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What if Feminist Ryan Gosling… Was Pictures of Con Staff Instead?

PAX East was my first real con experience, and it’s been my experience since that it probably gave me a skewed idea of how competent volunteer con staff should be expected to be. The first time I saw somebody giving a New York Comic Con enforcer backtalk, it was like an alien experience. My experience with PAX East enforcers is that they have created a self-perpetuating image: everybody believes that they’re competent and on top of things and so should be treated with respect, which allows them to be maximally friendly, calm, helpful, and communicative to attendees… which allows them to be completely on top of things, which means that everybody believes they are on top of things… and so on. So it does not surprise me one bit that some of them have gotten together, in the wake of a well publicized incident of a disruptive media attendee, to reassure female cosplayers and attendees that they’ve got your back. With a nerdy meme.

(Feminist PAX Enforcers via anonymous tip.)

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  • Melanie Burrett

    hehe. That’s cute.

  • Zach Gaskins

    Definitely applaud the behavior of the enforcers – this is more of what we need.

    Only thing I’m still trying to fit into the proper box of gender-equal treatment, is PAX’s policy of restricting overly-revealing or provocative costumes. I admit I haven’t seen the specific examples that were turned away, but I’m trying to figure out if that’s unnecessary shaming, i.e. “you can’t wear that because guys can’t help themselves”, or if there is indeed a line that both genders can agree to draw where it goes from being respectful to flagrantly self-objectifying (if that’s a word). I ask this because I have attended certain conventions that welcomed more provocative outfits, but there was always the notion that “look but don’t touch” was a sacred rule.

  • Trin Rummy

    I’m so glad you highlighted this blog. Particularly in recent years, Enforcers make it part of our mission to ensure that PAX is a safe space for everyone. I really hope that attendees will see this and find reassurance that we have EVERYONE’s backs.
    also: The creator of the tumblr is @suzicurran on Twitter!
    ALSO: YAY my face and Legion shoulderpiece is in one of these pictures!!!

  • Aeryl

    My understanding is that PAX advertises it as a family friendly environment, which is the reasoning behind the rule. How overtly sexual is considered bad for families but not hyper violent is something I still have trouble wrapping my head around.

  • Mikey Sparks

    So far as I’m aware the ban on “overly-revealing” costumes is only for cosplay sponsored by a vendor. I believe the logic there is one part family friendly environment and one part “build interest in your game, not the attractive faces in your booth.”

  • Kim Pittman

    It is in fact, generally just applied to vendors. They also do spot checks on if the “booth babes” actually know about the game they are repping. (It was terribly amusing to listen to vendors drilling their booth babes on points about the game.)

    It has to do with more, they want their convention to be about games, not about sex. It is also intended to be a family affair, so they want to keep it as pg/pg-13 as possible.

  • Kim Pittman

    I regularly go to PAX Prime and I have to say, for the most part the Enforcers are the very best. I found a purse one year and I was terribly upset at the idea (I know how *I* would have felt. Think about it, without your id you can’t fly home!). I grabbed it, and looked around, but didn’t see any blue shirts. So I just shouted “I need an Enforcer!” Three of them appeared as if by MAGIC. They took the bag, and my name/number. Two hours later I get a text from an unknown number that turns out to be the girl who lost her bag. She was extremely thankful, relieved, and wanted to thank me. Not only had her bag been returned, but nothing was missing. (I am sure there was cash in there.)

    That said, I did have an encounter with a rude enforcer one year. I was sitting on the aisle during a panel, with my leg stretched out. My knee was clearly wrapped in a bandage and couldn’t bend. But this enforcer kept trying to get me to move in on the seats. I pointed out my knee, said I would be unable to sit in the middle, but I was more than willing to get up and let people in. He was super snotty and threatened to kick me out of the panel. (After sitting in line for 3 hours??!?) Right as I was about to get worked up, the guys on the row ahead, all shifted down (filling in the center) and leaving one seat on the end. The guy at the end turned around and asked if I wanted to sit on the end of their row, since it was full.

    PAX is a very different beast from other conventions. For whatever odd reason, mostly the people there are far more inclusive and friendly than other conventions. All the bad stories I have heard about it have always been at parties and such in other places, not at the convention itself.

  • Zach Gaskins

    I’m just sensing some confusion regarding the message that women shouldn’t be judged on whether they are aware/knowledgable about the characters they dress up as (the “fake geek girl” argument). Am I to take away from this that if you are specifically dressing up to sell a product, then the fakeness-test becomes legitimate?

  • Zach Gaskins

    Definitely understand the need for a friendly environment (I’m a boardgaming director of a large anime/gaming convention in the Southeast). But I think it’s worth discussing 1) Who gets to draw the line separating family-friendly from adult, and 2) Could the drawing of that line be an aspect of slut-shaming in *certain* *specific* contexts? In a sense, by making certain outfits allowed and others not, we are putting the onus of offending/encouraging bad behavior back on the wearer and not on the people perceiving the wearer?

    Please understand I am not intentionally trying to be difficult about it, but I am sure these two messages cross wires a lot.

  • Life Lessons

    And goodness but when men do feminist speak it is totally HOT!

  • Anonymous

    Aww, this is actually pretty sweet.

  • Cortana Siffow PMS

    As Kim said, the rule applies to vendors. “Booth babes” are HIRED to be there. That is different than attendees dressing up however they feel like.They are being judged as competent workers for the booth they were hired to help market. This isn’t a “fake geek girl” issue, it’s a “why can’t you market your game with its own merits, rather than just use the models you hired?” Whether or not these models actually care about the product isn’t the issue.

  • Mikey Sparks

    I suppose there’s a chance for any restriction on dress to spark that sort of implications if you don’t consider the intent of the regulation.

    The regulations for employees of vendors are akin to outlining what is appropriate clothing in an office settings and has nothing to do with preventing/encouraging “bad behavior.” The regulations are part of what a vendor agrees to in order to have a place at the show. (again, doesn’t apply to attendees)

    It’s also worth nothing that the regulations apply to everyone but, so far as I know, have only been tested by costumes on female representatives. Everything in my experience suggests that an inappropriately dressed employee of any gender would be asked to change.

  • Kim Pittman

    It’s more about, if you have people in costumes, they need to be more than eye candy. Eye candy is not welcome. Fans dressed as characters are.

    Vendors break this rule as much as possible, but PA works pretty hard to catch them at it too.

  • Jeanette Diaz

    ^This lady is awesome, and she deserves to be here!

  • Mark Wilhelm

    You know what’s not funny? That tumblr uses some of my photos from the PAX East 2013 Enforcer party, but didn’t give any attribution. I don’t get paid for those (nor do I want to, I’m an Enforcer too), but it would be nice to be credited properly. :S