Lots of people have spell-checkers on their computers. My spell-checker, much like yours, would like to correct what I wrote here, because it thinks it's a typo. But the fact of the matter is that Michelangelo was an artist, and Michaelangelo is a turtle. I will demonstrate, with a scan from this book I found on my shelf:
It is a spelling mistake that more or less has stuck. Except for, for example, certain title cards on the 80's-90's cartoon show, some toy boxes, and other instances probably since then, where a mistake was made that was actually an over-correction of a very old mistake.
I'm a goddamned authentic Turtles fan, because I know that some of you are wrong about this. But, yet, I had to be corrected on this once, too. Because it's a strange piece of trivia, and not everyone is born knowing everything about things, especially esoteric, "nerdy" things.
So, now, I'm going here. I know that's not exactly boldly going where no one has gone before, to mix my nerd metaphors bluntly. It was Leigh Alexander's rebuttal and then the Mary Sue that made me aware of this Forbes piece about "fake geek girls." And though I don't have the readership or Twitter followers of either, I've been told women should not just shut up about things when they have something to say.
I'm going to be honest, though. I like what Leigh has to say about this, for sure. But I also get where Tara Brown is coming from, at least on a surface level. First of all, geek subculture is obviously threatened by any inauthenticity that comes across as pandering. No, hang on... All subcultures feel threatened by inauthenticity that comes across as pandering. Especially if it's done by people in a higher position of relative status, looking in to a traditionally marginalized subculture.
So, if the newest hot young actress comes on television and talks about "her geek cred," there is a problem. Many geeks felt ostracized when geek interests weren't so acceptable. Hot actresses are the opposite of ostracized. Even if this actress were only a part-time geek, a geek-in-training, she could probably become a full geek in time. Whereas I, already a full geek, could never become a hot young actress.
This is not really the fault of the hot young actress, though. I might feel she's invading my space because she is younger, wealthier, skinnier, prettier. But the real problem is societal expectations and double-standards that seem to say: all women should be young, rich, thin, beautiful. But, oh, if you somehow are those things, you are not "allowed" to be smart. You're worthless as a woman unless you're sexy, but if you are sexy, don't open your mouth. The cacophony of catcalling in lots of geek spaces has sent horrifying mixed messages to women that confuse and bewilder them. We can at least feel welcome in our knowledge of, say, indie black-and-white comic-book trivia, but when another woman comes in and knows the same, and she meets geek men's super-high standards of attractiveness (that often involve comparing real women to imaginary ones), it can be a little daunting.
It's also the fault of the word "geek," which, though I've been slinging it around up to this point without much of a problem, I agree is getting increasingly useless as an identifier. It's broad. I disagree that there is some "overall geek culture" that demands liking a particular subset of particular things, things which are shared by all geeks. There are some geek-identified things I just don't dig, and that's okay. I also believe that some pursuits considered more mainstream for whatever reason are really a little bit geeky (like, for example, sports statistics).
It would be nice if people, through the internet and elsewhere, all were aware of this simple fact: humans aren't homogeneous. People look different from one another, and not all people look like airbrushed supermodels (not even the airbrushed supermodels). People like different things, to different degrees. Therefore, "geeks," a growing group if you believe it exists at all, aren't homogeneous - and that word, itself, geek, has become so watered-down to the point where it's rapidly losing whatever meaning it had anyway.
In high school I read Dragonlance books and played a lot of RPGs and spent a lot of time on the internet. In college, I got in to, among other things, Transformers, really really bad, partially because I remember liking them as a kid, and partially because people said, hey, have you seen this new Transformers show? It is pretty damn sweet. But I wasn't coming in an expert, at the time, and had a little catching-up to do. There have always been people in my life, from my parents to my friends, who were willing to pass things to me that were interesting and that they thought I would enjoy. And for a while, I was that young otaku who was still learning about lots of geek stuff, learning which die you had to roll for a saving throw and sometimes spelling the names of Ninja Turtles slightly wrong.
So maybe the worst thing about the inauthentic geek girl is that I used to be her?
Part of this is also generational: an "uphill both ways" kind of thing. "Geekdom" is more accepted now than it used to be; Transformers are "so mainstream," and sometimes, I honestly do want to rail against that a little bit, 'cause, I remember it being so much harder. I read Deadpool before his appearance in every Marvel title was declared mandatory. Barnes and Noble has a manga section now; I remember having to mail order my MixxZines. I saw people in a chat room last night bemoaning that their theoretical children wouldn't grow up with the "real" Looney Tunes; will their children complain that their kids don't get the "real" Pokemon? (Am I already showing my age? What do kids like these days? iCarly?) But is there any way to say "I was here first" without sounding like an idiot? Does it make me a hipster? Yeah, that term is as meaningless as "geek."
Let's be fair here: however you define it, Geekdom Needs Women. Without more diverse women everywhere (older, younger, skinny, not, good with makeup and clothes or not so good with that), it'll be hard for geek men to accept that any kind of woman can also have "geek interests" in any sort of quantity (obsessed, or not). Also, the truly maladjusted men out there will have to accept that women are all individual people instead of some group called "women." But, baby steps.
Wasn't I talking about the Ninja Turtles? I guess I started there. Hey complaining fans: if you're not oldschool on the Turtles, you also came in late. You don't really own your anger at Michael Bay doing whatever-the-heck he's doing to make the franchise more accessible to another younger generation. But if you're not exactly getting your trivia right then it's possible that that younger generation was, at one point, yours.
The good news about that outrage, though, is you really can rent it. Borrow that fandom for a little while and see if it fits right. And then maybe you can come over some time and browse through my comic book collection? You may find something you like.