Nerds and Male Privilege: Tess Fowler and Comic Harassment

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Nerds and Male Privilege column. But every once in a while, something happens in fandom and the universe provides me with another opportunity to illustrate just what male privilege is and how nerd culture is so often neck-deep in it.

Real talk time: I’m well aware that whenever I post on something touching feminist issues, I get a traffic boost, and it’s easy to say that I write about this sort of thing strictly for the page-views and the insta-cred that it brings me. And considering the people involved, the idea of using feminism as a way to advance one’s career has a certain poetry to it. But here’s the thing: I’m a geek. I love geek culture… especially comics. I love comics as an artform and medium. Some of my favorite stories, the ones that moved me emotionally more than 99% of the canon of Western literature1 came from comics. I even have made an occasional stab at being a creator and publisher. I have been in the trenches and have deep, deep roots in comic fandom and in the industry.

Which is why the comics industry pisses me the hell off in a way that few things can.

... and this is why I shouldn't read Bleeding Cool first thing in the morning.

… and this is why I shouldn’t read Bleeding Cool first thing in the morning.

Because as much as I love the geek culture  as a whole and comics in particular, there are times that I’m reminded that for all the progress we have made, it is still profoundly regressive and ass-backwards in the way it treats the people who take part in it.

But perhaps I get ahead of myself.

Let me back up a little.

Tess Fowler and the Comics Casting Couch

Last month, Tess Fowler  – an accomplished and incredibly talented cartoonist – posted a series of tweets talking about a deeply unpleasant experience with a big-name comics professional that she had at San Diego Comic Con – the biggest comic and pop-culture convention in the United States. The pro in question – who has serious cred, working on some of the biggest titles being published at the moment – claimed to be interested in her work and invited her back to his room under the pretense of “getting to know her better” and possibly helping her with her career.

Tess understood exactly what was being said here – this was a casting couch scenario; play ball (as it were) and perhaps it might get her somewhere, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more. It wasn’t even terribly subtle: according to her tweets, he ran friends of hers off in the middle of a conversation so that he could give her his room number and let her know that he’d be waiting.

When she didn’t respond to his invitation, he pitched a fit on the con floor, yelling at her from his booth and demanding to know why she’d stood him up. Of course, because screaming at someone for not agreeing to blow you wasn’t enough, he later confronted her over Facebook and let her know that a) he never had any intention of helping her career, b) that he thought her art was shit and c) she should consider herself lucky that he was talking to her at all.  

Because nothing says "grown-ass adult" like having a tantrum.

After weeks of various people connecting dots and sharing stories, Tess decided it was time to point fingers and name names.

Heidi MacDonald of The Beat reached out to Wood when the news broke; he declined to comment at the time and, to the best of my knowledge, still has said nothing about the matter.

(Doctor’s Note 11/15: Brian has since issued a statement on the matter on his site.)

For a lot of fans, this came as a shock. Brian Wood is known for, amongst other things, his feminist credentials in the comics industry. He’s the author on the first all-female X-Men title in Marvel Comics’ history and has helped foster the careers of many women during his tenure as a writer on Conan the Barbarian, Northlanders, and other titles. And yet, others have shared stories of similar treatment at his hands.

Sadly, Tess Fowler’s experience is hardly unique. In fact, this behavior – ranging from the sleazy-but-legal to out and out assault – has been part and parcel of the comics industry for quite some time.

Boobs, Butt-Grabs and Boundaries

I’m lucky to be friends with a lot of insanely talented people in all walks of the comic industry, from up and coming talents, rising stars and established names, writers, artists and publishers… and every woman I know involved in the comics industry has a story similar to Tess’.

Every. Single. One.

Some people have been open about their treatment in comics. One name that comes up over and over again is Julius Schwartz. Schwartz was comics royalty, a contemporary of legends like Carmine Infanto and Joe Kubert – a beloved figure at DC Comics and a critical architect of comic’s Silver Age. Everybody loved “Uncle Julie”, who told the best stories and had the most infectious laugh.  And yet many, many women  – including friends of mine – have stories of “Uncle Julie”. Stories about his wandering hands, or trying to force a kiss from them… or worse. “Uncle Julie” also assaulted a young female comic artist in a limousine and had sexually harassed several other women working in comics at the time.

But hey, who’re you gonna believe? The beloved creator of The Flash, Hawkman and the Green Lantern, or a couple of chicks?

Even allowing for such shitty behavior on the part of old men, you might be forgiven for thinking that this was all in the past – an ugly but ultimately finite point in comics history… if it had ever actually, y’know. Ended.

Men in positions of power and authority – creators, editors and publishers, convention runners – making passes and unwelcome remarks or trying to manipulate young and impressionable female creators into sex… talk to enough women in comics and you’d think you were hearing about the goings-on at Sterling Cooper, not about conventions in 2013.

There is still a part of me that blames Pepe Le Pew for this.

If you ask that creator, she might tell you of the never-ending stream of micro-aggressions and diminutive treatment from older male creators. She might tell you about the  boundary-pushing behavior,  the multiple “How about dinner? No? Maybe breakfast then, heh heh”  come-ons, the constant “I’m only kidding, don’t take it so seriously… unless you’re into it” propositions. She might tell you about the creators who would grab her ass during an otherwise “friendly” hug or about the co-worker who insisted that if he was going to keep working with her, she had to be “nicer to him” as he leans into her personal space.

The cosplayers may tell you about the big-name photographer who keeps pushing for a “private” photo session. The Asian-American creators may tell you about the creator with a self-confessed “yen for Orientals”2 or the ones who would go on and on and on about how Asian women are so much better than white women because they know how to treat their men.

She might tell you about the creator who pushed and pushed at the idea of her having a threesome with him and his wife, or the time she had to share a room with another professional only to find him standing over her bed in the middle of the night with a condom in his hand. You might hear about the con employee who would try to force long, lingering hugs out of female guests, or the one wanted to demonstrate his “massage tool” on her in his room. There were pros who exposed themselves, who groped up and coming artists in hot tubs and in stairwells or who would reach out and grab her breasts on the con floor .

And these aren’t just fans or socially maladjusted friends and acquaintances, these are their idols, their co-workers, their editors, bosses and mentors. People whom you might expect to behave with some manner of decorum and a bare minimum of professionalism and decency.

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an underlying part of the culture. Again, I stress that this isn’t just a one-off incident, the deplorable but rare occasion. This is so common that just about every woman in the industry has had something happen to her or is close to someone to whom it has happened.

As Fowler herself said:

The behavior of the man in question is considered normal in this business. And the few people who know about it consider it to be my fault for “falling for it” when he feigned interest in my work. In my pursuit of doing this work professionally I ran a gauntlet of this sort of thing.

Of course, you may hear about it from an individual… but it’s rare that such behavior becomes more than a poorly-kept secret. Everyone may know about it, but nobody’s willing to talk. And that’s part of the problem.

The Culture of Silence

This behavior is enabled by an overwhelming culture of silence, especially when it comes to bad behavior amongst pros.  Women are already socialized to be nice, to be deferential, to avoid attracting attention to themselves and to not make waves…. and this becomes even more pronounced in comics. Comics is an incredibly small industry, where getting a job is as much about your ability to network, make contacts and build relationships as much as it is about sheer talent. A person who’s easy to work with and can hit his or her deadlines is even more highly valued than the temperamental but brilliant writer or the popular illustrator who can’t get his pages turned in on time to save his life. For many women, it’s less daunting to not speak up out of fear of being blacklisted or being labeled “difficult”. It becomes even more of an intimidating prospect when the person who’s been harassing you (or worse) is entrenched in the power structure – a big-name pro, an editor, someone who has more pull in the industry than his accuser.

“I’ve never spoken publicly about my shitty experiences in comics because I’m small potatoes and people would just say I’m looking for attention or whatever,” as one of my friends told me.

There's a joke in this about an industry built on secret identities.

There’s a joke in this about an industry built on secret identities.

When many women do speak up, they often immediately come under fire, especially if they name names. Colleen Doran and Lea Hernandez both found this out first hand when they spoke out publicly about the harassment that they’ve faced over the course of their careers and almost immediately faced an epic shitstorm of outrage. They were accused of being liars, of being attention whores, of being overly sensitive or just plain crazy.

The irony of calling Colleen – who, amongst other things, had to deal with a stalker for more than two decades –  overly sensitive about shitty behavior from men is especially harsh.

As a result, women usually have to rely on a network of whispers to know who is cool and who to avoid, who is safe, who is a genuinely good guy and which people you should never be alone with. It becomes a “missing stair” problem – everyone is so used to having to leap over that missing stair that they don’t think about it until somebody who wasn’t warned trips and gets hurt.

And the damage it does – to both women individually and to comics as a whole – is immense. This behavior grinds down even the strongest and brightest, destroying their confidence and self-esteem. It chases some of the best and brightest talent out of the industry – and why should they want to take part in a system that continually tells them that they’re only there to be decorative, to be a consumable sexual object? Much like the “fake geek girl” label, it becomes another way of minimizing and othering women, preventing them from participating fully within a fandom they love – both as fans and as creators.

 Man Up

And thus we come to the male privilege aspect of the post. Comics – and fandom in general – is an incredibly male-oriented culture. The vast majority of movers, shakers, deal-makers and power-brokers are men… and we simply don’t face these issues by virtue of our gender. Women are forced to knuckle down and endure it; men get to skate by blithely without noticing that it’s happening at all.

And we’re also in a position to help make it all stop.

One of the ongoing issues with harassment in comics – and at conventions in general – is that the onus is put on women to avoid the bad actors; it’s about “not letting yourself be harassed” rather than not allowing the harassment to happen in the first place. In her post “Comic Guys, Harassment and Missing Stairs”, Rachel Edidin, a former editor at Dark Horse Comics correctly points out that whenever the topic comes up, whenever the whisper network shares names to avoid and tips to keep safe, there is almost never a parallel conversation among men about not treating women like shit. The air of “boys will be boys” or “what did you expect?” continues, and it’s maddening.

It’s not enough for men to just “not be that guy”. We can’t just pat ourselves on the back for not being a scumbag as though this were somehow going above and beyond the bare fucking minimum of being a man. Male behavior is the problem and we have to be part of the solution.

Here’s an unpleasant truth about our society as it exists today: men are privileged in having a louder voice than women do. It’s much easier to dismiss women’s concerns, to – as Edidin says – silence women by labeling them as malcontents and squeaky wheels. When we speak up in support, we make it possible for their voices and their messages to carry that much further, to penetrate that much deeper. 

We need to be willing to take the risks and potential backlash to call out harassing behavior when we see it, especially if we’re in a position to directly affect it. We have to be willing to get in people’s faces, to boost signal when it’s needed and to speak out when we see harassment happen. We need to be women’s allies, providing support when they need it and back-up when they ask for it.

Comics are supposed to be a safe space for everyone, where diversity is welcomed and  harassment and assault aren’t permitted to continue, where creepers aren’t allowed to prey on others.

And it’s on us to man up and help make it happen.

  1. Crisis on Infinite Earths #6 and Gen 13 #76 – shut up, it was Adam Warren’s second to last issue and it was AWESOME []
  2. Yes, that’s exactly what he said and I don’t know where to start with this. []

  • Vancouverois

    "Brian Wood is known for, amongst other things, his feminist credentials"

    Yeah. So was Hugo Schwyzer.

    • Hanna Solo

      The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he wasn't a dick.

  • "I'm well aware that whenever I post on something touching feminist issues, I get a traffic boost, and it’s easy to say that I write about this sort of thing strictly for the page-views and the insta-cred that it brings me."

    To people who make those kind of comments, I say, oh what the hell ever. Dr. NL has to be one of the few advice columns, and certainly the only male one aimed at geeks I've come across, to actually address these issue (oh, Emily Yoffe, I weep.) Claiming it's for page clicks or attention or "White Knight Trophies" is just a freaking parallel to the exact issues he's addressing… that any woman who speaks up about harassment is doing it for the attention.

    That is an argument I have never been able to wrap my head around; that women whistle-blow sexual abuse for attention. Is it built on some sort of logic whirlpool that any attention, even negative, is bad? Do the people making this argument think the women are doing some twisted Back Door Brag ("Look, I'm hot enough to get harassed!") Is it some twisted jealousy on their part, that they wish they could get similarly "harassed" because they think the harassment is born from sexual desirability?* Or is just trying to rationalize awful behavior by any grasping-at-straw-tomfoolery-means necessary?

    Now, time to get the party started in this here comment section:

    *In fairness, an issue I totally struggle with myself. While reading through the articles detailing Tess' tweets, my Jerk Brain was in full operation about how these women should be thankful they're pretty enough to get harassed and how I wish I could get a "wink wink nudge nudge" from a famous comic book artist. It ain't pretty, y'all.

    • Pretty much your average "wink wink nudge nudge" guy:

      Re-assure your jerk-brain that guys who offer "help" in exchange for sex do it because they usually can't get it any other way. Or, even more disgustingly, they can't get the KIND of sex they want the usual way (please pass the bucket).

    • Max

      It's an especially silly accusation because EVERY article on this site (and on the internet) is written with the intent to attract pageviews, aka have a lot of people read it.

  • This is a great post… I know I haven't been around a lot, but I still read your articles, I just don't have the emotional energy anymore to interact anymore.

    Anyway, I always enjoy these, because you're one of the few male feminist allies that understands what it means to be an ally. Especially in light of Joss Whedon's "let me tell you a thing about your movement" speech. I don't give these out freely, but you get a proverbial feminist cookie today!

    • Cait

      Ohh that little gem. Clenching my fists of rage.

  • devicat26

    And cue the trolls in 3….2…

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Patience, trolls like to take a late lunch before they starting a big project.

      • Gentleman Horndog

        Johnny! Good to see you, mate!

        • Gentleman Horndog

          We even have a troll for you to poke the living shit out of. Have fun, and welcome back! 🙂

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Haha, I love it when someone is accused of being a sexual assault denier because you've decided their post means something rather than ask them to clarify their position.

            Gets me every fucking time.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Is that really my function around here? I mean, yeah, I do it but I didn't realize it was that obvious.

          • Cait

            Think of yourself as the party's tank, drawing aggro.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Pfft. Such modesty. You troll-bait with such skill and glee that it's like watching Zorro in action, if Zorro's rapier were a troll-pokin' stick.

            Far from your only function, to be sure. I just like watching an artist at work.

      • I dunno, I feel like we actually don't get any more than the dedicated 1 or 2 trolls, even on big issues like this. Dr. NL still seems to be kind of a "niche" place.

        Or am I just not paying enough attention?…

        • Gentleman Horndog

          I'd expect this to draw active participation from more than just one or two trolls, but not MUCH more.

          More likely, this article will draw occasional one-shot trollings for the length of its lifespan, few of which will be engaged and all of which may be safely ignored.

        • eselle28

          I think that these nerd privilege posts tend to bring in some new folks, both of the troll and the genuine varieties, but that it takes a bit of reblogging for them to find these articles. A lot of the worst trolling I see are posts at the bottoms of really old articles.

          • Good point. The responses to Dr. NL's recent Huffington Post article were… um, new, to say the least.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      Thus far, one troll, who may or may not be NQB's sock puppet. But, hey, at least he's sucking all the air out of the room and making every discussion about him.

      • Non-Troll Guest

        "making every discussion about him."

        Can you please tell me how exactly I'm supposed to take the implication that I am a sexual harassment/assault at conventions denier because I DIDN'T see or say something?

      • Cait

        Every. Discussion.

        Come on, people. Is it possible that disdain should die when she hath such meet food to feed it?

      • Okay, look, I love troll-baiting as much as the next person….. but I think this is heading down the road towards just being kind of mean. We have no proof that the guy is a sock puppet, and while I don't agree with what he says, I don't think that automatically makes him a "troll."

        I know it can get frustrating to explain certain things over and over to people, but I think immediately labeling them a troll and mocking them is the wrong way to handle that frustration.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          I promise to drop the mockery at the first sign of evidence counter to my position that he has no interest in discussing the actual topic. I'll even trust your word rather than my own judgement.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Sexual assault takes place in the workplace be it between people of the same or different genders and in some cases sexual orientation. At no point in this entire conversation did I deny it took place, but it didn't stop people implying I believed that based entirely on 1 post describing my experience at cons and not seeing any girls that could possibly be targeted for such an act (i.e. not in a large group or partner 99.9999% of their convention attendance) get targeted with such an act.

            Again, at no point in this "debate" have I argued that acts like those described do not take place.

          • Gentleman Johnny


          • Non-Troll Guest

            I don't follow.

            (To clarify: I don't deny QED means something, I just don't know what it is)

          • SpiltCoffee5
        • Non-Troll Guest

          "We have no proof that the guy is a sock puppet"

          …or a sexual assault denier.

  • I wish I could remember the name of the dork distributor who invited me out for coffee at San Diego Comicon – and began immediately asking me if I thought it was all right to cheat on one's spouse at a convention. For the whole conversation. Wink wink nudge nudge. I'm wasting my time – off the sales floor – for a business meeting – and instead I'm being hinted at for tail. Hey… could we SUE these guys? I mean, I could have made at least $150 in the time it took for him to waste my time. False representation or something? Some kind of economic scam? Phishing in real time? Hmmmm. I know we got lawyers in this biz…. I know one who was the assistant prosecutor for the Bronx. She'd have fun bloodying her fangs on THIS one. As a Law-and-Order fan, I'd buy THAT DVD.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Not for nothin' – I get a lot of email from recruiting firms. On the first email, I tell them what sort of positions in what locations I'll accept, on the second one I remind them of those criteria and make it clear that I will assume anything that doesn't fit that is being sent to me for review as a consultant and from now on i will be invoicing their Accounts Payable department for consulting fees complete with the name of the recruiter.

      So maybe something like: "I'm really not interested but if you'd like to keep trying, I'll be happy to review your pickup technique. . .on the clock, of course."

  • MordstihJ

    Anybody see this?

    I'm not going anywhere near *that* comments section today.

    • I went to the comments section. Why do I do these things to myself?! I think I need to lie down for a while…

      • …I went back and replied to someone anyway and used up my downvotes. Trying to create an unsupportive environment for sexism as instructed by Dr. Nerdlove and articles. Aw yeah.

        • MordstihJ

          You're made of sterner stuff than me. But then I'm trying to study for a test and look for a job at the same time, so I can't afford to get angry today.

          • I hear you. The comments section there is very disheartening. The sexists have more upvotes than the people who are trying to be reasonable. It's nothing like it is here. I felt so discouraged at first that I walked away after reading the first few posts, but ultimately decided that I had to go back and throw my weight behind the righteous side of the battle.

            It definitely derailed me from anything else I could have done before work, though. I'm just lucky that I could afford to expend the time today or I would have gotten myself into time-constraint trouble.

          • thefinalgirl

            It's like that a lot of the time on Cracked, unfortunately. Any article that goes anywhere near the "women may in some ways have it a bit harder than men" topic tends to get the comments section up in arms.

    • Thanks for the link.

      Since I won't go near those comments, I will just post this here. I have a serious issue with the example used for #2. The reason she was asked to change was because the company that hired her was trying to skirt the ban against advertising games using the bodies of women aka the booth babe ban. As a developer that also happens to be a woman and has to deal with working in conventions that treat my entire gender like that, those bans are a good thing. Had she just been a cosplayer, the outrage would have been warranted. She was however hired by a game studio. Granted they should have dealt with the studio instead for trying to go around the rules.

      • MordstihJ

        So it was a game company that hired a booth babe to pretend to be a cosplayer? Sneaky.

        • Sort of. She's a cosplayer that a game company hired to be a booth babe. A lot of the outrage over it seems to forget that she was hired to dress as that character and work in the booth. It's under the false thinking that the problem with booth babes is that they don't know games, when the problem is using women's bodies to advertise games.

  • DrThemoWorm

    I have been typing, and re-typing, and re-typing, and re-typing for the past hour and I can't come up with any post that I'm satisfied with. So I guess I'll boil it down to this: WHAT DO I DO (specifically)? I wanted to say "stop buying comic books until I know things have changed," but I know that that would only end up hurting the female employees who work there.

    • Gearhead

      That's the same problem that I have. I don't want to support a lot of comics for that reason (and for a lot of others), but that doesn't feel like a meaningful-enough response.

    • eselle28

      These are just a few suggestions, not all of which can be deployed at the same time:

      1. Try to be more aware of bad shit being directed toward women in geeky spaces. Some of it's subtle and easily missed, but if you're actively paying attention to that, I think you may see some things you hadn't noticed before.
      2. There are times when it's entirely appropriate for you to intervene. You don't need to rush in as a white knight. If someone's making sexually harassing or exclusionary comments, you can call them out for being gross in general without even bringing the woman who may be the target of the comments into it.
      3. Support creators who do call out this kind of shit.
      4. This is one for allies in general, not for you specifically, but when women complain about these things, believe them and ask what you can do. Sometimes it's nice just to see people not victim blaming, not minimizing, and not making halfassed suggestions like women taking on the burden of teaching grown men things they should have learned many years ago. But you already did that, so good on you.

      • DrThemoWorm

        1. I have a few friends who've helped me along in considering the content I see and the situations I find myself in to recognize sexism when I see it (at least for the most part). I'm still growing, of course, and I'll get better at these things but that is definitely happening.

        2. Yeah, how I approach the situation is the challenge, because it is kinda hard to not come off like I'm trying to impress the girl rather than to stand up for what's right. I will say that sometimes people will throw that label at you no matter how carefully you approach the situation. However, that's no reason to withhold support or not do what's right.

        3. Do you have any recommendations as far as those creators go?

        4. Yeah, I'm making it a point to try to be the change I want to see. If roles were reversed, I know I'd want the person to listen to me rather than to dismiss me as whiny or attention-whoring or windmill-tilting or whatever.

        • eselle28

          2. Some people will throw the label at you regardless. Personally, I think it's less likely to come off as White knight behavior if you respond with a general condemnation. If a guy is making lewd comments that seem in appropriate, a simple, "Dude. Gross!" or a mocking comment can work. You don't need to mention that he's making them to a woman. If you see someone going around giving Fake Geek Girl tests, make fun of him for having nothing better to do or say something about welcoming people generally. It doesn't always work, but I think it's more likely to.

          3. I don't necessarily, but since this has come up a couple of times, I'll make a post at the bottom of the topic calling for everyone to share – we can crowdsource!

    • enail

      Some things I can think of offhand: buy comics by female creators, especially creator-owned/indie ones, speak up when you hear something not okay, let publishers know what you're not buying and why you're not buying it – if they don't know you're boycotting, they'll decide for themselves why you're not buying.

    • -Never make it about you. Guilt out of cowardice for not taking on a stronger stance, indignation that leads you to give 'help' that is ineffective, have the idea that you have to apologize for your gender: put that aside and gauge what the victim wants. Feel free to leave the situation to friends who are closer to her or staff at the cons.

      -Record dates and times, what was done/said, emails, screencaps, record the perp with your phone, yadayadayada. Just in case the full extent of what happened dawns later on the victim. Perhaps contact info of witnesses to the incident?

      -Hit on the harasser and use the just-joking-around paradigm against him. He grabs her ass? Grab his. He makes a lewd compliment? Compliment the guy on his eyes. He throws a mantrum? Laugh at him so his ire is focused on you and tell him to lighten the fuck up and stop being butthurt over a simple rejection.

      -You can't decide on anyone's boundaries. She motorboats stranger she knew for 2 minutes after a logical escalation of convo and body language? Don't be that patronizing whiteknight who asks afterwards if she is okay when you can perfectly well see that by the look on her face.

      -You've read blogs with feminist jargon, horrifying stories and statistics to prove how serious an issue? Great, but you're not there to give a lecture. If you need to deter the harasser with words when the level hasn't reach clear hostility yet, keep it smooth and simple. De-escalate and frame it in bro terms.

      • DrThemoWorm

        Yeah, I find that when you make people feel like they're being attacked, it tends to be that they'll just shut you out and not listen, making you just seem like an asshole to them more than somebody who's taking a stand. The problem is that I instantly want to have nothing to do with those people, so fighting that to somehow get to them may or may not be a challenge for me 😀

        And yeah, I do need to make sure I know the way I come off, to make it clear that I'm not standing up for a woman so that she'll sleep with me or whatever. Sometimes though, sometimes it doesn't matter how careful you are, some people will just throw that label at you as a knee-jerk reaction. That's no reason, however, to withhold your support and not do what's right.

        And definitely, if someone is confiding in me about such an experience, I know it's not about me and that I should never minimalize the situation. Change won't happen if I don't see things as they truly are.

        • If they accuse you of being a whiteknight, say that you're a black knight: you could care less about the dudette, but the clash with the harasser, the mutual mockery, the sparks, the chemistry, everything makes you so hot under the collar. The accusation of being a pussy faggot loses a lot of its power if you're actually going for his lips.

        • Personally, I think I'd fall over from shock if another guy stood up for me in a PUBLIC manner (not privately afterward or some such), especially if he was just a bystander and had no vested interest himself.

          It's rare for even a woman to do it. I mean even if you did it badly, I'd still be impressed at the effort or willingness to try. Mostly…I just get harassed, and often blamed or told to "let it go" dissuasively. I have a decent tolerance for chauvinist behavior as a lifelong fan, but it STILL gets tiresome. The other problem is that the behavior is so insulting, not true flirting, that a woman would have to think nothing of herself to respond to it; it is not sincere and often this is clear by the sheer number or types of women being bothered (lets say consistently 20 years younger, in many cases).

          Although many scenarios exist, the point is that while it affects one personally, it usually is all about removing your identity as a person and making you fee like an inflatable toy. In the "nice guy" trope, it's simply that the woman isn't attracted to you or knew you were only being her friend in hopes of sexual gratification; that sort of relationship long-term can be even more painful. Don't be friends with women only because you think it will automatically make you their girlfriend. Women are people. It's ok to be their friends just to be friends, it's not a "downgrade" at all. I valued my male friends a great deal in fandom.

          And thank you for asking and listening Dr. ThemoWorm. I appreciate your responses on this matter.

          • DrThemoWorm

            No problem. I figured that simply analyzing the topic to death (as I tend to) won't really open up any new insights at this point, so the more info I can get from different perspectives, the better. I finally bookmarked this site, so I'll be weighing in more often if I have anything to say 😀

          • akitchenwitch

            My husband does this all the time. It's one of the many reasons I married him. Doctor ThermoWorm, you may find his strategies useful.

            He's a big guy — 6'5" — and well aware of his privilege. He likes to say "I know that I'm The Man so I'm going to use that authority for good."

            Some of it is simple. He called out a guy at my dinner table who made a sexist joke just a few weeks ago with the simple, "Dude, not in our house."

