Geek Women Still Being Harassed and Made Unwelcome

Geek Women Still Being Harassed and Made Unwelcome

This week in women: Cosplayers are harassed, IGDA hires exotic dancers for official event and I get Twitter-attacked by Simon Pegg

This week in women: Cosplayers are harassed, IGDA hires exotic dancers for official event and I get a nasty tweet from Simon Pegg

This has not been a very good week for being a woman. I, personally, have felt like I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall over and over again, with no effect. I’m determined that somehow we, as women, have to change things, but sometimes I’m not sure it’s even possible. But that will never stop me from trying.

The One Where Simon Pegg Sends Me a Nasty Tweet

Let’s start with something that happened to me personally. I unfollowed Simon Pegg on Twitter this week because of his excessive use of the “c” word. I honestly don’t know why I felt the need to comment on it, but I think it had everything to do with the “I’m sick and tired of being a woman in this world and feeling like my only option is to shut up and take it.” So I made the following tweets:

Twitter Altercation with Simon Pegg

I still don’t think I said anything too completely out of line, as I feel this particular word is extremely demeaning to women, no matter its context. I mean, let’s face it – it’s slang for vagina. And it’s always used as an insult, as if having a vagina is somehow a bad, dirty and nasty thing. I’m sick of its over-use.

It was, however, the response that I got (and let’s face it, this is the typical response any woman gets when she attempts to stand up for something):

Twitter Altercation with Simon Pegg

The tweet was deleted at some point (obviously, he knew he’d gone over the line), but it didn’t stop his followers from going after me. Pegg’s followers, though, are far more reasonable than he is. I ended up getting into several interesting discussions about the use of that word, in regards to how it insults women.

As a fan of Pegg, I was disappointed and maybe even a little heartbroken. Of all the guys that I thought would be cool with having an actual discussion about certain things with his fandom, I would have thought it would be him. I think I tweeted my displeasure with that word thinking I could start a dialogue with him. Instead, he did what many men did – he went on the defensive.

Yes, I understand this word is thrown around like I throw around the “f” word in my novel. But that doesn’t make it right.

Tomb Raider Cosplayers Harassed at PAX

I always thought that PAX would be a cool convention – they’ve managed to get rid of the booth babes and be more professional than E3. However, they are obviously not vetting their press enough, because one so-called “journalist” actually decided to harass a group of Tomb Raider cosplayers, one who was just 15 years old.

This “journalist” (I cringe at using this word, because no self-respecting actual journalist would have behaved in such a manner) started his “interview” with the following: How does it feel to  be at a convention where none of the men could please you?”

One of the cosplayers later explained on her blog:

I moved in closer and inquired “Excuse me, what did you ask?” with a forced smile on my face, so to give him the benefit of the doubt. He laughed and didn’t respond, moving a few steps away as I repeated the question to the group of women. Turns out he’d probed what it felt like “knowing that none of the men in this room could please them in bed.” Yes, I’m aware it’s a poor adaptation of a gag told by a certain puppet dog with an affinity for insults. Lack of originally doesn’t excuse this behavior, however.

 

My anger flared upon hearing this, and for a moment I almost let it get the best of me. I attempted to calm myself down before walking towards him and the cameraman, and expressing that it was rude and unprofessional to assume that these young women were comfortable discussing sexual matters on camera. I intended to leave the conversation at that, but his subsequent response escalated matters quickly and clearly illustrated that this ran much deeper than a poor attempt at humor. He proceeded to tell me that “I was one of those oversensitive feminists” and that “the girls were dressing sexy, so they were asking for it.” Yes, he pulled the “cosplay is consent” card.

 

At this point, as he snaked off into the crowd muttering angrily at me, I was livid.

 

IGDA Party at GDC Hires Exotic Dancers

A party by IGDA (International Game Developer’s Association) had exotic dancers. This was a supposedly professional event, hosted by IGDA and attended by game industry leaders and industry hopefuls. You can read all about the incident here.

Because nothing says “Welcome, women!” like exotic dancers, right? Anyway, this complete act of major stupidity resulted in notable game designer Brenda Romero resigning from her IGDA chair position.

It’s time we stopped putting up with this idiotic crap, so kudos to Romero – she’s my new hero.


To sum up, I suppose my response to something as “silly” as the “c” word wasn’t unfounded. Because we women deal with this sort of idiocy every single minute of every single day. Being a woman in this world is hard. And sometimes men, in their ignorance of what it’s like to be us, make it even more difficult.

But that’s why we need to speak out and stand up for ourselves. The time for polite silence is over.

  • StrangePowers

    So what if I were offended by you using the ‘f-word’ in your novel? What would you say in that case? Please don’t get me wrong: I think you’re totally right to write about things that irritate or offend you, but where should people draw the line? (Remember, there are so many people in the world, so whatever you write, the chance of offending someone is very big, whatever you write)

    • http://www.fangirlconfessions.com Robin Burks

      I think the difference is that in using the “f” word, I’m not trying to insult a specific group of people. As I see it, the “c” word was specifically designed to insult women – it’s a word that is immediately used to insult others (denoting that a woman is basically a negative thing). Like many women, I have a past history of that word being used in an abusive way, which is why I, personally, take issue with it.

      Regardless, everyone is free to say what they want. I’m free to not follow them on Twitter. But I was naive in assuming I could explain why I didn’t like it.