An Open Letter to the Internet, Simon Pegg, and His Followers

WARNING: This post contains language. Sorry mum.

I’d like to start with saying I like Simon Pegg. And while my feelings about him wavered, I still do.  When I first read the Storify, my thought was Aw, Simon Pegg, why do you gotta be like that? We had such fun times together, you and I. So many laughs. And then you retweeted me, and then stuff got ugly.

And we’ll get in to that shortly.

I would like to continue laying some foundations to this post by thanking Simon Pegg for this tweet:

Please do not lay into anybody on my behalf. The original tweeter is entirely entitled to her opinion. It’s an interesting debate.

— Simon Pegg (@simonpegg) July 17, 2012

Let it be known, I did not create this Storify. It is clearly by @cnstoker, who I told later I supported because we need to talk about this sort of thing.  As I wanted to share the conversation within the Storify, I retweeted it, thusly:

Turns out @simonpegg can be a bit of an unenlightened jerk > storify.com/cnstoker/cospl… (IMO similar to gizmodo.com/5915473/asus-h…)

I also tweeted these:

It’s an apology! (without an “if/but” too!) twitter.com/simonpegg/stat… Dear @simonpegg, just educate yourself & accept others’ info.

— Emma Jenkin (@indeedemma) July 17, 2012

.@simonpegg assures he did not intend to offend. Posting cosplay women with a drooling sounds was NOT intended to objectify. Lesson learnt.

— Emma Jenkin (@indeedemma) July 17, 2012

Simon Pegg retweeted the first tweet (and only the first tweet), and within seconds my feed was inundated with responses from his followers.

I was called the following things: bigoted, sensitive, pretentious, cupcake, cunt, fucking cunt, douche, dear, jerk, childish, miserable dumb bitch, self righteous guff, giving geeks a bad name, miserable, angry, unenlightened, poser geek, worst type of person, insipid bimbo, stupid, a bell end, a little bit crazy, and perhaps most interestingly, Mrs. Jenkins, which is neither my correct surname nor the appropriate title by which to call me.

And yes, I was told by so many, to get back to making sandwiches.

I watched my screen, physically shaking, and on the verge of tears. I had to get to a meeting almost right away, and told my friend there what had passed in the previous fifteen minutes.

This is how he reacted:

And you know what? I laughed too. I thanked him for making light of the situation. There is such worse going on in my city, and most definitely around the world. Having Simon Pegg’s followers hurl insults at me might be one of the primo #firstworldproblems.

But I agree with Mr. Pegg in that it’s an interesting debate, so let’s get down to it! Did you know what I was really upset about? You know why I called him an unenlightened jerk*? This.

@cnstoker BORING!

— Simon Pegg (@simonpegg) July 17, 2012

(*I apologize for using the word “jerk.” By using an insult, I cannot count myself to be much better than all those strangers who insulted me. However, as far as the complexities of gender relations and how they fit within the geek universe, it appears Simon Pegg, and countless others, could still use some enlightening.)

Calling someone’s points about the alienation women face because of comments like yours “BORING!” is not helpful. It’s not helpful. You have a huge following, and they respect what you have to say.  Go ahead and disagree, and argue the point, but dismiss it? That’s not helpful.

I didn’t make my main issue clear earlier today. Nor did I try to on twitter. Rather than trying to limit logic to 140 characters, I’ve pulled some of the most popular tweet topics I received today here. None of these questions came from Simon Pegg, just some of his millions of followers. So all you who tweeted at me, see if you can find your tweet in the list below!

But they wanted to be sexualized, otherwise why would they dress that way!

Possibly they did. They look very good in those costumes –

-I reiterate, my main issue is with Simon Pegg calling someone’s legitimate complaints about the objectification of women, and the alienation of women from the geek world BORING!  I feel that there are ways to say these women look good in their costumes without drooling, perhaps even addressing their dedication to Star Wars.

But the argument that “If you don’t want to attract negative attention, don’t dress that way” is why things like SlutWalk exist. I am not equating sexual violence with posting a picture of some very accomplished cosplayers, but I am claiming that the belief that dressing a certain way asks for sexual attention, automatically and in every instance, is flawed. Sometimes an individual will present themselves in order to attract sexual attention. But not always.

But men are sexualized too!

Ah, some real meat!

Ok, first of all, Google “False Equivalence.” Or better yet, check this awesome comic by the genius David Willis that makes the points in… comic form.

As for the surprising number of people who told me that because I watched Magic Mike I’m a hypocrite, I should let you know I have not seen Magic Mike. Nor do I plan to. And you know what? That movie, focused on naked writhing men, is still all about men’s sexual dominance.

But Aragorn! And Captain Jack Sparrow! Again, these men are powerful, and main drivers of the plot, not used as decoration. Now, I know, the title of this series is Feminist Frequency, and anything with the word “feminist” can be scary, but you should watch it. The Tropes vs. Woman series in particular is terrific. As a movie buff myself, the video on the Bechdel Test was very enjoyable too.

But Princess Leia is sexual objectification made incarnate! 

So to those who dared question my geek cred, I was raised on Dr. Who and TNG by my parents. I was up before 6am to watch the Dr Who episodes from the first four doctors (#4 is my favourite). My parents let me skip school to watch Episodes IV-VI of Star Wars when they were remastered in theatres. I’m watching Firefly as I write this. I recently rewatched all of Buffy. I can sing along to every word of Once More With Feeling and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog. I could go on. Really, I could.

In fact, I sort of will, and show how Slave Leia is more than mere sexual objectification made incarnate:

The scene opens on Jabba the Hutt’s ship. Princess Leia, stripped to a gold bikini lounges on a dais, a shackle around her neck. She is captive, she is sexualized, a galactic monarch reduced to a slave.

But, as a battle breaks out and escalates on the ship, she strangles Jabba the Hutt with the very chains that made her bonds, single-handedly, to death.

So, you know, there is something to Princess Leia, even golden bikini Princess Leia, beyond her golden-bikini-ness. She can slay villains like the rest of the Rebel Alliance – what a character to embody in cosplay!

It’s odd, isn’t it, that the way people (men and women) try to argue that we’ve reached equality, and we don’t have a need for feminism, is by hurling extremely offensive and harassing messages in an effort to scare someone in to silence.

@TheUnchosen_One @indeedemma @cnstoker Let us prove that geekdom isn’t sexist by harassing women who point out sexism! That’s smart.

— satan.gif (@criticalbrit) July 17, 2012

@indeedemma This is like Anita Sarkeesianall over again. You mean a woman has feelings about what men say about women? ATTACK THE BITCH!

— charlie kelly. (@fairyocarina) July 17, 2012

Simon Pegg, and Simon Pegg’s followers, I would love to debate the role of women in science fiction, and women fans in the geek universe. It should be noted that debates don’t include calling anyone a fucking cunt. And there were those online who acknowledged this. I want to thank those individuals, and all my friends and strangers who offered their support. You really don’t know how important a “Head up, Billy buddy” tweet is. Honestly. Thank you.

@simonpegg @indeedemmaIt’s a shame that a pretty polite disagreement between two people has been taken by others as an excuse for abuse.

— Adam S. Leslie (@adamsleslie) July 17, 2012

@indeedemma I don’t agree with your views, but I don’t agree to people insulting you either. Keep your chin up :)

— Baylea Hart (@bayleaisosiris) July 17, 2012

@indeedemma unfortunately some ppl don’t realise every1 allowed an opinion. I’m a fan of his BUT I’m not part of the lynch mob #riseabove x

— Laura (@laura_laxton) July 17, 2012

Ah, another day, another example of how Geek Culture empowers nerdboy entitlement (and fuels misogyny) at the expense of girls and women.

— Kath Halloran (@lifeonqueen) July 17, 2012

So if you’d like to have a mature, informed, debate about women and science fiction, I’d really enjoy it. Be warned, I’ll have my Derailment Bingo Card with me — I’ve already filled it based on arguments from today:

So close! Maybe next time, internet. Maybe next time.

UPDATE:

@indeedemma For the record, I RT’d you because on reflection I somewhat deserved it. Never to get you into bother with knee jerk supporters.

— Simon Pegg (@simonpegg) July 18, 2012

.@simonpegg I believe you! I was tickled pink to see you RTd me, less enthused by the fallout. Hope you had a chance to see my blog. Chums?

— Emma Jenkin (@indeedemma) July 18, 2012

UPDATE:

Stephanie Guthrie and I were on CKUT Montreal this morning to discuss women, the online community, and geek culture. You can listen to it here.
UPDATE:

Simon Pegg himself blogged about the exchange. Blogs are such a good medium through which to elaborate on points, and stretch those literary elbows. While we can certainly put a pin in the whole Leia-gate I’ve still been having such great conversations about geek fandom, the status quo (which is not quo) and all that jazz.  While this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to a celebrity (apart from that time I met Penn Jillette in Las Vegas, because that was awesome), and do wish it hadn’t started in such a rough way, Simon Pegg, I tip my hat to you.

Imagine I’m looking really cool while I do it too, like this:

94 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Internet, Simon Pegg, and His Followers

  1. Emma, I really appreciate you joining this conversation. Luckily we’ve found new people to follow (each other, hooray!). The staring at the screen shaking was a reaction I had, too. Intellectually, you know you don’t care what assholes think, but being called a cunt (and everything else), being told you just need dick, being told you should kill yourself–that shit gives a lot of women an emotional reaction, because it’s a reminder that many people think harassing you into silence is a perfectly valid response to you articulating your experience and alienation. That response of being shaken is a valid one, even as we recognize the douchery of the people making us feel that way.

    • Hi Courtney,
      Thanks for your words of support. I am still very open to disagreement. And I have friends who disagree with me on the topic, and even mock my points, but do so without resorting to verbal harassment or as a knee-jerk reaction defending a celebrity. But as you can see, much of the conversation happening on this blog is of the mature and well-thought-out variety, which is terrific.

