OTW Fannews: Putting Out the Welcome Mat

Image of male and female icons with text OTW Fannews Putting Out a Welcome Mat

  • At Suvudu, Matt Staggs urged fans to be more welcoming to others. “The first thing that those of us who have identified as geeks or nerds need to accept is that there’s nothing marginal about our interests anymore. Liking comic books, games, collecting action figures doesn’t make me or you or anyone else part of a subculture. Far from it, as a matter of fact: It’s all mainstream. Want proof? Go ask your parents or grandparents if they know what Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead are. Face it: Like the Borg always threatened (the ‘rents probably know about them, too!), we’ve been assimilated.”
  • At The Houston Press, Chris Lane was more specific about who should be welcomed. “I personally feel that many of the classic comic mythologies are at least partially to blame. Most of the Silver Age comics that still seem to steer comic fandom’s boat started out as wish fulfillment fantasies for powerless teenaged boys. There’s a deeply rooted idea that a formerly weak and ostracized protagonist can earn the romantic attention of the girl he wants if he just is heroic enough, in essence ‘earning’ her affection. The problem is, real women and real romance don’t work like that. It’s why being a woman’s close friend doesn’t ensure that the friendship will ever blossom into romance. I think a lot of men have a serious problem understanding that, and accepting that scenario when they encounter it.”
  • There are certainly many fans who continue to believe that tests of fannishness are a standard feature of fandom, but at Blackgate Sean McLachlan pointed out why excluding people is not the way to go. “Having celebrated my 45th birthday at this year’s Worldcon, I’m old enough to have seen a lot of these controversies, and they seem to be getting uglier. As women, gays, and ethnic minorities ask for real equality instead of just window dressing, the pushback is getting more venomous. A lot of white guys who claim they’re all for equality get downright nasty when they’re told to actually treat people as equals. This is only making the activists more committed. They say that as female, gay, or black fans, it’s up to them to make the community more equitable. They’re wrong. It’s up to us — straight white men like you and me. We’re the problem, so we need to be the solution.”
  • Knowledge at Wharton posted a podcast with Mallika Dutt, who uses pop culture to defeat gender inequality. “I’ve found that using culture to change culture is an effective way of engaging people.  When I say ‘using culture,’ that includes social media, television, radio, print, short animations, documentaries, street theater, traditional theater and comic books. We’re not focused on one form of storytelling. We use all storytelling forms to bring people into the conversation. Media, arts and technology have been crucial to Breakthrough’s work. We’ve created several multimedia campaigns, three music videos, three video games and multiple documentaries.”

How welcoming have the fandoms you’ve taken part in been? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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