Driving to and from Seattle for GeekGirlCon 2012 was tumultuous to say the least. So tumultuous, in fact, that I don’t even want to re-live it by writing about it. Needless to say, Miley (my friend, panelist, and exec producer for RETCON) and I got from L.A. to Seattle and back in one piece. While in Seattle, Miley and I stayed with my friend LiAnn, who generously let us crash at her place for the weekend. On the way up, we had a nice, brief stay with some of Miley’s friends in San Jose, too. And while in town, we hung out with Miley’s fabulous friend, Pam, and I made a really cool new friend in Michelle. So, despite the hardship, we were constantly surrounded by good people (not to mention those that helped us through our ordeals, including a kind Toll Booth Angel).
Best of all, though, was that the reason for our going to the con in the first place, the panel I was moderating – Moffat’s Women: Companions, Travelers, Gender Roles and TARDISES in Doctor Who – went amazingly well! First, the room was packed, standing-room only even, which stunned me, because we were the first panel of the day. I figured people would either be too tired to make it in the morning, or be too busy getting badges at registration. Neither of those things proved to be true, and I happily walked into a crowded room.
I was also so lucky to have the best panelists. Miley, Natalie Reed, and Alan Kistler are some of the nicest, funniest, and most knowledgeable people I could’ve ever asked to have on this panel. Also wonderful was that they complimented each other so well personality-wise. Alan and Miley (actors both, as well as writers and huge Doctor Who nerds) did an awesome job of keeping the crowd warmed up before the panel, and Natalie chimed in with a quip or a fun anecdote when needed, a nice, reserved balance to their boisterousness. They played off each other both before the panel and during, so that even when they disagreed on certain points, they always treated each other with respect, let each other speak, followed my lead when needed, and were articulate and thoughtful when expressing their opinions.
We discussed their general impressions of the way Moffat writes women and writes about gender (we all have trouble with something he does, though what those things are and the degree to which we are bothered varied from person to person), whether there ever would’ve been a panel called “RTD’s Women” (probably not, as he tended to include female and gay/lesbian characters in a more organic way than Moffat does), and the fact that the strongest female characters Moffat has written have been during RTD’s tenure as showrunner. We discussed our favorite Moffat females (Sally Sparrow, Madame de Pompadour, Molly Hooper – not a Who lady, of course, but Natalie cited her as a Moffat woman done well), our least favorite (Lorna Bucket, Madame Vastra and Jenny), and the ones we couldn’t quite pin down either way (oh Amy and River). We talked about Sexy the TARDIS and that, while she was a lovely character, it was sad that something like the TARDIS had to be gendered at all, and doubted that the character would’ve been received in the same way had the Spirit of the TARDIS inhabited a male body instead. We touched upon our love of Rory and how he showcases the best of masculinity, but we also discussed the fact that the very notion that we see things in a “masculine/feminine” binary at all in a universe that purports to be beyond that is in itself problematic. Natalie expressed something that I think we all feel is important and for which the room agreed the viewing public is ready. It’s time for Doctor Who to put its money where its mouth is. Rather than continuing to tell us what a gender-diverse universe The Doctor inhabits, it needs to really start showing us. Show us characters on a spectrum, characters that don’t sit comfortably in any one box. We. Are. Ready.
All in all, this was my best panel experience yet, and I feel so lucky to have been blessed with such a great group. Even though we didn’t have time for Q&A with the audience, they were completely attentive, and told us afterwards that they got a lot out of our conversation. Afterwards, several attendees with whom I struck up casual conversations throughout the con would say things like “There was this Doctor Who panel in the morning that I wanted to get into, because it sounded really interesting, but I couldn’t get in, because it was full” not realizing it was my panel. 🙂 I saw tweets citing the panel as many people’s favorite on the Saturday of the con. I was thrilled. And proud.
Huge thanks to Jennifer K. Stuller, GeekGirlCon’s illustrious Programming Director, for allowing me to be a part of GGC this year. And, of course, an ENORMOUS thank you to my wonderful panelists: Natalie Reed, Miley Yamamoto, and Alan Kistler. You were great!
And if any of you out there happened to have recorded it, hit me up at Twitter or my FB page, as I’d love to link to it from here! Thanks! And keep your eyes out for my full GeekGirlCon write-up, which should be going up at Tor.com very soon.