Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Geek Girl Con 2012 Thoughts

So, I enjoyed the 2012 Geek Girl Con. It was a very nice, friendly environment. I didn’t have to worry about encountering sexism. I got a necklace pendent that says “this is what a feminist looks like”, which I felt comfortable wearing all day. The panels in some respects seemed too rudimentary, but I liked the discussion overall. 

There were some moments where panelists made cissexist comments, but usually someone else would say something about it, which was pretty extraordinary. I was a bit annoyed that the Greg Rucka panel where he discusses how as a man he writes realistic female characters was called “Writing with a Y Chromosome”, but honestly the “Geekquality” and “Misogyny Online” panels were awesome for actually recognizing transgender existence.

The “Make Me a Sandwich” panel on online harassment was pretty interesting, after I ironically ate an actual sandwich while standing in line. I got to meet Anita Sarkeesian, which was pretty cool. She’s nice.

I did have issue with the way that sexual objectification seemed to be promoted with the burlesque show they did. Even if it’s geeky to dress like Goombas or whatever they did, the point is to stare at women’s breasts and stuff. They would check ID to make sure people were 18, but I didn’t hear anything about only letting in women, which strikes me as the only way that audience would be remotely feminist. There was also a vendor, Jiuge Gallery, which sold these amazingly pretty posters, many of a yaoi nature—I got a yaoi-looking Thor and Loki poster—but a few were definitely sexually objectifying of women. Now, I didn’t go to the panel on if geek girls could be sexually liberated, as there was a Buffy karaoke at the time, so I don’t know if the con organizers rationalize that inclusion in some way, but it strikes me as rather anti-feminist.

But speaking of the Buffy karaoke, I’ve got an issue with that as well. In the Buffy fandom, there’s this ageist meme of hating Buffy’s little sister Dawn. When I started watching the show, I was younger than Dawn, so I identified most with her. My biggest issue with her character is that she’s underused and just stuck in there for a plot device most of the time, but the Buffy fans are just rabidly hateful about her. At a lot of these Buffy karaoke shows, one of the gimmicks is to yell “shut up, Dawn” whenever she says anything. Now, at Dragon Con last year, the organizer made a statement about how he likes Dawn and wanted the audience to respect her, but they still screamed about how the antagonist Sweet should succeed in marrying Dawn against her will and take her back to hell to rape her. It reminded me of Andrew screaming at Warren to kill Buffy, in what I’m sure is Joss’s commentary on misogyny in geekdom, so it’s ironic to see it with Buffy fans.

At Geek Girl Con, the organizer tried to control things by saying you could say “Shut up, Dawn”, but only at specific times. One is when she betrays to Sweet that her sister is the Slayer. Not sure that’s a problem, as it just serves to speed up the confrontation that would happen anyway. But the other time, is when she indicates to Tara that Willow has put a spell on her to manipulate her, thus ruining their relationship.

There was also a celebration of Tara’s orgasm at the end of the “Under Your Spell” song. Apparently, appreciating the sweet lesbian romance presented on a superficial reading of the show is better than understanding that the plot depicts an abusive relationship. Willow is manipulative and is doing the magical equivalent of Nolan raping Sierra in Dollhouse. We are supposed to be disturbed by the “Under Your Spell” song. The reprise where Tara sings about leaving her should be celebrated as an empowering moment where a victim of abuse gathers the resolve to leave her abusive partner, which is exactly what Willow is. Where are the cheers when Tara says “we’re done”? Isn’t that as feminist as Buffy beating up Warren? Why are so many feminists this shallow?

Oh, and when Dawn sings her sorrow about feeling neglected, people were encouraged to scream “No!” to her asking if anyone cares about her. Because acting out the bullying of an insecure girl with a history of self-injury is totally feminist, right? It wouldn’t hurt any insecure girls with history of self-injury who happen to be in the crowd, right? I’m sure they don’t exist.

So, yeah, I liked the con overall, but there still are a few issues I think they could stand to work out.


Tanya said...

Hi Rylee! (Your sig says General Rylee, should I address you as General? :) )

Thanks so much for coming to Geekquality's panel and for acknowledging our effort to be inclusive. It really means a lot. It sounds like you also have some general thoughts about GGC's programming that you feel could be improved on. Last year, there were some things missing at GGC (chiefly, discussion of differently-abled characters and their presence in geek culture). This year this was remedied and improved based on feedback. I hope you share your thoughts with GGC staff and maybe something you would like to see more of will get included in the programming for next year!

General Rylee said...

Thanks for the comment. I've added my thoughts about GGC to my entry in their survey.

As for the username, I use military ranks when playing strategy games and picked General specifically so my username initials matched the site's.