Robot 6 has an excellent roundtable up about girls and fandom and the drama over Twilight “invading” comic-con. I’m posting a few excerpts here, with my thoughts, but you really should read the whole thing.
Robin Brenner: I find it especially distressing that the SDCC crowd, made up of fans who have been typically dismissed and marginalized by the larger culture including comics fans, fantasy fans, and sci-fi fans, seem to think it’s perfectly warranted to dump on fans who you would think they have a lot more in common with than traits to divide them.
I’ve seen this over and over again, though, in groups gathered around everything from punk rock to politics. When you’re marginalized from the larger culture, in part by choice but in a much larger part than we’d like to admit, not by choice, it’s easy to try to police your boundaries. Maybe it even gives you a better sense that you ARE different because you choose to be and not because your peers don’t understand your passion for the Misfits/Dennis Kucinich/Superman/Twilight. In other words, maybe enforcing the “no girls allowed” clubhousey nature of certain parts of comic fandom makes comic fans feel more special. Groups often define themselves by what they aren’t, after all.
Kate Dacey: The other thing that bothers me about these statements is that many of the folks dissing Twilight have never read it or watched the movie, yet they feel perfectly qualified to assess its merits solely on the basis of who likes it. Teen girls love it, ergo it must be junk.
I’ve taken this on myself, and I still believe it’s true. Listen, ain’t no one arguing you have to like Twilight. But if you haven’t read the damn thing, how do you know it’s crap? It sounds entirely too much like the people who go “You read COMIC BOOKS?” at my day job(s).
Eva Volin: The librarian half of my brain wants to sit the fanboys down and explain to them about the birds and the bees, about brain development, and the statistics on reading patterns and buying habits of girls vs. boys. To remind them that teenage girls have expendable incomes, too, and ask if they’d really rather the girls spend that money somewhere else, like at a chain bookstore, or Hot Topic, or on eBay. Or at the booths in the dealers rooms where they sell cell phone charms of Naruto characters or the twins from Ouran High School Host Club. The librarian half of my brain wants to reason with people who would rather stomp their feet than get with the program and embrace this new generation of fan—a generation who, if encouraged, could save the comics industry.
Um, what she said.
Volin, cont’d: That because I have two X chromosomes I need to have sequential art explained to me in small words and if I’m in a comic book shop it must be because I’m there to buy books for my son or nephew. And to all of that I say, “Bite. Me.”
I’m going to SDCC. I’m going to line up to see the panels I’m interested in. I’m going to cheer for the artists whose work I enjoy. I’m going to ask questions and get autographs and maybe even do a little cosplaying. And I’m going to spend money at booths that have the merchandise I’m interested in. Lots of money. And if you don’t want my business, don’t worry. Call it women’s intuition, but I’ll be able to tell. And I’ll remember. And I’ll take my business, as well as my nieces’ and their friends’ business, to someone else’s booth.
Exactly this. Over the years, I’ve grown exceptionally good at navigating comic shops and the varied reactions of the employees/owners. And I remember each clerk who was condescending, who was rude, and I took my money elsewhere. I’m still here, reading and writing about comics, because I love them and I believe in the medium AND the industry. I am quite certain there’s a place for me in this world. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some of the most overt sexism I’ve ever dealt with in my life has come my way through comics. And I don’t mean Wonder Woman’s costume.
So, con-goers and fans, think about all of this when you’re at SDCC and you roll your eyes at the squealing teenage girls (and trust me, I don’t like listening to squealing either). Those girls have money and just as much right to be there as you do. And it couldn’t hurt to be nice to them.