Geeks Behaving Badly?

XXFactor has a post today about the persistent sexism in “geek culture,” which this particular writer identifies as the tech industry. Now I’m not part of the tech industry–unless fumbling through the occasional SQL query in MS Access counts–but I do count myself as part of varying facets of “geek culture” and wonder if the sexism that Ms. Marcotte laments in the tech industry shows up in other realms of geekdom as well.

The post scathes tech companies (like Yahoo!) that continue to engage in behaviors and practices unfriendly to women, such as having strippers at trade shows, which to the writer “implies that there are no women in the audience [and] certainly sends the message that the tech world is the He-Man Woman-Haters Club.” What about other facets of geek culture? Do you, HL readers and most trusted fellow citizens of geekdom, think that males that identify as “geeks” tend to be more overtly sexist than those who do not?

I’m a woman so, of course, I’ve experienced sexism in its myriad forms. For example, at work (in a male-dominated profession), I often feel that I have to stand on my desk and jump up and down and scream in order to get my (male) supervisors to hear my thoughts and ideas on policies relating to my job, policies that often involve knowledge or skills that only I possess. (Fancy that!) And when I worked in the same office as my (male) supervisors, I got mistaken for the secretary an awful lot. But I’ve been lucky that workplace outings have never taken place on The Block, I’ve never been sexually harassed at work, and if my coworkers make off-color jokes and remarks about women, then they do it well out of my earreach. Good thing too.

But now geek culture … I am, of course, part of the Tolkien writing fandom, which is predominantly female, and I’m not going to go into whether sexism/misogynism exists in that community … not in this post anyway. And I’m in the SCA, which is a pretty equal mix of men and women. I’ve had a few SCAdians make comments about my looks, but they were always people I knew well enough to know that they meant them playfully and not offensively, and they knew me well enough to know that I would take them as such. Fair enough.

I also spent a few years as part of the subculture surrounding a popular tabletop game that shall go unnamed. I built and painted models while my husband and friends played the game. It was not uncommon to walk into the small store where we played to find it packed with twenty or thirty people and yet be the only woman in the store. (A few moms and wives would drift in and out but, in my years there, I knew only one other woman who participated as actively as I did.) I used to tell my husband that I sometimes felt, walking into the store, like half the heads would pop up from the tables, noses would start twitching, and the guys would begin gleefully muttering, “Estrogen! We smell estrogen!”

The gaming models primarily represented men, but when women were depicted, they were always buxom to the extent that hauling around that much extra boobage would make walking difficult, much less weilding a sword and exacting fancy fighting manuevers, and they were usually scantily clad or–in a few instances–unclad entirely from the waist up. Needless to say, we few female participants didn’t get the same eye candy from the gaming models that depicted men.

What of behavior? Well, possibly the most blatantly offensive act of sexism I’ve yet faced occurred in that store while I was working on a painting project. I was minding my own business, working on my current project with a few other guys at the table with me. I was wearing a knee-length dress with a halter-type top that tied behind my neck. At one point, I realized that one of my table-mates was crawling under the table. Thinking that perhaps he’d dropped something down there, I looked underneath the table at him and realized that he was trying to look up my dress. Spurred on by his behavior, the fellow beside me took the opportunity to reach behind me and try to untie the halter top to my dress.

I don’t believe that these guys were trying to frighten me much less assault me; they thought that they were being funny or perhaps paying me a compliment. That didn’t make it right, and when one of my friends who was a store employee later heard about it, he was livid. He was much angrier than I was. Interacting with most of the participants in this particular game always felt like instructing young children in the proper ways to behave in public. The two incidents that afternoon were much the same: No, guys, it is not okay to behave that way toward a woman. Even if she is your friend. Even if you’re just playing around. If you like how I look, telling me that my dress is pretty or that I look nice in it it is a much more effective and civil compliment than trying to take it off of me.

I don’t know if it ever sunk in. My husband and I both grew frustrated with that particular community in a large part because of the rampant immaturity and asocial behavior, and we no longer participate. I still have a closet full of models that I would like to paint someday, but then illumination scratches that part of my brain that demands fine motor skills just as well. I might live out my life quite happily with a bucketful of unassembled Elves in the closet in my study and my old paints mainly serving to provide convenient pop-top containers for gold-leaf sizing.

