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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh, You Sexy Geek! - Comic-Con 2011



First off, let me just say I had such a great time!  I traveled down to San Diego with actor, musician and radio DJ Stu Stone, film producer Joey Horvitz and my hubby.  We co-hosted a party on Wednesday night with Action Chick, GeekNation.com and Blazin' Hot.  Taryn Manning was asked to DJ the party, however, technical issues with The Hard Rock's sound system wreaked havoc and prevented that from happening, even after her big introduction by Stu.  I felt terrible for Taryn, she is so talented and like most artists, only wants to express herself... Ether way, it was great having her at the party, accompanied by our mutual good friend Mercedes McNabb, along with many others that I would consider new and old friends.  For the ride home, somehow we lost Stu Stone and gained Nicholas Brendon, which led to a 50 pack of chicken nuggets and a few strawberry pies.... Boys will be boys... Which leads to another topic.


Now, about the "Oh, You Sexy Geek!" panel...

I wouldn't call this a recap, 'cause it's not... I only want to touch on a few elements of the panel that is getting quite a bit of buzz on the internet, both negatively and positively.

Let me start by saying, what a lovely bunch of people with me on the panel... All of them.  I had such a great time and it's always such an honor to be asked to be on one of these panels.  The panel was assembled by Katrina Hill a.k.a Action Chick and its obvious intention was to touch on a few issues regarding cosplay, sexuality, objectifying, feminism and hate - success!  No one was trying to cure cancer or get their face on the next dollar coin.

Personally, I didn't have much to say; at times I tend to speak too much, other times I don't... Aren't all of us this way?  This doesn't mean I did or didn't agree, nor does it mean that I don't have an opinion.  Truthfully, I enjoyed listening to the panel and I felt myself listening in as though I was in the crowd.  I believe the subject became more than I ever thought it would and the crowd seemed more engaged than I expected.  This is a good thing, right?  Well, kinda... Now what I'm seeing written on some blogs, calling out Bonnie, Adrianne and Clare (Grant) are ridiculous, leaving me wishing I could Quantum Leap back into the panel, just to make sure people understood what these girls were saying and the context of the discussion.

Let me start by saying, the fact that these girls have the {replace balls with tits} to get up and speak their minds breaks all walls of traditional feminist expectations.

And before I go on, let me tell you a few things about myself:

I graduated from NYU in three years.
My parents are about to have their 40th anniversay.
I have an amazing relationship with my only sibling.
I LOVE my mother-in-law.
I've been in a relationship with my soul-mate for 12 years, married for almost 7.
The day my husband tries to own me is the day I will leave him.
I strongly support equal rights.
I am pro-choice.
My sister spent Comic-Con weekend marrying gay couples in NY.
I'm deeply involved with raising two beautiful daughters and I still work and travel.
I have no enemies that I'm aware of.
I do yoga at least once a day, yet only wear a bikini in certain public situations.
I dress fairly reserved but I'd do Playboy, depending on the style of the shoot.
I try very hard to be respectful to all those I meet.

In other words, I feel I am a very good representation of what the feminist movement was, is or should be and I heard nothing from my co-panelists that constitutes bitterness, frustration or anger.  Let me clarify a few comments that were made in an effort to shed some light:

At one point Jennifer Stuller brought up the question of media literacy, which Clare Grant responded to with "I don't read magazines".  Clare is in the public eye and her view is going to be completely different than others.  What's wrong with this response?  She was CLEARLY trying to say, I will not allow certain media to bring me down.  Isn't that the goal?  I don't think Jennifer was offended and I don't think Clare insulted women, or downplayed the importance of the media's impact.  She was giving her own personal message that: hey, if it bothers you, you don't have to listen and you especially don't have to contribute to the success of those magazines.

One site (http://www.feministfatale.com/2011/07/comic-con-recap-oh-you-sexy-geek/) posted a link of a video that Seth did as a PSA.  Ironically, isn't this video (below) saying the exact same thing that Clare G. was saying? 



Others are also angry at Bonnie and Adrianne for blaming certain women/girls because they both elaborated on another panelist's statement, saying that females who ridicule other females for wearing costumes are insecure and lack self-esteem.  Obviously, their statements are being taken out of context, as usual.  I was there, I know exactly what they were saying - Their statements were directly referring to those who are mean in their statements and obviously try to hurt people.  For arguments sake, let's they they weren't taken out of context and that is their opinion...  Or that is their experiences with other girls being mean or hateful.  Are they wrong for having an opinion?  Or are they wrong for having those experiences with hateful people?  That was their attempt at being empowering, telling other women in the audience to not be hurt or affected by these hateful people.  Somehow, other people have figured out a way to twist their meaning or their intentions, doing exactly what they were warning about.  The good side of this is, they are smart and mature women who will ignore this hate.