            When he saw some guy harassing a woman on the T the other day, he got the guy's attention and let the woman escape out the car before he told the harasser to stop being a sexist ass. (He was worried that calling the guy out while she was there would ratchet up the harassment into violence.)

            When he sees a situation at a con where he's not sure if the woman wants an escape, he will walk up to them both and say, "Hey, can you show my wife and I where to find Jen?" Since almost everyone knows a Jen, if the woman wants an escape, she can volunteer to show him and leave the awkward conversation. (I do this, too.)

            But mostly,I think the most powerful thing you can do is the first thing I mentioned. When you hear someone be a sexist ass, you need to get into the habit of always saying some variant on "That was uncool," or something. IF the guy wants to be educated, you can do it, but just expressing societal disapproval for the jokes, the microagressions, the outright abuse, etc. is really imporant.

  • As a guy who's been a professional comic writer for ten years, I've spent many, many hours at cons, and tend to socialize with other comics professionals. I've literally never witnessed this behavior firsthand, but I'd like to think if I had, I would have commented on it. I mean…I've seen hook-ups and mutual flirtations, but that's a part of human nature.

    Having come to comics from an office environment, experience has taught me that the comic book industry is a much more friendly place for women than corporate environments. Which makes it that much worse that many of these things are happening without being loudly shouted down by people who are aware of them.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Just because you as a guy don't see behavior that other guys are trying to keep from you doesn't mean it isn't there. Genuine question: is it more likely that all of the sources linked above are making it up or that its there and you haven't seen it?

      • Did you read my post? At no point did I say it isn't happening. I'm saying I haven't seen it happen. I've known Brian Wood casually for years, and had never heard any suggestions about this kind of behavior.

        There's an underlying assumption that the "men" in the industry are just standing by watching this go on, and I'm saying that this kind of behavior shouldn't be allowed.

        Like anyone else, I've heard stories. About editors, retailers, creators (male and female). It bothers me to think the women I know in the industry deal with this and suffer it quietly.

        • For what it's worth, I also know women who've worked with Brian who don't believe these stories are accurate.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Hey, man. I get the impression that you want to be part of the solution here — to which I say, hooray! But, even though I'm fairly certain you don't mean it this way, a lot of what you're saying is how people who DON'T want to be part of the solution would set up dismissing the complaints.

            When you say "I've never seen that," you're NOT trying to say "… therefore, they must be making this shit up!" But you need to be aware that's a fairly common place to take you initial statement, even though you didn't mean it that way.

            Similarly, when you say you know women who haven't had these problems with Brian, I'm willing to infer you're trying to add some context — that he's not such an over-the-top sleazeball that he can only interact with women by harassing the hell out of them. Fair enough. But again, I feel like you need to be aware that it's common for such a statement to be used as part of a "Therefore, those bitches are lying!" argument.

            I get it; you have some experience here, so you're trying to add context, not dismiss the claims. But I suspect a lot of the downvotes you're getting are coming from you unwittingly saying stuff that looks like it COULD be used to try and dismiss the claims — and a lot of folks are very sensitive to that. For good reason.

          • Well, I'll be honest. The above report bothers me to some degree. It amplifies some of Tess's statements, for one thing. As an example, if you've ever met Brian, you know that he's an introverted person. He's not going to raise his voice in conversation, and there's no way in hell he was "screaming" across the con floor at a woman. So, no. I don't believe for an instance that happened.

            It's entirely possible the women who've worked with Brian and socialized with him had the wool pulled over their eyes. The only context I'm attempting to add here is that, maybe, *maybe* we don't really know the full story.

            But I appreciate the sentiments in your post, and I fully understand your point. Part of being in the industry is trying to figure out what we can do to help.

          • Delafina

            Go read this. And stop being the sort of enabler Captain Awkward is talking about:

            Your reaction, while I don't think it's intended badly, is EXACTLY WHY IT'S SO HARD FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN HARASSED OR ASSAULTED TO SPEAK UP.

          • sadly, i witnessed it firsthand. i always thought he was pretty cool until he started sending sleazy texts to a girl he just saw me with at some show. he was married and had a kid at the time. "my wife doesn't understand me" was one of his pathetic "pick up" lines. i don't mean to crucify the guy. shit, i aint perfect and have done a lot of things i am ashamed of, but come on, i was standing right there, dude. laaa-ame.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Well all right then. So what you're trying to say is "I would actively intervene to stop this shit if it were happening around me, I've just been lucky enough to never be in that position". I can dig that.

          • Well, I hope I would. I know they deal with different responses based on their gender, and I hate the thought that women I know and respect have to build personal psychic armor to deal with this BS.

            For what it's worth, most of the complaints I've heard involve office politics more than anything.

          • Guest

            They do. Almost all the women you know have faced this, are facing this or will face this and begin building this armor as soon as they grow a hint of boob, if not before. At school. At good jobs. At crappy jobs. Out in public on train platforms and busstops and in line at Starbuck's. At CHURCH. Jerks and creeps are very good at isolating their victims. Some are very good at making their opening gambits seem like normal conversation, hides it from you and fools the victim into trusting them.

        • Non-Troll Guest

          "Did you read my post? At no point did I say it isn't happening. I'm saying I haven't seen it happen."

          Turns out that is the same thing now B. I know, it was news to me too.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Generally speaking, a response of "I didn't see it", especially on this blog on a topic that attracts. . .let's call it vigorous debate. . . does carry an implicit "therefore I don't think its as big a problem as you say" unless it carries an explicit "is there something I should be watching for that maybe I'm not catching?"

          • Non-Troll Guest

            The comment I was replying to asked directly whether this sort of incident was common at cons and similar events. I simply offered that from the cons I had been I hadn't seen it. Maybe I was wrong to believe when someone asks a question that in it's own structure asks for more than 1 person to reply with their point of view, they want to hear them from both sides of the spectrum.

        • notphfat

          It's already been well established by the article that women who have this happen to them cope with it through talking to each other behind the curtain rather than out in public to people like you. The nature of the problem guarantees that you'd be, as a guy, pretty ignorant to its goings on.

        • Cat

          Dear Sir,

          When you say "I haven't seen it" victims will become wary (esp the ones who have been harassed in front of you). When you follow up with "And it's much worse in the business world" victims make a mental note to not ever talk about it near you or your friends. In two neat phrases you have told them their problem does not exist, and even if it did, it's OK because somewhere else is worse.

        • Guest

          Gentleman J. is a poser. Playing the forum game to get the attention of women. They eat it up.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Awww, rats. Someone finally figured me out. I'm just doing it to make all the girls I'll never meet drool. No one in my real life knows me by this login. Its why I can be so open about my own experiences.

    • Robjection

      Some of the behaviour you may not have witnessed first-hand because the perpetrators are smart enough not to do it when you're around. Alternatively, it might be that you saw it but it didn't register in your mind as harassment. Ultimately, I wasn't there so I don't know. I'm just putting forward some alternate hypotheses for why your experience in the comics industry differs from that of the women DNL brought up as examples.

      • I think it means the people I hang around with are less likely to engage in this type of behavior, and certainly less likely to tolerate it.

        I'm all for shining a spotlight on these incidents, though. Even if it just shames people into adjusting their behavior, it should make it more comfortable for women in or around the industry.

        • In my experience, building a community of men who won't tolerate this behavior is really important. I'm glad to hear that your immediate community within the comics world doesn't have this problem. Maybe the thing to ask is how you can extend the norms you've helped create to people you have more peripheral relationships with.

        • Except you went out of your way to state that you "don't believe" the woman who went public, a professional herself, based on your experiences and on behalf of other women you claim to know who've worked with him.

          • Having worked in corporate a great many years, as well as being active in fandom from a very young age, I also do not find the comics industry "safer" at all.

            In fact, it could be said there are far fewer legal ramifications or safeguards put in place, there is also an absolute standard of conduct thanks to another woman who "wasn't believed" ANITA HILL who made sexual harassment a household term and forced corporations to begin to take these situations a lot more seriously. However, many of the problems exist equally in both realms. It is only that women have become a larger presence in fandom as well as perhaps some egos in the now more publicized industry are out of control (though they likely were always bad to begin with).

    • Cait

      So, ironic thing about places that identify themselves as safe places. They can often be even less safe than other locations. A group (in this case industry) that defines itself as "a place that is more friendly for women" doesn't always handle having that self-image challenged. So when a bad actor comes in and acts all misogynist (or racist or homophobic, this isn't just a misogyny thing) and the targets complain, the group's self-image is challenged! Because we're a safe place for women!

      Leads to something called "missing stair" where the community tacitly rallies around the bad actor by quietly treating him/ her like a stair that's missing on a staircase. Instead of addressing the problem, the community just steps over the hole. Because, if you address the hole, you are implicitly admitting that you have a hole, and this is a place that is safe, damnit!

      • That's an interesting theory, and it makes some sense. Obviously stories like this challenge the perceptions some of us have about the industry. Perceptions based on personal experience.

        • You can't really have a personal experience of being a woman at a con, man. Because you're not a woman.

          That's the essence of the male privilege problem: that you don't see this stuff, because it's not happening to you.

          FWIW, reading the responses to articles like this prompts me to never want to hang out with comic creators or fans.

          No, not the article. The response where a man says "I've never seen this" in spite of repeated claims to the contrary from people with nothing to gain by making the claims.

    • It is a bit like any biased behavior, be it race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc.. If you aren't the target you aren't likely to see the behavior. It isn't a part of your reality unless you actively look for it/ask about it.

      For example, I am native and catch some bias towards AIAN (and some Hispanic and SE Asian bias because people misidentify me), but also miss bias towards people that are black, Muslim, Jewish, gay, etc. because I am not the one it is directed at. It isn't always obvious if you are just a casual observer.

      • Cait

        And not seeing it automatically doesn't make you a *bad* person. We are constantly filtering things out, because we can't pay attention to everything in the world.

        • Non-Troll Guest

          "And not seeing it automatically doesn't make you a *bad* person."
          Could have fooled me!

          • Cait

            Thank you, for the object lesson.

            When someone who does see it points it out, if you then say "I don't see it so it's not a problem" then you are becoming a bad person. You don't have to catch everything yourself, but you do need to believe people who are telling you what the world is like through their eyes.

          • etherealclarity

            Not seeing it automatically doesn't make you a bad person.

            Not seeing it and therefore deciding that it doesn't exist? That's a whole other ballgame.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "Not seeing it automatically doesn't make you a bad person."

            Again, me not seeing it and commenting as such on this very article got me accused of believing it didn't happen at all or that I don't acknowledge non-booth girls even go to the events at all. No follow up questions, straight to being the bad guy.

          • etherealclarity

            The reason people jumped all over your comment is that, 9 times out of 10 when someone says "I've never seen that happen" what they follow it with (or what they MEAN) is "I've never seen that happen so I'm inclined to doubt that it happens."

            Unclear communication, that's all. If you're open to the idea that it happens despite the fact that you haven't seen it, then there shouldn't be a problem. This was not clear from your initial comment, so people jumped to the logical conclusion.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            So again, I was jumped on for something I didn't say? Who exactly has the problem here?

          • etherealclarity

            When conversing with people, it is helpful to be aware of your own words and your own tone. Sometimes we say things that gives people an impression of our meaning that is not correct. **If multiple people arrive at the same incorrect conclusion about your words, it is very likely that your wording was unclear.** Instead of getting defensive, why not simply clarify your meaning and move on?

            Edit: added emphasis.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            I didn't even say the thing people took away from the post, they've admitted it was based on how OTHERS have used the phrase "I haven't seen it" in the past. Do I really have to cover every base in case someone reading it adds something to what I've said to make it mean something completely different?

            You're too right I'm getting defensive, I'm getting accused of being a sexual assault denier! Even after clarifying my meaning, twice. People decided that I was such a denier before even giving me a chance to clarify MY meaning (NOT the one that was added to the post by others)

          • Gentleman Johnny

            OK, so forgetting this unfortunate misunderstanding, aside from "I haven't seen it", what other constructive input would you like to add to the conversation?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            I'd like an apology for being accused of being a sexual assault denier to be honest. If I accused you completely baselessly of being one I'm sure you'd want the same result.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            So you have nothing to add to the topic at hand, gotcha. also note that no one ever called you a sexual assault denier. That's something you. . .

            wait for it. . .

            wait for it. . .

            added to what was actually said.

          • exactly

          • eselle28

            But people didn't accuse you baselessly. You communicated in an unclear and sarcastic way, and were misunderstood by a number of people. That doesn't seem like apology territory.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Ok, you clearly racist person.

            That might seem baseless but it isn't, I've got previous experience of being talked to by people who are racist and them claiming something they do isn't apology territory so I'm perfectly within my right to label you something as low as a racist based entirely on experiences you had nothing to do with.

          • eselle28

            I don't feel I'm racist or that I've said anything to make someone think I am, but if that's how you feel, I suppose that's how you feel.

            Now, moving on, do we have anything more to say about the harassment of women in convention settings?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            No, I'll save the effort of writing something which is then added to by others and let you write the entire comment based on the prejudices you have about me in your head.

          • Dr_NerdLove

            Ok. I\’m going to do you a favor and suggest you take a break from the comments for a day or two.

            Because this is hardly the first time you\’ve turned the comments section of an article to how wronged you are and frankly I\’m getting tired of it.

            So if you want to continue being part of the community, you\’ll take a step back. Or else you\’ll be on a PERMANENT break.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Come on, man. If you're not going to contribute to the topic, at least be amusing in your trolling. You're the only thing saving me from a brain meltdown over poorly documented code right now.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            That is ridiculously insulting to people who have had mental breakdowns and I am appalled at how you throw something as serious as that around for your cheap amusement.

          • SpiltCoffee5

            Is this guy even attempting to be subtle in trolling?

          • etherealclarity

            Communication is an imperfect tool. People who are highly skilled at clear and effective communication are misunderstood ALL THE TIME. The way they get better at communication is understanding, then learning from, common miscommunications and accounting or correcting for them.

            When most people who say X really mean Y, then most people who hear X will understand it to be Y. Therefore people who say X when they really mean X are going to be misunderstood. Fair or not, it is a fact. Human communication is full of misdirection and subtlety and miscommunication. Much better and more productive to simply address the correction calmly and move on than to get defensive about it.

            I can say with quite a bit of confidence that if you had simply responded with a correction rather than getting defensive that people would have dropped the issue. The fact that you continue to be defensive about the fact that people drew a very common and logical conclusion from your words seems to indicate that you're not all that interested in conversing about the topic on hand, though I could be wrong about that. Human beings, imperfect communication and all of that.

            I'm sorry that human communication isn't the straightforward thing that you want it to be. Things definitely would be simpler if X meant X. But that is not the world in which we live, and that's not really the topic on hand, either.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "I can say with quite a bit of confidence that if you had simply responded with a correction rather than getting defensive that people would have dropped the issue. "

            Which I did, twice and they didn't.

          • etherealclarity

            Can you point out those comments where you make a correction?

            The comments I saw were ones that pointed out what you had not said (rather than what you meant), and they appeared to be in a defensive tone.

        • Exactly. It is when the behavior is automatically denied because the person from the nontarget group didn't see it that things get problematic. If someone says something happened, but you have never seen it, does not mean it never happens.

          For example, I have never personally witnessed anti-Semitism, but given the number of reported incidents out there, I am not going to deny it happens.

          • Something that's helpful for me is remembering that it's not always the obvious stuff that hurts the worst.

            I've been physically attacked because of my religion. Not awesome – but I dealt with it. The worst hurts are the ones that people who aren't Jewish might not even see, because American culture is so implicitly Christian that "normal" behavior is stuffed full of Christian assumptions about the way the world works. And what hurts worst about them is that you have to do so much work to even make someone else see what's happening to you.

            My point is: I pay a lot closer attention to what other groups experience, because I know that the things I'll see on my own are just the tip of the iceberg.

    • Delafina

      I don't think you're really qualified–since, I presume, you're not a woman–to say what are "more friendly" environments for women. Especially not to disagree with actual women about *their experiences.*

    • Katka7

      In my experience, sexual harrassment or intimidation can be subtle and hard to notice as a witness, especially if you have never been on the receiving end or cannot hear the comments. The scary part is the escalation. Some men take rejection as a challenge. The victim cannot know if he is a random jerk or truly dangerous. Women rarely ask for help from men. We cannot tell who is on our side and many men, even kind men, dismiss our experience or perceptions.

  • Wanna know what's going on here? A group of people with a lifetime supply of didn't-get-the-pretty-girl-in-high-school who now have the power to decide the future of the girls who rejected them. Revenge meted out for all the girls they didn't date because they were too scared to ask them out and couldn't be bothered with learning social graces. Somehow this marinates into the delusion of Women Owe Me, when if those guys would sort out their issues they would have all the female attention they want – off the clock and without extorting it from women who are trying to share their creative ideas.

    Ladies, time to start up your own companies. Stop treating men like some gold standard by which to measure yourselves. Do what you're capable of doing, and don't look back.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I know someone on the editor side of the industry who'd probably be very happy to help with that.

    • XK9

      "Ladies, time to start up your own companies."

      Oh, is that all we have to do? Alright, give up on any of those dreams of writing or drawing ______ and build a whole company from scratch. After all, you wanted to be an artist/writer, right? Building a publishing company is practically the same thing!

    • Non-Troll Guest

      "Revenge meted out for all the girls they didn't date because they were too scared to ask them out and couldn't be bothered with learning social graces."

      Or were turned down for liking the very thing they then find attractive girls at a convention for. Doesn't change the fact revenge shouldn't be an issue but I disagree with the notion that any problems they deem worthy of seeking revenge for were 100% self-inflicted.

      • eselle28

        That sounds self-inflicted as well.

        First of all, it's fine if an attractive woman turns you down for liking something she doesn't. Second, the attractive women at cons? They're not the exact same women who rejected you in high school. Those women mostly still find geeky things boring, and they're off watching sports or doing crafts or whatever they do find interesting. The women at Cons a whole different group of women who you didn't know back then, or who perhaps weren't attractive during that period in their lives. They don't deserve your revenge (and frankly, neither do the first group of women).

        • Non-Troll Guest

          Did you purposely ignore "Doesn't change the fact revenge shouldn't be an issue"?

    • Not fucking this again. Armchair psychology that relies on the Forer effect and use of succes with the opposite sex as a hallmark of personal worth does nothing but perpetuate the paradigm these assholes subscribe too.

      Calling out the sense of entitlement should be wholly separate from that lark.

    • I have tragic news for you, Joye: this kind of shit still happens EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR OWN COMPANY.

      I’ve been publisher/editor-in-chief at my own comic company for fifteen years now. This did not stop men who worked for me from trying it on, even though I had a boyfriend, even though I was their boss, even though I made all the editorial decisions that would affect them directly. My butt still got grabbed. I still got propositioned by other professionals, some of whom were married, some of whom were twenty-thirty-forty years my senior. I still had another (married) publisher reach out and wipe a smudge of dirt off my cleavage in the middle of a business conversation on a crowded convention floor as though it was the most natural thing in the world. I still had artists who worked for me spread rumors that the only reason anyone did work for me was because I dispensed sexual favors to my favorite; I guess they were mad because they weren’t getting to ride the editorial pussy train. (Here’s a hint: no one got to ride it! Except my boyfriend! Surprise!) I had one artist get so mad that I wasn’t giving him the kind of attention he wanted, he posted on our company forums that I had died both of AIDS *and* in a plane crash on the way to SDCC. (To this day we still don’t know what set him off; and he was a bit unbalanced anyway.)

      My company is very small. I am not a big name in the industry, but I work hard and keep my head down. I have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of incredible talents, publishers and creators. It is unfortunate that several of them were creeps. Luckily the non-creeps outnumbered the creeps, or else I would have quit long ago.

    • Guest42

      Yeah, it is clearly the fault of women here.
      Victim blame much?

  • Since this guy has great "feminist credentials", doesn't that indicate that one's status as a feminist is ethically irrelevant? I mean, it's like saying "we were shocked he was a bad person, since he was a catholic priest" or "how could a good christian do such terrible things"

    Shitty people exist everywhere, and ascribe to every ideology and creed.

    • eselle28

      I'd say that claiming to belong to an ethical group isn't a guarantee of ethical behavior, but that claiming to belong to an unethical group (for instance, one that was specifically anti-feminist as opposed to one that was just not-feminist) can still be read as a bad sign.

      • Feminism does not have a monopoly on morality or gender equality.

        • Shit, is there a moderator like Mel or the Doc who can edit or delete the above comment, it was meant to be mine but I posted it on a relative's computer by accident and I'd rather not have her facebook be public.

          In any case I stand by my above comment and I believe that the problem with feminism in general that it has become as dogmatic, intolerant and rigid as Christianity, Objectivism or Marxism in it's principles (such as Patriarchy Theory) which is why, even though I am a socialist and an atheist, cannot in good conscience subscribe to such an ideology.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      It does, just like one's status as a Christian does not require a correlation to following the teachings of Christ. Hell, according to my LinkedIn, I'm a game designer. I have the credentials. I just haven't ever made a game. It pays to know the person, not the labels.

      • Delafina

        One might ask why you're being untruthful on your LinkedIn.

        • MordstihJ

          I'm not GJ, but I've got all kinds of inaccurate information on my LinkedIn, because people I know keep "recommending" me for stuff I've never done professionally. It happened so many times I just gave up on correcting them. I still can't figure out how that thing is supposed to work.

          • Delafina

            Linkedin makes the difference between third-party endorsements and what you've actually put on your own resume pretty clear.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Everything on my LinkedIn is true. I have beta test experience, programming experience, have written articles on game design and am a member of no less than three professional organizations related to electronic gaming. The thing is, that doesn't really say anything about whether or not I could design my own game. I was looking for entry level game design the last time I was job hunting, so I spruced up my resume/LinkedIn to supplement the modest qualifications I had already. None of it is untrue but it is exactly equivalent to how much being a member of feminist organizations and writing articles about feminism has to do with actually believing it.

          Everyone lives in a fishbowl now. We all know more about personal PR than whole agencies did in the 70s. Anyone big enough to have a recognizable name certainly puts some effort into sculpting their image.

          • Delafina

            Sprucing up your resume to make yourself look more compatible with a design job is one thing. Actually calling yourself a game designer is another. You're not a designer unless you've designed a game. It's like calling yourself a novelist when you've never written anything.

            Ugh. I hope you're not in my area.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Oh, I don't call myself one. I was just illustrating the point with the closest anecdote I had. I don't think dude called himself a feminist either.

          • I ran down to catch an ice cream truck once.

            After accomplishing this extraordinary feat, I had "Olympic Sprinter" emblazoned on my business card.

  • Non-Troll Guest

    Never understand this "privilege" lark, especially when it comes to male nerds. As someone who fits every cheap sketch show stereotype of the term nerd I don't see myself worthy of any females attention (nerd or otherwise), nevermind having a Thor given right to one.

    For clarification is there such a thing as female privilege?

    • Gentleman Johnny

      If you prefer, think of it as playing on a lower difficulty level. Yes, you individually still have problems. You might even be poor or unable to afford an education. However, you have more opportunities, easier interviews and fewer negative consequences on average than an African American lesbian, all else being equal.

    • Cait

      There are a lot of places where someone might have a privilege. Race, ethnicity, being neurotypical, wealth, etc. So women can definitely be privileged, but not because they are women.

      But, having privilege isn't the same thing as having life handed to you on a silver platter. It doesn't negate that there will be pitfalls and anklebiters and alligators and quicksand. But, having privilege does mean that entire categories of pitalls, anklebiters, alligators, and quicksand will never ever get in your path, by virtue of your privilege alone. If you're male, you'll never have to worry that you got your job because you wore a short skirt to the interview. If you're white, you don't have shopkeepers following you around to make sure you don't steal stuff. If you're relatively wealthy, you can stare down a month or two of unemployment without worrying about housing or food.

      Things that everyone worries about because they are human problems: finding a desirable relationship, feeling alone, feeling worried about money or jobs or the future, feeling like everyone's laughing at you, feeling unworthy.

      • Non-Troll Guest

        "If you're male, you'll never have to worry that you got your job because you wore a short skirt to the interview."

        But I could have to worry that I only got the job because the interviewer (male or female) fancied me.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          But how many times have you?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            I haven't because I refuse to believe anyone could fancy me, but a guy I worked with temporarily was worried when the boss started coming on to him on the third day he worked there before he quit when she offered him a promotion in exchange for "services".

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I get that. Personally, that's why I say "on average".

        • Cait

          Do you really worry about that?

          Attractive women are often nervous that they have gotten where they did based on their looks. Unattractive women are worried that they'll be penalized professionally for not fitting the mold.

          I'm not a guy, but I could see how men who don't live up to the standard male ideal (who might be bald or prematurely gray or overweight) also worry about professional consequences, and frankly there's a real undercurrent of fat-hating and youth-worship in our society that rears its head there as well.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "Do you really worry about that?"

            No, I also don't worry about being beaten up by my girlfriend or wife behind closed doors at home. Theres been plenty of stories in the local press about guys my age who worry about it on a nightly basis though.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Wow, a comment about males on the end of domestic violence getting the thumb down treatment.

          • Robjection

            OK, I'm starting to think that maybe this is the first time you've ever been involved in a discussion about sexism, racism, ageism or any other form of discrimination that lingers in society.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Discrimination? On here? Surely not.

    • Starfury


    • notphfat

      One of the things you have to understand about privilege is it is first a foremost and academic term that describes a complex system of advantage and disadvantage informed by a myriad of factors from race, gender, sexuality, financial status, social class, etc etc. One of the most alarming things in the academic social sciences right now is that people on the internet are kind of running away with the term without understanding it very well (Not so much on this site, but I'm definitely looking long and hard at right now).

      Yes, women can have privilege over men, but when that happens it's owed to a specific set of circumstances. When someone has privilege in one area but not in another, the word to describe that is intersectionality. But when male privilege is being discussed, it generally refers to the over-all cultural and social favor given to men because of our long history of assumptions of superiority and attributing the most desirable social qualities to men (logic, bravery, etc). This gets argued and debates up and down throughout the net because that historical framework is what we call patriarchy. Patriarchy is an essentially contested concept these days because in many ways men are losing much of the privilege they once had. As such, a lot of people use that to springboard into an argument about how patriarchy no longer exists. But something that has conditioned our society like that for thousands of years cannot just disappear over the course of a few decades.

