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Rearing its ugly head again

gohanvox posted this link on FB about geeks being misogynistic, judgmental f*cktards, and as I commented when bam2's brother Chris also linked it, "Everything old is new again, unfortunately."

Sometimes I get tired of talking about this (and probably my longtime readers get tired of me talking about it too) but fans in general (and anime fans in particular) don't have a very good grip on the annoying and confusing history of fandom and how it dealt with the wider world of pop culture. (Short verion: cowering retreat.) Also, since a lot of the new fans are coming into a community notorious for its horrible social skills, I guess it's not too surprising that some of them are reacting exactly like the people they hated in the culture they were trying to get away from. I will concede that not all the bad behavior is coming from "veteran" fans, either; our winning the culture wars has increased the number of divas, drunks, and other asshats who never learned how to be polite at our conventions, with predictable results.

The problem from a convention staffing standpoint is that there's really not much you can do, officially, to deal with stupid cruelty like this until it gets completely out of hand and blows up into epic drama with the potential to completely ruin the convention. I had to deal with this one year at Detour; one young lady (we'll call her D) got to a point where she was so sick and tired of the treatment she was getting from her "friends" in her school anime club that she ditched them - which led to panic when their parent chaperone realized that one of her charges had disappeared. An APB within the convention followed, and Security found D without too much trouble - she turned out to be sitting in an out-of-the-way corner of the hotel quietly talking with somebody she'd met, who was absolutely terrified to be accosted by convention security and "invited" up to Ops for a short conversation with the Chairman. When I realized there was no crisis, just drama, I damn near blew a gasket. I wound up having a "come to Jesus" talk with the club members responsible for all this BS, and I was in full brimstone-and-hellfire mode. Fortunately the chaperone was on board with my little sermon, but I would have lit into them anyway. Back then, my mantra was "the convention comes first", and if I'd had to blacklist every one of those spoiled little coeds, I would have done it in a heartbeat, because the alternative would have been to open up the convention to all manner of ugly rumors and liability. And that's about all you can do, unfortunately, because the kind of people that do stupid, cruel things like that don't respond to anything less.

I ran into D a year later at Convergence when I was working in Programming, and she thanked me for reorienting those girls' headspaces and giving her a boost to her self-confidence. Hopefully she's still doing okay.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 27th, 2012 09:30 am (UTC)
This answers a question I was going to ask you, I think.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 27th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
Heh. It can wait until the next time I see you, I think. Not that it's terribly personal or anything like that, but it's dependent on me getting this bidness thing off the ground.
Aug. 27th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
I have similar rules, though they're so deeply internalized I don't really think about them. It's more a "woman in public spaces" thing than "woman at an SF/F con" thing.

I also always travel with known friends/acquaintances, which is why more often than not if I'm at a convention there's a block of 2-4 people hovering near me.
Aug. 27th, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
I don't recall running into women at cons who were any less versed than men.

Mind you, I didn't get into the con scene much until I got published, and at 42 most of the initial hormone rush had pretty much worn off, so maybe I'm overlooking an element of resentment due to sexual frustration. I doubt that explains all of what's described. On the other hand, what's described is far more than I have ever witnessed myself, so I suspect an artifact of observation: the writer went in looking for something, and once he looked long enough he found it-- or convinced himself he had.

The reaction to mundanes showing up is real, and far less extreme than they deserve. I cannot begin to enumerate the occasions when some mundane asked me, "What do you like?" and, when I replied, "Science fiction," nodded wisely at me and said, "Oh. Ray Bradbury!" in precisely the tone and manner of a Central New Guinea headhunting cannibal who, having heard that I drive a car, would seek to convey to me his easy familiarity with the subject by saying, "Oh. Stanley Steamer!"

Be it said: this was, in its day, possibly the best vehicle on any well-paved road. Its biggest appeal was to people who believed (incorrectly) that they understood how it worked, because its power sounded familiar. Of course, there were far too many things it could not be adapted to do, and too many places it could never go, so it never became a significant part of traffic.

(I am not certain where I left off with the metaphor, or if indeed I have.)

The thing is, the fen are very like mutants in the Marvel universe, rejected for their strangeness, forming their own society, and becoming something far more interesting, at least, than what they were driven away from. When the outside world intrudes on this, all of a sudden Magneto starts looking pretty good.
Aug. 27th, 2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
Well, a lot of the problems described in the article are more prevalent at anime and comic cons, I suspect; at mainstream SF conventions there are few enough costumers so that you don't see this kind of snottiness.

The false consciousness of their (nonexistent) superiority exhibited by the people the article is talking about is indeed of long standing ("fans are slans" and other such BS) but I think trying to divide fandom between "old hands" and "mundanes" is an exercise in futility. There are second and third generation fans who don't know enough about SF and fantasy as some newcomers who have been reading/watching movies for decades; where do they get off acting superior? Likewise, cosplayers who put on airs because they're "professionals". Very few people in fandom have any room to be looking down on anyone else, even the fans who have become filthy pros. I respect people like you and the late Bob Tucker, but I'm not about to sit still for being patronized, or tolerate obnoxious behavior in my presence.

The great irony in all this, which you seem to have missed, is that a lot of people dishing out the abuse and drama were, as you say, on the receiving end during their younger days, and are continuing the cycle by taking out their frustrations on new chums instead of finding their original tormentors and exacting vengeance. And so the Great Wheel turns, bringing forth a fresh crop of pain and misery. Good going there, fandom. *golf clap*

Edited at 2012-08-27 08:22 pm (UTC)
Aug. 27th, 2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
The problem is real in this and other areas, and has been labeled "Breaking the cycle of abuse".

And labeling is pretty much as far as it's gotten....
Aug. 27th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
I think parts of fandom are starting to move on to arguing about what needs to be done. There's a lot less tolerance for creepy stalker behavior than there used to be, so there's that.
Aug. 28th, 2012 01:20 am (UTC)
D'you suppose that means the admin at Wikipedia who was stalking me will quit renewing the ban?...

Aug. 28th, 2012 02:24 am (UTC)
I couldn't possibly care less about Wikipedia. I've run conventions and have some concerns about where fandom (and, by extension, the culture at large) is going.
Aug. 28th, 2012 05:13 am (UTC)
Sorry; I don't take it lightly, I'm just easily distracted.
Aug. 29th, 2012 05:03 am (UTC)
"And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by
From this day to the ending of the world
But we in it shall be remembered.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For any man who sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother. Be he ne'er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentle men in England, now abed
Shall think themselves accurst they were not here
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day."
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )



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