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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Calgary Expo: GO HOME GAMER GIRL

Two possible events happened this last weekend.

In one instance, a group of terrifying misogynists infiltrated a convention, harassed con-goers, and disrupted panels. The convention organizers responded quickly, and brought swift justice down, having them removed from the premises by security and taking steps to ensure that their related events would not be disrupted again.

Alternately, a group of women including cosplayers and comics creators participated in a panel discussion and were later asked to leave by the convention organizers without providing a sufficient reason, but citing that they misrepresented themselves as part of geek culture.

What really happened depends on what side of the media narrative you're on, but it's an interesting case. The podcasting group collectively known as the Honey Badger Brigade raised funds to attend Calgary Expo with a booth to promote founding member Allison Tieman's Xenospora comic. The existence of the comic, as well as a cursory glance at their YouTube channel's uploads, shows that these women have a history of discussing geek culture topics, albeit from a perspective not normally covered. Unfortunately, when pitching their fundraiser, they decided to use some tongue-in-cheek language that, in a clear case of intellectual dishonesty, The Mary Sue used as proof that the Badgers were... well, I'll let you read it for yourself:
“We plan to infiltrate nerd culture cunningly disguised as their own. Each of us has been carefully crafting a persona of nerdiness through decades of dedication to comics, science fiction, fantasy, comedy games and other geekery, waiting for this moment, our moment to slip among the unaware. Once there we will start distributing the totalitarian message that nerd and gamer culture is… perfectly wonderful just as it is and should be left alone to go it’s own way. “
How hideously villainous.

So someone spotted, at their booth, a poster with a GamerGate logo on it (unsurprising, considering that they seem not to be the Listen-And-Believe types that bought the narrative about GamerGate being the most spectacularly unsuccessful cabal of cis-het white males bent on driving women out of gaming) and tweeted the Expo. I'm unsure of the exact timing, but around then Allison and another group member were attending a panel discussion that involved bringing women into comics. I've listened to the audio of the entire panel, and the panelists discussion veered towards feminism and the MRA reaction to it, expressing a lack of understanding of the rift between the two ideologies. Allison spoke up, volunteering to explain her viewpoint as an MRA, and the panelists readily agreed. They spoke for a several minutes in a polite exchange where they even agreed on a few points. The panelist even sounded grateful for bringing a viewpoint she hadn't considered.


The following hours, Twitter was ablaze with outraged people, apparently upset that someone with a different ideology was allowed to set foot on convention ground, let alone have a booth that they paid for with (a lot) of actual, proper money.

The next morning, as they were setting up their booth for the day, the Badgers were approached by Expo staff and advised there were numerous reports of harassment that they'd received regarding Allison's interaction during the panel. They were asked to leave, and additionally that comic creator Allison Tieman was banned from further events planned by the Expo throughout Canada.
Oh, and allegedly Expo staff called the police on the Badgers two days later when they were meeting with fans at a park. Well, the alleged part is the Expo staff calling the cops. The police verifiably showed up:


Yes, I'm aware the timestamp says August 2012. Cosplayer and adult entertainer Anna Cherry is present, though, and she's a recent addition to the group, Weather Channel says it was mid-60s that week, which matches with the mix of light coats and t-shirts, and those are Canadian spring trees, not in mid-summer bloom. Someone in the Badgers apparently doesn't know how to work their damn camera.

If my take of events seems slanted, that's because one side has been far more forthcoming with details than the other. The Expo released a canned statement that serves more to reinforce how good and great they are than to address the events that transpired.


I also can't help but notice that certain outlets (looking at you, Breitbart) have been more than willing to cover this, having interviewed member Karen Straughan, while certain others (stand up, Kotaku) apparently emailed her and offered to interview her a week later. In a 24 hour, on-demand, internet world news cycle, a week may as well be next year.

Now I'm neither an MRA (there but for the grace of etc, etc) nor a feminist (at least, not anymore. I got the message loud and clear that my ilk wasn't welcome), but looking at this from a neutral standpoint, I can't help but boil it down to this:

Calgary Expo accused a group of women of being fake geek girls and told them GO HOME GAMER GIRL because they were guilty of wrongthink, and wrongthink is ungood. 

Picture: Calgary Expo telling women to go home, courtesy NBC's modern Reefer Madness.
For fuck's sake, Liberal Left, we're supposed to be better than this. You don't get to call yourself inclusive when you kick out people that express polite dissent. I have a real problem with people that say out of one side of their mouth "We love and support women and minorities" while saying out of the other "unless you disagree with us.  Then you don't get an opinion and we will do everything to silence you." 

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