Published on September 9th, 2012 | by ALICIA21
The Ban on Booth Babes (or Fuck Sexism in Geekdom)
I’m sitting here grabbing my face, slowly scratching out my eyeballs in frustration while listening to Third Eye Blind in an attempt to organize my thoughts about PAX without losing my mind. Apparently it’s not working because I’m listening to Third Eye Blind. A big departure from the folk music I normally listen to.
For the past year (at least), there has been a ban on booth babes at Penny Arcade Expo. Gabe and Tycho decreed, “Hark! In order to not pander to gross sexist men, we’re banning booth babes!” And all the women gamers cheered; and all the male gamers sang! It was truly a righteous moment for sexism in gaming! Oh, wait no. It wasn’t. It’s straight up bullshit sexism just from a different angle, marketed to seem appealing to geeks because: GROSS. Booth babes! Companies just selling out women, treating the men like creeps! REAL GAMERS ONLY! These chicks don’t know about anything geeky ever and therefore should be banned!
“You know what really grinds my gears?” Peter Griffin, wise sage, once said (and by wise sage, I mean the worst character on television). Well, I’ll tell you what, reader! What really grinds my gears is that, as a promotions girl, we’re assumed to be some sort of useless entity in marketing. Gaming dudes just assume we stand around, pout our lips and seduce men into our respective booths. And while sex appeal definitely is a part of the scheme, these are our jobs. This is what I do for a living. I work promotions for various films, partnerships, etc. And while I’m not necessarily wearing booty shorts and an XS tee, I’m doing the exact same thing that “booth babes” do.
My job is legitimate. And it also involves marketing and promoting a product that I may not particularly like, but it’s my job to get other people to like it. That’s what promotions is. “Booth babes” aren’t going to ever go away, they’re just going to be told to cover up. But once they’re covered up, it’s all okay, right? They can hang around doing promotions as long as they aren’t showing boobs or a little derriere, hmmmm?
I have a huge problem when anyone tries to “de-sluttify” a woman, especially because – GOSH! We’re pandering toward men! I’m so sorry you feel like we’re exploiting you, straight male gamers, I’ll try to cover up my breasts so that you feel like less of a creep, while you can still walk around almost buck naked with your chest hair puffing out towards the world. What it comes down to is that PAX and all the asshole geeks who worship at the temple of Gabe & Tycho Ltd. want to passively control what women working the convention are wearing. And that’s wrong. Period.
After the last rage-induced article/open letter that I wrote to PAX I had a conversation with Gabe (Mike Krahulik) over Twitter. And by conversation I mean I asked him simple questions on why he thought it was okay to ban Jessica Nigri from wearing two of her Lollipop Chainsaw outfits and he responded like a petulent child, telling me that he “doesn’t give a shit” what anyone says because: “ME GABE. ME BIG HERO OF INTERWEBS AND GAMING. ME BFF WITH WIL WHEATON.” And then he pounded on his chest, revealing a Donkey Kong neck tie tattoo.
Gabe told me that there were complaints over the gaggle of Duke Nukem booth babes last year (don’t even get me started on Duke Nukem in general). I guess people commented that either they were too tarty, the complainants felt pandered to or… it was sexist? Because that’s the answer to sexism: BAN ALL ATTRACTIVE WOMEN WORKING AT PAX! According to our dear friend Gabe, he was just so confused! What is he supposed to do?! People were complaining the year before and this year over WOMEN, what is a webcomic hero to do?!
He then told me that I can talk to him again “once I run a giant convention myself”. Right. It’s not like he doesn’t have a huge group of staff and volunteers to do most of the foot work for him, hm? Gabe and Tycho need to hire better PR representation stat because they really have no fucking clue how to deal with public relations.
What this comes down to, again and again, is the “real geek” versus “fake geek” time old argument, which seems to be dictated by straight dude geeks these days, which is really depressing. Women working the convention must be “true blue geeks” or get their asses kicked to the curb. ‘Cause, you know, it’s not like it’s a giant commercialized event sponsored by corporate giants who have employees and staff and prom– oh wait, it is.
I’m tired of this angry, territorial stomping ground geekdom has claimed as “their own”. I’m tired of us bumrushing the “fake geeks” out the door. Where do we draw the line? In what way is it ever okay to dictate how much of their bodies women should cover up? I can hear the responses a-tweeting, “But it doesn’t affect the women at the convention, just the booth workers! They should know what they are talking about! Sexy clothes just demean women and pander to men!” First off, that’s bullshit. Adrienne Curry was kicked out of Comic Con for a “too revealing” costume and that’s not the first time that has happened to a female cosplayer. The sheer fact that this is a gender-targeted rule makes it sexist as hell.
Instead of banning “booth babes”, why the hell aren’t we trying to correct the behaviour of the men and boys that oogle and treat them like objects only there so solve their sexual frustration? Isn’t that the bigger problem here? By banning the promo models we’re saying, “Hey, guys! You can’t help yourselves, and that’s okay, because you’re dudes! So we’re just gonna get rid of the problem so you don’t need to be worried any more.”
Wouldn’t it be better to write up a ToS about treating the employees at the convention? As in, like, “Hey, guy, please don’t sexually harass the ladies at the convention! Thanks a bunch, champ!” And if some dude sexually harasses a promo model or hell, even just a run-of-the-mill woman cosplayer, have them kicked out instead? Why not ban problematic behaviour? Why are we letting the creepy dudes off the hook so easily? These are all questions I would love to ask Gabe, but hey, he has me blocked on Twitter. Oop!