Booth babes need not apply
The presence of fans dressed as X-23 (left) and Loki's female form (right) at Comic-Con signals the broadening of geek culture.
July 24th, 2012
04:33 PM ET

Booth babes need not apply

Editor's note: When he's not teaching the Internet how to fist-fight, why being weird is awesome or how to self-publish your own books, Joe Peacock tours the world, showing his extensive "Akira" art collection. He also cosplays as a six-foot-two-inch, 310lb Powerpuff Girl to fill the hollow pit that is his need for the wrong kinds of attention.

There is a growing chorus of frustration in the geek community with - and there's no other way to put this - pretty girls pretending to be geeks for attention.

San Diego Comic-Con is the largest vehicle, but it's hardly the only convention populated with "hot chicks" wearing skimpy outfits simply to get a bunch of gawking geeks’ heads to turn, just to satisfy their hollow egos.

Now, before every single woman reading this explodes, let me disambiguate a bit. I absolutely do not believe that every girl who attends conventions and likes "Doctor Who" is pretending to be a geek.

There are lots of geeks who are female. Some of these female geeks are pretty girls. I find it fantastic that women are finally able to enjoy a culture that has predominately been male-oriented and male-driven.

The presence of female geeks means that the fiction we're reading is broadening and, frankly, getting better in quality. It means nerdy films and television shows aren't relying on damsel in distress stories and objectification of women to draw readers. It means content is broadening and becoming smarter and more accessible. I want more of that.

And be it known that I am good friends with several stunningly beautiful women who cosplay as stunningly beautiful characters from comics, sci-fi, fantasy and other genres of fandom. They are, each of them, bone fide geeks. They belong with us. Being beautiful is not a crime.

Flaunt it if you got it – and if you're a geek, male or female, and you're strikingly handsome or stunningly beautiful, and you cosplay as a handsome or beautiful character, more power to us all. Hot geeks are hot.

What I'm talking about is the girls who have no interest or history in gaming taking nearly naked photos of themselves with game controllers draped all over their body just to play at being a "model."  I get sick of wannabes who couldn't make it as car show eye candy slapping on a Batman shirt and strutting around comic book conventions instead.

I'm talking about an attention addict trying to satisfy her ego and feel pretty by infiltrating a community to seek the attention of guys she wouldn't give the time of day on the street.

I call these girls "6 of 9". They have a superpower: In the real world, they're beauty-obsessed, frustrated wannabe models who can't get work.

They decide to put on a "hot" costume, parade around a group of boys notorious for being outcasts that don't get attention from girls, and feel like a celebrity. They're a "6" in the "real world", but when they put on a Batman shirt and head to the local fandom convention du jour, they instantly become a "9".

They're poachers. They're a pox on our culture. As a guy, I find it repugnant that, due to my interests in comic books, sci-fi, fantasy and role playing games, video games and toys, I am supposed to feel honored that a pretty girl is in my presence. It's insulting.

Is it abuse in the same vein as the harassment? Not even slightly.

Someone dressing up to feel good about themselves isn't the same as guys lobbing insults, threats, disgusting suggestions and the like at women.

Case in point: there is a website called Fat, Ugly Or Slutty that catalogs insults, harassment and verbal abuse from male gamers to females on Xbox Live. Reading through just one page of the site made me ill. The big brother in me wanted to go pound the crap out of the thirteen year olds who think it's cool or funny to demean women for sport.

Is this type of harassment is deserved? Not at all. Are guys acting this way toward women just as disgusting and base as women poaching attention from our culture, satisfying their egos by strutting around a group of guys dressed in clothing and costumes from a culture filled with men they see as beneath them? Absolutely.

I think that these things sully what is otherwise an incredible group of people and bring down a beautiful culture. I feel the same way when some guy reads about a hot comic book title sure to be a collector's item, drives up demand by buying up all of those issues and resells them on eBay for hundreds of dollars. He doesn't love the culture. He doesn't add anything to it. All he does is make scarce a resource that we want and love, in the name of profit.

