AMBER LOVE 13-NOV-2013 Just when we thought we were over having to defend ourselves as women who like a broad range of genre or subculture entertainment, someone else posts something hateful. When I get drawn into the argument of defending or not defending the “fake geek girl,” it probably looks like I’m having a multiple personality episode so I wanted to explain directly from my point of view what has happened this week. It’s a challenge for me to explain how I see myself as a feminist by declining to support things like “women in comics” panels at conventions or “geek girl” exclusive websites/parties/cons. We need to work together not make the divide worse.
Three days ago, I attended EXXXOTICA which is an adult entertainment expo. That’s the fancy way of saying a convention filled with porn and strippers. There were cars too but that’s not the headlining feature of attending. During the show, I went to bodypaint artist Vann Godfrey and discussed a comic character theme torso design. I showed him a photo of me in my X-Men Rogue costume so that he could see the yellow and green with the logo. Vann’s an artist. He’s talented so I gave him some faith and I was not disappointed. It was a long process of layering liquid latex into something that resembled a mock corset with the “X” logo on my left breast – artistic interpretation since Rogue doesn’t wear a corset like Emma Frost. Ashley was Wonder Woman. We were photographed a lot at the booth getting it done but not so much once we left the booth. One guy who did ask for a photo knew Ashley was Wonder Woman and asked me if I was Green Lantern. Only 3-4 other men in the show had any clue who Rogue was. I chose a character who starred in a major feature film but the costume was completely different so people wouldn’t have recognized it if they only knew the X-Men movie franchise and not the cartoons or comics.
The reason I bring this up is because this is the dilemma women in our subculture face. The guy that asked me if I was Green Lantern – should I have told him he couldn’t have his picture with me because he was clueless about Marvel comics? I didn’t. I simply said, “I’m Rogue, ya know, from X-Men.”
Yet there are countless people – men and women – who believe women should be given a geek test in order to even be at a convention or have the “right” to wear a costume.
Another reason I find my Exxxotica experience telling is because of another person at the show. The place is filled with hard working dancers. Even though they mostly wear black boots/shoes, black top and black undies they are not otherwise uniform. Some chose fishnets. Some were covered in tattoos. Some were brave enough to buck the tradition of stilettos and wear flat boots instead or bare feet. One tried to stand out as a “geek stripper” wearing fake “nerd” glasses and skater socks. Do I believe she knew the square root of Pi? No. But she might have. I don’t know. I didn’t talk to her. I watched her dance. I doubt she played Magic: the Gathering or Halo 4. I doubt she could name more than one Batman villain. But honestly, I don’t know. I didn’t talk to her. I know her glasses were fake because I found them busted later; therefore I am drawing the conclusion that she was merely “in character” trying to get the attendees to part with the singles and put them in her string.
The thing is I know girls who DO look like this! Ashley for instance, our Feature Editor here. She has black glasses and an addiction to skater socks. She used to be a skater girl. I love skater socks because they’re warm as Hell. There’s no fandom or subculture that makes me want skater socks. I just like them. I also had Lasik so my days of nerd glasses are in the past and let me tell you, I wore giant ones like Sally Jesse Raphael (Google it, I’ll wait).
When I designed my Power Girl costume, I had no clue who she was. I read up on ComicVine and found her history very confusing as I do with pretty much every long lasting character. I saw what looked like Power Girl in an episode of a cartoon but she called herself Galatea. But my husband thought I’d be a good Power Girl so I began my research and design and that’s what I wore for a few years. I bought a couple old JSA trades of the comics from the 1970s and to be honest, I only read Volume One. The 70s Power Girl and today’s Power Girl don’t resemble each other in costume nor personality. Should I have been denied the “right” to wear the costume simply because I looked good in it but didn’t know much about her? I wanted to make someone else happy (psychology aside, that’s what people do). Apparently that’s considered wrong in the eyes of the domineering men and women of comics.
I also used to watch G4TV and at one of the gaming conventions, a female host tried quizzing the booth babes. They were asked five questions. I only knew the answer to one of them and it was a sheer guess about Bayonetta. I’M A BAD GEEK.
