Crime and Gender

This is another one [ok, two] of the many brain-boiling tidbits birthed from my “gender panel” at Mo’Con.  It should really be two entries, but I’m going to smoosh it together and see if I can’t make it coherent, because the topics brush up against each other inappropriately and should get along just fine.

Near the end of the panel, the audience started asking questions about skanky behavior and whether it is viewed differently for men or women.  It was posed to the panel: “If a guy acts up at a con, is it cool?  As opposed to a female being looked down upon.”  In a word, No.  I said as much then, but let me expound on that now. Again, no, they are simply Exhibit A and B.  I’ve heard both sexes talked about, though usually for different crimes.  I’ve heard excuses made for both, and seen a tough love stance on both.  Whether you’re male or female doesn’t matter.  In the end, what you do or don’t do, can and will create a demon.  Five minutes of behavior can take five years for this community to forget, if they’re nice enough to forgive.

To understand the lingering gossip passed by the silver tongues of bloggers, conners and Greek old ladies everywhere, you have to take ratios into account.  For simplicity’s sake, let’s say it’s a nice small convention, 200 people.  In this genre, there are more men than women [it’s just the way it is], so let’s keep it simple and say 150 of those are men and 50 are women.  So if five people of each sex behave inappropriately—sloppy drunk, waking up in the wrong bed, loud enough to make me look quiet, etc.—it looks like there are more women participating than men because of the base population.  5 women is a full 10 percent of the group, while 5 men is only 3 percent-because the numbers are skewed to begin with. Get it?

But it goes beyond ratios.  In several ways. And now my nice neat numbers become complicated, because they’re not always negative on both sides.  And that does play into whether or not they’re viewed, treated or talked about differently.  With the above example, the behavior itself seems to stick to the person more if they’re male.  Perhaps it’s because when it comes to the actual act of doing something that’ll raise eyebrows, the men tend to do it more often, be more open about it, and even once they’re knowingly among the rumor mill, will become repeat offenders.  The women?  Not always good with the follow through and often better at keeping their mouths shut. So the men win this round, but the women have their own problems.  Need an example? Ok, how about attire?

When you attend a convention, you’ll notice that people dress “up”—and by that I mean they sometimes dress “outside” of their normal lifestyle.  Granted, some dress like that all the time, and I’m not knocking any lifestyles, and there are those that are obviously and openly in ‘costume’ of sorts for this occasion or that—but I’m discussing the ones that are being serious about it, the “weekenders”.  You know the ones.  Mechanic by day, super Hawaiian shirt dude by night.  Secretary by day, corset lover by night.  Oh, did you see that? Did you see how the guys “dressing up” includes Hawaiian shirts? They’re idea of dressing up for the camera [read as, actually getting dressed to leave the house and do things with others of our ilk] is generally your standard black horror shirt, maybe a cowboy hat or boots, and if you’re really lucky, a bright red zoot suit.  The women?  Ah well, low cut shirts, high cut skirts, heels no human should be able to walk in, corsets from “bondage accessories R us”, and if you’re really lucky, a full on hooker-wannabe outfit that would make Heidi Fleiss jealous.  Do you see the difference?  Now again, there doesn’t have to be very many of either, so let’s stick with 5.  But in this instance, that’s 10 percent of the women that are being pointed out, talked about, gawked at, presumed loose, whatever.  On the flip side, the bowling shirts do nothing for the rumor mills, so the 3 percent of men involved are noticed, but not negatively.

Back to ratios, I know three guys that wear flashy, full-length suits and garner attention to themselves as such, but they’re not spoken of negatively like the three women that come to mind, wearing things that are spoken of for years to come.  [Because this genre is small, people.  Everyone talks, someone posts pictures, and the internet… well, the internet is forever! Have you heard of the way back machine? Not to mention that once someone emails it, posts it to their blog, or otherwise calls attention to it—it’s out of your control and into someone else’s, and that someone doesn’t necessarily have your best interests in mind.]  And I know three women that have rumors I don’t believe, but three men whom I know have done things they should be ashamed of.  Do you see how A & B work here?  Where the men are marked for their behavior, the women are marked for their appearance—and thus, presumed behavior behind closed doors.  And in that subtle distinction you find the fundamentals that make one Exhibit A and the other B.  Of course, the outcome is the same for either—rumor mills and message board entertainment.  Now let’s not forget that this was simplified for blogging purposes.  There are females in the A category and actually a few men in the B, but in general, the forked tongues follow the shortest path.  Of course, I can already imagine the arguments for “even bad press is good press”… bring it on.  I’ve got plenty of examples of why that isn’t true. [Have you been to the boards lately? Just because someone is everywhere, always, doesn’t mean they deserve your attention.]

All of this was brought up at the panel [behavior, clothing, etc.] and my longer answer was something akin to “cover yourself and act respectful.”  Because seriously people, and this is the point to my whole rant because I heard someone whining, if you don’t act and dress like you deserve to be respected, like you have something to say beyond “me love you long time”, how can you possibly get upset when the whispers and finger pointers judge your books by how you cover yourself?

In the end, you are your own advertising… what are you selling?

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