Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be

(Adding this note in late 2019: It should be noted that the subject of this piece, Joe Peacock, has over the years changed his position from what I’m responding to here to one more encompassing and welcoming. I don’t think it’s especially fair of me to occasionally point to this piece without noting that. Take the piece as a snapshot of a moment of time, and be aware that people can change their minds and attitudes over time — JS)

 

The other day CNN let some dude named Joe Peacock vomit up an embarrassing piece on its Web site, about how how awful it is that geekdom is in the process of being overrun by attractive women dressing up in costumes (“cosplaying,” for the uninitiated) when they haven’t displayed their geek cred to Mr. Peacock’s personal satisfaction. They weren’t real geeks, Mr. Peacock maintains — he makes a great show of supporting real geek women, the definition of which, presumably, are those who have passed his stringent entrance requirements, which I am sure he’s posted some place other than the inside of his skull — and because they’re not real geeks, they offend people like him, who are real geeks:

They’re poachers. They’re a pox on our culture. As a guy, I find it repugnant that, due to my interests in comic books, sci-fi, fantasy and role playing games, video games and toys, I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence. It’s insulting… You’re just gross.

For the moment, let’s leave aside the problem of a mentality that assumes that the primary reason some woman might find it fun and worthwhile to cosplay as one of her favorite science fiction and fantasy characters is to get the attention of some dudes, to focus on another interesting aspect of this piece: Namely, that Joe Peacock has arrogated to himself the role of Speaker for the Geeks, with the ability to determine whether any particular group of people is worthy of True Geekdom. This on the basis, one presumes, of his resume and his longtime affiliation as a geek.

Well, fine. Hey, Joe: Hi, I’m John Scalzi. I am also a longtime geek. My resume includes three New York Times bestselling science fiction books, three books nominated for the Best Novel Hugo, six other Hugo nominations (as well as Nebula, Locus, Sidewise and other award nominations), one novel optioned for a science fiction film, a stint consulting for the Stargate: Universe television show, a long history in video games as a player (Atari, yo) and as a writer, including writing for the Official US Playstation Magazine for six years and currently writing a game for Industrial Toys. I wrote a column on science fiction film for four years and have two books on the subject. I’ve been writing this blog for fourteen years and was one of the early adopters of self-publishing one’s books online; additionally three books of mine (including one Hugo winner) have been of work originally published online. I was a special guest at this year’s ComicCon. I am the toastmaster of this year’s Worldcon. I am the sitting president of this. Here’s a picture of my peer group. Here’s another.

I outrank you as Speaker for the Geeks.

You are overruled.

Your entire piece is thrown out as condescending, entitled, oblivious, sexist and obnoxious.

And no, you can’t object (well, you can, but you’ll be summarily overruled). You made the decision based on your life experience as a geek that you could tell other people who is welcome as a geek and who is not. Based on my life experience as a geek, I have made the decision that I am qualified to tell you to suck eggs. You want to slap down people who you don’t feel qualify for geekdom? Then I get to slap you down for being wrong, on the basis of being higher up in the geek hierarchy. You don’t like it? Then you shouldn’t have played this game to begin with. You  played your cards, and I now I’ve played mine. This round goes to me. I have the conch. And now I will speak.

Who gets to be a geek?

Anyone who wants to be, any way they want to be one.

Geekdom is a nation with open borders. There are many affiliations and many doors into it. There are lit geeks, media geeks, comics geeks, anime and manga geeks. There are LARPers, cosplayers, furries, filkers, crafters, gamers and tabletoppers. There are goths and horror geeks and steampunkers and academics. There are nerd rockers and writers and artists and actors and fans. Some people love only one thing. Some people flit between fandoms. Some people are positively poly in their geek enthusiasms. Some people have been in geekdom since before they knew they were geeks. Some people are n00bs, trying out an aspect of geekdom to see if it fits. If it does, great. If it doesn’t then at least they tried it.

Many people believe geekdom is defined by a love of a thing, but I think — and my experience of geekdom bears on this thinking — that the true sign of a geek is a delight in sharing a thing. It’s the major difference between a geek and a hipster, you know: When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.”

Any jerk can love a thing. It’s the sharing that makes geekdom awesome.

Let’s take these women cosplayers, who Mr. Peacock is so hand-flappingly disgusted with and dismissive of. Let’s leave aside, for now, the idea that for those of this group attending ComicCon, spending literally hundreds and perhaps even thousands of dollars on ComicCon passes, hotels, transportation, food, not to mention the money and time required to put together an excellent costume, is not in itself a signal indication of geek commitment. Let’s say that, in fact, the only reason the women cosplayers are there is to get their cosplay on, in front of what is likely to be an appreciative audience.

So what?

As in, so what if their only geekdom is cosplay? What if it is? Who does it harm? Who is materially injured by the fact? Who, upon seeing a woman cosplaying without an accompanying curriculum vitae posted above her head on a stick, laying out her geek bona fides, says to him or herself “Everything I loved about my geekdom has turned to ashes in my mouth,” and then flees to from the San Diego Convention Center, weeping? If there is such an unfortunate soul, should the fragile pathology of their own geekdom be the concern of the cosplaying woman? It seems highly doubtful that woman spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars to show up in San Diego just to ruin some random, overly-sensitive geek’s day. It’s rather more likely she came to enjoy herself in a place where her expression of her own geekiness would be appreciated.

So what if her geekiness is not your own? So what if she isn’t into the geek life as deeply as you believe you are, or that you think she should be? So what if she doesn’t have a geek love of the things you have a geek love for? Is the appropriate response to those facts to call her gross, and a poacher, and maintain that she’s only in it to be slavered over by dudes who (in your unwarranted condescension) you judge to be not nearly as enlightened to the ways of geek women as you? Or would a more appropriate response be to say “great costume,” and maybe welcome her into the parts of geekdom that you love, so that she might possibly grow to love them too? What do you gain from complaining about her fakey fake fakeness, except a momentary and entirely erroneous feeling of geek superiority, coupled with a permanent record of your sexism against women who you don’t see being the right kind of geek?

These are your choices. Although actually there’s a third choice: Just let her be to do her thing. Because here’s a funny fact: Her geekdom is not about you. At all. It’s about her.

Geekdom is personal. Geekdom varies from person to person. There are as many ways to be a geek as there are people who love a thing and love sharing that thing with others. You don’t get to define their geekdom. They don’t get to define yours. What you can do is share your expression of geekdom with others. Maybe they will get you, and maybe they won’t. If they do, great. If they don’t, that’s their problem and not yours.

Be your own geek. Love what you love. Share it with anyone who will listen.

One other thing: There is no Speaker for the Geeks. Not Joe Peacock, not me, not anyone. If anyone tells you that there’s a right way to be a geek, or that someone else is not a geek, or shouldn’t be seen as a geek — or that you are not a geek — you can tell them to fuck right off. They don’t get a vote on your geekdom. Go cosplay, or play filk, or read that Doctor Who novel or whatever it is you want to do. Geekdom is flat. There is no hierarchy. There is no leveling up required, or secret handshake, or entrance examination. There’s just you.

Anyone can be a geek. Any way they want to. That means you too. Whoever you are.

Anyone who tells you different, you send them to me.

(Update: Joe Peacock shows up in the comment thread with thoughts here and in a few subsequent comments.)

736 Comments on “Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be”

  1. As this seems likely to be the sort of post that Brings The Angry to my doorstep, a quick reminder to people, especially the first time commenters, to read the Comment Rules before posting, and to follow them.

    Also: For this post I will be swinging the Mallet of Loving Correction perhaps more precipitately than I usually do. Because there’s no point in letting dickweeds get the upper hand early.

    Finally, a reminder that if you see someone troll, the best response is not to respond, and to leave them to me. I will deal with them.

    Thanks, folks.

  2. traemurnane – I write things. Now I want to share them. Hope you like them. Tea's my drug of choice, dogs are my spirit animals. I collect pretty rocks, hike and garden. Books are my kryptonite.
    Tracey

    I’m just left snickering at my desk because really you said it all just fine without any further help required.

  3. A manifesto, John! Appreciated.

    This (his article, not yours) must be why Felicia Day tweeted yesterday that she doesn’t appreciate being held up as a “genuine” female geek by people who want to exclude others.

  4. I want to see an election between John, Neil Gaiman, Will Wheaton, and Felicia Day for ‘Speaker’ rights :)

    Also, completely agree. Geekdom is entirely about doing whatever you enjoy and reveling in it – and part of that is not telling others what to do or enjoy. If we wanted people to tell us what to do/enjoy/think, we’d be popular.

  5. What…? There is no leveling up in geekdom? What am I doing playing this game then?!?

  6. waymor – Ireland – I'm an all round geek and fan of things. Background is in science, specifically astrophysics and climate change. I also work with a suicide charity. I like technology, science, comics, movies, books, music, games.... all the stuff that most people like!
    waymor

    This is the bit that I agree with completely: “Be your own geek. Love what you love. Share it with anyone who will listen.”

    In fact I said something similar to a friend yesterday. I said that being a geek is just about being passionate about something openly and wanting to share that passion.

    I bow to you, O Speaker!

  7. Thank you: perfectly stated for all the girl geeks of the world. I’ve run into plenty of guys like him at Comic-Con and they are so exasperating.

  8. Hell to the power of YEAH! Thanks for wielding the clue bat on Mr. Peacock and others of exclusion.

  9. I think the reason why hipsters get upset when you like the same things they do is because that drives up demand for Pabst Blue Ribbon, tight pants, etc. This in turn drives up the cost. Since being cool doesn’t pay very well for non-celebrities, this poses a real threat to their lifestyle.

  10. Thank goodness you posted about this, because the barrage of comments on that article going “YEAH! RIGHT ON! I’M A GIRL GEEK AND I HATE OTHER WOMEN!” was seriously making me question my sanity. Now I don’t have to write my own diatribe about the infectious misogyny that article is spreading, and can just link to yours instead. Hurray for time freed up!

  11. Fan-fracking-tastic. This is something that’s been bothering me increasingly over the past couple of months (ties in with the growing attention about women in gaming, which is just as infuriating.) Far too much, there’s dismissal of one’s passion, rather than an encouragement of excitement. Thank you!

  12. O'Frizz Thirty – That Hour When My Hair Reflects My State Of Mind! I'm real. A real wife, a real mom, & and a real woman who loves everybody with her whole heart (without prejudice)! Join me as I laugh at myself...and at you!
    O'Frizz Thirty

    Thank you Speaker Scalzi for standing up for us gross poaching geek women. I hope Joe Peacock can come to terms with whatever pain, hurt or teaching that has warped his thinking into being a meany meanerton. I think that posters should remember to respect John’s post as he is defending the right to be whatever you want to be. It’s hateful thinking that has caused so much separation between classes, races and genders. The most important commandment is to love one another. I choose hope for Joe Peacock…it’s not too late to change your mind, Joe! Us Newbie Geek Women aren’t as Pox-ie, Poachy or Gross as you think.

  13. Very well said, sir. I agree whole-heartedly. His whinging speaks volumes about him, while Geekdom is what each of us make of it.

  14. Aw, come on, give the guy a little slack – I imagine it’s been tough since Mrs. Peacock got killed in the Conservatory with the Candlestick….

    Thank you folks, I’ll be here all week, and try the Shrimp Scampi!

  15. I said this, re that article, yesterday:

    Personally, I’ve found being a geek girl is a lose, lose, and f***ing lose proposition and the only way to get through it is to realize that what GUYS think is irrelevant to my interests. I’m either not geeky enough, not pretty enough, too geeky, too sexy, too sex-obsessed, not sleeping with enough… frack it and you sideways. This is my interest, and whatever you’re doing over there, if you’re making me an object… that’s not my interests. Go away.

    I’ve had geeky “friends” gap at me with astonishment that I didn’t know who a bunch of anime cos-players were representing. Like my not being familiar with Sailor Moon was some sort of slap in the face of geek-culture, but he wouldn’t recognize an Usula K. LeGuin pun if I rubbed his nose in it. Your Geek is not my Geek, but your Geek is okay, too.

  16. Joe sounds like he is afraid of women and feels threatened by them. I feel the same way about spiders. No offense to spiders.

  17. Amethyst – 3rd rock from the sun – Author, blogger, internet person. My claim to fame is Thalia's Musings, an indie fantasy series set in the ancient Greek pantheon and narrated by the muse of comedy. http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ http://amethystmarie.com/
    Amethyst

    I’m a she-geek who worships Felicia Day, and I thought the CNN piece was right on target. If a cute girl who’s normally into stuff like Sex and the City or Gossip Girl genuinely decides that maybe sci fi isn’t lame after all and she wants to join the geek party, she’s more than welcome. The more, the merrier. But that’s not what Peacock is writing about. He’s writing about models who have no true interest in geekdom, but are marketing themselves to geeks because they know that’s where the money’s at.

  18. Man, Felicia Day must be getting whiplash from being yanked back and forth by self-appointed rulers of geekdom using her as the rope in a game of tug-of-war over the definition of female geekdom. I wonder if this latest guy realizes that, although he said nice things about her, he’s still using her to advance HIS view of female geekdom while disregarding Felicia’s view

  19. This is fascinating to me. My wife is a geek, but refuses to admit it. Every time she does something that is “geeky”, I point it out. She’s a triathlon geek and a bit of an art geek.

    Of course, we have good fun with it. She really is a geek and I think denies it because she sees how much fun I have pointing it out to her.

    I’m an education/information geek. LET IN ALL THE GEEKS! You never know what you might learn!

  20. I read the original article, and his follow-up where he tried to clarify (and possibly dig himself out of a hole). Here’s the bit that I don’t get: he claims that the women who offend him are not geeks, and wouldn’t normally associate with geek culture, but they pretend to do so at conventions and such, in order to get attention and validate their own self-image as an attractive person. It’s implied (or at least, I got this from his article) that such a person would NOT self-identify as a geek, and would deny being one under normal circumstances, which is why he can categorize them as non-geeks. Maybe such a demographic exists, but it has to be vanishingly small. I mean, think about it a minute: Who seeks validation from geeks? And moreso, who would want to pretend to be a geek in order to seek their validation? I was able to understand the parameters of the group he was positing, but I would like to be shown some proof that such a group actually exists, because I can’t imagine it does.

  21. As an athletic geek, I am often spitten with scorn for having interests in such things as athletic championship matches, college basketball, the ability to use a firearm, and intense knowledge of fantasy football (which should have its own geek category). The geek culture is not so loving as you contend. At least in my experience, Mr. Peacock seems to me more of the norm is finding reasons to exclude others from true geekdom.

  22. Another thought: Are you aware that there are self-identified “geeks” who look down on “nerds”? I highly respect Randall Munroe, but he’s one of these. This is more the science type of geek than the gaming and cosplaying kind (though naturally these overlap heavily). Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering people look down on Linguistics, Anthropology, Psychology etc. What do you think of that?

    I’ve come to a usage-definition of ‘nerd’ that I think is right (that is, it’s how non-nerds use the word; forgive my linguistics-major (gasp! a soft science! RM would be appalled) specificity: a nerd is someone who is unironically enthusiastic about anything other than sports. (I got that somewhere and modified it slightly. I don’t defend sports enthusiasm as different in kind, but people who know all the winning World Series teams since 1950 are never called nerds, while people who know all the Oscar winners are; it’s a usage distinction.) From the article, ISTM you might have a similar definition of ‘geek’. Would that be accurate?

  23. With a few edits and substitutions, this entire piece could also say: “Everyone gets to be human and choose their own path.”
    Truly inspiring, Mr. Scalzi. Thank you for your words.

  24. My daughter, the most normal one, actually is having an existential crisis to whether she is a geek or not. She pretends she is not but after mocking us we caught her watching Doctor Who. She knows the proper answer to what is the best movie ever made is not Star Wars but the Princess Bride. She even asked why are Dean and Castiel fighting as she tries to hone in on a Supernatural conversation. Her favorite shows are The Batchelor and Big Brother and hates sci fi. She is so conflicted

  25. If you don’t bite the heads off of chickens and/or eat glass, you’re not a real geek.

    Damn kids and their constantly changing language.

  26. I’ve been a geek longer than ALL OF YOU. Not better, just longer. As soon as someone insists that there is a “right way” for everyone else to do something (strangely, the “right way” is always identical to “their way,”) they are no longer a geek. They are trying to control others, to enforce behavior, to be in charge.

    Geeks don’t rule. They play.

    Now, I think I can hear my Lego calling to me.

  27. I can sort of understand the underlying point of Mr Peacock’s completely wrongheaded article. When I was a little geekling, we had to endure the taunts and even physical violence of our peers because we watched Star Trek and we likes Star Wars and because we played D&D instead of football or whatever we were “supposed” to like.

    Now, there’s an entire network dedicated to Science Fiction (mostly, wrestling? Really?) SF shows are among the top rated shows in the nation, SF books are on the NYT Best Seller list, comic book and SF and fantasy movies rule the top ten moneymakers of all time, Comic Con and Dragon Con boast memberships in the tens of thousands.

    Now, it’s easy to be a geek. When I went to my first con at 13, I had found my people. Finally. There were people who understood what it was like to be the outsider at school. What it was like to be chased home from school by the bullies out to kick your ass for the temerity of not being like everyone else. Now? EVERYONE at school is watching the Avengers and Batman and Spiderman. Now, you don’t need a con to find people who like the same stuff as you, now you can log on to any number of places on the ‘net to find like minded people. Heck, you can go to the watercooler and talk about this stuff now!

    So I kind of understand with Mr Peacock was perhaps thinking when he wrote his piece…but being a Geek was NEVER about excluding anyone. Being a Geek has always been about just being a Geek.

  28. I really, really love when you write a fantastic article that perfectly captures how I feel about an issue. (Seems to happen a lot!)

  29. Wonderfully said. Thank you! I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have had my love of SF, horror films, books. monsters, etc, questioned because I am female. Things like, “You just are pretending to like monster movies so you can get guys.” Or, “You are the biggest Basil Gogos fan here and (said in an incredulous tone) you are a girl.” I have stopped defending myself and just smile. I love these things because – I love these things. And, like you so elegantly stated, I am happy when I find others who love them too.

  30. Amethyst:

    “He’s writing about models who have no true interest in geekdom, but are marketing themselves to geeks because they know that’s where the money’s at.”

    Leaving aside that in fact Mr. Peacock’s piece cast a rather wider net than you describe, you know they have no true interest in geekdom how? Have you asked them? And do you believe they would be incapable of becoming geeks?

    The exclusion of the possibility that even this extremely narrow slice of humanity could have an interest in geekdom is interesting, and I think probably wrong.

    Kilroy:

    “The geek culture is not so loving as you contend.”

    As with any culture, its aspirations are sometimes confounded by the real live people in it.

  31. I think the counter argument to this is these newcomers to geekdom didn’t have to go through the trials and tribulations that those of us who grew up geeky did. It’s not, in my opinion, that they’ve appropriated our culture without true belief, it’s that we had to put up with a lot of bigoted nonsense growing up this way and so when someone comes into it after it’s already been accepted, it seems a little more hollow than those who’s beliefs have been tested. That’s not to say they aren’t legitimate, just that people who have suffered through the dark times can sometimes feel like this late arrival breed of geek is like someone who joined the team after the big game was won and took pride in being on a winning team. They ARE on a winning team, they just didn’t have to suffer for it.

  32. Yes. Yes to ALL of this. Also, my favorite comment over at the CNN piece was posted by Telzey Amberdon, which I’ll repost here:

    “When you wrote, “I find it fantastic that women are finally able to enjoy a culture that has predominately been male-oriented and male-driven.”, I laughed so hard at this exhibition of absolutely adorable male privilege that I found myself unable to take the rest of the article seriously.

    Women invented media culture when they invented fanfiction for Man from Uncle and Star Trek, and then mounted the very first media convention for Star Trek, and all the subsequent ones for the next 10 years or so. I attended the second Star Trek convention held in NYC in 1973 and it was given by mostly all women and attended by mostly all women. You found predominantly male fans at literary (literary as in books and magazines like Analog and Astounding) SciFi and Fantasy conventions, and those guys sneered at us, making sure we understood that female media fans were beneath the far more intellectual book-oriented male fans. Not that we didn’t let whatever guys who wanted to come to our conventions attend: we felt the more, the merrier. But it was a 90% female vs 10% male attendance at those early cons, if I remember correctly. Possibly higher than 90%. When Shatner did his “Get a life!” turn on SNL, he addressed that tiny percentage of usually-dorky males you’d see at a media con back then – I remember wondering aloud where the heck the fannish women were at in that sketch. I’d never seen an all-male crowd at any of the media cons I’d been to. But such is male privilege, it sees what it wants to see, I suppose. OTOH, maybe Mr. Shatner just didn’t want to be seen screaming at women.

    Such was our happy inclusiveness that eventually men started to enjoy media fandom in greater numbers as they abandoned literary fandom in droves and all the pulp SciFi magazines crumbled, and just look: they apparently think they invented it now. You guys are so cute, if somewhat annoying! I suggest you pick up Bjo Trimble’s “On the Good Ship Enterprise–My 15 Years With Star Trek” if you want to read about all the women who invented media fandom and the culture.

    Pics or it didn’t happen: I’ve got a ton of pictures from that era of fannishness and it’s chicks all the way. A few males, but mostly women. Leave my sisters alone and consider yourself lucky we allowed you guys into *our* culture.”

    Between your response and hers, I don’t think anyone needs to say anything on this topic ever again! :) Thank you for what you wrote, John.

  33. Things have changed, I think.

    Back when I was getting shoved into trash cans for being a geek, there was an additional aspect to it: Not only did you do what you loved, but you did what you loved in the face of social hostility, or at least indifference. There was a cost to being a geek – you followed your love (or perhaps compulsion) at the cost of larger social acceptance. Perhaps that part of a time gone past, before the various inhabitants of the long tail could reach out over the interwebs and find each other, but I suspect that they still exist – just farther out in the skinnier parts of the tail.

    I don’t begrudge the new happy geek, but I suspect that a new word will emerge to describe those who follow their dreams despite a social ostracism that the happy pretty cosplayers will never know.

  34. Amethyst, Peacock’s complaint about booth babes makes me question his geek credential to begin with, since he clearly doesn’t understand the dynamics at play in the convention space. Booth babes are hired by the very gaming and comic book companies that he so worships, because those companies have come out loud and clear to say that they don’t care about having women as part of their audience, and are perfectly willing to use a woman’s sexual attraction to entice their male audience. This is a phenomenon that the more social justice minded geeks have been complaining about for decades, as being alienating to female geeks, as being misogynistic, as being insulting to men. That Peacock has the gall to blame the women–who are there to do the job they were hired to do–on the women, and not on the bullshit misogynistic companies that employ them, is pretty much as tone-deaf as it’s possible to be.

    Furthermore, geekdom isn’t a Monolithic Thing that you have a binary interest in. Saying “well that model/actress/whatever isn’t REALLY INTO IT and is just faking” is pretty disingenuous and assumes bad faith on the part of a model that I don’t see ascribed to men at all. No one calls out RDJ for just cashing in on the Iron Man craze, but boy, that ScarJo sure is opportunistic, huh?

  35. John, thank you, thank you for writing this piece. I’d read Amanda Marcotte’s take on Peacock’s piece this morning and thought it nailed the (many) problems with his article, but this is outstanding. Being a geek is a HUGE part of my identity, it has been for as long as I can remember – unfortunately, as a woman, it’s also been somewhat… problematic, for many of the reasons you listed.

    This past year I ran a panel at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) about geek culture intersecting with artistic expression and gender identity. It was the very first panel I’d ever proposed and moderated. All the speakers were women from various artistic disciplines, from theater tech to performance art to visual art to creative writing, all sharing a love of geek culture. Some of us had been geeks since childhood, some had come to it later in life because – and here’s the important bit – they’d had a geek friend (or group of friends) that introduced them to some aspect of geek culture that they loved, and by sharing that love, intrigued others so much that they eventually became geeks as well, and found other aspects (whether video games or comics or cosplay or whatever) that they became interested in as well. Not all of us were comic book lovers, or video game players, or into cosplay, but not once did we stop to measure who was “more of a geek” because of our difference in experiences or interests.

    During the Q&A session (which we unfortunately didn’t have much time for, an hour goes FAST), the last person we could get to was a woman. She spoke of exactly this problem, asking us if, as women, we’d ever felt as if we had to prove that we were “real geeks” because she’d experienced this – from both male and female geeks – and to her, it was one of the most disheartening experiences about being a woman geek. That question broke my heart, because you nailed it with pointing out that a defining feature of geek culture is wanting to share your love for whatever geek interest you have with others – it’s supposed to be inclusive, not exclusive!

