You might wonder where I’m going with this, but bear with me. Last year, geek deity George Takei (who you should all love) hosted a photo competition on Facebook to search for his nerdiest Facebook fans. This is the photo that won the Biggest Male Nerd. It was submitted by one of the kids in the photograph, now grown up, who gave it the caption of “Future 40-year-old virgins”.
It is at this point that my imaginary clipboard appears and I start making furious notes, as those who know me well slowly back their chairs away. Because, frankly, what is up with that?
And it’s not just one guy being a bit self-deprecating either. This is a thing. The comments below were similarly full of “Set phasers to virgin!” and “The virginity is strong with this group.” (Wrong series, guy). It’s not just Star Trek nerds either. We posted up some photos online from the gaming event we ran recently and the first comment on a picture of a room full of geeks was “So many virgins”. TV Tropes even has a trope called Nerds are Virgins (don’t click unless you want to spend all day on a trope loop) and when TV Tropes says it, you know it’s true.
The joke that being sufficiently nerdy will render you an unwilling virgin has become such an Approved Comedy Standard Joke that you’ll even find it parroted, as in Takei’s competition, by geeks themselves.
Enough is enough when it comes to the constant reinforcing of the idea that geek men (because it almost always is the men, women occasionally get a pass under the umbrella of “thinking man’s bit of crumpet”) will never have sex and never be sexy. Not just because it pisses me off or because it’s not true, but because it’s pretty nasty for men and women, geek and non-geek when you think about it.
So, male geeks are gonna be virgins because their playing Dungeons and Dragons or solving maths problems, for example, is somehow unattractive to women (I’m putting aside guys who like guys and girls who like girls for this to keep it simple, sorry). Not just “not actively attractive”, it’s repellent. Women, society seems to be saying, don’t like these things. And we pretty much just do this with geeky things, as far as I can tell. When was the last time someone looked at a cricket match (not even an overly ‘manly’ sport) and said “Pfft, look at those virgins”? When did anyone ever make a comment of “Look at that guy, he likes sports, he’ll never get laid.” and everyone just sort of accept as a Standard Joke?
On the geek side, it’s offensive to male geeks because we label them as sexless, frigid, awkward, desperate and even creepy. And, sure, while there are gonna be male geeks out there that are some or all of those things, that’s just not the case as a whole. I run a gaming society and the sheer amount of members who have slept with each other is ridiculous. Heck, that’s how I know Fractal and Crush.
What about female geeks? Great news, it’s offensive to us because what “guy geeks are virgins” is saying is that female geeks don’t exist. Think about it, saying that women don’t find watching anime or playing wargames attractive is saying that there aren’t any women out there who value these things and therefore essentially that there can’t be any women that actually do them. Hooray, I don’t exist!
Even if you’re a non-geek, it’s not looking good. Society sees geeks as intelligent and society says that male geeks don’t get sex, which basically evens out to mean that society says women don’t appreciate intelligence, or at least a certain type of intelligence. Savvy business men? Sure. Chess champions? Hell no. Worse than that, to me at least, suggesting that women don’t appreciate intelligence suggests that women aren’t intelligent. Am I going too far with this?
And for men as a whole, geekiness aside? Well, you’re only attractive if you do certain things and like certain things. Good luck. But hey, don’t fret, it’s OK. As this video shows, sometimes geeks are “in” and therefore it’s acceptable to find them hot and the world goes “Ooh, yes, geeks, they’re in, they’re attractive, didn’t you know?”. Because also women only like fashionable things.
I’m not saying we can’t ever make derogatory or offensive jokes about people, I love jokes in poor taste, but we can’t just keep lazily falling back on the “geek = virgin” stereotype. It’s so common, it’s boring. Sure, be funny, but don’t just phone in with “Haha, virgin” every time you see a lightsaber. That’s not a joke, that’s just being a dick. Labelling geeks as sexless losers means that we’re degrading male geeks, denying there are female geeks at all and possibly even implying that women are fickle and made of stupid. It needs to stop. Now.
And actually lots of us have plenty of sex. So there. Kthxbai.