Girls Can Be Geeks

The other day when I went to pick my son up from daycare, I saw a little girl in his class wearing a super-cool Wonder Woman dress. It wasn’t a Wonder Woman costume; it was a dress emblazoned with a drawing of Wonder Woman. And it was awesome.

I’ve written before about how much I like superheroes and that I want my son to grow up liking them too. Which I think will probably happen.

But what if I had a daughter? When I was a kid, the likelihood of a little girl liking superheroes wasn’t great. But I wasn’t a kid in this day and age. Girls can be geeks too!

geeks, girls, parenting, funny, feminism, wonder woman, superheroes, dad and buried, moms, mom bloggers, mommy bloggers, dad bloggers, mike julianelle, gal gadot, parenthood, kids, daughters, nerds, pop culture, movies, star warsNowadays, being a so-called geek is cool. Geeks have gone mainstream, and even girls are getting in on the act. A good-looking woman that has geek bona-fides is an immediate sex symbol, so much so that even girls that merely pretend to be geeks get noticed. Growing up in the 80s, geeky girls certainly existed, but they could be hard to find, especially if you attended an all boys high school (thanks Mom and Dad!). Not anymore.

Check out this 5-year-old, foregoing the whole princess fad to follow her own heart, or more accurately, her own magnetic chest plate, and dressed as Iron Man on her birthday. She is a budding geek whose parents should be commended for not constricting their little girl to more “traditional” costumes.

(Disclaimer: I’m not using geek in a negative way, and I’m no expert on the slang. I keep using “geek” because it seems to be the new catch-all for anyone indulging a passion for cultish sci-fi and fantasy (in some cases it’s used interchangeably with “buff,” but the way I understand it, being devoted to just anything doesn’t mean you’re a geek). Nerd is more derogatory and less prevalent these days – and also indicates a level of intelligence; and dork is just an insult. “Geek” seems to convey nothing more than interest, though, again, that interest typically lies in a specific area: sci-fi, fantasy, comics, video games, etc.)

When I was a kid, many of the girls that were into sci-fi or fantasy were considered weird (then again, so were many of the boys!) because they were “supposed to be” into Barbies and Easy-Bake Ovens.

Who knows if that little Iron Girl will grow up and continue to be into superheroes or comics or video games or whatever else is considered geek these days; that’s not the point. The point is that with the geek explosion, stuff that was previously considered boy material is bleeding across gender lines. As a result, in the same way Title IX helped sports become a bigger, more acceptable part of a young girl’s life, today’s geek explosion is making it easier for anyone to be a geek, including the girl next door. Today, girls can be geeks too.

I have a son, not a daughter, and it’s not quite as easy for boys to show interest in female-associated things. When my wife and I asked my brothers to get my son a play kitchen for Christmas, they practically called Rick Santorum for advice on how to talk us out of it. This is nothing new; when I was in college, I was mocked for being a big Buffy fan, not because of the genre, but because of the girly-ness of the show (a girl was the star, and her name was Buffy! Gasp!).

Guys who are into ostensibly girly things are still mocked for being gay and weird, and girls who are into boyish things are still called butch or maybe tomboys (less derogatory but not exactly a compliment either). But the fact that women are being welcomed into the geek world indicates that we’ve made at least a little progress.

It’s just nice to know that should I ever have a daughter, there’s no reason I can’t share with her the same pop culture obsessions I had growing up, including things that were once considered purely male pursuits. Those lines are fading fast, and soon they should be gone for good. That’s one of the things equality and feminism are all about.

Of course, I’m not so sure it has much to do with any kind of groundswell towards gender equality as much as it’s a result of geekery going mainstream (Lord Of The Rings wins Oscars; Batman and The Avengers break box office records; Lost lasts six seasons) and carrying chicks along with it. But that’s how change starts. The lines blur until it’s impossible to see them anymore, and all of a sudden, all the old gender stereotypes disappear too.

Now we just need the president to give a speech declaring his support for the Brony movement and the circle will be complete.

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10 thoughts on “Girls Can Be Geeks

  1. Brilliant post, I love superheroes and then again I also loved Buffy so I can relate to it all, also wondering what of what I like my son will also show an interest and on the other side of the coin what my sone will like that I will take an interest in.

    1. Thanks!

      I can’t WAIT to indoctrinate my son into my pop culture obsessions. It won’t be too long before Pixar movies, and even lighter superhero stuff (as opposed to Nolan’s Batmans) like the Avengers, will be fair play. And I’m counting the years til we can watch The Wire together.

      But who knows, maybe he’ll be into Easy Bake ovens and My Little Pony or even, GULP, the NY Jets.

      But I’ll take it as it comes…let’s not panic yet! 😉

  2. Growing up in the 70’s/80’s, I rarely came across too many female comic book readers or gamers. I remember a former co-worker of mine in ’97 came over to play Mortal Kombat with me. We were both mid-20’s and it was the first time I’d experienced anything like that. Aside from girls I knew who played Ms. Pac Man, this was the first true female gamer I’d met. Over the years, I later met those interested in electronics, comics, sports, etc. So, I think it’s cool that women have an interest in those things more than ever now.

    1. I grew up in the 70s and 80s too, and geek girls were few and far between. Even if they did exist, they weren’t exactly flaunting their creds, as it wasn’t exactly “cool” yet. But nowadays there’s a geek niche for everybody, and if I do have a daughter, I’m excited to be able to show her all the stuff I love, without regard for the old school gender designations that are fading every day.

  3. Where did you grow up? All the girls I knew were into the Super Friends and Charlie’s Angels. Or should I say *when* did you grow up? 🙂 I even had “Star Wars” sheets, the Princess Leia doll *and* ten Barbies. My friends on Facebook went nuts over a Fisher-Price Wonder Woman Invisible Jet last week. You must see it and buy one now for any future female offspring. And, oh yeah, I’m female.

    1. I was born in 76. But I never said there WEREN’T any geek girls, just that there were fewer of them, and fewer who were public about it! It’s a lot easier, and more acceptable, for females to be geeks now than it was in the 80s.

  4. I am wholeheartedly a Batman lover. If you ask anyone who knows me to ask what I’m obsessed with, I believe that they will say “Batman and food” without a doubt. Kudos to that girl, she’s going to be that much more interesting 😛

  5. Well said, sir. I do have a daughter who I’m hoping to share my geekdom. Sure, she has a play kitchen (as I would also have if I had a son) but she also makes the Vader deep-breathing noise every time she sees me wearing one of my Star Wars shirts. She happily plays with her dollhouse one minute and then quickly turns to play with her trucks the next. One of my favorite early pictures of her when she was about 4 months old (she just turned 2) is her wearing a Pearl Jam shirt and playing with a DVD case of the movie Highlander.

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