For the first time ever, this year’s Women Who Kick Ass panel at ComicCon was held in the convention’s largest venue, Hall H. Entertainment Weekly covers the panel here and it sounds incredible. A full transcript of the panel is here.
Unfortunately, the audience’s response to this panel was sexist and predictable.
A panel called “Women Who Kick Ass” follows Hunger Games. It’s in its fourth iteration, and the fact that it’s in Hall H on Saturday is a surprise. On the surface, it makes sense for this to follow Hunger Games, and it’s also likely the Con intended it to be something that would allow for the room to clear out a bit while shuffling in more people from the line that still snakes off across the street outside. But, all the same, there’s something gutsy about placing a frank discussion of Hollywood sexism, feminism, and the limited opportunities for women in the entertainment industry right before 20th Century Fox and Marvel come out to present superhero-heavy slates.
And “Women Who Kick Ass” is the most fascinating and enriching panel I attend at Comic-Con. In particular, its discussion of how sexism still rules far too often in Hollywood is terrific, with panelist Katee Sackhoff (of Battlestar Galactica fame) discussing a time an unnamed male actor pulled her arms out of their sockets while filming a fight sequence, in what she believes was recourse for her questioning him earlier in the shoot; and fellow panelist Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black discussing how a male crew member inappropriately hit on her when she was just 18 and bound to a bed for a shot. The moderator is good, in that she knows to get out of the way when the women on the panel — particularly Michelle Rodriguez — cut loose, and the content is engaging throughout.
For the most part, the dudes I’m sitting near either pay respectful attention or check Twitter, though there are some jokes from an older guy in front of me about how stupid he finds all of this. Then Rodriguez uses the phrase “destructive male culture” — as part of a larger answer about how women need to take more agency in telling their own stories — and something in the crowd flips. A certain subset of the audience begins to get more and more vocal, and when the panel runs slightly over, as all panels have done during the day, the vocalizations begin to get easier to hear, even to someone sitting clear across a giant room in a place that tends to eat sound from specific individuals in the audience; one really has to make a ruckus to be heard.
The final question — from a young woman about what aspects the perfect kick-ass woman would have — turns into a digression about the many roles that women play in real life and the few that they are asked to play onscreen. It’s all fascinating stuff, with Sackhoff talking about wanting to see someone as kind and strong as her mother onscreen, and Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira talking about the effectiveness of female political protestors in her native Zimbabwe, the sort of story that would almost never appear in a Hollywood film — but the longer it goes on, the more restless the crowd gets. When Rodriguez grabs the microphone again to follow up on a point made by another panelist, for the first time, the audience ripples with something close to jeering anger. When the panel finally ends and the five women on it proceed off to the side for photographs, something done at the end of most Hall H panels, someone shouts something from the audience, to a mixture of supportive laughs and horrified gasps, and the women quickly leave the stage. (I was not sitting close enough to hear what was said, but I confirmed with several people sitting in the immediate vicinity that it was a young man shouting “Women who talk too much!” after the loudspeaker asked attendees to voice their appreciation for the participants in the “Women Who Kick Ass” panel.)
It’s an ugly moment, an unfortunate capper to a great session, to be followed by many of the guys sitting around me offering up tired lines like “I hope they feel empowered now!” and several recitations of the Twilight mantra about ruining the Con. To be sure, most people in the room were respectful. But at a certain point, there needs to be an accounting for the fact that there is an ugliness that burbles beneath the surface of too many Comic-Con events, sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional. That’s not a task for the Con itself. It’s a task for nerd culture, and one that will require an earnest attempt to understand why this sort of ugliness rises up so often around women, lest all the nerd culture stereotypes prove unfortunately true.
I was in Hall H for this panel and did not get the same audience vibe that the OP did. There was some definite indifference in our area (even from us) but not outright rudeness. I do think the panel subject or perhaps the panelists weren’t right for that room (would have done much better in Ballroom 20). The panel may have been more successful with the audience if it had included women who were being featured that day or in the genre of the day (Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johannson, etc) and I know that would have been difficult with the “secrecy” of who was still to come. I think the ladies did a great job (moderator may have also contributed some to the tone of the panel) but they were in a room where the audience was there for Fox and Marvel and not for a group of highly successful TV actors (primarily).
Regarding the panelists and their experience: Michelle Rodriguez is a star in one of the world’s largest film franchises and Maggie Q is an international superstar who is so famous, when you go to Nikita panels at SDCC 90% of the audience Q&A is people asking her questions about her film career. Both Katee Sackhoff and Danai Gurira were on other Hall H panels that weekend for their big franchises (Sackhoff’s new movie and Gurira’s show, the most watched cable show ever), and Tatiana Maslany’s breakout show was the belle of the convention.
I do think that any panel featuring a broad range of women performers— particularly one as diverse as this one—would necessitate the inclusion of TV actors (in this case, 2 out of 5) simply because the film industry does not provide many genre roles for women, particularly women of color. In any case, during the same weekend there was a panel of actors, all men, and all TV show stars only, in the same venue.
But I want to address this primarily because I’ve seen some other reblogs of this post saying the same thing.
