Last weekend the Calgary Comic Expo, an annual Canadian four-day comic book and pop culture convention, created some controversy after one of the paid exhibitors, the Honey Badger Brigade, an all-women group associated with men’s rights, was ordered to leave. Not only were they expelled from the show without receiving a refund, but the police were also later called because members of the Honey Badger Brigade assembled at a nearby public park, away from the convention grounds.
The reason they were ordered to leave the convention is still a little murky.
It’s true that they had merchandise for sale at their booth associated with GamerGate, but I’m not sure what crime that makes them guilty of. Exhibitors at comic book conventions sell things, or at least they try to. It’s what they do. Just because an exhibitor sells something at their booth doesn’t necessarily mean they’re affiliated with the subject of the merchandise. For instance, if you buy a t-shirt at a comic book convention with the Hydra symbol on it, it doesn’t mean the exhibitor is affiliated with Hydra.
Or maybe it does.
The Honey Badger Brigade paid for a booth at the convention. The name of the group appears on the map of the convention floor. That is, it did before it was removed from the website on April 20th.
And then there’s the issue of the “Women Into Comics” panel that members of the Honey Badger Brigade supposedly derailed. Around 15 minutes into the panel, one of the members of Honey Badger Brigade stood up from her seat in the audience and asked if she could answer a question posed by one of the panel members about feminism, comics, and men’s rights.
The panelist who posed the rhetorical question replied with, “Yeah. Sure! Go for it”.
The woman from the Honey Badger Brigade then proceeded with giving an a semi-lengthy statement on why she doesn’t like the word feminism and how she is a men’s rights activist. There’s audio of the exchange available on YouTube, but the quality is bad. It didn’t sound as though the panel was being derailed, but this took place in Canada. They may have a different definition for the word.
According to Calgary Comic Expo organizers, people began to complain about the Honey Badger Brigade and their booth, saying that they were a hate group. The convention has lengthy rules against harassment, and people argued the booth’s mere presence with its GamerGate paraphernalia constituted harassment.
Not only were the members of the Honey Badger Brigade asked to leave, but each member also received a lifetime ban from attending future events.
So what got them into the most trouble? Being associated with a men’s rights group? Interrupting a panel? Selling pro-GamerGate merchandise at their booth?
My guess was a combination of all these things.