I went to a convention this weekend. Specifically, I went to Wicked Faire: A categorical hodgepodge of geekery that encompasses cosplay, gaming, Steampunk, Renn Faire, super heroes and villains, cartoons, horror movies…really just about anything you can think of. There’s tons of music and arts and vendors galore. It is a convention for misfits, where you stand out like a sore thumb if you look “normal”.
Because of the Steampunk/Renn Faire aspect of this thing, there’s also an abundance of well supported breasts. Corsets abound as well as various other types of clothing that accentuate the female form (whether or not you happen to be female).
For instance, I spent the entirety of Saturday wearing this:
I got it from Utopia Armory and while it’s a bit expensive(you get to pick the colors and it is made just for you. Mine cost $175 which took me all year to pay off, haha), the work is worth every penny.
Now, I haven’t posted this picture out of vanity. I posted it simply to show you what I felt comfortable wearing at this convention. Yes, I have done burlesque routines. Yes, I have been known often to wear tight clothes and low cut shirts. This has been an evolution, as I hid my body for a large part of my youth, either because I was embarrassed by my lack of development (I was a late bloomer) or because I bought into our victim blaming culture and didn’t want my clothing to get me raped.
Sigh…that is so depressing, but it’s hard to overcome that kind of programming. The great thing about the people I surround myself with now, and with conventions like Wicked Faire, is that consent and boundaries are important. People at Wicked Faire can feel free to walk around in whatever they want and nobody gets on their case about it. I hardly hear any negative comments about what people are wearing, and the compliments flow…but the compliments are often without ulterior motive. I got a few comments about how beautiful this outfit was and then the comment giver would walk away. In fact, I didn’t get hit on at all the entire weekend…by convention goers.
Of course, on Saturday night, Wes and Jessie went to bed and I decided to stay up and go to the dance party going on. It was taking some time to set up for the DJ, so I meandered around and decided to go get a glass of wine at the hotel bar. There was a DJ in there too and there were several convention attendees there getting’ down. It also looked like there were several people who were not part of the convention (I think the hotel bar doubles as a local pub for the area).
So I’m sitting at the bar minding my own business (and quite enjoying simply sipping wine and people watching…I felt completely pleasant not feeling compelled to talk to people), but wearing the outfit in the photo above. This guy comes in and did not seem to be a conference guy. He ordered 12 bottles of Heineken from the bartender, who starts loading them up in plastic bags and fist bumps the guy. And then this happened. Italicized portions my commentary on these events:
I’ll be honest, I was already judging the guy for getting a bunch of Heineken. I hate Heineken. I like saying Heineken, but that’s just because it’s fun to say German words. Heineken, or rather “Heinekenz” is also part of a favorite bartending story of my sister wherein a guy came in an ordered a “Cabobby-ay and Yoo-Hoo and a Heinekenz fo’ ma lady.” But beyond that, I was thinking, Heineken, really? So, he was already losing. Incidentally, Shaun ordered a PBR the first time we went to a bar together and I make fun of him for it to this day. Anyway, clearly the guy was not there to simply have me critique his beer choices.
The Dude sidles up closer to me and says, “Are you here alone?”
Me: The people I am with are milling around the convention.
Dude: So, you’re alone.
Me: At the moment, yes.
Please note that after every response I gave I would immediately turn away from him and not make eye contact. My answers were short and clearly disinterested…except for the fact that I was answering at all. Women talking to you means they WANT you, don’t you know.
Dude: ‘Cause, if I was with you, I wouldn’t leave your side!
Awesome! I bet you also would punch any guy in the face who looked at me! That would mean you love me!!! Awwww! Also, I wasn’t too impressed with you when you first invaded my personal space and you’re looking worse by the second.
Dude: ‘Cause…you’re hot. I mean, seriously, you are SMOKIN’.
Years ago I worked at a coffee shop, and there was this creepy guy that came in all the time and looked at me strangely and it made me uncomfortable. Unfortunately, he also bought stuff for his boss, so I couldn’t just be like “Stop being creepy and get out”. One day he silently crept over to where I was making a latte and appeared suddenly. “HI!” he said. “AHHHH!” I replied. “Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you. ‘Cause I think you’re all that and a bag of chips.” That is all I thought of when this guy said I was “smokin’”.
Me: (with visible facial scowl): Thanks.
Dude: Do you like girls?
What a segueway! Now, I knew that he was really asking because “girls making out is automatically hot” and probably wanted to know if I would entertain him that way. Barf. I decided to answer truthfully in the hopes he would think I was a lesbian and leave me alone.
