Score one for the good guys.
For all those fascinated by the endless variations in the epic fight of good versus evil, Comic-Con is a story-lover’s dream. There is no limit to the interpretations of baddies versus goodies.
This year, Comic-Con will take the abstraction a step further – in addition to exploring the struggles endured by the characters we love, SDCC is offering a panel to help convention-goers manage one of the biggest real-life struggles they face today – that of being taunted, excluded and ostracized by peers. Attendees can discuss their own pain and learn how to make it better.
The panel — End Bullying: Responding to Cruelty in Our Culture (Sunday, 7/21/13, 4:00p.m. – 5:00p.m., Room: 4) — will include discussions about geek bullying, cyberbullying, sexism, LGBT bullying, discrimination, power imbalances, and much more.
The interest level in the panel has been fantastic, and I am so excited and honored to be the moderator, alongside top-notch panelists such as No H8 Founders Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley, Jane Espenson (Once Upon A Time), Brad Bell (Husbands), Chase Masterson (Doctor Who: Big Finish), Bonnie Burton (Girls Against Girls: Why We are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change), Jenna Busch (Entertainment Editor, Fan TV), and Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars: The Clone Wars).
I have spent the past few years interviewing people who have vastly different viewpoints about peer aggression: bullies, victims, bystanders, parents, teachers, kids, celebrities, researchers, social workers, psychologists, school administrators, physicians and more. Their stories and experiences ring true for all of us.
I came to the global bullying discussion in 2010 when an article I wrote about my first grade daughter being taunted for loving Star Wars went viral. In my subsequent book about bullying, I recounted the aftermath of young Katie’s story:
“There are countless clubs and organizations out in the world, and I have witnessed the great unifying power of common interests. I have seen waves of emotion shared by people at musical concerts. I have seen sports fans literally go nuts over the outcome of big games. I remember when my husband and I were lucky enough to be attending the White Sox game where Mark Buerhle pitched a perfect game and the energy connecting the fans was awesome.
But until I wrote the anti-bullying article, I had underestimated the power among the self-named Geeks, nerds, Star Wars fans, and science-fiction fans. They can cheer with the best of the sports fans. Aided by the speed and ease of social media, the Geeks were the ones who sent Katie’s story zipping around the globe. Without a doubt, they have been the most vocal supporters of Katie’s preference for “boy toys.” Their voices are passionate and compassionate. As Katie’s story went viral, the Geeks led the cybersupporting effort and left thousands of comments. Their words collectively told the story of a group of people who were marginalized during their childhoods for being nerdy and for being girls who liked “boy interests.”
What struck me was how those individuals who were once so isolated are now part of a very tight community. They have found one another; they are plugged into one another, and they have one another’s backs. Now they have Katie’s back too. The Geeks have adopted Katie, taken her by the hand, and offered to escort her through life as a girl who likes Star Wars. At the screening, I felt the love and support of the other people. I could see their faces and hear their voices. They smiled upon my little girl and complimented her on her Star Wars costume. She was accepted and celebrated for being different. She was The Littlest Jedi.”
So much has happened since that night when we took Katie to her first Geek gathering, and it has been a dream come true to see my book evolve from a single blog post into a comprehensive research-based guide.
Three weeks ago, I was delighted to announce that Bullied won a National Parenting Publications Award. On Saturday, I learned that Bullied has also been named a 2013 Gold Medal Winner by the Mom’s Choice Awards. It is wonderful to know that the book and the movement are receiving widespread support.
I will be signing copies of Bullied at Comic-Con in the Autograph Area from 10 am-1 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, and I hope to meet some of you who have been such powerful voices in the battle against bullying. May the Force Be With You.
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