I recently tabled a community event for GeekGirlCon and thought I’d share some of my personal thoughts on the experience.
I admit that when I first suggested that GeekGirlCon have a table at last month’s Trans* Pride celebration (organized by the awesomely named Gender Justice League), it was a bit of a test. Would this group o’ geeks want to be at an event for trans folks? Over the years, I’ve worked on being an ally to trans communities (always a work in progress), but sometimes there’s resistance or ignorance in groups, and if that was going to be the case here, I wanted to know sooner rather than later.
Happily, the answer was a quick and resounding “yes!” and “that sounds awesome!” and “of course we should be there!” This confirmed my suspicions that I’d gotten involved with a rad group of people who really are committed to creating a space that is welcoming, inclusive, and celebratory for all.
My partner-in-crime Alison and I got to Cal Anderson Park early in the evening to set up our half of the table, with our banner, info cards, and candy (candy is a very important community outreach tool). It was gorgeous weather, with the sun beaming down on a half-circle of tables and canopies at one end of the green and a full stage at the other, volunteers scurrying about between.
As Alison and I were chatting with a few attendees, over 2,000 marchers began to arrive at the park, and soon we were inundated with visitors to our little table. What’s GeekGirlCon? What do you do? When is it? How can I get involved? We talked about comics, Trans*H4CK, intersectionality, Buffy, biology, and much more.
We heard questions about our name and our tagline. Everyone I talked to was happy to see an event focusing on geeky girls and their achievements and interests, and even happier to know that everyone is welcome at GeekGirlCon, regardless of gender or type of geekery.
Of course, using words like “girl” and “female” can sometimes feel limiting; in general, our culture is deeply invested in there being only two genders, even though there clearly are more ways to express gender than that. It’s often challenging to figure out the best ways to talk about supporting and celebrating geeky women and girls in a sexist culture while not ignoring or disregarding those whose gender identities don’t fit neatly in boxes. I have no doubt that GeekGirlCon, as an organization full of dedicated, passionate, and thoughtful people, will continue to grow and evolve as we explore gender and geekery over the coming years.
Alison and I talked a lot about GeekGirlCon’s mission and values (and of course, how much fun we have at our events!), and I do believe we managed to recruit not only attendees to the Con in the fall, but new volunteers as well! I had so much fun talking to people that I completely missed hearing one of my favorite thinkers, Julia Serano, speak, and one of my favorite musicians, Rae Spoon, perform. C’est la vie; I’m sure I’ll have another opportunity to see both of them. And since they’re both pretty geeky in their own ways, perhaps they’ll even come to GeekGirlCon someday!
The atmosphere was so happy and celebratory, and I’m glad GeekGirlCon was a part of it. My hands-down favorite part of going to Trans* Pride as a representative of GeekGirlCon? Watching the faces of trans women as they read our banner and then came up to the table, exclaiming, “Hey, I’m a geeky girl—this is for me!”
Yes, yes, it is. And we can’t wait to see you in October!
GeekGirlCon is running a series of blog posts about strong female characters from all sorts of fiction, from books and comics to movies and TV shows. Welcome to our inaugural post, penned by GeekGirlCon staff copy writer Sarah Grant (aka SG-1)!
My favorite female characters tend to be strong (emotionally, mentally, and physically), smart, and sassy. Considering this characterization is how I tend to view myself, this preference isn’t too remarkable. It doesn’t matter if said female is human, alien, android, or fae; if she’s strong, smart, and sassy, I identify with the character.
Last year I read the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (no relation!). Feed, the first book in the trilogy, was published in 2010; Deadline and Blackout followed, along with a novella called Countdown. It’s a post-zombie-apocalypse series, and one of the grimmer series I’ve read (perhaps not for the kids, folks). The storytelling style is unique: the author combines blog posts, private journal entries, the occasional Internet announcement, and first-person narratives by most of the main characters at one point or another. This may sound confusing, but don’t let it put you off. I’m giving you the inside scoop: at the beginning of each chapter, there is a blog post or journal entry written by that chapter’s narrator.
