Geeks, Gamers, Girls, and Sex Appeal

So, on Friday Break Media posted a new video, Geeks and Gamer Girls. The song parodies Katy Perry’s California Gurls, and despite getting that song stuck in your head for the next seventy-two hours or so, it’s awesome. The video is by Team Unicorn, a project that includes actreses and gamers  Michele Boyd, Clare Grant, Milynn Sarley, and Rileah Vanderbilt. The video also includes appearances from Stan Lee and Katee Sackhoff (with red hair, no less, be still my beating heart) and Seth Green rapping.

Geek and Gamer Girls Song – Watch more Funny Videos

Naturally, the internet saw this and went…well, batshit. Because, of course, it’s a travesty that four beautiful women who also happen to be intelligent geeks and/or gamers would let that be seen. The things I saw thrown about generally amounted to some of the following:

* Those girls are too pretty to be gamers. They’re just actors faking it.
* They don’t represent real geek or gamers.
* There’s not enough diversity.
* It’s demeaning for women to be in a video that showcases their sex appeal.

After having had several similar discussions while working on getting the funding for the calendar, my first impulse was to roll my eyes so hard they might get stuck and then eat some ice cream and move on. It’s a debate I’m growing weary of but apparently is one that needs to be had. So let’s go.

First of all, let’s talk about the representation and diversity issues. Nobody who does a project like this claims to represent all people in a group. We’re all individuals, and it’s ridiculous to expect that any portion will represent the whole. I don’t know how this video was imagined or produced, but I know that when I start whatever crazy project I’m working on it, it usually begins with throwing ideas around with my friends, who likely wind up being involved. Which means that there are going to be a lot of similarities in the group, just based on common interests and experience. As for diversity–what does that mean? An ‘uglier’ girl? How do you phrase that request–hey, wanna be the ugly chick in our video? That’ll win you friends and influence people. Someone dressed in a frumpy costume with no makeup? Sure, but the whole point of videos like this is that they *are* produced which means you’re going to be looking a little bit better than if you just popped out to the store to pick up milk and toilet paper at 2 am. Reality show explosion aside, media isn’t reality and we shouldn’t expect it to be. There are times when it makes sense to question a lack of representation of a particular group at a systemic level (how many minority characters do you see on network TV?) but an interent video produced by a group of friends having fun is probably not the place to start. Even if those friends are in Hollywood.

So that leaves us with the trickier part. Girls who are cute, apparently don’t represent ‘real’ geeks or gamers. Or, if discussions I’ve had are any indication, knitters. Or feminists. Or intelligent, well-educated and successful women.

Wait just a minute.

Since when did belonging to any group that falls outside a mainstream stereotype of femininity mean forgoing all trappings of being female? It is not damaging or shallow to care about how you look. Yes, there’s taking it to far–but most people don’t do that.

Look. We’re human. And wanting to appear attractive to others is part of human nature. Putting on a cute outfit–or taking it off–doesn’t automatically dock your IQ points. Or your feminism. There’s not some moment at which you become so intelligent or ‘enlightened’ that you suddenly surpass caring about such things.

Caring about appearing attractive to others becomes a problem when you start to compromise your own standards to be seen that way. It becomes a problem when you take extremely unhealthy measures, or when it becomes the overriding focus in your life.

But filming a cute video? Or being in a pinup calendar? Or putting on a cute skirt and makeup? Doesn’t qualify. There’s nothing wrong with being attractive, or appearing in a way that showcases that. And it doesn’t make you any less of a geek, gamer, or feminist.

This entry was posted in Life.
  • Bonnie Burton

    Thank you for writing this! I never understand why girls attack each other for being proud of who they are and showing it off. ALL GIRLS are allowed to be geek girls, not just a certain “type.” And if they want to flaunt it while waving around lightsabers, then I say go for it!

  • Celtic Guardian Angel

    As a female I agree with your article. The people who say “Oh geek and gamer girls are not *that* cute” or whatever must have never been to a convention. I work them and let me say there are some very nice looking and attractive women there. That doesn't subtract from what is between their ears, but adds to it. It would be like saying an attractive woman can't be a cop, bouncer, fire fighter, etc. I'm just sayin.

