San Diego Comic Con Attendees Fight Back Against Sexual Harassment


If you noticed more exciting nerd news hitting the Internet than usual this weekend, that’s because San Diego Comic Con was underway. But forget about Wonder Woman and Mad Max for a minute, because one of the biggest stories coming out of the con has been the increasingly loud pushback against sexual harassment.

While cons can be a complete blast, sketchy shit—catcalling, ass-grabbing, you name it—has been a problem for years. Getting creeped on is a sadly common experience for lady geeks roving crowded exhibit floors, especially cosplayers. That’s on top of the sexist bull they’re already dealing with, by the way; as Kendra Pettis recently wrote in the Daily Beast:

I wasn’t surprised when my preparation for San Diego Comic-Con started out with a male employee at Home Depot questioning my ability to wield a power drill. Not that he cared, but this was only my first costume to involve a power drill, not my first time using one, thank you very much.

While this crap certainly isn’t limited to conventions, there’s an increasing awareness of the problem among attendees. And it’s translated into a push for better, clearer harassment policies that outline unacceptable behavior, both to support victims and demonstrate that bad acts will not be tolerated.

Now the fight has come to SDCC, the highest-profile fan gathering in the country. The Daily Dot reports on the efforts of Geeks for CONset, a Philly-based group pushing for better policies and training for staffers, as well. First, they launched an online campaign. The con’s organizers did, the L.A. Times reports, blast attendees with an email about the official Code of Conduct, but they insisted the existing policy was plenty—despite the fact that more ink is devoted to costume weapons than sexual harassment.

So Geeks for CONsent took matters into their own hands, printing off flyers about handling harassment and taping them in bathrooms across the venue. The AP reports that they demonstrated, as well: “Keyhan and her colleagues — all in costume — carried signs and passed out temporary tattoos during the convention that read, ‘Cosplay does not equal consent.'”

It’s disheartening to think of attendees who showed up ready for fun with their fellow nerds, only to face catcalling or creepshots. And the stories on Geeks for CONsent’s website are downright depressing. But it’s a positive sign that women are feeling more empowered than ever to speak up—and everyone’s listening. Clearly there’s a long way to go, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

Photo via Getty.

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