But when I read that post today, my years with this group came back. And I wondered how typical my own experiences (and, apparently, those of female employees for some of these companies) really were. Anyone have thoughts, insights, or anecdotes on this? How do other predominantly male geek communities treat female participants? What do you think is behind this tendency, if it exists?

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15 Responses to “Geeks Behaving Badly?”

  1. Juno says:

    What currently annoys me to no end is a trend in TV shows over here. There are two shows that feature music. Like “the 100 best golden oldies”, “the 100 best love songs”, etc.

    One of those shows features scantily-clad women undulating along with some songs or the live music bits of that show.

    I don’t mind their presence as such. They are adult women, they are not forced to do that job, presumably they are paid for that job. Men enjoy that show, presumably some women do, too.

    BUT.

    WHY THE FUCK is it ALWAYS and ONLY scantily clad women presented as eye-candy at such shows???

    Where the blasted-bloody-buggering (and I’m not sorry for my vernacular, I’m so angry concerning this!) are the scantily-clad muscular dudes to appeal to ME???

    GRRRRRRR!

  2. Rhapsody says:

    I am sitting here with raised eyebrowes and followed the links to some other blog entries, to see where this lap danced was. It was in Taiwan, where the culture is more male dominated than weare used to. Booth babes have always been there, go to the Tokyo Game Show and all gaming programme’s will pay attention to are those girls who earn a big deal for being part of the marketing for a product. If we girls can have our jaws drop at scantily clothed males in the Gorgio Armani spots, then I don’t see any reason why a male target audience cannot enjoy their eye candy at such a game show. It nearly feels as PC-ness really gone too far. Just read this comment which explains a big deal as to why it happened. If you raise your eyebrowes at scantily clothed women shaking their booty, then we also should not condone gorgous men in ads with fab abs and such.

    I tend to look at things like this from the marketing perspective: there is a demand for a product by a certain target group that loves certain things. In order to promote and sell the product, the marketeer will shake and stir in order to attract the clients for his products. If the group is 99% male dominated, then you get a male dominated approach. If a product is more suited for a group that is 99% female, you will not hear the other gender clamouring that it is sexist too.

    This being said, I was the only girl with oodles of nephews, so I heard enough sexism that would make your skin crawl (funnily enough the most sexist nephews are all married and most have daughters, he he). Being a comic book fan (DC universe, Batman & Catwoman), I will never forget the first time I entered my husband’s comic book shop where the owners were very happy to have a female client (very unique), but they always treated me kindly and we had hours of talk about writing, art, characters, politics and what more.

  3. pandemonium_213 says:

    Oh, ho, ho! Methinks it is time to break out the Geishagate story! I’ll be back later with that in a separate comment, which may be a freakin’ essay in and of itself, but yes, as a woman who is a) in her 50s and b) worked in a male-dominated profession (science, not “tech” but I think it still applies) for 20 years, I have experienced some hair-raising incidents personally.

    Are you ready to have me spew here?

  4. Aranel Took says:

    I think the behavior you described in your gaming group is (usually) normal “juvenile” male behavior (and I think the “booth babe” thing feeds into that). My husband sees it all the time in all-male or mostly-male situations in the military. He’ll end up stuck in an airplane with a bunch of airmen who seemingly stopped maturing in Junior High. He calls it “ass grabbing” behavior, the juvenile antics of the locker room (they once duct-taped someone’s gloves into the shape of a penis, and draw penises on someone when they fall asleep, and … well, you get the idea). I went to a mostly male university full of socially awkward geeks, and I had some friends who acted much the same way: twenty going on twelve. On the receiving end of such behavior, I felt it was usually more “just one of the guys” rather than sexist, or else they just didn’t have a lot of experience with female friends and were nervous and did stupid things because they were flustered. I’d throw insults back at them, or a withering look and a deadly serious “knock it off” were usually enough to let them know they were ticking me off. If that doesn’t work, offer to kick them in the nuts if they don’t cut it out. 😉 But that’s only a certain population of guys, and for the most part my male friends in college were NOT like that (even the socially awkward ones) and were awesome and some of the best friends I ever had.

