Overheard at San Diego Comic-Con while I was having lunch on the balcony of the
Convention Center on Sunday July 27: a bunch of guys looking at the digital
photos on the camera of another, while he narrated: “These were the Ghostbusters
girls. That one, I grabbed her ass, ’cause I wanted to see what her reaction
was.” This was only one example of several instance of harassment, stalking or
assault that I saw at San Diego this time.
1. One of my friends was working
at a con booth selling books. She was stalked by a man who came to her booth
several times, pestering her to get together for a date that night. One of her
co-workers chased him off the final time.
2. On Friday, just before the show
closed, this same woman was closing up her tables when a group of four men came
to her booth, started taking photographs of her, telling her she was the
“prettiest girl at the con.” They they entered the booth, started hugging and
kissing her and taking photographs of themselves doing so. She was confused and
scared, but they left quickly after doing that.
3. Another friend of mine, a
woman running her own booth: on Friday a man came to her booth and openly
criticized her drawing ability and sense of design. Reports from others in the
same section of the floor confirmed he’d targeted several women with the same
sort of abuse and criticism.
Quite simply, this behavior has got to stop at
Comic-Con. It should never be a sort of place where anyone, man or woman, feels
unsafe or attacked either verbally or physically in any shape or form. There are
those, sadly, who get off on this sort of behavior and assault, whether it’s to
professional booth models, cosplayers or costumed women, or women who are just
there to work. This is not acceptable behavior under any circumstance, no matter
what you look like or how you’re dressed, whether you are in a Princess Leia
slave girl outfit or business casual for running your booth.
the day after the second event I described above, I pulled out my convention
book to investigate what you can do and who you can speak to after such an
occurrence. On page two of the book there is a large grey box outlining
“Convention Policies,” which contain rules against smoking, live animals,
wheeled handcarts, recording at video presentations, drawing or aiming your
replica weapon, and giving your badge to others. There is nothing about
attendee-to-attendee personal behavior.
Page three of the book contains a
“Where Is It?” guide to specific Comic-Con events and services. There’s no
general information room or desk listed, nor is there a contact location for
security, so I go to the Guest Relations Desk. I speak to a volunteer manning
the desk; she’s sympathetic to the situation but who doesn’t have a clear answer
to my question: “What’s Comic-Con’s policy and method of dealing with complaints
about harassment?” She directs me to the nearest securityguard, who is also
sympathetic listening to my reports, but short of the women wanting to report
the incidents with the names of their harassers, there’s little that can be
“I understand that,” I tell them both, “but what I’m asking is more
hypothetical and informational: if there is a set Comic-Con policy on harassment
and physical and verbal abuse on Con attendees and exhibitors, and if so, what’s
the specific procedure by which someone should report it, and specifically where
should they go?” But this wasn’t a question either could answer.
according to published con policy, there is no tolerance for smoking, drawn
weapons, personal pages or selling bootleg videos on the floor, and these rules
are written down in black and white in the con booklet. There is not a word in
the written rules about harassment or the like. I would like to see something
like “Comic-Con has zero tolerance for harassment or violence against any of our
attendees or exhibitors. Please report instances to a security guard or the Con
Office in room XXX.”
The first step to preventing such harassment is giving
its victims the knowledge that they can safely and swiftly report such instances
to someone in authority. Having no published guideline, and indeed being unable
to give a clear answer to questions about it, gives harassment and violence one
more red-tape loophole to hide behind.
I enjoyed Comic-Con. I’m looking
forward to coming back next year. So, in fact, are the two women whose
experiences I’ve retold above. Aside from those instances, they had a good time
at the show. But those instances of harassment shouldn’t have happened at all,
and that they did under no clear-cut instructions about what to do sadly invites
the continuation of such behavior, or even worse.
I don’t understand why
there’s no such written policy about what is not tolerated and what to do when
this happens. Is there anyone at Comic-Con able to explain this? Does a similar
written policy exist in the booklets for other conventions (SF, comics or
otherwise) that could be used as a model? Can it be adapted or adapted, and
enforced, for Comic-Con? As the leading event of the comics and pop culture
world, Comic-Con should work to make everyone who attends feel comfortable and
I disabled comments on this post, because fuck you buddy. Go talk to people in the real world.