I’ve been home from PantheaCon since Monday evening, and I can still hear Thalassa’s voice over the vendor’s room microphone, cracking jokes and telling people to leave because the room is closing. Is this some weird sign of stress or lingering sleep deprivation? The answer is probably yes on both counts, considering that I only finished the post-con bookkeeping for Serpentine Music earlier this afternoon.
I only went to two scheduled events this year: a talk on evil by Sam Webster, and a talk on “divine embodiment” by Ivo Dominguez. Both were interesting and thought-provoking, and together were about as much as I could handle of the con festivities. Yet in spite of my severely curtailed conference schedule, I had more fun at the con this year than ever before.
It turns out that if you have a great idea for a badge ribbon, you really do need to create it. In my case, it was the “Ask Me About My Feminist Rage” ribbon, in red ink on a bright pink piece of satin. I had several hundred made, and we gave away almost all of them. In the last hour of the con there were still people coming up to the booth begging us for a “feminist rage” ribbon.
Imagine if you will calling out to random people milling about the convention hallways and vending room, and asking them if they’d like a ribbon for their badge. These people ran the gamut of age, ethnicity, gender, and every other orientation. Then imagine the looks on their faces as they read the ribbon message! Now I wish I’d taken a poll of all the intriguing, entertaining responses we got.
My favorites were the women and men who laughed hysterically and took twoâ€”one for themselves and another for a friend who just had to have one. Some men looked confused or sheepish, saying that they didn’t want one but thought their wives or girlfriends would. Some women gently said that they were over their rage and were pretty comfortable with how things were going, and at least two said they wouldn’t take them because “it all looks like trash to me, and I won’t send another thing to the landfill.” Killjoys.
My response to nearly everybody was that you don’t have to identify as a feminist or be in touch with some sort of rage to wear a ribbon. The ribbon only invites people to ask you about your feminist rage, and whatever answer you have is a perfectly valid one to give. I even counseled one older single gentleman (among the confused and/or not enraged) that if some attractive woman were to ask him about his ribbon, and if he were to answer that he had no feminist rage but really liked strong women, that might be a decent pickup line. That was the first time I’ve ever seen him blush in the many years I’ve known him.
My daughters took special delight in handing them to all the young boys and girls looking for ribbons to add to their collection, and I made sure that every prominent Pagan I knew had one as well. The most notable encounter I had was with an instructor at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), who took a ribbon but said she wasn’t going to wear it, she was going to bring it to her class as a conversation starter. Apparently her Women’s Spirituality students feel no need for feminism or anger of any sort, a stance we both agreed was troubling.
In the end, it was deeply satisfying to bring the word “feminist” into the con in such a lighthearted way. We should be able to laugh at ourselves, and also admit our strengths, outrages and longings.
I already have a slogan picked out for next year’s special edition ribbon, a sentiment that I heard expressed by several others at the con so I know it’s not just me. It captures the state of mind you get into after attending several years of PantheaCon, when you know you’ll be back but realize that next year you may only get to one or two events in a weekend packed with presentations:
OVER ITâ€”And Yet, Still Here.
And that about sums it up. Except for this hilarious little video of my great helpers Lyra and Jojo, rocking out in an ironic rendition of Wendy Rule‘s “Deity.” You do get punchy, sitting at the music booth listening to the same music all weekend.