    As far as other geek communities, I’ve been a member of the geek news site Slashdot for about ten years and you’ll sometimes get the “OMG girl on the internet!” type comments (trying, and failing, to be funny), but Slashdot is full of plenty of dumb/trollish comments besides sexist ones. I’m very comfortable participating there and unless it comes up as a topic (e.g. recruiting women into computer science), and besides the juvenile jackasses, from my experience nobody really cares what your gender is. You are far more likely to get flamed for your choice of gaming console or operating system. 😉

    I’m usually the only woman in my comic shop, but I’ve always felt very welcome there. Even if my husband comes with me, my Comic Shop Guy talks to me about the pull-file (hubby doesn’t read comics) and talks to both of us equally when we’re looking at board & card games. I find car dealerships (especially American companies that aren’t Saturn) far, far, FAR more sexist than any geeky situation (school, online or comic shop) I’ve ever been in, even though you’re more likely to find women buying cars than comic books. But that’s a whole other rant. *grumbles*

  5. pandemonium_213 says:

    Hmmm, well, forget Geishagate. That’s relevant to institutionalized sexism and less specific to the “geek culture” question posed here. Frankly, other than buying books and such at the trés nerdly Pandemonium in Cambridge (but giving those gaming tables in the basement a very wide berth), that’s the extent of my immersion in “geek culture.” But the whole bit with the lap dancing and such…gather ’round and let me tell you about marketing practices in Pharma-dûr.

    Big Pharma has been cutting back on its sales force for some time now so the days of “sexual marketing” will likely dissipate, but the profile of the pharma sales rep has become something of a clichê: many are attractive young women. The strategy has been successful.

    When I was a project leader for a prostate cancer program, we had a scientific conference with some big-name urological oncologists.
    Over sandwiches for lunch (nothing grand; research’s expense accounts were tight), one of the docs commented about how refreshing it was to “talk science” which segued into a conversation about the very different aspects of pharma R & D versus the Beast That is Marketing. He told us a tale of two companies which both sold leuprolide, an injectable drug that helps shut down sex hormone production and is thus used for estrogen-dependent breast cancer and androgen-dependent prostate cancer. One company sent out mostly men who dressed in dark suits and who had a “scholarly, scientific” demeanor. The other company’s sales force for this drug were very attractive young women. The doc said it was basically the same drug, but guess which one had significantly higher sales?

    Here’s a relevant article in the NYT from a few years ago:Gimme an Rx!.

    That’s a very mild example. Things are changing in the industry, but in its heyday, the kind of stuff described at the Yahoo soiree was not uncommon with drug marketing. To excuse such practices (bringing in the babes to appeal to the guys) as marketing strategy is a cop-out. It’s a chilling atmosphere for women in the science or tech profession and can spill over into the workplace in ways one wouldn’t expect. As a former manager, I’m astounded that Yahoo did this. It’s a freakin’ lawsuit waiting to happen.

  6. Dawn says:

    Juno: I agree! But of course, we married ladies don’t like such things, do we? Are you suggesting that women are allowed to have sexuality outside of being attracted to their husbands?? 😉

    Bobby and I were at the movies once, and I was complaining about how many movies find reason to bare an attractive actress’s breasts yet rarely have any similar “eye candy” nudity involving men. Ironically, I chose to air my gripe before the movie 28 Days Later, which–about five minutes into the movie–had (brief) full-frontal male nudity. At which point, half of the people in the packed theater shouted, “Ewwwww!” and recoiled from the screen. When my fifth-grade teacher put up the first transparency slide of a naked man during sex-ed class, the class managed to react with more maturity than this group of adults (since the movie was rated that, in the U.S., under 17 can’t see it without an accompanying parent) at seeing a boy’s wee-wee. God Bless the USA!

