Men's rights activism and 'GamerGate' group removed from Calgary Expo


Sad irony everywhere

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo is one of Canada's biggest gaming, film, television, gaming, comics and "geek culture" events, drawing celebrities, panelists, and events from all over the world. This year, it was also host to the Honey Badger Brigade, a group of started by three women who originally "...came together because of a mutual interest in men’s issues" including "...suicide, homelessness, veteran health, child custody, male victims of rape and domestic abuse, and rape allegations" They are also the creators of Honey Badger Radio and the "World's Cutest Rape Joke" t-shirt. 

The Honey Badger Brigade was apparently asked to leave the Calgary expo shortly after the show kicked off. There are varying reports as to why this happened, though many feel it had something to do with the fact that their booth was adorned with some GamerGate posters. Personally, I'm just surprised that GamerGate posters exist. It's been really interesting to see GamerGate take on the form of a formless grouping of individuals with vaguely-but-not-really-similar goals and ideals, while the Watergate scandal still has no grouping and/or posters to speak of. Weird how the dawn of the internet changed the way we react to these sorts of things. 

You'll find official comment on the situation from the Calgary Expo and Alison from the Honey Badger Brigade below. 

From Alex Kingcott of the Calgary Expo-

The Calgary Expo is a positive and safe event for everyone. We have reason to believe that the Exhibitor in question does not fall in line with this mandate… so we have politely requested that they not participate in our show or future shows. We continue to build a positive and fun event for everyone. 

We have evidence that the group in question was actively disregarding our mandate. We support free speech – and continue to promote equality across the board. Their removal from the show had zero to do with gender, and everything to do with our show policies, which apply to all exhibitors and attendees.

We are very proud of our initiative for #ExpoEquality and we wish everyone a happy, safe and fun Expo.

From Alison Tieman of the Honey Badger Brigade-

On Friday morning con organizer Shayne Henkelman approached me to tell me that I had to remove the contents of my booth. I had a recording device in my hand and he said that he would not explain why if I was recording audio. I asked him why and he repeated that he would not explain why we were being removed unless it was not recorded. I then handed the audio recorder to my friend Hannah Wallen. I believe Mr. Henkelman started to walk away at that point, indicating I should follow and the others at the booth, Hannah Wallen Sage Gerard, Mike Stephenson and my husband started to move with me. Mr. Henkelman said he would only tell me the reason, not anyone else. I asked if I could take my husband with me and he allowed that.

He then pulled me away from the rest of my group and took me to a side entrance. At that point they also had security and an additional female con organizer so we were surrounded. He restated that we had to leave and said that they had received complaints of harassment from the panel we had attended. I asked what specific harassment policies I had violated and he didn't answer, instead he said that they had received at least 25 reports of harassment and there was no way they all could be wrong.  He then also said they had received complaints about my booth that I had run with Sage Gerard at the Saskatoon Comics and Entertainment Expo and that I was not just to leave the current expo but that I was also banned for life from all events the organizers put on. 

While we tore down our booth, at one point another female con organizer and several security staff watched, laughing. The shock of everything that happened got to me then and I broke down crying. 

I don't know how I'm going to proceed with situations like this in the future. If conventions require adherence to a political or social ideology from their attendees, it would help if they clearly stated it on their webpages and sites. 

I want to add that I often get into misunderstandings about my perspective as a gender atypical woman. I find it very difficult to see myself as a victim in the same circumstances as other women and, as we all know, the traditional role for woman is 'damsel in distress'. So when I went to the women-into-comics discussion I was nervous because I know how I'm usually received outside of men's issues groups or gamer culture, both of which are accepting of my gender atypical identity as a woman primarily defined by her actions. However I was somewhat hopeful because of the message written in the program book that they celebrate diversity and that they recognized that women have been at least partly welcomed into the geek community.

I'm a shy person on the whole, but when they started to speak badly of one of the communities I've found acceptance in, I decided to stand up and be heard and explain to them, from my perspective, what I didn't like about feminism and why people in those communities find feminism problematic. Specifically the very strong narrative in feminism that women are more likely to be victims than men (which is a derivative of the traditional damsel role for women and the stoic role for men), and that anyone who questions this should be socially ostracized.

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Jonathan Holmes
Jonathan HolmesBad Joke Uncle   gamer profile

"Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Ju... more + disclosures



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