I think this is super cool. But i feel like theyre at the wrong place. Most men who go to comic con arent exactly female friendly people really. Odd seeing as most the women who go are open minded thinkers. (source)
I was here and honestly, a lot of people around me were napping including myself. I tried to pay attention as long as I could but going over 2 days without sleep, it hit me and plenty of others. It sucks that they got a negative reaction but the room that they were put in was too big and not the right audience. (source)
It’s this whole “This is awesome but not right for that room” mentality. It’s probably an unconscious reflex because when something as disturbing as what happened to these panelists happens, we try and rationalize what happened, and all too often we follow our instincts in a society where we are conditioned to blame women for the sexist crap that happens to them.
In this case, it’s the idea that the women were in the wrong place, and while it’s too bad that did happen to them, if they had been in a different room and not the biggest, most important, main headlining showroom at San Diego ComicCon this wouldn’t have happened.
This response is likely instinctual, but it still (intentionally or unintentionally) communicates these troubling and sexist messages:
- A panel about women isn’t meant to be in Hall H….even though a similar panel of guy actors was held in Hall H that weekend, too.
- ComicCon and the panel organizers erred by placing the women in this room. They should have understood that ComicCon attendees are not there for women (but for male-dominated franchises such as WB’s DC Comics or Disney’s Marvel Studios.)
- Men who are interested in the Hall H programming are the “wrong audience” for a panel of all women. We can’t expect men to be interested in women’s issues, by jove!
- When you put a panel of experienced and talented women performers in front of the wrong audience, some men won’t be able to help themselves and will say rude things, so the best thing to do is for an all-women panel is to not show up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Too bad they didn’t know to not appear in the most important venue at the convention.
It’s a form of victim-blaming. It places the responsibility on the women who were on the panel, the women who organized the panel, and ComicCon programming to find a less important space—rather than on the minority (but still significant enough to be harmful) of men in Hall H and their choices to be openly rude, disrespectful, and misogynistic.
Nobody forced is forced to attend Hall H programming. If at any point Hall H programming becomes uninteresting to you, you have a multitude of options. You could do some soul searching and wonder why it’s coincidentally the all-women panel you’ve decided to check out on. You have the ComicCon catalog to read or your phone, or you can nap like the person above did. If at any point you can’t handle a discussion about sexism or diversity, you also have the option to leave. Hall H offers 45 minute long bathroom passes for you to go take a man poop and get more nachos.
Those men made a conscious choice to stay in the room, a choice to be sexist and loudly declare things like “we need a man-power panel” and "she should shut up and take her clothes off" while the panelists talked about their experiences being patronized, sexually harassed, and physically maimed by systemic sexism and sexist men in their workplaces.
Hall H was exactly where this panel of genre actresses deserved to be.
It wasn’t the wrong room. It wasn’t the wrong audience. The audience was wrong. Not the women panelists and not the organizers.
They’re doing a poll about reintroducing abortion in the second session at the Texas lege. Call 817-200-7797 and press “1” if you’re anti-choice, “2” if you believe women are capable humans.
Spread the word, takes 5 seconds!
Done and done. Boost!
It really only takes 5 seconds!
Governor Perry has called for a second special session to begin on July 1st to try and pass SB 5, the restrictive healthcare bill that would shutdown all but a few clinics throughout Texas that provide abortion services, contraception, and general healthcare to low-income people.
Feel like you have something to say?
Here’s some contact information:
- Rick Perry on Facebook
- Rick Perry on Twitter
- Office of the Governor of Texas on Facebook
- Office of the Governor website
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Office of the Governor
State Insurance Building
1100 San Jacinto
Austin, Texas 78701
Telephone & Fax
- Information and Referral Hotline [for Texas callers]: (800) 843-5789
- Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers] : (512) 463-1782
- Office of the Governor Main Switchboard [office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST]: (512) 463-2000
- If you are using a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD), call 711 to reach Relay Texas
- Office of the Governor Fax: (512) 463-1849
We all officially survived our first week, Fannibals!
That’s the hardest part, right?
This week we’ve witnessed the Five Stages of Season 1 Grieving
ONE - Denial - “Can’t wait for next week’s episode!”
TWO - Rage - “WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO MORE EPISODES THIS SEASON!?”
Hey guys! So remember that whole thing in Texas two days ago with Senate Bill 5 that would have blocked abortions after 20 weeks and shut down all but like 5 abortion providers in the state that everyone got super amazingly up in arms about?
Well, I need your help,…
Today in gym we were going to play a game which was basically a giant bouncy ball (seriously, its got like a 4 foot diameter) that you push, roll, bounce, kick, hit, etc. from side to side. When you hit the other team’s wall you get a point. A majority of the class played kickball in the other room, but about twenty of us played this game (big ball battle pushing)
When we walked into the activity room my gym teacher split us up girls and boys. It was a team or eight boys, and then 15 or so of us girls. The boys were playing four on four. But, we would have to share the court, so there would be a five minutes of play and then we would switch from girls to boys and vice versa.
