G33k & G4M3R Girls: You’re doing it wrong.

Metaneira is a 30 year old female currently in school for a master’s in public administration focusing on the non-profit sector. Meta has been gaming since she could hold a joystick, and has been blogging in one form or another since 1999. She currently co-hosts a site about mages and feminist issues in World of Warcraft at www.empoweredfire.com.

This post originally appeared at Empowered Fire.

By now you may have seen the video “G33k & G4M3R Girls,” a parody of Katy Perry’s “California Girls” written by a few women involved with geek culture. (If you haven’t, you can see it here: while safe for work, the video features women very scantily clad and has an aggressively cloying auto-tuned soundtrack. Watch at your own risk.) The four women — Milynn Sarley, Clare Grant, Rileah Vanderbilt, and Michele Boyd — form “Team Unicorn” and were interviewed by the Official Star Wars Blog about the video. The author of the article says the ladies answer as one unit “cause that’s how they roll.” Fine: “Team Unicorn” it is. Team Unicorn: you’re doing it wrong.

Now, let me get a few things straight: I’m a geek. I’m a gamer. And I’m a woman. But none of those things are me: they are just parts of the whole. Having my entire personality boiled down to a list of nerdy references I get or things I enjoy doing is kind of absurd, but this is what the video promotes. From the very start, Seth Green asks, “Hello friends… don’t you want to meet a nice girl?” The video is not aimed at the women it is purporting to celebrate: it is straight-up pandering to the largely sexist, male-centric geek subculture. It is geek women served up for the male gaze on a shiny latex platter. This is not empowering.

The women who participate in geek culture do so primarily for one reason: we like it. Some of us may have gotten introduced to it via a male, but a lot of us discovered it on our own and enjoy it for its own merits. We are not doing it to get dates. We are not doing it to appeal to the Nice Guy in our guild. We are there for the exact same reason men are — because it’s fun. This video perpetuates the idea that we’re only in it for the male attention: it’s a list of geeky references wrapped up in skinny, conventionally beautiful white girls wrapped up in sexy outfits. (Or, in some cases, not wrapped up at all.) It isn’t really about geek women at all — it’s just about how men would want to have a smoking hot girlfriend who can talk about Star Wars and play D&D with them. That’s all you need, right? A hot body and a willingness to watch anime?

We’re more than that, just as you are. We’re not just a list of things we like. I want to be judged by the content of my own character, not my WoW character. And I’m tired of a subculture telling me that the only way I can belong to it is if I offer myself up as a sex object to the men involved. When I sat down with the guys in college to play GoldenEye and Halo (yes, I realize I’m dating myself here), I wasn’t doing it to find a boyfriend: I was doing it because I liked shooting other players in the head. We would meet for a weekly Halo night, and every time a new guy was introduced to the circle, he’d ask whose girlfriend I was (no one’s), whether I was actually going to play (damn straight), and then make awkward overtures at romance (never asking me out, of course — just inviting me to dinner “as friends” and then pressuring me later). I’d be told I played well “for a girl.” (Which I will never, ever understand, by the way: didn’t I just win the game? Looks like I play pretty well, period.) But it was in that way that my status as a female in this male-dominated space was always underscored: my Otherness had to be reinforced at frequent intervals. I didn’t really belong.

It was hard for me, and I’m sorry to say that for a while I ended up doing what a lot of geek women do when we’re in a male-dominated environment: I adopted the misogyny of the subculture. I would call the other men “pussies”, which always earned a chuckle because ha-ha, a girl is saying it. I would use the word “rape” to describe beating someone at MarioKart. I picked apart other women because the men were doing it and I identified more with the geek men than non-geek women (something which Geek Feminism blog author Mary addressed in a recent article). I prided myself on how cool and laid-back I was, that I didn’t get my “panties in a twist” over these things. I was funny and not just “for a girl funny.” The guys liked me for me.

