Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Geeks can be Pretty, too: A rant on entitlement and bullying.

Hi. Hello. Hey.
My name is Molly McIsaac. I take showers every day. I own enough makeup to open my own Sephora. I wake up hours before work to coordinate a cute outfit, do my hair, and make my eye makeup just so. I wear high heels almost every day, oftentimes boosting my already staggering height of 5'10" to a ridiculous level. I try to work out every day (though I have a weakness for cookies). I wear dresses pretty much constantly (sometimes they are really tight and show off my voluptuous ass - GASP!). And do you know what? I am a huge geek.

Earlier today, Anon left this comment on one of my blog posts:


Now, I have been around the internet block, so to say. I've been writing articles for comic book and video game websites coming up on five years now (and getting paid to do it for three). I get a LOT of hate for my opinions, and for that reason I have developed a fairly thick skin. Very few things set me off, because I know that's what the faceless masses want (after all, who doesn't like to sit back and witness some internet drama?) But this comment really hit home for me. It really struck a chord in me. So I ranted about it on twitter, and now I'm ranting about it on here, because I have some things that I need to say. 

There has been a LOT of talk and controversy around the internet lately about geek entitlement. Accusing attractive women of "pandering" . Geeks acting like they're some sort of little exclusive club where they judge other geeks and have a "holier than thou" attitude. Personally, I feel the topic has been talked about to death, but yet here I am.

Back to the comment. Are you SERIOUS? The wording ITSELF oozes cliquishness and exclusivity. "As a geek girl..." somehow implying that DESPITE THE FACT I RUN A BLOG CALLED THE GEEKY PEACOCK, THAT I SPEAK ON PANELS AT CONVENTIONS, THAT I AM A RESPECTED PUNDIT IN THE GEEK COMMUNITY - That I am NOT A GEEK? Okay. And then... "clearly know nothing about our style." Our style. OUR style. I'm sorry, but since when has geek had a dress code? Because I like to wear high heels and lipstick, I must not be a geek? Because I don't wear ill fitting jeans and baggy Doctor Who t-shirts, keep my hair parted down the middle with a low ponytail, I am NOT A GEEK?

There is so much bitterness in this community. And you know what? I get it. I really do. Being a geek is not some great epiphany I have come to in adulthood, once I had learned to dress myself and boys gave me second glances. I struggled through it as an adolescent just like you poor souls did. I was into video games and comic books beginning in elementary school. I was homeschooled and sheltered in Alaska, with most of my social interaction taking place solely on Javascript Pokemon Chat rooms and Everquest (on my dial up connection!). Once my family moved us to Idaho in my awkward early teen years, they thrust me into public school for the first time - And I was mercilessly picked on.

At times, when I describe my bullying to others, I trivialize it. "Oh, I totally brought it upon myself. After all, I wore elf ears and LARPed on the Football field." But it wasn't okay, and while I may have brought it upon myself, there is no excuse for this behavior. I was chubby and awkward. I dressed weird. I went home crying almost every day because the other kids were downright CRUEL to me. There was a game called "how fast can we make Molly cry?", where the "popular" kids would do just that: pick at me until I cried. I was miserable. I came home every day sobbing. One girl told me I should kill myself, and you know what? I almost did. I wrote suicide letters. I didn't feel like I deserved to exist.

But then I realized something: I didn't want those people to win. I wanted to thrive in life. I wanted to prove to them that the pain they had put me through did nothing but succeed in making me a better and stronger person. I woke up one day with a renewed vigor for life, and thus my transformation from chubby awkward geek girl to long, lithe, pretty, motivated geek girl began. I have not changed. I am still the girl who LARPs on the Football field (no, I really do). But now the kids who used to bully me in highschool are sending me apology messages on Facebook, because I am no longer a victim. I took the wrong doings that were used against me and I turned them in my favor.

So, that being said: A lot of people responding to me on twitter said I am oftentimes greeted with hostility because since I am an attractive woman I remind victimized geeks of the bullying they went through. I AM LIVING PROOF THAT THIS IS A COP OUT. Judging and attacking your fellow geeks for not loving shared interests the way you think they should be loved makes you just as bad as the kids who gave you wedgies in highschool. You are becoming what you despise - is that really what you want?

