Fantastic Fangirls Podcast: 2.1: Who’s Afraid of Fake Geek Girls?

The Fantastic Fangirls podcast returns, and Caroline, Anika, and Sigrid talk about whether girls fake their geekery (and whether they should) and get around to discussing some of our own histories of fakery. We also talk about things we’re looking forward to, on this site and elsewhere.

For one great perspective on the Idiot Nerd Girl Meme (pictured below):

. . . see this post by Jess of Active Voice. Other items mentioned in the podcast are Stumptown and Fistful of Rain by Greg Rucka, New York Comic-Con, and The Vampire Diaries.

Comments are open below, and feel free to share some of your own takes on faking it!

  • itsbecca

    This topic drives me crazy. It has this weird effect of making me tentative to dip my toes into new fandoms for fear of being particularly preyed on; however, I actively try to ignore that insecurity. There’s also this always odd thing to deal with online (whether playing a game, or talking in a community) about whether I’d like to be open about being a female or not. I really would like to just be normal and comfortable, but I don’t want a loss or misstep to suddenly be blamed on being female. I also like to avoid the unwarranted extra attention, which is the bizarre other side of the coin here.

    However, as annoying and offensive as this all is, there is hope I think. It’s about being discerning about the company you keep I think, physically as well as digitally. Not too long ago I started getting really into watching Starcraft2 matches, I had never played it or it’s predecessor, not even once. So as I naturally gravitated towards the SC2 communities my inclination was to glaze over the fact that I’d never played. Then when I started to get to know a few people and it came up specifically, I bit the bullet and was honest. To my surprise and delight, there was not even a word said about it. The conversation just magically carried on. And now that I have recently started playing, I now have these great people who I trust enough to talk about my horrible mistakes, and lowly victories, without feeling like I’m going to be on trial for it. I really attribute this to the particular community I chose to frequent, because I’m not naive enough to think SC2 is some internet oasis of niceness. Oh how it’s not, but I’m enjoying reveling in this small win for now.

  • Caroline

    Thanks for commenting, Becca!

    You know, we didn’t even really get into online gaming spaces or forums where you have the option of whether or not to disclose your gender. I realize that I’ve generally picked a gender specific online name (either my real first name or something involving ‘girl’ or ‘Lady’ — on the sports forum I mentioned in the podcast, I was ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ for a while). But in spaces that I perceive as primarily female, I don’t even think about doing that.

    FWIW, I remember when I started commenting on ifanboy, I was kind of skittish about it being such a male-dominated space, and when I would see YOUR name on things (and a few others but yours was the most noticeable) it made me feel, “Oh thank God, I’m not the first one.”

    None of which is exactly on point re: the faking topic, but our discussion on the ‘cast mostly pre-supposed in-person interaction, where the option to take gender performance off the table just doesn’t exist.

  • itsbecca

    That’s very cool to hear. I generally felt pretty safe at IFanboy. It seemed to have a pretty good positive to random negativity ratio, which is all you can hope for on the internet really. (As an amusing aside: When I was younger I took the opposite approach to protecting myself. I’d stake a place in a forum by cutting down any detractors with swift and aggressive hyperbolic insults. I’d quickly gather enough notoriety that people wouldn’t cross me and I’d earn friends who thought my take downs to be amusing. It’s weird to think about because it’s so WILDLY opposite of my take it or leave it approach now, which I hope is a bit more mature…)

    I *generally* use itsbecca. I prefer to be genuine if possible, I’d like people to be able to find me (twitter etc.) and, honestly, I like people calling me by my actual name. But there’s definitely some spaces where I pause on the decision. If we’re going to talk I want you to know me at least a bit, if it’s a space to JUST play then I want my gender of out of it and I make pick something neutral.

  • Guilty of fake-liking classic rock! It was *THE* thing to listen to in high school and quite honestly it bored me to death, but I knew if I admitted that I’d be rejected. So I’d just nod and say “The Rolling Stones are cool” once in awhile, though I think I can only name one song of theirs.

    Coincidentally, I enjoy classic rock more now, but I think that is entirely Supernatural’s fault.

  • Caroline

    @itsbecca — Yeah, the other part of the equation is that I was able to see you being active in the community and being treated well by the community members, and that also encouraged my participation. There are definitely different sides of it.

    @Gabby — Hey, I *like* a lot of 60s rock and I fake the Stones. They have so many songs!

  • “Suck it, fanboys. No one cares that much about you.”

    Sigrid, you are my hero.

    I guess when I said that the fake geek girl doesn’t exist I was thinking specifically of girls pretending to like geeky things they have no interest in to lead on/deceive geeky boys, or girls self-labeling as geeks without genuinely *feeling* like they were. In terms of pretending to know about stuff you don’t just to grease the conversational wheels, I’ve totally done that, but mostly just to avoid the “what do you MEAN you don’t know about X???” conversation, not to impress people. For example, I know very little about the Beatles, but I smile and nod when they come up as if I do, because if you admit to knowing very little about the Beatles, or liking them fine but having no particularly strong opinion about them, people get, like, weirdly angry and dismissive of you. I also go ahead and let people assume I’ve seen lots of movies I haven’t seen, or haven’t seen all the way through (Back to the Future, Independence Day, Jurassic Park) for similar reasons. I just don’t want to field people’s weird concern-trolly outrage about movies I just happen to have never seen (“HOW COULD YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN GHOSTBUSTERS*, HOW”). So where does “pretending to know about something to make life easier” fit on the Fake Geek Girl spectrum?

    *NB: I have recently finally watched Ghostbusters, but I have been pretending I’ve seen it for over a decade.

  • Ali


  • Caroline

    Jess — Yes, that’s definitely the vein in which I took your comments. I think we went into the second half of the podcast in order to put the whole ‘faking’ thing into perspective, as something most of us do in some contexts. But I’m with you that I’m still skeptical of the specific iteration that’s being condemned on the Internet actually being a phenomenon that exists (or, at the very least, not for the reasons that self-centered fanboys or territorial ‘real geek’ fangirls think it does.)

    Also, that’s why I added the explanatory note to the beginning about ‘Blade Runner’ — because the ‘oh my God, you haven’t seen Blade Runner???’ thing would be obnoxious, so I wanted to be clear we were just doing it because Anika is known to us as loving robot movies ;).

  • It’s odd to me that this is an issue.

    When I was a kid (the 80’s), there wasn’t much of a “fake ethnic group” thing about being a “geek.” There were people who liked comics, science fiction, fantasy, and role-playing games, but people didn’t necessarily self-identify as geeks (that I remember). The exciting thing was discovering that there were other people into this stuff at all.

    I have to admit that in some ways I’ve resisted identifying myself as a geek as a primary source of personal identity. Honestly, there are other things that are more important to me–religious and ethnic identification, being a parent, and so on.

    For me at least, the whole idea that there are “fake geeks” is at least as weird as the idea that there are real ones.

    Also, just for the record, Blade Runner still seems recent to me (I guess that makes me old…).

  • Anika

    Caroline — I laughed out loud at the explanatory note about me and robots. Just so you know.

    Jim — It’s not the age if the movie so much as the newness of the idea (to me personally). And I was also a kid in the 80s so we’re equally old or young depending on the point of view 😉

  • Caroline

    Anika — :). I also had to leave Sigrid’s hantavirus rant in the body of the podcast (I was going to shift it to the end) when I realized there was no other explanation for us yelling “Plague!” on the way out. (We rock, don’t we?)

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