But as it turned out, a lot of the times, they didn’t. They liked the idea of me: a cute geek girl who could validate all their own geeky interests. But as far as actually getting to know me as a person? Not so much. It took a long time before I was able to retain my feminist ideals and participate happily in geek culture. It took a long time before I stopped responding to the guys who slobbered the second they saw I was picking up FPS games at the local gaming store. And it took a long time for me to feel comfortable revealing my gender in an MMO, when I was afforded some degree of anonymity (as long as I never spoke in Vent, that is). And it would be a while after that before I’d speak up about the things that bothered me — that rather than just passively participating in the subculture and wincing at what I didn’t like, I would address the issues head-on. I’d call people out on oppressive language. I’d ask people not to trivialize sexual assault by comparing it to player-versus-player events. And I’d try to educate others, men and women both, about feminist ideas and how women and other minorities are marginalized in the geek subculture we all enjoy.

I’ve slipped up, of course. When you’re steeped in a misogynist, homophobic, racist, ableist culture, it’s pretty hard not to. But as I’m getting older I’m becoming more confident in my own person and my own ideas. Still, watching the Team Unicorn made me cringe. This isn’t the snarky satire of “(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar?”; this is an endorsement of the sexist attitudes of the geek and gamer subculture, created by women who are putting themselves on display as sexual objects.

Does Team Unicorn realize this? Probably not. Just like me ten years ago, they may be at an earlier stage of embracing their geekiness. They probably just wanted to make a fun, cute video. (Though I find the song excessively obnoxious, I assume that’s mostly the fault of the original being parodied.) Cosplay and hanging out with Stan Lee appeal to a lot of geeks, so I can’t really fault them there. But where I can find fault is the idea that geek girls are a list of hobbies all wrapped up in a “nice girl” package, that only exist to be pleasing to the schlubs in the video. That’s not at all what I identify with.

Geek women exist. We come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, sexual orientations and identities. And we participate in geek culture because we enjoy it. We’re tired of being made into objects of sexual pleasure or derision. And instead of celebrating geeky women, this video just reinforces our role as the Other: aberrations from the norm, free to be used as sexual objects.

Team Unicorn, you’re doing it wrong.

37 thoughts on “G33k & G4M3R Girls: You’re doing it wrong.

  1. MadGastronomer

    Ugh. What a piece of crap. (The song and video, not the post.)

    Good job taking it apart, and thanks for doing it.

  2. Elizabeth

    I love this. I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain to my guy-geek friends why this video bugs me and the paragraph about constantly being asked if you’re someone’s girlfriend made it all clear. When I was in high school booking shows for local bands, making movies and websites in college, and these days when I dj, men always assume I’m just someone’s girlfriend and I’m not there to work.

    In addition to just criticizing, I’ve been trying to come up with solutions. So far I’ve got absolutely nothing, but there has GOT to be a way to remake this video in a way that’s respectful to everyone and still funny. Do you have any thoughts on this?

  3. Nightsky

    Thank you for this! We had a similar thing over at Geekachicas: someone sent us a preview of a “geek girl’s magazine”, which, like this video, seemed to be targeted not so much at geek girls as at straight guy geeks with fantasies about hot geek girls. I mean, none of us girls felt that what we really wanted out of a gamer girl’s magazine were photo shoots of scantily-clad women licking dice suggestively.

    It’s also a bit of a head-scratcher that they claim to be Team Unicorn because girl geeks, like unicorns, aren’t supposed to exist. Did they teleport in from fifteen years ago? Women aren’t anything like a majority, but shit! We’re not that rare.

  4. jmtorres

    Thank you for articulating everything that was bothering me about that vid.

  5. Kimberly

    My history is somewhat similar to yours. I integrated into an otherwise entirely male social circle in order to game (and flatter myself by having an “honourary penis,” as it was described), and adopted the misogyny to fit in, separate myself from feminine associations, aspire to masculine ones, etc. While the video and song aren’t exactly unproblematic, I think they do have some feminist-y value in that they’re not tearing down other women. There is the male gaze aspect of it (which, being a bit of a fan at this point I am inclined to attribute to the parody aspect of it), but otherwise they’re not integrating into geek culture, they’re owning it. And welcoming others into *their* world (which can also be attributed to the parody aspect of it, alas).

    I don’t think there’s a whole lot of value there, but I do think there’s some.

