Main Entry: scha·den·freu·de
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Schaden damage + Freude joy
: 1. enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others
2. a word Hulkster is thoroughly proud he spelled correctly on the first try when doing the dictionary search.
So this blogger, The Hey Lady, decided that she would attend last weekend's New York Comic Convention in order to get a date. She wrote:
Comic Book Conventions should be a great place to meet guys. We're talking about a virtually untapped market. In theory: for a smart, (somewhat) attractive girl, getting a date should be like shooting fish in a barrel, no? Thousands of men are gathered in one place (granted, some of them are taken; some are gay; some, undoubtedly, live in their mothers' basements) with a very small proportion of available women around. The statistics alone would lead us to believe there have got to be a few good men in this crowd.
So that's great. I can't object to going to a convention to meet people, or even to get a date. But her attitude going in is so superior - "I'm assuming that I can just go to this nerdfest and have my pick of guys, because though I may not be what you'd call a catch, these comic book people are such lonely dorks that they're desperate enough to settle for anyone." Just lovely. They'll throw themselves at her feet, grateful for the mere presence of a female, right?
Today, she posted her results.
So here's what I'm wondering - if you were the kind of person who might write something like, "First of all, crowds make me nervous. And so do people in costumes," would you go to a fleurking COMIC BOOK CONVENTION, f'god's sake, in order to get a date? I'm deeply unsettled by bagpipe music and caber tossing - am I going to go to the Highland Festival in search of a date?
She goes on to describe her embarrassment at being recognized (her previous blog entry hit the front page on Digg), mentions multiple times how shy she really is, and discusses in a thoroughly condescending way what freaks the women there are (OMG, there are actually women there, there are girl nerds too, who knew!). One woman she encountered was dressed in a silly and apparently sexy costume, to which she sniffs, "There, but for the grace of god, go I." Say what you will, Hey Lady, but at least she's not too shy to talk to a bunch of dorks.
I really don't wish loneliness or misery or unhappiness on anybody. But when you talk big about how you'll be the only woman within a mile of the Javits Center, how the nerds will drop everything they're doing and flock to you the moment you step through the door like Cinderella making her grand entrance to the ball, how you'll be able to pick and choose, buffet-style, like you're Daniel Radcliffe at a gathering of Catholic priests...well, you gotta back that up. Am I wrong?
I'm also thoroughly amused by her assumption that there would be no other women at the convention. It never occurred to her that she would be surrounded by Wonder Women and Scarlet Witches and such? Let alone the fairly decent proportion of the Nerdworld that is comprised of actual women? Yeah, there's probably more men than women at any given nerd gathering. But, believe it or not, there are females out there who like comics (and not just Strangers in Paradise, but Green Lantern and Spider-man, too), who like science fiction and fantasy, who like roleplaying games. I've linked here to the comics-blogging world's two most well-known women, but there's plenty more out there.
I guess the buying into stereotypes just chaps my ass. The assumption that comics-reading men are nothing but lonely and horny. Yeah, there's more than a few of them who are Comic Book Guy. There are also plenty of comics readers who are perfectly ordinary, nice, intelligent guys who just have lousy luck with women. I was one of those until I met Emily. The thing is, that doesn't make them any different than any other subculture out there. There's lots of guys obsessed with football or cars or anything else who have lousy luck with women, too, but nobody assumes that football fans or car guys are inherently lonely and desperate for female attention. No one would write, no matter how tongue-in-cheek, "The auto show's in town this weekend, I'll go down there and picking up guys will be like shooting fish in a barrel!"
Maybe, in spite of everything you hear, comics readers are just normal folks, after all. Maybe.