The Faux Nerd Girl meme has been under attack in online media a lot, which is interesting since it’s a meme that never really rised up in a popularity as some of these memes do. When it first started popping up almost three years ago, I rarely saw any mention of it anywhere. Back then, I even made a few and shared them around. Now she’s back, and ironically enough, the offended factions seem to miss the point just as badly as the stereotype it pushes forward misses theirs.
Let me underline one thing before I go further into this. I am not in favor of sexism. I am not in favor geek elitism. And I don’t embrace stereotypes. I am strongly in favor of an equal playing field for all geeks to geek out about whatever it is that they like and enjoy it in an open and friendly field. A large part of that is why I shared and helped create Faux Nerd Girl images when the meme started out.
Sexism is a large strike against it. Although I don’t think it’s entirely fair to strike the meme down on those grounds alone. Yes, the person in the meme is a girl. And yes, it is kind of crucial that the person in the meme is a girl. And yes, there are men who this meme should, and could, apply to. That is not the argument at hand here.
Faux Nerd Girl is a girl because of the amount of fake geek girls out there trying to bait attention by latching onto the popularity of geeks and geekdom on the internet.
NOW HOLD ON JUST A FUCKING MINUTE Because that is not all there is to this.
You know how with sports, they often use women to promote things towards sports fans, grabbing the attention of the male majority using sex? Realize how often women who don’t care about anything but attention are painfully aware of this and do degrading things for men relating to these sports things without any appreciation or understanding of sports?
Ever notice people being up in arms about that because from the commercial side of things, this is sexist, and on the attention-seeking side this is disgusting behaviour?
Now for us nerds and geeks, this comes back in two forms as well. There’s marketing, that promises us 18+ games that will make us forget about relationships, or that we get to save lusty Argonian maids, and there are girls trying their best to eat 16-bit console cartridges, licking controllers while twisting their bodies in the strangest ways possible.
They’re not really doing it because they want a piece of geek action. Give them a geek who actually plays the things they’re posing with, and they’d make a disgusted face and run the fuck off. They’re not really interested in any of it, they just like the attention it gives them.
Enough actual geek girls get annoyed by the behaviour from these attention seekers. There’s no positive way into this, since they’re playing into the stereotype that gamers are pathetic virgin losers who will instantly latch onto anything related to sex on sight. Sadly, a lot of them actually do, but that has more to do with the fact that geeks are people just as well as sports fans are people, and there’s always a bunch of horndogs sharing these things around to as many people as they can.
This is severely damaging to the image of gamers. It creates the Gamer Girl. That girl who says she loves geek stuff but doesn’t actually have any interest in it at all. Not because she wants to be with geeks, but because she wants the attention that it creates it without going as far as actually acknowledging them or even having a discussion with them. This in turn creates frustration with the male geek because the fake geek girls are more vocal about it in the way only someone desperate for as much attention as possible can be vocal about anything. Thirdly, there’s the actual geek girl, the girl who enjoys geek things, who now gets a chunk of negative attention that’s reserved for the fake ones just by having a different set of genitals, while still getting that awkward overly positive attention from the same gamers who also drool over the fake ones. Because let’s face it, the ones doing it for attention keep doing it because to an extent, it is working for them.
Most gamers, male or female, know this. Probably everyone at the very least knows somebody who pretended to be a girl in an MMO and got a ton of free shit out of it thanks to the powers of positive sexism and the sad virgin gamer stereotype holding true to an extent. Or maybe you know an actual female gamer who, thanks to experiences with it, prefers to roll male characters in order to avoid this. With the advent of services like Xbox Live, a lot of people will have had that odd game of Modern Duty or Halo where one of their newly joined team members happened to be female and on voice chat, and suddenly everyone starts connecting their headsets and actively voice-chats after an hour of silent gaming.
I am an active member of a Chatango group because it’s a large part of the community of a gaming stream that I like watching. After getting messages promising sex from what obviously were bots, I decided to set my profile female for a bit and see what would happen then.
Actual people started messaging me. Only one hour had passed and I got about 10 messages from guys hitting on me. Just because my profile now said F instead of M. I immediately felt disgusted for a lot of reasons. First of all, I kind of became part of the problem by doing this. Secondly, as a male I’m expected to want chicks to message me about sex and bots were actively seeking out my profile to exploit this. Third, I could see why girls desperate for attention would pretend to like geeks. A lot of them are ravenous for a girl to give this undivided attention to. To a much more disproportionate amount in comparison to the amount of fake geek girls that are willing to have conversations with them, if the amount of attention I got was any indication. Later on, I heard that this is why a lot of the female residents of the community chat room within Chatango never supplied the service with their gender.
