EventsFeminismPop Culture

Fan Expo and the Nerdy Stripper

This past weekend I attended Toronto’s Fan Expo. Over 80 000 visitors went out to see their favorite nerdy stars like John Barrowman, Jamie Bamber and Christopher Lloyd. While I had a pretty good time one thing put a damper on the whole weekend for me. On Friday night the Expo held their “Official Launch Party” at the Tattoo Rock Parlour in downtown Toronto (yes, it is a bar AND a tattoo parlour) where the entertainment for the night was Toronto’s one and only nerdy stripper.

Let me just begin by saying that I am not against strippers, strip clubs and people going out to have a good time. I, generally, have an aversion to strip clubs because of some personal beliefs and because I’ve never found them to be very fun. I also have a very strong opinion about my man (or any other taken man) attending them. But, in general, if there is a stripper out at a bar I just leave it be and go on home.

However… This was an “official” launch party for the Fan Expo. It is incredibly inappropriate and annoying for the organizers to have the entertainment for the official launch be so exclusive. Not only did this event turn away women like me, not interested in seeing a bunch of guys gawk over a girl, but it also turned away married couples, single guys that knew it would be cheesy or knew there would be an intense lack of females attending and I’m sure… many other people. If it is going to be an official launch party then it needs to be something that everyone from the Expo feels comfortable attending. It would have been simple for there to be a Saturday night “strippers” night for all those interested. So instead, I didn’t get to go and enjoy a launch party. And… as if there wasn’t enough sexualization of women at the Expo! Women were dressed as various comic book and anime characters… walking around with butts and boobs flying all over.

I’ve also been told that I am overacting and prudish for my opinion on strip clubs, this event in general and sometimes even porn. I feel like, prior to the last 2 years of my life, I was gaslighted by society on this issue. I was tricked into thinking *I* was the wrong one, that *I* was a prude and that *I* needed to learn to deal with the fact that men look at porn, that strip clubs are just entertainment and that my emotions were irrational. This is completely unfair. It is unfair to be told that you’re overreacting when you are genuinely uncomfortable with a situation. It is unfair that women are supposed to be “cool” with this sort of nonsense dripping into a culture that they want to be a part of, and if they are NOT cool with it then they scolded for it. It is unfair that women are supposed to just deal with the fact that their boyfriends, friends and brothers are “sexual creatures” and that we need to let them do what they need to do in order to fulfill their own needs. This is wrong.

I certainly didn’t want to have to deal with this issue in the middle of a weekend that was supposed to be a great time, it was intensely disappointing.

I also thought the food was really horrible. I have been trying really hard since my return from China to keep highly processed and unhealthy food out of my body. I’ve been doing really well, and expected the food options at the Expo to be bad – so I bought a new lunch bag for the occasion. The food was *horrific*. There was pretty much only pizza, hamburgers, fries and hotdogs. I got pretty excited when I saw a “smoothie” stand, but their smoothies were made out of fruit and fruit juice…. (blending fruit and fruit together does not a smoothie make). It’s really unfortunate because there were a lot of over weight people there. Food is a *really* difficult thing to deal with for some people, and put in this situation… where it is incredibly difficult to get back in once you leave… they will cave to the food around them even if they are trying to eat healthy. Hell, I almost bought some fries because they smelt so good! (But then I just had my fig newtons…)

I think there should have been some healthier options. People are there all day, including children. There should have been options beside junk food. With that many people floating around it should have been possible to get something even remotely healthy, or just more healthy than pizza.

Omg, speaking of the people… On Thursday and Friday it wasn’t so bad. It was easy to walk around the hall, we could walk right into a talk or panel that we wanted to see and we could easily leave to go outside and come back in without waiting in any line. But Saturday and Sunday were uncomfortably busy. There was a line for *everything*. Any event you wanted to go to you’d have to wait in line for at least an hour – more if it was someone awesome. It was impossible to walk around on the floor, impossible to find somewhere to sit and just really sucky. My brother told me last year they put booths out in the halls to make more room and controlled the crowds  better, but this year they really seemed to drop the ball on people and space management.

But it wasn’t all bad!

By the end of the weekend my favorite thing to do became walking around the artists floor looking at people’s sketches and creations. I bought a print (in the picture, called “Evil Takes a Day Off”) by Marco D’Alfonso that I absolutely love. I also picked up a few cool pins from Kailey Lang and am ordering some custom made cups from Red Moon Creations. There were so many talented people there that it was almost overwhelming. My brother came back on Sunday just to buy prints and it took him three hours to decide on the four he wanted.

There were also a lot of companies set up along the floor doing demos of 3D tvs, 3D video games, Halo 4, dance revolution and my favorite thing… a whole section on Tim Burton’s new movie Frankenweenie. There were actual scenes set up from the movie in glass cases and original sketches by Burton. It was very cool.

There were a lot of really cool costumes to look at. There were a lot of anime characters that I was really unfamiliar with but also a ton of people from Star Wars which I absolutely loved. My brother dressed up as Han Solo.

And of course, there were some good talks. I saw Rita, from Dexter, do a talk and she was talking about the fact that woman are often so powerful in sci-fi makes her really drawn to the genre. I also went to a panel on the benefits of getting published at independent publishing companies. I saw Jamie Bamber speak Italian, Alan Tudyk be absolute hilarious and Nelsan Ellis who gave us a tip on the season finale of True Blood (that there would be a lot of killing.. and holy SHIT was there ever…man I love that show).There was also a crap load of Dr. Who stuff going on, but I’ve never watched it so I … didn’t appreciate it and can’t really comment more on it except to say there was lots…

Overall I decided I likely wouldn’t get a weekend pass next year. I would likely only go on the Thursday to peruse the art work and swag or on another day if there was someone who I really wanted to see (ie: Nathan Fillion or Eric from True Blood…). Still, it was nice to be surrounded by so many freaking nerds all at one time.

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Katie is a graduate student from Canada studying the environment and systems theory. She also loves dinosaurs and baking cupcakes. Follow her on twitter @katiekish

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