Geek Girls Travel in Packs

Yestereday on twitter Joey Heflich, or @MrBalls if you’d rather, decided to run a little geek survey. As ususal, there was a dearth of female geeks participating initially, so I (and a nice number of other ladies) decided to take part to give him a better sample.  Now, the core of this survey was the following scenario.


You see two geeks outside of a convention center.

Geek A is gesticulating wildly, talking about the upcoming release of The Dark Knight Rising, the new Batman movie. Geek A is a bit overweight, unkempt and pale. Geek A’s wardrobe is a wrinkled t-shirt and a pair of cargo shorts.

Conversely, Geek B is dressed up as superhero. Geek B is more of the skinny sort with nice hair to compliment a pair of glasses. A messenger bag is slung over Geek B’s shoulder to free up Geek B’s hands, which hold onto a book and a phone.

While Geek B appears to be politely listening to Geek A, Geek B shows clear signs of being disinterested.


We were then asked to identify the gender of the two geeks. I said both were male and so did a majority of the other responders, but Geek B was supposed to be female. As a matter of fact, Geek B was loosely modeled on Jill and Ali, Twitter buddies of mine. With the exception of the skinny attribute, Geek B could well be me, but I still thought of Geek B as a male, why is that?

Is it because we percieve a majority of geeks as male? Yes, absolutely, and that was the point of the survey (and this very nice response post), but I wondered if anything in the scenario suggested male geeks? I’d say yes, because the conversation depicted is between individuals and geek girls travel in packs.

Maddy and I hit a new (to her) comic book store yesterday and as we were pulling in I noted that the store is a really chatty place, she responded (paraphrased) “Of course it is, if you’re a girl alone in a geeky place, you’re going to get hit on.”

It’s true and to be honest, I don’t usually mind.  However, if I’m at a Con, a geek event or even hitting my LCS I’m likely to bring along a wingwoman. I don’t want to suggest that the geek community is an unfriendly or hostile place for women, but the situation described in the survey totally happens, it is uncomfortable and it’s much easier to get out if you can look over and say, “I need to help my friend pick an issue of Spider-Man” (Maddy always needs help picking out issues of Spider-Man).

Even when I hit geek events without a wingwoman I’m as likely as not to pick up a pack. If I’m travelling to visit a Con, I’m going there to meet up with people I know from twitter, I’ve developed con buddies on my own at MiniCon every year and I’m just extroverted enough to hop into a lively conversation if it looks welcoming.

However you slice it, I’m not likely to be Geek B. I wouldn’t be standing outside a convention center in an uncomfortable conversation, there’s no way my pack would let me get cornered like that.

That’s my opinion and experience, but I could well be in the wrong. Let me know what you think in the comments, on twitter, or via email.



Filed under Ponderings, Twitter

3 responses to “Geek Girls Travel in Packs

  1. This was the first I’d heard about the survey, and from the snippet you posted, I actually had assumed the genders correctly — but not because of physical descriptions or even because they are referred to as geeks, but because of the dynamics between them. The situation described just read to me as mansplaining: a guy who likes the sound of his voice and feeling important; and a woman who’s been socialized to be polite even when she doesn’t care, so she isn’t willing or able to just tell him to shut up. Depressingly common.

    (Though I admit I found the lack of gendered pronouns a bit of a tipoff, too, because it seemed way too carefully constructed to *not* be hiding some kind of reveal, and sadly “geeks can be girls!” is still a reveal, sigh.)

  2. I have a blindspot for mansplaining. It’s not something I jump on immediately, though you’re totally right about it being there.

  3. Pingback: Geek Girls Travel in Packs | Literateknits ::

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