Dude: What kind of girls you like?
Me: Nerds, obviously.
Dude: Do you like tits or ass?
I thought this was great. I was dumbfounded and couldn’t bring myself to be like, “Oh, right, those are the only options for liking women. Sorry…I forgot about that for a second.” I was angry, too. What a ridiculous conversation. I’m assuming the guy was drunk already, though no speech slurring or inability to stand or walk straight. He might have just been an asshole. Also, I don’t give people a pass if they’re drunk. Being drunk is not a reason that I will accept your asshole behavior. One time a while ago an ex-friend of mine had two MUDSLIDES and, upon hearing some news I relayed to her about a project we were working on, she called me a list of nasty things and said that I don’t care about anyone but myself. She then said, “Well, I’ve been drinking, but still fuck you.” Two mudslides do not give you free reign to call people names and 12 Heinekens don’t make me be OK with you asking about I like to reduce women to their bodies best.
Me: (Infuriated scowl)
Dude: So who are you here with? Your boyfriend?
Um, did you miss the conversation we just had about me liking girls? Way to be a heteronormative fuckwad. I mean, yes, I was there with Wes, but he had no reason to assume that I was there with a male. Of course, at this point, I certainly wasn’t going to tell him that my husband was elsewhere with his girlfriend because I didn’t want this douche to think he had any chance with me at all. So I did the best thing I could.
Me: I’m here with my HUSBAND (and I flashed the wedding ring).
Dude: OH! I’m sorry! Oh man! I’m sorry. I’ll go. Is it Ok?
Me: (scowl) Just go.
And he disappeared into the night. There was so much to be annoyed about. Firstly, even though I had not mentioned men (“the people I am with” “yes I like girls”) he assumed that I was there with “my man”. Next, I love that it would have been OK if I had been there with my boyfriend (because that’s temporary, amirite?) but as soon as he found out that I was married, he had decided that he had committed an egregious faux pas and ran away. I mean, sure, I am living a life which does not value exclusivity with partners, but I respect people’s relationships. The idea that marriage is the only commitment that you can make that can be a kryptonite against douchebags (because they apparently respect the “sanctity of marriage” but not the agency of a woman sitting alone at a bar) sickens me. It sickens me more than the fact that if you go to a club without a man, you get accosted like a piece of meat, but your friend who came with a dude gets to dance without worry…because of bro codes or someshit. Or that a little lady’s not going to do anything to fuck you up, but her man will. I can’t stand the assumption of ownership that is exhibited in exchanges like this.
Anyway, after he ran away with his plastic bags full of Heineken, I finished my wine quickly, now feeling completely uncomfortable being at the bar alone and went to the dance party. Entering the dance party was like returning to the proper world. I walked in a no one leered at me or touched me without consent or made assumptions about my sexuality or who “owned” me. A lot of this is because the there is a lot of overlap between the geek community and the kink community. Consent and acceptance are pillars of these communities, and while there are plenty in them who don’t get it right, there are many who do and my experience so far at Wicked Fair have shown me that I can feel safe there and that is a really unique and important thing for people to have at least in one place in their lives.
Yes, I used his bro code and misconceptions against him to get him away from me and I always feel a little weird about not being forthcoming with the truth about me and I probably should have just told him to leave me alone but that takes practice and courage that I don’t always have.
But I am reminded once again of what my dad said about how it would be nice if men didn’t feel entitled to possess whatever they looked at that they like because it makes women uncomfortable and then we want to hide. At Wicked Faire, every attendee got to look at me walking around with my body out for people to ogle, just as I was able to look at all of them. And I was fine to do it because no one seemed to think they could possess me just because I was there looking pretty. And one thing that many people at these kinds of events understand is that consent is sexy and having it be important to you often leads to you getting to touch a lot of people, because a lot of times all you have to do is ask…but never just take. I like being touched and kissed and all those fun things, but it is my choice who I do that with and my relationship status is not the thing that should stop you from creeping me out. My autonomy as a human being is what you should respect, Jackass at the Bar.
Incidentally, there was nothing I found attractive about this guy and would have likely said no to any proposition, but who knows had he not approached me like something less than him, something to be stared at, possessed and then protected from others.
And then, after left and I pondered all this, I thought, “Poor guy. He probably didn’t know he was bothering a feminist blogger. Sucks to be him.”
And then I thought, “I think I read too many blogs to deal with normal people anymore with anything other than disdain. Shit. Oh well, at least I’m a big weirdo.”