Review — Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World by Leslie Simon

Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World by Leslie Simon
Published: October 4th 2011 by It Books
Genre(s): Non-fiction, Media Studies, Humor, Feminism
Pages: 208 pgs.
Goodreads

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
What do Amy Poehler, Bjork, Felicia Day, Martha Stewart, Miranda July, and Zooey Deschanel have in common? They’re just a few of the amazing women proving that “geek” is no longer a four-letter word.

In recent years, male geeks have taken the world by storm. But what about their female counterparts? After all, fangirls are just like fanboys—they put on their Imperial Stormtrooper Lycra pants one leg at a time.

Geek Girls Unite is a call to arms for every girl who has ever obsessed over music, comics, film, comedy, books, crafts, fashion, or anything else under the Death Star. Music geek girl Leslie Simon offers an overview of the geek elite by covering groundbreaking women, hall-of-famers, ultimate love matches, and potential frenemies, along with her top picks for playlists, books, movies, and websites. This smart and hilarious tour through girl geekdom is a must-have for any woman who has ever wondered where her sassy rebel sisters have been hiding.

Review:

Contrary to popular belief, very little ends up irritating me to the point of straight up anger when I’m reading. However, one of my biggest pet peeves in books — or in life, really — is when something labels itself as outwardly feminist and empowering to certain subsections of women, but then turns right around and shits all over other women. Case in point: this very book.

Simon dedicates each chapter to a different group of geek girldom, advising of some of their more telling features, pointing out some of the bigger celebrity names that represent said group, and other various other tidbits relevant to the section. This is all well and good until the many not-so-subtle jabs toward any girl who isn’t outwardly geeky start popping up. Each chapter starts out with a short quiz to see if you fit the mold of that particular group (the answer is always c, by the way), but if you end up choosing mostly b’s, you end up getting your intelligence insulted by way of Simon calling you shallow through the lens of another female celebrity who she deems unworthy of calling themselves a geek. Isn’t the point of the whole book about embracing your freak flag? Why aren’t some women allowed to proudly wave it?

Furthermore, it seems as if there are a lot of contradictions within the geeky sects; for example, Simon writes about how the fangirl geek worships Twilight and other assorted television shows or movies, but then later in the literary and film geek sections, trashes these very girls for liking Twilight, etc. What if a film geek happens to enjoy the Twilight series for its interesting use of the blue filter, or if the literary geek finds herself drawn to The Hobbit films to finally put her imagination on the screen? I also found myself insulted by the “frienemies” sections, as if meeting all — or any — of those qualifications makes anyone automatically ungeeky. I currently have 12 books checked out from the library and am planning on getting an MFA in literature, but find leggings so much more comfortable than regular pants. Apparently, however, the fact that I have this preference pushes me into the frienemy section.

Additionally, can we not with ending each chapter with what the ideal skinny white cis boy would look like for our ideal skinny white cis geek girl? The whole purpose of feminism’s third wave is opening the movement up to more than just one specific type of woman: not all women are straight, not all are cis, not all are white, etc. I’m also perturbed by the implication that all geek girls are not conventionally attractive, which Simon does by pushing “ungeeky” female celebrities under the bus.

I wasn’t expecting great cultural analysis when I picked this book up from the library, but I expected it to be a cute little read about making myself and other girls feel good about what makes us tick, but I was not expecting to be bombarded with anti-“mainstream woman” rhetoric. And, let’s be real, when you start calling Ayn Rand a leader of the feminist movement, even though she considered herself to be very staunchly anti-feminist, how can we trust you on calling your own book feminist?

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