  6. lala

    That video sums up everything I hate about geek culture and why I don’t participate in geek communities. I feel like every geeky community has a big sign on the door saying “No Girls Allowed” with a little footnote at the bottom saying “But we’re nice so we’ll let you tag along if you’re hawt and you dress up as Lara Croft and Slave Leia. Of course you won’t be allowed to participate in any meaningful way but you can totally be our mascot!”

    It’s even more depressing since many geeks feel alienated from mainstream culture, so geek communities are safe havens where they can freely pursue their interests and feel understood. Unless you’re a female, in which case you just get the alienation all over again when you try to enter a geeky space.

    I cannot express how much joy I would feel if I could be part of a geeky community where my gender is irrelevant. But I guess I might as well ask for a pony while I’m at it.

    1. Kim Curry

      I had a real hard time with being a geek in my Catholic primary school. I think the first of my high schools came close to breaking through that defensive shell, but unfortunately we moved before it was finished.

      I picked up my first RPG books (Star Trek) at a garage sale during that time, but it was several years before I bought dice to actually game, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually played that Star Trek game.

      I feel fortunate that the gaming group I joined in college had been going for 20+ years and had many women gamers already. There were guys in the group who played female characters in the sexist “chainmail bikini” fashion, and that was one of the reasons why I’ve always played female characters. Female characters who dressed modestly, who could love, or not, as they chose. Characters who could kick but and take names if they chose, and characters that played strong supporting roles as healers, etc.

      I was also fortunate that my fiance/husband was raised with more feminist ideals. My best defense, both as an engineering student and as a gamer: I was simply unavailable. I met my husband in band camp the week before I started college, and that was that.

      Long response to the video here: http://apollosdtr.livejournal.com/66920.html

  7. Cynthia L.

    Great writeup. Good on them if they had fun making the video, but it is no kind of victory for geek women.

  8. Jaclyn

    I would give you a standing ovation if I could. In terms of parody, this one did hold true to the spirit of the original (I doubt anyone would say that Katy Perry was singing it for the benefit of women), but with all of the crap that geek women have to put up with, we do not need the stereotypes to be reenforced. Thank you for such a masterful breakdown of why this video parody is not helpful for women geeks and gamers.

  9. alex

    What a great blog. I’ve been studying this gamer girl culture for a few years now, and no matter how many I watch, those types of videos make me cringe. I think you are right on in a lot of ways: serving women up to the male gaze, being accused of having an ulterior motive for gaming, and, what I find hardest to deal with, the idea that you need to leave your femininity behind in order to game (ie. adopt a penis).

    With that last point, though, is where I stumble a bit in your article. While, yes, the women in childish clothes or women posed in submissive positions are unquestioningly misogynist, I can’t help but feel that some parts of the video are dismissed too quickly.

    What’s happening here is that there is a narrative going around in geek culture that any women who try to assert their femininity or sexuality are doing it for men. We are being robbed of our agency. That puts women in a lose-lose situation, because we either play as masculine or androgynous (of course there is always gray area here), or we risk betraying our gender by being “sexy.” But I find it also disturbing that we women will chastise other women for using their sexuality, aggressiveness, and femininity to pwn themselves some noobs.

    So, again, I loved your article. But I hope that we geek gamer girls can come to a point where no matter how we choose to dress, act, or how sexy we want our avatars to be can be seen as *our* choices.

    1. Kimbo Jones

      Sexuality didn’t really occur to me in a general sense. For example, Fuck Me Ray Bradbury also featured sexuality but didn’t bother me in the slightest. Same for the aforementioned Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? (though admittedly that’s much more G-Rated). Rather what bothers me about G33k and G4m3r Girls is the way that sexuality is expressed. There’s no context. It’s just “look at my naked body, hetero fellas” (the “fellas” implied by the forward and afterward by Seth Green).

      “Why can’t I meet a nice girl?” Because nice gamer/geek girls don’t necessarily look/act like this or want to fit in as objects of desire. Sometimes we just plain want to fit in and be accepted for our mutual interest.

