Best SkepchickCON ever! We hosted more panels, packed more rooms, and partied more . . . harder? Than ever before!

This year, CONvergence very kindly gave us a larger room for most of our panels. I’m happy to say that we consistently filled that room up to standing room only, and I got a ton of positive feedback on our programming. Several of our panels were even mentioned in this positive Daily Planet overview of the CON.

As we suspected, some of the most popular panels were our two climate change panels and our Science of Drugs and Alocohol panel, all featuring BoingBoing’s science editor Maggie Koerth-Baker and expert moderator Desiree Schell, along with other experts in the fields like John Abraham and Shawn Otto. The Female Orgasm panel I moderated with Greg Laden, PZ Myers, and fellow Skepchick Heina Dadabhoy was absolutely packed (at right), and I think we managed to be both educational and completely raucous, which is my favorite combination of things to be.

YouTube star Cristina Rad joined me and others for a discussion on trolls, which I was a bit nervous about. I don’t ever get nervous about panels, but this is a topic I’ve had my fill of, and obviously it’s a bit personal. Luckily, Stephanie Zvan stepped up and moderated like a champ. Cristina got video of it, and you can see it here:

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to/on YouTube, and I see that not much has changed:

Can somebody please rape Rebecca Watson

QED.

(Cristina also uploaded the Gender Differences panel and the Ancient Aliens debate. Check them out!)

The happy news is that the SkepchickCON and CONvergence harassment policies somehow didn’t prevent anyone from having a good time. There was dancing, and hugging, and kissing, and hell, probably even a good deal of sex that happened in line with our views on consent and mutual respect. And check out these awesome posters that CONvergence placed prominently all over the hotel:

costumes are not consent

One more thing to mention before I do a too-quick rundown of thanks – the Skepchick parties were, once again, completely rocking. This year we had an adjoining room with Freethought Blogs (both designed by the very talented Mel!), doubling the nerdy fun, and we had an entire fleet of rad volunteers. Plus, we had Mad Art Lab’s Anne Sauer mixing drinks and talking about the science of alcohol, which I enjoyed so much I’m going to force her to return next year and do demonstrations all weekend long. Sorry, Anne.

I’m sorry to anyone who came to the party to talk to me – I lost my voice by midday Saturday, and so I was nearly incapable of communicating from there on out.

A Bunch of Thanks!

The success of the entire weekend is due mostly to Kammy Lyon, our hardworking CON-organizer who has been planning SkepchickCON 2012 ever since the end of SkepchickCON 2011. Kammy worked with CONvergence staff, SkepchickCON speakers and volunteers, and the good employees of TGI Friday’s to make sure that everything ran smoothly.

Melissa Lee also gets a huge thanks for helping Kammy coordinate our team of volunteers, all of whom did a fantastic job setting up, running, and cleaning our party room, among other thankless jobs like watching our table. Thankless besides this, of course: thanks, all!

I’d also like to thank all you generous people who donated to make this event happen. We don’t get any cut of the CONvergence tickets, so we cover all our expenses via individual donations, both large and small. You’re all amazing!

Thanks to all the people who appeared on those fun and informative panels, including many of the Skepchicks, Mad Art Labbers, Teen Skepchicks, Queerekers (?), and Felicia all the way from Swedish Skepchick. Plus thanks to all the Freethought Bloggers who came out, plus stars like Maggie Koerth-Baker, Desiree Schell, Cristina Rad, and John Abraham. I was blown away by how great everyone did on panels, even if it was their very first, and even if they were teenagers who had no right to be so funny and informative.

Thanks to Ethan, the guy who tabled next to Surly Amy and me. He even dressed in line with our gender-bending Star Wars costumes (at right)!

Also just a brief note of thanks to Don, Chris, and Craig of Pixar, Charlie at Google, and Sheldon at Oleone! I jetted over to San Francisco immediately after CONvergence, and those guys made it an awesome, fun-filled trip despite the fact that I was nearly voiceless, exhausted, and let’s admit it: a little cranky, throughout the trip. Thanks guys!

Thanks to everyone who came out and made SkepchickCON and CONvergence a huge success. See you next year!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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26 Comments

  1. Avatar of Jason Thibeault
    July 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm —

    FYI, in case the video by Cristina isn’t audible in spots (and I know it isn’t), I posted what I recorded from my phone right here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/07/11/coles-notes-and-alt-audio-for-dont-feed-the-trolls/

  2. Avatar of Alexrkr7
    July 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm —

    I really hope to make it to a conference next year. Being a poor college student apparently has it’s down sides.

    Dancing, hugging, kissing and possible sex? And no one was castrated? I wonder if the anti-anti-harrassment folk will take this new evidence into consideration and change their minds…

    Bwahahaha!

  3. Avatar of Johnnie Furious
    July 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm —

    Darth Vader wouldn’t wear fingerless gloves, even if they were totally late 70’s, early 80’s.

    • Avatar of Amy Roth
      July 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm —

      Surly Lader Vader would. I HAVE SPOKEN.

      • Avatar of Amy Roth
        July 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm —

        LOL. “LADY” Vader… though Lader Vader has a nice ring to it. ;)

        • Avatar of Johnnie Furious
          July 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm —

          Not without leg warmers and a thigh bandana.

        • Avatar of Grand Lunar
          July 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm —

          I recall the title “Lady Vader” used for Leia in a Star Wars novel. Forgot the details, though.

