The “Fake Geek” in “Fake Geek Girl”

The “Fake Geek Girl” is a topic that has been discussed extensively, mostly in terms of the sexism that arises from the designation and how it’s used. Certainly this criticism and discussion is warranted, but I think that understanding its connotative usages requires to some degree a removal of the “Girl” and a look at just the concept of the “Fake Geek” independent of gender. With that in mind, I’m going to lay out why I think the Fake Geek, or rather the concept of such, seems to engender bitter, defensive stances from those who would label themselves True, Legitimate, No Artificial Flavors Geeks (100% Authentic).

The idea of the Fake Geek (tied to the hipster) is someone who uses their feigned or marginal interest in a topic to gain some sort of advantage. That advantage may be an enhanced reputation or some form of cred, but generally the benefit is characterized as being able to increase one’s social circle, be it in the form of friends or otherwise. While I think that 1) any geek who has ever made good friends through their hobbies cherishes those friendships, and 2) we all to some extent have decided to check something out or keep up with something to a degree for social reasons, and thus I imagine the idea of friendships forged through nerd fires is not unappealing to people who are against “Fake Geeks,” what I believe to be the significant component in the creation of the “Fake Geek” as a symbol of disingenuous behavior has to do with the notion of “sacrifice.”

While geek friendship is more than possible, historically the label of geek came at a price, which is to say that it made friendship less possible with large groups of people instead of more. By being so engrossed in chosen, socially unapproved interests, geeks sacrificed their opportunities for social interactions and the friendships which would have been more likely to occur. When friendships were made through fandom or hobbies, it presumably required people who both (perhaps unconsciously) were aware of what they have given up. When you contrast this with the very idea that I talked about earlier, that the identify of the geek might be considered a clear and obvious way to make friends with others, that it no longer requires a “sacrifice” but may in fact be the opposite—something with socially inherent benefits—it comes across as a contradiction.

Imagine a guy who loves to eat eggs, but was told from the very beginning that eggs are high in cholesterol, bad for his health, and that anyone who ate them often would suffer. Wanting to remain healthy but also wishing to maintain his egg consumption, he adjusted every aspect of his diet, exercise, and daily habits to accommodate. Then, one day a report comes out that says the cholesterol in eggs are perfectly fine, and that everyone can benefit from eating eggs more often. Of course, the guy benefits from this information too, but he looks back and sees everything he gave up for the sake of his love of eggs, and then sees everyone around him now scrambling and poaching without a care in the world. The guy, understandably if also sadly, ends up accusing these newcomers of not being true egg connoisseurs.

Now, if you layer on the strange relationship geek culture has traditionally had with women, one which mixes reverence,  jealousy, and desire, I think you might start to see why the “Fake Geek Girl” is considered especially objectionable by those who decry their presence. A girl, with her “feminine charms,” is supposedly able to bridge the social gaps the old geek cannot, and on top of that is this notion that being a geek is a boon to social interaction instead of a disease, creating what is perceived as an “unfair advantage.” The Fake Geek Girl becomes a reminder of all the geek is not or could not have, and thus a bitter reaction is born from its conceptual existence.

9 thoughts on “The “Fake Geek” in “Fake Geek Girl”

  1. To put it bluntly, the hypothetical egg fan here needs to get over himself and refrain from quizzing everyone he meets who expresses their love of eggs on the minutiae of preparing the ideal poached egg. Constant attempts to challenge the “credentials” of a newer entrant to his subculture of choice is obnoxious as hell, and something his friends should slap him upside the head whenever he attempts it.


  2. Sounds like Acting White.

    She forms a bridge that others can’t, and they are punitively excluding her. This resentment is formed when the group thinks she is coopting cultural capital without contributing back; yet the existence of a Geek Girl is not mala in se, only the fakery.

    Just talk to her about geek stuff.

    With discourse, she does her contribution and dodges that bullet; it also smokes out posers without any extra work. There are two counterarguments to this, however:

    1. What’s so bad about fakes?
    2. What’s with the constant need to prove credentials?

    Those are big discussions by themselves, shortened only through callous shutdowns.


  3. “Fake geeks” are totally a thing, which is tied in directly to the notions of the erasure between high and low culture, the ascendance of geek culture into mainstream culture, and the cultural cachet to be had in being culture-savvy.

