GeekGirlCon Blog

Panel Recap: “Rising Stars: Q&A and Book Recs from Publishing’s Most Exciting Newcomers!”

As a writer and aspiring author, one of my favorite parts of GGC19 was hearing from some of the biggest new voices in publishing during the “Rising Stars” panel.

Each author had so many great things to say about their personal and professional experiences that I had a hard time cutting down my notes from the panel, so please enjoy this overly lengthy recap before checking out the authors’ books for yourself!

Caitlin Foskey
“Rock On!”

Why are Women with Mental Illnesses Portrayed So Inaccurately on TV?

Post by guest contributor Kate Harveston

You’ve undoubtedly seen a storyline similar to this one on TV: A woman becomes obsessed with so-and-so. Have you ever paused to wonder how this trope plays into the inaccurate depiction of those with mental illnesses? 

Although many celebrities have come forward about their battles with mental illness, depictions of characters with these disorders in movies and TV have little to do with reality. Instead, those with such disorders, particularly women, are still portrayed as emotionless and evil. This stereotype does a grave disservice to everyone in entertainment as well as to mental health awareness.

Mental Illness and Women 

Researchers often claim that women experience mental illness at higher rates than men. However, this figure is convoluted by the fact that they also receive treatment for these disorders more often than men. For example, while more women attempt suicide, more men die from it.

Suffice it to say that all genders experience mental illness. However, you can’t ignore the way society interprets these conditions differently based on gender. For example, picture somebody with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you’re like many, you may envision a male soldier coming home from war. This stereotype is valid in some cases, but not all by any means. Studies actually show that physical and sexual trauma followed by PTSD occurs more often in women than in men. 

This statistic should shock no one in a world where 90% of all adult rape victims are women. Repeated sexual and physical trauma often results in mental illness, not murderous rampages. Consider how few sexual assault survivors receive justice in our courts. The records of rapists getting away with their actions should spur an epidemic of revenge slaughter if women were inclined to turn their trauma outward. The majority of the time, however, they suffer in silence.

Depictions of Mentally Ill Women in Film

If you flip to channels like Lifetime, you’ll see countless representations of women with mental illness losing their collective minds, stalking and killing with impunity. We’ve all heard of the “crazy ex-girlfriend” trope. In fact, the Lifetime channel dedicates Wednesdays to Women on the Edge. On the edge of what? 

Most of the time, the violent women depicted in these types of films don’t have a definitive diagnosis. Consider the classic Fatal Attraction. We know that Glenn Close’s character boils a bunny, but the movie never tells us what disorder compelled her to commit such a heinous act. It’s as if mental illness all fits into one neat category—it doesn’t matter if you have PTSD or a schizotypal disorder or anxiety. If you’re a woman and you have a mental illness, you’re simply nuts. 

[Image Description: Screen grab from Fatal Attraction. Glenn Close’s character is lunging at a man holding a large kitchen knife. She has a look of pain on her face. She’s wearing a white plain dress with long sleeves.] Source: ABC

Contrast this treatment to the way films depict men with mental illness. Has anyone watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest without cheering for Nicholson’s character? Directors often portray men with mental illness as loveable-yet-misunderstood rogues. Such movies focus on their redeeming qualities, a man-versus-society theme. Conversely, when a woman character has a mental illness, she’s the problem—not the culture she’s grown up in.

Changing the Dialogue Around Mental Illness and Women

To truly embrace the reality of mental illness, filmmakers need to quit using it as a convenient plot device. Mental illness doesn’t explain why women, or anyone for that matter, commit heinous acts. Such actions stem from a multitude of factors. Making the simplistic correlation between violence and mental illness leads to a continued problematic stigma about mentally ill individuals. Mental illness can be a contributor to violence in a person, but it’s not the sole factor. A convenient explanation for an unpleasant phenomenon doesn’t make it accurate. 

Instead, movies should show the real way mental illness affects women. They should present how they tend to isolate themselves from those they love and withdraw into despair. Films should show—and address—the overwhelming loathing of self, not hatred of others, that often exists as a hallmark way in which disorders manifest among women

Representation matters, and the images that people see in the media form part of our collective consciousness. By depicting the reality of mental illness for women in film, we can hopefully open up a better dialogue about mental health. Ideally, this new dialogue may even inspire people to seek help if they need it, instead of feeling like they have to hide their problems from the world, lest they be labeled and stereotyped.

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

Geek About Town: Winter Edition

An illustration of a person wearing a large pink scarf, red cardigan, and striped shirt. Their brown hair is in a bun and they are holding a cup of coffee. The background is yellow.

It’s winter. It’s cold, it’s wet, and the vitamin D supplements are flowing freely.

During these long, dreary months, I tend to adhere to the “hibernation is best” policy. When darkness begins to fall at 4:00pm, I rapidly lose all motivation to turn off The Witcher, drag myself from the pile of blankets in the corner of my couch, put down whatever YA fantasy book I’m re-reading for comfort at any given time, and venture into the outer world.

