After three packed recaps of San Diego Comic-Con 2013 with an emphasis on female characters coming to Star Wars, Marvel, and movies and television, it’s finally time to spotlight the fangirls who made their mark at this year’s convention!
Carrie Goldman hosted San Diego Comic-Con’s first bullying panel. Whedonopolis covered the Anti-Bullying Coalition’s Red Carpet Mixer and Press Summit, which featured Chase Masterson, Bonnie Burton, and others. In addition to sitting on the bullying panel, Ashley Eckstein interviewed Dr. Who’s Matt Smith for MTV. Another summit attendee, Jenna Busch, spoke to EW about inclusivity and the mainstreaming of geek culture.
While waiting in line to catch a glimpse of geek-throbs and Hollywood’s latest blockbusters, there’s one panel Comic-Con goers will be sorry they missed. Katrina Hill of Action Chick Flick assembled the most badass females in San Diego for a discussion titled, “The Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con: Dual Identities.”
The panel — which included Ashley Eckstein (founder of Her Universe), Jessica Merizan (BioWare community manager), Andrea Letamendi (doctor of psychology, cosplayer, and Batgirl’s therapist), Chaka Cumberbatch (author of I’m a Black Female Cosplayer and Some People Hate It), America Young (stunt woman and voice actress), and Morgan Romine (founder of Frag Dolls, a team of professional female gamers) — discussed female fandom and why it’s not to be messed with.
Entertainment Weekly spotlighted the Women Who Kick Ass with a panel in Hall H moderated by Sara Vilkomerson. Michelle Rodriguez (Machete Kills), Maggie Q (Nikita), Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), and Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) discussed the perils of being an action hero and what it’s like to work in an industry run by men. Rodriguez repeatedly brought up the fact that there isn’t enough content for women, by women. She encouraged the female audience in Hall H to create projects that show women in a realistic and favorable light.
Grantland’s “A Day in Hall H” provides insight into the panel and the negative reaction aimed at the female panelists by a few male fans.
And “Women Who Kick Ass” is the most fascinating and enriching panel I attend at Comic-Con. In particular, its discussion of how sexism still rules far too often in Hollywood is terrific, with panelist Katee Sackhoff (of Battlestar Galactica fame) discussing a time an unnamed male actor pulled her arms out of their sockets while filming a fight sequence, in what she believes was recourse for her questioning him earlier in the shoot; and fellow panelist Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black discussing how a male crew member inappropriately hit on her when she was just 18 and bound to a bed for a shot. The moderator is good, in that she knows to get out of the way when the women on the panel — particularly Michelle Rodriguez — cut loose, and the content is engaging throughout.
For the most part, the dudes I’m sitting near either pay respectful attention or check Twitter, though there are some jokes from an older guy in front of me about how stupid he finds all of this. Then Rodriguez uses the phrase “destructive male culture” — as part of a larger answer about how women need to take more agency in telling their own stories — and something in the crowd flips. A certain subset of the audience begins to get more and more vocal, and when the panel runs slightly over, as all panels have done during the day, the vocalizations begin to get easier to hear, even to someone sitting clear across a giant room in a place that tends to eat sound from specific individuals in the audience; one really has to make a ruckus to be heard.
The final question — from a young woman about what aspects the perfect kick-ass woman would have — turns into a digression about the many roles that women play in real life and the few that they are asked to play onscreen. It’s all fascinating stuff, with Sackhoff talking about wanting to see someone as kind and strong as her mother onscreen, and Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira talking about the effectiveness of female political protestors in her native Zimbabwe, the sort of story that would almost never appear in a Hollywood film — but the longer it goes on, the more restless the crowd gets. When Rodriguez grabs the microphone again to follow up on a point made by another panelist, for the first time, the audience ripples with something close to jeering anger. When the panel finally ends and the five women on it proceed off to the side for photographs, something done at the end of most Hall H panels, someone shouts something from the audience, to a mixture of supportive laughs and horrified gasps, and the women quickly leave the stage. (I was not sitting close enough to hear what was said, but I confirmed with several people sitting in the immediate vicinity that it was a young man shouting “Women who talk too much!” after the loudspeaker asked attendees to voice their appreciation for the participants in the “Women Who Kick Ass” panel.)
It’s an ugly moment, an unfortunate capper to a great session, to be followed by many of the guys sitting around me offering up tired lines like “I hope they feel empowered now!” and several recitations of the Twilight mantra about ruining the Con. To be sure, most people in the room were respectful. But at a certain point, there needs to be an accounting for the fact that there is an ugliness that burbles beneath the surface of too many Comic-Con events, sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional. That’s not a task for the Con itself. It’s a task for nerd culture, and one that will require an earnest attempt to understand why this sort of ugliness rises up so often around women, lest all the nerd culture stereotypes prove unfortunately true.
Apparently, though, tough woman Michelle Rodriquez made Kate Conway cry, and you might too if you read that her piece at XO Jane.
With that, FANGirl’s San Diego Comic-Con 2013 wrap-up is complete. My fingers are weary, but no complaints about there being so many amazing stories for and about women. Now, go read Kate Conway’s post.
Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com and Star Wars Insider magazine and is a contributor for Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl.
Tricia is putting the finishing touches on her first novel, Wynde – a military science fiction with a fantastical twist that features heroines Vespa Wynde and Gemini Reed. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.