Sorry this is a week late, I was sick last week. Better late than never, right?
Two weekends ago I went to Geek Girl Con. A celebration of women and fandom, geek girls (and women) from all around came to cosplay, speak and participate in this first year convention. I have to admit, at first I was a little wary. Whenever any group is highlighted by race, gender or religion there can be an “us vs them” mentality.
As I prepared for the con I wondered, was this going to be a negative anti-male fest? Was this going to be a poorly attended and disorganized first year con that will die out in the first year? I wasn’t alone in my concerns. Folks I talked echoed my concerns. However, I am happy to report that this convention was well-organized with a positive presence celebrating women and pop culture. This convention was just what I would want it to be.
Rather than segregate and stratify women from men in this community of fans, the convention celebrated strong female characters that women and girls can look up to. Looking around in the geeky world of pop culture, women are often portrayed as over-sexed, stripper clad ‘heroes’ or weak damsels in distress. This convention highlighted the characters that represent real women, strong women, and not just strong in the sense of caring a gun, kicking butt and taking names, but strong in character, strong in sense of mind, ability, with control over their surroundings and emotions. These are the characters that I love.
Since we are recognizing strong characters, the guests and panelists were not just women. There were men! Male panelists included authors and writers who have contributed to the new female presence with their creation of strong female characters. This was well discussed in the panel Character Studies: Geek Girls in Popular Culture. Panelist Javier Grillo-Marxuach described it well, he creates interesting characters, the gender is not the key component. It doesn’t matter to him if the characters are male or female. What he wants to create is a character that he finds interesting and has an interesting story to tell. What makes a character strong? Panelist Amy Berg talked about the characters she creates, characters that are empowered rather than have powers. She wants to emphasize their smarts and ability to solve problems with their brains and intellect. These are the type of characters that we can relate to.
I had fantastic time at the convention. After panels and browsing the show floor, I got to hang out with friends and make new friends over dinner and epic karaoke. I discovered that Javier Grillo-Marxuach is spectacular performer and rock a mean “Faith of Heart” (the Star Trek Enterprise theme song).
There was such a wonderfully positive atmosphere at Geek Girl Con. By the end of the convention folks were talking about 2012 and saying, “see you next year.” I for one plan to be there next year. This was a great celebration of women and pop culture, but this was also just a hell of a lot of fun.