I am not at Comic Con

And this makes me sad. On the other side of the ocean, hundreds of thousands of my kindred nerds are gathered to celebrate their fandoms, and once again, I am not among them.

Realistically this is not an actual problem. There are much worse things in the world than missing out on SDCC. I’ll survive, and hopefully get a chance to go some year in the further when the stars align and I have enough money and time to go half way across the world to for a week of fangirling, feels and general nerdery. It’s okay, I figured. There’ll always be another chance.

Then this happened
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and now I am nothing but tears and pain.

It can be tough being an Australian fangirl, purely because we are so far away from anywhere. It’s incredibly rare for anyone of note to actually come here, nothing of interest is produced here, and yet we’re utterly saturated with British and American media. We get sucked in to the stories, get attached to the characters, we become worryingly dedicated to the actors and writers behind them – and then there’s nowhere for all those pent up feelings to go. I can’t go to a convention centre with six or seven thousand of my fellow fans, get buzzed on diet coke and twizzlers and lose my shit with like-minded people because Tom freakin’ Hiddleston turned up in character to drive the hall wild.

Here, when I get excited over a new book or a movie trailer or this new show I’m enjoying, I get a lot of strange looks and, occasionally, advice to get out more. Normal girls get excited over boys and new outfits, I’m told. Horrible stereotype aside, I’m happily single and my boobs are too big for me to get into online shopping, so I get excited about stories and talented actors instead. Comic Con is a chance for my kind of people, the nerds and geeks, those of us who’ve always been a little left of centre, to connect.

So yeah, I’ve always felt a little on the outer. I’m fortunate that I have a handful of friends who’ll happily squeal and squee with me when Benedict Cumberbatch has a new film coming out, when Peter Jackson uploads a new video blog or the new season of Game of Thrones is starting. And today, we’ve been sharing our melodramatic pain as the fandom event of the year is happening and instead of feeling included, we feel more isolated than ever.

Stupid Pacific Ocean.

The most I can do at the moment is watch the shaky smartphone videos, put up with the crackly audio and read the liveblogs with barely suppressed envy while Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Karl Urban and other assorted idols of mine take to the stages of the San Diego convention centre and hope that one day I get to be a part of it. 

I didn’t mean to become an angry feminist

Really I didn’t. It just kind of happened one day when I wasn’t looking.

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I was raised in liberal, leftist family and taught from a young age that my sex did not dictate how I acted, what I said or what I did with my life. My brother and I were taught respect for all people, regardless of race, religion, sexuality, gender etc etc ad infinitum.

As I got older, however, it became apparent that not everybody had had the same enlightened upbringing.

In recently months I have had repeated encounters with a man I privately refer to as Sir Douchealot. He has blessed me with such wisdom as ‘why not accept your disadvantages and just make the best of it’, ‘as a woman you’re too emotionally close to the issue of rape which impedes your ability to rationally discuss it’, ‘when are you going to write about Male Power?’, and my personal favourite ‘you don’t have the right not to be raped, just the privilege to live in a country where it doesn’t happen’.

I consider myself to be a fairly eloquent person, but I honestly cannot find words for how angry this man makes me, or how incredibly idiotic some of his arguments are. I am all for rational, civil debate over hot topic issues, but this Sir Douchealot has a habit of being rude, condescending, wilfully blind and downright ignorant.

And don’t even get me started on the sexual harassment. During the brief time this man worked at my organisation, he managed to offend, alienate, objectify and enrage every member of our predominately female staff. Even after action was taken, he seems unable to understand why anything he did was unacceptable. He believes he treats women as equals. He believes he’s not disrespecting us, he’s simply preparing us for the real world.

Excuse me, Sir Douchealot. My government is still trying to control my uterus, employers still get away with paying me less than my male colleagues, and I still pay a luxury goods tax on my tampons. I don’t need you to prepare me for the real world. I’m already there, and I already know the many ways in which it sucks. I don’t need to take the same from you.

I don’t often tell people to check their privilege, but consider that you are a white, straight male between the ages of 18-49 with a good education and a middle-class upbringing, you may not be in the best position to preach about the struggles of minorities.

If my repeated encounters with Sir Douchealot have taught me anything, it’s that winning an argument doesn’t necessarily mean having the last word. Sometimes it means being the bigger person and walking away with your dignity intact, protecting yourself from the toxic vitriol being thrown your way. There are some shitty people in the world, and all attempts at rational debate won’t change their minds. Sometimes it’s better to leave them to their sad, sexist little crusade and float away on your cloud of vindicated righteousness like the glorious amazon you are. Sometimes it means living to smash the patriarchy another day.

