Stop sexual harassment at San Diego Comic Con, create a formal anti-harassment policy
Cons should be about celebrating our favorite games, stories and characters freely and without judgment. But for many fangirls, women and LGBTQ cosplayers, going to cons often includes sexual assault and harassment. Comic Con has refused to create a full harassment policy. Will you join us in demanding a harassment-free Comic Con in 2014?
Cosplayers have reported that they regularly experience verbal harassment, groping, and upskirt photos at large conventions. One woman at New York Comic Con reported that a man grabbed her breast while taking a picture with her. Another woman who likes to cosplay as Chun Li from street fighter says she’s considered dropping the character because men keep demanding she do a “flying bird kick” (upside-down splits) for photos. Women also report that they choose what to wear and who to bring with them to conventions based on whether they expect that con’s culture of harassment to be “bad” or “very bad.”
While this sort of sexual harassment and assault has been happening for decades, conventions are finally starting to address it. Awesome Con in DC had a visible anti-harassment team presence and signs advertising their zero tolerance policy. Science fiction author John Scalzi has called on his fellow “Guests of Honor” not to attend cons without anti-harassment policies. And Dragon Con ran a “cosplay does not equal consent” advertising campaign this year.
But Comic Con San Diego -- the biggest and most prominent comic convention in the world – still has no published anti-harassment policy. If they know enough fans want a safe and harassment-free con, they’ll listen to us. And when they adopt an anti-harassment policy, its likely other conventions around the world will follow suit.
We’re asking Comic Con San Diego to include the following in a formal anti-harassment policy:
--A harassment reporting mechanism and visible, easy to find on-site support for people who report harassment;
--Signs throughout the convention publicizing the harassment policy and zero-tolerance enforcement mechanisms;
--Information for attendees on how to report harassment; and
--A one hour training for volunteers on how to respond to harassment reports.
Geeks for CONsent has offered to provide sample harassment policies and training manuals, and we support leaders in the convention and cosplaying worlds collaboratively developing an anti-harassment policy together.
We’ll be delivering this petition in person at San Diego Comic Con in July. If you would like to volunteer with us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also post this petition to your Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter accounts or share your personal experiences with gender-based harassment at any convention so we can continue validating this experience as important and widespread.
Comic conventions are about celebrating the things that make us geeks, in a place where we can feel free to embrace our favorite stories and characters freely without judgment. Help us achieve our goal, let’s create a world free from harassment, whether it be based on our genders, race, differences, the fact that we’re in costume, or that we like things like wearing pointy ears in public as we make the Vulcan Salute to one another.
As experts in dealing with harassment, training women and LGBT folks in coping and responding to harassment, and training people how not to harass, the GeeksForCONsent team has been conducting workshops on gender-based harassment and better ways of communicating with each other in public for over 3 years. Part of their anti harassment effort has involved offering national conventions the opportunity to work collaboratively on their anti-harassment policies and internal procedures for collecting reports. As fans and cosplayers, we want to collaborate with conventions to re-create them as safer spaces by assisting with trainings to be sure staff is equipped to appropriately respond to reports of harassment, and auditing convention spaces for safety issues and appropriate handling of harassment and assault.
Considering the mounting criticism SDCC has faced for its minimal focus on harassment at the convention, including the petitions by artists and fans alike to boycott the convention until a formal and enforced policy is implemented, I am requesting that San Diego Comic Con commits to recreating the convention as a safe space. Aside from training your volunteers and personally staffing a table loaded with resources and anti-harassment comic materials, trauma-informed, effectively trained volunteers need to be on site during the convention weekend, able to handle any issues that may arise, creating a haven for convention goers to share past experiences, and talking with cosplayers.
Thank you for taking this seriously, and creating a comic con setting that is more inclusive of all genders!