Book review

Leslie Simon’s “Geek Girls Unite”

By - Mar 1st, 2012 04:00 am

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

For the longest time the world of geeks was a “Boys Only” club. Guys could be passionate, or let’s say, geeky over music, comics, science fiction, film, technology and books, but the girls could only get passionate over shoes and chocolate. But now the ladies are staking their claim and the world of geek-dom, and they are proud to do so.

Being a bit of a geek myself (at least when it comes to books, film and crafting) I was delighted to come across Leslie Simon’s Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits are Taking Over the World. However, after reading it; I’m less than delighted.

Simon starts off Geek Girls Unite defining what exactly a geek is. Simon defines geek as, “a person who is wildly passionate about an activity, interest, or scientific field and strives to be an expert in said avocation.”

Simon then devotes individual chapters to different types of geeks. There is the fangirl geek who obsesses over anything from World of Warcraft to Star Wars to Hello Kitty. The film, music or literary geeks are pretty self-explanatory. There is the funny girl geek who loves Tina Fey and there is also the domestic diva who is devoted to cooking, baking, crafting and gardening. Simon also provides different subsets of geek-dom, which include fashionista, political, retro, technology and athletic geeks. Apparently, these geeks are only geek-lite; they don’t deserve their own individual chapters.

Each chapter with a little quiz testing your knowledge (spoiler alert: the “right” answer is always C). Apparently you can’t be the proper geek if you get any answer wrong.

Author Leslie Simon. Photo courtesy HarperCollins Publishers (Michael Dubin, image).

Simon then defines each geek in very rigid terms. For instance, I earn my film geek street cred by knowing Alice Guy-Blaché was the first woman to run her own film production studio, but my cred is on shaky ground because I have yet to upgrade my DVD player to Blu-Ray.

Truly bothersome is Simon’s idea of frenemies, the type of non-geeks who are foes to geek girls everywhere. I found this offensive. Someone who has different taste and different interests than I do is not some kind of adversary. We can celebrate being a geek without slamming other people.

And in the spirit of Cosmo magazine, Simon describes the perfect guy for the geek girl, not quite realizing that not all geek girls are straight. Nor are people attracted to perfect carbon copies of themselves. A literary geek girl can fall in love with a sports nut.

While reading Geek Girls Unite, I couldn’t help but think of Simon as not as a geek but of a “cool” girl lowering herself to let us lower life forms know hey, it’s okay to be different. I thought her idea of starting a sorority of girl geeks, or as Simon puts it, a geek girl guild, was just silly.

Now perhaps this book is skewing towards a younger audience and I’m just too old. As a teenager I would have loved to have found a book that said it’s cool to care about things other than the homecoming game or becoming prom queen. There are some positive moments to Geek Girls Unite. The book provides resources including websites, movies, music, books and magazines that might interest the reader. I did like some of the quotes from girl geeks. Simon also names notable lady geeks who rule their realms and are worthy of checking out. On a local note, Simon mentions Milwaukee’s Faythe Levine’s documentary on crafting Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY Art, Craft and Design.

However, these positive elements can’t make up for Simon’s snotty tone. There’s enough divisiveness in the world. Let’s not bring into the domain of geek-dom. Geek Girls Unite is just “Mean Girls” disguised as “You Go, Girl.” Geek girls of all kinds deserve so much better.

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