Did you see the June 16, 2008 issue of Newsweek with its cultural expose on the Nerd Girls, a posse of Tufts University students who symbolize sex, solar cars, and soldering irons in a single stare?
In “Revenge of the Nerdette,” Jessica Bennett and Jennie Yabroff write:
Today’s girl geeks are members of the first generation to have been truly reared on technology. They grew up on gender-neutral movies like “Hackers” and “The Matrix,” and saw the transformation of Willow on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” from awkward geek to smart and sassy sex symbol. They’ve watched the geeky pursuits of technology and comic books transform from fringe subculture to pop mainstream, and they’ve capitalized on that geek-chic mentality to elbow their way into it.
The irony of this block of text is it could just as easily reference males than females by changing a choice word or two. This got me thinking of female pop culture icons (both real and imaginary) who exemplify geek chic.
- Fortune 500 Women CEOs including Xerox Chairwoman and CEO Anne Mulcahy and Alcatel-Lucent CEO Patricia Russo, who are not just women but leaders of ginormous multinational technology corporations. Former corporate bigwigs Meg Whitman of eBay and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard should be included here.
- The first female captain in the Star Trek universe, Kathryn Janeway, of the USS Voyager
- Barbarella, who, through both comic strips but mostly the 1968 film, helped introduce science fiction and sex to young women
- Wonder Woman for holding her own next to Superman and Spiderman
- Tank Girl for being an independent, gun-wielding, kick-butt chick
- Angelina Jolie for wielding guns, riding motorcycles, and cracking computer codes as Lara Croft
- Lisa Simpson for standing up to her TV parents but moreover showcasing an independence not seen from a female animated TV character since Judy Jetson
- Velma from Scooby Doo for her trademark eyeglasses and geeky smarts
- Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and her female heroine, Hermione Granger, who both enabled more girls to read and be fascinated about magic
- She-Ra who proved to TV audiences that she can compete with He-Man to master, err, mistress, the universe
- Xena for combating warlords and gods as an equal to Hercules
- Rock musician Ani DiFranco for her music and owning a record label called Righteous Babe
- NPR commentator Sarah Vowell for proving women can not only speak about their lives on air, but also write successful essay books and be the voice-over for geeky cartoon characters as she did in “The Incredibles”
- “La Femme Nikita,” a short-run TV series, earns mention for highlighting the skills and savvy of a very feminine girl who doubles as a covert spy
- Anna Kournikova who helped catapult the chic sport of tennis into Vogue for young girls to emulate
- The marketing gurus behind the official blog of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen who clearly opened up the notion of blogging to millions of emulating fans
- Negin Farsad who directed nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot in Nerdcore Rising
- Jennifer Ringley, creator of the defunct JenniCam website that allowed people to watch her life unfold, live and uncut, in a Truman Show-like soap opera. It’s fair to surmise her sex-ridden exploits led to female podcasters taking the stage today, ranging from Sarah Austin to Cali Lewis.
This list is by no means complete, nor does it reference website resources for young girls who want to be geeky.
If you have any cultural icons to add and/or would like to add your thoughts on nerds, nerd girls, or geek chic, please post a comment below.