HOW LADY GEEK NITE EMPOWERS WOMEN AND GIRLS, SEXIST SNOBBERY AGAINST COSPLAY + THE EVOLUTION AND DEVOLUTION OF WONDER WOMAN OVER THE DECADES
The core contradiction of North American science fiction and fantasy fandom is that while often describing itself as a bastion for people who faced rejection from small-minded people, for decades it offered plenty of rejection of its own. North American fan culture was dominated by European men and boys, predominantly middle class and straight, with Western, Northern, and ancient Southern European cultural reference points.
While obsessed with physical sciences and militarism, it was largely ignorant of social sciences and popular struggles for justice. Even to this day, as plenty of fans attest, fandom was a closed shop where alleged outsiders could ride the starship in small numbers, but could never by the helmsman or the captain.
While some abusive and oppressive fans still cause havoc for others as with the Gamergate and Hugo Award Rabid Puppies scandals, many fans have brought many changes. And inside that fan-vanguard are feminist participants and creators who are changing the culture and changing the content. Cosplay has moved from mass-produced and monotonous Star Trek uniforms to superbly hand-crafted costumes from thousands of storyworlds.
Convention artists tables are no longer simply sales-spots for a few men, but rows and rows of women with outstanding art, particularly of female characters in exciting, fun, and non-sexist portrayal. Women are creating science fiction, fantasy, and superhero comics, graphic novels, documentaries, feature films, costumes, video games, conventions, and more. They’ve evolved the scene from what it used to be, into where it’s going for the 21st Century.
In E-Town, that leadership belongs to the Lady Geeks Unite. On the first Thursday of every month, they meet at Happy Harbor Comics for Lady Geek Nite. They host a range of events that include table top gaming and role-playing games, documentaries and discussions, and costume creation workshops, and annual events such as a Christmastime fan-craft sale.
For a few months I was embedded at Happy Harbor Comics to write a play about it for Workshop West, and I got to attend many meetings of the Lady Geeks and learn of their mysterious ways. So on May 14th, 2016, I sat down at the store with lady geeks Sylvia Douglas and Sylvia Moon to talk about what they do.
Sylvia Douglas is an arts administrator, writer, and indie filmmaker who works for FAVA, the Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta, and she’s a board member for the Alberta Media Artists Alliance Society. Sylvia Moon is a graphic designer who helped organise Lady Geek Nite since its inception; she even designed its logo. She was one of the artists who created the World’s Biggest Comic during the final two days of the Royal Alberta Museum’s original location.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, the two Sylvias discuss:
- How Lady Geek Nite began and why it’s so important
- How Lady Geek Nite empowers women and girls who’ve otherwise found themselves silenced in male-dominated fandom
- The illogic of sexist snobbery against cosplay
- The debate of self-expression vs. objectification
- Who’s better: Ripley or Barbarella, and
- The evolution and devolution of Wonder Woman over the decades
SPEAKING OF HAPPY HARBOR COMICS... check out the
THIS IS YEG Salon. I speak about the play that Workshop West commissioned me to write about it: What It Is podcast, Saturday April 23, 2016.
And please enjoy this fine interview by Robin Shantz with me about science fiction, movies, politics, and my own books, on the Invaders from Planet 3 podcast.
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