There are many famous pairs in pop culture: Betty and Veronica, Wayne and Garth, and Leela and Fry, just to name a few. Notice a pattern here? One half of each of these duos is known for being nerdy, while the other is portrayed as more “hip”. This dynamic keeps duos both playing off of and balancing out the other as they learn from their differences.
Over the past three years, another twosome has formed that brings together geek and chic: The EMP Museum and GeekGirlCon! They are the “cool” to our “nerd-quirk”—and working together, we’re bringing panels, performances, and one of film history’s most iconic props to GeekGirlCon ‘13 for everyone to enjoy.
Grab your broom, horse, or carriage and make your way to the “Witches, Princesses, and Warrior Maidens” panel on Saturday for a discussion of the EMP exhibit, “Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic.” Learn about the world building, mapmaking, and displaying of iconic costumes from Xena: Warrior Princess, Labyrinth, and The Princess Bride. The panel members will also discuss the various roles and archetypes that women have played in fantasy literature, film, and pop culture over the last century.
To top it all off, the original Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from The Wizard of Oz will be on display at GeekGirlCon ’13! Worn by actress Margaret Hamilton in the 1939 sensation, it’s become a worldwide symbol of campy evil and villainous delight. The American Film Institute listed the Wicked Witch of the West at number four on their list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time, making her the highest-ranking female villain. She’s permanently embedded in the public psyche, thanks to memorable lines like “I’ll get you, my pretty—and your little dog too,” and “I’m melting! I’m melting!” Grab a photo op on the second floor starting when doors open from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Fly over on Saturday, October 19 and feast your eyes on this delightfully devilish memorabilia.
Saturday night will conjure up more magic with the GeekGirlCONcert Spectacular! Opening with first-class comedian Bri Pruett, the show also features phenomenal cellist Unwoman. Singer-songwriter and GeekGirlCon veteran Marian Call returns as the headliner. Buy your tickets today, or hurry to nab one of 50 free general admission tickets at GeekGirlCon Info Booth on Saturday.
Hop on Seattle’s iconic Monorail for an efficient and fun trip—walk just a couple of blocks from GeekGirlCon to Westlake Center, where the monorail drops you off at the Seattle Center. There, you’ll quickly spot the Frank O. Gehry-designed museum complimenting its neighbor, the wondrous Space Needle. With its sight-filled zip and low price, the Monorail is easily the smoothest way to reach all the myth, mirth, and music that awaits you at the museum.
The splendor continues on Sunday with the panel “Geek Girl Jobs: The Women of EMP.” Discover behind-the-scenes details on exhibits of music, sci-fi, film, and literature that has shaped the world. Panelists include members from EMP’s curatorial, marketing, museum collections, design, and interactive teams who will discuss sensational showings such as Icons of Science Fiction, Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic, Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film, AVATAR: The Exhibition, and Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition.
GeekGirlCon and the EMP are surely a match made in rock and roll heaven, and this weekend will no doubt go down in history. Whether you’re a rocker, geek, or combination of them both, be part of the glory by picking up your passes before they sell out!
Bookworms beware! GeekGirlCon ‘13 will spotlight so many absorbing books to pick up, you may not emerge from your favorite reading spot until next year’s convention. From feminist anthologies to young adult novels, we’ve got geeks of all kinds covered.
Want to collect some awesome autographs? Be sure to bring copies of your favorite authors’ works—or support them by purchasing a few at the big event!
We can’t forget children when analyzing and crafting well-rounded personalities! “Strong Female Characters in Young Adult Lit” is a not-to-be-missed panel for kids, parents, and YA novel fans of all ages. Writer of Prophecy Girl, Faith McKay will examine how to build and exemplify positive role models for young (and not-so-young) readers.
For mature-only audiences comes “Romance Is A Feminist Genre,” where writer Corrina Lawson will explore the concept that romance novels contain more substantial women than just damsels in distress. Lawson certainly knows her stuff, having been recognized multiple times by the association Romance Writers of America.
