I would give One Piece a second try, in spite of having put it on the shelf years prior… well for ones it was nice such a good series is that long, it sure lighted up my bed stay and made it doable, and it’s now my favourite manga ever X)

            And the last time I had a deep fever, I kind of just played Phoenix Wright through it all.. heh..

          • I have always wanted to visit the scadinavian countries on vacations, and now you are making it irrisistible. Good to know you the scadinavians would treat a foreigner like me so well. Cool! I really need to spend vacations there.

          • Sofie Liv

            Well, this country has become infamouse for being one of the most laidback and friendly countries in the world.

            i wouldn’t know if that’s true, I havn’t been to every single country in the world, but.. It’s nice to be complimented.

            I don’t know if I would call Denmark the best choice of a country to visit of the scandinavian countries… we are kind of a boring country.
            We don’t have any mountains or rivers or anything.. just a lot of flat landscapes but.. the people are nice 🙂

          • danbreunig

            That’s what counts. Tourists go to see places, travelers go to meet people. And even some people in particular 😉

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Well, education-wise the scandinavian countries are on the first places of the PISA-Ranking. I so envy you. How do you do that?

            I mean, in Germany, we have this “sword of damocles” hovering over our heads, Students, teachers, kindergardeners, kindergarten-teachers – even people who aren’t in school anymore think, that we need to work on our educational system to make it able to compare with the best of PISA-Ranking.

  • I do have to admit that the fashions of today does help a geek girl to look pretty and sexy in her own nerdom. The website TV Tropes even calls that “Adorkable” and imported a japanese term “Meganekko” to define dorky/geeky girls whose appeal is the fact they wear glasses. Tatiana Manslany as the clone Cosima in Orphan Black is a good demonstration of both those terms.

  • Fizzfop1

    So Sofie you better then Anita Sarkessaien don.t hate me commenters don.t resupen me unlest is Sofie i want to f her don.t hate and call me Maxxy