I was recently in London, Ontario and while I was there I had some time to kill, so I went to a couple of comic book stores. By the time I got to the third store I noticed something: men kept staring at me. Living in Toronto I don’t experience this often. There are many girls who go to my local comic book store. But, when I was in London, I was approached by a store employee who proceeded to have a very awkward and condescending conversation with me. “What you got there?” … “Is that your favourite superhero?”… “You don’t seem like much of a nerd.” Needless to say, I was a bit insulted, uncomfortable and I excused myself and walked away.
I am not sharing this information because I’m full of myself. I am sharing this information because I want to address an issue that happens in the majority of comic book stores. Women getting put in awkward situations by guys who don’t know what to do when they find a girl in a comic store. I must admit some stores are better than others, but if you are a nerdy girl you have had this experience at least once.
Shows like The Big Bang Theory aren’t helping. They show the typical nerd type guys being shocked and scared of a cute girl in a comic store; it doesn’t help that the cute girl is a ditz who knows nothing about comic books.
Some of you guys might be good at treating girls as equals, some of you might only think you are good at it, and others are well aware that they do not know what to do when they find a girl in that type of environment. Below are a couple of tips on what to do when you find yourself standing beside a girl in a comic/gaming store.
Assume we know just as much or more than you do.
This may or may not be the case; but do not assume we know less or you will come off as condescending and rude. Even if you have never seen this person in your local store before, that doesn’t mean they are not into comics. Instead try and talk to her about what she looking at, or a comic she is holding in her hand. If it’s something you don’t read, mention a similar comic that you do like. I’m sure this will spark up a conversation, and it will be about something you both enjoy…comics
Don’t talk to us, or not talk to us because we are girls. Talk to us because we are people.
Number two pretty much speaks for itself. No matter the reason you want to talk to us (maybe you think we are hot, maybe you don’t see many girls into comics) it shouldn’t be because we’re chicks. Would you walk up to a complete stranger in a comic store and start talking to them? If yes, then go right head, do the same thing to the girl standing near the new issues rack. If no, then don’t just pick us out and talk to us because we are women. Do what comes naturally to you, because if you don’t it will probably come off as awkward and forced.
We can see you staring.
You are not that sneaky. We see you doing it. If you make accidental eye contact, just smile and say hello. Don’t make it more awkward than it needs to be.
We don’t have to look a certain way to be into comics.
Just like men, us women comic nerds come in all shapes and sizes. No matter if we are walking around in our Green Lantern t-shirts, or a dress and heels we are into comics. Why else would we be in a comic store! Well…some girlfriends do get pulled into comic stores, but they might be future comic lovers, so don’t scare them off!
Overall, treat us like you would treat any nerd and don’t assume anything about us, but the fact that we love comics too!
I would love to hear some stories about awkward moments you have experienced; either ones you caused or have witnessed in a comic store, gaming store or convention.
Thank you to Patrick Hart for the image at the top the of article.
I like going to other shops because yes, I’ve had that ‘what’s a girl doing here?’ experience. I love chatting up employees and them talking to me like I’m clueless and then throw in that I’m the manager at one of Canada’s biggest comic shops. They shut up real quick.
Sadly, I’ve had the same experience where I do work. Generally with people assuming I don’t read comics because I’m a girl, or asking to speak with a male employee (‘is there a guy who could help me with this?’), or not believing me when I say I’m the manager.
I am lucky where I work, we have customers of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and creeds and generally everyone knows that and loves it. But you know what they say about bad apples!
You’re right Laura, there are some bad apples out there that make the guys who treat us like everyone else look bad. I also love the fact that you like to show those bad guys what you really know. It’s one of my favorite things to do too. I’ve had guys who will read a title or two assume that when I say I’m into comics I only read Archie. When in fact I am much more hardcore and knowledgeable then them on the subject.
Also, way to represent the female comic nerds! I bet you manage the hell out of that comic store! and thanks for sharing your story.
Although I’m not into comics I find what you’ve described here similar to experiences I’ve had in electronic stores. The vast majority of men don’t seem to understand that I too know quite a bit about hooking up my television or the difference between LCD and LED and I definitely know what cables I need to purchase. So, I can totally relate.