      That being said, privilege is a conversation that's getting kind of muddled because of silly catchphrases and things like that. As a political scientist and someone with a little bit of background in sociology I cringe whenever I hear someone say "check your privilege." It's a stupid thing to say. It ignores the most fundamental and insidious aspect of privilege as a topic of study, which is that most people who have privilege do not realize it because they have not lived on the other side of things. It's invisible. But that hasn't stopped people from creating a dismissive, confrontational and dumb catchphrase about it which ultimately alienates and offends the very people they should be trying to educate about privilege.

      • Gentleman Horndog

        " But that hasn't stopped people from creating a dismissive, confrontational and dumb catchphrase about it which ultimately alienates and offends the very people they should be trying to educate about privilege."

        THANK YOU.

        Privilege is an incredibly important concept; large chunks of the social world just don't make sense until you have some understanding of it. It drives me freaking nuts when it gets used or explained in ways that almost look DESIGNED to alienate the hell out of the people who most need to know it. (Though the Doc seems to do pretty well in that regard.)

        The very nature of the concept makes it a hard thing for the uninitiated to hear. Couching it in dismissive stock catchphrases makes it damn near impossible.

        • Mel_

          I really like John Scalzi's article for explaining privilege in a (I think) user-friendly way:

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Definitely one of my favorite introductions to the concept.

            It avoids a trap I recall seeing a lot — trying to make people "aware" of privilege in a way that runs counter to how most human beings actually communicate.

            In most cases, if you're making me "aware" of something, you want me to DO something about it. If you point out I left a bit of a mess behind when I blew my nose, you don't NEED to add "So please wipe that nasty snot-goblin off your mustache;" it's implied that you'd like me to take action.

            But privilege? No, you just want me to be aware it's there.

            So … what's the equivalent of wiping my nose here? There is none. You just want me to be aware of it.

            So does that mean you want me to feel guilty about my privilege? Screw you! No, no. JUST BE AWARE OF IT.

            Am I supposed to get rid of the privilege? But I LIKE trusting that calling the cops will make a situation better, not worse! I LIKE that store owners won't treat me like a potential shoplifter! You want to get rid of that?!?! NO! JUST BE … ARGH!

            Not the easiest concept to get across sometimes.

          • Cait

            I think for me the real message that I want to get across whenever i pull out the "privilege" card is simply this:

            Please acknowledge that other people live in a different world than you do and therefore see things differently and believe them when they point those things out.

            "Check your privilege" is just an obnoxious way of saying "Walk two moons in someone else's shoes, why dontcha?"

          • fakely_mctest

            The only place I've seen the "check your privilege" construction used successfully is as a sort of shorthand in non-101 online spaces where the discussion hasn't gotten heated and the participants are able to disengage and reconsider a bit. In that very specific context it serves as a quick way to let someone know they should rein it in and do a little thinking before their next posting.

      • LeeEsq

        Haven't people been running away with the terms used in academic social sciences since practically forever? The internet might be making things worse but look at how say Karl Marx or the writings of some of the more academic feminists like Dworkin have been used by both their proponents and their opponents. The use of academic terminology in the way that academics did not mean it is something that isn't new. Its like authors complaining about how they didn't mean their novels to mean this or that or getting angry at people for focusing on shipping rather than getting the larger point. Once your work is out there, you loose control over its interpretation unless you have a gate-keeper mechanism.

        • also, why is Andrea Dworkin your favorite example of a feminist to prove your point? You know that a lot of feminists don't agree with her views, especially all the transphobia.

          Anyway, in this case, privilege is used correctly. Incorrect ways to use privilege is to refer to someone having an easy life, whether financially or due to having a very sheltered and supportive home environment. Here, privilege means having unearned benefits that other people don't have, while at the same time being unaware that those benefits exist. We don't need a gate-keeper to control how people discuss privilege, because literally outside of social justice communities and academia, NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT. In day to day life, do women or people of color call you out on your privilege in places that are not the internet? That's because it's fucking dangerous, because racism and sexism permeates our whole justice and legal system. Most victims of oppression just try to keep their heads down and make it through the day without incident.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "also, why is Andrea Dworkin your favorite example of a feminist to prove your point? You know that a lot of feminists don't agree with her views, especially all the transphobia."

            My perception is that reaction to (and rejection of) Andrea Dworkin was one of the major catalysts behind third-wave feminism.

          • LeeEsq

            Same reason Marx is a reference point, an easily recognizable name for lay people.

          • Really? Because not that many people know who Andrea Dworkin is… wouldn't Gloria Steinem be a better example of a well-known feminist?

            I think it's actually an anti-feminist manipulation technique. You say "Dworkin" – internet dude googles "Dworkin" – sees pictures of her (not that there is anything wrong with being fat, but let's not deny that her fatness automatically discredits feminism for 95% of internet dudes) – suddenly internet dude agrees with you about those crazy fat angry feminists

      • nonA

        Words are defined by use.

        If most uses of the word “privilege” translate to “STFU and stop thinking critically about what I’m saying”, you can’t be surprised when that’s the way it’ll be read. Just like how when a group of people prides themselves on being dogmatic and radicalized, they’ll get a reputation for being dogmatic and radicalized. (Or are you going to tell me that the core philosophies of, say, the Republican party or MRAs are inherently wrong, as opposed the actions taken by members of said groups.)

    • LeeEsq

      I'm not really a fan of the modern usage of privilege either but we lack a better word in the English language to describe this sort of behavior. The idea behind the modern usage is right but the use tends to be overbroad like the legendary men taking up too much use on transit tumblr. I think the word privilege is also used in a way that puts people on the defensive rather than getting them to rethink their position. It tends to lead to rather sloppy debating to and is used as a sort of check mate move rather than a way to substantial address any point made by the opposite side regardless of the merit of the same point. From what I can tell about the origin of the modern usage, it was a checkmate move rather than a substantial debate.

      Finally, I think when most people hear the word privilege, that is most people not deeply connected to blog culture, still assoicate the term privilege with rich snots rather than the modern internet usage.

      • Ok, when someone tells you to "check your privilege" on the internet, it's not a check mate move, it's basically the person is saying, that whatever opinion you are currently espousing is coming from a place that has not experienced the oppression that is being experienced by the other people in the conversation, and that your opinion in the situation might not just be relevant to the conversation or might actively be making things worse.

        I know it's hard as a white person, or a dude, to hear that your opinion is not always valued in every conversation. I've definitely been there myself, especial

        • Vancouverois

          When someone tells you to "check your privilege" on the internet, nine times or more out of ten that person is simply trying to get you to shut up and sit down.

          It certainly isn't a checkmate move; but the vast majority of people who say it behave as though it is.

        • LeeEsq

          Thats pretty much what I'd call a perfect example of checkmate move in a debate, a way or at least an attempt to get somebody to show up without substantially responding. Its not really a way to win a debate because the number of times "check your privilege" gets interpreted the way you want it to is practically nil. Most people just hear "shut up and sit down" as Vancouverois states.

          I'm also going to argue that the requirements of democracy and the norms of free speech does not allow the victims of oppression to receive a veto point in debates. Everybody gets to make their point even if they ignorant, privileged, or actively evil.

          • It also doesn't give a pass to treat others poorly or (as you said) silence their concerns or deny that they may face injustices in places where you have privilege. Or to play victim olympics, which is a sadly popular sport in these debates.

            I came up kind of hard and am from a group that got the short end of the stick more than once, but still have some advantages others don't. Like I can fly easily while brown as long as I sport some beadwork, turquoise and braids.

          • yes, legally you are allowed to talk, but no one is legally required to listen or take you seriously. I think before you start a movement to make the language we use to discuss oppression more palatable to your white man feelings, or we discuss how upset you were that one time in your life someone did not find your opinion valuable, can we talk about why you think it's even okay to debate victims of oppression about their oppression?

            "As a woman, you often fear for your personal safety, and everything you do, on a professional or a personal level, is always framed in terms of your physical attractiveness? Oh, well, that's kinda like how women don't want to have sex with me because I'm short."

          • LeeEsq

            Your assuming that I consider myself white. I don't consider myself white, I consider myself Jewish. We get classified as white or people of color depending on how it would best screw us at the time.

          • I don't know if you recall, but I'm Jewish too. Jewish people still have white privilege. When you walk into a store, do the employees watch you closely or follow you around? When you call the police in an emergency, can you trust they won't shoot you? In all the years you've lived in NYC, have you ever been stopped and frisked?

          • LeeEsq

            Meh, saying Jewish people have white privilege is a way for non-Jews not to have deal with anti-Semitism, especially when it comes from a non-white person.

          • I should also point out that I immigrated here from the former soviet union, so I know what anti-semitism looks like, because no one does anti-semitism like the Russians do anti-semitism. However, denying your privilege in one area because you've experienced oppression in another is not constructive, and it is actually how systems of oppression function by pitting marginalized groups against each other.

            I don't know if you've seen pictures of me, but I am semitic looking enough that I cannot claim that I experience white privilege because I don't look Jewish if I wanted to. I experience white privilege because I know with full confidence that if my car broke down in bumfuck nowhere and I knocked on someone's door to ask for help, I would *not* get shot in the head. Show me a brown or black person who can say the same thing. I experience white privilege because every time I go on a date I don't have to wonder if the man sitting across from me is only interested in me because he thinks women of my ethnicity are submissive and demure, or exotic and spicy, or have insatiable sexual appetites. Show me a woman of color who can say the same thing.

          • Also a Jew. The way I talk about this is to say that for some people, I'm white all of the time, and for most people, I'm white some of the time. That means I often get white privilege, but I'm never sure when or with whom. Doesn't mean I don't benefit, does mean I can't rely on it.

            FWIW I did not become aware of this until I married a white (like, whitey mcwhiteypants) man. As a white convert to Judaism, he runs into very different issues than I do.

          • Robjection

            Wait, Jewish is a race?

          • It's not . Anti-semitism definitely exists, and is still really pervasive. But white Jewish people still benefit from white privilege. There are of course Jewish people who are also people of color, and talking about Jewishness as a race actually erases the experiences of Jewish people of color, because they experience oppression even within Jewish communities.

          • LeeEsq

            Its a very complicated subject but my answer is that Jews count both as a religious community and ethnic group because we share categories of both. At least until relatively recently, Jews have practiced endogamy to such a degree that most Jews are distant cousins on a genetic level. A Jew from Eastern Europe has more genetically in common with a Jew from say Yemen than either do with the surrounding non-Jewish populations.


          • Jews are an ethnic group, but we are not a race, anymore. Race is technically a social construct, meaning that it's more about whether you are perceived as white or non-white. After the holocaust, the government consciously portrayed Jews as white people to drum up sympathy in the populace in order to garner support for the increased influx of Jewish immigrants, because I don't know if you know this, white people don't really care about massive amounts of dead non-white people. So, after WWII, the government erected holocaust memorials and talked about how we went into the war to save all those suffering Jewish people, when in reality, no one gave a shit about Jewish people dying until people started seeing us as white. And that is the story about how Jews became White.

          • Max

            " I don't know if you know this, white people don't really care about massive amounts of dead non-white people."

            Whoa, is no one else going to call this out? I know we're playing the Victim Olympics, and I lose as a white male non-immigrant, but still. That's kinda an awful thing to say.

          • Show me one example in history when White people(as a whole) cared about the massive death of non-white people? During the most recent drone attacks on fAfghanistan? Or during the Iraq War? Or maybe during the first Gulf War? What about the apartheid in South Africa? What about all those black people dead so that your fiancee can wear a pretty stone on her finger? How about the Vietnam War? How about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What about US slavery? How about the genocide of Native Americans? The Crusades against the Moors?

            Yes, please someone call me out for my being awful towards white people.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            One of the problems with the social construct of race is that its a moving target. Do Eastern Europeans count as white for this example? What about Russians? Italians? Irish? Do we use our current definition or the one that defined "white" at the time of a given historical event? If we're talking "white people as a whole", how do we count anything that the Western and Eastern Europe disagreed over?

            You're kind of cherry picking your examples Apartheid in particular, I question your definition of "care". Would we have cared more or less if the US had invaded? Are we counting all of Western Europe and North America in that or just the US and Canada? Do the Civil War and Abolition movements not count as caring because slavery overbalances it? Was the first Iraq war because white people didn't care about brown (Iraqi) people or because they did care about brown (Kuwati) people? Is Spain better or worse than England for having a more open policy towards Muslims but having the Spanish Inquisition in the Middle Ages and for being more accepting of American natives who converted to Catholocism?

            You could argue that a lot of Euro-American intervention is sold to the public in terms of caring. . . a really condescending caring: from religious conversions in the New World to every regime change in Iran. So if this is going to be a debate, let's go ahead and clarify our terms because I get your point but I do think you're painting with a bit too broad a brush. We can't really discuss it unless we mean the same things by "white" and "care", though.

          • When I say white, I don't mean the US or Canada. I'm talking about the colonizing White. As in, how White people have gone in and decimated whole continents and destabilized governments for financial gain, and literally no one cared, because white people (as a whole, the structure, not individual white people) only have the capacity to gather their great white empathy for other white people. I could argue that missionary intervention is the equivalent of killing whole cultures.

            Also, if you study history, the point of the civil war was not to end slavery. The only reason Lincoln abolished slavery was to hurt Southern means of production.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Yes and no. The abolition movement was a thing in the US since before it was the US. The quakers in particular were behind it as a whole. Lincoln didn't believe in racial equality but in his letters he makes it clear that he felt a moral obligation to end slavery. You can argue that it wasn't the primary reason for the war and have good ground to stand on but defining the will of American white people in the 1860's (which did not include Italians and Irish) by that motivation or lack thereof is like defining what white people today care about by basing it on the Tea Party. It wasn't a nuanced thing, just a strongly divided one.

            Can I provide one example of Haitian disaster relief or intervening in ethnic cleansing for every bad example historically? Well first, of course not because the farther back you go, the more brutal the world gets as a whole. It'd be more accurate to say that national governments don't much care about anyone in other nations except as it preserves their own interest. On that level there really isn't a white privilege. There's a north of the equator privilege.

            Europe, East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East have all spent most of history doing far more fighting internally than externally. In modern definition that would mean killing members of their own race (or more often, different races to their view that we don't distinguish now) while ignoring others. For every Rome there's a Ghengis Kahn that doesn't make white excess more acceptable but illustrates that historically such excesses are the province of anyone who can do it, regardless of race.

            Now since the original context was redefining Jewish people as white so that white people would care, you've probably got a point in that specific example. There you're talking about 1940's US in particular. I haven't read anything that makes your point about redefining Jews as white so that America would care and enter the war but I follow the logic and I see where that's how it could have gone down.

            Historically, though, I'd say most people don't care about people of another race. They're far more concerned with helping or hurting the next political unit over from the one they're in.. Race might be used to motivate that but so might religion. In the end, though, the real motivation is almost always resources.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "Also, if you study history, the point of the civil war was not to end slavery."

            Technically true, I suppose; the North didn't start the war to end slavery, the South started it to preserve slavery.

            "The only reason Lincoln abolished slavery was to hurt Southern means of production."

            Well, that and to kill Confederacy credibility in Europe, ensuring that neither England nor France would recognize the South as a sovereign state and come to their aid. And because while Lincoln viewed slavery as a price he was willing to pay to preserve the Union, once the Union could only be preserved through force of arms he was freed to end* a practice he found personally abhorrent.

            It's more complex a topic than you're giving it credit for.

            * — Well, initiate the beginning of the end, at least. The initial Emancipation Proclamation did nothing for the slaves in border states fighting for the Union, and contained within it an olive branch that would have preserved slavery if the South surrendered promptly. (They didn't.) But once the war was decided, Lincoln was one of the driving forces behind the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, which was as unambiguous an abolitionist position as a politician could take.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            There have also been times when white people didn't much give a crap about the massive death of other white people; the fire-bombing of Dresden, anyone? Stalingrad? The entirety of World War I?

            I don't think it's productive to frame the issue as a "white" thing; it's a human thing. Historically, humans have always divided ourselves into "our people" versus "other people," and getting large numbers to empathize with the Other will always be an uphill battle.

            "Race" is certainly a common place to draw that (ridiculous, arbitrary, harmful) line, and expanding a definition of race has been used to include more people under one side's umbrella. But it's hardly the only place that line gets drawn to lethal effect, and framing it as a racist moral failing strikes me as reductive.

          • There's a difference between the way white people waged wars against each other and how white people have gone in and murdered massive amounts of white people for "resources". For some reason, many European countries' govts and borders were still preserved after intra-European wars (yes there were exceptions), but not the type of complete upheaval that colonization has done to Africa or South America.

          • Max

            You do realize if I was making similar generalizations about you, you'd be pretty freaking furious (show me one example of a Jew being generous with his money! Or an example of a woman being actually good at sports!). Like, I don't want to get all "oh i guess its okay to make fun of white people but no one else," but seriously, this is some offensive stuff. Quite a few white people did care about those things, and quite a few not-white people didn't. Painting white people as the Greatest Evil the World Has Ever Known isn't just racist, it's pretty darn unhelpful to the conversation.

          • I don't even need to reply to this. You've made my point for me.

          • Max

            Wait, so you are actually arguing that white people are inherently evil? Am I misunderstanding you? Are you a liberal strawman brought to life?

            Checking your privilege doesn't mean acknowledging that your group is more likely to oppress than other group, it means acknowledging that your race is way luckier than other groups.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            It's funny seeing how recent immigrants from Russia become confused by traditional American racial categories. In Russia, the Caucasians (Chechens, Georgians, Armenians, etc.) are generally dark-haired and olive-skinned, effectively perceived by ethnic Russians as people of color. A fair-skinned, blue-eyed ethnic Russian will get to the end of the list, having categorically eliminated all the options, and have absolutely no idea what they should do.

          • I think that is why they switched to white, non-Hispanic in the late 80s/early 90s. I want to say the 1990 census introduced the new categories. Of course it still baffles recent immigrants from Central Asia an the Middle East because they know they aren't Euro white, but don't fit anywhere else.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        This is why I like the easier difficulty level metaphor. It doesn't have the connotations of privileged as in born wealthy wealthy. It also makes it clear that its not your fault for having or even benefiting from it. Like GH's "II just want you to be aware" above, it doesn't come with an implicit demand to wipe your nose. Its also easy enough to convey in a setting where "privilege" isn't usually used in this sense.

  • Dallian

    I guess I knew male privilege existed in comics, but I didn't know it manifested this way with the editors and creators as well. Is this pretty common at comic cons's and the like? I haven't been able to make one yet though I'd love too at some point…

    • Non-Troll Guest

      Can't say I've ever seen it, every con I've been to the guys have either kept a mile away from any booth girl or awkwardly posed for one or two "hoverhand" photos.

      • Wondering

        So the only women you've seen at cons are booth babes? Got it.

        It's easy to not see bad things happening to women when you don't acknowledge the existence of all the women there.

        • Non-Troll Guest

          Where on earth did I say that? I've also seen 10-15 pets at Cons but I didn't mention those in that comment either. I don't believe in ghosts, but if they exist there might have one or two haunting the building the cons took place in.

          • eselle28

            Oh, goodness. Is this you again, NQB?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            I thought from the comments of the other day that this NQB character was hated because of their use of non-sequiturs? Why are these same non-sequiturs allowed when it's established comment makers posting them?

          • eselle28

            Personally, I disliked him because of his tendency toward ridiculously negative exaggerations and petty bickering, which seem to be in evidence here.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            It was the frenzied self-victimization and deliberate obtuseness to the point of trolling that did it for me.

          • Robjection

            "Can't say I've ever seen it, every con I've been to the guys have either kept a mile away from any booth girl or awkwardly posed for one or two "hoverhand" photos."

            No mention of what the guys do to women who are not booth babes.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Because from what I've seen girls at cons are either with an equally nerdy guy they're holding hands with or in a large cosplaying group so don't get any attention, even from the more confident/arrogant/arsehole male nerds there. I don't know how me not seeing something, so not commenting about it means I am not acknowledging women go to Cons.

            Seems like you only want to read comments from people who have seen someone attempt to rip a random girl's top off in the middle of the convention centre. If you'd established that I wouldn't have bothered posting.

          • Robjection

            "I don't know how me not seeing something, so not commenting about it means I am not acknowledging women go to Cons."

            Technically, it doesn't mean that. For information on how it might be interpreted to mean that, I refer you to this comment.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "Technically, it doesn't mean that."

            Then why was it instantly an accusation thrown at me?

          • Robjection

            I'm guessing you didn't read past that one sentence you quoted.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            But again, why are you directing at me rather than the person who threw a complete baseless accusation at me for something, by their admission, I didn't even say?

          • Robjection

            Short version: some assholes have ruined the phrase "I haven't seen it" for everyone else.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Or some people will now immediately think the worst of someone by adding their own ending and/or true meaning to anything they read of hear rather than take the 30 seconds to ask that person to clarify their position.

          • Robjection

            I'm not giving an asshole the chance to clarify their position.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Even when its you adding the very thing that makes them an asshole to the end of something they say based entirely on experiences with someone the person you're prejudging has never even met. Meaning your default position is everyone is an asshole, what a joyous and healthy approach to life that must be.

          • Robjection

            This is a discussion about sexual harassment, which is a hot topic. We're supposed to assume everyone's an asshole until they prove otherwise. Most people in this comment section have proven otherwise, if not here then in previous discussions. You, on the other hand …

          • Non-Troll Guest

            I've been proven otherwise by having people I'm assuming you'd call friends add something to my initial post, ignore the follow up and liken me to a racist and someone who denies war crimes?

            With friends like that who needs assholes?

          • Robjection

            The thing you're saying we added to your initial post is something that the typical user of phrases like "I haven't seen it" in a discussion on sexual harassment implicitly adds themselves. Why should any of us believe you don't do the same thing?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Because I didn't say the thing you automatically added to my post and you know absolutely nothing about me as a person?

            This isn't "I'm not racist but…" – I was saying I hadn't seen it happen. No denial of it happening in any of my comments whatsoever. All, entirely in you and the other persons' heads. Entirely.

            If you're asked whether Mr X is commonly somewhere and reply "I haven't seen him" do you then have to go into detail about yours views on sexual harassment just to be safe?

          • Robjection

            "Because I didn't say the thing you automatically added to my post and you know absolutely nothing about me as a person?"

            You keep forgetting: this is a discussion about sexual harassment. A hot topic issue. Newbies in the privileged group (in this case, men) don't get good faith.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            The person asked if it is a common thing at cons. I haven't seen it happen, that is all I said. I haven't seen someone murdered right infront of me, if I said that to you would you automatically assume I don't believe anyone has ever been murdered?!

          • Robjection

            I already explained how "I haven't seen it happen" is a phrase with a tarnished reputation. You have to work with that tarnished reputation.

            Blame the assholes who caused it to gain that reputation, and learn from this not to use that phrase without explicitly clarifying that you are not trying to minimise other people's experiences.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            No one's going to ask you to clarify if you mean nigger as an insult to black people or as an old south term for a lazy good-for-nothing, either. Nor should they.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Oh fantastic, so now for NOT saying something – I'm being likened to a racist.

            So that is sexual assault denier, racist…any other accusations to be thrown at me for something that as added to a comment I made by other people's prejudices?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Yeah, that's the terrible, terrible thing about language. Other people have to interpret it before it has any meaning. I'll spare you the rehash of implicit language above.

            If you're so concerned about how we're misinterpreting you, why have you showed more interest in that misinterpretation than you have in the topic at hand? You want to prove you care? Show some interest in what you can do to help even if you don't see it going on personally and it'll do a lot to change people's opinions.

            Less gentlemanly: you, sir, are a troll and not an especially good one.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "If you're so concerned about how we're misinterpreting you, why have you showed more interest in that misinterpretation than you have in the topic at hand? "

            Because I've been accused of being a sexual assault denier! How the hell would you take that, especially when it is not even based on something you said but on something you didn't?

          • Here's a script I often use when I've miscommunicated:

            "Whoops! I didn't mean to sound that way. Thanks for letting me know how I came across. What I meant is [rephrase / restatement]."

            You might want to try it next time you accidentally sound like a jerk. Assuming, you know, it's an accident.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            How am I miscommunication when people have to, by their own admission, ADD something to the end of my post or their own meaning based ENTIRELY on their past experiences to come to the conclusion that I am a sexual assault denier?

            I answered a question as to whether women at cons being groped was a common thing by saying I hadn't seen it happen to booth girls during my experience at cons. When that was turned into me denying non-booth girls even went to a Con I explained why I focused on booth girls as I hadn't seen anyone who doesn't fall into that category get any attention at all due to the circumstances of their visit (i.e. in a group or clearly with a guy)

          • Here's something you could have said:

            "Whoops! I didn't realize that by focusing just on booth girls, I was implying that other women don't have problems at cons that are worth worrying about. Thanks for pointing that out."

            If you're really confused about how you managed to come across the way you did, you can add something like, "I'm still not entirely sure why this came out wrong, and I'd like to avoid sounding this way again. Would someone be willing to help me understand?"

            Note that there's no arguing or defensiveness in either of the things I just typed. Nor is there any hysteria about being "accused" of anything. Miscommunicating is normal. It happens to everyone. It's when you decide that you have to go down defending your miscommunication that you start to look like a real asshole.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "Whoops! I didn't realize that by focusing just on booth girls, I was implying that other women don't have problems at cons that are worth worrying about. Thanks for pointing that out."

            What, like I did by explaining why I focused on them straight after the initial outrage?

          • SpiltCoffee5

            The issue there was you still wrapped that explanation with defensive wording, so it hasn't been interpreted in a similar manner to what kleenestar has suggested.

          • eselle28

            "Oh, I'm sorry. I don't think I got my point across very well. What I meant was [whatever I meant]. So, [further constructive thoughts on the matter or relevant question]."

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Do I have to do this with everything someone ADDS to my comment to base their opinion on me? Because I haven't clarified that despite not being around to see World War 2, I do believe it happened.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Yep. That's how dealing with communities works. Its also how language works.

            Since you bring up WWII, the phrase "I went to Daschau and I didn't see any convincing evidence of mass exterminations" carries an implicit statement of non-belief, too.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Oh of course, someone asking the community whether sexual assaults (plural) were common at cons (plural) and answering that I hadn't SEEN any in my time at cos (not heard, not read, not been passed a note about at the back of the classroom) is comparable to denying mass murder.

          • Wondering

            Except Dallian didn't ask about sexual assaults. He asked about "this" in reference to the original article which only includes sexual assault as one type of sexist treatment of women, but doesn't even claim it's the most common. So the only person I see making this specifically about sexual assaults is you.

            I'm not sure who you're referring to in accusing you of being a sexual assault denier. If you mean me, since I made the first comment, that was not what I said or intended (see again re: OP not about sexual assault). To me, you came across as oblivious, but that's not that same thing as denying.