I hate poachers. Pure and simple.

The growing presence of these Olivia Munn types in the geek community is creating dialog that isn't helping anyone. You've no doubt heard about a young journalist named Ryan Perez who did something stupid. Really, really stupid. He "called out" Felicia Day on Twitter, asking if she really contributes anything to geek culture other than being a celebrity.

I believe that Felicia's main drive is probably writing and acting, and that geek culture is where she chooses to exercise her talents. She's found a niche, and she works within that niche – but so have Nathan Fillion, George Takei, Wil Wheaton... All actor/writers who make the most of their geek celebrity. However, no one gets it in their blood to call these guys out. So why Felicia Day?

It's because she's a girl, and some men are disgusting. Plain and simple.

Felicia Day is not a poacher. She's a celebrity, sure. She's a pretty girl, absolutely. The fact that she chooses geeky avenues to focus those interests? That makes her a geek. The fact that she spent her own money to make a successful independent video feature centered around World of Warcraft puts her into ubergeek territory. Not only does she put her money where her interests are, she creates things that further the community.

But then, you have these models-cum-geeks like Olivia Munn and practically every FragDoll. These chicks? Not geeks. I think that their rise is due to the fact that corporations are figuring out that geeks have money, and they want it. But they can't abide putting a typically geeky face on camera, so they hire models to act quirky and sell this marketable geekdom. So, I can understand why someone completely ignorant could look at Felicia Day and see a pretty woman who is making one heck of a career starring in roles celebrating fandom, and mentally file them along with the fake geek G4 hostesses. Ryan Perez is a shoddy journalist and failed to do any research.

He knee-jerked his way into temporary internet infamy. I think he was an idiot. But I can see why he bubbled over.
There's no doubt about it – girls in geek culture have it hard, and it's probably going to be that way for a long time. At least until men stop lusting after women (so, like, never).  But that doesn't mean that women aren't welcomed and accepted in geek culture. Women elevate the culture, and thus, the content. And, I'll admit, you ladies are much nicer to be around.

However, you "6 of 9s" out there? You're just gross. There's an entire contingent of guys in geekdom who absolutely love you, because inside, they're 13 year old boys who like to objectify women and see them as nothing more than butts and a pair of boobs to be leered at. Have fun with them, and don't be shocked when they send you XBox Live messages with ASCII penises.

Those of us who actually like substance? We'll be over here celebrating great comics, great games, great art, great movies and great television, because we're actually attracted to a completely different body part: the brain.

A counterpoint from Genevieve Dempre posted here, and more from Peacock.

Posted by
Filed under: Comic-Con 2012 • Fandom
soundoff (1,036 Responses)
  1. Ben

    "broadening". I see what you did there.

    November 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  2. Michael Lindsay


    REAL Geeks are crazy circus performers who mutilate chickens and mice with their bare teeth!

    Where's the sinew on yer teeth ya posers?

    November 16, 2012 at 8:15 am |
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  10. Essa

    There are lots of geeks who are female. Some of these female geeks are pretty girls. I find it fantastic that women are finally able to enjoy a culture that has predominately been male-oriented and male-driven.

    After reading the whole article, I simply find you a man incapable of understanding a woman simply because all you think of is the difference of our gender. This line. Especially, this line "...women are finally able to enjoy a culture that has predominantly been male-oriented and male-driven." There's clue in how you worded that sentence. It has been male-driven, for years, women were simply discouraged from enjoying any of it because your society deemed it a masculine activity.

    Guess what, women have always been capable of enjoying geek culture. Some geeks are hot, some are not. And I must say, this includes guys as well. I grew up in a household where I was encouraged to do anything I want so even before I knew something like a 'geek culture' existed, I was watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman and reading comics and loving them.