Wow this was great to read! I agree 100% about all of this although I am a guy I respect the oposet sex. I have a great number of friends who are girls and are über nerds like my self. I some time feel ashamed to be a guy because I have to tell others off when I go into a shop with them. You are people big deal you go into a comic shop that’s good! I also agree 100% on the big bang comment HATE that show! Well I hope some day males and females can full coexist in comic shops with out problomes.
Oh my G*D, that is hilarious! I’ve often been in this situation. Buying anime, I was asked by a guy if I had kids, or if a boyfriend or significant other had introduced me. Another time, a guy tried to pick me up, acting like the BMOC. When I began to recite the Green Lantern slogan verbatim, and summarized the origin stories of many of the heroes, he stepped back, his eyes and mouth open. He left moments after.
May I ask what store you manage? Would love to hear about it!
Hi! I loved the post!
I’m Brazilian and plan on going to the US this year… I’m a huge manga, anime, J-RPG fan (though I’m not very knowledgeable about US comic books, I also enjoy reading them from time to time (V for Vendetta being my personal Favorite)) and was hoping to visit some comic book and gaming stores while visiting. Since I’ve never been to the US before and had some weird experiences during my trip to the UK last year, I wanted to be sure that TBBT’s portrait of an “US Comic Book Store” was exaggerated.
Here in Brazil is pretty normal to have a girl walking into a comic book store (the rare thing is to find a store), especially to buy manga, so it was really weird to be stared at when I visited Edinburgh’s and Glasgow’s Forbidden Planet stores. I loved the store, but the looks my sister and I got from the staff and the clients made me really uncomfortable. I believe I would’ve purchased even more than I did if they didn’t look at us like we were aliens and kept their distance while making comments I could not only hear, but understand. My sister didn’t seem to mind it very much, because she wasn’t buying anything (and I gave her a R2D2 plush), but I was looking for some specific mangas and was really disappointed.
It was pretty much the same vibe I get when I go to gaming stores here in Rio. It pisses me because most of the time, the staff doesn’t even know anything about the game I want to buy (Brazilian gaming stores seem to have something against RPGs). One guy even tried to sell me some cooking game when I asked him about Disgaea 4 and Fire Emblem Awakening.
I just had this happen to me. I’ve been in comic stores only 2 times. The first experience was good, I am a black girl and the girl in charge was a black female. So no problems. The second time I went to a comic book store I wasn’t so lucky. I was being watched and I wasn’t sure why. It could have been race, gender, or the fact that I was a new face and long time comic readers have a tendency to treat comics like an exclusive club. Regardless, I haven’t gone back to a comic book store since and just buy from ebay, Amazon, and digital as well.
People this is true not only here but all over retail. The best retail salespeople NEVER assume anything. They have learned that you never know who is walking thru he door. they may know nothing or they may know much more about your business than you do. It’s just a fact of life. I’ve seen the same scenario in Camera shops and ladieswear shops. Some hetro men know moreabout dressing women than most women. & believe me there are women out there who know a crap load about photography and more than 99% of all Camera shop employees.
When I was in HS, I use to go to the local comic book store. This was around the time I wanted to actually get my hand on comics, instead of just reading super wikis and forums online. I came from a restricted, poor home so buying comics was something I had to do on my own and in secret. I purchased a few comics a couple of times, but I always felt uncomfortable searching the store. The worst part was always getting to the register, fearing I would be quized about what I was buying before being allowed to buy. I didn’t know much about what I was getting but that’s why I was there – to submerge myself into a world I’d only dreamt of. I am a very anxious person and couldn’t take the fear of being humiliated in public. I stopped going eventually and even stopped reading comics. Now, I’m 23 years old and miss the glossy feel of the pages and the way I could disappear into the adventurous stories. I’ve been wanting to get back into comics but feel my best option is to opt for online shops. Are there any suggestions out there for series I should dive into, or decent priced online shops I could get a bargain at? Thanks y’all!