Hear me, my brothers.
It’s great when you attend a panel at a con and the panelists are all women. For real, 5/5 for the effort, lads. Showing up for those panels is a political statement. It tells the head counters that there is a demand for this sort of representation, and it works to throw out notions of gendered programming e.g. a G.I. Joe panel versus a Jem and the Holograms panel. One is pink, the other is blue. You get my meaning, right?
However, showing up is only half the battle. The other half of the battle, the most important part of the battle, is how you act when you are in the room. The good news: the bar for being an exemplar of humanity is set so low that it is almost impossible not to clear it in the fashion of an Olympic high jumper.
Here comes the secret.
All you have to do is sit there!
Seriously. Want show the panelists that their opinions mean something to a range of people? Want to learn something – perhaps learn it from a perspective that you, as a man, don’t really understand? Want to do something to make the world a better place without really having to fucking do anything?
Then sit down, listen, and keep your gob closed.
What about when I have a question?
Wait until the declared question time.
Actually, my question is more of a comment.
No. Bad. Stop that. Never do that.
The women on the panel might be smiling and nodding as you wax eloquent about your business, but those women live in a social place where if they told you to shut the fuck up and get the fuck out, they wouldn’t be seen as decisive. They’d likely get called a bitch or worse and then get a reputation for being “difficult.” I know, it’s bullshit. And I know you know it is bullshit. Because you’re not some asshole reading these words. Assholes don’t read my words. But sometimes a generally decent person can forget themselves. In that moment, a good person becomes complicit in the bullshit. So let’s not do that? Solid? Solid.
Oh, and don’t think that gives you licence to be Judge Dredd when some other yabbo opens his gob. Remember these words: it is not about you. It is not your time, notwithstanding the time to be a good learner, who listens and asks relevant (and brief) questions at the appropriate time.
Could the bar be any lower? I think not. Now go forth, and help make the world a better place.