Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Geeky Roller Derby

Karen’s your usual Sunday Afternoon Inquisitor, but today she’s busy going from Borders to Borders reshelving Sylvia Browne books under “Fiction” as part of her Skeptics Within Borders program, so I’ve taken over!

Roller derby names are known for being clever puns that have something to do with either skating, violence, or skate-related violence: Choko Ono, Ana Bollocks, Slam Raimi, His Rolliness Pope John Brawl III (a male ref), etc. But what if you were forming a geeky roller derby and needed a name that also had an element of science, skepticism, or more general geekiness?

If you were on a geeky roller derby team, what would be your name?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. I love roller derby– used to go see it a lot in Austin. Skeptical/geeky roller derby names? Let’s see here….

    Mrs. Doubtliar
    Eve ‘Olution
    Selfish Jean
    Rea Leetee
    Steph Escope
    Rul’a Reason
    Carmen Sense

    This is fun. I’ll try to keep thinking of more. :-)

  2. Peri Dolia
    Extraordinary Evidence
    Badass Tronomer
    Ad Homina
    Gracious Fallacious
    Demon-haunted Merle (or Girl)
    Faith Less

  3. Hmmm. Not my forte, but I’ll throw a few out there.
    Occams Razor
    Black Holy Roller
    Death from the Skies
    Erollah Virus
    Gamma Burst
    Face Murdering Bear
    Crunchapithecus Rollerii
    Fusion Contusion
    The Saganator
    Skeptical Beatdown
    Candy Rue
    ScammaBamma Slamma.

    Thats all I’ve got.

  4. Ooo… I am bad at coming up with derby names (except Hot Mess Express, which I gave to a girl on my league when I decided to go by my real name), but here are some geeky ones already in existence:

    Math Murderer
    Frau Scientits
    Science Vixen
    Nerdy Little Secret

    There are lots more. ;) I’m actually at a bout right now, it starts in about 40 minutes and I’m operating the scoreboard so I get to use my computer. Ha!

  5. @“Other” Amanda:

    You go by your real name in roller derby? Unless your real name is Amanda Asskick, I don’t get that.

    I just saw the most awesome derby bout ever last night. It was the second ever in my town, against our arch rival town to the north, and we kicked ass.

    My geek roller Derby name:

    Evil Ution (or maybe Evil Ushun?Evilution? Evil-ution?)

    P.S. My favorite real derby names on my town’s team: A hair stylist named Britney Shearz and a vegetarian restaurant owner named Upchuck Sinclair.

  6. Start Wrecking
    TARDIS (Total Annihilation, Ramming, Destroying, Incapacitating Skaters)

    Darn, I can’t remember the one I was about to type. I’m sure more will come to me, it’s actually kind of fun.

  7. I’ve entertained the idea of going to some roller derby tryouts, and I have my name already (don’t steal, real roller derby players!):
    Hurtmione Rager.
    Although I have to say, @k-rex, I really like Christopher Bitchins.

  8. If I ever join roller derby, I’ve decided my derby name will be Dawn Shredder. I probably won’t ever join derby though, as I’m afraid I’d get my ass kicked, so if anyone wants to use the name, you’re welcome to it.

  9. What I’d like to know is why so many feminists are so eager to pick up the macho mantle of the men who came before them while dissing the macho men who came before them. Roller derby is ignorant violence. Football is ignorant violence. Ignorant violence is not OK just because women are doing it. So much of the “feminism” that i’ve seen is about adopting the negative male stereotypes I’ve worked hard at driving from my male mind. All of us, male and female alike, must strive to be the best people we can be, regardles of what society defines as power. Feminists who adopt male roles of “power” ulimately undercut their movement by relying on violence as “power”.

  10. @Mantis von Presley:

    I take it you’re not all that familiar with modern roller derby, then? It’s not really all that violent. You might be thinking of the old school professional roller derby, which was pretty much pro wrestling on skates. The fights were staged and the matches were fixed. In modern amateur derby, the competition is real, and you get thrown out for fighting, despite the way they make it look in the movies.

