Geek Girls in Pop Culture

I took this photo at last year's GeekGirlCon. Subject unknown. @2011
You don’t need to feel threatened. We come in peace.

There has been a lot of bad blood in the geek world in the last couple of months, particularly around the subject of women in nerddom. Apparently there is some phenomenon (which I’ve never personally experienced) of girls pretending to be geeks to get attention. The thing that gets me is that I believe you can be a geek about anything. Geekery is about passion, not cred. There are music geeks, architecture geeks, fashion geeks, and even sports geeks. Comics and sci-fi/fantasy geeks don’t have ownership of the label, we’re just the public face.

(I’ve complained about the incursion on Comic-Con of non-unpop properties, but that has nothing to do with the fans themselves, and all to do with organization. People go to conventions to share their interests. There are simply too many widespread interests being represented at SDCC to accomodate.)

I’m hitting the road tomorrow to drive up to Seattle for the second annual GeekGirlCon, and I wanted to come up with a list worthy of the celebration of the unpop female geek. When I tried this last year, I could barely name five. Have things changed enough to expand that list? Or has my own awareness improved?

Part of the problem was the narrow scope I gave the label. Once I decided that passion made the nerd, I could make the argument that Temperance Brennan is an anthropology geek; just consider her reaction to the potential discovery of a link in the evolutionary chain on the Maluku Islands. Kaylee Frye is an engineering geek – she gets giddy over synchronizers. Parker on Leverage is a total geek when it comes to safe-cracking and security systems, and even Fringe’s Astrid Farnsworth geeks out over linguistics and codes.

I guess some guys struggle with the female incursion into their ‘safe space,’ and the fear that ‘geek’ is going mainstream. But booth babes don’t walk into Comic-Con to make fun of people. Having boobs shouldn’t make us a threat, and the only way that’s going to change is for the socially awkward to stop worrying about gender, and embrace enthusiasm. On that note, here are some fictional geek girls who would be at home in a comic shop or zombie movie marathon:

Wendy Watson (The Middleman) is specially equipped to fight evil – so you don’t have to – due to her comic book knowledge and the fact that she’s so attuned to movies about the undead as to have a ‘zombie palate-cleanser’ during marathons.

Penelope Garcia  (Criminal Minds) is a technophile always out to make a unique fashion statement. She enjoys the Con scene as much as she likes hiding out in her monitor-filled BAU cave. For the non-initiated, her phone manner can take some getting used to.

Holly Marten (Eureka) is EP Amy Berg‘s answer to the odd absence of geek girls in the highly nerdy setting of Eureka. Played by Geek Queen Felicia Day, Holly is a scientist with a host of social anxieties, but she’s extremely enthusiastic about astrophysics and playing RPGs.

Claudia Donovan (Warehouse 13is the only person to ever hack Warehouse security, and though her style is punk, her love of lightsabers and web savvy definitely place her among the greatest of geeks.

Ree Reyes (Geekomancy) is a barista, screenwriter, and newly-minted Geekomancer, in Michael R. Underwood’s debut novel. She looks at the world in terms of gamer stats, works in the coolest comic shop, and can channel nostalgia into actual power.

Julie (One Con Glory) is a regular Con attendee with a press badge, and an intense love of superhero Glory Gilmore. Rough around the edges, Julie shows a slightly sharper side to the average geek girl.


Am I missing anyone? Disagree? Chime in on the comments thread!

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