Every generation has a drive toward differentiation – staking ideological claims that turn their parents’ and grandparents’ ideas upside down. It’s a natural force, the kind that even changes our lexicon. (Remember when “cool” referred to a slightly uncomfortable temperature?)
You can see this phenomenon play out in a group of Santa Clarita girls who are embracing their unconventional selves. Most Baby Boomers would rather be called almost anything other than “geek,” because it conjures up unflattering images of high school outcasts with taped-up Coke-bottle glasses and dated, unsightly wardrobes. And even with the current respect for IT experts, it’s still a challenge for “nerd herd” types to turn that clout into social standing, especially during the teen years.
Yet, there are many who wear the moniker proudly.
The Geek Girls Society in Newhall is a circle of friends who have made a connection through their love of less conventional entertainment choices such as comics, anime and science fiction. It was launched three years ago by Portlyn Polston and Autumn Glading at Brave New World Comics, a store that has merchandise and holds events involving art, film and comic books.
Now run by Kate Moore and meeting in their own space across the street from the comic book store, the Geek Girls Society brings members together to discuss and celebrate the interests they have in common, which tend to differ from mainstream kids. Some are fans of Marvel and DC comics and/or “My Little Pony,” while others like anime or TV shows such as “Voltron” and “Stranger Things.”
“Geek Girls Society provides a sense of community and camaraderie for girls that they don’t tend to find in other outlets of their lives,” Moore said. “When new people join the group, everyone introduces themselves and names a couple of their fandoms, which causes them to instantly bond to other girls that like the same thing as they do. We also encourage sharing of whatever media they are currently into – YouTube channels, anime, TV shows, books, comics, manga, etc.”
There are three groups, each with a range of age levels, that meet twice monthly. There are groups for girls 8-18 years old, and there’s no test or prerequisite for kids and teens to attend. Creating is an important aspect to the groups – the girls work with everything from decoupage to parlor beads.
“They play tabletop games, work on a craft or do some other group activity,” Moore said. “Members are encouraged to try any activity we are doing, and we emphasize that the end result doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes it’s more about the journey of trying.”
All the girls wear the official Geek Girl tie and a couple of times a year they work on badges to add to ties. Past badges have included Women’s Contributions to Space, Comic Book Making, Cosplay, and “She Writes Comics.”
The Geek Girls Society motto is, “A strong Geek Girl always respects herself, shows respect for other geeks and their fandoms, and celebrates her fandoms with joy, pride and passion.”
“Girl empowerment is a subtle current in almost everything we do,” Moore said. “We frequently discuss how girls/women can do anything. … We also encourage discussion as we are doing activities. For instance, (one group) was recently doing a group read of a comic book. Something that happened in the comic book turned into a sidebar discussion of school dress codes and how they unfairly treat girls versus boys (I did not start this discussion, the girls did).”
Just like adults, most girls want to feel bonded, and if these relationships extend to their campuses, all the better.
“I’ve had girls join the group in sixth grade, meeting older members that attend their future junior high, so they already know people once they start in their new school,” Moore said. “I also frequently hear from members how this is the one activity they look forward to during their week. All the members are extremely receptive to each other, and if someone is having a bad day, the positivity and empathy that radiates from the other girls is truly heartwarming to see. Many friendships outside this group have also been made.”
Geek Girls Society is held during the first and third weeks of the month. The three groups are held at the following times: Tuesdays 4:30-6 p.m.; Thursdays 4:30-6 p.m.; and Sundays 2:30-4 p.m.
“Each meeting we start with show and tell – older girls bring stories, writing, sketches, experiences or work from school,” Moore said. “A lot of parents have told me their daughters have found their ‘tribe.’”
A lifelong “Wonder Woman” fan, Moore is passionate about her work with Geek Girls Society.
“I grew up in the Midwest, where there wasn’t even a comic book shop,” she said.
There’s good news for grownup girls too. Kate Moore also holds an adult group called Geek Girls Forever.
“A large reason that I took the organization over was that many of the Geek Girls Forever members have become friends outside of this group,” she said. “I love how welcoming all the women (and the few men that attend) are to new faces. And they frequently lament how hard it is to make friends as adults. It is nice to run an organization that so many open-minded and friendly women are a part of.”
While Baby Boomers may still have their eyes on the quarterback for “big man on campus,” it’s a lot broader concept for their offspring. Being mainstream is overrated, and millennials know that better than the women before them.
Martha Michael is a contributing writer for The Signal.