With the rise of nerd culture, we are seeing more and more "geek girls" pop up as characters in TV shows, which can be both awesome and annoying. Anything that perpetuates the culture is a good thing, in my books - it's past time for the geek to inherit the earth!
At the same time, it can definitely make my blood boil when the characters presented continue to forward less-than-positive stereotypes. It's frustrating for anyone to see a group that they identify with portrayed in a way that they feel to be inaccurate. I took enough flak for my nerdiness in school, thank you very much, I don't need any more now.
Which is why I am so in love with the character of Felicity Smoake, on the hit TV series Arrow.
To me, she is the perfect representation of a "geek girl", and one of the most balanced and multidimensional examples that I have seen. Whoever wrote this character - I salute you! I could rave on about her awesomeness for some time (and I'm going to), but being a nerd myself, a list seemed the only way to go.
1. She cares about style.
We're all too used to seeing the computer-savvy and nerdy women in TV shows in drab, frumpy outfits, so it's about time that we saw a geek girl who really knows how to dress. I know that my female friends don't wear baggy skirts and shapeless cardis while reading their favorite comic book (although sweats is definitely a possibility), and I do not know any person who would walk out of the house looking like Amy Farrah-Fowler.
Felicity dresses in a way that is girly, cute and very put together, while also being quirky and cute. She's stylish (and often sexy), without being slutty or an over-the-top clothes-horse, and I love that about her. The sheer volume of fandom-themed "geek girl" clothing companies emerging (not to mention Marvel's new "style" Instagram) prove that it isn't unusual for women who identify as nerds to care about fashion.
It's also worth pointing out that while she may love the pretty clothes, she's also practical. No truly intelligent woman wouldn't be, and she's not in short skirts to jump out of a plane or blow up a building. We see her in a huge range of outfits that all capture the quirky girl she is at heart, even her pjs.
2. She is gifted, but no goody-two-shoes
Very intelligent people are often painted as boring, the kind of people who do not color outside the lines. We've seen it all in characters who have never smoked, barely drink, are firmly within the category of lawful good. Except, that's not really what happens. Most computer-oriented brain boxes are hackers, although usually just for the challenge.
She's definitely on the side of good, but she is not afraid to break the law; in fact, she seems to get a little thrill out of it.
On top of which, she did the one thing that I would do in a heartbeat if I had the ability - started counting cards. When it was revealed that she was banned from casinos, I was jumping for joy because here, finally, is a nerd who isn't a total good girl, but who isn't a mad super-villain either.
3. She is actually awkward
So often, "awkward" is portrayed as "clumsy". Now I'm definitely awkward, but that doesn't mean that I attack the furniture with my face on a regular basis! (That one time, I swear, the table attacked me..) It's much easier to write "character trips and falls" than it is to really wrap your head around the things that come out of the mouth of a truly awkward human being, and maybe that is why we get so few geek-girls who are appropriately cringeworthy.
Social awkwardness is one of those elements of the stereotypical nerd-girl that I actually think is pretty common, so it is amazing to see it portrayed somewhat accurately. All she needs is a red face or a flop sweat, and we are golden! As well as saying the wrong thing, she often speaks too quickly, goes off on random tech tangents, and trails off as she realizes that she is saying the wrong thing. I love it.
4. She's kind of a wimp
Ok, so this one shows up pretty routinely in our televised geek girls, but still, it's nice to see in a show like Arrow where half the women in it are ridiculously good at the art of ass-kickery. Laurel Lance is one that actually kind of bugs me - self defense classes are one thing, but she reacts like a hardened soldier half the time, not a lawyer who has some training under her belt. Felicity, on the other hand, isn't that strong. She does some training, but she can't throw a punch worth a darn, and she actually gets scared when bad guys attack her. Shocking concept, being afraid of imminent death!
She's unashamedly afraid of heights (but amazing enough to jump anyway), and it's great to see a sidekick who admits to having fears. She is vulnerable, but she tries anyway, and it's incredibly endearing.
Which, for those who aren't ridiculously into the show, is the new word for Oliver and Felicity (thanks, internet!).
This relationship is a huge part of the plot (and they go on a date in season 3! An actual date!) and so many fans are rooting for them, but for me it goes even deeper than wanting her to get the guy. The way that she deals with her feelings for Oliver is incredibly revealing; it's mature, it's calm, but most of all, it suggests that she is used to being the girl that no one looks at.
She never hits on him, flirts with him (awkward slips notwithstanding), or talks about how she feels. Maybe because she knows about his tumultuous relationship with the Lance sisters, but she doesn't even throw her hat into the ring. To me, this speaks of long experience feeling like she isn't the kind of girl that a billionaire playboy would even look at, and it makes her even more appealing in her true nerdiness.
She's clearly not totally lacking in self-esteem though, and because she just deals with Oliver's rejection like a grown up, she is in a position to see whether things may happen with someone else. Like Barry Allen. It's an adorable relationship (and who didn't relish seeing Oliver get a little jealous?), but it just serves to make my point further. She has no issues pursuing something with another science geek - someone that she probably subconsciously considers to be in her league.
So there you have it, why I believe that Felicity Smoak is the best geek-girl icon on TV right now. If I had a daughter, this would be the kind of woman that I would want her to look up to; stylish, smart, proud of her work and her career, handling problems with class rather than tears. This is also the kind of person that I would want as my best friend, although for different reasons (Except the style. I want to borrow those outfits.). She's funny but awkward, brave but vulnerable, and not afraid to take the occasional walk on the wild side.
What do you think? Does Felicity accurately represent women in geekdom? Do you love her or hate her? Comment and let me know!