It’s not just atheists with a diversity problem…

Geeks have their fail moments too (emphasis mine):

I went to Comic-Con this year; on Thursday, I attended a panel titled “Oh, You Sexy Geek!” a discussion of the implications of “sexy women” in geek/nerd culture, and how that may or may not be used to pander to men. The panel consisted of moderator Katrina Hill and panelists Clare Kramer, Adrianne Curry, Bonnie Burton, Jennifer Stuller, Chris Gore (who almost no-showed), Clare Grant, Kiala Kazabee, and Jill Pantozzi.

I was excited for the panel, considering I am frequently frustrated by the media’s exploitative use of women (whether it be the host of a show, such as Olivia Munn, or booth babes at E3) to appeal to a market that they treat as exclusively male. However, my expectations were quickly dashed when discussion of media literacy was tossed aside in favor of accusations of jealousy. Bonnie Burton and Adrianne Curry mused that women who were critical of sexy geek culture in any way were just jealous, had no confidence, and were projecting their issues with self-esteem onto the women who felt empowered by walking the Comic-Con floor in a Slave Leia costume.

When Jennifer Stuller (one of the creators of the upcoming Geek Girl Con) suggested that women who criticized “sexiness” were more than likely deconstructing the media, and by extension a society that tells women their worth lies in their ability to appeal aesthetically to men, she was rebuffed by the other members of the panel. Later, Stuller attempted to turn the discussion towards media literacy, to which Clare Grant responded that she doesn’t read magazines, therefore the media has no influence on her whatsoever. Adrianne Curry added that women criticize one another “because we’re all a bunch of bitches.”

[…]There were many disappointing moments that had me almost leaving the panel entirely, but nothing was quite so horrifying as the one contribution Chris Gore made when he finally showed up five minutes before the panel ended. He took the stage, apologized for being late, and said “Hey, I’m here to represent all the guys in this room who want to stick their penis in every woman up here on this panel.” There was nervous laughter and a bit of applause. I don’t even need to explain how disgusting and problematic that is.

Of course, the two groups probably overlap quite a lot, so it’s not particularly shocking.


  1. says

    “to which Clare Grant responded that she doesn’t read magazines, therefore the media has no influence on her whatsoever”There are no words adequate to express the lack of self-awareness this shows.

  2. Kerreh says

    Adrianne Curry has always struck me as the type of woman who ridiculously considers herself a Special Snowflake, and it’s so irksome. There’s no need to feel insecure or threatened by other women if you’re legitimately confident in yourself. :/

  3. LisslaLissar says

    For some reason (I think we were both on SuicideGirls or something) I had Chris Gore on my Facebook friends list. The second I read about his bullshit at that panel I unfriended him. What a stupid, gross thing to say!

  4. says

    …. fail. just fail.though i suppose that sort of exchange should be have 1-2 commentators who actually care about the subject to provide legitimacy and the rest are there to draw in the fanboys. (nothing against geeks, I am one myself.)makes me sad to read that though. as a Redditor, geek and 20something guy, i expect a little better out of my geek comrades of both sexes.just shows how much work we have left to educate, activate and overcome.

  5. says

    Yeah, uh… if you think that’s bad just stay the hell away from gamers.  You’ll be happier, and since they tend to deeply resent and fear women, they’ll be happier too.

  6. says

    It took a little bit of in-game brutality, but by the time I graduated uni, none of the male gamers there were either rude to me nor awkward around me. (Small school; we did all know each other.) I just needed to give them time to get over the blue shell shock and they got over their stereotypical twittiness pretty fast. There is hope.

  7. says

    Did you read the Feminist Fatale article that Jen linked to?  There’s a whole paragraph about Seth Green’s reaction to the panel.  Seth Green is married to Clare Grant.

  8. Portinari says

    WTF was Adrianne Curry doing there? Weren’t her 15 minutes up the second her season of Top Model wrapped? She’s hardly a geek or a comic book fan. Sure she likes Star Wars, but lots of people do. She needed to GTFO and let real geek women have a place on that panel.

  9. Pixie says

    That’s extremely disappointing.  They couldn’t have one measly panel for orabout women and the implications of female sexuality in geek/comicculture?  They couldn’t humor us for oneday and discuss the topic seriously?  Noteven just this once?  Maybe they were tooafraid of coming across as kill-joys and pandered to what they thought thecrowd wanted.   The knee jerk response that women who criticize overtsexuality are just jealous or bitches doesn’t really add to thediscussion.  It might be an element inthere somewhere, but it’s really just designed to shut the other personup.  It’s a nice, round-about way ofcalling that person insecure, bitchy and possibly ugly without actually sayingit. Frankly, I could turn Adrianne Currie’s argument upside down.  If I were really insecure and wantedattention from men, I would get it by declaring my love for empowering, sexyoutfits and err on the side of debauchery and dick jokes.  Insecurity comes in all forms – sometimes it’ssomeone who is withdrawn and covered up and sometimes it’s the person whosescreaming at the top of their lungs with the bits hanging out.

