Quite a few discussions of booth babes have popped up post-E3. If you’re following me, I’m assuming you’ve read the arguments against them by women who feel it hurts their professionalism, makes them feel judged, and is just generally problematic.
I do not have their experience.
No, my first experience with booth babes was at was once known as Chicago’s Wizard World. A Suicide Girl approached me, flirted with me, and gave me a card, assuring me something would be for me at their booth. My reaction at the time was likely a stunned silence, which may have been taken for being a salivating horndog. I was not a salivating horndog.
The first thought that struck me was that for everyone talking about how I supposedly force my sexuality on them in public, I just put up with an example of such that was far more uncomfortable to me. One: I was apparently assumed someone who was interested in women sexually. Two: I am someone who apparently attends conventions to ogle women and have them assuage my ego, as if I actually matter to them beyond a paycheck. Three: I know I was meant to feel flattered, but I just felt dirty for even having the card in my hand, and promptly trashed it.
Then came my experience with E3. Thankfully I was press, and spent quite a bit of time in appointments and the press room, so I didn’t have to interact with many booth babes. When I did, it was typically at the front of the convention halls, where they were trying to sell me energy drinks. Or, watching a woman in a bikini shivering while in a bikini. LA may get warm, but being in the shade on a morning can still be cold. I wanted to give her a coat.
My one interaction with a booth babe type person was walking up to a stall (for which product or company I can’t recall), and being asked for my business card. I knew the reason for this was largely to be put on a mailing list, but the woman asking for it was doing so in a flirtatious way, as if she personally wanted my contact information. Sighing, I raised my lanyard that displayed my organization was GayGamer and walked away. She seemed a bit stunned, and I’m still not sure how I feel about the entire event.
It is her job to flirt with men, or to draw their attention. It is not in my interest to flirt with women in general, and since I was being flown there for GayGamer, it was the furthest thing from my mind. I was much more interested in meeting developers, fellow journalists, working, and enjoying my time there.
So booth babes? They do make me uncomfortable. I don’t necessarily consider my discussing my sexuality as shoving it down peoples’ throats (I could give details, and have no qualms about such, but I generally think that is not for public knowledge or consumption), nor do I tend to flirt brazenly with people. Therefore, it is very odd to me to suddenly be forced into a position where I felt I had to keep outing myself. I wanted to consider myself a professional, and part of that was not having to be put into an uncomfortable position (and women flirting with me generally puts me into a mode where I wonder what the best way to escape is).