    Being physical is not evil. I agree that a major problem in feminism is the attitude that women have to do only “masculine” things in order to be equal, because traditionally “feminine” activities and behaviors are still considered inferior. This attitude needs to change, and both men and women need to recognize the value of “feminine” activities and behaviors. But that doesn’t automatically make all traditionally “masculine” things bad.

  11. Mantis von Presley,

    Modern roller derby, from what I have seen, is about equal parts stage show and sport, and that is fully acknowledged by both participants and spectators. If you want to dismiss all sports as “ignorant violence” that’s up to you, but please save your contemplations about whether sporting in general is anti-feminist for some other less light-hearted discussion. Whatever you’re trying to drive from your male mind need not apply to all of the rest of us, all of the time.

  12. I love you guys, but reshelving the nonsense into the fiction section only does two things:

    -It pisses off the people who work at the bookstore(me) cause they have to do more work and we are already overwhelmed due to layoffs.

    -It makes the bookstore employees who are not skeptics think that skeptics are jerks.

  13. Demona Maxwell
    Pomona Newton
    Dyna Planck
    Killojoules Watts

    @Mantis von Presley: Meh, you’ve clearly never seen a girls’ field hockey team in the 1960s.

    “Irrational violence” is not strictly a male failing. To state that it is is to buy into the sexist stereotyping of females as dainty little things who would never bodyslam an opponent, save for negative masculine influence. It is reasonable to decry irrational violence as such, and the participation therein, but when you describe female participation as a fault by ‘[f]eminists who adopt male roles of “power” ulimately [sic] undercut[ting] their movement by relying on violence as “power”, you’re revealing yourself to have issues with Other People’s Power, not the equality of the sexes.

  14. You can find a world roster of roller derby names here.

    There’s plenty of nerd going on.

    I’m in the league here, but not on the team yet–I broke my ankle before I could qualify. I have an unregistered (until I qualify). Schrödinger’s Box.

  15. @junco: I’m trying to figure out how the same mind came up with these two disparate gems:

    “Face Murdering Bear” & “Crunchapithecus Rollerii”

    Since I am both male and a psychologist I might go with:

    Sigmund Fraud
    Cy Coe Path
    Cognitive Dissident
    T. Oedipus Rex

    and finally, just because I had to go there:
    Pat McGroin.


  16. My name would be Skid Vicious. It’s the best one I could think of. I was thinking of joining the Brooklyn Bombers, but am too busy with work and school to join. Oh well. Lots of great names listed in the comments, I must say!

  17. @Garrison22: Your confusion is probably due to the fact that one mind did not come up with both. “Face Murdering Bear” is in reference to a rebeccawatsonism from some time ago. The others are mine, though.

  18. I’m a derby skater and my name is Kimical Imbalance. Some of my derby sisters have relatively geeky names that I’m secretly jealous of: Eve L. Genius ( # IQ>200), Fatal Error (#404 Not Found), for the Star Wars fans: Han Stiletto, Obi 1 Nairobi.
    Occasionally, the jersey number is necessary to hammer home the name.

  19. @MarianLibrarian: Actually, several girls are going by their real names, lately. Some people like derby names for the fun, some for the anonymity, some for the “evil twin” factor – I just couldn’t come up with something that fit me, and I didn’t want to settle on a name just because it was available.

    That being said, my name is Amanda Fox. I have “A. Fox” printed on my jersey. I thought it was appropriate. Since then, several girls have moved toward switching to their real names, as well. Some people feel that going by real names will add legitimacy to roller derby, thus making it more popular. Some just like their real names and like the idea of having the recognition. Some people think that it will kill the sport because they think the only reason fans like roller derby is because of the antics.

