In the last week, a plethora of bloggers have linked to and/or mirrored this post, which discusses the issue of harassment at ComiCon International. Many have shared personal stories; others have expressed their general problems with the general indifference they’ve seen toward harassment and assault at conventions.
Let me make one thing abundantly clear: by harassment, I am not just talking about wolf whistles, “Nice costume” comments, or accidental touch. ComiCon is crowded–REALLY crowded. It is pretty much impossible to navigate without coming into physical contact with another person. What I’m talking about is people deliberately touching, stalking, demanding sexual favors from, or actively harassing other congoers–fans and professionals–without consent. These things are not only rude, they’re illegal.
Which may go a fair way to explain why ComiCon international doesn’t have a clear policy against them in their programs or do much in the way of briefing their security staff. It makes a certain amount of sense–after all, they don’t, say, explicitly tell you not to shoot heroin on the floor, but it’s pretty well taken as read that that’s not appropriate at a convention. I’d like to think that’s because most con organizers are decent people and therefore assume that this stuff should be a matter of common sense.
But apparently, in the case of physical and sexual harassment and assault, common sense isn’t enough. There are still people who treat these things as a default part of con culture, who don’t get that there’s one hell of a difference between telling someone that you like her costume and adding that it would look better on your hotel room floor; or that not everyone wants to be hugged; or that “woman working at a booth” does not equal “booth babe”; or that “booth babe” does not equal “petting zoo”–or, from another angle, that “favorite and/or famous creator” does not equal “fan property.”
I am not suggesting that ComiCon install propriety police, or that congoers should walk around with their hands in their pockets at all times, or that it’s anything short of ridiculous to expect to have a three-foot (or one-foot, or six-inch) radius of personal space on a crowded con floor. What I am saying is that ComiCon desperately needs a clear, public policy against personal harassment.
In light of their quick response to the fake SDCC MySpace page (you remember–the one with the “Girls Who Like Comics & Geeks” section), I’m inclined to believe that the folks behind ComiCon International are open and responsive to attendees feedback. In fact, they post their contact information right on their front page.
You can probably guess where this is heading.
If you think that ComiCon International needs to articulate a clear policy against personal harassment in their programs, please drop them a line and say so. (And when you do, please be polite, patient, and respectful. As I wrote above, this doesn’t look like malevolence to me–just omission.)
You can reach them via the following means:
P.O. Box 128458
San Diego, CA 92112-8458
San Diego, CA
And, while you’re at it, check other cons–local or otherwise, comics or gaming or scifi or whatever you’re into–and if they don’t have clear personal harassment policies, float them a line, too.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.