Comix Chix Blog: Ep. 5: Stop Rubbing Your Boner On Me!

By October 31, 2012
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Happy Halloween (better known as “scare the crap out of some kids day” – as my Facebook friend, Wenona Kleser calls it), comic book fans!

Appropriately, this week I’m joined on the podcast by two of my favorite cosplayers – Jill “The Nerdy Bird” Pantozzi and Molly McIsaac – to discuss the “Harassment of Cosplay Black Cat” which occurred a few weeks ago at NYCC.

To break it down in the most simple terms for those of you who don’t know what happened – Mandy Caruso, a fashion designer and artist, dressed up as Marvel character Felicia Hardy, better known as “The Black Cat.” This character was originally designed in the late 70s, primarily to be a foil for Spider-Woman. Since, she has appeared in a variety of books, not least amongst them – 2009’s Marvel Divas – a parody of Sex in the City which was intended to draw in a new female readership to the Marvel Universe. It may be needless to say, but I’m going to anyhow, like many female comic book characters, The Black Cat’s costume is designed to be rather sexy.

So, Mandy – for love of this character – put quite a bit of time and effort into preparing her costume for NYCC. Only, upon hitting the show floor, to be stopped by a group of men with video cameras for an interview. This is not an uncommon occurrence for cosplayers, as anyone who has ever been to a comic con knows, those in costume cannot move five feet on the show floor without being stopped for a picture or interview.

What occurred next was nothing short of disgusting. The interviewer – complete with NYCC press badge – proceeded to invite Mandy to “spank [his] ass” and asked her about her bra cup size. Even after she expressed her distaste and discomfort at the line of questioning, the interviewer continued to press forward with very inappropriate questions and engaged the crowd forming around them to jeer at Mandy when she refused to answer questions enthusiastically.

Sadly, the slime-ing of attractive women at comic conventions is none too rare a happenstance. As Jill and Molly relate to us in the podcast, there are several types of men who harass women dressed in costume at these events. There are those guys who do not know they are being creepy and harassing – who need to be educated to this effect and taught how to interact with the opposite sex. And, then there are those who know exactly what they are doing and think it’s funny. Clearly this dude was the latter as opposed to former, and that he was supposedly a member of the press surely only added to his level of entitlement in pursuing a totally inappropriate line of questioning with Mandy.

After hearing about this, I was (as Catherine Tate would say) bothered. Personally, I think that it’s hard enough for women in the comics/geek community – regardless of if they are there due to vocation or avocation – as for years and years, comics/geek pursuits have been thought of by many as “a guy thing.” And, it’s saddening that despite all the major accomplishments that women (such as Jill and Molly and Mandy and pretty much everyone you’ll ever hear on this podcast) have made into solidifying the female place in the geek pantheon, that troglodytes such as this guy (again: a supposed journalist) can undo that all with some crass comments.

The worst part of it for me is that at least half the response to this story – or any story like it – has been “she had it coming because she dressed sexy.”

Um… what’s that you say?

That people actually, really think this way was illustrated the very next day following the recording of today’s podcast by an anonymous poster who left a comment in response to Molly’s October 24 rant on her blog, titled “Cosplay is Not a Permission Slip.”

I have a hard time putting into coherent words how disgusted I am by behavior such as this. The only thing I can say – really – without getting to a point where I get so angry that steam blows out of my ears, is this: For those in the comics/geek community who doubt that misogyny, sexism and the harassment of women “really” occur – look at the two examples in this blog post, which happened only weeks apart, and then multiply them by 1,000 for the women who have stuff like this happen to them and don’t speak out about it (which is far more common than Mandy and Molly’s reaction, sadly). If you still think sexism in comics/geek culture isn’t a problem, you need to get your head examined.

Seriousness aside – the reason I asked both Jill and Molly onto the show was because I wanted to brainstorm with them some effective ways that women can be proactive in stopping this behavior and creating real consequences for those who choose to behave in such a piggish manner. As I do not want to provide too many spoilers for the podcast, you’re just going to have to listen to see what we came up with…

You can follow Jill and Molly on Twitter – @TheNerdyBird and @MollyMcIsaac. And, of course, check out The Mary Sue and Geeky Peacock to see what else these two hilarious and beautiful ladies are up to.

Comix Chix Comics Picks – Wednesday, October 31:

  • Hit Girl #4 by Mark Millar/Geoff Darrow VC (Marvel) – Yesterday, my friend (and local comic shop impresario), Matt Streets hipped me to the fact that on the Geoff Darrow variant Hit Girl comes out in favor of President Obama. If you check out the cover, right under the “t”, you can see faded graffiti in the background that says “Vote Obama 2012.” Right on! For this fact, alone (not conisdering that Hit Girl, herself, is pretty badass), I suggest that you political junky comic fans out there scamper down to your LCS and grab a copy of this variant before it disappears.
  • Rachel Rising #12 by Terry Moore (Abstract) – Recently, in talking to comic book writer Marc Andreyko, I asked him what comic series he absolutely thought I should be reading right now. He stated that Rachel Rising, the newest work from Terry Moore, is an absolute must pull, as it is the work of his career. Coincidentally, Issue #12 is out today. A ghost/detective story with (what Comic Book Resources calls) sublime art, this is a book that I’ll be back-pulling to read over this coming weekend.
  • CBLDF Liberty Annual 2012 #5 by Various (Image) – The Comic book Legal Defense Fund (for those of you not familiar) fights the good fight in protecting the First Amendment rights of comic creators. This year’s annual is out this week, edited for 2012 by Eric Stephenson of Image Comics, and features work by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Jim McCann, Terry Moore, Janet Lee, Ben Templesmith and others. All proceeds from this book go to support the CBLDF.

Thanks for reading/listening and we’ll be back next week with our special guest and comic book scholar, Jennifer K. Stuller.

Comix Chix is recorded for GeekNation at Spark Gap Studios in Chicago, IL. Send comments, questions, recipes and guest requests to us via email comixchixpodcast@gmail.com. Follow Kate on the Twitter @AdorkableGrrl.