Just Say No to False Binaries: Lessons from the Battle of the “Fake Geek Girl”

by Katrina Pallop

2012 was a banner year for misogyny in the geek/nerd subculture. The Web was absolutely flooded with sexist nonsense on the subject of girls and geekdom. The astoundingly dreadful “Idiot Geek Girl” meme debuted (much to the chagrin of just about everyone), while Tony Harris spewed out his now infamous blog post about how “COSPLAY Chiks” should take their slutty costumes and go home. Tara Tiger Brown even barged into the fray on Forbes, decrying how easy it is for girls these days to fly their geek, freak, and nerd flags as high as they damn well please. The conversation so far has been run through with elitism, hate speech, and comment section hissy fits—and the melee is far from over. 

The original meme at its fugliest

Thus far, I’ve been a mere conscientious objector to the Battle of the Fake Geek Girl. Frankly (and rather unforgivably) this is because I don’t consider myself to be a Geek Girl. Plenty of the things I enjoy and indulge in fall squarely into the realm of geekdom (geekhood? geekery?). I’ve read everything Neil Gaiman has ever written, watched Dr. Who and Firefly with something approaching religious fervor, loved every minute of The Dark Crystal, and tore through Death Note like a hot knife through butter. But never, not once, have I sworn allegiance to House Geek. 

And why not, you ask? Because labels make me queasy. I don’t trust them. More often then not, the function of a label is to establish a false binary that only serves to sort a beautifully complex individual into one wildly general category or another. Scholars the world over have worked to demolish so many of these binaries: man/woman, straight/gay, white/black, you name it.  People exist on a spectrum of characteristics and traits. Classifying someone as this-not-that is just problematic as hell. 


I’m not saying by any means that people shouldn’t call themselves geeks. People should feel free to entrench themselves in whatever culture or subculture they choose, to the degree that they choose. What sucks, however, is the whole policing-of-others-peoples’-identities thing, which is what the Fake Geek Girl hullaballoo boils down to. Enough with bullying people (especially women) out of exploring new media and interests. Enough with the territorial slut-shaming. The uniform dismissal of geek girls as “fake” is based on the same false logic as racism, sexism, and homophobia. It’s not OK, and it needs to stop, people. 

Here are some of my favorite takedowns of the Fake Geek Girl lunacy. May there be enough one day to blot out of the sun of irate, sexist bullshit in the geek world and beyond.

1. “Irish Nerds Talk About ‘Fake Geek Girls'”—A straightforward, no-frills take down of the “Fake Geek Girl” witch hunt.

2. The very popular “Fake Geek Girls”—This video became the ultimate response to “Fake Geek Girl tomfoolery” when it debuted. 

3. “Urgent PSA: Fake Geek Girls”—This video takes the Colbert route of diving so deep into the rhetoric of the “dark side” that you almost forget its a study in sarcasm. 


Photos via KnowYourMeme.com, TheMarySue.com

Videos via Youtube

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