But wait — I’ve come down harshly on some scantily clad girls too. The girls at the Marvel fragrances booth who were wearing almost nothing but were supposed to be Loki and someone else. How can I judge them if I’m also a model on a site like Cosplay Deviants? It was wrong of me and yet I still think those particular girls didn’t represent the characters well. It was a public show, not an adult convention; and stapling gold trim to a black bra doesn’t make you Loki. Even my “adult” version of Wonder Woman took care and attention to detail even though it was mostly mods and not made from scratch like my traditional version. So, yes, I’m a bit of a costume design d-bag at times. I didn’t like their half-assed attempts at cosplay.
Today is a doozy. First I saw a tumblr by Jill the Nerdy Bird showing a screen capture of Tony Harris’ Facebook. Harris uses piss poor grammar to espouse vitriol and bile about “cosplay chiks” who make his life so miserable by their mere existence that he doesn’t want to go to comic conventions anymore. So don’t go, Tony. Cosplay isn’t going away.
And by the way, Mr. Harris, complaining about cosplay at DRAGON*CON, the mother of all costuming conventions, bigger than Mardi Gras, is like going to the Democratic National Convention and complaining that lesbians are there.
Saying female con attendees are only “con hot” and only have “giant” but not “great boobies” is hardly an argument for why you isolate a potential money spending customer base. Women have money. Women like comics. Women like art. Women might have chosen to support YOUR art and YOUR comics until you pulled this shit, Mr. Harris.
Harris, on the other hand, has a long page of comments under his post which includes his supporters. Harris doesn’t ever say costuming should be for the love of comics – at least one of his supporters eloquently did state it. I think maybe, just maybe, that’s what Harris was going for in his post. The hatred overtook it though. If he has anything remotely positive in his words, I sure didn’t see it.
If you know me at all, you know I don’t like anime or manga. I’ve given a few things a shot and don’t like it much. I know people like Joe Peacock that truly believe Akira is the greatest sequential art achievement of all time. I disagree. I couldn’t stand it. I also didn’t like the infiltration that New York Comic Con experienced when it tried to combine their anime show with the NYCC but they claimed it was a financial decision; just as I said women spend money so do anime fans. I have my own reasons for disliking the phenomenon of anime including: how gigantic a lot of the costumes are (same for the gamer cosplay crowd). The suits themselves plus enormous props making the aisles unbearable (yes, Pyramid Head, I’m looking at you). The other reason I don’t like it is personality. Screaming juveniles in large groups is not something I want to be around. How I handle this is by controlling MY actions. If I see the large group of anime fans, I move on as quickly as possible. I can’t control them. I can control myself. If I was at a booth, that’s another matter. Can’t move a booth. However, as a costume maker, I love to see them because I admire all the ingenious ways they make things like armors and swords far beyond my abilities of sewing spandex. That’s the part of my opinion that I want people to find relatable – that I am supportive of even the stuff I don’t like because I respect it as an artform.
What hurt me today was seeing another good friend, writer Ande Parks, having an issue on Twitter. He posted a picture of his adolescent daughter in a costume from something called Homestuck. I’ve no idea what it is but I know she’s an anime/manga fan. Being the great father he is, he wanted to brag a bit about his kid. She worked on a costume. She looked great. She and her friends apparently had a really fun time with their costumes and convention experience. Then some asshole on Twitter had to give him a derogatory reply. Because Ande’s a protective loving father, he chose to take a more noble route. He deleted his daughter’s photo since he believes he should have asked her first anyway. He blocked the jerk who told him to fuck off too. But I saw the posts and I had to chime in my two cents. Ande’s daughter looked beautiful in her costume and he there’s no reason the photo shouldn’t have been shared.
Like Harris, this person has zero tolerance for people playing in his sandbox. Instead of appreciating diversity in the grander subculture, he simply chose to isolate a talented creator and his supporters.
I take offense to Tony Harris saying cosplay has ruined his convention experience and hence, a portion of his career. I take offense to someone telling my friend to fuck off just because he posted a photo of his daughter.
My longwinded speech is an attempt to explain that when the insults land closer to home it is easier to recognize the intolerance for what it is – jealousy or hatred.
And if you missed the CASTLE episode The Final Frontier, please go watch it and see how the character Richard Castle evolves from intolerant superior intellectual to someone who sees what other people can appreciate in subculture like science fiction.