Hiding in plain sight

How do you get more women in _______? Where are all the women in ________? I dunno, let’s discuss it. Let’s discuss it on a panel at a convention.

The past few years have seen a lot of discussion (and a lot of misogynist backlash) about improving women’s experience of “geek” spaces such as video gaming, sci-fi conventions, and comics. So it was especially puzzling to see that Denver ComicCon, one of the biggest comic conventions in the country, convened a panel called Women in Comics that had no actual women sitting onstage.

Let’s discuss that on a panel at a convention! One with no women on it!

Sometimes I wonder if women are just plain cryptic, like chameleons and stick insects. “Just could not find a single one, after months of searching!”

Amanda Marcotte continues:

When Janelle Asselin of Comics Alliance asked about the omission, Denver ComicCon emphasized the historical aspects of the panel:

[I]t was a panel that took an historical view of women characters in comic books rather than the current role of women creators in the industry or diversity in comics — of which DCC has many with appropriately diverse panels. The Women in Comics panel was a submitted panel that featured respected academics on the subject.

Oh well, if it’s respected academics talking about us in our involuntary absence, that’s ok then.

There’s a lot of connections between the sexist boys’ club of the comics past and the sexist boys’ club of comics present. Perhaps a woman might be able to employ a little personal experience to help draw those historical connections. Plenty of people happen to be history experts and female at the same time. As Asselin notes, one such woman—Trina Robbins, a preeminent historian of women in comics—was even at this year’s convention. Well, at least there’s a new submission for the endlessly funny “Congrats, you have an all male panel!” Tumblr.

Totally worth it.


  1. says

    The Con excused the fact that it was all men on that panel with the reasoning that it was ostensibly about the “history of women in comics” rather than how to get more women involved in comics. Which is still silly, in my opinion. If we’re going to convene a panel to talk about a certain class of people, whether men or women, regardless of the actual topic, doesn’t it just make sense to have representatives of that class on the panel? Wouldn’t you want a broad representation on such a panel?

  2. Jenora Feuer says

    And Trina Robbins was at the con but not invited to that panel. Good grief, if you know anything about women in the comics industry, you’ve almost certainly heard of Trina Robbins. She’s one of the historians about women in comics, having written one of the first major books on the subject (along with Cat Yronwode). She’s one of the founders of Friends of Lulu, an organization devoted to promotion of readership of comics by women and participation of women in the industry.

    In other words, she’s one of the names that should bubble to the top of lists of panelists on any sort of panel about the subject. Ignoring her… gah.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    … if it’s respected academics …

    The best they could do in the absence of certified Thought Leaders™.

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