Dear geek girls: Please come back

Tara Tiger Brown in “Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away”, currently the most popular article on Forbes (Information for the World’s Business Leaders indeed):

Today the word [geek] is the exact opposite of its original meaning; a term once used to inflict social cruelty is now a term of endearment, everyone and their dog self-proclaims themselves as a geek in whatever passing interest they have. The definition of ‘geek’ is so broad now that it is meaningless.

There’s a word that originally had derogatory meaning and culture turned it into a positive term. We should be glad that this is happening, considering so many words undergone the opposite transformation, from positive/neutral to pejorative (e.g. “nigger”, “gay”).

Pretentious females who have labeled themselves as a “geek girl” figured out that guys will pay a lot of attention to them if they proclaim they are reading comics or playing video games.

Those damn females, how dare they seek attention from men! We men would never partake in activities that might result in us receiving attention.

[…] we just need to expose the posers for who they are and shine the light much more brightly on those that are the real deal.

Wait, didn’t we just assert that the definition of “geek” is broad? Did Tara suddenly invent a Geiger counter for geekdom between the paragraphs? What harm are these “posers” doing, and what methods exactly should we apply to weed them out?

But then she sure shines the light on a 13 year old girl called Luna:

I’ve spoken to Luna about her sewing projects […] so I know firsthand how talented she is. The thing that strikes me the most is how humble and casual she is about her skills. It made me think about a few online personalities who would have taken 10 pictures of themselves threading the needle and making their first stitch in order to get a bunch of likes on Instagram.

So a good girl in Tara’s book seems to be:

  1. humble;
  2. “casual”;
  3. doesn’t post pictures of herself on the Internet;
  4. shouldn’t receive likes on Instagram.

Girls who genuinely like their hobby or interest and document what they are doing to help others, not garner attention, are true geeks.

First rule of women’s hobby club: you do not talk about women’s hobbies. If you are a woman, you may document what you are doing to help others, but you are not allowed to receive attention for it.

That reminds me of Charles Darwin’s misconception about the behavior of human females (in the context of mating):

the female, on the other hand, with the rarest exceptions […] is coy, and may often be seen endeavoring for a long time to escape from the male.

What a load of crap all this is. It’s no surprise that it comes from a woman who suggested that the goal ‘learn how to code’ is a waste of your time, and whose greatest achievement is giving birth. It’s a surprise, though, that this same woman often wrote positively in the past about women in technology, including the piece where she criticizes the stereotype about women being “good at shopping”:

The only way to show [the female VC] that the sky is truly the limit for women and that natural abilities are not gender specific, women and men just do some things differently, is to show your expertise to her and any other doubters that are still of the mindset that women are naturally good at X.

To do that, us women that want to do a tech startup, or any business, need to raise our hands, speak up, write about it, show what you are good at and passionate about.

Great advice from Tara. Unfortunately, it’s in direct contradiction with what she is saying in her latest article. She’s the kind of person to ask “Where are all the women in technology” and then when geek girls appear, she tells them to Please go away.

Tara is just one of many people that are determined to shame and exlude women on pretense that they are “attention-seekers”, “fake” or just not hardcore enough. It happens when a group is male-dominated; sports and gaming are good examples. A woman immediately becomes a suspect when she joins a group: is she here because she really likes the topic or she only participates to get attention? Of course, we can’t ask her because she’ll just lie. So we have to probe her brain.

Whatever the definition of “geek” is, it doesn’t include gender. If we’re really on a mission to expose the posers, why concentrate on just women?

The answer is: it’s not about these girl geeks being “fake”. It’s about these geeks being female. That this is posed as a problem is a problem in it of itself.

That Weird Atheist Girl on the subject of attention shaming:

I just want to participate equally in the communities that I enjoy without someone trying to harass me into silence because I had the audacity to have an opinion, interest, or hobby while being female.