            This sense of obliviousness was heightened by your response to Dallian's original question, which was a yes/no question. Your answer was not yes or no. It was "I haven't seen." Well, okay, that seems really oblivious, but whatever. But it's not a definitive statement about what's happening at cons, even the ones you've been to. I bet there were women treated badly, in the way the article discusses, at the cons you've been to. Even the women with Approved Male Escort (aka boyfriend) or in large cosplay groups.

            Also, for me personally, I never thought you were a troll. Again, just oblivious. And now further oblivious to why your comment comes across as denying or erasing the existence of other women at cons and how it could be taken badly.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Well I can't answer yes or no to whether it is common because I haven't been to every single convention that has been organised have I? Therefore I gave my personal experience that I hadn't seen it. That was then somehow thrown to the fact I deny the existence of non-booth girls at conventions, again I have no idea how considering I made no reference to there ONLY being non-booth girls at conventions and then even explained why I focused on the experience of non-booth girls. But no, that wasn't enough for people.

          • SpiltCoffee5

            Ok, so if your answer to the yes/no question of whether it is common or not is "dunno", why even respond? Your response hasn't added anything to the conversation in the end.

          • eselle28

            So now what you do is the last bit. Stop arguing about the fact that people argued with you. Stop trying to compare reactions to other commenters. Drop the issue and start talking about the subject matter in a constructive way.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            The person accused of being a sexual assault denier based on nothing has to drop the issue and talk constructively?

            May I ask the judges, jury members and character executions to practise what they preach?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Sure. I think the very invisibility you mention is one of the most pernicious parts of the problem. The fact that this becomes a missing stair scenario highlights the fact that we need to do more to make sure that this sort of behavior is visible when it occurs. Guys should know what to watch out for and should certainly give a woman with such claims a fair hearing rather than drowning her in a sea of venom.

            What do you think?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "What do you think?"

            Ask everyone else, they seem to know exactly what I really think regardless what I post.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Practiced what I preach twice now, dropping it and asking you for a real opinion. You have failed twice.The taunting will now resume for the amusement of others. Let me know when you want to step up to the plate for strike three.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Just after you put down the Beginners Guide to Insults? Typing one handed must be slowing you down.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Much better, thank you.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            You might want to pick it up again, that was crap.

          • Cait

            I think when you're dealing with a missing stair, the only appropriate response is to yell "MISSING STAIR" to the person behind you so they don't fall.

          • FormerlyShyGuy

            Short answer yes, it is your job to be as clear as possible if you want to communicate, if you get taken out of context or misinterpreted or wrote something you did not fully understand the meaning of then yes it is on you to clarify.

            People may still disagree with you but your job of expressing your opinion will be properly accomplished.

          • Cait

            Agreed. Derailing several subthreads at once isn't a great way to prove that what you really meant was "I haven't seen it, but I don't deny that it happens."

            You wanna make that your takeaway? Please, please do so.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "Derailing several subthreads"

            Is this also directed to the posters who claimed I was NQB and then started a discussion about that character?

          • Cait

            I don't speculate on your identity and I tend to just skim those side discussions as well.

            Of course, NQB was banned, and we have had banned people come back in poor disguise. So perhaps it was a relevant discussion. I don't know enough about the banned people to contribute.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "[W]e have had banned people come back in poor disguise."

            To be specific, NQB did exactly that — Doc caught him using the (fairly common) name "Guest" as a sock-puppet.

            Later, a newcomer (who sadly hasn't popped-up in a while — a real shame) switched from the name "Guest" to "Non-Troll Guest" in part to differentiate themselves from NQB's known sock-puppet.

            And then there are the similarities in discussion style and word choice.

            Add it all up, and there's nothing anybody would consider "proof." But it's damned fishy.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            So by turning a conversation into a NQB hunt people are doing the very thing NQB/Guest got banned for?

            When do their bans kick in, if this is a site wide rule?

          • Mel_

            NQB did not get banned for accusing other people of being sock puppets.

            Out of curiosity, why did you decide to start using the name "Non-Troll Guest"? Regardless of who you are, it is rather sketchy that a different person (and I know it was a different person, because she identified herself as a woman) got the suggestion to use a different name, picked "Non-Troll Guest" and used it a few times herself, and then in the very next post you showed up using that exact name which no one else had used previously. I have trouble believing it's a coincidence and you didn't see her using it first. What possible good reason could you have for using a name someone else has already chosen specifically to differentiate herself from others?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            No, they got banned for turning conversations into other topics apparently, just like this one was turned into a discussion about NQB. Which was my entire point…or was it, I might have been denying the Holocaust, it's hard to keep up with other people's perceptions of my posts.

            You better get talking to Max…his username is exactly the same number of characters different to yours as this is to the username you're talking about.

          • enail0_o

            Not-Troll Guest, I'm wondering, what are you hoping to get out of posting here? It doesn't seem like you're looking to get advice or to share advice with others, or that you're finding anything enjoyable about interacting with this community. But there must be a reason you're hanging out here still. What are you hoping for?

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Hey, is that a shiny new Intense Debate account I see? 🙂

          • enail0_o

            Yeah, I figured if people were going around posting with the same name as other non-registeredcommenters, it was probably about time. Or long-past time.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          So you, a guy, haven't seen behavior that other males often go to some effort to conceal. Which is more likely: that they are successful in concealing it or that all quoted sources above are making it up? Occam's Razor says your lack of noticing does not constitute evidence against there being an issue for people who are not like you.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Again, where did I say it was made up? Please show me.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Never said you did. I asked you an honest question.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            With an extremely heavily loaded question.

          • Dallian

            Points for Occam's Razor comment! 😀

          • Dallian

            I'm actually a scientist in real life. This is always the rule of thumb. The model or theory with the least underlying assumptions is the best. That being said, human nature is not this way. We tend to put unnatural bias on our own experience–sort of a: "the world might be lying to me reaction." I understand in this case, as men, and not looking for this behavior, it is fairly common that we will not observe it. I don't think DNL was saying if you haven't seen it you're a self-absorbed, subscribing deutsche-bag. More of an encouragement to be more aware and be more proactive when we see it. This I can definately support–and in a more social manner if I can get time away from my work to hit up the Baltimore convention next time it comes around!

    • Dallian

      okay, got it. 😉

      Go to a comic con and pay attention. Be proactive in calling out behavior instead of ignoring it. I can't really make a judgment call until I've been in the environment described–I guess I'm more of a passive fan– but if Dr NL is bringing it up I'm gonna assume this abuse is both widespread and entrenched. Anything else I can do to support women in the industry and discourage this behavior?

      • Gentleman Johnny

        A lot of cons lately are instituting policies to deal with it. The anime cons I know of have a really good record for not tolerating harassment on the con floor. Check your con program, there may be a specific protocol for getting security to intervene if you don't want to throw yourself in the mix.

    • OtherRoooToo

      "I didn't know it manifested this way with the editors and creators as well."

      Well, now you do.

      If you have a little more time for research, check out "Readercon" + harassment + "Genevieve Valentine".

      This kind of thing didn't just start this morning.

  • YubiOre

    "It’s much easier to dismiss women’s concerns, to – as Edidin says – silence women by labeling them as malcontents and squeaky wheels. When we speak up in support, we make it possible for their voices and their messages to carry that much further, to penetrate that much deeper."

    Or they get labeled as "White Knights", whether or not they are actually trying to be legitimately supportive or being a "Nice Guy", and the issue gets dismissed all together. Just wanted to point that out, I don't know how many times that has happened to male friends of mine that defended me from some other guys rudeness. I'd imagine that would make men reluctant to speak out in defense of women.

    • guest

      speaking as an often accused "white knight"… honestly, screw those bastards. I will speak up when i can, and as often as i can, regardless of how some may see me. the issues are real. the people who think i'm supporting equality to get laid can DIAF.

  • Waddles

    Peeps should start learning French so they can read some real comic books. </troll>

    (And yes, bigotry in nerd-centric media is a serious problem that needs to be eradicated. Didn't want this comment to imply otherwise by changing the subject.)

  • Chris Jaramillo

    Brian Wood has responded here:

    "For the last couple weeks I’ve been accused of a lot of very serious things. I feel I have to speak up for myself and for my friends and colleagues who are finding themselves under a sort of scrutiny they don’t deserve. This situation has reached the point where it is affecting people who in no way deserve it, up to and including my family.

    Tess Fowler is correct about this: I did make a pass at her at SDCC Hyatt bar roughly 8 years ago. But when she declined, that was the conclusion of the matter for me. There was never a promise of quid pro quo, no exertion of power, no threats, and no revenge. This was at a time in my career when I had very little professional power or industry recognition. The pickup was a lame move, absolutely, and I’ll accept the heat for having done it, but that’s all it was: I liked her, I took a chance, and was shot down. I immediately regretted it, and I apologize to Ms. Fowler for the tackiness and embarrassment of it all.

    I’ve kept quiet for these last couple weeks because this is a problematic thing to address without unintended blowback. While I believe she is as incorrect as she can be about what my intent and motivations were, I don’t want to encourage any negative opinion directed back at her.

    I think the larger issues of abuse in the comics industry are genuine and I share everyone's concerns. As a father to a young daughter showing an interest in making her own comics, I do really care about this stuff. So I don’t want our difference of accounts to take attention away from that industry-wide discussion that needs to happen."

    • kdz

      Well, if he is lying than he played the whoel situation magnificently, basically turning everything into a "she said, he said" thing and making it seem irrevelant to a lot of people, while also keeping his "feminist cred" by admitting there is a larger issue.
      But… why would Tess Fowler say stuff like that right in the face of a well-established writer if she didn't mean it?

    • Sophie

      So many problems with this. The incident happened in 2007, long after Wood was an established writer with mainstream credits and even some Eisner nominations. Of course a young girl like Tess Fowler would think he had a lot of power! Certainly more than she did.

      I can't believe he's trying this "What, little me?" tactic.

      The very fact that he can go to a bar at a convention function and get networking done puts him a step up the ladder from a woman who can't go to a bar at a convention function and be treated as anything but a potential sperm receptacle.

      Hey Wood, a word of advice: go home to your wife.

    • "I have a young daughter, so of course I care about women" *side-eye*

      • Phoenix

        I wonder how he'll feel when some gross guy does this shit to HIS daughter.

        I wonder if he'll care then.

        • eselle28

          He'll make a bunch of arguments about how that situation is different from this other one.

          Which is one of the reasons that the wives and daughters arguments never go very far with me. Aside from pushing the idea that every man is eventually going to have a wife and a daughter, it ignores that there are a ton of fathers and husbands who treat women horribly. I'd much rather people concentrate on arguments for men treating women well because women are humans with feelings and it's the right thing to do rather than on concentrating on the ways women are connected to men.

        • MordsithJ

          Sadly, by that time his daughter will have probably learned that it's useless to confide in him.

  • OldBrownSquirrel

    In other posts, we're told that men should approach women and not take it personally when they get rejected.

    In this post, we're told that men who approach women who don't reciprocate their interest — something those men have no good way of knowing in advance — are horrible monsters, a scourge on decent society, who deserve to be publicly condemned.

    Is it any wonder, in light of posts like this, that many men remain reluctant to approach women at all?

    • Gentleman Horndog

      "Tess understood exactly what was being said here – this was a casting couch scenario; play ball (as it were) and perhaps it might get her somewhere, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more. It wasn’t even terribly subtle: according to her tweets, he ran friends of hers off in the middle of a conversation so that he could give her his room number and let her know that he’d be waiting."

      "When she didn’t respond to his invitation, he pitched a fit on the con floor, yelling at her from his booth and demanding to know why she’d stood him up. Of course, because screaming at someone for not agreeing to blow you wasn’t enough, he later confronted her over Facebook and let her know that a) he never had any intention of helping her career, b) that he thought her art was shit and c) she should consider herself lucky that he was talking to her at all."

      It's not that we shouldn't approach women. It's that when we shouldn't be so skeezy about it, and that we should take rejection gracefully when it happens — which it often will. This guy's approach was "Fuck me and it'll be good for your career!" and throwing a big fat temper tantrum when it didn't work. That's not garden-variety flirting; that shit deserves to get called out.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Um. . .no, that's not what's said. What's said is when a man approaches a woman in an inappropriate manner or continues after rejection or makes work in the industry conditional on sexual favors, that's bad.

    • Cait

      Uh, he yelled at her on the con floor because she turned him down.

    • Is it really that hard to see subtly?

      Men should approach women and not take it personally when rejected. The difference between a regular guy and a "horrible monster" (yeah, there's totally language in these sorts of articles to justify that kind of wounded victim mentality) is that a regular guy has a good, respectful approach. It's not the approach that's the problem; it's how it's done.

      A good guy, for example, would not ask a woman to come to his hotel room, *and* insinuate that doing so would somehow get her a job or further along in the industry. That isn't an approach… that is edging right up to the line of professional misconduct (trying to offer job promotion in exchange for sexual favors.)

      You really can't see the difference between asking someone to a cup of coffee, and asking a colleague to come to your hotel room in order to get a leg up in their industry? Really?

    • There's an enormous difference between "approach" and "abuse one's professional standing in an attempt to exploit."

      • NH

        This this this. If there is a power imbalance, the onus is on the more powerful person to make it explicitly clear that there will be no professional consequences to rejection.
        Also, don’t start with false pretenses.If you’re meeting a stranger at a bar and ask them for coffee after a pleasant chat, an interest in sex can be assumed. In work settings, it cannot. When there is room for doubt, it is on the interested party to make their intentions clear, so no one wastes their time.

        How is this hard?

    • Vancouverois

      If you honestly cannot see why the guy's (alleged) behavior in this case was completely inappropriate, then for the sake of all concerned, yes: you probably should not approach any women.

      At least, not until you understand why it was wrong.

      • OldBrownSquirrel

        My attentions were unwelcome. My attentions are unwelcome. My attentions will always be unwelcome. I and other men should continue to refrain from approaching women, Q.E.D.

        To a close approximation, the only men willing to approach women are those who are truly comfortable self-identifying as horrible monsters, a scourge on decent society, who deserve to be publicly condemned, e.g. PUAs. Men who aren't comfortable so self-identifying hang back, lest they risk being perceived as predators and hated for it, and women then complain that the only men who approach them are assholes, which may indeed be true, but not for the reasons they believe.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          I'm willing to approach women and I like to think I'm not a monster. I'm a decent guy who can respect boundaries and is also not afraid to be honest about his intentions. If that makes me an asshole, so be it. Come on, OBS, you've been around long enough to know there's some nuance here.

        • Gentleman Horndog

          Dude. I know you're frustrated, but you're not this clueless.

          It is entirely possible to approach women without abusing a difference in power to try and get into her pants, just like it's entirely possible to not be a scary asshole when rejected. And I'm quite certain you know it.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Sure it's possible. The problem is that this post highlights the risks to men in approaching. If I approach someone, there's a risk that something I say or do can be misinterpreted, and I'll become a public punching bag. This post points out that approaching women isn't actually something men can do without risk of, at the very least, public condemnation. Is it worth the risk? That's the decision guys need to make for themselves.

          • Robjection

            That's odd. I don't recall that coming up in this post. Then again, with the way the comments have gotten sidetracked in other threads so far, I've kind of lost track of what was and was not in this article. Perhaps a quote from the article to support your point might jog my memory.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Which specific point was unclear? That men can be condemned for approaching women? This article is pretty much a case study.

          • Mel_

            He wasn't condemned for approaching a woman, as has been pointed out to you many times already. He was condemned for pretending to want to help with her career to trick her into coming to his room, and for yelling at her and insulting her on Facebook when she didn't. What about this are you having so much trouble understanding? In what universe are those elements of a normal approach?

          • Robjection

            If this article is pretty much a case study of men being condemned for approaching women and not for other things they do to women during or after the approach, then you should have no trouble finding a quote from the article that supports the idea that men approaching women is condemnable, and you should have no trouble explaining how said quote supports that idea. If it requires multiple quotes and explanations, feel free to give as many as needed.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            From the article:

            "If you ask that creator, she might tell you of the never-ending stream of micro-aggressions…"

            "Gender microassaults can be described as overt sexism: "… someone making unwanted sexual advances toward another person.""

            As I mentioned in a previous comment, any approach that was rejected is ipso facto unwelcome. When one person asks another person out, and that person is rejected, the person doing the rejecting may characterize the approach, no matter how politely it was made or how civilly the rejection was accepted, as a microaggression.

            Part of the problem, I suppose, is the "never-ending stream" mentioned in the article. If, at a con, one man approaches a woman, politely and respectfully, she might reject him civilly; the twentieth such man to approach that woman at that con is much more likely to get a strong negative response from her ("What's the matter with this guy? Wasn't I being obvious enough when I rejected the previous nineteen guys?"), and she may perceive his sole singular advance as "repeated" simply because it comes in a context of repeated advances by other men, at which point it is easily perceived as crossing the threshold of harassment, not because he did anything wrong but because men, collectively, have refused to leave her alone and continue to pester her. The proper response on the part of men would be to refrain from being that first guy or that twentieth guy or any such guy but rather to give her a wide berth and to spare her — and all women — the approach. Of course, that's antithetical to the advice given in most articles on this blog.

          • eselle28

            One possible solution would be to keep this shit out of the workplace.

            I think most people acknowledge that pursuing romance with coworkers or colleagues is delicate, and is often better left to people with advanced social skills who are remarkably good at dealing with rejection and breakups. If a man is unsure of his social calibration or just the nervous sort, he could refrain from approaching women in those settings and leave advances to non-professional settings.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            That would solve a lot of problems, but with 130,000+ people at SDCC, most of whom are presumably fans who don't actually work in the industry, there's still going to be a never-ending stream of men approaching women, and most of those men will be rejected. If that's considered a problem, then your proposed solution is only a partial one.

          • eselle28

            The Doctor has explicitly said that cons are a shitty place to meet women. But come on, now. You're taking ordinary dating issues and using them to minimize the experiences of women who are being harassed by their work colleagues.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            This blog isn't primarily about the comics industry; typically, it's more about ordinary dating issues. I'm addressing how this post fits into the broader context of most of the other posts, which are about ordinary dating issues. Granted, there are two possible ways of parsing the sentence I'm dissecting:

            First, a bit of context:

            "talk to enough women in comics and you’d think you were hearing about the goings-on at Sterling Cooper, not about conventions in 2013."

            So we're clearly talking about comic book conventions.

            "If you ask that creator, she might tell you of the never-ending stream of
            – micro-aggressions and
            -diminutive treatment
            from older male creators."


            "If you ask that creator, she might tell you of
            – the never-ending stream of micro-aggressions and
            – diminutive treatment from older male creators."

            Is the problem limited to older male creators, or is the never-ending stream of micro-aggressions, implicitly by con attendees outside the industry, considered part of the problem? The sentence as written is ambiguous.

            DNL: clarification?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Dude, for years this blog has been the following format:
            One advice/self-improvement article per week
            One letters column per week
            One gender issues column per week

            The fact that there's a gender issues column this week is not some big surprise being sprung on everyone out of the blue.

          • ERose

            I do have some serious issues with people who assume any venue where they think a woman is cute is the appropriate venue for trying to jump-start a romantic thing.
            Some places are inherently not that conducive for that sort of thing. Probably you'll get rejected if you approach a woman at an event – like a Con – where her priority is enjoying a unique experience with the people she came with.
            Rejection is an inherent risk of asking any woman out -just because you try doesn't mean you have an automatic right to succeed. Having her reject you and be annoyed that you interrupted her day is an added risk of trying to out of the blue inject yourself and your needs into an experience she probably had her own plans for. Obviously that won't be the case for all women there, but if it's the case for the woman you pick, it's valid for her to want to get back to why she's at the Con and not want to spend 15 minutes or more making sure you don't think she's a bitch.
            If you get her to spend some of her time on you with promises of career assistance then switch goals midstream? Yeah, she's going to be annoyed that you don't respect her or her time better than that. If you respond to rejection with an on-floor tantrum and insults? Yeah, you suck and she's going to think so. This isn't a hard one to figure out.

          • Mel_

            Well, you could interpret it that way… if, y'know, you ignore the multiple examples DNL gives immediately afterward to show what he means by "microaggressions" that are all clearly not just respectful approaches but inappropriate comments and actions.

          • SpiltCoffee5

            I can't place you. Are you seriously so thick you can't understand what other people are saying, or are you just poor at being subtle with trolling?

            I mean, seriously, where the fuck was Brian condemned for approaching Tess? I'm seeing a clear condemnation for Brian for acting like a tool after Tess turned him down, but that is NOT condemnation for Brian approaching Tess in the first place. I'm also seeing condemnation for the WAY Brian was attempting to approach Tess which, again, is NOT condemnation for Brian approaching Tess in the first place. Both of those things are being condemned because Brian was being a jackass about it, but his right to approach women was never condemned.

          • Mel_

            What was misinterpreted here? Are you saying that it's okay to pretend want to have a professional conversation with someone to help their career when you really just want to sleep with them? To yell at someone if they don't take your invitation to come to their room at night? To send them insulting Facebook messages after they've turned you down? Or are you saying those things didn't actually happen?

            Because I don't see how there's any room for "interpretation" here. It isn't like it was just his tone or a random blink of an eye that made the woman upset. He was very obviously crossing several lines. And I don't see why you'd think it'd be hard to avoid doing so such that there'd be any risk of doing it accidentally.

          • Cait

            He didn't cross so many lines on accident and it wasn't just because she wasn't interested.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I'm not addressing the specifics of this incident or any of the other incidents mentioned in the article; rather, I'm addressing the atmosphere that it creates.

            I'll go a step further. If I were a man (which I am) working in the comics industry (which I'm not), I'd be hesitant to approach women regarding any sort of possible professional collaboration lest my intentions be completely misunderstood. It would probably be safer from a professional standpoint to restrict myself largely, if not exclusively, to collaboration with other men (or to women whom it's unquestionably safe to approach regarding possible collaboration, e.g. the Phil and Kaja scenario). Now, is that good for women in the industry? I don't think so.

          • eselle28

            Seriously? This old argument again?

            This is the same claptrap that got up when people started bringing sexual harassment suits in actionable cases (this one obviously isn't). Guess what? 30 years later, there's vastly less sexual harassment in the workplace, and while women still aren't equal, their career prospects have steadily improved. Apparently, fear of sexual harassment lawsuits doesn't prevent men from working with their female colleagues – or at least not most men.

            It takes awhile for anything to get off the ground, but I suspect that as we call more attention to this problem, it will increase opportunities for women in the field simply because it will be less hellish for them. As there are more women, it won't be women who are left out of collaborations. It will be, well, guys with the attitude you described. And that's an okay thing with me.

          • Mel_

            There would be an easy way for your intentions not to be misunderstood. Be actually professional about it. None of the behavior described in the article is remotely professional. Do you think these guys make sexual overtures to their male colleagues? Publicly yell at male colleagues who decline to meet with them? Etc.?

            If a guy suggests a professional collaboration to a woman in a respectful way and she declines because she's worried he wants something else, then that's up to her. How is that so traumatic to the guy, if he's capable of taking a "no"? I'm not seeing any examples of women calling out or vilifying men simply for suggesting a collaboration. Again, there is clear bad behavior going on here, and it is the bad behavior, not the fact that a man is interacting with a woman at all, that is causing the uproar.

            If men decide not to collaborate with women because they–unfairly!–assume most women can't tell the difference between a respectful suggestion and sexual harassment and will respond hysterically to even the slightest possibility of sexual interest, then that is still a problem with the men's attitudes, and they need to be educated that this is unfair and get over it. Men who don't harass need to stop identifying so closely with the men who do harass that they care more about what happens to those men than to the women who face the harassment. It's all part of the same problem, and people pretending it doesn't happen and women acting okay with colleagues and bosses and other people in their industry treating them like sex toys certainly isn't going to fix it.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "If men decide not to collaborate with women because they–unfairly!–assume most women can't tell the difference between a respectful suggestion and sexual harassment…"

            Most? Certainly not. Some? Quite possibly. Is it worth the risk? That's a personal judgment call.

            I also suspect that many men are going to be more reluctant to pursue professional collaboration with those specific women who report sexual harassment due to a perceived greater risk of similar accusations.

            This whole question of collaboration is most relevant to indie comics, where creators are at complete liberty to choose their collaborators. With the major publishers, I get the impression that most creators typically don't get to choose their collaborators but rather have them assigned, in which context this concern is moot. If I'm clearly assigned by a third party to collaborate with someone, nobody's going to mistake my subsequent willingness to collaborate for anything other than doing my job.

          • Mel_

            OBS, you're missing the point. The fact that men might be more reluctant to pursue professional collaboration with women who report sexual harassment–regardless, I guess, of how much evidence there is that actual harassment went on and it isn't just misinterpretation?–is, like I said, all part of the same problem. It is based on assumptions that there can't really be a problem and thus the women are accusing guys who didn't really do anything wrong. If guys would accept that yes, other guys are doing screwed up things and people are right to call them on it, then they would know that they aren't going to accidentally do these screwed up things and so wouldn't worry about it. The only way your paranoia makes sense is if you continue insisting that the behavior getting called out is at all okay or bears any relation to normal respectful interactions.

            See for instance your "Some? Quite possibly." What do you base that on? When have you ever seen a man in the comics industry face public accusations of harassment for simply asking a woman to collaborate with him? I have asked you repeatedly for examples of people facing the sort of outcry you seem to be worried about when they haven't actually done anything wrong, and you've avoided it every time. If it's never happened to your knowledge, why on earth would you assume it happens with any women at all? Why would any guy base his decisions on who to collaborate on something he's never seen happen? And why do you seem to think that it's more important that we not risk guys feeling paranoid for no good reason than that guys who are doing awful things get called out on it?

            I mean, do you seriously think that the comics industry, and the women in it, would be better off accepting regular sexual harassment as part of the job and not trying to change that? That the consequences of trying to change it are worse than letting this behavior continue? I'm asking you honestly.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "I mean, do you seriously think that the comics industry, and the women in it, would be better off accepting regular sexual harassment as part of the job and not trying to change that? That the consequences of trying to change it are worse than letting this behavior continue? I'm asking you honestly."

            I'm not at all arguing that trying to change it is not worth the cost; I'm just pointing out that the cost is non-zero.

          • Mel_

            And yet again, you ignore my request for any examples whatsoever of guys who are being respectful being treated as if they're harassing. If it isn't happening and guys are paranoid about it anyway, then it's the guy's unreasonable paranoia that is creating this "cost", not the people speaking up when they rightfully should. So if the "cost" bothers you, you should be complaining about guys being unreasonable, not people speaking up.

