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Comicon and the Mythical War on Women

As I mentioned in a recent article, I was interested in attending Comicon because from the outside I saw some interesting similarities and differences. This piece is about one similarity in particular: how the media portrays Comicon and the Conservative Political Action Conference’s (CPAC) relationship with women. (I served as the director of CPAC from 2006 to 2011.)

Both are portrayed as dominated by men and hostile to women. Reality says otherwise. The NBC affiliate in Phoenix noted that at this year’s Phoenix Comicon, female attendance equaled male attendance. Some attribute it to the growing number of female role models/strong characters.

Arizona’s NBC 12 News reports:

Outside, Ashley Passon and a group of her friends were arriving to sign up for registration.

“It’s getting to the point where girls are possibly more [present] than the guys are,” said Passon. “My brother used to go to Comicon years ago and he went recently and said, ‘There are a lot more girls now.'”

All the women credit the trend to two things:

  1. The increase of prominent female leads in Hollywood, such as Katniss of The Hunger Games, Elsa of Frozen and Black Widow of The Avengers.
  1. The stereotype is fading.

“It’s acceptable,” said [Jillian] Squires. “We’re not being shamed anymore for being nerdy.”

Yesterday, I met up with Comicon attendee, “pop culture geek” and blogger, Sara Miller. She has attended Comicons for years and told me that she does believe the media are trumping up the “war on women” element. After her time at Comicon on Friday, she wrote:

Ours is the most recent community to fall prey to the absurd allegations and brutal attacks of the modern feminists.

….

No group poses a greater threat to women in pop culture than the feminists. These are the people who claim women can do or be anything they want, yet refuse to see our gender as capable of dual roles. Black Widow can be a superhero but if she wants anything more from life or has regrets about the choices she has made then she instantly becomes unworthy of the feminism seal of approval. Warrior or wife (a word constantly shifted into italics so you can’t possibly miss the feminist blogger rolling her eyes at such a quaint notion).

Friday, when I titled my piece “Is It Harder to Be a Woman or a Conservative at Comicon?” it was to illustrate that the media often tell us what we should think of one another to divide us, and we go along with it. The reality is that given the increasing numbers, women feel very comfortable attending Comicon. As for being a conservative, I’ll have more on that in another piece. Let’s just say I’m going home with a few souvenirs.

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