Emily S. Whitten: Geek Culture – No, Really, We’re Not More Enlightened

Emily S. Whitten

Emily S. Whitten writes everything from news, reviews, and interviews to how-tos, con round-ups, and opinion pieces for ComicMix and others; as well as comics featured on ComicMix, MTV.com, and Reelz.com; and occasionally even award-winning poetry and fiction. When she's not writing for fun or profit, she’s sharing geeky thoughts on the Fantastic Forum radio show and podcast Made of Fail. Emily is a convention organizer and consultant, and co-chair of the fourth North American Discworld Convention, which she co-founded. She has been Program Coordinator for Awesome Con and staff for several genre cons. Emily is a program moderator for Awesome Con and Fan2Sea; and you might also recognize her from her days of answering questions online as her alter-ego, Ask Deadpool. In her copious spare time, Emily enjoys crafting and cosplay, and looking after the cutest three-legged dwarf hamster in the world, ElliePuff. Oh, and when she's not doing all that, Emily is an active member of The National Press Club and holds down a 9-to-5 as a senior attorney for the federal government - although that may just be her superheroine cover identity.

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4 Responses

  1. JosephW says:

    Just a thought, but if you were in ANY OTHER TYPE OF STORE, and wanted some help (whether because the sales clerks were busy elsewhere or just weren’t around), would you ask another customer? I’ve been in grocery stores and even bookstores (hell, it even happened while I was in Best Buy today), but I’ve been asked for help. In grocery stores, I’ve been asked if I know where some particular item is (even when I’m most certainly NOT wearing clothing that would even remotely suggest that I was employed there) or if I’ve ever tried some type of food or, if I’m picking up some specific product, if it’s good or what does it taste like.

    At my local comic shop, I’ve been asked for my opinions on various titles (and, no, I don’t work there) by other customers.

    Be a little more assertive–even in a comic shop. If the clerk’s not helping you, ask another customer what he (or even she) might suggest. I’m not trying to apologize for that sales clerk but the customer does bear some responsibility for the success or failure of the transaction.

    I’m glad you survived that bad experience, but still, you should’ve been more forceful during that bad encounter.

    • Emily W says:

      Hi Joseph. I just saw this comment, so it took me some time to reply. While I don’t disagree that it’s fine to be assertive, I don’t think the answer to this problem is, “be more assertive.” Note that I did try to get the clerk’s attention, politely, more than once. But the clerk didn’t help, and made me feel unwelcome because I am female. Grocery stores, book stores, sports stores – I’ve never been treated like that ANYWHERE else. That’s my point, not whether I should have, say, rudely interrupted the guy while he was helping someone else, or jumped into their conversation. That was pretty much my only option when there were other people there, as the store was pretty empty other than the clerk and the guys he was helping (one of whom, as I said, came in after me). There weren’t people browsing who I could ask, and if there were, well – why should I have to do that? Really, why? I’m not a shrinking violet, believe me – but I didn’t have a particular question I would have been able to ask anyone other than the clerk (e.g. if I saw someone picking up a product I was particularly interested in, sure, I’d be fine asking them about it; but if I’m standing in a giant grocery store with no idea what’s good to buy there, it’s not my first instinct to ask another random shopper. I don’t think it should be, either. Logic says you ask the person who works at the store and might actually have an answer for you, and who is also paid to help you, as opposed to someone who might want to just get their own shopping done without interacting).

      I really don’t see why it’s the customer’s responsibility to be anything other than a polite, interested, possibly informed person who wants to buy something. It’s the store’s and the clerk’s responsibility to make the customer want to buy that something THERE.

      Also, it’s pretty offensive to me when someone who doesn’t know me at all tells me that I should have been more forceful in an encounter they did not witness or experience, or that I must be more assertive in life. Since you don’t know my general behavior, I’d appreciate you not assuming the problem in this situation was with me, as opposed to the clerk. It really wasn’t.

  2. Mindy Newell says:

    Emily, it’s never going to go away, not entirely. You just gotta learn to say:

    Fuck ’em and the horses they rode in on.

    Chin up, girlfriend, stand tall!