For book fans of the comic variety, we’ve even got panels on books about comic books. How meta! The panel “All The Real Girls—Creating Real Girls in Comics” will also explore this topic with multiple authors who have crafted fully-formed personalities in their books’ female characters. Sit in to soak up examples from Hope Larson’s Who Is AC?, Mariah Huehner’s Womanthology: Space, Kel McDonald’s As We Were/Strange Someone, and Rachel Edidin’s Adventure Time scripts.
For an informative, fun, and frank look at how geekery is changing the world, be sure to take in GeekGirlCon co-founder Jennifer K. Stuller’s panel, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Fan Phenomena”. Author of Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology, and editor of Fan Phenomena and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she will participate in talks tackling such scholarly work being done on fan communities, and how these studies’ findings affect both geek and mainstream culture.
Oodles of books and authors will be bouncing around at GeekGirlCon ‘13! Pick up your passes in advance so you can nab the best seat at each panel, and be first in line for each author signing session. See you this weekend!
GeekGirlCon strives to provide a safe and welcoming place where everyone is comfortable, respected, and can be themselves. All attendees are expected to treat other attendees, contributors, performers, staff, and the general public with respect. Therefore, physically or verbally harassing behavior is not tolerated.
Creating a welcoming, safe environment is a top priority for us here at GeekGirlCon. Of course, there’s no such thing as 100% absolutely-without-a-doubt safety, but we do our best to make our convention as safe as possible. We expect all attendees (including staff, agents, exhibitors and other contributors) to follow our code of conduct. Below is a bit of an overview of our expectations and our responsibilities.
No Means No
If someone says “no,” “stop,” “go away,” or anything similar, they really do mean it. This is Respect 101 (closely related to Consent 101): when someone has a boundary, you respect it. Sometimes people have a hard time saying the words, so paying attention to body language is important, too. We all have different personalities and come from different cultural backgrounds around touch and language, but backing away, averting eyes, and stiffening body posture are generally signs that someone is feeling uncomfortable and possibly threatened.
Use your common sense, pay attention to words and body language, and respect your fellow attendees!
Attire Is Not Consent
There’s a lot of cosplay at GeekGirlCon, and it’s fantastic! But just because someone is dressed in a chain-mail bikini does not mean they want your touch or your lascivious comments. Even if you’re just interested in how something was made or want to feel the texture of something, ask first!
I sometimes have to remember this one myself: as a knitter, I’ll see a sweater or scarf on someone that I’m intrigued by, and my hand will thoughtlessly reach for the texture. By now, though, I’ve trained myself pretty well to stop and say, “Oh hi, I’m a knitter and I love your scarf! May I look at it more closely or touch it?”
The same idea applies to cosplay, whether it’s that chain-mail bikini, some fuzzy satyr leg coverings, or a shiny Cyberman mask: ask before touching or even ogling.
Racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or any other kind of hate speech or imagery is just. not. tolerated. Part of how we create a welcoming, safer-feeling event is with our words.
That said, sometimes you just don’t know that something you’ve said is offensive until somebody lets you know. If someone tells you that you’ve said something offensive, try to take a breath and sit with it before reacting. And generally, the best reaction is to just say “I’m sorry, thank you for telling me.”
GeekGirlCon ’12 Agents; this year’s Agents will be wearing blue shirts.
How to Get Help
If you feel threatened or harassed and want help (or if you’re concerned about something), find an Agent. We’ll be wearing dark blue shirts with yellow writing on the back that says “AGENT” in large, friendly letters. We’ll help you out and if needed, get one of our Reaction Team volunteers there to assist.
Our Reaction Team folks are there to help with any sort of tough incident or crisis; they’re the ones with the level heads, calm demeanors, and quick thinking to work with you to find solutions.
Photos and Video
If you don’t want to be captured on film, make sure to ask for one of our bright yellow “please, no pictures” stickers, and make sure to wear it in a clear, visible place—preferably somewhere on your chest so that our photographers and videographers know to steer clear when they see you. This will also help us after GeekGirlCon ‘13 is over: if we see someone wearing the sticker in a picture, we’ll try to ensure that we crop them out or not use that photo at all. And of course, you can always contact us to request that an image be removed.
And when you’re documenting your own GeekGirlCon adventures, try to be thoughtful about who else might be in the frame!
