To be or not to be a girl geek

A little personal reflection …Image

If your reading list is like mine, you may have noticed the controversial (or tedious) blogpost in Forbes about Fake Girl Geeks. I initially hadn’t thought to comment it, but alas – I can’t seem to help myself. I remember our first Girl Geek Dinners Bergen meeting and when we started discussing who was allowed to come to our events and who was not, the brilliant Hilde Corneliussen just simply said “Why should we have to exclude anyone?”. And so began our policy that anyone who wanted to come to our events was welcome.

I sometimes felt torn about this decision. I relished every moment I had with these great women. It was so fun to talk about so-called geeky subjects at the same time as I could giggle foolishly without seeming insincere. But there was just no way that I would turn anyone away that was interested in coming. The word “girl” has also been an issue that’s been discussed on the subject of girl geeks. Some have felt that in order to be taken seriously we should call ourselves “women” (which we are). But for me, I loved the relaxed atmosphere and the unseriousness of the word “girl”. I desperately needed a venue to chill and talk about geek issues and could never think of these events as business networking opportunities. If we used the word “women” I feared that the atmosphere would become too serious and businesslike. But this is for the next generation og girl geek leaders to decide – I’ve stepped aside.

My geekdom

Another hinder we kept coming across were girls and women who wanted to join our dinners but feared that they weren’t geeky enough or that we weren’t geeky enough. I was constantly asked to define exactly what a geek is and this is the line I usually came up with:

“A geek is anyone who’s extremely fascinated about something and wants to share it with us. The subject can be anything from a favourite knitting pattern to a space shuttle design.”

I’ve always felt very pleased with that, although I never seemed to gather large swarms of crowds – but it felt right to me.

Image

Me when I flew in Oslo just to hear and meet Cory Doctorow!

As for myself, I’m still waiting for people to expose my big fraud, that I’m not worthy of the label “geek”. The truth is that I didn’t find my inner geek until I was 30. It seems I’ve tried to surpress her and desperately to fit into a life that didn’t fit me. When I look back at my focus in my 20s I’m so sorry and sad   to admit that I thought I would find myself in a man. All I needed to do was find the perfect man that loved me and I would find happiness and ultimately … myself. When I finally realized that that was the stupidest thing to do EVR (since I kept failing at it), I found my inner geek – and I love her to bits! My life would be so miserable and boring if she had not escaped the closet I put her in. My inner geek takes me to the most amazing, colourful and adventurous places and we’re becoming the best of friends and I become more and more proud of her for each new thing she makes me do.

I suppose it’s through my own experience that it’s become very important for me to let other girls and women know that it’s ok to let your inner geek go. That said – most women I meet have figured this out long ago and are the most awesome women EVR. I envy several of them for finding this out so early in their lives.

But I feel it’s important to acknowledge that it’s alright to be enthusiastic about things even though you’ve only just learned about it. It’s alright to become consumed in a new world and you certainly must not have been labelled a “geek” in high school to embrace geekness. At least, not according to my definitions.

So for Girl Geek Dinners – the doors were always open to anyone who was curious, but several were wary of the definition.

Leigh Alexander

I initially started this post proclaiming that I had not intended on meaning anything about “fake” girl geeks, but then I read Leigh Alexander’s excellent rampage about the subject. She hits so many points with me like:

“When it comes to video games, I’m psyched – now people from all walks of life will be contributing their talents and experiences to the medium, people who might have gone off and just did movies or something instead, and it’ll be richer and there’ll be more people to have fun with and it’ll just be better.

But for some reason, the normalization of “geekdom”, the fact we now have the freedom and ability for everyone to get obsessed with whatever they want whenever and share it with whomever or not, is super threatening to a lot of people. “

I recommend taking the time out to read the whole thing because she does give the subject a good slap-around. I thoroughly found it inspiring and it’s very much my standing ground on the issue!

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