            And if you think that trying to change it is worth the cost, then why are you spending so much time complaining about that cost and acting as if it's a bigger problem? Consider that you haven't once indicated you have any concern whatsoever for the costs women face in the industry. Your comments have been completely focused on how addressing this problem affects men. I'm not sure how you'd expect that to come across as anything other than incredibly insensitive to the people who are hurting the most in this situation.

            Finally, since the "costs" are part of the problem (as explained in my previous comments), I'd argue that once people accept that sexual harassment is a problem, stop making excuses for it/trying to sweep it under the table/shaming women who speak up about it/etc., and instead create an environment where women can do their work without being treated this way, then people will no longer need to make articles about the problem, women will be able to expect to get help through regular channels and not have to make a public outcry about it, and so on. And so men won't see these things that would make them paranoid. And the cost would go away. So the solution to that "cost" is to finish making the change. And people like you, by complaining about the "costs" and "consequences" of changing the situation, are making it harder for that change to fully happen. You are contributing to the cost yourself.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            How I'm interpreting this, given that *any* instance of a man approaching a woman *may potentially* be characterized as harassment:

            "I'd argue that once people accept that [men approaching women] is a problem, stop making excuses for it/trying to sweep it under the table/shaming women who speak up about it/etc., and instead create an environment where women [are no longer approached by men], then people will no longer need to make articles about the problem, women will be able to expect [not to be approached by men] and not have to make a public outcry about it, and so on. And so men won't see [condemnation of men for approaching women]. And the cost would go away. So the solution to that "cost" is to finish making the change. And people like you, by complaining about the "costs" and "consequences" of changing the situation, are making it harder for that change to fully happen. You are contributing to the cost yourself."

            If the behavior of men approaching women is completely eliminated, because it's so heavily stigmatized, then… men will be able to approach women again? Sorry, that doesn't follow.

          • Mel_

            Yeah, that totally makes sense. I say repeatedly that the problem is not approaches in general but approaches that very clearly cross a line into obvious harassment, and you… choose to ignore that and continue to interpret the "problem" as any man approaching any women, and then treat me as if I'm the one not making sense.

            Let me lay it out for you very, very explicitly.

            The problem is not men approaching women.

            The problem is men working in male dominated industries making clearly crude remarks, pushing for sexual attention in exchange for career opportunities, yelling at and insulting those who decline to give that attention, toward/with their female colleagues. The above are the examples given in the article; the above are what people are getting upset about; the above are clearly not just "approaches" but sexual harassment. That is the problem I suggested needs to be solved, and yes, if that actual problem was solved, I think there would be fewer tensions between the genders and men would have less reason to worry that a respectful approach might make someone uncomfortable. (Note: Feeling uncomfortable does not equal public outcry. You still haven't provided any examples of this actually occurring after a respectful approach.)

            Again, the problem is not random men approaching women to respectfully flirt with them or ask them out, and then accepting rejections gracefully. No one here is complaining about that. No one here is calling for that to end. The idea that the issue of sexual harassment in the comics industry has anything to do respectful approaches is completely in your head. And given that it's completely in your head, the only person who can do anything to solve that particular "problem" is you, since none of us has any control over what's in your head (as you've demonstrated at great length by ignoring all of us trying to reason with you). So if it concerns you so much, please spend some time alone working through it in your head and stop derailing a conversation about other people actually being mistreated with your unfounded fears.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "And yet again, you ignore my request for any examples whatsoever of guys who are being respectful being treated as if they're harassing."

            This morning I remembered a high-profile case. Of course, there are suggestions that the boy was disrespectful; I suspect he was merely black. At the very least, I think this is a good example of an unexpectedly strong, negative reaction to an approach.

          • Emmett Till is your comparison? Really? You are either ignoranlt or being deliberately oblivious if you are comparing being rejected in a harsh manner to a black man being lynched in the Jim Crow days.

            Really dude, a bit of perspective and knowledge of historical context, please.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Emmett Till was murdered specifically for approaching a woman, and I'm fairly certain that his killers saw themselves as protecting (white) women from unwanted advances (by blacks). It's an extreme example from a different era, but I believe the same mentality is sometimes at work today.

          • isdzan

            Because you aren't from the US I am going to give you a slight pass on grossly misusing history and not understanding that nothing like this is relevant to male/female interactions (white/not white is a different story).

            Find a story where a white man was lynched for whistling at a woman in the Jim Crow South in the 1920s and your gender fears might hold.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I am from the US. I think this is still an issue, even if it doesn't lead to literal lynching any more. There's still a big, if figurative, "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." mentality when it comes to protecting women.

          • Mel_

            As I pointed out below, you haven't given any reason to think it's still an issue. (And really, if men are so concerned about protecting women, how do you explain the fact that so much obvious sexual harassment continues to go on in these industries? If people were really that quick to leap on the slightest sign of misbehavior, then how on earth could behavior like a man yelling at a woman in the middle of a public convention go unaddressed for years?)

            I could think that the sky is orange or lemons are sweet or the current interest rate at the bank is 50%, but somehow just thinking that doesn't make it true or have any bearing on what happens in reality.

          • Mel_

            And yet you still haven't provided a single shred of evidence that it's still at work today! And not only is the only example you've given of this ever happening 58 years old, it isn't applicable anyway, given that:

            -It was clearly more about racial tensions than gender tensions (Till wasn't attacked because he was a man but because he was black).
            -According to the accounts right there in the wikipedia article you link to, his "approach" wasn't exactly respectful, given that the woman says he grabbed her around the waist and made "unprintable" remarks. Do you live in a world where grabbing a woman you don't know and saying crude things is anywhere near respectful? Now, this may not even be true, but it doesn't really matter–she felt she needed to say that to justify how scared she was. Clearly she didn't think, even with the racial tensions, that saying he simply flirted with her and asked her out (if that was all that happened) could be interpreted as a reason to see him as a threat. So by no stretch of the imagination is this an example of a woman being able to vilify a man for making a respectful approach.

            Seriously, if that's the only example you can come up with despite being asked several times, then I don't see how you can think your beliefs are anything but totally unreasonable. Consider: Just this year there was an instance of a man kidnapping and chaining up three women in his basement. Would you think that because of this, it would be reasonable for women to treat all the men around them as if they're looking to kidnap them and chain them in their basements? Somehow, I'm guessing not. Well, treating all women as if they're looking to make a public outcry the second a man approaches them or even tries to collaborate on work with them, and claiming that's a valid reason for men to avoid interacting with women, just because one time 58 years ago a guy was killed for making an (apparently not very respectful and obviously sexual) approach makes even less sense.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "his "approach" wasn't exactly respectful, given that the woman says he grabbed her around the waist and made "unprintable" remarks. Do you live in a world where grabbing a woman you don't know and saying crude things is anywhere near respectful?"

            OK, fine. I'll concede your argument that he was a horrible monster and a threat to women. I'm sure his accuser was completely trustworthy, as it would be heresy against feminism to suggest otherwise. Will you concede that he didn't deserve to be killed for that?

          • Joy

            The *only* person using the words "horrible monster" is *you*. Nobody else has said anything of the kind–and in fact, numerous people have tried to tell you repeatedly that your interpretation of things is skewed and a huge overreaction–yet you continue to try to argue as if people are equating men approaching women with the worst kind of evil humanity has ever seen. If you're going to concede a point, maybe try conceding a point that anyone has actually made.

          • Mel_

            Dude. I don't think you even bothered to read what I wrote (it's certainly not evident from your response), so this is the last time I'm going to bother to try to reason with you.

            I didn't argue that he's a horrible monster or a threat to women. I didn't say anything remotely like that. I simply was pointing out that he is not an example of a man making a respectful approach and being attacked for just that.

            I even acknowledged–twice!–that his accuser might not have been totally trustworthy, but apparently you're so caught up in whatever bizarre mindset started this whole conversation that it seems logical to you to accuse people of the exact opposite of things they've said.

            Of course he didn't deserve to be killed. But that has nothing to do with this conversation. I asked you for an example of a man making a respectful approach and being faced with a public outcry because of that respectful approach. You still have not provided that. You have provided exactly zero evidence to back up your claims that it's reasonable for men to take articles like this as justification for being scared of respectfully approaching women, despite having been asked for it several times. So I can only conclude that you really don't care whether it's reasonable or not, you will believe what you want regardless of what anyone says or any other evidence offered, you are willfully choosing to be unreasonable. So there's really no point in continuing to talk to you, is there?

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Dude. If you can't see why using Emmett Till to illustration your point is absurd and frankly a bit offensive, you seriously need to take a step back from this conversation.

          • Vancouverois

            Holy crap yes. I think it's considerably more than "a bit" offensive.

            Gentleman Horndog is right. OBS, it's time for you to take a step back.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I'm sure his murderers saw themselves as defending the honor of women.

          • isdzan

            Which has f**kall to do with this article or anything about gender relations where women are the ones defending themselves with words, not supposed protectors with lynch mobs (who were going on race because the same actions by a white man in that day would have not had a similar response).

            Seriously, have a reality check.

          • MordsithJ

            Guess I'd better go cancel the scheduled murder of Brian Wood now, brb.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Dude, if that's your example, you're stepping very close to trollville.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            This is some pretty hard-core catastrophizing, man. You're applying this to yourself in the most pessimistic way possible.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            To be fair, and having had my own recent bout of depression, there will always be guys on dating sites who are that far down their own hole that its how they'll take things. The problem with that hole is that it feels like everyone's beating you down into it and no one will help you up when really you're the only one who does either.

            And no, OBS, its not easy to pull yourself out of it and it can't be done instantly, but it can be done.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "The problem is that this post highlights the risks to men in approaching. If I approach someone, there's a risk that something I say or do can be misinterpreted, and I'll become a public punching bag."

            Don't worry, you won't find people like that on here.

          • OtherRoooToo

            " This post points out that approaching women isn't actually something men can do without risk of, at the very least, public condemnation."

            Are you missing the context that several people – not to mention the article – have tried to point out to you?
            Or are you deliberately ignoring it?


          • Sophie

            Context is something these dudes can't process. Basically, anything you can do with one woman, you ought to be able to do with every woman. That's what they're saying. Because treating each woman and each relationship as a contextual one would be work, and would require actually treating that woman as something other than one of a monolithic entity – like an ant – with predictable responses to a known sequence of stimuli.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            When a man gets rejected by a sufficiently large number of women, and especially when it's apparent that rejecting him is an experience that those women find distinctly unpleasant, at some point it becomes reasonable to extrapolate from that and decide that it's no longer worth his while to try. Granted, there is a non-zero chance that some woman might be interested, but if she's not, and the empirically-determined odds are that she's not, and the possible consequences of her not being interested are strongly negative, it may be quite reasonable to assume that it's not worth taking the chance. It's not mere laziness; there's more than just work involved. Many women are truly hurt by unwelcome advances. Would it not be better for those of us men whose advances are so often unwelcome to spare them?

          • eselle28

            If you wish to make this choice, go ahead and make it.

            But you're taking your own, very specific insecurities that you've discussed here in the past and you're using them to minimize frightening, threatening, humiliating behavior experienced by other people. This isn't about you and your fear of rejection. This is about people's livelihoods.

          • Vancouverois

            "you're taking your own, very specific insecurities that you've discussed here in the past and you're using them to minimize frightening, threatening, humiliating behavior experienced by other people."

            Yes, exactly. Very well put. This is why everyone is reacting with varying degrees of annoyance and frustration, instead of with sympathy.

          • Sophie

            All you can think of is your poor heart and chances of success in romance. Tess Fowler and Colleen Doran and every other woman in comics has a right to go to a show and concentrate on her job and making a living without having to shoulder the burden of your emotional struggles. It's a professional venue for them, if it isn't for you, then don't be surprised when you get kicked to the curb.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Would it not be better for those of us men whose advances are so often unwelcome to spare them?

            Then spare them. That's your option. Seriously, I'm not out and about meeting new women right now. I'm not in that frame of mind.

            Just don't blame the article for discouraging you. No one's saying you must approach women with one hand and that any approach is problematic with the other. What you do with your life is your choice. What the people you approach (or don't) do with their lives is theirs.

        • eselle28

          Oh, good grief. I'm going to use an analogy here. I'm sure that throughout your life, you've encountered a variety of people who wish to sell you something – either a product or an idea. Some of them bought time in the middle of your favorite TV show. Some of them shoved pamphlets at you on the street. Some of them called you at home while you were eating dinner. Perhaps someone gave you a hard sell and followed you around badgering you to buy something. If you're especially unlucky, perhaps one of your colleagues hassled you to do business with them in another type of setting, with the implication that it would have an effect on your work relationship. If you're like most of us, you found some of these tactics unpleasant, regardless of the product being sold. In others, you probably didn't mind the encounter, even if you didn't want to buy anything and ended up declining.

          Past and current reactions to you may have been unwelcome because of your tactics or because of your product, or perhaps it was a mix of both. Future interactions will probably not traumatize anyone if you take care with your tactics.

          You're making the Nice Guy argument here, that women should feel they have to accept (not merely not be insulted by, but accept) the advances of men they're not interested in, or else there won't be anyone out there but the assholes. Aside from being horrible, it also denies the fact that there are men out there who are in neither category.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "You're making the Nice Guy argument here, that women should feel they have to accept (not merely not be insulted by, but accept) the advances of men they're not interested in, or else there won't be anyone out there but the assholes."

            I'm not saying women should *accept* the advances of men. I'm saying that strongly negative and highly public responses to the advances of men discourage some men from making any advances lest they risk being similarly pilloried. All I'm asking personally is for gentle, sympathetic rejection, a swift stroke with a sharp ax, not a botched, three-stroke, Mary Queen of Scots job. In practice, since I've self-rejected in advance, sparing everyone involved the approach, I'm not even asking that.

          • Vancouverois

            "When she didn’t respond to his invitation, he pitched a fit on the con floor, yelling at her from his booth and demanding to know why she’d stood him up. Of course, because screaming at someone for not agreeing to blow you wasn’t enough, he later confronted her over Facebook and let her know that a) he never had any intention of helping her career, b) that he thought her art was shit and c) she should consider herself lucky that he was talking to her at all."

            That's Brian Wood (allegedly) displaying a "strongly negative and public response", not Tess Fowler. Remind me who's the victim again?

            Or are you suggesting that she somehow behaved in a way that would make that a rational response on his part?

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            It's not my intention to say what did or didn't happen in any one incident, and I've steered clear of attempting to characterize what happened. Rather, it's my intention to address how readers of this article might perceive the possible consequences of their own hypothetical actions. Articles like this reinforce an atmosphere in which many men don't feel comfortable approaching women because of the real risk that an approach might blow up into a major incident.

          • Mel_

            I'm sorry, but saying that is like saying that articles about dealing with thieves reinforce an atmosphere where shoppers won't feel comfortable going into stores because it might blow up into a "major incident". Normal shoppers don't generally get arrested for shoplifting, and normal guys approaching women don't generally get lambasted online for sexual harassment. If you can find even one example of a guy facing a "major incident" over behavior that wasn't clearly consciously beyond what any normal person would consider appropriate, then I might take this complaint more seriously. But I have only seen "major incidents" over stuff any guy should know isn't okay.

            A guy who reads this article and takes away that he might face the same sort of criticism simply for politely inviting a woman on the date clearly has issues that have nothing to do with the article, and we can't make all things people say cater to those who are totally paranoid or incapable of telling the difference between normal and problematic behavior.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "I'm sorry, but saying that is like saying that articles about dealing with thieves reinforce an atmosphere where shoppers won't feel comfortable going into stores because it might blow up into a "major incident". Normal shoppers don't generally get arrested for shoplifting"

            I actually know someone who was the subject of a bogus shoplifting allegation who resolved never again to shop at the store in question. I believe the chain has since gone broke.

            The big difference is that stores, in general, welcome customers. People willing and able to pay the marked price on an item in stock are almost invariably allowed to purchase said item. A better comparison might be a baby-faced 21-year-old who is reluctant to buy anything from a liquor store lest a skeptical clerk confiscate his or her driver's license, mistaking it for a fake, and post it to a prominent "Wall of Shame." If I were such a baby-faced 21-year-old (which I am not and never have been), I'd be inclined to ask my older-looking legal-age friends to buy for me; if I were such a friend, I'd be entirely sympathetic.

          • Mel_

            Now you're going off on a tangent to avoid the main discussion. I repeat:

            If you can find even one example of a guy facing a "major incident" over behavior that wasn't clearly consciously beyond what any normal person would consider appropriate, then I might take this complaint more seriously. But I have only seen "major incidents" over stuff any guy should know isn't okay.

            So, do you know any guys who approached a woman respectfully, took her rejection calmly, and then were made subject of a "major incident"?

          • eselle28

            I was a babyfaced 21-year-old, and I went ahead and purchased my liquor without anyone else being present, confident in the knowledge that I could call the police and retrieve my ID if a clerk was particularly inept. I don't know anyone over legal age who made their friends buy for them.

            I'm going to point out that you've chosen to substitute a victimless crime for one that involves a victim.

          • Mel_

            And should we avoid having articles posted on the internet about fake IDs because that might make people with real IDs afraid to buy alcohol? Seriously. 😛

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "confident in the knowledge that I could call the police and retrieve my ID"

            You have far more faith in the police doing what you'd like when called than I do.

          • Swinton

            I'm an exceptionally babyfaced 26 year old and have found that when a clerk or bouncer suspects I am under age, I am able to produce more evidence of my age. So I produce a passport and student ID, for example. I'm not inclined to ask someone else to buy me alcohol.

          • Vancouverois

            I see. So in other words, you don't care what the article actually says. You just want to complain that it's wrong for a woman to object to being harassed, because that intimidates any Nice Guy (TM) who might want to ask her out.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "You just want to complain that it's wrong for a woman to object to being harassed…"

            I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm saying it has consequences that aren't immediately obvious, and those consequences are worth bearing in mind.

          • Mel_

            Why? Why should a woman who's been harassed stop and think about how other guys might feel about her talking about what happened to her before deciding to speak up? How is the "consequence" of some very paranoid guys thinking "well, if that guy got called out for being horrible, then I might get called out even if I'm totally nice" remotely comparable to the consequences of a woman having to pretend nothing bad happened to her, the guy getting to continue making other women uncomfortable unhindered, and a toxic work environment being maintained for everyone?

            Are there any other victims of ill treatment who you'd suggest need to take into account the "consequences" to the anxieties of random strangers before they take action?

            Priorities–look into them.

          • eselle28

            Consider them born in mind. The consequences of getting the vaccine that prevents whooping cough leads to some people (like me, today!) having sore upper arms. However, a sore upper arm is nowhere near as serious as getting whooping cough, or giving whooping cough to my niece.

            I can acknowledge the problem of sore upper arms, but I'm going to give someone a bit of a sideeye if they come into a discussion about how horrible whooping cough is and start making a fuss about sore arms, especially if they don't do anything to acknowledge how much whooping cough sucks.

          • Vancouverois

            Others here have suggested that you're suffering from depression; and if that's the case, I certainly don't want to make it worse by piling on you.

            But let's be clear on this: your reaction to this is not a consequence of people acknowledging and addressing instances of harassment. It's a consequence of your depression.

            If you find that hearing reports of actual harassment causes you this kind of crippling anxiety about approaching women, the solution is not for Dr Nerdlove and others to stop speaking out against harassment. The solution is for you to get CBT or some other kind of therapy to help you understand that your anxiety is unwarranted.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            For the record: I'm in therapy, and there's broad agreement that I'm not ready to date yet.

          • Vancouverois

            I'm happy to hear that you are in therapy, and I hope it's helping.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Hey man, good on you for taking the first step. Actually getting up and going is a huge pain and I know it well. I'm a particularly resilient bastard, so I sprung back quick but I was where you are not so long ago.

            I think some of the other commenters have the right of it, even if their phrasing is a bit rough: something that makes people physically safer at the expense of a slight increase in difficulty to others' social life is a good thing.

            So yeah, it kind of sucks that you have to be that much more calibrated but where you are right now, that's not even an issue. Until you're good in your own skin, you're not really going to be putting off the best vibes anyway. Take your time, work on you and if you want we can revisit the whole article in a couple of months.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I get what you're saying. . .I mean, I don't agree with it but I get it. If you're already in a mode where you're afraid that your perfectly innocent and gentlemanly advances may be taken as harassment and publicized far and wide as such then yeah, this is going to make things look pretty bleak. The thing is, that's not how 99%+ of women act. The best way to convince yourself of that is to get out and meet people. Be charming, don't push your agenda too hard, enjoy some time or a conversation or whatever and don't flip your shit.

            In other words, if this article gives you approach anxiety, the only cure (that I know of) is to get out there and approach people in the real world instead of the ones in your (general you, not OBS in particular) head.

          • Hell, 99% of men aren't well known enough that it could be publicized even if someone wanted to. In general if your approach is unwanted at most the woman will tell whoever she is with that night and, unless you grabbed a body part or cornered her, she won't even remember you by the next morning.

          • eselle28

            I have no sympathy here. We're not raking someone over the coals for using a clumsy pickup line or even for hanging around a little too long trying to beg his way out of a rejection. This is an allegation of leveraging professional power for sexual gratification, and then having a screaming tantrum when rejected.

            If that deters a small number of exceptionally paranoid men from approaching women, so be it. Frankly, I think it's a little disgusting that this is your first concern after reading these accounts.

          • Mel_

            Frankly, I think it's a little disgusting that this is your first concern after reading these accounts.

            So much this. Every single woman in the comic industry that DNL knows has been subjected to sexual harassment, and we're supposed to focus our concern on men who might be slightly more nervous about approaching women in general for reasons that don't even make sense given the article? Why is guys having the courage to approach strange women more important than women being able to pursue their livelihoods without being harassed?

          • Word. It is like saying that racism should be given a pass because folks are worried that they will not be able to get a front seat on the bus anymore. Quit navel gazing. This ain't all about you.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "Frankly, I think it's a little disgusting that this is your first concern after reading these accounts."

            Nobody else was addressing that issue.

          • eselle28

            Perhaps that's because it pales in both scope and severity compared to the topic in the post.

          • chinchilla

            Probably because it's not relevant to the discussion.

          • chinchilla

            You actually don't get to demand the way in which you are rejected. No one is obligated to reject you nicely – especially as many women find that soft rejections are often ignored. They don't know whether or not you will ignore their rejection in advance.

            Even if people were to say 'yeah I agree with you, women should reject us nicely' you can't actually make people do that, in much the same way as (to go back to the discussion at hand) you can't stop people looking at you askance if you react like a petulant child to having your gross advances rejected. Which I understand is probably not what you're trying to argue for here, but given the context of the discussion, this is what it sounds like, to me at least.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "You actually don't get to demand the way in which you are rejected. No one is obligated to reject you nicely…"

            Was I demanding? Was I suggesting that anyone is obligated?

            No. Look back at what I wrote. "All I ask…"

            Yeah, I know. Men asking anything is unreasonable and deserving of condemnation. That's what this whole thread is about.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "Men asking anything is unreasonable and deserving of condemnation. That's what this whole thread is about."

            It seriously isn't. If that's all you can see, you really might want to take a breather from the discussion.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Not the article, just this thread.

          • chinchilla

            Saying you want half the world's population to do something just because that's the way you want it is not an demand or obligation? If you say so…

            Some people will accept, some people will politely decline and some will pitch a fit. That's true for anyone who is approaching. Most people deal with this fact of life as a fact of life.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            OK, people, here we have a clear example of a polite request being interpreted as a demand.

            I feel thoroughly vindicated.

          • Mel_

            Right. Because someone feeling that your "polite request" comes across as a demand and calmly telling you so and explaining why is totally the same as a guy making a respectful approach being outed and shamed across the internet as if he's engaged in continuing sexual manipulation and harassment, and thus proves you're right to fear the latter.

            Sorry, no, try again. (Or I'd really prefer, don't, and stop and think for a little while about why this is so much more important to you than women getting to do their jobs without being clearly harassed.)

          • chinchilla

            For some reason I am unsurprised. Can't think why.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Your perception that men asking anything etc is that the whole thread is about. Most of us are trying to convince you that

            1. That's not anywhere near true and

            2. it has almost nothing to do with the article at hand, which is specifically avbout wildly inappropriate behavior and how to make the geekosphere a safer, more welcoming environment for people without penises.

            Nothing in 2 requires that the environment become less welcome to someone with a penis.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I'll concede that the thread is about my perception, which doesn't necessarily correspond to reality. I'll further concede that the thread is tangential to the article.

            For the record, it helps that you've avoided trying to demonize me.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Like I said, man, I spent July-October in a pretty bad place. (Hoboken? *drum shot*) I've been around a couple of other people who were there, too. I recognize the tendency to jump to the worst possible conclusion even when something isn't aimed at you at all. Its really easy to push people away when that's how you're filtering the world.

        • Again, can you really not see the difference between a respectful approach and a jerky one? *The approach is not the problem.* You are focusing on the wrong thing; you are also, without realizing it I hope, making these guys' treatment of women the fault of the women! Saying "Women complain that they don't get approached…" and then going on to claim it's because women creep-shame/bully the "good guys" who approach them is putting all the responsibility right back on women's doorstep for the harassment.

          IF you can't figure out how to approach in a respectful and polite way, THEN your approach is unwelcome. That is ALL anyone is ever saying.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "IF you can't figure out how to approach in a respectful and polite way, THEN your approach is unwelcome."

            In practice, if she didn't want me to approach her, then my approach was unwelcome. Exactly how unwelcome that approach was depends on a broad number of factors, with my respectfulness and politeness being two such factors. In the best such case, an approach is trivially forgivable but nonetheless unwelcome.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Unwelcome, maybe but with a little social calibration its. . .I dunno.. .acceptably unwelcome. Like if I'm on the bus, chances are I don't want to talk to anyone. If someone strikes up a conversation anyway, I'll say something like "look, man, I'm reading" and they'll stop. Or maybe I'll just tune out and nod to whatever they say. Especially among the down, out and lonely, they just want to talk and don't much care who to. You could get up and get off the bus and they'd keep right on going mid-sentence to someone else. I won't hold it against them if we ever meet again. Acceptably unwelcome. Its the guy who keeps trying to shove a religious tract in my face or flips his shit because I won't make time for him that is harassing.

          • Vancouverois

            There is a substantial difference between "unwelcome because I wasn't interested, and now have to go through the unpleasant experience of rejecting somebody who's trying to be nice" and "unwelcome because HE IS COMPLETELY VIOLATING ALL BOUNDARIES OF DECENT HUMAN BEHAVIOR". The two should not be confused, and the second is to be avoided at all costs.

