To the Dudebros of Hall H

This year was my third San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), and it held with the tradition of being an amazing weekend filled with fun and friends and sunshine that once again left me with a feeling that I was almost there, almost at the point where I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

And one of these moments was a heated conversation between myself and two of my friends and the dudes sitting in front of us in Hall H on Saturday.

We spent over 13 hours either in line for Hall H (the biggest panel room at SDCC), or sitting in Hall H on Saturday this year – one of the big movie days in this room, and one of the hardest times to get into the room for the panels. I really enjoyed most of the panels this year – from The Hunger Games to X-Men Days of Future Past, to Godzilla and of course Marvel’s presentation on Captain America 2 and Thor 2 (Plus a huge Avengers 2 announcement!).

But maybe my favourite panel other than the intense feelings of the Marvel panel was a panel put on by Entertainment Weekly about Kick Ass Women in Film. (I later found out that this was the first female-moderated movie panel in Hall H in SDCC’s history).

Katee Sackoff, Maggie Q, Danai Gurira, Michelle Rodriguez, and Tatiana Maslany spoke eloquently and passionately about their experiences in the business, their favourite characters, the sexism they’ve experienced, problems with the representation of women in Hollywood films, and what stories they would like to see told. They were amazing, offering personal stories of the problems in the industry and solutions. (You can look at these links for more info on the panel itself)

Why I’m addressing this post to the Dudes of Hall H is for many reasons.

I found this panel to be revolutionary, and a real step forward for a cause I’m so passionate about. Because this panel was in the middle of the afternoon meant that many people who wouldn’t have sought out a panel like this had to listen to it anyway. The way Hall H works is that you line up the night before or early the morning of to sit in the room all day to see the panels you really want to see, at 5 or 6 in the evening. So this 6500 person room was filled with all sorts of fans of different properties, and not just women (or men) who already agreed with what the panelists were saying. People could of course choose not to pay attention, but they couldn’t leave if they still wanted to see panels later in the day – and they did.

The dudes in front of us spent some time during the panel sighing, making a few jokes or disparaging comments about the stories the panelists were telling, and we passively aggressively cheered over top of them, and make some comments to their backs after the panel was over (I admit, this was not the most mature course of action). Katee Sackoff and Danai Gurira had just told stories about the women who raised them in a way that made me really emotional and so my friends and I weren’t about to let these people cheapen the content of the panel. So one of the guys turns around and leans back, asking us to say what we were saying to his face. What followed was a really interesting conversation that went from him asking us if we though Shakespeare couldn’t write women characters, to the three of us solidifying our arguments in a way that I have never experienced before.

One of the points that the women on the panel made was that we have to speak up and speak out when we see something that is wrong or that we disagree with. And I find this really easy in my day to day life, when I am surrounded in both my physical environment and my online environment with people that respect me, and for the most part who agree with me when it comes to women’s representation in media. So to suddenly find myself thinking on my feet, defending my views, and trying to speak in a way that both clarified my argument and didn’t devolve into rage-quitting the conversation (you can’t “not read the comments” when you’re sitting behind the comments).

And I think we actually managed to turn a hostile beginning, where no one knew how the other party would react into a fairly productive conversation.

I like to think too, that in this room of 6500 people there were other women who spoke up and against the comments that were spoken by hostile nerd dudebros throughout the room. And that the 25 or so people within hearing learned something as well. No one that we didn’t know came to our defence (or his) during this conversation, but I’m sure they were listening.

The world of nerds is still filled with accusations of fake nerd girls, that we can’t be gamers, we can’t be Sci Fi fans, that our opinions don’t count and that no one would ever go see a Wonder Woman film.

But by having this panel in Hall H. In telling these stories. In having these conversations. I believe that things can change and that we are on the brink of something. 

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