This article on the “Speed Dating” sessions at the recent New York Comic Con by Latoya Peterson paints an interesting picture of the social dynamics of Nerd World, especially with the growing participation of women due to the influx of anime and Vampire influences.

Prejudices that plague the wider dating market are checked at the door: Asian men—who don’t fare well by OkCupids metrics—are a highly sought after commodity, possibly due to anime and Japanese dramas finally showing Asian male characters as objects of desire rather than derision. Spending three minutes talking about Gundam collectibles is more likely to excite a prospect instead of making their eyes glaze over. Guys won’t be mocked in front of the entire Internet for being awesome at Magic the Gathering. And, unlike traditional dating circles that try to encourage women to forgo feminist ideas in order to win true love—never call a man! Play by “The Rules”!—at NYCC speed dating, the women call the shots. This is even more poignant considering the comics and their fan worlds are heavily dominated by male artists and creators who seem to think that women are strongest when they forget to wear clothing. To carve out a space where women set the tone for engagement is nothing less than amazing.

Could it be that far from being a tiny, repressed minority in Nerd World, female fans are changing the whole game? Maybe comic-cons are no longer a “safe space” for male pursuits.

Maybe cooties DO exist and they DO “ruin” things.


  1. I gotta be honest, I don’t think speed dating events in general are worth the time, money and effort. At conventions, I think its an even stupider idea and nothing in the linked article really changed my opinion.

    It’s good that women are becoming a bigger and more active part of fandom, but this sort of thing leaves me cold. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of seeing cons as pick-up joints for nerdboys, and the idea that nerds can only find true happiness with other nerds is kind of insulting.

    While yes, relationships – even lifelong ones – DO start at cons, trying to turn one social event celebrating everything you like about your subculture into “find the nerdboy/girl of your dreams” really almost feels exploitive to me. The apparent “NERDS! WORSHIP AT THE FEET OF YOUR GODDESSES” attitude that the MC was displaying does little to improve my impression of it.

    (I have a fairly lengthy blog post about why I’m against trying to pick up girls at cons here: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/07/pick-girls-comic-con/)

  2. I did the speed dating event at C2E2. I actually did hit it off with somebody I met at the event. We spent the con together and have seen each other a number of times since then.

    At the event I attended, the guys at the event tended to be younger (teens and early 20s) and just as basket-case geeky as one might imagine. 3/4 of the women who attended were acting as journalists in some fashion or other, doing a sort of first-person reporting rather than attending to actually meet someone. That was a bit depressing on its own.

    I’m in my 30s. The person I matched with is also in her 30s. We’re both professionals and we found that we had a great deal in common both in the two minutes allotted to the “date” and in the hours afterward as we wandered around the con. I thought it was a fun, positive experience.

  3. The C2E2 event was open to anyone regardless of preference.

    I was told by the event organizer that he’d mostly seen girls do speed dates with girls at other cons. Based on observation and the experiences of other friends, it seems that nerd girls who occasionally go for other girls is just part of the package.

    I can’t comment on the other side of the equation.

  4. “Could it be that far from being a tiny, repressed minority in Nerd World, female fans are changing the whole game? Maybe comic-cons are no longer a “safe space” for male pursuits.

    Maybe cooties DO exist and they DO “ruin” things.”

    Comic fangirls might be a lot of things — but judging by the tenor of recent online discourse, ‘repressed’ ain’t one of them.

    Also, was speed-dating ever really a predominantly ‘male pursuit’?

    And while I think ‘ruin’ (even used ironically) is far too strong a term…a large influx of female fans into an existing fandom can result in major changes — and not always for the better.

    Case in point: the Gundam anime/manga franchise name-checked above. Gundam used to be the archetypal shonen franchise, but an increase in female devotees caused later series to take on strong shojo overtones. The protagonists of the first half-dozen or so Gundam series were clean cut, earnest young prodigies along the lines of a Sci-Fi/Anime-style Doogie Howser.

    But starting with Gundam Wing or so, the male leads started looking less like Peter Parker-style everydudes and more like boy band members (and/or androgynous bishonnen), romantic/emo subplots began to eat up more and more screentime, and the coming-of-age / war story themes were downplayed proportionally. Zeta Gundam (an early Gundam series) and Gundam 00 (one of a more recent vintage) have so little in common in terms of style, storytelling, and theme that they could easily be mistaken for entirely separate properties.

    Though directing toxic invective towards female fans is never acceptable, the argument that catering to an increasing female fanbase could warp a franchise and/or character almost beyond recognition is not completely baseless or utterly without precedent.

  5. “3/4 of the women who attended were acting as journalists in some fashion or other, doing a sort of first-person reporting rather than attending to actually meet someone.”

    This is a depressing statement about the state of “journalism” in the world today. Pubishers, editors … the next time some freelancer proposes a tongue-in-cheek article about any comicon … just say “no” …

  6. “Journalists” insofar as people who said they were representing a blog, fandom-related site or Youtube channel. Probably a lot of people who are even a step below trade press.

    Reedpop runs both C2E2 and NYCC, and the same outfit was doing the speed dating event. Honestly, I’m all for it. I had a good time, got some practice socialize (and I’ll fully admit being in the category of person who needs that) and even if I hadn’t found a lady geek to hang out with, there was a big group of people I hadn’t known before whom I met because of that shared experience. I bumped in to those people all weekend. It made the con more personable.

  7. Are you KIDDING me? With all she stuff about female fans and creators in the comics world getting crapped on, you’re running a piece that strips them down to their f—ability, and the likelihood that a guy can get laid at Comic Con.

    Look, I’m sure that the dynamics of it are fascinating and blah bloo pseudo-intellectual excuse for talking about the dating scene, but BOOOOOOOO!

  8. Here’s the thing. I’m not sure how much this is built off preconceptions and how much of this is an actual thing. Because there has been a horrifying trend building over the past decade or so.

    Nerds have gotten, on the whole, far less ugly.

    No longer is the slightly below average woman hailed as a beauty queen in a room filled of overweight, socially awkward men. No. These days comic fans look fairly normal, for most part.

    Some are even attractive by normal person standards.


    I blame the mangas.

  9. Most of those female fans looK like butch dykes with facial hair. Ugly, you got to feel sorry for the male comic fans,as they get to pick from a bad litter.