Now, you’re wondering when I’m going to get to the strong female character. Here she is: Georgia Carolyn Mason. Georgia, her brother Shawn, and their friend Buffy make up a team of journalists who are selected to accompany a hopeful presidential candidate on his campaign journey. Along the way, they encounter bad politics, extremely enhanced security measures (including regular blood tests, bleach showers, and retinal scans), and—of course—zombies.
George (as many call her) is the “newsie” of the trio: she finds and reports facts to her readers, and she has journalistic integrity coming out of her ears. She won’t post anything she isn’t sure is correct, and she has no qualms about posting news that might get her into trouble. Shawn enjoys “poking dead things with sticks and getting it on camera” to entertain the masses, and Buffy writes stories and poems, as well as acting as the team’s tech wiz—she’s never met a piece of technology she can’t figure out in less time than it takes me to boot up my computer.
What makes George a strong female character, and why do I like and admire her so much? Three things:
1. She’s intelligent.
2. She’s sarcastic.
3. She’s loyal—to her brother, and to the truth.
All too often, female characters are used as the android-type, uber-smart foil to another character. That other character tends to be a guy, or just as often a pretty girl who is the main character—but as decoration. Think about Scooby Doo: Daphne (the pretty one) has the boyfriend, and she’s the one everyone watches. Velma (the smart one) has the stereotypical glasses and general nerd factor. George is the main character, and she is the perfect mix of both. For instance, she knows how the “The Rising” happened in the summer of 2014—the science behind two unrelated viruses combining to reanimate the dead around the world. George also takes care of her appearance: in a world where repeated bleach showers streak everyone’s hair blond, she dyes her hair regularly, determined to look good while she’s busy reporting to the world.
I personally learned sarcasm in utero, and George’s sarcasm seems to be on that same level. She will always give the sarcastic answer before she gives a real answer. George and I have the same sense of humor—though she tends to be a little bit more on the fatalistic side of things, what with living through the actual zombie apocalypse. There are very few situations in which she will be serious to the exclusion of sarcasm, though one of those situations is the death of a close friend. If I knew George in real life, we’d completely get each other.
George’s best characteristic is her absolute loyalty to two things: the truth, and her brother. Shawn is the only person she’s ever felt she can really depend on, and she knows he will tell her what she needs to know, whether she asks for it or not. She has the same way of dealing with him: she doesn’t tell him what he wants to hear, but what he needs to hear. George can be tactful with people outside her team—especially handy for dealing with politicians and their minions—but otherwise she doesn’t hold anything back. This is definitely a characteristic I aspire to.
The truth is what drives Georgia: truth in life, truth in journalism, and making sure that the people (her blog readers around the world) get both of these from her. It may not be the easy thing to do, and it’s certainly not the safest, but it is the right thing to do. As the team wends its way through the presidential trail with their candidate, their personal danger increases at every moment. Others tell them to go home, that the only way they will be safe is to distance themselves from the campaign and the uncomfortable truths they are uncovering. George’s sense of black-and-white morality absolutely precludes her stepping back; she needs to know the truth so she can bring to light the shady decisions of the government and bring about change in her world. I believe in knowing and telling the truth as well. I like to think that if I were in George’s situation, I would be just like her.
Georgia Carolyn Mason fits my ideal of the strong female character in fiction. I initially started reading Feed because I am a fan of Mira Grant (and her alter ego, Seanan McGuire), but watching George interact with her world and do everything she can to make things better and tell the truth about what’s happening quickly pulled me into the story in a way that not many books do. I highly recommend the Newsflesh series to anyone looking for action, sarcasm, intelligence, and just plain fun–and I’d love to hear from you when you read them. Drop me a line: email@example.com.
