Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So this is progress.

As a self-proclaimed nerd, I should have been happy with an article on Newsweek on the increasing social acceptibility of nerd girls. And yet.

First description: girls in tank tops and shorts, with special attention given to a cute blonde. Next, the article demonstrates how well adjusted and comfortable with their nerd status these cuties are:

The Nerd Girls may not look like your stereotypical pocket-protector-loving misfits—their adviser, Karen Panetta, has a thing for pink heels—but they're part of a growing breed of young women who are claiming the nerd label for themselves. In doing so, they're challenging the notion of what a geek should look like, either by intentionally sexing up their tech personas, or by simply finding no disconnect between their geeky pursuits and more traditionally girly interests such as fashion, makeup and high heels.
These girl geeks aren't social misfits; their identities don't hinge on outsider status. They may love all things sci-tech, but first and foremost they are girls—and they've made that part of their appeal.

On behalf of the nerd girls who do not require pink bows to legitimize their social standing*, I offer a loud, frustrated, "ARGH!" Yes, it's cool that geek is chic right now. Lovely. And I appreciate that it's acceptable to be a, you know, smart girl with interests beyond make-up and babies. Thanks for the approval, pop culture. I was waiting for that in breathless anticipation. But why, oh why, must (presumably heterosexual) sex appeal factor in here? Why is their social well-being contingent on how comfortable they are making themselves pretty?

It's frustrating that it's still not enough to get by on simply being smart--at least, not if you have two X chromosomes.

* - I admit, in the interest of honesty, that I am no social butterfly. I do not feel this makes me any less well-adjusted. I have a few close friends who are nerdly in their own ways. I like it like that. I could, I suppose, put more effort into both being more outoing and fussing with my appearance, which may increase my social standing. However, the former is tiring and uncomfortable for this introvert, and the latter smacks of superficiality. My friends are not my friends because of my clothing or make-up, and vice versa. If there's anyone I'm trying to impress at the end of the day, it's those who are close to me and those whom I respect, not the dictates of pop culture.


Anna said...

I'm with you on the "AARGH"! I happen to be geeky, socially functional, and perfectly content to avoid pink and heels. This is not to say I don't have the occasional girly moment, but I object to geeks only being accepted if they also conform to feminine stereotypes. That's one of the things I have always loved about being geeky and I would be sad to see the same moronic social rules applied to geek girls.

By the way, I'm new to your blog and I love it.

Shay said...

I think Mike Doonesbury's daughter at MIT may have something to do with girl geeks' increasing visibility/acceptability.