Can you be a hot girl AND a nerd?

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Now that Nerd Culture is just regular Culture, thanks to the Internet, you’d think everything would have been settled, but there are still some skirmishes going on. And only this week a new mini-ruckus erupted and oddly enough, it was among the girls.

Now, one of the GOOD things about the internet is that it has allowed girl geeks to be just as proud and out as boy geeks and to, indeed, show that they like geek stuff, something that was doubted for a long time.

Speaking as a lifelong nerd myself, I can testify that back in the neolithic age of nerditry, if you had girl genes you were not taken seriously as a comics fan, wrestling fan, Star Wars fan, or anything else that boys thought was just for them. Oh, the looks I got when I said I had read Robert E. Howard. For a long time, I felt like I was the only one. In fact while I was at WonderCon, I was chatting to Sergio Aragones about the olden days and he said, “Remember when you were the only girl?” and I could only laugh in agreement.

But the internet and its democratic access proved that girl nerds were around all along! In recent years we’ve seen the rise of geek girls, first as a consumer demographic for all of the above, but also as a new kind of hot chick for male nerds to swoon over. If by swoon you mean…something stronger than swoon. I’m not sure what “G4″ originally stood for, but now it means “Girls 4 nerds” as the channel seems to have become a place for male geeks to see geeky things spoken of by hot chicks who have varying levels of actual nerd cred. For instance, Blair Butler is both lovely and knowledgable about many things nerd-like, and has impeccable geek cred. On the other hand, Olivia Munn looks great in a Wonder Woman costume.

In this matter, jocks were way ahead of the nerds. I don’t know when the first “sideline reporter” was invented, but now every network and sports show has a well-turned out reporter with anchorwoman hair to capture a big sweaty man who just scored a touchdown for a serious conversation about how he overcame the zone defense he encountered. Of course, women had to fight hard and long to get taken seriously as sports reporters, and yet they still have men peeping in on their hotel rooms, making a movie of it and posting it on the internet. That’s kinda fucked up.

On the other side of the Hot Girl Nerd trend, we have the very real communities of female fans on many topics. There are huge online cosplay and manga and anime and comics communities. In fact, there’s even going to be a Geek Girl Con in Seattle in October. Because girls like other girls and like to talk about things with other girls.

But every once in a while there’s a girl on girl flame. Such a thing occurred earlier this week when a blogger named Zooey May made the mistake of writing an editorial called “Having Tits and Liking Spider-Man Isn’t Shocking Anymore” which took exception with the name of writer Jill Pantozzi’s blog “Has Boobs Reads Comics“:

There’s actually a woman who’s paid by the fascists at MTV to write about comics. That’s all well and good, but her blog title is Has Boobs, Reads Comics. Really? I’d like to punch her in her stupid boobs. What I’m getting at is that for all you females who think it’s cute to bat your lashes while feigning embarrassment about your adorable nerdiness, no matter what that might be… just… fuck you. Yep. I said it. And while I’m pissing people off and offending the masses, Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans can suck it easy. Seriously people, I’ve worked at two comic shops now, and at both places, the Joss Whedon disciples were the absolute worst customers.

This drew immediate and swift reprisal on Twitter because a) threatening to punch anyone in the boobs is bad taste and b) Jill Pantozzi is one of the most popular people on the internet. (And in real life.) Over on Bleeding Cool, Kate Kotler had a thoughtful response on how women often turn on each other:

Being a geek girl is challenging: Not only do we have to contend with the fact that pop-culture tends to objectify and marginalize women, often reducing geek girls to being a pair of tits and an ass in a Sailor Moon or Catholic schoolgirl outfit – but, we have to also contend with girl-on-girl hate crimes such as this one… The competitive, bitchy, mean girl antics of those who aren’t secure enough in their own geeky glory to resist lashing out at those who are makes it twenty times harder for women to succeed in a male dominated culture.
It’s people like Zooey Mae which make panels like “Killing Cattiness, Creating Community” (which I’m moderating at Geek Girl Con this coming October) so very necessary — so young women such as Zoe can learn via example from geek goddesses such as Gail Simone, Hope Larson, Bonnie Burton, Marian Call, Kat Engh, Kristin Rielly and Jennifer Stuller that it’s so much better when we retract the claws, ban the bitchy and work together to build each other up, instead of cutting each other down.

When Fangirls Attack has much more on the whole matter. Zooey Mae responded to the outcry and apologized to Pantozzi, but followed up with this:

…I apologized that I hurt Jill’s feelings, because my initial post was hyperbolic and sarcastic, but contrary to what you seem to think, I’m not actually a malicious person. I felt regret that I hurt her feelings, but not for having an opinion, albeit a strong one. I stand by what I said about girls who identify themselves as female nerds before just claiming “nerd” as their title. It seems sexist and totally unnecessary to me to call attention to yourself in such a “yeah, I have tits and I read comics, what of it” kind of way. If we wish to be treated as equals, then behaving thusly would seem to me to be step one, not flaunting our ladybits in an attempt to shatter some already outdated preconception about the nerd community.

Which, I think makes her point a lot better than with stupid violence. Because she does have a point. A lot of women are getting attention by PRETENDING to be nerds. Even male fans are beginning to get sick of “hot chicks” who make a show of having “nerd cred”, as in this editorial at Flickcast:

Hot Chicks Need To Stop Pandering To Nerds! by Matt Raub:

With that line blurred, overly attractive actresses in both mainstream Hollywood and independent New Media feel that they need to claim that they’re a “nerd” to be seen as something more than just a hot chick. That’s where I’m putting my foot down. Throwing on an Empire Strikes Back t-shirt and Lisa Loeb glasses does not put you on the same level as me and the rest of the kids who weren’t cool enough in high school to run with the “popular kids” or to give a crap about sports. That’s called pandering, and it’s gotta stop.

Raub links to this video as some evidence: Watching that video, it’s kind of obvious that some of these “hot nerd chicks” are just phoning it in. “I like Star Wars”? Wow, I’m impressed by that courageous and groundbreaking stance! However, just because you are a stunningly beautiful woman doesn’t mean you can’t be a nerd at heart. Rosario Dawson went to comic book conventions long before she had a comic to promote, so she gets a pass in my book. (Plus she’s really nice.)Megan Fox’s nerd cred has long been debated (along with everything else about her) but her early attempts at art are not made up. However, her constantly talking about FATHOM may just have had something to do with being attached to a potential movie about FATHOM…just guessin’.

The reality is that if you look like Megan Fox you don’t really have to know anything about sports, or comics or how to feed yourself to get by. People will be clamoring to feed you by hand. At Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams calls shenanigans on all these brave Star Trek loving nerdettes who also take their underwear off on the cover of Maxim:

In recent years, a new breed of sex symbols like Felicia Day and Olivia Munn have carved out their fame in large part due to their relatability. Their very public enthusiasm for geek culture — combined with a talent for looking amazing in a bikini — has connected with the fanboys, and by extension, the world. So if you’ve got a project to promote — maybe one based on a comic and with a game tie-in, or you’re just shopping around for that next hundred-billion-dollar Michael Bay project inspired by an app, you’d best try to make the fans believe you are one of them. Just tell Jimmy Kimmel something about your crush on Han Solo, you’ll be fine.

But what about the battlefield of the Comic-con floor? Well some grrrrl nrrrrds get it and others don’t. I’ve long wondered why all these “proud” girl nerds love dressing as SLAVE Leia and not, say SENATOR Leia or REBEL COMMANDER Leia. Who wants to be a slave? But no question, if you are semi hot, dressing in a bikini is going to get you further faster in man’s world than being a good shot with a blaster or being heir to the throne of a whole planet.

