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Life Skills for Fanboys:  Women and Cons

written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.

Women and Cons:  Why don’t the ladies show up?

Typically, conventions have been a boys-only or most-boys type event.  But fellas, wouldn’t it be nice to see some nerdy girls walk through the door?  Wouldn’t it be great to have a party or con mixer where it wasn’t such a sausage-fest?  I’m not saying we have to turn the average con into some kind of lacey, doily spectacular.  But what I am saying is there are some problems we should all be aware of and there’s no point in unnecessarily driving the ladies away.

The Con Atmosphere

It’s manly.  Often too manly.  (see the link below on Grooming)  There’s no need for the place to reek of sweat socks and farts.  Hotels are most often used for conventions and they are pretty public places.  Try putting on a t-shirt that isn’t stained, take that shower and comb that mess on your head.  You don’t have to dress to the nines (unless, of course, you’re LARPing), but clean it up.

Pick up your trash.  And if you’re carting around drinks and food, make sure you’re not spilling it everywhere.

Oh, and those knapsacks?  They should not exceed the width of your torso.  It’s crowded at a con.  You don’t have to pack like you’re going to Mordor.  Leave part of your shit in the hotel room or in the car.  You don’t need every die, character sheet and comic book you’ve ever read on your back the entire time.

These aren’t just upgrades so that women come, quite frankly, every convention needs to do this so everyone is more comfortable.

The Vibe

Look, I get it.  Half the time you’re playing in a medieval fantasy world which is inherently sexist.  And I enjoy oggling the hot cosplay girls just as anyone else, but you have to keep the vibe light, friendly and not creepy.  If you want half naked Leia slave girls walking around, those girls have to feel safe.

Be Polite

Say “Hello” when you make eye contact.  Ask those cosplayers if you can take a picture before you just start snapping away.  Be aware of your surroundings.  If you bump into someone, say “Excuse me”.  Don’t go “Whoa!  Shit!  Look at that!” at the top your lungs when you see a girl with a little cleavage.  Be something close to a gentlemen or at least keep your comments to yourself.  Say “Nice costume” not “Nice tits”.

Be nice to people with shitty costumes.  As the old saying goes, “If you don’t have something nice to say, shut the fuck up.”

Be a Man and Set the Example

If Ron Swanson wouldn’t do it or say it, then you probably shouldn’t do it or say it when it comes to the ladies.  Open doors, help people with packages and above all, enforce the politeness outlined in the previous paragraph.  If another fanboy gets out of line, flag him.  “Hey, buddy.  Tone it down.”  Most guys that make vulgar comments to women just don’t know how to talk to them.  You’re doing them a favor by telling them to stop and you’re signaling to the ladies that there are men in the room, so they’ll be fine.

It’s cool to drink, but don’t get sloppy drunk.

Have Something for Women to do

If you’re going to invite women to the con (and you should) at least have one women-centric thing for them.  It doesn’t hurt to have a few women panels and a few dealers with jewelry and clothes and other items that usually appeal to women.  The ladies love to dance, so have a DJ at your con mixer.

Above all, don’t let your games and activities at the con turn into a sexist clique that the girls can’t possibly join.  I’m not saying it has to be geared towards women, I’m just saying it should not be so unappealingly sexist, that women turn tail and run.  Not ever female Dungeons & Dragons character has to be in a chain mail bikini, not every LARPer girl needs to use her feminine wiles to trick the men.

Now sometimes the setting of a game will lend itself to being pretty sexist.  I used to run my Complete Mafia games and Complete Mafia LARPs.  I told the ladies upfront that the game tended to be pretty sexist, but that the game mechanics would still allow them to compete with the male characters.  At least they were prepared if another player made sexist comments.  (I mean, what do you expect, it was the Mafia.)

But even in the Mafia game where characters got bonus points for having sex with each other, graphic detail was omitted and it came down to a dice roll or a card pull.  No one felt uncomfortable, which is key.  We actually had a pretty decent amount of female players in the Mafia LARPs.

Advice for the Ladies

You’ll probably have the pick of the guys at your average con, ladies.  Invite your friends!  But, like the guys, use common sense.

Don’t use your feminine wiles on guys during gaming.  I knew one hot gamer girl who used to do this all the time.  It was a real cheat and not at all fair against the DM and the players.  We get it, you’re hot.  But if you’re not here to play the game, you can get attention anywhere in that low cut top you’re wearing.

Cosplay girls, expect attention.  If you’re in a skin tight costume with your tits hanging out, don’t glare at guys for staring.  Sure, some guys are being creepy.  Maybe they deserve a glare or even a “Get lost, creep!”  But when some overweight, high schooler  comes to his first con and is genuinely hypnotized by your boobies, there’s really no point in emasculating him.  Sometimes guys are creepy, sometimes they’re just genuinely stunned by your funbags.

And if all that attention makes you uncomfortable, get changed.  A convention is not a place for you to sate your ego.  This is a public place and despite the best efforts of these columns and con organizers, no place is going to be 100 percent creep-free.  The rest of the room is trying to make things safe for you and certainly no one deserves to be put in an uncomfortable position, but use common sense.

Don’t drape yourself over a stranger and not expect him to react.  Don’t use your looks to get a favor out of someone and then feign surprise when that person thinks you’re interested in them.  Don’t flaunt your goodies all over the con floor and then become outraged when someone takes a pic.  You’re perfectly welcome to wear those costumes in the privacy of your own home.  If you’re wearing a costume, you’re asking for attention.  If you don’t want it, don’t wear one.

And if someone says your costume is shitty, maybe it isn’t, but maybe it is.  Maybe you have the wrong body type for it.  Personally, I would advise ignoring those comments and just having a good time.  But if you’re going to take comments to heart, maybe you shouldn’t be in a public place wearing a costume.  Again, the con is never going to be 100 percent criticism-free.  If you don’t want public scrutiny, either ignore the comments, stay home or don’t wear a costume.

The Girlfriend-Along

Some tips for the girlfriend that’s been dragged along to a convention.

Don’t panic.  We fanboys are normal people.  We just may be a little too happy to see you.  We don’t get a lot of women in here.

Please don’t walk around calling us geeks, nerds, etc.  Those are our words.  Only we get to use them.

If you’re here for your boyfriend, support him and be nice.  Don’t be pissed off he dragged you here.  You didn’t have to come and you’re really doing him no favors by dissing the convention behind his back.  There are plenty of other guys to date that aren’t into this stuff.  Go ahead.  Hook up with another jock if that’s what you’re into.  But your boyfriend took you here because he wanted to share what he’s into.  At least give it a try.  You’ll be surprised at some of the comic books, games and other geeky swag.  Walk around and try not to judge.

Obesity at Cons

The Art of Conversation


The Line Between Fans and Pros

Geek Elitism

Convention Panels

Convention Volunteers

Food Gifts