Friday, July 22, 2016

The Geek Double Standard

I spent the morning buying new glasses. I've had more or less the same prescription -- not changing enough to make enough difference to bother with new glasses -- for about fifteen years, and have had the current glasses for almost 11 years. At my eye exam yesterday, my prescription changed the tiniest amount that it could change, and I figured that was a good excuse to update my glasses. That also gives me the chance to get bifocals, but with the reading part blank. I only wear glasses to drive or watch TV, or when I'm out of the house. I don't need them for anything else, but I've reached a point where I can't wear them to read. I've been taking them off to read, or else I've been looking under them, but that's kind of a pain, and my doctor suggested the bifocals as a way to get a similar benefit without having to take the glasses off (that's what she has). Now I have to wait about 10 days for them to come in.

But shopping for glasses, and realizing that the geek chic frames don't work on my face, made me think of another movie/TV trope involving women, in light of my earlier discussion about the creepy behavior. It's what I call the Geek Double Standard.

In movies/TV shows with a geeky male hero or major character, he's probably fallen madly in love with some beautiful supermodel type woman, often without her having anything in common with him, or with him not even knowing enough about her to know whether she has anything in common with him. This is portrayed as romantic, and we're supposed to cheer for him, even when he engages in creepy behavior in pursuit of her -- sabotaging or interrupting her dates with other men, stalking her, hacking into her online accounts to learn more about her, spying on her, etc. Often, she ends up finding this charming and falls in love with him. If she doesn't, she's portrayed as shallow and bitchy for rejecting him. The only reason given why she might possibly be rejecting him is his geeky appearance. Apparently, not being into stalkers or wanting a man to have something in common with her aren't even considered as possibilities. Even if she is rejecting him because of his geeky appearance, it's okay for him to be into her because she's beautiful, but it's terrible and shallow of her to not be into him because he's not conventionally attractive.

On the other hand, if a geeky female has any romantic interest in any man, it's played for laughs. She's depicted as a pathetic loser. It's especially bad if her interest is in an attractive, heroic type, but even if she's after a fellow geek who has a lot of things in common with her, she's shown to be an annoyance to him. She might get in the way of his pursuit of the supermodel, I guess. He's not depicted as being shallow for not being receptive to her advances because of her appearance. The only way she can get any man is to take off her glasses, let her hair down, wear makeup, and dress up in sexy clothes.

I will give the original Ghostbusters some credit in not falling into this trap. Sigourney Weaver's character was never portrayed as being an awful person for not being into her geeky neighbor or for initially resisting Bill Murray (they just forgot to show the transition between her not being impressed with him and her falling in love with him). Though they did sort of portray Janine's interest in Egon as pathetic, even though he was nerdier than she was.

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