But it will also get you dumped faster too. Remember that marginalization that Kotler was talking about? People will marginalize a Slave Leia in a hot second. And sometimes that marginalization will rub off on those of us dressed as a rebel commander too.

And that brings us back to the wonderful world of girl nerds in comics. To be honest, I’m not crazy about the title of Jill’s blog, but I don’t think it’s a blow to womankind. I quoted the title to a male comics reader who doesn’t know her earlier today and he just started laughing. “Wow that’s pandering!” he said. What he doesn’t know that Jill is a smart writer, a great person and someone that her friends will take a bullet for because she’s so awesome. Once you get beyond the title of her blog, that’s all pretty obvious.

I’ll tell you a secret. It’s actually mind bogglingly cool to be a girl. Because you get to be everything. You can be a bad-ass, a senator, a crack shot, a teenaged boat captain who goes around rescuing people, an astronaut or a comic book writer….AND you still get to dress up and wear different color lipstick and nail polish! THAT IS COOL. And we shouldn’t be penalized by anyone — male or female — for being so cool.

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While this was all brewing, I saw another post that seemed to sum all this up on Comics Alliance, about how artist Ming Doyle made a Thor costume and wore it to the Boston Comic-Con:

ComicsAlliance: Ming, your Thor ensemble was a hit at Boston Comic Con! As a resident of Artist Alley, what made you decide to dress up for the convention, let alone as Thor?

 

Ming Doyle: I mainly decided to dress up because Alexa Rose, my good friend and co-host of the Make Believers podcast, decided to visit for the convention this year. Having a fellow crafty art major on the scene was the motivating push I needed, especially considering that Alexa and I have previously tried our hands at some amateur cosplay (Death and Delirium, then Batzarra and Bizarra at New York Comic Con, 2008).

As you can see from the pictures, Ming pulled it off in style. Because she’s a beautiful woman, a nerd AND a really damn good artist. And just because you’re one doesn’t mean you can’t be all three.

UPDATE: Somehow in all this I managed to miss Jill Pantozzi’s own thoughts on geek cliques on Newsarama. I urge everyone to read the entire post, as it touches on a lot of elements I’ve mentioned and a few new ones, too.

Comments

  1. This is going to sound like a backhanded compliment (and I guess it is, sorry about that) but this is the best thing I’ve seen on this site on the subject of women and nerddom. Among other things, I appreciate that recognize the presence of this issue in dominant culture (I guess nerd culture may be becoming dominant but I don’t yet see it that way, and anyway trends can always die).

  2. Ming Doyle’s Thor costume is awesome.

  3. Biggletron says:

    Nice piece. I’ve been going to cons since I was a baby, so I’ve been a witness to the demographics shift. It’s a good thing, but one drawback to more women being out in the open with their love of nerd stuff is that I actually have to wait in line for the bathroom at cons now.

  4. Biggletron says:

    Oh, and nerd is the new black.

  5. @Caleb: Ming Doyle is awesome.

  6. Matthew Southworth says:

    A) Fuck yes you can.

    and

    B) Fuck YEAH, Heidi. What a great article, particularly the paragraph about “you can be anything, an astronaut, etc., AND get to dress up. . .” because that’s exactly what I like about women, nerd or otherwise. Women are people just like men are, just as complex, but they wear cool costumes sometimes.

    (For what it’s worth, I think this is the genesis of the “hot librarian” thing–costumes!, wanting to see the superhero behind the glasses and all that.)

    And I, for one, am excited to go to GeekGirlCon and listen and learn and talk to people besides guys in t-shirts.

    Great post, Aitch mc D.

  7. Preach!!!

  8. The more geek girls in all their diverse wonderfulness, wether hot or not, the better!

  9. Jackie Estrada says:

    One of the interesting things I noticed at both Emerald City and WonderCon this year was the number of tweenage and younger girls cosplaying as male comics characters–several Flashes of various ages, for instance. And the attitude seemed to be that “a costume is a costume” and the gender was no big deal.

  10. It’s ironic that some feel that attractive women are pandering to nerds after the years of “You like comics/video games/science fiction AND you’re a cute girl? That’s so hot!” patronizing that women have had to put up with for years. And what’s sad about the patronizing is that a lot of awesome nerd girls buy into it and think they’re upping their cred by dressing up as Slave Girl Leia, as you mention, Heidi.

    Women in nerd fandoms have long observed that nerd guys can be just as, if not more, sexist as non-nerds. Because they often grew up feeling uncool, the guy the popular girls didn’t like, they think they’re “nice guys” who are entitled to have girls like him, and a lot of the media they consume supports the perspective that girls don’t matter unless they’re hot. But at the same time, as we can see from that FlickCast editorial, they also seem to be somewhat terrified of these attractive women who espouse an interest in what they consider their domain. It’s only OK if hot chicks like nerd stuff if the nerd guys can still feel superior to them. UGH.

    It annoys me that Matt Raub goes after Rosario Dawson. Girl was a comics fan since before I knew who she was! I remember her buying comics at the SLG booth and being super enthusiastic.

  11. I agree with Oliver, because *hot* is in the eye of the beholder.

    That said, Ming Doyle is lovely on the eyes, but her TALENT has always been the pull for me. We need more work like hers in this industry. And solid article by Heidi. She is right about not being seen as “serious”. I recall talking with Pam Noles about this at San Diego a number of years back.

  12. Matthew Southworth says:

    I second (or third? or fourth?) the Rosario Dawson defense. You can see the genuine gawky enthusiasm she has, and you have to give her credit for being authentic.

    On the other hand, I’m suspicious of every last thing about Megan Fox.

  13. Badpenny says:

    But apparently you can’t be a pretty nerd girl until the ugly nerd girls give you permission. Yeah. You’ve come a long way baby. I’m pretty sure Rosario Dawson doesn’t give a shit that she’s got your “thumbs up”.

    As far as “the brave Star Trek loving nerdettes who also take their underwear off on the cover of Maxim”, guess you’ve never heard of Brinke Stevens from back in the earliest days of the SDCC, the original pretty nerd girl who actually proved you could flash your tits and have more cred than most of the geek chicks out there who went to “journalism school“.

    See…you’re actually part of the problem by claiming you’re inclusive but at the same time you guard your borders against other women that you don’t think “fit” with all the tenacity of the comic book “boys club” that you shake your fists at. Ironic isn’t it? Your entire article makes your little “girl power” caveat at the end kind of laughable and completely disingenuous.

    Oh, can someone tell the “slave Leia’s” that they’re fucking it up for the other more “seriously dressed” Leia’s? Yeah, screw you all you slave Leia’s! We have no clue if you read comics or not, but you’re pretty, which means you’re automatically suspect in the eyes of the…er..women of marginal attractiveness and the few pretty girls they’ve allowed in their club who are the more, “serious” and “legitimate” nerds.

    And fuck Helen Mirren and her Harvey Pekar t-shirt!

  14. The Beat: Great article.

    @ Jackie: I am happy to agree with you. I’ve seen all kindsa happy gender-ignoring in younger congoin’ cosplayers for a few years now.

    I had my first job in a comic book shop in ’91, & started working in comics in ’96. It’s been a delight to watch more/different girls & women get into fandom, creating comics & claiming their own space @ shows.

    I’ve always been kinda wary of the babes @ cons thing (said one of the judges of the Dawn Look-a-Like Contest), but as the amount of women readers, editors, retailers, etc, continues to grow, I find that bothers me less. I mean: fandom is no different from any other part of society, in that some gals are gonna feel like wearing a bikini & others are more the black yoga pants & baggy tee shirt, types. *ahem*

    I used to have a set list of female creators I could recite when folks asked me who my favorite women working in comics were. Happily, I’m discovering new ones all the time, so that list is no longer by rote.