    I’ve since noticed that male nudity in movies is generally used as a tactic of humiliation or crude humor (for example: Forgetting Sarah Marshall on the former; Borat on the latter; The Hangover as a bit of both). Female nudity seems to be used to show beautiful bodies for appreciation. I don’t find anything wrong with the latter, but I agree with you that I wish it included men a little more! 😀

    (PS–No need to ever be sorry for the vernacular here. 😉 )

    Rhapsody: I must confess that I’m not getting the leap between adult entertainment “on company time” and the use of sex in mass advertisement. I have no problem with sex in advertisement, though I’m inclined to take Juno’s stance and admit that I wish it included men more. 😉 But, at the same time, I am a realist concerning that target audience. I don’t expect to see an ad with Jonathan Rhys Myers during the Super Bowl. I do expect lots of buxom babes in low-cut tops holding dew-bedecked beer bottles at cleavage-level.

    I do have a problem with adult entertainment being used at trade shows et cetera. It’s a completely different ball of wax, imo. If I have a problem with the scantily clad plantinum-blond twins in a beer ad, then I don’t look at the adverts during a football game. If I don’t like the models on a game show, then I don’t watch that game show. But if I have to be present at an event for my job, then I shouldn’t be expected to look at entertainment that is demeaning to women, especially when men who have spent the last hour descended into the Cro-Magnon La-La-Land where women aren’t much more than a pair of jiggling boobs are then expected to relate to me–a woman who, with a few weeks of sit-ups and some makeup, really isn’t all that different from the pretty young thangs they’ve been ogling–as a professional. That seems to me (without having any research to back up my hypothesis) to prime people in negative ways toward women.

    Pandemonium: Spewing is always welcome here. 😀

    The article you linked was most enlightening … and disturbing. No one even cares what the drug rep majored in? Sheesh. It sounds like if I was a bit prettier and much perkier, with my degree in psych, I’d be overqualified!

    To excuse such practices (bringing in the babes to appeal to the guys) as marketing strategy is a cop-out. It’s a chilling atmosphere for women in the science or tech profession and can spill over into the workplace in ways one wouldn’t expect.

    Exactly. I doubt that many companies would be keen on having their Black employees sit through a comedy act full of racist jokes, for example. Yet women forced to endure an equivalent are expected to lighten up and take it? As I’ve noted already, I have no problem with sex in ads, and I have no problem with adult entertainment. But from a psychological perspective, condoning the depiction of women as sex objects in the workplace–just like the racist jokes–has potential to prime a person to think of all women in such terms … and I think we both know that more than enough men still think of women in that way without helping them out in that. And, yes, I think that can have detrimental and even dangerous consequences for women in the workplace.

    Aranel: My appraisal of the behavior of some of the idiots in the gaming store was similar to yours. I remember being a little taken aback at how upset my male friend was when he found out that it happened. With a bit more distance, I better understand his outrage. At the time, though, I was more inclined to sigh and think of it as yet another example of how my peers in this particular activity had missed out on some major social-skills development that I now had to provide. (“Boys, attempting to undress pretty girls is not only inappropriate but might get you arrested.”) I also went to “schools for geeks”–both my high school and university were science- and tech-oriented–and most of my male friends, if anything, walked on eggshells around me because I was the lone female in their midst. They were very careful not to offend me. (When, in fact, I was usually much less easily offended than they were!) But reading this particular post and remembering the few instances of egregious behavior from geeky friends and acquaintances (like when a high-school friend was promptly relinquished to the office for shouting across the room to a pretty girl during a biology lecture about cell division to ask if he could see her “cleavage furrow”) made me think of how that sort of behavior might take root in a group inclined to it in the first place.

    So far, my conclusions remain the same as they did to start: Most geeky guys are okay. :) There are some asshats, but I’d much rather be in a room full of male computer scientists than, say, cement-truck drivers (who cannot seem to resist honking at me whenever I need to pick up the mail at work).

  7. Rhapsody says:

    Rhapsody: I must confess that I’m not getting the leap between adult entertainment “on company time” and the use of sex in mass advertisement.

    That’s okay, within marketing there are five core elements on which campaigns are based. One of the five ‘p’ ‘s is people. This means that you will have to know all about the people for which your product is produced, demographics like age, preferences, gender, (online) behaviour ect ect. The gaming industry and adjacent shows attract young males, geeky mostly who like booth babes (making out with such a woman is probably their wildest dream). Combine this with location (Tokyo (I keep on typing Tolkien *cough*) for example) where the culture alone is immensely masculine and so different from ours, incl stereotypes of boobs spilling out of small halter tops and so on. It is aimed at that market, but I yet have to meet a male gamer who doesn’t go like TSG? Booth Babes! The E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo, held in LA) has a serious Booth Babe policy where women are clothed more modestly, but are still allowed to have big breasts.

