Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Geek Girl Bill of Rights and Commandments


With the surge of superhero movies, non-geek girls who are dragged to the movies by their boyfriends are slowly starting to discover the awesomeness that is nerdy obsession and peek behind the pop culture curtain. 

Instead of going River Tam on the cheerleaders that so harshly rejected us, we need to guide these ladies into our culture (even if it means enjoying the fact that we're higher on the social - ha! - ladder than they are).

If they want to play on our grid, they need to play by our rules.

Here's a list of ten Geek Girl Commandments and the Geek Girl Bill of Rights you can share with the amateur geek girl you're mentoring.

Geek Girl
Commandments

I) Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s 20-sided die.

II) Thou shall not coyly mention your female status in forum posts, lest thee be courted for photographs of your bazooms.

III) Thou shall not begrudge non-geek women for entering the geekdom; for in increasing our numbers shall our collective strength grow.

IV) Thou shall represent all of girl geekdom when attending conventions, shopping at comic book stores, and cosplaying.

V)Thou shall not exclude thy non-geek friends from thy social life, for when thou shall seek to convert, to whom shall you preach?

VI) Thou shall defend any geek that requires assistance, even if she is of the Trek persuasion and you have pledged your allegiance to the Wars.

VII) Thou shall listen to the word of nerd as geeks from other faiths share their messages.

VIII) Thou shall not feel shame for not looking exactly like a character while cosplaying, for screen-accurate uniforms rarely obey the laws of physics.

IX) Thou shall respond with thanks to all who accuse you of doing something “like a girl.”

X) Thou shall not fake knowledge in geeky area, for thou shall be found out and rightfully smote.

In the name of the Scully, the Connor, and the holy Ripley, Amen.

Geek Girl
Bill of Rights


  • I have the right to be taken seriously for my interests and not be accused of getting into video gaming, comic books, science, or other traditionally male-dominated geek interests to impress a guy.
  • I have the right to enjoy non-geeky things without losing geek cred.
  • I have the right to send angry emails to retailers that only offer geeky shirts in men’s styles and sizes.
  • I have the right to bare arms, abs, and legs. I can dress as any superhero I want to without being touched, harassed, or being accused of inviting sexual advances. I also understand that dressing provocatively will draw attention, and I will deal with unwanted but harmless attention with class and dignity.
  • I have the right to enjoy all geek movies, whether they have strong and interesting female characters or they don’t even pass the Bechdel Test.
  • I have the right to sneak geek books into formal occasions in case things get dull.
  • I have the right to use my feminine wiles to my advantage without being a tease or a jerk.
  • I have the right to stand up for myself when my geekiness is mocked. I also have the right to walk away from the situation if I don’t think the bully is worth my time.
  • I have the right to cut and dye my hair to match whatever character I am cosplaying, and I have the right to totally botch the job once or twice before I get it right.
  • I have the right to engage in heated debates about geek topics without personal attacks or holding grudges.

Are there any amendments worth noting?

14 comments :

Mandy K said...

Fantastic post, Jana! I myself follow these commandments and rights the best I can.

I do this right all the time: "I have the right to send angry emails to retailers that only offer geeky shirts in men’s styles and sizes."

What is that madness? I'm sick of walking to the back of the store and fighting off twelve-year-old boys to find geeky shirts that I like!

Joseph G. said...

LOL. Hilarious stuff here! My personal favorite:

"Thou shall defend any geek that requires assistance, even if she is of the Trek persuasion and you have pledged your allegiance to the Wars."

Well put. Every geek deserves the right to voice their opinion proudly. The real question is: are geeks who have pledged their allegiance to "Starship Troopers" entitled to the same assistance?

Jill Tooley said...

Jana, you had me laughing during this entire post. Thanks for pointing out all of these for geek girls everywhere!

Here's one for the Bill of Rights that I struggle with sometimes: "I have the right to select male video game characters whenever I wish. My gender shouldn't automatically limit my choices."

Every time I play Mortal Kombat as Rayden or Baraka (or as any other male character, for that matter), someone asks: "Don't you want to play as a girl?" Argh...

Kismet Rose said...

"Thou shalt always push for more female characters in video games, as well as more options and more interesting choices for them."

It's nice when a game puts in romantic interests for both genders, for example, but female characters often appear to have fewer choices. Because really, if I'm playing Baldur's Gate II, I'd rather play a male character and have a shot at shagging Viconia than play a female character and get stuck with Anomen (otherwise known as "Yawny McKnightypants").

Amanda S. said...

Awesome post Jana! =) You had me laughing all the way through these. I don't consider myself a geek girl, but I do enjoy some geeky things like super hero movies, and video games, now and again.

Amanda R. said...

Great post my dear Jana! So glad you shared this. It is certainly always fair to use your feminine wiles to your advantage:) I agree with everything you've said my fellow geek girl:)

GibsonGirl99 said...

Not to be a geeky spoilsport or anything, but in the following phrase: "In the name of the Scully, the Connor, and the holy Ripley, Amen." I could personally vote for having our Goddesses/Saints listed in the order they appeared, rather than (as you appear to have done) in the order of relative puissance. But it would have to be "In the name of the holy Ripley, the Connor, and the Scully, Amen."

Nachoha said...

"I have the right to enjoy non-geeky things without losing geek cred."