    *shrug* I know plenty of very attractive women who geek out over comics, sci fi & fantasy, so this question (for me) is answered with an emphatic yes.

  15. Peter Urkowitz says:

    Rosario Dawson knows how to speak Klingon, so I think her geek cred is secure. She seems pretty awesome altogether.

    Ah, but the complications of boys and girls and girls and boys never end, do they? I think we’re making progress, though it’s unsteady and needs to be repeated every generation. Don’t give up, nerd boys and nerd girls!

  16. otistfirefly says:

    >>>I’ve long wondered by why all these “proud” girl nerds love dressing as SLAVE Leia and not, say SENATOR Leia or REBEL COMMANDER Leia. Who wants to be a slave? But no question, if you are semi hot, dressing in a bikini is going to get you further faster in man’s world than being a good shot with a blaster or being heir to the throne of a whole planet.>>>

    Maybe it’s because these grrrlsss like to dress sexy and feel sexy and have MEN (and/or WOMEN) PAYING ATTENTION TO THEM AND ENJOYING IT. Maybe they don’t think it over as a big sociological issue… maybe they just like to flirt? Maybe they don’t go into school or the office dressed in a bikini because young women today know they can get ahead without putting out? That they have MORE opportunity today than young men? That they know they benefit from diversity programs set up in any company of decent size to help them get ahead? (And no, I’m not against them…spare me the knee-jerk attacks.)

    And in other big news, here in the 21st century, people are beginning to realize in this “cougar” age that as women share more and more in the “power,” and in the rapid change from “a mans world” to a man and woman’s world (well, in the U.S.A. anyway.), women ARE JUST AS SHALLOW AS MEN and will USE THEIR POWER TO EXPLOIT THE OPPOSITE SEX. If you don’t believe that in 50 years Comicon will be a fairly even male/female split and that young men won’t be dressing like Tarzan and parading around practically naked for young women to objectify and drool at, well… then you’re just not paying attention. (Every tween girl in America and Taylor “I never met a shirt I couldn’t tear from my body” Vampire-Boy…. Helloooooooo????)

    Let’s just cut to the chase: Today and in the future, it’s WAY MORE important to be good looking (or “semi-hot”) for women AND men to get all those special little breaks and perks in life. The benefits from being attractive are well-documented these days… it’s sad, of course, but welcome to America!

  17. “Can you be a hot girl AND a nerd?”

    After careful consideration, I’m forced to conclude that the answer to this question is:

    “No. No, I can’t.”

    kdb

  18. Badpenny: I know Brinke, met her many times, know her whole story. Classy lady. Actualyl Wendy Pini was the original hot nerd girl.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/brengibble/174897978/

    Also, can we please do away with the stereotype that you have to be ugly to criticize other women who are cuter than you?

    Otisfirefly:
    >>>That they have MORE opportunity today than young men? That they know they benefit from diversity programs set up in any company of decent size to help them get ahead?

    Uh, or maybe….they are just GOOD ENOUGH to be successful?

    Christ almighty.

  19. can’t it be enough that women with different interest within the nerd culture hang out and enjoy nerd culture without their presence devolving into cliques of slave leia and commander leia or cliques based on one’s level of nerd cred. how ridiculous is that.no one questions tobey maguire’s or christian bale’s nerd cred. let me go into old fan mode here and say that back in the day it didn’t matter if you dug dr.who, star trek, the creeper, godzilla, frankenstein, whatever, all were welcome and respected under the big nerd tent no matter the amount of knowledge( or nerd cred ) you had in any of those subjects. i don’t know, maybe it’s a generational thing, because over the last several years i do see more and more cliques that keep to themselves within said tent. now women in greater numbers are becoming more involved in nerd culture as fans, artists, writers, etc.. cool, this can only make things better for the culture overall, but wouldn’t this nerd ride be alot more fun if people (men and women) politicized nerd culture less and just relaxed and focused on what makes nerd culture so much fun? by the way, i met rosario dawson a few years back at the charlotte heroes con. very sweet, very cool. ’nuff said. thanks for letting me rant!

  20. Badpenny says:

    “Also, can we please do away with the stereotype that you have to be ugly to criticize other women who are cuter than you?”

    Actually, your whole article kind of perpetrates that trope by mentioning a womans looks to begin with and by talking about “suspicions” that the “Not as Pretty” have with regard to that groups cred.

    And it puts me in a tough spot, having seen photos of several of the women in this discussion. How bout “pretty on the inside” with a great “personality”?

  21. The Beat says:

    Badpenny: I haven’t seen any pictures of Matt Raub, but I think you are being unfair.

  22. Charles Knight says:

    My lover read this and her only comment was “fuck you, I’m a woman not a girl”.

  23. I’ve met one genuinely hot nerd in my life. So yes, you can be one. But probably aren’t.

  24. So…is it okay if I still like Julie Newmar?

  25. kristenmchugh22 says:

    Here’s the thing: the points in the Salon piece, in Zooey Mae’s piece, and in the Filmdrunk piece that MEB was riffing on, were BURIED in slagging off on women. I blogged on this, because this sort of proscriptivism and hierarchical thinking is something I see constantly in activist communities. (Yes, I’m a politics/activism geek, among other things.)

    Women can’t win. If we’re not conventionally attractive, we’re marginalized, if we’re geeks, we’re marginalized, if we’re conventionally attractive AND geeks, we’re marginalized. The pieces in question, may have had valid points about the mainstreaming of geek, and certainly there are people that feign interest in the obviously geeky things, but there are a lot of ways to geek, and the veracity of one’s geek cred, should be judged on that, and not some ridiculous standard, in the first place. What troubles me, is that this seems to be an area where not only is girl-on-girl misogyny encouraged, but misogyny by male geeks, is endorsed, on a regular basis. My question is this: WHY?
    Men are NEVER called on to verify their geek bona fides, so why are women?

  26. Al™ says:

    Pretty hard to fake being a nerd. We know who’s who. We recognize the nerdness in each other.

  27. bad wolf says:

    Would not have expected Megan Fox to be the only faux-nerd to name-drop an actual comics artist. Reasonably age-appropriate selection of Image comics, too, but as you say most likely influenced by scripts sent her way.

  28. Shawn Kane says:

    I’ve never particularly liked the term “nerd”. I have a lifelong love of comic books, cartoons, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, and various other things deemed “nerdy”. I also played sports growing up and never had a problem with the opposite sex. I have caught some flack for my interests from people who aren’t into it but have never considered myself a nerd. I don’t consider people at my LCS or those that I talk about the other subjects as “nerds”. I just feel like its a put down.

  29. Shawn Kane says:

    About the nerds are cool now topic, I do know alot of people who think that they can tell you all about Batman or Iron Man because they had a comic or two growing up. Those guys irritate me.

  30. Shawn Kane says:

    “For instance, Blair Butler is both lovely and knowledgable about many things nerd-like, and has impeccable geek cred. On the other hand, Olivia Munn looks great in a Wonder Woman costume.”

    I enjoyed G4′s visits to the San Diego Comic-Con and Olivia’s only contribution was cosplay and mangling character’s names like Namor, the Sub Ma-REE-ner.

  31. Pantsless Pete says:

    I do think there’s a bit of a weird generational gap, girl nerd wise that comes down to people trying to convinced there’s a certain amount of ‘only girl in the room’ privilige that doesn’t quite exist anymore.

    It actually kind of reminds me of the days when Vampire The Masquerade first came out and how much venom some of the lady nerds directed at the more…conventionally attractive goth girls who were around ‘their’ boys.

    Not that it comes down to attractiveness but more it’s about what happens when the traditional structure of a marginal social group is upset when it goes kinda mainstream.

