A fake geek girl is a female human who professes a false interest in stereotypically geeky hobbies and interests, such as comics, gaming, science fiction and fantasy literature and film, and computer programming and hacking, solely to gain attention from male geeks.
The fake geek girl is a creature that does not actually exist.
For most of its history, fandom has been dominated by males -- male writers, male creators, male readers and fans. And thanks to the nature of fandom -- heavy on the reading, light on the social interaction, focused to varying degrees on science and intellectualism -- many of the biggest fans in fandom tended to be not particularly well-adjusted socially. Many tended to fall into "nerdy" stereotypes, had trouble meeting women, and were considered unpopular -- except among other fans. A gathering of fans would give them all friends they could talk to seriously about their interests and a social network where they weren't outcasts. These social networks nearly never included more than a few token women. (Or, usually, any other minorities.)
Even at the professional level, women were vanishingly rare and often deeply disrespected. The early history of science fiction has numerous tales of women writers who had to hide their true gender to get published. Alice Sheldon had to write as James Tiptree Jr., for example, Catherine Lucille Moore wrote as C.L. Moore, and Alice Mary Norton wrote as Andre Norton. Even up to recent decades, female science fiction writers were often treated by male writers as curiosities to be leered at and groped at conventions.
It was not an uncommon belief that women were simply unable to enjoy geek hobbies, much less able to create them -- which is funny when you remember that women basically invented science fiction (Mary Shelley and "Frankenstein") and the concept of the superhero (Baroness Orczy and the Scarlet Pimpernel).
And then, in the past 10-20 years, feminism finally caught up with the geek community. More women were writing genre fiction, more women were attending conventions, more female characters were appearing as lead characters in sci-fi and fantasy -- "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" were popular with both male and female viewers, and they offered female fans characters they could enjoy without embarrassment.
And too many in the geek community reacted with fear and hatred. Their safe spaces, free of jocks and cheerleaders, where nerds could commune with other nerds, were being invaded by girls -- buying comics, wearing costumes, writing books, playing games, spending money. The geek world wasn't all guys wearing Batman shirts holding forth on the minutiae of sci-fi continuity anymore -- now it included girls wearing Batman shirts holding forth on the minutiae of sci-fi continuity. For many geeks, this was no big deal -- a bit weird, perhaps, especially considering the way things had been in previous decades -- but it was nice to have more fans and more creators helping to expand geek hobbies into the mainstream. There was probably a certain level of joy -- "Hurrah, girls like the same things I do now!" But for some geeks, exposing their favorite hobbies to girls was about the same thing as exposing Superman to Kryptonite.
How could the traditional fanboy-safe spaces be protected? Women could be excluded, but not everyone would get with the program. Many comics shops, for example, welcomed women enthusiastically -- their money was as green as anyone else's, after all. Many male creators also made it clear that they felt women should be welcomed and often denounced exclusionary tactics. Women were becoming a vital part of fandom, and the tide was not going to be turned back.
But what if all the new geek girls were just... faking it? What if they were only pretending to be geeks, buying comics and dressing in costumes just to get attention?
Thus was born the anti-cult of the Fake Geek Girl.
Does she like fantasy novels? Not good enough. Can she name the lineage of Theoden? In Elvish and the Black Speech? No? FAKE!
Does she like video games? Not good enough. Does she play the right system? Does she play first person shooters and fighting games, or roleplaying games and sims? Can she beat your high score? No? FAKE!
Does she like comics? Can she answer every question in your trivia challenge about Batman? Daredevil? Wolverine? Green Lantern? No? FAKE!
Does she like cosplay? Does she show too much skin? Or not enough? Is she too overweight? Is she too pretty? FAKE! And incidentally, SLUT!
This is all bullshit. And it's starkly obvious bullshit, too. It's been pointed out as bullshit by lots of smarter people than me, including John Scalzi, Katie J.M. Baker, Noah Berlatsky, Dr. Andrea Letamendi, Dr. Nerdlove, Daniel Nye Griffiths, Kaite Welsh, Rachel Edidin, Rae Johnston, Susana Polo, John Kovalic, and every single person in this video by the DoubleClicks. Yeah, it's something that a lot of people are really, really interested in.
I think the following are the most important points to remember here:
- Geek culture is everywhere. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, and superheroes are all over the mass media. Why is it considered so bizarre for women to watch some of the most popular films and TV shows in the world?
- My office is fairly closely split between men and women, and we've got an incredibly broad knowledge base of computer expertise. Some of us know more about programming, some more about graphic design, web development, content creation, social media. When one of us needs assistance with something we don't know so much about, we ask the expert for help. You think we worry about whether the expert is a guy or a girl? That'd just be crazy.
- "What about booth babes? Booth babes are totally fake!" Listen, your average booth babe probably doesn't even claim to be a serious geek. Most of them are models hired by companies to staff their booths at conventions. That's no reason at all to disrespect them. If you want to complain about them, you should really direct your ire at the companies who hire them -- aside from the creepy sexual politics and retrograde anti-feminism of hiring models to sex up your company to an increasingly diverse marketplace, there's also the issue of whether booth babes even help move product.
- If you're not willing to accept women as fans, your preferred hobbies are going to die. White male geeks are not a large enough population to keep fandom going forever. New blood, in the form of new fans of all genders and races, is absolutely vital for making geek hobbies successful. If you really dream of being one of the last geeks, then you don't actually belong in the world of fandom. You're bad for geekery -- and you should feel bad about that.
- Seriously, why would women get into fandom to get attention from male geeks? "Oooo, I'm gonna go get the Eltingville Comic-Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Role-Playing Club all hot and bothered, just to be around all those hot, sexy geek guys, and then -- wait a minute, let me clean this schmutz off my glasses and OH GOD, WHAT ARE THESE CREATURES?"
In summation, fake geek girls are no more common than fake geek guys. We're all geeks -- we're just geeks about different things, and at different levels of enthusiasm. Accept all your fellow geeks as true geeks, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, body type, religion, or creed, and all our lives will be better for it.