            The first isn't a lot of fun, so it's understandable if you want to avoid it. But it's a necessary risk if you want to have a relationship. And you can rest assured that no worthwhile person will think badly of you for it, or mistake it for the second.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "And you can rest assured that no worthwhile person will think badly of you for it, or mistake it for the second."

            How do I recognize, a priori, people who aren't worthwhile? There's the rub.

          • Gentleman Johnny


            More seriously, if we're talking worthwhile enough not to make your life a living hell just for walking up and saying hi, the non-worthwhile ones tend to be reasonably easy to spot and would be giving off do-not-approach signs that are as clear or clearer than a normal person who doesn't want to talk.

          • chinchilla

            This. You know, in this discussion I actually sort of forgot that rejecting someone is a very uncomfortable experience in and of itself. And now I feel quite weird about forgetting that.

          • MordstihJ

            I would actually rather be rejected than have to reject someone. That was one of the reasons I decided to become the approacher.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            The couple of times I've had to be the one making the rejection it was profoundly uncomfortable. One was a co-worker that several management level people were trying to fix up with me. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

          • chinchilla

            Argh why would anyone try and fix up people who work together? Just nooooooo.

          • MordstihJ

            You think that's bad, I once had to work with this idiot woman who'd wander into my cubicle and read ads from the newspaper personals to me. They eventually got rid of her.

          • chinchilla

            One of those 'if you're not in a relationship your life is not worth living' types?

          • MordstihJ

            That was what I thought at first. But after a long time, careful thought, and analyzing available data, I began to think she was testing to see whether or not I was into guys. Purely out of curiosity, of course.

          • chinchilla

            Ugh. How rude. And a peculiar way of going about it too. Hooray for getting rid of her!

          • Gentleman Johnny

            We were both youngish relative to the rest of the work force. She had been around for a while and was sort of the company mascot, the kind of thing where a lot of the guys had a paternal concern for her. She had a huge crush on me and I absolutely did not feel the same in return. I was also working two jobs, so I had negligible free time anyway. I spent THAT time partying with the crew from my other job (a restaurant) and a coworker there who was considerably more interesting. I literally had to go on one date with her just to get my bosses off my back.

          • chinchilla

            Oh dear. That's awful. People are horrifically thoughtless. That's really poor management too, not seeing how their paternal concern for her turns into coercion on their part for you. (err if that makes sense? Apparently I'm bad at language today)

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Because I was the smart, geeky harmless guy. If they'd known me at the after parties for my other job, they never would have tried.

          • chinchilla

            I find approaching a lot easier to deal with. I'm not very… extroverted? I guess in my approaching, so I try to angle for the mutual approach. It generally involves lots of flirting over a fairly extended amount of time. I'm not a off the dance floor and into public bathroom kind of person.

            It's slow, and it's a lot of work for nothing when it doesn't work out, but it's so much more fun than trying to evade someone's attentions (I'm not really good at straight up saying 'I'm not interested' unless they've pissed me off – in general I dislike hurting people's feelings, I think most people do).

        • Non-Troll Guest

          Oh there is the response, time to make your judgement character call folks.

        • Vancouverois

          Okay then! Have it your way.

          I mean, this entire blog is full of posts breaking down all the reasons why that ISN'T so, how you can approach somebody WITHOUT being a creep, how you can make yourself more attractive, and all sorts of advice on how to make progress in your love life. That's what this blog is all about.

          Even in this single post, you already have over ten people replying to your comment and explaining that this was a bad approach simply because it's wrong for a man to use professional influence to try to pressure a woman into bed, and then harass her and demean her if she doesn't go for it. As thought that even needs any explanation.

          But if you're determined to pretend that you don't get it, and spout typical Nice Guy (TM) nonsense, then have fun. Just don't expect me – or anyone else – to pretend that you're a martyr.

          • OtherRoooToo


            The derail is strong with this one.

        • Joy

          Holy wow. I'm going to assume you are just having a particularly bad day and are grousing and are not seriously this obtuse.

          Look, let's compare "approaching a woman" to something else advocated here: occasional light touching while flirting. Say one day the Doctor recommends touching a woman on the arm when you're telling her a joke, something I'm pretty sure I've seen him say before. Now let's say the next day he tells a story of the time a friend of his was talking with a guy who suddenly reached under her skirt and grabbed her nether regions, and how that was Not Okay. What you're doing is the equivalent of saying, "See, I knew we weren't really supposed to touch women! It's all so confusing!"

          Nobody is saying "never approach any woman, under any circumstances and in any manner, unless you want to be forever publicly branded an evil subhuman." People *are* saying "don't sexually harass, bully, or assault people." The difference is not apples and oranges, it's apples and hand grenades.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            There's a continuum of unwanted sexual attention. At one end of the continuum, there's merely looking at someone (which can be perceived as "staring" or even "leering," neither of which is particularly objective). Slightly past that is unwanted conversation with perceived (perhaps incorrectly) romantic or sexual motive. Then, after a lot of intermediate phases, there's criminal sexual assault. The problem is that when people describe "unwanted sexual attention" broadly (and the term "sexual harassment" similarly isn't always limited to its narrow, work-related definition), it's unclear whether they're complaining primarily about sexual assault (which is a much more narrow term) and the other more objectively problematic behaviors or simply the unwanted looks and approaches. The terms simply aren't sufficiently well-defined; there's a strong tendency to make the terms as broad as possible, at which point it becomes much harder to take such allegations seriously without further details. The difference is pomegranates and hand grenades; they're often described as the same thing (look up the etymology of "grenade" if you're unclear on my point), but to lump them together is inaccurate.

          • Sophie

            Once again, you keep trying to make this about you and your poor, poor confusion over how hard it all is, when the real issue is you refuse to take the time to get to know another human being as an individual and learn what is or is not appropriate behavior with that single human being in context. Whereas your wife may be very happy to have your hand up her skirt, that woman you met in the bar 15 minutes ago will think your tasty pomegranate is a hand grenade. You simply want to have a little checklist to mark off so you can get from Point A to Point B without any hassle. Well, sorry dude, that woman over there from whom you want to obtain sex has an absolute right to whatever boundaries she wants to set with you. And the next woman does, and the next woman does. And those boundaries may be different. Women are human beings, and each one is different and each has an absolute right to her own boundaries. But one very clear boundary is set by simply being a decent person yourself, and not approaching a woman for sex in a professional venue when she is alone, without her friends, and in a potentially hazardous environment like a convention. At the very least, a man should have some respect for himself, and not go trolling for young girls in bars by making a pretense of interest in their work, especially when he has a spouse and baby at home.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "that woman over there … has an absolute right to whatever boundaries she wants to set with you."

            Wow, that's quite a sense of entitlement you have there. That woman has an absolute right to *reasonable* boundaries. Consider the issue of personal space. If a woman on the subway doesn't want to be groped, that's entirely reasonable. If she's on a subway during a time of day when there are many completely empty seats, and she wants a seat to herself, that's also entirely reasonable. If, during rush hour, when there are no empty seats, she demands her own seat, that's unreasonable. If she wants a wide radius of personal space during rush hour when everyone is giving up some of their personal space to squeeze onto the train, that's also unreasonable.

            (I elided the "from whom you want to obtain sex" qualifier as being irrelevant; women might easily infer that men, in general, want to have sex with them and hold that as a default assumption about all men, but it's seldom explicitly stated as such by those men, and it's trivially easy for women to jump to that conclusion without any real justification.)

          • MordsithJ

            Yeah, women who demand private seats on crowded trains are a huge social problem. There's a Tumblr about them and everything.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I neglected to mention that the overwhelming majority of women are far too reasonable to make such absurdly absolutist positions as the one I was critiquing.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Again, dude, you're going for the most radical extreme edge cases you can think of to make some sort of equivalency. There are plenty of articles on here, which you've read I will remind you, that present a fairly clear rule:

            If you go past someone's boundaries with no ill intention, apologize, step it back a notch and don't do it again.

            People who can do that are absolutely, positively, completely, conclusively not the people being discussed in this article.

          • Sophie

            Wow, that's quite a sense of persecution you have to go on and on, conflating an article about personal boundaries with regard to whether or not a woman objects to a crude offer to engage in coitus with a man, and making it about seats on a subway. WTH.

            Moreover, since the article is about a man who approaches a woman for sex in a way that skeeves her out, and she has every right to be skeeved out, and you decide that this really isn't all about men approaching women for sex…well, gosharootie. Maybe you should learn to stick to the subject, then you wouldn't have to worry about getting a seat on the subway via a Dcotor Nerdlove article.

            Dude, there is something absurd going on here, and it is between your ears.

            Women wanting to much space on the subway…yeah, fight the real enemy, this is what personal boundaries discussions are all about.

            The logical fallacy of false equivalency is strong with this one.

          • SpiltCoffee5

            Re-read what you quoted, I think you missed a couple of words.

    • eselle28

      The problem here isn't that a man approached a woman. It's that he approached a colleague in a particularly skeevy, work-related way and then behaved like a scary asshole when she didn't accept his invitation.

      If you accept rejection gracefully and don't hit on colleagues, neither of these things should be a problem. If you accept rejection gracefully and are willing to do the delicate work of distinguishing between personal and professional when hitting on a colleague, you should also be fine.

    • Non-Troll Guest

      I'd argue that this is far more a sexual assault denying or belittling post than my comment on my con experiences but heck, what do I know?

      • Well, we'll have to wait and see whether OldBrownSquirrel responds to people with thoughtful conversation or with hysterical exaggeration.

        • Non-Troll Guest

          "hysterical exaggeration"
          To be labelled a sexual assault denier based on a less than 50 word comment.

          Also, wait, they get to respond to people before being labelled a sexual assault denier? Why didn't I get that?

          • Because you're the only one talking about labels or accusations.

            The post that seems to have set you off said, "It's easy to not see bad things happening to women when you don't acknowledge the existence of all the women there." Does it read to me as a bit harsh? Yes. But is it labeling you or accusing you of anything except overlooking large groups of women at cons? Nope.

            As for responding to people … it is in fact PRECISELY your responses that make you sound like a troll, a jerk, and several other less savory things. For example, you are coming off as so stubborn and self-involved that you cannot just let the issue drop.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "Does it read to me as a bit harsh? Yes."

            Which is presumably why you posted as such when that turned into 4 or 5 people jumping on me? Oh no wait, you couldn't be bothered. Thanks for that.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Also, by denying the women go to conventions, I'm denying that they then get sexually assaulted at the conventions. Unless you're going to accuse me of reading something in a post that wasn't there in which case I will again ask where you were previously.

          • Guess what? I don't feel like spending my limited social capital standing up for your right to deny that women go to conventions. You're on your own, buddy.

            Guess what else? I don't feel like spending any more time talking to you when all you seem capable of is whining, self-pity, inventing accusations, and trying to make the conversation all about you. Goodbye, little troll.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Show me any post denying women go to conventions, dear and I'll indeed go away.

            I'll go and get a slice of cake, it might take you a while to make something up from an existing post of mine. I recommend adding some words and irrelevant context, it seems to work a treat for others.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Hah! Now you're a woman denier, too!

            Also, the cake is a lie.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            Apparently so. Makes my birth a bit weird, but I'm sure someone will be along shortly to tell me my views on conception based on this very comment so I'll be able to solve this new puzzle.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Axlotl tanks. Still no cake for you.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            I take it back, put the Beginners Guide to Insults down and pick up a Guide to Nerd References.

          • Dr_NerdLove

            I see you've decided to ignore the advice that you take a break from the comments section.

            Well, can't say I didn't warn you.

          • Mel_

            Dear lord.

            People pointed out that you sounded as if you were saying women aren't at conventions, or if they are at conventions they're not getting harassed. You're reading into that the implication that they're labeling you as a "sexual assault denier" (rather than, y'know, that they're simply interpreting one comment you made as dismissive and responding to that comment. Pro tip: Making a judgement about a comment is not therefore making a judgement about the nature of your total character as a human being). You're going on and on about how horrible it makes you feel to read that implication into how people responded, how they should apologize for talking in a way that gave you that impression, etc.

            And yet somehow you don't see the irony, even though you're someone who responded to someone else's comment in a way that gave other people a negative impression. It's so horrible for you to feel it's implied that you're a sexual assault denier (which no one actually said), but… it's not horrible for other people to feel you implied the sexual harassment isn't a big deal at conventions and thus invalidated many people's very traumatic experiences? Other people owe you an apology for implying something you don't like… but you don't owe anyone an apology for implying something they feel is hurtful?

            This hissy fit you're throwing only makes it completely clear that you think protecting your ego from criticism is way more important than protecting victims of harassment from feeling their actual experiences are being dismissed. That to you it's way worse for someone to suggest you might be doing something problematic than to have problematic behavior aimed at other people. That your personal problem of being upset that you were misinterpreted should take priority over having discussions about the actual content of this article and the very real, harmful, and industry-wide problems it points out that affect thousands of people.

            From your behavior, I don't expect you to actually consider how your actions are speaking just as loud as your words, and showing that you really are dismissing and downplaying the problem of sexual harassment right here. But, maybe everyone else can stop playing this game and get back to the real topic? I don't see why we should spend any more of our time debating with this guy about how valid his hurt feelings are or what compensation he's owed for that. 😛

          • Non-Troll Guest

            They're not replying to the comment, they're replying to what they added to the comment based on other people's previous use of the phrase "I haven't/didn't see it" by their OWN admission.

            "you really are dismissing and downplaying the problem of sexual harassment right here"
            What, again?

          • etherealclarity

            Honest question – do you feel as though people are very often reading into your words in ways that you didn't mean?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            What is the point in replying? They make my posts into something that suits their prejudgements of me based on one comment they also had to add their own context to to get it to how they wanted it

          • etherealclarity

            I'm not sure how to respond to this. I asked a question – if you feel like people (in general, not just in this thread) often read into your words in ways you didn't mean. It seems like you responded that there's no point in responding since people have been reading into your post(s) in ways you didn't mean.

            So, is that a yes? Or is that not what you meant here?

            I'm trying to get an honest read on this situation. It seems as though you are very frustrated that people are reading meaning into your words that wasn't there, but since this is something that most all people do most all of the time, I have to imagine that you are very often frustrated. Is this not the case?

          • Non-Troll Guest

            No, people don't tend to accuse me of something I haven't said by adding words or context that wasn't in the original comment to fit their agenda against me

            *Now comes the fun part where the comment above somehow makes me like a racist or war crime denier – watch, it's magical*

          • etherealclarity

            That's interesting. Most people are misunderstood pretty frequently (myself included), so I'm wondering what it is that you are doing (or perceiving) that most other people are not.

            This does leave me wondering what YOUR agenda is here, though. Are you interested in discussing the topic at hand? Are you hoping to learn something? Are you hoping to share something? Is there something else you're trying to accomplish by being here?

            It's clear that you are very frustrated by how the conversation has gone. It seems like you want to have the last word, that you feel that you are the victim of someone's agenda. Maybe there's some truth to that, though I doubt it is as malicious as you seem to think. It does seem like there are quite a few people here who are also very frustrated at having to "battle the trolls" so to speak (not indicating that you are necessarily one of the trolls), and therefore respond to things that strike them as off with a little more impatience than is due. I don't think they WANT you to have bad intentions. I think they'd be far happier to learn that they misunderstood you than to believe their first impressions. And yes, you have since clarified yourself (somewhat), but you have done so with defensiveness and sarcasm, which is rarely, if ever, productive at ending a conflict.

            Basically, the overall vibe that people are getting is that you went into this already primed for a fight, and you're not willing to back down unless… what? People apologize for misunderstanding you? People apologize for having an agenda against you? The former situation is something you should probably let go of, since a) misunderstandings are not malicious b) are also very common, and c) the fact that many people misunderstood you in exactly the same way is an indicator that the misunderstanding is at least in part from somewhat unclear communication on your end. The latter is, well, not likely. In so far as people have been responding to you in frustration, you have been sending back frustration their way and then some. In so far as the likelihood of a real, formulated agenda against you, this is just very unlikely to be true. What do people know about you that they could have an agenda against? We are all strangers here.

          • bloodygranuaile


            Here's a note about "context": When someone asks a question about a subject, and you immediately make a statement about the same subject, people are going to read your statement as a purported answer to the question. Your statement will not be taken as a standalone statement, because it SHOULD NOT be taken as a standalone statement, due to the pragmatics of how conversations fucking work. However, the people are not in any way "making up" context by taking your statement in the context of being paired with the question it came immediately after; that's how the fucking question-and-answer format WORKS. It saves people from having to say stupid shit like "The answer the question that so-and-so just asked is…" before every sentence, because having to do that would make conversations take forever. It has a fancy name in communications/linguistics pragmatics studies–"implicature"–but it's something most people, in practice, master to the point of intuition at a very young age.

            Listen closely, because here's the real important bit: If your statement-that-came-immediately-after-the-question-and-is-sort-of-on-the-same-subject doesn't actually parse as a DIRECT answer to the question, people will mentally fill in what they think are the most obvious intended implications that would make your statement work as an answer to the question. This is also how language works. If your statement's actual relation to the preceding question is convoluted and requires multiple steps of non-immediately-obvious logic like "that question doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me so I'll answer a similar but related question instead", the chance of miscommunication is high, particularly if there is a frequently-used and much more straightforward interpretation at hand. I would recommend spelling out the mental leaps you're making in situations where there are multiple sets of mental leaps you could be making, particularly when the ones you actually are making are not the most obvious or frequently used ones.

            If you DON'T want your statements to be taken in context with other parts of the conversation, and instead wish them to be judged entirely as standalone statements, I would suggest not MAKING your statements within the context of an ongoing conversation, and specifically not making them immediately after questions, where they are almost GUARANTEED to be interpreted by anyone with a basic grasp of talking as half of a question-and-answer combo.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            OK, I have to ask, because the quality of your posting on this non-topic has been top flight, were you a Communication or English major? Therapist, maybe? You're really much better at saying the things I'm trying to get across without the Gentleman Johnny snark.

          • etherealclarity

            Aww, thanks! Nope, none of those things. I did sort of want to be an English major for a while but ended up veering into programming and CS.

            Though my therapist has remarked on more than one occasion that I would have been a good therapist 🙂

            I'm highly empathetic, and the nuances of communication fascinate me. Ironic since as a kid I was very bad at picking up social cues.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I got a very funny look at an event one time when someone introduced herself as a semiotician and my response was "wow! That is so cool!" I totally get the fascination with communication, especially if you, like me, had to learn social cues intellectually rather than instinctively.

            I think it pays off in coding, too, which is really just the anal-retentive endpoint of language.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Well, son of a gun. Would you believe I'm a software developer with dual degrees in Rhetoric and Computer Science myself?

            Over-articulate code monkeys represent!

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I'm not sure what it says that it's unusual for people to receive degrees in trivium subjects.

          • etherealclarity

            "I think it pays off in coding, too, which is really just the anal-retentive endpoint of language"

            Very true. Precision and clarity are helpful both in coding and in communication. And just as understanding how a machine works and how a compiler works and what is happening behind the scenes of a function call can help you learn to program better, so can understanding the role of tone, emotion, non-verbal communication, etc etc etc help you learn to communicate better! 🙂

          • Gentleman Johnny

            So you're saying that communities practice object oriented communication? 🙂

          • SpiltCoffee5

            I wonder what a community practising functional communication would be like.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            You'd have to redefine your classes in every conversation.

    • LeeEsq

      Its not that you shouldn't approach women. Its how you approach women that matters. It depedns on a lot on context and the situation and requires a lot of educating guessing. Like I said bellow there are two general assumptions that must be made. The first is that you really shouldn't touch beyond a handshake without permission. The second is that most people do not want to have sex with you. Thats it, otherwise feel free to approach.

    • shaenon

      Really? You really need it explained to you that hitting on a female colleague and reacting to her "no" by yelling at her, then finding her Facebook page so you can send her a bunch of childish insults, is not the right way to express your interest in a lady?

      Please remain reluctant to approach women. Remain very, very reluctant until you can figure out basic shit like "don't yell at them." You are not prepared.

  • LeeEsq

    There needs to be two general principles that a lot of people need drilled in their heads:
    1. You should assume that most people you don't know well, don't want you to touch them beyond maybe a handshake.
    2. Most people don't want to have sex with you.

    Its that easy. Don't touch without permission. This doesn't need to be verbal, if somebody offers you their hand you can shake it. There are similar signs for kissing the checks and hugs. There must be a definite assumption that people don't want to have sex with you.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I'd argue that #2 is far more nuanced than that but as far as a rule of thumb for the less calibrated goes, its pretty good.

      • LeeEsq

        Its more nuanced but the less nuanced version is safer and more likely to lead to better results.

        • I agree. Start with the null hypothesis and wait for evidence to see if it should be rejected. It is a good operating principle for women and men and keeps conclusions from being jumped to.

  • eselle28

    So, do people have suggestions for female-created comics and for comics created by men or mixed groups who don't stand for this kind of behavior? It's come up in a couple of places upthread that one way to work against this would be to support people who are creating a positive culture, and I'm guessing people have some suggestions to share.

    • Dr_NerdLove

      First one that comes to mind: Finder by Carla Speed McNeil. Awesome comic.I understand that Kelly-Sue DeConnick's Captain Marvel is excellent but it's not my cup of tea.And Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jaime McKelvie is very fun. People might like their indie OGNs Phonogram and Phonogram: Singles Club too.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Finder is amazing but also very niche. You'll either love it or be bored to tears.

    • Non-Troll Guest

      Surely any comic artist that doesn't resort to drawing their female characters half naked or with ridiculously sized breasts falls into that category?

      (To clarify: Women with small breasts or indeed no externally visible breasts at all do exist in both 2d media and 3d form)

      • eselle28

        Well, no, not necessarily. I was getting at the concept of supporting comics made by creators who are primarily women themselves, or by men who are supportive of women in the industry.

        You're getting at the depictions in the actual comics, and only at one aspect of it. That might be a good list as well, but isn't what we're really getting at here, since the accused person has by most accounts done a good job of depicting women in his work.

        • Non-Troll Guest

          But surely this entire saga has proven that unless you know that person completely they could be hiding anything behind their work so the only thing you have to go on is their output?

          Or just thumb me down, that works too.

          • eselle28

            Again, I was primarily thinking about comics by women.

            However, I made some room for comics by men who have actively taken a stand on issues like this – not just in their work, but in their actions and their public comments. (And, yes, perhaps something may come up about someone after the fact. It's a list on the internet, not a catchall).

            If you'd rather this just be about supporting comics by women, we can do that too.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "However, I made some room for comics by men who have actively taken a stand on issues like this"

            What, like the guy this article is about? Hence my point about you only having their output to base these decisions on as their external work could be a smokescreen.

          • eselle28

            I'm not seeing links to him taking a stand against sexual harassment.

            But fine, we're just going to concentrate on comics created by women. Done.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            "Brian Wood is known for, amongst other things, his feminist credentials in the comics industry. He’s the author on the first all-female X-Men title in Marvel Comics’ history and has helped foster the careers of many women during his tenure as a writer on Conan the Barbarian, Northlanders, and other titles."

            But again, I said absolutely nothing regarding focusing on one gender. Not once. Infact I've made no reference to gender outside of referring to the person specified in the article, that is ALL you.

          • eselle28

            That is not taking a stand against sexual harassment. That is writing comics that represent women in realistic ways and helping to foster the careers of women. You can be good to women in some ways while being horrible to them in others.

            This isn't about you. People have asked for a way they can react to this problem other than boycotting comics altogether. So, now, this is a place where people can recommend comics created by women.

          • Non-Troll Guest

            You didn't say sexual harassment, you said issues like this and anyway surely prior to this coming out it isn't that much of a stretch to assume someone who works positively career wise with women and in his work wouldn't be a sexual harasser of them?

            You're the one who implied a huff based on something I didn't say, don't give me that crap about me making this a discussion about me.

          • eselle28

            This is a place where people can recommend comics created by women.

        • OldBrownSquirrel

          How about gay men? They're presumably not harassing women, at least.

          • eselle28

            Honestly, I was just hoping to turn the conversation from its parameters to some actual recommendations.

            (Unfortunately I don't have any myself as this isn't a genre I follow. I posted the comment because someone asked how to follow up with supporting creators who aren't part of the problem up above.)

      • OldBrownSquirrel

        Erika Moen draws plenty of half-naked (and all-naked) comics. There's a time and a place for it.

    • enail0_o

      I like Linda Medley quite well, though i've not seen much by her for a while. For lighter, less serial fare, Faith Erin Hicks' Superhero Girl is fun. Amy Reeder did a nice run on Batwoman, and I haven't seen any of Annie Wu's comics yet, but she's got a neat art style. I hear great things about Saga, with art by Fiona Staples.

      • fakely_mctest

        Second on the Superhero Girl front! I wish Faith had more time to do it, but I'm also glad she's getting so busy/popular.

        Emily Carroll is a favorite of mine (her style reminds me a bit of Mike Mignola's). Vera Brosgol is really excellent too. Jake Wyatt's Necropolis looks like it's going to be amazing.

        Gail Simone's run on the old Birds of Prey remains one of my favorite bits of comic writing ever (she got me to like Huntress…Huntress!), I don't think her Batgirl is bad, I just wish DC hadn't fussed around with Babs's age and taken her out of the wheelchair.

        • kathrynmblair

          One of the first webcomics I ever followed was Return to Sender. Unfortunately I don't really comics of any sort anymore … but that one sticks out as a first fave.

    • Sinfest. *ducks for the fallout*

      In all seriousness, Hark! A Vagrant and Queen of Wands.

    • mathdancing

      My So-Called Secret Identity by Will Brooker, Suze Shore, and Sarah Zaidan. Three issues so far, and I really wish I could bundle them up and send them back through time to my twelve-year-old self.

    • I see Hark! A Vagrant has already been recommended, so let me recommend Oglaf (which is SERIOUSLY NSFW NO REALLY AND DON'T OPEN IT IN FRONT OF FAMILY EITHER, but also, hilarious, if you like raunchy ridiculous comedy). It has two authors/illustrators, one of whom is a woman, but there's something about the writing that had me assuming it was made by a woman, too.

  • Thank you for posting this. I think that one of the consequences of men behaving in this manner, is that women begin to react in kind, then excuse their actions with the "men do it" retort (which has gained momentum in the "anit-slut shaming" communities). These types of approaches and mentalities only bring society down. And accountability and blame lays with those men that maintain and support the "old boys club" and "wall of silence" attitude. When these types of defensive actions take place it forces the "outsiders" to take the "if you can't beat them join them" stance, which only perpetuates the problem or creates a new ones.

