“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.

3. Moments later, another guy, a fellow writer, hugs me tenderly from behind, though I do not know him. When I turn, startled, to protest, he says “You have the greatest smile. It just makes me want to hug you.” I’m doomed to avoiding him for the rest of the con, because he’s always wherever I am, charging at me with open arms, hugging me in elevators and moving at me to hug basically just wherever I go. It’s gross. He becomes known to my swiftly formed girl posse as The Hugger in the Hat. And when I say hugger, I mean full body contact with erect bits against my thigh. I don’t report him. I’m new to the scene. I feel awkward. I’m used to being harassed in the world. This is bad, but it’s not insane in terms of how much wrong attention I get from creeps in cities. So, I don’t report.

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