Revenge of the Feminerd: To Boldly Go

Jarrah E Hodge
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Greetings, Earthlings. My name’s Jarrah Hodge, creator of the feminist blog Gender Focus. I’ve been calling myself a feminist since I was 15 and I’ve been called a nerd for much longer than that, so I’m really excited to get this opportunity to start this blog on feminism and nerd/geek culture.

As for definitions, I’m going to use the words “nerd” and “geek” interchangeably, even though some people argue there are differences. Both terms refer to people who are obsessive and intellectually driven, but the term “nerd” is generally used to refer to people who pursue intellectual pursuits at the expense of social skills. Think Sheldon and Amy from The Big Bang Theory.

So “nerd” can seem a bit more of a derogatory term than “geek”, which refers more to extreme fans—the type of people who’ve memorized the Periodic Table of the Elements song or who take Dungeons and Dragons a little too seriously. Think most of the characters from Felicia Day’s webseries The Guild.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be looking at a range of topics in geekdom. I’m planning to start by examining the gender and racial dimensions of the nerd/geek stereotype. If you’re asked to think about a stereotypical nerd just based on representations you’ve seen in pop culture, it’s likely the first image you’d come up with is that of a white or Asian male. Any time a group is racialized and gendered to that extent, it means exclusion is happening, so it’s important to look at that.

Then I’m stoked to take on some feminist analysis of facets of nerd culture. I won’t spend too much time on video gaming though, since OuyangDan did so much better at covering that topic than I could ever do, in her guest series The Games We Play.

Luckily I’ve been nerdily obsessed with a range of things since I was ten, when I sat down and re-named all my stuffed animals after characters from Star Trek. In High School I started working in libraries and getting into memorizing the Dewey Decimal System. Now, after a brief flirtation with writing and editing Law and Order fanfiction, I mostly just geek out on listening to science podcasts and playing Euro-board games. Plus blogging, of course.

So I’m looking forward to reading and responding to your comments on all things nerdy, and you’re also welcome to get in touch with me on Twitter @jarrahpenguin.

And I’d like to start with two questions to you:

1. When you think about nerd/geek culture, who’s the first person (real or fictional) who pops into your mind?

2. If you had to name a feminist geek/nerd role model, who would it be?

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19 Comments Have Been Posted

Hurrah! Geeks and nerds! 1.

Hurrah! Geeks and nerds!

1. I have been a nerd/geek for so long (mellowed as I aged though I am not as intensely fannish as I was when I was younger about things) that when I think of nerds and geeks think of me, as a lonely elementary nerd with no friends who tuned her bed into the deck of the enterprise with legos and a bedsheet. I was the only geek I knew for a long time. and was relatively sheltered from stereotypes and what they were for a long time. I also think of my nerdiest friends from middle school Sara and Tim. Sara had written a trilogy by sophomore year, and was way into dragons and taught me how to play DnD together the three of us started a DnD club. =)

2. I am going to go with the newly to me discovered Amanda Palmer.

As a fellow nerd, I'm so

As a fellow nerd, I'm so excited about the fact that you will be posting a series on feminist nerds at Bitch!!!

1. Myself! Immediately followed by Spock.
2. Anita from Feminist Frequency

1. Joss Whedon. I'm youngish

1. Joss Whedon. I'm youngish (20), so Firefly was kind of my introduction into the larger world of geek/nerd culture. Others would be Gary Gygax (the name that's associated in my mind with D&D), David Eddings (author of the first high fantasy series I ever read, the Belgariad), and J. Michael Straczynski (creator of my favourite sci-fi series, Babylon 5, which originally aired before my time but is being shown to me by an older partner).

2. RJ, creator of the webcomic Riot Nrrd. If you haven't seen their stuff, check it out.

Geek Fandom

1. The first person to immediately pop into my head was Agent Mulder from the X-Files, followed soon after by The Doctor from Doctor Who. Getting into the geeky series that I have been obsessed with over the years would require a book (Star Trek:The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Firefly, Dollhouse, Xena, Farscape, Doctor Who...)

2. If we are talking real people, then Joss Whedon. He once said, 'Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women.' That is one of the best quotes ever. In terms of characters who have served as role models, then I would have to say Buffy and Willow from BtVS and Dr. Temperance Brennan from Bones.

Welcome, Jarrah!

I love Gender Focus!

1. It's Felicia Day.
2. I don't know if I could pick out one role model for nerddom. I see it as a DIY culture and pursuit.

bring on the nerd

I am really excited to engage with your blog!

I am trying to start a feminist friendly Dungeons and Dragons night here soon. I've never played, always wanted to but was sort of thrown off by all the 'nerdy' connotations and dude vibe. I then realized I already was a total nerd and shouldn't care less.

I would be excited to hear anything about the game on your blog. Good luck!

1. Gene Roddenberry. I've

1. Gene Roddenberry. I've been a fan of Star Trek since I was little. Even though I was born in '81, I actually remember watching the Star Trek cartoon with the original cast.

