VIDEO: Alcon 2014: Women and Geek Culture panel with Sofie and Jill

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BONUS! The Q&A after the panel:

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Sofie Liv and Jill/Sursum Ursa got invited back to Alcon 2014 to talk about different aspects of women and geek culture, helped along by a prepared slide show and a great audience.

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  • Jonathan Campbell

    Random thoughts:

    1) Its not that those are the only types of female characters out there in fantasy fiction; I think there is actually a lot of variety. Its just, those other ones often aren’t very memorable (mostly because they are relegated to supporting roles and not given much to do). Tropes like the Femme Fatale and the rest are more like the only PROACTIVE female characters out there.

    2) Eh…I’ve heard a lot of people complain about Korra, actually.

    Though, not because she’s a woman.

    3) Mary Shelly was born in the 19th century, not the 16th (THIS MATTERS DAMMIT!)*

    * If I misheard this because of the accent….

    4) Wonder Woman is an Amazon; none of us are allowed an opinion.

    5) I’ve heard a few male fantasy authors say that they have trouble writing women. They do genuinely feel bad about this and TRY to write better ones, but they honestly cannot pull it off.

    Anyway, this was good and enjoyable and informative, but for a panel episode it was too short.

    Therefore its a failure. Its bad and you should feel bad.

    • Sofie Liv

      1; Well, yes, there ARE plenty of interesting female characters out there, you just have to kind of look for them. It’s a very genneral statement for sure, because there is a great variety of them, but you do have to go and look for them, they are not in as high a percentage as male.

      2; There are a lot of problem with Korras character, especially early on and in season two, her show is not flaw less.. it takes a lot of chances far greater than “Last Airbender.” ever did, thus it both rises higher and fails harder when it fails.. there are lots of ups and downs in the show, but none of it has to do with the fact she is a woman specifically.

      3: Sorry, that was my bad, I totally forgot when she lived so I tried to joke about it, and that failed to it seemed. I do know she had to at first publish the book under a psynonum because women weren’t allowed to publish books back then, and I know she was only seventeen when the book was published, all of which makes it a rather interesting story.
      Also I own the book, it’s on my bookshelf in original english.. It’s a damn good book and still holds up really well in spite of being as old as it is!


      5: This is true… unfortunately.. Often I get the feeling they try sooooo hard, but miss the point compleately. Steven Moffat is totally one of those people, damn the man tries but.. he just misses the point.

      6: to short?! Well, haha, we only had the time we had been given by the con, there is an accompanying video where the people get to ask questions so you can see more of US! Because we are faboulus! It is uploaded right now, so you can go check it out at ones if you wanna.

      • Jonathan Campbell

        1) I should probably warn you- and everyone else on the Agony Booth- that general statements annoy me, and I’m a know-it-all who’ll probably not be able to help himself coming into your comments section and…

        You know, explain why I’m right and you’re wrong.

        2) See above.

        3) See above.

        4) See above.


        6) Ehh……

        I’ll think about it.

        • Sofie Liv

          It’s really tought being specific with this subject in particular because the subject is HUGE! And to make any point at all, you kind of have to genneralise.

          We did bring up points in the panel itself, that some statements just aren’t true, we proved that the statement. “There are no interesting female characters, so you can’t ever have them.” is in fact, untrue. That’s why we put up positive examples challenging that statement we actually met.

          We in fact, never ever claimed that there are “No interesting female characters.” not ones in this entire panel.
          We did in fact, face the claim that there are no interesting characters, and female characters can’t appeal to a larger audience, a claim we have heard many times made very seriously, by bringing up examples that proves that claim dead wrong.

          And the last thing with, what do we actually want… well yeah, that is what we want. It was our entire point.
          We just, want there to keep being more as time goes on and people create new franchises with new male and female characters, just to keep it in mind that is what we actually want.

          The world is never at a standstill, if we don’t keep these things in mind, things will regress, in fact they have, female presentation went strong ones around twenty years ago, then it regressed, now it’s kind of growing again.. and we just need to keep at it somehow.

