Posts Tagged ‘Feminism’


The Monday after GeekGirlCon ’13 I posted the following on Facebook:

You know . . . I think I’ve exchanged the words “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” and/or, “You amaze me,” with more women in the past 72 hours than I have in my entire life so far. It feels really fucking good.

Before GeekGirlCon, I’d never been part of a female community before – even as a self-identified feminist. Being part of this organization with our passionate, committed, and hard-working all-volunteer staff, and the enthusiasm, support, and collaboration of our extended community has been enormously healing for me – as well as a source of personal and professional growth.

This year’s convention event went above and beyond to create an inclusive and diverse experience, both in terms of identity politics and genre or thematic interests. We bridged academia with career advice, nerdlesque with puppet shows, and cosplay with social justice issues. We had gaming, art, science, and crafty-vendors. The design was beautiful, operations kept things running smoothly, and marketing generated enthusiasm while keeping our public informed. The celebrations and the conversations were phenomenal. We had more programming, panelists, and attendees than ever before. Through year-round programming & events, and some damn fine marketing, we increased our audience by 50% over last year’s convention – and actually sold out before doors opened! And knowing my ambitious GeekGirlCon family – we will strive to be ever-better.

* * *

In the past, people have described the experience of GeekGirlCon as “warm,” “safe,” and “inspiring.” And this year these words were repeated again and again.

For GeekGirlCon ’13, here is a select collection of post-event thoughts, wrap-ups, and suggestions for improvement from press, attendees, staff, and contributors.

GeekWire – “GeekGirlCon: Where you can be whatever you want” by Emily Shahan

“In fact, above all else, it seems to me that acceptance is the main focus of GeekGirlCon. This is apparent from the curated panels to types of vendors and artists on display. . . . the classic nerd stereotype is changing as more women, LGBT folks and people of color step forward and claim their space in Nerd-dom. We are demanding that the media we love so dearly reflect its fanbase — that there are more stories to tell than that of the white, male hero.”

ICV2 – “Separate or Integrate: How Can Geekdom’s Minorities Preserve Safe Spaces at Conventions?” by Rob Salkowitz

“Is nerd culture fragmenting along dominant-minority lines? Will underrepresented voices retreat to their own spaces or continue to push the dialogue forward in fandom’s most populous arenas? . . . Though it is oriented toward women as a deliberate strategy, [GeekGirlCon] in practice represents the very opposite of ‘separatist’ fandom and aims to be an inclusive space where geek dads can bring their daughters and geek moms can bring their sons without the implicit biases that color interactions at other kinds of cons.”

“A couple things on my return” by Sigrid Ellis

“I have no insider knowledge of how Geek Girl Con is run. I don’t know any of the organizers. But, damn, y’all, that operates like a finely-run fan convention. It was like a professional media or comic-con, except run by cheerful, enthusiastic, friendly volunteers who all cared enormously about what they were doing. . . The thing I will remember most about Geek Girl Con is how HAPPY everyone was to be there, how HAPPY everyone was to see everyone else and to all be doing this awesome thing, together, at the same time.”

“Three Years, Three Different Experiences: The Magic of Seattle’s Geek Girl Con” by Megan Christopher

“[W]hile it’s still more intimate than many of its established cousins, in its third year, organizers should have considered renaming Geek Girl Con ’Katniss,’ because the ‘Girl’ was on fire.”

GeekMom – “Why GeekGirlCon Is Uniquely Satisfying” by Corrina Lawson

“I went expecting a regular-style con only with more women. What I found was a community basically throwing a huge getaway weekend. Instead of being exhausted at the end, as I feel like at most cons, I left energized and excited about the future.”

Through a City Geekly – “GeekGirlCon: A Geekly Recap”

“The message I heard over and over again as I spoke to attendees was clear: this is a safe space. As women have increasingly become a part of ‘geek culture’, the harassment they face has also increased. And women who want to work in the comic or gaming industries, or, heaven forbid, who want to be scientists? That’s an uphill battle of Sisyphusian proportions. Yes, thankfully, the game is changing and slowly — so, so slowly — the opportunities are starting to emerge. Organizations like GeekGirlCon are part of that solution.”

“GeekGirlCon 2013″ – by Anne Bean

“How do I describe GeekGirlCon? Do I talk about the gender distribution: maybe 75% women, 25% men? Do I talk about how much more visible queer geeks, geeks of color, and geeks with disability were than at other cons? Do I talk about the high quality of cosplay, the seriously good panels, or the interesting bits that other cons don’t have, like the DIY Science section or the networking section? . . . There are important conversations about women and race and disability and all kinds of neat things! There’s a lot of rad cosplay! There is actual science! There is a non-creepy vibe! . . . It is a magical place.”

Fangirl Confessions – “GeekGirlCon 2013 Wrap Up”

“The most beautiful thing about cosplaying at Geek Girl Con is that the cosplayers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, sexual orientations, etc. The cosplaying community here is respectful of each other. I felt as if I were a part of something special. . . . I have never felt so included in an event as I have here. I felt as if I had just dropped in on some old friends, even though this was my first Geek Girl Con and I was attending alone. I might have showed up alone, but I am leaving with a ton of new friends.”

“You’re Welcome Here: Geek Girl Con 2013″ by Elicia Sanchez

“[R]ight at that moment, it hit me. That special indescribable feeling of security and safety that comes over you when you realize you’ve just stumbled upon a safe space where you can just be you. . . . A feeling of belonging and acceptance, like a huge sigh of social anxiety relief. It may seem to some as a stretch to equate a sticker photograph policy to an encompassing feeling of acceptance, but it really was just my first reminder that not just women, but all geeks were free to be themselves here without the leering eyes of some creeper trying to gawk at tight or suggestive cosplay or some asshole trying to get a picture of a fat ‘slave Leia’ to make mockery of on Reddit. I immediately realized this may not be your average nerd gathering.”

XOJane – “I SPENT TWO WEEKS ATTENDING TWO WOMEN-FOCUSED GEEK CONS AND IT WAS PRETTY AWESOME” by K. T. Bradford

“There were far more men at GeekGirlCon than I expected and they participated at every level: on staff, on panels, and as attendees. And yet GGC people also spoke of the con as a Safe Space. Again, the idea of what is safe differs depending on what type of woman you are, yet I was pretty confident that there wouldn’t be anyone there saying that they ‘want to buy an umbrella [that comes] with an Asian girl,’ no matter the gender. It’s not about banning or even discouraging guys from coming to the con, it’s about making it clear what is and is not valued that leads to a con women can feel safe attending.

So forget any ridiculousness you hear about how cons that cater to specific or marginalized groups are all about self-segregation. They’re not — not completely. Because if the con has all the elements geeks flock to cons for, it will attract all the geeks. And if these cons can attract geeks away from events that foster a hostile environment, then those other cons (and the media entities that support them) will either have to change or die.”

Burlesque Seattle Press – “Bechdel Test Burlesque” by Paul O’Connell

“To understand GeekGirlCon’s perspective, Jo Jo says that she went straight to the source: Jennifer K. Stuller, Director of Programming and Events for the annual conference. ‘We love strong female characters and we love them even more when they are complex and we believe that performance provides opportunities to tell new, challenging and inspiring stories about our favorite female characters and their allies.’”

