Recently, while covering a large-ish comic convention in San Francisco, a high-ranking editor for Geek Girl on the Street.com was approached by a producer for a prominent "geek" television network. Said editor was exceptionally excited to be recognized by said producer; as ass kicking as GGotS is, we are still considered a scrappy up-start website, and attention from larger outlets not only validates what we're doing but makes us feel all warm n' squishy like inside.
"Love Geek Girl on the Street," the aforementioned producer told our editor. "We'd love to work with you…" The editor in question nodded enthusiastically. She told me later that the phrase "GGotS is about to partner with [redacted] and blow the f-up" was the thought running through her head.
But then the producer finished his sentence.
"We'd love to work with you to help promote our 'Be a Booth Babe' contest for San Diego Comic Con," the producer finished.
Uh-huh. Well. Isn't that special? A mostly geek dude-driven outlet wants to rope in an up-and-coming geek girl outlet to help lend legitimacy to their contest which fetishizes and marginalizes geek girls in a community where they're already fetishized and marginalized to the Nth degree. Fun.
It's not that I have some moral objection to geek girls being presented in a sexy way — f-beans, we're some of the sexiest people on the planet — I say "if you got it, own it and flaunt it." What bothers me about the producer's proposal to our editor is the underlying assumption that "booth babe-ism" is what geek girls want to see from their network. And, further, that by presenting a contest, endorsed by a geek girl publication, it would mean that the network in question had addressed the programming needs of all geek girls.
Geek girls being a rapidly growing advertising demographic of the geek world, you see.
It's like assuming that geek girls will flock to buy a technology product if you slap a pink skin with Hello, Kitty! onto it. Or assuming that all girls who like Doctor Who are squeeing David Tennant fangirls. Or that cosplay girls are only interested in dressing as Slave Leia in the gold bikini. Or that comic reading girls are only interested in emo stories of unrequited love featuring an emo character who is uber smexy because he objectifies the women in his life, flits from girl-to-girl, leaving broken hearts in his path and then whines about how "he's so alooooonnnnneee."
Wah-wah, cry me a river, Scott Pilgrim.
The problem with all of these assumptions is that they are shallow, two-dimensional and largely false.
I say "largely" because of course there are girls who want to be booth babes and have a lappie with a Hello, Kitty! skin that they're very happy with and who scream like fangirls at D10 and love dressing up as Slave Leia and are as convinced as Knives Chau that SP is "awesomesauce."
Of course there are.
The problem comes when you assume that this is all there is to the geek girl community.
For every one geek girl who buys into the tropes above, there are ten behind her who geek out about completely different things. I'm talkin' girls who build robots and run Linux; girls who got grounded in 1987 for running up a huge long-distance phone bill BBS'ing with a Canadian board; who like FPS video games; who role a mean D20 and play wicked cut-throat chess; who can hold epic discourse on the continuity errors in all 48 years of Doctor Who; who know who Gail Simone, Trina Robbins, Neal Adams, Dave Gibbons, P. Craig Russell and Dave Sim are (and can articulate why they're important to the comic industry); who would rather dress as Starbuck than Slave Leia; who think that if Scott Pilgrim was their boyfriend they would have a.) kicked his emo ass and b.) never been enslaved by Gideon Graves in the first place… seriously, for realz, m'kaythxbainao!
There is SO-MUCH-MORE to geek girls than what is assumed. And, to be honest, it gets kind of old having to constantly establish our geek cred outside of these parameters. It gets even older having non-girl centric companies, networks and publications pandering to us using the classic "geek girl" tropes as their guide as to what we want from them.
This is why in January 2010 I started Geek Girl on the Street.com – to give women a place to honestly discuss what they geek out to – whatever that may be. And, while I'm exceptionally proud of the work that we've done on that site in the past year and a half, it's not nearly enough… So that is why we are now here on Bleeding Cool – as emissaries from the mysterious land of the geek girl, to share what we love, what we hate, what we geek out about and what we want from the comic and geek industry as a whole. Every month you'll be hearing from a different contributor from our site, writing on a different topic that they feel all fiery inside about. The goal is to educate, inform, irritate and amuse… so let's get to it, eh?
Kate Kotler is the founding editor of Geek Girl on the Street.com, the editor-in-chief of FilmCatcher.com, a blogger for ChicagoNow, a freelance writer/editor/marketing hack and full time geek girl. She loves Doctor Who, Frank Miller, Wonder Woman, knitting, puppetry and she used to be a professional fire eater. See her full resume on katekotler.com.
Copyright Kate Kotler, 2011 – All Rights Reserved: Please do not publish or re-publish without written permission from the author.