|From Club Jade|
Do you hear that sound? That's my head hitting the desk.
Granted, College Humor doesn't just pick on girls. There are comics for several stereotypes. I don't find any of them particularly funny, but The Imposter one got under my skin. Just the clothing choice alone! I love Star Wars. I like Hunger Games. This girl could be me.
I saw it online and then a few days later, I spotted it in the back of a DC Comic. Specifically, in the back of a Wonder Woman comic. After reading about a strong heroine, this ad felt like a slap in the face.
I know it's a parody. I know it's meant to be amusing, but the "fake geek girl" joke isn't funny anymore. This ad sends the message that girls aren't wanted. I feel it also perpetuates the belief that we must question geek girls. If you want to be really extreme, you could say this comic encourages people to stop girls who are wearing Star Wars shirts and quiz them about the movies to ensure they've earned the right to wear it.
This shouldn't be a thing. But it is. This very discussion comes up semi-regularly, and it's disheartening. It seems that there are still enough people whose knee jerk reaction to meeting a geek girl is to question her "cred." I experienced a couple of instances this summer that speak to that.
At Star Wars Celebration VI, I rushed into a screening of the season five premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I was covering the red carpet and sent my boyfriend in early and asked him to save me a seat. That seat ended up being beside a guy who looked at the Rebel Alliance tattoo on my shoulder and asked if I got it because of my boyfriend. He wasn't kidding. He wasn't being mean, he was really just that clueless. I set him straight, but he didn't seem to get a hint. Even after I had to inform him which characters the voice actors on stage were, he made comments as we were leaving about how it was nice for me to come to the convention for my boyfriend. I looked at him and in a not polite tone of voice said, "Actually, he's here because of me. Not the other way around."
Then at Baltimore Comic Con, my boyfriend was introducing me to another male creator - the guy said hello, looked at my Avengers t-shirt, and asked if my boyfriend made me wear it.
He was joking, but I wasn't laughing.
It gets old. I know male geeks have their own stereotypes to deal with, but I don't think they are made to feel unwelcome or excluded on a regular basis.
Along that line, female cosplayers have had to put up with a few ridiculous situations in the past month. MONTH. Not weeks, not years - four discussions in a month. First, Mandy Caruso detailed how she was harassed by press at New York Comic Con. She was wearing a Black Cat costume that revealed cleavage, and the male interviewer asked her to spank him and asked what her cup size was. Then, cosplayer Molly McIsaac posted about how people wearing costumes doesn't mean you can treat them like pieces of walking meat. And finally, just over the weekend, there was arguing about a faux nerd girl meme that used the word "whore." Intense discussion surrounded all of these posts - from all sides.
Today's incident takes the prize though. Artist Tony Harris (Ex Machina, Starman) posted the following on his Facebook page:
|Click to Enlarge - image from Jill Pantozzi|
This is one of my favorites:
Apparently men know everything and don't have to take the exam. Nope, just us ladies are the ones who have to prove our knowledge and our geekdom. Oh, and we wear costumes to taunt men. Yep. We just pander. Don't mind me, I'm over here dressing like Amethyst and pandering.
Harris isn't calling out all women cosplayers, but I feel like he's saying the majority of cosplayers are fakers.
I know people - men and women - who have dressed up as characters they didn't know inside and out so that they could participate in a group cosplay. Does it matter? No. If anyone is cosplaying a character just because he or she likes the outfit design, that doesn't matter either. I don't get how that harms anyone. Poison Ivy was the first costume I wore at a convention. I mostly knew her from cartoons, television, and movies and not so much from the comics. I liked her attitude and style. And thankfully no one stopped me to past judgment. If anyone would have, I might have been put off cosplaying. I have a thicker skin now, but back then, it wouldn't have taken much to discourage me from playing dress up at conventions.
And it would be bad enough if this was just about cosplayers in general, but no - he targets women in the tackiest possible fashion. It's a difficult conversation and point to make, sure. But approaching it in such a vitriolic manner is not the way. It just pisses people off. He's commented on the post since and said that he should have included men in his statement. Uh-huh.
It's all exhausting. I don't want to fight hard. I like stuff. I love stuff. It'd be cool if I could carry on without being questioned or having people think I'm doing it for the boys.
A positive thing has come from the Tony Harris business. Gail Simone started a #CosplayAppreciationDay tag on Twitter, and it's trending right now. A lot of us take pride in what we do and looking at that feed will make you smile - which you probably need after reading the above.