  2. Derailment bingo, very funny indeed. I now need to learn those phrases so I don’t sound like an ass in the future.

    • If the internet coders could find a way to filter comments and tweets using Derailment Bingo the internet could actually be filled with engaging debate! Ah, one can dream.

  3. I am a man.
    I think women who dress in cosplay outfits can be hot.
    I think that men dressing up in cosplay outfits can be pretty cool too (though we tend to have the less anatomically correct costumes ala “false equivalence”).
    More importantly, while I could look at a woman in a cosplay outfit and think that she was beautiful, I know that I am compeltely objectifying her. Not because I am thinking i want to rip her costume off and do dirty things, but because I will never meet her and am not thinking beyond the immediatley apparent and only interaction I will ever have of her.
    Don’t get me wrong, this is not a demeaning thing, this is exactly how I feel about everyone I have never met nor will ever meet. they either visually please me or they don’t. That doesn’t mean anything less of them in my eyes, it simply means that they are not in my life.
    I have friends who cosplay (in another country) and I look at their photo’s on facebook and wish I could be playing, I don’t look at them lustily because I know them, I have a connection to and with them. They are not two dimensional images/art to my life.
    Yes, this may sound callous, it may sound shallow, but if I had to imagine the complexities and intricacies of every person whose image I saw on the web, I would never do anything, ever.
    Have you ever heard of “The Monkeysphere”?
    http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html
    Go check it out.
    Now, with that in mind, I would compeltely agree that if I leered at a women dressed in cosplay (or anything for that matter) when she was physically present or if she was in some way connected to me, it would be COMPLETELY OUT OF ORDER.
    in fact, my wife (who also appreciates fine examples of men and women she sees on the internet) and I have given each other permission slips, you know, there are five famous people that if you ever got the chance to sleep with it would be ok? The rules are simple.
    1. They must be impossible.
    2. Even if the chance arose, the list is a ficticious piece of bullshit.
    I.e. we can both play the game and express sexual attraction to fantasy people (who do exist yet we can’t see them because we don’t know them beyond the imagery we see on the web etc), but if by some uniquely bizarre twist the fantasy came close to reality then the game is called off because that’s what it is. A game.

    ok, after that long diatribe, back to what YOU took issue with, the dissmissive response to views that someone else has is plain wrong. Especially when you are in a position to influence many others and I am in complete agreement with you.

    • Hi Barry,
      Thanks for the Monkeysphere – I have read many a Cracked article in my day, but not that one. Who knew using monkeys to clarify human behaviour could be so… accurate? One cannot deny that the women looked incredible, and for men and women who are sexually attracted to good looking women, well, there’s going to be some sexual attraction. How can I possibly complain about that – we are all, in a way, monkeys, are we not? Thank you for seeing past that first tweet and on to the real meat of the discussion!

    • If I may, we all have a rather unnuanced thought about strangers, and make reductions, and yes, it’s absolutely necessary if we’re going to get other things done. No one wants to play thought police and say “you can’t think that a person in a sexy costume is sexy” or even “you can’t see a person in a sexy costume and not think ‘ooh, I wanna get with that!'” because it’s not realistic. People who are sexually wired are going to have sexualized thoughts, often ones that would be utterly impolitic to be uttered out loud.

      The problem here began, though, because someone did utter their thoughts “out loud.” to an audience of 2 million+, and the particular brand of “impoliteness” (a completely inadequate descriptor, under the circumstances) of their thoughts is the sort that underpins and is used to justify the harassment and mistreatment of the people he will swear up and down he was “complimenting” when, in fact, he was casting those actual people as donuts, food, not people worthy of respect but merely things to be consumed.

      Thoughts are personal acts. Your thoughts don’t have an impact on anyone until you put them into word or deed. No one is legitimately concerned until that point but you, but while your thoughts are personal, one would hope that you are thinking about whether and how you want to turn them loose to the public, and recognizing that is a right and wrong way to go about responding to the reaction that you get, if and when you do.

      • Hi Amadi,
        What a great comment on an under-discussed side of this issue. The internet, as awesome as it is, blurs (if not destroys entirely) the line between personal thought and public announcement. We’ve all taken our fair share of flak, so let’s get on to contributing to a healthy public discourse!

      • You make a good point – but there is also a right way and a wrong way to proactively confront someone expressing something disagreeable, and picking a fight isn’t it.

        Being sensitive to others has to cut both ways – and going on the attack (rather than opening a dialogue) will just provoke a defensive reaction.

      • Amadi, you are absolutely correct. I stated PHYSICALLY present but in truth you are right, presence/platform, if you can be heard, you have a two way communication stream and thus have further reaching consequences to your thoughts.

        [quote]
        …was casting those actual people as donuts, food, not people worthy of respect but merely things to be consumed.
        [/quote]

        I also agree with you on this, however I think that this links back to the way humanity interacts these days. We consume data, we consume information, we consume what we find on the internet. Look up content consumption on the Bing, there are many many articles relating to this. (I am not attacking your view btw, just exploring your choice of words for some further debate :) )

        With that in mind, I look at the hundreds of images that get sent past me on a daily basis though facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and many more. Humour showing people at their best and worst, advertising, things of interest and more, my poor brain allocates exactly one second to deciding if I a) find it appealing in any fashion and b) if I should pass it further along my personal social chain.

        One thing I would like to point out here is that advertisers very often are completely responsible for objectifying sex. Let’s face it, sex sells products. If your product isn’t “sexy”, its doomed unless you can create a air of sexiness somewhere.

        Burgers aren’t sexy, but holy cow, go and search bing images or google images for burger adverts and you will see hundreds of sexy poses, innuendo’s and campaigns using sex in some way to make the product more attractive.

        Anyway, just some musings :)

  4. Thanks for that take on the story – I find your telling to be far more balanced that the original Storify. There’s a lot of things that stick in my craw about the whole affair – the accusations from the original conversant that Pegg ‘sicced’ his followers on her when she was the one who made the exchange public being a big one, and the fact that I don’t believe that she had any intention in starting that conversation other than picking a target and shouting him down pour encourage les autres – but the points you make are valid and very worthy of discussion.

    I just wish that discussion happened, instead of a steaming heap of ad-hominems, strawmen and inflated accusations.

    The sort of online hounding that happened is unforgivable, and anyone who participates in is an unmitigated, tripledecker shitburger and can’t be condoned. I support free speech and I’m very loath to jump to accusations (or on to a shaky high horse of moral superiority), but disagreeing with someone and calling them out over something they said, NEVER warrants the kind of abuse that was heaped upon you, her or anyone else.

    • Thank you for this. There is such good conversation to be had, and valid disagreements to be made. This can all happen without resorting to verbal abuse. And I think every time some level-headed conversation takes places, an internet kitten is born. So let’s have more of that!

      • Yeppers. It’s not just the abuse, though the abuse is egregious – it’s the malicious use of truly vile sexist language (and undoubtedly thinking it’s funny) that these people use while trying to do whatever fuckwittery they’re trying to do. It helps nobody, including those who disagree with @cnstoker’s original take on Pegg’s tweet.

        To clarify that statement, I think she blew it out of context, and out of proportion, and that she was spoiling for a fight to make public, and by so doing make a point. That Storify was rolled out FAST, and I believe it brought most of the ensuing attention on to her (because Pegg didn’t tweet her handle or ‘sic’ anyone on her). I disagree with that. I don’t think that he was being malicious like she implied, nor even terribly conscious of the implications of his tweet – I think he was just making a stream-of-consciousness, throwaway comment into the howling tornado of internet ‘dialogue’.

        Now, that said I’m sure that much solid discussion could be had over the nature of what he tweeted, and why it could be construed as offensive, but that didn’t happen. Instead, she took it as a deliberate insult, not a cue for a discussion, and the snowball started to roll. This isn’t to blame her for taking it badly – that’s her prerogative and I’m not going to debate that – but really, to all of those who disagree with her, did you really think that deliberately attacking her with vile sexist language will in any way help further discussion on this topic, or eliminate misunderstandings?

        Hell no. Thanks guys, you just made it worse, all for a cheap internet snigger. The middle ground will never be found so long as butthurt fucknuggets insist on stirring the pot and keeping the wound open – and I apply that equally toward trolls and baiters, since both act not in the interests of fostering dialogue, but instead toward scoring some kind of esoteric internetz points and/or eliminating dialogue and viewpoints with which they disagree.

        Dialogue needs understanding and empathy for both sides, and I didn’t see a whole hell of a lot of that in this nasty little affair, except here.

      • “Dialogue needs understanding and empathy for both sides, and I didn’t see a whole hell of a lot of that in this nasty little affair, except here.” Thank you! Twitter’s the easiest place to engage with strangers with differing views, but the hardest place to formulate level-headed thoughts, thus the blog post.

        The tweets and the Storify riled up a bunch of nastiness, but I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the nasties are waning and moving on, and some decent debate can flourish.

  5. You seem to gloss over a key point in this post. You insulted a stranger in a public place and copied him in just to make sure he saw the insult. Are there other situations where you would do this? Would you copy in a work colleague on an email to insult them? Would you drag a stranger off the street to let them know they were an ‘unenlightened jerk’? Don’t run with the trolls then act surprised when they turn around and bite you. You have plenty of interesting points to make but by choosing to attack rather than engage they have been lost. All @cnstoker has done is reinforce the stereotype of feminists as joyless militants and you have helped to spread this message. Don’t feed the trolls because they are always hungry.