          Actually I really bloody love Clara in her latest episodes, I freaking love she was the school teacher telling the Doc and Robin Hood to shut the hell up… I lolled X)

          • Jonathan Campbell

            “It’s really tough being specific with this subject in particular because the subject is HUGE! And to make any point at all, you kind of have to generalise.”

            Well, speaking from my own personal experience, debating on different forums and in uni and such…I try and avoid general statements as much as possible.

            Apart from anything else, they are weaknesses in your arguments. I know its tricky dealing with big subjects, but the closer you stick to the actual truth, rather than just the general truth, the better for what you are trying to say.

            When you make general statements, it tends to annoy the other side, and if these feminism / anti-feminism arguments kick up again, that adds unintended fuel to the flame.

            Its a matter of putting yourself in the shoes of your opponents. You’ll probably find that most of them (the ones that aren’t just trolling you for the lolz) really do believe that what you are saying isn’t true, because they honestly don’t see it and because they have read stuff that contradicts it, and so they think that they- collectively- are being attacked and need to defend themselves.


            ….Er, what I’m TRYING to say is, I agree with pretty much everything you are saying, but I’m a know-it-all with a compulsion to correct the teeniest, tiniest little things that bug me, and this teeny tiny thing bugged me, and I just felt the need to say something about it, and get used to it because I’m planning to haunt this site for a while yet so you and every other staff member may find me very, very annoying and may want to shoot me at some point in the future; so, warning you all.

            I’m rambling. I ramble. But there is sense somewhere in what I said. Probably.

            “We in fact, never ever claimed that there are “No interesting female characters.” not ones in this entire panel.”

            I think you misread me- I never said that you said “No interesting female characters”; I said that I thought that you said these were “the only female characters” (paraphrasing, and probably misquoting, because Blip is AWFUL for skipping to the parts you want to go to).

            Yeah, you two were speaking generally, but my point was that it was more that these kind of characters are the leads of the story, but there are other female characters out there.

            In other words, my point (I think…I’m befuddling myself) was that male authors DO put those other female characters in their stories; its just, they aren’t given as much attention as the male characters. So its not (just) that there is a lack of variety, its that the variety that is there isn’t expanded upon.


            I THINK that’s what I was trying to say, anyway.

            “Actually I really bloody love Clara in her latest episodes, I freaking love she was the school teacher telling the Doc and Robin Hood to shut the hell up… I lolled X)”
            I missed that episode and I haven’t seen it yet.

            YOU SPOILED IT FOR ME!



            Anyway….I’m not entirely sure what I was saying, but there is sense somewhere in it.


          • Sofie Liv

            Erhm.. you know.. for someone whom says he is all about the specifics. Writing. “See above.” three times in a row seems pretty vague.

            And to say we should talk about reality.. well, we are definetely talking about the reality WE have encountered as now being female veterans on this field. We are talking about what we view as being the actual truth.
            It might be a bit different from what you have encountered, but we have only spoken from real personal exsperience, a real reality we have encountered and has become our reality.

            And.. if I am not just a little bit genneral… How.. How on earth would you have my formulate any argument at all in regard to anything?

            Of course there are always exceptions to the rules, always counter proving evidence to put up, and I am doing my very best not to ignore them, but in fact use them as point to prove the rule doesn’t need to be the final rule and can be challenged.

            And for men having difficulty with women.. I didn’t even manage to say what I usually say with that stupid. “Men are weak women are strong.” line.
            It is a dumb line on a lot of levels, and it perfectly illustrates what so many male authors get wrong with female characters, thinking that if you make them perfect and kick ass it’s all good… no it’s ridicoules.
            The actual line should be. “Men are people, women are people.”

            We are all people, and we share that, all with our own story, own place to come from, own personality, own doubts and frustrations, own drives and values. And if you can pinpoint those things, that’s when you have a character not just an ideal, man or woman.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Ehm…I think we are COMPLETELY misunderstanding each other here.

            “And to say we should talk about reality”

            I never said that.

            I never mentioned the word “reality” or tried to downplay what you or anyone else had been through or experienced; if I came across that way, I apologise, but I never said that and I certainly never meant it. I know full well about that kind of behaviour and I’ve seen it myself, against women and against other groups, and I’m not trying to defend it, excuse it, or pretend it doesn’t exist.

