San Diego Comic Con responds: by refusing to improve their policies!

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SDCC’s spokesperson, David Glanzer, responded to our petition so flippantly it is clear he didn’t even read it! In Glanzer’s full response, he makes it clear that SDCC is refusing to post signs about the harassment policy because they don’t want bad press to result. They will not make their policy more specific. They have not committed to train their volunteers. They have not outlined ANY plans for actually enforcing their vague policy.

As an illustration of how far away SDCC currently is from having a specific, comprehensive policy, combined with adequate volunteer training, check out this vague excerpt from SDCC’s 2013 volunteer training manual:

All harassment complaints should be documented in writing and submitted within twenty-four (24) hours, or as soon as it is possible. All submitted complaints will be promptly and thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken. The investigation will be as objective and complete as reasonably possible. Upon completion of the investigation, a determination will be made and the results will be communicated to the complainant, the alleged harasser and, as appropriate, to all others directly concerned. If inappropriate conduct is proven, prompt and effective remedial action will be taken. You must submit any reports of harassment in writing within 24 hours and wait an undetermined amount of time to see if they decide you have sufficiently proven that something bad happened. Then they will take unspecified “appropriate action”. 

This is nowhere near good enough. The Mary Sue breaks down exactly how Glanzer’s response to our petition is not only inaccurate, but completely insufficient.

Glanzer’s response makes it clear that they care more about press and publicity than making the largest convention in the world a safe, inclusive space. Tell them this blatant disrespect of the concerns and desires of their patrons is what will give them bad press. Our safety, and the integrity of our geek community, will not be protected unless we stand up for what we know is right, and hold Glanzer and the convention accountable for their policies. Contact local press and conventions, use social media to keep up the pressure, and join us in July to vocally demand better from them as a leading convention.

When tweeting the petition to media contacts, use these twitter handles: @fox5sandiego, @10news, @abcsandiego, @bleedingcool and the #CONsent hashtag. And check out the feeds of @JillPantozi and @DCwomenkickingass breaking down how SDCC’s weapons and pet policies are WAY more specific than their anti harassment policy.

Thank you for joining us in this fight!

The GeeksForCONsent Team

It’s time to hold San Diego Comic Con accountable for the harassment and groping that happens every year!

The above video illustrates examples of cosplayer harassment and the effects it has on making people feel unsafe in convention spaces, to the point of avoiding certain conventions, choosing not to dress as their favorite characters, or only feeling safe when they bring cis-male companions as a sort of shield at the conventions. Enough is enough – it is time for the major conventions to follow the example being set by smaller conventions — creating and publicizing thorough anti-harassment policies, having educational and zero tolerance posters throughout the convention, trained staff who will appropriately handle reports of harassment, and effective internal procedures for being sure the appropriate actions are taken when a convention guest is engaging in this offensive and exclusive behavior.

GeeksForCONsent has emailed San Diego Comic Con staff multiple times about their insufficient anti-harassment efforts, but has received no response. Today, GeeksForCONsent launched a petition demanding that San Diego Comic con create and enforce a thorough anti-harassment policy, train its volunteers to adequately respond when people report harassment, and have designated staff who can guide con-goers through the process of reporting the harassment.

Ways You Can Help:

  • Sign the Change.org Petition here.
  • Share the petition on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. Be sure to tag Comic-Con International on Facebook, and @Comic_Con on Twitter.
  • If you’ve experienced harassment at conventions, share your story at GeeksForCONsent to help spread the word about the types of harassment people experience, and how widespread the problem is.
  • Join our team at the actual convention, July 23-26. We will be personally delivering the petition and spreading the word about San Diego Comic Con’s insufficient response to harassment and groping at their convention. Email us at GeeksForCONsent@gmail.com or tweet at us @GeeksForCONSent for more details!

Awesome Con Awesomely Tackles Convention Harassment

Sexual harassment and groping at comic conventions is a serious problem that has received increased attention in recent months. Awesome Con, a crowdfunded, by-the-fans, for-the-fans convention, responded to reported harassment at their first convention last year by creating an anti-harassment policy and procedures for dealing with harassment, training their volunteers, and partnering with GeeksForCONsent to provide an in-house, trauma-informed team to provide resources to attendees.

Unlike harassment in public spaces, conventions are private events. There are rules in place, and they should extend to include and address harassment. GeeksForCONsent (affiliated with HollabackPHILLY) is a safe haven for victims of convention related harassment to build community and organize to influence conventions to improve and enforce anti-harassment policies. Read more

“Reporting Harassment at a Convention: A First-Person How To”

Cross-posted from John Scalzi, originally published June 2013.

 

My friend Elise Matthesen was creeped upon at a recent convention by someone of some influence in the genre; she decided that she was going to do something about it and reported the person for sexual harassment, both to the convention and to the person’s employer. And now she’s telling you how she did it and what the process is like. Here’s her story.

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We’re geeks. We learn things and share, right? Well, this year at WisCon I learned firsthand how to report sexual harassment. In case you ever need or want to know, here’s what I learned and how it went.

Two editors I knew were throwing a book release party on Friday night at the convention. I was there, standing around with a drink talking about Babylon 5, the work of China Mieville, and Marxist theories of labor (like you do) when an editor from a different house joined the conversation briefly and decided to do the thing that I reported. A minute or two after he left, one of the hosts came over to check on me. I was lucky: my host was alert and aware. On hearing what had happened, he gave me the name of a mandated reporter at the company the harasser was representing at the convention. Read more

“Please stop touching my breasts: and other things I say at cons”

Cross-posted from Carrie Cuinn, June 2013. She breaks her silence about harassment at genre cons, examples of which have been ongoing in her life over the past 20 years. Click through for a powerful, triggering read! The examples of harassment are below – but the post talks about how the pervasive harassment has affected her, and how she’s seen it affect others.

