Harris O’Malley, aka Dr. NerdLove, recently attended video game convention RTX and he took some stickers with him. Like everyone else on the internet, he’s noticed the “fake geek girl” debates and decided to make the above stickers to poke fun at the idea. They also had QR codes that linked to various articles on his site. He left the stickers a few places so people could grab them at will.
Unbeknownst to him, at least one person used the stickers to harass women. That person placed the stickers on the butts of unsuspecting ladies or on the backs of their costumes. Once the RTX volunteers caught wind of the situation, they approached O’Malley and asked him to stop handing out the stickers. He was happy to comply – he certainly never meant them for any purpose such as that (though he should have predicted that something like this might happen).
He derided the person who took his joke to an inappropriate place:
“This sh** is NOT F***ING ACCEPTABLE. Cons are supposed to be safe spaces for everybody; shit like this drives women out of fandom.”
He said it.
A couple of things. First of all, kudos to the RTX staff for handling the situation. We often hear about conventions who ignore harassment, so it’s good to know they have a system in place to identify harassers and boot them out of the convention. It sounds like the person responsible for poor sticker placement was eventually handled.
Secondly, O’Malley is rethinking the stickers. Even though he doesn’t mean for them to be taken seriously, he sees they’re a hot button. He told Kotaku:
“The story with the stickers is that they’re satire, pure and simple. I don’t believe in ‘fake’ geek girls and I like the idea of mocking people who buy into the idea with their own words, so I mocked up an design patterned after the “explicit lyrics” stickers for CDs,” O’Malley explained. “My idea was that since the Explicit Lyrics tags were essentially a joke in terms of effectiveness and a hyperbolic reaction to a non-problem, the Fandom Advisory design would carry the same implications – that it was a meaningless label for a nonexistent problem.”
I can see where he’s coming from but since I don’t like conflict, I wouldn’t touch one of those stickers with a 10′ pole.