PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Events

The GeekGirlCon Effect

GeekGirlCon may not be a "comic-con", but it has helped to bring about positive change in comics culture.

GeekGirlCon

City: Seattle, Washington, USA
Venue: Seattle Conference Center
Date: 2014-10-11

New York Comic Con

City: New York, New York, USA
Venue: Javits Center
Date: 2014-10-09

Our family has been to every GeekGirlCon, from the first in 2011 to the most recent, held just last month. While comics is a major reason why we go, GeekGirlCon has never primarily been a comics convention. The mission of the event is much broader, including not only all kinds of popular media and culture, but also science, math, and tech; just about anything commonly associated with American "geek culture". At the same time, the official "origin story" for Geek Girl Con has its roots in "comic-con" culture.

On the organization's "About" page, the creators reference a panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, "Geek Girls Exist", as a primary motivator for the invention of their event. This panel is a rhetorical variation on the now archetypal "Women in Comics" session that has become common place at conventions, both big and small.

As is often the case with these kinds of openings, what began as a progressive maneuver aimed at inclusion has, over time, started to feel less like progress and more like a way to limit or manage the involvement of "others", obviously, women and girls, but in this case, we are clearly also talking about all queer and non-gender conforming individuals, too. At least, as GeekGirlCon has grown, it has grown in no small part as a cultural safe space for all geeks who do not match the dominant image (which remains that of a white, heterosexual male, however socially awkward he may be). Essentially, by 2010, declaring that "Geek Girls Exist" or that there are "Women in Comics" no longer seemed to be the point to be made, both because of the narrowness of the statement and also its obviousness.

By contrast, GeekGirlCon starts from the premise that there are geeks who are also girls. The question is not whether they exist, but whether they are allowed space to share and express their interests and passions in ways that are equal to the opportunities afforded to geeks who are also boys (and, of course, it needs to be noted that the "boy" in "geek" is normally assumed, which is why we have, and need, GeekGirlCon, but not GeekBoyCon; consider how much odder the latter looks and sounds and you get the point. If the world were, historically, matriarchal rather than patriarchal, this entire conversation would be different).

In recent years, GeekGirlCon has been held opposite New York Comic Con. This year, my Twitter feed exploded with reporting on the "Women of Marvel" panel at that other event while GeekGirlCon was still underway. I was struck not only by the size of the panel, which featured sixteen writers, artists and editors, and the announcements for upcoming female-led titles, but also by how different the construction "Women of Marvel" is from "Women in Comics".

To begin, "Women of Marvel," is far more specific than "Women in Comics. In both cases, female panelists are still given the burden to represent an entire gender, and not just themselves as individual creators. (Again, consider how there are no "Men of Marvel" or "Men in Comics" panels). However, the burden is significantly lessened when given a more discrete body of women on whose part you are being asked to speak. If standing in for all women in comics seems, at best, absurd for any select group, standing in for all of the women who work for a single publisher seems, at least, manageable to contemplate.

There is also the difference between "of" and "in". "In" implies presence, but without conveying a specific sense of whether that presence is welcome, simply tolerated, or something that needs to be contained or repelled, like a virus or an invading army. I think that the sense that the word might mean containment, or little more than toleration, is one of the reasons why GeekGirlCon was formed from frustration with these kinds of panels, especially where such sessions are virtually the only formal acknowledgment of girls and women at a convention.

By contrast, "of" connotes belonging, attachment, being part of something. "Women of Marvel" is the publisher not merely acknowledging the presence of women at the company, but embracing female writers, artists, and editors as part of the whole, rather than holding women at a distance or treating them as some foreign body.

This year's New York Comic Con was also notable for the prominence of its anti-harassment policy and adoption of "Cosplay is not Consent" as an official standard of behavior for the event. The intent here is to make conventions places where everyone can express themselves and their fandom without being treated with derision, disrespect, threats of violence, sexual assault or unwanted sexual attention. Needless to say, having a clear anti-harassment policy, and making enforcement of same an essential part of running an event, has been part of GeekGirlCon from the beginning, even as these efforts have been taken up more slowly by "traditional" conventions.

Of course, as I note above, GeekGirlCon is more than a comics convention. Even so, it's difficult for me to imagine that the creation of that event has nothing to do with the intensity of interest and marquee value of this years "Women of Marvel" panel in New York, or the manner in which anti-harassment policies and enforcement have become prominent issues in debates over the cultures of comics conventions. Before GeekGirlCon, women in comics and geek girls were still primarily being treated as unicorns or snowflakes -- mythic, special, elusive, transient -- and "anti-harassment" was a battle being fought on the margins.

Now, it could not be clearer that geek girls are real, that women are not only in, but of, comics, and they, and everyone, go to cons for their own reasons and not to be eye candy or sexual targets for men and boys. The world of comics is a better world, now.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.