Baltimore Comic-Con 2018: #MeToo and Geekdom Highlights
This discussion on discussion on the intersection between geek culture and sexual harassment, assault, and rape was one of the most important panels that I felt I was able to attend. There wasn’t many big panels this year in terms of covering mainstream topics, so this was up there in those that you had to sit down for. Not to mention this was another that you could appreciate because the panelists were all female. It would have been a tragedy if this were not the case.
For the #MeToo and Geekdom panel, the Panelists consisted of Belle Burr, Brittany Marriott, Ashley Dickerson, Alley Shelley, and Katherine McClain.As with most panels, it started off very nice with each woman on the panel introducing themselves. and each of them were very diverse in what they do. Off the bat they wasted little time jumping into different experiences that each of them dealt with. It wasn’t anything specific about the story they had to share, and that opened the floor to many varying examples where they have felt uncomfortable in the past. The one which stuck with me most was the topic of cosplay considering we were at a convention. Never can it be said enough how important it is to know your boundaries when approaching a cosplayer, and understanding that just because a cosplayer shows skin does not mean that you have the consent to touch.
This was also very informative and inclusive. They made sure that they covered the full spectrum of who is included in the #MeToo movement. It is always very crucial that they even address the fact that this movement also applies to men as well. It is easy for your average guy to turn their nose because they think what is being said is that this only happens to women, but men go through the same thing to which they made sure was known (Terry Crews pointed out as example).
The most important conversation that came from this panel to me was when they jumped into what it means to say no and walk away from something you aren’t comfortable with. These days that is a tough decision to make with anything you do with a company or production. When you give a no and walk away, there’s no stopping those people from taking that no as if you are saying no to everything or taking it offensively. Obviously the worst result from this is being blacklisted, but to hear a story where one of the panelists simply didn’t care about that was powerful. While fearing that kind of consequence is wrong, there’s nothing better than saying no and being able to keep your dignity. Especially when you neither agree with the writing or the pay that other men are getting.
Another thing which stood out was the strength that comes with the story told about what it is like to be cast simply based on the color of your skin. That was something I found tough to absorb because we should be making more progress towards an industry that doesn’t discriminate because your skin may be too dark. It doesn’t matter if the audience isn’t ready for this or that, it should matter that the person playing the part is the right person. Quality of the actress should stand out above all, and nothing brings more harm to someone’s mindset than being told that your use is limited based on your appearance.
The ways in which they discussed people combating against these problems was just as engaging as the stories told. This is a problem that you have to be fully aware of in order to stop it when you see it, walk away before it turns into something worse, and be the hero someone wishes you to be when you see someone violating another.
Courtesy of Pop Culture Uncovered, here is a link to the full panel below.