    Unfortunately, the only real solution is "outing" (or whistle-blowing) these people or companies and bringing the problem into the public domain. Our litigation-happy society forces businesses to take a plausible deniability stance, which ironically only makes these companies more liable when a whistle-blower comes forward. We are living in a new generation/era/millennia and there is no room for this type of behavior anymore. Now, I'm a big kid at heart and I don't plan on changing, but concerning cases such as this, it's high time we all grew up and stop playing the "you watch my back and I'll watch your's" game. The concept used to have merit when both parties lived by a true code of honor, but people are so easily corrupted these days that the code no longer holds weight. People have begun creating their own definitions of what honor means; I say definition, because there's no other way of interpreting it. It means what it means.

    The answer is for good people to stand together and support the ethically right thing. More importantly, we need to voice our opinions to whomever is the offenders support system. And, if or when they turn a blind ear to our complaints, we should use our power as consumers to affect their bottomline, because let's be honest, companies only take notice when their profit margins are endangered.

  • shaenon

    Women who experience harassment in a clubby industry like comics face a nasty Catch-22. I saw it happen several years ago when it came out that the head of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund had assaulted a female artist at a convention. The artist in question was widely attacked for smearing a good man's name and just looking for attention (even though she wasn't the one who broke the story). At around the same time, Colleen Doran came out about the times she was harassed and assaulted by Julius Schwartz, who had recently passed away. She was condemned for waiting so long to say anything and ruining the memory of a dead man.

    Basically, you're going to take crap no matter what you do–unless, of course, you keep quiet. Which is why so many women keep quiet.

  • Sophie

    The double nasty thing about what happened to Colleen Doran is she didn't keep quiet about what happened with Julius Schwartz. She reported it to DC and gave an interview when Schwartz continued to harass women and no one would do anything about it. TCJ sat on the intervew for 15 years and printed it after Schwartz died, stirring up trouble they were too chicken shit to deal with when he was alive, making it look as if Colleen Doran gave the interview right after he died. She objected to them printing it after his death, and got treated like shit by TCj and their trolls. Cartoonist Danny Hellman used sock puppets to harass her online until he was caught and exposed by Rick Veitch.

    • chinchilla

      That's… horrific. Goddamn. I have no words.

      • Sophie

        By TCJ I mean The Comics Journal. They have a bad rep when it comes to women. Pretty shitty to Molly Crabapple too. They thought the Schwartz story was hilarious and their message board was a misogyny fest. Then the fight moved over to and Danny Hellman was saying horrible things about Colleen Doran using a sock puppet. There was also a woman emplyee from TCJ having a good laugh. Real boy's club over there. About ten years ago. Won't buy anything from Fantagraphics to this day. Schwartz also grabbed writer Poppy Brite, who is a transexual, and now lives as a man.

        • chinchilla

          Ugh sounds like Assholes Anonymous over there. I'm going to look at pictures of cats for a while to feel better.

          • Koresh

            This all went public about ten years ago. Some serious shit being slogged around by men and a few women. I still have trouble accepting the feminist cred of a couple of people out there. They were criticizing her for not coming forward sooner (she did) for not naming names (she did) and then for not naming MORE names. The same people go online now and make noises about how women have a right to stay in their comfort zone and not name names if they don't want. I agree with that, but they weren't saying so then. I hope that means they have raised awareness, and weren't just being opportunistic.

  • Ryan

    What's this have to do with comic books? Or being a "nerd"?

    Every little problem and example the author pointed out goes far, far deeper than the "comic book industry," and to limit one's perception of the issue to just that is incredibly wasteful.

    Also quite generalizing (and unfair) to comics, comic lovers, and the industry, as a whole.

    Especially since literally no conclusive study has been made on this subject. Mainly just anecdotes and "he said/she said" nonsense.

    This kind of behavior is irredeemable, but articles like these are equally BS.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Easiest answer, a large portion of the target audience here is going to be interested and/or involved in the comics and video game industries and conventions. If the tagline was "helping MBA's get the girl", it would have been about Wall Street.

      Now, that said, I don't see any generalizing. No one's saying all or even most guys behave like this. No one's even saying all or most women have had these problems. They have said most women that they know personally do but that's a big difference. As for no conclusive studies, that seems like a red flag to me in its own right. Someone damn well should be doing one.

    • Cat

      Comic and gaming geeks have a serious infestation of problematic men that are ruining it for the rest of you, and it goes all the way up.To fix a problem it helps to see it. Tell ya what, come visit me we'll go to a con- BUT you have to go by Ryanne and let me make you over. Then you can walk a mile in my flats (so to speak).

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Only if we can take a day before hand so you can coach me on body language.

        • Cat

          I was actually replying to Ryan, but It's all good. I'm the wrong girl to ask for body language, i am the last woman approached by assholes- for which I am thankful!- and I suspect the body language is part of why.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Oh, I know you were. I figured I'd take you up on it anyway. One thing, we have to chose the cosplay carefully. I don't think I could pass for Power Girl. If you can borrow a set of FemShep armor, it might work. 🙂

  • nonA

    “Brian Wood is known for, amongst other things, his feminist credentials in the comics industry. He’s the author on the first all-female X-Men title in Marvel Comics’ history and has helped foster the careers of many women during his tenure as a writer on Conan the Barbarian, Northlanders, and other titles. And yet, others have shared stories of similar treatment at his hands.”

    This is why, for all the good intentions behind it, most of the “fixes” offered simply won’t work. It’s not the cartoony unwashed creeps who cause most of the problems, it’s the feminist offshoots of the Nice Guy. Most of the time when I hear about this behavior, it’s from someone who thinks that they’ve racked up enough feminist points and can redeem them with a nearby woman.

    (Incidentally, this is why “dating advice” that boils down to “be more feminist” unnerves me, Also why I like brass tacks, PUA-ish ideas; since the current ideas aren’t working out, it might be worth giving these guys effective tricks, and hoping that they’ll lay off the skeeve when they find out how easy it is to find actual enthused partners.)

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I wonder if the guys who use a cover of feminism to get women are the same ones who accuse Doc of writing these articles to score points with women.

      • nonA

        Nah. White Knights are the feminist version of Nice Guys, and one of the telltale signs of a Nice Guy is that they’re more focused on which groups they do/don’t belong to than what individual strengths they bring to the table. Harris clearly identifies himself as feminist and knows all the shibboleths, so no white knight would dare put his standing as a good feminist on the line to argue here.

        The angry ragers are guys who had too many encounters with white knights and/or fundamentalist feminists who use feminism the same way that use religious nutjobs use god. I think we all know how good Nice Guys and religious fundamentalists are at making people hate anything to do with them.

        • That is a good analogy. You bump into it with some anti-racists too. They got their ethnic studies degree and are now "down with the brown", swooping in to save the poor oppressed people. Rather annoying and usually condescending, whether in a "there, there" or pedestal placing way. Sort of like they bought the concept of equality on paper, but don't really feel it inside, so they go extra fanatic.

        • Gelic

          Really – I never got the impression that the angry ragers against feminism had ever had a conversation with, or read anything by an actual feminist. Maybe a half-made-up and all-out-context list of "feminist" quotes reposted from an MRA website at best. Usually they are having some sort of screaming fit at the armies of imaginary unobtainable sluts and or wilfully fat women that are denying them sex somewhere in their head.

  • Phoenix

    I knew there were a few issues with the comic industry as of late, especially regarding women, but the fact that so many of them are being harassed, assaulted, and abused just . . . scares me.

    If I ever decided to go into comics in the future, this shit would have put me off fast. Not only that, it would also have me discourage any other artists from joining thanks to all these horror stories.

    I wonder if Gail Simone has had any of these issues too. I remember DC tried to fire her through an email, ugh.

  • Katka7

    Some of us stopped reading comics due to the depiction of women. I made the mistake of exploring a comic for adults when I was about twelve. Gang rape or group sex with a sexy female alien, if memory serves. I did not pick up a comic for at least a decade.

    You did a great job explaining this problem. Men do not spend their lives having to cope with the egos and aggression of someone physically stronger (although I would argue police profiling of people of color is simllar and just as frightening, if not more so).

    I had to cope with a gym stalker this year. Besides the stress, the most disheartening part was trying to explain the problem to male friends. "Why didn't you just confront him?" "You should not have ignored him. That just eggs him on." "Are you sure? Maybe he is just socially awkward."

    I was in a pool, wearing goggles and swimming laps, and had to deal with a man at least twice my size. I had forgotten that kind of instantaneous fear and what it can do. I played nice as a reaction to that fear, smiling and getting myself out of there.

    The men do not want women in comics. Not as equals. Not as artists or as people. They want the fantasies they draw and for a real woman to behave like their fictional ones. I am not sure you can reform those men. Maybe they can be outed and contained. When men view women as a means to an end, the change of heart has to be his decision.

    All women can do is talk about it, refuse to be silent, and keep up on self defense. The worst part is that it steals energy and focus from our art and our opportunities to advance. Artists just want to do good work, to love the process of art and storytelling. We shouldn 't have to carry around pepper spray for that to happen.

    • seriously

      "Men do not spend their lives having to cope with the egos and aggression of someone physically stronger"

      Yeah you're right, we spend our lives having to cope with the egos and aggression of someone physically weaker who is also backed by the force of law, and who is much more likely to use the law as a weapon.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Why don't you take that over to yesterday's article, sparky, and try getting any part of it to stand up.

      • Katka7

        There are women who abuse power, I'm sure. The law, however, is not terribly easy to manipulate. It happens, but there are, at least, checks and balances.

        I bet you don't get nervous in every parking lot, wonder if you should enter an elevator alone with a man, look out your window to see a vagrant masturbating and staring. Have you ever lost or gained a job based on your looks? Crossed the street to avoid passing a man?

        I went to a summer camp when I was around 13 years old. It was one of those nights when girls, normally not open, started talking. I realized half of us had already suffered some sort of sexual abuse by a male relative, friend, or authority figure. Half. Which means that number was likely to increase in the next few years.

        Your bitterness over maltreatment from a woman is no more justified than me claiming all men are jerks or rapists. I've never said or implied such a thing.

    • Mad_

      Can I express a frustration of mine when it comes to women and things like this?

      Marvel Now. A marvel comics relaunch that went heavy on diversity. Kelly Sue DeConnick turning Ms Marvel from "hot blonde in a bathing suit, and yeah, I guess she punches things" to a barely sexualized superheroine. Barely sells, and probably would've been cancelled if it wasn't for the fact that it fills that niche. Red She-Hulk. Cancelled. Journey Into Mystery starring Lady Sif, written by a woman. Cancelled. Fearless Defenders, all-female Valkyrie team, cancelled. All female X-Men team. Lauded, until it was revealed it's being written by an alleged sexual predator.

      I get frustrated, because they hear you, they're trying to give you what you want, and the thing is, you already made your mind up years ago, and nothing's going to change it. The collective voice of disapproving feminists is louder than the actual buying feminist public. How many of you know that DC's basically turned Wonder Woman into a Goddess of War? Wonder Woman has never been more of a straight-up badass, and the majority of female Wonder Woman "fans" are just cosplayers or women on Halloween who know it'll look sexy for the fanboys when they dress like her. They're doing an ongoing Superman/Wonder Woman title that's trying to get the Twilight audience instead. Because that audience will actually spend their money on something.

      • For me, at least, it's a question of trust. DC lost mine a long time ago, and no "making Wonder Woman a badass, no really this time" is going to regain it. That's going to take time and commitment on their part; it's possible, but based on their track record I think it's unlikely. Marvel has a lot more trust from me, and I totally evangelize the Ms Marvel comic! And so do a lot of my friends! I'm willing to put up with a lot more screw-ups from Marvel, because I think they actually want me as a customer. And this from a girl who used to be a DC superfan!!!

        The problem you're describing is that audiences and expectations don't change on a dime. Neither do people's feelings. That isn't "you already made up your mind years ago, and nothing's going to change it."

        (Also, for the record: I get upset when things I like are produced by sexual predators, no matter what they are.)

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Did Madame Xanadu survive the reboot? I'm really enjoying it in the trades.

          • Mad_

            Yeah, she was in Demon Knights while it was still going (she was in a relationship with BOTH Jason Blood and Etrigan, and you could never tell which of the two she was playing, or if it was both) and she mostly hangs out in Justice League Dark now.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I meant the series more than the character, although I'm willing to bet I'll enjoy JLD. The highlander format, where the stories are half flashback, worked really well. I can't be bothered with individual issues, though, so I'm usually six months to a year behind the curve.

          • Mad_

            Nope, no Xanadu ongoing as of yet.

        • Mad_

          It's your money that's going to change their mind. Your feelings don't matter one bit, and if you don't buy when they're trying to appeal to you, they're just gonna turn around and return to appealing to people who want them. If you don't show them you want to be chased, they're not gonna chase you very long.

          • Mad_

            Like, I get frustrated because it's being treated like a long-term relationship, when it's closer to a casual pick-up setting that could turn serious with the proper amount of work.

            The collective shriek of BOYS CLUB BOYS CLUB and then you point to Captain Marvel and go "THIS IS IT! THIS IS EVERYTHING YOU'RE COMPLAINING ABOUT FIXED. RIGHT HERE. TAKE MONEY OUT OF YOUR WALLET AND GIVE IT TO THEM, EN MASSE. THEY WILL SEE THAT RESPOND TO IT BY GIVING YOU MORE." Instead, it's a title struggling not to get cancelled, and probably would've been already if it wasn't a token title to show that yes, they are still trying.

          • Wait, hang on, WTF am I supposed to do besides buy Ms Marvel and tell people I know to buy it because it is awesome? Which I am already doing?

            If they are too dumb to know that it takes time to build an audience, but that the long-term rewards of doing so can be disproportionate, I have no idea what they're doing running a business of any kind.

          • Mad_

            See, here's the thing. They keep Captain Marvel around to build that audience, but eventually, if that audience isn't there, they already have a pre-existing one that they could be spending resources on.

            It's dumb to ignore a new audience, but they don't really have to chase the new audience. So if the new audience doesn't show they exist, they'll shrug their shoulders, "Well, maybe next time" and then keep doing what they do.

            I think you're probably in the shittiest position of all, because you care or want to care but a lot of the people who claim they do really don't. You're being left for dead by your usual allies, here :/

          • eselle28

            I suppose I'm one of the people you're talking about. I'll criticize sexist portrayals in comics if someone shows something sexist to me (just as I would a sexist portrayal in a movie or a TV show if someone linked me to it), I don't read comics, but I'm theoretically open to starting the habit at some point if I can find a title that both interests and doesn't offend me.

            But here's the thing: You guys scared me off a long time ago, so I'm not actively following the development of your industry. There also needs to be advertising, word of mouth, and…well…I have no idea what to do about the atmosphere in comic shops. I can't really imagine myself willingly entering one. Additionally, I suspect that not every "token title" is appealing to me in other ways, just as not every traditional title appeals to you. The fact that something isn't horrible or offensive doesn't necessarily mean that it's particularly suited to my tastes, either.

            Basically, if the companies want to grow a new audience (and I think they do, as their old one is aging), they'll need to be patient and understand that new fans will trickle in rather than flood. People generally aren't willing to spend $20 to support someone for taking half a step in the right direction – or at least I know that I didn't run out to see the third Transformers movie simply because I'd heard that it was better than the second and thought that my support might encourage Michael Bay to be a better director. If he wants me to go see his movies, he'll probably need to make a few tolerable ones before I give him a chance. That's sort of where I am with comics as well.

            The thing is, I think companies understand that it's a slow process. Marvel's movies, at least, seem to be playing a long game and working to attract a broader audience than the stereotypical superhero movie. If you want to take it to a completely different industry, the NFL seems to understand that it's going to need to keep investing and investing in audiences outside the US if it's going to break into those markets. Same with grooming products for men – it took years and years to convince guys to use skincare and hair products.

          • Also, I'd be curious how marketing budgets are being spent. There was a big to-do in the game industry about this issue. Games with female protagonists get 40% of the marketing budget that games with male leads do, on average, and then everyone goes OMG GAMES WITH FEMALE LEADS DON'T SELL. There's a lot more to changing institutions and businesses than just having an awesome product.

            But yeah, I agree with you eselle – I think Marvel gets it, which is part of why I've started buying comics again after quite a few years away.

          • Mad_

            I am very mixed on advertising. I do think Marvel and DC drop the ball on advertising comics, but at the same time, the places that generally talk about comics or would be worth advertising to are the same places other nerd hobbiests go, and some of the same places where women complain about them in the first place. Movies and cartoons advertise for comics, but they don't really grow the market because those are just casual fans, they want more movies and cartoons or even TV shows, you don't really see comic growth out of it., the comics end up being source material for the real money-makers, blockbuster movies (which that bubble's going to pop sometime soon I imagine). And the way comics work, they can't put a multi-million dollar ad compaign out for something that could be cancelled in 7 issues.

            It's like, how can they change your mind when your mind is already made up and unwilling to be changed, yet they're still taking your criticisms to heart and trying to (and not always succeeding) take them into account.

          • eselle28

            Since we're talking about me here, specifically, I think it's a little unfair to say that my mind's already made up. I haven't decided that comics are irreparably sexist and that I'll never touch them. In fact, I've said the opposite. I'm not an unwilling consumer, merely a skeptical one. It's possible to speak to skeptical consumers. You just need to figure out a strategy for it.

            They can push me over the edge by making a product that succeeds in not being terribly sexist, that attracts my interest for some reason beyond gender issues, and then by making sure that I find out about it. You do raise an interesting point about marketing budgets and advertising methods. Online, perhaps? An occasional advertisement during a cable genre show? I will say that of the two comic series I have read, one was written by a familiar author (so irrelevant) and the other I picked up because there was a commercial for it during Lost Girl. Of course, neither of those is in the superhero genre.

          • For me, at least, it's word of mouth. I have friends who still read comics and they've been making recommendations. That's why I do the same. You can actually do a lot to support viral marketing / word of mouth stuff; I just don't know to what extent they do.

          • Mad_

            Male-heavy audience that stereotypically has problems even relating to women have to recommend to women what they will like.

            No fucking wonder we're in this mess in the first place. :p

          • eselle28

            Just out of curiosity, how does a company try to support a viral campaign? I'm not very familiar with the tactic, probably because the support has to be subtle and I don't see it happening.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Social media strategists have some very cagey black magic that I'm only familiar with in the most passing manner.

          • Mad_

            Isn't it like, posing as one of the people in a place where the demo frequents and then stealth recommending the product?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Well, the easy stuff is getting popular blogs to repost, well targeted Facebook promos, using thousands of dummy bot accounts to build likes and views and so forth. The really clever ones will provide pre-packaged link-bait articles so that other people can make money getting hits promoting their stuff or just happen to get it on the desk of CNN on a slow news day or something similar. The good ones aren't really in a hurry to share specifics because then you might recognize it when you see it.

          • enail0_o

            I'm also pretty much who we're talking about here. I'm an occasional comic reader, and I'd like to find more comics I'd be really into – but my trust for Marvel and DC to pull off something I'd find worth taking a serious interest in is very, very low (not solely because of the gender stuff, but I'll stick to that for the sake of on-topicness).

            Now, I pretty much only pick up comics based on recommendations about people with discerning taste and an interest in female-friendliness. But even so, I find about as many comics that I find unpleasantly sexist or skeevy as I do ones I think are really good (my main recommenders are more serious comic fan than I, and accustomed enough to a lot of the background noise sexism that they don't notice some stuff I find alienating) . And I know from past examples that there's no consistency – if I find a writer or artist I like on a comic I like, chances are pretty high they'll be swapped out soon for someone who makes sure you know it if they're an ass man, or that editorial mandate will change the whole feel of the comic.

            And since I'm not interested in putting down my cash for a story I don't trust to keep giving me something worthwhile for any length of time, quick fixes and individual changes aren't the kind of thing that will bring me into the fold. Until they show me that they can stick to it, creator-owned comics and completed storylines are the only things I'd consider a safe bet.

          • Mad_

            Editorial changes are just par for the course when it comes to comics, but generally the ones that last long are the ones that sell. They give something time to work, and if it doesn't, they find something else to try to make it work.

          • enail0_o

            Yeah, I know. I just find it super-frustrating when I thought the old version worked better than the new. If I wanted something totally different, I'd rather just go read something totally different, instead of have the thing I was reading try to shift itself awkwardly into being that totally different thing they imagine I really wanted to be reading. I think you get better work when you allow one person (or a small, fairly consistent group of people) to have a vision and see it through.

            This extends far beyond sexism for me, but sexist stuff is one of the most jarring and alienating changes. If I was reading something where there were a whole bunch of male and female characters I loved and I never felt like there was inappropriate sexualization or misogyny, and then all of a sudden, women's butts are the star of more panels than women's faces, my willingness to give a try at another thing by that publisher drops a whole lot.

          • Mad_

            This would be a problem that plagues the industry even if you fixed everything else about it. Anyone with talent is probably overextended already because there's so little talent and such a need to sell comics. Or they're already a name and they got out, so they don't have to deal with superheroes anymore.

          • enail0_o

            Hehe, that's why I said sexism was just one of the reasons my trust is low.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Yeah, Wonder Woman's gone pretty downhill with its darker, grittier Amazons. I'll give them this much, its properly classic Greek now.

      • Katka7

        I did go back to comics and find some I liked, but nothing in the superhero category per se. I then found graphic novels and indie comics I could relate to.

        So, to your point, a company does what sells, and if over-sexualizing women sells, then women should shut up and not complain about it. On the other hand, because I feel the super-hero genre excludes me based on past experience, I didn't seek out those stories. I might have if I had seen them more prominently in a book store or seen a review. Is that anyone's fault in particular? I don't know. When is the last time you picked up a romance novel to see if it held any masculine interest? Probably never. (Neither do I.) For all we know, there may be a few. But the impression and even stigma are hard to turn around.

        • Mad_

          But on the flip-side, you don't really hear about men complaining abut romance novels in the same way women and/or feminists complain about nerd activities.

          It often feels like one woman yells "BOYS CLUB" and then all the surrounding women help her charge into the boys club, turn over all the furniture, rearrange the drapes, complain that nothing is appealing to women, and then when the boys finally go "Alright, we'll meet you here and here, show us this is what you want" and then crickets and dead silence. Like you guys are more interested in breaking up a boys club than you are in what the club is actually about.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Well for one, romance novels are a subset of prose publishing, which as a whole is pretty male heavy. For another, there's an equivalent genre called "men's adventure" that women aren't clamoring to get representation in. That's the one with titles like The Executioner and The Destroyer and fictional stories about Seal Team 6 that tends to include a Bond Girl equivalent and a gratuitous sex scene per issue.

            Women have made their mark in genre fiction pretty well. They just haven't been taken very seriously for it. Series like Anita Blake or The Hollows series tend to be discounted as not "serious" fantasy works. Hollywood still says that a bomb movie with a female protagonist proves you can't make genre pieces starring women. . .they say this after Hunger Games, mind you.

            So yeah, your point about series that bomb not being continued has some merit. DC and Marvel want to make money and they should. When a run of Superman bombs, though, they don't cancel the series. They bring in a new crew, retcon the worst of the crap and keep right on chugging. . . except when they can blame a female protagonist.

            Storm ran the X-Men through one of their highest selling arcs in history. Danielle Moonstar ran the New Mutants which had a 100 issue run before becoming X-Force. Magick (Illyiana Rasputin version) and Kitty Pride have been young women with agency since at least the early 80's. Magick's a second or third string character so beloved that even. . .shit nearly 30 years after her debut. . . she won't stay dead. Goblin Queen had issues flying off the shelves. The X-Men (all the X-titles, really) and the Green Lantern Corps have always had a diverse cast and have had incredible commercial success, in and out of comics. Its not a question of female characters not resonating with the audience, its a question of characters resonating or not and what to do about it.

          • Mad_

            "So yeah, your point about series that bomb not being continued has some merit. DC and Marvel want to make money and they should. When a run of Superman bombs, though, they don't cancel the series. They bring in a new crew, retcon the worst of the crap and keep right on chugging. . . except when they can blame a female protagonist."

            First of all, using Superman is an unfair comparison, because Superman sells. He resonates. What titles involving Superman or Batman get cancelled, it's because of oversaturation.

            Otherwise, the cancellation thing goes for male and female characters. Authors just move characters into their new books. Alias got cancelled, Bendis just moved Jessica Jones into New Avengers and continued her storylines. Scarlet Spider is getting cancelled, but Kaine is just gonna move into Yost's… Defenders? I forget, but it's a new super-group. Superboy and Supergirl both get cancelled every few years, and then a few years later, they give it another go because the characters can work in the right circumstances.

            I think it's telling that a female character like Wonder Woman, even with male-slanted sexualization in play, or even critical acclaim in play, doesn't share that same Superman and Batman privilege of being Superman and Batman. I don't think that's all DC's fault either, I think they just don't know how to make characters resonate with an audience that already made up their mind years ago.

            One of my favourite comics going, All-Star Western, would've been cancelled already if it didn't have both critical acclaim, if it didn't fill a "genre diversity" token. It's no different from where Captain Marvel is, except Captain Marvel's token is "women", who aren't otherwise responding in mass droves anyways.

            Actually, something that's come to mind, I'll tell you what women HAVE affected out of comics. Nightwing became more sexualized, the women in his comics didn't become less so, because they know where part of their bread is buttered. The "Science-bros" phenomenon between Iron Man and Hulk has been teased and touched on in the comics as well.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            An interesting aside to "follow the money" occurred to me. Not quite sure where to go with it, so I'll just leave it here. Starfire in DC comics was in titles with 100,000 readers on a good month pre New 52. Starfire in Teen Titans the cartoon – 3,000,000 on a good episode. So if you're just being unbiased and making what sells, which one do you write the New 52 Starfire to be like?

            Again, the Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman thing touches on something but I'm not sure I can put my finger on it. Wonder woman is clearly one of the five protected titles (ie the members of the JLA that anyone in America can name). Has she ever had a Grant Morrison equivalent do a run on the title? I guess my point is that she may be the lowest selling of DC's big 5 but is that because of the character or because of the talent/marketing put behind the character?

            Nightwing as a fan service character for the ladies amuses me to no end. It reminds me of that shortpacked talking about false equivalency. Its like he's Batman drawn to be a female sexual fantasy instead of a male power fantasy. Check out the comic strip and you can totally see it.

          • Mad_

            The New 52 Teen Titans tried to copy Hunger Games. They were chasing the money, and it's one of the worst comics to come out of the relaunch, but likely still alive because it's Teen Titans.

            New 52 Starfire is an abomination, but she's also co-starring in a title with Jason Todd and Arsenal, so it's all about being a train-wreck.