    Why not blog about pushing Marvel draw a female superhero who doesn’t have her butt stuck out all the time? I bet you would get massive amounts of support from the geek community including Simon Pegg and some of the people who insulted you last night. I’ve just read your bingo card and you could clearly pass my comment off as ‘you are damaging your case by being so aggressive’ if you want to but that is not my point. You case is still valid but no one can hear it right now.

    • You’re right! I should never treat celebrities like people and should always treat sexism with politeness and deference.

      • I think you might just have missed the point of that posting.
        What you had to say was perfectly valid and you were justified to have a strong emotional response whether posted by a celeb or not.
        But does a strong emotional response justify an attack in a way you would never do in person?
        I don’t think so.
        Next time (and there will be a next time because this is far from the first and by no means the last time that someone will offend you and your views), be a little more sensitive yourself. Change your tactic and ask the poster if they knew how offensive their comment was, rather than launching WW3 at them so that their only option is to go into defensive mode and back away from the “crazy lady”.

      • Hi Barry, I’m not sure if the “being more sensitive” part was meant for myself or the creator of the Storify. I believe this tweet (again, not mine, but @cnstoker’s): “I research cosplay & do it myself, & I’ve spoken w/women who are hurt by this kind of attitude or who don’t cosplay b/c of it.” does just that – highlights unintended and harmful repercussions, not so much launching WW3 or acting like a crazy lady. But again, I’m glad the conversation has shifted away from the “you’re just a man-hating, ugly, gay-loving feminist” (which I have been called – OK, I am a gay-loving feminist, but now man-hating or ugly) stage and on to more constructive debate. And thanks for being part of it. The good part, I mean.

      • Sorry I’m lost. Are you saying this is how you treat all people? I’m sure you have many posts to respond to and feel that a quick glib response proves your point but it would be nice if you could read my comment before dismissing it. You have good points to make but they have been lost by the way you made them. Engage don’t attack.

      • I can’t reply to the previous question…

        The be sensitive comment was directed at the commenter @cnstoker :)

        My point still stands, in her storify piece, she attacks first, justifies later – 12 interactions later. By that time anybody has already repositioned themselves from “rational debate” to “who is this person and how do I get rid of them” The debate will never happen.

        Had @cnstoker started her interaction with “@simonpegg I’m hurt by what you said about those cosplayers. Please understand female cosplayers are hurt by objectification like that :(” I think it would have played out VERY differently.

        Anyway, all I am saying is that we all let our emotions rule us and as soon as emotion gets involved our judgement becomes impaired.
        it is far easier to write coherent thoughts post the fact than it would have been to be reacting instantly at the time :)

      • Thank you for actually reading my comment and responding to it in a measured way. Thanks for the link too, really great blog.

        I don’t really agree with your reasoning but that’s life really. Good luck with the blogging.

  6. Thanks for this thoughtful article. Sorry if my reply is a bit sprawling and disjointed, but hopefully it will make some sense.

    I honestly think that people need to stop pretending ‘geek culture’ or ‘the geek community’ exists. People who share an interest in massively commercial products aren’t a community. ‘Geek’ as a term itself is something I find misleading and which has little to do with the interests it supposedly entails. I mean, you mention Doctor Who here. EVERYONE (well, in Britain anyway) likes Doctor Who, and has since the 60s (bar the hiatus years). Kids, mums, dads, students, lots of people from every demographic and background imaginable love that show. Same with Star Wars etc. I will come back to this later (I promise!)

    Now, as a grad student (and no, I’m not part of the ‘post-grad community’ or ‘post-grad culture’) I am very sympathetic to feminism as I have read many great works by feminist historians. Moreover, the history I study illustrates perfectly the marginalised position women have often been forced to take in society and the tropes that powerful men have used to justify this uneven relationship. But the reason sexism has remained so strong in modern society is that it has become so reinforced as to become invisible. So, yes, ‘drooling’ over women wearing skimpy clothes is reinforcing the idea of male possession of female sexuality, etc. But it is also, to a huge proportion of the population (male and female), a perfectly ‘natural’ and ‘harmless’ thing (especially when done tongue in cheek, which – having referenced Homer Simpson – is how I think Pegg meant it). I am in no way defending the action – I would be ashamed of saying the same thing. But to a lot of people – most likely including myself before I was given the very privileged opportunity of reading the work of bell hooks and Angela Davis in a higher education institute – this is a perfectly socially acceptable thing to do. Yes, feminists are doing great work to change this and I certainly support them in that endeavour. But the fact remains that we can’t blame people for doing what is socially excepted and even what is a social requirement in some cases (I went to an all boys secondary school, and probably – I am ashamed to say – demeaned many a woman with sexualised language in an effort to be accepted by certain peers). All we can do is try to inform them of the harm their statements can have in a way which is thoughtful, not condescending and is mindful of the fact that those same people might not have had the same opportunity (or motivation) to read those things that has contributed to our own enlightened position on the matter.

    Now, back to Pegg and ‘Geek Culture’. Pegg has become an icon for ‘Geek communities’ due to his involvement in a number of commercial enterprises (pun intended?) relating to popular ‘geek’ properties. As such, I can perfectly understand how people might think of him as ‘one of them’ and someone who represents their beliefs. But really, he is just an actor who, while sharing similar interests (again, interests in incredibly popular properties), is completely removed from the lives of most of his fans and in no way obligated to share their ideals or experiences. Yet, because people have fabricated the idea of a ‘Geek Community’, and the concept that people liking the same products share a sense of shared culture and community, I think people expect him to stand for some vague ‘something’ which is not in fact representative of much at all. In fact, Pegg is far more likely to have had a school experience similar to my own, and to have grown up believing such statements were acceptable. While he attended a Uni, there is no reason to assume he has read any feminist texts, or be exposed to people to tell him such things were wrong (in my own experience, University is actually full of self described ‘alpha males’ and ‘lad culture’ *not sure you will be familiar with that phrase?* is rife). Just because he is seen as a ‘Geek icon’ doesn’t mean you should have expectations about him sharing your own ideals.

    Now, back to the real case at hand. I so far have suggested that unfair expectations have been placed on Pegg and that feminists should inform in a thoughtful way in order to show people the damage there statements can have. Now, the response Pegg got which started this whole thing, I think, was not done thoughtfully and appeared to me to a bit of an attack. ‘OMG @simonpegg, that is gross. Cosplayers do not actually exist to fulfill your sexual fantasies’, despite being a justified statement, sounds very harsh and critical to me, and I can perfectly understand Pegg’s defensive response. I certainly wouldn’t like to be called ‘gross’ for doing something which – to my knowledge – was perfectly innocent. The messages then went on to talk about the ‘geek community’ and ‘geek women’ as if this has any real meaning (honestly, the statements made about ‘geek’ women seemingly automatically becoming part of the ‘geek community’ by dressing up as a popular character made no sense to me) rather than clearly defining the authors complaint. While everyone seems to be on the subject of how Pegg should have phrased his tweets, why don’t we think about how Courtney should have phrased her response? Maybe something like:

    ‘@simonpegg I respect that you are free to express your appreciation of these excellent costumes, but it would be good if you showed a bit more respect to female sci-fi and fantasy fans.

    @simonpegg Yes, these women are attractive, but did you know that many women feel insecure about getting involved in such activities because of the sexualised response they fear they will receive?

    @simonpegg I feel that many people don’t appreciate this and see cosplayers as objects of attention rather than people expressing their love of a character or property.

    @simonpegg as someone who is very well respected among fans who enjoy cosplaying (myself included), It would be great if you could give some attention to this fact to increase awareness. Thanks!

    Something like that would be critical of his tweet while also explaining why in a thoughtful and informative manner and might have actually done some good. Certainly, from Peggs later tweets he appeared very open to thoughts and opinions that weren’t presented in the form of thinly veiled personal attacks.

    AS for the horrible responses you personally have received, I am very sorry. But again, I think this is the result of self-defined ‘geeks’ assuming that Pegg represents their ‘culture’ and so taking attacks on him personally. It shows that the ‘geek culture’ some people have constructed is in no way representative of the disturbingly misogynistic ideology of many fans of the same properties. This debate should be about continuing trends in the history of sexism, not about what it means to be a ‘geek’ (I’m afraid the answer to that will only ever be: it means nothing!)

    Sorry for such a long-winded reply.

    Matthew

    • Hi Matthew,

      As a fellow grad student (two Masters’ degrees, a Graduate Diploma, and counting! – no, just kidding, I think I’m finally done with school) I appreciate your very lengthy and example-filled comment!

      I would like to repeat that my complaint was less with Simon Pegg’s public display his sexual desire for these women (although the tweet didn’t make me feel great) was his dismissal of someone’s, quite possibly a fan’s, concern about women’s alienation from the geek universe.

      The tweets you drafted seem to be quite similar with part of the original conversation from within the Storify:

      “cosplayers are awesome for being passionate fans, not for getting somebody’s rocks off.”
      “I research cosplay & do it myself, & I’ve spoken w/women who are hurt by this kind of attitude or who don’t cosplay b/c of it.”
      “They don’t feel welcome as full members of geek communities; that is truly sad.”

      (I agree – they could have been differently phrased)

      And Simon Pegg’s response was
      “No, because I do not believe I offended a single one of those cosplayers who and along to help us shoot our film that day.”

      Of course Simon Pegg is not a bad guy, and twitter is absolutely not the best place to have these conversations (thus why I took my points to my blog) but Simon Pegg was presented with someone’s personal and anecdotal examples of why his behaviour, and dismissive nature when it was questioned, is problematic.

      I think if such a grand figure of the geek universe, he had a real opportunity to set an example for respect and understanding of women, and women cosplayers, who face much worse than Simon Pegg’s initial tweet. He doesn’t have an obligation to do anything like this, but with great power comes great responsibility, I think I’ve heard it said… Maybe in the future he will!

