It’s become a sad coda to some of the major conventions, news after the fact that some of the behavior of fans at said convention was inappropriate. It’s happened once again at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, but this time, a group of cosplayers is looking to convince SDCC organizers to do something a little more proactive about the problem.

In an article on the Huffington Post, the efforts of Geeks for CONsent were chronicled from SDCC where they collected 2,600 signatures in an online petition calling for Con organizers to formalize an anti-harassment policy. According to Geeks for CONsent, they’ve been told about numerous incidents of women being groped, followed and unwillingly photographed during the convention, in addition to the use of scantily clad show girls and one instance where panel host Craig Ferguson referred to female cosplayers as “vaguely slutty.”

Model and avid cosplayer Adrianne Curry told TooFab about an incident she witnessed (and intervened on):

Sadly, this does seem to be a recurring them. Nerd Bastards wrote earlier this year about an incident at PAX East where a group of Lara Crofts were asked some explicit questions by a “journalist.” Meanwhile, an article posted on The Mary Sue the other day quoted a poll done by Bitch Magazine saying that 13 per cent of those polled said that they had “unwanted comments of a sexual nature made about them at conventions” while another 8 per cent said they were groped, assaulted, or raped at a con. Kind of frightening, isn’t it, and all the more reason that action is needed.

“It’s a separate, more specific issue within the convention space,” said Rochelle Keyhan, director of Geeks for CONsent. The Philadelphia-based group is a splinter of HollabackPhilly, which was founded to combat sexual harassment against women, and harassment against people who identify as LGBT. “It’s very much connected (to the larger problem) and it’s the same phenomena, but manifesting a little more sexually vulgar in the comic space.”

A statement from Comic Con to the Associated Press assures that they are already sensitive to Geeks for CONsent’s concerns. “Comic-Con has an explicit Code of Conduct that addresses harassing and offensive behavior,” it said. “This Code of Conduct is made available online as well as on page two of the Events Guide that is given to each attendee.” Another statement to the Los Angeles Times also pointed out that the San Diego Police Department were on hand in an increased capacity in order to respond to complaints.

That’s all fine and good according to Keyhan, but she says that convention staff need to also be trained on how to handle complaints of sexual harassment. “It makes it feel safer for the person being harassed to report it and also for bystanders who witness (inappropriate behavior),” Keyhan added.

The push to address convention harassment does seem to be gaining steam. A panel on harassment took place at Ottawa Comic Con last month, and included an accompanying comic book, which the organizers talked about on the CBC. Last year saw the start of the Con Anti-Harassment Project, which aimed to encourage all conventions to develop anti-harassment policies.

If you’re interested in lending your voice to the chorus to end harassment at Comic Con, you can sign the petition here. You can also learn more about the group Geeks for CONsent here.

Category: Nerd Culture

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