Fangirl Blog – “GeekGirlCon 2013: Convention Recap” by Tricia Barr

“Once again this year’s convention was a delight. The staff is friendly, the panels enjoyable and enlightening, and the venue is top-notch.”

Geekquality – “We’re Back from GeekGirlCon!” by Tanya

“At the convention, there were a lot more parents with young children, as well as teenage geeks this year. Many times I overheard kids excitedly discussing their favorite comic book characters or games, and it reminded me just how fun it is to discover your hobbies and interests for the first time. There is something really moving about seeing so many young people in a comfortable space where they can feel at ease, while also bonding with their parents who brought them to the Con. That enthusiastic, playful energy wasn’t just limited to the younger set, as plenty of geeks and nerds of all stripes came to GGC, making it a completely sold out event both days.”

ACLU of Washington State – “GEEKGIRLCON: A PLACE FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE FOUND THEIR OWN VOICES” by Alicia Briones

“It’s amazing to see so many women together, contributing to and creating a woman-friendly environment where people can openly speak about their experiences in their field. Many men come to the Con as well, supporting not only their mothers, sisters, friends, wives, and girlfriends, but also showing support for female-created works and incorporating those pieces into their own lives. There is room for both women and men in all these industries. . . . But most importantly, GeekGirlCon is a stepping stone for young girls looking for their voice by being able to interact with women who have found their own voices already.”

Almost Nerdy – “GeekGirlCon: A Growing Celebration of Female Geeks” by SIERRA HOUK

“The inclusive environment that GeekGirlCon creates is a lovely thing to be a part of. Panels ranged in topics from race, consent, and body image in regards to cosplay, self-publishing tips, how feminism is reflected in nerd culture and what it means to be a female nerd, to craft competitions and a fully improvised parody of classic Star Trek episodes. There was something there for everyone, no matter your gender or fandoms. It was obvious that everyone there wasn’t afraid to hold back, whether they were cosplaying as their favorite Batman villain or singing along with one of the nerdy musicians putting on a ninja gig (see: The Doubleclicks pleasing the crowd at their lobby show).”

The Backup Ribbon Project – “Coming Home: Geek Girl Con 2013″

“At Geek Girl Con, found myself connecting with random people with whom I was standing in line to wait for a panel. People told me their stories, asked for ribbons, and gave me their contact information. It was, in a word, overwhelming to see an entire con — including the staff and con com — committed to making geek spaces accessible for all. . . . In two days at Geek Girl Con, I felt more a part of the geek community than I have in more than 20 years of geekdom.”

WatchPlayRead – “My Adventures at GeekGirlCon 2013! Real Geek Girls, Seriously!!!” by Becky Hansen

“Attending GeekGirlCon gave me a feeling of empowerment, a feeling of respect for my contributions, and those of other females, to the world of geek. One of the greatest parts of the con was seeing women of all ages coming together to stand up for geek girls everywhere. There were girls as young as 5 getting dressed up as their favorite characters. An immense confidence filled every nook and cranny of the convention center.”

PopMatters – “Geek Girl Con 2013 Synthesized Pop Culture, Science, Technology, and Critical Inquiry” By Shaun Huston

“While Geek Girl Con has its roots in the experiences of mainstream comics conventions (see the organization’s About page), the event is not, specifically, a “comic-con”. The convention’s tagline, “The Celebration of the Female Geek”, points to this broader mission, which is to provide a safe and welcoming space for women and girls to share and express their geeky pursuits, whether in the lab, at the X-Box, or in the pages of a comic. . . .Other comics conventions will feature academic panels, even parallel academic conferences, and there are, of course, actual comics studies meetings, but I can’t think of another gathering of academics, practitioners, and fans that places comics alongside not just other pop media, but also science, math, and technology. . . .More importantly, unlike other conventions, which are largely promotional in nature, whether from a corporate perspective or that of individual creators, Geek Girl is rooted in the desire for a critical unpacking, interrogation, and re-construction of the category ‘geek’ in a way that is more open and inclusive than is normally possibly in the predominantly male spaces through which fields like comics, computer programming, and video gaming are defined.”

Suvudu – “GeekGirlCon 2013 Wrap Up” BY THALIA SUTTON

“GGC offers a safe place to discuss issues that women face, but upon attending I found that its programming tackled every highly-visible issue within the geekosphere, including bullying, women’s empowerment and equality, minority issues, portrayal of physical disabilities, geek parenting, geek children, cosplay and fashion, and freelance vs. corporate work, just to name a few. Whereas New York Comic Con the week before was a sink-or-swim atmosphere that continued to carry the apparent flag of ‘industry not issues,’ GGC was the stark reverse, a helping-hand mentality focusing exclusively on “issues within the industry” and what to do about them.”

Geek With Curves – “So, GeekGirlCon was amazing” by Amy Ratcliffe

“I have never been to a more organized, low-stress, and fun convention. That’s the surface level. Beyond that, most every panel felt like it was written just for me and every vendor felt like it was chosen for me. GeekGirlCon offered a comfortable space for all of its attendees, and the attitudes and general moods of others reflected that feeling. I never felt like I had to be on guard, and it was beautiful and so damn relaxing.

GeekGirlCon, you are my favorite.”

Off the Written Path – “GeekGirlCon: Fandom, The Next Generation” by Andrew S. Williams

“But ultimately, the number one reason I say that GGC felt like the next generation of fandom is because of how open, diverse, and inclusive it felt. To me, it felt like how fandom and geekdom could be, once we get past the misogyny and homophobia and various market-driven forces that seem determined to tell us how to be a geek in present times, how certain pursuits and books and games are ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. I was only at GGC for one day, but I still felt that in some sense GeekGirlCon represents the potential for what geek culture could become; hopefully it really is a window into the next generation.”

The Lobster Dance – “Geek Girl Con Recaps #1: Creating Safe Spaces in the Period of ‘Peak Geek’” by Leah

“I attended Geek Girl Con in Seattle over the weekend, and it was beautiful.”

Plastic Heroines – “Geek Girl Con ’13 Debriefing” by Wendy

“Summary: Geek Girl Con rocked, and I can’t wait for next year!”

Examiner – “GeekGirlCon 2013 recap, part 1: Uniting all nerds!”

“Fan conventions traditionally bring fans and creators together over shared passions, and at GeekGirlCon panelists repeatedly encouraged audiences to break down the barrier and become creators themselves.”

I Wrote This – “After the Geeks: On Arriving Home from Geek Girl Con” by Rachel Lynn Brody

“I went, I listened, I learned – now what? GGC ’13 gave me a lot to think about, and I’m sure the effects will be percolating and expressing themselves in my work and interactions with others for months to come. I want to look into some of the information from the STEM careers in the humanity – and the acronym STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts & Math, as I learned on Sunday). I have a pile of books to read and notes to parse. I’ve already approached a few artists about cover commissions for upcoming books. I met new people. I had a blast. I’m already looking forward to 2014.”