      Now – the term geek universe: it exists. It’s expansive, and being in it is great. It exists because there are those who are not in it (um, I think that logic works). While Dr Who might be ubiquitous in the Uk (as rightly it should be!) I did not know anyone who knew about it, other than my parents, until I was in my 20s. By which time the last three doctors had made their way to mainstream television here. Mercifully geek has become more mainstream, it’s not isolated, and while as kids and teens we’ve all been isolated and mocked for being geeks, as we aged and found new networks we’ve been able to connect with geeks and delight in our geekiness! So I hold there is a geek culture – it is not an exclusive one, but it exists. Although perhaps this is a different topic, and better suited to a different blog!

      Thanks again for your points – glad to know I’m not the only one who leaves short novels in blog comments!

      • To be fair, the initial replies regarding Pegg’s were not as balanced as the ones you cite – the were specifically telling him he was ‘gross’, not trying to open discussion or even leaving room for any debate other than a total retraction.
        “OMG @simonpegg, that is gross. Cosplayers do not actually exist to fulfill your sexual fantasies. #cosplay”
        “Female geeks, even Leia cosplayers, are a part of the geek community. NOT DECORATION. @simonpegg #cosplay”
        “You may think you’re being funny, @simonpegg, but you are objectifying geek women & discouraging more from identifying as geek. #cosplay”

        I didn’t see any reference to sexual fantasies or deliberate attempts at objectification or marginalization – sure, the comment could have been better thought out, but the reply did not set out to engage in dialogue or even educate – it was an attack, leading with an insult.

    • Sure looks like some great thoughts, opinions, and arguments have been made here on this blog, and on twitter, about the complexities of alienation in geek culture – whether it exists, how bad it is, and what we can do to move beyond it. And, it also seems folks agree that an overload of verbal abuse is never called for. I say that’s heartening!

  7. Two quick things:
    – You don’t really make the point, that the “drooling” is something bad. You are right: there are certainly different ways to say it, but why they are better? He was more impressed with the sexyness (is that a word, English is not my first language) than with the costumes. And sure dressing sexy isn’t always asking for sexual attention, but you know what: You don’t have a right that other people are not turned on by you. Your SlutWalk comparision just doesn’t make any sense. Thinking someone is hot is perfectly fine and being insulted by that (and in return being insulting) is actually something worse than “boring”. Exactly actions like this are the reason why people think feminism is a bad word.
    – There are tons of comics, that do have slender, big eyed men – just look in the manga section. Which doesn’t really matter. Different target audiences (like boys or girls) will lead to different art. Nothing sexist about that.

    • Hi Chaosdada,
      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t focus on the drooling because I felt the rest of the conversation was a more important one to have. I hold that my SlutWalk comparison made sense in that much of the feedback I was getting was arguing that objectifying these women can’t be offensive, because in dressing that way they want to be objectified. And while it may be the case here, that mentality is a dangerous one when applied everywhere and believed strongly.

      • Okay, but what I meant was, that you are talking about a flaw/danger in the counterargument, while you haven’t made your own in the first place. I agree that the argument “they want to be disrespected, which is shown by the way they dress, therefore it is ok to do just that” isn’t very good. However I don’t believe feeling sexual attraction to a woman and saying it is disrespectful or morally wrong in any other way. I guess most people share this opinion (at least the people I know), but you seem to assume it is a generally accepted fact. Or do you think it is not important?
        This is also why I think the SlutWalk comparison is inappropriate. A woman obviously can expect not to get raped, but if she has a problem if someone feels she is hot, that problem is hers.

      • Hi Chaosdada,
        I’m not sure if we’re identifying each other’s arguments accurately. There isn’t a flaw in finding women attractive. Nor is there a fault to be found in finding women attractive, especially when they work on making themselves attractive. My concern is the thought process of “She made herself look hot, she made herself look hot for me to look at her, so I’m going to look at her and talk about how hot she is, and she’s the one that dressed that way, so she wants this.”
        Women may make themselves look hot for themselves and their own interest. And my gather unwanted, or wanted, attention in the process. She may make herself look hot to impress others. The assumption that by dressing a certain way she *absolutely* wants attention, and/or to be objectified, is what I don’t agree with. Which is why I hold that the SlutWalk comparison still makes sense.
        The attention may be wanted, and it may not be wanted. I disagree with the assumption that the way an individual chooses to dress is always an invitation.

      • Hi Emma,
        “I’m not sure if we’re identifying each other’s arguments accurately.”
        I think not.
        I tried to make clear that I don’t think dressing a certain way is an invitation, but you don’t need an invitation to call someone hot. You seem to agree to that.
        So what is wrong with the first tweet with the picture? If there wasn’t anything wrong with it, why had cnstoker “legitimate complaints” as you say? Because if she hadn’t there was no reason to not disregard them with by saying “boring” and no reason for you to be angry.

      • There was nothing wrong with the first tweet and the picture, IMO. It was a tweet about beautiful women and nerdiness. Please do not continue to debate this point with me, as I believe we are on the same side.

        A vast number of tweets I received from fans were along the lines of “They want to be ogled, because they dressed like that.” That is the mentality is what I was addressing. That is why I talk about why dressing a certain why is not an automatic invitation. @cnstoker went on to say that women geeks and cosplayers are made to feel uncomfortable, and feel alienated from the geek universe. And that is a legitimate concern, not something to say “BORING!” to. On my blog and in my twitter feed the conversation has shifted, thankfully, to this topic – of how women can be made to feel uncomfortable and excluded or unwanted in the geek sphere, or only appreciated for their looks, not welcomed for the geek cred.

        I hope you agree that we should work to ensure geek culture remains welcoming and inclusive, because geeks are awesome.

      • I still think saying a complaint is boring is an incredibly friendly reaction to being attacked for something that wasn’t wrong and a complaint can’t be legitimate, if you complain about someone who didn’t do what you complain about (and that the wrong person apologised in this exchange) – but thank you for the clarification.

  8. I think you summed up beautifully exactly how I felt watching this whole thing go down. Like you, I was annoyed at the “BORING!” comment, but also looking back, I agree with others that there were other ways of saying the point without seeming like an attack. I know that a lot of people are tired of playing “educator” on issues like this, but I really don’t think that issues like this have been discussed as openly as now (see the Tropes vs Women and Tosh as two good examples of jackassery online).

    And I’ve found that the old line of attracting flies with honey instead of vinegar works out well (says the Asian American woman who’s grown up and lives in a mostly white state). You can change minds and make people think, but resorting to name calling online is the quickest way to end a conversation (well, that and Hitler). I’m also happy to see Pegg post your stuff as a kind of mea culpa. I hate to say it, but I think that you probably had a bigger impact in his thinking than the original poster (and I feel bad for saying that because she grabbed the sword and dove into the fray bravely), and it was probably due to your approach.

    Also, I don’t think he’s leading an attack on her (if that was the truth, he would’ve gone on a long moan and groan and named her handle a la Kevin Smith). It’s just not hard to look up people online and figure out who said what to whom. I hope things calm down for her also. It just sucks that everyone (and I’ve seen this done to EVERYONE online — not just women) feels the need to shout down others during a disagreement. That’s not productive at all.

    I’m also sorry about the Internet attacks that you and the original poster got. You guys didn’t deserve that. But apparently people think they can show their ass online in ways that one would never do so in public.

    • Thank you so much for the comment. I think it’s really telling the kind of reaction I got through twitter (knee-jerk, verbally abusive) and the kind of comments I got on my blog. Disagreement is great, as long as it leads to constructive debate, and formulating a blog comment requires educating yourself fully about the entire situation and coming up with responses for or against. While the onslaught was a harrowing experience, it’s heartening to see the comments and opinions form and voices being found and used. If we can go straight to that part without the name-calling en masse first, that would be better, but ya can’t win ‘em all, can you?

      • No, you can’t sadly. If life was that simple…

        Its an interesting thing with Twitter — while it encourages a stream of consciousness rambling almost, it also allows people to do knee-jerk reptile brain responses. I also sometimes wonder if it’s an Internet thing — on Tumblr and other sites, I see a more namecalling and insulting than on blogs. Perhaps it’s because blogs allow a long form writing.

        Honestly, this is where sometimes people need a blog, to offer a longer and more thoughtful response. Short isn’t always good. I always like seeing Wil Wheaton or Neil Gaiman and their blogs. It’s a good way to write your thoughts out and explain things.

        And really, I also thought the Slave Leia thing is getting dull in the geek world. That’s like the go-to for “sexy gamer geek” trope. If it was a picture of Zoe from Firefly, Agent Sculder, Samus, Buffy, etc., that would’ve been way cooler to me. And I like Slave Leia — she was so hardcore she STRANGLED JABBA WITH HER CHAINS. How badass is that? But it’s just overused by mainstream and geek media. There’s other stuff out there for variety.

    • “Also, I don’t think he’s leading an attack on her (if that was the truth, he would’ve gone on a long moan and groan and named her handle a la Kevin Smith).”

      Well said – and yet her feed is filled with justification of how he led an attack on her, sicced his followers on her, etc. I find that telling about her motivations, since SHE publicized the exchange and brought herself to the attention of the miserable shitheads who feel the need to attack her, but she’s not blaming herself, or even the people attacking her – she’s blaming the guy she confronted for his fans finding out her twitter handle, which she published.

      Like I said before, I really think she picked a fight on this to make a point -and at this point it seems like she’s more interested in justifying her initial attack and wearing the cloak of martyrdom than fostering any kind of dialogue on the issue. It really takes away from any impact that this event might have had (whereas this discussion seems to be, well, actually discussing things. Is nice)

      On the topic of scifi and gender (since that is supposed to be the topic of discussion, yes?), women have a lot to be unhappy about. There’s a deep boy’s culture full of gleefully sexist guys who wrap their social incompetence in misogyny (and general misanthropy) and carry the label like some kind of badge of honour. These people are generally also the trolls of the world, and one hopes they grow up at some point (though I have little hope).

