You have to hand it to the Geeks. They know how to have a rocking good time.
Katie and I just returned from Seattle, where we attended the first-ever GeekGirlCon. In case anyone doubts the need for a con devoted solely to the female population, consider the fact that the con was sold out and there were people lined up outside each room before panels began.
(Not that men were excluded. On the contrary. There were many awesome guys in attendance, decked out in costumes and eagerly supporting female Geeks in pursuit of science, math, science fiction, gaming, art and cosplay).
Katie was very busy having lightsaber duels with other little girls and making friends with Mandalorians, so I was unable to sit in on a number of the panels that really fascinated me. I didn’t want to interrupt her geek bonding.
If any of you participated in the following, I would love to know what was discussed:
- Boobies and Blasters: The Women of Star Wars
- Feminism, Race, and Geek Culture: Perspectives from Women of Color
- Geeks with a Heart of Gold
- History of the Universe as Told by Wonder Woman
- Character Studies: Geek Girls in Popular Culture
- “No, I am not a Booth Babe”: Sexism in the Video Game Industry
- Rocking the Geek Niche
- Women of Harry Potter
- The Importance of Superheroes
- Enticing a New Generation of Women into Stem Careers
- Writing through Real Life: How to Write with a Day Job or a Baby to Change
In between cosplay and photo sessions, Katie and I packed in several full days of life and learning. We made Labyrinth sock puppets, painted miniature trolls and warriors, played new games, and talked to other Fangirls.
On Saturday night, there was a costume masquerade for both children and adults. Katie, who was clad as Padme, surrounded herself with a posse of little girls. There were Princess Leias, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer, zombies, etc. Not a Disney Princess in sight with this crew. Everyone had a lightsaber or a sword or a stake. Some clutched baby dolls alongside giant guns. It was a sight to behold.
Earlier in the day on Saturday, Katie and I visited the Pacific Science Center, where we had a grand time looking at dinosaurs (dead), butterflies (alive), and watching a laser light show choreographed to the music of Michael Jackson. “I like him almost as much as Taylor Swift,” Katie commented afterward.
We bought Daddy a shirt that says π-nomial because he is a math teacher. We bought drinking cups with cool robots on them. We bought presents for 4-year-old Annie Rose and 1-year-old Cleo.
We rode the monorail to Pike Place and walked through the fish market. We sampled olive oils and balsamic vinegars, sniffed fresh bouquets of flowers and sampled hot doughnuts. Katie played in the Seattle Center fountain, all the while dressed as Padme.
As much fun as we had exploring Seattle, the best part was meeting the people at the convention and talking with them. We met Chase Masterson, who played Leeta in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. A sweeter woman could not walk this earth. Or other planets. We met Bonnie Burton from LucasFilm, who was terrific. We met the lovely women from GeekGirlCon who had worked to bring us in for the event.
I particularly enjoyed talking to other parents about the trials and tribulations their geeky kids face. One mom told me that her nine-year-old daughter M, who has ADD, came to the con with the single goal of meeting Katie.
Katie and M hit it off, and they spent several hours playing together in the game room. M told Katie at the end of the day, “I know how you felt. I get teased too. Do you want to be friends?”
“Well, we already are,” Katie responded. “Right?”
“Right,” M beamed.
Katie struck up a friendship with two sisters, D and S, who were both dressed as Princess Leia, and their dad gave Katie some pointers in lightsaber techniques. Their baby brother was at the con, too, toddling around in a Yoda costume. The children’s mom told me that she came from a family with several biological children and several adopted children.
In the puppet-making room, a little girl named B sat next to us. It turns out that she is Katie’s same age, and the girls asked if we could go to lunch together. Katie and B sat at their own table, while I ate with B’s parents.
B’s dad talked with me about being a geeky dad. “Memorizing science fiction details is no different than all the guys who memorize sports statistics,” he commented. “Those guys are geeks, too, but it is socially acceptable to channel it towards sports.”
During lunch, a group of people from the 501st came in dressed in full costumes. Katie and B ran over to see them.
“Katie, we’ve been waiting for you,” they told her. She shouted with laughter and brandished her light saber.
Katie and I spoke at a panel called Geeks Raising Geeks, alongside some very impressive other women. The room was packed, and shortly after the session began, an incredible thing happened.
The men and women from the 501st, along with several other people in Star Wars costumes, silently filed into the room. They stood against the back wall, forming an Honor Guard for Katie. They stood there throughout the panel, a tribute to the little girl who loved Star Wars. It was breathtaking.
One of them was M’s dad (the little girl with ADD). His wife told me, “They all planned to do that for Katie. They talked about it, about how they were going to form a Standing Guard for her during the panel. Even if she didn’t know that’s what they were doing, they all knew it, and it made them really happy.”
It could bring a mother to tears.
You should have seen it, the Star Wars tribute.
The Geeks have hearts of gold.
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