When Geek is More Than a Word
on October 15, 2013
They give us labels without letting us define for ourselves who we are — telling us we’re “fat” instead of an “amazing artist.” Or we’re “pretty” when we really want to be known as “smart and thoughtful.” Slowly, the labels we fought so hard to repel begin to stick. They make us believe things about ourselves that are untrue.
They can empower us to believe — in ourselves, in our dreams, in the good of this world. They tell a shy girl she is strong, convincing her to try out for the debate team.
Sometimes, people try to take back ownership of specific words once used to put them down. Here’s a word, here’s a label, that I’m proud to claim: FAKE.
Yes, you read that correctly.
I’m a fake. A fraud. An impostor. I’m even the worst kind of fake: I’m a “FAKE GEEK GIRL.”
I’ve never set foot in a comic book store (but I devour anything from Greg Rucka, Alison Bechdel, and Marjane Satrapi).
I don’t play a ton of video games (but Portal rekindled my love for puzzle games. After that, I discovered indie beauties like Limbo, Braid, and Fez — OH MY!).
I haven’t memorized any form of Elvish from Lord of the Ring (but I have read every Tolkein masterpiece).
The “but” in these sentences matters, because it proves that — after too many negative encounters — I still feel I have to demonstrate my “geek cred.”
However, today, instead of worrying about what others might say, I choose to proudly wave my “FAKE” flag.
I’m a FAKE GEEK because I don’t care what you love or how much you love it. If you want to call yourself a “geek,” I’m behind you 100 percent.
I’m a FAKE GEEK because I believe conventions and other spaces should welcome everyone with open arms. Whether you know everything there is to know about one thing, like anime, or you know a little bit about everything, you’re a part of my geek family.
I’m a FAKE GEEK because I strongly believe that more comics, TV shows, and video games should portray women in a realistic light. Give us options. Give us heroes and heroines we can look up to. Give us people that look like us.
I’m a FAKE GEEK because I share my passions through the clothes I wear. While I can’t always remember every character’s name and house sigil, I have Game of Thrones-themed t-shirts. And I desperately want to buy a Star Wars dress from Her Universe, despite the fact that I can’t quote the movies word-for-word. I want to display my love for these TV and movie series without needing to pass a geek entrance exam.
So, there you have it. I’m a FAKE GEEK, and proud of it. Or maybe I’m a “real” geek. Whatever label someone gives me, I’m excited to have found a community that supports me and has my back.
Last year, I decided to volunteer as a staff member with GeekGirlCon, an organization that works to promote and recognize the role of women in geek culture.
Originally, I was nervous to join the GeekGirlCon team. Sure, I love “Battlestar Galactica” and “Doctor Who,” but there are so many things I don’t know. Would I feel like an outsider?
Luckily, the answer was an unequivocal “No.”
I found a community in GeekGirlCon that welcomed me with no judgments. For the first time, I felt truly empowered to explore the kind of person I was and wanted to become.
As our third annual convention nears (Oct. 19 and 20 in Seattle), I’m thrilled that more people will have the opportunity to come together and celebrate who they are and what they love.
As I down another cup of coffee to prepare for this weekend, I recall the joy on the face of Darth Makenna — a young Star Wars fan dressed as a mix between Darth Vader and a princess — when she posed with Chewbacca. I remember hearing people talk about how Buffy Summers changed their life, and how excited they were to hear from Jane Espenson, who wrote for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
And I smile thinking about the family of five who won our Costume Contest, all dressed in Legend of Zelda characters that were handmade by the mom. Or the fathers walking hand-in-hand with their young daughters, whose Princess Leia hairstyles bounced as they skipped from one location to another. Or the spark of excitement I saw on my 5-year-old niece’s face when she met a real NASA scientist.
To me, GEEK is now more than a word. It’s a community that comes together around something we love, something that empowers us.
I hope to geek out with you this weekend at GeekGirlCon ’13. You can read more about our programming, gaming, exhibitors, and events on our website. If I don’t run into you at the convention, I leave you with this: continue to be proud of who you are, what you love, and how you define yourself.
Live Long and Prosper, all of you.