July 24, 2011

Comic-Con Recap: Oh, You Sexy Geek!

 

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.”

Attitudes such as “Slave Leia kicked Jabba the Hutt’s ass while wearing that bikini – that is EMPOWERING!” and “I can’t help it that some of the characters I like to cosplay as are scantily clad” were met with rounds of applause from almost everyone in the audience.  When the moderator mentioned that one of her friends posted a picture of her seven year old daughter wearing Slave Leia costume on Facebook, Adrianne Curry responded that there was nothing wrong with the human body, and that the U.S. is way too purtinical and prudish.

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.

The only good moment during the entire hour, was when the moderator called out Seth Green, who was looking disappointed with the discussion, sitting in the front row of the audience.  Katrina Hill asked if he wanted to contribute or share his thoughts, and he unexpectedly took the mic for about fifteen minutes.   As Hill explained to the audience what the audience would know him from (Robot Chicken), Jennifer Stuller mentioned that she had seen him promoting media literacy for the Girl Scouts.  Seth responded that he felt media literacy is incredibly important in the ever-increasing, constantly-unavoidable, media saturated world we live in.  He described how celebrities hold tons of influence over decisions people make, whether it’s over what product to buy or what sources can and should be trusted, and that certainly shouldn’t be the case.  Green said that the media promotes a lot of “poison” and that girls, kids, and even adults need to know how to keep that poison from infiltrating the way you think, make decisions, and live.

When I returned from Comic-Con, one of the first things I did was go in search of that video.  It is amazing and here it is:


41 Comments »

  1. Thanks for sharing this. My husband was at that panel and was similarly horrified that the sole male panelist was so inappropriate. It’s too bad the other panelists weren’t more receptive to Stuller’s comments about media literacy.

    I’m glad Seth Green stood up and shared his thoughts. Too bad he wasn’t the one on the panel instead of Chris Gore.

    Comment by Noticed — July 25, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  2. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one disappointed and disgusted by this panel. I just wrote about it on my site as well. I intend to write to G4 about Chris Gore’s reprehensible behavior.

    I wish Stuller’s perspective hadn’t been so effectively silenced by her co-panelists. We could deconstruct the panel itself and show how Adrianne Curry and Clare Grant effectively mirrored the media attitudes they profess to ignore or not care about. Even Bonnie Burton, a smart, witty woman, was part of it — using stand-up comedy to deflect any true discussion of the subject of sexism.

    Comment by Jennifer dG — July 25, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  3. This sounds horrifying. I’m glad I didn’t go.

    Comment by Laura — July 25, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  4. Disgusting. As you say, the one good thing is to know that Seth Green is as cool as he looks. The rest, just a sad, sad, story.

    Comment by Ruth — July 25, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  5. Wow. That was a hot mess! I go to Cons dressed as Catwoman and am usually one of the most covered women there and it bugs me. Yes,we have the right to dress how we want,but the idea that those woman on the panel would berate and belittle woman who find the teeny tiny costume a problem is just…Outrageous! There should be a choice like male characters have. The fact that they even let Gore talk makes me think the panel planners planned this train wreck.On the bright side,Seth Green wins for being a voice of reason and change :)

    Comment by Cleo — July 25, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  6. Wow, how awful! Hooray for Seth Green!

    Comment by jess — July 25, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  7. I randomly was in that panel as well (I wanted to see the panel after) and my initial reaction was that the panelists were so far apart on their views regarding the topic that a discussion would be impossible to have. Stuller’s comments came off a bit…almost too feminist for me, but as a male I realize that I am unable to fully understand what its like to be in that position.

    I will say this, Gore’s comments were extremely inappropriate and really forwarded the male con stereotype of an oversexed objectifying male. I wonder if he thought his comment was a compliment? Either way, it made everyone a little uncomfortable.

    Seth Green randomly saved the day and for that we are thankful.

    Comment by Dan — July 25, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  8. Omg, how could you not feel totally empowered by Chris Gore wanting to stick his penis in you?

    Seriously, what a huge disappointment. I feel sorry for the voices of reason on the panel. When others are using tactics to shut down the conversation instead of having an actual discussion (you’re just jealous/a bitch/a prude), there’s little you can say that won’t just keep shooting down with the same non-argument.