    Attitudes like Peacock’s only perpetuate the problem. And the thing of it that’s really maddening is that buried under all that sexist condescension was a very real point about how booth babes alienate women from geek spaces because of how they sexualize women as objects, but that point was utterly lost under the rest of his “REAL geeks are X,Y, Z” patronizing and pearl-clutching over a non-existent problem.

  36. and then flees to from the San Diego Convention Center, weeping?
    Good- leaving more room for the rest of us.

    I’m actually not a Comicon geek- I tend to identify with the literary side of the street. Hey, Lynn Townsend- what’s the Le Guin pun? Nevertheless, I was a proud aunt several years ago, when I started accompanying my brother and his daughters to Fanime. (Actually, the girls went to Fanime- we went wine-tasting)

  37. kilroy, I think what you’re experiencing may be the reaction of people who have been excluded for being geeks, and who have noticed that people with your other interests would not have been so excluded. That’s all true; where they make a profound error is in excluding you for not being excluded the way they were.

    Straight people are welcome in gay bars. Some gay people are unfriendly to them, but they’re the exception. It’s kinda like that.

  38. John,

    I think this sums it up perfectly. The thing I love about geek culture is finding things I didn’t know about before, whether it’s games, or movies, or tv shows and then telling my friends about the things I’ve found. All of them are into different things to varied degrees but we all have some common geek ground.

    To throw someone out and say you can’t explore our culture because you aren’t cultured enough is kind of self defeating and ultimately doomed to fail if you think about it.

  39. jonschwartz:

    “I think the counter argument to this is these newcomers to geekdom didn’t have to go through the trials and tribulations that those of us who grew up geeky did.”

    Possibly, but this is a case of being a bad winner, culturally speaking.

  40. “Many people believe geekdom is defined by a love of a thing, but I think — and my experience of geekdom bears on this thinking — that the true sign of a geek is a delight in sharing a thing. It’s the major difference between a geek and a hipster, you know: When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.”

    Any jerk can love a thing. It’s the sharing that makes geekdom awesome.”

    This part right here is why you do qualify as a “Speaker for Geeks”. A great definition of what “defines” a geek, though I still like what Simon Pegg had to say as well.

    I’ve tried to define what separates a geek vs. dork vs. nerd and the best I’ve come up with so far is this.

    Nerds – Debate on whether the Special Theory or General Theory of Relativity had a larger impact on our worldview.

    Geeks – Debate on whether or not Wolverine’s mutant healing ability would protect him from the bite of a vampire or a zombie.

    Dorks – Are those guys you see dressed up in costumes at the opening night of any SciFi film. They also may or may not be involved in some kind of LARP’ing (and yes the SCA counts) or cosplay of any kind.

  41. Wow. One of the things I love about geekdom is how beautifully diverse we are. It takes all kinds! And I love the enthusiasm with which our various loves are shared. You can always learn something or find something new to enjoy being with fellow geeks, no matter what your pleasure. Great post!

  42. @jonschwartz – I think that’s a poor counterargument. Are black people of today less black because they didn’t have to deal with segregation, or even slavery? Do you suggest we should force people to put up with humiliation and such in order to be true geeks?

    How about we celebrate that people _can_ be openly geeks, and that our society is accepting of peoples’ differences (which is what geekdom is truly about!) and that we who HAVE put up with that humiliation were able to change society for the better, so the people nowadays don’t have to.

  43. As a self declared geek who has had this confirmed numerous times since my youth and a father of two band/cosplay/trekker/who-vian/minecraft/midnight munchkin madness children, I salute you. Well said sir!

  44. Noted and accepted Xopher.

    And I’m pretty sure that Orson Scott Card is the official Speaker. Or is that only after geekdom is dead?

  45. I suffered a distinct lack of persecution for my geeky interests when I was young. Apparently this makes me less of a geek to some people, because I have not persevered despite trials and tribulations, but merely had fun doing things which I enjoyed, sometimes in the company of other people who also enjoyed them.

    Which really just makes me roll my eyes, because. Really? The problem is that some people are happy and haven’t been traumatized for doing what they love? The problem is that there just weren’t enough bullies to go around, and some people thus didn’t suffer any persecution for loving geeky things enthusiastically? I, for one, am generally in favor of there being less suffering in the universe, and if the “pretty” cosplayers haven’t suffered as much as someone else… GOOD. The less suffering the better. That some people were persecuted for being geeks is a thing to feel sad about–no one should be persecuted for harmless preferences–and not some badge of honor or sign of superiority. May the less persecuted geekiness continue, with less persecution all the time.

  46. Here, to me, is the central point about Comic-Con:
    “…she came to enjoy herself in a place where her expression of her own geekiness would be appreciated…”

    There are two crowds who show up in San Diego; the ones for whom Comic-Con is a spectator event and the ones for whom it is a homecoming. I admit I get annoyed at the people who come to look at movie stars, and walk around bemused by the goings-on. They fit comfortably into “normal” life, and Comic-Con represents exotic entertainment. “My Comic-Con” is the place where I’m among my tribe, where those of us who don’t fit comfortably into the mundane world can crack a geeky joke or make an obscure reference and know that people get it. It’s the place where people see my Mother Box-styled iPhone and go “oh, COOL!” instead of “what’s that interesting design?”

    I don’t begrudge the cosplay girls their turf at SDCC (though I do wish they would take the photo ops outside and stop blocking the aisles), and I really hope when they walk through the doors, they think “I’m home!” Because that’s what it’s for, and it’s part of what makes one a geek, that sense of being part of this weird tribe of misfits and oddballs who are really cool in our own way.

  47. “Labels are for the things men make, not for men. The most primitive man is too complex to be labeled.” (Rex Stout) Or woman as the case may be.
    This is what happens when you set up a label. It has to be defined, therefore it has to exclude people. And who has the right to set up the definition?
    And who sets up the arbitrary rules for full membership, partial, apprentice?
    Mr. Peacock is apparently in favor of setting up a paper bag test for Geeks. OK. Under my recently revised definition of Geek, I think Mr. Peacock just eliminated himself out of the club.

  48. Well said. I remember lots of lonely times as a geek in the 70’s and 80’s. I would never exclude someone from my little geek kingdom. Who cares if they aren’t like you? That’s the best part. We can all be weird and different together.

  49. I think Joe Peacock is simply expressing despair over the fact that to be geek is now chic. A lot of proud, self-labeled geeks simultaneously loathe and enjoy their status as “outside” the mainstream, so they get their backs up any time they see the mainstream flooding through the gate into the geek ghetto. “You can’t come in here like that, you didn’t earn it!” The definition of “earning it” seemingly being one’s suffering and pain (time served) beneath the heels of the popular kids in Junior High and High School? College? The real world?

    Ostensibly, I like John’s differentiation between geek and hipster. That’s very important, actually. Defining one’s cool-factor (self-perceived) by how un-mainstream and un-popular one’s tastes are is perhaps even more moronic than allowing one’s cool-factor (self-perceived) to be dictated by how mainstream and popular one’s tastes are.

    I knew I’d crossed a boundary when, some time in my twenties, I simply stopped caring if I was geeky, or chic, or cool, or nerdy, and that life was too short to fret over such things. I had my interests and my enthusiasms and if I could embrace these things with others, boffo. If not? Well, again, boffo. It didn’t matter to me who thought I was being a dork. Most of the people who thought I was a dork when I was in my late teens and early twenties have more or less confessed to thinking I am cool in my late thirties; simply because I forged ahead with my passions, and have gone on to do a few things (military, writing, civilian career, etc.) they find laudable.

    Back to Joe Peacock’s “poaching” accusation, again, I think we’re dealing with a de-ghettoization of geek culture, and there are some geeks who are terrified of this. They need and love their status as outcasts, at once craving societal approval while also priding themselves on being shunned and trodden upon. Therefore “geek” is a form of victim identify, and the invasion of the faux geeks and (gasp) pretty women in hot cosplay clothes is a bit like the barbarians of the North come down to sack Rome. Horrors!

  50. We’re somewhat lacking in vocabulary; the popular and accepted geek (and they really have become so, in so many fields) doesn’t really have a name. I shall abbreviate PAG. I’m not at all convinced that the PAGs have the same creative potential as the geeks of yesteryear (i.e. most of them were narrow-interested and self-marginalized but a few used geekdom as the place where they could soar), but for all I know they may have more. I do think the most interesting stuff out there will be neither from the Marketers to Geeks nor from the Geek Connoisseurs but from what I call the Noogeeks, the people who react to some large part of the currently fashionable geekness in the same way that the geeks of old reacted to pop music, sports, and fashion. More thoughts about that at http://thatjohnbarnes.blogspot.com/2012/06/if-geek-is-new-cool-then-lets-ditch.html

  51. *slow clap*
    Thank you good sir, for this brilliant piece of writing. I may have to go purchase your books now.

  52. lonotter – Ron's wife, Robin's Mom, Eowyn & Elrond's human. Chief Everything Officer for Otter Necessities. Knitter & weaver, with sides of spinning, kumihimo, and other stringy hobbies. Compulsive reader & bibliophile, including e-books. Geek, typophile, text-design hoppeful, and more I've probably forgotten.
    Otter

    You’re totally the Speaker for the Geeks in my (geeky and nerdy) book!

  53. I checked out Peacock’s initial article. It sounds more like a person lashing out after some decked-out girl had spurned his pick-up line (“Hey, babe. Wanna take a look at my Akira collection?”) — a manifesto against cos-play narcissists. A subsequent post he wrote defending his initial comments strays into that attempt to define who can be a geek, while adding a soupcon of disgust towards the demeaning nature of revealing female cos-play outfits.

    Personally, I’m with you. If they wanna dress up, who the heck cares? If it’s to “be seen,” either by a bunch of slavering knuckle-dragging men (in which case, yeah, there are cons more suited for that), by a producer/director/agent, or by an amazingly large group of con-goers who tend to appreciate the ingenuity put into these outfits — well, it’s their life. They invited you into it for a moment. Move on.

  54. I believe this article represents the first time in geek history that a man has complained that there are too many attractive women trying to get close to the geeks.

  55. Kilroy: And I’m pretty sure that Orson Scott Card is the official Speaker. Or is that only after geekdom is dead?

    Oh, I just realized you’re making a pun on a book title. OK, then. Of course I think OSC should be barred from speaking for any group (organized or not) that doesn’t want to be branded as vehemently gay-hating, because that’s what he is.

  56. Xopher, et al.:

    Let’s not wander off into a discussion of OSC, please.

    Brad R. Torgersen:

    “I think Joe Peacock is simply expressing despair over the fact that to be geek is now chic.”

    If only he could have done it in a manner less antagonistically sexist.

  57. Xopher: Was not aware of that. But I will keep with Mr. Scaltzi’s advice of being able to enjoy a writer without enjoying his private viewpoints.

  58. Reddit had an AskMeAnything (AMA) last night with a woman named Veronica Rae Black. She loves Doctor Who, plays tons of video games on different systems (with the trashtalk to go along with it), digs Joss Whedon’s body of work, and has opinions on stuff like universal healthcare and the economics of piracy. She spent pretty much the entire day (spanning at least 11 hours) near a computer answering questions about herself being a funny and generally cool person. And as the AMA states, she’s also an attractive and fairly prolific pornstar (NSFW).

    Predictably, there was a substantial number of posters who thought she didn’t deserve to call herself or her awkward, HeroClix-playing boyfriend “nerds” or “geeks” merely of because of what she does (and apparently enjoys a fair bit of the time) and how she looks. And that doesn’t even get into the assholes who questioned her humanity for the same reasons. They didn’t even bother to think of her as capable of any real thoughts or opinions apart from what she portrayed as part of her career. This guy and those Redditors are engaging in the same kind of exclusive clique-y behavior that pretty much every nerd or geek has gone through in their life. They make the rest of us look like douchebags, and really should take a good long look at themselves before making their douchebaggery public.

  59. Very entertaining rant, as usual. Your definition of geekiness being based on an eagerness to *share* what we love really feels spot on to me. The fact that Mr. Peacock feels compelled (and self-important enough) to play doorman to a culture that, by definition, has no doors is kind of confusing and sad. Also, the “6 of 9” pun he makes in the article isn’t nearly as clever as he believes it to be, and brings to mind your advice about the failure mode of “clever” being “asshole”.

  60. It’s not surprising that, after years of trying to explain what I love about cons and their attendant incomprehensibility to non-geeks, you said it pithily and clearly:

    “Any jerk can love a thing. It’s the sharing that makes geekdom awesome.”

    We get enough condescension and mockery from muggles, we surely don’t need to condescend to and mock amongst ourselves. I do not understand your enthusiasm for My Little Pony() and I defend to the death your right to enjoy it – I’ll just be over here, buying another TARDIS shirt and admitting that I never watched the original Doctor Who series.

  61. When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.”

    “Hey, thanks for ruining shell art!”

    I like to say “Thanks for ruining shell art!” when I encounter geeks who are upset that their favorite things aren’t unpopular anymore.

    Legotech @12:56 pm: I think you hit it on the nose. I’d add that one way people coped with being picked on at school was to adopt the attitude “Well, at least I’m into cool things, and not the mundane things that the ‘cool kids’ are into.” Seeing geekdom being moved into the mainstream erodes that psychological shell that they’ve built. I think that’s the reason for some of the pushback.

  62. Amen. I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you said about Geekdom being about the sharing… I think that’s why there’s so many of us librarian geeks – we want to share everything that is awesome with the entire world…

  63. Fuckin’ A. That is the truth incarnate. Now I feel guilty for only have two of your books in hardcopy. Somehow, I will get you more Whuffie.

  64. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    With respect, John, I do get his point–however hyperbolically made. He’s not talking about genuine cosplayers who don’t do anything else. Few geeks have any problem whatsoever with those sorts. He’s talking more about people–men and women both–who hang out in our spaces without any intention whatsoever of actually connecting with us. In my experience, this happens more with hipsters than with the attention-seeking booth babe sort, but yes, they are out there.

    And yes, they are a problem.

    The best thing about being a geek is, as you say, the ability to be openly gleeful about what you love, without fearing that someone is going to beat you up about it. Aside from the usual internicine wars, geekdom is actually accepting of all comers, whatever it is they’re into. Which, unfortunately, makes us ripe for people who like to mock anyone who isn’t playing it cool.

    Just as hipsters appropriated the visual trappings of redneck culture to be “ironic” they’re doing the same with us. They’re not there because they like the same stuff, but because we’re a social experiment for them. They go to cons to point and laugh at us freaks–even if they’re not doing it overtly.

    Where the problem comes in is when we try to make friends with these people, and find out that no, they’re not actually interested in us. That amazing sense of camaraderie and acceptance one gets in geek spaces utterly evaporates when it’s been infiltrated by people who think of us as a walk on the wild side, at best. The net result is that people start tamping down their enthusiasm, and reeling in their overt glee about their thing, because they don’t know if the people around them will be OK with that, or if they’re quietly mocking us behind our backs.

    Given that a lot of geekdom already has issues with social interaction, that can be utterly poisonous to us. Many of us aren’t easily able to see past the façade and know that the person we’re interacting with us isn’t genuinely interested, and that makes it all too easy for people to be sucked into what they think is a genuine friendship, only to have their hearts broken when it’s made clear that’s not the case.

    The complaint here, in other words, isn’t about “your geek is not OK.” Anyone who does make that argument is a pain in the ass, and needs to STFU. It’s about people who don’t actually want to be one of us–they just want to be close enough to make themselves feel superior to us weirdos.

  65. Thanks for this article, John. I’ve always been a geek (books, mainly) but grew up stifling that aspect of my personality because people didn’t “understand” it or I feared being cast out of the “cool kids” circle. Even now, in a rocky, nearly 20-year relationship with a man who I believe is the epitome of the Anti-Geek, I find that I temper my geekiness so as not to draw criticism or disdain.

    But dammit, I’m a geek and I’m proud of it. I’m not a big Con-goer as being a single mom (to a soon-to-be college bound daughter) who lives in rural New Mexico, far from any of the big Cons, makes attending them extremely difficult and expensive. But I have been to Dragon Con (’06), will attend a small Con in Albuquerque next month, and plan to attend Jordan Con next spring and possibly Comic Con next summer (all sans the aforementioned Anti-Geek). I’m trying to expand my Con experience and see more of the awesome geekfests that I watch with envy and delight as articles and pictures and videos are posted online. I want to BE there and SHARE in them.

    Even still, I’m hesitant to try to assemble any kind of costume due to that same fear of being rejected or looked upon with contempt by bigger and BETTER geeks. I’m not young and beautiful, I’m not super-skinny like (MOST of) the women that don awesome costumes… instead I’m frumpy and timid and shy. But I do LOVE to share the geek with people. I love midnight book releases and midnight movie releases… I gloried in seeing all of the people show up to the Dark Knight marathon at a nearby theater last week, and grinned happily at my fellow marathon attendees because THEY were as geeky as ME! And we all rocked!

    I’m rambling, my apologies, but I did want to thank you for making me realize that my geek was just as good as anybody’s geek… and that I should share it and be proud of it.

  66. Thank you for providing one of the best-written (no surprise, given the source, I suppose) responses I’ve seen to the last few years barrage of articles about who does and doesn’t count as a geek, especially when it comes to women. Best line: “Her geekdom is not about you. At all. It’s about her.” I’m saving that.

    Another thing I think a lot of people overlook is that there are people who just love to make costumes. That’s what they geek out about–the design, the search for parts, the attempt to replicate things, and the fun that comes from wearing them. I’m a sewer, so I get it, although I’m not nearly as dedicated a cosplayer as a lot of people. Some people into cosplaying because the art of cosplaying itself is what they geek out over. Others cosplay because they’re super into the character (I have a Viper pilot cosplay I love because I’m into BSG). Neither is more or less worthy than the other. I think maybe non-crafty geeks discount the former too much (although back to the point of your article, it’s not their business…but it might help them appreciate the others more).

  67. Kelly Naylor – I read. A lot. And I write, and do art, and sing (but don't dance), and contemplate the great questions of the ages.
    Kelly Naylor

    I love you so much, John Scalzi! However, neither of our respective spouses need worry about that love, as it is a GEEK LOVE! I do this thing so much: “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.”

    It’s awesome being a geek.

  68. You may be the Speaker of the Geeks, but I also want to hear Wil Wheaton, as Secretary of Geek Affairs, weigh in on this. Or was the above message approved by him?

  69. JS: “If only he could have done it in a manner less antagonistically sexist.”

    Indeed. When I first read the offending Joe Peacock blog, I thought, “What a load of tosh, I should write a retort.” Then I realized: no, the geek-o-sphere will be way ahead of me on this, to include yourself, since I knew this would be pinging on your radar within 48 hours.

  70. @Trey Goesh: I don’t begrudge the new happy geek, but I suspect that a new word will emerge to describe those who follow their dreams despite a social ostracism that the happy pretty cosplayers will never know.

    Can we please, please stop passing judgment on complete strangers’ lives, backgrounds, and happiness levels, just because they happen to fit current beauty standards and enjoy cosplay as a hobby?

    You have no idea which of these people are happy. You have no idea which of them have had delightful privileged lives of wafting through all troubles unscathed, and which of them have faced social ostracism every day of their lives. You have no idea which of them cling to this hobby as a source of desperately needed joy and escapism in their lives. You have no idea, and neither do I. That’s the point.

    (I’m directing this at you because you were the last one to say something on the subject, Trey Goesh, but really I’m responding to comments I’ve heard a lot of places, including upthread. I participate in a lot of aspects of con-going geek culture, and it can be both fascinating and very depressing to hear how some geeky subgroups judge others.)

    And I’ll say this, as someone who enjoys a wide variety of geeky activities: I pick and choose very, very carefully which people I tell that I enjoy dressing up in geeky costumes at conventions, let alone that I spend a vast amount of time and a significant amount of money to create these costumes. As an artistic endeavor, it’s generally seen as… well, weird. Nerdy. Geeky. Or else you get the “Hurr hurr, you mean like Slave Leia?” thing; my top two criteria for mentioning cosplay as a hobby of mine are “Does this person seem geeky?” and “Does this person seem likely to start undressing me with his eyes at the slightest provocation?” (And I’m not a model, or whatever; this is not bragging, and frankly my looks are nothing special. It’s a stereotype of the culture, which Joe Peacock is a prime example of displaying.) Whereas going to a different convention to discuss science fiction and fantasy literature books is something I’ll mention much more freely, as something that’s far easier to explain in mainstream terms.

    Others’ experience may differ. That’s fine! But I’m just saying: let’s not tar everybody’s experience with the same brush. Whatever brush it may be.

  71. Amethyst – 3rd rock from the sun – Author, blogger, internet person. My claim to fame is Thalia's Musings, an indie fantasy series set in the ancient Greek pantheon and narrated by the muse of comedy. http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ http://amethystmarie.com/
    Amethyst

    Did everyone miss this part of my comment? “If a cute girl who’s normally into stuff like Sex and the City or Gossip Girl genuinely decides that maybe sci fi isn’t lame after all and she wants to join the geek party, she’s more than welcome. The more, the merrier.” Such a girl could very well be a professional model. I did not say that women in the modeling industry can’t possibly have a real interest in geekery, and I’m sorry my comment came across that way.

    @Phire, I have a problem with the booth babe thing for all the reasons you detailed, and I don’t blame the models moreso than the men who hire them or the ones who fall for the marketing strategy. I’m just saying that a person hired to play a geek at a convention isn’t necessarily one in real life. I have no idea whether Robert Downey Jr. or Scarlett Johansson are geeks in real life, and I don’t care. I love them both as Iron Man and Black Widow, and I have no problem with either of them promoting their films to their fanbases.

  72. God, I’m lost. Are we geeks or nerds? Do I show my boobs in nice costumes for my own pleasure or is it all Mennonite cosplay from now on? Help a sister out here.

  73. w… wh… wha… what did he say???

    What a douchenozzle…

    I have the conch.

    ;)

    When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG

    This. So much.

    I read something a few years back talking about how some people ask a question like “How can you spend so much time online?” ANd the guy’s response was basically that no one gets to ask that question after 1990 at which point the average American spends something like 30 hours a week or more in front of a TV. It used to be that TV was the only thing to put our focus on. But with the internet giving us the functional equivalent of an infinite number of mediums to read, watch, listen to, enjoy, he pointed out that TV and Internet and (insert sub-medium) are all nothing more than time and energy not dedicated to food, shelter, and survival. It’s what we enjoy. And a few years ago, the “internet” was considered a “waste fo time” by many who spent 30 or 40 hours a week watching TV sitcoms religiously and knowing everything that happened to every character.

    this guy sounds like just a newer version of those TV folks. thinking his way of spending time was the “right” way and the only “acceptable” way and anything else was a waste of time.

    I imagine in a couple hundred years, when many people will be able to plug their brains into a cable for a direct, full, multi-sensory, virtual experience of something, they’ll be questioning someone who decided to learn how to play a physical guitar with their physical hands.

    art is anything you want it to be.

  74. Teresa: Thank you for re-posting Telzey Amberdon’s terrific rebuttal! I tried to read Peacock’s article yesterday and I didn’t make it past that sentence she mentioned. I remember muttering “I’m 48 years old you moron and when I was a kid I was watching “Star Trek” with my MOM!”

  75. At one of the last Comic-Cons that Ray Bradbury attended, he was approached by an attractive young lady dressed as Wonder Woman. She sat in his lap, and he had his assistant wheel his wheelchair around with her perched in his lap. At one point, she said: “You’re a Dirty Old Man.”
    He replied:
    “There are no dirty old men. Just young men in wrinkled suits.”

  76. So much depends
    upon

    the geeks’ earnest
    sharing

    in spite of snob
    hipsters

    beside the vomiting
    peacocks

    ***

    I am geeky for poetry, among other things. GREAT piece.

  77. Sometimes I worry that I’m “not geeky enough” because I don’t watch anime and haven’t been playing video games since I was five years old. Then I remember that I created a fantasy language for my undergrad honors thesis and I used to run linux on my computers, one of which I built myself. *Then* I remember that the thing that really makes me a geek is just that I call myself one.

  78. This frakker Joe doesn’t speak for me either.

    Learned to program in BASIC at age eight. Graduated at age twenty with a Bachelors in Applied Mechanics (and a minor in astronomy) from the University of California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. Eight and a half years spent in the IT industry designing and selling multidimensional data analysis tools for use in business intelligence applications. Published one book on MDA. Pursuing a Masters of Science in Applied Physics from the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. Writhing a thesis on Nonlinear Quantum Algorithms. Occasional gamer and perennial devourer of genre fiction including SF. Accepted and subsequently embraced my geekhood in college.

    Joe Peacock, you’re an embarrassment to geeks everywhere.

