Friday, March 9, 2012


After years of attending conventions, sf club parties, gaming groups, and other geek culture events, I've reached my limit of "that guy" encounters.  Honestly, I think it was the speculum waving that finally pushed me over the edge.

It's time to do something about it. This blog isn't intended to be just another venting site, though there will no doubt me some of that. I'm hoping to unite with other women who are also tired of "that guy" encounters so that we can come up with some real-world solutions.

It should go without saying that I won't put up with trolling or harassment here. And no, that's not "censorship." People can say whatever they like... somewhere else. Here, we will treat each other with respect.

I'm also not a walking "Geek Feminism 101," "Derailing for Dummies," or "Privilege 101" encyclopedia. We get that some of you may be genuinely unfamiliar with these concepts, but a lot of us are a bit tired of being the poster-children for our respective races, genders, sexual preferences, religions, and more.


  1. I simply don't understand what Mr. Speculum thought that he was going to achieve with his actions and comments. I haven't yet heard the full account of your experience (I did read your FB and G+ posts), but his goals are still a mystery to me. I keep coming back to "why?" I mean, what on earth did he think he was doing.

  2. It was at a room party. He was sitting on the couch with a young woman, who by her posture and body language, did not seem to be enjoying his company but couldn't seem to get away. In retrospect, I am embarrassed that, as an older, wiser, female geek with a bit more experience with "that guy," I didn't attempt to rescue her.

    After mixing and mingling for a bit, friends and I moved our conversation to the hall outside the party. Eventually, the young woman in question, a look of relief on her face, exited the room and made her way down the hall. I said to my friends, "Looks like she finally got away. Good."

    The words were barely out of my mouth when "that guy" came out of the room, literally just a minute behind her. He looked around and locked onto me as his next target.

    In lieu of introducing himself, asking my name, ascertaining my level of interest in antique medical equipment, anything -- he pulled what looked to be a copper speculum out of his pocket and started shaking it at me, so that it made that clanking, jingling noise all too familiar to women everywhere.

    He proceeded to tell me that earlier models had three prongs, and to tell me how lucky I was that he didn't have his older, hand-cranked one with him at the moment.

    He then moved on to ... trepanning... I think it was. But I kind of zoned out at that point in the conversation -- if it could even be called a conversation, one-sided as it was -- because my mind was still processing SPECULUM, ANTIQUE, HAND-CRANKED.

    I pulled my phone out of my pocket, pretended to look at the time, then grabbed my companion's arm and made an excuse about having to be somewhere else. We got down to our floor and back to our own room before I exploded. W.T.F.

    So that's the answer to "what happened," but still leaves us with the "Why." I don't have an answer to that. I simply do not understand how anyone could think that waving a speculum at a woman is an appropriate social action.

    1. There are cons specifically designed for that sort of thing... he should go attend those cons! I can even get him into contact some of the organizers, if he'd like.

    2. Yes, exactly. As I understand it, in the kink community, it's considered very bad form to force your kink on an unconsenting person.

      I did report this individual to the party host, who informed me that this person is allegedly basically harmless and that he probably didn't realize that his particular passion was coming across as creepy.

      And you know what? I. don't. care.

      In the 2 minutes that he was talking at me, all I had to go on was the extreme skeeviness of a complete stranger who's not my gynecologist waving a speculum at me in a social setting and not seeing a problem with it.

      I had a few seconds to make the call: dangerous creeper, or clueless nerd? And honestly, it doesn't matter that someone else, or a group of someone elses, all agree that said person is harmless.

      He's not harassing them; he's harassing ME, and in the time it takes me to decide on a course of action, asking him for references and calling/emailing/texting to check 'em isn't remotely on my "To Do" list.