  • fabgeekling

    Thank you for writing this. Really.

    I'm no video babe or model but my geek cred is continually questioned because of how I look.

    I recently entered a contest for a fav. gamer girl on a gaming website (which asked me to do it) and got slammed by visitors for not being a real gamer and just trying to get attention. It's like I have to carry around my xbox live log in session summary proving I play sometimes 40 hours a week.

    The worst comments I get when speaking to people “wow I didn't realize you were THIS smart”. =/

  • Frank

    What sexiest about 'geek' girls is that most of them don't realize they're sexy, and they rarely try to 'be sexy.' Trust me – most real men get sick of girls whose priority is 'being sexy' all the time pretty quickly, because they're usually too vain, high maintenance, and not the brightest kids at the party…

    • Delilah_Night

      Seriously? So those of us who have been reading sci/fi-fantasy since we were in elementary school, who have been hanging at ren faires since we were teens, who can debate X-Men all night, who quote trek and B5, who enter into passionate discussions about exactly when the Velgarth series by Mercedes Lackey jumped the shark, who like physics and math, who can roll a d20 with the best of them AND like to ensure that our mascara is in place before we leave the house aren't geeks? Puh-LEEZ. Spritzing perfume on does not kill brain cells, and ensuring the my bra is maximizing my cleavage in no way negate my geek cred.

  • Baylink

    > ALL GIRLS are allowed to be geek girls,

    No. Only the ones who are *actually geeks*.

    What people are going overboard about is mostly that the tendencies that make girls geeks are — just like the tendencies that make guys geeks — ones which make your personal appearance and how it competes with others' absolutely last-class issues for you.

    Because of that, there's tended to be a anticorrelation between looks and geekiness, by absolute standards. (By which I mean that it takes less absolute geekiness to stand out as a geek if you're female than if you're make, IME.)

    This being the case, it's not surprising that the reaction of other geeks — who, statistically, are mostly male — to “geek girls” who are all spiffed up sweet and sharp is likely to be “ah; posers”. Not that they're posing as girly-girls… that they're posing as *geeks*.

    There's no absolute answer to the problem, since it involves lots of groups and individuals all measuring with their own yardsticks a quantity that has no defined gradiations in the first place.

    It just seemed to me that none of the comments (nor indeed the posting) were touching on what I thought was the fundamental issue involved.

    • fabgeekling

      What true benefits are there for posing as a geek unless maybe you're in the entertainment industry and you try to appeal to a certain audience. For example as a gamer I'm not a fan of Olivia Munn… she uses the gaming geek audience to propel her modeling/acting career. She didn't promote that side of her until she got the G4 gig. And now she's all over the place.

      But regular people? I mean what honest benefit would I gain for posing to be a geek? It just doesn't make sense.
      I think people “pose” to be geeks by wearing geek inspired gear. They don't actually claim to be geeks.
      People also over use the word geek, like when someone who owns and loves their iPod they think they're a tech geek.

      Also to address Frank below…
      It's a load of crap to think the real geek girls are the ones who are not into fashion or make up… or ones who don't realize they are sexy. There is a difference between embracing that side and making it a priority.

  • mario

    The gamer/geek credibility issue is always a touchy one.

    What do these women need to do? Post their XBox Live gamercards as proof of being gamers? I would bet that even if they did this (and their point totals were respectable) there would still be a cabal of people decrying them for having “cheated” or some other such nonsense.

    Why such a detailed example? I have several gamer friends who suffered this very fate.

    On another note:

    “As for diversity–what does that mean? An ‘uglier’ girl? How do you phrase that request–hey, wanna be the ugly chick in our video? That’ll win you friends and influence people.”

    This seriously made me LOL. Nice write-up.

  • Jeremy


  • Seanalyn

    Great blog as usual Ivy 😉

    I think the knee jerk reaction for a lot of people when it comes to sexy geeky girls is to doubt simply because we're so used to seeing female celebrities in interviews talk about how they are a “geek” because theyve seen Star Wars or play Wii. When sorry, liking Star Wars and Mario does not a geek make…my mom likes Star Wars okay. Also like fabgeekling said, theres people like Olivia Munn who try to ride the geek train because they think its an easy in to the hearts and wallets of men. I dont see why these women are trying to pretend to be something they arent…just be yourself! No woman should put on an act just to get attention or further her career.

