Since “Fake Nerd Girl” is still somehow a thing, I thought I’d go to NY Comic Con and report from the field. What I came up with surprised me—and may surprise you too, while not surprising you at all.
Most women don’t exist just to “make fun of the nerds,” a typical fear of 1980s movies; nor do they go to conventions just to yell derogatory comments at them, like I have been a victim of from men on the streets in the vicinity of a convention. What is being leveled at these women with the label “fake” is a lack of in-groupness and a lack of desire to be in that group, but a desire to take the spoils of that group for their own.
Okay, your own emotional insecurity that doesn’t allow you to ignore haters aside, on the surface that seems like a nasty issue. So, at Comic Con, I had my eye out for this so-called nemesis. Here is what I saw:
I saw hardcore nerd girls cosplay for the first time; they were worried they wouldn’t be accepted because they weren’t pretty enough, their clothing not sharp enough to do the character justice—the same issues girls run into every day.
There were also veteran cosplay girls, who looked absolutely amazing; each one I ran into, remarkably, had an air of stateliness, which is unusual even in every day life. They were people to respect, regardless of gender/sex, and their love of any given title was unmistakable from the way they embodied their characters from construction to action, and fangirled with the best of them.
There were also girls in everyday-wear; they enjoyed the booths as much as the next person and could outtalk anyone about steampunk and indie comics and games; or they were newbies, looking to learn new things, just like boys and men I talked to.
I heard no complaints from these women or about them. So where is this “fake geek girl”?
It’s in the models hired by companies to represent them on the convention floor.
Take the female models I ran into. There were four or so of them, promoting a sci-fi movie that was recently released. They liked, but didn’t really get, the film they were modeling for; nor did they appreciate the nerdery aspects of it (they don’t gaze into the stars and wonder about wether life exists on Jupiter’s moons, and if so, what that means to humanity), which is a shame, and, truthfully, did make me ask, “Then why are you here?”
The answer is: This is a job to them. Someone asked them to be there, for money, to represent a company. And they did, because they’re people who need jobs. And they did it with flying colors, short of being a nerdery ambassador. They were friendly, fun, and—I might add as a gold star for the con community—admitted to being more adventurous in the con atmosphere than other gigs they were able to attend as models. They were having fun! Hot damn, we’re so fun, we make models have fun!
Here we have some women who might very well come back next time, as normal attendees, or as costumers, and assume they are accepted. And, in today’s climate, they won’t be. A simple “I’m looking to know more about comics and make friends,” is always a good start; who can fault you for that? Only jerks. But people who are scared instinctively react as jerks. And guys, or girls, who have been tormented, terrified, and oppressed by beautiful people all their lives (whether in their own minds or in reality) get scared when they see them acting with impunity in their clubhouse.
Aside from the absurdity that is judging people on their looks and not wanting pretty people around you, I think, all in all, what we as a community should really be critical of is that there are plenty of good-looking girls and women (and boys and men), who are part of the geek community and work very hard on costumes and social skills, that can represent us, to us, for commercial purposes. Why do we need to hire out? There are plenty of fans who would want to be part of representing their favorite movie or game franchises and who can legitimately do it.
One thing is causing this problem: The marketing departments of companies are assuming we are like “normal,” every day target audiences, and thus like body over mind when advertised to. This is a terrible and incorrect assumption on two levels: One, geeks are sensitive to people who do not share similar social disenfranchisement, which is often (though not always) visible by a person’s face, dress, and personability. Two, geeks are generally more scientific and intelligent than the average consumer, and so they want content over reaction. Don’t show them the baby; show them the pie chart.
So, anime kids, gamer geeks, comic cadettes, sci-fi and fantasy book lovers, and nerds of all sorts: stick close and continue to support each other—and any newcomer that wants to be part of the good we have made. Because it is good, and it can be better still, but only if we continue to try to be better, for the weak, for the strong, and for ourselves. If we want to address this “fake geek (girl)” issue with someone, we must do it with the companies that sell to us. Hold them accountable for ignoring our social issues just to make a buck from geeks.