You Have To Hand it to the Geeks

You Have To Hand it to the Geeks

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.

Follow Portrait on Facebook.  More photos from GeekGirlCon are on the Portrait Facebook page.

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  • fb_avatar

    As my psychiatrist once said, connecting with empathetic people is always therapeutic. And FUN! I hope to be a mom like you, one day.
    http://www.donotfaint.com

  • fb_avatar

    Cool article and it was good to meet you both!! I'm very glad you both had fun.

    One quick note (since I'm "M's" dad). She's ADD, but not on the spectrum. And she had a blast gaming with Katie, painting miniatures, and playing with her.

    I don't know anyone with the local 501st who didn't enjoy meeting Katie. But then again, that's one of the kicks about being in the 501st - the reaction of the kids when they see us and go "WOW! A real Stormtrooper/TIE Pilot/Darth Vader/Snowtrooper/(insert Star Wars character here)!!!!"

    Cheers from Seattle, and Geek Kids (and their parents), rock!

  • In reply to Patrick McKinnion:

    Thanks, Patrick! Details are fixed! So glad we met you all and that M and Katie could play together. Katie didn't want to come home. She asked if we could move to Seattle for awhile.

  • fb_avatar

    That brings tears to my eyes! I was there at the masquerade (zombie Trekkie!) and it was great to talk to Katie and the Princess Leias in line. I wish I had been able to make it Sunday. Thanks for coming all this way to be part of our geekdom!

  • Thanks for coming by and visiting our Mandalorian Mercs hosted, tri-club (501st Legion/Rebel Legion/Mandalorian Mercs) booth and taking some pictures.

    Pics will be hosted at:
    www.photobucket.com/geekgirlcon

    James

  • Thoroughly enjoyed the "Geek Raising Geek" panel, it was great to see Carrie and Katie in person / helmet.

  • fb_avatar

    You are a good mom. I didn't realize until just recently that I was a geek girl growing up, but my mom didn't (and still doesn't) understand me. Thankfully, God blessed me with a geek husband and three beautiful geek children. We all understand each other and have such a great time together. Many blessing to you and your family. :D

  • I wish I could have gone to the GGC! Yeah, the 501st is filled with awesome people. My fiancee is in the Chicago chapter, and I've been to some of the events with him. It's always so gratifying to see how excited the kids get.

  • Hi, Carrie! My name is Mercedes Sanatella-Lam - I was the moderator of the "Boobies & Blasters: The Women of Star Wars" panel. I actually met you and Katie briefly after your panel (I was wearing the all-black Imperial Officer/Imperial Crew looking uniform). I chose the name of the panel as a tongue-in-cheek reference to two of the more iconic images of the Star Wars films: Princess Leia in the first movie wielding a blaster, and the Slave Leia costume from Return of the Jedi. The panel featured myself and other female members of the 501st Legion, as well as women members of the The Rebel Legion, The Mandalorian Mercs, and SARLACC (a local Star Wars collecting group).

    We spoke about how Star Wars is much more than those two images; and how women are increasingly playing a much bigger role both in the series itself and in its fandom. It was sort of a potpourri of topics - everything from the fact that the Expanded Universe has introduced many strong female characters on both the Light and Dark Sides of the Force, how Ahsoka Tano figures are flying off stores shelves (being bought by both girls and boys), the creation of the female-centric Her Universe line of Star Wars clothes and accessories, and the role of female authors in adding to the lore (especially the creation of most of the Mandalorian culture and its language). We also spoke on our experiences as women in the fandom, how we've been embraced as "sisters in arms" by our fellow Star Wars geeks, and the reaction from the public we get when we take off our helmets and they realize it's a lady underneath that Stormtrooper armor!

    The panel is also briefly mentioned in this article:

    http://shethought.com/2011/10/08/geek-girl-con/

    I hope this helps! It was a pleasure and a honor to meet both of you - I know all of my fellow Star Wars geeks who were in attendance felt the same way. Thank you so much for sharing your time and your story with us all!

  • Thank you, Mercedes! Very helpful and informative! I remember meeting you. Cool costume. Katie thought so too.

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