This was complete bullshit. So I let him know that. I asked him why. Why. Why can’t we play with guys? He goes to tell me that it is because guys are aggressive and we could get hurt. So I yelled about how girls can be aggressive, and guys can be not aggressive. He said letting us play with boys could get him fired and that it was a liability. I can’t bite my tongue so I yelled “BULLSHIT. Is it not a liability for guys to get hurt? Do you not care about them? Why are we so fragile? Just tell me!” He says he is only doing it “for our safety”, and I should thank him.
That was when I completely lost my shit. I yelled about how he is not protecting us from anything. He is contributing to a culture where girls are seen as weak and fragile, and should be scared of guys who are strong and aggressive. A culture where we shouldn’t even be playing sports in gym but since we have to lets make it easy for them because they are girls. A culture where guys feel this need to be insanely manly, and if they aren’t they’re weak and gay- which is also an insult in this culture. He is contributing to a culture where women are subservient and weak to men, and we should thank him. I should thank him. I was screaming and yelling.
My gym teacher then said If i don’t want to play with just girls I can leave and play kickball in the other room. I said no, I’m going to stay and play. I knew if I left, probably some of the girls would leave with me and even some the guys (everyone was looking at me and hearing this conversation- I mean I was fucking screaming), but that would prove his point when I could prove mine.
While my teacher was in the other room getting the balls, I gathered up all the girls and got us all to decide we would play as hard and aggressive as we possibly could. So that is what we did.
We ended up all punching, pushing, yelling. kicking, body-slamming, shoving, insulting, and running as much and as hard as we could. It was great. We all, on both teams got sweaty and red. Whenever someone fell we would help them up or they would get up themselves.
Two girls had to go to the nurse, but they were smiling as they walked out. I got slammed on the floor twice and bruised my hip. One girl had to sit out because she got hit on the head. Another girl scraped her knee, and kept playing. The best part is not once did anyone complain, we all sucked up the pain and high fived each other and yelled “FUCK YEAH OVARIES!!”.
We all, especially me, would make really sassy and sarcastic remarks to the teacher. He would stop the game because we were being rough and not playing “ladylike” and we would say something along the lines of “oh how else will i attract someone get married and pop out babies, i must be ladylike or else I can’t fulfill my purpose on earth” “you’re right! i’m so weak, this hurts” and “wait, are we being too aggressive for you? I’m sorry” (my personal favorite was “oh my gosh, this hurts my uterus to act like a guy, I’m I’m I’m melting” in a wicked witch of the west voice).
A couple of the guys even jumped in to play with us and he stopped them but the guys would jump in and get beat up by these girls and just high five the girl who hit them. They would also accidentally hit the ball into the teacher while he reffed, and we all would try to *accidentally* get the teacher in the middle of the action so he could see the “aggression” head first.
After the games he complained about the violence and I asked “sorry, were we aggressive?” and he said the reason we got hurt was because we are girls.
No. We did not get hurt because we are girls. We got hurt because we were ferocious. Not because it just happens to be easier to hurt a girl. He would not accept the fact that we were aggressive. That girls are equal to guys in that aspect.
During the final goal, i realized I got what I wanted. All the guys were playing with us, despite him pushing them to the sidelines-they would just hop back in. When we won, we all cheered and celebrated; guys and girls, from both teams. In my gym class people never talk to each other outside of one or two of their friends and we were all united for the first time.
After the game, I helped this guy put the big bouncy ball back. And whoops I let it slip and hit the teacher with it. And whoops I kinda did that twice. and said:
oops im sorry
this is dangerous i shouldnt sport
i should go back to cooking and cleaning
like a true modern woman should”
Anyways, There is no one message to end this massive story with I just wanted to share. I’m also going to share with my principal Tuesday when I am back at school, I’ll update you guys on that later.
I also want to say to all the girls (and guys) out here. If you see shit going down that is ignorant, oppressive, or just flat out rude and against what you stand for- be it feminism or anything else- you have to stand up to make a change. It is little random acts of defiance from the bullshit standards we live under that change them.
Keep Fighting, Guys!!
Prove people wrong.
You deserve many, many, MANY awards. Damn girl! You go! I think we should start a petition or SOMETHING if you get in trouble, cause this teacher is a sexist
do you ever feel like your future is slipping away while you’re laughing at stupid puns on tumblr
My future isn’t slipping. It’s tumbling
you clever little shit
Stop what you are doing.
If you don’t want to read, I’ll explain the key bullet points, but please read them afterwords:
This is not “we didn’t protect him enough.”
This is not “the government screwed up some random detail or accidentally let his killer loose.”
The 111th Military Intelligence had a team taking pictures of his balcony during the assassination.
They brought in a Special Forces 8-Man Sniper Team from the 20th.
Memphis Police withdrew their regular protection detail from him.
A jury of 12 people, six black and six white, found the United States Government guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
YOUR GOVERNMENT. MY GOVERNMENT. THE GOVERNMENT OF, BY, AND FOR THE PEOPLE, SHOT AND KILLED DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING. And the media never reported the case.
MLK was ASSASSINATED. By a government YOU PAY FOR.
I hate those posts where someone tries to pressure you into reblogging. I almost never ask you to reblog.
This shit is important.
Reblog this. I don’t care what kind of blog you have. I don’t care what you normally talk about.