  10. says

    How utterly disappointing, yet unsurprising. I hope/feel that Geek Girl Con will be much better than this. Jennifer Stuller sounds like a smart person from her comments, and I’ll be pleased to support her efforts. That comment about not reading magazines reminds me of another “friend” I have who makes a similar claim, that she is above media influence and that women who succumb to low self-esteem from seeing such images are “weak”. Friend does not seem to see the connection between media influence and her blowing thousands of dollars in a year on “fat blasting” diets and pills.

  11. says

    “Bonnie Burton and Adrianne Curry mused that women who were critical of sexy geek culture in any way were just jealous, had no confidence, and were projecting their issues with self-esteem onto the women who felt empowered by walking the Comic-Con floor in a Slave Leia costume.”It couldn’t possibly be that we’d like people to notice something other than our looks.  This reminds me of that post you did about how a speaker talking about atheism commented on the looks of female atheists and commented on accomplishments of male atheists.  That’s really what this is about for me.  It’s not that it’s upsetting for someone to comment on my appearance.  It’s that sometimes it seems like that’s all that matters, and that it’s considered okay to ignore what a woman has to say if she doesn’t measure up to some standard of beauty.  But then, if is beautiful, it’s an excuse to only comment on her looks and nothing else.You can’t win either way.

  12. says

    I came into my own geekness at a women’s college where the Sci-fi/fantasy club was one of the oldest orgs on campus, where the gamers at open LARPs and tabletops were 75% female, where our little college con’s biggest draw was the massive panel, Women in the Industry. So I’m a little incubated. But even there… Well, there was the guy who felt he was entitled to be an honored guest for his webcomic that was mostly based on belittling our school, especially the computer science and engineering departments. There was the guy who bought a con shirt one year and wore it the next so he could pretend to be staff and hit on girls twenty years younger than he was under the guise of responsibility. I could go on. Even in the safest spaces, aggressive privilege and jerkassery happens, but the nice thing about that environment was that the community enforced respect and decent behavior, and the nasty elements were treated as pariahs, not the cool guys. I’m all for diversity, but if I could make the geek world more like my undergrad sci-fi club and the local nerd scene there, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

  13. says

    I was going to comment that G4’s coverage wasn’t much better when it came to portraying women, due to a specific reporter, but then when I Google image searched “Chris Gore,” I found that these two are the same person! So yeah, G4 has this guy on cable television saying similar things as he did at this panel. It was pretty disgusting.

  14. Simon says

    My anecdotal experience is that (self identified) skeptics are more likely than humanists to be a part of geek culture. There’s overlap of course.

  15. says

    Oh my.  I guess I’ve been very lucky to have attended Sci-fi conventions and have never heard anything like what Chris Gore said.  I have hope for the the Atheist and Skeptical movements to get better.  :)

  16. Mike says

    Whoa, that’s a remarkably quick trainwreck.  Depressing.  Why did they even call the convention if they weren’t going to take the topic seriously?

  17. LadyAtheist says

    There should really have been half men and half women on the panel.  It’s not for women to say what men mean, just what the impact is.  Men are perfectly capable of explaining their culture for themselves.  If a half-panel of men turned out to be dicks, then the women could call them on in front of an audience.This kind of thing is why I let my dissertation go unwritten and am forever ABD.  I can’t deconstruct male culture using feminist lingo etc blah blah blah with a clear conscience.   I prefer actual reality to postmodernism.

  18. psmith123456 says

    This is true of a few/some male anime fans as well.  Women and girls at their cons who choose to dress like the scantily clad characters will be judged and criticized for their size if the females are “big” or bigger than the character.  Those who dress like the fully clothed characters don’t get such criticism…except for being fully clothed..

  19. Fencer_guy says

    Some days I wake up and I feel GREAT!  I am a geek and a nerd and I live in a great time to be both.  Science is getting so cool (and getting even cooler) every day.  I read from my Kindle and I feel wow its just so coooool.  Then I go read this,  and I go oh yeah,  sometimes I cant look at myself in the mirror.  I want to go back to bed and hide my head in shame to be a geeky nerd.   The last few months have been such a kick in the stomach.  I cant even feel proud to be a Skeptic anymore,  let alone a geeky-nerdy skeptic.    All I want to do now is feed most men to some sort of horrible lovecraftian monster.  I think it time to kick these guys out of all the clubs.  Just tell them leave and never come back.  I dont want you in my club your ruining it.  I want you out go start your horrible club and let where you can be a jerk to the only person left, that guy in the mirror.  Jerk!  I want to be proud to be a Geeky, Nerdy, Skeptical, Atheist.  To see all my fellow GNSA and give them a fist bump with a lightsabre as we climb on the new spaceship to go to the moon for MoonCon 2020

  20. alteredstory says we need something like this, but for the portion of Chris Gore that makes him so oblivious to his own awfulness. It’d be like when Angel gets his soul back (pick a time, any time).