          • Avatar of Mark_A_Siefert
            August 3, 2012 at 2:11 am

            It was from Timothy Zane’s Thrawn Trilogy. Darth Vader had recruited a race, the Nohgri, to serve the Empire as assassins in return for repairing their planet’s ecology after it was ruined during the Clone Wars. They revered Vader as their savior, so many years later when Leia visited the the Nohgri’s homeworld she was recognized as Vader’s daughter and was thus called “The Lady Vader.”

  4. Avatar of Alexrkr7
    July 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm —

    Oh god, why did I read the comments! The videos are being downvoted and the idiots are taking the top comments. How can these people be so ill-informed?

  5. Avatar of Amy Roth
    July 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm —

    Also: BEST. SKEPCHICKCON. EVER. (Until next year.)

  6. Avatar of SteveT
    July 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm —

    It was a real treat to finally be able to meet you, Rebecca, as well as Surly Amy, Kammy, Bug_girl, Heina, and many others whose names I can’t think of right at the moment. Thanks for taking the time to chat with my daughters. I wanted them to meet someone who is making their world a better place, and you did a good job living up to the hype.

    And a special shout-out to Kammy, who is even more awesomely super than I had realized! She is a very gracious host and managed to make me and my family feel welcome the moment we met her.

    We’ve already booked a room for 2013, so we’ll be able to hang out until the wee hours. See y’all next year!

    • Avatar of Kammy
      July 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm —

      Awwww! Thank you for the kind words. Meeting you guys was one of the special pleasures of the weekend. I’m so excited you’re gonna be there again next year. Yay!!

  7. Avatar of Anne S
    July 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm —

    Totally planning to be there next year (you can stop twisting my arm now, Rebecca. Ouch!).

  8. Avatar of flewellyn
    July 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm —

    Did no one get a picture of your “Where The Wild Things Are” Max costume? I am disappoint.

    It was an awesome time on the whole. I was very sorry you lost your voice, though. I think it was all that shouting; the party rooms got LOUD.

    • Avatar of Niki M
      July 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm —

      I did! I’ve just been too busy recovering from con crud assisted strep throat to post any of my pics.

      I blame either the Free High Five Guys or repeating telling people what were in the shots Friday night.

      (I’m mostly kidding. Mostly.)

  9. Avatar of Niki M
    July 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm —

    And fucking hell this year was hella awesome. Count me in for volunteering next year.

  10. Avatar of Kammy
    July 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm —

    In about a week, I’ll be fully recovered and then start planning 2013!!

    There were so many great volunteers, we couldn’t put on SkepchickCON without them. I’m always amazed that people come out to do hard work and go home saying how much fun they had.

    I love planning this event and when it all comes together I have such a feeling of pride at what has been accomplished. I’m inspired by the all the brilliant, funny, dedicated and interesting skeptics in our community. Planning this event and making it happen is my contribution to the community and I’m grateful for the chance to do it.

    *goes back to sleep for a week*

  11. Avatar of fudgeh0g
    July 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm —

    Your troll “friend” has an incredibly interesting (not) blog. He got fired from his job! Surprise!

    http://misanthropyx.wordpress.com/

    • Avatar of colinj
      July 17, 2012 at 1:23 am —

      I had a skim of that blog. He seems like a charming, well-adjusted young man.

      I mean, I’m sure TONNES of people get fired from dishwashing jobs.

      That panel video was great, by the way.

  12. Avatar of Bjornar
    July 17, 2012 at 9:59 am —

    I very nearly got to be in the orgasm panel audience picture! Yay!
    You need to get a camera with a wider angle lense, Rebecca.

  13. Avatar of Jason
    July 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm —

    Good con on the whole, but I was wondering why the decision was made to let Greg Laden on the panel that discussed, in part, violent personal threats given the violent personal threats he’s made.

    It seems, in my view, very counter-productive to your message. He deserves to be marginalized in light of his abominable behavior, so it bothers me when a group like yours — which I respect — gives legitimacy to people like him.

  14. Avatar of Grand Lunar
    July 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm —

    Sounds like great fun was had by all. Wish I could’ve been there.

    As for that YouTube comment Rebecca, I’m willing to bet it was just that person’s way of trying to sound important. That he felt that he could exercise some power over you with such a statement.

    What to do in such a case is to give a great big “Fuck you, asshole!” to people like them, and treat them for what they are; cowards.

  15. Avatar of Grand Lunar
    July 17, 2012 at 11:16 pm —

    Damn it all to Hades, I forgot to mention this:

    “The happy news is that the SkepchickCON and CONvergence harassment policies somehow didn’t prevent anyone from having a good time.”

    Perhaps you can make a YouTube video about that Rebecca, and use it as a response to Thunderf00t’s video. See if he learns something (or not).

  16. Avatar of fandarzelig
    July 22, 2012 at 12:39 am —

    I’m a skeptic community lurker but it’s great to hear SkepchickCON went so well. It’s really important to be proactive, be DIY and show how enjoyable and inclusive events can be with proper harassment policies in effect. The haters have nothing to hide behind when you demonstrate that safe places aren’t the draconian, police states they so greatly fear. Bravo on enduring through this and keeping up the positive, constructive work.

  17. Avatar of Otoki
    July 26, 2012 at 10:30 am —

    I’m really pissed I missed a bunch of panels on Saturday. Every Skepchick panel I went to was so fun and informative.

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