Calico’s Story: Comic Con International (San Diego) 2014

Jamie’s Story: Fanime Con 2014

My underage friend was dressed as Touhou and she told me that an adult male commented on how “sexy” she was and then he grabbed her boobs and ran away. I was infuriated and asked her to give me a description of the guy so I could tell security to look for him. She refused to tell me and blew it off as “It’s fine, it has happened to me before.” This made me even more mad, but I tried to calm down and just be supportive of her.

Hannah’s Story: Metrocon 2014 (Florida)

I was dressed as Lady Loki at Metrocon 2014 in Tampa, FL. I was walking through artist alley with my sister when a group of guys (all dressed as Deadpool) came up along side us. One of them shouted “Hey look! Loki’s horny!” and started ‘jacking off’ my Loki helmet. I was mortified and when we tried to get away they just kept following us yelling obnoxiously (attempting to be in character) “What you gonna do Loki? You can’t kill us!”

Kamokuu’s Story: ColossalCon 2014

I was cosplaying with friends, and I was dressed as Princess Zelda from the Legend of Zelda. My story starts with my standing around chatting with a friend near a concessions stand at the convention/hotel when all of the sudden I felt hands grab my face and jerk my head away from the conversation I was having only to be face to face with a drunk buffoon who then said “I’ll never get another chance to do this!” at which time he proceeded to try and put his mouth on me. Thankfully I had enough time and whit about me to put my hand on his mouth to keep him from putting his mouth on me.

My friend (also a girl) who was horrified was trying to shove him off of me, and I punched him in the ribs with my other free hand a couple of times when my own attempts to push him away weren’t successful. Eventually, realizing he wasn’t going to be able to get what he wanted he took off running outside, at which time my friend took off her heels and chased after him in her bare feet. During the pursuit, she witnessed this guy blindside 4 other unsuspecting, cosplaying, women who were not as lucky as I was and unfortunately he put his mouth on them. She eventually lost sight of him and returned to our group. After filing a report with the con security we were told that if we saw him to come and get one of them. So as it so happened, much to my surprise, when we went outside to do a photoshoot some time later, we DID spot this guy again, and he, and his buddies were taking creeper pictures of my friend and I from a distance and making us feel very uncomfortable as they stood at a distance and just stared at us. My friend snuck off and got security. We watched a couple of security members come outside, identify the suspect, and the head of the con security approached him, spoke with him, and left.

Naturally having just been physically violated, I was shocked that this pervert was left standing there. So I went back to the security office at which time I witnessed a staff member in there joking around and asking if I was there about the “Serial Kisser”. Now being rather hot blooded over the blatant belittlement of being assaulted by someone along with a number of other women, I demanded to know why after putting his hands on me and trying to force himself on me and others, ruining my convention, he was still at large, allowed to be there and have a good time. So the head of security appeared and basically brushed me off saying that it was my word (and my friend’s and the other women for that matter) against his and that they told him that if he did it again they were going to take his badge away.

I am still furious about this. Not only is it violating, disrespectful, degrading, and disgusting but realistically that jerk could have been doing that to spread herpes or other diseases to people. Knowing or unknowing. This isn’t the days of the cavemen. You should not be permitted to just grab a girl up and force yourself on them, drunk or socially awkward or messed up in the head, or “you asked for it for dressing like that in public” I don’t care what excuse people use. There used to be a line that separated us from animals, who cant control themselves, but I am seeing that line becoming more and more blurred. I was not dressed up in a provocative cosplay, and even if I was, I shouldn’t have to be afraid to go to a convention, or anywhere and be afraid that some animal is going to try and do something to me against my will. But now I am, and I am not an easy person to scare. But I look over my shoulder now and stand with my back to a wall at cons and in public because of what happened and that’s a shame. No girl should ever have to worry about their safety. I am a huge advocate for having real security, or police present at these events because frankly, con security is either useless or a bunch of primeval cave dwellers that some how think that not only is that kind of behavior okay, but its also something to be made fun of and belittled. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

Let’s Transform San Diego Comic Con to What we Know it Can Be!