      There’s a lot to change. For every positive, interesting, powerful female character there are a host of screaming accessories, and it will take engagement and market forces to make a difference. In fact, I suspect the only truly effective means to change is market forces, because nothing changes a publisher/producer/game maker’s mind like the prospect of cash.

      • I don’t want to look into her motives for what she did honestly. I’ve had people do that to me and it’s not a pleasant thing at all. I think that the initial wave of anger may have hit a defensive posturing in her (and if you read it over too, I would interpret the “BORING!” as a similar defensive gesture from him) that has yet to abate. Not that I blame her. Being a person with over two million followers and under a constant barrage of mentions can change how you interact with people as well as someone who was quickly thrust into the spotlight thanks to a less-than-stellar exchange.

        Also, I wonder if it would’ve been different if they saw each other and heard each other, instead of reading the words.

        Oh there is a lot that needs to be changed still in scifi and geek culture. Someone once wrote about it best that because geeks and nerds feel like the outsiders and outcasts in everything socially (and it’s understandable), they say they’re more inclusive, but they react a little more defensively than others when it comes to criticism of their culture. I’m lucky in that my experience with that has been minimal thanks to a good groups of friends and a good geek husband where we can talk about this stuff and make everyone feel welcome.

        And it’s gonna be market forces, but there’s still resistance to change — see the DC reboot and the constant perception that women really aren’t into stuff like gaming, comic books, etc. Haters are gonna hate — it’s everywhere. People hate change. It’s just gonna take more organization and open discussion like this to drive home the fact that women (and minorities) are an audience. And we will vote with our pocketbooks, or create our own content thanks to Kickstarter and Youtube. I also think that with people like Aisha Tyler and Felicia Day (both gamers in their own way), they bring a lot of positive representation to the industry.

        But yeah, overall I think that the blogs are better for discussions like this. And I love doing this stuff, but I’m a huge pop culture nerd.

      • Absolutely an IRL interaction would have gone differently. I’d wager differently, and better. You do have to work harder to make your intentions and opinions known (and understood, even) online. So much of our communication is non-verbal (I recall it being something like 80% of communication is non-verbal) so it’s no surprise intent gets lost in the mix, to sometimes dire consequences.

        Which is why the blog is a place you can stretch your verbal muscles and qualify your statements. And I think it’s really accomplished that here.

        I love your thoughts about the geek/gaming community feeling isolated (picked on by the jocks of the world, if you will) and so getting defensive when they are challenged. Wouldn’t it be great if we pop culture nerds, geeks, gamers, and cosplayers looked at each other as allies rather than threats more often!

  9. @V, regardless of her motivations she initiated the exchange, publicized it, then cried (and still cries) foul because of the fallout – something I have a real problem with. He didn’t attack her, he didn’t even name her, yet she’s claiming he orchestrated an attack and is victimizing her.

    Ironically, having read her feed a bit, I find that she has called for attacks on people from her followers (from May 8th)

    “Courtney Stoker ‏@cnstoker
    I would really appreciate if everyone would give @maggsy2000 your opinion on her advice and telling me “language, my dear.” ”

    Her feed is mostly a mix of defensive self-pity for being poor mixed a large amount of pure vitriol directed at, well, anyone who disagrees with her. I don’t see what she did as defensive, after reading 3+ months or her tweets and a fair bit of her blog – I see it as a calculated offense. She also gets upset at the attacks and gendered insults, but has no qualms about using them herself:

    “Courtney Stoker ‏@cnstoker
    @UKIP_eter @fyreflye @unfortunatalie Saying that we should all just see each other as people is something stupid straight white boys say… ”

    In all, there’s little I’ve seen that makes me think ‘trying to create discourse’, and a lot that makes me thing ‘angry shit disturber looking for the next target’. This blog and the comments are a pretty good example of how discourse can be fostered – I’ve learned from it, and feel like I better understand a perspective I previously didn’t. The narrow-minded, vicious rage coming from @cnstoker’s twitter really isn’t helping, and I really believe that her going off like she did last night has done more harm than good, because for every discussion like this there are a thousand petty minded fanbois who’ve had their mental image of feminists as militant, humourless crusaders reinforced.

    • Point taken. I hadn’t read much of her Twitter to figure out her writing style. I just saw the Pegg exchange.

      And this might be overly Zen about it (but that’s how I roll — I tend to be very optimistic in my interactions with people, despite getting kicked in the head), but without what she did, would this discussion have occurred? I agree that it was antagonistic, but look at what’s come out of it — we are having a really good discussion, Pegg even said upon reflection that some of his behavior wasn’t sterling and despite the trolls, there’s some talk. We sometimes need that because without it, there’s no attention paid to these things.

      It’s like the London riots — I recall a story about the news interviewing someone about why they were rioting and the person said it best: “We had a protest two months ago. You guys didn’t come. Now that we’re burning things, you’re here.” I’m heavily paraphrasing for the record. It’s not always the best way, but sometimes that’s what you have to do to get people to pay attention to these issues. The problem is that I think online, the balance is tilted more towards inflammatory words than thoughtful discussion.

      But that’s where forums like this come in. Twitter can’t be everything. This helps.

      • I agree that some good has come of this, since we’re discussing things civilly and building understanding here, at least :D – but while as you not Pegg has admitted his comments and behavior wasn’t sterling, we’ve heard no concessions of any kind from @cnstoker- just more justifications for her conduct and more claims of martyrdom.

        That sort of thing is destructive to discourse, and I fear to the cause she’s trying to espouse. It certainly doesn’t make me respect her, or by extension her point, at all.

    • Thank you! And I’m just gonna reply to what you said at 2:03 here (since I think I am about to lose my right to reply. Hee.):

      We can’t control other people’s actions and what they do. What she chooses to do and how she chooses to handle her business is her own decision. What we can do is take away what we’ve discussed here and apply it to outside the Internet. Tell the trolls to shut up and stop calling people names. Stop silently implicitly supporting attacks like the ones staged on the woman behind Tropes vs Women when she decided to look at video games (and that was harassment plain and simple — no one should have a video game made of them getting beat up).

      Personally I just hope that you see the world in a slightly different way and it affects how you deal with the world. I have to keep telling myself that changes in mentality aren’t fast and rapid, but slow. And these discussions are fun. It’s way more enjoyable to have a civil discourse than do name calling. That just gets dull for me.

      • Agreed – but (and I apologize for harping on on this, but I think it’s an important qualification) when you say this

        “What we can do is take away what we’ve discussed here and apply it to outside the Internet. Tell the trolls to shut up and stop calling people names. Stop silently implicitly supporting attacks like the ones staged on the woman behind Tropes vs Women when she decided to look at video games (and that was harassment plain and simple — no one should have a video game made of them getting beat up).”

        I’d add ‘don’t go picking fights’. I don’t hold her to be blameless, and can’t countenance the way she has been and still is dealing with this. As she herself has said (slightly paraphrased ’cause it’s too early in the morning to look it up), ‘intentions aren’t magic, it’s actions that matter’.

        She judged Pegg on his actions, and I’m judging her on hers. As of last night she’s claiming that Pegg instigated the abuse on her by merely mentioning their interaction (despite his not having mentioned her name at all) and is accusing him of deliberately encouraging his followers to attack her and refusing to ‘call them off’. She is justifying her creation of a situation by the results of that act, and I find it troubling that she seems to be getting a pass on her behavior and the double standard it implies from just about everyone. She instigated the shitstorm and she publicized it through her Storify, not him, and somehow he’s still to blame. I admit I am perhaps overly touchy on that issue due to past history involving my spouse trying to murder me, and how a very similar double standard regarding instigation affected events.

        On the issue of the trolls who should STFU, I read a great term for them at the blog that pinged back to here – the DudeBro Army. The DudeBro Army need to be silenced, and I believe that the only way that will happen is through everyone else voting with their wallets. It’s certainly possible to create a good SF show that doesn’t cater to them shamelessly, has strong female characters and still maintains a broad based appeal – just look at BSG.

        I believe the exclusionary asshattery of the DudeBro Army is based of some sense of meta-solidarity, in that they like to feel marginalized from mainstream society by their social affiliations and therefore exclude others (women primarily, but they’ll pick on anyone they think they can) as a form of compensation. It’s like a kind of a big boy’s ‘no gurls allowed’ club.

      • While I genuinely appreciate the conversation that is taking place here in this thread, and elsewhere…

        Shifting the conversation to @cnstoker, and whether or not she was rude/polite enough or did/not deserve it is besides the point of gender equality in science fiction fandom. Proving she was in our out of line is a red herring argument – and the one about geek culture is a much more worthy and relevant topic.

        I would like to add I completely agree with the threat the Dudebro Army poses to the world of sane, logic people. And wish more people voted with their dollars. But unless more people become critical of what they are offered in terms of TV, films, and even what is acceptable behaviour online, I don’t think it will catch on. So let’s work on educating about the important issues instead of focusing on whether or not someone deserved the negative attention she may or may not have brought on herself. Please.

        Also, I want to add how ironic it is that the scifi genre, which I believe is unique in the breadth and strength of its women characters, who charge in to battle shoulder to shoulder with the men, who are granted character development and their own story arcs… well how can the fandom for such a great genre in this respect be so hostile to women in the real world sometimes? That’s not a fully formed argument, just the beginning of something I’m trying to work out. Perhaps to blog on it later.