Hi, I’m Carrie, and I’ve been sexually harassed at genre conventions. (Putting this behind a link because triggering. You’ve been warned.)

Examples:

  1. I was asked to hand a Big Name writer a drink at a con party, I assume because I was standing next to the person pouring them, and without the author even knowing who I was, he asked me if I the girl who’d be blowing him later, or was that a different girl? He wasn’t joking, he really didn’t know which young fan would be giving him oral sex on demand, but he knew there’d have to be one.
  2. I was picked up by a man I didn’t know and carried out the room, all while I progressed from “Hey, put me down” to “Let go of me!” to hitting him until he dropped me. His response: “Fuck, you’re no fun.” The response of everyone around me: Nothing. No one tried to help.
  3. Guys have, more than once, walked up to me, put their hands on my breasts, and said the equivalent of “Nice tits, they’re real right?”
  4. Heard, “I can’t help myself, you’re just so hot,” more times than I can count.
  5. Been kissed on the back of the neck by a guy I didn’t know and hadn’t seen walking up behind me.
  6. Had my clothes pulled down, up, or otherwise adjusted so they could see my tattoos.
  7. Had an established writer, after hearing I was a fan of SF, put his arm around my waist and say, “I should show you my appreciation. Or do you want to show me yours?”
  8. Been hugged by men who’d never met me before, and either didn’t know at all or only had a limited online relationship (Twitter/Facebook) with.
  9. Had guys follow me from one panel to the next trying to convince me to go to the bar with them.
  10. Heard multiple variations of “You can’t leave yet, you haven’t tried/heard/tasted/given me a chance to convince you to stay”.
  11. Told, “You said you liked my work, I thought you were flirting with me.”
  12. Had (always older) women tell me:
    1. “What did you expect?”
    2. “That’s just how he is.”
    3. “You’re lucky, he doesn’t go for everyone.”
    4. “I’d be flattered if it was me.”
    5. “You have to get used to that if you want to come to these things.”
    6. “You just have to be clear with him if you really don’t want to. He doesn’t get the hint right away.”

 

Read more

What We Talk About When We Talk About Con Harassment

Cross-posted from “Born of an Atom Bomb”, originally posted July 2013.

 

I’m not sure everyone fully understands con harassment.

There’s been a lot of talk about recently, a great deal of online sharing of experiences from the women who have been on the receiving end of unwanted groping—or worse—in what is supposed to be a safe place for geeks of stripes. Which has been wonderful, for reasons I’ll get into. But I’m seeing so many of the same responses to these discussions that I’m not sure everyone understands what con harassment really is.

And by “everyone” I’m really talking about dudes. Women seem to understand this just fine. So, let’s sit down, guys, and talk this out. Bro to bro.

To start with, con harassment is rarely done by socially awkward men. I see this confusion over and over. Socially awkward men may have uncomfortable conversations. They may spend too much time staring at woman’s cleavage. They may not take a hint that a conversation is done. But if you’ve ever spent some time around socially awkward men (and you probably have, it’s a big world) you may have noticed that they don’t touch people. Touching adds an extra layer of complication to social interaction, one that can easily be avoided by not touching. So they don’t.

Because—and let’s be clear on this guys—while awkward conversations and horrible sexist speech are problems, the big concern in con harassment is physical violation. Groping, inappropriate touching and other, worse forms of invasion of a woman’s personal space. This is rarely done by socially awkward men. Read more

“But He Didn’t Know He Was Hijacking Your Ship: On Conference Creeps

MARIA DAHVANA HEADLEY weighs in on comic-con harassment; sharing 11 stories of her own experiences. Check out the first few below, and head over to her blog to read the rest of her insightful post!

 

1. My first convention. I’m at a party, where I know maybe 2 people. A respected SF writer beelines up to me, kisses – with tongue – up my arm from wrist to shoulder without introducing himself, mutters “stunning” and is gone. Later that night, he googles me, sends me an email through my website informing me of his identity, and telling me that he is the man who left his “spoor” on my arm. I write back. I say, “you know, you should have actually spoken to me. I’m an interesting person, not to mention I’m one of your fellow invited pros, and I’m smart, and a writer.” He writes back to me, having done some more googling. He says, oops, I didn’t know that you had a husband (and, implication mine, are his property, therefore not on the open market). I didn’t mean to disrespect him. (Ital mine.) My soul is yours. I’ll blurb you if you need a blurb. He doesn’t speak to me or acknowledge me professionally ever, though we are at the convention together for days.

2. Same convention, some guy in the dealer’s room with whom I’ve been having a brief conversation about whether or mot my book is stocked picks me up and holds me in his arms, as though I am a toddler. I instruct him to put me down. He looks bewildered. It’s because i’m little, he says, and because I’m wearing green, which is his favorite color and which means we have a connection. I’m 5’3″. I’m not big. I am also not a toddler. And even if I was? I WOULD NOT BE ASKING A STRANGER TO PICK ME UP. EVEN IF THAT STRANGER LIKED GREEN. I DID NOT WEAR MY GREEN DRESS IN ORDER TO BE PICKED UP. My dress is not an invitation, yo. Read more