            What I was TRYING to say was, its not all trolling, its not all people trying to rile you up or anything. Some, maybe most, actually believe that all the arguments made by feminists about video games, the media, and everything else are wrong (and just to be clear, I do not). And making general arguments is going to set them off, because they are paranoid about this sort of thing, because they think they and the people and works they are fans of are being accused of something they aren’t.

            Not saying that there aren’t real trolls out there as well, or sexist arseholes attacking you because you are girls; I’m just saying, many of them aren’t, and the reason I mentioned it (never thought it would turn into THIS) was because it was just a small nitpick I picked up on.

            Because I HAVE seen this sort of thing before, in all kinds of arguments, in my many years getting into debates on the Internet or just standing by and watching, and I was just giving my thoughts on the matter.

            Because yes, you CAN formulate arguments that are less general (even if yours wasn’t THAT general but like I said, I was only making a nitpick), and I say that as someone who is very, very introverted and insecure but who prides himself on being an awesome debater (not that this debate we’re having now is a very good example of that; just….take my word for it) and sometimes makes unintentionally condescending remarks that he REALLY meant to be helpful words of wisdom.

            And yes, that’s annoying and sometimes sets people off, but I usually don’t do it and when I do its only because I have a compulsive know-it-all streak that sometimes comes out and sparks off big-ass arguments with a critic I’m actually a fan of and didn’t mean to upset in any way.

            “”The actual line should be. “Men are people, women are people.””

            Yes, I know, and I agree. I was just saying…sometimes, male writers really have trouble thinking that way, and its not because they don’t want to.
            This is the weirdest and most frustrating argument I’ve had in a long time.

            EDIT: And no, “see above” isn’t general, its VERY specific. You just…see above.

          • Sofie Liv

            I think we indeed are talking straight past each other… I do have a difficult time getting at what you are saying and honestly.

            For us to have a continues debate about something we basically agree on anyway… Is stupid.

            Wanna call it truce and just stop it here?

            … See above isn’t very specific at all, then it’s like.. “What does that answer has to do with this question?”

            It’s.. not bothering to take the time to answer probably, especially as the questions had little to do with each other.

            I had no clue what so ever what you really wanted to respond with those three “See above.” comments.. no clue at all.

            Still wanna call it truce though.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            (okay, first of all- while I was writing that last post, my dinner burned in the oven.
            That’s the second time that’s happened since I’ve came to the Agony Booth- I should really learn to prioritize).


            “See above”.

            I said, “1) I should probably warn you- and everyone else on the Agony Booth- that general statements annoy me, and I’m a know-it-all who’ll probably not be able to help himself coming into your comments section and…”

            And to the rest of your points, I said “see above”, because, well, that’s my answer to everything else you said.

            That I’m a know-it-all, and its probably going to annoy you, so be warned.

            It… was a joke.

            British self-depreciation.

            Maybe its just Danish humour is different.

            Or maybe I’m just not that funny.

            Yes, truce- fine. That good, that’s for the best.

            If we ever argue or debate again, I hope next time we can at least understand each other.

            Now, go out and make those damn indie game reviews.

          • Sofie Liv

            The only kind of joke the Danes get, are penis jokes anyway, we are pretty stupid that way. So don’t take it to hard.

            It’s cool, peace out, hope we’ll be on a better wave lenght next time.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Maybe its a joke that only makes sense in English…

            Ah well, nice….arguing with you over whatever.

            EDIT: But seriously, make the show.

          • Zack_Dolan

            well…that was the strangest argument ever. haha

          • Sofie Liv

            Everybody can have a terrible sense of humour just ones in a while.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            @Zack_Dolan:disqus – Yeah, but imagine being the ones having it.

            @sofieliv:disqus – Do you mean me or you?