Black Girl Nerds – Geek Girl Con Podcast

“Attendees Rachel Brody and Jaz will be featured on the podcast to provide us up-to-the-minute information about the event and how important this con is for nerdy girls”

Bitch Media – “Popaganda Episode: Dress Up

“Costumes have an undeniable power. In this show we examine tomboy fashion with founders of upstart company Wildfang, head to Geek Girl Con to talk with cosplayer Chaka Cumberbatch, and dig into sexy Halloween costumes with Portland fashion designer Adam Arnold and designer/retailer Cassie Ridgway.” [*With Transcript]

Have You Nerd – “GeekGirlCon Photo Roundup” By Terra Clarke Olsen

“This past weekend was GeekGirlCon, and boy was it amazing! Meg and I are both staff members, so we were busy running around all weekend. Happily, everyone seemed to have an amazing time! We’re still both recovering from it, so until we have the energy to give a proper report, here are some photos from the event.”

“GeekGirlCon: The Future Is Very, Very Bright” by Michael Shean

“In the end, what I really saw at GGC wasn’t just a supremely well-orchestrated nerd carnival staffed by immensely caring and motivated people, it was a community women of all ages, races and sexualities claiming their own in a community that in many corners still thinks that a woman in a video game tee must have raided her boyfriend’s closet.”

Heroine TV – “GeekGirlCon 2013: Saturday Panel Recap” by Lucia

“[Y]ou may be wondering, “What is GeekGirlCon?” It is a celebration of the female geek, inclusiveness in fan communities, and a place to discuss gender and race in geek culture. This was my first time attending, and the third year of the convention. Entertaining and informative, GeekGirlCon felt like a hybrid between a fan convention and an academic conference, with a hint of a job fair thrown in. I went as press, and was very impressed with how well-organized, welcoming, and downright calm the whole thing was. Seattle may be full of over-caffeinated people (of whom I am very much one), but everyone was just relaxed.”

Wonder and Risk – “You’re Welcome Here: Geek Girl Con 2013″ by Elicia Sanchez

“[R]ight at that moment, it hit me. That special indescribable feeling of security and safety that comes over you when you realize you’ve just stumbled upon a safe space where you can just be you. . . . A feeling of belonging and acceptance, like a huge sigh of social anxiety relief. It may seem to some as a stretch to equate a sticker photograph policy to an encompassing feeling of acceptance, but it really was just my first reminder that not just women, but all geeks were free to be themselves here without the leering eyes of some creeper trying to gawk at tight or suggestive cosplay or some asshole trying to get a picture of a fat ‘slave Leia’ to make mockery of on Reddit. I immediately realized this may not be your average nerd gathering.”

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve updated my blog – and there’s been so much that’s happened over the past year!

Highlights include:

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines – which drew research from Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors (and in which I appear!) – screened on PBS Independent Lens.

(Image Credit: Andy Mangels)

I’ve been speaking about Ink-Stained Amazons, Cinematic Warriors, and Superwomen in Modern Mythology through Humanities Washington at libraries, wineries, and schools across the state – and am bookable for 2014!

I had a blast working in Festival Publications for SIFF 2013 – and loved being a minion for a very special secret Whedonverse screening during the Festival, as well as participating in the forum Sheroes in the Media: From Guerrilla Girls to Women in Film.

Spike, Buffy, and Yummy Sushi PJs

First rule of Secret Screening: We don't talk about secret screenings, only about how they make us feel.

Dr. Amy Peloff, Jo Jo Stiletto, and I talked about Geek Feminism at Western Washington’s VikingCon – and we got to meet the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Geek Feminism

With William B. Davis - aka "The Cigarette Smoking Man"

I contributed a chapter on Lost Girl called, “Choosing Her ‘Fae’te: Subversive Sexuality and Lost Girl’s Re/evolutionary Female Hero” for the forthcoming anthology, Heroines of Film and Television (Edited by Norma Jones; Maja Bajac-Carter and Bob Batchelor).

The anthology I edited and contributed to, Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Intellect) was published.

Fan Phenomena: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

And was celebrated with an epic launch party!

Scoobies FTW (Photo: Guy Eats Octopus)

With the help of my friends, there was a Handsy Puppet Joss Whedon, a Naughty Fan Fic Reading, Trivia, Rupert Giles singing “Behind Blue Eyes”, an Author Signing, Band Candy, and Snoopy Dancing. Drink Specials included “The Class Protector” and “Boinking the Undead.” We had music, limited edition GeekGirlCon buttons, squee-tastic photo ops, costumes, Scoobies and Slayerettes galore!!! Grr. Argh!

More Photos of A Night at The Bronze Here.

I got to talk about comics and gender with some of my favorite people at a Velocity Dance Center Speakeasy Conversation – BOOM! POW! COMICS, GENDER + MOVEMENT.

Boom Pow + Red Boots (Photo: Amy Peloff)

And of course, GeekGirlCon had its third annual convention! We had between 4300 and 4700 attendees – and sold out of passes before we even opened our doors on Saturday. Huzzah!

Plus, I got to make moments like this happen.

Something to Sing About (Photo: AltaStation)

And this – Where I experience Pure Joy.

Red, Karen, and Jen! (Photo by Josh Weiner: GeekGirlCon)

Most recently, Dr. Amy Peloff, Jo Jo Stiletto, and I took our Geek Feminism presentations to the National Women Studies Association Conference in Cincinnati. We were thrilled to have an enthusiastic and engaged audience – especially as we were scheduled at the very end of the conference!

What’s next for The Ink-Stained Amazon? There are a few projects on the table, but unless anything extraordinary presents itself I’ll be taking it easy for the rest of the year. (Though I’m always amenable to extraordinary. So if you think of me for something, let me know.)

Last week I was thrilled to participate in several events surrounding the West Coast Premiere of Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines — an inspiring documentary I’ve watched evolve, and helped support, over the past few years.

On Saturday evening, there was a Festival Forum Discussion at the SIFF Film Center at Seattle Center called, “Sheroes in Media: Women and Girls Changing the Game.”

Look at those Sheroes!

Participants included, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan: Director, WONDER WOMEN!; myself: Author, Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology and Programming Director for GeekGirlCon; Daniel Tayara: Reel Grrls youth filmmaker; Megan Gaiser, Chief Creative Strategy Officer and former CEO of Her Interactive, and Marta Smith, IGNITE: Inspiring Girls Now In The Technology Evolution and the audience themselves.

Sunday, the film screened at The Egyptian theater with a post-screening Q&A featuring Kristy, Kelcey Edwards, Andy Mangels of the Wonder Woman Museum and Women of Wonder Day (previously known as “Wonder Woman Day”, cinematographer, Gabriel Miller, representatives from Reel Grrls, and moderator Dustin Kaspar of SIFF.

Afterwards,The Stranger hosted a Superheroine Happy Hour at St. John’s on Capitol Hill — and just around the corner from the Egyptian.

Monday, this Stranger Recommended SIFF pick was featured in a segment on Q13 FOX Morning News promoting Monday’s screening at the Harvard Exit.

