One of the biggest turnouts at GeekGirlCon ’15 was for a panel that was announced at the last minute. “In Conversation, Anita and Zoe” featured special guests Anita Sarkeesian (creator of Feminist Frequency) and Zoe Quinn (game designer and co-founder of Crash Override Network) as they discussed what it was like to be high-profile women in tech, online harassment, and what action we can all take to prevent online abuse.
Elizabeth Sampat, who moderated the panel, started by posing some questions to Sarkeesian and Quinn. “You are both successful women in the public eye,” she said. “What kinds of things do you have to do or put up with that men in similar positions don’t have to do?”
Quinn answered first: “I’m worried that people will see me in public and I look like crap.” With the amount of focus that goes into evaluating women’s appearances, she voices her concerns about how if she doesn’t look “acceptable,” she will find threads on Reddit the next day criticizing how she looks. “There are all the things that go into appearance. I got into game dev and writing so I didn’t have to see people but now with this public thing I have to use makeup. It’s easier now when I think of it as painting a Warhammer mini.”
Street harassment: at best, it’s irritating, like a buzzing fly that won’t leave you alone. At worst, it’s scary and makes you feel unsafe. Most of us have experienced it at least once, if not several dozen times. And we’re tired of it.
The good news is that women (and other folks) all over the world are putting that fed-up energy to good use. Hollaback is an international movement to end street harassment, with chapters from Argentina to Turkey, including several cities in the US.
2011 comic cover
Hollaback encourages folks to take action, and HollabackPHILLY took an innovative approach to that mission. Working with Philadelphia-based artist Erin Filson, they created an anti-street harassment comic book for use in education workshops. Fundraising to publish the comic was so successful, they’ve also been able to translate the comic into ten (!) languages and are at work on a choose-your-own-adventure computer-based comic.
According to their website, HollabackPHILLY is “on a mission to make conventions safer.” At GeekGirlCon ‘13, they will lead a panel on comics for social good, culture jamming, and a more inclusive geek culture. They’ll talk about some simple ways for you to get involved in anti-harassment efforts at cons.