Guest Post: The Growing Influence of Women at Comic-Con

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by Kristal D. Bailey
July 23, 2013 12:07 PM
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EW's Women Who Kick Ass Panel L-R: Tatiana Maslany, Katee Sackhoff, Maggie Q, Danai Gurira, Michelle Rodriguez
This year marked my 8th Comic-Con and my, has this event changed over the years. It is bigger than ever, covering everything from the largest movie franchises, popular TV shows, top video games, and of course the comics that started it all. It definitely has a much more mass appeal as geek culture has become more integrated in to mainstream culture, and that also means a larger influx of women as they become not only fans of these franchises, but stars and creators of them.

There are countless signs of the growing presence of female fans that I've noticed in since I first attended nearly a decade ago. Not only is their more merchandise for women, the obvious capitalist response to a growing market, but women are having a larger presences in panels across the board.

Before the Con kicked off, my preview piece showed the plethora of panels geared towards female fans including Divergent, Veronica Mars, Catching Fire and more. But now that the con is over, there are a couple instances that will leave a far longer lasting impression that women are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to Comic-Con.

Some big news is that Thursday, July 18 2013, marked the very first time that a woman moderated a movie panel in Hall H. It's crazy to think that it took this long for this to happen! Women have moderated panels at the smaller cons before and in the other rooms at Comic-Con, but never at the main show itself. The closest it's gotten to this before was Jenna Busch moderated a TV panel in Hall H on Sunday. But, usually those panels aren't the 6,500 behemoths that movie panels are. They actually have removed seats from the hall for reasons I still don't quite understand. This year, it finally happened with LA Times' Hero Complex editor Gina McIntyre, who moderated the panel for Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem.

The biggest and best surprise of the con was the Women Who Kick-Ass Panel, smack dab in the middle of the biggest day of the con between the Lionsgate's Catching Fire and 20th Century Fox's X-Men/Planet of the Apes. It was a frank, honest, and eye-opening discussion between some of the top women in the genre world and their personal experiences in this industry. Michelle Rodriguez is incredibly intelligent and a hard advocate for women to not only play a part in strong stories but also to create them. They also spoke about their brushes with sexism, their female role models, and what they hope to see in the industry 5 years from now.

Not only that, Maggie Q, Danai Gurira, and Michelle Rodriguez delved in to what it's like to be a woman and a woman of color. There were honest discussions of the limited roles they're offered and the limited stories that exist out there for them to star in in Hollywood. While a few people waited in the daunting Hall H line for this specific panel, the majority were there for Marvel and/or X-Men and weren't exactly looking for this kind of insight in the industry and what it's like to be a woman in a man's world. I can only hope that these fans walk away from the day with a greater understanding of just what kind of obstacles women face to be in this world. For a panel that offered no news, no exclusive coverage, and no superheroes, it was truly a standout of the con.

These panels coupled with the growing female presence on the floor in terms of cosplay and merchandise (Her Universe, Star Wars Pets, Skeleanimals, Toonami) show that the girls and women are in fandom for the long haul. I've been here for a decade and am so glad to see more and more women each year.

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Kristal Bailey is the co-founder of ScreenInvasion.com , covering all things pop culture from Comic-Con to So You Think You Can Dance to Mad Men to the latest movie news. Acutely aware of the male majority in the entertainment industry, she does her best to give female voices an outlet as well as any other diverse viewpoints that could help broaden the spectrum of coverage in the movie blogger world.

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