Hey readers! Shubz here with another installment of Ask GGC. We asked our staff how their time with GeekGirlCon made a difference for them in their lives outside of our organization. Here’s what they had to say:
“I’ve started getting back into comics and science, two avenues of geekdom that I enjoyed when I was younger, but fell to the wayside when I discovered RPGs, video games, and anime. I’ve also become more vocal when I find things offensively misogynistic or racist. As a female Filipino-American nerd, it’s important to speak up about these things. Being on staff has stepped up my game on many fronts including how to succinctly convey my thoughts in 140 characters or less when needed without textspeak abbreviations! Grammar nerds FTW!” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator
Erica striking a pose at GeekGirlCon 2012
“I’ve been an idealist for most of life, and the world has in many ways tried to stop me from believing in the ability to change the world. GeekGirlCon has really proven that through community momentum, we can change the world. When we first started planning for GeekGirlCon ’11, we would’ve been happy if 400 people showed up; but instead we had almost 2,000. And even more for GeekGirlCon ’12. We’ve inspired people, helped build new skills and interests, and fostered women-positive geeky community. We can be the change in the world.” – Erica McGillivray, Director of Marketing
Left to Right: Shubz Blalack, Tammy Vince Cruz, Raye Abellar
“GeekGirlCon changed my life. It opened my eyes, my mind, and best of all, my heart, to an amazing community all working towards a sincere goal. Admittedly, GeekGirlCon consumed me; it consumed my time, my energy, and my life – but it’s all been worth it. I’ve worked with remarkable people, many of which I would consider good friends. Beyond that, the rad folks I’ve had the chance to meet along the way, reinforced that genuine people do exist, and they support what you believe in.
GeekGirlCon pushed me to work my butt off. I’ve produced some of my best pieces for GeekGirlCon. While giving me that challenge, it’s resulted in a rejuvenated design portfolio. I’ve definitely forced myself to learn a lot of better habits when it came to my work – learning communication is vital, especially leading my own team, and overall organization is detrimental to making things run smoothly. I was known as a mute when I was a kid, but helping lead meetings and represent GeekGirlCon helped build my self-confidence, and improve my own public speaking and interaction skills. A lot of these skills I’ve applied to my day job and personal life, and it makes me feel all sorts of awesomely weird – like I’ve definitely stepped full fledge into “grown up” territory. And I’m quite happy with that.
– Tammy Vince Cruz, Manager of Design
Susie and Stephanie cosplaying it up as Hawkgirl and Starbuck, respectively
“Working at GeekGirlCon opened my eyes in so many ways. It opened my eyes to the hundreds of geeky things out there I didn’t even know existed. It opened my eyes to the fantastic community of geeky women and their amazing supporters. And it opened my eyes to the fact that GeekGirlCon is still a needed organization — there are too many people out there who still feel mistreated, misrepresented, and misunderstood. GeekGirlCon staff members bring a range of personalities to the table, which has given me the opportunity to learn and grow in ways I never expected. It has seriously been a gift to be on this staff.” – Susie Rantz, PR Manager
GeekGirlCon is currently looking for enthusiastic and driven individuals to join our staff and continue to make a difference with us. Could that be you? Check out our Open Staff Positions for more information.
Hey everyone and Happy Mother’s Day! Some of us here at GeekGirlCon decided to take the time to share the difference our mothers have made!
PR Content Producer Shubz and her mom on her wedding day
“My Mom is a fantastic leader in our family, and also one of my biggest fans. I have always been in the performing arts, and for every recital, dance competition, and (recently) gig or open mic, Mom has either been there or has put it in her calendar to come through and check out. I gave her a 1337ology article I was featured in for nerdcore and she absolutely loved it. Rap and hip-hop may not be her thing, but the fact that she is so ready to support and love the work I do is such a confidence booster.” – Shubz Blalack, PR Content Producer
“I never really thought about my mom having an influence on my geekiness, because it was always so obvious. What I did not really appreciate until later was that she was actually quite a bit of a geek herself. She always encouraged me to follow my passions and not worry about what anyone else thought. She also made sure that my brother & I saw Star Wars (the original/only three: episodes IV, V, and VI) and loved it when we recreated scene after scene verbatim ad nauseum. She has passed along two ‘family jewelry’ necklaces — one C3PO and one X-wing. She pledged PBS when we couldn’t stop quoting lines from Red Dwarf; and she’s bought expansion packs for Carcassonne, while getting all of her friends to play on and offline. Funnily enough, neither of us is a big fan of Mothers’ Day. It feels a little small to limit appreciating her to a single day a year. She is frakking awesome, and I’m so proud every day that she’s my mum.” – Amanda Powter, Copywriter
“My mom can certainly be blamed for my fall into the geekdom, and that’s a great thing! As a pharmacist, she instilled in me a love for science and math at an early age. But she did so much more than that! She encouraged my strange and unusual behaviors. When I stepped out of my room in a plaid top and striped pants, she smiled. When I said I wanted to paint my car pink, she and my dad took me to the auto detail shop. She came with me to see Lord of the Rings at midnight. These seem like little things, but when you grow up around someone who shows you she’s proud of who you are and what you love, you have the freedom to truly be the person you’re meant to be.” – Susie Rantz, PR Manager
PR Manager Susie Rantz and her mom after running a half marathon in Hawaii
So you’ve heard from us, how about you? Tell us about the awesome mom/mother figure in your life!
