— Heidi MacDonald (@Comixace) April 17, 2015
A new and potentially awful chapter in Con Wars opened up today.
The Honey Badgers are the ladies auxiliary of the MRA (Men’s Rights Advocates) groups, and MRA groups are largely affiliated with GamerGate, the endlessly annoying group that has been fighting diversity behind a shield of anti-censorship for the last two million years since last summer. And sadly this warzone—mostly held on social media until now—just got dragged into the real world of the Calgary Expo.
The Honey Badger Brigade purchased a booth—which was crowdfunded—and sent some of their biggest names to the show. The goal was:
In April of this year, the Honey Badgers plan to put on a booth at the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo! We plan to infiltrate nerd culture cunningly disguised as their own. Each of us has been carefully crafting a persona of nerdiness through decades of dedication to comics, science fiction, fantasy, comedy games and other geekery, waiting for this moment, our moment to slip among the unaware. Once there we will start distributing the totalitarian message that nerd and gamer culture is… perfectly wonderful just as it is and should be left alone to go it’s own way.
That’s it folks.
As men’s issues advocates and defenders of creator’s rights to create unmolested, that’s what we have to say to the nerds and geeks and gamers. You are fantastic as you are, carry on.
Yep, in today’s political climate that’s considered an extremist position. Just letting creative communities create; consumers consume what they want; and gamers get down to the business of vidya without being judged.
So if you share our vision of a world in which nerds and geeks and gamers roam free and unfettered, help us spread that message by throwing a few shekels our way to attend the con.
However, as posted by The Mary Sue in a full report you should definitely read, the group was actually there to disrupt panels that didn’t agree with their world view:
We’re not done just yet. The group also attended the “Women Into Comics” panel last night. Panelist Brittney Le Blanc gave us this account of the events that transpired:
We were about fifteen minutes into the panel when a woman in the second row stood up and identified herself as a Men’s Rights Activist. She and her male companion both came to raise issues they felt would not be covered by our panel. Raising points about the way men are portrayed in comics struck a note with all the panelists, as we agreed that we want to see a diversity across body types, characters, races, etc in mainstream comics. Not everyone wants to see a hero who looks like he’s built like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. They also accused us of presenting all women as victims, which was an outright lie and derailing tactic.
Their questions did take up quite a bit of time at the panel and served to derail the topic onto another tangent, which was frustrating for the panel and for those in the audience. It’s what they came to do, and in part, they succeeded. I would say that it brought up some great discussions though, allowing us to talk about the lack of representation for people of colour in comics and to give well deserved props to artists like Sophie Campbell, who has done an amazing job in showcasing a broad range of bodies with her art in Jem and the Holograms.
News of the HBB booth, which was not registered under that name—with its images of Ellen James, a bizarre idealized girl gamer who coexists with men in some peaceful wonderland straight from the imagination of Henry Darger—spread on social media. After complaints from congoers, who just went to have a good time and not get caught up in a partisan war, the booth was removed.
— sohmer (@sohmer) April 17, 2015
…which had led to a renewed explosion of trolling from the proGG forces on twitter.
ON the surface, this event seems to play right into the GG/HBB agenda by making it appear that a group with an “alternative viewpoint” has been “censored.” But of course that isn’t the real agenda. If it was just about promoting one’s own opinion it would be one thing, but the GG/HBB faction has (from my own personal experiences) been focused on verbal abuse, gender based slurs, and basically, as with the panel above, attempting to disrupt the promotion of views opposite to their own—exactly what GG/HBBs accuse their foes of doing.
Sadly, this shows no sign of slowing down. Are convention panels soon to be a nerd version of a CNN “expert” panel, with loud talking heads shouting over one another seeing who can make the most noise and no one listening? Dear Crom, I hope not.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.