    Like when the comic shop inexplicably stopped being a haven of ugly, socially awkward men.

    For example, I won’t got to anime conventions anymore because they’re filled with 16 year old girls and, while they don’t mind, it makes me feel really, really skeevy for being there.

  32. Don’t talk shit about Slave Leia! Yeah, that costume was pandering to the fanboys, but Slave Leia was badass. She was fearless, and she took down the Hutt with his own chains!

  33. Hot nerd girls? Bish, PLZ. But really – GREAT article, Heidi.

    In response to Zooey’s post – which I read the day she slapped it online – why are we calling on anyone to have to prove their interest/devotion to anything? Are we giving out membership cards or saved seats at the lunch table in our high school cafeteria? Sure, some women use ANY interest in ANYthing to get attention from the men who appreciate it (i.e.: sports, pr0n, and, yes, nerdy stuff), and there will always be both men AND women who claim they’re one way or another to get that positive attention.

    So…just like there are allll different types of people who have hobbies or interested that span different levels, let’s cut some slack to the women – whether hot or not – and stop being so judgmental or snobbish.

    Part of what made people “nerdy” to begin with was by finding pleasure in hobbies outside of what’s considered “cool” – and by doing what people like Zooey are doing, we’re perpetuating that alienation in the same way.

    So, let’s be happy and geeky and revel in the things we enjoy, ladies. Don’t feel pressured to adhere to any category, label…or to HAVE to sit at any one lunch table or the other.

  34. Just Passing Through says:

    Actually, it’s not just the fake girl nerd (or woman nerd, take your choice) that is part of the 21st century nowadays, it’s the fake male nerd as well. It’s fake nerds all around because they know that we have the money and that if they pretend to be one of us then we will show up at the theater on Friday. Think I’m just ranting: Think of every interview that takes place on a late night talk show with an actor playing a super hero or science fiction or fantasy character. Okay, now think about how the interviewer throws in random, almost Groucho Marx lines that are degrading to nerds (black glasses with white tape on them or mom’s making Jedi robes for adult males living in the basement). Okay. Now, think of which actor ever defended the nerds. Go head, take a couple of days if you need. Mmm hmm.

    “Today and in the future, it’s WAY MORE important to be good looking (or “semi-hot”) for women AND men to get all those special little breaks and perks in life. The benefits from being attractive are well-documented these days… it’s sad, of course, but welcome to America!” It’s true. No, think about it. Even with deities there’s only the Fat Buddha.

    Oh, and the answer to the question of the title post: Can you be a hot girl AND a nerd? No, you can’t. Because if you were a hot girl you never have not been invited to your prom. You’ve never had your face smashed into a locker by the captain of the cheer leading squad. You’ve never stayed home on a Friday night because the other kids thought you were strange for watching star trek. You’ve never been picked last because you were fat, or tall and extremely skinny or had too many pimples. Remember: Sci Fi/Fantasy/Comics/Etc are only ONE part of being a nerd, the OTHER part is how your fellow humans treated you. If you have not known that sting, how can you be called a nerd?

  35. “Remember: Sci Fi/Fantasy/Comics/Etc are only ONE part of being a nerd, the OTHER part is how your fellow humans treated you. If you have not known that sting, how can you be called a nerd?”

    Oh for God’s sake.

    Some of the nastiest, most obnoxiously clique-ish, most elitist, snobbish, and sexist people I have ever had the displeasure to meet were in that “oppressed” fandom which continuously whines about how meanly they were treated by others. So, I call bullshit.

    They didn’t run off to create a subculture where they felt safe from abuse, all they succeeded in creating was a subculture where they got to pee on others first, and wield bad manners like a conceit.

    Behold the nerd supremicist, comfortable in his knowledge that he and only his kind drinks the bitter dregs of human experience.

  36. Wow–to me, Jill’s blog title wasn’t a girl pandering to the nerds; I always thought it was a girlgeek COMMENTING on the nerds. Just yesterday, my teenager was running a video game booth at his school (raising $$ for charity) and he told me that he paid for a girl to take a turn “just to see if the nerd-boys could figure out how to function with a female person in their midst”. There is still an awful lot of commentary about how not-the-norm girls are in comics fandom, creation, etc. AND there’s a lot of assumption that girls “just” like “girl comics”. I’ve always seen “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” as an eye=roll title, “Yes, I’m female, yes I REALLY do like comics, I’m not just pretending–so get over it.”

  37. I still don’t get where some folks are thinking of “nerd” as an actual insult perjorative(sp?)

    It’s a tribal self-identification. You like comic books and star wars and star trek a lot: you might be a nerd (no Jeff Foxworthy intended)

    Anywho: there are and aren’t “fake nerds.” I somewhat disagree with the poster above. I do think it’s a bit sick to act like people have to “earn” their “cred,” but as a person who’s met people who boasted “I’m such a nerd, I love Star Trek” and then look at me like I’ve got three faces when I discuss my (minimal) Star Trek interest…nah, I’m not so cool with people faking the funk.

    Keep it real, homies.

  38. Nice article Heidi!

    FWIW, I’ve never read that blog because I hate the title

  39. NINO:

    I agree with you a LOT. There’s an aggressive streak a mile wide in geekdom. The pecking order stuff. Where people who’ve been the fire hydrant all their lives finally set up a scenario to be the dogs for once.

    Which leads to the (invariable) other folks who are always at the bottom of the pecking order. Outcast from “norm” society, outcast from “geek/nerd” society.

    Finally, getting to sip from the cup of victory and taste the power of crushing people beneath them. But it’s never “revenge” against the people who they feel hurt them, it’s always just pushing around other people who are just like them.

  40. If someone wants to identify as a nerd or geek who gets to judge whether they are nerdy enough to be one? I was disappointed by the Salon piece, it seemed judgmental. No one says that a good looking actor who says he reads comics or likes Star Wars is pandering to nerds. And if an actress who isn’t a Megan Fox or a Rosario Dawson in the looks department, say someone who wore glasses and sported a few pounds, said she liked Star Wars would it also be considered pandering? Or just the reinforcement of a stereotype?

    Now the idea of self-identifying as a girl geek/nerd is a different topic. When it comes to geekery/nerdery, men are the default. Creating visibility and awareness though labels or titles (provocative, as in the case of Jill’s blog, or other wise) helps the world know that geeky/nerdy things aren’t just the domain for men. And the term “geek girl” vs. woman doesn’t bother me as I feel it has more to do with alliteration.
    Someday “geek/nerd” will be a non-gender term that applies only to your likes and dislikes and not your looks. (or as pointed out by @justpassingthrough abuse heaped upon you) I look forward to that day.

  41. Can you have had a relatively positive (or at least drama-lacking) experience in high school and still have legitimate interests in the artifacts of nerd culture?

    It is possible that after graduating high school you continued to grow and mature as an individual, develop interests in movies and comic books and music, and discover pleasure in many of those things typically designated as “nerd stuff.” Maybe by virtue of being “hot” or “popular” you were sheltered in your youth from things you might enjoy by people looking out for “your best interest” (“No, dear, stay away from the icky nerd things, they have cooties and your face will break out”); then later you discover just how effing cool they actually are. Doctor Who or World of Warcraft or whatever speak to you for some reason: they are fun, they entertain your intellect, whatever.

    Then you find there is a whole social scene attached to it — and you think that is cool, too!

    Isn’t that enough?

  42. I live with the ULTIMATE comic book geek, Amanda Conner. Knows everything about Star trek, Saw star wars 22 times in the theatre when it came out…dressed as superheroes since she was a teenager and always encourages other women to write and draw whatever they like.

    So yes, a girl can be hot and a greek.