  79. Awesome, that sums things up perfectly. Although, somewhere an old circus sideshow geek who used the bite the heads off of chickens is muttering to himself about how none of us modern geeks are real geeks…

  80. Awesome article. Good stuff.

    My only note is that fortunately, the vast majority of Geekdom does NOT share Mr. Peacock’s opinion. For instance, I attended my first Renaissance fair in Irwindale this year with my wife and 2 year old. We were not dressed up, and had no idea what to expect. However, the people there were an absolute BLAST and were so welcoming that we’re going back next year, probably in costume. Because it was FUN and they were HAPPY we were there, and it was a giant geek party. That’s pretty much been my experience across the board in geekdom. The more the merrier–the more geeks, the more shows and cons and fun events there will be and better quality the product will be.

  81. Actually, Mr Scalzi, you should embrace the name Speaker-for-Geeks. You are such a major geek you actually get to have a Kzinti name. Even Wil Wheaton can’t claim that.

  82. Oh.

    My.

    God.

    I really am a geek: Reading this and the comments, I just realized that a friend and I were writing Trek and “Wild, Wild West” fanfic (non-slash variety) at 11 and 12 and 13. Buddha on a bicycle, that had NEVER occurred to me until now. (Admittedly, we also got language-geeky, what with the phase we went through with seeing who could come up with the longest yet most alliterative character names, but that was beside the main point.)

    Also, this article is another example of why I ALWAYS check “Whatever” within minutes of logging on. Thank you, John.

  83. PERFECT! Just perfect. You know, I’m a life-long geek who married a geek (scientist). I was able to work as a geek (VFX artist for both Star Trek and Galactica). And after 12 years of marriage, we decided to bring another geek into the world (after seeing how happy other geeks were at the anime expo with their kids). So we made our “nation of two” (thank you, Vonnegut) into three. And we are teaching geek-values much as what you’ve listed here. Inclusion. Acceptance. Peace. And being true to thine self, always.

  84. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Oh, also: I wonder if any of this is a follow from the Simon Pegg debacle of last week, because there’s definitely some intersectionality with that incident and one of the underlying issues here.

    Hopefully without getting too meta: one of the problem with the “sexy” cosplayers who do nothing else is that they’re setting an unreasonable standard for women in our community, and reinforcing the kinds of sexist body shaming that one would hope wouldn’t be so prevalent in geek culture. There are sexist assgaskets here, of course, but by and large, most geek women know they can find at least a few like-minded potential friends/partners who are more interested in their brains than their boobs.

    The presence of costumed models, however, whether booth babes, attention seekers or otherwise, reinforces the idea that women, regardless of their subculture, exist to be decorative objects for straight guys to stare at. We’re already fighting a lot of this in how women are portrayed in geek media; to have fellow fans (or, in the case of Pegg, geek royalty) reinforcing this damaging standard is incredibly frustrating.

    Speaking personally: I used to think that geek culture was one of the few places that I, as a non-femme fat chick, would find acceptance. It was exciting to know that I didn’t have to look like a bikini model in order to make friends and potentially find partners. Unfortunately, now that there really ARE bikini models running around in my spaces, I’m feeling more and more marginalized. My one refuge from my culture’s violent reinforcement of body standards is evaporating, and it’s upsetting.

  85. And to think that I’ve always believed I wasn’t really geeky *enough* to call myself a “true geek,” and settled on “proto-geek grrl” because my interests in geeky things are wide rather than deep. But apparently I am a geekyness geek–a geek over geeks and things geeky. Mr. Peacock may, indeed, be a geek, but he’s not a geek over geekyness, and that’s rather sad. We should celebrate all shades and depths of geekyness.

  86. All right, John. This was great. I now officially forgive you for making me cry on the morning train when I finished Coda III.

  87. I think we can all agree that booth babes at Comicon are not geeks. In general (though maby exceptions exist) they wouldn’t go to Comicon unless they were paid to, and would otherwise fail your “eager to share” test. Peacock is right solely to tge extebt that there are women who are not booth babes, but esdentially fall into that same category. They’re looking to make money or become famous, without having any actual love for the subject. While it is hideously wrong to generalize this to all beautiful women who are cosplayers, a population that included my wife and many of my friends, who spend a lot of time and effort on their Comicon outfits, these women do exist. It’s usually pretty easy to tell after talkibg to them, too.

  88. Know what I wish was different about the post that inspired this post and this post?

    All the anger or frustration or whatever it is that causes people to get up in arms about this shit in the first place.

    Joe’s a friend of mine, so I admit, I read the original post with an understanding of his intent. I sent him a note with a few things I thought he was incorrect and he replied respectfully and he’s since addressed those things. But I didn’t get pissed because I saw ewhat he meant and I know him to be hyperbolic at times.

    I also know him to have gone to task about a lot of other subjects that show him to be a defender of women and geeks both. So maybe I had context and that’s why I wasn’t upset.

    The point is this: I read it and put it in context against a larger backdrop. That’s something a lot of people reading his article didn’t do, either by choice or because they didn’t go look at his past CNN pieces or his website.

    And that’s what I think is an issue with so much of this brouhaha about who’s a geek and what’s a geek and if the size of a girl’s tits is equatable to her actual gaming skill level.

    People see a post, one post, and they react. And the others see that post and they react and so on, and so on.. (hello, Clairol Herbal Essences commercial)

    Here’s what I was wondering reading this. What would you have said to Joe had you both been in a bar having this conversation in real time? Even in a debate structure where he said his piece and you said yours?

    It seems like the dialogue of a discussion should be worth something, that debate has a purpose beyond the broadcasting of opinion in a 2-d space that leaves so much to the reader’s intent.

    But maybe I just think you guys would actually like each other if you met. Maybe I’m a Pollyanna. I just know that, for myself, even as a geek girl (apparently, a much maligned minority) I’m tired of all the bitching and counter bitching and I wish people would take all the intellectual energy they put into bitching about shit and put it into creating amazing geek projects and discussions.

    Did that even make sense?

  89. Since this is aimed at both the original author as well as the general public, for the later half, would that make you Speaker-to-Animals?

    Ringworld, ho!

  90. John, sir, I think I might love you! On behalf of girl geeks everywhere (not that I’m their spokeswoman or anything), THANK-YOU!

  91. BillK:

    1. There are women who pay hundreds of dollars to attend ComicCon, who are just like women who wouldn’t go to ComicCon unless they were paid to? I’m not sure your logic stands up to scrutiny.

    2. If you’re going to type on your phone, you still should do the rest of us the basic courtesy of spell checking.

    Girl Geek Diva:

    “What would you have said to Joe had you both been in a bar having this conversation in real time?”

    Probably the same things, tuned so as not to punch each other out. The rhetoric of writing to the public is not the same as the rhetoric of a personal conversation.

    I don’t doubt Mr. Peacock is a decent guy in a real-world setting. He also and independently just showed his ass online. I am addressing the ass showing.

  92. In Joe’s follow-up, these two sentences were one right after the other. “Gender and subjective measures of attractiveness are irrelevant.” “We all judge people, ESPECIALLY on attractiveness.”
    How does that make any sense?

  93. I heard an awful lot of whining about SDCC this year – particularly about things like “50 Shades” being there and “other stuff that does not belong” I think Mr. P may have a legitimate gripe that the thing has become more about money than ‘geekdom’. But he obviously did a horrible job if that is the case and made a fool of himself.

    I also wouldn’t discount the hipster angle. Being geek can be just another way of not being ‘cool’ and mainstream. Then also, geekdom had finally become cool & for those of us who were punished through out our teen years it felt vindicated only to discover that the oppressor class now wanted in on the game. That can generate some anger.

    But he really didn’t say any of that, did he?

  94. I’m curious: do people ever accuse a male of just pretending to be a geek for attention? I’m pretty sure guys are allowed to be both hot and geeks and no one questions their motivations or their honesty.

  95. I do not understand your enthusiasm for My Little Pony and I defend to the death your right to enjoy it – I’ll just be over here, buying another TARDIS shirt and admitting that I never watched the original Doctor Who series.

    Kathleen, I’m exactly like you on that. have had to watch a few eps of MLP (I was babysitting) and found it utterly nauseating. But I’ve also had a conversation with a group of young (as in 2012 HS graduates) Bronys about why they like it.

    Leaving aside the fact that most people are interesting if they’re talking about something they’re enthusiastic about, and really trying to convey what they like about it (or am I weird in that I find that automatically interesting?) I got the impression that while these guys did really like MLP, it was much more the culture of Bronys that kept them going. And their discussion of it hit a lot of the same points John hits above.

    I had previously thought of Bronys as…well, kind of ridiculous. I repent this bigoted attitude, having listened to them discuss it. And no, I don’t ever want to watch another episode of MLP (but will, if the babysittee wants to).

    (Btw, one of the Bronys in that discussion is also a huge Doctor Who fan, and went to Prom dressed as the Tenth Doctor.)

  96. Xopher: a nerd is someone who is unironically enthusiastic about anything other than sports.

    I’ve heard it as: a nerd is socially awkward and may be smart or stupid or anything in between. A geek has deep knowledge about some topic (and the topic could be physics or football, calculus or comics, or anything in between).

    I think the history was that way back when, the only term that existed was “nerd” and it was a perjorative. And at some point, the term “geek” came about as a positive take on things.

    Brad: A lot of proud, self-labeled geeks simultaneously loathe and enjoy their status as “outside” the mainstream,

    Those are hipsters, not geeks.

    The more I think about John’s definition, the more I think “a desire to share” is central to being a geek. I think Open Source was spurred by many things, but one thing consistent through many open source contributers and authors is that they loved something and wanted to share it freely with as many people as possible. Those kinds of geeks would love it if the thing they’re passionate about went “mainstream”.

  97. Lila:

    “I’m curious: do people ever accuse a male of just pretending to be a geek for attention?”

    I have yet to hear of such a construction.

  98. I’m guessing his editor wouldn’t let him use the word “mundane” as a noun, but he reads like he was itching to use it that way.

  99. Noted. You are the superior geek. You are the dominant voice. I have been overruled. I can’t fight you on the internet; you have a much larger presence and a much larger voice (and be it noted, I’ve read your books and your blog for years; I wrote you years ago about your article on being a freelancer which impacted me heavily).

    The only point I wish to make: you are stating “Who gets to be a geek? Anyone who wants to be.” I agree with this wholeheartedly, and stated such in my piece (and in many previous pieces). In fact, it’s my entire point: the people I’m talking about in my piece DON’T WANT TO BE.

    Did I ask them? On occasion, yes. I’ve asked booth babes and con groupies in the past about their affiliation with the culture. Some will tell you it’s a job, and they’re in it for the paycheck. Jordan Carver deleted her entire blog from 2011 because of a post she made on her experience cosplaying as Jessica Rabbit, stating quite plainly “These geeks felt honored because they’ve never been around a woman like me.”

    It’s definitely a tough blow to take when one of your heroes calls you out negatively. I feel though that you took something away from my piece that I never intended, and furthermore, spent many paragraphs explaining I did not think. I don’t think I’m any sort of gatekeeper for geekdom. I’ve never presented myself as such. Putting me in the position of having to defend myself as one is aggravating, because I don’t actually want the job you just fired me from. I pointed out something I think is destructive to a culture I belong to and love. You disagree.

    I realize by commenting here, I’m setting myself up for further evisceration. I hope that’s not the case. But I also realize, if you got this point out of my article, perhaps I should have been clearer with my actual point. That’s my mistake, and for that, I apologize. The other thing is, I also realize when I get up on a soapbox and yell out my opinion (from a source as large as CNN, no less), I’m setting myself up to take what hits are coming.

  100. Love this rebuttal. To me, “Geek” is just a vague label, not a sacred title: anyone should be free to use it however they please.

  101. John: One last thing:
    “I don’t doubt Mr. Peacock is a decent guy in a real-world setting. He also and independently just showed his ass online. I am addressing the ass showing.”

    You are 100% right about that. I did show my ass online. I’ve been doing that for a bunch of years (albeit to a much smaller community). I deserve a few boots to the ass when I do this.

  102. There is no Speaker for Geeks. Nobody gets to classify me, and no geek “outranks” another. I am proud to be a Geek/Nerd/Whatever, but that only has meaning to me. It’s not a means for others to rate my “qualifications” or determine what my characteristics should be.

  103. Um. Wow.

    One would think that an article called “Booth Babes Need Not Apply” would be an objection to the presence of ACTUAL booth babes at geek/nerd events. (Possibly at those events which haven’t yet banned them?) As in women who are there because they are PAID to, and who often not interested in the topic of their costume because it’s just a job. A job to be ogled and to sell their product at the expense of being treated as a sex object because their costume conveniently forgot to include more than 6 square inches of fabric. A crappy, poorly-paying job at that. Nerdly cousins to boat show babes, and car show babes, and anything else-show-babes. And I was all set to agree. Yes, please don’t insult our intelligence by hiring women down enough on their luck to accept such a posting to wiggle their boobies and fake interest in something that if she weren’t paid to attend she wouldn’t go anywhere near. (They probably aren’t too keen on the being ogled part of the job, either.) Maybe send a rep who can actually discuss your product instead!

    Please forgive my ignorance, but what does that have to do with female cosplayers who happen to have been born (or worked their butts off to become) classically attractive (even at poor Mr. Peacock’s “6” level)? Who loved a character so much as to spend many, many hours and dollars perfecting a costume to pay homage to that character and then even MORE money and time attending an event to show off their hard work and effort? How are they the same, at all?

    Title aside though, I certainly can’t craft a rebuttal any more delightful than yours, John, so I suppose I should take my pedant ball and go home!

  104. A Meditated Life : “one of the problem with the “sexy” cosplayers who do nothing else is that they’re setting an unreasonable standard for women in our community, and reinforcing the kinds of sexist body shaming that one would hope wouldn’t be so prevalent in geek culture”

    If a woman wants to dress “sexy”, she should not be affecting you by doing it. You allow it to affect you.

  105. First, as a general rule: Anyone responding to Mr. Peacock here, do it with the same level of civility as you exercise toward anyone else. There’s a malleting in it for you if you don’t.

    Joe Peacock:

    “In fact, it’s my entire point: the people I’m talking about in my piece DON’T WANT TO BE.”

    Two points here:

    1. Wow, that so did NOT come across.

    2. Even if it had, the piece would still have many of the same problems, not the least of which is the inherent sexism of your assumptions (did you ever go up to a handsome cosplayer dude and ask him if he was just there for the attention? Why not? Isn’t it possible? If not, why not? And if so, why did you focus solely on women?) and also the issue of why it should matter. Again: So what? If someone shows up simply to take advantage of the attention, where is the harm? Wish them joy and go about your own thing.

    And, you know, don’t exclude the possibility that someone who does this for the gig could also eventually learn to love to community, if only people made it clear to them why the geekdom was awesome rather than lashing out at them. Again: Many doors into geekdom. You’re still trying to push them into the doors you find acceptable, rather than being open to the possibility they can find their own way in.

  106. This is so perfect. I just want to have this be the disclaimer for all future cons… because seriously, it’s not that serious. Everyone geeks out on different things! :)

  107. LOL his article starts out with “He also cosplays as a six-foot-two-inch, 310lb Powerpuff Girl to fill the hollow pit that is his need for the wrong kinds of attention.”

    Doesn’t that essentially make him the worst “booth babe” ever?

  108. I certainly agree wholeheartedly with the definitions and affirmations of geekery. I think you has a much better handle on the essence of things than Peacock does.

    I’m just a little uncomfortable with the idea that, in order to define how wonderful and inclusive geeks are, we need to find another group of people to have a dig at. Admittedly, I don’t live in a particularly hipster-dense area. (Indeed, I’ve never met someone, really got to know them, and concluded that they are, in fact, genuinely a hipster. But maybe I’m just mixing with the wrong groups.)

    So perhaps I’m off-base. Perhaps they really are bad enough to use as the counter-example in this rant. But for me at least, that section is a real drag on the overall message of geek inclusiveness.

  109. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I actually agree with him, mostly.

    First, let me state that I am a native San Diegan, and I grew up going to ComicCon back when it was about, you know, comics and sci-fi and geekery. In the past 8 or so years, ComicCon has moved away from the awesomeness of geekery into the awesomeness of Hollywood. This is not a BAD thing, and it makes the city of San Diego a ton of money, but I miss the old, nerdy ComicCon. I haven’t gone since 2004 because the crowds are now completely insane. In the last 15 years, attendance has tripled, to over 130,000 this year. Holy. Shit. It’s gotten to the point that if you don’t buy next year’s 4-day pass at this year’s con, you’re not going next year. On the one hand, I love that the Mythbusters have a panel. On the other, you’ve got the cast of Twilight, the least geeky, most mainstream fad movie series on earth ever, with a panel as well. FAIL.

    I’ve also had the pleasure of attending GenCon 10 times since 1997. It’s much smaller than ComicCon, but way nerdier (it is an RPG convention, after all). ComicCon used to feel very much like GenCon, but with less gaming and more costumes. Obviously, the Venn diagram of the two cons overlaps quite a bit.

    So please understand that I have a great deal of geek con experience. In case you can’t figure it out by my name, I’m also a woman.

    I am very comfortable saying that simply putting on a tight Batman babydoll t-shirt and strutting around the con doesn’t make you a geek, it makes you an attention whore. It also means that a geek like me didn’t get into the con because of you.

    ComicCon used to be a safe haven where geeks could hang out and just be geeks. We didn’t have to worry about people making fun of our elf ears or our D&D books or our box of comic books or our Sonic Screwdriver pen. Now, the same people who used to shun us in mainstream culture (and will do so again as soon as geek is no longer “in”) are attempting to co-opt our party. Hey hot chick with the Superman shirt you bought at Target, you can go be hot anywhere and you’ll fit in no problem. Why do you gotta come to MY party and make it all about YOU? You don’t need this place to fit in; we do.

    And in case you’re wondering why folks like me might be butthurt about the co-opting of ComicCon by mainstreamers, it’s because a large portion of our culture still looks down on geeks and geekdom. The acceptance of geekdom by America is just a fad. The (incorrectly named) “booth babes” at ComicCon would laugh in a geek’s face if he dared hit on her at a bar because he’s a geek and geeks are gross. The Big Bang Theory doesn’t laugh WITH geeks and nerds, it laughs AT them. To the rest of society, we geeks are still The Other. So when someone from the rest of society invades our not-so-secret hideout, it makes us nervous.

    The fact of the matter is that geek is a fad for mainstream America. In five years we’ll be back to getting wedgies and being made fun of for saying “frak” or for knowing a few words of Klingon. We know that geekdom isn’t a fad, it’s a way of life. And that’s a huge part of why we don’t like the fake interloping hot chicks attention-whoring at our con.

  110. John Scalzi: I LOVE EVERYTHING YOU JUST WROTE. Ahem. Sorry. I got excited. Thank you times a million. Big platonic, non-creepy non-stalker hugs.

  111. The word geek is about 35 years older than nerd. Again, it originally referred to sideshow attractions who didn’t have a physical abnormality but who would act strangely for the crowds.

    In it’s current form, it only dates back to the early 80s.

  112. It’s depressing, even after a clear and unambiguous rallying cry/corrective as this post, that there are still those of us in the community who cling to (no, stronger than that — DEMAND, perhaps) the characterization of attractive costumed women as “attention seekers”, “not real geeks”, “hipsters viewing us as a social experiment”, etc.

    You don’t know them (and apparently don’t care to). You don’t get to dismiss anyone. Period.

  113. The generalizations taking place here are astounding. Stop speaking in blanket statements.

    Could everyone stop assuming they know everyone’s thoughts and motivations if they have never even spoken to them? Unless you know every woman you are speaking about, it just makes you sound even more bigoted.

  114. As someone who has often been on the fringes of geekdom, thanks for making it ok to dabble and just love the things I love. Also, (and completely aside) you look awfully dapper in the second picture of your peers.

  115. “do people ever accuse a male of just pretending to be a geek for attention?” — Yes, as a matter of fact. There are refereed papers on the Sociology of Science that claim Mathematicians and Scientists are not in “pursuit of Truth” by axiomatic or empirical means, but just trying to get attention, power, make money, and get laid. I’m serious. I can’t find the inclination to GoogleScholar for hotlinks, but I have read such papers while preparing my classification of Metaphysical Stances towards Mathematics. If Geeks get attention, than people will pretend to be geeks, to get all the benefits with none of those years of hard work.

    Off the top of my head, oversimplifying greatly, the standard stances are:

    (1) Platonic/Pythagorean Idealism: Math is all there is. Minkowski space, tensors, Klein bottles, e, pi,
    triangles, categories, inaccessible cardinals, Hilbert space, are more real than thee, me, and the galaxy;

    (2) Formalism: Mathematics is devoid of meaning. It is a game played with scribbles by pen and pencil and chalk, or ink in shaped blots on flattened bleached wood pulp.

    (3) Social Constructionism: Mathematics, and Physics, are cultural domains where people and shifting
    associations of people duel with each other for wealth, power, attention, and sex.

    (4) Realism: for deeply mysterious reasons, Mathematics sometimes (not always) helps us to understand observations, to design experiments, and to make predictions which sometimes come true.

    Two people with different stances can argue until the spherical cows come home, and never convince each other of anything.

    Like the man and wife fighting and throwing bowls of alphabet soup at each other, hot words pass between them.

  116. Krystal – Montana, USA – Mother of two, wife to one. I am the sister of two amazing siblings. Often neurotic, sometimes scattered but always passionate.
    Krystal

    Reblogged this on Embracing the Madness and commented:
    Absolutely LOVED this response to Joe Peacock’s piece on CNN.

  117. I have no problem with limited interest in geek culture. It shouldn’t matter how involved you are, as long as you love it. What I think Mr. CNN guy was trying to get at is the girls (and guys) who run around pretending to like things just because for some reason, geek culture has become cool. If that’s not the case, he’s just a dumbass.

  118. I don’t really want to contest the main point here (it has in fact made me rethink even my own position), but:

    – Anyone – geek or not – has every right to object to marketing that condescends to them
    – IN SITUATIONS WHERE THE MARKETER IS ALSO THE PRODUCT (whether they are male or female), objecting to them because of their condescension is normal and healthy.
    – None of this means that girls cosplaying as Elvira or Starbuck or Sailor Moon or Bella (and making their bf be some hilariously inappropriate version of Jacob or Edward) should get any shit whatsoever.
    – Geeks are often self-aware enough to actually notice the condescension in a marketing campaign
    – Geeks are often self-conscious enough to worry that they’re being condescended to even when they aren’t
    – I’m not sure shouting down some of the above is the ideal response.
    – In the end, it’s still down to treating every human being as a human being.

  119. @geekgirldiva: Why is it the reader’s job to look at his profile and other articles and conclude he’s an okay guy, and not his job to write an article that says what he’s trying to say? If a person wants to communicate something in writing, that person has to know the limitations of the medium.

    One can’t anticipate everything a reader is going to project into their words, but one can be aware of how one comes across, and the arguments one’s resembles. Mr. Scalzi, for instance, posts his opinion a lot, and people often disagree, but I’ve never seen an instance where he has to clarify because the vast majority is reading something else into his posts. Yes, he has a loyal following, but he also has people wandering in out of context, so we’re not just giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying, “Well, I knew what he meant.”

    I’m willing to sit down to have drinks with your friend, but, if he spewed all this at me all at once, he wouldn’t make it in three paragraphs before I’d roll my eyes and walk away. We present arguments differently in different environments. I say a lot of things among my friends I wouldn’t say at work, or online, because context matters. When I post something online and someone misconstrues me, I clarify and apologize for my lack of clarity. I don’t lash out with, “You don’t know me!”

    Well, not anymore. I learned pretty quickly it didn’t help.

  120. Maybe it is wrong of me to think this way but I have to state my thoughts on a matter.

    I saw a woman dressed as Emma Frost the White Queen at a con.When I addressed her as Ms. Frost her reaction was “what?”When I explained that she was dressed as Emma Frost/white queen she replied “oh I do not know her name,I just think I look hot in her costume”.She also proceeded to tell me that she was trying to get exposure for her amateur adult site.

    I have ran into this sort of situation more times then I can count at various cons.

    This kind of bugs me a little and I think it lends to the poacher theory that was mentioned.

  121. As a lifelong geek/nerd/whatever it has always been in my experience that when you find someone new to the flock, you embrace them with evangelical zeal. I belong to a music forum that is mostly about progressive rock. Being the heyday of that genre was in the 70s the core membership at this forum is baby-boomer guys (and a fair percentage of boomer women). The amount of joy, glee, and off-the-charts enthusiasm for any woman joining the forum is incalculable. I just do not understand the attitude of guys like Peacock that want geeks to be a He-Man Woman Haters club. I know one thing for sure, I don’t dare show this to my wife or she’ll pack her Mallet of Loving Correction in her geek purse and go hunting for Mr. Peacock’s head.