Sadly, some people only hear what they want to hear.  This was a panel of artists, giving their personal opinions as if they were standing in front of a mirror.  Not to harm, disgrace, insult and certainly not to degrade women.  Again, I barely said a word - That is not a disclaimer, I say this so that you who are reading understand that I am not defending anything I said, I am defending what I would liked to have said.

I'm a firm believer in the/a feminist movement, as long as it doesn't cross the line.  There is a responsibility that comes with any voice; a responsibility that has to have a balance.  Every opinion and battle must take into consideration other people's rights, views and feelings.  Anything short of that is near-sided and can easily produce a level of censorship.

Let me end with Chris Gore's inappropriate statement of "... stick my penis in every female on this panel."  Personally, I laughed.  So what?  The only thing he could be accused of in that moment is bad humor.  The comment was CLEARLY made as a satire of the panel's subject matter, not an effort to degrade women.  To play devil's advocate, so what if he did mean otherwise?  Should we put emphasis on caring?  I'm not defending Chris, I don't even know him, I only met Chris on Thurs, after the panel.  I'm only saying that Chris is not the President, nor is he The Speaker of the House... He's not even Vice President (that was a joke), he is a TV host and comedian.  Congrats to him for having the {replace tits with balls} to get on a panel with 7 other women to discuss this topic. 

I guess my point is, relax people.  Objectifying women has always been a serious and sensitive subject, one that I take very seriously.  However, I've also learned to choose my battles.  I'd like to believe that in most situations I handle myself strong, professionally and always respectful of women.  I love being a woman and never want to do anything to insult the women who fought to give me a voice.  With that said, I've also learned that fighting in a fight that is not a fight, leaves me fighting with myself (sounds more like Sphinx from Mystery Men than Confucius)... And that, my friends, can do much more damage as a whole.

To me, based on much of what I'm reading on other blogs, if anything is going to continue to degrade women, it's women... That statement sounds very similar to what Adrianne and Bonnie were saying... Oops, it looks like I agree!

I would like to believe that with all of our different views and all the varied personalities from our panel, from Adrianne to Jennifer, that we all at least respected one another's opinions - That we all shook hands, said our goodbyes and walked away with a certain admiration for one another.  Isn't that the point?  Isn't that the sole purpose for a diverse group such as this to get together?  To learn from one another?  If nothing else, to part with kind words?  I would much rather learn from one another in moments like this, than to completely misread a person's statements or intentions, only because it fits better with an agenda or a lame attempt at negativity.  Wouldn't you?

A special thanks to our moderator and organizer Katrina Hill and my fellow panel members Bonnie Burton, Adrianne Curry, Clare Grant, Jill Pantozzi, Kiala Kazebee, Jennifer K. Stuller and Chris Gore.

To everyone, please try to love, accept and respect one another, despite our different beliefs... Wouldn't that be beautiful?

Respectfully,

Clare
xoxo


9 comments:

  1. This is a really even-handed, clear response to some of the criticisms being posted, and I appreciate a perspective coming from inside the panel. I don't agree with all of the points above (see: http://suzannescott.wordpress.com/), but that's also kind of a beautiful thing, no? ;)

    Here's the deal with the Chris Gore comments. For me, it was completely an issue of tone. Literally all of his contributions (which many, including myself, found to be uncomfortably sexist and demeaning to the panelists and the audience) were about getting a quick, cheap laugh and directing attention to himself. There was no content there, and the content that was there made me question his presence on the panel.

    Some found his remarks funny? Great. But his "contributions" (however minimal) seemed to repeatedly that this topic wasn't to be taken seriously. That the panelists shouldn't be taken seriously. And I'm all for levity, Bonnie was bringing that in spades, but she managed to do so in a way that was both on topic and insightful. The same can't be said for Gore.

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  2. This is a really even-handed, clear response to some of the criticisms being posted, and I appreciate a perspective coming from inside the panel. I don't agree with all of the points above (see: http://suzannescott.wordpress.com/), but that's also kind of a beautiful thing, no? ;)

    Here's the deal with the Chris Gore comments. For me, it was completely an issue of tone. Literally all of his contributions (which many, including myself, found to be uncomfortably sexist and demeaning to the panelists and the audience) were about getting a quick, cheap laugh and directing attention to himself. There was no content there, and the content that was there made me question his presence on the panel.

    Some found his remarks funny? Great. But his "contributions" (however minimal) seemed to repeatedly that this topic wasn't to be taken seriously. That the panelists shouldn't be taken seriously. And I'm all for levity, Bonnie was bringing that in spades, but she managed to do so in a way that was both on topic and insightful. The same can't be said for Gore.

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  3. The comment was CLEARLY made as a satire of the panel's subject matter, not an effort to degrade women. To play devil's advocate, so what if he did mean otherwise? Should we put emphasis on caring?