  43. and yeah “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” is a really insulting title.

    Art is a pursuit of the mind. Referencing your secondary-sex-characteristics in a cryptically provocative (as in “provoking,” not as in “sexy”) way hurts us all. I’m not saying that gender isn’t a major issue in comics and nerddom in general–it is. Oh HOW it is. But making your entire identification (ie, title of blog) about your secondary sex characteristics cheapens everybody.

    She could be THE most brilliant writer about comics ever to exist. I’ll never know. I can’t get past the implication that the title suggests that I would *really like to know about her boobs* which I do not.

    I grew up in this society. We’re all taught to judge people–ESPECIALLY women–on their physical features and socially-determined sexual desirability. It takes years to deprogram this training, and I’m still struggling with it. This title just throws that up in everyone’s face as if nobody is on the path to equality, as if the author herself just stepped out of a Freshman year sociology course. It simultaneously commands attention toward her secondary-sex-features while implicitly condemning people for noticing.

    Later for that.

  44. hahahahah…geek! or better yet, a nerd.

    and yes, a girl can be hot and a greek as well.

    lol…

  45. Pantsless Pete says:

    I’ll agree with Palmiotti. I’ve known a great many attractive greek women.

  46. Charles Knight says:

    “Can you have had a relatively positive (or at least drama-lacking) experience in high school and still have legitimate interests in the artifacts of nerd culture?”

    What? By that logic, you can’t enjoy such stuff and have a good time at school. I liked comics, I liked sci-fic I also liked having sex with girls, playing football and raising hell. There is no contraindication in any of that.

    It’s people who self-identify as “geeks/Nerds” (people who have to introduce themselves as such seem the worst, like that guy who wears a comedy tie to the office and think it gives him a personality) who seem to be bring the worst stereotypes and limits to the mix. The rest of us get a grip and get the fuck on with it.

  47. Synsidar says:

    Self-identifying as a geek or nerd isn’t necessarily a bad thing — most people want to find others with similar interests — but if doing so limits his range of interests, it is bad. How many geeks or nerds get involved in politics at any level? The label “wonK’ is applied to people who are able to take bare-bone policies and flesh them out so that they actually do what’s intended, or analyze defective policies and find out what’s wrong with them — but the label says more about their intelligence and analytical abilities than about their personalities.

    Someone can’t be passionate about many things, but the more things he or she is interested in, the better.

    SRS

  48. Charles Knight says:

    “Self-identifying as a geek or nerd isn’t necessarily a bad thing — most people want to find others with similar interests — but if doing so limits his range of interests”

    Maybe I expressed myself properly, I’m more concerned with their attempts to define *my* interests by explaining to us what the “community” needs, what action “community” leaders should be doing and how we should all pull together for the good of the “community” and how I should behave in my interaction with others.

  49. “There is no contraindication in any of that.”

    Definitely not. One thing I continue to find frustrating as a comics artist is that comics are continually being defined by the most dominant genres and the cultures that surround them. Mind you, I like those genres and cultures; but there is more that can be done with the medium, and weirdly the Internet has seemed to force even more consolidation around a handful of possibilities that reward Nerd™ preferences.

    All of which is a big tangent from Heidi’s original post. I think Heidi makes several good points about the constraints the dominant male culture imposes on women’s self-identity and the policiing that occurs to enforce them. But if we are to break out of these stereotypes, we need to break out of a lot more stereotyped thinking on all fronts.

  50. Jackie Estrada says:

    When I went to the first San Diego Comic-Con in 1970, it’s true I was one of the few women there (Scott Shaw! often describes it has having been a lot of teenage boys, with the only women being their moms.) However, I was already a college graduate, married, and working—and a big-time comics fan. When I got involved in putting on the Con in the mid-1970s, I found that the con committee was filled with females who were fans of sf, fantasy, and comics. I don’t recall any of us referring to ourselves as nerds or geeks. The gals weren’t treated any differently than the guys and were just as likely to fill key roles. They included Charlene Brinkman (who later became Brinke Stevens), Wendy All, Mary Henderson, Vicky and Dena Kelso, Janice Guy, Virginia French, Jane Nizyborski, and Maeheah Alzman, to name a few. The attendance for the first several years was probably something like 75% male, but once Star Wars hit, the female attendance increased. Over the last dozen years or so, I’d guess female attendance has been getting closer to 50 percent.

  51. kristenmchugh22
    >>>Women can’t win. If we’re not conventionally attractive, we’re marginalized, if we’re geeks, we’re marginalized, if we’re conventionally attractive AND geeks, we’re marginalized.

    Oh yeah. Thank god it’s so cool to be a girl.

    Adri:
    >>>Sure, some women use ANY interest in ANYthing to get attention from the men who appreciate it (i.e.: sports, pr0n, and, yes, nerdy stuff), and there will always be both men AND women who claim they’re one way or another to get that positive attention.

    Great observation. We are really talking about a basic facet of human behavior here and how it addresses a specific social set.

    DC Women:
    >>>And if an actress who isn’t a Megan Fox or a Rosario Dawson in the looks department, say someone who wore glasses and sported a few pounds, said she liked Star Wars would it also be considered pandering? Or just the reinforcement of a stereotype?

    I think this really cuts to the heart of the bias.

    Jackie:
    >>>When I went to the first San Diego Comic-Con in 1970, it’s true I was one of the few women there (Scott Shaw! often describes it has having been a lot of teenage boys, with the only women being their moms.)

    I have noted in many of those old photo sets of prehistoric SDCC’s that there are at least a couple of women in most of them. Nowhere near parity but they were there.

  52. If I can offer a plug. Ming will be at Comicopia for FCBD tomorrow!

  53. “And if an actress who isn’t a Megan Fox or a Rosario Dawson in the looks department, say someone who wore glasses and sported a few pounds, said she liked Star Wars would it also be considered pandering? Or just the reinforcement of a stereotype?”

    DCWKA has a point. Because OF COURSE bespectacled fatties are going to be nerds/geeks, we’re not pretty enough to be anything else. So OF COURSE all those pretty gals who can get the boys drooling couldn’t be bothered to like “comic books and stuff” as Megan “Foot-in-mouth-disease” Fox so eloquently put it. But if the stereotypical hottie IS into “all that stuff” then she’s clearly just pandering to snag a man (or an audience)or she’s a Goddess of Geekdom.
    I will weep copious tears of joy when this ridiculous issue DIES forever.

  54. Actually I’m sorta amused by the broaded question raised, mostly implictly, which is “can you be a conventionally attractive human being and still be a nerd?” I suppose I’m too busy being glad that an attractive woman claims to like comics or whatever (and outside of Hollywood, there’s rarely any reason to distrust her) to question it, but there are some dudes to whom I’ve been tempted say “you can’t call yourself a nerd! when did you ever suffer?!”

    So the question really becomes, is it wrong to qualify nerddom based on suffering and etc? Yeah it probably is, but for those of us who believe we have suffered, it’s not easy to let go of. When I think of it from my own POV, I can more easily understand where Zooey May was coming from, even though I find it easy, from my position, to dismiss her as “wrong.” Which may just be hypocrisy!

  55. Karen says:

    A really great, thought-provoking piece, Heidi.

    It’s interesting to me how specific “geek” and “nerd” have become. It has to be comics, sci-fi, or gaming, doesn’t it? When I was growing up I was into comics, but that wasn’t what made me nerdy by my peers’ reckoning. I also really enjoyed reading, and I was in theater AND chorus, and I was encyclopedic on classic Hollywood. I still use slang I picked up out of 1930s films when I was a teenager.