            Brian Azzarello is on Wonder Woman right now, and he's a name that you could put on anything else. Grant Morrison is doing an Earth One graphic novel about Wonder Woman. Geoff Johns has been part of redefining her through Justice League. The thing about this stuff though, is that even bad Batman and kinda bad Superman sells. The characters can carry the day, too.

          • eselle28

            Just as a note on the Nightwing and Science-bros thing: criticisms of portrayals of women in comics aren't always along the lines of, "Cover her up!" Many of the ones I've seen tend to focus more on the fact that female characters are treated quite differently from male characters. I think it's pretty clear that women enjoy sexuality in media as well. I'll point to the movies again (since that's really the only reference point I have). The Avengers and X Men franchises do fairly well with female audiences. Women are a little better-represented there than they might have been in the distant past, but it seems that they're also making a point of casting actors who are likely to appeal to women in the male roles. I don't think that the only solution here is to take all your comics away from you, cover up all the cleavage, and tell you that you have to alternate reading about Wonder Woman and Superman.

          • Mad_

            It is what gets harped on the loudest. There hasn't been a woman stuffed in a refrigerator recently from what I've read (and if think it's just female characters who get treated horribly, it happens just as much and just as badly to male characters). I don't otherwise care if they just have to sexualize men to get women involved, but then again I can't say other male nerds won't react with indifference to it.

          • eselle28

            When I say treated quite differently, that's not just the refrigerator issue. It's the dichotomy between very naked female characters drawn to appeal to men and mostly clothed male characters that are…well, at the very least, not drawn to appeal to women. One way to solve that is to have fewer naked women. Another would be to have more sexualized men. I'd suspect that in most healthy forms of media that aren't just echo chambers, there'd be room for both solutions, as well as a continuation of some comics that only tilt toward men and the beginning of some that are mostly made for women. Obviously, that's a long way off.

          • Mad_


            Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark don't have to be naked to appeal to women, even though they're regularly shown baggin' chicks or just without their armour on anyways.

            I mean, New 52 Superman has edged a little less bespectacled meathead and a little more hipster Nightwing these days.

            You didn't even have to see any of Loki's bodyparts post-Hiddleston to see that he was going to be a lady-killing character, but I suspect he's gonna get the Nightwing treatment more often in the coming years.

            Other half of problem: To appeal to the males, the women have to be skin-tight or near-naked.

            Sidebar to problem: Women seem to love Catwoman as much as men do.

            I'm not sure there's a 50/50 to all of this.

          • eselle28

            Just on your sidebar problem, I do not get the feeling that women love Catwoman as much as men do. At all.

            As for the rest, I don't know that I agree that men only respond to nude female characters or that all women will respond to clothed gentlemen as much as they will to the Nightwings of the world. Loki certainly has his fangirls and so does Batman, but is Tony Stark really a crush character? I always perceived him as being mroe amusing, to both genders, than anything else. Perhaps he's different in the comics? In any case, comics have some room to experiment on this count and see what might actually seem appropriate to critics, what actually brings new audiences in, and what actually turns their old audiences on or off.

            I advocate for experimentation here, because I don't really get the feeling that these attempts are something that the Big Bad Feminists have forced on comics. The criticisms have been there, but they've also been made toward a number of popular video games and many movie franchises. When products are making money, creators don't generally care. I'm generally under the impression that comics haven't been doing as well in recent years as they once did, and that audiences are aging as kids don't really pick up the hobby anymore, and that some of these attempts are looking to diversify a customer base rather than to appease critics. In that vein, I think there are any number of things that might make them seem like they're offering something to female readers, whether that be sexualized men, guys who are wearing clothes but who appeal to female readers, or better and better-clothed female characters.

          • Mad_

            Maybe it's just the women who like dressing up as someone hot during Halloween or for attention-grabbing cosplay then.

            Tony Stark. Alcoholic who has demons. Billionaire. Beds tons of attractive women and literally has a suit of armour to whisk them away on. He's Batman without the brooding, absolutely has fangirls :p

            Ticking my frustrations again, because they already do a lot of those things and the female readers still complain that there's nothing for them. Jessica Jones is getting a TV series almost a decade after the comic that made her one of the best superhero characters you could ever read was cancelled. These "female readers" are either already reading or aren't going to read in the first place RRAAAGGHHHHHH

          • eselle28

            That is mostly just a Halloween thing, I think. I mean, I'm sure the character has female fans, but I don't think I've heard a lot of women talk about how interested they are in the character.

            Fair enough, I suppose a lot of characters who don't do much for me have fangirls. I can only picture him as Robert Downey Jr. Honestly, I don't think that "beds tons of attractive women" is something that appeals so much to the female fanbase as to the male one, though. I also – and this is based on only cursory knowledge of the phenomenon – thought that the Science Bros thing was more your standard slash appeal than any particular strong attraction to either character in his own right. To channel that, comics may have to tap into the bromance angle, and I'm not sure traditional audiences would be more accepting of that than somewhat sexualized men who weren't flirting with each other.

            Like I explained above, it takes time to develop a new audience. You'll need to teach them that this show is coming, and explain who Jessica Jones is, and then explain why women should care about her and why a show about her will be good. And, as I argued above, I don't think any of this is motivated by women complaining that there's not enough there for them. It's motivated by not enough people buying comics, period. One way to fix that would be to try to convince more women to buy them, and I think you're going to see those attempts whether women actively complain or just silently ignore.

            Just a point of clarification: is your desired outcome that I run out and buy some comics, that people like me go away and never speak about comics again, or that comics stop bothering with these women-centric titles and make more of the things you'd prefer to read? Because I think there are ways you can directly support each of these outcomes.

          • Mad_

            You know when you think I'm talking about something that I know nothing of and you'd wish I'd quiet down somehow?

            It's pretty much that. Honestly, it seems like there's a heavy emphasis in feminism to trample all over the privileged men to take those privileges for themselves, and then when the battle is won, the amazon army pulls out and goes for another front, leaving things wrecked for the men and the women who were interested in it in the first place still not getting what they want. Women-centric comics or male sexualization doesn't bother me because a good story is a good story, so if that gets more women reading, cool by me, maybe comics do need more of that. Or even if there's women who are readers who are frustrated, making it better is a good thing, or pointing out that the comics they want might already exist, ariiiight.

            I don't hate the crusader, I hate the crusade, I guess.

          • eselle28

            I don't actually wish you'd quiet down. I wish that sometimes you'd stop and consider the perspectives of people who have experience along with those that you've gained by observation, but that's not the same as wishing you'd shut up and go away.

            But, back on track, I would say that if it upsets you, one thing to do would be to avoid those discussions. I guess I'd also ask whether there really have been a number of titles that were actually wrecked by implementing some of the changes being discussed, and then I'd perhaps want to tease out whether those changes are really motivated by people complaining on the internet or whether they were motivated by the industry's own desire to broaden its demographics. If the discussion is just a meaningless sidetrack, it might be best to just avoid the topic, the way I avoid MRA stuff. If you conclude that it is having an effect, I'd suggest turning the frustration into action, as below.

            If you like both types of comics, I would suggest that continuing to support or increasing your support of titles you think are good is one way to put your vote in. Healthy titles seem like they're less likely to get that sort of overhaul, and as a current fan, I suspect you have a lot more motivation to vote with your dollars than women who are still being convinced are.

            If you would like more women to read comics, then a little evangelization may be in order. You've given lots of good recommendations here, and while I suspect people are unlikely to be as interested in them when they come up in this context, you might be effective if you started the conversation without branching into your frustration with the topic.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Someone else can come at this a little more coherently but audience appeal isn't a zero sum game. Making something appeal to women more doesn't automatically mean making it appeal to men less. I think you're arguing to the crusade in your head rather than the one that exists. Because the one I've seen asks not that women necessarily be pandered to but much more that they be less flagrantly insulted. No one's saying cover up every sexy female character. They're saying have some women with agency, some fan service for the girls and yes, there is some of that now. The overall balance is still pretty one sided, though. Like sports, we're talking incremental, generational change here. It happens with glacial slowness and only if the pressure stays on.

          • Mad_

            I dunno, I'm still a believer that it's your dollar that moves the needle. I feel like there's only "some of that" because there's only a small audience for it anyways.

          • enail0_o

            No, I think a lot of women like Catwoman…but it depends a lot on which version of Catwoman we're talking about. I know I'm a hard sell on her comics because she's one of those characters that's often sexualized in weird and skeevy-feeling ways , so my trust is even lower there than for other characters.

          • Mad_

            She's sexualized everywhere. That's her character. :p

          • enail0_o

            Didn't say just sexualized, but sexualized in weird and skeevy-feeling ways.

            I feel like the "that's her character" argument is used wayyyyy too much – but I don't object to it with her. I'm down with Catwoman being all over the sexy. But I need it to not be at the expense of other stuff, and I need it to be part of her character, not all there is to her character. Sometimes it's cool, sometimes it's not.

          • Mad_

            I somewhat agree, but It's also her foundation. She's sexual and flirty to the point where she sometimes uses it as a weapon, she likes stealing sparkly expensive things, and she has a reciprocated soft-spot for a superhero who should be putting her behind bars half the time.

            No matter what you do with her elsewhere, those parts are always going to be there in some fashion because it's what makes her Catwoman. It's the starting point and you branch out from there. Sometimes you get skeevy, sometimes you get more character driven, sometimes you just get the foundation.

          • enail0_o

            Hmm, see, except for the sexual and flirty part, those are things associated with sexy, but that aren't actually themselves mandatorily sexy. It's like…yeah, sexy morally ambiguous catburgler is her thing, and it should be there, but that's three things, and I want to see that all three of them are part of what they're showing, or I'm bored.

            But mostly it's just that the skeevy happens way too often, and it's there in the art sometimes even when it's not in the writing. I like my women with functional spines, thanksverymuch 😛

          • Mad_

            So what's the difference between Catwoman bending in suggestive ways or say, Kim Kardashian or Coco-T in heels, backs arched, taking a selfie in the mirror?

          • Dr_NerdLove

            Catwoman is a fictional character with no agency of her own.

          • Mad_

            All three sell for the same reason.

            And the fictional character has more talent and depth than the other two combined, even as a fictional character.

          • eselle28

            I'm going to refute the first claim. Kim Kardashian, in particular, doesn't sell to men. Guys don't watch her shows or buy her clothing brands. She's putting on a sexual performance, but her professional targets are other women.

            That depends on the fictional character, and on who's writing her. Put a hack on the character's writing staff, and that all changes, while Coco and Kim will continue to be themselves because they have agency.

          • Mad_

            Fictional characters don't have agency. They don't exist.

          • enail0_o

            Bing bing bing, we have a winner!

            To be go into this a little deeper, Catwoman is a character in a comic. Everything she does, visually and in writing, should work towards telling the story of that comic. Everything else is secondary. And unless it's a porn comic, the primary story is not "sexiness happened, the end." So if she's supposed to be fighting for her life, but her pose is saying "take me now", that's failing to tell the story, just the same as it's failing to tell the story if she's supposed to be fighting for her life and the dialogue is having her talk in text-speak. And it sends the message that it is more important for her to be sexy than it is for her to be anything else.

            Kim Kardashian or Coco T are people; it's not their job to use their actions and appearance to convey an exciting story about awesome people fighting/committing crimes.

          • Mad_

            But Catwoman's not a real person. She exists to sell whatever it is she's selling. If the suggestive posing sells then…

          • eselle28

            That's an argument why you should like Catwoman, or why DC might want to continue using her. But how is that a convincing argument as to why I should like her? Her sexiness doesn't do anything for me, so all I get is a story about a woman who finds it more important to be sexy than anything else.

          • Mad_

            I dunno, things just got weird when "agency" for something that can never have any came up.

          • eselle28

            Because you were comparing those fictional characters to real life people, who do have agency.

          • enail0_o

            This particular sub-sub-sub thread wasn't talking agency, though, it was talking storytelling.

          • Mad_

            I was just talking about the spines thing :p

          • enail0_o

            Oh, well in that case, the difference is that Kim Kardashian and Coco-T are real people, and don't have to use the way they're drawn to convince me they're real enough to suspend disbelief. And when they're posed with their backs arched, they're not generally trying to convince me that they're capable of holding their own in a fight.

            As an aside, I just don't find those awkward deformed spine poses and no-internal-organs exaggerated bodies sexy anyway.

          • enail0_o

            I find that a bit of an odd way of thinking of storytelling mediums. Yes, the ultimate goal is to sell them, but usually, we consider that that should be an end result of producing an entertaining and persuasive story.

            Fanservice elements are sometimes used to bring in a little extra selling power – but (unless the story is specifically one whose primary goal is to tell a fanservicey story,) it's usually considered that any fanservice that comes at the expense of conveying the appropriate emotions, actions, atmosphere, plot, suspension of disbelief makes it A LESS GOOD work. Characters that people perceive to be written just to please the crowd rather than to be a convincing character who fits well into the plot are usually considered to be lousy characters.

            Comics seem to have a way higher tolerance for this than other mediums, and it's nearly across the board rather than being in only some works. I find it a little odd, and I think it makes it much harder to find quality comics than, say, quality movies or quality books.

          • Mad_

            I seem to remember saying a similar thing about Skye and getting eviscerated for it :p

            And are you sure it's across the board?

          • enail0_o

            It's the difference between "this character is too beautiful to read as a plausible fighter" and "this character is posing too sexily in this fight scene to read as a plausible fighter. I'm not sure whether you see what I mean by that distinction here, but I don't think you were managing to convey it in the Skye discussion.

            Not totally across the board, of course not. But I find it a remarkably high percentage of superhero comics.

          • Mad_

            Here comes some rep damage:

            Most women aren't plausible fighters anyways. I know movie Catwoman made me think "She'd never take down a bunch of armed thugs like this if it was the real actress doing it."

            I guess I just don't see the big distinction since I'm already suspending disbelief that far.

          • enail0_o

            Leaving aside that I think peoples' ideas of what different bodies are capable of are not exactly accurate…

            I think an awful lot of feminists would agree with you that we could have a lot more persuasive female characters if they weren't cast/drawn for such a narrow range of body types, with attractiveness as the primary focus, and were instead cast/drawn with a focus on how well they suit their particular role.

            But beyond that, I think it's that HOW is fundamentally more important in creating a convincing world/story than WHO. If a muscled action man in a movie throws a punch like he's worried about protecting his manicure, it instantly takes you right out of suspending disbelief, no matter how convincing he would otherwise be for that role. Because that's not how a person punches if they know how to punch and want the person on the other end to feel it.

          • enail0_o

            It's almost a question of physics, it's so basic to our interpretation of the universe – we know, viscerally, what a punch looks like, what a genuine smile looks like, how someone who's trying to impress for business stands vs. someone who's trying to impress for a date.

            Even a supermodel throwing a punch, if she's throwing a decent punch, will be putting her weight into the fist, not arching backwards so that her boobs and butt stick out. If her pose is chosen to emphasize her boobs and butt, we can tell instantly that she's not really punching.

            And that's true for all kinds of actions and ways of moving. It's a deeper level of unreality, and it's an unacknowledged one. And of course, it's even more unconvincing and jarring when she's side by side with other characters (men), who do throw a punch like they want it to hurt, eat a snack like they're hungry, shout like they're angry.

            I'm not sure how much I'm getting across what I mean here. Does this make any sense?

          • eselle28

            Coco and Kim are women who are expressing their sexuality with a motivation – to make money, to gain fame, to feel good about themselves, perhaps to manipulate those around them. There's a person there as well as a sexual display (though I'll say that I've never found either of those women's expressions of their sexuality particularly interesting, either).

            A fictional woman who is sexy for an audience of men in her fictional universe, and who is also a person beyond that, could be an interesting character. A fictional woman who's primarily relating to the reader and who doesn't have much to her besides her sexuality is fairly boring to me.

          • eselle28

            Ah, fair enough. I'll admit that I'm a bit out of my depth when talking about comic fandoms, since I only see them from the outside.

          • Mad_

            I kinda think it's more that Catwoman lets women be slinky/sexy/borderline slutty without those specific societal judgements (but then you'll run into fake geek girl and doing-it-for-the-attention judgements)

          • eselle28

            I think there's some truth in that, at least insofar as we're talking about Halloween costumes and cosplaying. I guess there's a couple of things I'd tease out of that, though, just going at the generic costume/cosplay level without getting too much into the character.

            First, while there are a lot of women who like dressing up in those ways and playing with those concepts, there are a lot of other women who complain about oversexualized costumes and wish they'd have more options.

            Second, there's a lot of territory between dressing up as someone on one night and being interested in reading about the character on a long term basis. When I'm dressed up, the sexuality I'm playing around with is my own. I can take on the aspects of a persona I like, ignore those I don't, and behind it all I'm still me – an actual person with her own sex drive and motives and interests. When I'm reading about a sexualized female character, it can be all over the map. Some of them are sexual for their own reasons, in ways I find interesting to read about. Some of them are sexual for their own reasons, in ways that I find boring and disturbing. And some of them are mostly pinups meant to sexually excite the reader rather than invite identification, which don't really interest me. I would guess that there are any number of characters people might like to dress as, but might not want to read about.

          • Mad_

            From an outsider type of perspective when it comes to costumes, a lot of that is going on in your own head. If I see a girl dressed as Catwoman, I'm thinking one of two things: she's a Catwoman fan of some kind, or she's doing it for the attention it brings. And I'm probably leaning latter because of how many non-fans and super-models and celebs over the years I've seen dressed as Catwoman/Wonder Woman/whatever just because it makes them sexy.

          • eselle28

            But that doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is what's in my head, and how I feel about expressing my sexuality (or dressing differently declining to do so).

          • Mad_

            This is where judgmental reactions come from, you know

          • eselle28

            Then that's where they come from. But your viewpoint as a male observer isn't the whole story, or even the biggest part of it, when it comes to my personal sexual expression. It's not part of the story at all when it comes to me sitting and reading a story about a sexualized female character like Catwoman.

          • Mad_

            Kinda just tells me that women like for attention and where that attention originates from can be completely opposite things :p

          • eselle28

            Some women like attention, some of the time. It depends on the woman. Some men like attention too.

            But what does this have to do with my reading habits?

          • Mad_

            I was just mentally starting to tread into "Oh, this is why fake geek girl stuff happens."

          • eselle28

            Why should wanting attention intersect with geekiness at all? A woman can be both things simultaneously, or she can be presenting as a geek without sending any sexual messages, or she can just be expressing sexuality without bringing geekiness into it (there are certainly plenty of ways). If you're incapable of getting past the sex part, I'd say that's on you rather than on her.

            You still haven't done much to get into why I should care about the fanservice version of Catwoman.

          • Mad_

            It's because women can separate what offends them, what they like and what helps them attract attention, sometimes to seemingly hypocritical degrees. That's where it comes from.

            And you shouldn't care about Catwoman because you already don't, just like the rest of comics :p

          • eselle28

            Guys are allowed to be more than one thing at once too, and they're also allowed to dislike it when other people treat them badly.

            Let's say I'm just gearing up to start reading comics. What does the fanservice version of Catwoman offer me?

          • Mad_

            That's true ("real" sports fans" vs casual sports fans, hardcore gamers vs casual gamers, etc), it's just, that's why it happens and I never realized it quite like that.

            Catwoman's currently being written by Ann Nocenti, and that's about as far as I can go with that because I'm not a big fan of her style.

            Only other place you can see Catwoman is in Justice League of America, but that requires following the meta-story going on.

            Catwoman, when she's done right, works with the fanservice-y elements. She's just a bit too sexy, because it's a weapon she uses because she knows it works. Black Widow from Avengers does much the same thing.

          • Katka7

            I guess I'll just ask. Could there be a comic book "boys' club," as you put it, that doesn't portray women as blow-up dolls? I cannot say I aspire to end it. Is this portrayal off-putting and a little depressing? Yes.

            But probably not as depressing as the mountain of ads and marketing designed to help women despise every real and imagined flaw. I am more comcerned about the nasty reaction when a woman complains about sexual harassment or worse, which is the issue that sparked this comversation. I get more comcerned when she gives up a creative career or switches industries because the sexism on the page becomes reality at work.

  • Thank you for posting this and being the outspoken ally you have been.

    One thing we must not forget in all of this is that it happens in every industry. Comics aren't some vile underworld. Same with games, film, art and literature. Small industries where jobs are based on who you know and blacklisting isn't just a scary story we made up is where the behaviour festers and goes relatively unnoticed. Most people don't see it and will deny it if someone points it out.

    In games there is a rule of don't trash people or games, because you don't know who the other people know and all that they have worked on. This effectively keeps women silent. There are no rules of don't sexually harass, try to coerce into sex, unwarranted touching, et all. The problems will continue if the majority of the conversation is on how women should deal with it and if it's really a problem instead of how men should treat women.

    I had a horrible run in with an outspoken "feminist" dev recently who had a complete disconnect from "women in games" and "women he wanted to sleep with." Not only was I put in an incredibly uncomfortable situation at the time, but now I have to worry about every industry event and weigh how likely it is people would believe me if I did speak up. What is the effect on him? Nothing. That's completely fucked up.

    Anywhere that men are in power and women are a different species that are simultaneously objects of affection and the evil trolls guarding the sex bridge, this sort of behaviour will continue. And it saddens me that after all the talks about it, people still refuse to admit that seemingly normal people act this way and that it's even a problem.

    • Katka7

      Completely agree.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      On the other hand, the geek industries have started having serious discussions about it. I suspect if many white collar male dominated industries tried to get to the same place, we'd see that they're much, much worse. There's a long way to go in geek industries, for sure, but at least we're having the conversation and trying to do something abvout it.

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  • So tired of this. First, there's no "geek culture". So stop talking like there is one. Second, of course there is no "conversation among men about not treating women like shit", because 99% of men learn that when they are in their teens (if not before), and the tiny fraction that didn't are not fixable. They are broken. They are damaged goods.

    Do women get sexually harassed (much, much) more than men do? Yes. But it happens less now than it ever has, and that will only continue to get better.

    So call out the jerks, yes, fine. Boycott their work, fine. Call for their censure, or perhaps even termination or even arrest if you think the offense warrants it, fine. But stop this endless guilt-fest that tries to make the vast majority of people who *haven't* sexually harassed *anyone* seem responsible for the teeny, tiny fraction that have. Because they aren't, and shifting the blame from the guilty person to an innocent not-even-there-when-it-happened bystander is no more helpful than shifting the blame from the guilty person to the victim.

    • Incidentally, I am not claiming that men don't benefit from the imbalances in our society. Obviously they do (but less so than in the past, and undoubtedly more so than in the future). And are women victimized by men far more often than men are victimized by women? Obviously they are.** But that's not the point the article makes (or attempts to make, since in my opinion, it fails).

      (** As Margaret Atwood said, "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.")

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I missed the part where I was being guilted or made to be responsible of people who have done wrong. I do see the part where I'm being made aware that something I would have assumed wasn't a very big issue is in fact so rampant that either a majority or a large minority of con going women have had to deal with. Just like with OBS above, there's nothing in this article that would discourage me from approaching a woman at a con. There is enough that I might notice a problem I wouldn't have otherwise and be in a position to defuse it.

  • This is all bad…there's a lot of work to be done. Not only in comics, but in many other areas as well.

    Justin Martin

    R-Squared Comicz

  • Even now, I have a problem I can't address because I'm afraid to say anything. I hate it, I want it to stop, but I also don't need another shitstorm. I wish I'd dealt with it 9 years ago, but I didn't, and the problem's not gone away. I've tried to and all I get is an embarrassed shrug, maybe a "but they've never done that to me."
    On the other hand, I got groped at a dinner hosted by NBM, by a man AND a woman. I complained to the publisher, Terry Nantier the next day, he told me to let it go. I talked to the woman's husband. He said he didn't believe it. (Like, he was astonished.) I emailed the man. I heard back from him the day my house was gutted by a fire. He said he didn't remember it. Yuh huh. (He's a socially-conscious liberal fellow, by the way. Oh yes.)
    This is why women don't talk.
    But we need to, even if it's "only" to each other.
    After all that unhappiness above, I have to say I'm glad as hell women are talking to each other. Even if we "only" talk to each other, we can push back in numbers, and that's good. Pushback is important. Changing what "normal" is good.

  • My brother is also quite nerdy, I wish he would read this blog – maybe he would finally find a girlfriend with these tips.

  • Remington

    I've never been able to identify with these articles because I don't socialize with fellow geeks and because I'm used to women being harassed mostly out of the view of other men (which I think is why so many men are completely unaware of what many women go through).

    Is nerd culture particularly plagued by blatant sexism in ways that makes it openly visible to everyone?

    • Robjection

      I don't have much experience with geek culture in the real world so I can't comment on the visibility of sexism in that area, but I have seen some pretty blatant sexism in some message boards I've been on.

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  • Days like this make me wish I could do more as a comic shop.

    Best I can do is keep on voting with my wallet and what we put on display and what we recommend.

    Sometimes feels like the Comics Industry takes two steps forward, turns round and uses those steps forward to throw itself in the wrong direction.

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  • Chuck Wells

    I am a fan and will soon be 52 (and hardly "new'; that's a joke), and I wish that I could say that I hadn't witnessed anything even remotely like the situations described in this piece. I do recall being extremely shocked when the now passed away classic editor was revealed to be such a sleazoid while attending shows in my region. I was not only disgusted that this was apparently the case, but even more ticked that some of the show organizers that I knew were such apologists for his unwelcome behavior. I actually happen to be a fan of a number of female creators and it is tough to interact with them on occasion due to the personal shields that they've been forced to adopt when dealing with unknown persons in this environment. Understandable though!

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  • mikewall

    Good article. I thing I have noticed with the Wood incident that he has not been punished by Marvel/Disney.

    If this were almost any other industry, swift action would have been taken now by the offending parties. The tech industry, is perhaps the most professional and business like in comparison to any entertainment industry. Most often, executives are called to task for their behavior and face immediate disciplinary action from a company's Board of Directors or executive management resulting in termination of employement, surrendering of stock options, etc.

    In fact, I think Marvel, Disney go an extra mile to protect their employees from such claims and in very few cases actually goes through with disciplinary action to remedy the situation. Another case in point with Marvel Studios, James Gunn. Gunn published that now infamous list of remarks about many iconic comic characters in racy poses that was mostly satire but it did offend many groups including women, minorities, and those who have different sexual orientation. There was a great outrage to have Gunn removed from the Guardians of the Galaxy film, but Marvel did not take any action. Gunn apologized but often is the case an apology is not enough. If anything, those with the power in this industry will do little to address problems when the public call their business decisions into question. This is not surprising now that comics fuel Hollywood and push a booming multi billion dollar film industry.