  122. L. Jonte – Artist, Writer, Flibbertigibbet - One time contributor to Sequential Tart Webzine, flagship series creator (Arcana Jayne) and former Editor of the webcomics collective GirlAMatic.com and inveterate blogger, commentator, storyteller and cartoonist.
    L. Jonte

    I love this blog-rant-smackdown so much I want to print it and keep it under my pillow. Seriously, I’ve been been pulled over and frisked by the geek police more times than I can count. It’s been 32 years since my first conscious forays into geekdom; that’s a long time to be considered suspect.

  123. @Dennis Is that lame? Sure. Does it somehow hurt or affect your ability to enjoy a convention? I hope not. Does that interaction excuse spewing hate-filled blanket statements? Nope.

  124. Joe Peacock:
    I commend you and your huge set of balls for coming here and defending your position. When I first read John’s article, I was thinking “how dare that bastard say pretty girls aren’t geeks!”, because I know a few that are. However, after reading your article I see that your issue is mainly with booth babes.

    I, for one, love booth babes, but I digress.

    Your point seems to be that these girls are pretending to be geeks to exploit geekdom in general, whether they like a property or not. I won’t necessarily disagree with this, but I don’t have a problem with it either. These girls are hired to do a job, just like any other model that sells his or her good looks to pimp a product. I think the anger in your article shouldn’t be directed at the girls themselves, because they’re just doing a job. If you feel exploited, it isn’t the girls exploiting you…its whoever hires them. Be mad at them.

    Or, like me, don’t :D

  125. I think it should be noted that in fact many of the people who appear at cons for signings, both male and female, are accused by sub-sections of the clientele of being “No True Scotsman”. I personally recall being in disdain of pretty much all of them for most of my life until I started hearing a few celebrities express actual gratitude to fans for their careers.

  126. Abi Sutherland:

    “I’m just a little uncomfortable with the idea that, in order to define how wonderful and inclusive geeks are, we need to find another group of people to have a dig at. Admittedly, I don’t live in a particularly hipster-dense area. (Indeed, I’ve never met someone, really got to know them, and concluded that they are, in fact, genuinely a hipster. But maybe I’m just mixing with the wrong groups.)”

    To be clear, I’m perfectly happy to let hipsters be hipsters; the observation is meant to be a description of behavior, not a judgement of their humanity. Some people want what they like to be shared with as few people as possible; I use “hipster” as the word for that. And I would note that just as there are people who present as “geek” but have a hipster sensibility, there are people who present as “hipster” who would be delighted to share with you their enthusiasm.

    I’ll note I made the “hipster/geek” comparison at the 4th Street Fantasy Convention and got some complaints from people that I was using a new-fangled definition of the word “hipster”; that was a fair enough criticism.

    Part Time Nerd:

    “What I think Mr. CNN guy was trying to get at is the girls (and guys) who run around pretending to like things just because for some reason, geek culture has become cool.”

    Again: where’s the harm, and again, who is to say that such a superficial interest can’t deepen, if the response to the initial interest, for whatever reason, is to say, “cool, there’s more if you want.”

    Look, I get a ton of e-mail from people who read my stuff and say to me, “I don’t like science fiction normally, but I like YOUR stuff.” Rather than castigate them for their shallow understanding of the field, I say “Cool. If you liked my stuff, why try these other folks, too?” and offer up other titles.

    Why turn your back on the opportunity?

  127. @ A Meditated Life

    It was exciting to know that I didn’t have to look like a bikini model in order to make friends and potentially find partners. Unfortunately, now that there really ARE bikini models running around in my spaces, I’m feeling more and more marginalized.

    Men are not impressionable putty incapable of thinking for themselves. Why should any woman have to attire themselves in any way other than what she wishes, bikinis or no? Women are not responsible for men behaving maturely. Women can dress however they want and it is still up to men to treat them as equals. Women dressing a certain way to try and get men to treat them as equals encourages the idea that men can treat women a certain way depending on what they wear. That idea is wrong and should be discouraged. Whether a woman is a nudist or dresses for the Yukon in her choice, and she (and we as society) should demand that she be treated as a person regardless. No one, and I mean no one is entitled to dictate to others what is and is not a moral (by any standards secular or otherwise) dress code. The body is sovereign.

    I take extremely good care of my physique and select my outfits to approximate my personal aesthetic ideal. My appearance does not in any way diminish men for whom neither are important. How I choose to dress reflects solely on me and anyone who thinks it reflects on others is wrong.

    It’s neither here nor there, but I find bikinis to be ridiculous looking. Then again, it’s not about what I find stylish; it’s about how each individual woman wants to look.

  128. John:

    Your rant, your call. It just seemed to pull against the main direction of the whole discussion in a way that made this particular reader wince.

  129. I agree with what is said in this piece BUT I think that it completely misses the point of the subject article. ITS ATTACKING AN ENEMY THAT ISN’T THERE. The piece in question is only talking about those who specifically DON’T want to be a geek. In any way.

  130. John:

    “did you ever go up to a handsome cosplayer dude and ask him if he was just there for the attention? Why not? Isn’t it possible? If not, why not? And if so, why did you focus solely on women?”

    I have, actually. There’s a rather notorious Superman cosplayer who attends Dragon*Con who is a professional underwear model. He attends because “Chicks love it.” He never buys a badge, he just hangs around the lobby. I realize this is just one example, but it’s what I’ve got.

    “And, you know, don’t exclude the possibility that someone who does this for the gig could also eventually learn to love to community, if only people made it clear to them why the geekdom was awesome rather than lashing out at them”

    You are right about that. That’s something that was pointed out to me last night during the live response on MrsViolence’s podcast. She’s a popular female professional gamer, who took great umbrage to my piece yesterday and spent 2 hours discussing it with me. The entire discourse was very respectful, and I think a lot of people understood my original point a lot better afterward. A professional Brand Ambassador (booth babe) was the co-host and drove home with me the fact that she started off as a brand ambassador and has immersed herself in the culture.

    That highlights your first point: my main point apparently didn’t come across for a lot of people. But if you look at the CNN and Twitter comments (and going by hundreds of emails I received), it DID for others, including and especially females, many of whom thanked me for writing it, stating “if a girl said any of this, she would be branded a jealous bitch.”

    That’s where I am so conflicted. How can there be so many who did get my point and thanked me for it, while someone like yourself — whom I respect and after years of reading your stuff, would have to assume is an avid reader and intelligent fellow — not get the point I was trying to make?

    The sexism critiques I’m not responding to here, because they are fair, and I’ve responded elsewhere.

  131. “Who gets to be a geek?

    Anyone who wants to be, any way they want to be one.”

    Well, maybe we could work to shun the sex offenders and other predatory types that try to get involved with the geekdom on occasion, lest we fall victim to GSF number one.

    The rest, however, is spot on and a wonderful response to the hate-vomit that Peacock put on CNN.

  132. Thank you, @Gulliver. I found @A Meditated Life’s comment to be frustrating since my main expression of my geekdom is cosplay. I’ve found that a lot of women work out and dress in costumes that show themselves off not for the male appreciation or gaze, but because it makes them feel good to look good. Our costuming is for us and nobody else!

  133. I am pretty sure that anyone who uses the word “whore” or “whoring” to refer to attractive women who don’t know enough trivia for his taste is someone whose overall opinion on what woman should wear is not worth my time. Or the time of those women on whom judgment is being passed.

    I have occasionally seen pictures of really cool-looking characters from anime I’ve never watched. And if I were given an opportunity to wear a great costume based on those characters? I would wear the heck out of it. I would not feel guilty about it, either. Awesome costumes are their own reward.

  134. Case in point: Hunter literally posted this comment before mine:

    “I agree with what is said in this piece BUT I think that it completely misses the point of the subject article. ITS ATTACKING AN ENEMY THAT ISN’T THERE. The piece in question is only talking about those who specifically DON’T want to be a geek. In any way.”

    (sorry for the comment spam, but felt like I had to say it)

  135. Wonderful, wonderful article. I think that buried deep beneath the sexism and personal issues, Peacock’s article did have one little tidbit of truth in it–there was this vein of “I don’t like when people fake it,” and had he not couched it in such nonsense I think it may have been more clear.

    There’s a thing that sometimes happens at DragonCon (my own personal geektopia), usually among the younger crowd, still more likely to succumb to peer pressure–someone will, upon realizing that all of their friends love Battlestar Galactica, and never having seen or heard a bit of it themselves, try to say that they, too, are a huge fan. And they’ll go about it badly, and everyone around them will stare incredulously, because why would you feign interest in something you’re not interested in?

    THAT, I think, was something he almost touched on, but pulled away from, too intent on beating the bag of his own personal issues open over our heads. The push of peer pressure and the need to “fit in” even in a geek culture that is so ripe and open to people of all different interest groups.

    In my experience, I’ve almost always seen this start out as a feigned interest driven by peer pressure which very quickly, with the coaxing of some friends in that fandom, becomes a legitimate, real thing. Which is great, and totally the point! Someone’s expressed interest in Battlestar Galactica, let me tell them EVERYTHING I CAN! And lend them my DVDs! I’ll even come over and watch with you! Which is the beautiful thing about geek culture.

  136. 1. Nice rebuttal.
    2. Mr. Peacock, that was a clear demonstration of online civility. As there’s no emotional cues online, it is not only possible but common to write something that does not address the point you wanted to make in the way that you wanted to make it, and I applaud you for recognizing that.
    3. Other article writers, take note of the above.

  137. ZekeDMS: While I agree on shunning people who abuse others, I don’t think that makes them Not Geeks. It makes them geeks who are bad people. I think there’s actually a pretty important distinction to be made between “this person is a geek” and “this person is good/bad/indifferent in a moral sense.” Geek just…isn’t a moral value, and trying to use it that way leads to problems.

  138. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Ginny: If a woman wants to dress “sexy”, she should not be affecting you by doing it. You allow it to affect you.

    We are not islands. We exist in a social culture, and how we behave affects the behavior of others. Women who adhere to sexist standards are reinforcing those standards, and making things harder for women who don’t want or aren’t able to meet those standards.

    It is of course true that women who do this do so because of sexism in the first place. Women who self-objectify are being compliant with their culture’s standards and so they get rewarded for that compliance. Likewise, women who are not compliant get punished for that. So it’s understandable that most women will “choose” to present themselves this way. However, A) a choice that’s coerced like that isn’t really a choice and B) many women aren’t able to make that choice in the first place, and thus can’t choose to avoid the penalties.

    In my case: No matter what I dress or act like, I’m never going to be a conventionally attractive femme woman. It is patently impossible for me to meet those standards. So I’m always going to get hit with the business end of the non-compliance stick. The only way for me to ever escape that punishment is for the standards themselves to change. And they’re never going to change if other women aren’t courageous enough to stop reinforcing them.

  139. Hey everyone, hotdog cookout on the beach, but only for Sneetches with stars upon thars!

    …what’s this? Everybody has stars? Intolerable! Anything is better! Let us become what we despised, so we may return to our comfortable habits of segregation.

  140. Brilliant post! – thank you. I feel even more validated in my own geek-dom. And I appreciate Joe Peacock’s very gracious reply, too.

  141. Why we do feel compelled to label ourselves and others? I understand that often people seek community with like-minded people, but if the philosophy presented here is “every geek unto his/her self”, then the label (and thus the implied sense of community) is virtually meaningless.

    Geek was a derogatory term used to describe someone deeply obsessed with unpopular things. Now that all those things are considered popular and socially acceptable by the mainstream, it simply doesn’t make sense to continue using that term. These previously geeky, deep-seeded interests and passions are all acceptable to society and no one’s getting shoved into a locker anymore for harboring them.

    So let’s just call them what they are: deep-seeded interests and passions. Everyone has them. About all kinds of things. You don’t need an additional label on top of that.

  142. I saw a woman dressed as Emma Frost the White Queen at a con.When I addressed her as Ms. Frost her reaction was “what?”When I explained that she was dressed as Emma Frost/white queen she replied “oh I do not know her name,I just think I look hot in her costume”.She also proceeded to tell me that she was trying to get exposure for her amateur adult site.

    It’s not unheard of for people to wear costumes without knowing too much about the character. In my younger, geekier days I was recruited into wearing costumes of other people’s design because I had the right body type and facial features. On the other hand, I did those things as favors to friends, rather than trying to attract attention for myself or anything I was promoting, and I would be the first to tell you that I had minimal knowledge of who I was portraying.

  143. So what about an actor who play a geek icon on TV or in a movie but who have no geek tendencies? Do they get let in at SDCC?

  144. I married a geek (comics and gaming) who bashfully and hesitantly introduced me into his world. Thank you for an amazingly articulate article on the freedom to be a geek no who you are or where you come from. .

  145. While there are boundless realms of misogynistic twerps in fandom, there’s only one CNN, and they gave this misogynistic twerp a HUGE GIANT MEGAPHONE TO THE INTERNET.

    So, mostly, I blame CNN.

    I also blame anyone who calls a woman a “whore” (even an attention whore) in regards to wearing tight clothing.

    Finally, I blame the patriarchy, of course.

  146. i have no problem with more people liking “geeky” things (games, comics, tabletop, anime, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) and genuinely loving them as much as i do. i have a problem with girls (and its mainly them) who just “like” it for the attention.

  147. I’m a self-proclaimed geek of many walks, who plays harmonica, hand drums (bodhran/djembe) and occasionally guitar. I play with my friends and we make up songs on the spot. I’ve never heard of filking. It’s like suddenly waking up and realizing that thing you do has a name. Now I want to find the nearest sci-fi convention pronto.

  148. This seems like a fairly surreal discussion to be having.

    When I was growing up, “Geek” was still a pejorative, and mostly what it meant was that you got picked on by jocks for having passionate interests that did not involve sports. It was only later that “Geek” began to change into a self-ascribed descriptor meaning that you were unlikely to judge them if they started rambling about anime, or advanced calculus, or history, or whatever they were really, really, really into, with the understanding that they would extend you the same courtesy when you went off on whatever your thing was.

    I think John’s description in the post of the definition of Geek is accurate for how it’s used today, but I feel like that’s not what it started out as.

    Maybe that’s Joe’s problem.He’s carrying too much of his early geek-baggage around, and doesn’t like to see attractive, mentally and hygienically stable people who were never picked on trying to relate. Though I have to say, the idea that beautiful women that cosplay as Doctor Girlfriend should be shunned is a fugging FEVER-DREAM

  149. As a female geek I really appreciate the role people like Felicia Day and John Scalzi have played in creating a space to explore my geekdom. I was a super nerdy bookworm with bad skin and braces, and now I’m a super nerdy bookworm who has left the awkward phase behind while treasuring all the geeky things she grew up loving.

    One of the things that made me uncomfortable growing up was whether I could be a participant in geek culture. All the roles for women seemed to be centered on their visual appeal. It’s a problem. one that many, many geeks are working to resolve. Articles like Peacock’s make me feel disenfranchised, as though I should have given up everything I loved once I entered accepted social paradigms of “attractiveness”. But thanks to my grown-up geek heroes, I know that this is not the case. There is a problem when one person takes a minority opinion of a few pretty girls who aren’t as in to the culture, and blames an entire community. That’s called prejudice, and we deal with enough of it without it taking up space in our lovely geekdom. I agree with Scalzi. If someone isn’t as into something, you show them something cooler or leave it at “Well, that’s unfortunate. Have fun.” Maybe these women weren’t as lucky to learn that geek girls are more than projections of male fantasies (Can you blame them? Look at the history of gamer culture.) Maybe all the responses will remind Peacock of this too.

    In any case, it has made me so grateful. Thanks John.

  150. @A Mediated Life That’s just sad. You need to get some self esteem. I dress sexy sometimes. Not because I’m trying to steal men or whatever else you guys think. I do it because I love lots of characters I cosplay, skimpy or not. I like doing it. No one is forcing me at gunpoint.

    So you want everyone else to dress how you feel comfortable? How is that okay? We can all dress how we want and you can’t view it as some attack on you. That’s insecurity speaking. Be comfortable with yourself, however you want to present yourself. Stop blaming other people.

  151. I’ve always set the geek/nerd divide like this:
    A geek loves something that is cultural. Sci-fi, anime, fantasy, video games, or any of the things Scalzi mentions in the article above.
    A nerd has the same love, but for something that is taught in school. Math, physics, computer programing, even English or sociology.
    A dork is someone who is socially awkward. Not good at talking to people, unable to understand social cues.

  152. Spazmoose – By day, "Spazmoose" (a.k.a. "Spaz") is a Programmer Analyst for a small software company in the north central United States, as well as the CIO of a small family-owned investment company. Spaz holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) degree, along with several computer certifications (MCAD C# / VB.NET, A+), as well as being a Professional Scrum Devleoper.
    Spazmoosifer

    My take on the other article was a bit different than yours. He did not seem to be against female cosplayers, or women in general at all. To me, it seemed that he was against the “show models” that are used at conventions, specifically the ones that would be at specific booths, that seem to be employed for nothing other than the fact that they look good in skimpy clothing.

    He could have actually broadened his article to cover any convention, for instance, car shows, where they have bikini-clad women on hoods that likely have no interest in the actual cars.

    That’s not to say that I agree with him on that topic. Why someone is at a convention of any sort is their business. If they want to make money promoting a product that they care nothing about, that’s fine with me, at least they are doing something THEY want to do.

  153. @ Keri (2:07)

    Who gives a shit if “a large portion of our culture still looks down on geeks and geekdom”? What does that have to do with this conversation? This is about the shunning of women cosplayers at cons because they’re not real geeks, but “poachers”.

    And why would someone wearing a Superman/Batman/Spiderman/etc. t-shirt NOT belong at a con? Because they don’t have the skill and/or are not able to afford a costume that might cost hundreds or thousands of dollars? What about chicks that AREN’T “hot” wearing such t-shirts? Is a 30-40 something woman is wearing an XL t-shirt (so as not to accentuate the muffin top, don’tcha know?) to show her love for her favorite book/comic/movie/etc. also not welcome? Do I also not belong? How, pray tell, is that making everything all about me? Or how is a beautiful 20-something doing the same thing making everything about her? How are either of us “whoring”?

    No need to answer, really as I expect that your answers won’t smooth my ruffled feathers, anyway. But as others have said, stop making blanket statements and general assumptions. As Mr. Scalzi states, there’s no standard for one’s geekery… and one does not have to have been going to a particular con since they were but a wee lass in order to belong there–or be welcome there–now.

  154. One of the biggest components of being a geek is ostracism. In the course of trying to live a normal life I’m a stranger wherever I go. There’s a cost associated with being true to oneself for many people.

    I’ve paid that cost. I grew up emotionally stunted and socially withdrawn because I’d rather play strategy games than obsess over muscle cars, because I liked reading about leptons and bosons than talking about how many yards some dude passed a football last year. I’ve had to play serious catchup to the rest of the world in the last few years of my life, and I’m a much more well-rounded person now but I still feel an undercurrent of alienation wherever I go (except cons and internet forums, natch).

    You may be thinking that this is an un-problem – going home alone from parties because I can’t carry on a conversation about Rhianna’s love life, or botching job interviews because I don’t watch American Idol. That merely exposes the underlying problem: no one relates to me. I don’t relate to you. People make you feel like scum when you don’t conform to their idea of normal.

    So yeah. When someone adopts the label of “geek” because they’ve seen a couple of episodes of Doctor Who, or because they remember a TV show from the 80s, or because they sometimes play Madden or Call of Duty, it chafes. I paid a cost for the privilege of being true to myself, and my meager reward is that title. When someone adopts that mantle because it’s the chic thing to do nowadays it diminishes a large part of my life experience.

    More to the point, though, I think what Peacock is really responding to are these old gremlins of latent sexism that exist in geek culture itself. Fortunately geeks are making a lot of progress in flushing out these vestiges of 50s and 60s (and earlier) patriarchy. It’s not the cosplayers he should be offended at, it’s the video game designers and anime artists who still think bikini armor isn’t ridiculous.

  155. The title of the CNN piece is “Booth babes need not apply”. Wikipedia defines “booth babe” as “A promotional model is a person hired to drive consumer demand for a product, service, brand, or concept …” In that context, I think the author would have been better served complaining about the product, service, brand or concept that employed the “booth babe”, and not those who fill the role.

    Geekdom (flame wars aside) probably comes as close to a meritocracy as anything. As such, I think Joe Peacock would probably prefer that the product, service, brand or concept stood on its own merits, and not on the quality of the marketing (read: “booth babe” or the costume s/he wears).

  156. I love this. I have always had geeky tendencies yet I have only just really immersed myself into geekdom. I have a youtube channel, and one day, I decided to make a video confessing the fact that it has only been the past few years that I’ve really gotten into geek culture and defined myself as one. I was expecting people to respond by saying that I wasn’t really a geek since I hadn’t been into thing x since I was a child, but the response I got was the exact opposite. I was welcomed with open arms. That’s the way that it should be.

  157. I’d just like (with a couple of others) to honor Joe Peacock’s coming here and being civil and respectful, not to mention contrite on some key issues. That can’t have been easy, especially with some of what’s been said here about him and his article.

    I’d like to point out that posting as if he hadn’t done so and continuing to castigate him (as oppose to discussing reactions to the original article) for positions he’s withdrawn from is kind of unfair. IMO. Of course, things he still stands behind are quite another matter!

  158. What someone wears or doesn’t wear, whether they are “faking it” or not, whether they purchased their geeky t-shirt at Target or somewhere more geek-acceptable —- who cares? What does any of that have to do with anything?

    For the record, I found Mr. Peacock’s original post sexist, and I still think it is. His assertion that women who are normally a 6 in the real world become a 9 at cons made me want to throw my laptop out the window. What’s the thought process behind that? That geek women are supposed to be less attractive than non-geek women? That attractive women (real 9s, as opposed to, um, con-induced 9s) wouldn’t deign to set foot anywhere in Geekdom? Please.

  159. Joe Peacock:

    “I have, actually.”

    And yet the article only focuses on women, so you are vulnerable to the implication that such behavior bothers you only when it’s done by women. These are the things that one is best thinking of ahead of time, because they will trip you up, he said, from experience.

    “How can there be so many who did get my point and thanked me for it, while someone like yourself — whom I respect and after years of reading your stuff, would have to assume is an avid reader and intelligent fellow — not get the point I was trying to make?”

    1. People are different;

    2. You’re neglecting the possibility that they read it exactly as I had, but simply agreed with it where I strongly disagreed.

  160. Joe Peacock: “In fact, it’s my entire point: the people I’m talking about in my piece DON’T WANT TO BE.”

    John Scalzi: “Wow, that so did NOT come across.”

    John, he did in fact state, “What I’m talking about is the girls who have no interest or history in gaming taking nearly naked photos of themselves with game controllers draped all over their body just to play at being a “model.”” And then continue on, “I’m talking about an attention addict trying to satisfy her ego and feel pretty by infiltrating a community to seek the attention of guys she wouldn’t give the time of day on the street.”

  161. @Keri Wiker:

    I am very comfortable saying that simply putting on a tight Batman babydoll t-shirt and strutting around the con doesn’t make you a geek, it makes you an attention whore. It also means that a geek like me didn’t get into the con because of you.

    How does someone putting on a tight Batman babydoll keep you out of a con?

    @Joe Peacock: Men (or boys) insulting and verbally abusing women for sport are “just as disgusting and base” as attention-seeking by women whom you suspect may be non-geeks? Sorry, but no.

  162. Joe,

    The problem with your article is that the only differentiator you keep pointing to is something that requires mind reading a woman’s thought to figure out if she’s good or bad in your eyes. The end result of that is that ALL WOMEN who might be at a geek convention are suddenly a potential target of your wrath.

    “There is a growing chorus of frustration in the geek community with – and there’s no other way to put this – pretty girls pretending to be geeks for attention.”

    How do you tell if a woman is “pretending to be a geek” or if she’s a “real” geek? You’re essentially playing a “No True Scotsman” fallacy here. Someone says she’s a geek, you say she’s just pretending? How do you know?

    “hot chicks” wearing skimpy outfits simply to get a bunch of gawking geeks’ heads to turn, just to satisfy their hollow egos.”

    How do you know if a woman identifies as a geek just to satisfy their “hollow ego”? How do you know they’re not a real geek?

    “I’m talking about an attention addict trying to satisfy her ego and feel pretty by infiltrating a community to seek the attention of guys she wouldn’t give the time of day on the street. I call these girls “6 of 9″.”

    How do you know if a woman at a convention is an “attention addict”? That she’s only there to “feel pretty”? That she wouldn’t give you the time of day on the street?

    It’s all mind reading on your part. They’re “pretending”. They’re just in it for the attention. They’re trying to satisfy their hollow egos. Everything you’re saying hinges on what they’re thinking.

    If you take away all the mind reading nonsense about their internal mental state, the only thing we’re left with is that you’re complaining about any woman at a geek convention. With the added provisio that you don’t seem to mind it if the woman is ugly.

    What the hell, man?

    You may have tried to paint a specific target on a particular type or class of woman, but all you did was splatter paint all over every woman who calls herself a geek. Gallagher with a sledgehammer and paint-filled-watermellons would have been more precise than you.

