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Rants and Raves: Geek Girls

The Changing Demographics of Comic-Con

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Above: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in "Star Wars" started a number of young girls on the path to geekdom.


Men still outnumber women at Comic-Con but that's changing as geek girls increase their presence at the pop culture mecca. I talked with a few kindred souls. Take a listen.

Men still outnumber women at Comic-Con but that's changing as geek girls increase their presence at the pop culture mecca. I talked with a few kindred souls. Take a listen.

Bud Plant, one of Comic-Con's longtime exhibitors, said the only girl at the first Con was the daughter of one of the dealers. That's changed dramatically with the ratio of men to women now being 60-40. Rebecca Hicks calls herself a geek from birth. She attended her first convention nearly two decades ago and noticed the gender gap.

REBECCA HICKS: My girls aren't representing.... But over the years it's just like okay there's some more women, there's young girls. Oh hey these kids are into anime and manga, and there are a lot of girls that are into that. This is kind of cool.

Sheyne Fleischer, a fan of the anime "Sailor Moon," remembers the battle she waged with her parents to get to the convention.

SHEYNE FLEISCHER: All of my friends were guys and they wouldn't let me go because I would be in a hotel room with 5 guys and they thought that for a young lady it was completely inappropriate.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Bandai

"Sailor Moon" is one of the Japanese animes that lured young girls into geek territory.

Japanese cartoons also led Melissa Kennedy to Comic-Con.

MELISSA KENNEDY: I was very big into watching "Sailor Moon" and "Dragonball Z" and I was the only girl doing that. And I met a guy that had a ticket so me and my dad went down to San Diego and I just felt so normal there.

Amy McCain says social media now makes it easier to hook up with like-minded people, which can provide that safety-in-numbers comfort some first time female Con-goers might need.

AMY McCAIN: It's sort of like hey you go to Comic-Con, you're a girl. Yeah, so? Well can I go too? Yeah sure let's get all our girlfriends together and go down to Comic-Con.

But once these geek girls get to Comic-Con they feel right at home.

REBECCA HICKS: It was like oh my gosh! Here's our tribe. And you could talk to them about Batman and you didn't have to explain a thing.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Lunasea Studios

Rebecca Hicks' "Little Vampires"

Rebecca Hicks now creates the online comic "Little Vampires" and has a booth at the convention, where women artists remain in the minority. She credits "Star Trek's" Uhuru and "Star Wars'" Princess Leia with bringing girls into the geek circle.

REBECCA HICKS: I like to think that those characters started the idea that girls it's okay to like that stuff, it's okay. You can like that stuff. You can still be girly if you want to but you can like that stuff.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Paramount

Nichelle Nichols was an early, strong female character in TV's "Star Trek."

Japanese anime proved to be the gateway drug to geekdom for many girls growing up in the 80s say Fleischer.

SHEYNE FLEISCHER: I am the exact right age where Sailor Moon was on channel 13 at like 3 o'clock when I got home from middle school. And having these very girly girls in really in really cute outfits who were so badass but they still cried over boyfriends and over fashion and over stress and I mean Sailor Moon was really that archetype that pulled me in and then everything else after that was gravy on top.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Marvel

Storm was a strong female comic book character in Marvel's "X-Men."

Fleischer also inherited a massive comic book collection from her brother and the strong American superheroines only heightened her geek passions.

SHEYNE FLEISCHER: I have always fixated on incredibly strong female characters and my favorite in X-Men has always been Storm... I believe it was an issue from the 70s, Storm without her power managed to defeat Cyclops in order to take control of the X-Men, and I just idealized her, I thought it was amazing she didn't even need her mutant power to be the leader of the mutant superhero group.

AMY McCAIN: The more the mass media comes out with these strong empowered females I think that the numbers are going to continue to rise as far as women getting out there and showing their geekiness.

Amy McCain regularly attends Comic-Con where she indulges her passion for Dungeons and Dragons, "Star Wars," and "Doctor Who." And that's the thing. Geek girls aren't into just one thing. Princess Leia or Sailor Moon might bring them into the fold but then they discover other things. That's because geekiness is all about being passionate says Rebecca Hicks.

REBECCA HICKS: I mean passionate, about something that stimulates your intellect, your heart, your sense of romance, and requires suspension of disbelief.

As more and more geek girls flock to Comic-Con, Melissa Kennedy says they're becoming an attractive demo and that might be a good thing.

MELISSA KENNEDY: Marketing groups are actually starting to focus more on what female geeks would be interested in. And there's more women getting into the sciences and computer sciences and the numbers have dramatically increased of women exploring the boys club of geek culture and claiming a bit of territory for their own.

Here are a few geek girl panels to consider: Oh You Sexy Geek (Thursday, 10:45am Room 6A), No Damsels in Distress Here (Thursday, 4pm, Room 25ABC), Her Universe: What Women Want in Their Female Sci-Fi Heroes (Thursday, 6pm, Room 25ABC), and Girls Gone Genre (Friday, 6pm, Room 25ABC).

You can find Rebecca Hicks and "Little Vampires" at Comic-Con booth number 1435. You can find Sheyne Fleischer indulging in her steam punk geekiness at the League of Steam fan booth 607.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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