    I’m somewhere in the middle – I think fans of the actual sport won’t care what we call ourselves, and I think fans of the antics don’t really want the sport to go mainstream, anyway. All I know is that I love it and, whatever I’m called, I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

    To those who have considered trying out: do it. The worst that would happen is that you would discover that it’s not for you. Leagues need volunteers at the very least – refs and stats and people to setup/breakdown, plus marketing and all… getting involved doesn’t have to mean getting your ass kicked. ;)

  20. Apologies for the thread hijack, but this is interesting, and the main discussion has died down, anyway.

    @“Other” Amanda:

    I’d heard that that was a developing trend, and was kind of disappointed by it. A. Fox does work, though. As for “going mainstream,” yeah, I think a lot of roller derby fans would be disappointed by that. I understand people wanting the sport to grow, but the main appeal of roller derby is the cultural context.

    I don’t just mean the “antics,” but the whole idea that outsiders can play and love a sport that is not part of the “jock” culture. The campiness is a big part of that. I think that a huge portion of the fans love it because it doesn’t look like a football or basketball or beach volleyball game. There’s a big segment of society that felt either bullied or excluded by the mainstream sports culture in high school and college, and roller derby really feels like the anti-sport sport.

    And I wish I could try out. I will, just as soon as I get some coordination and a new set of knees. Until then, I’ll just live vicariously through the awesome women who can do what I can’t.

  21. @MarianLibrarian: I think derby can maintain the “everywoman’s sport” aspect while going into the mainstream. We have two travel teams, one that is WFTDA sanctioned, and three home teams (made up of everyone). The travel teams are the more “mainstream” teams – they are very competitive, and very focused on the athletics.

    The home games, when we play each other, are usually more laid back and campy. Now that our league is so large, there is a lot of talk of home teams playing other local teams, too. So I think that, within a league, you can still have derby for everyone, and derby for the more committed athletes. There are some EXTREMELY talented women in our league who put in a TON of time for training and running things. There are also women who could be that good if they were able to dedicate more time to the sport. At the moment, though, time is money and derby is already expensive… mainstream might eventually equal some of the amazing women getting paid to do this wonderful sport. The rest of us could still play for fun – and I see nothing wrong with that.

    Also, yeah, sorry for the hijacking… I could talk about derby… um… always.

    I do love the names, particularly the nerdy ones…

  22. @“Other” Amanda:

    I guess it’s because I have no real interest in sports at all, but I don’t think I’d be interested in derby without the atmosphere. It’s a sport that can appeal to people who don’t like sports, I guess. Not that there isn’t real athleticism involved. Obviously, there is. I do love the actual game, but I also could get into a hockey game almost as much, and yet I don’t get any satisfaction out of thinking of myself as a hockey fan.

    I suppose the problem could be solved by a split, but my guess is that that would lead to a rift, where you get separate groups of fans, and both would claim that theirs is the “real” derby. I know this kind of already exists between amateur derby and what’s left of the pro leagues, and between the amateur leagues who think of themselves as more serious versus the “dress-up” and “party” leagues.

    Personally, I love the weird paradox that the old fake leagues dressed like mainstream athletes and used their real names, while the modern leagues who play for real wear costumey, individualized uniforms and use fun pseudonyms. It’s so punk rock and subversive. I hate that some people think that the players who dress up the most and make it a show are not the “real” athletes in the game (and I have read comments to that effect from quite a few people).

    I know something that started as underground that suddenly becomes very popular can’t possibly stay the same forever, but if the day ever comes when the stands are filled with tail-gating football fans instead of hippies and punks will be a really sad day for me. Of course, I’d still be really happy to see these women actually make some money and get recognition for what they do.

  23. @MarianLibrarian: Honestly, it’s a toss up for me, too. I really like that our audience is so diverse… adults, kids, hippies, punks, businessmen – the audience is just as diverse as the players, and that’s what appeals to me more than anything. It’s the only sport I know of that has such a wide audience, and I’d like to keep that as intact as possible. You meet lots of people who find derby intriguing for various reasons, and I never tire of hearing them.

    I think a mix of fun and athleticism will always be a part of derby.

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