Avid geeks, Rochelle, Erin, and Anna were formerly the team behind HollabackPHILLY, the Philadelphia branch of the global anti-street harassment Hollaback! network. All three of us love it when smart people kick butt and stand up for each other. Our three years of experience with HollabackPHILLY involved planing events and projects that raise awareness of the problem of street harassment. When we had the opportunity to combine our love for fantasy and comics with our outspoken advocacy against gender-based harassment in public by strangers – our passions aligned and we started Geeks for CONsent. Our projects are no longer affiliated with the Hollaback! network, and are instead sponsored by Feminist Public Works.
As a team, we demanded San Diego Comic Con set an example for cons across the country by taking harassment seriously. The convention, through their PR Rep David Glanzer, laughed us off. So, we showed up in San Diego, audited the convention space using the United Nation’s best practice Gender-Based Safety audit model (report coming soon!), and went a little rogue, posting harassment policies ourselves. The fact that the three of us (and two more volunteers making us a team of five) were able to promote the harassment policy ourselves highlighted how simple a fix it was that the convention was refusing to make. This also received international media attention, putting the pressure on New York Comic Con, a similarly large convention that had also ignored our requests for a more comprehensive approach to harassment at their convention.
Our experience with HollabackPHILLY also taught us that people aren’t always comfortable escalating the harassment experience into a formal report to officials. So, we’ve created a safe online community for people to share their stories anonymously, while also holding their harassers accountable. This will also be an effective tool for convention staff and ConGoers.