    That said, “fake geek girls” as a concept is almost entirely misogyny, like raging about FUCKING FEMALES that won’t have sex with them even though they’re such nice guys or raging about FUCKING FEMALES that like comics but wish that they didn’t have to have so much wank fodder in them.

    There is also something very threatening about how there are very different fandom practices and franchises between male and female fans. If we define geeks as people that are really into things like video games, comics, cult TV, etc. it makes male and female geeks look very similar until we look at what they’re actually doing/liking and then the differences become extremely apparent.

    Of course, if female-dominated geekdom was considered the norm and male-dominated geekdom the aberration, we’d have misandrist (lolololol misandry lolololol) rantings about how “fake geek boys” are ruining everything because they swear that they are geeks but psssht there is NOT A SINGLE shipping war going on at Shoryuken or reddit. Tee hee.


  4. Hi I’ve actually been reading your blog for a while. Decided to comment on this, as I’ve been told I’m kind of an odd one out in ‘geek culture’. Let me explain. I have always been into geek culture. I’ve loved comic books, video games, cartoons, and anime for as long asI can remember. When I was a kid I’d (and still do) just immerse myself in the stuff. I’d spend hours reading, and playing video games. I also loved to draw, and still do. These things were universally reviled by both my parents and the people at school. I distinctly remember when I was in in 5th grade a girl said to me ‘ew you still watch cartoons?’. The geek culture then was definitely a kind of taboo. It’s not how it is today. Now I’m going to give you a bit of my background, because it’s important to what I’m getting at here. As such this may move off the beaten path, but it’ll probably sound a bit familiar to a few I’m sure.

    Like I said, I was already considered a ‘geek’ by my peers. But I was also skinny. Very skinny. Like 50 pounds in 5th grade skinny. I was also very quiet. I kept to myself and mostly focused on drawing. So yeah. I was picked on religiously. The bullying lasted through high school. It was your typical hollywood shit. People pushed me into lockers, threw shit at me, and vocally abused me. I was too scared to fight back though.
    Most of my bully’s worked together in groups. They were tough kids, who had been in more than their fair share of scraps. If I fought back and lost, they’d pile on the torture even more. Even if I had won, they’d still continue their abuse. I had seen it happen to more than a few kids. So yeah, these kids slowly ate away at my self confidence, or what little was there to begin with. I only mentioned it once to my parents, and then never again. Why? Because they said what any parent would: knock em out.

    Now here’s where things get different. My parents are natural body builders. They always pressured me into sports. I hated sports. I played some baseball and basketball to appease my father. But I sucked at it. I just didn’t have the self confidence or drive for it. My father eventually pressured me into track and field sprints (he was my coach. It was just me and him). Which, I actually did enjoy. It was a singular sport. More about personal goals rather than team goals. I didn’t have to worry about
    failing anyone other than myself. So I trained for track and field, but not too excessively. Now what’s the point in telling you about my experience with sports? Well, it’s to show I had some exposure to weight training.

    Anyways, It wasn’t until 9th grade that I finally hit a wall. I was tired of being picked on and made fun of for being quiet, and skinny. It didn’t help that I didn’t have much support back home. My parents constantly yelled at me for being at unsociable. They said I spent too much time reading comics and playing video games. As such I just felt so angry, and sad. What happened next might sound odd. I know I’ve been painting my parents negatively, but they were good to me regardless, and I did love them. I went to my parents for weight lifting advice. I had become a huge fan of Rocky and Dragonball z at the time, and the characters inspired me. They made me want to be stronger. So I asked my parents to write me a regimen. You must also be wondering how I was able to brave the weight room being the wuss that I was. Well, I didn’t. My parents had turned our basements into a gym. I had trained there when my dad coached me in track and field. It had everything. It had dumbbells all the way to 70 pounds…. a squat rack that doubled as bench press. Everything.

    So I trained. I trained hard. Very hard. Way past my limits. There were times where my muscles were so tired that I couldn’t make it up our stairs. But I knew what I wanted. I wanted people to respect me. I wanted the bullying to stop. 1 year later, I had put on noticeable muscularity. I was still the same quiet, nerdy kid, but the bullying stopped. It literally just stopped. I dunno if it was out of fear or respect, but it stopped. And I was content. I never made any new friends outside the ones I already had, but things got much better. And weight lifting turned into a bit of hobby that I continue to this day. But because of this I did run into a bit of snag though.

