When I was in college, my only concern was finding a peer group that would accept me. I had never found a peer group that had accepted me. I lived in a dorm that had suites organized around certain interests, so I decided to live in the Sci-Fi suite my sophomore year.
I didn’t really have too much in common with most of the other people there. I did like to read some science fiction, but I have a hard time reading books because they’re assigned, so I think I read only one of the assigned books while I was there. I did like Star Trek. That was about it. I didn’t grow up playing role-playing games or loving the works of Tolkien. I didn’t like collectable card games (Magic the Gathering was huge at the time). I wasn’t much of a gamer at all. I wasn’t even really into video games. I was really into playing the Legend of Zelda when I was in high school but once I entered college I didn’t bring my console with me and I completely abandoned video games for years.
I didn’t understand a lot of the references that were made. I didn’t know what an Orc was, or why saying “Tolkien-ripoff" was a running joke. Nobody really bothered me too much about it though. I was the only art major there (everyone else was either into Computer Science or perhaps Biology or Engineering) and that certainly made me stand out. But “fake geek girl" wasn’t a meme back then so nobody really put much pressure on me to prove my geek cred (of which I had none). And for the most part, I suppose it was a more comfortable place for someone chronically socially awkward than most, though I was struck by how unscarred most of the other people were. They had all found their niche and healed their childhood wounds; I had not. I was on the fringe, an outsider, even there.
But I wasn’t a fake geek girl for the reasons most people think women fake being a geek. I wasn’t there to flirt with guys and mercilessly reject them just for laughs. Instead I had angst about why even in such an environment that was relatively scarce of women, I got little attention. I really was just looking for a group of people who wouldn’t pick on me.
People should think about that next time they meet a woman at a con who doesn’t seem to belong there. Sure, she might be “fake." But it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Sometimes people try stuff out that they don’t know much about it. It’s not a crime. If any sort of social scene doesn’t get a regular flux of newcomers, it eventually stagnates and dies. And not knowing everything there is to know about the culture is part of being a newcomer. If you see someone at a con who seems clueless, maybe you should point out some stuff you think is cool, instead of berating them on their lack of “cred." Just a thought.