    And then there’s this Freudian jewel: “a group of boys notorious for being outcasts that don’t get attention from girls”

    If I had to guess, I’d guess that what happened is you were feeling like the outcast, you decided to gin up the courage to approach one of these “hot chicks”, and you got rejected, and now you’re railing against all the “hot chicks” “pretending to be a geek” who wouldn’t “give the time of day” to you. And what it boils down to is essentially any woman who calls herself a geek is a potential target.

  163. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Random: one of the reasons you don’t see (many) complaints about attention-seeking men in geek spaces is because men don’t have to do that. Women who have been conditioned to see attention from straight guys as validation of their worth are going to seek that attention in any way they can. If putting on a Slave Leia costume and standing around while geek dudes take pics of them gives them that attention, of course they’re going to do it. (Also, any woman who insists she dresses like that for herself and not for the attention is being obtuse. The reason it makes you “feel good” is because your culture has taught you that being attractive = virtue.)

    Men, on the other hand, get validation from things other than physical objectification. They get validation from other men on their skills and social rank, and from women on their relative economic power. They don’t need to self-lobotomize and stand around to be gawked at in order to make themselves feel worthy of sucking oxygen–on the contrary, in order to feel good, they have to actually DO something.

    Are there men who self-objectify? Sure. It’s extremely common in the gay community, because there’s a point to attracting attention in that case. Also, a rare few working-class men will become models because it’s an easy way to cash that they can’t get with other skills. But generally speaking, most people who strip down and stand around are women, and they’re doing it because it’s an ego boost.

    What makes me the most sad, though, is seeing how many women defend this–and vociferously. It’s really quite sad that they’re so convinced that they won’t get attention/validation without getting their boobs out that they’re going to pitch a massive fit at anyone who asks them to reconsider doing that. Believe me: whatever attention you get from this isn’t authentic. It’s not about you, it’s about your boobs. If you want genuine validation, go for the stuff you can get with your brain, not your body. Any validation that wouldn’t survive aging or disfigurement isn’t real–it’s just mental junk food.

  164. For those of you concerned with my “bought a Superman shirt at Target” comment, my issue isn’t that they bought their Superman shirt at Target, but that they went to Target to find ANY geeky type shirt at Target and then bought it so they would have something “appropriate” to wear at ComicCon. And they likely picked Superman because they didn’t recognize the Flash or Green Lantern shirt as being geeky.

  165. Brad: You say that “One of the biggest components of being a geek is ostracism,” but I’ve never been ostracized for loving to read science fiction and fantasy. Or for watching these things on television. Or for watching anime, or reading manga, or collecting My Little Pony toys as an adult, or buying comic books, or playing video games. I honestly cannot recall ever being excluded from something I want to do because of any of these things, I’m thirty years old.

    I realize this makes me very, very lucky. But I don’t think it makes me less of a geek on account of being lucky.

  166. Xopher (and all):

    You’re right, it’s not easy. But my goal, since I began writing, is to be understood. I prefer to ask Mr. Scalsi where I screwed up in making my point rather than fighting him on not understanding it. As one commenter pointed out: It’s not the reader’s responsibility to understand, it’s the writer’s responsibility to be understood (within reason — there will always be people who misconstrue or willfully miss the point; Fox News is full of them). That said, I also stand by what I wrote. I wrote it, and I meant what I wrote when I wrote it. How I wrote it? Maybe that needs some work.

  167. @A Meditated Life:
    A woman who is dressed “sexy” is not equivalent to one who is self-objectifying. Cosplayers I’ve talked to almost never have “attracting male attention” as their primary goal. Some are actively annoyed that the titillated responses outnumber the ones impressed with the workmanship and attention to detail. Your statement that they are coerced by societal expectations into how they present themselves is an extraordinarily demeaning denial of their agency.

  168. Jon Marcus: How does someone putting on a tight Batman babydoll keep you out of a con?

    Comic-Con tickets are limited in number. They’ve sold out every year for the last 4 or 5 years.

  169. Also, Mr. Peacock is not talking about actual booth babes in the original post. Yes, the title is “Booth Babes Need Not Apply.” But his first paragraph says: “There is a growing chorus of frustration in the geek community with – and there’s no other way to put this – pretty girls pretending to be geeks for attention.”

  170. You know, I started roleplaying when I was in high school, in the 80s. Back then, it was _very hard_ to be a female who liked geek stuff, and even harder to get taken seriously as a gamer (Old style use of the word: Table top games). I used to hear that stuff all the time… that I wasn’t a REAL gamer. I went through endless explanation of what dice to roll, and hostile stares. I still have a hard time in most ‘old school’ gaming stores in getting any one to actually talk to me. I remember when I was one of maybe two girls at a con. I learned very quickly to put up a persona as ‘one of the guys’.. and it served me well when I did electrical work in the theater, later. It’s only now that I feel like I can be allowed to be a little girly, because I see women all around me who feel free to let their freak flag fly in whatever form that may take… and I feel a sense of overwhelming pride and happiness that we can now be -whoever we want- as geeks, that for the most part, we are accepted as part of the culture, that we help to define it.

    So thank you. Thank you for sticking up for us. It gives me hope that when my little girl grows up enough to want to dress like River Tam, or Wonder Woman, or Steampunk Awesome Marie Curie Super Vampire Hunter, that she will do so with only a vague awareness of what the rest of us endured.

  171. PROGRAMMING NOTE:

    I am likely to be away from the computer for some time. Because of this, I have asked the excellent Kate Baker, my occasional site manager, to step in and babysit the thread for the rest of the day. This means:

    1. I have passed along the Mallet of Loving Correction to her, and she has full authority to wield it;

    2. Likewise, if she tells you to get back on topic, be polite to another commenter or any other thing, it is as if I am telling you. Please afford her the same respect and courtesy you afford me.

    Depending on circumstance I may pop in when I am able but don’t expect too much from me between now and much later this evening.

    Thank you!

  172. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Jon: How does someone putting on a tight Batman babydoll keep you out of a con?

    By taking a ticket that could’ve gone to someone who genuinely wanted to be there for the event itself. SDCC and Dragon*Con both have extremely limited space, and tickets go fast. That so many of those tickets are going to people who see the event as a personal marketing opportunity, rather than a way to enjoy stuff they like with like-minded folks, is infuriating.

  173. Thanks for this. As a cosplayer (even at SDCC. In costume!), I get freaking annoyed at the idea that being an attractive woman means I’m not a geek.

    I spent $1,500 and something like 500 hours on one costume. I dare 99% of geeks to come up with something half as geeky as that. (And this is in addition to wasting my life perusing those old bastions of geekdom – science fiction, video games, board games, and comics. Oh yes. I’m also an engineer.)

    Of course, the only way someone would know whether I was a “real” geek or a “fake” one (whatever the fake one is) would be to talk to me. (Which I suspect original article writer – not John Scalzi – didn’t do. Just as I suspect he didn’t talk to the vast majority of women he was whining about.)

    Yeah, I could see some annoyance at women who showed up at Comic Con just to dress up and try to impress men. But I seriously doubt that there are that many women who spent the thousand or so dollars it took to do that because they’re not pretty into being a geek. Maybe there’s one or two. IF that’s her thing, whatever. As you said, they’re not hurting me or you or anyone else. But I suspect that most of those pretty women in costume are geekier than most other fans imagine. (After all, those costumes take a LOT of work. It’s not something you undertake lightly!)

  174. This is an interesting conversation with, at least in my opinion, valid points on both sides. I understood the main gist of what the (somewhat poorly written) CNN article was trying to convey and I still agree with a lot of what John wrote as well. Perhaps because I have experienced this kind of thing before? As a girl geek who hung out with hackers back in the late 90s, I watched as women (especially attractive ones) were often accused of hanging around just to get attention from the male hackers. For women like myself who were genuinely interested in computers, hacker culture and all that it entailed, the accusation was offensive. However, I also encountered several women who did not deny this accusation, but embraced it. They WERE there just for the attention. (For the record, male newcomers were sometimes accused of just hanging around for attention too, though not as often as females.)

    I guess, to sum up, what I’m trying to say is that this is not a new phenomena or something limited to cons. I think it comes down to the fact that geeks are a group overly-sensitive (for good reason) to being mocked/attacked/derided for our interests, and when we sense an impostor in our presence our defense mechanisms kick in because we perceive danger of mocking/attack/derision.

  175. I think there’s nothing wrong with going to a convention or claiming an interest in geeky things for attention. We’re social by nature – we all want attention to one degree or another. And there are easier ways to get attention than visiting a convention – one of the main functions of bars and clubs is as a place to go for attention. Geek assemblies are more about celebrating things we love, and so the non-geeks who visit likely have some interest in seeing what the big deal is. Maybe they buy a Batman shirt from Target because they’re afraid they’ll be singled out as not-a-geek and ostracized. Maybe they take the job as a booth babe because they think it’ll be more fun or interesting than being in a toothpaste commercial. Whatever the reason, they chose to be here.

    Sure, some people just do it for the attention. But people do all kinds of things, including non-geeky ones, for attention. Why should it be such a problem when they do it here? We should be happy that they find geekdom interesting and attractive enough that they choose us.

  176. Jon Marcus: Men (or boys) insulting and verbally abusing women for sport are “just as disgusting and base” as attention-seeking by women whom you suspect may be non-geeks? Sorry, but no.

    He states in his article that it’s not even close to the abuse women get when playing games online: “Is it abuse in the same vein as the harassment? Not even slightly.”

  177. A Mediated Life:

    “By taking a ticket that could’ve gone to someone who genuinely wanted to be there for the event itself.”

    The person who has the ticket genuinely wants to be there, I would suggest, just for a different reason than most.

    Also, you know. When I go to a con, it often (but not always exclusively) a personal marketing opportunity. So I don’t know that I would ding someone for that, personally.

  178. Deirdre – Menlo Park, California – Deirdre Saoirse Moen is a writer, photographer, and graphic designer from Menlo Park, California. She blogs about all kinds of things at deirdre.net, runs a fan site for actor Ryan Johnson at ryanjohnsonactor.info, and has a site highlighting her graphics and photography at desamo.graphics.
    Deirdre Saoirse Moen

    I started programming for a living in 1975. I had code in space before I was 18 and have written code to control power plants. Yet, I’ve been told that I’m not a geek. After all, I didn’t go to a top 10 university, I took too long to get my degree (as I was busy Doing Things), and I don’t have an Erdös number.

    Well, I am a geek, and I approve of Scalzi’s response.

    There are many edges to fandom (even for male underwear models), and we all have places where we can feel comfortable.

  179. Joe Peacock: Could you post an update to the article, clarifying points you think have been missed/misunderstood, and perhaps apologizing for the parts you now regard as wrong-headed (if any)? If so, include the story about the poseur in the Superman costume…but do read what John and others have said about that as well.

  180. Mr. Scalzi, I don’t usually post things on the internet, but I really had to thank you for this article. As someone who grew up a nerd in a small town that did not appreciate anyone different, I find the attitude expressed by Mr. Peacock to be just the same as all the people who ridiculed me in high school for not being exactly like them. He also reminds me of a certain character in The Dark Knight Rises, to the point that I expected to see the words “exile or death” at the end of his article.

    The first time I ever felt like I was home was when I first stepped into Wizard World Chicago in the early 2000s. Finally, I was with a group of people who had interests just like me, who liked the things I like and were happy to share that love and joy with me. Every time I enter a con, be it WW or C2E2 here in Chicago or SDCC or where ever, I feel like I am home and with a family I never knew I had. Cons are one of the few places where I feel I can be myself, and when I hear people trying to exclude others from our culture, when I see others bullied and ridiculed because they do not have the “proper” nerd credentials, it makes me sick to my stomach. Thank you to standing up to the nerd bullies, Speaker for the Geeks.

  181. @Erin – Yes! I cosplay and probably 95% of cosplayers I’ve met would greatly prefer a comment detailing their workmanship to one about how hot they look. Those costumes are a *lot* of work. Spending 40-100 hours on a single costume is pretty typical for a cosplayer…and they really appreciate it when people notice the details, construction, etc. Sure, it’s nice to look hot and get attention, but you can really do that with a lot less effort than putting 100 hours and $400 into a costume…

  182. Keri: Thanks for pointing out the pieces that I really felt would mitigate the misunderstandings on what I was trying to say.

    John: with the pieces that Keri pasted, I hope you can see why I’d be confused. I felt I addressed those points pretty clearly, but it feels like they’re either muddied or missing in your critique. But I also point to my comments before, about the writer’s responsibility to be understood.

    I understand you’ve stepped away for the day, so I won’t look for a response. I do want to thank you for allowing me the chance to discuss this with you in your comments (Kate, if you wouldn’t mind, pass this to John? It’d mean a lot — despite thinking I’m an ass, he’s still a hero of mine :) ).

  183. For those of you who can’t see what Joe Peacock is saying, think of it this way.

    You’re at ComicCon and you’re attending a panel on Sci-Fis ten greatest whatevers. In attendance are Patrick Stewart, Peter Jackson, Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi, Joss Whedon, Felicia Day, Kate Mulgrew, Gates McFadden, Summer Glau, and Kristin Stewart. Wouldn’t you get to Kristin Stewart’s name in the booklet (or her name was called in the intro), wouldn’t you stop and think, “KRISTIN STEWART??? WTF is SHE doing here?!?!?!”

    Yes. Yes you would. The fake geek women who attend ComicCon are the Kristin Stewarts of the group.

  184. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Erin: Your statement that they are coerced by societal expectations into how they present themselves is an extraordinarily demeaning denial of their agency.

    Ah, yes, the “women can’t possibly make choices based on sexist conditioning” argument.

    Every time I’ve asked a woman who does “sexy” cosplay why she does it, it always–always!–boils down to how it makes her “feel good.” And the reason it feels good is because she gets attention. And the reason she gets attention is because she’s reinforcing her culture’s standards for attractiveness and sexual objectification.

    All of us exist in a sexist culture. None of us are immune to that conditioning. I’m not saying women are stupid or incapable of making choices. I’m saying that the choices offered to us in the first place are loaded in a way designed to reinforce our second-class status. Any “choice” we make when the alternatives come with major consequences isn’t actually a choice at all.

    This goes the same for men, by the way. Men don’t actually choose to be violent and rude. They behave that way because their culture rewards them for it.

    I realize it’s scary as hell to contemplate exactly how much we’re all shaped from birth by a culture built on things like sexism, racism, etc. I get that realizing how little power we have over even our own thought processes is terrifying. But that’s the reality we live in. We are social creatures–tribal animals–and we learn how to behave by observing the behavior of the people around us. In a sexist culture, most of that behavior will be reflective of sexist conditioning. Learning sexism is basically inevitable.

    Until we all become aware of exactly how much our behavior is influenced this way, we have no hope of changing our culture in a way that benefits people who have even fewer choices. Sticking our fingers in our ears and pretending that we can’t possibly be behaving according to sexist conditioning doesn’t help.

  185. John Scalzi may not be the “Speaker for Geeks”, but he’s a fine “Speaker-to-Geeks” in a nice Nivenish/Kzinti sort of way.

  186. A mediated Life obviously feels the harm. You can disagree about whether she’s allowed to, but most of you, particularly John, have not really addressed that. I can also see the point of wanting a space where people don’t market to you in that fashion. And it sounds like someone who is self-starting an adult business might invest hundreds of dollars, as opposed to one who is already backed by corporate schills.

    I do agree about the sexism/classism though. He could have made his point better and he could have directed the criticism of both babes to the infrastructure exploiting them to better effect.

  187. Joe Peacock: There’s a rather notorious Superman cosplayer who attends Dragon*Con who is a professional underwear model. He attends because “Chicks love it.” He never buys a badge, he just hangs around the lobby.

    And????

    How does a sexy, male, underwear model in a superman costume hanging around in the fricken lobby affect your experience inside some Geek Convention???? I mean, seriously dude, you even said it yourself, he didn’t buy a badge, and he’s only in the lobby.

    I’m getting the distinct impression that the real problem is that you simply don’t like good looking people.

    Because I don’t think you would have nearly as much problem with this guy in a Superman costume hanging around in the lobby if he were ugly. It’s not that he didn’t buy a badge. It’s not that he is in the lobby. It’s not that he’s in costume. It’s that he’s someone you consider to be good looking.

    Reading through your article, if we strip out all the mind reading attributes you apply to your target, the only physical, objective measure that you consistently point out is that these women are good looking. They’re “hot chicks”, they’re model wannabees, they’re good looking but wouldn’t give someone like you the time of day.

    If there was an ugly guy in the lobby who didn’t buy a badge and was wearing a full Stormtrooper costume, my guess is you wouldn’t be targeting him with your wrath.

    But if he’s a good looking guy, you have a problem with him.

  188. John,
    Mr. Peacock’s gender-based attack on geek-culture interlopers presents as a sexist diatribe (complete with all of the appropriate disclaimers that “I have attractive, female, cosplaying friends”) highlights a geek-culture rift (inclusion v. intolerance) and you provide an excellent challenge to those on one side of that rift.
    Ever since I started podcasting for LawoftheGeek.com, my household has been engaged in an ever-present discussion about what “Geek” is. While my household (wife, kids, and myself) believe it to be a big-tent sort of culture without borders at which you intimate, we have friends who disagree and who frequently pose such membership challenges that you call out in your post.
    Your point that geekdom is for those who choose to share their interest in a subject area helped me to understand what has been bothering me about this. The in depth knowledge of a particular subject and the desire to share come from the same source: an unapologetic, limitless desire to revel in something about which you are interested. The interest in the subject leads to learning more about it than most people and the stereotypical expressions of a geek personality come from that desire to share.
    I remember being a Tolkien geek in fifth grade. I had a group of friends with whom I could share, discuss, and debate. We immersed ourselves in it (and other typically geeky subjects) and the overflow of our enthusiasm subjected us to a certain amount of ridicule from our peers. We wanted to share, but what we did not realize was that (1) not everyone would be as interested as we were and (2) the depth of our knowledge was actually intimidating to others who might have had a passing interest. We had a teacher who saw some of this and sought to address it by inviting my friends and myself to present to the fifth-grade classes on Tolkien. I think she underestimated our geekiness because she got a two-hour presentation with art, maps, costumes, mock weapons, and recipes. I think we picked up two recruits out of sixty and firmly entrenched ourselves as freaks for about forty-five.
    There are few things as painful for a young geek as having their enthusiasm for something ridiculed. But, that is why so many self-identifying geeks grow up feeling like outsiders. They put up walls and build defenses. In their area of geekdom, they are safe.
    My middle son recently participated in a podcast (http://www.thegeekparent.com/2012/07/growing-up-geeky.html) in he “reveled” in the “certamen” competition at the National Junior Classical League Convention that he is attending this week. He shared. With no apology and no shame. Some people grow up ashamed and never get over it. Perhaps Mr. Peacock is one of those people. Otherwise, why establish entrance requirements to something that you love? Why attribute an evil intention to people who want to test the waters? Mr. Peacock does not seem to ascribe the same evil motivation to the attractive young men who dress for attention. Why? Perhaps because it is the fear of ridicule by these attractive women if he were to share his enthusiasm with them. Intolerance in geekdom is a defense mechanism antithetical to the enthusiasm that encourages geeks to share. Defense mechanisms aren’t always healthy, and when established over a lifetime are hard to break.
    In reading your post, I was struck that you omitted a fairly significant geek credential–your experience at The University of Chicago. It was there that I learned to share my enthusiasm for something (whether it was Platonic dialogues over breakfast, or statistical analysis of everyday events over beer, or one of your pieces in the Maroon) and to engage in spirited debate without worrying about being an outsider. It was a valuable life lesson.

  189. @ A Mediated Life

    My apologies for misspelling your handle name.

    If a woman dresses “sexy” – momentarily ignoring the fact that sexiness is in the eye of beholder, and that no one has the authority to program what each of us considers such – and you tell her she can’t actually want to dress that way for any other reason than it being what culture tells her to want, then how is that respecting her right to choose for herself? It’s tantamount to saying that if she doesn’t agree with you, she’s not really doing it for herself. No one is an island, but that doesn’t invalidate their personal choices and beliefs, or their claim to self-awareness.

  190. He is so ridiculous. What he doesn’t understand is that many of those girls diet and exercise all year to be able to fit into that costume and it’s a huge accomplishment for them to be able to look that good. I’m sure that some of them just want attention, but since when is that a crime? For one thing, the community of people in “geek culture” is generally way more friendly and accepting than a lot of other (for lack of a better term) societal cliques. It’s about the equivalent of seeing a pretty girl wearing a shirt for a band that she likes and thinking that she probably doesn’t even listen to the band and she just wants attention. Newsflash: females don’t have to pretend to be into something we’re not just to get male attention. We’re females. We get guys’ attention just by being females.

  191. Where I grew up, “poseur” was one of the most prevalent insults around. Usually it was “You’re such a poseur!” or “Ugh, what a poseur!” They were mostly talking about all the fake surfers, but isn’t it the same thing? They just didn’t have an Internet to rant about it back then, but they sure as hell did to anyone who would listen, and it was possible for the rest of us to distinguish “man, I hate that girl. She wears surf shop gear and carries around sexwax in her bag but doesn’t even go near the water” from “I hate women and I’m jealous because she’s prettier than me/because I can’t get laid.” That the group of poseurs who are the point of Joe’s post are women doesn’t automatically mean he’s a woman-hater. No one likes a poseur. Poseurs cheapen the experience for a lot of people. Even if you aren’t bothered by them, is that so hard to wrap your mind around?

    I do get that there’s a lot of force behind HOW one’s opinions are expressed. We teach little kids that “it’s not just what you say, but how you say it,” so perhaps that’s what people are really angry with Joe about and they should be stopping to think about that before calling into question his sex life and general attitude toward women. If you’re mad at him for expressing his view in a jerky way, that’s your right, but don’t go looking for additional things to be mad about. You think this guy’s a jerk because of the jerky way he framed an issue. Why not leave it at that?

    For the record, Joe didn’t just invent this group of women who aren’t even dressed as real characters, who are just loitering in hopes of getting some attention. I’ve not only seen them but spoken to them in a former job. They’re doing what I’ve often thought of as the modern-day equivalent of how my friend’s mom proudly told me one day that she only went to college to get her “MRS. degree” and dropped out the same day she got engaged. It happens, and to me it speaks of their own low self-esteem and sense of personal value, that they feel the need to do that instead of developing their actual interests and seeking out friends and potential partners among those who share them. I would have the same opinion of men who did the same things if I ever caught them doing it.

  192. @greg Why shouldn’t he be offended? Why shouldn’t any of us ugly people be allowed to be sick and tired of having our looks shoved in our faces? EVERYONE still judges by standards of attractiveness.
    Why shouldn’t we be allowed to be sick of people fawning over “hot” guys and “hot” girls? Should only us ugly people be “enlightened” enough to look past someone’s face to see their brains?

    The body-shaming that goes on everywhere is so deeply ingrained in our culture that most people don’t even recognize it for what it is.

  193. Scott Perkins Writes – Washington State, US – Washington-based Writer, Puppeteer, History Nut, Craftsman, Toymaker, and Sculptor of Reluctant Media. Author of 'Howard Carter Saves the World' Crooked Cat Press (UK & US) 2015
    Scott Perkins

    Bless you. If we did have a leader, I’d vote for you.

    I hate that hateful hipster crap that is infesting geek culture right now. You got there first? Good for you. That doesn’t make it yours. I’ve been here for decades and it doesn’t make it mine either. Why? Because ‘being a geek’ is about being enthusiastic about a thing and doing that thing to the exclusion of other things no matter what anyone else thinks.

    Only you know if that’s real and only you should really care.

  194. Sorry for the cross-posting; this thread is growing like wildfire.

    @ Greg

    How does a sexy, male, underwear model in a superman costume hanging around in the fricken lobby affect your experience inside some Geek Convention???? I mean, seriously dude, you even said it yourself, he didn’t buy a badge, and he’s only in the lobby.

    It affects him because he sees what other people do with themselves as a judgment on him, and he finds it intolerable to tolerate people who dress and participate differently than him, so he lashes out at them. Some people think the rainbow can only accommodate one color.

  195. @A Mediated Life – Until you’ve interviewed every cosplayer in this universe (including men, who you seem to leave out of your vast vat of knowledge), get out of claiming you know my ultimate reason for cosplaying. You seem to assume that women are all thoughtless automatons who can’t examine their own femininity, humanity, and reasoning.

    Your arguments sound like you enter these conversations expecting to hear ONE thing, so that’s what you hear (or end up directing the conversation toward).

    Cosplay by nature IS a hobby that relies on some amount of attention. That is not bad. Other artists show their work in galleries, street fairs, etc, and don’t seem to earn your ire the same way. Isn’t what they do for attention, to be recognized as a good artist? Or because they don’t happen to show more than their ankles and knees, they’re somehow “better?”