In the green room

On the set

Additionally, I was asked by The University of Washington Department of Classics to write a few words on how I got involved with the film and how my experience in the Classics department enhanced my studies at the UW.(Note – The best part of the linked post isn’t what I have to say, but the Tag: “Student Success”)

Check out the Wonder Women! blog for more wonderific photos! Future screenings will also be posted at the blog, lovingly maintained by the film’s Executive Producer, Erin Prather Stafford. (Who I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo with – we’ll just have to get her back to Seattle!)

Haywire

“I don’t wear The Dress.”

I hadn’t heard anything about the new Steven Soderbergh film, Haywire, until about a month before its release. The trailer played at theaters over the holidays and began to show up on television but it didn’t tell me much other than “this is a female led action film.” But it was intriguing enough to put on my must-see list – especially as star, and MMA fighter, Gina Carano , doesn’t look like your average Hollywood action heroine. She actually looks like she could kick ass.

So over the weekend Hubby and I huddled up with some champagne and popcorn at Seattle’s Big Picture theater with the following questions:

Would Mallory Kane be:

a) a ground-breaking female character?
b) a stereotyped female character?
c) a potential icon to serve as reference for future female action protagonists?

The theater was packed, and while waiting, we were treated to these choice words from the drunk assholes behind us:

“I like Girls with Guns! . . . . And Mothra!”

Le Sigh . . . . Yes, I like action heroines and kaiju movies too. But “Girls with Guns?” Women action heroines marketed as titillation for the male gaze, rather than potentially empowering, or even entertaining, pop culture icons for women is part of why their success has been so elusive. (The drunk assholes also hated Hanna – who actually was a “girl” with a gun, and was filmed using firearms more than Kane.)

Carano’s Kane is a woman, and she does have guns. (Her idea of relaxing includes a glass of wine and gun maintenance.) But, thankfully, nowhere in Haywire do we see guns OR Carano fetishized the way we have with say . . . any Angelina Jolie action film.

She’s neither a “female James Bond” or a “female Jason Bourne” as so many reviewers have already stated. (And are descriptives I despise – I hope one day we have enough women action heroes that we can describe them by referencing each other, instead of the iconic male norm).

The plot is fairly non-existent. A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission. The betrayal is a MacGuffin that provides an excuse for 90 minutes of a bad-ass in action. (And, as The Seattle Times’ Moira Macdonald brilliantly notes, with a phrase I wish I’d coined, an opportunity for “Revenge Cornrows.”)

The fighting itself isn’t over the top or stylized, but actually fairly accurate in its brutality and reminiscent of Daniel Craig’s gut-wrenching hand-to-hand combat in Casino Royale. Carano moves fast, I mean really fast, and I couldn’t help thinking about how the fight sequence between Bruce Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game of Death had to be slowed down in order for the movements to be seen and appreciated. Carano’s speed made me wonder if something similar had to be done here.

It’s been pointed out that Carano is not yet as charismatic as she could be, but it should also be said that the dialogue in general is pretty goofy. Choice examples include:

“There’s some water in my backpack. Have some.”

“Turn around, punk.”

“Hey, Wonder Woman. You said your piece. Now shut up.”

“Hold up a sec, Mal. Let’s analyze your options.”

I do want to note, and even applaud, Haywire for actually being a somewhat progressive action movie. Here, as with Kill Bill’s The Bride, we have a female action star who is not hypersexualized. Sure, Kane takes what she wants sexually (namely, Beefcake Channing Tatum), but the story never depends on her sexuality and the camera never reduces her to an object of the male gaze. Even as she scoffs about having to play the “eye candy” (Cinnamon Carter she is not) when she does, it’s a tasteful evening gown rather than an excuse to put her in something as revealing as possible.

As a bonus, she’s generally not laden with some of the stereotypical narrative motivations given to other women action heroes: a literal or metaphorical child in danger (Ripley, Conner, Baltimore, Kiddo) or a rape to avenge (Sonja, Salander, Snowblood).

That said, we’re also never given any real reason to care about Mallory Kane – or whether she succeeds. It’s not that she’s unlikeable, but she’s also neither relatable or compelling.

Haywire is a spy/crime/mystery/revenge flick with an early 1970s-era genre feel, right down to the funky groove of the soundtrack. It’s little more than a tried and true tale of a covert agent betrayed by a greedy ex-lover.

Before the movie Hubby had asked me, “So it’s a female action heroine. But does she have a daddy who trained her, supports her, and is the only man she trusts?”

Why yes, in fact, she does. However could this have been predicted!?!? This ex-Marine is the daughter of what we presume to also be an ex-Marine and who now writes military based fiction. He sends her a signed copy of his latest, Desert Assault, that reads “Semper Fi, always – Love, Dad.” He IS in fact, the only man she can ever trust – a man she “could never lie to.” He says tender Daddy things like, “I haven’t shut my eyes since you were born.”

And would you believe her mother is never ever mentioned?

(So, will everyone who ever wants to write a tough female character please read my book? The daddy/daughter trope is played.)

Kane is the only woman in the film and it’s unclear whether this reinforces her status as a relative anomaly or, as we’re reminded by her former contractor and lover, we’re not meant “to think of her as a woman.” Does not considering her femininity save her from stereotyping, or does it undermine her potential as a progressive female action hero?

I feel it’s a bit of both.

Director Steven Soderbegh told Vulture of Carano that, “I wanted to build something around her, and I was looking to do something immediately, to get my head clear. I wanted to do a spy movie, like a throwback to the sixties, and I thought, Instead of a guy, why not her? I can tell you that this exact sentiment was actually expressed in the 1960s.

The Avengers’ co-producer Sydney Newman recalled that at the time they were replacing an actor on the series he thought the role should be played by a woman. He’s quoted in The Avengers: The Inside Story as saying:

“Why shouldn’t Hendry’s role be played by a woman, I thought. God knows, women were, in life, doing incredible things. . . . A woman [on television] actively physical, attractive and demonstrating intelligence would certainly be fresh and different. Now, thinking about it, it was years ahead of the women’s lib movement as recognized by the media today.”

Keep in mind this was 50 years ago. Is a “throwback to the sixties” moving forward? Perhaps. In the film, Kane [SPOILER] kills an MI6 agent. It could be argued that that Mallory Kane is meant to be a action icon capable of killing Bond. I don’t believe this is the message meant to be sent, but as no other government agency is mentioned by name, MI6 is mentioned repeatedly, and Bond solidified notions about the secret agent in our cultural imagination, it does give one something to ponder.

Regardless, while Haywire is essentially a revenge film with no emotional stakes, it’s also female action film that along with another two other action films, Underworld: Awakening (also with a female lead), and Red Tails, led the weekend box office. When two films with woman protagonists in a typically male genre, and another with an all-black cast, none of which are superhero films, can do that, something right is happening for the greater good of our culture.

*********************************************************************************************
The first five minutes of Haywire are available online.

Heroine Content, which otherwise praised the film, notes that this first scene could be triggering for some, as it initially may look like a domestic violence assault. Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly says of this initial scene that “The brutality is sickening, intensified by the shock of seeing a man whale on a woman with an ugliness that, in the grammar of movies, is traditionally reserved for men on men with the expectation of a fair fight. As it happens, the lady — a covert-ops specialist with the pulp-fiction name of Mallory Kane — can take care of herself.”