    Also, I’m thinking whoever thought it was a good idea to include panelists who make a living off the objectification of women was trying to derail the discussion.

    Comment by Jamie — July 25, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  9. mfw self-proclaimed feminists are the most convincing reason to become a misognyist :/

    Comment by Lass Giselle — July 25, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  10. While I agree to an extent that women shouldn’t be shamed for being free with their sexuality, to say there is no sexual objectification in the media is ridiculous. Sexuality is different than sexual objection, and I think people like this and people who think women shouldn’t have a sexuality both have a hard time distinguishing the two.

    Comment by Jia — July 25, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

  11. I wish i could find video of this panel online, sounds really interesting.
    Kind of sad but not surprised about how you described it, especially from Curry. Almost everything i hear from her is how your worth and success is determined by your looks and sex life, although i do know that she has a history of abuse that could have cemented those views.
    Not really but sort of related, i was disappointed when TechTV and G4 merged, as it seemed they got rid of all the female geeks and just went for looks in the on air talent. (also applies to the men really too)

    Found out about this article from here (more about “geek culture”): http://epicdolls.com/beauturkey/?p=4431

    Comment by Usagizero — July 26, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  12. I was at this panel, and this is an accurate representation. I agree with you, on everything you wrote. I spoke with Bonnie Burton about this afterwards (I randomly saw her when she was signing at a booth), and expressed my extreme disappointment. I was somewhat disappointed with her viewpoint there as well, but it’s not always better to have long debates.

    I also asked if anyone had told Chris how inappropriate his comments were, and she said not to his knowledge. When we don’t speak up and say “That’s out of line!” – people don’t always realize they’ve stepped over it, even if they should. In many cases, silence is seen as consent and/or assent of the view, even if it’s not.

    I do also want to thank Seth Green for stepping up there, because he made a lot of points that I was expecting some of the panelists (other than Jennifer, who’d already been speaking up) to make.

    Comment by Hawk — July 26, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  13. When Seth Green, of all people, makes a panel more feminist something is seriously wrong.

    We saw this at PAX East too, where they found a bunch of women who benefitted and enjoyed the status quo and put them on a panel together. I’ve been thinking about how best to deal with panels like this, that are clearly utterly failing. All I did then was stand up and offer a constructive suggestion before continuing with my question. Next time I’d be tempted to say, “for anyone else who’s tired of these self-serving excuses, I’m going to be out in the hall hosting a round table; I’d love to hear what you have to say!”

    Comment by Meg — July 26, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  14. Wow. Just Wow.

    I’m not a feminist. I’m really not. But even I can see that it’s entirely ungood that people are charting sexiness over… like I say, I’m not a feminist.

    Anyways, women should be proud, they have the freedom to think, to move, to breathe. And these are comic book worlds, places where bsd people get the kickings they so richly deserve! Do women really want their fellows to reduce legitimate concerns to mere “bitchiness”?

    Contrariwise, I’m not a feminist, and I have a vested interest in skintight sexiness. But real sexiness, I’ve always believed, comes from within, it’s something you feel. If that’s your way of interacting with the world, is it really that bad?

    I dunno. I’m not a feminist. I’m just some guy who blurted out a half-formed sheltered view of the world on a site he’ll probably never visit again.

    Comment by Simon B — July 26, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  15. The moderator did call Gore on his remarks with a stern “Do you want to get kicked off this panel?” Jen Stuller’s response was to completely turn her back to him and stay that way throughout the rest of the hour. So yeah, only the moderator called him on that verbally, but she wasn’t the only one to react.

    Clare Grant did say she doesn’t read. She said she doesn’t read certain kinds of material.

    Comment by Troy Coral — July 26, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  16. Thanks very much for posting this! (I got here via Blag Hag.)

    Comment by Ani Sharmin — July 26, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  17. [...] comment thread.  If you’re looking to see what got everyone so riled up, Jennifer de Guzman and Feminist Fatale have recaps of the panel and Gore’s presence up that you should check out.  Suffice it to say [...]

    Pingback by San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Recap (Episode II: Attack of the Princess Naked) « Revenge of the Fans — July 27, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  18. [...] saw this blog entry linked from the Blag Hag blog [...]

