Cunningly disguised as their own

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is happening this weekend. Jill Pantozzi at the MarySue fills us in on some doings there.

First, she tells us they have an excellent anti-harassment policy.

They also have a campaign going called #ExpoEquality, in cooperation with Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse.

Yay. For equality, against harassment and abuse.

So, naturally, we can’t have that.

A Gamergate affiliated group known as Honey Badger Radio procured a booth for Calgary Expo through a crowdfundng campaign specifically geared toward gaining attendance under false pretenses. The people representing them are Karen Straughan, Mike Stephenson, Alison Tieman, and Sage Gerard, and of their campaign they wrote:

In April of this year, the Honey Badgers plan to put on a booth at the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo! We plan to infiltrate nerd culture cunningly disguised as their own.

Each of us has been carefully crafting a persona of nerdiness through decades of dedication to comics, science fiction, fantasy, comedy games and other geekery, waiting for this moment, our moment to slip among the unaware. Once there we will start distributing the totalitarian message that nerd and gamer culture is… perfectly wonderful just as it is and should be left alone to go it’s own way.

That’s it folks.

As men’s issues advocates and defenders of creator’s rights to create unmolested, that’s what we have to say to the nerds and geeks and gamers. You are fantastic as you are, carry on.

Yep, in today’s political climate that’s considered an extremist position. Just letting creative communities create; consumers consume what they want; and gamers get down to the business of vidya without being judged.

So if you share our vision of a world in which nerds and geeks and gamers roam free and unfettered, help us spread that message by throwing a few shekels our way to attend the con.

So freedom = the total absence of all criticism? Judgment = fetters? Who knew?

However, Honey Badger Radio did not use their website to apply for vendor/exhibitor status. The “Honey Badger Brigade” on the Calgary Expo website links to awebcomic site (run by Honey Badger Tieman) instead. If you didn’t think all of this was enough to warrant expulsion from the convention (it is), there’s more.

Their show is broadcast by A Voice For Men, one of the biggest men’s rights website on the internet. Less specific plans for Calgary Expo were also detailed on that group’s site, which is classified as a “women-hating” site by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and said in part: “The Honey Badgers are a diverse group of female gender apostates–women who oppose outdated ideas of gender, particularly the association of womanhood with weakness. We offer an alternative to the damaging portrayal of women as victims of geek and gamer culture.”

Fantastic! So by the same token people who opposed the institution of slavery, for instance, were portraying slaves as victims of slave culture, and that was very bad. The right thing to do is nothing at all, so that people can be strong and not victims. The slaves have to end slavery all by themselves!

The group also attended the “Women Into Comics” panel last night. Panelist Brittney Le Blanc gave us this account of the events that transpired:

We were about fifteen minutes into the panel when a woman in the second row stood up and identified herself as a Men’s Rights Activist. She and her male companion both came to raise issues they felt would not be covered by our panel. Raising points about the way men are portrayed in comics struck a note with all the panelists, as we agreed that we want to see a diversity across body types, characters, races, etc in mainstream comics. Not everyone wants to see a hero who looks like he’s built like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. They also accused us of presenting all women as victims, which was an outright lie and derailing tactic.

Their questions did take up quite a bit of time at the panel and served to derail the topic onto another tangent, which was frustrating for the panel and for those in the audience. It’s what they came to do, and in part, they succeeded. I would say that it brought up some great discussions though…

Lemons to lemonade.

They wanted to stand up and have their say, but not to listen or try to understand the points of view other people in the room had. This was further proven by the video discussion they posted later last night, in which they mentioned our panel and that we were “donning the ball gowns of our victimhood”, which I’m not even entirely sure how to take. I will admit to not watching the whole video, and I think anyone who attempts to watch it would understand why.

Calgary Expo kicked them out today, or asked them to leave. It issued a statement:

View image on Twitter

As the world turns.


  1. M can help you with that. says

    Once there we will start distributing the totalitarian message that nerd and gamer culture is… perfectly wonderful just as it is and should be left alone to go it’s [sic] own way.

    …except that’s not their message. Their message is that only the reactionary parts of nerd and gamer culture are “perfectly wonderful.” We know this from their positions: when one part of nerd or gamer culture (a more feminist, less racist, less cis-centric and/or heterocentric part) tries to influence what it means for the culture of which they are a part to “go its own way”…then that part, the honey badgers insist, absolutely cannot be “left alone,” but must be attacked, condemned, and harassed into silence. They’re not defending “nerd culture” or “gamer culture” — they’re insisting that certain reactionary elements in those subcultures should have absolute authority over the subculture as a whole.

    There have been women, feminists, people of color, queer people, radicals, social-justice advocates, etc. in nerd and gamer culture as long as nerd and gamer culture have existed — certainly longer than the honey badgers (or I) have been part of these cultures, or even alive. Letting nerd culture “go its own way” means seeing the culture grow, mature, and develop in ways that expand the ways people can find a safe home in the culture, not demanding that a (supposed) core of entitled insecure straight cis white men have the divine right to prevent that growth and development.

    (As an aside — I think quite a bit of the commentary regarding the honey badgers’ “infiltration” remarks have been off-point. I took it as sarcastic, i.e. they were trying to say “Hey, we’re part of nerd culture too!” — but, of course, it doesn’t work so well in terms of making a point because they, not the people who disagree with them, are the ones dedicated to exclusion.)


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