Magazines and TV Agree: Geeks are Lovable

Courtesy my fellow Annenberger Tara, we have today a veritable media blitz on why the ladies love the geeks.

The TODAY Show and Tango magazine have articles, informal surveys, and video up on why “geek” is “the new chic”—or, more specifically, why women are now finding geeky guys hot.

The text articles (which are identical, as far as I can tell) feature discussion of “Secret Science Clubs” overflowing with women swooning over geeky guys, plus comments and stories from Beauty and the Geek winner Josh Herman.

Josh mentions that people sometimes accuse him of not being a geek, which I find interesting: If the brainy guy who admits to vomiting around beautiful women doesn’t count, who does? It’s a great example, though, of how some people’s definition of ‘geek’ may be shifting to rhyme with ‘chic,’ while others’ stays fixed on the assumption that geeks can’t be witty or charming. The article recognizes a distinction, too, between different kinds of geeks, stating outright that some are more worth your time than others:

There are degrees of geekiness, of course, ranging from the unsocialized Dungeon & Dragon-heads (who probably would be better off as cave-dwellers) to Star Wars buff s who, though they appear normal—true story from a friend—just can’t wait to show off their chocolate Millennium Falcon in their freezer once they get you home. Then there are the functional geeks, who, aside from an overweening affection for model ships, motherboards, or Iron Chef, make perfectly passable boyfriends.

This notion is echoed in the comments on Tango by at least one self-identified female geek, who also singles out fantasy RPG gaming (this time, computer-based) as on the less acceptable side of geekiness:

There are two types of male geeks: redeemed and unredeemable. The redeemed ones actually know something. The unredeemed ones can go back to WarCraft and rot for all I care. Who put them on the list of chic??

Accompanying the article are simple surveys from TODAY site (image in case that ever disappears) and Tango on whether the audience would prefer geeky guys or musclebound guys (and here’s another image).

If you’re looking for further reading material, see Josh’s field guide to geeks, featuring entries such as:

The Science/Math Geek (Pythagoras MITulis)
Markings: Lab coat, TI-89 Titanium Calculator, pen marks on hands.

Indigenous to: College labs, secret science clubs, open-to-the-public lectures.

Mating call: “Baby, you’ve got more curves than an Erlenmeyer flask.”

If approached: Know your Poincaré Conjecture from your string theory. Or don’t. As all these are theories, just say everything with conviction, or “Maybe it doesn’t make sense—in this dimension.”

The rest of the examples were more media-oriented (comics, games, computers, etc.), but that one was my personal favorite. (That pickup line would probably go over well with my girlfriend, and the “in this dimension” line would definitely work on me.)

Also check out a video link to a roundtable on TODAY with a psychotherapist, a Tango editor, and the aforementioned Josh Herman (who looks much better with his hair grown back out, IMHO). The TV segment includes an unscientific but tongue-in-cheek survey of whether women would prefer a photo of a bodybuilder or TODAY’s intern, some discussion of the genuineness and passion of geeks, and recollection of how women’s tastes have changed since high school (which the psychotherapist pins on changing scales of masculine status). Text cues pop up on the bottom of the screen, including “Geeks are sensitive because they have been made fun of before,” “Geeks are not for all women,” and “Can require time & effort.”

As for the geek’s perspective: Asked to define what makes a geek, Josh replies with a self-denigrating witticism first, and then with, “It’s all about passion.” I suspect those aren’t actually two different answers, but two sides of the same answer, if we’re to be honest with ourselves.

And finally, it might also be worth it to see what people commenting on Tango have to say. There are only 10 comments so far, but they include some words of agreement, some reminders that women can be geeks too, and one really baffled and irritated guy who is wondering how he got beaten by the nerds.

5 thoughts on “Magazines and TV Agree: Geeks are Lovable

  1. Also courtesy Tango, see this Boston Globe article titled “Geeks Take Back Online Dating.” It refers to geek dating services like Sweet on Geeks:

    “It’s for people who know that society wants to shun them. But we’re really proud of the fact that we’re geeks so it just takes itself very lightly,” [site user] Riviere said. “Anything I put on Sweet on Geeks is going to be true and honest; on, like, a normal dating website I’d give it a little more consideration.”

    I forgot to mention, too, that the TODAY/Tango article described above mentions that Chicago actually has a geek dating service, but I’ve already updated this post something like six times as I find new tidbits and add-ons—new stuff in the comments, then. Enjoy.

  2. Did you see the article in Bitch Magazine (“A feminist response to pop culture”) about how girl geeks are getting left out of the media love fest over awkward, nerdy boys? Interesting…

  3. Huh. I’ve been noting the uptick in interest in geek guys lately, and the accompanying (small) disgruntled noises coming from the geek girls.

    Two observations:

    One, There just aren’t as many Ggirls as Gguys. Yeah, you can argue that. Proceed to Item Two.

    Two, Ggirls tend to be better at subliminating the fact that they are geeks. (Often, they find a not-considered-extremely-geeky outlet for their geeky proclivities. Anything from politics to knitting topologies.)

    Three, (THREE observations!) the overall culture expects less in the way of social initiation for girls (at least initially, the subsequent stuff is whitewater at its finest.) Thus Ggirl wallflowers will eventually get some interaction, while Gguy wallflowers will get very little.

    Did I miss anything?

    (Oh, and somewhere I have the original BITCH Hypercard stack. I’ve got to properly archive that at some point.)

  4. I haven’t seen that Bitch article, but I’d be interested in it. Any idea which issue it was in?

    I saw some other articles related to this discussion that I’ve been compiling for a link post on geeks and gender (including one fellow arguing that women don’t know how to hide their geekiness like a proper geek, which was certainly a new argument to me)…

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