These are some of the ways we’re creating a safer community. Please let us know (in the comments below, via email, or in person) if you have any other ideas or concerns—we want you to feel safe so you can get down to the serious business of having a good time!
I grew up watching Wonder Woman on television. My mom wouldn’t let me wear a Wonder Woman costume, but she did get me a pair of Wonder Woman Underoos that I wore as much as I possibly could. I thought being Wonder Woman incognito was the coolest thing ever. Growing out of those Underoos was one of the saddest moments of my young life.
The best thing about the GeekGirlCon ‘13 Costume Contest is that you can display your inner superheroine, superhero, book, comic, television, or movie character on the OUTSIDE—and wear it proud! We will have a panel of fabulously non-judgmental judges, and there will be various categories to enter and win!
Stop by the Info Booth on Level One to enter the Costume Contest and get more information. We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with, even if you usually only wear your favorite character under your clothes!
When & Where: Saturday, October 19, 5:00 p.m., Room 303
by Adrienne M. Roehrich, Manager of Editorial Services
I am often asked, “But is GeekGirlCon okay for kids?” As an involved member of the GeekGirlCon community, and a mom, I always answer with an enthusiastic “YES!”
One of the most family-friendly aspects of GeekGirlCon is the gaming floor. At GeekGirlCon ‘11, we spent hours at the Steve Jackson Games table playing Munchkin and learning new versions of the game. Steve Jackson games appeared at GeekGirlCon ‘12 and returns to GeekGirlCon ‘13. They produce over a hundred varieties of board, card, and dice games with geeky twists.
Look for Bhaloidam Adventure, a game designed to help you tell stories; Cheapass Games, a company that has been making affordable games for almost two decades; Green Ronin Publishing; Paizo, who will be running one-hour demos of The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game; Story Games, presenting several of their peer-to-peer tabletop RPGs; Valor, a game for those at least in their teens and older meant to increase performance in both combat and challenge for in-game characters; and Wizards of the Coast, to give your dungeon crawling skills a workout.
Game designer Keith Baker will be talking about games and running demos all weekend. So check out The Doom That Came To Atlantic City and get an early peek at his latest game, Phoenix: Nine Deaths. Kenny Owens will guide you through playing “staple” board games, such as Settlers of Catan, and helping you figure out other games you’ve always wanted to learn.
Want to have your own figurine for game play? You can attend the workshop to “Learn to Paint Miniatures and Take One Home!” Privateer Press is sponsoring this workshop in room LL1 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. Stop on by to paint your own miniature to add as a part of your own tabletop and board game play, and you’ll have a fantastic GeekGirlCon ‘13 souvenir!
Other workshops include LARPing and designing a tabletop RPG in an hour! Don’t know how to LARP? First, attend the session to learn the basics of live action role-playing by LARP Master Shoshana Kessock, then spend a couple hours putting your new skills to use. Want to expand your RPG library? Andy Munich is there to help new players and seasoned campaigners learn and play a variety of games.
My family has also enjoyed the Game Lending Library. GeekGirlCon ‘13 has loads of board and card games for you to try. We found a bunch of new games we later added to our board game collection by playing some of these generously loaned games.
Don’t miss the EA/PopCap Games console game room, generously repeating their hosting the console room during GeekGirlCon ‘13. You and your family can enjoy EA and Popcap games on XBOX 360 and iPads. This year, a raffle benefiting a local Seattle charity with a mission to encourage girls to pursue STEM education and careers can benefit you with some marvelous prizes. Consult your Strategy Guide to learn more.
Not to mention all the panels on game-related topics, such as “Women in Gaming, Female Characters in Game Design,” “Let’s Make a Game Right Now,” “20 years of MYST,” “You Should Make Games!,” “Yuri Anime/Manga Battle!,” “Writing for Role-Playing Games,” “How to Build Inclusive & Welcoming Gaming Communities,” “Gaming and Comics Panel,” “The Family Who Games Together,” and “#1REASONWHY,” among others. Please note that not all the panels listed here are necessarily family-friendly.
But wait, there’s more! Gaming isn’t the only thing you can do with your family. While our science programming is for all ages (so a great spot for families), bring your kids to out “Edible Astronomy” panel, “Ask the Astronomers,” and “Making Science Fun: For girls, Boys, and Everyone.”
