Wait, you want more than that? Shit. Fine.
“What are you talking about, Dr. NerdLove?” I hear you ask. “Sure, we see the wisdom in your last post on a similar subject, but surely this is different!”
“Yes,” I’d say. “And quit trying to bait me into that old-ass joke.”
I’ve been in comics and anime fandom long enough to remember the old adage “There is no sex at the comic con”, back when the odds of finding a girl – that wasn’t someone’s mom and/or ride – at a fandom convention was roughly as likely as finding Henry Rollins nodding along to a Michael Bolton song. But now, especially with the rise of manga and anime, girls have started flooding into fandom! Geek girls, even! Cosplay encourages otherwise shy, retiring girls to dress to accent their most common super power! Anime cons have the surprisingly co-ed hentai rooms! The dances! Men in kilts and women with leaf-blowers! The black-market Hello Kitty vibrators! Surely comic conventions must have become Hedonism for Nerds, right?
And I reply “I told you I’m not going to make that goddamn joke, so stop trying.”
Here’s the thing: I have had a lot of experiences at conventions, as attendee, panelist and vendor. In spite of my own guidelines, I have had several hook-ups at conventions that went quite swimmingly. I’ve also had several that didn’t go nearly as well. Occasionally quite violently and all over the place. And in my experiences and never-humble-opinion, comic conventions are a poor place to look for sex and especially for any relationships that are going to last longer than that weekend.
So as every geek-related industry gears up for Nerdi Gras (aka San Diego Comic-Con) this week, allow me to present
The 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Try To Pick Up Girls at Comic Cons
5) The Logistics Are Against You.
Comic conventions, especially the larger ones, are loud, crowded and almost absurdly expensive. Even with the convention discount, travel and lodging is going to eat up a not-insignificant amount of your money before you even get to the con. And the most common way of defraying expenses at the convention?
Sharing a room with half a dozen of your closest friends. And their halitosis, questionable bathroom habits and the occasional semi-intelligent life form that evolved out of the melange of junk food and soda you and your buddies brought with you to the con, contributing to a mess that will send most hotel maids screaming into the night. So you’re going to have to coordinate with all your friends to get even a vestige of privacy – many of whom who have the same goal you do. And even if you do manage to get some alone-time, you’re going to have to convince the girl you’re with that she really does want to get naked in a room that looks like the aftermath of a Delta party before they get set on double-secret probation.
No problem, just go to her place, right?
Yeah, not so much, Romeo. She’s in exactly the same boat you are. And while you may have convinced your friends that helping you get laid is a noble goal, her friends aren’t going to be quite as obliging. If you thought a girl’s friends were roving cock-blocks in bars, you’ve never seen girls trying to protect their friend from making a mistake at the con.
Are there exceptions? Of course there are. But honestly, do you really want to bank on having somehow stumbled into a wacky teen romance instead of reality?
4) They’ve Heard It All Before
There’s nothing like taking poorly socialized nerds and attractive women – geek or otherwise – and cramming them into the pressure-cooker environment that is your average con. Somehow this convinces even the most femme-phobic guy that he can win over the heart of his favorite webcomic author with the right combination of arrogance, disdain and an encyclopedic knowledge of Tennant-era Dr. Who. Meanwhile, the model-actress-whatevers who’ve been hired as booth babes to shill for which ever corporation is trying to cynically milk the nerd-dollar are developing that dead thousand-yard stare that is normally found in Vietnam vets as they try to keep their rictus-like grin pasted on while posing for photos with increasingly handsy (and sweaty) nerds as they run down the list of poor life-choices that lead to them being on the con floor and praying for the sweet release of death. And the cosplay girls may like the attention, but it only takes one or two bad pick-up lines based on poorly-thought out puns about their character’s powers before they start wishing they could kill people with their brain.
And then there’re the guys who got their ideas on how to pick up women from anime. Anime of all things. Why would you do this? WHY? Oh God, someone bring Daddy his special medicine. It’s in the bottle marked “Jefferson’s Reserve”.
Basically, there are very good reasons why most women at conventions are not going to appreciate your hitting on them; you may think that you’re Studly GoodNight, but to them you’re probably #6557 in a series of dudes who’ve already pissed them off that day. You’re behind before you even start.
