Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Geek Girl Commandments and Bill of Rights

While most of the Skepchicks are off convention-ing, I’m holding down the fort at Skepchick HQ to feed the running hamsters that power our servers and restock the liquor cabinet. (There’s none missing, I swear.)

Anyway, I usually do the Quickies, so I don’t really know how to do this AI thing. But I thought I’d toss out a link I came across last week: the Geek Girl Commandments and the Geek Girl Bill of Rights. From the post:

With the surge of superhero movies, non-geek girls who are dragged to the movies by their boyfriends are slowly starting to discover the awesomeness that is nerdy obsession and peek behind the pop culture curtain.

Instead of going River Tam on the cheerleaders that so harshly rejected us, we need to guide these ladies into our culture (even if it means enjoying the fact that we’re higher on the social – ha! – ladder than they are).

If they want to play on our grid, they need to play by our rules.

I think the “rules” are fun, fair and a good way to think about bringing women into the geek fold. But I’m interested in hearing what everyone thinks about it.

Do we need either Geek Girl Commandments or a Geek Girl Bill of Rights? Is it just something for fun or can it help us draw more women into geekery and geek-related professional fields? Should we add any amendments?


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. It’s a fun idea.

    After: I will deal with unwanted but harmless attention with class and dignity.
    Then: I have the right to contact security about unwanted and potentially harmful attention, and have the right to have my claims taken seriously by that security regardless of my costuming choices.

    I have the right to call other geeks out for sexist language and have people take me seriously, rather than dismissing said language as “harmless” or “part of geek culture”.

    I have the right to call shenanigans on any geek who assumes I identify with “majority feminine” fandoms such as Twilight or My Little Ponies.

    I have the right to call shenanigans on any geek or guest who says “majority feminine” fandoms are ruining (insert name of convention here).

    I have the right to disagree with (producer/(voice) actor/writer/fellow fan) and not have my ideas attacked because of my sex or gender. I also have the responsibility to accept criticism based on other criteria and not hide behind my sex/gender.

    Unless I’m on panel or you’re a shopkeeper or event staff/security, I have the right to “ignore” you without being labelled a bitch. Maybe you’re a creeper, or maybe I just didn’t hear you. Your right to attention does not trump my right to go about my own business.

          1. Actually, that was the language of the original list.

            Also, teasing on text-based sites doesn’t really work without the use of emoticons. Nice try, though. ;)

    1. This is probably my own inacquaintance with English culture but what do you mean by “call shenanigans”?

      1. “Shenanigans” in the way I’m using it means “remarks intended to deceive”.

  2. Neither are needed. It does look like fun though.

    BTW, your AI post is fine. I would like to see a lot more science and skepticism posts, but the blog seems to be more about feminism and atheism than science and skepticism. If you’ll be holding down for fort for awhile, how about tossing us skeptics a bone and post some science topics.

  3. Some of these are ok, some are too goofy for my taste, and some are downright awful.

    [IV) Thou shall represent all of girl geekdom when attending conventions, shopping at comic book stores, and cosplaying.]
    Not at all. I don’t even like representing my own sex/gender, why would this be ok?
    [IX) Thou shall respond with thanks to all who accuse you of doing something “like a girl.”]
    What? Why? I thought that was an insult; why should I be grateful for an insult?
    [I have the right to use my feminine wiles to my advantage without being a tease or a jerk.]
    Wow, this sounds like dangerous territory. But then, I don’t use “feminine wiles” to get what I want. That seems a bit hypocritical, i.e. “I don’t want to be treated as a sex object, but I’ll be a sex object to get what I want.” Wow, just wow.
    So much is so goofy, it’s hard to take seriously, and the good stuff seems to get lost, like the Bill of Rights 1 and 4. Although Rebecca’s improvements would be a worthy addition.

    1. @BlackCat:
      The way I read it, I got the impression that “IV) Thou shall represent all of girl geekdom when attending conventions, shopping at comic book stores, and cosplaying” was intended as a joke.

    2. “IX) Thou shall respond with thanks to all who accuse you of doing something “like a girl.”]
      What? Why? I thought that was an insult; why should I be grateful for an insult?”

      And why, exactly, should be doing something “like a girl” be an insult? Considering that an insult is the insult. Doing something “like a girl” should not be an insult.

    3. And further … how does one even “do something like a girl”? What does that even mean? It shouldn’t be an insult because it doesn’t even make sense. People do thinks like humans, not like one gender or the other.

  4. @BlackCat, IX is to reclaim “like a girl” as a compliment, and make the speaker think about it!

    But I agree, using feminine wiles is RIGHT OUT.

    Cathy F

  5. I think IX was meant to take control of language, i.e. turn an insult into praise. Some dick says “You X like a girl”, and you respond “Thank you very much, that is high praise indeed!”, they’ll get confused, flustered, and try to explain it wasn’t meant that way. If you cut them off or refuse to understand (see the D4D comment the other day for some techniques), eventually they’ll give up and go away. If enough people do this to them, the light might come on and in thirty years they’ll be reminiscing about how it used to be in the old days when they used to be able to call people girls and it was an insult, and why doesn’t that work anymore?
    Controlling language is important. I know several young women who are feminists in all but name, but who don’t self-identify as feminists. I think this is because they’ve implicitly bought into the redefinition by people like Rush Limbaugh of a feminist as a bigoted, man-hating, short-tempered entitled grump.
    (I had a whole long diatribe about “throwing like a girl”, but I decided it would take too much research to discover if humans are the best throwers in the animal kingdom, or if other apes use similar techniques, complete with obscure baseball and LotR references.)

  6. The “like a girl” phrase just now reminded me of that part in Community Season 1:

    “Troy sneezes like a girl!”
    “How ’bout I pound you like a boy?—That didn’t come out right.”

  7. I like it.

    Buzz, I am pretty sure that humans are the best throwers in the animal kingdom, by a lot. I suspect that throwing rocks and using spears was one of the first techniques that humans used to dominate the savanna. Four or five people with sharp spears could protect a single person throwing fist sized stones and could take prey from essentially any predator. The spears prevent the predator getting close enough to use teeth and claws and the stones break teeth and put out eyes and force the predator to retreat.

    I agree that “like a girl” is, and should be a compliment. But simply being a girl is to have the superpower of feminine wiles. But geek girls always follow the admonition of Ben Parker (Peter Parker’s uncle), that “With great power comes great responsibility” and they only use their superpowers responsibly.

    1. Forget throwing rocks. Try a sling. Simple to make, and once you learn to use it properly it’s deadlier than any thrown rock. And doesn’t require a huge amount of upper body strength.

  8. Having thought it over more, I can see that the problem items on the list is on about making a good face for geek girl fandom, and changing how insults are used. Still.
    My main problem then with the lists is are they serious or supposed to be a joke. The message becomes muddled when they use a mixture of both, and the impact of important rights becomes lost.
    It’s easy to quibble over meaningless items, but really, doesn’t the “using feminine wiles” item bother anyone?

  9. Oh, “using feminine wiles” sucks. It’s the flip side of all the come-ons we’ve been bitching about.

    Cathy F

  10. Interesting question and funny list. My favorite is X (ten) because any set of rules calling for the presumptive ignorant to be smote has promise.

  11. I thought this article was pretty funny at times. I could definitely relate to a few of these. I wish this were expanded a bit more though to include geekdom outside the realm of just cosplay and Star Trek. Also, it would be nicer if it were edited more! Thou shalt, not “Thou shall”… :-P

    Kara Kaloplastos
    Intern, Geek Force Five

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