Recently, I've been reading about women game developers and women geeks in general having to defend their "nerd cred", and my first thought was, "What the hell is nerd cred?" Immediately, I start imagining gangs of people in their pocket protectors and horn-rimmed glasses doing a dance off in front of white boards and armed with colored dry erase markers.
As I did more research, I discovered that I was guilty of laughing my butt off at a meme that is now considered extremely sexist. I was first introduced to this meme when one of my friends, a fellow geek girl, had this posted to her page:
This was months and months ago, and I remember calling my husband over to laugh over it with me. First of all, it's funny because my friend absolutely won't have anything to do with DC comics. She's a total Marvel Girl. (Pun intended! And a girl after my own heart.) Secondly, I've dealt with so many people (not just women) that this meme makes fun of over the years. Heck, I may have BEEN this meme at some point in my life.
First of all, this meme makes fun of posers, and we all have met posers or been one at some point in our life. People try on a lot of hats for all sorts of reasons, and popularity and "being cool" are definitely two big factors in being a poser. We're all offended by posers because we often feel like they're mocking something we truly love or feel we've invested a lot of time and energy doing.
I'm not sure why this meme got turned into the "sexist" meme. I mean, most memes are downright insensitive in one way or another. I find Super Photogenic Guy to be far more sexist than Idiot Nerd Girl for the simple fact that Super Photogenic Guy is literally about that guy's maleness, even if it's in a positive light. Idiot Nerd Girl has very little to do with that girl actually being a girl and more about people pretending to be something they are not in order to make an impression on another group of people. Would we have the same reaction if it was Idiot Nerd Guy?
Now, don't get me wrong. There are jerks out there who question a girl's "nerd cred" and accuse us of using our womanhood to get in their sacred, geek pants. I've had a run-in with it lately while playing a game on Kongregate of all places. I got accused of "getting all the men riled up because you let them know you're a girl who plays LoL". My horrible deed? One of my buddies on the game asked me what my League of Legends account was so he could friend me. Why? Because he liked playing games with me. So because I answered and because I had not hidden the fact that I was playing the game with my husband, I had obviously lured all these men to treating me better by... I don't know. I got lost in trying to follow his line of thought. He obviously had a problem with me playing an online game and being a chick. Here's the thing, though. That's HIS problem. He temporarily made it mine, but it was VERY temporary.
The meme, however, is not the result of a bunch of sexist, misogynistic men who are out to destroy all nerd women. In fact, before I knew it was "sexist", I made a bunch of them just to amuse myself. I even used the template to make up one for some of the sanctimonious role-players in a certain game where I can often be found. By attacking the meme, we're allowing the douche canoes who are making us defend our "nerd cred" to have a rally point and to hide behind that meme. And really, those guys are like that with EVERYONE, even other guys who aren't in their accepted group and their accepted level of knowledge. It's their version of pissing on a tree to tell others to keep away, and it works remarkably well.
I was on the other side of Idiot Nerd Girl at Barnes & Nobles the other day. I had found a Lego Death Star, complete with a Tie Interceptor there, and of course, I bought it for my husband. When I got up to the register, the cashier gushed all over my Death Star. Then I said that I saw that there was a Yavin 4 and a Tatoonie as well, and I was thinking about getting one of those. She told me that she teared up every time she thought about Tatoonie. I thought that maybe she was sad that Boba Fett had died in the Sarlac Pit, and I was about to tell her that he actually makes it out when she said, "I never understood why Princess Leia wasn't more upset when they destroyed her planet. I would be devastated."
Before I could help myself, I blurted out, "Oh, you mean Alderaan."
She looked at me and said, "What?"
I said, "You mean Alderaan. Princess Leia's home planet was Alderaan, not Tatoonie."
Immediately, the lady got flustered and said that she couldn't keep any of the planets straight. There were just to many. For a moment, I doubted myself and started to feel like a guilty nerd who had spent too much time watching Star Wars. (Which I probably have, especially since my daughters are now getting into it.) I had a flash of resentment that she'd brought up Princess Leia in relation to Tatoonie at all and putting me in this position. She could had just gushed about my Death Star and left it at that. At the same time, I felt bad that she was trying to engage me, and it turned out awkward. So, I suppressed my nerd guilt and said, "Yeah, there's a lot of planets. The only reason I remembered it is because one of my favorite T-shirts shows Luke and Leia together with Alderaan in the back, and the hilarious caption said LOOKING FOR LOVE IN ALDERAAN PLACES." We had a good laugh and moved on away from the awkwardness. She helped me bag everything up, gave me about a thousand coupons, and rang up my discounts. We were both happy by the time I was done.
Still, I had that flash of resentment, but I'm a 37 year old woman with two daughters and a TON of geek/nerd friends and customers. I knew better than to let it unleash or to even hold it against that woman who was just trying to engage me. The Cred Warriors just don't know any better. They feel the need to stomp, moan, and freak out over their Nerdom. I leave it to them. They can have their little corner of the universe while I find friends who don't mind if I make a little bit of a mistake every now and then as I try to share their passion, and they don't mind if I correct them in my moments of extreme geekitude.