Pop-Culture | Posted by Jenae S on 01/28/2011

Girls and Geekdom: The Team Unicorn Conundrum

Team Unicorn

Team Unicorn

The girls of Team Unicorn just can’t seem to win. They are hot girls and nerds, yet they find themselves rejected by both women and nerds. Team Unicorn’s video Geek and Gamer Girls made its way through the interwebs a few months back and their second video about Zombies was posted just before the holidays.

Despite showing nothing to doubt their nerd cred, the internet has done exactly that. Commenters have accused them of not being “real nerds” because they are attractive, and of using their looks to “trick nerds.” These girls challenge the stereotypical image of a “geek.” They are all conventionally attractive and not afraid to flaunt their sexuality, yet they show their knowledge of geek culture through their writing and videos. Many of them have been involved in other “geek” projects – Michelle was in the popular web series The Guild, and Clare works on Robot Chicken. Yet the internet doesn’t consider these women nerds.

It seems like a lot of this has to do with the old boys club mentality of nerdom. Being a “geek” or “nerd” usually means you like video games, read comics, watch scifi, etc. Women often find themselves ostracized from the geek community, only being accepted if they don’t “act like a girl.” They can be part of the community if they leave their femininity at the door.

These ideals start at a young age. Awhile back the story of Katie, the elementary student mocked for her Star Wars water bottle because “Star Wars was only for boys,” went viral. Many clung to the idea that the children mocking her were mocking her for being a nerd, when in fact boys were mocking her for being a female nerd. The bullies weren’t saying that Star Wars wasn’t cool: it was just cool for boys. Youtuber kirithem examined this same phenomenon of alienating girl gamers, how it’s not just the male gamers, but the entire video game industry.

The women in Team Unicorn are in the unique position of being a new type of geek: a female geek who flaunts both her femininity and her geekiness. This new brand of geek is catching on. Ashley Eckstein started her own company called Her Universe that makes Star Wars clothing meant for women, another example of being proud of femininity and geekdom. As more and more women stand up and proclaim their nerdiness without being “just one of the guys” there is the chance that women will fully be accepted into the nerd community. But if not, women can always create a more accepting geek community of their own.

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  • CClio333 @ at 12:19 pm, January 28th, 2011

    This video got on my nerves when it first came out. I really like the lyrics, but the video imagery is too sexual for my personal (PG) taste. It feels like when choosing between celebrating their geek cred and titillating their audience, they went for the later. I can get that they feel that they are breaking barrier by being both geeky and hot, but to me the message is “It is ok to be a geek, if at least you are also hot.”

    That being said, I did like Team Unicorn’s video 10,000 more than the recent Star Trek Girl video. This girl is cute as a button, but in both the song and the visuals her geek cred does not seem genuine. I feel like her video’s message is “I am so not a geek cause lollers that’s a boy thing but I will totally cosplay to make you happy.”

    Star Trek Girl link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ryo-GtOgi7s

  • Steph L @ at 2:04 pm, January 28th, 2011

    “Geek and gamer girls, we’re unbelievable, we all know that Han shot first”

    Haha! Brilliant. Will be singing this for a while.

  • Liz @ at 2:11 pm, January 28th, 2011

    I’d never heard of this group, but it sounds like a better-thought-out version of “The Nerd Girls…”
    http://our-turn-feminism.blogspot.com/2010/09/not-again.html

  • Mike @ at 2:42 pm, January 28th, 2011

    I have no problem with Team Unicorn. I thought their Zombie PSA video was well done.

    While I’m sure there’s a few people out there trying to keep it a “boys only club” – the kids in the Star Wars Katie story comes to mind, I believe it could be summed up more correctly as “It’s a (marketing) trap!”

    Male geeks have been pandered to before with marketed geek squads of incredibly attractive women in an attempt to sell them crap. We all know sex sells and the situations came off as fake as claiming that a boy band was formed naturally opposed to a casting call.

    Is Team Unicorn actually nerds? Likely, but spouting nerd references while naked doesn’t help with any kind of legitimacy.

  • Bill @ at 3:53 pm, January 28th, 2011

    Quote: “not afraid to flaunt their sexuality”

    Quote: “flaunts both her femininity and her geekiness”

    So are you saying that sexuality = femininity?

    Do male geeks flaunt their stereotypical masculinity?

    Well, no, they don’t: male geeks don’t have stereotypical masculinity.

    So maybe that is the problem: the Unicorns try to be in two camps at once, and as a result are not fully accepted by either.