2. It would be a tie between Jubilee and Storm of the X-Men. I got into the cartoon in the nineties and that was really the time when I started to recognize that I might be a nerd. Would say Jubilee because she young like I was at the time and just caught up in awesomeness and Storm because it was awesome to see a black female who was also a competent leader on TV. Actually, as I moved from elementary to middle school, the women of X-Men were just such a great influence for me. I really got into Mystique because, well her power was really cool, she accepted herself as is, was a very formidable foe to my favorite superheroes or anyone that got in her way, plus she's blue!

1. My best friend or the

1. My best friend or the Doctor from Doctor Who.
2. Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was the first unabashedly nerdy girl I saw represented on television. (I was ten when I first discovered the show)

1.) When I think about

1.) When I think about nerd/geek culture, the first person(s) to pop in my mind would be the many authors/artists of geek-related webcomics: Rich Burlew of Order of the Stick, Brian Clevinger of 8-bit Theatre, Tarol Hunt of Goblins, David Anez of Bob and George, RJ of Riot Nrrd, Sophie Goldstein & Jenn Jordan of Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell, and RK Milholland of Something Positive. Webcomics are the BEST.

2.) The first person I think of for this question is Joss Whedon, simply because he is the most well-known "role model" out there, that claims the title of both feminist and geek. However, though I can't get enough of Buffy, Firefly and Bad Horse, I honestly don't think that Joss Whedon is the awesome feminist role model he seems to think he is.

I don't know if I can think of a role model who is both a feminist and a geek/nerd. Maybe I'm just having a brain fart right now...

1. I first think of Screech

1. I first think of Screech from Saved by the Bell, as well as other nerds from that show (Max, the nerdy rich kid; Violet, the nerdy choir girlfriend of Screech). Steve Erkel also comes to mind, pre-hunk making machine and alter ego.

2. I don't think I can think of an actual feminist nerd/geek but I do think of Heather Matarazzo (don't know how that's spelled) who often plays a nerdy or geeky character.

1. Data from Star Trek: The

1. Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation

2. Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds

1. Wil Wheaton! It's great

1. Wil Wheaton! It's great to know that all young actors don't get messed up; plus, he's made Geek into a lifestyle and a career, which is pretty kickass. His Twitter account is pretty hilarious, too :)
2. Felicia Day! She's dropdead gorgeous, brilliant, hilarious, and geeky. What's not to love?

My nerd role model is

My nerd role model is soooooooo BUFFY! There is a whole sub- genre of nerdiness dedicated entirely to buffy and other Joss Whedon characters!!!

Geek love

1. Hate to admit that it's Anthony Edwards' character in "Revenge of the Nerds".
2. Can't choose! Can Willow and Tankgirl have a love child and she can be my hero?

Not easy to be a feminist and a geek - years ago waiting in line for "Star Trek: First Contact" and the boys in front of me were arguing about whether Kirk or Picard was the better captain. The turned to me and asked who I thought was the best Star Trek captain, and I said, of course, "Duh. Janeway".

1: It's a tie between

1: It's a tie between Penelope Garcia and Reid (can't recall his first name right now, of course D:) from Criminal Minds. I've been watching excessive amounts of that series recently, so that's probably why. Other contestants would be Steve Urkel, quite a few of my female friends, or some random guy in a knit brown-patterned vest, heavily rimmed glasses and so on - the classic definition of a nerd (at least where I come from. XD Oh yeah, and myself. XD

2. Good question! In certain aspects i'd say Penelope Garcia, as she's kickass, and I think she's often portrayed in at least rivalling Reid as a genious. However, the character is flawed (there's an episode where a traditionally hot guy is interested in her. Of course it ends out that he isn't interested in her, other than getting her out of the way - he thinks she's onto his criminal activities), and I wish she'd be portrayed in a less 'harmless'/silly way. However, I really like her, and she rolls up quite a few feats I miss on TV/in movies - she's chubby, nerdy-geeky cool, dresses in an interesting way, loves comic books, etc.

Also: I'm looking forward to reading this blog series! :D It's going to get interesting.

1st person? Weird Al. Not

1st person? Weird Al. Not even sure why.

Feminist geeky role model? Kaylee on Firefly. : )

Token Geek

I have to say I'm very stoked for this blog series, i've been craving a nerd culture/feminist discussion for awhile.

1.) I'll have to say myself. I've grown up considering myself a geek and tend to be the token geek among my group of friends/family.

2.) I would have to say one of my former professors who also celebrates our academic form of geek-dom and introduced me to feminism: Dr. Maria Elena Buszek

1. Some friends I grew up

1. Some friends I grew up with and his older brother. The kind of guys who, even in their twenties, get bigger hard ons over anime girls and Yu-Gi-Oh cards than a real woman. One of them eventually did lose his virginity to an attractive girl who somehow managed to steal his attention from Megaman X for an hour or so, but he's still my nerdy ol' buddy :)

2. Hmm, I've never thought about that before. Sadly I don't know any feminist nerds, other than you who I've just met through reading this blog. Hmm, I guess that means you'd be my role model. Congrats!

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