Reading a recent post over at Geek Feminism about geeks and geek-adjacent women and the perception of women as un-geeky when around (particularly male) geeks, I appear to have been struck with yet another minor identity crisis.
You see, left to my own devices I have plenty geek cred. I really, really like the analytical, theoretical aspects of my field. The last time I decided I needed a new hobby (last week) I ended up with a giant book of calculus, a pen, several sheets of paper and a cheerfully furrowed brow. The time before that, I decided to learn a whole new language partly because I wanted to see how my brain learned to deal with communication happening with entirely different senses and body parts to the ones I was used to. I describe knitting as ‘fluffy algorithms’. I cheerfully own my cognitive biases and will equally cheerfully point out yours. I’ve spent years working in a library, for Pete’s sake. Oh and yeah, I spend way too much time playing video games and like collecting dusty old sci-fi books. I hear that counts as well. But here’s the thing. I live with an origami-wielding statistician* and the McGyver of computer science**. Compared to these people? I am, as The Statistician describes, Little Miss Girlie-Girl Popular from the planet SocialConventional. Her words, by the way, not mine.
Reading over that post at Geek Feminism, there seems to be an undercurrent that in order to be a geek, one has to be a techie. Now, I’d always seen geekery as being less a specific interest and more a way of doing things. I see geekery as being that tendency to get really-really interested in things, the desire to take things apart (literally or figuratively, depending on context!) and see how they work, the constant hankering for more knowledge and more understanding, the peculiar and unique interests. Normally, but not exclusively, existing alongside a reasonable dollop of having been That Geeky Kid.
Now, I know that there’s a lot to be looked into about how women’s geekiness is devalued when it happens to exist adjacent to an also-geeky man. But they’re doing an awesome job of that over at Geek Feminism. What I’m curious about here is this: what does the word ‘geeky’ mean to you? How do you define it? Also, how do you define not-geeky? I’m interested!
*Check her out, by the way. She doesn’t post often, but when she does it’s gold.
**He claims to be a recovered engineer, but we have significant doubts.