As a feminist who is active on the internet, follows geeky pursuits and likes to go to conventions, I tend to perk up my ears when there are rumblings in the blogosphere about things that matter to me.
This time, I found dcwomenkickingass.com reporting on an unfortunate exchange between Austin’s Capitol City Comic Con Facebook page and its viewers.
What originally precipitated the comments to the con management was their postcard advertising the event. “Everything’s bigger in Austin!” it trumpeted … over a close-up picture of Power Girl’s boob window.
The con’s original response to these concerns was, well, unprofessional and dismissive. “I have to wonder if you’ve ever been to a convention” was one of the responses.
On reading this, I felt like the conversation was going to stall out if it stayed on Facebook. So I went to the Capitol City Comic Con page, and Aaron Luevano listed on the web page as owner/promoter.
Since the Facebook response was unprofessional and dismissive, and expressed doubt that any woman finding sexist imagery offensive had ever been to a convention, I started there: I pointed out that I’ve been going to cons since I was little, and that I was offended.
I also turned the language back around, asking if the Con’s team had ever been on the internet. What upsets the blogosphere goes viral. What goes viral gets on the news, and generates boycotts.
However, I thought I’d give Mr. Luevano the benefit of the doubt. While I made it clear I was not pleased, I pointed out that if he planned to riff on “everything’s bigger in Texas” Mr. Luevano could’ve done it with any number of the XXL male characters without choosing to emphasize breasts.
I considered the possibility that Mr. Luevano has a social media team or other staffer who answers the Facebook page, and that he might not have known how his con was being represented to potential congoers. It had to have been a he, given the tone of the response.
I sent this email late on a Saturday night, Eastern time. It was after midnight when Mr. Luevano got back to me. His response was succinct: “You’re right. I’m not pleased. The proper actions have been taken.”
I was curious to know what qualified as proper actions, so I asked, also advising him I’d share his responses with WWAC and the blogosphere. He replied that he’d posted an apology on the Facebook page, which I looked up. It’s not a perfect apology but it definitely is a step in the right direction. I thanked Mr. Luevano for his apology and pointed out that the internet has a long memory and is not necessarily quick to forgive.
I thanked him for pointing me at the apology, told Mr. Luevano I thought he was going in the right direction. He was quick to also assure me he shares my concern for protecting women congoers from sexual harassment, and that law enforcement would be present.
As it stands, the offensive Power Girl postcard ad campaign has been scrapped. Mr. Luevano is going in another direction with the advertising from here on out.
Considering how dismissive and sneering so many responses to women calling out misogyny on the convention circuit have been, Mr. Luevano has really showed a very encouraging reaction. He knows he has a way to go to win back the good will of the women of Austin and the internet, but he’s willing to put in the work to show respect that should’ve been showed from the beginning.
So a little patience, a little benefit of the doubt served me well. I treated the showrunner with respect, even though I made clear that I’d been displeased by both the campaign and his Facebook staff’s response, but gave him a chance to show me he could do better. So the takeaway is: be polite, show you know what you’re talking about, and follow my variation on Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by cluelessness.