The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo is a week away and I’m beyond excited to be both an attendee and a participant with the fantastic line up at what’s arguably the best nerd convention in Chicago. This is the fourth year C2E2 will be bringing the nerd to McCormick Place and the second time I’ll have hosted a panel at a convention (the first was at C2E2 last year).
This year’s panel is going to explore a topic that had geeks and nerds flaming all over the internet last year (and not without good reason): The Fake Geek Girl. “Exorcising the Spectre of the Fake Geek Girl: Discussing geek culture, gate-keeping and sexism” is our response to the idea that “fake geek girls” are infiltrating geek spaces and “ruining it” for the rest of us. If you couldn’t tell, gate-keeping in geek culture and requiring people “prove or earn their nerd cred” is something of a pet peeve of mine, and the “fake geek girl” controversy is one of the reasons why.
The panel will take place on SUNDAY, APRIL 28, 12:15PM-1:15PM in RM W473.
The official panel description is as follows:
This moderated panel will demystify the spectre of the “fake geek girl” that’s been haunting geek culture. Do “fake geek girls” really exist? If so, does it even really matter? Why is there the perception that they are invading geek spaces? Is it really about keeping geek culture “authentic” or about keeping certain people out? And who gets to define what makes one a “real geek” anyway? Six diverse and very opinionated Chicago panelists will tackle these questions and more by discussing some of the blog posts and videos that sparked debate over this topic last year. They will share their experience of what it’s really like to be geeky women navigating their way through the gates of geek culture. A Q&A session will follow discussion with the panelists. The panel is sponsored in part by the Chicago Nerd Social Club.
I’m thrilled with the group of talented, articulate and passionately nerdy women who are joining me next weekend. If you came to the Geek Girl and the Artist panel last year, some of them might look familiar – Jen Dollface and Dawn Xiana Moon and Erin Tipton are returning panelists and are joined by new additions Carlye Frank (moderator) Laura Koroski and Karlyn Meyer. Below are brief bios of all the panel participants:
Jen Dollface – Dollface is a self-described jackass of all trades who has who has been working in all manners of the arts since childhood, including circus, costumes, fire performance and theatricality. You can see her perform at events like Unbridled at Untitled and the Chicago Full Moon Jams, and check out her crafty goodness at Razorblade Cupcake. She’s also a pretty kick ass Magic player who played the tournament circuit.
Carlye Frank – our panel moderator with an iron fist and razor wit who will keep us on schedule and the audience in line. She’s a local artist who specializes in comic art and was trained under comic artist Skip Williamson. She’s also feminist activist and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in the Humanities at the University of Chicago.
Laura Koroski – an opinionated twenty-something who hails from the Chicago area and is in love with her city. Currently a grad student, hopefully a future history teacher, she has little free time, and such time as can be called free often goes into her blog, Challenge by Geek, where she writes about nerd culture and geeky topics through a feminist perspective. Laura’s geek passions include fantasy, sci-fi, feminism, and history – also, Doctor Who.
Karlyn Meyer – an attorney who uses her vacation days to work at PAX and game development conferences. She studied intellectual property and the law’s application to gender and sexuality, receiving national publication for her scholarship regarding video games and copyright law. You may have seen her on the internet doing a rad cosplay of Maurice Moss from the IT Crowd. In addition to being an avid gamer, she is incubating a tiny human who will join her in the Chicago Nerd Social Club this August.
Dawn Xiana Moon – a lifelong geek who performs with Read My Hips tribal bellydance, works freelance as a web designer, is a singer/songwriter and is also the producer and director of Raks Geek, the bellydance + fire show that broke the internet’s brain with a video of a Wookiee bellydancing to a Klingon band. She’s also part of the podcast, Podcast on the Edge of Forever.
Erin Tipton – a lighting designer extraordinaire whose love affair with Anne McCaffery’s dragons began at age 8. She’s been a fan of the Doctor since she was tall enough to be able to see the TV from where she was hiding behind the couch, and in her spare time she likes to knit things such as Cthullu ski masks, Jayne hats, and even a crocheted animaguri Totoro doll.
And of course, there’s yours truly.
To give you an idea of what kind of discussion we’re hoping to offer, you can listen to some of the coverage the panel’s gotten on the local podcast circuit.
- Loot the Room invited me back as a guest to talk about the panel in their recent episode: “Pirates of Dark City and the Fake Geek Girl.” (panel discussion starts at the 28min mark)
- Also, the Chicago Nerd Social Club posted both parts of a two-part interview with the entire panel on their podcast as well: Part 1, “Nerd Ensembles.” (interview begins at the 33:30min mark) and Part 2, “C2E2 is Here!” (interview begins at the 17:20min mark) [UPDATED 4/26/13]
[UPDATE 4/24/13: The panel also got a mention in Christopher Borrelli‘s Chicago Tribune article, “Nerd World,” in the Arts & Entertainment section of the Wednesday, April 24, 2013 edition, along with a quote from yours truly! The article requires free registration to be viewed online.]
[UPDATE 4/25/13: We made Geeks Out’s “Queer Guide to C2E2 2013” list of panels worth seeing at C2E2!]
And if you happened to have missed the fact there was even a problem with women having to prove nerd cred in geek spaces (lucky you!) and you’re wondering why anyone would want to dedicate an entire panel to discussing the whole “fake geek girl” controversy, Laura has an excellent summary of the events from last year that spurred us to put this panel together. I highly recommend reading her post as a primer on the subject.
I’m also excited to announce that my friend and video ninja, Michael Silberman (Great Eye Films), will be recording the entire panel as part of a larger project documenting why the panel was formed and how it fits in with the line up of events that the Chicago Nerd Social Club supports within the local nerd scene. He’ll be looking for audience members willing to talk about their reactions to the panel, so if you’re interested in sharing your thoughts, be on the lookout.
C2E2 recommends showing up 10-15 minutes prior to the start of an event in order to get seating. I’ve seen the room C2E2 has assigned for the panel, so if you want to make sure you have a seat, definitely show up on the earlier end. Be sure to check out C2E2’s handy-dandy programming grid – it’s an excellent way to schedule your events at the convention. Mobile apps for the con are also available.
It’s a lot to pack into 60 minutes (including time for Q&A), but we’re excited about tackling this issue and have been looking forward to putting on this panel for months. It promises to be a lively discussion and I hope you’ll make time to join us! Thanks again to the Chicago Nerd Social Club for supporting this panel and helping to make geek culture more open and safe for anyone and everyone to take part in. See you at C2E2!