    Pingback by And people wonder why geek culture is saturated with blokes. « Strolling Gamely — July 27, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  19. Actually, I think you do need to explain how “disgusting and problematic” it is that Chris Gore (whose sense of humor and media persona is known to be brash and sometimes puerile) made an obviously satirical comment at that panel. The panel was billed as a round table of women who are famous for being geeky, female, and sexy. Why would drawing attention to their sex appeal be disgusting and/or problematic? It seems presumptuous to suggest that everyone in the room would have taken offense to that remark. I certainly didn’t. And the people I heard laughing didn’t seem to either.

    I am always disheartened when women marginalize themselves by being overly concerned about lines being crossed where sexuality is concerned. And I can tell you that as a woman, a comedian, a writer, and a long-time Comic-Con attendee, if you want to be treated as an equal by men, you can’t expect them to change their behavior for you just because you wear a skirt. You need to be able to laugh at the dirty jokes, and you need to be able to tell them, too.

    Comment by Mary — July 27, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

  20. Mary’s comment took the words right out of my mouth.

    Chris Gore’s commentary was purely satirical. If anything, who he was really mocking were the closet slut-shamers like yourself – women who are hell-bent on blasting other women because hey, they really DO feel empowered when they’re half naked.

    When Adrianne Curry said it’s because “women are bitches,” despite her brash wording, she was absolutely right.

    With your immediate brushoff of any woman at SDCC (or any self-identified female geek, for that matter) who happens to be remotely attractive, you’re literally saying “unless you need a bag over your head, your opinion is invalid to me.”

    I am a long time con attender. I am also a very recent survivor of severe abuse and rape of which I cannot give detail. Despite my having gone through hell, I haven’t become a complete cynic who shames any woman who doesn’t leave the house in a burlap sack.

    And hate to break it to you, sisterbear, but some women find burlap sacks empowering. Some find slave Leia costumes empowering. And you are in NO position to condemn them for it.

    How about YOU stop promoting that which you claim you’re against, and look at these women as having something to contribute to the community, and their appearance just being an added bonus? It would certainly be far more constructive than blindly and belligerently crusading for someone’s job.

    Comment by JSV — July 27, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

  21. I know Chris Gore. He was in our wedding. He is not sexist; he’s one of the funniest people I know and he appreciates irony – he made sexist comments at a panel that has to do with sexism. I am a feminist and I would have laughed pretty hard at those comments. It’s Comic Con… it’s a big party and if you’re easily offended you probably shouldn’t be there. He was there as comic relief, so lets all have a sense of humor about this and save our outrage for Republicans.

    Comment by Amanda — July 27, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

  22. Oh, so THAT’S how we’ll get rid of the systemic oppression of women! By sucking up to misogynistic assholes and laughing at their dehumanizing and degrading comments! That’ll work!

    Comment by Jelena — July 27, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  23. I was at that panel as well, and while I did find it disappointing that the panelists didn’t engage more deeply with the questions of media literacy and the use of women’s bodies to sell product, I felt that all the female panelists were sincere and empowered. Adrienne Curry discussed her personal experiences both within geek culture and the fashion industry, and I didn’t think the takeaway from her comments was “oh, you’re just jealous” at all. On the contrary, she encouraged girls to be proud of whatever body type they had and to dress however they wanted, and accurately pointed out that sexualization and objectification are in the eye of the viewer, not the wearer. There are as many types of feminist as there are women who identify as such, and dressing sexy shouldn’t disqualify you.
    The only inappropriate note on the panel was Chris Gore, who made a number of uninvited sexual comments toward all the panelists. I can’t presume to say he wasn’t attempting satire, but if he was he failed utterly. I can take a joke, but it helps if it’s actually funny.

    Comment by Samantha — July 27, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  24. Wow, Mary and JSV, way to completely miss the point. No, you should NOT have to be able to tell demeaning jokes to get respect. Having to curry favor from men by pissing on other women is what people like Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly do. And Curry, claiming that any woman that doesn’t agree with her is jealous and that all women are bitchy, I’m guessing she would also say she likes to hang out with guys more than women, since those are chapters 1, 2 and 3 in the “Recognizing That Women Are Inferior and How to Get the Most Tablescraps from the Awesome Menz” handbook. It’s not surprising, however, as any fame she has ever achieved was for her looks and marrying Peter Brady. Honestly, I’ve not seen her do anything else to account for anyone paying any attention to her at all.