This is the most phenomenal review of my book yet. It’s an honor and a compliment from someone I’ve only recently *met* online, but someone that I deeply respect.

And, wow, she completely groked my intent. Thank you, Tricia.

‎”The message of the book comes through loud and clear: This is where we were, this is where we are, and here’s my knowledge-base and the brain-trust of a lot of other smart, strong women – now go use it to make things better for all of us. . . .[T]hroughout the course of the book she doesn’t judge women for their tastes or their preferences, or insist that anyone agree with her point by point. Stuller simply lays out her own experiences as a geek girl, ambassador, and historian, then has the bravery to let the reader decide things for herself.”

And it’s accompanied by a thoughtful companion post.

“What Ink-Stained Amazons provides is deep knowledge about past portrayals of women, effective (and not-so-effective) characterization, and the ruts that storytellers get stuck in.

Self-awareness grows as you read the book. Jennifer is very effective at demonstrating the ways that we truly do write what we know in terms of tropes, relationships with our family, and our own internal biases from a lifetime of experience. Once a writer recognizes his or her own bias – yet another form of rut that can trap our storytelling – that is the path to breaking new ground, making the stories better.

Finally, Jennifer’s book reminds everyone that writers must have empathy, for their characters and for their audience. This book should be a must-read for any writer working in genre storytelling. As a resource for women in fantasy and science fiction who are still searching for that sense of who they are, this book will be a big help as well.”

As always – Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology is available at Amazon, or your local independent book seller.

Last week I attended my fourth Comic Con as a professional. For those who don’t know me, I’m a feminist media critic, pop culture historian, comics scholar, member of the Whedon Studies Association, public speaker, freelance writer, author, and programming director for GeekGirlCon.

One of my passions is making critical thinking fun and accessible. I believe it’s important to ask questions about the media we consume, as well as enjoy, because we are shaped by culture, just as we shape it.

I also believe that criticism does not automatically mean condemnation. (For example, I love the entirely problematic television series, True Blood.)

I was asked to participate on the “Oh, You Sexy Geek” panel by moderator and organizer, Kat Hill (aka Action Flick Chick) along with Bonnie Burton (Grrl.com and Star Wars Craft Book), 
Adrianne Curry (America’s Next Top Model), Clare Grant (Team Unicorn, “G33k & G4m3r Girls”), 
Kiala Kazebee (Nerdist.com), 
Clare Kramer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), 
Nerdy Bird – Jill Pantozzi (“Has Boobs, Reads Comics”), and
 Chris Gore (G4).

I almost didn’t. I respect the women involved, but my main concern was that any criticism about sexuality and gender in the Geek Girl community is immediately interpreted as an “attack” and a decree that “women should not be allowed to do that” rather than the suggestion that when we present ourselves as sexual, we’re interpreted as sexual objects. Or that anyone who suggests that empowerment for the one is not empowerment for the many is just a mean, feminist/not-feminist, jealous, prude who doesn’t like other women. When really, these conversations are so much more complicated – or to my mind they should be.

I also debated whether I wanted to use this opportunity to promote (or destroy) my career. Certainly, more people would know about my work after the session, but I wasn’t sure this was the venue I wanted to use to gain exposure. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to participate in a conversation. Different people have different ideas about whether or not it was an actual discussion and I’ll let readers peruse those responses via the attached links themselves. It’s important to me to present several different ways of considering something, so that you can draw your own conclusions. I’ll also update this post if a video recording of the panel is posted. (I was told it was to be professionally recorded, and apparently, it wasn’t – boo.)

Additionally, I want to stress that I really admire, Kat, for continuing to present and consider an array of opinions, but regardless of her intentions that doesn’t mean that everyone adheres to the idea that we can be supporters of each other even if we have different opinions. And that saddens me as someone who works to create female community. I’m not speaking about any of the panelists – who have been supportive – but to some of the responses online.

This particular discussion went as I expected it to. Most everyone maintained a degree of respect, though there were times when I definitely felt that some voices dominated the conversation. Now, sometimes conversations steer in certain directions; things move quickly, and occasionally erratically, on a panel – especially in front of a GIANT audience. Conversation can be difficult, and understanding takes both time, and learning not just how to listen, but how to listen to what the other is saying. What is their perspective? Where is it coming from and why? Are you saying the same thing but with words so different that it sounds like you are arguing? Is this why suggesting asking questions about why we do what we do, and what the real-world effects are is interpreted as an attack?

I’m glad I got to say a few things that were important to me – and from the response I’ve gotten, important to many of you as well. Thank you for speaking up – it’s incredibly difficult when you know your voice is in the minority. But I also want to stress that I feel it’s important to respect difference of opinion, as well as those who express it. All I can hope for is that I receive the same courtesy.

Because there isn’t video, I wanted to just recap some of the questions that were posed in the session.

Does displaying the sexiness of fangirls benefit or demean them? When geek girls show off, are they liberating themselves or pandering to men? Do some “fake fangirls” blend sex appeal with nerdiness just to appeal to the growing geek/nerd market, or is that question itself unfair? How about sexy fanboys? And what’s up with all the Slave Leias?

And to be honest, I can’t remember all we covered.

But questions I wanted to include in the discussion were:

What IS sexy? (And when we say something is sexy – are we only talking about a specific type of sexy?)

What is the benefit of women making media vs. participating in media that’s being made?

How, or in what ways, are heteronormative depictions of “sexy” damaging?

If geek girls, especially prominent geek girls, are willing to show themselves as objects of male fantasy, why would male-dominated industries such as comics, film, or even television, bother to represent women as anything else? (Additionally, there is a post-feminist idea that if a woman does something, and is okay with it, then that somehow automatically makes it feminist. If something is empowering for the one, is it necessarily empowering for the many?)

Where is the line between exploitation and empowerment?

How can we disagree with each other and still move forward as a community?

I didn’t really want to talk about the “Slave Leia” outfit because that’s one of those issues where people aren’t going to be amenable to critical discussion surrounding it. As I said in my book: Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology:

The “Slave Leia” outfit—as it has come to be known—ensures her status not as an icon of female empowerment and political influence (as she was in the first, and arguably second, film installments) but as an object of heterosexual male fantasy. The pervasive, and perverse, popularity of the outfit is seen throughout popular culture––from parades of “Slave Leias” at Comic Con International to Ross Gellar of the television series Friends admitting it’s one of his sexual fantasies. Admittedly, Leia’s bikini is memorable precisely because it ignited a generation of young boys’ first “funny feelings” and thus serves as nostalgia for sexual awakening. But it’s also troublesome that an outfit a powerful woman was forced to wear in a tactic meant to demean and objectify her, and in which she may have been sexually assaulted (her captor, Jabba, does feel her up with his suggestive tail), has become one of the dominant images of Leia.

In my opinion it’s not hot – it’s demeaning. And that’s because it’s intended to be demeaning. It’s not an outfit that Leia chose as an expression of empowerment or sexuality. The “Slave ” outfit was was forced upon Leia because she was being held as a slave. (And didn’t Carrie Fisher admittedly have an eating disorder – the kind that such exploitative outfits contribute to?) And if it were truly empowering, wouldn’t Leia have freed the other slaves on Jabba’s sail barge?!?!?