  • Nano Muse @ at 5:55 pm, January 28th, 2011

    @CClio333: It was intended to titillate audiences – because nerds can’t be sex or sexual, so here they are kicking their sexuality into overdrive and still being full-on nerds. I’m not conventionally “hot” but I am fairly attractive, and I face a lot of surprise when people find out how much of a total geek I am at times – so I actually rather liked this video. It says that even if you’re a hot girl, you can go to ComicCon yourself instead of just being there for your boyfriend.

    For the rest of the article:

    One of the things that amuses me most is that while everyone thinks video games are for guys, 2/3 of all gamers are actually girls:

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2006/10/7922.ars

    The reason why people think otherwise is just because over 70% go undercover as male due to the “TITS OR GTFO” douchbaggery from guys:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/mar/06/women.games

  • David @ at 8:28 pm, January 28th, 2011

    This is such a breath of fresh air. These are normal girls, girls that will turn into real women,, – bright, witty, confident, and full of the future.
    Feminism, take the good, reject the bad.

  • Quinc @ at 5:37 am, January 29th, 2011

    When I first saw this I I was essentially thinking “fake” also. The visual of them lying naked surrounded by random geek stuff (with the breasts essentially flying out at you) is a bit much, and basically the same idea as a series of photos one finds labeled “Gamer Girls” but are obviously pinups. Also the “We Love Stan Lee!” moment is not done quite right; it needs something to remind you that they don’t really want to fuck Stan Lee.

    There are just a lot of infamous instances of corporations using sexy women in costume to appeal to nerd guys. I remember reading about a team of FPS playing women being assembled, but the picture made it obvious they were looking for beauty above skill.

    At this point I’m REALLY curious about the origin story of Team Unicorn.

    I guess all the corporations, nerdy or not, using sex to sell me stuff has made me really cynical about anything with attractive women involved. But I guess that isn’t Team Unicorn’s fault…depending on where their paychecks are coming from.

  • Matt @ at 3:14 pm, January 29th, 2011

    What a fascinating story. I had no idea that there was any sort of backlash against the team unicorn girls. I for one, think these girls are the real deal and are a great role model for young girls interested in sci-fi or any non-traditonal activity for women.

    Great job on the story.

  • ComicBookGal @ at 3:55 pm, January 29th, 2011

    As a geek girl myself who has been chastised for being a geek girl I find this phenomenon rather frustrating! I worked in a comic shop and the guys who came in were always asking where the ‘guy’ who worked there was. When I explained that I was working there a few even said they’d come back when the ‘guy’ was back! Just because I have boobs and I’m not ugly doesn’t mean I can’t be a geek! Geeks have been teased and ostracized for years! I would think that we as a community would remember that and try to be more inclusive.

    Final thought: I wanna be just like the Team Unicorn girls when I grow up ;) Being paid to be a geek = win in my books!!!

  • Bleyddyn @ at 4:25 pm, January 29th, 2011

    For what little it may be worth to those who doubt their actual geek-cred, I know that both Milynn and Michele play World of Warcraft. And they’re both better geared and farther along in raid progression than I am :)

  • Joe @ at 5:49 pm, January 29th, 2011

    Wow, still not a whole lot of love for Team Unicorn. I would HIGHLY recommend listening to BAGGED & BOARDED #83:For The Win:

    http://smodcast.com/baggedandboarded/

    That episode has a rather long discussion of the lady’s geek cred. It is a great interview and lays to rest the question of their ‘nerd cred’. Honestly, these are four young women, living in Hollywood, all working a ‘day job’ in the business of that weird land (Claire is Seth Green’s wife), so, yeah, they are beautiful and are not embarrassed by their sexuality. Team Unicorn is not a ‘gig’ for these women, it’s a way of life. Their paychecks come for the other things they do. As a bit of a nerd/geek/gamer myself, I think that the message that Team Unicorn sends is awesome.

  • Bill @ at 10:53 pm, January 30th, 2011

    I am all in favor of female geeks. :) However, flaunting sexuality in a work environment is a very poor idea.

  • Emily S. @ at 8:19 pm, January 31st, 2011

    @Bill: Hello, it’s the entertainment industry, where the “work environment” usually contains people who are getting paid (especially if they’re females) to “flaunt their sexuality”.

    Also, re: two camps at once: That’s exactly the problem, the idea that “sexy” and “geek” are incompatible (and there are some very sexy male geeks out there, too, you just sound like you aren’t someone who would notice). There’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to be both at once.