Our Petition has over 2,500 signatures and we are here in San Diego ready to deliver the petition to San Diego Comic Con International!  If you have a badge, you know they sent out a vague email Friday night saying that you can call the emergency number if you feel unsafe. Though there is still no definition of harassment, it has been made clear that the only harassment the convention feels is worthy of a response is that which would constitute an emergent enough harassment situation to call the emergency number. We deserve a harassment policy that allows for ALL con-goers to feel comfortable and safe in the comic convention setting – that sets the standards so much higher than “you deserve not to feel so unsafe that you need to call an emergency hotline” – but that you deserve to feel comfortable and not harassed.

Additionally, there is still no definition of what sort of behavior would actually lead to consequences for the harasser. If you do not have a badge – SDCC made no attempt to let you know about the policy – there was no social media update, no update to the policy page on the website, no post made on the SDCC blog. Press, who can be quite serious offenders, weren’t even notified until Tuesday. While this is by SDCC as being treated like a minor issue, radicalized by the “few” people who’ve experienced the harassment. Studies and personal experiences don’t lie. Janelle Asselin at Bitch Magazine did a survey of over 3,500 people, and the results are pretty staggering. And make it all the more alarming that Comic Con isn’t willing to at least make an effort to curb the harassment cosplayers experience.

Out of all respondents, 59 percent said they felt sexual harassment was a problem in comics and 25 percent said they had been sexually harassed in the industry. The harassment varied: while in the workplace or at work events, respondents were more likely to suffer disparaging comments about their gender, sexual orientation, or race. At conventions, respondents were more likely to be photographed against their wishes. Thirteen percent reported having unwanted comments of a sexual nature made about them at conventions—and eight percent of people of all genders reported they had been groped, assaulted, or raped at a comic convention. To put these percentages into perspective, if 13 percent of San Diego Comic-Con attendees have unwanted comments of a sexual nature made about them this week, that would be around 17,000 people. And if eight percent of SDCC attendees are groped, assaulted, or raped, that’s over 10,000 attendees suffering harassment.

While San Diego Comic Con continues to ignore our requests while making haphazard adjustments to their policies without publicizing them widely, male allies (including the hosts of Matty P’s Radio Hour), fellow cosplayers and geeks, and various press outlets have been covering San Diego Comic Con’s utter failure at their anti harassment effort. Because we all believe in Comic Con, at its roots, as a safe space to celebrate our geeky fandoms. Doug Porter said it well at San Diego Free Press:

What should be a dream-come-true event for fans of the genres involved has turned out to be a nightmare in recent years as an institutional malaise about dealing with harassment issues has surfaced. Last year photographs of attendee derrieres were posted online after Comic-Con as some sort of sick tribute to the misogynist mentality that’s flourished in recent events in San Diego and other cities.

Whether it’s only a handful of people who are made to feel unsafe, unwelcome, or unworthy at a convention just because of their gender, or truly a group of 17,000 strong – we are here in San Diego (and online) to say IT IS NOT OKAY. We will be at comic con all day Thursday Friday and Saturday collecting stories, monitoring the harassment reports, and providing resources for anyone who needs! Tweet us at @GeeksForCONsent if you are harassed, have been in the past, or otherwise want to chat about cosplayer harassment! Or if you just want a temporary tattoo or some harasser cards keep your eye out for us or tweet to find out our location! Whether it’s only a handful of people who are made to feel unsafe, unwelcome, or unworthy at a convention just because of their gender, or truly a group of 17,000 strong – we are here in San Diego (and online) to say IT IS NOT OKAY. We will be at comic con all day Thursday Friday and Saturday collecting stories, monitoring the harassment reports, and providing resources for anyone who needs! Tweet us at @GeeksForCONsent if you are harassed, have been in the past, or otherwise want to chat about cosplayer harassment! Or if you just want a temporary tattoo or some harasser cards keep your eye out for us or tweet to find out our location! Looking forward to an awesome convention – and to meeting as many of you lovely geeks as we can. Here’s to hoping it is as harassment free as possible!

If you experience harassment – share your story at GeeksForCONsent.org and help us break the silence around this important issue so we can continue talking about ways to make conventions safer, more inclusive spaces.

