It’s All Geek to Me

Basically, this blog consists of topic after topic I poach from other bloggers. Ain’t I stinker?

This terrific post at pandagon got me thinking about geekery and what qualifies as “geeky” these days.  But before I address that, I wanna address the poster that inspired the post.

I genuinely believe the graphic is well-meaning. But there are a few things that rub me the wrong way:

1.) The “geek” women are all clearly very thin, attractive women largely conforming to beauty norms. I don’t see any fat or old chicks there. Why? Not aspirational?

2.) As Amanda mentioned in her pandagon piece, the presence of Lady Gaga confuses me a bit. I actually think Lady Gaga is kind of neato. She’s creative, she’s driven, she writes her own songs, and she’s pleasantly weird. Sooooooooo maybe not the best pop culture phenomenon to bemoan. Lady Gaga’s one of the good ones, guys. Honest.

3.) The top images have one thing in common–they’re sexy or at least pretending at sexiness. The message I get from this is that these well-meaning–I’m assuming–fellows are getting all “NOT WITH MY DAUGHTER, YOU DON’T!” on us. That is part of the whole overprotective sex referee shtick that so many people apparently find charming, but I find odd and inappropriate.

4.) The idea that having a raygun makes a woman tough and strong. I got news for ya. Most women are tougher and stronger than you could possibly fathom. And we’re tough without rayguns.


But the thing that really fascinated me about the entry and ensuing comments is whole notion of what constitutes geekery in the first place.I’ve always thought of geekery as anything that evoked a sense of devotion that went well beyond casual interest; it was anything where people got “deep into the weeds” of a thing. And, so, I wonder is it a term that’s used too broadly or not broadly enough? And when we describe geekery do we often exclude phenomenons that are predominantly of interest to women? In other words, can geekery encompass things like scrapbooking, crafting, knitting, soap opera-watching, romance novel-reading? And what about things that are not necessarily dominated by either gender, like intense movie appreciation or any sort of creative outlet like painting or digital art (which particularly lends itself to geekery because most digital artists share their works online and communicate with other digital artists)?

I ask because I think geekery is something that is esteemed these days. People demure and say sheepishly “I’m a geek” or “I geek out to music” but when they do so they’re really paying themselves a compliment. And that’s something I’ve yet to see discussed…so…discuss.


30 thoughts on “It’s All Geek to Me

  1. What gets me about the original graphic is that they seem to have deliberately left out Seven Of Nine because her popularity would blow away their entire argument.

    (VS, could you be a pal and delete the previous comment because I inadvertently made my e-mail address public? Thanks and sorry to trouble you.)

  2. Good analysis. There are also a fair amount of problematic stuff in Sci Fi culture regarding the female role models- the next person who tells me Sydney Bristow was a kickass female character will witness me chewing my leg off at the knee and throwing it at them. 🙂

    and it’s incredibly silly to put GaGa in there, I agree, because she’s all about playing with perceptions and stereotypes, and screwing with reactions to her sexiness.

  3. The definition of geek that the image works from is person (presumed dude-person) who liked sci-fi/comics/whatever that wasn’t really mainstream (except maybe in movies) & admitted it. There was a time when people who made references to Star anything were considered chumps & losers.

    So (not having read the Pandagon thing) there’s geek as consumer of specific geek material, & then the quality of geekiness, as in “I’m like a Star Yada geek, except about something normal.sensible/useful, even.”

  4. I’m really not sure at this point that there’s any way for a non-rich person to become rich in this country now without involving hard-core internet pr0n.

  5. Geekiness requires not just devotion but an attention to minutiae. You can’t really be a romance novel geek if you collect them, but you can be a romance novel geek if you know them inside and out, the structure of them, the publishing houses, the characters, the writers, and so on. Geekery requires knowledge, not skill (so craftiness doesn’t work on its own). It’s most obvious when it’s about frivolity like, say, science fiction or comic books, about which normal people do not give a shit (which is for the most part the correct position).

    • You can’t really be a romance novel geek if you collect them, but you can be a romance novel geek if you know them inside and out, the structure of them, the publishing houses, the characters, the writers, and so on.

      Exactly. So if we agree on this definition, I do think some romance-readers could be geeks.

      It’s most obvious

      OK, I’d been searching for a way to say this and you said it in the simplest, best way possible. I think geekiness is often OBVIOUS in a very small number of pastimes…but I guess what I’m trying to get at is that geekiness probably manifests itself in a million different ways, but many of those ways are less obvious.

      • Right. There are a number of jobs in which being a geek is, if not a requirement, a really big strength, so in the case of, um, structural engineers you might take it for granted that they know a bunch of stuff about what they do, but then to take such delight in that knowledge and crave more puts them in that other category. Not that I have anyone in mind. So whereas the comic-book geek is an oddity unlikely to earn a worthwhile living and earns this word that (especially before the internet) is a sort of condemnation, the person who’s a geek in their profession has “expertise” and it isn’t looked on as some weird handicap.

      • But I’ve actually been making the argument that I really don’t think geekery is frowned upon these days. Quite the opposite. It’s one reason I’d never dream of referring myself as a geek. It’s just a way to give yourself a backdoor compliment by saying “Hey, I know a lot about this thing.” If I want to say I know a lot about something, I’ll just come right out and say it.

      • It’s certainly less frowned on now because networking builds communities (and of course the people responsible for the infrastructure of the networks are a bunch of fucking geeks): if you imagine a world in which somehow computers didn’t really work past the punch-card stage geekery would have remained a pejorative as the isolated weirdos, unless they have a whole lot of energy, remain just that. The doll-collecting folks that The Lovely Daughter watches on YouTube would be some pretty lonely people without technology.

        It’s poetic justice that among adults computer geeks are now these essential wizards, and that geeks were successful enough that to be one is a token of coolness among a certain set of people. In the world of children I’m sure it’s still a meaningful insult referring to the weird kid.

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