This isn't just about fashion. This is about an entire mindset that this community seems to have. Now that "geek is chic" and further perpetuated by the media, people who consider themselves "real" geeks are lashing out, trying to keep their little community special and exclusive. Yeah, we suffered for our passions for a long time, but now that they are becoming mainstream, shouldn't we be happy rather than pissed off? It means there is a broader range of people who we can talk to - it means we can make lucrative careers from the things we love instead of doing it in our spare time. It means good TV shows are less likely to get canceled. It means amazing comic books are being made into equally as epic movies. It means more merchandise for us to decorate our apartments with. It means new and unique views. It means you can help others love what you love - and you should be SO HAPPY that your children are not going to be bullied in the same way you were for loving comic books.

So here's my suggestion: stop being a victim. Rise to the occasion. Stop acting childish and immature and looking at other people as OTHER PEOPLE rather than threats to your SUPER SECRET CLUB OMGZ.

I'm going to continue dressing well, and I'm going to continue being a geek. Fashion and attractiveness does not equal a bad person. Bathing irregularly and wearing your favorite holey Flash t-shirt from 12th grade doesn't immediately brand you as a geek - it immediately brands you as a slob who doesn't take care of themselves. You can DRESS WELL, LOOK NICE, BATHE EVERY DAY, COMB YOUR HAIR, and STILL BE A GEEK. There is no "look", no "guidelines" for loving what we love. We are an eclectic group of interesting, intelligent human beings - so why are we acting like children whose club house is being invaded by pretty girls (ewww cooties)?

I have a lot more to say, but I don't want this to become directionless. Please stop and think next time you're about to knee jerk judge a fellow human - and that goes for ANYONE, not just geeks that don't measure up to your personal, twisted standards.



27 comments:

  1. Molly, you are all that and more. You're a brave woman and I respect you and am proud to be your friend.

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  2. This... is beautiful. You're awesome, Molly.

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  3. Amen! Sage advice, no matter who you are or what you like.

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  4. Very well written. Admittedly, it is hard at times to quell the desire to vet the new class of GEEKS that crop up as the GEEK culture becomes more and more mainstream. I think you are correct and there is an underlying resentment by many who spent their childhood as the outcast who was persecuted for being a little bit different. However, I think you are also correct in your belief that we should be happy that the newcomers might not have to face what we had to face when we expressed ourselves in our younger years and that we should be happy to share our geeky passions. Again, very well-written. GEEK ON.

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  5. You said it! I've always been a geek but never been picked on for it - I was lucky enough to have a smart enough mouth to keep myself out of trouble and confuse bullies (who would give up and wander away perplexed), and be fast enough on my feet to escape when my mouth wasn't. I wasn't persecuted for carrying comic books to school, having a fringe that reached my chin, or roleplaying in the library with the other 'weird' kids. I was one of the lucky ones, and what is awesome about the mainstreaming of geek culture is that there will be a whole new generation (generations!) of geeks who simply will not be picked on for what they believe in. How awesome is that?!

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  6. Awesome post! I wish more people would realize this. Its horrible that kids/teenagers do this sort of bullying and worse when it continues when they are adults. I am a scientist/teacher/athlete - and will wear whatever "hat" I want!

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  7. Excellent post - caught this link from a friend on FB. Just came out with my first comic about a month ago and now consider myself a full blown geek, but then again I have always liked dorky stuff the so called critics wold blast. Then I also suddenly realized the core parts of this article are true. You can't want people to understand you as a geek then get pissed when they start to embrace the things you do and start to geek themselves.

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  8. Very well written post. I am not a geek girl by any means (as I am male), but I am a geek. Gender has no bearing on being a geek, and I proudly call myself one to anyone who asks. Some people hear "geek" and have certain stereotypes to it, but this is not true. To me, geek signifies a passion for something. I do hold to many of the geek stereotypes (I work in the software and programming field, I have collected comic books for 30 years and now review them online) but I also do some of what you mention above (I shower daily, wash my hair daily, do my best to keep myself well groomed i.e. shave every 1-2 days, wear suits to work and actually meet face to face with clients) but I still set my own style and am known to my friends as a geek. But this is not a derogatory word at all - it is all because they know that I use it to describe my passions. I have friends who love anime who consider themselves geeks; I have friends who love Harry Potter and the like and call themselves geeks; I have friends who are LAWYERS and call themselves geeks. Anyone who wants to tell you that "geek" is a term that holds ONLY the stereotypes is wrong, as it has evolved to identify passion for something - ANYTHING - no matter what.