So it’s a true testament to the quality of the upcoming events on the Geek About Town Calendar that even I am carving out some room in my busy schedule of making large pots of soup and admiring Geralt’s flowing white hair to explore some of the exciting offerings that the city has in store.

That sinking feeling when you have to leave your apartment.
(Image description: Gif of Geralt from The Witcher walking towards the camera with his head bowed down. There are strands of white hair hanging in his face, and he’s wearing a dark tunic with a silver pendant necklace. His face is dirty and bloody and he does not look happy. Source: Giphy)

Be sure to check out the full calendar here, and in the meantime, here is a sneak peek of a few of my favorites:

Happy winter adventuring, everyone! (And if anyone wants to discuss The Witcher, please meet me in the comments.)

Hanna Hupp
“Rock On!”

Happy New Year!

…and we’re back!

Another year and the world remains ever-changing. We’re all a little bit older and a pinch wiser than we were before. We’re better equipped to face the challenges that we’ll inevitably cross as we segue into 2020. It’s a new year—heck, it’s a new decade! It’s time to set new goals and try new things. Learn a new skill or rekindle your love from the nostalgia of years past. Read more books, WRITE more books. Go somewhere unexpected. Meet new people and share new experiences. Speak up. Grow.

The GeekGirlCon team is slowly waking up from a brief hiatus as we begin to stitch together our annual celebration of geekery and fun. This year marks our tenth anniversary, and we’ve got big plans and even bigger ideas.

Thank you for growing with us, learning alongside us, and continuing to support us. We’re so excited to share another year with all of you and we’re eager to see how we grow as an organization and as a community moving forward.

With that, cheers. Stay tuned and welcome to 2020, everyone. 🥂

Indigo Boock
“Rock On!”

Happy Holidays from GGC

We’re going on a bit of a hiatus through the new year to refuel, but we’ll be right back in action come January 7. You can expect a ton of new content and exciting announcements regarding GeekGirlCon 2020 (our tenth anniversary, have you!)

Until then, curl up with your pets, open some presents, and drink a hot cup of tea. Rewatch your favorite season of Battlestar Galactica and play some Pokemon—indulge in your favorites, or pick up something new! Recharge and take some time for yourself as we leap into a new decade.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays from the GeekGirlCon. We’ll see you in 2020.

Cheers. 🥂

Indigo Boock
“Rock On!”

How to Safely Recycle Old Cosplay and Props

Post by guest contributor Brooke Chaplan.

Most cosplay can be reused, but there will come a time when old costumes need to be repurposed due to size, expense, or just age. When it comes time to get rid of your old cosplay outfits and props, the trash can might not be the best option. Those props and pieces of clothing are often filled with materials that must be safely recycled, and tossing them in the trash could potentially be a health hazard. Even just regular fabric often cannot be recycled easily and ends up more often than not in the landfill. To avoid causing a strain on the environment, follow these simple steps.

Reuse What You Can

In many cases, costume parts and props can be broken down or reused for different projects if the cosplay they were originally created for is no longer viable. Old cosplay that no longer fits could also be gifted to younger cosplayers. Materials that have been ripped or broken could still have useable parts for other projects. Wire, padding, and mesh can be removed and reused. Be creative and see what you can still make use of!

GeekGirlCon
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Houseplants, or how I survive The Grey (and geek out at the same time)

We are 8 days from the Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of the year. That means on December 21st, Seattle will have a grand total of 8 hours, 25 minutes, and 27 seconds of “daytime.” Every morning, as I stare out the window drinking my cup of coffee, I am confronted with a moody greyness that’s hard to shake off. I know it’s probably too early in the season to start complaining about The Grey, but I can’t help myself. It’s dark out there!

This year, I’ve developed a new morning ritual to remind me of sunnier days. I sit with my houseplants.

I know, I’m a plant lady.

Calatheas can be finicky, but are quite pretty
[Image description: A leaf from a Calathea makoyana, also known as a Peacock Plant. The leaf is “round, pale, glossy green leaves. The upper surfaces of the leaves are marked with dark green blotches along the veins, and the lower surfaces colored deep purple, with leaf shafts that are very thin” (Wikipedia).]

Kalyna Durbak
“Rock On!”

How Bullying is Portrayed in Media

A person sits on a concrete floor alone, their head is hidden in their arms. They're wearing a maroon beanie, black long-sleeve shirt, and jeans. They are barefoot.

Guest post by contributor Frankie Wallace.


Bullying has been portrayed in movies, television shows, plays, and more for years. There’s a reason for that, too. Simply put, “art reflects reality.” Bullying is such a popular topic in media because it’s so prevalent in today’s society. Just how much of a problem is it? According to the Bureau of Justice, about 160,000 teens in the United States have skipped school due to bullying. 

