So last year I wrote a post about women's body image at DragonCon. Since my DragonCon reports are archived at Kellygirl's
PopCulture Palace, she gets the pleasure of tracking who reads what. Apparently, a LOT of people who use Google keywords
such as "fairy nipple twat" or "lolita rape pics" or "shirtless male celebrities" find themselves at my DragonCon report page,
ranting about skeevy guys and overly idealistic images of women. Naturally, this begs a follow up post. Nothing like ambushing
porn surfers with a self-righteous feminist rant, no? This year, they'll stumble onto less rants, but more complicated questions.
After the interviews were wrapped up and our trusty cinematographer, Black Rose, checked to make sure she got all her shots,
I was free to roam about the Con till 1pm, the official start of the Tribe Trak. I took this opportunity to really get a
good look at the Comic gallery and the dealer booths without being in the middle of crowds.
However, less people also meant that there were less people in costume, which meant I stood out. At least that’s what
I think. Here’s the deal. Out of all my wacky outfits, everyone commented on how nice I looked in my white dress.
People tried to guess my fandom on just my dress. Others wanted to know how I made it. The thing is? I bought it at a trendy
and expensive boutique in Mexico. Sure, I was very proud of the quality of the dress, the material is hand woven manta cloth.
Manta has been worn since the time of the Aztecs. But it was an actual dress! I was going to wear it to graduation in May!
Now I was seriously having some doubts about my plan. It's a very simple dress. Why is this dress considered beautiful when
there were some stunning and elaborately made costumes that should have made my outfit positively boring?
I will never understand the standard of beauty at DragonCon. Last year I was 20 pounds heavier and the guys were breathing
heavily down my neck. And not in the sensual neck nibbling way- in the gross creepy way. It was always the most disrespectful
when I was dressed conservatively. And this year, I’m finally thinner and now everyone is being polite? Everyone is
asking me very nicely if they could take my picture? People are giving me non-blow job related compliments? I’m not
sure what this means. On the one hand it can mean that the bigger you are the sexier you are considered. But then that implies
that the level of vulgarity is directly proportionate to the level of desire. This would mean that the one guy who told me
that he would crawl across glass to smell my panties was more interested in me than anyone has ever been in my life. I refuse
to accept that. Also, none of the art at the Con depicts big beautiful women. The alternative is that heavier women are
less deserving of respect than thinner women and this is very depressing to contemplate because I would think that of all
places, a Sci-Fi convention would be the place that would practice the most tolerance and respect for people considered by
the mundane world as “different.”
One guy down in the Comic artist room said he wanted to take my picture ‘cause I looked “eerily” like the
direction he wanted to take Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, in. I stared really hard in the mirror after that encounter,
almost hoping to see Wonder Woman. Nope, just plain old me. Frankly, I looked sleepy. I’m not ashamed to admit I felt
a tad bit of disappointment. But other than that one instance, all the attention just left me feeling suspicious and self
conscious. You wanna know the weird thing? It was all the female attention that had me turned around and anxious. Naturally
guys say things because they’re guys. That’s what they do. Hell, if lesbians were hitting on me, I’d be
fine. But platonic admiration of my "sexiness"!?Blows my mind. I’m still perplexed.
Before everyone sends me sarcastic condolences, let me assure you that there were still plenty of jerks around. One guy called
me back to his table and snottily said, “you know, you’d have more fun if you actually stopped at the table and
talked to me.” My response, “uuh, okay?” and then I promptly walked away. Some woman came up to me and
started finger combing my hair. Dude, I’m uncomfortable when the shampoo guy washes my hair because I consider it very
intimate and now some random girl is finger brushing it? And once again, don't get me started on what passes for "art" this
year. I stood and stared for five whole minutes trying to decipher the artisitic message behind a painting of a woman who
breathed through a hose connected to her genitals. Is she being asphixiated by her own vagina? Is her vulva her life force?
Where does the dragon come into all of this? Huh!? Since when is tracing an art form?!
Another body image issue I noticed this year was that I noticed more women wearing t-shirt that had slogans fending off unwanted
male attention. Obviously, if you are fellating a bloody bone between your corseted breasts, then yeah, you like the attention.
Go you and have fun. Obviously you’ve dressed up for a reason. But there did seem to be a fair amount of jean clad,
t-shirted fen who decided to fight back against objectification. My favorite slogans were, “re-roll your charisma or
go the hell away” and “sorry, but these are not the breasts you are looking for.”
Sometimes I think I’d like to go for my Ph.D in Anthropology and spend my time asking people what DragonCon is like
and how much they think their experiences are colored by their identity and the image associated with it. For example, two
Tribe fans remarked how difficult it was to “out” themselves as Republicans at a con. Later in the weekend, someone
remarked that the Republican convention in NYC had deprived DragonCon of its traditional repressed Republican contingent.
In the same vein of identity and images, I also noticed many more people of color at the Con this year than last. I'd love
to find out how they felt about their representation in sci-fi and art.
Also, I would ask those who find themselves on the outside of the culture and their general impressions. For example, at the
Parade* Saturday morning, two evangelical (and I assume fundamentalist) Christians were busy sitting up there megaphone and
6 foot sign proclaiming hellfire for all sinners. I overheard them enjoying the parade, pointing out the "cool" C3PO and the
legion of stormtroopers. They were laughing and smiling. And with those same laughing, smiling faces, they turned on the megaphones
and began saying, "your masks will not save you come judgement day." Why did they assume that their would be no Christian
fans? Why did they wait for the Star Wars contingent to pass before beginning their tirade? What would they think of the Fans
for Christ organization - a collective of Christian fans who go to DragonCon and fellowship together? So many questions!