  10. Pingback: Getting it Pegged | MKP-Hearts-NYC, Brooklyn Edition

  11. Just a note on one of your comments: http://emmajenkin.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/an-open-letter-to-the-internet-simon-pegg-and-his-followers/#comment-247
    [quote]
    So much of our communication is non-verbal (I recall it being something like 80% of communication is non-verbal) so it’s no surprise intent gets lost in the mix, to sometimes dire consequences.
    [/quote]

    I am a migrant worker, I spend 2 nights a week away from my family working in another city. This means that Skype and texts form a significant part of my interaction with my wife and kids.
    I would hazard that about 90% of the heated debates that spiral into downright arguments happen while I am away. My wife and I have no problems at all communicating in person or on the phone, it is when we message each other in short sound bytes like skype texts or sms’s that t all fall apart. In my head I have the full context of the words I type and in hers she has her own context in what she sees. Add to that the frustrations of different typing speeds, other activities keeping us away from immediate replies, and you have a recipe that very often leads to disaster :(

    140 characters cannot begin to come close to explaining the full depth of human emotion and we have got to cut a LOT of slack to people who say things because THEIR context when writing is not even vaguely similar to MY context when reading.

    Even in something like this blog comment where I have a huge amount of time/space to extol the virtues of my opinions, they are, after all is said and done, MY opinions.

  12. Good on your for standing up for what you believe in. And for putting up and patiently explaining things to me, so I can better understand the feminist perspective on this sort of thing.

    Also, your website is fantastic looking and I need to learn how to do what you do.

    • Thank you, and thank you, and thank you. It’s nice to hear someone say “I don’t get what the issue is. Can you help me understand?” instead of “STFUBITCH”.

      As the wise saying goes: “The more we get together the happier we’ll be.”

  13. There’s a weird thing about fandom – they can get so caught up in the tribalism of being a fan, that they lose sight of the essence of what or who it is they’re a fan of. It reminds me of when Steve irwin was killed, and some of his “fans” went on a rampage, slaughtering dozens or hundreds of stingrays. Despite the fact that Steve himself was a passionate conservationist and would have been deeply hurt by such actions. They got so wrapped up in having to avenge what was essentially an unfortunate accident, they completely betrayed what he stood for.

    Simon Pegg is a nice guy. Having spoken to people who know him or have met him, it seems he’s also a very sensitive fellow who, by all accounts, would never deliberately want to hurt or abuse anyone; and there’s nothing in any of his film or TV output (and especially his audio commentaries) to suggest otherwise. So quite why some of his fans felt it appropriate to do go on the attack in the way that they did, or felt that this would be something he’d approve of or admire, is pretty baffling. If you’re a fan of Anton Newcombe or Liam Gallagher (I’ve been on the receiving end of attacks from from fans of the former after I called him out for publishing a perfectly pleasant fan letter from a schoolgirl who he denounced as an “internet whore”), then it’s perfectly in keeping; but Simon Pegg…?

    • Thanks for this. So much, if not all, of the negative responses I received were just that – knee-jerk defence of a (very cool, very respectable) celebrity, without a thought given to the topic at hand. Fortunately, coming on 30 hours after my first tweet, things are quietening. Not silenced, but waning.

  14. P.S. I must be weird, but I never found Slave Leia appealing. Mind you, I never found Yoda cool or amusing either, and I think Star Trek is one of the dullest things imaginable. Maybe I’m not a geek. I do really like Firefly though.

    • Hey, I believe anyone who likes anything geeky can call themselves a geek, and do so proudly. But I envision a huge and accessible and welcoming geek universe :)

  15. right, so one of the funniest younger actors britain has to offer these days made a funny comment and he got back this psycho assault :-) look weirdo(s), it is you who objectify women by making their hot pants into something they are not – not a ‘i’m a strong woman, respect me damn you’ statement but a ‘look at me, i am way hotter that your girlfriend’.

    it is extremely sad to see how many tweets you have emma, not trying or wanting to insult you but do get a life – you’re a nobody, sure you have opinions but i will paraphrase the greatest bard of our time, inspector harry callahan: opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.

    and i feel comfortable adding to this wisdom: only smart ones know when to keep it to themselves. opinions and assholes both.

    • Hi Evil Elvis,

      You’re right, I do tweet a lot. Thanks for reminding me about how only smart people know how to keep their opinions to themselves. I happen to believe that when opinions are shared and compared, we can create a constructive discussion and learn new things about issues and ourselves. Which is exactly what’s happening in the rest of the comments on this blog, and on twitter now that the slew of insults has died down.

    • I see the DudeBro Army has arrived.

      I’ll just say that the smart ones know how to properly capitalize and punctuate their writing.

  16. @emma, my apologies for any derailing I might have done… perhaps if I can make up for it by asking a question – what geeky shows/movies/series would you consider to be moving in the right direction, regarding women characters (and their respective fandoms). I’d say BSG and Firefly, though honestly I have had no personal contact with the fandom outside of the internet as I’ve been living overseas for the past decade.

    • BSG and Firefly for sure.

      Buffy (I’m going to count that as scifi). TNG (to be fair, the only Star Trek iteration I ever watched).

      I only recently started watching Stargate SG-1, but the first scene with their only main woman character has her having to defend her value to the team when they are surprised to find the is a woman. And she only gets more kickass from there (alright, I’m only a few episodes in, but give me a chance!).

      Ellen Ripley from Alien is touted as one of the best examples of a woman as a powerful central role in an action scifi movies (much has been said about how she only accomplished this by donning “masculine” traits and removing all sense of “womanliness” but I think that is another discussion altogether.

      Although this image does cherry-pick its examples, I enjoy it: http://i.imgur.com/Qptd1.jpg

      I wonder if there is a distinction to be made around how women are portrayed in science fiction in TV vs movies. Just a thought, I haven’t worked out any real beef to back it up. Other than Ellen Ripley, I’m coming up a little short of movie examples, but have many TV examples. Partly because there are just gosh darn so few women in movies (if you’re not familiar with the Bechdel Test, I encourage you to watch this — although *not* about the *quality* of a movie, it highlights just how few main characters are women in films http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLF6sAAMb4s)

      Great question though! Definitely got my mind working…

      • I don’t think Ellen Ripley is a very well-written character, as she has no inherent flaws she has to overcome. She is, to all intents and purposes, perfect and always right. She does mistake Bishop for someone who wants to harm her, but considering she was nearly killed by an android in the previous film, this is perfectly understandable. It’s the only smidgen of character development she gets in the first two films.

        (3&4 are hazier to me, since they’re not very good and I haven’t watched them much – but becoming half alien doesn’t count as character development!).

        I can’t think of any sci-fi films with a good female lead either. I’m sure one will come to me. I can’t think of many sci-fi films with a female lead at all, except Barbarella. And maybe Resident Evil – another Ellen Ripley.
        years ago about a scre

      • Sorry, my other comment got messed up at the end someone. I was about to tell you an anecdote about screenwriting which will not please you, but it’s interesting nonetheless. A few years ago I wrote a film about the crew of a spacecraft who become stranded on board a deserted larger vessel – a haunted house film in space basically. One of the things I decided to do was, of the crew of eight, make five of them female. Not turn that into a big gender thing, or ever even mention it – it just happens that this is what the ratio is. I thought it would make an interesting dynamic, and give the film a distinctive flavour.

        I had access to a fairly high-up (female) producer at the time, and gave it to her to read. She told me outright that you can’t have more than two women in a film. End of discussion. No concept of, “It’s unorthodox, but let’s give is a go”, no notion of at least putting it out there to see if the status quo could be bent a little. No, you can’t have more than two women in a film. Either change three of the characters, or end of discussion. I chose the latter. It was all a bit depressing. Only men get to properly be in films, women are rationed.

        Of course, you can imagine how cross I was a couple of years later when Neil Marshall’s The Descent came out.

      • I am not at all surprised by her reaction. Movies and TV shows are expensive endeavours. And if you know something has made money in the past, one would be a fool to stray from the status quo. The assumption that women will go see a movie that is about men and men will see a movie that is about men but men won’t see a movie about women, so by having women as the focus (or even given women an equal share of screen-time) could, potentially, cost you half your viewers, half your return. Not only does that make me sad to think that men would avoid a movie just because of the amount of screen time or roles given to women, isn’t it just as insulting to think that way of men?

        Recently examples of women-focused action movies (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Hunger Games, even Brave) were successful movies, and impressive at the box office. The more good examples like this make their way to the screen, hopefully, the less scared the film industry will be of women in key roles in their movies.

        Although if I think back to the golden era of black and white epic films, I get the feeling women had greater screen time and character development. I would be interested in seeing if that’s true. If it is the case, what the heck happened? How did we go backwards? Well… let’s just work towards some forward movement.

      • There are a few examples of quality female leads from over the years, Sarah Connor in the Terminator movies, Selene from Underworld (I have to start googling after that :( ) but a far greater number of female supporting roles.

        I have been rolling the Bechedal Test in my mind on the last few movies I have watched and I can honestly say that none of them pass. Sci-fi or Fantasy, its all the same…

      • It’s such a shame! I still absolutely watch movies that do not pass the Bechdel Test, but it hangs over my head when I do. I mean, in a movie, with so many actors (ever sat through all the credits) how do they manage to sometimes only have *one* solitary woman, who may not even get many lines or impact the plot in a real way? Some stories don’t call for women, and they can be great movies (so many great movies fail the Bechdel Test hard) but when you think of just how many movies fail the test… it’s mind-boggling.

  17. @Adam I’m not sure I agree about Ripley’s shallowness – she had the kid/nightmare issues to overcome in Aliens. Here’s a couple of lists – I find it interesting how …erm… liberal they are when defining ‘female lead’. Quite telling, really.
    http://totalscifionline.com/features/3566-the-25-women-who-shook-sci-fi
    http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/16008/top-10-strong-female-science-fiction-film-characters

    However – Sarah Connor? Movies and TV.

