Geek and Gamer Girls

“I’m no expert, but I suspect that girls who enjoy geeky things like playing video games would just rather be considered gamers or geeks than having the word girl thrown in front of everything they do as a qualifier.”
—Michael Fahey

I like to play video games. I love reading graphic novels and comic books. I have a crush on Spiderman and Felicia Day. I go to game conventions. I re-watch BSG and Star Wars on rainy and sick days. I considered myself a geek. Yet, there are people (both fellow geeks and non) that consider me to be something else. A geek girl. It’s fine that I enjoy playing games and partaking in geek culture, I just have to do it as a geek girl; as a gamer girl. The word girl has to be added on because, well that’s what I am, a girl and apparently that fact must be made clear to everyone. But why? We don’t refer to males as gamer guy or geek boy. They are allowed to just be gamers and geeks. Why can’t I? Do I have to unlock an achievement to be allowed to just be a geek? Level up? It’s a genderization that is not needed.

My problems with the addition of this qualifier:

1. The use of the word girl.
As Cassie Wallender said at a recent panel at PAX, when asked out the term gamer girl, “I am a woman, not a girl”. Most see girl and woman as interchangeable. Hell, I did at one point. But they are names for a female at different stages of her life. A girl is a female who is a child. A women is a female who is an adult. Is the use of girl suppose to be a further insult? Or did it stem from an unfamiliarity with basic societal definitions?

2. Its uniqueness to the geek community.
This level of genderization isn’t seen in any other facet of society. You don’t differentiate between writer and girl writer. Barista and barista girl. Sure we differentiate between actor and actress; waiter and waitress; but those labels aren’t gendered in the same way. Actress is a feminine word. Actor is a masculine word (Yes, there are those who would disagree with me and loudly state that actress is a sexist term but this is my blog, so phht). Generally, (of course there are exceptions) actresses are not judged as inferior to actors. That is not what the term does. It is simply there to differentiate between male and female actors; not to judge them on their skills. Geek and gamer girl does not share this. Gaming is anonymous. There is no need to differentiate between genders. Yet some people (again, fellow geeks and non) seem to think there is a need to.
“She’s pretty good for a (gamer) girl.”
“You kill zombie Nazis like a (gamer) girl!”
Whether or not the term was originally intended as an insult doesn’t matter. I take it as an insult.

Judge and mock me on my ability to play the game. Not on my gender.

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