G33k and G4m3r girls

So I ignored the G33k and G4m3r Girls song/video when I first saw it in my RSS in a “who cares?” kind of way. These kinds of videos come out all the time and I ignore most of them. But my husband follows some of the same feeds that I do so I watched it when he got home from work.

What I saw made me react in a few ways, not the least of which was “meh” with a dash of “seriously?!” In short, my interest was piqued by the title (“ooh something about me”) and lost by the contents (“oh wait, these women don’t speak for me at all” *sad face*).

For those who haven’t seen the video I’m talking about, watch it here for context.

A guest blogger on Geekfeminism.org articulated, I think, much better than I can what irked me about this video:

Now, let me get a few things straight: I’m a geek. I’m a gamer. And I’m a woman. … The video is not aimed at the women it is purporting to celebrate: it is straight-up pandering to the largely sexist, male-centric geek subculture. It is geek women served up for the male gaze on a shiny latex platter.

This video perpetuates the idea that we’re only in it for the male attention: it’s a list of geeky references wrapped up in skinny, conventionally beautiful white girls wrapped up in sexy outfits.

It can be hard for a female geek/nerd to get along in this subculture. One way to deal with not fitting in is to act in the very manner we’re reinforced to act by the hyper-hetero-male, sexist, racist, and homophobic dominant “class” (not that all geeks are like that, of course). So I get it. These women have had a lot of positive reinforcement for being young, pretty, and geeky.

Besides, why get labeled a frigid bitch with no sense of humor when you can just laugh things off or ignore? It’s much easier to do the latter and fit in.

Oddly, one of the girls in this video appeared as a hyper-aggressive FPS gamer in the online geek show The Guild (for example). This character seemed to be subverting the caricature of the “geek woman trying to hard to fit in with the guys” by calling such explicit attention to her behaviour in a negative light. (Not that I’m saying she couldn’t simply have this personality – or perhaps I’m overthinking the context – but that was my impression.) So I was a bit surprised to see this particular woman in the G33k & G4m3r Girls video unironically embodying the very stereotype she was previously a part in making fun of.

G33k and G4m3r Girls doesn’t make me feel included. It makes me feel objectified. And I’m not even in the video. This video does nothing to prove geek and gamer girls really exist – it proves that some geek and gamer girls are still willing to do almost anything to fit into a subculture that fundamentally disrespects them.

For clearly expressing why G33k & G4m3r Girls may not be what it thinks it is by pointing out that I am a geek/gamer and not “someone’s girlfriend”, Geekfeminist.org, and especially guest blogger Metaneira, are collectively my Nerd of the Week.

PS: Why didn’t last month’s Fuck Me Ray Bradbury bother me in the slightest? I think maybe it’s because many elements of the Bradbury video seem to subvert the male ideal by sarcastically borrowing imagery from pop culture icons like Britney Spears and featuring lyrics about the sex appeal of a 90-year-old man’s intellect and talent. So are these videos fundamentally different, where one is humorous parody and one is hopelessly taking itself too seriously? I think so. Or am I being a hypocrite?

13 responses to “G33k and G4m3r girls

  1. Wow, thanks! I’m incredibly flattered.

    I hadn’t seen the Ray Bradbury video until just now, but it was delightful. I think the difference is two-fold:
    1) agency: the RB video, while using tropes of sexy women, is obviously written and done by a woman. It’s not like the Team Unicorn video where I’m cut out of the picture by Seth Green’s “rapping.”
    2) parody =/= satire: while the Team Unicorn video is a parody, it isn’t satirical. The Ray Bradbury video clearly is.

    That and the RB video is really well-written, whereas the Team Unicorn song has the problem of being based on awful material and that’s only made worse by the fact that they don’t really fit the meter when substituting geeky phrases. The TU video is a stream-of-consciousness inside joke for geeks (and more than a few people have pointed out that they pronounce “manga” the way someone who has no interest/knowledge of it would); the Ray Bradbury video is intelligent and very tongue-in-cheek.

  2. Not to mention that the RB video shows non-white women and women who actually resemble real women, not indistinguishable stick models. But I’m being picky now.

  3. Props where it’s due; it was a very good article. :)

    Yeah, these discussions can sometimes stray into “don’t be such a prude” territory (I noticed at least one of those comments on your article, that I responded to). Well, that’s an oversimplification, but essentially it’s impossible for women to comment on sexuality without someone pointing out that it’s antifeminist to criticize sexuality. But the problem isn’t sexuality itself.

    So, I can imagine some people might think it hypocritical to like one of these videos and not the other if they weren’t paying close attention to context. But they are very different.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing more of your thoughts!

  4. And don’t even get me started on G4 TV. …or 99% of female comic characters. :P

  5. Get over yourself. I am sorry that you got offended by a group of popular girls that were clearly trying to show that Geek and Gamer Girls come in all shapes and sizes but sitting on a pedestal and lambasting something that has brought happiness to a myriad of people is an example of the close-minded arrogance that ostracizes members of the geek subculture. Your article is weak and full of non-specific feminist talking points that do not illustrate anything resembling a coherent point. The point of the video is that there are confident, attractive women that are as skilled and knowledgeable in “geekdom” and any man. The video wasn’t trying to pander to men or to objectify women, it was a display of confidence. Your own self-consciousness was clearly on display in your article. I hope that in the future you will use a little more analytical thought when judging the next target for your blog.

