Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Geek Girl Con Reflections: The good, the bad, the WTF

I went to Geek Girl Con this weekend, and it was all sorts of amazing. It was a creep free con, which pretty much doesn't happen, and most of the panels were actually relevant to my life as a geeky, social-justicey woman. It was pretty freaking fabulous.

As I continue to review, keep in mind that we fans are toughest on the things we love. Think of it as having high expectations-I expect the world of things and people who should be able to achieve that.

Let's start with the good (mostly. I get kind of tangental):

-CREEP FREE WEEKEND. Thank you, that is all that needs saying, except it isn't. At other cons I'm afraid to cosplay, what with objectification and the sheer creepness of people who are threatened by a nerd girl or whatever their issue is. I didn't feel objectified or leered at even a little. Awesome.

-Oh my gosh, I could have spent SO much money in the vendor's hall. If you've never seen Surlyramics, you are missing out. There was so much geekery I couldn't entirely handle it.

-It was more diverse racially than pretty much every con I've ever been to. It was still predominantly white, but there were a lot of women (and men, for that matter) of color there, which I find extremely cool.

-Speaking of Teh Menz, there were way more than I expected. That's kind of awesome, because it means that there are, in fact, men who are interested in going to a con that explores a lot of feminist themes.


-The Women in Science and the Skepchick panels were made of amazing. Oh my gosh, I am such a freaking fangirl. Bitch Magazine had a few people there too, so...well, I'm a fangirl, I guess.

-There were so many families there with their kids. And this is really very cool-it's fantastic for the little geeklets to meet each other (and they were oh so cute-all these little kids in costumes, including a Dr Horrible who couldn't have been more than 7). It was also really rad that GGC made a decided effort to be accessible to parents.

-Speaking of kids, an elementary school student asked how to start getting into science now. Right on! And a young girl-I'd estimate age 8-10ish-corrected an adult on the Women of Harry Potter panel about Professor McGonnagal standing up FOR, not AGAINST, Professor Snape. Yeah, that's right, be certain in your knowledge. It's important for kids to challenge adults, I think.

The Bad:

-I got lost repeatedly. There wasn't enough signage for those of us who are directionally impaired.

-I bought a pair of kitty ears from a vendor. They fell apart before I ever got home. I am disappoint. They were super cute, but clearly the antithesis of, y'know, actually functional, even as a decoration.

-As a woman with a disability, I felt pretty damn under-represented on panels and such. If any of the panelists were neurodivergent, they passed pretty well. If there were presenters with any disabilities at all, I didn't see or hear of it. There were probably other under-representation issues as well.

-Some views expressed by a couple panelists were...problematic. This isn't GGC's fault even a little, but I was still kind of shocked to hear a panelist say "well, that's normal and a happy ending and Harry needed a happy ending" when a woman asked what the panel thought about the extraordinarily heterosexist and family makin' ending of the HP series. Also on that panel, stating that "no one deserves that, but if anyone does, it's [Umbridge}" when someone asked how the panel felt about Umbridge being thrown to the centaurs. Yeah, that one almost fell under WTF. Another one actually does.

The WTF:

-I was in the bathroom and a woman who used a wheel chair told off someone who was using the chair-accomodating stall as a changing booth. That's right, make sure she knows. That's awesome. Less awesome? Brain-breakingly awesome? Said chair user had strobey shit on her wheels. Um. Uh. What?

-The Big Problem that nearly ruined Saturday for me: Geek Girls in Popular Culture panel. I was so excited about this panel. It consisted of 4 women and one man, Javier Grillo-Marxuach. Apparently he's done a lot of important work on Lost and The Middleman and Charmed and other shows I've never watched. Whatever. I don't care.
What I care about is that in an unfortunately not-shocking display of privilege abuse and cluelessness, this guy totally dominated a panel about geek girl characters at a con that was supposed to be woman-centric. Fun Fact: INDIANA JONES IS NOT A GEEK GIRL. HE CANNOT BE YOUR FAVORITE GEEK GIRL CHARACTER. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE. If you're going to dominate the damn conversation and talk over the female panelists (including 2 who seemed quite introverted) at least listen to and answer the actual question. Talking about your work on whatever and bringing it back to teh menz is not, in fact, feminist. Even if you can use the word "problematic" correctly in a social justice context, you can, in fact, still be problematic! A transcript color coded to see who said how much on that panel would be interesting, I think.

Overall I freaking loved Geek Girl Con. I will be back. I expect that as GGC grows, it will get better in addition to bigger. I can't wait to see what next year brings.


Leah Jane said...

Awww, I am so sad I missed it! I guess I'll have to try for going to next year's con. Sounds like this one was enough of a success to warrant a GGC II, I hope.

Jennifer deG said...

I was at the Geek Girls in Pop Culture panel, too, and I wondered if my perception was correct about Grillo-Marxuach dominating the conversation. The lone man talking over the women or derailing the conversation is unfortunately a common occurrence on panels. Also, I've found that panelists from the TV and movie industry tend to be a little less thoughtful in their commentary and (lack of) analysis and more "This is what I do and what I think is awesome."

But it was a minor splotch for me on what was otherwise an awesome convention. There were so many creative and intelligent women and men there actively engaging with the culture they're part of. I'm looking forward to next year!

Neurodivergent K said...

I am SO looking forward to next year. I think it irritates me so much because the rest of the con was so freakin' awesome.