Where My “Nerd Girls” At?

Professor Clayton asked a question on Thursday that has stuck with me. Are those of us who were excited about Nashville Comic Con, who are into gaming and sci-fi and fantasy, outliers in the Vanderbilt community?

I’d like to say no, outright. But in my last writing workshop we were critiquing a story that made me think of this class, and how I might answer this question, especially in regards to gender. There have already been some posts on female inclusion into the male dominated world of gaming, but I’d like to throw my opinion into the ring as well.

nerd girl

The story was based around the Slender Man stabbing story in Wisconsin, and two high school aged couples that talk about video games, violence, and love. The majority of women in the class, the author included, spent a lot of time distancing themselves from the idea of gaming by saying things like “I really know nothing about it,” or “The only games I play are on the Wii.” There’s obviously nothing wrong with playing Wii, but it seemed like perhaps these women sensed a stigma around being both female and interested in gaming, a big part of “nerd culture”. The author’s female character that was into gaming was characterized as weak and subservient to her boyfriend, a kind of wimpy, clingy mess, who was only interested in gaming because her boyfriend was. I thought to myself: Is this really how other women perceive female gamers? That we’re only into gaming because we want to meet guys, or impress guys, or otherwise connect ourselves with men? Is this how men see us?


I think that female gamers and Doctor Who watchers and comic book readers are not outliers in the Vanderbilt community. There are probably hundreds of women on campus that enjoy gaming and reading fantasy and watching sci-fi. But I think there is still a stigma in being a “nerd” girl, mostly because the interest in gaming and “nerd culture” is still rooted in masculinity, and women who claim interest are sometimes pegged as imposters. There’s even memes about it!


So, no, I don’t think we are outliers, but I do think that there are many more women who would enjoy gaming if they felt safe to express that interest without being labeled as “fake geek girls”.

One thought on “Where My “Nerd Girls” At?”

  1. So, this idea of “infiltration” is what gets me, here. As if, on BOTH ends, something will be “tainted” once a girl enters the “gaming world.” For the male gaming culture, it’s just women foolishly trying to get “inside,” who will inevitably screw something up or annoy everybody. For girls on the outside of gaming culture, it’s their own status and dignity at stake.
    I think part of this is perpetuated by how marginalized gamers still are today. If “gaming” wasn’t an “inside” thing, if we didn’t use exclusive terms unapologetically and sneer at those not in “the know,” (guilty) and if gamers truly opened up and wanted to share their fabulously imaginative lifestyle, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much animosity and false notion of “preservation.”
    Granted, I’m 1/8th hipster and do believe mainstream tends to ruin things, because anything that aims to please all cannot have much uniqueness or worth. BUT, it doesn’t mean that we can’t be our “gamey” selves without isolating or drawing barriers.
    Sorry this is so long winded, but I have a female friend who shoots me death glares anytime my enthusiasm about the games in this class goes beyond “mature indifference.” And guess what? To this day she’s never given herself the time to experiment with and enjoy video games for herself. Her perception of gaming was ruined when as a child she was treated as a burden anytime she wanted to play with her male cousins. To this day she is still extremely opposed to trying. And to this day, she still can’t explain to me why my excitement about gaming is such a problem. Go figure.

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