Wiscon: My Moments of Fail (that I know of)

1. While in the Green Room, getting ready for the Diversity in Comics panel, I said that comics fandom is still overwhelmingly white. Two of my (white) copanelists corrected me, as did a woman of color sitting at the table, waiting for her panelists, I suspect. I disputed. I realized, later, that I was basing my assertion on comics fandom where I live, which is Minneapolis – Saint Paul, MN. Moreover, I was basing my assertion on my personal experience of attending local comics and science fiction conventions. They are, in my observation, overwhelmingly white.

This does not mean that comics fandom is still overwhelmingly white. It may well be different in other parts of the country, it may be different online. I don’t have the data. Regardless, when I don’t have the facts, I should not argue.

2. There was little diversity on the diversity in comics panel. Four women, one guy, all white. There was some GLBT diversity. There may have been some religious diversity, I’m not sure. There was no racial or ethnic diversity of which I was aware.

Unfortunately, there’s not much I as moderator can do about this. The panel is composed of those who volunteered. So, if you want people of color represented on the panel next year, those folks need to volunteer. Which once again puts the burden of representation on the people of color in a way that I find highly problematic. I’m not sure how to get around this one.

Also, diversity in comics is just a big problem in general.

3. What do you do when a guy walks up to your all-female group of friends and begins mansplaining how to get lunch in Madison? Well, if you are me, you thank him for his offer, refuse his help, turn your back on him while he is still talking, and continue talking to your friends as if he’s not there.

It occurred to me much later that there are many reasons a person could have this conversational approach. And that not all of them amount to “he’s a complete asshole.” For instance, this is the conversational approach my son has in social situations. And it occurred to me much later that I am often a bit quick on the assholery myself, and could afford to give others a little more leeway before socially cutting them with a metaphorical lightsaber.

If you are that guy, I apologise for being so quick to judge. If you are that guy and you really are an asshole who mansplains to random women instead of conversing with them, I’m sure you will frequently get the treatment I gave you.

One Response

  1. Honestly, I’d like to see some actual statistics regarding the breakdown of comics fandom. The thing is, I started off life on a Nightwing mailing list that was overwhealmingly female. I mean, we had a few token dudes and that was it. Now on Tumblr I’m seeing a lot more diversity… but I wonder if it’s just places for like minds to come together, and that’s not a representation of all the, say, trans people in fandom… but actually IS all the trans people in fandom LOL. But yes, when I walk into a comic shop or comic convention… the white maleness of the space is almost intimidating. Also, I have a long history of being treated poorly in those fandom environments so I’m suspicious.

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