November 15, 2012


I have recently been made aware of a Facebook post [a certain guest] had made regarding women who show up at cons dressed in provocative, but genre appropriate, costuming.  The issue seems to be that [guest] believes these women are not really fans, but merely desperate women looking to increase their self-esteem by attracting the attention of “drooling fan boys.”
I’m not writing this post to complain, or single out anyone.  Instead, I’d like to call on all conventions to establish inclusion policies.  I realize that some folks take offense to “non-fans” attending cons, but I have to ask… why?  In the early 80’s, I was only dipping my proverbial toes in the water of fandom when I attended my first con.  If the fans back then had treated me like an outsider, I probably would not be sitting here writing this blog today.
As fans we should welcome everyone who attends and try to be inclusive.  That “non-fan” must have SOME interest in the genre, or she/he would not have created the costume in the first place.  I admit I have no hard evidence on this next point, but I have a hunch that if we collectively befriend this “non-fan,” instead of berating them, there is a significantly greater chance that person will become a life-long fan (assuming he/she isn’t already).  And really, what’s the harm in trying?
So, what can cons do to help?  Well, how about each con writes  up an inclusion policy? It doesn’t have to be a long policy, just state that the con openly promotes inclusion and/or openly discourages exclusion.  Many of us in fandom have experienced exclusion at some point in our lives, and we know it doesn’t feel very good to be excluded.  
Now, if you’re not a con organizer, you can still help.  Practice your own inclusion policy by walking up to the person and saying “Hi.”  Please note, though, this is not an excuse to become a “drooling fan boy.”   In other words, this is not a suggestion for you to try to pick-up said “non-fan girl.”  My guess is if you try to make her your friend, she’ll let you know if she’s interested in a date.  And if she doesn’t, well, you’re no worse off than you were before you said “hello.”
So, in conclusion, as fans, I say let’s all try to make sure inclusion is a very real thing at conventions.  And con organizers; let’s try to ensure that folks know it’s not okay to exclude people, just because someone doesn’t think they’re a “real fan.”


  1. Thank you for this. I'd be happy to see the whole "fake geek girls" meme die a horrible death.

    Sometimes when I wear my Batman shirt out in public, a part of me is worried that some fanboy with a chip on his shoulder is going to corner me and start grilling me about upteen decades of Bat-history and if I get one little detail wrong, I'm going to be branded as a fake.

    When I first got to college, my only gaming experience was with AD&D. But the friends I started hanging out with who were gamers weren't playing D&D, they were playing this thing I'd never heard of before, Champions.

    Anyone who knows me will tell you that I purely suck at math, so you'd think that Champions would make me run screaming into the night. But my friends -- including my future husband, I might add -- welcomed me and took the time to explain the system to me, helped me build my first characters, corrected my mistakes, and were, in general, welcoming and inclusive.

    I never became a rules lawyer or an Olympic-class min-maxer, but to this day, Champions is my preferred RPG of choice. All because the geek guys who played it welcomed me instead of making fun of my lack of knowledge.

  2. Echoing. I was an avid reader of SF, watched Star Trek and played AD&D...but I got noticed in a college fan club because I was the cute girl in the green skirt.

    I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a fake geek girl. They must have had interest in something if they are brave enough to cosplay in sexy outfits. Wether its a Poison Ivy cosplayer who's a firefly fan or the girl in Wonder Woman who could probably tell you every thing there is to know about Catwoman. It time fandom got over itself. Literary fans got over the media fans. Media fans got over the gamers. We are all fans. And it's time we started including each other.

    Came across this tonight to add to the discussion. The language is a bit intense (NSFW) but it reiterates James point. Stop excluding and start including.

  3. I, too, have encountered this attitude and all I can say about your post is...Right ON, James, and thank you!

  4. Wonderful post and points! I completely agree with you on this, the con community should be more open to people wanting to come and be part of the convention world, if people pay or attend the conventions, then they are there because they have some sort of interest or knowledge already, we should feed that and make them even bigger fans of the genre, not fuss and scare them away. I went to my first con when I was twelve in 1996 and have not looked back for one moment, everyone was so nice and encouraging, we need more of that and less complaining.