    2. Metaneira

      Alex, I absolutely agree with you and even touched upon this a bit in the comments to the article on my own site, especially since I believe (though I haven’t done any research to back this up) that a lot of geek women use the internet as a tool to explore their sexuality and sexual identity: the internet provides a social connection that is safe from disease and is relatively anonymous, giving a geek woman a chance to be freer than she might be in real life. It also puts us in a much wider social circle than before, with weekly D&D or Halo nights or what-have-you. But since we’re sorta crammed into a role we’re not wholly comfortable with, we’re stuck staying in the tomboy, “honorary penis” role, or we risk the slut-shaming that I’m sure geek women are all too familiar with. (I’ve seen it happen in WoW whenever a woman posts a picture of herself to her guild forums. Because, naturally, she’s not just sharing a picture of herself to be friendly: she has ulterior motives and did you see how she’s showing a bit of cleavage?)

      You should, if you haven’t yet, read this article about misogyny/sexual harassment on the SC2 forums. I particularly like the break-down of the reaction to a woman confessing her gender: either she’s 1) a man and lying about it or 2) a woman trying to get attention. There isn’t a reading of that action that is neutral: everything starts out with a bias against the woman poster.

  10. Bruce Byfield

    Am I the only one to see this video as split in intent? The parts featuring Team Unicorn are very much as Metaneira describes. But the other parts are much more broadly parodic: Seth Green doing his over-the-hill Robot Chicken schtick, the male geek dancers, Katee Sackhoff snapping a broad salute, and Stan Lee at his desk looking annoyed at the young women dancing around him.

    It seems to me that the cameos expected — and delivered — some fairly broad humor. But somehow the members of Team Unicorn failed to deliver themselves what they had told their guests to expect.

    1. Kim Curry

      I’m not sure about split in intent, but I certainly felt split in reaction to it.

      “I’m a geek. I’m a gamer. And I’m a woman. But none of those things are me: they are just parts of the whole. Having my entire personality boiled down to a list of nerdy references I get or things I enjoy doing is kind of absurd, but this is what the video promotes.”

      I am hard pressed to think of any 3-minute or so song that can adequately describe the whole of any person. It’s the nature of music to focus on one situation, one feeling, one person, one aspect.

      I enjoyed the lyrics, the gamer references, the “I’m a gamer, I have fun with it, and I’m proud of who I am” attitude. It really looked to me like the actresses were having fun with what they were doing. I think that these are important attitudes to promote in areas where women who game are few.

      Where I am not as comfortable is in the male gaze, nudity aspects. The parts where, the guys can be full-body, but the nude gals are cut off, sometimes just heads shots.

      And even this is a divided feeling. It was my first group of gamer guys who first told me that they consider the female form beautiful, just as it is. I… err.. have been to clothing-optional events, and while I’m not particularly interested in letting it all hang out in “public” like that… I’m becoming much more comfortable with being me at home. So there it becomes a question of, are they showing off for the guys? Or are they just happy/content with being themselves (and not afraid to show)? Or both?

      The post makes a good point about the first Seth Green lyric pointing to the guys.

      I’m going to try and write up a longer response on my own blog this evening.

    2. jo

      I too, noticed a seeming discrepancy between the content, the voice, and the intent of the video. I would venture that the real problem with the video is that it does not commit fully to either being comedic (for laughter), or satiric (for instruction). Both depend on the savviness of the viewer, but parody is not, as Maverynthia noted in another comment, as much about subversion as it is about exaggeration, usually for comic effect. (Subversion is a new theme, parody is mimicry; they’re different songs.) I would say this video is a parody, but I would also point out that parody is often maligned as a lesser form of criticism. I think that the confusion of genre and its purpose *by its makers* also lends some vagueness to how the video is received; are we supposed to be incensed? Amused? Thoughtful? By not delineating at least the *order* in which we should receive the video, the makers of it fail to get across the full weight of their argument—basically because we don’t know what it is. (Then again, it could be that I am not savvy enough.)