    Now back to the eye candy for women (as if the Armani commercial’s who are always without doubt delicious). Such commercials are more for a female audience since studies have shown that it are the female’s who purchase the male grooming products. They are the main buyers Armani for example want to ‘seduce’ into buying their products. The commercials made are not aimed at pleasing the average man, but more for the one who would actually buy such things. What I was trying to say (but failed miserably at) is that marketers will design their sales strategy at potential buyers. Having sexy women at the booth at conventions like the TSG is part of that, or at the E3, still women at the stands, but more modestly dressed par American standards. The gaming culture is very testosterone driven and smart marketers know that sexy women will make sure that an audience shows up at their booth or will watch a product presentation. What I am just wondering about is why it is sexism suddenly if such a thing is part of the nation culture and adjacent target group: the gamers. I really see no harm in such a thing, let them have their fun. I am most certainly am enjoying the perfume commercials with hunky men all the same, I don’t hear any complaints from my other half (who likes to watch game shows with game news, including about the TGS and E3, the things you do learn with a geeky husband).

  8. Dawn says:

    Yes … but none of that is “done on company time,” which was why I have trouble understanding the leap between “sex in advertising is okay” (I just typed “advertising in sex is okay”–no it’s not! :P) and “adult entertainment in the workplace is okay.” I do think that sex in advertisement is okay. I have no problem with ads that use sex or gaming conventions that use sex … if I want to avoid those things and the communities that support them, then it is my choice to do so. But if I have to be at a meeting for my job and, suddenly, three women in bikinis are gyrating their asses all over my coworkers then, yes, that is problematic to me. For one, my consent in such a pursuit is questionable. If I get up and leave, will I still have my job? Secondly, those same men whose eyes are glazing over and whose minds are reverting* back to the women = boobs = sex mindset that we have not left that far behind us will, in a half-hour time, when the bikini chicks are out of the room, have to relate to me, a young woman who’s not unattractive or poorly built. Can I trust them to relate to me as a professional after that? Can I even trust my safety after that? What I know of social psychology says no. It’s similar to showing an interview board a half-hour of videos of Blacks committing crimes and then expecting them to be impartial when interviewing a Black candidate. We have enough trouble suppressing our ugly biases without deliberately priming them.

    (* And I’m being generous when I say “reverting.” I can’t speak for elsewhere, but the attitudes hold in the good ol’ US of A that women should be 1) subservient to men and 2) if they are harassed or assaulted, then it is their fault. These kinds of entertainment reinforce both belief systems, which are already working against me as a professional female in the US. I really don’t see why any workplace would encourage those outlooks unless they’re trying to be woman-unfriendly.)

    Personally, my mind is in the gutter, and I wish the US would leave its Puritanism in the 17th century where it belongs. 😉 I like sex in stories, movies, shows, and ads. I like seeing beautiful humans, both male and female, in these sources. I think adults should be able to choose their entertainment and, as long as no one is harmed, then that is their business alone. Fellow countryfolk, don’t give me that crap about protecting the children or preserving morality! :) I wish people in my country would stop flipping out over breasts and maybe start thinking more about the number of adverts and programs where people draw weapons on each other during primetime television. But I do draw a line–most emphatically and in thick black magic marker :D–when it comes to adult entertainment in the workplace.

  9. Pink Siamese says:

    Okay, I’m a bisexual chick—so I like girl parts andboy parts—but I am sick unto death of seeing half-naked babes used to sell EVERYTHING. I’m beyond tired of women’s bodies always always ALWAYS being used as a shorthand for sex. Nine times out of ten, when people talk about “sexualized” advertising, they are talking about half-naked babes selling cheeseburgers, cars, power tools, and fire insurance (and just about any other nonsensical thing you can think of). If we’re going to objectify people, and I’ll hasten to add that I don’t think the objectification of anyone is a good idea—why aren’t we objectifying men as well?