Other programming exists for your kids. Your teens may want to learn about strong female characters in young adult literature, or your cosplaying kid may want to get an intro to costume craft and cosplay, or your comic-enthusiast child may want to learn about keeping girls real in comics, or your Star Wars fan may want to learn about all the opportunities for all the ways to enjoy their favorite galaxy far, far away.
Want to connect with other parents—whether you, your kids, or all of you are geeks? We’ve got programming for you, too. Attend a workshop called “You and Your Connected Kid” about safety, privacy, identity, and plagiarism, while being media-positive and encouraging use of social media. “The Family Who Games Together” is a panel to talk with you about being a multi-generational gaming family.
Maybe your kids aren’t interested in panels. The Exhibitor Hall and Artist Alley offer fun and engagement. And your kids will not want to miss all the cosplay. In fact, the Zelda family will attest to the fun of cosplaying together! And your kids will not want to miss all the cosplay. At GeekGirlCon ’12, the Zelda Family, the Darth Vader Princess (Darth Makenna), the little Wonder Woman, the robot, and every other outfit left us “ooo”-ing and “aww”-ing. These young children are truly our future, so thank you for encouraging them to ask questions, think critically, and believe in themselves.
So come on out to GeekGirlCon ‘13 for your gaming interests, a safe place for your family, and all your geeky indulgences! Children under 5 are free and ages 6-10 are only $5! Get your passes now, pick them up Friday afternoon (so your children need not wait in line), and bring your family to a weekend of geekery they won’t want to miss!
Now that the GeekGirlCon ‘13 Strategy Guide has been released, we can all officially freak out about this year’s phenomenal panels! For months, we GeekGirlCon staff members have literally been counting down the days until the big event, oohing and aahing over the nerd-tastic times ahead.
When asked to name one panel she plans to attend, Programming Project Manager and Member of the Board Meg Humphrey said, “I’m really excited to see ‘Geek Girl Style: Demanding Recognition in the Fashion World!’ I remember making some of my own clothes when I was 13 using old bed sheets—it was the only material available that had Disney, cartoon, or Star Wars characters on it. It’s been amazing seeing our options grow: women’s sized clothing, plus-sized clothing, entire fabric lines dedicated to fandoms, and things available at local malls! Clothing and accessories have always been an important tool for self-expression and it’s great that Amy Ratcliffe will be hosting a panel talking about our options and where to go from here!”
I’m extra excited to attend panels to write up and let those who can’t attend GeekGirlCon ’13 get a taste of our fantastic programming. I don’t know which ones those will be yet. Readers may not know that I’m also involved in the science communication community; friends from that community will be present on panels and in the DIY Science Zone, and I’m looking forward to getting to see them.
There are a number of panels that we haven’t even been able to touch on, and all our programming is so unique and fantastic, that I’ve read the programming over and over to find one to choose. Maybe because I’ve spent over a month trying to write my contribution to our Strong Female Character Series, but I think I’m most intrigued in the panel on ‘Deconstructing the Mary Sue.’ I am friends with many authors, some of whom write strong female characters and some of whom write Mary Sues, on purpose. I imagine this conversation will be riveting. Of course, you’ll find me at so many panels, in the Exhibitors Hall and Artist Alley, and in the game area (where my family spends most of their time).”
President of the Board and Twitter Administrator Kristine Hassell was amped when asked about her GeekGirlCon plans: “In addition to two very full days of phenomenal programming, our gaming area looks amazing! (Here’s where I’m totally using all the exclamation points to indicate excitement). Andy Munich (The 8 Hour Gamer) will be returning to GeekGirlCon this year with an ambitious plan to entertain.
Andy with some gamers at GeekGirlCon ’12; photo by Donna Winter
Some might intimate that I’m biased… to confess, he’s not only an amazing GM/DM, but he’s also my husband. Unless you’ve played in one of his sessions, it’s hard to grasp the fun that he consistently brings. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of playing in his games for nearly 14 years now and I’ve never been disappointed. He is patient with new players and can also put veterans through their paces, all while crafting engaging story lines.
