It was very mild in the evolutionary psychology panel, just the guy who wanted to talk about sex differences based on the obvious gender differences he’d naively (rather than systematically or scientifically) observed in college performance. He settled down when Indre was very firm on the point that we don’t have good evidence supporting sex-based differences in the brain beyond brain size and that, in fact, we have rather a lot of contradictory evidence. He even seemed to take it with good grace.
The guy at the back of the troll panel was different.
We started off by talking about what trolls want so that we could effectively deny that to them. I took a question shortly into the panel. Then this guy’s hand went up and stayed up. I called on him after announcing we should get back to strategies. I did him the favor of taking his question before directing the panel back to its point.
How did he use it? To inform us that, you know, some people are all upset because feminists are such hypocrites because they didn’t get upset at Bill Maher when he said sexist things about Sarah Palin because–
I informed him that, yes, in fact, feminists did get upset with Maher; we just don’t get the same press coverage that he does. Amanda Marcotte pointed out that NOW released a statement at the time.
He didn’t hear either of us because he just kept talking. He didn’t have a question, and he wasn’t interested in hearing what we had to say. All he wanted was to tell us that feminists–as some hypothetical monolithic whole–invite their own mistreatment. Because.
And this grand (incorrect) revelation (myth) of his was so important that he had to try to talk over a bunch of experts. With microphones. Then glare at us when we didn’t sit back and politely hear him out (let him derail a panel with bullshit).
For the record, neither of these guys was socially awkward in any way. I’ve been going to F&SF cons for decades. I’ve seen the people who can’t tell when they are expected to listen. These weren’t those folks. The first guy simply assumed (to all appearances) that his personal experience had to be a significant universal that we would want to address. The second was demanding but could clearly read the situation well enough to tell that we weren’t going to cave to those demands.
They’re everywhere we try to talk about sex and gender issues, though, these people, these men who “know” what we should be talking about and whose “knowledge” is so far off the mark. I wonder sometimes why they show up. Are they surprised when we have our own things to say? Do they show up intending to correct us because they’re sure we’ll get it wrong? Maybe we get some of each.
All I know for sure is that one will show up in every crowd.