3) You’re Competing With Everyone Else’s Mistakes
Let me take a second to talk about the idea of “male privilege”. Male privilege means never worrying about being alone in an elevator with a stranger. Male privilege means not having to do a calculus of risks whenever you’ve been invited to a party. It’s not having to deal with people having pre-supposed rights to your person, or having to worry what messages you might be making about your sexual availability. You aren’t going to have people assume you’ve gotten to wherever you are in the industry by sleeping with someone, have your work denigrated because of your sex and you’re not likely to be harassed in what should be a safe space.
I’m not bringing this up to be the White Knight, protesting against the horrible things that are done to women, but to bring up a certain point: these are the sorts of things guys don’t have to think of. Women do. And all of this is going to inform everything a woman does, especially at a convention.
Remember what I said above about poorly socialized nerds and high-pressure environments? Yeah.
There are a surprisingly large number of nightmare stories for women at cons, ranging from the misguided (The Open-Source Boob Project) to the boorish (being sexually harassed by guests) to the hideous (stalkers, sexual assault). Every story a woman will have heard about someone being groped, harassed, or in some cases raped at conventions? Guess what, chief? These are the standards everything you do is going to be filtered through.
One of my good female friends spent a convention hiding in her room when a guy she met – and liked, initially – crossed the line into creepy-stalker when he didn’t seem to process that she wasn’t going to hook up with him that night. He thought he was being charming and seductive. She was legitimately frightened by his unwillingness to take “no” as a clue to stop pushing. You think you’re being charming when you’re asking for her e-mail, but the way you’re coming across if you’re not careful is asking “Does this smell like chloroform to you?” You think you’re inviting her to a room party (in the hopes of eventually clearing the room when the Enigma track comes on *wink wink*) can sound a lot like “Wanna come back to my rape dungeon?”
Is it fair? Nope. But you wouldn’t think that people would seriously try to implement the Open-Source Boob Project either.
2) Someone Sent Us Up The Drama Bomb
So taking a step back from the loaded topic of privilege and women and look at another aspect of why cons are bad places to try to pick up women:
Conventions are like hot houses for drama. It is like some sort of experimental lab that develops new, stronger and more virulent forms of drama that occasionally manage to escape and infect the general public. I have seen lifelong friendships end and marriages dissolve. I have watched entire relationships start and end over the course of a weekend. There was one con where I saw a guy and girl meet cute on Thursday night. By Friday, they had declared that theirs is a love that shall last FOREVERRRRRRR! By Saturday he caught her flirting with the cute guy in the HalloweenTown Sora costume and by Saturday night he’s crying into his Coke Zero that he’ll never love again, while she’s busy wondering what names she and Sora are gonna give their kids.
The larger the con, the greater the drama. Everybody’s been running around all day. They’re insanely busy whether they’re a guest of the con, a vendor or an attendee. Everyone’s suffering from little sleep, shitty food, entirely too much booze the night before and the vague feeling that money’s draining out of their pockets. Nobody is firing on all cylinders. Nerves are frayed, tempers are on a hair trigger, I’m nowhere near making my table fees back, my girlfriend is laughing a little too much at that guy’s jokes and why is she rubbing the chest of some dude dressed like Hawkman and I just can’t deal with your shit right now do you fucking mind??!
1) That’s Not Why They’re Here (or: You’re Missing The Point)
Going to cons to get laid is a lot like going visting California in order to go panning for gold. You can do it and maybe even find something but that’s not really the reason to go. The vast, vast majority of people at the convention aren’t there looking for love or even a good 30 minutes between panels. They’re there to hang out with friends, see some of their favorite creators, dress up in costumes, connect with their fans, sell their work, pimp their art, find a job… Focusing on trying to get laid (or finding a Nerd Girlfriend) is missing the forest for the trees, and your insistance is possibly hindering others from enjoying their con experience. While you’re busy trying to flirt with the cute author of your favorite webcomic, she is likely wishing you’d wrap it up and buy something already, or at least get out of the way and stop driving off the other potential customers. Time spent stalking the con floor looking for love is time you’re not spending in panels or meeting that artist who drew your favorite comic or finally tracking down a bootleg of that TV show you loved as a kid.
Do people get laid at cons? Yes, of course they do. Do people meet their future spouses there? Again, yes. But that’s not the point of going to them, and you’re doing a disservice to yourself by trying to treat it like the club scene with added otaku and Twilight knockoffs. Don’t go to cons with the intention of trying to score, and you’ll probably have a much better time. And get me one of those limited editionLocke and Key model keys while you’re there, will ya?