Keep in mind that this is in the same environment where all of us are still constantly barraged with negative media and press coverage about violence in video games, comic books, our choices in books and literature, the social issues concerning the fact that a young kid quietly reading a book or enjoying a lot of video games is a problem compared to the kid playing healthily outdoors… It’s already a largely frustrated group that’s a lot more aware about their image, and does a much bigger job ni their presentation within their group than most people think we do.
And no, the fact that this is a so-called Golden Age for geeks does not make this any easier for a lot of people. Yes, a lot of modern media plays into geeks now. We have fantastic blockbuster flicks in theaters based on comic books now. We have great TV shows based on comic books now. There’s a bunch of amazing conventions geeks go to in order to meet up and geek out together. We have all these amazing online communities. But they’re still largely concentrated things mainly because it’s still not a fully accepted thing yet. Enough kids still grow up in places where it is absolutely not cool to like these things. There’s still enough small towns with small town mentalities that don’t appreciate stepping out and being or thinking different. Heck, some of those small towns extend to small countries. So far a lot of people, the internet is really the one place they can go to in order to connect with people with similar interests.
And to those same people, the dishonesty behind pretending to be into something just because it gets your more attention tastes that much more bitter.
Especially since the same thing is going on within popular media, where a large chunk of it still puts in geek culture references only to either get it painfully wrong, or to just blatantly bash it. The same conversation is going on there about the honest and genuine representation of geekdom as opposed to the ironic and bitter one.
The main reason the Faux Geek Girl came forward was to spoof the fake geek girls who step into this ecosystem without trying to take the responsibility of being in it. It’s not just white men fighting for the exclusion of all girls and people they don’t like. Although most likely, knowing the internet, enough people who joined in on the meme did it for exactly that purpose. I feel the main reason the Faux Geek Girl came forward was to underline the attention seekers that don’t want to be identified as actual geeks. Because the geek crowd is mostly stereotyped as a straight white male audience, you wouldn’t come across men posting pictures posing with game consoles pretending to be into it as much as you would a female. At least, not until people started parodying the stupid pictures that came from the posing fake geek girls.
A much more positive and better meme to poke fun of the faux geek girl issue came from Tumblr. There, a lot of the male crowd on the site would start reblogging pictures of themselves in the same pose, holding the same objects as the girls posted, just to show how ridiculous it looked. It’s a lot more playful, since they’re putting themselves in the same position. At the same time, a lot of the female users on the site would also reblog it with pictures of themselves ridiculing the original poster’s conquest for attention.
Although women have come forward in a much more positive light in the nerd circles, I don’t think the problem will go away any time soon. This is something that seriously takes time to change, and both sides have their bad seeds that can cause things to move a lot more slowly than they should. The Faux Nerd Girl Meme is more of a symptom of this than anything. Until the environment changes, memes like these will keep coming up. And honestly, as long as people feel free enough to keep coming up with these memes and are open to debate them, the closer we can get to having fair ground.
I never got the vibe from the Faux Geek Girl that it locked people out by pulling geek superiority. The crowd that it makes fun of is not the crowd that wants to be in. Any actual geek girl who cares enough about her so-called “geek cred” that feels offended by it should actually feel like they’re in the clear. Although I feel like most of those same geek girls also feel just as annoyed whenever they come across pictures of so-called geek-girls showing off their cleavage while trying to devour a SNES controller.
Why don’t we make memes to poke fun at men who do this? We don’t even really have to. The Big Bang Theory covers that one. Not just the Big Bang Theory, just look at the negative backlash online whenever actors on TV are holding their controllers wrong while pretending to game. Even Dexter caught a massive ton of negative feedback the time he played Halo 3 online on a pre-Pentium 4 computer using only a keyboard while Atari sounds came out of it.
The real harm here comes from two sides. The attention seeking girls looking for the next camp to jump into for attention, and the horny guys who propagate their stuff because they’ll latch onto anything with boobs. Honestly, I’d give more shit to the guys that have kept feeding these girls the attention they crave more blame because without them, those girls would have moved on to the next big things already.