Explore all that GeekGirlCon has to offer but definitely stop downstairs and look for the man in the bowler hat! He’s friendly and has stories to tell. Sit at his table and find yourself in one of them…”
Like everyone who’s read our Program Book so far, GeekGirlCon Copy Writer and geekdom aficionado SG-1 found it difficult to select just one panel to gush about: “Picking the panel I’m most excited about is pretty hard. First of all, Denise Crosby. Hello! I’ve been a Star Trek fan since seventh grade, and Denise Crosby is a big part of that. They may have killed her off in the show, but her character lived on, interwoven through the story throughout the series.
Second, ‘Building the Mystery: A Character Creation Workshop’ sounds pretty amazing to me. I’m a writer, and I’m always looking for good ways to construct characters that are believable, and that seem to jump off the page at the reader. Any help I can get in that area would be great.
Third, ‘Deconstructing the Mary Sue Myth’ is one I’m really looking forward to. One of the panelists is actress and author Amber Benson, and I’m a big fan of hers. I would love a chance to pick her brain about her writing process!”
Manager of Programming Alison Kozar expressed her enthusiasm for the increase of women working in the gaming industry: “Nearly a year ago, #1reasonwhy began trending on Twitter. Why? Someone asked: ‘Why are there so few lady game creators?’ The hashtag exploded with responses from women in every part of the game industry as they related their experiences working on games. The responses ranged from expected to horrifying, but soon spun off mentorship opportunities and a larger discussion on how to make the industry more inclusive and, in so doing, become more productive.
I got to watch these discussions grow, and I am super-excited about seeing ‘#1ReasonWhy: Play to Win’ at GeekGirlCon ’13. We’ve got some really exciting folks speaking on the panel: Anna Megill, Cameron Harris, Filamena Young, Jennifer Brandes Hepler, Jessica Price, and Regina Buenaobra. The panelists will talk about some of their experiences in the game industry and discuss strategies for survival and improvement in this changing field.”
The latest book of poems by Jeannine Hall Gailey
As a GeekGirlCon Copy Writer and lifelong bookworm, there are countless writing-related presentations I personally plan to attend. “The Geeks for Poetry, Poetry for Geeks” panel is particularly calling my name. Redmond, Washington’s Poet Laureate, Jeannine Hall Gailey, and others will be speaking about concocting poems on comic books, computers, and many more geeky themes. I’m extra eager to learn some insider tips on the best places to submit such nerd-centric works for publication!
After purchasing your passes, start routing your way through the best weekend ever. But don’t just glance at the GeekGirlCon ‘13 Strategy Guide—bookmark it, print it, highlight it, red-circle it, build a treasure map out of it! We are all pumped to see you there!
Written by GeekGirlConnections Manager Terra Olsen
GeekGirlConnections is thrilled to host an impressive lineup of professionals at this year’s GeekGirlCon! Join us for these interactive and intimate panels, and be prepared to learn from the best. Come with questions, your portfolio, and your resume, as these panels are designed to be Q&A friendly.
Here are just a few of the amazing people and panels the Connection Room will be hosting:
Join Carly Kocurek (Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Media Studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology), Corrinne Yu (game programmer for Halo 4), and Meg Stivison (game writer and content designer) on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. for “The Past, Present, and Future of Women in Gaming.” These women are all experts in the field and come from diverse backgrounds. Come hear their thoughts and discover what’s next in the gaming world.
Interested in learning how to build your brand on a small budget? Join Emma Mcilroy on Saturday at 12:30 to learn from the best about “How to Build a Kick-Ass Brand on a Start-Up Budget.” Emma is the the co-founder and CEO of Wildfang, a new clothing company started in early 2013 out of Portland that already has quite the following—over 10,000 on Instagram and Facebook to be exact, and you might have seen this Buzzfeed article on the company.
Join Lisa Granshaw, a full-time freelance writer based in NYC, to learn about “Breaking into the Media Industry.” Her work has appeared in The Daily Dot, TODAY.com, Blastr, Career Girl Network, and many more. She is excited to help young professionals seeking advice in media and communications, so make sure to catch her on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
SCIENCE! Don’t miss the “Careers in Science” panel on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Join Dr. Nicole Gugliucci (astronomer, educator, and writer), Dr. Jerry Nguyen (neuroscientist, consultant, stay-at-home dad, and financial analyst), Morgan Woroner (social media manager for many NASA education initiatives), and Dr. Stephen Granade (physicist and educator) as they explore the many career paths available in science. Science lovers! Don’t miss out.
