As you are reading this, I am probably somewhere under Seattle. I am taking an underground tour today with some of my new friends.
This post is about an issue that is really important to me. I'm not sure if you have seen Joe Peacock's ridiculous article about "fake" geek girls. I am not even going to talk about cosplayers at all. I am just going to talk about the "booth babes" aspect. Basically Joe Peacock is saying that he doesn't like booth babes being at conventions because they aren't geeks. The first reason this bothers me is that you can't tell much about a person from just looking at them. You certainly can't look at a person and automatically know what their likes and dislikes are. Life isn't Facebook and we don't have profiles listing the stuff we're into that magically float beside us all of the time. Some "booth babes" probably actually are into some geeky things. There is no rule that hot girls can't actually like geeky things. Most people are actually complex and have a variety of interests.
The main problem I have here is that Joe Peacock's entire article is based on him judging people he doesn't know. He hasn't bothered to get to know them at all. He says "And be it known that I am good friends with several stunningly beautiful women who cosplay as stunningly beautiful characters from comics, sci-fi, fantasy and other genres of fandom. They are, each of them, bone fide geeks. They belong with us. Being beautiful is not a crime." I do appreciate that Joe Peacock isn't saying "Girls cannot be geeks". I have experienced so many instances of people saying "Girls can't" in my life that I probably couldn't even count them all out on my fingers. Girls can't: be better than guys at whatever sport, love watching sports, know how to use power tools, be good at video games, listen to metal, headbang, hacky sack. Those are just a few of the ones I have personally experienced and I've proven them all wrong. For myself, when I hear someone say "girls can't" whatever, it just makes me want to be awesome at it. I love the look on guy's faces when they're hacky sacking and I ask to join them and then they ask if I know how. Then I kick it about 20 times in a row and they are always so surprised. So I do appreciate Joe Peacock accepting that girls can be geeks. But his statement makes me wonder, if he saw any of these girls and did not know them, would he look at them and assume they weren't "true geeks"? I wrote a post about some of the reasons people might classify me as "a nerd" a while ago. There are so many things that people can be considered "a geek" or "a nerd" for liking. It's not just science fiction and video games. Just from some of my favorite blogs, there's beachcombing, mushroom picking, collecting things that others may find strange (like human tooth jewelry), graphic design, and circus tricks. The specific girls I am thinking of who enjoy these things are all very pretty. Some of them could definitely be models. But if Joe Peacock saw them working as a promotional model at a convention, he would probably think that they were just there to make the guys "feel honored to be in their presence" (I am paraphrasing slightly).
There is one other huge thing that I have a problem with, though a little smaller than judging people. Most people need to make money to survive. There are the lucky few who were left large inheritances or won the lottery, but many of us have expenses, such as food and rent, that we need to pay. Speaking as someone who has been searching for a job, unsuccessfully, for about a year now, I can assure you that the longer it takes to find a job, the more desparate a person becomes to make money. I am to the point where I would happily be a sign spinner, but there aren't any sign spinner jobs on Craigslist right now. Some girls are willing to stoop to lower levels than others to make money. Some become prostitutes. Ones who are considered pretty enough might become strippers. Some of the pretty ones look through the gigs section of Craigslist and see one of the many ads for promotional models and think, maybe I am pretty enough they would hire me. Because guess what? Sex sells. It is a fact of life. That is why there are so many magazine ads selling perfume featuring women wearing a jacket without a shirt underneath and short shorts. It's a marketing scheme. These jobs exist and people who need money apply for them. If I were pretty enough, I would definitely apply to be a promotional model. The pay rate is fantastic without the risk of STDs. I would still have my same interests, which include science fiction, webcomics, and video games. They wouldn't go away just because I had a job as a promotional model. Seriously, if you could get a job that paid you upwards of $100 an hour just to stand around and talk to people, wouldn't you do it?
And the last point that I want to make is that there is really no evaluation system for being a "true geek". Joe Peacock might look at me and think that I'm really a geek because I have acne and wear glasses because I need them to see. If I had perfect skin and perfect vision, he might find it hard to believe that I was a true geek. But really looks have nothing to with whether or not a person is a geek. The hottest girl in the world, whoever that may be, could be completely obsessed with Battlestar Galactica and a girl most people wouldn't look twice at may have never played a single video game in her life. Looks have absolutely nothing to do with it. Personally I don't care whether or not Joe Peacock, or anyone else for that matter, believes I am a "true geek". I enjoy the things I enjoy and if others enjoy them too, then great. If they have never played an RPG and don't even know what it stands for, I would be happy to explain and let them play. I feel that people who are considered geeks or nerds have experienced a lot of times in their lives when they have been excluded or bullied because of their interests, so we should be the last people to exclude others. But it still happens and it makes me sad that we can't just be a friendly community who is happy to talk about our interests with anyone who wants to listen. Instead we point our fingers and say, "You claim to like Star Wars, but you don't understand the "It's a trap" reference. Imposter!" It's possible to like something and not know everything about it. Just because I have seen the Star Wars trilogy upwards of 100 times and you have only seen them once, that does not mean that you can't like Star Wars.
This got a little bit rambly, but my main points are that you can't know someone from just looking at them, people do these jobs to make money, the jobs wouldn't exist if it didn't work, looks have nothing to do with interests, there is no official criteria for who can and cannot call themself a geek, and labels don't have a lot of meaning.
So I guess I can just sit back and watch the inevitable flame war begin, but that is my opinion.