    It seems like a lot of the women in that clip film feel they have to claim a connection to certain specific elements of what is now considered geekdom. But I’ll bet a lot of them were theater geeks or band geeks or art-room geeks when they were teenagers. Maybe this is the best/easiest way to convey their own possible sense of isolation/marginalization growing up, because there is now an accepted set of geek tastes.

    What do I know? Everybody sneered at ME in high school, so I find it uninviting to sneer at others. It’s nice that Zooey Mae apologized for the tone of her original piece. But, what would be really nice is if we could all just respect each other. I mean, as someone once said, Why can’t we all just get along?

  56. I’ll just confess here that I didn’t read all of folks comments. This is just something that I’ve fixated on for a while and I don’t know why because I hate semantics.

    That said, I grew up as a kid who got picked on a lot. I was eventually able to fight back in multiple ways but I was still a social idiot for a long time.

    I think there are those of us who think of “nerd” as more than “likes a tiny subculture of stuff most people don’t like.” Some of us think of nerd as it is meant when it is used derogatorily. In middle school, you either were ignored or socially or physically got your ass kicked for being yourself.

    This, I don’t think, has really happened to that many hot girls. Unless they went through a REAL transformation. Sure, everyone can point to instances of being shit on, but some of us got it worse.

    So it does kind of rub me the wrong way when I see a girl who I know never had serious social problems say “I’m such a nerd” because she likes nerd culture. maybe she even is a comic book junkie (probably not), but maybe.

    Then there are girls like iJustine, who I love, who realized that she could take her interest in nerdly things to stratospheric heights because she’s also beautiful and not awkward. Is she a nerd?

    I don’t think so.

    But… whatever… it’s just a word. I think that’s where the objection comes from I think. Those of us who got picked on seriously doubting that some of the folks who claim to be nerds ever had it that bad.

    Y’know?

    But if you just think being a “nerd” is liking superheroes or computers or tech or whatever… then, fine. Sure you can be a nerd and be a hot.

    tho there are also the panderers. Or those who fake it because they see a market. But whatever. It’s fine.

    I’m glad people like superheroes and, y’know, God bless the CosPlay girls. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without them.

  57. Xenos says:

    Damn. I totally forgot to find Ming Doyle’s table at the con. Well, she and her Loneliest Astronaut cohort are going to be at a FCBD signing near me.

    Meanwhile, I never got the Oliva Munn craze. She was a presenter, but never seemed huge on the culture. Meanwhile Morgan Webb seemed to be quite the video game aficionado and Blair Butler sure the hell knew what she was talking about in the world of comics.

    With Megan Fox.. I have no idea what going on there and I rather don’t want to find out. I give that E True Hollywood Story in the making a wide berth whether or not she’s originally a comic geek.

    Well, same for this Zooey May casting stones at the Nerdy Bird. As someone who has enjoyed her blog for a while, I don’t get why this other blog is giving her crap. This other writer and her totally messed up editor have a ton of issues to work out.

  58. Otaku-sempai says:

    My vote for “Hot Girl Nerd of the Year” goes to Rebekah Platt, who hosts “Hobbit in 5″ the weekly video summary at TheOneRing.net of stories relating to Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of THE HOBBIT.

    Rebekah Platt on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rebekah-Platt/177275525649693

  59. Wow, Heidi, I don’t know how I missed THIS. A great piece to be sure, thank you for highlighting the issue in a respectful and intelligent way.

    And I really appreciate it when people like Heidi can say, you know what, I don’t dig the title of your blog, but that’s all it is, a title. And still choose to read my work and find it to be satisfying material. Judging a blog by its title is just as bad as judging a book by its cover, you never know what you’ll find inside.

    It truly does bother me when anyone takes offense to my blog title, especially another woman. It certainly isn’t my intent and as cliche as it sounds, we’re all in this together and tearing each other down for the way we choose to identify ourself doesn’t help things.

    I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fully understand why people take my title to be sexist, objectifying or pandering because when I decided on it, none of those thing even remotely came to mind. From my view, my intent was for it to be satirical and something that would automatically break down the stereotypes some people still have about women and comics. And that’s the purpose it has seemed to served to this day. People still comment on my blog saying it’s refreshing to see a women into and writing about comics, because for a lot of people, this is still a foreign concept.

    I can understand the quick judgement on it, not knowing the background behind it, but for that to keep you from reading my site just doesn’t make sense to me. I’ll always stand behind it because the title always gives me a chuckle (as it was meant to), especially when males comment telling me women aren’t the only comic fans with “boobs.”

    And thanks to anyone who read my Newsarama piece this week. I wish we, as a community, could learn to respect each other’s ways of expressing our fandom more.

  60. I saw the thumbnail and said “That’s MING!” Her Thorset was all kinds of cool. She’s so effing talented!

  61. Socko says:

    I’ve been going to Cons since 1984. They women who now attend have added to the overall enjoyment of Cons everywhere. Why? Slave Leia, Harley Quinn? Yes, but even better, the dudes at Cons now shower.
    I went to a Detroit area Con in 1995, I almost puked when two stenches in Darth Vader and Chewie outfits walked by me. I couldn’t take it, I confronted them and told them to leave. I got applause from the other attendees. I dealer even gave me a free bootleg videotape. There is no reason to be a stanky smelly stereotype.

  62. carolina says:

    i totally agree.

    being a proud “nerd girl” or whatever the official title is lol, it bothers me to see women dressing up as slave leia just to show off their body. we need to be taken seriously, not to be seen as sex objects. we’ve had to go thru that for centuries. we’re strong and independent, sometimes even more than men! we can’t get anywhere if we fight like children and call each other “bitches”…we need to unite lol :)

  63. Kat Kan says:

    When I was a young girl reading comics about 50 years ago, none of the boys in the neighborhood commented on it. When I was a preteen reading comics a few years later, I was just “weird.” Now I’m a grandma who reads comics and getting ready to share some with my 6 1/2-month-old grandson. I don’t care about all those stupid labels. I just read what I like to read and try to spread the word that comics are definitely worth reading – by anyone! And that’s truly all that matters.

  64. The Beat wrote:
    “Also, can we please do away with the stereotype that you have to be ugly to criticize other women who are cuter than you?”

    Sure … but only if we can get rid of the stereotype that nerd guys are afraid of/feel threatened by geek girls. (See Jennifer dG’s post). Deal?

  65. “Can you be a hot girl and a nerd?” Two words: Jill Pantozzi. AWOOOOOO!!!

  66. otistfirefly says:

    @Beat

    >>>>Uh, or maybe….they are just GOOD ENOUGH to be successful?

    Christ almighty.>>>>

    Well… I’m not sure which way to go on this… I guess I’m half to blame because I didn’t put a BIG GIANT FLAMING BREAK BETWEEN:

    —-Maybe they don’t go into school or the office dressed in a bikini because young women today know they can get ahead without putting out? —-

    AND

    —-That they have MORE opportunity today than young men? That they know they benefit from diversity programs set up in any company of decent size to help them get ahead? (And no, I’m not against them…spare me the knee-jerk attacks.)—-

    My POINT WAS that women CAN get ahead today without being sex objects (a fact that I sometimes believe you don’t want to acknowledge, judging by your comments in the story and your always quick rush to judgement in such forums…. you don’t know me, so don’t assume that I’m a neanderthal and go straight to the condescending holier-than-thou (insert Charlie Brown sigh) “Christ almighty.”)

    THEN after a stark, impossible-to-miss BREAK, I should have made it clear that I was pointing out that in addition to all the other normal tools for the workplace that young men and women are prepared with, women also get the benefit of diversity programs. But as I say, I guess it’s my fault because I should have known that a person with a victim mentality is prone to read things that way. People see what they want to see. (Yes, I know it’s bad to point to a victim mentality so quickly, and I don’t know you any better than you know me, but I guess it’s the flip side of the quick… nay, instantaneous rush to judgement you receive if you mention people benefiting from diversity programs, that are NEVER open to YOUR gender or race, you are AUTOMATICALLY a sexist and racist… and usually a homophobe as well, just for kicks.)