    • @Emma – Yes. It was the automatic and unquestioning acceptance of that rule which bothered me most. If one parrots these guidelines, then nothing ever gets fixed. Despite how it sounds, it would not have been an expensive film, and I think nothing would have been lost in putting it out there to test the water, even if it did indeed get no further. Rejecting it *up front* for having more than two female characters in the ensemble was the galling part for me.

      • Whoops, sorry, replied – above – in the wrong place.

        You’re probably right about Ripley in Aliens, though Alien did all the leg work. She needed an entire film to *make* her a part-way interesting character.

        Hm… I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find almost none of these ‘strong’ female characters appealing or interesting. Too many of them are simply fighters – they’re ‘strong’ because they can shoot stuff with a gun. The real meaning of a ‘strong’ character in film/TV is one that’s strongly written – ie. the writing is strong, not the character’s physicality.

        One of my favourite sci-fi female characters is Kaylee Fry in Firefly. She gets overlooked as being ‘strong’ often because she’s non-violent… but the writing is strong: she’s funny, vulnerable, smart, skilled, wrong sometimes, resourceful, resilient, and is the one woman in Firefly who (for me) comes across as a real person. In fact, she’s one of the few women in sci-fi who comes across as a real person in a sci-fi universe, rather than a ‘strong’ icon.

      • @Adam I don’t know if this will show up in the right place, but here goes :D

        I think that Ripley isn’t the strongest character because the Alien franchise isn’t terribly character driven – I doubt a male in the same role would have been more fleshed out..

        I agree about Kaylee – she was a great character, full of personality and nuance. I also really liked Aeryn Sun from Farscape, as an interesting character (within the muppetish context of the show, of course).

      • @Traditional geeks eat raw meat – Yes, absolutely right about Ripley, but had she been a man, as originally written by Dan O’Bannon, it’s likely that Mr Ripley wouldn’t have been making any “best characters in sci-fi” lists, let alone topping them!

        Incidentally, in the geek world, “sci-fi” is usually synonymous with “action-adventure sci-fi”, rather than all sci-fi. There are a few female leads in conceptual sci-fi. Geneviève Bujold in Coma springs immediately to mind, but I bet there are a bunch of others.

  18. What do you think about Richard Herring’s response to the Pegg debate today? I thought it was hilarious and spot on. In retrospect, it does seem accurate that Pegg’s thoughtless comment was taken up by someone with a very specific and exceptional interest in cosplaying and made to suit their agenda irregardless of how it (possibly mis)interpreted Pegg’s original tweet. Herring trotted out a few humerous examples of this taken to an extreme (Example: @Herring1967
    RT @TheRealJackDee: Lost my Donor card yesterday and they got one of my kidneys before I could cancel it.
    ‏@Herring1967
    Come on Jack, Donor cards are very serious matter & if you make people think something like that can happen you might put people off joining).

    He then, very tellingly, started getting called out by lots of people for encouraging rape humour (??!!??!!) and representing feminists as humourless. Now, the rape thing was because apparently last week there was some sort of debate about jokes about sexual assault. Like me, Herring had no knowledge of this but was still being blamed for reinforcing it. Again, it seemed his jokes were being interpreted in a way which he did not intend and offence taken where it could possibly be intended. Secondly, the point he was making is that you cannot assume someone is making a point because your specific interest makes you interpret their comment in a certain way. So, Pegg was being thoughtless and contributing to negative ideas, but many made out that he was deliberately saying that women had no place in the ‘geek community’ *shudders just saying that* (as implied by the fact that he seemed so humbled and embarrassed by the whole thing). Instead, people interpreted Herring as saying feminists had no sense of humour. He wasn’t saying that what Pegg said was funny and it should have just been laughed at, but that wider implications were being forced into Pegg’s mouth.

    Now that the same thing has been done to Herring despite the insane level of irony that surrounds this whole thing, I really think this whole things needs to be reconsiders on both sides of the debate.

    On a final small note, I do have to contain my satisfaction in all of this as I HATE Simon Pegg and part of me is delighted to see him so publically humiliated. Still, the incident does still concern me.

    • I haven’t been able to track the Herring/Pegg post of which you speak, but will try to – I believe I got the jist of it from the rest of your post.

      There are so many interesting and complex points I don’t believe I can so justice to them all. But as for the extreme inferences made from a mostly harmly tweet, how Simon Pegg is being singled out and being made a symbol of all that is wrong in the geek community (or whatever term you’d like to use)… I agree. I started my post outlining that Simon Pegg was, is, and ever shall be, a cool, famous, and talented individual.

      Pile-ons on an individual and the inferences made (e.g. you joked about a donor card! you must support rape! — an anecdote I had not heard until today!) are faulty and not helpful. I have received hundreds of false inferences myself (‘oh, so you must hate men!’ ‘oh, so you just need to get laid!’ ‘what, am i not allowed to say anything anymore??’) and none of them are helpful. What is helpful is the discussion about alienation in geek culture.

      Venues like twitter are great for sharing information and snippets, but as I’ve seen first hand, taking the conversation somewhere that statements can be really qualified and elaborated and understood helps clear the air. And builds better conversations.

  19. I don’t want to get into the general subject of whether it makes sense or not to try to use Pegg to accuse and condemn geek culture for objectifying women as part of their universe. Frankly, both sides are far too entrenched for it to make a whit of difference in my opinion. And when it comes to trying to change the mindset of a crowd emotionally invested in judging the hottest she-hulk each year in San Diego, it may be a cause too far anyway. IN their mind, they aren’t objectifying women. They’re objectifying mutants, aliens and robots. You’d have to bring them back to earth just to have the conversation. And by going to con…well earth is clearly the last place they want to be.

    but like I said, I’d like to talk specifics. About Ms. Stoker. Specifically her behavior during the whole of the exchange. Because, right up until I was either blocked or Ms. Stoker took her tweets private, I read MANY MANY MANY of the posts during and immediately after.

    Did Simon’s fans call her awful names? It’s probably likely. But you know what many of his fans also did? They engaged her in a point to point refutation of her treatise. Do you know how she handled it?

    Not well.

    If you still have access to her tweets I encourage you to check them out. Many of them were cogent and non-threatening. And a lot of those fans simply thought she was wrong and had questions. Her responses were

    1) If they replied more than twice she told them – Get out of my thread
    2) If someone said something about degree of offense she said – You don’t know what you’re talking about my followers are offended.
    3) She out and out called their views invalid based on things in their profile

    And all the while she’s railing about being under attack by a stupid horde of fanboys. I’m not saying they weren’t there too. And probably not helping is the fact that Pegg, being british, has fans who throw around the C word as their choice epithet (being a lot more prone to both sexes over there). But there were offended fans who wanted to stand up for their guy in a civil way. I get it thought. She was probably in a bunker mindset at that point – you were with her or against her – and she neatly put you on whichever list she could as fast as possible. But unfortunately, her web trail (unless she deleted it) shows her being less than civil to fans who were more than civil to her. And in her mindset, she afforded those fans the exact same response that she was publicly decrying in the people attacking her.

    Another point: she picked this fight.

    She’s an intellectual who has a significant amount of her IP tied up in geek culture. When Simon said what he said, there were 100 ways she could have approached it. (Ex: “I get the love of a sexy leia as much as the next geek, but do you think you could do it without the Homer objectification?”) She didn’t. She went with the most in your face confrontation angle she could. And after the BORING (which was admittedly, less than diplomatic), she got worse. And you can read the exchanges. Even when Pegg basically came to terms, she would accept nothing less than a public apology from him. She wanted HER moment to call out a geek icon in the town square and make her bones in her field.

    Then it went sideways on her. Pegg said something to his followers about knocking it off and then went about his business. And yet Courtney claimed suffering because he didn’t “check BACK in” to issue the order a second time. But even if he had, would it have stopped things? Probably not. And she would have cried victim again and say Pegg STILL hadn’t done enough.

    So to recap, she starts a fight with a celeb, she keeps egging on said celeb past the point of usefulness, she starts a storify – mid exchange – to publicize the details of the fight, then after harangues many of his civil followers who come to debate her and cries foul when the celeb doesn’t make a SECOND tweet to call back his fans. And by morning her account is protected, guaranteeing her that the only views she’ll hear on the matter are reinforcing ones.

    Which brings me to my main point.

    The debate about female objectification in geek culture may well be a valid one. But when someone like Courtney does it the WAY she did, it does no favors to the cause. She got what she wanted out of this: to attack a geek celeb, bring light to her field of study, lots of new fans and a chance to play the victim card for twitter-bullying. I’m sure she’ll get a nice Moth story slam out of it at some point. But the way she did it didn’t speak to the larger problems in the geek universe. After a point, it was all about her. And for this argument, that’s hardly a good thing.

    • Hi Riley,

      Thanks for your comment. How @cnstoker did or did not behave is besides the important discussion around alienation in fandom. Which is an important topic, and one worthy of discussion and debate (wonderful examples of which can be found elsewhere in the other comments for this blog post).

      If you notice the Derailment Bingo at the end of my post, one of the squares is “You’re damaging your cause by being so aggressive.” It’s a tone argument logical fallacy, a straw man. The entire discussion that could be had around how @cnstoker, Simon Pegg, myself, and others handled ourselves in this situation does not impact the discussion around alienation in fandom. Your comment above is about something other than my blog post and the challenges faced by some in the geek community.

      I’m not here to debate someone’s character, as it’s not constructive or productive.

      • @emma – not trying for a derailment hat trick here, but I just want to note that I think that the personal conduct in this case (in my and Riley’s case, it seems to be the perception of incitement and abrogation of responsibility) creates a lot of anger, and that clouds the issues at hand -but you’re completely right, in the context of the discussion of alienation it is a strawman.