Feminism is about changing social and political systems of oppression – not about saving yourself.

(Don’t get me started on the problematic and unexamined use of the word “slave” in reference to sexual arousal.)

Kat brought up the subject of a photo someone sent her of her seven year old daughter in the notorious “Slave Leia” outfit and asked what we thought about that. One panelist’s response to was to joke, “Was she hot?” Another noted that Europe has less Puritanical views regarding the human body, and when I suggested that was different from sexualizing a child, I was asked what I would tell my daughter if she said that was her favorite character? (I never got a chance to answer, but a conversation would definitely be involved. I also came home and read this post on Jezebel about Dance Moms and why it’s important for little girls to be “hot” – to be clear, not what the panelist was saying, just a suggestion that what we say does matter.)

I’m not jealous. I’m not a prude. And I don’t have a problem with skimpy outfits per se. I haven’t put anyone “down” for wearing a costume – or questioned their personal empowerment – and I certainly support women’s right to wear what they want. Especially to wear what they want without being sexually harassed.

What I have a problem with is the emphasis on conventional expressions of sexuality in cosplay being the dominant option. I have a problem with women’s bodies being used to sell product (as in booth babes). And I have a problem with the idea that those options are all we have because that’s the only way women are drawn or portrayed in popular entertainment media. One of the comments I heard on the panel was along the lines of “What are we supposed to do when that’s how the characters we love are drawn or dressed?” [Head. Desk.]

It was also suggested that we simply ignore media we don’t like. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, and it won’t change the status quo. Only talking about it will.

I agree with this assertion from “Feminist in Wonderland: The Women of Comic Con” on The WIP via Ms. that:

“What matters is not whether we wear the seven-inch heels. What matters is whether we have asked ourselves—why do we wear them? If we have not addressed that question, then this is objectification, and it holds all of us back.”

I haven’t heard any feminists assert that feminism is about telling other women what to do, or wear, so don’t know where that response is coming from (see Twitter). But I believe we do need to examine the cultural messages marketed and received by media. We need to teach our children how to read entertainment. And we need to open up our definitions of what is sexy by representing diverse body types, races, ethnicities and sexualities as sexy – as well as emphasizing that sexuality is something to be explored, but not everything has to be “sexy.”

If people are going to make hyperbolic statements about how “if feminism is this or that then count me out” (also, see Twitter) – I’ll play along and say that if feminism is about accepting the status quo and never challenging oppressive systems or asking questions, then I’d like to be counted out of that definition of feminist politics.

I’m also continually frustrated by the post-feminist attitude that cries “If it’s empowering for me, then it’s feminist.” That’s an individualistic and privileged perception that does nothing for feminist activism or social justice.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one. (Yeah. I quoted Spock.)

I also don’t believe that either asking critical questions or difference of opinion is girl-on-girl hate. It was suggested by panelists that women are just bitches and that we are hard-wired to hate each other. I absolutely do not believe this.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’ve just been fortunate to be part of female community and have female mentors. Each year at both Wondercon and Comic Con, cartoonist and herstorian, Trina Robbins and I get together with other women comics scholars for lunch and conversation. Trina has been a wonderful mentor, and is always gracious and available whenever I need research advice, an introduction, or a pull quote. I look to her, and women like her, for inspiration about the kind of woman I’d like to be.

I also believe in fomenting sisterhood through community – something wonderful that is happening through GeekGirlCon.

All in all, I got to name check some of my favorite feminist (and feminist influenced) organizations including Reel Grrls, Bitch Media, Girl Scouts, and GeekGirlCon. I also got to mention Whedonesque Burlesque, where sexy and geeky – the topics we were exploring on the panel – had come together in a creative expression of wonderfully diverse representations of sexuality.

I’m glad I had the chance to try to say something about women and body image, the sexualization of our daughters, understanding media images, and the necessity of creating media making opportunities for women. In trying to expand our definitions of what is beauty and what is sexy, I tried to ask why people who are adamant that the “Slave Leia” outfit is empowering say that they would wear it “if” they had the body. If it’s so empowering, why must you be denied such empowerment?

All of that said, I am horrified that some of my co-panelists found Chris Gore’s comment that he’d like to stick his “penis into every woman on the panel” amusing. His behavior was reprehensible and his comment (which he alternately joked was a “compliment” and “satire”) was completely and totally out of line. It was inappropriate given the context of panel, and not knowing sexual history/orientation of his co-panelists. It felt like street harassment in which someone yells “nice ass” and then calls me a “bitch” for not smiling/lightening up. A couple of people have asked why “the feminists” didn’t say anything. I can’t speak for Kiala – but I can say that it wasn’t my panel, and that it was the moderator’s job to address it. Any comment from me would validate his “humor,” and reinforce the “humorless feminist” label I had tried to joke about – and which was later suggested as the problem of anyone who didn’t get the joke via Gore’s Twitter feed, along with accusations of sexual repression.

Finally, a lot of people have been praising Seth Green as the best part of the panel. I’m also very appreciative of what Seth got the chance to say (even though he admittedly hijacked our panel for several minutes – Oh, Oz . . .) but want to note that:

- The most memorable and praised part of a panel of women is something a dude said.

- Seth said many things I’d been attempting to say through the entire session. Thing is, many of my comments were talked over, and suggestions deflected with humor, but Seth was listened to and respected because he’s a celebrity. Once the conversation got away from him, I brought up the Girl Scouts PSA as a way of attempting to steer the conversation back to the issues at hand.

I’m glad people are talking about various issues involved, and hope the conversations remain civil and enlightening. In fact, I’m going to say here and now, that with the exception of Gore, I respect my co-panelists on the Oh, You Sexy Geek panel and their opinions, no matter how much I might disagree with, or perhaps simply misunderstand, them. If you plan to comment on this post, I ask that you remain civil. I’m the moderator in this space, and I don’t mind if you disagree with me, but if you aren’t being thoughtful, or are being negative rather than critical, I will not approve your comment.

I also would like to say that I’m sure I’m not the only one that didn’t get to say everything they wanted to in our limited time together. What I would like to conclude with is two documentary trailers that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

The first is for a film called Miss Representation (the tagline is, “You can’t be what you can’t see).

 

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection) from on Vimeo.

The second is for History of the Universe as told by Wonder Woman (full disclosure, yeah, I’m in it).

I invite you to watch these and think about the idea that we can’t be what we can’t see, what it is that we are seeing, and how it affects American culture and politics.

Recaps/Reports/Related Reading on the Oh, You Sexy Geek Panel

Oh You Sexy Geek: Live Blog event #SDCC

Feminist Fatale: Comic-Con Recap: Oh, You Sexy Geek!

Jennifer de Guzman: Comic-Con 2011: Oh, You Sexy Geek Recap

Jennifer de Guzman: Oh, You Sexy Geek: The Responses

Angel-Headed Hipster: Hey, You Sexy Geek

It’s not just atheists with a diversity problem…

Stellar Four: The Origins of the Slave Leia Costume

San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Recap (Episode II: Attack of the Princess Naked)

ifanboy SDCC 2011: Panel Report

Costume Drama: Cosplay or Can’t Play, by Bonnie Burton

MTV Geek (Quoted every panelist but me and Clare Kramer – and misspelled Kiala’s name. Thanks, MTV Geek!)