    That being said, Im 100% for things like this (even if the singing was a bit painful…love the concept and the ladies but ouch hehe). Some people say its anti feminism but I think its the most feminist thing ever. Why should being a feminist entail hiding your inherent sexuality??? Be proud of who you are and what youre into whether its fashion, first person shooters or felting….or all of the above! Being a strong woman means embracing every aspect of yourself whether its dorky or sexy or both!

  • Lia

    “Those girls are too pretty to be gamers. They’re just actors faking it.”

    Well, whoever says that has obviously never seen a CS:Female team. There are quite a lot of really good-looking girls out there! However, the prejudice still exists. Ever since I put a picture (and it's nothing you'd consider deliberately sexy, in fact, it's just my face) of me on ESL, I've been getting those “You're too good-looking to play games”, “Why would a girl like you like computer games”, etc. comments from random people. Like everybody else only plays games because they are ugly and have no friends. It's sad, really. That's just the e-sport community, but seriously, they need to realize that they aren't made up of fat loser high-school kids anymore, and in fact never have been. I'd make the leap and say that it holds for every geek community out there.

    Also, about diversity. This video represents a minority, and a largely ignored one as well. How much more diversity would you want?

  • Delilah_Night

    Thank you. God forbid I be cute AND write porn/embrace trek/quote B5/read sci-fi or fantasy. I guess when I decided to be a stay at home mom, I had to discard some IQ points before leaving the maternity ward? I'm so sick of the whole you're too/not enough of a…… to be a ****.

  • Amy K

    Great post. I've been pondering what is it that causes some folk to say that attractive women can't be geeks. Does being attractive somehow prevent you from appreciating how awesome Firefly was? Or if you are a geek and the wish fairy made you look like a model, would you stop being a geek?

    Being a geek is something I love and wouldn't trade in. If you think someone can be too pretty/too cool/too good to be a geek, then you're the one I feel sorry for, because you obviously don't appreciate the joy that geekdom entails.

  • Mike

    Someone critiqued the video's diversity by saying “the woman wearing glasses (the baronness) is kept in back. The reply was, “and they also kept Lara Croft in back and I don't think geeks are biased against women with large breasts.”

  • merrijane

    I like this post a lot. Im not a gamer..ive tried, and I am HORRIBLE at it. Im a lil geeky but not super duper geeky. I think that hanging around my geek best friend (who is a good looking guy – that “ugly” stereotype doesn’t work for guys either) has made me even more geeky..i know way more about videogames than most nongamers would lol. But I agree, it should definitely not be based on your looks, and its annoying when people are always saying its anti women and anti feminist or anti whatever, for women to want to look nice and wear makeup, etc.

  • Mary Sioux

    You nailed it. I am so sick of basement dwelling tweebs telling the whole wide world how there are no hot geeks girls out there. Newsflash, they're out there and they're just avoiding repulsive misogynists like you. I know plenty of cool awesome gamer/geek dudes who have awesome sexy geek ladies in their lives because they aren't tools who reduce women to just a pretty/dumb or ugly/smart dichotomy.

  • Rick

    I really enjoyed reading this post. With so much controversy about the video and its actual portrayal of women as gamers it was nice to see someone defend it as simply some people having fun.

  • Katrina Hill
  • ShellyG

    I <3 this video. I am a GameCrush PlayDate and have been playing video games since I was three! It's about time girl gamers get the recognition we deserve!

  • Luke

    “Those girls are too pretty to be gamers. They’re just actors faking it.”

    These people are ridiculous. Aside from the obvious logical flaws in this argument, I don't even pay attention to celebrity news and I know of plenty of beautiful celebrity women play video games (and for most it in no way benefits their career.) Off the top of my head: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Michelle Rodriguez, Jenny McCarthy, and a number of British actresses. I've also heard that Paris Hilton is a gamer, but personally I find her repulsive and her console of choice is a PSP :p