As much of this dialog has been negative, I have had to sit back for a minute and move away from the chatter, insults, supportive gestures, etc and remind myself why I love to go to conventions in the first place.
And I do love going to cons. I live in a world of non-geeks. I think a lot of us do. At my work, I am the only IT person. I am the only IT person among a lot of social workers. This means that not only do they not get my references, they don't understand the way I think. Reactions to my personality are sometimes negative, sometimes tolerant. I am alone.
The majority of my friends are either not in the same city as me, or we don't get to visit frequently enough due to time schedules, health issues, money issues, etc. So a lot of times I come home and sit alone, watching videos and working on a project or practicing. Or sleeping, if I have had a bad day. But my point is I don't get that validation of my existence outside work either. I leave work feeling like I am not normal, and even with a chat online or two I still don't get the person to person interaction.
When I get to go to conventions, everything changes. I am surrounded by people who think like me. I am surrounded by wonderful creative people, all showing off their work and making references to things I am totally into. When I open my mouth I do not feel like I am speaking in a foreign language. For example: this last Rustycon in Seattle. I was in an elevator getting ready to go down to hospitality. I was a booth minion and I was fetching nourishment to be distributed. Several people joined me. One woman said "down please". Of course I could not help myself. I went into the schpiel from Labyrinth. Everyone in the elevator joined in, laughed and chatted with me on the way down. In mundania that would have gotten me strange looks, backing away and quite possibly an empty elevator. I felt I could be myself. And myself was not a weird anomaly. I can use big words. Make puns. Play games. Yes, I spend a lot of my time in the game room. I have always been treated respectfully, invited to join in games, and felt comfortable asking people to join mine. I have not had the chance to go to big cons yet, but at the smaller ones I have been to I as a female am in the minority. And this has never been an issue. I get to play, I get to be myself, win-win.
And costumes! I love dressing up. As a partially-formerly SCAdian I love to put on clothes that have no place in regular life. I love creating pieces that look right (even though I can't sew worth crap). I love to oo and ah over other people's costumes and ask questions about how they solved issues I am currently trying to overcome. I love learning about new characters I have not read about yet, and getting people to explain the universe thier character is from. Sometimes I dress up to go to movies. I dressed up in a pleated skirt, white shirt, college graduation gown and Griffindor tie for all the Harry Potter Movies. I wore a cotehardie to see Kingdom of Heaven. But for some reason it isn't the same. You don't get the fun interaction with creative people you get at cons.
What is my point with all this? Well, I guess there isn't one. In the midst of all the hubbub I wanted to remind myself why sci fi conventions are worth the growing pains we are experiencing. Yes, I do seem them as growing pains. And they are causing some nasty mudslinging to happen. But, god I LOVE being a geek! I love hanging out with other geeks. It is worth it if the discussions and ugliness end up with an even BETTER con experience than is already available. It is worth it if in the end everyone is welcome and respected, everyone has a voice, and everyone gets to have fun. I would LOVE for have everyone's con experience to be as great as mine is. THAT should be the goal everyone is working towards.
I hope it is.