Is There Still a Social Stigma for Geek Girls?

6 years ago

When I was in elementary school, one of the worst things a classmate could call someone was a "geek". In a world of social media and smart phones the negativity associated with the word "geek" is going away.

But it's not gone yet -- and I think it's still more negative for women than it is for men. I can call myself a geek with pride. I can bond with my family and my closest friends over geeky things. But when someone in my larger circle of acquaintances uses the term "geek" in reference to me or knows I'm into certain things, I still blush.

I went out for drinks one night with some friends, two men and a woman. Two other men we didn't know were sitting at the bar near us. My guy friends and I got to talking about Star Trek, probably tribbles or the "I am my own grandfather" episode, because those are my favorites. The guys sitting near us jumped right into the conversation. And the other woman in our group, my then roommate, burst out with an embarrassed, "I can't believe you're talking about this in public!" She wasn't a geek, and wasn't proud that we were geeks, and especially wasn't proud that the strangers near us now knew she was out with geeks.

I met my fiance through an online dating service last year (yeah, that's geeky and stigmatized in itself). During the first few weeks, when we were just communicating online, I really wanted to make sure he knew all the things I had kept secret from my last boyfriend. I love playing video games. I play World of Warcraft. I never let my last boyfriend see me playing a video game because I didn't think he'd understand (good thing we broke up, right?). I'm still ashamed to let friends and coworkers know I like to play World of Warcraft. But my fiance and I ended up bonding over that because he plays too. And I bond with my family over it because my brother is really into it. And my fiance bonds with his dad and his aunt and uncle, because they're really into it too. And all my fiance's friends think it's awesome that I'm so geeky and wonder where they can find girls like me. But when my fiance and I went out to dinner with my friend last week and he told her about how he'd spent the previous weekend out of town to go the wedding of his friends that he met through World of Warcraft -- I still blushed and hoped we could turn the conversation to something else.

My cat Honey "helping" me play World of Warcraft.

Is it just me or do you also have a hard time letting people you already know find out that you're a geek? What do you think of being a geek? What do your friends and family think of geeks?

BlogHer Marketing Coordinator Carrie Winegarden (@carrieactually) blogs at Carrie Actually and Kuchen Together.

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