If there’s one thing most geeks can agree upon, it’s that reading can be a great mental escape from daily stresses. While novels, newspapers, and the interwebz are solid sources of brain candy, of course, there’s one literary art form in a class all its own: comic books!
Offering plot lines, punchlines, and instant visual enticement, comics and graphic novels are enjoying a resurgence in today’s pop culture. It’s possible to find series suitable for everyone from elementary schoolers to those enjoying their retirement years. GeekGirlCon ‘13 will host a wide range of exhibitors to satisfy any comic book lover’s cravings. Here’s just a tiny peek into the possibilities you’ll find on the 3rd floor Exhibitors Hall.
San Diego-based Rebecca Hicks has struck a vein of comedic gold (or is it blood?) with Little Vampires. Created at Lunasea Studios with her husband, James Hicks, Little Vampires is a family-friendly webcomic featuring adorable miniature monsters and tongue-in-cheek humor. Stop by their table to pick up a poster or a plush stuffed villain. Or both!
For fans of other fantastical creatures such as dragons, demons, and Grecian sphinxes, there’s also the wild world of webcomic Skin Deep. Artist Kory Bing has created such elaborate universes online, there’s even a Skin Deep Wiki dedicated to her work! The Portland, Oregon resident first began publishing her creations in 2006, and her prolificness continues today. Fly over to Kory’s exhibit to get a taste of the action—there’s no doubt you’ll find your new favorite cartoon character.
Those of us who live in GeekGirlCon’s locale, Seattle, are fortunate to share a city with Kaarina Makowski. Author of the ongoing webcomic Soulless, she’s brewed up complex characters (and interestingly lists their zodiac signs in describing them) in a mystery fraught with tension and based in the near future. You know anyone who describes their work as “a labor of love, and an ongoing challenge” has put their heart into something great. Speculative fiction fans are sure to gravitate towards her intriguing storytelling.
Want to meet one of the coolest couples of all time during your nerdtastic weekend? Seek out Lady Evelyn and Lazy Jay, the hearts and minds behind Larsen Geekery! They’re makers of bright, snappy comics available both in book form and on clothes and bags—think Wonder Woman greeting cards, TARDIS purses, and original comics about dinosaurs in space. Not only will you want all of their artwork to adorn your everything, but you’ll want to throw a tea party with these artists as your guests of honor.
This mini-list is but a glimpse into the countless genres that will be present at GeekGirlCon ‘13 to lure in comic book rookies and longtime readers alike. Be sure to check out the many panels (pun intended) pertaining to comic books as well. Buy your passes today and pore over all the geeky goodness with us!
Last August, when my GeekGirlCon Star Wars panel explored the fairy tale archetypes of princesses and witches that are prominent in the galaxy far, far away, I had no idea what was about to unfold two months later. The Disney purchase of Lucasfilm coincided with the announcement that there would be more Star Wars movies. Not just a sequel trilogy, but also new stand-alones. Almost immediately rumors swirled about a female lead protagonist for the sequel trilogy from a franchise that is often considered one for the boys. A recent Slate article by Libby Copeland revealed that Disney programs like Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First are turning on its head the entertainment industry’s notion that boys supposedly won’t watch shows about girls. It’s still too early to say what the future of Star Wars movies and media tie-in products will be, but undoubtedly this is a time when female fans are more prominent than ever.
Shea Standefer and Tricia Barr cosplaying as Jaina Solo at Celebration 6
For all the talk surrounding the lack of a female-led superhero movie or television show after the recent round of announcements from DC Comics and Marvel, it’s easy to forget that Jedi are superheroes too. That was one topic of discussion at last year’s panel. While Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games is proving that a female-led action heroine movie can draw impressive box office tallies, she is still just a girl and not a supergirl in the minds of studio executives who greenlight movies. Following up on rumors that Soairse Ronan has read for the lead role in Episode VII, Bleeding Cool commented: “Years of genre films living under a cloud on this front and Star Wars is coming back swinging with at least a pair of great leading roles for young ladies. It almost feels like a grand statement you wish nobody had to make.”