    Anyway, it’s your playground. Cheers.

  67. otistfirefly says:

    @kristenmchugh22

    >>>Women can’t win. If we’re not conventionally attractive, we’re marginalized, if we’re geeks, we’re marginalized, if we’re conventionally attractive AND geeks, we’re marginalized. >>>

    You think that’s not exactly the same for men? You’re not paying attention. And more of that victim-mentality at play… and someone even added “Oh yeah. Thank god it’s so cool to be a girl”? in quick agreement to “women can’t win.”

    As I say… victim mentality. It’s a shame that is so ingrained into so many people.

    as Dayrl points out:
    >>>This title just throws that up in everyone’s face as if nobody is on the path to equality, as if the author herself just stepped out of a Freshman year sociology course. It simultaneously commands attention toward her secondary-sex-features while implicitly condemning people for noticing.>>>

    … gee, and y’all think WOMEN CAN’T WIN?? Try being a guy and having to face that everywhere!

    >>>Men are NEVER called on to verify their geek bona fides, so why are women?

    Maybe because society is still so steeped in stereotypes? Take a poll on what a “nerd” is and 90% of people will give you Robert Carradine in taped up glasses. I’d even go so far to say that the majority of Americans don’t know girl nerds even exist.

  68. Charles Knight says:

    We need a drinking game, take a drink when:

    * Someone mentions community
    * someone makes a plea for the community to go together
    * Someone mention that women have it tough
    * Someone pops up and says “hold on sister, men have it equally tough, let me tell you…”
    * Someone suggests that to be a true geek/nerd you had to have your head flushed down the toilet at school
    * Someone explains why attractive girls can be nerds
    * Someone explains why attractive girls can’t be nerds

  69. I can’t play that game, Charles, I’m a lightweight. Scrolling through the posts above, I’d be trashed before I got through the first 20 posts… ;)

    Seriously? I think all that’s happening is that those of us who have been geeks, nerds, fill in the blank here, all along are a little bit distressed to see “our” culture co-opted, mainstreamed by the pretty people who shunned us in high school / college.

    Except ya know what, this is the same as when you discover a new band, share it with a few friends & suddenly they’re on the Billboard charts. It’s a good thing that more types of people read comics than before – what with sales numbers they way they are, where would we be without more mainstream acceptance of the geek ways..?

    I dunno. I guess all the passion unleashed above proves me wrong, but, I don’t care much whether the Slave Girl Leah three booths down actually reads comics. So what if she’s late to the party, she’s there: & maybe she does geek out on comics/scifi/etc – or maybe her SO does – as long as somebody is, I’ll have folks to try to engage, yes?

  70. Charles Knight says:

    “Seriously? I think all that’s happening is that those of us who have been geeks, nerds, fill in the blank here, all along are a little bit distressed to see “our” culture co-opted, mainstreamed by the pretty people who shunned us in high school / college.”

    Truthfully this undercurrent never occurred to me until I saw it here – isn’t the issue here really people who were bullied and school and never got over it?

  71. If you can’t be a hot girl and a nerd, what the hell have my best girl friends and I been doing since childhood?

    Sheesh.

    That’s really all I have to say on the subject, with a healthy punctuation of a full-body eyeroll.

  72. “Truthfully this undercurrent never occurred to me until I saw it here – isn’t the issue here really people who were bullied and school and never got over it?”

    Charles Knight wins.

  73. Otisfirefly, I take it in speaking of the “victim mentality” you are speaking from personal experience?

    Jill: Thanks for coming by and posting your thoughts. Thanks to everyone, including Otisfirefly. Some really interesting discussion here.

  74. >> Otisfirefly, I take it in speaking of the “victim mentality” you are speaking from personal experience? >>

    Otis wants all this “victim mentality” stuff to stop until he’s finished with it. He called dibs.

  75. I’m actually offended by the title of this article. It has fuled me into writing something about how annoying it is to be a female nerd and HAVE to be hot. The number of times I’ve talked in a multi player game to sudden attacks of “Bet you’re fat.”
    “BET YOU’RE UGLY!” In all honestly, it doesn’t matter. I am engaged, and not the slightest bit interested in impressing you. It does not matter if I am attractive or not. I should be judged on my skill as a gamer, not on my cup size.

  76. Though I agree over all I have made a post in my blog regarding this subject http://justonemadman.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/for-all-my-lady-geeks/

  77. beccathegreat says:

    You know, the sad thing to me is this assumption so many make that attractive women obviously never felt awkward or uncomfortable in high school. Apparently it’s okay to treat the beautiful among us as a little less human, because if they are geeks/nerds–and that’s always a little suspect (I mean, the boyfriend musts
    Be to blame for that, or it must be a ploy for attention!)–well, obviously they’re less authentically geeky because they’ve never felt the sting of being an outcast.

    Sure, being beautiful may have a lot of surface advantages, but beautiful women are among the most marginalized members of society. What if you don’t WANT the attention that so many “bitter geeks” seem so jealous of? Too bad–you’ll accept it and like it, too, if you know what’s good for you. Because you’re just not allowed to be socially uncomfortable AND a hot babe, regardless of your interests.

  78. beccathegreat says:

    This attitude that “pretty people” looked down on geeks in high school/college just amazes me. How do you know they looked down on you? Maybe they were just shy, or maybe they sensed your anger toward them. I certainly wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who judged me so harshly based on my looks–even if we shared other interests. Maybe the reason some geeks felt like outcasts in high school is the same reason some beautiful people felt like outcasts in high school: because we were all awkward adolescents. Time to outgrow that, isn’t it?

  79. “Truthfully this undercurrent never occurred to me until I saw it here – isn’t the issue here really people who were bullied and school and never got over it?”

    I thought the subject was Hollywood celebs who claimed to be geeks when they aren’t.

  80. @ Rich – I think it’s both. Folks are maybe put off of actresses (for example) suddenly claiming comic book or other geek cred ’cause ‘we were here first’. If some project Roasario Dawson is in gets more people checking out where that came from, isn’t it all good?

    @ Beccathegreat – I hope most ppl who got picked on in school are over it by now, but I disagree that everyone got bullied/ostracized the same amount or in the same way. The prettier/wealthier/cooler folks in my school weren’t going through the often turbulent growth stages of teenage years with no problems. But I maintain that they weren’t the same types of problems as myself & other nerds in school. I don’t think this is an across the board rule, but it’s true of my experience.

    I’ll say it again though, ’cause you are so right: I hope bullied/picked on kids in school don’t allow it to shape their adult experience too much.

    As I said above, all kinds of folks should be welcome into the geek culture Big Top. ’cause if not, then there becomes a whole geek caste system that’s not too different from what geeky kids were trying to escape from way back when, right?

    I almost typed a smilie, there..

  81. I think people are put off by Hollywood stars and starletts claiming to be geeks and nerds cause they’re so obviously not.

    It’s not just the comics fans … Look at the hosts of these programs like Jimmy Kimmel and Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. Even they look skeptical, and no one is calling them out.

  82. Sarah O says:

    It’s too bad Jill’s blog couldn’t have been named “Has Brains, Reads Comics.” It would have been just as true.

  83. Just wanted to say i liked the article. Plus, I have met Rosario Dawson twice at HeroesCon. She is the real deal. When it was time to be the star she was kind, funny and great. When she was needed to work the booth she was like any other fan that helped a small press table. She stepped up and helped a local charity when the visit from other comics profesionals was canceled by plane delays. As the charity auctioneer she rocked it and brought in loads of cash. All while being a down to earth fan herself. She is awesome. Just wanted to say.

