Maryam and her readers post some good questions. Can a woman +be+ a geek? Should a woman call herself a geek? A person has the right to call herself, or himself, anything they like. I cringe every time a woman allows herself to be called, or calls herself a ho’ or bitch, but far be it from me to deny her right to do so.
I don’t bite the head off chickens, but, yes, I am a geek. Sure, I can dress acceptably for an occasion, and I even own makeup. I have and like jewelry, and I even have an unhealthy but managed love of purses. I am still female, very much so, but I am also a geek. I’m a geek because my brain is a geek brain.
Let me try to explain. My teen years in the middle to late 70’s, were lived in the suburb of Littleton, CO (yeah, that Littleton). Title IX was passed when I was a teenager. I was ever-so-grateful when I could take drafting instead of home economics. I couldn’t sew a dish towel, but I came in second place in the bridge design and building contest in drafting class (my bridge was lighter, but withstood less stress). My dad was proud and deeply embarrassed by that. (My parents didn’t tell me my math teacher wanted me to study math: it was unnatural for a girl to be good at math.)
I had a programming class in sophomore geometry class. It was love at first sight and it was the first time I felt like I fit into the world. The prof invited me to join the computer club, but the idea appalled me. Partly because the guys were jerks, but also because that would have simply sealed my fate as a hopeless social reject.
So, I went to college and studied the nicely feminine (i.e. useless) subject of painting. (Tho’ if you want to talk sexist, talk to me about the art business.) This choice was a real gift, and completely balances my parents’ unhelpful notions about girls and math. For one thing, I have a talent for and love of art, but for another, the degree program allowed me the room to take science, math, linguistics, and anthropology. So, by the time I graduated, I had a better sense of what I was interested in (not to mention a growing need to earn a living). PC’s were blooming and I dived right into another degree program…this time computer science. It was like coming home. I loved it. 20 years later, I still love coding, though I have many interests other than code and technology.
I’m glad I didn’t get too plugged into technology too early because I did have a chance to explore many subjects that I couldn’t have guessed I love (geology, linguistics, physics). But, I’m happy as hell that I was born when I was instead of 200 years ago. I don’t know how I would have fit into society then. I shudder at the thought.
My brain is now.