  • Lily @ at 9:15 pm, January 31st, 2011

    As a fellow geek, I can understand. I get mocked a lot for my love of everything nerd & geek, since I’m a girl. & since I am attractive (or so I’m told anyways)people don’t think I’m smart. Like, when I go off on rants about IRC, memes, dr. who ect. I get laughed at, & some people actually think I’m just copying my ideas from blogs.
    GEEKS/NERDS CAN BE SEXY TO!
    Especially female geeks. :)

  • Bill @ at 9:21 am, February 1st, 2011

    @Emily, Lily:

    I’m sorry: I didn’t mean to suggest that geeks can’t or shouldn’t be sexy. Obviously, they can be. :)

    @Emily: I do mean to say that it is a poor idea to routinely flaunt sexuality in a work environment in which one is not getting paid to flaunt.

  • GwrageddAnnwn @ at 4:25 pm, February 10th, 2011

    Oh. My. Goodness.XD I am in love with them!

    Seriously. Are they too feminine? Are they showing their sexuality too much? I could not care less. It was obvious that they were having a great time recording the video, and this is what really matters. I am a geek and I feel absolutely empowered by their energy.
    I do not think that the meaning of the video isn’t clear. They were just making fun of the over-sexuality of Katy Perry by suggesting that a girl can be a geek without need of feeling bad for it.

  • Saturday Vids: Nerdy Girls Need Love Too | fbomb @ at 11:01 am, April 2nd, 2011

    [...] the spirit of the Team Unicorn debate, here’s a great example of a woman refusing to apologize for her [...]

  • Kittie @ at 10:00 am, April 4th, 2011

    I’m a female and I play video games, web comics, absolutely adore scifi ect. and without being obnoxious or anything but a lot of guys consider me to be good looking which is great except when they ignore any input I have on ‘nerd’ things. It is hard to be a female and a nerd too, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love it :) I really look up to Team Unicorn, they prove that you can be both!

  • geekgirl @ at 11:14 pm, May 6th, 2011

    Jumping in rather late:

    Why should a woman be chastised for celebrating her sexuality? Why can’t a woman enjoy being sexy and enjoy being a geek?

  • Vitamin A @ at 1:47 pm, July 21st, 2011

    Um, since when did geekdom become relegated to include just gamers and comic lovers? I’m an OG Nerd – Original Geek – and was a techie since the 4th grade. I configured servers @ HP for NASA and worked hard in the semiconductor industry. Being sexual and flaunting it wasn’t getting me anywhere. At the end of the day it was about the brains.

    I’m all for women being accepted into geekdom, but once you start REALLY using your brain, and not in the Hollywood way, you really don’t have much time to spend worrying about comic books and video games. When you are REALLY a nerd, a geek doing what it takes to make the world a better place, sexuality takes a backseat. Not because geek women aren’t hot…most times they’re hotter.

    The Team Unicorn girls are not typical geek girls. They are cosplay girls. They are trained to take the money out of pockets of guys who play video games instead of talking to real women.

    But if a real woman were to show up, and were to be a size 16 or something, you’d all say “ugh, she’s ugly”. Yet, a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of nerds I know would prefer the larger chicks. That’s what makes them nerdy. Until the day comes when you include women of all shapes and sizes, who wear regular clothes and not sci-fi costumes, and who don’t play video games, but can configure the crap out of a server farm…don’t try to tell us what geek girl is all about.

    This is just a set geeked out Pussycat Dolls. They might as well just stick out their butts and let you stick dollar bills in them. Life is more than just sex. Real nerds have learned to transcend typical views of “classic beauty”. And it’s rather closed minded to think these types of girls (typically white, thin girls with dark hair) are the epitome of beauty.

    Embrace more types of women, then you can talk. Otherwise, you’re selling pinup girls in sci-fi outfits…nothing new. Nothing to waste your money on, for sure.

  • Vitamin A @ at 1:57 pm, July 21st, 2011

    Btw, women have been geeks forever. It’s just become monetized when folks started putting sexuality into it. But it always made money, just women made money using their brains, back in the day. Now, it’s about them playing the role for the boys who have money. Nothing new.

  • Systematik @ at 4:41 pm, July 30th, 2012

    Has nothing to do with being a boys only club, people don’t accept them because they’re fake “pay to geek” girls that are using nerdom as their avenue to get internet famous, you think they care about anything other than that? then why do they jump at anything that comes their way as long as it puts them in the mainstream.

    So were suppose to think they’re “geeks and or gamer girls” singing lyrics they didn’t write, dressing as comic and movie characters? There’s no denying the fact that there’s thousands of girls, hot and not that play games, but the difference is, the ones who’re actually “geeks” don’t whore themselves out for money, and if they’re beautiful and still game, they don’t start exclusive “geek girl” clubs and go create a fake image then make a video to throw on youtube just for views which for the “people that didn’t know” views on youtube = $.

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