Fake Geek Girls Controversy: Subcultural Elitism

Apparently, there has been a controversy over “Fake Geek Girls”, particularly manifested as attractive women without an obsessive background in geek culture appearing in revealing costumes at comic and games conventions. The accusation, I take it, is that these women are not devout followers of the Geek Way, but only arrive for attention and approval by the primarily male geek population. Some have responded with outrage and indignation at this behavior. Others have responded with outrage and confusion directed at the outraged and indignant. Though a multitude of factors play into this phenomenon, I feel it is not altogether confusing to understand why devoted Geeks might be upset at the alleged “Fake Geek Girls.” (Please remember that explaining the actions of people is not an endorsement of their sentiments; I can explain how or why someone commits murder, but this doesn’t mean I’m in favor of it.)

My view is that Geek culture evolved through the 80s and 90s as a subversion of mainstream culture. It attracted those who would not or could not fit into the main culture, often as a result of valuing intelligence and academic rigor over physical appearance and insincere social bonding. If Geek culture is understood as a reaction to a culture of artificial appearance and vacuous social interactions, it becomes much clearer why “FGG” might be so upsetting. Geeks left main culture in rejection and created a new world in which they felt safe and comfortable. FGG represents an invasion of that new world by the world they rejected (and that rejected them). Geeks may very well feel threatened by the apparent imposition (or at least the arrival) of the values and norms they deliberately excluded from their newly created culture. This might be understood as the children who didn’t get picked for basketball (“Geeks”) going to another part of the playground to play a different game, and then the popular kids (who previously rejected the Geeks) left the basketball game to go play with the Geeks.

This understanding does not justify such anaphylactic reaction, of course, but the meeting of different cultures (especially those viewed as in conflict) is always challenging. Yet it certainly seems that seeking common ground and earnestly desiring to share ones hobbies and values is a healthier reaction that withdrawing from newcomers and seeking their immediate eviction.

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