          • Zack_Dolan

            like spiderman says “everybody gets one’ hahah

  • MichaelANovelli

    Jill is having entirely too much fun, here! ^_^

    • Sofie Liv

      Every body had a fantastic time.
      Can you hear all that laughter in the video? It’s all real mate, it’s all real, I was flying high doing the our of this panel :)

      • MichaelANovelli

        Well, of course it’s not real. This is all a conspiracy, like the the moon landing, or Burger King! LOL

  • Moppet

    It’s sad the negative topics had to drag down the fun. By this I mean it’s sad the negative topics. and their causes, had to exist at all. I’d watch Sofie’s indie game show she was thinking of. I don’t agree with Anita on everything she says, or the way in which she delivers it, but it stops there, I don’t go and harass her or threaten her. Equality means everyone gets a say – no one gets shot down, and that understanding comes from differing viewpoints bouncing off one another. Level heads. Discussion. Not mud slinging and nastiness.

    Sofie said it very well. Variety. The woman in the bikini doesn’t need to go away. She just needs to be one thing out of many things. Variety. The spice of life. Many types of man and woman.

    After the discussions on women it would be interesting to note that we have a very narrow vision of men in entertainment as well, and, just the same, there are types of male, and people in general, that simply don’t get represented for one reason, or another. I try to keep in mind that it’s about people. Not women, men, one race, another race, this religion, that religion or anything else. It’s about variety and people in general. An expansion of the pallet. More ways to create a piece of art, more options – all of them legitimate options. People. All people. We all matter. You either believe we’re all equally worthy of respect and representation or you don’t.

    It’s about everyone. Not about one section of people. Not about replacing an old majority with a new majority. Not about punishing those for the privileges they have nor about bringing them down. It’s about raising us all up. Not about kicking out a type or character or stereotype, but about adding the lesser used and neglected ones in as additions. I get bored of salt all the time. Maybe I’d like garlic or onion, not instead (I’m not getting rid of salt), but in tandem, because together they bring out flavour in a meal that none of them can manage alone.

    • Sofie Liv

      I think Jill was the one to put that exstremely well in this panel.

      When I said. “You don’t have to be a woman to get many of these attacks, those are attacks that’ll happen anyway regardless of gender.”

      And Jill responded with. “That is true, how-ever, wereas men just get the attack, women will get the attack and gender slures combinded in one.”

      And that’s why the fact that we are women suddenly becomes kind of different, I have been attacked for my nationality and accent as well as my gender. How-ever I were a man, at least the gender slures would be less.

      It is true though, there are many groups whom get slurred and attacked for just being who they are based on such things as nationality, religion, sexuality, looks, weight, political standing, disablements and the list just goes on and on, really people are just very good at accepting other people whom are just.. different in some way or another.
      These people will get attacked not only for their views, but slures will be added to it regarding whatever with their person.

      I think what we hope.. at least what I hoped this panel would bring was some enlightenment on how it is to stand on this site and what we actually want.
      Really, just up standing up for ourselves as well as pointing to lots of positives in this culture :)

      • Moppet

        I’m glad it took the time to point out the positives.

        Positives need pointed out. It’s important to talk about any number of issues that pop up, but sometimes we also need reminded that it’s not about the issues. It’s about the positives, the good things, the reasons the issues matter, and why they’re talked about and dealt with now, aren’t to endlessly go on about them, and fight every day forever. The issues matter because one day people would just like to sit down and enjoy things, and not have the negatives getting in the way anymore. Not that I actually think it’s possible to talk/stamp out all the issues (not just gender) plaguing tv, movies, video games, cartoons, anime and fandom in general in my lifetime. So maybe the correction would be that the negatives are important to deal with now, so that someone else much later, long after I’m dead, can just sit down and enjoy things without having to deal with the negatives because everything really is just better by that point, for the work others have done.

        The realistic, some might say pessimistic side of me figures it’s a never ending battle though. Perhaps the reason I’d rather focus on the positives, and enjoy the things I like is because, as much as I’d like to see things improved for all people, respect for all people, I often worry that as a whole we’re quite hopeless. Hope for the best, work for the best but always expect the worst, that’s me in a nutshell. Why I’m in a nutshell, or how I managed to fit in one, is anyone’s guess.

        For what it’s worth, I may not agree with every video or article submitted on this site, but I’ve a lot of respect for what everyone here does regardless. I’m fairly sure there’s a rather rare type of beauty in all these, oft differing, ideas coming together in one place, even when they might clash, but able to exist side by side without trying to throttle one another.