      Still, change must start somewhere, and because I’m in a glass-half-full kind of mood, I’m saying, I would rather have this parody out there than none. I would rather have three more guys in the world watch this and then have a *stop.think* moment than not. It does not, in my estimation, do any more harm: the granite cliff of hegemony and its individual particles will not become more rock-like upon viewing this. It will just be another rainfall on its face. But eventually, eventually, rain wears down even granite.

      What saddens and annoys me about this post is that some people identify/segregate themselves and then expect everyone to have cataclysmic shifts in perspective to align themselves perfectly with the segregated portion. It’s a two way street. If people see your POV, then you must at least try to see theirs; if you refuse to try take anything from it, you’re just as bad as what you’re yelling about.

      For instance: an argument could be made that Seth Green’s appearance in the video is signalling from the outset an ironic stance about *all* the content; conventional beauty, the typical male gamer, our obsession with entertainment in vectored form, and consumer culture (sexist, ageist, racist, ableist), as a whole. As a signifier (sorry Seth), those properties become the frame we view the whole thing through; we know that the video will be funny, poke fun at society and in particular popular American culture, and that it will be self-effacing and self-deprecating. To deny this aspect of the video is to exhort an un-balanced and un-contextualized view of it, and that’s not criticism: that’s just bleating.

      One of the arguments against the video posted as a comment was that it would have been “better’ if the video had portrayed fat women, women of colour, trans women. While the discussion has its merits, I think it’s missing a main component of parody; the *same* material, but enlarged disporportionately.

      It’s a pop song – if you’re enlightened enough to understand the merits of representation and its fallacies, then you’re probably not listening to pop songs that often. Pop songs, and their resulting parodies, are aimed at young, ignorant, consumerist people of both sexes. Therefore the parody is working as intended; it is taking the target audience and the target subject, and twisting it for a new perspective. It’s not saying “read Andrea Dworkin and riot grrls or YOU FAIL,’ it’s moving the broad arguments of feminism within the boundaries already established by the original. Again, that’s what parody is – it’s not a refutation, it’s not a Defense or Manifesto, it’s a sideline, a merciless tickling intended to get your attention for just a minute.

      If the blogger’s intention was to post a Manifesto or critique, then incorporating the video as an example of the errata of (their idea of) false feminism makes sense. Not allowing the individual journey of feminism to exist outside their personal parameters, however, is as rigid a viewpoint as the one they’re taking issue with.

  11. Marcie aka yelling at pixels

    Just a thought, I have always hated the term “gamer girl”. I’m a woman dammit!

    Seriously though, the term gamer girl sort of plays into this hawt girl (ie child like) stereotype.

    Frankly it’s 4am and I am delerious from lack of sleep, but does anyone else see where I am trying to take this?

    1. Andrew

      The effect you describe isn’t entirely limited to women. There are a lot of places where videogames are considered solely children’s toys. This is why Australia claims the right to entirely ban games with objectionable content. They assume that the end user will be a child by nature of the work being a video game. Some followers of this attitude consider men who play videogames to be overgrown children. Perhaps the effect you describe is the application of this attitude to women who play games?

      1. Restructure!

        The phenomenon of infantizing women by calling us “girls” is not limited to gaming, or even geekdom. There was a linkspam link showing the result of ordering geeky T-shirts for “girls” (they received children’s T-shirts instead of women’s T-shirts), but I can’t find that link right now.

        This is also a Feminism 101 point.

      2. MadGastronomer

        I second Restructure! It has more to do with infantilizing women than with viewing games as being solely for children. If you want to discuss feminist issues, Andrew, you really might want to go poke around the Feminism 101 blog for a while, first.

    2. Maverynthia

      Actually I know EXACTLY what your talking about.
      I saw a video on the “That Guy With the Glases Site” about “gamer girls”. While the whole video seemed to be made of fail, one part was actually good at pointing out how the term “Gamer Girl” is used to refer to the sexualized images of women in cosplay or just playing the game to appeal to male-gaze, versus the “women who are gamers”. I hate it when the term “girl” is used. I blame it for the circular relationship to “pink games” like Barbie, Style Savvy, and other games FOR CHILDREN.

      You hardly ever see a game for women, it’s always for girls.

