The New York Times has a story on how Comic-Con has become a venue to market to — gasp! — girls, with lots of info on various toy and clothing lines, including gymnast Nastia Liukin’s Supergirl line of clothing.

And marketers, including publishers, toy manufacturers and Hollywood’s entertainment giants, used Comic-Con 2010 last month to promote products for girls and to build anticipation for new ones. Mattel, for example, used Comic-Con to promote several toy lines for girls, offering an exclusive set of its Polly Pocket dolls dressed as superheroes and promoting Monster High.

I was actually interviewed for the piece by author Gregory Schmidt, who was very smart and nice and did a fine job on the story, but everything I said got cut out in editing. I was nonplussed by this, not so much because I didn’t get my name in the NY Times again, but because it leaves the article with just men quoted about selling to girls.

So yet again it’s a story about girls and women and what they like without a single woman expressing an opinion on the matter. Thanks, guys! We’ll just keep shelling out the money — no need to actually listen to us.


  1. *files nails in traditionally feminine expression of apathy*

    If I said ‘meh’, would male geeks know I was speaking?

  2. I have never been to Comic-Con, but I have been reading comics my whole life, and I can’t help but wonder if the idea that it was, at some time, an exclusively male domain might be a convenient gloss on a more complex reality. I’m thinking here of the popular notion of “Trekkies” as a bunch of loser guys, whereas women have always been active and enthusiastic — possibly even majority — participants in fan culture.

  3. That’s not true, Kate. We have brains. They’re just made out of rib, so we don’t know any better. We need men (the original creation, after all) to make our decisions for us.

    Even when talking to other nerds around the gaming table, there’s always at least one guy who wants to argue with me about an aspect of the female experience, be it how we feel treated by males or child-bearing or having menses or whatever, much less what we like as fellow consumers. It’s gotten to where my automatic reply is, “Oh, I didn’t know you were transgender, I’m sorry”. They try to say things like, “Well, from what I’ve noticed my mom/sister/aunt/gf/wife/whatever, being a woman really is like this”. Yeah, well, you still really have no idea, you’re just trying to prove that your perspective is ultimately the only valid one.

    Instead of really listening to women to find out how we work and what we need, it’s usually just easier for most men to tell us how they expect us to work, then call us derogatory slurs if we don’t conform to their models of “girliness”. Obviously what we really want is more dolls and clothes. Where are the toy guns and books being promoted as “girly”? No, we get dolls, because that’s what we are.

  4. We girls will think what men tell us we think!

    There is often something paternalistic about marketing to girls and women, don’t you think? There’s sort of a tone of “See, girls? Look how well we take care of you — we’re making things for you to buy!”

  5. Jessica, I am so with you there on the Trek fans thing, it’s funny in a kind of headdesking way. Weirdly I had an experience with it last night!

    I went to The Shat Ball Trek night at The Knitting Factory last night with some friends (http://bk.knittingfactory.com/event-details/?tfly_event_id=13209) and the comedian guys there kept going on about how shocked they were at all the women in the audience and how they were actually hot.

    Meanwhile, about half of the Star Trek Improv group that performed alongside them was female and so was The Amazing Amy, the Star Trek Contortionist, who is in her 50’s and has been a Trek fan since the first episode.

    HOW ARE YOU SHOCKED, GUYS? Just look at the program!

  6. Star Trek was the “Twilight” of its day. It caused an influx of female fans into SF fandom, surprising male fandom at the Worldcon in San Francisco. Spock was a sex symbol.

    Any Trekker who does not realize that there are numerous female fans is an idiot.

    SF/Fantasy conventions have always had a better gender mix… partly because that fandom appreciates intelligence and diversity more than comic book fandom.

  7. One of the manager/owners of the comic shop I used to work at made a scene at a retailer’s convention when the topic of “appealing to female customers” came up. I think she went off after someone suggested that comic shop aisles be widened for strollers.

    Creepy considering most of the girls who pop into the shop are teens and preteens.

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