    • It’s really unfortunate that some guys (I assume you are, by the name) can’t see anything that effects them directly as a problem, so they perceive things like this as pointless complaining. And of course it’s not because I am a thinking person that’s interested in social issues – no, it must be because I’m insecure, frigid, “don’t get it”, am incapable of appreciating attractive women, etc.. I don’t deny the geek and gamer women‘s intentions, I only point out how their intentions may have been misguided.

      Your mother, sisters, partner/spouse, neices… deal with implicit sexism every day of their lives – the “hidden” sexism that is not as overt and recognizable as, for example, “women are bad drivers”. It’s a discussion worth having. I’m not saying I’m completely right – how can I know that? That is why discussion is important. This blog is called Skeptigirl. I am not immune.

      If you continue to ignore these issues, try to make women feel bad about themselves for concerning themselves with these issues, and perceive attention-drawing to these issues as soapbox expressions of self-consciousness and empty “feminist talking points”, you are part of the problem.

    • I was impressed by your eloquent intensity on such a topic. Highly entertaining to read the curt back and forth, yet thoughtful and poignant at the same time.

      (ps writing this at 3am, so please excuse my lack of eloquence)

      Couple thoughts: (Both to you and Kimbo on different sections of this thread)
      I hate stereotypes (negative ones at least), but I hate it even more when they’re fulfilled. I think there’s also a point at which stereotypes have value.

      “Young drivers are wild” - statistically, they do get in more accidents, so insurance rates are higher.

      “Girls are bad drivers.” – Most guys are (predominantly) right brained, better at math, science, and spatial recognition, while most girls are (predominantly) left brained, verbal, creative, etc. [quickest source I could find at the moment]

      I’ve seen plenty of phenomenal female drivers, so an all inclusive generic isn’t accurate by any means. If thoroughly tested, based on this piece of evidence, I wouldn’t be surprised if on a broad scale men did perform better on road tests. I also would not be surprised if women in general beat me to a pulp in verbal language, social dynamics, and multitasking.

      If only we were able to effectively parse out the nuances of reality in a fact based detailed manner summed up within a single word. Hmm… I guess when I’m in a hurry and talking fast that darn stereotype will have to do…

      When I had long hair, and it looked shabby that day, I expected a cop to be more harsh and be more skeptical. (Thus I went the extra mile to be submissive and respectful to prove the stereotype wrong. It was relatively effective, and most cops were quite nice after the initial bark). It may be a stereotype, but it’s also basic profiling. If the driver has a bulge in his jacket, it would be naive for the cop to treat him like everyone else. Profiling is essential, and just like stereotyping, it’s a type of judgment that serves a purpose, albeit ill at times.

      I have no authority on this point, but I’m going to stick my head out to see who wants to decapitate me first :-)

      I find that I’m stereotyped when I mention that as a guy, I dance swing/salsa. I gladly welcome it as women love it! (yes, I just wanted to provoke a stereotype. To be exact, I should have said “most of my female friends seem to love it”) When I hear that a girl is a gamer, I picture it as sexy as A) she can relate to guys on cool unique level many girls are more likely to roll their eyes at B) yes, you’re right, culture has given it a sexy look/perception. It can be taken as a negative or positive, but with some of the appalling behavior related to girl geeks/gamers, I would attribute it to the perpetrators more than the stereotype. But that’s an entirely subjective judgment, and I’m sure you understand the ins and outs of it better.

      I gladly accept the connotation I receive with dance, and quickly show I don’t fully live up to it. If I talk about ballroom, with my look, I know I will more likely have to prove I’m not homosexual. (I perceive that male ballroom dancers are seen that way, but again, maybe that’s just my stereotype).

      There are a lot of negative/positive stereotypes I fulfill, thus am careful what type of first impression I portray, showing which qualities most effectively “some me up.”

      Just like every first impression, the person takes the little bit of information they have, filter it through what they know, and deduce the rest. It’s then up to the new “friend” to fill out and correct that information as they get to know each other.

      How much of the responsibility does the stereotype take, the factual, historical, or connotative reasoning behind the stereotype, or the person take? Is it the person’s responsibility to correct the stereotype when assumed, or people to avoid stereotypes and spell out every fact or observation they see to point to their point? Aside from connotations, how different is stereotyping from profiling, and reasonable deduction?

      I guess I feel like that’s what the heart of the issue is. Ultimately, it’s up to me to break through stereotypes and show the world who I am. But it makes all the difference to help shape culture to more accurately portray reality and those being stereotyped. So props for being proactive, getting the discussion going, and helping to shape culture. This is just a small platform, but I’m sure much bigger ones will arise.

      Great blog, and superb writing!

      • * I also would NOT be surprised if women in general beat me to a pulp in verbal language, social dynamics, and multitasking.

