Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 Grrrls Exude Attitude, by Amelia DeLoach

Making two negatives a positive

In 1992, women's sites on the Internet accounted for approximately five percent of all sites. By 1996, that number had risen to 34 percent, according to RosieX's estimates. These numbers mirror, in part, the reasons why feminists putting up sites chose to select words that hold negative connotations to many such as "girl," "geek," and "nerd".

Because women make up a minority of the Internet's users and Web developers, finding sites that are for women and not about women can lead to some offensive discoveries, according to Crystal. Thus, "a very practical reason grrrls/geeks/nerds use these codewords in titles of our site is to make it clear that we're not naked and waiting for a hot chat with you! I mean, just do an Infoseek search using the keyword "girl" or "woman" & see what you find. (not to be confused with Cybergrrl) is a nekkid-chick .gif site or something."

At another level, the nomenclature attempts to subvert belief systems about women playing the geek and nerd roles. Crystal asks, "Ever heard the cliche, 'It's not a man's world, it's a boy's world?' Well, I think of girl, geek, grrrl, nerd, etc. as words women of whatever age can use to signify that we refuse to play the circumscribed, no-win, lady/cutie/muffin/angel/whore/bitch game, and as a way to fight back against the boys will be boys and old boy stuff that is so subtle, yet so powerful in our society."

In fact, boys being boys on the Internet and ignoring her was in part what prompted RosieX to choose geekgirl as her site name. She recalls, "I was in alt.geek and I used to rave a bit and no-one ever raved back. I thought, heh, girls can be geeks too ya know. So viola! geekgirl -- my persona, publication, business and trademark." Amelia adds, "If you're going to be damned for something anyway, why not embrace it? Being proud of having tech skills instead of embarrassed by it, being glad to be strong, to be smart... why are these things attributes that women are taught to hide?"

For others, creating their name was less a conscious act of subversion but, rather, an exploration in finding the right fit as far as a name was concerned. Aliza points out, "I just wanted to create an online version of myself and thought Cybergirl sounded too young’ so I replaced the i’ with an r’, and thought it sounded perfect--the strong version of girl’ as I say when people ask." Lynda also dealt with the identity issue when naming her site. She noted, "I am a nerd, a geek, and a girl. I just mixed ed home page and girl and came up with homegurrrl. It's the grrrl Movement, not the grrrl movement! I am not part of any movement--I am an independent person w/my own ideas and beliefs."

Alas, perhaps the power of the movement is reflected in the way the site developers independently chose names that express their identities. RosieX notes that "except for friends like St. Jude, I actually wasn't familiar with (others in the movement” such as) the Guerrilla Girls or Riot Grrrls, in fact we still ain't made acquaintances. But I guess I've always liked the grrrowl in grrrl and certainly sometimes the best subtle subversions--intellectual subvertising--are created from people not aware of its origin or significance. You know, you used that word movement, as far as I know the movement is a bunch of free radicals rampaging the network and doing it their own way." ^

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