Having been a fan from 1977, I’m proof that Star Wars was never just a boys’ franchise. In 1980 the president of the Star Wars fan club was a woman, Maureen Garrett. The Star Ladies are a fan group invaluable in the running of the Star Wars conventions known as Celebration. Not to mention the simple fact that movies don’t become worldwide phenomena without engaging a broad base of fans. As a young woman I was sold from A New Hope’s opening scroll, which didn’t mention the saga’s hero but rather a princess who was “custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy.” In her first on-screen moments Princess Leia transferred the stolen plans to R2-D2 and engaged stormtroopers as a diversion for the droid’s escape. That was the moment I realized girls could be heroes too.
As a blogger covering the franchise, I see plenty of signals coming from Lucasfilm and its parent company Disney that both corporations don’t view their audience as just boys, either. IndieWire reported from the exclusive Disney event at the Las Vegas Licensing Expo that Star Wars “content presents stellar licensing opportunities and deepens Disney’s portfolio across consumer segments, particularly with boys and collectors, but also opens up the Star Wars world to new fans.” We are entering an era that will be very similar to the first return of Star Wars movies when The Phantom Menace hit screens. Old fans were reenergized and new fans were born. It was both an exciting and daunting time. Fanzines and local fan groups were replaced by message boards and chat rooms. The fan community grew exponentially and shared its passion at computer terminals. Think of how much larger and more connected internet communities are today than they were a decade ago.
The internet allowed fans to foster many new friendships, but also created greater opportunities for bullies to lash out. My fandom almost came to a screeching halt in 2003, when I had the good fortune to win the first of many fanfiction awards—and my success earned me the ire of a certain subset of the fandom called movie purists, who were not happy that stories about characters found in the Star Wars Expanded Universe books had garnered more awards than stories about the movie characters. At the time I was very naïve about gatekeeping and the dynamics of geek culture. Luckily, as I struggled with individuals who thought Star Wars only needed certain types of fans, other fans reached out. I began to form a circle of friends who shared the same passion for the books, comics, and movies, or who were willing to be open about how others enjoyed the fictional universe. Although the problem hasn’t gone away completely, the anti-bullying message is carrying the day, and female fans have many opportunities to find safe spaces to discuss the franchise and their fandom.
In 2010, after years of trying to work within the established message board environment and noting that the products coming from Star Wars licensees were being aimed more toward the men who managed and moderated these sites, I decided women needed a place to voice their opinions as fans and consumers. Having already created a small message board community that promoted respectful discussion, I dove into the world of blogging and started advocating for female fans and the stories they wanted told. The success of my blog led to opportunities to write about Star Wars for Random House’s blog Suvudu, Action Flick Chick, Lucasfilm’s official Star Wars Blog, and the print magazine Star Wars Insider.
Both The Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni and voice actress Ashley Eckstein have personally emphasized to me that one of the most important things fans can do is to speak up and ask for what we want. Ultimately, too, fans then have to support their likes by putting their money behind their passions. Her Universe, with its line of geek merchandise, gives female fans a chance to double down on their passion—first by buying geek products, then by displaying our passion by wearing it loud and proud. Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein used the Year of the Fangirl to help foster a community for female fans.
When I considered the upcoming opportunities for new and old Star Wars fans in the next few years, GeekGirlCon seemed to be a perfect venue to help share the experience of women who had been enjoying adventures in the galaxy far, far away for some time. Our panel “Star Wars: More Than A Boys’ Franchise” will be in Room 301/302 on Sunday, October 20 at 3 p.m. If you are in the mood to share Star Wars with like-minded fans before them, Star Wars Reads Day is Saturday, October 5. For more details of events and locations check StarWars.com.
If you have questions you would like the panel to answer, feel free to leave a comment here. We’ll try to incorporate them into the panel discussion.
Tricia Barr discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters at FANgirl Blog. Her first novel, Wynde, is a military science fiction tale with a fantastical twist exploring a heroine’s journey. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com. For updates on all things FANgirl, follow @FANgirlcantina on Twitter.