    Plus, The Nerdy Bird, Jill, is someone I love to follow online. She is great.

  84. Just wanted to say i liked the article. Plus, I have met Rosario Dawson twice at HeroesCon. She is the real deal. When it was time to be the star she was kind, funny and great. When she was needed to work the booth she was like any other fan that helped a small press table. She stepped up and helped a local charity when the visit from other comics professionals was canceled by plane delays. As the charity auctioneer she rocked it and brought in loads of cash. All while being a down to earth fan herself. She is awesome. Just wanted to say.

    Plus, The Nerdy Bird, Jill, is someone I love to follow online. She is great.

  85. Snikt Snakt says:

    Yeah, b/c all hot chicks want to do is go clothes/shoe shopping, look sexy, hit the clubs/bar scene and…read comic books.

  86. beccathegreat says:

    @Eva–Like you, I can only make observations based on my own experience and understanding of what others have told me, but I think, as adults, there seems to exist a certain satisfaction in saying, I was mistreated/made fun of/whatever because I was smart or geeky or whatever. It puts you in a pretty big club, with a lot of people who are really interesting and smart.

    But if you say, I was mistreated/made fun of/whatever because I was beautiful, there is no corresponding club. Beautiful women in particular are always suspect–they have to work twice as hard to prove that they’re smart, or kind, or even nerdy. And this is AFTER adolescence, too.

    Of course you can be a geek girl and be hot. The real question is, will you ever be accepted in the way a “non-hot” girl is? Or are you always going to be treated like a token minority or an oddity?

  87. Torsten Adair says:

    Although not a direct comment on all this, Colleen Doran, to no surprise, has some intelligent commentary on this subject:

    http://adistantsoil.com/2011/05/08/one-day-ill-be-drawing-comics-for-big-city-publishers-and-all-youre-ever-going-to-be-is-mean/

    Click the links. And then click the links in those links. Then fill her tip jar. (And read her comic!)

  88. I think the reason people normally suspect a woman of pandering or pretending is because the occasional air of “special snowflake” to the assertion of being a geek. To speak or act as if you are a rarity will only reinforce the stereotype, or ring completely false.

  89. I have problems taking any adult seriously, who for good or ill still thrives on usage of such labels.
    High School was a long damn time ago, kids.

    Do other mediums insist on comparable behavior?

  90. If more people looked up the photos from Megan Fox’s awkward stage of youth, they would not be doubting her nerd cred. And it was clear from one of her appearances on Kimmel that she was not faking her knowledge and appreciation of artists like Turner and Campbell, who were huge deals to 9 and 10 year-olds in the mid-90s when she was around 9 or 10 years-old.

  91. beccathegreat says:

    I can’t comment on Megan Fox because I haven’t observed her, but that’s one of the points I was trying to make. Just because someone is “hot” right now doesn’t mean she had an easy adolescence or doesn’t know what it’s like to be excluded or picked on.

    And even if she was “hot” then, it doesn’t mean everyone treated her better. Plenty of girls are treated badly just because they look better.

    I just find this attitude of “I had a miserable adolescence, you wouldn’t understand it, you’re not like me” short-sighted. It sounds like arrested development. The geeky crowd often seems to find its outsider status precious, but everyone has felt that way. It’s not exclusive territory for people who read comics or like Star Wars.

  92. nwprodigal says:

    I am a girl. I am NOT flat chested. I am an avid reader of Batman comics, DC elseworlds, Dark horse SW, Transformers and TF vs GI Joe. I own a copy of the From hell Graphic novel. I have various selection of Nightwing and Teen Titans. I could go on forever.
    I have loved Star Wars for years. I write hard core fanfiction about it. I haven’t got a StarWars shirt, but I do have an Anakin Skywalker Jedi Knight uniform which I wore(to be Anakin, complete with mullet(faked)scar and all) and a lightsaber. I have a $50000 Episode 3 poster that hung at the Chicago premier.
    Two years ago, I went on Halloween as BatMAN. Complete with Christian Bale Rummber mask. i also write Fanfiction for Batman. I have a Transformers shirt too, but that is as far as that goes.
    I used to have Catwoman’s Haircut. Because it was Catwoman.

    Grant Morrison is currently god.

    I have been called ‘weird’ since I was five for liking these things.

    Am I hot?

    Well, I guess it is subjective.

    Can girls be nerds?
    Seriously? This question needs to be asked? Of course they can be!
    I have walked into comic stores and have been given funny looks, but I hardly care. I’ll buy a stack of issues and then the guy doesn’t give me a second look because I know exactly what I want when I go in. Gotham Knights # 17, or Batman #681.

    I get the worst looks in Barnes and Noble when I just want to pic up the newest compilation of Batman and Robin.
    If you think women can’t be geeks and comic fans and don MALE costumes cause they maybe like them BETTER than the female costumes… well… that is just sad. I am living proof. Right here.

  93. this is a funny topic but yh pretty good.

  94. Just wanted to drop a note, AWESOME post! Great job!

  95. Jason says:

    How does reading comic books have anything to do with being a nerd??

    Everybody reads comics. I know people who are in gangs who read comics. I know rappers who read comics. Are they nerds?

  96. Can we please not forget that many of us mainstreamed into “hot girl” territory as a RESPONSE to being ostracized for most of our formative years BECAUSE of our nerddom? I was the coke-bottle glasses, pants up to my armpits, unbrushed, frizzy-haired gangle-fest for most of my pre-adolescent time. When I suddenly awoke one day to the appearance of boobs (because it does seem to happen overnight), people started treating me differently and I started responding differently. Now, I’ve worked as a model and actress for over a decade. Does that change the fact that I’ve got 4 bookshelves full of fantasy novels? That I’ve (happily) played more hours of D&D than I have spent going on dates? Or that even when the “hot” guys now WANT to date me, unless they can keep up with my comic book tangents, sci-fi references, and cult horror fascination, they don’t have a prayer? Hell freaking no.

    In fact, I think it’s much harder for those of us who are deemed “attractive” (note: this is society’s imposition and definition of beauty) to be taken seriously and be given our “nerd cred.”

    If I want to cosplay as Lisa Garland, I have every damn right to. Not because I’m trying to impress the boys, not because it’s the “in” or “cool” thing to do, but because she’s a kick-ass character from a video game I love.

    I think a lot of the “hot nerds” are finally having a chance to feel like they can come out, for lack of a better phrase, without negative repercussions or stigma. So many of us grew up hiding our interests from our peers out of fear. I was the kid who was locked in lockers. I still, to this day, want to impress everyone–I want everyone to like me. Often at the expense of my own happiness. And that is a legacy from being tormented as a kid. The fact that now, telling people that I know what THAC0 is (and miss it!) might be considered “sexy,” much less that I might be using it as a seduction technique, is pretty mind-boggling. And I have to imagine that I’m not the only one.

    Nerd identification has NOTHING to do with appearance and EVERYTHING to do with interests and passions.

  97. I like it when people be themselves, male and female alike, and not pander to others. Hot women don’t need to dress up sexy at conventions, but they chose to (and possibly paid to dress up and be at a convention booth). There are plenty of geek girls out there who chose not to dress up in costume and still go to conventions. I should know, I talked to one female Bone fan at last year’s Comic-Con, and another female Tron fan at this year’s D23 Expo (and neither was in costume). So, let’s not judge each other by what someone’s wearing. We all go to the conventions for the very same reason; we all go there for fun!

  98. Oh, and don’t miss female comic book writer, Barbara Kesel, at this month’s Long Beach Comic and Horror Con!

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