GeekGirlCon
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Holiday Gift Guide for the Geeks in Your Life

*jingle bells*

Do you hear what I hear? Could it be the dulcet tones of the approaching holidays, sneaking up to ambush us with last minute shopping panic? Why yes, I think it just may be!

Description: Jack Skellington flings his arms wide, scattering snowflakes about.
Image courtesy of Giphy

No matter what holiday you celebrate, it is always enjoyable to give to others. Seeing their faces light up as they open a gift chosen with care an affection is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the season. To help you spread the love, I’ve put together this list of gifts that may just put you on the nice list with the geeks in your life.

Note: we are not getting any type of compensation from retailers to feature any of these products. These are simply items that I have found fun and useful.

Amazon Kindle: $49.99-$299.99

Description: A front and back shot of a Kindle Paperwhite featuring the prologue of a book.
Image courtesy of amazon.com

For the bookworm, I would recommend a Kindle. There are a lot of perks of having a Kindle, and one of the biggest ones I have found is that I always have something to read because I can carry thousands of books with me wherever I go. There are multiple models to fit just about any budget. You can get a full blown ten inch tablet or a simple book reader. Whatever your lover of books desires, you are sure to find something that suits them just right.

My Personal Pick: All-new Kindle, $89.99 

Check them out here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=kindle&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Williams Sonoma Harry Potter Ultimate Silicone Spatula Set: $31.96-$39.95

Description: Four spatulas of varying designs and sizes featuring the Hufflepuff house crest.
Image courtesy of williamssonoma.com

Do you know someone who whips up absolute magic in the kitchen? Make their holidays extra enchanting with this handy set of four Hogwarts House themed silicone spatulas! The set includes two mini spatulas, one medium spatula, and a flat flexible nylon spatula emblazoned with your favorite house crest. The spatulas are heat resistant and dishwasher safe. If you don’t think you will use all four, you can also purchase individuals.

My Personal Pick: Hufflepuff, $31.96 

Check out the whole Harry Potter collection: https://www.williams-sonoma.com/search/results.html?words=harry+potter

SOCKS!

Description: A set of five no-show socks cleverly designed as different cats.
Image courtesy of hottopic.com

Yes, socks! Hear me out—socks are inexpensive, useful, and fun! Gone are the days when socks were possibly the most boring gift ever. You can find all kinds of silly socks in a variety of styles, from no show, to crew, to fuzzy, to knee high, in fun designs. When your friends don their fun and funky socks, they will think fondly of the friend who is keeping their tootsies toasty.

My Personal Pick: Kitty Cat No-Show Socks 5 Pair, $14.90 from Hot Topic

Find some more sock inspiration here: https://www.hottopic.com/accessories/socks/?q=socks

Friends Trivia Quiz Cards: $7.12, https://www.boxlunch.com/

Description: A box containing a Friends themed card trivia game.
Image courtesy of boxlunch.com

Channel your inner Holiday Armadillo and gift your friends with the gift of Friends! How many categories of towels does Monica have? What does Chandler do for a living? Test your knowledge of this iconic show with your own gang for a good time this holiday. 

Check out more Friends merch here: https://www.boxlunch.com/search?q=friends&sz=60&start=0

Give to a Charity

Description: Max the dog joyfully distributes presents.
Image courtesy of Giphy

Sometimes you really want to give someone a gift, but they insist that they really don’t want anything. Maybe they feel like they have a lot of stuff already, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give them a heartfelt and meaningful gift—you can donate to a charity in their name. Find a cause that is meaningful to them and reach out to local organizations to find out how you can help.

My Personal Pick: The Northwest Organization for Animal Help (NOAH) Center, https://www.thenoahcenter.org/

What are your favorite holiday gift ideas? We would love to hear them!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Rebecca Anglesey
“Rock On!”

Redefining What It Means to Age as a Woman in Media

Post by guest contributor, Kate Harveston.

Many societies venerate the stereotype of the crone. Wisdom pours from her ancient eyes. Her face is a roadmap of experience and understanding. 

But if you tune in to any American television station, you’ll see bevels of younger beauties and hardly a female face over 60. When shows do portray older women, they pigeonhole them as evil stepmothers or meddling mothers-in-law. We need to redefine what it means to age as a woman in media and start treating wrinkles like badges of honor, not targets for the Botox needle!

Why Are There Negative Stereotypes Against Older Women? 

Think back to the fairy tales you loved most as a child. What do Snow White and Cinderella have in common? A wicked stepmother. Even Bugs Bunny featured the crone mystique as the decidedly ditzy Witch Hazel. If early writers needed a villain, an older woman fit the bill. 

Part of the negative stereotype stems from ancient times. Before the Romans arrived, older women were seen to hold the healing wisdom of generations. They prepared everything from cold remedies to love potions. However, in the latter years of the Roman Empire, the Romans subjugated these women, fearing their teachings interfered with those of the Church. Some evidence now suggests interactions with pagans weren’t always violent. Nevertheless, it was the beginning of the end for the worship of the older female generations.

GeekGirlCon
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