  12. Jonas

    I’d be interested in a more detailed explanation of how “Do you want to date my avatar?” is “snarky satire”, as opposed to “women … putting themselves on display as sexual objects.”

    1. Metaneira

      Because DYWDMA is set within the context of the show, and the lyrics are very clearly in parody of how pathetic it can be to have a crush on a girl you know in your guild, basically. That the online attraction is better than the real thing, because the avatar can be controlled and forgotten about when you’re done with her. The video is over-the-top sexualization, but it’s showing people of all different sizes and colors, not four interchangeable skinny white girls. It’s not actually saying “Hey, guys, don’t you want to be with this fantasy object that you can completely control?”

      I’m not dismissing the notion of online romance — to do so would be rather hypocritical. But I do think that there is some truth in how people sometimes approach the women in their guild, as if being a female and playing WoW is all you need to establish a relationship. Why bother to get to know her — just start hitting on her as soon as you know she’s single. And if she gets annoying, just logout. It’s not how real relationships work, obviously, and so the song is satirical.

  13. Kristen

    1. It’s parody. 2. How do you not know that playing with the original visuals and re-casting them, isn’t the point? 3. If geeks, geek girls/women come in all shapes/sizes/colors/orientations/etc., then why is it so hard to accept that this is one of them? 4. Why is it that anytime a woman CHOOSES to do something, that someone else perceives to be serving the male gaze, that is automatically dismissed?
    There’s no one way to be a human being, let alone a woman or even a geek. Isn’t the whole point of fighting for equality, to have the freedom to choose for ourselves?
    Some of us don’t require authentication for our identities as feminists, anymore than we do for our identities as geeks. Conforming to the stereotypical image of a, “serious person,” or, “feminist,” (by the way – those definitions tend to stem from previous generations’ parodies of feminists,) is just another way to be hobbled. I’m so very tired of this.

    1. Maverynthia

      It would have been a BETTER parody if they had a better variety of women. Fat women, women of color, trans-woman versus the same idealized image that IS appealing to the male-gaze. Especially when the opening lines are talking to men!

      Heck a better parody would be fully clothed women wearing geeky shirts with the stuff covering the bits. The very heart of parody is to point at something and totally subvert it. Not pick it up, parade it around and ape it when you get the chance. That’s supporting it.

    2. MadGastronomer

      The problem isn’t that this is one of the shapes that geek women come in, it’s that A) it’s the ONLY one depicted, and B) that it STILL shows women as primarily sex objects, and nothing in this parody challenges that depiction. At all. How much more awesome, and how much better of a parody, would it have been if, along with showing men of different shapes, sizes, colors, and conventional attractiveness, they had showed the WOMEN, the “geek and gamer girls” the song claims to be glorifying?

      Instead, this video, while parodying other aspects of the original video, appears to buy into the beauty stereotypes and sex object status of women displayed in the original, completely. Male geeks are allowed to be schlubs, but women must be thin, white and conventionally pretty.

      The problem isn’t with the people criticizing this video not accepting all shapes, sizes and colors of geek women, the problem is with the video only displaying one. The problem isn’t with women being thin, pretty, sexy, the problem is with the depiction of that as the only thing geek women get to be.

      1. Lukas

        I think the video cannot be understood properly if judged without any context. It was obviously not a deliberate decision to only show “thin, white and conventionally pretty” women. Incidentelly, the four young women fit this pattern. All of them are actresses. Working out and caring for their body may be necessary to be succesful in their job. It should also be noted that the rapper (Seth Green) and the director of the video (Adam Green) are husbands of two of the women. Also, their love for gaming and geeky stuff is not faked. (Look at their twitter streams and YouTube channels to get a detailed impression. For clarity, I am not saying that you’re questioning this, I am just trying to provide additional context.)

        In my opinion the four women cannot be criticized simply for celebrating their love for gaming and showing off their beauty. But yet, I do think that Metaneira raised important questions and managed to finely balance her criticism.