        I mention that only to preface that it’s given me a great deal of appreciation for your moderation of this discussion, and also a deeper understanding of the mechanics of miscommunication in machine-mediated discourse. So, to the real meat of the alienation issue, at least as I see it. I was rewatching Khan last night, and it led to musings on the nature of geekdom and why we’re all so damn touchy and trending toward exclusionary.

        What hit me is that the hardcore fans tend to function a lot like highschool cliques writ large – relishing petty rivalries and exclusions, insisting on superlatives of belief (you like Janeway more than Picard? Get out!), and generally gleefully channeling the comic book guy from the Simpsons. In short, a large part of fandom seems to embrace a narrow-band form of social immaturity, and that leads to immature social interactions – not just on issues of gender, ethnicity or class, but over dogma (Trekker vs. Trekkie vs. Star Wars vs Firefly, etc. etc.)

        All of this begs the question of why? To what end this clannishness and rejection of the other? It’s certainly not helpful in any macro sense, though it does preserve self-identity. I mean, geeks are eating themselves – infighting and insularity can only fragment the community, not strengthen it. On the specific issue of gender and the portrayal and acceptance of women, what the hell are they so afraid of? Is it the destruction of their little boys’ club, or is the fact that being inclusive will force them to relinquish this last, treasured piece of bad behaviour by making them start to act like adults?

        It’s like geekdom are virulent sports fans who can’t agree on a team, a league, or even a sport, and they’d rather fight to keep other groups down than try to raise all of them up.

        Anyway, that’s what came to my mind, and it depressed me more than even watching the Shat shout KHAAAAAAANN! could fix.

      • Thank you for commending my moderating abilities. I’ve never had to do it before, really. And while new perspectives are always great to add to an argument, I just prefer they be positive and helpful.

        On that note, I really enjoyed your comment. And so agree with the petty and exclusive nature of some geek divides.

        Perhaps it has something to do with the hazing nature of being a geek in one’s youth. Have we not all been mocked for reading a science fiction book in the hallways of our high schools? Have we not all spent Saturday nights trying to down the final boss instead of at the big party, thereby enforcing out status as loner to the cool kids?

        And then how terrific was it to realize just how many adults are geeks? And how cool geeks actually are? So many nights I’ll see someone live-tweet their way through Buffy. And someone else will chime in, saying how they’re watching Buffy too, just a different season. And then since I’m probably also watching Buffy, I do the same. And yet we allow our differences to divide us, as if to prove *our* ultimate nerdiness.

        I’ve been told to hand in my “geek card” for not being nerdy enough. Before this whole kerfuffle even. It was in jest, I believe, but the fact that there’s a standard of nerdiness to be considered a true nerd definitely goes to show a hierarchy within geeks and fandom. And come on guys. We all got through the jeers in high school, let’s band together. No one’s going to take away your geek card because you prefer Kirk or Picard – so you can actually defend your choice without resorting to name-calling. You can just like it because you like it. I think I may be digressing here.

        As to your comment here:

        “On the specific issue of gender and the portrayal and acceptance of women, what the hell are they so afraid of? Is it the destruction of their little boys’ club, or is the fact that being inclusive will force them to relinquish this last, treasured piece of bad behaviour by making them start to act like adults?”

        I think the answer is: “Yes.”

        And possibly even more reasons. So let’s foster the friendly and welcoming geeks. Mocking and jeering other geeks makes us no better than the jocks and cheerleaders that mocked us in our youth.*

        *There weren’t actually jocks or cheerleaders at my high school – I am using them here as an analogy for whatever group higher on the social ladder made geeks feel excluded. No hate on jocks or cheerleaders. But if you are a jock and/or cheerleader, and you’re reading this: Hi, and be kind to geeks, and for that matter, everyone. Oh. Wait. Everyone be kind to everyone. That also works. Even better.

      • Except the thing is, Courtney went out of her way to aggressively go after a celebrity and complained when his fans went after her. She did so because she wanted to draw him in and make her bones publicly by taking out a geek icon on twitter. That it provoked the kind of hostility it did is entirely foreseeable on her part and undercuts her claims of victimhood at the hands of savage geeks.

        You and I having this conversations? Fine. Use the bingo card. That’s part of the rules. That and Godwin. But if you want to constructively engage a celeb on twitter where everything they say is bound to be a full TMZ article in the morning, taking Courtney’s tack diminishes the overall results. But my guess is, going by the way she responded to the people who tried to have the same dialog with her, that was fully her intent.

      • Looking at the rest of the Storify, she explains where she’s coming from. How she received and handled the backlash doesn’t change her points about alienation in the geek community.

        I disagree that her intent was to dethrone a celebrity. You can see later in her tweets to him how she elaborates her point of view. But that’s also not an important, or constructive, discussion.

        But you know what? Even if it’s true, that she did go out of her way to be wholly antagonistic, that still does not de-legitimize her complaints about women and geek culture. It seems your comments are just about her and her tone, or maybe even her motivations. But not about the topic up for discussion.

      • I’m just going to throw this out on the whole intent/tone issue, for a little clarity. If we disregard the entire @cnstoker/Pegg discussion as being muddy and not relevant to the question of alienation, and instead focus purely on what happened to @emma, the alienation issue becomes far clearer.

        @emma reported on the affair and included a mild (I think totally excusable and possibly even valid in context) epithet for Pegg, and proceeded to reap a nasty, violent, misogynistic shitstorm for doing so.

        That’s the core issue – with that minor epithet (and honestly, I’d say ‘reproof’ as more apt) she somehow offended the DudeBro Army, and so they went berserk. This isn’t a reaction that can be ascribed in any reasonable way to anything @emma did – it’s an ugly manifestation of how a significant part of the geek culture (online at least) reacts to what they perceive as slights or threats. They weren’t trying to establish dialogue, or even change her mind – they were trying to deliver a twitter-based beatdown, silence her opinion and drive her away from what they obviously considered to be ‘their turf’.

        And, if I may allow myself a little British understatement, that’s just not on.

        Whatever its called, that sort of behavior is exclusivist, alienating, and unacceptable – wherever it’s found. Expressing a different opinion should never bring that kind of shitstorm, and I find it depressing that instead of celebrating our shared loves (obsessions?) so many in geekdom find it gratifying to pick on the ideologically impure.

        I’ll leave this for now, as it’s getting close to a Godwin, and (more importantly) it’s quittin’ time and as of now I’m on vacation.

        (And yes, I’m going on a horse-riding vacation with the remainder of season 4 of Enterprise packed. I worry about my priorities, sometimes)

        Have a great weekend everyone, it’s been a fun discussion and I hope that the dialogue continues.

  20. Pingback: Friday’s Show Notes – July 20, 2012 « CKUT's "Morning After" and "Lendemain de la Veille"

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  22. You also derailed the debate by using the victim card and focusing on the hostility of his fans.
    By focusing on the “feelings of alienation” you are not opening the debate, because is your personal perception.
    I know that many women actually defended Simon Pegg and were more offended by YOUR comments, because they reinforce the old stereotype that all feminist are anti-sex.

    So basically what the hell does all that have to do with the role of women in science fiction?.

    The problem is that we are not even arguing about the merits of slave leia as a character or icon, or even on the issue of sexy cosplaying, and women on geek conventions. You were upset at the way he expressed his sexual attraction, and it seems you backtracked to make it about his “boring” commentary and about other geeks being hostile and antagonistic.

    2 things.
    Those female cosplayers choose to use those outfits and are happily accepting the male attention, they are happily posing for the camera, nobody is forcing them to be there. I don’t see how is it any different than Magic Mike.
    When you are accepting the attention you are taking control of your sexuality. I see it as empowerment.
    And you didn’t refute the point that that slave Leia is a sexual icon. The character was so much more, but they are not there as princess leia, they are cosplaying as slave leia. And thats the all point of cosplaying, having fun looking as the character not being the character.

    The backlash of this is unfortunate, but you contributed with the jerk comment and the fact that he is a celebrity, and more importantly, it didn’t add up anything to the larger debate of women in science-fiction.

    Before you start to debate you need to decide if people expressing themselves sexually is good or bad, i found your views on that subject a little inconsistent.

    • Hi tvexpert,

      I can tell you, from the masses of responses I received, the vast majority were nothing but verbal abuse, and very few were by women offended that I had reinforced the idea that women are anti-sex. There were some of those comments, it is true. They are completely besides the point of the real discussion around fandom. More on that later in my response below.

      If they, or you, had read my blog post, they would see at no point to make a pro- or anti- sex comment. I make it very clear that my issue was never with Simon Pegg’s original tweets, or with anyone commenting on someone else’s appearance, but how he dismissed @cnstoker’s concerns, and personal experiences, of being alienated as a woman in fandom.

      I did not focus on the hostility of his fans – I listed the examples of verbal abuse I received to highlight their extent. I hope you see I in fact dedicate more of my post to responding to Pegg’s fans’ questions. And I’m sorry you think this event has not contributed to a discourse around fandom, but if you read any of the other many comments on this blog, you can see some terrific discussion on just that point.

  23. Unfortunately these days a man can not call a women hot with out being branded a sexist.
    I thought being sexist was someone who thinks women (or men) are less important than the opposite sex. Shouldn’t we be worried about the people in Afghanistan and Nigeria who are raping and murdering women and girls on a daily basis rather than a man who, to me is one of the few good actors left on Earth?.

    Yours sincerely

    Cazza (A feminist and geek)

    • Thanks for your comment. If you read the post carefully, you’ll see that I was addressing not merely Mr. Pegg’s original comments, but his initial response to @cnstoker. And then the vitriolic sexist backlash I suffered online as a result of sharing that.

      Of course there are greater injustices in the world. Does that mean we shouldn’t address gender inequality unless the act is bad enough? Where oh where would we draw the line in the sand?

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