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  9. I don't really have a good comment to leave because I AGREE WITH ALL OF THIS. Every time you go on a rant about geek elitism, I wanna pump my fist and be all like, "YEAH MOLLY!!" through the internet. But I guess I can do it in this comment. YEAH MOLLY! You tell 'em. Dressing well and being a geek are not mutually exclusive things. You should be some pretty obvious proof of that!

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  10. Great post! I am one of those baggy pants, baggy t-shirt wearing girl geeks (but I DO shower every day), and I am thrilled to say that you and I are still "birds of a feather" because our appearance does NOT define our geekiness! True, some geeks like to flaunt the coolest Firefly (or whatever) t-shirt, but there are plenty of Firefly geeks who don't. It's the love of the show (or other geek things) that make you a geek - not whether or not you wear the t-shirt! So, you go, girl! Dress up all you want! Me? I'll dress 'down' all I want. And if ever we meet in person, we'll still be sister-geeks! :-D

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    1. Damn skippy! I have zero issue with women dressing however they want (as long as it's not assaulting my nostrils), because if you feel pretty and happy in what you're wearing, MORE POWER TO YOU. I have friends who in theory should embarrass with me with what they wear sometimes, but it doesn't make me think less of them as a person.

      High fives will be had if we ever run into one another at a con :-)

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  11. I also find that as people grow more comfortable in their own skin and their identity, they tend to judge others less. Perhaps the folks who still carry such issues haven't had that revelation yet.

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  12. Oh, Molly. You are wonderful. This is quite well-said. I run into this attitude sometimes (thought not being so much of a public figure, I get it less than I'm sure you do), but it's always frustrating. I was lucky enough not to be teased in school (or maybe just too obtuse to notice it), but I still hate it when I get reverse-judged now. Also, saying I'm a geek does not mean that you need to challenge me to a Star Trek quoting contest. I will lose. That doesn't make me less of a geek. Can it please be about a connection instead of a contest? Anyway, well said, you!

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  13. Bitterness and becoming the monster is so passe. I myself was tormented so badly in school (and at home for that matter) that I told my middle school resource officer to let me use his gun to commit suicide when I was 12, resulting in being committed. Now, at the age of 25 I'm still on and off the psychological/psychiatric wagon, but I went from a Florida farm town punching bag to having people waiting excitedly for me to finish building up my home studio and releasing tracks, and making rounds to start working as an audio engineer/film editor (for Valve if I'm lucky!). And my style is boss to boot! Major props to you for overcoming those struggles and staying true to yourself. It's posts like this that help me keep my head up.

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  14. "Geeks can be pretty too" - THANK YOU. You have made my day.

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  15. What a spiteful coward. Keep on doing what you're doing. I love comic books AND a cute pair of shoes, who's to tell me I am doing geeky wrong just because I pride myself on looking good while slaying orcs.

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  16. Some groups of geeks are getting meaner and feel "exclusie" and with the right to judge and say hurtful things to others. It is sad that such an accepting and nice community is being corrupted.
    The change is noticeable, geeks event just don't have that happy go lucky feel about them, and sometimes you don't feel as accepted in them, not because of something that someone said, but because of the vibe of the place. Maybe it is because they are making an industry out of it and people are putting on their work suits instead of Mario t-shirts. I don't know but I would be happy if they just stopped it.

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  17. You rock, darlin'! At 60, I have long ago stopped worrying about what others think of me, and wear what the heck I want, be it dressed to the nines, or jeans and a tee.

    As a longtime geek, I have noticed a more and more cliquish attitude over the last decade or so that I find incredibly annoying.

    You just go about being your pleasantly geeky self, and wearing whatever the heck you please! You are fine no matter how you dress, and if our path ever cross at a con, I would consider it an honor to make your acquaintance!

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  18. "So here's my suggestion: stop being a victim." Good advice for lots of situations, like when people take pictures of you wearing a revealing outfit.

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  19. Ugh, the fake geek girl accusations. I am so tired of them! It's like every "true" geek girl has to look dorky and awkward all of the time. Who came up with that rule?! People can dress however they want to, regardless of their interests. And not all geeks wear glasses and have acne (although some of us do, myself included). Some people like "geeky" interests and are also lucky enough to have clear skin and good vision. That doesn't make them any less interested in geeky things. Okay, rant over. Basically this post gets all of the thumbs up from me.

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