Don't think this one really applies as guy geeks are just as likely to loose geek cred for enjoying non-geeky things :)

Kim C. said...

I really like it, though I would like some clarification on this one

"I have the right to use my feminine wiles to my advantage without being a tease or a jerk."

It... I dunno... I'm finding it potentially problematic ._.

Bad Cat! said...

Am I the abhorrent one? I have sent snarky requests to websites that *only* put girl-geek designs in form-fitting girly Ts.
Large baggy t-shirt in guy size? Yes, please!

Administrator said...

Extremely sad of me..... But it would be so much better if you got the lingo right. Thou shalt rather than thou shall. Smitten instead of smote. And the occasional incorrect thee that should be thou. I know it's sad of me but reads a bit tacky the way it is.

Great stuff nonetheless.

Jana said...

I wish I could reply to each comment individually, but hopefully you'll all come back to see this:

@GibsonGirl99: 1) Mega points for using the word "puissance," a word I had never heard of and had to look up and now know! 2) I actually put them in the order I fell in love with them, but good point on the chronological aspect.

@Nachoha: I think a few of these can apply to geek guys and geek gals, but you've got a great point - geek guys are vulnerable on that one, too!

@Kim C.: I can see where you're coming from. I just think that geek girls who suppress their girly side to be "taken seriously" do themselves a disservice if giggling and hair flipping is part of their natural personality. If an extra-sweet smile will get me a dollar knocked off my total at a vendor table, why not? Bonding over similar interests and knowing mutual friends can be used to one's advantage; why not inherent geek girl adorableness.

@Bad Cat!: You're not abhorrent at all. I think that the goal is having OPTIONS rather than simply getting stuck in the midnset that girls would never wear it. Even offering things like headbands with geeky logos is a step in the right direction.

@Administrator: Your comment exemplifies everything I love about geek girls! High five, fellow word nerd! That said, while it looks like modern dictionaries indicate that "shall" and "shalt" mean the same thing, the archaic form - "shalt" - had originally been for the 2nd person present tense while "shall" stood for all other forms. For the other errors, there really is no excuse, and I will see what I can do about getting them fixed. I genuinely do appreciate the head's up. :)

Becky said...

Hmm. I really like a lot of this, but it kind of puts me off that it starts with the same tired cliche that women are brought into geekdom by their boyfriends dragging them there. Why wouldn't a woman want to go see a superhero movie just because it looks like a fun way to spend a few hours? Why assume a dude must be involved?

I'm also a little put off by the idea that when I go out in public I Must Represent All Geek Women (IV). Because I don't do that. We're not a monolith and I refuse to accept the idea that other women's behavior reflects back on me, just because we have the same gender identity. Drawing from my own experience, the only way to stay happy and geeky and enjoy the things I enjoy is by not worrying what other people think of me, even in the midst of a culture that often others me or assumes I don't exist -- so that not worrying extends a) to other women, and b) to people who might judge me because of what other women have done. I am who I am and I like what I like, and other people's opinions don't actually have to change that.

All *that* said, I do appreciate the bill of rights, and I really appreciate that this whole piece supports the idea that women can be geeks *without* abandoning things that are traditionally feminine, which I think is an important, and often overlooked, point.

Jana said...

@Becky - Thank you SO SO much for the feedback. I love getting responses that challenge and excite me. You're holding me accountable for what I say, pointing out your interpretations of my writing, and really causing me to re-evaluate how I phrase things. For that, I say thanks. :)

It looks like something got lost in translation in the first few lines. Obviously, non-geek girls become geek girls for a variety of reasons, not all of them due to a male guide. I was merely commenting on a possibly influx of ladies due to the surge in superhero movies - which do primarily attract men (64 percent of opening weekend attendees who were polled according to Box Office Magazine) who are already geeks and may find bringing them to a superhero movie an easier sell than getting them to read comics. It was an inclusive statement, an example of a pathway, not an exclusive statement, the only pathway through which women can come into geekdom.

I think you and I agree that worrying what everyone else thinks of you is a bad idea and definitely detracts from geek fun. However, I disagree that other women's behavior does not reflect on you (and me, for that matter). I am not saying it SHOULD or it is at all indicative of who YOU are or how you behave, but it is an unfortunate social truth that we call stereotyping. Think of it as being on a school trip and your teachers remind you that you represent the school. Even if *one* snot-nosed little brat climbs into the mountain lion exhibit and the other 599 mind their manners, it's his school t-shirt (or even the fact that he's a child) that will be viewed by the masses and remembered rather than the fact he is an individual young boy named Richard who hates peas, has a cat named Mork, and can burp the alphabet. It sucks, but it happens. We couldn't possibly talk to every single person we see to learn who they are as individuals. So we make snap judgments. We may not act on those judgments, we may not treat them in the way that reflects our judgment, but as soon as you perceive something, you make a judgment call on it. That's just visual perception at its most basic brain function. However, as soon as someone opens a conversation or engages in interaction with you, then things change; you break apart from the rest as an individual in that person's eyes. Until that investment is made, distant observation is all strangers can rely and judge on. Again, it sucks, but it's how humans are wired.

Thanks for letting me know that you enjoy the bill of rights/commandments as a whole. I do enjoy me indulgent traditionally feminine things from time to time, and it's nice not to feel alone. Thank you again for all the feedback, and I hope this cleared some things up.