  196. Thank you. Twenty years ago I was that girl and because I met people like you more than people like him, I now have more geekdoms than I have time or money to indulge.

  197. Who gets to be a geek?

    Anyone who wants to be, any way they want to be one.

    That’s a little too open, isn’t it?

    While I’m loathe to appoint “geek police” to assess a putative geek’s “geek cred” and kick out those who aren’t geek enough to geek out with the real geeks, I do think that in order for the word to have meaning, there needs to be a way to demarcate the geek from the non-geek. Not so we can be divisive and exclusionary, but so that in order to be able to use the word in a meaningful way.

    The idea that there is a set of traits that all geeks possess, or that all geeks are geeky about the same things in the same way, as you rightly point out, is silly. The idea that anyone can be a geek if they choose to be geeky is a good one. But just because anyone can be a geek doesn’t mean that everyone is. It’s OK to point out that “you’re not like me”, and it’s also OK to point out at a convention that “this person among us isn’t like us” or even “this person doesn’t like us, and isn’t here for the reasons we’re all here, is instead here to exploit us for their gain, and I don’t welcome that, but I will welcome all who bring a positive energy to the scene.”

    Being a geek isn’t a superficial thing. One does not simply walk into a geek convention, or put on a certain style of clothing, or a costume, and become a geek. That may be the first step on a journey into geekdom, but more likely one geeks out on something before deciding to go to a convention. People come to the things they love through different ways, some on their own, some through initiation or introduction by a friend or family member.

    Anyone who is truly interested in the subject matter should be welcome to explore it and contribute to the subculture, and be prepared to have those contributions evaluated and either accepted or rejected by the subculture. If they don’t like that, they’re free to do their own thing and maybe it’ll catch on and turn into its own subculture.

    Personally, I don’t care about the geek label. I like the things I like because I like them. I don’t care if they’re geeky or not. I don’t care if other people approve or understand. If they want to, I’m happy to explain and share and invite them to take part. To me, they’re cool, for whatever reason, and that’s why I like them. People who don’t get that, don’t have to — I don’t care about them or what they think.

  198. @Keri Wikers & “A Mediated Life”: I didn’t realize there were a limited number of tickets to SDCC. Thanks for the info.

    @Keri Wikers re harassment: The line you quoted comes directly after his comment about *his* (Joe’s) being insulted by a pretty girl, and before any of the talk about abuse of women. It seems that if he’s saying that the offense he takes from pretty is not as bad as harassment.

    I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence. It’s insulting.

    Is it abuse in the same vein as the harassment? Not even slightly.

    So he’s saying the insult he feels he’s being offered isn’t as bad as “the harassment”. (Although he hasn’t yet said what “the harassment” is.

    But a few paragraphs later, he says this:

    Are guys acting this way toward women [insulting, abusing, etc] just as disgusting and base as women poaching attention from our culture, satisfying their egos by strutting around a group of guys dressed in clothing and costumes from a culture filled with men they see as beneath them? Absolutely.

    If A is “just as bad” as B, then B is “just as bad” as A. And I vehemently disagree with that equivalence.

  199. @Keri (2:49) ‘my issue isn’t that they bought their Superman shirt at Target, but that they went to Target to find ANY geeky type shirt at Target and then bought it so they would have something “appropriate” to wear at ComicCon.’

    Again with the generalizations and blanket criticism. Ugh.

    How is it that you KNOW this is what they did. Did you interview each and every person/woman you’ve seen at a Con wearing a simple t-shirt to discover how they obtained it? It’s rather a ridiculous question, I know, but no more ridiculous than your assumption.

    At the midnight book release for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I saw many, many people wearing elaborate costumes. I cannot afford to buy all of that cool stuff so I wore a Cafe Press t-shirt that said, “Don’t make me go all Avada Kedavra on your ass”. It was a hit. Nobody disdained me as less of a fan for wearing a mere t-shirt when THEY were garbed in Hogwarts awesomeness. I was complimented numerous times and wouldn’t you know it, some people took pictures.

    Wearing a t-shirt to an event such as that or to a Con doesn’t make a person a poser or less of a geek, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t belong there as much as you belong there. If they bought their passes before you then kudos to them for having the foresight to get their passes before they sold out.

  200. “Personally, I don’t care about the geek label. I like the things I like because I like them. I don’t care if they’re geeky or not. I don’t care if other people approve or understand. If they want to, I’m happy to explain and share and invite them to take part.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, but it still annoys me that there are people who will see me wearing a Back to the Future shirt and then think that I probably haven’t seen the movies and am just trying to get male attention. I don’t care if people think I’m a real geek or not. I just hate it when people judge me when they don’t even know me.

  201. Oh, Autumn– I *so* get what you’re saying. I, too, was a gamer and sci-fi-fantasy lover and Star Trek fan and attended conventions starting from the age of 14 (during the 80’s). The odd girl out, that’s for sure. And the backlash you’d get from Peacock-type guys was extremely unpleasant (we won’t even go into the sexual harassment…).

    Still a geek, all these years later. I’m just happy to see that women are making up a greater percentage of con attendees now! Good for them. :)

  202. annmariegamble – Ann Marie Gamble has been putting pen to paper since her mom made her scrub the crayon off the stairwell walls (one chapter per step). Although there is plenty of inspiration to be had in the carpool lane, she likes writing her way across the galaxy as well as across town, and she especially enjoys research missions (aka family vacations) when she and the boys can get away. Her favorite place to write is a room with a view and a pot of tea.
    annmariegamble

    Thanks. Dudes, quit telling people they don’t have the right to speak.

  203. crowfae – warrior, barista, bookstore associate, every kind of restaurant worker, secretary, drove a forklift in a grocery warehouse, andmy last job was as a Nurse for MGA helping to transition babies on ventilators from the NICU to home. It was my bliss. I am a breast cancer survivor. I live with serious MDD and PTSD. I am a Navy Veteran and an Army Veteran, first woman in my field for both. I belong to the VFW and have a 100% service connected disability which has exacerbated over the last 5 years to the point I live at Thunderbird senior living, need a Service Dog to maximize independence, misplace words and faces and require my own Home Health Visits. It also means walking, typing, communicating and memory and I are not quite the friends we used to be.Although completely fictional, I take the ingredients of my own experiences and those of other people and blend them into my Novel 'The Clouds in my Head." I was always told my head was in the clouds, so I guess that's how they got inside. LolMy genre is what I like to call Silver Lit, you know like Chick Lit for the Social Security set. Like Chick Lit the main focus is on personal growth and relationships between people. There is romance, laughter and tragedy and hopefully enough reasons to read to the end as Magna, my protagonist faces changes in herself and the world around her. Oh, did I mention she also has a service dog who is a perfect co-star. Starting Nano this year felt like the first time I jumped from a plane, I hadn't written creatively since 2017. When my legal pads and black pens didn't work anymore and my sentences struggled to make sense, I said I couldn't write anymore. But silencing myself was not the right answer. As a tool to combat depression, I took a deep breath and dove in. I used Word dictation and it's editing tool to write this year. Sometimes when I went back I didn't know what I had originally said and would have to piece it all together again. All the things Id joke about before I depended on for this year's novel. Detailed notes on each character, mini biographies. Timelines, though I made it easier on myself by containing my novel to Nov 1 to Nov. 15 2020 as the stories time frame. The election figures into the story.I am an official Plantster. I set up the framework and then let the characters speak for themselves. Hoping to post a link to it's Kindle version by this time next year.
    Joanne deBiasi

    This is why I love you Scalzi! In fact I read this aloud to my roommate. ZOMG, exactly!

  204. On the one hand, a certain part of me lives in fear that I will someday stick my foot right and publically in it and call down the wrath of Scalzi.

    On the other hand, some tiny sliver of me almost hopes it does happen because your smackdowns are just. so. goddamn. _artful_. Such elegant, eloquent into-one’s-place-putting is a rare and beautiful thing, and I would be kind of honored to inspire such artistry.

    But mostly, I think I’ll just try to keep my foot out of it…

  205. @A Mediated Life: Okay, I disagree with your main argument about women wearing sexy clothes (and I am definitely NOT one of those “sexy” women, by the way), but a line in your last comment REALLY bothers me. [Apologies if this is getting off topic and the Hammer needs wielding.]

    “Men don’t actually choose to be violent and rude. They behave that way because their culture rewards them for it.”

    This statement…it suggests that men have no control over their actions, and no responsibility for what they do. You’re also suggesting that all men are violent and rude. Neither of these things are the case, and this perspective is really disturbing. Yes, we’re all influenced by culture to some degree, I won’t argue with that. But suggesting that all men behave that way, and that they have no choice in the matter…it’s just not the case. And we really don’t want to reinforce that kind of attitude, either.

  206. @ Lani

    The body-shaming that goes on everywhere is so deeply ingrained in our culture that most people don’t even recognize it for what it is.

    How does an underwear model dressing up as Superman shame anyone? How is my unwillingness not to hide the body I’ve worked to get in shape shoving anyone else’s so-called (by you) “ugliness” in their face? I’m sure some people think I’m ugly. They can kiss my shinny metal ass.

    If someone actually comments disparagingly on how you or anyone else looks, they’re frigging assholes. That’s body-shaming. Dressing how they want is not body-shaming. And the fact that I disagree with you doesn’t make me another drone who can’t see how much I’m a pawn of same-said assholes. Discounting the self-awareness and mental autonomy of someone in order to undercut their arguments is immensely insulting.

  207. I hate when people are geek elite – We should all be able to have a fun time together – not worry about who is more geek and who is less.

  208. Bravo, John. It’s pretty annoying that someone is called a “fake geek”–as if, in some way, deciding that one is interested in a particular part of the overall fannish experience makes one less than another. Of course, there’s a long history of this sort of thing (plunging all of fandom into war)…starting in the 1930s, when organized fandom mostly got its start. (I notice that Mr. Peacock doesn’t say fan…because “geek” is clearly better than “fan”…)

    Not long ago, someone on a science fiction forum said that I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about when it came to running science fiction conventions, and that no woman in her 50s could have any geek cred (because, presumably, she’s got two X chromosomes). *snort* That echoes Mr. Peacock’s misguided claims that us womenfolks have just discovered what he likes to read…and makes clear his own prejudices: “whatever in fandom/geekdom I don’t know about or like or understand is not fandom/geekdom.”

    For the folks who claim that their geekitude is better than someone else’s geekitude: *Fans are not Slans.” (And if you don’t understand that…well, according to some, that probably means you’re just not geeky enough.)

  209. @A Meditated Life
    The last thing I want to do is stick my fingers in my ears and deny there’s a problem. There’s obviously a problem, here. We disagree on exactly what it is.
    You’re making a lot of assumptions about a group of people that are diverse in their backgrounds and motivation. Does every woman who dresses up as Wonder Woman have a deep understanding of gender politics and societal constraints on behavior? Of course not. But some do. And they have made a different choice about what they want to do with that than you would like.
    I actually think that constraining people’s expression of their sexuality is inherently harmful. Repressing anything too sexy is just enforcing that there’s something dirty and wrong and inherently-actually-about-men with women’s bodies. The women here are not the problem. Those attitudes are.

  210. @ Erin

    I actually think that constraining people’s expression of their sexuality is inherently harmful. Repressing anything too sexy is just enforcing that there’s something dirty and wrong and inherently-actually-about-men with women’s bodies. The women here are not the problem. Those attitudes are.

    This! Just, this. More eloquent that I could put it in a thousand posts.

  211. Marry me.

    Please?

    Now seriously, thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you. I am SICK of guys telling me I am not geek enough because I like JRPGs instead of CoD, or I prefer yaoi manga over the Avengers comics, or that I tend to fangirl more over the Princess Bride reunion photo than over the latest Batman film. I am very tired of the “My fandom is holier than thou’s” that a lot of guys tend to throw down on me (and some girls, but mostly guys).

    I love what I love, and I love sharing it with others (sometimes others get frankly sick of it, tbh. Other times the others squee at the same pitch I do, and that is when FRIENDS are made :D).

  212. Yesterday I commented on that article with my outrage. Three different men suggested I hadn’t taken my meds, should go eff myself, should calm down, etc. To say that your article and your brilliant response to the OP brought tears to my eyes is not a lie. As a “girl geek” or, if you’re a normal human, just a geek, sometimes geekdom can feel like an exclusive club. But blogs like this and other fantastic ones (Ahem, The Mary Sue) remind me why I love being a geek so much. Thank you for this.

    I needed a win today. I really did.

  213. Somehow this article reminds me of what Wil Wheaton posted some other day. He quoted John Green:
    “I mean Hank, the movie was great, but the thirty minutes before the movie started was what I love about being a nerd. Because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. We don’t have to be like, ‘Oh yeah that purse is okay’ or like, ‘Yeah, I like that band’s early stuff.’ Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself-love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, ‘You like stuff’, which is just not a good insult at all, like ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’. “

  214. I just about stood up and cheered when I read the bit about geeks vs hipsters. THIS. SO, SO MUCH THIS. Even including expressing it exactly with the words you did. :D

  215. @A Mediated Life: Curiously absent from you comment is any actor other than bikini babes; you are being “hit with the non-compliance stick” by whom? Probably not the bikini babes, yet all your criticism and behavior-changing suggestions are directed at them.

    Other women are not shooting mind-control beams out of their lady parts. They are not forcing geek dudes to set particular standards. They are not, courageously or otherwise, calling the shots. You are wrong that the standards are all the fault of Slave Leias and Night Elves “reinforcing” them. Honestly, if every woman shows up at ComicCon in a shapeless burlap sack, you believe that bro-geeks are going to throw up their hands and cry “Darn it, we have no choice, in the absence of boobies, other than to treat females like people”?

    John, excellent post, I get that Peacock thought he was attacking the problem of “the zoo” – a phenomenon anyone who’s been to a LGBT bat is familiar with – but then he should have been criticizing *behavior* that is obnoxious. Showing cleavage or being a n00b ain’t it.

  216. Dear Joe Peacock, sometimes the movie isn’t about you. Sometimes you’re not even the plucky side-kick who gets to play it for humor. Sometimes you’re not even in the walk-on extras, or even the person who makes sure those extras have donuts.

  217. I just love reading you when you’re giving the smackdown to smug self-righteous people on the internet. And that bit about hipsters was BRILLIANT

  218. As a woman who is both geek and nerd with fifty years’ experience, please accept my thanks. While I have not yet gotten to go to a Con because I’m a *poor* geek, I like to think it’d be lots of fun. And I’m no supermodel, but I don’t qualify as ugly, either. What if I did dress up in a costume? Would that be a problem? Where did this Peacock dude read that you have to be male to like science fiction or any of the other geeky stuff under discussion? Personally, I think it has more to do with brains and a lack of interest in the pursuits of the “cool kids”. (Excuse me if I’ve offended any cool kids; I decidedly ain’t one of you.) Anyway, I got used to being un-cool a very long time ago, and I don’t let it bother me much any more. Life’s too short to worry about what people think of me, as long as I try not to be a complete asshole. (Isn’t that worth striving for? Not being an asshole?)

  219. chrisdsav – This is New England's Longest Running Horror show. This show is on a non profit non commercial station. The radio station is in Worcester MA on 91.3 WCUW. Its on Sunday Nights going into Monday morning at 1200am till 2am. I have always loved horror from Slasher films to Gory gut wrenching films to humor and sci-fi horror. I got this idea during the Worcester ART Festival in September. The first broadcast for the show was October 15th 2007, right after Rock and Shock 07. The show does interviews with people in the Genre of Sci-fi Fantasy and Horror and plays music thru out the night.
    chrisdsav

    This makes going to cons sooo much more funn and interesting…..these people know a thing or two about geek culture just liek us men…at least I think sooo

  220. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    FWIW: I’m not denying anyone the right to make a choice. I’m asking that people think about what it is that’s really influencing the choices they make, and how those choices can negatively affect others.

    It’s like recycling: I’m not going to force you to do it, but I am going to point out how there are huge benefits for doing so, and huge consequences for not.

    Unfortunately, there’s a strong libertarian streak in the geek community that makes a lot of people bristle when asked to consider the needs of others. But a request to consider modifying your behavior to be more considerate of others is not a jackbooted thug forcing you into line.

    Asking faux-geek models to ply their trade elsewhere out of respect for geek women who need a safe space isn’t lighting them on fire and pushing them out an airlock.

  221. @ Mediated

    Every time I’ve asked a woman who does “sexy” cosplay why she does it, it always–always!–boils down to how it makes her “feel good.” And the reason it feels good is because she gets attention. And the reason she gets attention is because she’s reinforcing her culture’s standards for attractiveness and sexual objectification.

    There are a lot of reasons people cosplay. Also, “It feels good” is a lot simpler than going into all the potential reasons.

    And here’s the thing. If an attractive woman (and let’s face it – really unattractive women who cosplay aren’t the ones getting most of the attention) wants attention, she doesn’t find it all that hard to get it. She could go to a bar dressed in something skimpy and get attention without having to go to nearly as much effort.

    (Also, the reason cosplay often “feels good” is that it’s a way to broadcast something you love. For the socially awkward among us, it’s a lot easier to dress up as, say, the character we play in a video game to attract other gamers and talk to them about said game than it is to make small talk about the weather. Also, costumes often make cosplayers feel more confident, more like the character they’re playing, and less like their usual, socially awkward selves. Again, for someone socially awkward, both of these things “feel good”, but aren’t really about sexual attractiveness or objectification.)

  222. Okay, all you geek women out there who are offended at what Joe wrote, he’s not talking about you. Really, he’s not. He’s talking about women who don’t like geek culture and aren’t interested in geekdom but go to the show because it’s the in thing. He’s talking about women who would laugh at a geek if he asked her out at work or the gym, but she’ll totally flirt with him (in her cobbled-together sexy costume based on a photo of character she can’t name.) at ComicCon because it makes her feel good.

    “What I’m talking about is the girls who have no interest or history in gaming taking nearly naked photos of themselves with game controllers draped all over their body just to play at being a “model.””

    “I’m talking about an attention addict trying to satisfy her ego and feel pretty by infiltrating a community to seek the attention of guys she wouldn’t give the time of day on the street.”

    Cosplayers are amazing. They spend their time and loads of money to make their costumes perfect. It’s a labor of love for a character and a story that’s touched them deeply. Which is why this video is so offensive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvsySC6yNwk

  223. If young ladies are showing up scantily clad to promote themselves, they are showing up because there’s a market, just as John Scalzi is. Raging at them isn’t going to change the fact that there’s a market.

    In addition, just because somebody expresses lack of knowledge or even scorn for YOUR fandom doesn’t mean they don’t have their own fandom. Star Wars vs. Star Trek. We could come up with some wildly unconnected fandoms or historically opposed fandoms, I’m sure.

  224. What I got from Joe’s article is that the condescension in using a group of enthusiasts as a vehicle for esteem boosting is insulting and lame. It reduces the population of a con to nothing but little tools for manipulation. It’s the oldest trick because it\’s the surest trick, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. No one likes to be used, and figuring out that dressing the part to get some attention when you have no interest in the subject matter, is using that group to the hilt. There\’s a major difference between testing the geek waters by going to a con and seeing what you like and pissing in the geek waters by wearing a costume of some character you’ve never seen before to feel great about all these nerds admiring you.

    Unrelated, to Greg July 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm:
    There’s no way to know if a guy in a full Stormtrooper outfit is attractive. It covers pretty much the whole guy.

  225. Stephen A. Watkins – A writer of Fantasy and Speculative Fiction living in Atlanta, Georgia. He's been writing since grade-school, and he's never given up the dream. He continues to juggle his dreams of establishing his writing career, the demands of family life, and working full time. He chronicles the challenges of balancing all these demands on his blog, The Undiscovered Author.
    Stephen A. Watkins

    Reblogged this on The Undiscovered Author and commented:
    John Scalzi’s thoughts on Geekdom are wise and true. There’s really nothing I can say or add to it, but I wanted to share it.

  226. I think there are some solid points in there, but it does lose me when you discuss being higher on the geek food chain. While I understand what the point was, it comes off as you saying who gets to stay on the island because you say so.

    If we follow that logic then everyone who has told me I’m not a real geek because they have been around longer, or know more trivia, or I haven’t seen the right shows, or they have worked for gaming companies and I haven’t, or any of the other reasons I have been verbally invalidated gets to be correct for being further up the hierarchy.

    Again, I understand what you are trying to say, but I found that section very off putting.

  227. Lani: Why shouldn’t any of us ugly people be allowed to be sick and tired of having our looks shoved in our faces?

    Oh, you can be sick and tired of it all you want. The problem is Joe decided to attack anyone near him who he deemed too attractive. It’s not like Angelina Jolie is forcing men to desire her and forcing women to want to look like her. It’s a cultural pressure. And as a pressure, it comes from many menmbers of the culture. Joe took a shortcut and tried to blame it all on boothbabes and male underwear models.

  228. In defense of Princess Leia cosplayers: The first time I saw Return of the Jedi, I loved how Leia won back her freedom. ***She strangled the thing that was objectifying her with its own chains.*** She was LEIA, no matter what she wore or how much skin she showed. I couldn’t think of a better role model for my geeky 12-yr old self.

    That being said, it would be nice if our cosplaying options (as women) included more clothing and more diverse bodies.

  229. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Mythago: You are wrong that the standards are all the fault of Slave Leias and Night Elves “reinforcing” them.

    I didn’t say that. The major onus of responsiblity for ending sexism rests with men, because they have the greater power, and thus most of the tools necessary to make it stop.

    But that doesn’t mean women have no power at all.

    This is especially true when it comes to intersectionality issues, especially ones of race, class, orientation, etc. Women who have more power have a responsibility to act in a way that helps women who have less. Perfect example: Ann Romney going off about how great it is to be a stay-at-home mom, ignoring the fact that working class women don’t have the same choices about that that she did. Sexism disproportionately affects working-class women, queer women, women of color, etc., and it’s incredibly important than women of privilege are mindful of the greater choice they’re allowed.

    Honestly, I do think a lot of the women arguing that they have a choice about whether to be attractive and self-objectify are operating from a position of privilege. Most of them are middle or upper-class, educated and well able to support themselves without being some guy’s decorative housepet. They don’t get that there are millions of women who don’t have that ability, and that by reinforcing damaging beauty standards, they’re making the lives of those other women that much harder.

    If we’re going to argue that women are empowered enough to make their own choices without any cultural influence forcing their hand, then we also have to acknowledge that women are empowered enough to make choices with the needs of others in mind.

  230. Until the last paragraph, I was hoping we would get to see a global ranking of all geeks, so these matters can be quickly resolved! (geekrank.net is open. Just sayin)

  231. I just want to be clear on this – you message is “no one gets to tell you how geeky you are” combined with “I’m clearly geekier than you so you’re wrong.” Is that about it? Come on, man.

    As a woman who has been entrenched in nerd circles for EVER, I know precisely who the original author is talking about. These are women who put on a low-cut Boba Fett ripoff and couldn’t tell you word one about any Star Wars episode. Why does there need to be cleavage in an Iron Man outfit? How is that doing any favors to the storyline, the character, or the genre? To a number of people, it’s disingenuous attention whoring. NOBODY likes an attention whore for longer than the effect of seeing skin wears off, and that is the point.

    I’m not against women in the culture – hell, I *am* a woman in the culture. I’m not against dressing up as your favorite characters, as I have done so myself more than once. I’m not against attractive women being involved in the scene – I’ve been told before that I’m an attractive nerd, and that’s totally ok. What I’m saying, and what I believe the original author was saying as well, is that if you love the graphic novels the movies, and the books, you don’t need to shake your ass in half a costume to prove it. It does a disservice to people who actually like the characters, and it’s disrespectful to the girls who do it.

  232. @ A Mediated Life

    It’s like recycling: I’m not going to force you to do it, but I am going to point out how there are huge benefits for doing so, and huge consequences for not.

    Where people are disagreeing with you is on who is responsible for those consequences. A woman is not responsible for a man objectifying her or anyone around her; the man is responsible. If I fail to treat a woman dressed like Wonderwoman with respect, it’s 100% my fault. It’s not a question of libertarianism. It’s a question of accountability. That some of us disagree with you on the answer isn’t selfish (which I assume is what you meant by libertarian, though I could be wrong).

  233. Having been in the cosplay community for 14 years, I can tell you this argument from other women never ends.

    I’m sorry you are intimidated by other women. But for the last time, get some self-esteem of your own. Be happy with yourself just as I am happy with me. No one is hurting you. You are not a victim. We live in a (arguably) free country. Hating on other people is only going to make you more miserable.