    Women liking 'male' things, we always end up in the damned if you do, damned if you don't area. A hot girl is a geek, you say she's just poaching and even before you actually know anything about her being a true geek. An ugly girl is a geek, still gets insults.

    I hate that I can't enjoy being geek-y because conversations like these always prop up.

    October 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Ginnie

      That line got to me, too. We've always been "able to enjoy" this culture. We just haven't been welcomed. And this article makes it, oh, so clear that that is still the case.

      November 14, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
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  17. Dj Anim8ted

    Olivia Munn is a geek. If you read her book "Suck it Wonder Woman" you would see her struggle growing up and how Geek culture gave her the avenue to cope. Other than that the article is clear side effect of a niche culture becoming mainstream. Your traditional hierarchy has been switched, so the "cool" kids fight or flight instinct kicked in and they have adapted.

    September 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
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  19. ZeroCorpse

    Don't any of you get it?

    There are no geeks anymore.

    Video games? Mainstream. Your mom and grandma have been playing video games since the 80s.

    Comic books? Mainstream. Avengers, The Walking Dead, The Dark Knight, 30 Days of Night... These are mainstream, blockbuster movies, and they got that way because LOTS of people– not just "nerds"– went to see them.

    Roleplaying games? Mainstream. World of Warcraft's success makes it pretty clear, and while there aren't a ton of mainstream D&D players, I'd bet your Aunt Bessie has played a little Final Fantasy or Legend of Zelda by now.

    Science Fiction? Mainstream since Star Trek came out of the closet in the late 80s. Shows like Fringe and Doctor Who are successful because a lot of people watch them, and even your mom's favorite soap opera throws in a science fiction or supernatural element every once in a while.

    Face it, kids: Nerd 'culture" isn't an exclusive club anymore. Didn't ANY of you listen to the speech at the end of Revenge of the Nerds? ALL people have nerdy/geeky things they do, and in realizing that this is the truth, we realize that we're all nerds, which makes nerds the mainstream mass of people, and the ones who picked on nerds are just nerds in denial.

    And when being a geek became fashionable in the 90s, all bets were off. Not only were the hobbies and habits mainstream by that point, but the look and behavior became popular culture.

    There are no nerds. There are no geeks. Because everyone likes that stuff, which makes you NOT a social pariah like you would have been in the decades prior to the mid-80s. There's a huge difference between being a "geek" now, and being a geek then... And it mainly involved having people BEAT YOU UP for liking the stuff you liked.

    When's the last time any of you said "I like video games" and got your underwear run up a flagpole for it? When's the last time any of you said "I collect comics" and ended up being given a swirly for admitting it? When's the last time you said "I think science fiction is cool." and suffered ridicule because of it?

    I'm betting approximately 1987... If you were even alive, then.

    Face it: There are no geeks anymore. It's just a fashion label, now.

    September 5, 2012 at 1:19 am |
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  21. woodie

    I want to see the girls. More girls please.

    September 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  22. Layce

    I'll tell you what's really terrible. Grown men who rate women on a scale of 1-10. You sir, are not a geek, but a chauvinistic loser.

    September 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Peter North

      Hey there fatty!

      September 4, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • Sophie

        Hey there to you too, guy who's never going to get a girlfriend!

        September 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • glitchead

      Well, someone went to a soccer game with a baseball bat. Honestly, are you trying to say that you completely missed the entire aspect of his speech, that you didn't even hear him rant about how he hates the superficiality of it, and how he wants nothing better than to engage with a female in intellectual conversation on something that others may or may not consider quirky, skimpy outfits be damned? You missed all of that because he used the phrase "6 of 9"? No. There's no way someone could be so dense, because they would basically be opening themselves to ridicule for saying something like that on the internet.. You're a troll. It must be true. You're someone who came here hoping to start fights, aren't you?

      September 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  23. kirbang

    How can anyone complain about having more pretty women around. That's just crazy.

    September 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
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