        –> Sorry, spelling error – admin, any chance you could correct that for me? Thanks! (end of 7th paragraph)

      • done

      • Sorry late to the party and just one thing but (a huge but): Men and women are not left or right brained. There’s a long history in science to link body sides with men and women, usually also connotating them weak and strong, good and bad… BUT those are just theories, there’s never been any evidence. Rather most evidence points to men and women being quite similar in this regard, differences stemming more from socialization than biology. Also: women and men speak roughly the same amount of words per day, over 16.000.

      • Haiwen, I find that interesting as I’ve been taught differently my whole life. True, I haven’t gone in depth recently, (if at all) so I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re completely right. Do you think you could point me to some sources so I could get a more accurate perspective on the issue? In generally, your points will always be significantly stronger with good sources to back it up. Thanks!

  6. I suppose I am certainly “part of the problem” because I disagree with your perspective. Such a generalized dismissal of my point of view, especially with the qualification that I must be a man, is an unsurprising form of fascism that is all to common in our society where freedom of thought and expression should be valued. I am not above this because admittedly my response was rude. If you had a genuine concern for a significant issue then you would have been able to quantify how the video was inherently sexist. I am certainly not ignorant to the realities of sexism in our culture but looking for it where it doesn’t exist is trite and does not advance any meaningful discussion. There is sexism, not just in the US but across the world, but to say that sexist stereotypes are a significant portion of the problem when every group of people is subjected to stereotypes is pointless and must be exhausting. Stereotypes become significant and destructive when one’s rights become abridged by them. For example, if a woman was denied the purchase of a car or a driver’s license because “women are bad drivers” then that would be true, significant sexism. However, when a group of four young, attractive women try to entertain people and prove a point it is actually very far from sexism. Unfortunately, the geek subculture can be extremely elitist and there are many stereotypes that generalize gamer girls as fat, ugly outcasts. The video showed otherwise. Its reception, 1 million views in the first week, shows that the message has resonated very far and its success, along with women such as Olivia Munn, is helping to bring “geekdom” into the mainstream. Ten years ago only “weird, goth, outcasts” (other’s words, not mine because I loved vampires) had an interest in Vampires and now they are the current teen-adult fad. What all of this does is help to limit the ostracization of people, especially children, for being themselves and expressing interest in something that may not be the norm. Deep analytical thought beyond being initially offended, when one was probably looking to be, should be considered in the future.

    • “I suppose I am certainly “part of the problem” because I disagree with your perspective. ” Nope. Not what I said.

      Sexism is not limited at the institutional level (i.e., things like being denied a driver’s license). Non-institutional sexism (ex: societal attitudes) is not arbitrarily any less significant. It’s as much of a problem for people to to implicitly assume black people are poor and lazy (which is ridiculous, but these are present stereotypes) as it is to deny the right to own land. These can lead to a perception that unemployment or lack of education is deserved, disproportionate representation of black among death row inmates, denial of social services, perception that social services aren’t deserved thereby affecting taxpayer support, etc. All stereotypes are a problem. But as a white woman, I generally comment on women’s issues. I can’t comment on what it’s like to be a man and subject to the “perfectly sculpted body who provides money and never cries” bullshit that they get on a daily basis any more than I can comment on what it’s like for someone to assume I’m poor and lazy because of my race. It wasn’t within the scope of this post to address other stereotypes.

      “If you had a genuine concern for a significant issue then you would have been able to quantify how the video was inherently sexist.” How? Count the number of objective sexist themes? That’s a relatively unreasonable request seeing as what I find sexist can be dismissed as soapbox fascist rhetoric… In any case, I did discuss specifically what I had a problem with in my post. But in short I’ll restate: the video is quite superficial. It doesn’t celebrate female geeks for their personal interests in an effective way. I didn’t get the message that this was a video about geekery and women, talking about how great geeky things are from the perspective of women (for example, like fuck Me Ray Bradbury was). It seems to be more about how it gives Seth Green (the avatar of hetero men watching the video) a hard-on for women to like comic books and video games.

      “However, when a group of four young, attractive women try to entertain people and prove a point it is actually very far from sexism.” No it’s not, necessarily. 1 million views demonstrates that it was popular, and that’s all. Views are not evidence that it was neutral in message or inherently important. How many views does the dramatic chipmunk have? For attractive young women to draw views on the internet is not terribly surprising and just because women were involved doesn’t automatically make it immune from sexism. Popularity doesn’t negate serious discussion on the topic. In fact, it reasonably invites further discussion because so many people would recognize it and be able to comment.

      For the record, I have defended Olivia Munn in particular. I have nothing against these women. I do not have a problem with attractive women, in general. I have a problem with their interests being framed in the context of what is attractive to hetero male geeks rather than what is special about themselves as individuals. My criticism is intended as feedback – what could be done differently in the future? Include more diversity, celebrate women themselves (if that’s the intent) or, better yet, make it a point to tear down the white hetero male stereotype rather than build a new white hetero woman stereotype. Geek culture has something to lose by not being diverse. The cancellation of Firefly, low box office returns on geek movies, the decline of comic books, etc. If geekery isn’t interesting to a variety of people, it could stagnate.