    As a guy, one of the things that bothered me was, it was almost the only contribution he made to the panel - it was certainly the loudest. Had he followed up the joke with some sort of explanation of his actual feelings re: representations of sensuality in his industry, that would have provided some much-needed context. I'm certainly not anti-satire or anti-humor, but it's not a cure-all for saying whatever comes to mind. Especially not when he was, what, 30-40 minutes late and just grabbed the mic out of nowhere? As Suzanne said, Gore came off very tone-deaf, and that should be called out.

    At one point Jennifer Stuller brought up the question of media literacy, which Clare Grant responded to with "I don't read magazines". Clare is in the public eye and her view is going to be completely different than others. What's wrong with this response? She was CLEARLY trying to say, I will not allow certain media to bring me down. Isn't that the goal?

    I think the problem - and time constraints certainly contributed to it - is that it didn't come out very clearly at all. Her viewpoint is certainly going to be different than that of somewhat who's not in the public eye, but that didn't come across in her delivery. It also muddied the waters a bit when the panelists used the term "media," commonly associated with the press, to describe images generated by business interests - the modeling industry, the comics industry, etc. One can say, "vote with your wallet," sure, but there's already millions of people who do that, yet the problematic imagery remains.

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  4. i don't read too many blogs as i don't have much spare time but wow...i had to leave the sexy geek panel but had no idea so many things took place while i was gone. I find it interesting people's reactions in general.... but what i find even more amazing is that at least we live in a place where women can express their opinions.. i've lived in places where women are nothing more than second class citizens and not even allowed to drive, look at men straight in the eye and not allowed to dress like some of the panel members were etc etc.. and even here in the US some of our rights that so many other women have fought for are being taken away this very second...if we dont speak up well we know what will happen...

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  5. I find it so sad that things seemed to be taken out of context on what was a delightful and at the same time informative panel.

    Chris Gore was in bad taste maybe but he was the only male there and so his views were always going to be different and, if feminist, maybe false. He was brave to join in at all so bad humour was his crime.

    he "I don't read magazines" comment was a statement true for her, not intended as a you are silly if you do' remark. It seemed (to me)to be in the same vein as Bonnies "cosplay as a building" comment.

    It was not going to solve the debate but the reactions amaze and (as a woman) sadden me.

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  6. As women not only integrate fully into the concept of geek culture, but integrate as a varied set of personalities, belief systems, points of view, body types, etc., there are going to be conflicts. We're not all one thing or ONLY one thing, (IMO, this was kind of the point of the discussion.) My perception of Mr. Gore's statement, particularly as he'd just walked in the room, late, was that it was extremely jarring and without context. . . discomfiting to me. This panel was never going to be all things to all people, because there is a lot of ground to cover. Women have always been geeks, but we haven't always been accepted as such. The modes of gender and sexual expression are a bone of contention for many women, and with so many people on the panel, I felt like there was going to be difficulty fitting everyone and every point in. That so much coverage has been slanted, has been disappointing. We seem to be having difficulty seeing the forest for the trees. I think this means we need to keep having the conversations.

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  7. Thank you for your post, Clare. I realize that there are going to be different perspectives and opinions about the discussion that took place -- some felt invigorated by it, some disappointed, some perhaps slightly confused, and if just a few were encouraged to think more about the issues raised in the panel, then I think it was a discussion that was worth having.

    One line in your recap really stood out for me: This was a panel of artists, giving their personal opinions as if they were standing in front of a mirror.

    I think the reason some were disappointed is because this was not what they expected. I expected a panel of smart women integrating their own experiences into a wider discussion. I wish they had shifted their gaze from the surface of the mirror to the depths of the community around them. Clare Grant, in saying that she doesn't read magazines, perhaps was saying that she wasn't letting depictions of women influence her, but she also seemed to show a lack of perspective. Other people see these portrayals of women, and isn't it possible that the depictions of women in media affect how women are treated and perceived in the world? How does that treatment infiltrate women's self-image? And how does that in turn affect their behavior reinforce the received perception of women in society and in geek culture specifically?

    That's what I wanted to hear discussed. I have respect for you and each of the women on the panel, but your specific personalities were not what drew me to the panel. What sparked my interest was seeing how your personalities would add to a discussion and debate -- and that discussion is what I thought the panel lacked. My disappointment stemmed from having an expectation of what the panel would be that wasn't accurate.

    Others did go to the panel for the personalities present, so they were not disappointed.

    As for Chris Gore's comments, two of your co-panelists found them offensive and have publicly called them "reprehensible." Like them, I don't think labeling bad behavior "satire" excuses it. I would examine my own reaction if I had found it funny.

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  8. Well said, Clare. Well said.

    And as for Adrianne Curry...she's from my neck of the woods and I've been a supporter since day one of ANTM. What I found reprehensible was the fact that they threw her out for cosplaying Aeon Flux...but let this woman stay. NSFW warning.

    bit.ly/p3IiBh


    Yes, that's Daenerys from A Game of Thrones. So my question is this: how sexy is TOO sexy and who is the arbiter of what is & isn't sexy these days?

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