  234. Although I’ve been reading – and loving – science fiction and fantasy literature my whole life, I only recently began going to cons. I don’t cosplay very often, save for an occasional foray into steampunk attire. I wear street clothes, which for me means a dress of some kind. No political statement there. I just prefer dresses to jeans, that’s all.
    At a panel that I was attending, a group of women eyeballed me in disgust. One turned to her friend and said, “Jesus, who let the f’ing Connecticut wifey in?”. I am not a wife (y?), nor am I from Connecticut (apparently a VERY BAD PLACE). Accuracy aside, the intended insult was clear. In her eyes, simply because of what I look like, I didn’t belong. Sadly, it’s far from the first time that I’ve had to deal with that assumption and lousy attitude. And sure, I’ll continue to (figuratively speaking) put on my big girl pants and attend cons, because I like them, even if some people think that I shouldn’t be there, because I don’t look the part. But what exactly is that, anyway? Who gets to define that? Am I missing the requisite invisible tattoo? Perhaps there’s a cool gang sign that I should flash that no one’s seen fit to teach me as of yet? Is there specific attire that labels a woman as the lower-class sort of geek? Or upper-class, for that matter?
    It’s all pretty damn off-putting, which is why the original article made my teeth itch. What’s that old phrase…oh yes. Don’t judge a book by its…
    Well, you know the rest.

  235. Brad I paid a cost for the privilege of being true to myself…

    So have I. I paid it when I went to my first convention, at age 13, and spent the first day being followed around by a skeevy creep in his thirties who spent hours snapping pictures and making lewd comments.

    I pay it every time some jackass looks at me and makes the snap judgment that I can’t be a geek because someone like me couldn’t possibly know what bullying feels like.

    I know exactly what bullying feels like. Geeks have been bullying me for being a woman all of my life.

    And as far as the debate about sexy cosplay–honestly. Look around nerd culture at how women are portrayed. Our heroes are almost all sexualized to suit the male gaze. It’s not enough that men have an order of magnitude more fictional heroes in whom they can see themselves reflected; the limited number of kick-ass women that do exist are usually portrayed in demeaning, revealing outfits meant to appeal to straight men.

    And if we dress like those women (because God forbid a geek dress up like a fictional hero), we’re the ones who get blamed for sexualizing nerd spaces.

    Are there some women who choose slave Leia’s outfit over, say, the camo she wears into battle later in the same film? Obviously. But please let’s not pretend that choice exists in a vacuum. It exists in a world where the bikini will get her recognition for her costume, while the camo will have people asking her who the heck she’s even dressed as (if they even deign to notice her at all. And that’s assuming the character she loves has a non-sexualized option. If she’s a comic-book nerd, the answer is probably no).

    If you want to blame someone for “setting an unreasonable standard for women in our community,” try blaming the male directors, producers, artists, and publishers who dress our heroes like that in the first place. Try blaming the masquerade judges who award costumes based on their own personal preference instead of how much skill went into making them. The women who happen to have a different body shape than you may not experience body-shaming the same way that you do, but as one of those women, I can tell you that our bodies are still very much treated as public property in nerd spaces, whether or not we’re in costume. The coping mechanisms we adopt to manage that ugly reality are not to blame for creating it.

  236. Keri– I’m offended by what he wrote and I know he’s not talking about me– I’m not conventionally attractive, so obviously he isn’t. It doesn’t matter. I’m furious about it for a whole host of reasons but the biggest one is that if women like this exist they show up there because geek culture has made it very clear it desperately wants them in all its iconography. So inviting them there then slapping them for being exactly what you begged them to be is absolutely reprehensible. Not everybody is born knowing how to buck societal expectations. Attempting to punish rather than gently educate people who are trying to fit in exactly the way imagery says they should is just– well, let’s be clear. Because he called out women and attributed stereotypical motivations, it’s just plain sexist and it’s sexism wrapped up in an attempt to defend paid-up lady geeks like myself. Thanks, but I don’t need it. I guess some of them do, like Mediated Life, but I do not appreciate it and in fact feel demeaned by it.

  237. I have one caveat on this post, where I can see myself agreeing with Joe Peacock but it involves more general terms:

    “due to my interests in [X] I am supposed to feel honored that [Y] is in my presence. It’s insulting…”

    It doesn’t matter what X & Y are, it IS insulting. When people do that, whether they are men, women, geeks, jocks, celebrities or whatever it’s insulting. For instance, if John Scalzi expected me to feel honored that he signed my book at a signing it would diminish an otherwise cool moment even if initially I had been honored.

    But that still doesn’t mean that people who only attend conventions as cosplayers are doing that, which is one of the mistakes Joe Peacock made I’ve known plenty of attention seekers that if people aren’t paying attention to them they just move on. I imagine that the vast majority of them do that. Hell, isn’t that what most people at conventions do if people are doing/discussing something they don’t care about? Gravitate to the people & events that interest them?

  238. Ahem.

    The piece wasn’t about cosplayers. It was about BOOTH BABES. It was about the paid costumed cud-chewers who have never picked up a controller, never even picked up the dice from a Monopoly set, and never read… a book… who are thrown at geek and nerd culture because some asshole in a marketing department decided they needed to hire girls in skimpy outfits from the local modeling agency that the local porn company gets their girls from.

    These are the ones who look bored. Don’t want to be there, don’t know the first thing about the product they are selling.

    Geek girls will be at Dragon*Con, or Comicon, and having a great time. You’ll know them when you see them. They made the costume themselves. They can talk to you about why they like the character, why they chose it.

    The fakes? You get those on crapass porno websites like SuicideGirls or CosplayDeviants. They do exactly what Joe wrote about: they get a girl from the local modeling agency, hire her for a few hours, and drape a few controllers over her or a costume they bought off eBay and take nudie shots to sell to mouth-breathers.

    Joe had it right. There are people who are nerds or geeks, and those who are just playing cynical exploitation games. It’s fair to call out the ones who are just being exploitative.

  239. @A Mediated Life, it may surprise you to hear that we are entirely in agreement about how culture influences choice. Where we profoundly disagree is in your sexist insistence on placing all blame, and responsibility, for shaping that culture on conventionally-attractive women who don’t conceal their looks.

    I mean: “safe space”? Are you serious? If your culture is filled with men who believe a woman’s primary function is eye candy, you are not in a “safe space” just because you’ve scolded all potential eye candy into putting on a baggy sweatshirt. It is not “safe space” if your guy friends only respect you because they have no sexual interest in you, and thus don’t really perceive you as female. It is not “safe space” if women (unlike men) get to be either treated as human or treated as attractive, but not both.

    And it’s no more becoming to be catty and infight among women just because you prefer brains, rather than breasts, as the criterion used to persuade the male judges of your superiority.

  240. Hello, first time reader, long time “geek”. all i can say is “Huzzah!” i’ve struggled with the idea of me not being “geek enough” or smart enough, but totally nerding out and being happy in my own way anyway. reading this post i laughed, i cried, i posted to facebook, retweeted on twitter, and pinned to pinterest. <3 (btw does that symbol look like testicals to anyone else?)

  241. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    I think Becky has an excellent point. I think if there were more female characters who weren’t designed and costumed by people who see them as a walking pair of boobs, more female fans would be cosplaying with actual clothes on. That so many iconic women characters in geek media are running around in little more than band-aids and a g-string is a big part of the problem.

    Incidentally, I’m seeing a lot of people conflating cosplay itself with the particular variety of it that’s in question, here. I don’t think a single geek worth his or her game controller would remotely complain about women cosplaying as, say, Ellen Ripley or Jo Lupo. It’s the ones who are aping the nearly naked bimbettes we geek feminists are already irritated by that are the problem.

    If the people creating geek media don’t respect women enough to treat them as full human beings, then it’s probably not surprising that women with low self-esteem are echoing that denigration.

  242. One side of this argument is promoting hate speech. The other is promoting inclusiveness. I’m finding it hard not to see this argument very unbalanced that way.

  243. Wait… You don’t know about the secret handshake? I suppose you never took the entrance exam either.

    Besides being a bit stunned at that, now I’m going to have to reclassify the copy of “Old Man’s War” that I just bought as “notbyageek”. You sir, would know better, if you knew the secret handshake.

    Whatev—
    Narf!

  244. Joe Peacock can kiss my geeky backside.

    You, however, have a standing invitation to bring your fam and let this geek cook for you and fill you with good wine for your eloquent telling off of Mr. Peacock.

  245. Let me get this straight: There are girls. These girls are attractive. Some of these attractive girls are scantily clad. These scantily clad, attractive girls want to go to places where geeks congregate.

    Someone objects to this?

  246. It always seemed to me that the essence of nerdiness or geekiness rested with the fact that a person loves something enough to be honestly and brazenly enthusiastic about it — the kind of genuine enthusiasm that seems to be the polar opposite of the ironic hipster Scalzi mentions. US culture, for some reason, thinks that only children are allowed to be openly enthusiastic, and is suspicious of adults who let themselves get gushy over science, or science fiction, comics, or literature — fill in the blank. It is especially suspicious of the adult who is gushy about things vaguely intellectual.

    Thank you, Mr. Scalzi, for defending those of us who like to gush. The world could use more folks who have a kid-like enthusiasm — regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, or bra size.

  247. Labels are for cans. Just be who you are. Why do you need a label? There are those that use “geek” as a label because being a geek is “cool”. It’s fine for them to say “I’m a geek!” but they would look ridiculous sitting there telling people “I’m cool!”

    If you need to say it, if you need to prove it, then you aren’t doing it right. Or you want to brag about how cool you think you are.

    I could be considered a “geek”, even a “nerd”, but I don’t want your stinking label so that you can put me in a box.

  248. I HAVE known women who go to conventions, not because they enjoy cosplay, but just to get attention. I’ve known a girl who wore a miniskirt and spock ears, who went to a con to basically get free food and drinks all weekend long, she referred to herself as “Queen of the dorks” and spoke disparagingly about the con goers. She had NO interest in geek things, it was a pure power trip for her. Such people do exist, women AND men, and it is nothing but exploitation. I think part of the reason this exploded the way it did was a lot of women who DO enjoy such things , who go to cons because they enjoy dressing up, because they are at some level geeks, and part of the community, thought they were being singled out. Unless you are there, dressing up as a character you have no concept of or barely know the name of, cadgeing free drinks and making drooling geeks do whatever you ask them to, because you can, WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT YOU!.

  249. To answer John Scalzi’s question about do any men cosplay to get attention?

    Yes, they do. I taught a male friend how to make his own custom patterns and make fabric choices so his costuming would look realistic. He wanted to dress up and be looked at while he was at conventions. One of his past girlfriends had shown him how to sew, so his desire to be “ogled” was a longstanding one. He didn’t give me a “this many people photographed me” running account but his delight at being asked to pose and be photographed was obvious.

    Almost every costumer who wears their costumes in public does it because they want to show off their skills and/or creativity. I’m only a wannabe costumer because I’m not willing to put myself on display. (Halloween doesn’t count.) I also know if there’s one male attention seeker in fandom, there’s more than one out in the world because Cosplay is the one place where a man who sews and crafts costumes is a person to be admired.

  250. Thank you. Really, that’s all I can say. As a representative of the Furry side of the Geekdom, really, this says it all. So thanks.

  251. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to bad articles on CNN and women hating other women for being “sexy”.

  252. SBalz – HAmpton, VA – Sara Balz spent her youth gallivanting in the great Northwest. Fate brought her to the east coast, where she’s discovered a love of sunshine, city life, and a variety of new pets. She has an interest in global happenings that have life-altering effects on people. She currently works a full time job that has nothing to do with writing articles for periodicals, and entertains herself with all manner of adventuresome disasters that bring new elements of Life into her life.
    Balz

    The real cancer eating at the “geek” community is not about posers or fakery, or signing up for a modeling job at a convention to make a buck.

    Nipping at the collective enjoyment of a number of people gathered together to meet in good fun, is this phantom sense of competitive infighting. Who is better than who.

    “He’s only been playing World of Darkness for a year, and he thinks he can run a game??”

    If you have to be a “geek” to be at a convention, do you have to be a “geek” to audition and accept a role in a sci-fi or fantasy movie production? How would accepting money for saying a few lines on camera, then going home to live a completely con-free life be any different than attending a con in costume, and heading back to your next modeling gig?

    Anyone ask Carrie Fisher if she played DnD before she got her role in Star Wars? Just to make sure she was “worthy” enough to portray Leia?

    As if anyone attending cons need somehow stack up their credentials for being there, and display them for all to see, thus determining their worth as a person.

    It’s sickening and cruel. It makes people defensive. It’s the same reason I have trouble entering game shops to buy a set of dice. I -want- to be there, but I have a sense that I have to somehow meet a level of worthiness that I may not understand. It makes me feel sad and rejected.

    If you’re at a convention to judge people for being at a convention, you’re doing it wrong. Imo.

  253. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Mythago: I don’t know who you’re arguing against, but it isn’t me.

    Contrary to your assumption, I’m a huge proponent of women being allowed to be full human beings–brains, sexuality and all. Which is why I’m against a definition of female sexuality that requires women to shut their brains off and stand around being decorative.

    All women, regardless of how attractive they are or how much they’re willing to self-objectify, are entitled to have healthy, enjoyable sex. Defining women’s sexuality in a way that only includes lobotomized 22-year-olds with big boobs doesn’t help that.

  254. A Mediated Life: Asking faux-geek models to ply their trade elsewhere out of respect for geek women who need a safe space

    Please define “safe place”.

    Because I would like to know how your definition allows for the existence of extremely attractive men and women who also happen to be extremely smart geeks. You seem to be making the same assumption that Joe Peacock is making: that good looking people can’t be “real” geeks.

    I was at an SF convention a while back that had a masquerade ball. A procession of women dressed up as bikini-Leia’s escorted by men dressed up as Han Solo started the ball. Does the presence of these attractive/sexy/hunky cosplayers destroy your definition of “safe place”?

    Because it seems like Joe, you’re willing to challenge whether an attractive person gets to call themselves a geek but your definition doesn’t seem to have a need to challenge an ugly person. Your target is “faux-geek models”. But you don’t seem to care about “faux-geek ugly people”. So, your true target is “models”, not “faux-geeks”.

  255. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Gulliver: A woman is not responsible for a man objectifying her or anyone around her; the man is responsible.

    As I pointed out to Mythago, you can’t have it both ways. If women have enough power not to be behaving in a way that’s influenced by sexism, then they have enough power to change their behavior.

    Again, I am not saying that ONLY women have a responsibility for ending sexism. But we don’t have no responsbility, either. We can’t pretend to be helpless pawns of evil men while also declaring how empowered we are when we act in a way that makes those evil men happy.

  256. And how do we end sexism? By restricting what women are allowed to do and enjoy? That’s the opposite of equality.

  257. And, btw, I’ll show you the handshake for a copy of Redshirts. Yes, I am absolutely that cheap and corruptible.

  258. I don’t have much to add to the reams of good commentary already here, but this bit jumped out at me:

    “I saw a woman dressed as Emma Frost the White Queen at a con [who didn’t know who the character was]”

    I’m not seeing why this matters, really. She was an actress (“amateur” porn, granted, but still an actress) playing a part to make a living. Suppose you found out that Halle Berry had never read a comic in her life before taking that role in the movies*. Would that be the same or different? If different, how?

    *Ms Berry might keep a candle burning in front of an icon of Jack Kirby, as far as I know. This is a hypothetical. :-)

    Also: if liking Olivia Munn is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

  259. Wow…just…wow! As someone who came late into her own geekdom, this spoke volumes to me. I’ve often felt that by not experiencing the challenges of a nerdy lifestyle in my youth, I was somehow cheating by jumping in in my 20’s. Thank you for squashing my doubts (and Mr. Peacock)!

  260. @ A Mediated Life

    I agree about the dearth of female comic characters wearing realistic clothing. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons I’ve always placed a low priority on reading comics. To be clear, however, I am not agreeing with your corollary that women who dress as those characters must have low self-esteem. I’m not a woman, but if I were, I’d be offended by that assertion, and I don’t want to offend, which is why I’m making that point of disagreement clear.

    Here’s a link you might get a kick out of:

    http://womenfighters.tumblr.com/

  261. My Lovelies,

    Sweeping generalizations are responsible for much of the ire here, so I’d like to encourage you not to use them when debating your point. I am happy to watch intelligent and respectful banter. Keep your postings on topic. Additionally, no more of the “The fake geek women who attend ComicCon are the Kristin Stewarts” types of comments. This tells me that you don’t understand the foundation of John’s argument at all.

    Also, if you feel that your feathers are ruffled, it’s truly best to walk away from the internet. Rule of thumb – if you read your comment aloud to yourself and would take exception to what was being said, you are doing it wrong. Take a break and come back with a clear head.

    Let’s play nice, shall we?

  262. A Mediated Life: you’re buying awful hard into the myth that conventionally-attractive women must be stupid.

    Some people choose to dress like Cat Woman because they like that she’s a high-class thief who’s the only one who ever regularly gets the best of the Caped Crusader. Some people like Wonder Woman’s sense of justice, or the feminist philosophy they can read into the fauxminist amazon culture in her back-story.

    My body holds up a very big brain, thank you very much. The fact that I refuse to take on the burden of making sure I’m not accused of existing in public for the benefit of men does not make me stupid. And it doesn’t make any other 20-something with big breasts stupid, either.

  263. Being a somewhat fit 6′ bass trombone player who also has worked on making video games for the better part of my adult life (and that was after leaving Apple) all I can say is: thank you.

  264. adelisasalernitana – This blog is the exploration of the life of a 12th century woman in the court of King Roger II of Sicily. Looking at the tripartite culture of the kingdom – Norman, Greek, and Muslim – how people dressed, the food they ate, the buildings that they lived in, and the remnants of Muslim culture in modern Sicilian language, food, music, and customs.
    adelisasalernitana

    I don’t cosplay as a hobby, but I seriously respect all the women I know who do. But even the ones who just seem to want to show off their bodies in “non-canon” outfits, bully for them. Because they want to have fun in fandom just as much as the woman in the $2,000, meticulously designed ballgown from “Labyrinth.” And yes, as others pointed out, you really have no idea of the other geeky things the so-called “attention whores” are obsessed with. This pointing fingers and calling others heretic unbelievers has got to stop.

  265. @A Mediated Life: No, I actually am disagreeing with you and what you’d said, I’m afraid.

    As Gulliver and Annalee point out, over and over again you fixate on women and erase men from your apportionment of blame. Who is “allowing” women to be full human beings, or not? Who is it, precisely, ignoring you because you don’t dress as Slave Leia? Claiming that well, yeah, okay, maybe some guys are involved but women contribute a little so it’s all on women to fix things is sexist.

    Imagine if we were discussing racism in America and I kept harping on gangsta rappers and how racist views of black people won’t change as long as some handful of people pose as Thug 4Life for money. Uh, yes, you say, but isn’t the overwhelming problem white racism, and aren’t white people the ones buying gangsta rap albums while Motown albums languish? If I replied “yeah, sure, but you can’t let rappers off the hook, let’s talk about rap,” you’d wonder what the hell was wrong with me. And rightly so.

  266. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    One last thing, before I have to go do something of actual value:

    Being in an oppressed group doesn’t mean you get carte blanche to behave in a way that furthers the oppression of others. If the choices that a woman of privilege makes are making it harder for women without those privileges to get by, then absolutely, she can be called on it.

    Systematic oppression doesn’t involve only two groups of people. It’s a chain of command. The people with the most power push people with lesser power to help further the oppression of people with even less. The people at the top have a responsibility to stop, of course, but they have no incentive. They’re benefiting from this imbalance–why on earth would they want to stop? Which means that unless the people in the middle of that chain start using their relative privilege to buck what they’re being asked to do, the people on the bottom end are going to keep getting squished.

    And what that means is that women who have privileges of race, orientation, class or, yes, attractiveness, need to realize that the choices they make have the power to hurt women who are in less-privileged positions.

    Being a woman doesn’t mean you get to do anything you want and expect not to be criticized for it, and that’s especially true if what you’re doing is hurting other people.

  267. Thank you for this respectful, well-thought out blog post, Mr. Peacock! Around these parts (Minneapolis/St. Paul) some of us use the phrase “Your geek is not my geek, but your geek is OK!” which recognizes not everyone is going to be geeky about the same thing, but that we all can respect geekiness in all its forms. If I may presume, kind of the point you were making! :)

    PS Anyone wishing to use that phrase may certainly do so. Promoting tolerance, even among geeks, is a good thing.

  268. @Marie: “The fakes? You get those on crapass porno websites like SuicideGirls or CosplayDeviants. ”

    I know some of the women on those sites. They’re just as much geek as I am. (I would’ve said “you are”, but I don’t know you.) Your assessment of people you don’t know as “Fakes” because they don’t fit your stereotyped ideal of “geek” is incredibly offensive.

    Geeks pride themselves as being somehow more intelligent than the general population — it’s a damned shame that the concept of “you might want to know somebody before you make dismissive and dehumanizing generalizations” seems to elude so many.

  269. @A Meditated Life – Existing in the public sphere is not hurting you.

    If I make rape jokes, sizest comments, or other demeaning things, then yes, I am hurting everyone. Demanding that I be able to dress as I want and still be safe and respected is a basic tenant of being an American citizen.

    You seem to have no problem giving that respect to men, but feel that all the rest of us women are bringing you down.

    Also, it tells me a lot that you consider this conversation to have no “actual value.”

  270. Geek Girl Diva (@geekgirldiva) – Yeah, I hear you. Yelling “Yeah that’s what I would have said!” is so satisfying online and so cheap. Talk always is. And I’ve liked more things Joe wrote before, while recognizing he has an extreme style that is going to alienate people. But I think he knows that, and writes/speaks how he wants to, mostly unfiltered, for the heck of it.

    However, bottom line, if you’re going to hate on a class of people who show up to the party dressed up nice (i.e. the booth babeletts at whatever-Con), out loud and on CNN, then you have to be prepared to be hated on when your arguments are scrutinized by the rest of the people at the nerd party, and fall through. Public criticism happens to all of us, and should make us better at expressing ourselves. Joe probably just needs to wake up his internal editor so he doesn’t make a far different point than he thinks he’s making.

    Or just enjoy being loud & obnoxious, which if it works for him – awesome! Klingons are nerds too.

  271. Every time Joe or one of his followers argues “No, I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about those other whores” I can’t help but laugh. They can’t make their opinion make sense without hate speech about some other group of people. Way to dig yourselves deeper.

  272. Gem Newman – Winnipeg – Medical student and former software developer. Host of the Life, the Universe & Everything Else podcast. Past organizer of the Winnipeg Skeptics. Former board chair at Bad Science Watch. Writer of things. Grower of beards. He/him.
    Gem Newman

    Bravo. I’m consistently embarrassed that I’ve been on the Internet since 1993 and I only learned of John Scalzi a few months ago.

  273. Being a woman doesn’t mean you get to do anything you want and expect not to be criticized for it, and that’s especially true if what you’re doing is hurting other people.

    Your definition of what conventionally-attractive women are doing seems to be “existing in public.”

    Whether or not a conventionally-attractive woman is in costume, men are going to treat her differently than they would treat a woman who doesn’t conform to societal expectations of appearance. If she’s being sizeist, she deserves to be called out. But if she’s just showing up in the body that she has, well, it’s pretty ridiculous to accuse her of body-shaming when you’re suggesting that she should be ashamed to exist in public in her body.

  274. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    Mythago: If it helps, reconstruct this not as an issue of sexism, where men are clearly the ones responsible, but as an issue of other sorts of oppression, particularly class, where women can and do have privileges that other women do not, and thus can abuse those privileges in a way that furthers oppression for others.

    Being in an oppressed group of one sort doesn’t mean you’re completely unempowered all the time, in all situations. I’m female, queer, and have a host of other things on the oppression checklist, but I’m also white, middle class and in an opposite-sex relationship (among other advantages.) It is incumbent upon me not to become so distracted by my own oppression that I ignore what damage I can do with the privileges I do have.

    Too often, oppressed people get a sort of myopia, and believe that it’s all about them and people exactly like them. This is why it’s so easy for white, working-class straight folks to be lured into racism and homophobia.They get obsessed with their class issues enough that they think any attention that other groups get is detracting from their very real struggles (see: the commentary on the SWM thing re: class.)

    The same thing is happening here. Some women simply don’t see that they have advantages that other women do not, and thus when they’re called on their bad behavior, act as if they’re the ones being oppressed. They simply can’t fathom a situation in which they actually do have power, so they assume that they don’t, and that the person calling them on their behavior is just trying to further their oppression, instead of working on ending the oppression of someone else.

    The key to ending oppression is for all of us to realize that we have the power to oppress others, and to stop doing so. Continually putting the onus of responsiblity anywhere but ourselves does nothing to help anyone.

    (And now I really am going. Have made my point several times over, now. Not much more to say!)

  275. @A Mediated Life (and all engaged in conversation with this commenter),

    I’m going to politely tap all of you with the mallet and refocus the thread. While an interesting conversation, I think it is well on its way to falling off the topic. Let’s get back on track, please.