    Typically, when you think of a guy who weight lifts 5 times a week, you don’t think of him as a guy who goes home and watches and reads genshiken. I was now an odd one out when it came to the culture I had invested most of my life in. I remember distinctly getting weird glares when I joined the anime club at University. My roommate was the one who suggested I join the club. He went every friday and told me to come along with him. So I did. And the members were unsure of me. They never talke to me much, and always gave me weird glances. They avoided me basically. You could sense the malice.

    But I didn’t blame them. I definitely looked the part of a jock moving in on their territory. Had it of been 14 year old me, I would have thought ‘who’s this douche bag? Some sort of faker who doesn’t know shit about anime?’
    I mean it definitely hurt a bit. My roommate had even thought I was a typical jock when we first met. It wasn’t until I declined a group invitation to a bar that my roommate understood I was simply a geek who liked to work out. I had instead opted to hang out with him that night and play paper mario. I guess by todays standard that’d be considered sad, but we had a blast.
    Anyways, It actually took some time for the folks at anime club to warm up to me. I’ve always been rather gentle and quiet (or so I’m told). So I just talked with my roommate and tried to be as kind to everyone as possible. Eventually everyone came around and I was accepted.

    Anyways, I know that was a lot of text, but I just wanted to bring this up because I felt it was relevant.The core of who I am is an artist that loves comics and cartoons. But I also happen to like lifting weights. And since we typically judge people by appearance, I felt I’d share. I dunno lol.

    Excellent article btw, as usual.


    • Thanks a lot for sharing your story. I can see how the way you grew up really allowed you to see things from multiple perspectives. I’ve known a few guys like you who, people who are actively into fitness but also huge nerds, and the enthusiasm always shines through.

      Exercise has never been my strong point, so I have to commend you all the more for being able to take charge of that area of your life while still maintaining your passion for your other hobbies.


      • Yeah no problem. Also I apologize for all my grammar and spelling mistakes. I thought i had proof read it well enough but I guess I still missed some things in my rush to finish (had to go pick up someone).
        Oh and like always, keep up the good work. I come here pretty frequently to read your stuff!


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  7. (Sorry for the lateness of this comment, but interesting topic)
    I think something that is often ignored in this discussion is the “context” for the people dropping the “fake geek girl” insult. I don’t mean that its “accurate” or excusable, it’s more something like Matt’s story of where people came from.

    Having been in the anime/comics/SciFi “geek” scene for a while, I note that prior to this millenium “geek” was more of an insult akin to the original Japanese meaning of “otaku”. It was a pejorative largely intended to label someone as “dateless” (not by choice) and unable to “fit in”. Some wore it with pride, and some tried to hide their “geek”-ness. The “geek” domain was STEREOTYPED as a bunch of socially awkward and/or unattractive guys (and a few similarly styled ladies) who were outcasts from the “mainstream”.

    One of the BIG turning points (IMO) was “Sailor Moon” coupled with the Disney “princess” renaissance. This led to a lot of girls being willing to express their interest in “cartoons” (which previously was the domain of “geeks” and children). If the story ends there, I think you never get the “fake geek girl” accusation. I think you get a bunch of bitter, socially awkward guys still, but more in the “middle school dance” kind of way.

    What happened instead is that as cosplay became more prevalent, you had “fake geek GUYS” start to notice “geek” events for the attractive ladies. Essentially, you got the “ladies night” effect at more and more geek events. (And yes, as an organizer and participant in numerous events in the past, I can say for fact, you definitely had GUYS come to events PRIMARILY for the purpose of checking out the ladies) The result of this is that you now have guys who do NOT belong. (and not in the way Matt describes of simply not “looking the part” but in the worst cases bringing the bullying (whether physical (rarer) or verbal/emotional (more common))) These people make the socially awkward geeks feel “out of place” at their own events. On the other hand, you have more socially ADEPT geeks, who indeed share actual geek interests, but are also able to be comfortable in “mainstream” settings. The delineation is now between “socially adept” and “socially awkward” (just like OUTSIDE of geek events) and so the awkward tend to assume that the adept are not actual “geeks”.

    So, I guess it kind of depends on if you believe “geek” is a designation of interest in certain material OR is it a designation of societal disconnect? In the past, it was generally considered to be both of those things combined, now…?


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