  10. Rhapsody says:

    I think that the lines are blurred as to what happens on gaming conventions, for some of the audience it is work, for others it is free time. A lot of business is done during such gatherings.

    I’ve worked in IT companies for most of my career and therefore recall at all if scantility clothed women or strip tease acts were performed during gatherings, projects kick offs and such. What tactic makes a sale, be it during business hours or not (Pandë’s story for example): it obviously works. It makes people remember, a product presentation works well because an appeal is made to what we desire (be it an commercial or a sales presentation). As long if the decision makers are male, such tactics will be used, since it obviously works the same for women (only different methods, however I do still recall a good looking Jehova witness instead of his female colleagues). Sex sells, whether we approve of it or not. Would they use that tactic if females are attending such meetings? Would they risk loosing such a contract?

    I do think your (business) culture is male driven, it does say a lot where violence is not looked down upon (it feels as if it is almost refered), but when a male shows up naked on the screen, the audience is appalled. It also presents a strange picture where rapper vids will show busty women girating their ass in front of the camera and yet it is preferred that what appears on the screen should be chaste. What is there just below the chaste surface that appears to be the social norm? I feel sad and disheartened when I read this:
    Rape case to force US defence firms into the open or when I stumble upon a site like this: Republicans for rape.

  11. SurgicalSteel says:

    @Pande: The hilarious thing about the pharma-babes is that over half of graduating physicians in the US are now female, and most of them heterosexual – and nothing’s more likely to turn us off than a bimbo in a too-high skirt who can’t answer any questions about the drug she’s peddling with anything other than ‘I’ve got some articles for you!’ Because seriously? I have MD Consult and I can find medical research articles myself.

    @Dawn: Does medical geekitude count? 😉 In my first training program, hiring strippers for the male attendings’ birthdays was something we were sort of expected to pitch in and help fund. In my second training program, the only women who successfully finished residency were widely rumored to have given oral pleasure to the program director (one even got a job there post-residency, which made us all wonder what else she’d done). It was even joked about, because the program director’s name was Richard, but he went by ‘Dick.’

    That sort of thing’s starting to change, but it’s still out there.

    And I think you can imagine the kind of shit I got in high-school for being the bespectacled retainer-wearing, RPG-playing, Dr. Who and Star Trek watching, Tolkien-loving, and Latin-studying little geek that I was. 😉

  12. Lady Roisin says:

    I know I’m wandering a bit late into the party here, but I know we discussed this kind of thing recently, Dawn, and I wanted to chime in.

    I too have noticed the sexisim in the “geekier” arenas. I was at our local renaissance faire this weekend. People always have a tendancy to get “cheeky” and it’s part of the culture to be a bit flirtatious. But I watched a performer this weekend and I was actually uncomfortable watching him because he was clearly taking it too far, reaching into his assistant’s top, touching her breasts and hips, making comments that would get him slapped if he used them in a bar. I know the “copious amounts of cleavage” doesn’t help things much, but every single time a guy went overboard was at a renaissance faire or sci fi convention, not a bar or club.

    I attend Comic Con every year and I don’t know which bothers me more, the large amount of guys acting like dogs, or the girls who come to the convention wearing the legal bare minimum and are not only ok with guys treating them like a piece of meat, but encourage it. A woman in a meditculously made costume will never get the same recognition as the girls tromping around in itty bitty bikinos and high heels. They’re ok with guys coming grabbing their butts and breasts. It’s not the skimy costumes I have an issue with so much as the attitudes a lot of these women seem to wear along with them. I’ve seen that same thing happen in a bar and the guy got his rear handed to him by the girl he grabbed.

    I had a similar experience to you once at a sci fi convention. I was wearing a full length vinyl dress (not the most conservative outfit, but not the most scandalous one either.) This one guy, had no idea who he was, came up to me and literally pulled the front of my dress down so my breasts were exposed, thankfully I had a strapless bra on so I wasn’t fully exposed. But still, how uncool was that! Fortunately for me security was close by and I demanded the perv get kicked out of the convention. But what about the other girls he possibly did this to earlier in the day when security “wasn’t” within sight? The thought of that always bothered me. And what happened to you, Dawn, was totally inapporpriate. And while these men aren’t going for assualt or to frighten people, it’s still equally uncalled for.