NBC San Diego: Get Your Hands Off My Spandex! (completely misquoted/misunderstood me)

CLARE-ified: Oh, You Sexy Geek! – Comic-Con 2011

Ladies Rule the Day at Comic-Con Thursday

Re-Orientation: Sex and Gender in the Modern World: Oh, You Sexy Geek: SDCC Panel, Gender, Sexuality, And Feminist Waves

Racialicious: On Geekdom and Privilege: Sympathy For The ‘Pretty’?

Ms. Magazine: A Feminist Visits Comic Conhttp://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/07/26/a-feminist-visits-comic-con/

Seattle City Arts: Game Changers

#FFF Fake Fangirl Friday Follow-Up: Oh, You Sexy Geek! San Diego Comic-Con Panel Reactions and Controversies

Day 11 of the gift guide is for the fan of female super and action heroes! It’s the Superwoman edition!

I’ve already gushed about my favorite superwoman, Modesty Blaise, on Day 1 of this gift guide.

So be sure to look there if your Superwoman Geek is a fan of British Spy-fi!

Jaime Sommers

Fans of Bionic Woman, Jaime Sommers, are in luck – The Bionic Woman has finally been released on DVD in the U.S.!

Na-na-na-na-na-na . . .

And for those wanting to know more about the show there’s Bionic Book Reconstructed – a history of both Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man. (With interviews!)

Wonder Woman

Anyone who knows me, or is familiar with my work, knows how influential Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman was on me as a child and on the woman I’ve become.

For those that want to revisit their childhoods, pop culture research junkies like myself, and parents wanting to introduce their children to the Amazon Princess, Wonder Woman The Complete Collection is the perfect gift.

Wonder Woman: The Animated Feature is more for adults than children. (Get the 2-disc special edition for great features! )

The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia by Phil Jimenez and John Wells (and which I reviewed for Bitch) is truly THE guide to the character.

Wonder Woman: The Complete History by Les Daniels is a well-researched and thorough history of the character. And while I don’t care for Daniels’ weird dislike of Gloria Steinem I would still recommend this book for Wonder Woman fans.

Buffy Summers

Buffy Summers is another of my personal favorites when it comes to Superwomen. Get me started talking about the emotional resonance and feminist message of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I’ll never stop. I’ll also probably say things like, “I’m a Slayer. Ask me how.”

As mentioned in Day 5′s post, if your Geek doesn’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer The Complete Series they’ll need it so they can participate in the upcoming Great Buffy Rewatch. Organized by Nikki Stafford and taking place on Tuesday nights throughout 2011, the rewatch will feature a variety of amazing contributors.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 will get your Geek caught up in the world of Buffy and the Scoobies as they lead an army of Slayers against the latest Big Bad.

And Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Panel to Panel from Dark Horse will provide reference to all the non-canonical Buffy comics in a coffee table book format.

Sydney Bristow

I miss Sydney Bristow. From the very first episode of Alias I was hooked on this Superwoman and spy-fi shero. Your Geek can get hooked too, or just revisit the adventures of Sydney and her family of spies with Alias: The Complete Collection.

For context, reference, and those that can’t get enough of the show, its characters, and its mythology, Uncovering Alias: An Unofficial Guide to the Show and Alias Assumed: Sex, Lies And SD-6 make for great reading.

Honey West

Private eyeful Honey West debuted in 1957’s This Girl for Hire – a novel co-written by husband and wife team Gloria and Forrest Fickling under the pseudonym “G.G. Fickling.” In addition to the 10 novels Honey appeared in, she was the star of an eponymous television series in the mid-1960s. (I wrote about her for the Noir Issue of Bitch.)

Fans of Superwomen would enjoy Honey West: This Girl for Hire – the novel that introduces us to the busty blonde detective.

Honey West: The Complete Series – as one of the first American television series to star an action heroine is an absolute joy.

Honey West by John C. Fredriksen provides a guide to the series with episode synopses and interviews.

The Honey West Comic Book from Moonstone – the first two issues of which are written by the great Trina Robbins! (I interviewed Trina about the project here.)

Dr. Catherine Gale and Mrs. Emma Peel

Cathy and Mrs. Peel are two of the first action heroines of television period. Played by Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg respectfully, they were not only beautiful, stylish, and sexy, but smart, talented, fearless and perhaps more capable than their male colleague, John Steed.

Fans of Superwomen will love the The Avengers – The Complete Emma Peel Megaset as well as early episodes featuring Cathy.

Get Christie Love

Get Christie Love started out as a made-for-television movie loosely based on a novel called The Ledger, written by Dorothy Uhnak, who herself had worked with the NYPD. Teresa Graves (Laugh-In) starred as Christie Love – a sassy, skilled, take-no-shit, undercover cop.

Get Christie Love aired as a series during the 1974–5 season making Graves one of the first Black women to headline her own television show. Only the pilot is available on DVD.

The character was modeled after New York Police Detective, Olga Ford, one of the first African American women on the force. Ford served as a consultant on an early episode.

Varla

Tura Satana once said that “You can still be feminine and have balls” and those words describe her just as well as the famous line in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! where her character, Varla, is told “You’re like a velvet glove cast in iron.”

With it’s brash delivery of one-liners, cinematography as stunning as the cleavage on display, and sexually confident, if amoral, women, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a classic film for the Superwoman Geek.

Belted, Buckled, and Booted

For more on Ms. Satana your Geek might enjoy Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film by Jimmy McDonough.

Gina Torres (Or, the Gina Torres Collection.)

Okay, so Gina Torres is not a super or action hero per se – but she’s an Amazon Warrior nevertheless!

Cleopatra 2525

Guilty Pleasure? Feminist message? Exploitation? Let your Geek decide! I, for one love Cleopatra 2525 in all it’s awesome awfulness as well as the teamwork of Hel, Cleo and Sarge. And Torres sings the theme song.

Okay, every Geek already owns Firefly: The Complete Series and Serenity- but since they star Torres as the badass, Zoe Washburne, they need to be listed.

Superwomen Geeks can also catch Torres in Season Four of Angel – or you can go ahead and get the entire series.

Hit-Girl

One of the most fascinating Superwomen to come out of the past year is Chloë Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass.

She was more than just a pint-sized, foul-mouthed assassin (and more than a gimmick). She was the most capable, talented, forceful, and driven person in both the movie version of Kick Ass and the comic book version of Kick Ass.

For more on both, Geeks will appreciate a copy of Kick-Ass: Creating the Comic, Making the Movie.

Recommended Reading for Superwomen Geeks: Criticism and History

Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology

Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture

The Modern Amazons : Warrior Women on Screen

Athena’s Daughters: Television’s New Women Warriors

Girls Who Bite Back: Witches, Mutants, Slayers and Freaks

A Very Short List of Recommended Reading for the fan of Superwomen in Comics

Birds of Prey Vols 1-7 by Gail Simone.