  21. says

    To be fair to Adrianne, she came off as totally sincere in her love of science fiction and video games. She’s just not the best person to talk about this subject.

  22. AmandaStock says

    Ugh, that hurts me on such a deep level. As a regular panelist at sci-fi cons in my neck of the woods, I would like to think that it would be better here, but I have a nagging suspicion that if such a panel were to end up on the program at any such event, it might turn out similarly. There are so many great, knowledgeable, critical geek women out there with a desire to talk feminism and media literacy in geek spaces, and this is all that ComicCon could come up with? I am disappoint.

  23. Blitzgal says

    I can’t believe it’s so hard for them to understand how soul crushing it can be to be a female who wants to participate in geek culture when our *only* options are either to be invisible or to be an object that geek guys want to “stick our penises into.”  Can’t we be people with opinions and passions and ideas, like you geek guys?”Feminism is the radical notion that women are people, too.”  You know, it’s very sad that this quaint and simple quote is just as apropos all these years later.

  24. Elizabeth says

    Oh for fuck’s sake…like women don’t enough shit like this – but to get it from each other!

  25. nanoboy says

    That depends a very great deal on the gaming group.  You know that there are all-women and majority women groups out there.  For fun, you can also Google “I hit it with my axe” for some female role-playing amusement.

  26. Georgia Sam says

    I don’t claim to be totally enlightened on women’s issues — I’m still learning (and, BTW, I learned a lot about male privilege from the recent discussions of the 4 am elevator incident), but I keep coming back to the same thought: Even if you put aside considerations of gender equality, a lot of the behavior that I read about in these posts would be prohibited by two very basic rules: (1) Don’t be a flaming asshole, and (2) don’t say appallingly immature, stupid things, especially in front of an audience.  I’m frankly not surprised that some immaturity would be observed at a comics convention, but geez! I would have thought that by the time somebody becomes famous enough to be on the podium in a session at a big international convention, they would have learned something about how to avoid making total jackasses of themselves in front of a few hundred people. 

  27. Ms. Anthropy says

    I’d have stormed off stage had someone said something so boorish to me as Chris Gore did to you. Kudos for not decking him!

  28. Joseph Caine says

    Ergh, Bonnie Burton, I am dissappoint. Didn’t you write an entire book about how women need to stop being mean to each other? And instead of reaching out to other women, you dismiss them as “bitches who are jealous”?

  29. Azkyroth says

    What he expressed was neither universal nor consistent with “thinking.”But suppose you were right.Would you not see that as a problem?

  30. Azkyroth says

    Female-on-female bullying has been an integral and probably indispensible maintenance procedure for the patriarchy for the entire time there’s been one.  (In fact, the willingness, and in many cases eagerness, of many girls and women to police other women’s adherence to socially dictated roles, values, and priorities, juxtaposed with shallow and muddled thinking on the part of the speaker, is probably the origin of the statement “we’re just a bunch of bitches.”)This was really blatantly obvious to me growing up, and I still see a depressing amount of it.  I’m surprised anyone’s surprised by it.

  31. says

    Jeez…I dunno… there are two issues with “sexy geek women” that I think need discussion. One of them is how geeky women feel about their own sexy (or lack of interest in being sexy as part of their geekness), and the other one is how everyone should be seriously fucking offended by all the “booth babes” with their boobs and butts hanging out. I can’t speak to the first one, but the second on is targeted at me so I get to have my say. There’s nothing sexy about blatant appeals to my penis to try to bypass my brain. It is manipulative and insulting and it needs to go away. It seems like something a panel could discuss, instead of one set of women bagging on another set.

  32. says

    Not claiming equivalence at all, but it’s worth observing that the exploitation of women, and conventional feminine ‘sexiness’, in this way is actually also exploiting the indoctrination of men into heteronormative/patriarchal values and expectations. It then becomes self-reinforcing, just like everything else about the reification of patriarchal values and expectations. However, I’m too brainfogged from migraine to actually go into this much more. Lots of good analysis-fodder here.

  33. ParatrooperJJ says

    This is how males size up people:They see a female – Do I want to hit it?They see a male: – Can i take them in a fight?

  34. Azkyroth says

    That’s interesting, because I am a male and my experience has been significantly divergent from what you describe.Anyone else care to weigh in?

  35. NoxiousNan says

    Even if that were true, which I don’t believe, then all the other guys demonstrated that you can think stupid shit without saying it.

  36. The Pint says

    My comment’s coming a bit late, but I had a similar experience at the Chicago Comic Con as well at the Way of the Geek panel. Apparently if geek/nerd women want to be more empowered, they should just carry the same “confidence” that they exhibit at cons when engaging in cos play and that because there are “so many women animators in LA” that means that women don’t face any discrimination or extra hurdles in breaking into gaming/animation entrepreneurship. It was… frustrating, to say the least.

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