Geek girls catch a lot of abuse due to the anonymity of the internet–but the most annoying interactions often occur in real life. Whether you’re jarringly made aware that your peers don’t understand you, or your boss makes a snide comment about the fan art on your desk, geek girls hear a lot of frustrating things from day to day.
This list gathers some of the most annoying things that I have heard from family, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers. Because we all know that body image issues come up a lot, I’ve left these comments out of my list–thus the “not about boobs” in the title. I’m sure, though, that all of us have heard these things at one point in our lives.
1. “Don’t you think you should dress a little more…adult?”
Some people inexplicably find my mash-up tees–or even my super nice licensed tanks and shirts–to be somehow offensive. That is, when they get the reference. I was wearing a Batman t-shirt the other day, and a professor asked me if I was teaching that day. When I said no, his words were polite but his tone was along the lines of: “Thank god. You’re dressed like you’re twelve.”
I was wearing black pants and a cardigan–what more do you want from me?
There are entire blogs and websites dedicated to dressing geeky while also dressing professionally (or at least, maturely). Check out Being Geek Chic, Console to Closet, The Nerdy Girlie, and Set to Stunning. Just because I tossed on a Star Trek necklace or a Ninja Turtles tee doesn’t mean that I am a child. Especially when we have professors in our own department who frequently wear t-shirts from Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and other nerdy properties. But these professors (and other students) are all male, so somehow it’s acceptable for them to do it. It’s just not acceptable for me.
2. “I think it’s great that you have all these toys for when you have kids.”
As if I am letting any child near this Legolas figure. Don’t you know that it sold out in every store back in 2002? And this Megazord is currently going for roughly $400 on Ebay–no sticky little figures are allowed to touch it. Are you aware that this Leon S. Kennedy statue is a limited edition? Also, letting a kid near my bat’leth would just be dangerous.
Also, this type of interaction comes with the annoying assumption that, as a female (especially one who has been in a relationship with the same person for six years), I will be reproducing in the future. And, once I have these children, my own interests will go out the window. The collection I have spend valuable time and money cultivating will be reduced to the play-things of children. My dad asked me if I would let my kids take some of my action figures out of the box. The mere thought of it was distressing.
3. “No, I mean real hobbies.”
When I arrived at my current grad school, I made the mistake of asking the members of my cohort what they liked to do in their spare time. After the semi-serious response of “What’s spare time?”, they all responded with the generic answers–seeing movies, watching popular TV shows, and reading books (when they can). I asked if anyone played video games, and I was met with crickets.
It has only been since then that I realized: almost no one thinks of gaming as a hobby. If anything, they consider it something that we young people do when we should be doing something else. If I mention playing a game in a professor’s earshot they usually shake their head patronizingly. I won’t even talk about what one of my professors did when she learned that I liked watching Star Trek.
Sometimes I can get around this type of response when I mention that I like making crafts and sewing. It has become my default talking-to-an-older-person answer: I just don’t mention that my crafts are nerdtacular and I pretty much only sew superhero costumes. Still, it’s pretty annoying how some people deem the things that I love doing as “worse” that the things they love doing. You don’t see me judging the fact that you ride your bike for two hours a day just because, or that you spend your spare time tinkering with every part of your car. So don’t judge me for pwning noobs on LoL or spending all day painting my shoes with designs from A Song of Ice and Fire.
4. “Guys must think it’s really hot that you like games/comics/etc.”
Yes, because the approval of the opposite gender is entirely what determines how I live my life. I’ve gotten this from girls, from guys, and even from guys I was dating. More often than not, it came with the suggestion that I was framing myself as a “nerdy girl” in order to seduce those elusive but irresistibly attractive nerd boys.
I hate to break it to some of those people out there, but I’m more concerned with gathering the materials I need to build my next Warframe or seeing what shenanigans Larfleeze is getting up to this month than I am with how the opposite gender perceives me.
5. “Tell me one thing about (blank) that’s not from the movie.”
Most geek girls are used to be challenged in one way or another. My most embarassing experience came when I was out for my birthday one year. I was talking with my friend’s new boyfriend (now fiance), and the topic of Batman came up. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that Batman and the Batfamily are one of the things I geek out about the most. I have a huge Batman picture featured prominantly on the wall behind my desk, 1/3 of my geeky clothing and accessories are Batman related, and about 60% of the comics I read feature or have once featured the Bat. X-Men got me into reading comics–Batman kept me there.
When I mentioned how I love Batman, though, the guy just scowled at me. “Name one thing about Batman,” he snapped. I was caught off guard–one thing? Any thing? The possibilities were endless, and the four margaritas I had consumed left me a little confused about what kind of information he wanted. “Not from a movie,” he amended.
Okay, so not from a movie. Could it be related to a movie? Could I compare The Dark Knight with The Long Halloween? Of did I have to stay away from all topics and characters featured in any movie? Should I list all the Robins in order, discuss Batman: Year One, or talk about the many origin stories of more obscure Bat-villains? Ra’s al Ghul is my favorite villain–is he completely off the table due to the events of Batman Begins? Or is it okay if I talk about the Lazarus Pits?
When he realized he had rendered me speechless for a few second, he triumphantly declared “Yeah, that’s what I thought!” And then walked away.
Like I said, many of us have experienced situations like this–unfortunately, that does not make it any better. But the frequency of this type of interaction gets it to the top of my list of annoying things people say to geek girls.
Do any of the things on this list strike a nerve? Have you dealt with some snide comments that are even more annoying? How do you get through these awkward situations? Share in the comments. I’m sure your approach is better than my tactic of staring for a moment, then sidling away.