    Feminists aren’t discounting women that look good and want to show it off, but the fact that they are the only women that anyone in the larger community (particularly comic-con and gamer communities) pays any goddamn attention to. It’s not that we think women shouldn’t be sexy, but that they SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE sexy. There are so many other qualities that women can have, but it doesn’t matter to, say… someone who thinks Chris Gore’s comment was funny. Yeah, it’s a joke (I guess?) but it’s too fucking close to reality for way too many men (and women, sadly).

    Read about some feminism on actual feminist sites sometime, rather than getting your ideas about feminism from Adrian Curry or Rush Limbaugh or S.E. Cupp, because you seriously have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Comment by Mireille — July 28, 2011 @ 1:26 am

  25. THANK YOU JELENA!

    Comment by Bunny — July 28, 2011 @ 3:47 am

  26. “it is that Chris Gore (whose sense of humor and media persona is known to be brash and sometimes puerile) made an obviously satirical comment at that panel.”

    While recognizing my own male privilege, I can tell you that one thing that made it problematic for me was the fact that he literally contributed nothing else to the proceedings but that one remark, on top of showing up nearly 40 minutes late.

    The fact that his “public persona” is associated with a network known for questionable portrayals of female on-screen talent – check out Sady Doyle’s excellent takedown of AOTS at Tiger Beatdown – didn’t help his case. If Gore supports multiple diverse definitions and representations of sexuality in the media, that remark didn’t show it. He might have been going for schtick, but the result came off incredibly tone-deaf, and that should be called out. Thanks for having me.

    Comment by Arturo — July 28, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  27. Here’s what really happened from someone who was on the panel.
    http://www.feministfatale.com/2011/07/comic-con-recap-oh-you-sexy-geek/

    Also, I can’t believe so many of you are wasting time on a satirical joke. The irony is… now you’re making me laugh!
    Ha ha ha!
    :)

    Comment by Chris Gore — July 28, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  28. [...] Feminist Fatale: Comic-Con Recap: Oh, You Sexy Geek! [...]

    Pingback by Ink-Stained Amazon » Blog Archive » Oh You, Sexy Geek! Panel Recap from the Ink-Stained Amazon — July 28, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  29. Aren’t jokes supposed to be funny? Because I am not amused. Not REMOTELY amused! And it appears that I am not the only one.
    Look, you can call it a satire all you want, but to women, this is REALITY. We get unsolicited offers to be receptacles for penises all the fucking time. So no, I am not exactly laughing my ass off right now. By telling us that we shouldn’t be offended and that we are overreacting, you are exerting male privilege. Which we experience as oppression.

    Comment by Jelena — July 28, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  30. Chris Gore: I’m assuming you didn’t mean to cut-n-paste in the URL for this article? You’re probably referring to Clare Kramer’s post about this?

    Just because she wasn’t on the panel doesn’t mean she can’t recap what happened from her PoV of sitting in the audience.

    BTW, I was also at the panel, her recap is accurate, and guess what – a lot of the audience didn’t see your comment as a joke. It seems that you can’t read body-language either because Jennifer, who was sitting next to you, obviously didn’t see it as a joke.

    Here’s the thing: at this point, your intent doesn’t matter. What does matter is how people took it. Some people took it as a joke. A lot of people didn’t. Think about that, and what actions would be appropriate. Such as an “I’m sorry” to, at the very least, the panel participants who could not see what you thought of as humor over the mound of sexist comments & attitudes that are thrown at us every day.

    Comment by Hawk — July 28, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  31. [...] Feminist Fatale post: Comic-Con Recap: Oh You Sexy Geek! by Rachel: “The only good moment during the entire hour, was when the moderator called out [...]

    Pingback by Action Flick Chick - » #FFF Fake Fangirl Friday Follow-Up: Oh, You Sexy Geek! San Diego Comic-Con Panel Reactions and Controversies — July 29, 2011 @ 7:04 am

  32. [...] onto the women who felt empowered by walking the Comic-Con floor in a Slave Leia costume. Comic-Con Recap: Oh, You Sexy Geek! (Feminist [...]

