Last week was my third New York Comic Con, and, each year, I notice that it gets bigger and bigger. What was once only the realm of hardcore sci-fi comic book geeks (The first ever New York Comic Con was held in the basement of a long-defunct New York City hotel, and only 200 people were in attendance.) has now become the prime promotional ground for a wide variety of television shows, movies, graphic novels, and more. And, as someone who's been a Star Wars warrior for as many years as she's been alive and a Star Trek Trekkie for about the same amount of time, seeing such a mainstream explosion of a world that was once discounted as being "too geeky" makes me smile.
Feminism Of Fandom & #GeekGirls
Modern Americans, especially those who proclaim their feminist leanings, owe more than a slight debt of gratitude to the #GeekGirls who populate New York Comic Con and similar environs. For example, the first ever interracial on-screen kiss -- which was scandalous for its time -- is credited roundly to Star Trek's "Plato's Children" episode in 1968. (There have been other, lesser-known contenders, but it's generally widely accepted that William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols took home the first-ever title.) Or take the example of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia in Star Wars), who would become the first-ever on-screen princess with the ability to shoot better than the boys and, while becoming her own hero, became a hero to so many of us in turn.
We wouldn't see this impact at first. Of course, no trail-blazer ever really sets out to be as such. I doubt Carrie Fisher woke up one morning and said, "Hey! TODAY, I will be a trailblazer! And TOMORROW, maybe George will give me a bra!"
But we would certainly see it later on.
We now take for granted how feminism of fandom is so strong that we don't need male allies to take up our mantle. We now take for granted that a superhero of color can shatter all kinds of ratings records and shut down a streaming server. We now take for granted that our sci-fi heroes are gay, both on-screen and off-screen, and that's okay. We now take for granted that there are so many fine, fearless women writing different types of sci-fi for people of all shapes and sizes, especially when there was a time when sci-fi writing was strictly a boy's club.
But we must never forget these times, nor take them for granted.
Because we still live in a world where women who are self-proclaimed "fans" of a series refer to themselves as #GeekGirls, to to other women as "bitches" and "sluts," and dox and harass them relentlessly if they dare to question the validity of a ridiculous "ship" that has no basis in reality. Bill Shatner (no stranger to ridiculous "ships") has never been afraid to take these so-called "fans" to task, and God bless him for it. Attacking a sci-fi legend is the equivalent of regicide, in the fandom world. Too bad some people didn't get the memo...
We still live in a world where a sign has to hang at New York Comic Con to tell people to keep their hands to themselves when it comes to other attendees. It's a reminder that "cosplay" is not "automatic consent" and that it's inappropriate to follow other people to the bathroom if they're in costume or to accost them if they fail to respond to you (which may explain why one of our Presidential candidates can't understand why it's inappropriate to grab women by their genitals and may explain why he's gotten as far as he has in his candidacy).
We still live in a world where male self-proclaimed "fans" of sci-fi believe that "feminism shouldn't exist," that women who fight for equal representation on-screen are "mentally ill idiot feminists," and who feel amongst the persecuted for actually being forced to see women in an equal light because #masculinitysofragile.
We've come a long way, ladies ... but we still have a long way to go.
And that's why feminism of fandom exists -- because we, before any Hollywood executive, book publisher, or social media site know that #GeekGirls matter.