OTW Fannews for 20 September 2012

The Links Roundup posts are getting a new name! The Communications Committee has been using the #OTWFannews hashtag for them at Twitter for a while as it’s a more distinctive name for the series and a clearer name for their content. OTW Fannews is meant to be a selective look at discussions of fandom, and issues affecting fans, in both traditional and non-traditional media venues. It also includes interviews where OTW staffers and volunteers have taken part, or discussions of the organization appear.

Here’s a roundup of women in fandom stories that might be of interest to fans:

  • CNN’s Geek Out! blog ran an excerpt from Rob Salkowitz’s book on the commercial side of pop culture. “Many of today’s best online comic and fantasy-genre news sites and discussion groups were started by, and remain powered by, women. Today, there are increasing numbers of proud girl geeks of all ages; I count myself fortunate to be married to one. Crowds at conventions and even some comics stores now reflect a much more equal gender balance. As for the comics industry itself, not so much.” He concluded that the future of comics was likely to favor women. “Typically, female comics fans who speak out on this issue from a feminist perspective are roundly and rudely shouted down, sometimes from the podium. It’s hard to imagine a more self-defeating strategy for the long-run health of the industry. Women today are the loudest and most compelling voices in fandom; young girls are making some of the most popular self-published comics. Decades from now, Twilight will be fondly remembered (or ironically inflected) nostalgia for millions of middle-aged women, some of whom will be able to look back on the shared communal experience of sleeping out for days at Comic-Con and having had the time of their young lives.”
  • Tracey Sinclair at Fanboy Unleashed wrote about a recent round of geek credential checking and declared “There seems increasingly to be the idea that there is some level of arcane knowledge required to be a ‘proper’ geek, but only, of course, if you have a vagina. Nobody’s calling the guy dressed as Thor a fake – hell, it wouldn’t matter if he couldn’t spell Thor, nobody would think to question that he belonged there. But there is still an ingrained suspicion that girls aren’t really geeks – or, if they are, they should look a certain way, and dress a certain way. Dare not to fit into a category you had no input in defining, and you’re a ‘fake’.” Writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Aisha Sultan makes it clear that this treatment is not limited to geek fandoms or to adult women.
  • Certainly women tend to get little support from content creation companies. While Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe company provides a stereotypically feminine product — fashionable clothes — her observation of the sexism behind the dearth of such material was all business. “‘I think we are now starting to wake up and say ‘no, we don’t want to deal with this anymore’ and if we do speak up, people will listen and it’s becoming more accepted to like sci-fi from a social standpoint,’ said Eckstein. ‘We finally opened our mouths.’…According to Eckstein, a number of companies told her that female fans just aren’t interested in and don’t buy science fiction and similarly themed merchandise…’We said we’ll prove you wrong,’ asserted the actress, ‘and we did.'”
  • Some people seem to feel that if they can’t stop the presence of women, they can stop voices supporting them from being heard. The Daily Dot reported that Sam Killerman’s Gamers Against Bigotry website was hacked. “Where 1,500 people once pledged to curb their sexist, racist, Ableist, and homophobic language during gaming, hackers have inserted NSFW images like Goatse. Killerman said he’s been unable to restore the pledge page permanently, but users are continuing to sign it in the gaps between takedowns.” Fortunately, panels at conventions are a little harder to disrupt, such as the Sexism in Anime Fandom panel at Otakon (no transcript available).

If you’ve been a woman in fandom, share your experiences at Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, event, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent Links Roundup. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.