One of my favorite past times is attending comic book, pop culture conventions. On average I go to five to six a year. What I love about these gatherings is the mutual love of books, movies, comics, video games, and our most beloved characters. As you walk the convention floor you might see a Darryl from The Walking Dead, a Xena Warrior Princess, and even a Sonic The Hedgehog. Why? Because these are the things we all love.
Some conventions are small, some are big, and others are industry exclusive. If you’ve ever attended one, you may find yourself talking to a stranger, who will inevitably may ask you a question like “What’s your favorite comic book character?” Thus spewing a whole conversation and perhaps even forging a friendship all because of your love of this one (or many) comic book or character. It’s that love and dedication that keeps us coming back week after week, month after month to get our “new” issue. We have to know what happens, we get invested. We attend conventions.
As a woman who reads multiple comic books, and plays a plethora of video games, there is a some times unspoken undertone when I go to make a purchase. It doesn’t happen every time, but one time is too many. I once walked up to a counter with a few issues of Lock and Key, Magneto, Harley Quinn, and X-Men. I placed my books on the counter, and as the clerk started ringing me up they asked “Are these for your husband?” My whole world came to an abrupt stop as I looked into this person’s eyes and asked, “Why would you think that they weren’t for me? Upon which I received one of the most blank stares I’ve ever seen.
It’s astonishing how someone could even ask a perfect stranger a rather personal question such as that, because if you think about it, you’d be telling them if you were married or single or if you had a husband or wife. Because not every woman has a husband. Not every woman reads (pardon me for a sec while I try to remember a “girly” magazine name)—Cosmopolitan or Better Homes and Gardens. Heck, some can’t even remember what they are called.
Even as I browse booths I’ll sometimes be overlooked as a guy next to me asks a million questions about the storylines of Green Arrow, while I have books in hand ready to buy. Literally I’m ready to hand over my cash. My questions will be answered with careless whimsy, as if I wouldn’t understand the deep complexity of The Winter Soldier. In fact, just yesterday, I over heard a guy at the booth tell a man standing next to me that if he bought all three of the hardback comics, he would probably get a deal. Meanwhile, since I already had the first one (dedication) I had to pay some astronomical price. I also feel it was because I was a girl.
At one convention I did a “test”. I wore a mask, I think it was “Hulk”. I walked up to a few booths, and the way I was treated was so much more engaging than if I had not had anything on. It was only as I went to look into my bag for money and had to lift the mask was the clerk surprised. I chuckled to myself.
Fast forward to another convention where I wore a corseted Captain America outfit, renaissance style corset, long flowing gown, and red white and blue ribbons in my hair. At the other spectrum, I was almost treated like a damsel in distress, a lost girl, as the guys working the booth tried to over help me look for a comic. Trust me, I know what I’m looking for when I go to convention, a comic book shop, or a video game store.
I hope the day comes where everyone can feel comfortable buying any comic book, playing any video game and liking any character they want without having to justify it to anybody. In this world with so many advances in technology and creativity, you would think that gender lines wouldn’t be drawn in geekdom. I firmly believe it starts when you’re young, both at home and at school. We as adults have to teach the children that it’s okay to be who they are, and like what makes them happy. Children aren’t born with these attitudes.
One thing that is clear, women do have a place in the geek world. We have likes and dislikes just like any guy out there. We don’t need to be treated special. We don’t need a discount. And we certainly aren’t buying that for “our husband.”