    Pingback by Sex News: Facebook Breakups, Breast Ironing, Match.com’s Algorithm, Dr. Phil, Comic-Con — August 1, 2011 @ 4:37 am

  33. [...] At ComicCon, there was a panel entitled “Oh You Sexy Geek.” This panel featured Katrina Hill and panelists Clare [...]

    Pingback by A sexist riddle for you | Throw This Book At Me — August 5, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  34. [...] onto the women who felt empowered by walking the Comic-Con floor in a Slave Leia costume. Comic-Con Recap: Oh, You Sexy Geek! (Feminist [...]

    Pingback by Sex News: Facebook Breakups, Breast Ironing, Match.com’s Algorithm, Dr. Phil, Comic-Con | Hugging And Kissing — August 15, 2011 @ 12:00 am

  35. [...] male panelist showing up 5 minutes before the panel ended and making an inappropriate sexual joke (synopsis from Feminist Fatale). Well, one of the reasons. Another reason is probably that geek cultures tend to think we’re [...]

    Pingback by “Geek girls” and the problem of self-objectification | Geek Feminism Blog — August 23, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  36. [...] male panelist showing up 5 minutes before the panel ended and making an inappropriate sexual joke (synopsis from Feminist Fatale). Well, one of the reasons. Another reason is probably that geek cultures tend to think we’re [...]

    Pingback by “Geek girls” and the problem of self-objectification « marcelgomessweden — August 24, 2011 @ 9:28 am

  37. [...] show­ing up 5 min­utes before the panel ended and mak­ing an inap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual joke (syn­op­sis from Fem­i­nist Fatale). Well, one of the rea­sons. Another rea­son is prob­a­bly that geek cul­tures tend to think [...]

    Pingback by “Geek girls” and the problem of self-objectification | From Austin to A&M — August 30, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

  38. I felt the most poignant comment made here was that women criticise each other or are jealous of other women with ‘sexier’ bodies than their own is because “we’re all a bunch of bitches”. I find that for a successful woman to denounce me as being inherently bitchy is more degrading to my own esteem than anything Chris Gore is reported to have said. In addition, does Adrianne Curry’s attitude contribute to why he felt that it was acceptable to make those comments?

    Biology does not make a woman more likely to bitch about, judge or envy another woman’s physical appearance; it is a result of the capitalist, patriarchal society that inordinately values a woman’s sexiness/attractiveness/beauty to exercise control over her wallet and esteem.

    Equating success and beauty is not gender specific but it is distorted. For example, would a well built or ‘sexy’ man walking around a comic-con in a revealing or skin tight outfit generate the same jealousy or animosity as a woman would from his peers and from wider society? Other men may be jealous of his physique but I suspect it would not attract negative comments such as trashy or slutty.

    This inequality is ubiquitous, even in the video shown above, all but a couple of the girls featured are young, made up, ‘beautiful’ girls whereas the men featured are older and generally less ‘beautiful’- something that nobody has mentioned.

    It is trivial (and an example of how women’s relations are fractured by the competition generated by our society) to argue whether it is right or wrong for a woman to be empowered by wearing a ‘sexy’ outfit. What we should be questioning is WHY the sexy outfit is empowering, why does a 7 year old want to emulate this and, more importantly, why do men not find empowerment (generally) in revealing clothes.

    Until we can understand why women are so quick to turn on each other we will never unite and we will never achieve equality.

    Comment by Serena — September 15, 2011 @ 8:03 am

  39. Ugh, how depressing, they completely missed the whole point of the discussion topic. :( When will men and women wake up how these attitudes hurt all of us.

    Comment by Frances — November 18, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  40. [...] the attitude can be described, as pointed out over at Feminist Fatale, as the contention that “women who were critical of sexy geek culture in any way were just [...]

    Pingback by » That (Quickly Becoming Infamous) "Sexy Geek" Panel Mel Stanfill — May 31, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  41. [...] male panelist showing up 5 minutes before the panel ended and making an inappropriate sexual joke (synopsis from Feminist Fatale). Well, one of the reasons. Another reason is probably that geek cultures tend to think we’re [...]

    Pingback by “Geek girls” and the problem of self-objectification – The Cosplay Feminist — February 21, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

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