by Misha Mayhem
Going to conventions and festivals of the “geek” genre is a hell of a lot of fun. The cosplaying, tournaments, panels, merchandise on sale, meeting new people, and countless other things add to the excitement of these events. However, if you change one demographic – the gender demographic – your time there is likely to be vastly different from other attendees’ experiences.
Hi, I’m Misha, and I’m a female con-goer. So far, under my con-going belt, I have two years of attending MAGFest, and I have attended a few mini-cons called Roanoke Valley Comicon. During these events, and afterward I’ve noticed a difference in the way males are treated at these things, as opposed to the way females are treated.
First of all, one of the first things that comes to mind when a lot of people think of a female con-goer is “con-whore.” Basically, what I am referring to is the idea that going to a con gives a geek girl a chance to do what she cannot do outside of Halloween (or possibly LARP) – dress in as few clothes as possible, and garner a bunch of attention from that. While I have seen this happen, most of the time, the girls are just cosplaying as their favorite characters from movies, games, and anime/toku shows. And if they get attention? Sure, they’re happy. However, they don’t seem to be whoring themselves out.
Also, on the issue if being a “con whore,” there’s the idea that a lot of these geek girls only get attention at conventions, as their geekiness isn’t seen as attractive by the “real world.” Therefore, a lot of people seem to think that these girls will go for anyone that gives them attention at these cons. I’ve known a couple of girls to get like that, yes, but it’s not the norm. I also hate the fact that if a girl turns down the advances of someone at a con, she’s branded as “frigid and picky.” Some of us girls are just there to cosplay, be a geek, and have fun.
“You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About”
Moving along… This is an issue with being a geek girl, in general, but it seems to really come out at cons–men of fandoms treating women like they don’t know what they’re talking about. I especially see this at cons, when it comes to comic books and video games. While these two fandoms are becoming more and more enjoyed by women, they still seem to scream “sausage fest.” And at cons, I’ve seen guys dominating the arcade and video games, while the girls wait and wait for their turn.
With cons dealing with comic books, aside from the booth that my local comic book shop runs, I feel like I’ve been treated with an air of, “I really wish you knew what you’re talking about, and what you wanted, instead of wasting my time. Why did you even come here?” It’s unfortunate, because though the comic book market is geared more toward older white men, and them making money from that market, we girls do pay attention. I’m also very vocal, and I always make note of which vendors, at cons, have been friendly to me, and which ones have treated me as I described above. I make sure to tell people about it. This kind of unfair treatment makes females have not as enjoyable a time.
I’d also like to add that with this problem, it is absolutely, positively infuriating that while women, like myself, who have gotten the brushoff, due to being “less knowledgeable,” the next person in line is almost always someone who knows everything about everything. Then, the vendor/artist/etc. that I or any other woman had been talking to treats that person like they are the greatest thing in the world, and will spend ten minutes geeking out with them. To me, it’s very off-putting, and makes me not want to continue being interested in whatever that particular person is selling or promoting.
“You’re An Annoying Fangirl”
Furthermore, I am tired of women at cons, being portrayed as annoying fangirls who are only there to fawn over the people of her fandom that are there. Sadly, yes, these kinds of girls exist, but they aren’t the majority. I think guys forget that even when it comes to the geeky stuff, we don’t all act like 12-year-old girls who doodle our crush’s name (even our fandom crush’s name), in our notebooks, and who stalk said crush. Some of us are there, not to stalk who we’re there to see, but just to meet them, and tell them how much we appreciate what they do.
“Geek Girls Are Catty”
Lastly, I’d like to add that female fans of geeky fandoms have also gotten a bad reputation for being ridiculously catty. I have seen this at MAGFest, especially. One girl thinks she is the number one fan of someone, and another comes along, claiming the same thing. All of a sudden, its World War III, Level: Con. Jealousy takes over, and rumors start flying and fandom drama ensues. It makes female con-goers look bad, as well as the people in the fandoms that are being fought over.
As I said, just because of one factor being changed, a con can be a way different experience for someone. Therefore, female con-goers, their friends, their fandoms, and vendors need to be aware of how they’re portraying (and sometimes betraying) themselves. They never know who could be taking note, and how it could affect things in the future – and how it could be bad to their reputations.