Hey everyone! In honor of International Women’s Day, the GeekGirlCon Staff answered the question: what woman inspires you? Here’s how some of us weighed in:
“One day in class, my freshman drama teacher read selections from some of her favourite women in history. A famous extemporaneous speech stood out, “Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth. At the time, I was grappling with accepting my biracial identity, and her words resonated perfectly. Before the short speech ended, I realised that I cried yet felt I felt empowered.” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator
“As a leader in the riot grrl movement and overall feminist music icon, Kathleen Hanna has been one of my role models for a long-time. The honesty, authenticity, and raw style of her lyrics and performances have spoken to me and inspired me with the message of not being alone, which was especially meaningful when I was growing up in rural Oregon. Today, Hanna still makes music and also works at helping archive riot grrl relics.” – Erica McGillivray, President and Marketing Director
“My inspiration is Jane Goodall. I read her books in high school and knew that we were of the same mind when it came to deciding what a woman could or could not do. She trekked into the Gombe with nary a care about what the men in her field thought and then forever changed the way that we looked at primates and ourselves as humans.” – Bunny Cole, Social Media Manager
“For some reason I’ve always been drawn to Amelia Earhart. She broke record after record in the flight industry, proving not only that it could be done, but that a woman was capable of doing it. She was the first woman (and second person ever) to solo the Atlantic, she broke the highest altitude record and kept it for years, and she was the first person to fly solo across the Pacfic. Earhart’s endeavors in the flight industry proved that women were just as capable as men in an industry that was very male dominated.” – Jex Ballard, Volunteer Coordinator
How about you? Leave us a comment about your heroine and why she inspires you!
Shubz K. Blalack
PR Content Producer
What’s up, gang? Shubz here. Instead of my usual article of what show I’ve gone to, I’m taking this week’s usual Geek About Town slot to interview a geeky lady – my girl, nerdcore emcee NES-T (Tiffany Nygren). She is the newcomer that wowed audiences along with fellow emcee Jake Bit during Klopfenpop’s set last week at Nectar.
Shubz: How did you come up with your emcee name?|
NES-T: 8 years ago, I worked at a summer camp and the counselors I worked with played a game. We made this whole WWF (World Wrestling Federation) theme about it and made nicknames about beverages, specifically pop. I liked tea better so thus, NES-T. My name has different layers though – the tea reference (shout out to Nestea), a hip-hop reference (Ice-T!)…it wasn’t until I met up with my friends in nerdcore that it became a gaming reference (NES/Nintendo-T/Tiffany).
S: Who are some of your musical influences?
T: Eminem, 2Pac, Ludacris, FORT MINOR… In nerdcore, Optimus Rhyme – I’d never heard of them and I saw them at a show at Lava Lounge and I was blown away by their performance.
S: Why break into the nerdcore scene versus general hip-hop?
T: First, it’s what I can relate to. I am a special-education teacher by day, and as a teacher, I get flack from other teachers for endorsing video games as a learning tool. When I found this genre, I found a place where I can use it and be accepted for talking about and expressing the love of it more so than I can in other parts of my life. Second, I listened to hip-hop as a kid, but after you listen to it for a while, it sounds the same. Nerdcore is not like that; it’s always something different. I think there’s more realness and individuality in nerdcore because we have embraced our nerdiness and are not afraid to show it.