Whether it comes as a surprise or not, I’m a huge science fiction fan. I was introduced to the genre in my teens and since then, the majority of my reading and tv viewing comes from sci-fi/fantasy. So instead of my usual one day pass, I ended up spending the whole weekend at the Calgary Expo, because of a good friend’s generosity. Probably the most amazing part of the Expo was listening to some women who really inspired me or made me feel more normal, and it got me thinking about how the strongest role models seem to come from sci-fi/fantasy or horror. Now, from the start, I will agree that both men and women are objectified and misunderstood, but for today I am going to focus more on strong female role models as it’s more relevant to my blog.
I don’t know her work very well, but I am aware of her work on The Guild, and as the face of women in geek/gaming culture. Felicia Day was my first panel on Sunday, and she didn’t disappoint in any way. She was warm, funny, kind, and like me, she is a little neurotic (her own words). You could see that she can become quite anxious and overwhelmed with ideas and requests, to the point of panic, and it’s something that many pass off as annoying, or something that should be easily changed. She showed the audience that you can function at a high level and be highly successful in any field, even if you suffer from anxiety. This isn’t the only reason why I consider her a strong role model in general, but it was her response to the “outcry” about cutting her long hair to a short pixie cut. I had heard about this while surfing various genre sites that I follow, as people were very upset she had “changed” her outward appearance so much, and that now she somehow didn’t fit into the stereotypical view of women in or interested in science fiction. It’s obvious that appearance shouldn’t matter compared to ones work, but her response to the haters was both mature and to the point. She told the crowd that it hurts when you feel you are only valued (or conversely devalued) for your looks, and not what you’ve contributed to the world, as it leaves you feeling superficial, marginalized, and very unappreciated. Everyone can have their opinion of what you like and don’t like, but to say someone has lost all relevancy and credibility due to something as fleeting as hair?!?! I got the impression from what she said that she doesn’t listen to these people, but when you are neurotic, thoughts like these bubble up when you are feeling most vulnerable, or when you aren’t trusting yourself. It really can eat away at you. Neurotic or not, things like this just shouldn’t be uttered.
The last panel of the weekend was Sigourney Weaver. She has been a favorite actress of mine for some time, and someone I’ve admired for her convictions, talent, and charity work. She was probably the most inspiring woman I have ever had the pleasure to hear speak. Most of the panel dealt with the Alien series, and that’s not a bad thing, as Ripley is also a very interesting role model for women. It was brought up a few times that they are both a contrast of strong, independent, and fierce women, who also contain a tender, loving, and protective side at the same time. Women are often portrayed as either fierce and strong, or tender and loving, they are never a mix of emotions or behaviors, and they end up not really realistic. Really, everyone on this planet is a mix of contrasting elements, but we are made to feel guilty if we exhibit any traits not tied to our gender. As a woman, if you are strong, ambitious, and independent, you are more often considered a bitch, or you are viewed by others that you can’t be a kind caring person, one who will never find love. Of course, we don’t have to accept this pigeonhole, but it’s hard to not have it affect you mentally and emotionally over time, and have it break you down slowly over time.
Overall, this weekend was great. I was expecting a fun time of looking at the cosplay and perusing all the vendors. Not only did I get to do all that and spend time with good friends, but I got to be a bit inspired! The whole weekend reminded how much I love science fiction in books and movies, and how much it has taught me about myself and how I relate to other people. Of course there are more examples of great women actors in the genre, like Kathy Bates, and overall, I find it one of the best areas for anyone to read as it serves to expand ones mind.
If you haven’t experienced The Guild, or any of Sigourney’s body of work, do so, you won’t be disappointed.
P.S- this is a bit of a departure in writing for me, so feedback would be gladly appreciated 🙂