        1. MadGastronomer

          I think you’re the one judging it without a larger context, the context of the way women are treated both in geek subcultures and in the larger over culture. The women involved may all have been thin, white, and conventionally sexy, but they chose to bring in men of different types and didn’t choose to bring in women of any other types. That was an actual choice on their parts, whether it was a conscious choice or a reflection of unconscious and internalized norms. It’s not that the video, devoid of any context at all, is a problem, it’s that the video, in the larger context of sexism in Western culture and geek subculture, is part of a larger problem.

    3. lala

      I don’t understand this post. They chose to exist in an oppressive system? Someone sat these women down and asked them if they would like to live in a sexist society or in some egalitarian utopia and they said “I’ll take the sexist society, please”? So we should all be happy for them that they exercised their full agency by choosing to live in a sexist society? I don’t get it.

    4. Metaneira

      It is parody, but in an extremely limiting way: it doesn’t subvert the original, it only replicates it. I wish we had a different term for rewriting the lyrics of a song to make up something else, because most examples of parody songs aren’t referencing the original content, just the original style. Weird Al versions of songs may imitate the singer’s voice/mannerisms, but they make no reference to the original. This is basically a shot-by-shot remake of an awful video, and it doesn’t really mock the troublesome aspects of the first iteration.

      I do think the women who wrote it are geeks; I’m not disputing that. I just think that they didn’t realize the sexist implications of the work, partly because the geek subculture is so steeped in misogyny, sometimes to a greater extent than the mainstream culture. Playing to it is often a way women deal with that sexism, and so I don’t fault the creators of the song for purposefully making this. They made a sexist video, but I don’t think they’re consciously doing it. I don’t fault them for being beautiful, though I realize that complaining about the depiction of women in society results in the immediate assumption that I’m just jealous of their looks. (Which, naturally, just reinforces my commitment to feminism, even as it irks me: my looks shouldn’t be an issue, and yet it’s the first thing detractors drag out. )

      The women did choose to do this. I’m sure they picked out their own costumes and may have even directed the video (though I don’t know who did — I should look into that). But I think they were unwittingly influenced by the sexism of geek culture, the culture that demands pics or GTFO, the culture that tells men that they need a nice, sexually available girl who shares his hobbies and can be set aside at the flick of a switch. Just because a woman chooses to do it doesn’t make it feminist, and just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I’m not still tied to a lot of sexist or misogynist beliefs.

  14. Erudite Chick

    Thank for this. I just had essentially the same debate/reaction on twitter and someone pointed me over here. I’m somewhere in the middle of my accepting-my-geekness phase, and it’s difficult, and even more than your intelligent assessment of what is problematic in the video and what it’s symptomatic of, your personal tale of geek journey, however abridged, was really helpful and nice to read.

  15. Emmy

    Weirdly, this video kind of ended up a horribly accurate copy of the Katy Perry song it’s trying to parody. I’m sure when the idea was conceived everyone involved thought it would serve as a geeky counterpoint to the mainstream ideals of “California Girls,” but it serves the same creepy audience of straight dudes.

    On NPR, Maura Johnston and Jay Smooth deconstructed the original as part of a piece on current duets. And it bugs because even though it’s a woman (or in this case, a group of women) singing the song and getting the fame it’s all about this weird male fantasy. Like, I’m from California and we definitely do not wear daisy dukes and bikini tops. And I don’t play video games in my underwear.

  16. Ninya

    I feel people get a little too anxious about the whole “bad representation of gamer girls”. I don’t feel it was ever meant to represent what we are, just more of a joke on how guys obsess over us, even now when it’s obvious we exist. I think they’re just using that to jokingly throw out a “we’re the best” video parody. To that, I think it’s as simple as the blonds vs brunettes arguments/jokes. I don’t think it’s meant to be taken so serious or make people feel like less of a person. It’s just a goofy video.

    Seriously, have you seen the original it’s parodying? They toned down the ridiculous, but it’s obvious they just tried to keep the same tone and make a fun video. To me, it’s a very good parody. It’s taken a song which all but reduces women to bikinis and tanned skin bared for men’s pleasure and turned it into a joke on why guys love gamer girls better.

    I’m just pointing out that in the original context the quote is a call to arms to rebel against the status quo. It has nothing to do with gender. Ignoring the original context takes a lot away from its meaning.

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