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?