I am the only chick at my store. We used to have two, but the first went on to bigger and better things and we enjoy her return visits. But when we were together, we noticed something.
Guys don't want our opinion.
We all have specialties here at the store. One guy is the Bat-Fan, another guy has a brain like the Flash Museum, I like to think that if you want to know about Marvel, you can come to me. When Straczynski started in on Spider-Man, I wasn't buying it. The Spider Totems and magical destiny and new guy just didn't do it for me (and still don't actually, but that's for another rant). The store manager, on the other hand, thought it was the Second Coming and recommended it to everyone he made eye contact with. Not wanting to share an unpopular opinion, I was respectfully quiet when he'd start in on his 'This new Spider-Man rules!' opinion. One time, I finally admitted not to caring for it in front of a customer but left the discussion to let the manager sell the book. I wasn't going to talk bad about product, but I couldn't join the bandwagon. The manager, jokingly (later on I got a little more respect, but hey, I was new), shouted back to me in front of the customer, "Well... that's because you're a GIRL!"
I shouted back, "Yeah! It doesn't have enough BOWS or PONIES in it!" At the time, I thought it was funny. I was new.
Another average example:
Guy (played by about 3 out of 5 customers we'll say)
Girl Employee (played by me)
Co-Worker (played by dude I work with)
Guy: Do you have any X-Men comics?
Girl Employee: Quite a few! Was there anything you were looking for in particular, back issues, trades, the newest issues...?
Guy: No, I used to read comics when I was a kid you know and wanted to get a X-Men comic.
Girl Employee: Oh! Not a problem. Let me show you what we have-
(Girl Employee turns to point out the TP section as an example.)
Guy: (not following, turns to Co-Worker) What's a good X-Men story?
Co-Worker: I'm currently busy-
Girl Employee: (by the books he wants) Sir?
Guy: Like, what's good?
Co-Worker: Uhm, she can help you?
Girl Employee: (ready with encyclopediatic-like knowledge) Sir, if you're just getting back into the books, I'd suggest-
Guy: (to Co-Worker) I like Wolverine, what's he been doing?
Believe it or not, this or a variation will happen at least once every couple weeks. Someone will ask me where something is in the store, but go to one of the guys for a 'real opinion'. Because, you know, I'm just going to give them Sandman. Or cooties.
The first girl had this problem in spades because she was the Games Manager and handled all of the role-playing and collectable card games. Yeah, looking a Magic player in the eye when he's wrong about what set a card is in it like looking into the abyss. And I can understand why. I'm not saying it's not intimidating having a member of the opposite gender there when everyone and their mom will agree that comics and games aren't a 'girl' thing. Industry professionals, comic shop owners, fanboys and your average guy on the street pretty much can agree on a biased gender statement. After all, girls aren't firemen, are they? That's why it's fireman.
Mind you, there are those who do this to themselves. Some fangirls really do just limit themselves to what they're supposed to like and rather enjoy their little pink ghettos of manga, or the Neil Gaiman and Jhonen Vasquez (seriously, this guy gets chicks. I don't get it.) style and sections. I'll admit to having Strangers in Paradise as an automatic 'girl' recomendation in a 'ask questions later' situation.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Take a chance. Ask what someone likes. Don't let them be intimidated by social rule. Comics are for everyone, boys and girls, young and old.
And don't look at the floor when you're talking to the girl employee. She's just going to make it worse for you.
( seriously, I'll be off my soapbox soon. reviews are on their way...)