It's not just rude... it's bad for our communities.
If you're not familiar with the "fake geek girl" accusation, that's probably a good thing. It doesn't happen all the time, but there are some people in the geek community (an over-generalization of gamers, comic book lovers, and sci-fi readers) that feel the need to act as gatekeepers. And while there's nothing wrong with defending the things you love from people who only wish harm on your community, the practices currently in place end up deterring new fans, which keeps the fandom from growing. Not only that, but it makes it a very hostile place to be, even for those who have been fans for a long time.
Instead of coming together to get excited about what we all love, fan events have become gated communities more concerned with outing the 'fakes' than with the media that brought us together in the first place.
And the 'fakes' being targeted are predominantly- though not exclusively- women. What gives?
The above is, of course, satire.
The truth is that geek culture has become extremely accessible in recent years. There are lots of new comics fans thanks to the hugely popular Marvel and DC franchises. Thanks to Cartoon Network's lineup, there are anime fans left and right. Steam is making it easier (and cheaper) for new fans to become dedicated gamers. Geek is no longer an insult, it's an identity that people are proud of. And why should we be ashamed of our passions? They're a big part of our lives. They're how we have fun. They're how we relate to the world.
So why is there a culture built around punishing new fans?
I've seen lots of reasons tossed around.
But I'm not really sure what the answer is. I've been told that 'fake geek girls' are only interested in sex, that they're only calling themselves geeks because it's trendy, that they're invading male-only spaces to cause trouble and not because they actually care about the medium.
Sure, there are probably lots of 'booth babes' at conventions who care more about doing their job than showing off how much they know about geek culture, if anything. Maybe there have been some trouble-makers at conventions. None that I've ever been to, but I wouldn't say it's not a possibility. But isn't that what convention codes of conduct are for?Protecting fans- all fans- from misbehavior? It seems unreasonable to assume that someone has bad intentions based on their gender presentation or their appearance.
When it comes to bullying or toxic behavior, it sounds like being exclusionary based on the way someone looks is generally agreed upon as unfair and cruel.
So why is this an accepted practice when a new fan is present? Or when a person is expressing their fannishness in a way that's different?
The truth is, we all miss out as a result.
We were all new once. I wasn't born with an encyclopedic knowledge of knowledge of Marvel comics or fandom history. That's all stuff that I learned. Because it was interesting, because it was fun, and because I wanted to hang out with the fans who invited me into their spaces and made me feel welcome. What is so threatening about new fans that makes us so possessive? Why wouldn't we take advantage of their new-found excitement, instead of shunning their enthusiasm?