December 10, 2011 3 Comments
Shout Out to Socially Awkward Productions via Diane Neal & Co. for that nifty tagline/title for this review. For she is the geek I geek out about because she’s just so damn geeky… and damn awesome doing it.
Hello, my name is Ashlee and I am a combination of a geek and a nerd, which I have delightfully fused together to form “gerd.” Further, I am a combo of many a geek Leslie Simon waxes poetic about in Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over The World, responsible for the definitions above. A fresh release this year in October, Simon provides lengthy snapshots of a life in female geekdom along with little pop-quizzes to test, diminish, or ego-stroke your geek girl flag, a nifty glossary of geek slang for the ill-informed (I admit to always wondering what LARP meant), some history on the products and people that cultivated niche geek cultures, particularly paying homage to the ladies, and our geek sisters of the present (non-fictional and fictional) and how they’re successors to the geekdom legacy.
Having pockets of friends and acquaintances, I notice we’re all gerds of different varieties. I choose to drown in popular (and sub-) culture, usually finding myself in the margins. While some, for example. may watch the same shows I watch, they’re not on the message boards or doing backflips every time one of the cast members mass tweets (see above geek) quite like myself. The last fiction book I read was It by Stephen King and that was four years ago, but my face is always buried in some academic book on race, gender, film, or culture. I’m just starting to accept the fact that wow, I’m not the only girl into horror films. My ipod suffers from genre schizophrenia. I’ve been known to be delightfully snarky. And I’m just a little obsessed with knitting. Like, a lot, a little.
I am not unique. I have a clear understanding that I can’t possibly be in the minority here and obsessed over this point during my Geek Girls Unite reading experience. Many of us are multi-faceted hybrids of geek. And Geek Girls Unite lacks that insistence. But this seems to be more for the purposes of chapters than being dismissive. Maybe there was a sense that creating combos would be a tad much for marketability and flow, I am unclear. But a page, paragraph, or even a one-liner wouldn’t have killed her. Although a self-professed music geek, I doubt Simon herself fits all too neatly in just one box. Nonetheless, the breakdowns, while at times too general and stereotypical (but all in fun), were entertaining and sincere. And at the very least, Simon does acknowledge the vast differences of geek culture.
The Fangirl Geek… seems to be anachronistic, holding on to certain hobbies that seem to have a shelf life as long as our growth brackets that mark moments from child to tween to teenager and beyond. See adorning rooms with Sanrio plush toys.
The Literary Geek…makes books her go-to place for experience and exploration, having little time to mind the latest trends.
The Film Geek…ponders the social implications of the movie(s) that become discursive obsession.
The Music Geek…has a soundtrack for their lives that only grows with age, and headphones permanently stuck to their ears.
The Funny-Girl Geek…quips off-color, humorous one-liners to utilize her eccentricities.
The Domestic Goddess Geek…is a crafty DIY-er eager to show off her own take on layouts easily found at any Urban Outfitters.
& the other geeks that receive honorable mention are the tech-savvy, fashionistas, politicas, retro, and athletic.
My other, big gripe is her well intended but sad attempt at the dating advice element for the geek girl. Remember Simon, there are queer girl geeks out there when you’re penning the Simple Rules for Dating The Lost-In-Fandom Girl Geek. And oversimplifying our male counterparts, well, maybe, an effort at humor and wit but mostly just a sad double standard. Maybe I’m just salty about being single but I’d rather not someone tell me what I look for in a guy or for guys to believe Geek Girls Unite is the rundown for snagging a girl geek. There were racial elements that I could not overlook on top of the heteronormative foundations layed: so, okay Simon, you couldn’t idealize ONE male gerd of color?
All beefing aside, Simon tries to make her book a bridge between the endless number of fandoms in technology, politics, fashion, and pop culture. It’s ironic that I’ve read this book at a critical point in my gerd status where I’m realizing that I often feel outside-in the circle but inside-out due to my particular geek-outs. And that’s okay because it’s simply what makes me, me. And that’s how Simon decides to conclude her quest for geek sisterhood by conjuring the not-so pleasant memories that led her to understanding that her geek identity has been a source of pure joy above all else. Geek Girls Unite is much like the instrumental to some obscure, indie-flick: beautiful, melancholy, and inspirational to a select few.