My guilty pleasure as of late has been King of the Nerds. The reality show on TBS which is a bunch of geeks/nerds competing against each other to sit the Throne of Games and be crowned King of the Nerds. They have been tested on their knowledge of superheroes, cosplay, fantasy, science fiction, geek music, science, etc. Each week ending with one nerd leaving the house.
At the beginning they had 5 girls and 6 guys. Each “nerd” brought a different set of skills and abilities to the table. There were scientists, professional gamers, bloggers, game designers, and just major fans. Next Thursday is the finale where the final four will compete to see who will be crowned. The coolest thing about the finale is that it is 3 girls and 1 guy (even the final 5 was 4 girls and 1 guy).
With all the prevalence of the “fake geek girl” and the argument that geek girls are this rare creature and yet in the battle for King of the Nerds it is mostly girls duking it out. Now as a geek girl myself this does excite me. It is nice to see geek girls coming out on top. I do wonder if the reason they came out on top is that maybe the competition, at least at first, underestimated them.
Okay, so before the lynch mob starts coming out, I think these girls are amazing for getting as far in the competition as they have. There were some pretty tricky problems toward the end, that I thought everyone did a great job at. I mean please one of the girls works for NASA, I am totally willing to admit she is smarter than me. At the same time when it comes to nerdy and geeky things there is still a cultural thought that those things are for guys.
Obviously time and time again this gets disproven, but the cultural thought seems to still be present even among fellow geeks. It is a sad truth, but when we have a blog within the last year talking about fake geek girls (not to mention the lack of recognition from the various industries) we know there is a long way to go. So I wonder if even on a subconscious level they did not view the girls as a threat.
I don’t know if that is a true estimation, but two of the girls never got put up for elimination until the end. This either means that they were never seen as a threat and so were thought to be easy to beat in the end, or, because they started out as teams, that they were useful to their teams. Now part of this may come from the fact that the first guys to get voted in were the scientists (a mathematician and a physicist) and there was only one scientist who was female in the entire show.
I do think that people were concerned about going up against other scientists in a science challenge, but as we saw in the most recent challenge sometimes being a scientist did not help. The female scientist ended up over-thinking her numbers and in the end got sent home. She lasted a long time, amongst a lot of other male scientists who at the beginning were dropping like flies.
Now another theory is that the girls just played the game better. They knew they might be underestimated and used that to their advantage. One of the girls who never got put up for elimination even made the comment that if I keep my head down I can ride this out to get to the end. It is not a terrible strategy and as she is a professional gamer I cannot imagine that she has not had experience with being underestimated as a girl.
If you know someone is going to not consider you a threat in a game where in the end there can be only one, then why not keep from being placed in the elimination round? Now sadly this did not work to the advantage of one of the girls who once half the guys were gone, she ended up being up for elimination 3 times – and pretty much one after the other. Obviously people took notice that she was a strong competitor. And she has won all three times and is in the final four!
Even with the one example, I do not think this is the example that disproves the rule because she obviously was not a threat in the beginning. One could question whether some of the scientists would do as well outside of their realm of knowledge. We have no idea what the ending competition is going to be, but none of them have been straightforward, as it goes with a reality show.
The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen
Maybe I am just overly cynical and read too many comment sections of various blogs (the Internet is dark and full of terrors), but that does not change the fact that the King of the Nerds might be a girl. This is awesome, it should not be a big deal, but in some ways it is. We are constantly told that those movies, comics, books, toys, games, are for boys. Then what does that make me who loves to play it?
The biggest problem with the fake geek girl, is that it holds that the only thing a woman cares about is getting a man. The entire pursuit of the fake geek girl is to get attention from a man. Now I could go on and on about this it is insulting to the core. It is no different then a guy grabbing my ass when I go to a club, because obviously my sole purpose as a woman is to get the attention of a man. There is no way I could be there for myself because I want to be. Yet, somehow because it is a geek/nerd saying it, it is better?
I know that a girl winning is not going to make a huge difference and suddenly open eyes, but I really hope that one of the girls wins. Even with all the other problems the show might be called out on, I do not think you can deny that a girl winner would be pretty damn shiny.