Male Allies talk Cosplay =/= CONsent on Matty P Presents: Saturday Morning Cereal

“This is everybody’s job. We’re talking about what we’re proud to be, in a culture of inclusion. It’s supposed to be a safe zone, where women feel safe to dress up.”

Male allies at Matty P’s Radio Happy Hour step up and call each other to action. Together we can make conventions safer, more inclusive places where we all feel welcome to celebrate our favorite characters and stories!

Discover Entertainment Internet Radio with Matty Ps Radio Happy Hour on BlogTalkRadio

Listen in (above link) as male allies talk about what we need to do as culture to shift our geekdom into a safer, more inclusive space. Hint: it’s on the men to step up as allies, too!  (The extensive discussion of Cosplay =/= CONsent and SDCC is the last segment of the radio hour.)

They talk about how they view the harassment and groping from a man’s perspective, and how some men must not have been taught how to treat other people as they were growing up.

“the problem is, is that when, in our minds we objectify the women that we see, we see them less of people, more as objects. We steal their humanity, we don’t give them credit as a person. Then all of the sudden, we can touch them. We can take pictures. That’s what some people are doing! Unwanted pictures, all the way to groping, and unwanted physical harassment. It’s making people, vast majority are women, feel unsafe!”

They also discuss what the petition is asking for, (a more specific policy that is publicized so people know it  exists, and volunteers who are equipped to actually handle reports when harassment happens) — and how inadequate SDCC’s current policy is: “What this petition is aiming to do is have the management of comic con be more specific. …There are 1-2 sentences buried in the 200 page handbook. And apparently they don’t talk to the volunteers about what to do if they see somebody cross the line. With the lack of policy, there becomes a lack of responsibility on behalf of hte management.”

They call out SDCC management for worrying about any potential bad press instead of acting when they know unequivocally the current consequence of their policy is that at least 2,000 people don’t feel safe or protected by the current policy.

“They point out a certain reticence for management to move forward. It doesn’t matter what your worries for the future are if at the moment anyone at the moment doesn’t feel safe, you are failing at your job in enforcing [the harassment policy].”

And, as allies they acknowledge that they have not lived this experience of being harassed or groped, and they may never truly understand what it feels like, but that doesn’t stop them for finding it to be a completely unacceptable and unwelcome component to geek culture and within convention spaces.

“Ideally you don’t want signs up everywhere at comic con having to spell this out, eventually, a generation or two from now, to say “You actually had to put signs up?” I don’t mind being the generation laughed out a few generations down the line if it eliminates the problem.”

Not here, not now. We don’t want this. A couple blocks down the way, a storm trooper and a troll in line at a starbucks, and a gorgeous woman down the way dressed as a fairy. I want to do everything I can to keep these doors open, and make everyone feel welcome. This is about feeling and acting on that passion. Harassment goes against that, puts a big wall in front of it, is exclusionary. These divide us, and we don’t want it here.

Thank you two, for having our backs and for speaking up as allies. And thank you for doing and saying more than SDCC is willing. We as a culture can definitely change things from within, we just need more people to stand up and demand better — and that means male allies standing beside the cosplayers as we make those demands.

Sherrie’s Story: Her experience at SDCC involved so much harassment, she’s not comfortable going back.

I was cosplaying as a female anime character of somewhat large chest proportions. I happen to be large myself and wore a padded bra to slightly enhance it. Multiple times throughout the con, people asked to take pictures with me, and I agreed, but a few times men thought it would be awesome to grab a breast for the photo. When I got angry, they acted like it was no big deal and I was called a “bitch” and other things for standing up for myself.

By the time I could get the attention of con staff each time but one, the offenders were no longer nearby, The other time, the staff member was dismissive. I also received inappropriate sexual comments from both attendees and exhibitors. Being that I was fully clothed from neck to toe without tight clothing, and STILL getting that kind of treatment, I couldn’t possibly feel safe dressing in anything that would draw attention to me, and maybe even not then, because I got rude comments while NOT cosplaying as well. I have so little desire to return until they can fully convince me the atmosphere has changed.