  276. First: Kudos to Mr. Peacock for coming here and standing up for himself (and saying, “Yes, that was poorly phrased” definitely counts — being able to admit one’s shortcomings is a sign of strength, not weakness). That was a classy move, sir.

    To all posters: It’s obvious there are many shades of opinions on the issues being discussed. I’ve been very impressed with the civility being shown by most posters, so (as a reader and sporadic commenter) thanks for that. I hope the conversation continues to be productive. And I hope Mr. Peacock continues to feel free to join in.

    No actual content here, just a renewed appreciation for the community here. Thanks, gang.

  277. It always seemed to me that the essence of nerdiness or geekiness rested with the fact that a person loves something enough to be honestly and brazenly enthusiastic about it

    Lysbeth: Oh, so much fraking this I would like to hug you, if it wasn’t quite so creepy and clueless considering the subject under discussion. :)

    But here’s something else, I thought (perhaps I’m showing my male privilege and naivete here) that cons where supposed to be a safe space where everyone can geek out their own way without being judged, and certainly without being sexually harassed or condescended to.

    And here’s a non-douche geek guy pro-tip: Complimenting a cosplayer on an awesomely hot costume does not equal being a leering creep. Really. Promise. Of course someone who has spent months, enormous effort and a not-so-small fortune on their cosplay (and that includes the guys who’ve be obsessively searching for the perfect bow-tie for their Eleventh Doctor look as much as the Slave Leias and Sailor Moons) wants to be appreciated. But as a (female) cosplayer friend puts it, if a woman wants nothing more than to be sexually harassed all you have to do is walk out your front door.

    And it’s not actually the responsibility of women to police themselves to avoid harassment, but geek guys to (pardon my French) own and police their own bullshit. So not rocket science, dudes.

  278. Not exactly playing Devil’s Advocate here, but I think some of you may have missed Joe’s premise, which I tend to agree with somewhat.

    My company hired a “booth babe” for SDCC a few years back. The strict definition of a booth babe is a pretty lady who stands near a booth to hand out flyers, interact with people on the floor, and in general get eyeballs moving in her (and the booth’s) direction in the hopes that people will stop and purchase your wares.

    It didn’t go well. She was not well versed in our particular niche of fandom, and so having her interact with the fans was awkward and painful. Sure, she knew what we had told her, but these were lines we had to her, all in the interest of informing con-goers about what it was we do, and why they would love us. It’s the same reason beer commercials have women in bikinis in them: yes, it’s shitty marketing, but they say “sex sells” and they’re right – even if it’s just a pretty woman pretending to be interested in the same thing you are.

    Needless to say, we’ve never hired her back. In the future, we would rather hire a geek girl, regardless of what she looks like, than a paid model who pretends to be a geek, and I feel it’s the latter type that is the subject of Joe’s article. (Of course I could be wrong; feel free to let me know. This is a dialogue, not a closed-minded directive.)

  279. https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/547815_476147622395280_254767501_n.jpg I would like to submit this photo into this discussion. This “appears” to be exactly the person Mr. Peacock was targeting, and yet she’s being true to the source material. Sure, it’s not true of Babe-a Fett, but what’s wrong with a sexy reinterpretation of a character. I can’t speak for most people, but for me, it’s more amusing than arousing. And it’s not that I find the effort amusing, as in, “Aw, look at the attention whore, whoring for attention.” I find the effort, and the final outcome amusing. It’s okay to be amused. We don’t always have to be amazed. As far as paid booth babes go, they make their living doing “cosplay” of sorts. I dare anyone to deny the geekdom in that.

  280. As a woman and a geek, this post was so very soothing to my soul. When I was young, certain geeky, male friends introduced me to so many of my favorite geeky things (Lord of the Rings, Dr. Who, Red Dwarf, Monty Python, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.). They never faulted me or derided me for not knowing enough about them or having enough “geek cred” to join their gang. They simply brought me a book or shared a VHS tape and eagerly awaited talking about the show/book when I had read/viewed it. This post reminded of those awesome guys from high school and how long it has been since I have experienced that feeling of inclusion when expressing my own geeky nature amongst men. Thanks!

  281. If I were to make a survey to rate one’s geekery, it would include such questions as:

    1. Wil Wheaton is best known for his role as?
    2. Name one member of The Futurians
    3. Does the SCA look forward at future tech, or backwards at oldish stuff?
    4. Who would you rather–Tom Baker or Jennifer Saunders?
    5. Who did a better job–Gerry Anderson or Jonathan Frakes?
    6. Favorite earworm–Jonathan Coulton or Rick Astley?
    7. Pick a concert–Woodstock, W00stock, or Lollapalooza?
    8. Name one work by the following: Heinlein, P.J. Dick, Asimov, Gaiman
    9. Who is stronger–Hulk or Batman?
    10. Best use of time–video games, comic books, SF/F books, watching curling?

    Note: Tongue firmly in cheek.

  282. SewBrooke – Plano, TX – Brooke has been sewing since the age of seven and is a professional seamstress and costumer in the film & television industry. As Custom Style, she specializes in the creation & construction of vintage style wedding gowns, custom clothing, and period costumes.
    Brooke

    Well said! I’d much rather hang out with you than Mr. Peacock! Thanks for such a wonderfully written piece – I’m can’t stop smiling! =)

  283. @ A Mediated Life

    One last thing, before I have to go do something of actual value:

    I’m sorry you found this discussion to be of no value. I can’t speak for the others involved, but I appreciated your voice. I disagree with some of it, but I thought you argued for it well. I wouldn’t have engaged in the debate if I thought you had nothing to say.

    Being a woman doesn’t mean you get to do anything you want and expect not to be criticized for it, and that’s especially true if what you’re doing is hurting other people.

    I don’t think anyone here is disagreeing with that. The disagreement is over whether women dressing as Wonder Woman or Slave Leia are in fact hurting other people.

    As you said, we’ve been round the merry-go round several times, and now I’m sure we all have work we’d like to keep avoiding, but which we’ll regret doing so later. Also, although Kate Baker is not, AFAIK, a deputy moderator, I’m sure John would appreciate us not repeating ourselves yet again.

    So I’m signing off. G’ nite, all.

  284. My only problem is with sexism everywhere. I sort of felt safe within fandom/geekdom because I didn’t always feel I had to compare myself to all of the generically beautiful women out there anymore. Then I started seeing all of these women who fit the narrow societal definition of “beautiful woman”, and I felt awful! I wanted these women out of my fandom because I was jealous. Then I became very good friends with one and grew up. Still, I’ve been affected by cultural sexism so much that my brain continues to tell me my worth is dependent on how many people find me attractive. I still feel a little pang of jealousy when I see an attractive woman at a con getting photos snapped of her, but now I recognize it for what it is.

  285. Daniel Ross – Hi, I'm Daniel Ross, and I'm a nerd. My big joys in life are learning about new things, figuring out how things work, and making things work better. One of the things I spend a lot of time on in the "making better" column is life in general. I've got political opinions ohboy. I probably won't talk about 'em that much here, though. On my own time, I spend a lot of time exploring and having new experiences. That might be as planned as taking a vacation out into the woods to hike a new trail I read about. It might be as simple as hopping a Muni bus and riding until I don't know where I am, or eating somewhere different every time I go out. I also have a shifting collection of other hobbies. I'm an avid reader, and Someday I Will Write a Novel(™); I make chainmail jewelry; and when all else fails, there's always taking your day job home with you by hobby coding.
    Nentuaby

    Wow. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever approved of the guy waving around his massive E-Peen as an argument. :P

  286. Nick from the O.C. : I’d dispute some of the finer points of your test (namely the parts I’d not pass, and dude curling fans are totally geeky), but I guess that’s the point–there is no good litmus test, which is why it’s best to just respect people’s self-identity.

    Sadly it seems that for some people, the litmus test for men is “do you think you’re a geek?” and for women, it’s more like “You’ve only submitted one patch to the linux kernel? Tits or GTFO!”

  287. E.: Don’t you think your company’s disastrous experience is evidence that sex *doesn’t* actually sell?

    Ms. Baker had asked us to drop the discussion about blaming women, so I’ll get back on track by applauding Mr. Peacock for acknowledging his sexism and trying to do better.

  288. @Gulliver – John did leave me in charge. With the mallet. So yep, I am site moderator in his short absence. (Look up at the second to last comment he made before he stepped away.)

  289. @E.:

    It didn’t go well. She was not well versed in our particular niche of fandom, and so having her interact with the fans was awkward and painful.

    OK, so perhaps the issue there is a company whose HR department needs to be fed to the nearest Sarlac. And, yes, after every Comic-Con IO9 does a post on creepy, tasteless or downright bizarre marketing fails — a good proportion of which seem to be built around the assumption that the only people who go to SDCC are straight white males with tit fetishes.

    But let’s have that discussion without self-appointed Geek arbiters tone policing “real” geekdom with a most distasteful side order of sexist, man-tronising dudeness.

  290. This is actually a relief to me–a burden off my chest. I am not a geek. It feels good to say it out loud, you know? “I am not a geek.” I don’t want to love a thing with you, random and perhaps costumed stranger. In fact, I’d rather you not stand so close to me, because people kind of freak me out. I almost certainly don’t want to hear your opinions about a thing we both love, unless you can convince me that you have something meaningful to say–which, let’s face it, dressing up like a pokemon and waiting in line for a Sci-Fi TV star’s autograph does not promote.

    That’s not to say that I begrudge you your fun, true geeks. Of course not; more power to you! I suspect that you will live longer and happier lives than me, and almost certainly have more friends. I envy your ability to love openly and without misanthropy. But so it goes. I am not a geek; I would rather love geeky things alone.

    (Actually, now that I’ve said it it sounds kind of sad. But true.)

  291. The Tribe is a mighty thing – we’re one of the /only/ cultural structures that crosses borders, societies, and generational gaps with impunity – and we’re far less destructive about it than the other major contender for that kind of omnipresence, consumerism. Hail the geeks, for we shall inherit the world.

  292. From my personal perspective I refuse to accept the title “geek” because I’m enough of a nerd that I understand the original definition of the term (a carnival side show entertainer who bites the heads off of live chickens). I do accept the term nerd because it is an originally non-deragatory term created by nerds and adopted by nerds. I am also a fanboy and an otaku. I find the term “geek” to be as personally offensive as racially insensitive terms objected to by other groups. Certainly other groups do sometimes adopt and attempt to own derogatory terms for themselves, but I don’t feel a personal need to do so.

    So if you want to adopt the term “geek” for yourself in an attempt to own a deragatory term, then you are free to do so. I personally will object to the usage in my case, and correct the mistaken person using the tem in relation to me. That is one element of my personal nerddom.

    Thank you.

  293. The author bio on this piece says: He also cosplays as a six-foot-two-inch, 310lb Powerpuff Girl to fill the hollow pit that is his need for the wrong kinds of attention.

    So, Joe Peacock, your entire premise is: I cosplay for attention but that’s cool because I can prove I’m a geek. Some women cosplay for attention but that’s cool because they can prove they are geeks. But some other women cosplay for attention AND THAT MAKES THEM WHORES because they aren’t geeks.

    Who made you the arbiter of when attention whoring via cosplay is awesome and when it’s unacceptable and worthy of shuuning?

    The logic of your thought process escapes me. I’m only marginally a geek – I like DW and all things Whedon and sci-fi fantasy books and once when required to be in costume for my waitress job dressed as Michelle Forbes in ST:TNG. I don’t game though and comic book movies bore the shit out of me. But I would never attend a convention because I hate crowds and spending money. And I’d never cosplay because I don’t like people staring at me or talking about my clothes. Of course, I also like Real Housewives of various cities and pretty purses and chick lit so maybe I don’t meet your rigid geek standards either.

    I do not understand the attraction of cosplay but I’m not going to declare everyone who does it a loser because they don’t interact with geekdom in the exact same way I do.

    Oh, btw, your “big brother” desire to beat up gamers who harass women online is condescending. Women don’t need men to come to their rescue. It’s one thing to oppose that harassment. It’s another to step in to protect the fragile women. One is supportive, the other is just old fashioned “women are second class citizens” bs dressed up in a modern day “sensitive guy” suit.

  294. @Kelly Martin: You might want to look up the actual Japanese implications of the word “otaku”, then — because it makes your stance regarding “geek” somewhat… well, let’s say “ironic.”

  295. Ahh, the joys of fandom.
    Mr. Scalzi, I hereby dub thee A Speaker To Geeks. Just *a* speaker. I’ll see if I can get a Nancybutton for you, but you might need to remind me.

  296. Thank you for this. My sister has been calling me a hipster because I bought Star Trek TNG on DVD last year and have rediscovered my buried away geekdom. We used to watch it growing up, so I’m not sure how that makes me a hipster. This statement hit the nail on the head: ‘When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.”’ So again, thank you. If it wasn’t for Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card or your books, I wouldn’t be who I am today. :)

  297. “I outrank you as Speaker for the Geeks. You are overruled.”

    I couldn’t help but read this in the voice of Judge Judy. My deepest apologies.

  298. If he just wanted to call into question the use of Booth Babes at Media events, I could potentially get behind that. But saying most/all/many female cosplayers, that is super bad form. I know a LOT of female cosplayers, and they are serious geeks, that’s all there is to it. And even if they weren’t, so what? What’s wrong with using geekdom to show off your mad skillz as a costume designer and trying to drum up some business, or even just show off? As long as they are being polite, why should anyone care?

  299. @A Mediated Life: “Unfortunately, there’s a strong libertarian streak in the geek community that makes a lot of people bristle when asked to consider the needs of others.”

    That may be the case. What I’m seeing in this thread, however, is the strong rationalist streak in the geek community that makes a lot of people bristle when told that the reason they disagree with you is that they suffer from false consciousness. As somebody said in response to your claim that women who feel good about giving expression to their attractiveness are just being obtuse, “Wow.”

  300. @ Kate Baker

    Oh, my mistake. I wondered how John was going to keep on top of all this.

    I’ll try to stay out trouble :)

    @ Ben

    Actually, now that I’ve said it it sounds kind of sad. But true.

    The only person who has to approve of how you live your life is you. I’d much rather someone be themselves than what they thought I expected them to be.

    Singed,
    A former reluctant geek

  301. Bravo. (I would use an exclamation point, but as a journalism geek, I am required to hate them. It’s in my contract.)

    I was also unaware until Mr. Peacock so kindly and helpfully pointed it out that there was a beauty standard for geeks. Apparently, pretty girls should be seen but not heard—and also can’t like interesting things. I guess they should’ve gone to the mall instead.

  302. So let us then remove the ideas of Sexism and poor word choice from this:

    I stand in line with several friends to get some of your books signed. We’re not really interacting with others to much, but we’re in line. And you ask us, as you sign the book “Was this your favorite?” and my response is “Nah, but you can sell em for a few bucks more on Ebay if they’re signed.”

    How would you feel about us?

    That’s the trust of Mr. Peacock’s article. People are coming and poaching our culture. Worse, they are using the sexism that is so achingly prevalent in the culture to do so. They are using our weakness against us, and our weakness is strong. This makes people angry. So they write angry words about it, in their own which some call abrasive, some misogynistic. Maybe they have a space online to post it. Maybe they are an up and coming blogger, and they forget their audience has grown.

    And then one of their heroes, a real bona fide, nominated, president-ed, post-pictures-of-me-and-my-friends-ed, literary heavyweight, brings the wrath down. I mean, yes, you have your points as well. But honestly, this level of wrath coming down strikes me like Micheal Jordan coming out and taking the lunch money from the middle school recess game (No offense, Joe.)

    And ultimately, this firestorm has left a sour taste in my mouth. It is complex and nuanced in it’s texture and aftertaste. I am going to cleanse it with Tea and Douglas Adams. And then go work the night shift putting boxes on shelves until the morning.

    Please everyone, can we all take a breath for a moment, stop screaming and start LISTENING to each other? Please?

  303. To me the strange thing is that someone attending what looking at it from the outside is a commercial con, where companies try to sell their wares and bond with their customers is attacking a single commercial subset -an attack aggravated by the overlap between the group and geekdom.

  304. RE: Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be

    Well said. It is refreshing to see an articulate response to this sort of naked discrimination.

  305. I’m pretty sure, after all the exchanges here, that I understand this, but just to be clear: The reason this is an issue is that some people who gather at large-scale events designed to celebrate the production and consumption of mass-produced entertainment are put out by the fact that other people are showing up at these events and trying to market stuff to them?

    That, in essence, we deserve better-targeted marketing campaigns?

  306. OK, apropos of nothing but human fallibility: I posted a throwaway comment above that referenced how “public criticism makes us all better” and “Joe probably just needs to wake up his inner editor” and used the phrase “different than” in the process. …Great balls of fire. I’ve been breaking out in hives at the modern *coughlazycough* usage straying from “different from” for years.

    I cover myself in sackcloth and ashes. Well played, hubris.

  307. @Dan: “People are coming and poaching our culture.”

    This is where the disconnect is occurring. That’s not what’s happening. In actuality, it’s “Joe Peacock THINKS that these people are coming and poaching our culture Because of Reasons.” He doesn’t know them, all he knows is that they don’t share his accepted list of nerd cultural signifiers, therefore they must be The Other.

    Geek culture has expanded, because of ease of access (thank you, internet) and because pop-culture companies are starting to have decision-makers who grew up geek. The pool is larger, and it makes some folks insecure that it’s changed around them, because they always drew comfort from their exclusive-club outsider cool (which was occasionally a genuine safe space from adolescent ostracizing).

    The response to this shouldn’t be chin-stroking consideration of the point, but a hearty “grow the hell up” from the rest of us.

  308. I have been a geek girl since forever. (I’m 51. Hey, it happens.) All this carrying-on over the newly-stereotypical “gorgeous geek girl”–is she *really* a geek or is it all just some clever hipster/marketing scheme?–makes me glad I’m a) not younger and b) was never beautiful.

    I never felt unwelcome in geekspace, apart from an early D&D campaign where I was the only female, and then it was my mom. “You’re only doing it to meet boys.” Mom, I ALREADY KNOW THESE GUYS, *YOU* KNOW THESE GUYS, YOU SHOULD KNOW I AM TOTALLY NOT THERE TO MEET GUYS. Ruined the campaign.

    But the first comic book shop I went to–a new concept in the early 70s–was co-owned by a woman. So was the next one. The one after that was owned by a woman, the next by gay men, and the current one by a father-daughter team. I never felt unwelcome, nor have I ever felt unwelcome in conversations about SF, fantasy or comics–though I have gotten the “wow, I can’t believe a girl is into that stuff” just before the conversation went all “WOW WE’RE BOTH GEEKS LET’S GEEK OUT TOGETHER” which, Mr Scalzi, you are spot on to call the true definition of what makes someone a geek. Occasionally I get overlooked or discounted, but I’ve been female for 51 years–that happens everywhere, not just in geekdom.

    Most of the other geek girls and women I’ve talked to have not had that welcoming experience. I was lucky, and I have no idea why. Perhaps, like the commenter above from early Star Trek fandom, I was lucky enough to stumble on female-run geekdom. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been conventionally attractive and thus perhaps easy to dismiss as a threat of some kind. I dunno.

    But to have some dumb kid define who is and isn’t a geek, or even discount the possibility that by being geek adjacent someone might actually become a geek given time and exposure (paging Anne Wheaton)? Well sir, I don’t like it. As geeks, our tent should be wide and wide open, because I thought that was the whole point of geekdom: geeking out.

  309. At a panel that I was attending, a group of women eyeballed me in disgust. One turned to her friend and said, “Jesus, who let the f’ing Connecticut wifey in?”. I am not a wife (y?), nor am I from Connecticut (apparently a VERY BAD PLACE). Accuracy aside, the intended insult was clear. In her eyes, simply because of what I look like, I didn’t belong. Sadly, it’s far from the first time that I’ve had to deal with that assumption and lousy attitude. And sure, I’ll continue to (figuratively speaking) put on my big girl pants and attend cons, because I like them, even if some people think that I shouldn’t be there, because I don’t look the part. But what exactly is that, anyway?

    Mary, that’s rather awful, frankly. And I think it illustrates that being a geek isn’t all rainbow brite and phasers set to huggable. There is rejoicing in a specific interest of a skiffy or techie or gamey nature, and there is being a boor or a lout. I suspect too many self-avowed geeks cannot tell the difference, and are eager to lash out. I’ve seen that a time or two myself, and as much as this might get me flamed, my observation is that it almost always boils down to envy. The person (or people) receiving the insult is almost universally better dressed, better mannered, better looking, or has better style than the person (or people) giving the insult. Especially when it’s women. Until geekdom is prepared to face its dark side, I believe the geek conversation is incomplete. JMHO.

  310. Shawna (A Mediated Life) – The lovely PNW – Writer, singer, parent, fan, media maven, and general ne'er-do-well. Fierce protector of the rights of the disadvantaged and endless pontificator on subjects both ridiculous and sublime.
    A Mediated Life

    (Delurk)

    It’s been pointed out to me that my “actual value” flip comment got misconstrued. Sorry about that. Wasn’t a commentary on the value of the discussion, but about my personal tendency to engage in debate over important things like getting breakfast. Which is what I was off to go do. Self-deprecating humor apparently lacks finesse when there isn’t enough blood sugar behind it to make it come out right. Mea culpa. :)

    (Relurk)

  311. @Ron Hogan, Yes :).
    Although the same could be happening at smaller conventions as well, but those also tend to have commercial parties involved as far as I know (not much con experience)

  312. So let us then remove the ideas of Sexism and poor word choice from this:

    Let’s not, Dan. I’ll say this as a professional writer: If I write a column that has to be subjected to Talmud scholarly levels of exegesis after the fact to convey what I really meant to say, I’ve failed to do my job. Promise. And considering the piece’s base code was rotten with sexism (IMO & YMMV, obviously) I don’t see how “removing it” from the discussion is particularly useful.

  313. How can we remove the sexism when the post specifically called out WOMEN, and called them ‘disgusting’? He could have made it about businesses. He could have made it about ticket scalpers and book resellers and so on. He made it about attractive women, and he got plenty of supportive comments.

  314. What about Lesbian Girl Geeks? Are they guilty of “exploitation” too, or just of the equally incriminating act of stealing rare Geek Girls away from Mister Peacock? X-D

  315. @Dan: “People are coming and poaching our culture.”

    It’s been asked, and asked, and asked, yet never answered: How, exactly, do you know this?

    What leads you to believe that they are not geeks as well? How can you tell, at a glance, that they are not a part of the culture? Vin Diesel does not look like the iconic D&D player, yet he can wax rhapsodic about his characters.

  316. @Dan Rathbun: Please don’t do this. It’s a fallacy to assume the only reason somebody disagrees with you (or anyone you agree with) is that they’re simply not listening – after all, if they HEARD you they couldn’t help but admit you’re right. Likewise, it’s a fallacy to assume that if two groups disagree, clearly the only reason is they won’t listen to each other, so here you are, the voice of reason, stuck in the middle.

    As for your example of book-signing, do you really think that’s something only non-geeks do?

  317. John Schwartz way back at 12:59 “I think the counter argument to this is these newcomers to geekdom didn’t have to go through the trials and tribulations that those of us who grew up geeky did.”

    As a girl geek from the day I opened my first comic circa 1972, I am ecstatic that today’s geek doesn’t have to go through the loneliness and alienation I went through as a geek version of a unicorn. We had plenty of geeks in our neighborhood. I was one of the only girls. That geek culture is becoming the norm is a victory. That you can’t swing a cat without hitting another girl geek is, again, a victory. I hope the trend continues. Having had to pay dues will have been worth it if it means that younger generations of geekdom don’t have to pay them too.

    An unconnected comment, I’m immensely grateful that these days, when yet another Nice Geek takes time to mansplain things to me I can turn around and see a John Scalzi, or a Jim Hines, or a Dr Nerdlove on my side of the fence agreeing with me that that ain’t cool.

  318. @Gareth: I would say that when a company hires a model to come and dress scantily, for the sole purpose that scantily models sell, and that when asked, these women do admit that they are purely models and do not identify as geek At All, is using Sexism to Sell stuff, ie: Poaching.

    And I have read other blogs that express the same opinion, albeit in nicer words. My attention was originally drawn to this issue when I read about the PAX ban.

    http://kotaku.com/5916237/e3-makes-me-really-appreciate-the-pax-ban-on-booth-babes

    And, in my opinion, some things require a chin stroking thoughtfulness, as opposed to shouting someone down because they say something you disagree with. Even (and maybe Especially) if they say it in an infuriating way, or say it poorly or wrongly, in your opinion. Telling someone to simply “Grow the hell up” rarely helps them grow.

  319. I’m late to the conversation, as usual, but John – PLEASE don’t let Steven Silver hear you calling it a Sideways award when you get to Chicon – it’s the Sidewise award.