    I’m just tossing out some of my theories here based on what I’ve seen over the years of interacting in the “geek world”. I think a lot of these guys are enormously self concious and many of the ones I’ve spoken to are actually intimidated by women. Combine that with the societal presure for men to be “macho” and regular images of unrealistic female proportions, not to mention depictions of fictional female characters that are not only accepting of men treating them like meat, but encourage it. That gives a very confusing message.

    Not only is this confusing message misleadng for men, but women too. Because men find these unrealstic deptictions of women sexy, I’ve seen a lot of women in the geeky communities trying to mimic that same behavior of the fictional female characters so they can be viewed as sexy by the men.

    This leads me into mentioning the trend I often see that disturbs me a great deal. And that is women presuring other women in the geeky communities to allow men to treat them like objects. 90% of the time when a guy was taking things too far he would stop when I said flat out he was being inapporpriate and to stop. But sometimes this behavior happens with other women around, and sometimes the women will actually encourage the guy to be inapporpriate.

    If a woman objects in that situation, then the women egging the guy on will immediatly accuse you of being a prude, or worse, they’ll justify the inapporpriateness because you’re dressed in an outfit that shows even a hint of skin. I can say with full confidence that I am probably as far from a prude as you can get. But that desn’t mean that I am ok with men (or women) crossing my boundaries without my consent.

    Sometimes even the women will join in with the inapporpriate touching. I’ve had a few times where a woman came up to me and started licking my breasts or shoved her tongue down my throat. One of my exes had spread around the local geeky community that I was bisexual. While I could care less whether people thought I was bisexual or straight, but someone’s orientation doesn’t give the automatic right to others to cross boundaries. A lot of these girls would pretend to be bisexual to attract men, which I find immensely offensive because that’s just furthering a false stereotype that all bisexual women are promicuous bullies.

    So my big question is why do woen have to either be labeled as prudes, or if they want to wear even a hint of a sexually alluring outfit, then they have to be ok with being treated like meat? Why can’t there be a happy medium? Why do these women who wear the ultra skimpy outfits at Comic Con encourage men to treat them like sexual toys? I wish that they would understand that the men aren’t admiring them so much as treating them like disposable objects. I think if woen took back their power, a lot of this would start to change.

    The good thing is there ‘are” female run organizations within the sci fi/fantasy groups who are pushing for a more “female friendly” attitude towards women in the media shown at events like Comic Con and they support artists who are showing a more realistic and empowering message with their female (and sometimes even male) characters. I think organizations like that are so important and needed in this day and age. I think it’s immensely important for men and women both to see that woman can be sexy, and even erotic, without becoming objects.

    You were mentioning the busty figures you used to paint. I too ave seen those and wonder how those figures would walk if they were real people. While the problem is most problematic with female forms, male figures aren’t exempt either. Look at the difference between the Luke Skywalker action figure from 1977 versus the one that was released in 1983, versus the one released in 1998. The latest ones don’t even look like Mark Hamil at all. Sadly a lot of this hyper masclunation of heros in comics and sci fi/fantasy is due in part to the thinly veiled homophobia that is ever present among American males. So in the end, men are enslaving themselves too. It’s all really sad, especially amongst groups of people tht are often highly intelligent and an enviroment where creativity should be encouraged.

    Phew, that was long. But this is an excellent topic!!!

  13. Lady Roisin says:

    Erm……Nevermind. Looks like I came to the party too late……Sorry. I always seem to come into discussions too late. :-(

  14. Niki says:

    Lady Roisin–have to say I appreciate your first comment (but don’t have anything constructive to add at the moment). :)

  15. Dawn says:

    Roisin, I make every effort to reply to comments no matter when they’re left as soon as I can. I have been extremely overwhelmed with schoolwork lately. All of the folks I have fannish and creative relationships with have had to put up with long response times from me. I apologize for that, but there’s really nothing I can do. I promise that, as soon as I have more free time, your comment will get the reply that it deserves. I do appreciate everyone taking the time to comment on my work even when I can’t necessarily give the deserved replies as quickly as I would like.

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