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

Cross-Posted from GeeksForCONsent.org, orginally published on July 23, 2014 at 12:02 am.

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.

 

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Kat’s Story: He keeps shouting at her as she’s walking by, but she ignores him

Coming out of an alley in Old city, I began to make my way down 3rd Street. A man was collecting garbage. I hear, “Hey, beautiful. Hey beautiful. Hey, hey beautiful. Hey gorgeous! Look over here, gorgeous.”

I didn’t look him in the eye, and kept on walking, pretending not to hear him.

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11+

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Kat’s Story: Man exposes his penis in Barnes and Noble

I was in the magazine section of Barnes and Noble with a friend, when suddenly my friend burst out laughing. He couldn’t speak from laughing so hard. I tried to get him to tell me what was so funny, and he gestured to an old man standing near us. The man had cut a hole in his pocket, and the tip of his penis was sticking out of it. There was no mistaking it. I screamed and the man became flustered, closed his long coat, and immediately left.

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11+

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Brandy’s Story: He will not stop harassing her on the bus, then insults her before leaving her alone.

This isn’t nearly the first nor will it be the last….but the most “wow” story I have is the other day I was getting off work (My day job) on my way home. Trying to sneak a nap in between jobs is usually the goal for the route H bus. So I laid my head on the window. I see a guy staring at me from another seat but I didn’t pay it much mind. He comes and sits next to me and begins saying “yo” and “Excuse me”. Irritated as I was I told him I was tired. So he says it’s ok and tried to put me in his arms as if to say ‘here lay on me’ I was moving away which was hard cuz I was on the inside seat I said I am ok I jus wanna go to sleep. So he keeps asking my name and I said in tired please jus let me be. Then pulls his fone out like “What’s your number??” As if he didn see my tryna ignore him. I said in n a relationship can’t give u that.”Then he says “It’s cool don’t u wanna be my wife I like u” I said u don’t know me. I have a girlfriend. He says “I don’t care, it’s ok. Dumb idiot. I said no it’s not ok I am in a relationship thanx. So finally he stops talking after what seemed like forever, then eventually went back to his original seat on the bus.

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7+

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Josie’s Story: He shouted at her for a full two minutes before she could get away.

I was walking to 30th street station today (June 24) after work, it was around 4:15 by the time I had gotten to the intersection. I crossed the street to walk on the median strip to avoid and oncoming family with luggage, and to cross Schuykill Ave. into the train station with more ease. As I approached the intersection I noticed a large knapsack sitting in the sidewalk but no one was near it. As I came closer to it a panhandler came out of traffic and approached me. He asked me for money of course, I replied that I was sorry and didn’t have any. He then began to verbally attack me and as I walked past him he hit me with his cane on my right thigh/hip. He shouted at me:

“What the fuck are you sorry for, are you sorry for being alive, for being healthy. You don’t have to struggle, look at you dressed up working. You’re a dirty fucking cunt you know that.”

He continued to shout insults at me and verbally berate me the entire time, about 2 minutes, it took for the light to change so I could cross the street.

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10+

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Phone App Submission: He followed and harassed her, she shouted back, and he stopped!

A man walked behind me for a block yelling “sexy sexy sexy!” while staring at me from behind. I turned around an said “no! You don’t know me, you have no right to call me sexy and act offensive.” He shrugged his shoulders and said “whatever” then turned the corner.

 

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7+

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Kat’s Story: He makes comments about her body while laughing.

I’m used to being harassed about generally being a woman. “Nice ass” “smile baby” etc. However, this was differently, and frankly odd and shocking. I’m very petite, which my friends tease me about. I suppose someone who didn’t know me could consider it a defining feature, but I don’t really think about it. While I was walking with a group of friends, we passed by another group of people in the street, who had obviously been drinking. We were all silent, in a hurry to get somewhere, too rushed to really speak.

A guy in the other group looked up and saw me, then, in the dead silence, yelled, “You’re not short, you’re fun-sized.”

His friends cracked up. My friends and I, hurried and shocked, didn’t respond. Later, a friend said we should have shot back, “You’re not funny, you’re just rude.”

Street harassment comes in all forms, everyone…this was not sexual, but it’s someone feeling perfectly fine in being insulting and rude to a stranger, who happens to be a woman. It’s the same undertone of entitlement.

I've got your back!
8+

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Kat’s Story: She had to walk around the block so he wouldn’t know where she lived.

On my way back in from a stop at the convenience store, there was a younger postman sitting on a stoop, eating a sandwich. I looked at him for a moment, wondering if all postmen took breaks on stoops. He was looking at me, and when I realized I looked down and tried to walk faster.

“Excuse me, miss?”

I just turn and look at him, no verbal response.

“I just have to say, you’re like…the weirdest hot girl I’ve ever seen, if that makes sense.”

I told him it didn’t make sense (“Well, it’s true.”), and walked past my apartment so he wouldn’t know which building was mine. When I got back around the block, he was gone.

I've got your back!
7+

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