Riding Solo

With the rest of my family off having adventures that I cannot afford because I am a poor student, I have had the house completely to myself for a whole week.

It’s my first experience of living alone, and seeing as I haven’t burned down the house, killed the dog or drowned in the shower, I’d say it’s been a success. It has also taught me a lot. For instance, I am now thoroughly convinced that human beings (specifically me) are not designed to live alone. It’s been nice having the time to myself, but I am looking forward to having other people back in the house.

As my solo week draws to a close, I’ve compiled a list of Things I’ve Learned While Living Alone

  • I don’t know how to cook for one person. This leads to me making enough laksa for four people, feeling guilty about the waste and eating more than I should so I don’t have to throw it out. It’s unhealthy to eat alone.
  • Pets are a good thing. They cuddle with you when you’re lonely, help you eat the leftovers and give you a way to rationalise talking to yourself. However, they too will reach a point where the solitude gets to them, they start following you everywhere and you can’t fold laundry without them getting underfoot.
  • Speaking of laundry – it’s a lot easier when you’re only washing for one.
  • It’s okay to sleep in late and stay in pyjamas all day. If you have no where else to be, why not be comfy? You deserve it.
  • Shower. Every day. Even if you have no where to go, it’s important to feel human. Shower.
  • It’s easy to loose track of time when there’s no one else around. Keep busy, even if that means moving all the furniture and cleaning behind the fridge, or before you know it three days have gone by and you’ve done nothing but blog and read Neil Gaiman novels.
  • There really is no limit to how many time one person can rematch The Lord of the Rings or old episodes of Star Trek, and it is entirely possible to watch an whole season of ER in one day.
  • When someone invites you out, go. Human contact is a good thing. If it means going skating or seeing a mediocre movie or taking yourself out for afternoon tea, it’s important to engage with other people sometimes. Like, every other day. Don’t overdo it.
  • You can be nearly 21 years old and still be creeped out by the creepy sounds your house makes late at night.
  • One of the truly great things about being a grown-up is the ability to cook bacon when you want bacon, or have cereal for dinner if you feel like it, or make brownies just because you feel like brownies. Never underestimate that power.

Dear 16 Year Old Me

Last night I sat down with the sole purpose of writing a new blog post. Then my editor sent out a desperate call for last-minute contributions to the upcoming issue of our magazine. Working under the theme of memories, she was looking for people to write brief letters to their 16 year old selves. I turn 21 in a few weeks, and it seemed an appropriate time to take a sashay down memory lane.

16 doesn’t seem that long ago, but a lot has changed in 5 years – most of it, I hope, for the better. Nowadays, I generally try to forget that anything between the ages of 11 and 17 ever happened. I was far too awkward and embarrassing to think about those years without wanting to bury my head in a sandpit.

Like a lot of people, I was going through Things at age 16. I was struggling with a host of unpleasant stuff, I was lonely, I was sad a lot. This letter writing assignment could have proved extremely exposing and emotionally exhausting to write, and a semi-professional publication probably isn’t the best place to air my unresolved teenage angst. I was not a very happy 16 year old. I am, however, a fairly happy nearly 21 year old. And faced with this unexpected and potentially overwhelming task, I chose to focus on that instead.

It was an interesting exercise, at times quite cathartic, and what I ended up submitting was vastly different to what I expected, but I was surprisingly happy the finished product.

Dear 16 Year Old Me,

 

First of all, lighten up. For God’s sake, life’s not that bad, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more when you start taking it less seriously. You’re dealing with some Stuff right now – you’re 16, who isn’t dealing with Stuff? – but it’ll get better.

 

Now some advice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Get more sleep. Try not to get too attached to fictional characters, it’ll only hurt you. Stress less about money. Stress less about grades. It’s okay to spend the day in pyjamas. Make time to read again. Wear sunscreen. Drink tequila. Don’t drink Sambuca, we hate that stuff.

 

Not everybody is going to like you, so stop trying to make them. When you’re 19, cut off all your hair. You won’t regret it. There will come a time when you embrace what you see in the mirror. Clubbing is overrated. You look awesome in purple. Bake things. Write things. Go to New York for New Years and drink champagne with a fake ID. Don’t be ashamed of the contents of you iPod.

 

You’ll get bad advice. Follow it. Then forget it and follow your own.

 

Smile more. We didn’t get braces for nothing.

 

Hang in there,

Nearly 21 Year Old Me

 

Hindsight, as they say, is a beautiful thing. I like to think 16 year old me would be glad to read this, and know that things would eventually get better than she had ever expected.