Wonder Woman: The Circle by Gail Simone.

Elektra & Wolverine: The Redeemer by Greg Rucka.

Queen & Country by Greg Rucka.

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka. (See Erica McGillivray’s lovely review from Day 9 of this list.)

Promethea by Alan Moore. (Find out more about Promethea here.)

GoGirl! by Trina Robbins and Anne Timmons.

Huntress: Year One by Ivory Madison.

Yes, Virginia. Women Do Read Comics!

Piggybacking on the International Read Comics in Public Day was Women Read Comics in Public – a photo tumblr created by DC Women Kicking Ass. The site had this to say about the overwhelming turnout:

What a day! So many women have sent in pictures of them reading comics in public, I am not sure I’ve gotten all of them. So if you submitted one and haven’t seen it email me. I am so pleased so many of you took the time to do this. I was scrolling through and I saw such a wide variety of women who all love comics. It kinda got me verklempt. You all rock, you are all awesome and you are the the force needed to keep pushing to make women respected and paid attention to by the comic industry.

DC Women Kicking Ass rocks too for seeing this as an opportunity to show that women actually do read comics – - a fact that the industry increasingly can no longer refute. My hope though is that this isn’t interpreted as “well, women are reading comics so we’ve done our job” but that efforts are made to reach, and more importantly understand, the diverse tastes of female fans and readers.

Like DCWKA, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed when scrolling through the Women Read Comics in Public tumblr. Seeing so many women, of various ages, from all over the world, reading so many different titles and making a statement, I admit, I got a bit verklempt too.

So what did you read in public yesterday?

The Ink-Stained Amazon reads tales of her favorite female hero, Modesty Blaise.

When I was a little girl, Phil Collins released a chart-topping cover version of the classic hit, “You Can’t Hurry Love.” My father, horrified upon hearing this travesty against soul music blasting from my pink boombox, decided it was time to revamp my vinyl collection. Out with the Chipmunk Punk, and the Cabbage Patch Kids, it was time for Motown.

The gift of his record collection began my love affair with The Supremes.

The Supremes

Original member of the legendary girl group, Mary Wilson, who at 66 looks well over a decade younger, recently led a press tour for the opening of the Reflections: The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy Collection – - a retrospective currently being exhibited at Seattle’s Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum (EMP|SFM).

Supreme Legacy Collection

Every few feet into the tour and Q&A, Wilson would stop to engage with children, take photos with them, and do the Cholly Atkins choreographed iconic Stop! In the Name of Love move.

The 46 dresses currently on display range from the early days of the group in the late 1950s until the late 1970s including a white gown from Sax circa 1965ish and the black velvet numbers Bob Mackie designed for Diana Ross’ farewell performance.

Also on display . . .

A green sequined set – complete with a maternity version for Wilson.

Green Sequined Maternity Gown

The exquisite “Butterfly Gowns” – the design on the “wings” correspond to the body.

Butterfly Gown

The “TOUCH” dress – which Mary bought on Hollywood Blvd in 1970s because “Touch” was the title of their upcoming album.

Touch Dress

The “Pink Beaded” gowns designed by Michael Travis and worn for the Royal Command performance in 1968.

Wilson pointed out this double-breasted black coat (that I had drooled over when I saw this exhibit at the V&A) and mentioned that that style is coming back. Then she pointed at me and said – - “Similar to what you have on.” (OMG! Ms. Mary Wilson noticed my outfit!)

Black Double-Breasted Coat

Other gorgeous gowns:



Wilson was inspirational, thoughtful, and kind throughout the tour and was beyond generous in taking additional time for one on one interviews. Here we chat about fashion, race, and the awesomeness of YouTube.

Stuller: I actually first saw this exhibit at the V&A and they situated the whole exhibit in the context of the 1960s and the Civil Rights and Feminist movements.
Wilson: “I love the way they [the V&A] curated it because you did get the story. Here it’s more about the fashion.”

Stuller: And they talked about how the Supremes influenced successful women like Oprah. Yet, you just said on the tour that you girls were “just singing.” Did you not realize at the time that you were breaking all these barriers for women and for people of color?
Wilson: “You know earlier on, it’s a twofold question actually, because being black – - at that time – - you knew what the situation was. Not in the world, but at least in America. You live within a context of your parents always telling you you have to be better because you’re black, and there were certain things you couldn’t do. In the South you couldn’t drink out of water fountains, you couldn’t go to certain restaurants, so all these things you knew, you grew up in that context, that was your world. What you could and could not do was very defined. So when we became famous, obviously we knew that we were in a very different situation because black people hadn’t been that big before. Now I say that with caution, because you have a whole era of people like Lena Horne, Sammy Davis and so on, who were the real pioneers and couldn’t do a lot of things – - and they were stars. But when we came through, America really opened up, and we were not only stars in the black community, we were stars with everyone. So you knew that certain things were just different and that you had to be an example.”

Stuller: “That’s a lot of pressure for three teenage girls.”
Wilson: “It’s a lot of pressure. But, if you have a passion it’s not as hard as one might think. Because you’re saying ‘Wow. This is a challenge.’ And so it brings you up to your higher self, and you try to do the right thing. I’m not saying we always did – you know, because we had chaperones and many times the chaperones were there to keep certain people away – - especially the guys – - and you know, we’d always find ways. But for the bigger picture, yeah, we did know that we were setting an example.”

Stuller: What’s lovely about the exhibit in this space is that you really get to see the dresses, but I loved that the V&A had video footage of the three of you from way back when as teenagers just being sassy girls, dancing and goofing off and we got to see that you weren’t just glamorous, but you were also teens.
Wilson: Oh, yes! And that’s what I liked about the V&A, because in that instance you got the whole story.

Stuller: You were obviously drawn to being glamorous before you got to Motown, did they let you control your physical appearance? For example, did you get to pick your own clothes?
Wilson: “I can say that that was who we were. And Motown would have someone to be there, like chaperones, we always had people to assist us. But the look and all was pretty much something that we always were. But we did have Mrs. Powell, who was our finishing school teacher there at Motown. So we had adults, female adults, to assist us and give advice.”

Stuller: And you’re still singing now?
Wilson: “Yes.”

Stuller: Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Wilson: “Oh Honey, just go on YouTube! I had never been on there until a friend suggested it – and it’s amazing my entire life is there! Wow! Who knew all that was there? You could probably find out more about me there than I could ever remember! I love it. So I’m gonna go there and do my research on myself. Things I’ve forgotten! (laughs)

Stuller: Where is this exhibit going to go in the future, or where would you like to see it go?
Wilson: “My goal is The Met in New York. And I’d like to bring the whole historical idea of it there as well. So I might try to get the Victoria to assist in facilitating that in terms of the whole story so that it’s fashion, but I also think that here in America right now, it’s an ideal time to have that historic story.”

Stuller: Thank you, Ms. Mary Wilson!

More:
Mary Wilson’s Official Site
Reflections: The Mary Wilson Supreme Legacy Collection
The Story of The Supremes from the Mary Wilson Collection
Adventures in Feministory: Ms. Mary Wilson, Supreme Lady