Being a “Fake” Gamergirl

 Marie-Pierre Renaud’s 5-part article in The Geek Anthropologist argues that stereotyping women with a ‘nerdy’ interest as not real nerds, and instead as shallow girls who happened to invest in a pair of large glasses, is unfair. The amount of antipathy towards ‘fake’ gamergirls that she references is honestly appalling. For example, a comic book artist shared the below image on his facebook page to his followers: Image

The assumed-fictitious geeky interests of gamergirls is attacked by attacking their sexuality. If the situation were reversed and a man had an interest atypical of his performed gender, I don’t think he would be belittled in the same way. He may experience judgment, but I don’t think they would be as focused on his vapidness or sexual promiscuity. Later in her article, Renaud reviews online rants made by individuals angered by ‘fake’ gamergirls. These rants centered around two basic problems. Firstly, they seemed to think that women who pretend to have an interest in geekery only do so to attract male attention. Secondly, they assume that this display is not based in any nerdy knowledge and that their existence detracted from the value of actual geek culture. Two of the three ranters also expressed resentment based on the idea that fake gamergirls would pay real nerds any attention outside of conventions. In an attempt to rationalize this rejection, these ranters came to the conclusion that attractive ‘fake’ gamergirls were fake and stupid. Cue eyeroll. While Renaud ends her article by stating that each of the ranters also recognized the ‘true’ gamergirls, the adjectives associated with them were humility, and non-attention seeking. This seems to be a microcosm for the gender roles given to women in our society at large. The Virgin vs. Whore stereotype pigeonholes women into one of two categories, but gamergirls (like the rest of us) are not fully defined by two contrasting, problematic, categories. 



Performing Gender as a Promotional Model


In this article, author Sara Snitselaar, recounts her own experiences as a promotional model. While she views it as a lucrative way of getting through her college education and a means towards her graduate education, she knows others that she encounters do not see it as such. A promotional model, for those who may not know, is a model-spokesperson employed by a company to promote a product (usually alcohol, but also cars or fitness regimes.) Unlike the average salesperson, a promotional model often has a tight and revealing uniform, and promotes the product not only with catchphrases and product information, but with [generally] her own body. Snitselaar readily acknowledges that her day job is problematic, and cites an article by Sandra Fish that explains these problems. Regardless of this, Snitselaar argues that in terms of practicality her job as a promotional model is a rational decision, that is helping her realize real goals.  She sees the negativity of promotional modeling more in the reactions she elicits from clients. Men that she meets on the job especially devalue her and base her real life persona upon her work uniform and demeanor. 

I think that I more or less agree with Snitselaar. While it is depressing that objectifying women is one of the best ways to sell a product (literally anything. hamburgers, soap, etc), that doesn’t make it okay to dehumanize the women that do choose to support themselves by being promotional models. The concept of conscious self-objectivization for profit can be seen as symbolic violence, in that the job itself is a product of a societal inequity between the sexes. However, the direct effects can be considered structural violence, in that promotional models like Snitselaar are maltreated based on an entrenched inequality. 

Is macklemore a modern-day archaeologist?

Not quite. However, in Dawid Kobialka’s article “Popping tags: Thrift shopping with Macklemore”, an interesting parallel between thrift-shopping hipster culture (if it can be called that) and the practices of archaeologists. As Kobialka states:”thrift shops are, as it were, cultural heritage sites in which are staged and saved artefacts from the past.” While these thrifted artifacts from the past may be both more recently and more figuratively buried, the basic idea is comparable. By repurposing clothing from one era to fit your modern idea of personal style, you also automatically bring its history with you. Kobialka also touches upon another important aspect of the thrift-shop movement. The way in which you repurpose a piece of vintage clothing is an act of creativity. It is a way of saving money and getting clothes that nobody else will have, sure. However it’s also a way of wearing your cultural history. Wearable objects are still objects, and accordingly have their own sort of language. For example: If you wear a pair of 80’s doorknocker earrings (pictured below, because pictures are fun), other people generally will understand that your jewelry choice is a reference to a different decade.



(just look at those earrings)


They won’t be baffled at your odd earrings that have no place in modern fashion. You could wear an entire goodwill outfit, with an early 00’s plastic lace choker,  a grungy 90’s plaid shirt, gaudy 80’s doorknockers, and some 70’s bellbottoms and others in our culture would understand that those pieces are a part of our collective cultural past.  They might not approve, but they would understand the language of the objects you were wearing. 


isolation in public places

Have you ever lost yourself in a large city, or enjoyed the feeling of solitude in crowded spaces where you know no one? According to Erin Taylor, in “Alone in the city”, this is a common occurrence, with a rational cause: “when we wander through cities, we must ignore most of what is happening around us. If we didn’t, we’d quickly end up with sensory overload and have a nervous breakdown.” 

I’ve never thought about it that way before, but it makes sense. I know that personally I sometimes love and sometimes hate the sensation of anonymity in large cities,  I just thought it was something that everyone experienced differently that happened to stick out to me, but I guess not. Taylor also points out that that sense of anonymity is learned, through exposure to specific stimuli. If you’re constantly surrounded by strangers, in metropolitan areas, it is rational that you would adapt to your surroundings and recalibrate your own sense of normal to fit your environment. However, Taylor also points out that humans are by nature social, and the idea of canceling out strangers in an effort to avoid sensory overload conflicts with this. Finding a middle ground between the two is an issue I never consciously considered, but I think in crowded cities, as well as other stranger-filled situations, we all unconsciously force ourselves to do it. 


Anthropology in the Arts

I find it fascinating to consider the different ways that people could potentially approach the same thing, given their own specific background and expertise. I approach anthropology, for example, through the lens of a music theorist, which proves to be confusing and changes the experience of learning a social science. In the same vein, Kat Jungnickel, in her article “anthropology + design: kat jungnickel”explores how her background in anthropology has shaped her place in the world as a creative artist (or “maker” as she refers to herself). This background, fascinatingly, changes her process and vision, but also makes her analyze her work with endless ethonographer-esque questions. The end products of her creative endeavors are a hard to categorize mixture of maker-ness and ethnographic research.

For example, Jungnickel’s most recent project has been “Enquiry Machines”: a mish-mash of bicycle scraps repurposed to seat two people, facing opposite one another. Each person then interviews the other about interviewing as a process through an anthropological lens. (I can’t say I completely understand the project) In this, Jungnickel combines the art of making, performance art, and an anthropology-rooted inquiry systems. Jungnickel also states that she “makes to understand”, which I resonate with. I use the creation and performance of music much in the same way. I think especially with less immediately personal subjects such as anthropology, finding personal meaningfulness dramatically enhances your understanding of that subject. 


Jungnickel, Kat

2014. anthropology + design: kat jungnickel, Savage Minds.