It is with a sad heart that we wish to recognize the passing of one of the early supporters of this crazy little idea known as the Backup Ribbon Project — Cal Cotton.
Anybody involved in Southern California fandom or Faires has probably met Cal at some point. He was the guy in the impeccable Moorish garb offering to buy your wife/girlfriend in exchange for a herd of goats. Or he was the Civil War Buffalo soldier who had beautiful leather, fur, or bone items for sale. Regardless of how you may have met Cal, once you did, you never forgot him.
Back in the day, when the Backup Ribbon Project was in its infancy, we passed an afternoon at a con talking with him about this and that, and the subject of the Project came up. Cal’s grin grew even wider (if that was at all possible), and he offered up his Hornsmythe booth in the dealer’s room as a “safe space” for anybody at the con who was feeling harassed: “You get the word out, OK?”
We will never forget his support for us at a time when we felt that we had dove into the deep end and were not certain we would be able to swim. Cal’s simple gesture let us know that we were not alone in wanting to make fandom a safer place for everyone.
Ma’assalama Moor Tariq! We would not be here without you.
A friend pointed us at a very good article about how to properly enforce anti-harassment policies once they are in place. This is particularly important for any Backup people who are not part of the con staff.
Unless the harassment is overtly threatening such that it is obvious from a reasonable distance (such as the incident that was the genesis for the Backup Ribbon Project), it is best to make a statement along the lines of “hey, that is not cool.” If the person says “Oops, I am sorry,” then let it go. If they try to deflect or turn on you, or it is a repeat offense, then *only after* you have made sure the person being harassed is safe, make a report to con com, so that they have it on record.
Obviously, the first priority is the safety of the person being harassed. However, once that has been established, it then becomes important to start a documentation trail with the con com so that it is on record that they know about the incident in question. This not only can help the con com to make the event a safer space for everyone, but also highlights that the point of the Backup Ribbon Project is not to be lone vigilantes a la Batman (although, we would be lying if we said we did not want his utility belt), but to work with the con com to the benefit of all attendees.
[EDIT: OMGOMGOMG -- HE RESPONDED!!!!! Doesn't think it would be a good format fit for the show, BUT HE SAID HE LOVES US!!!!!!]
We are currently flailing about inside our head like Kermit the Frog after shotgunning a large coffee with four shots of espresso. Why, you ask? Well it all started with this post by Wil Wheaton on his blog. Which led to us having a combination of voices inside our head telling us “OMG, wouldn’t it be SO COOL to somehow get the Backup Ribbon Project featured on this??!!??!!” along with “OMG, we are going to look like TOTAL FANDORKS!!!”
Two cups of coffee later, we decided that potentially looking like TOTAL FANDORKS might be worth the risk of leaving a comment to his post about the show. So we did.
We will now commence obsessively refreshing the page to see if the comment was accepted in the moderation queue and whether or not he responds.
So yeah, that happened.
Backup Ribbons are in the house! Ribbons will go out this week to those who have requested them.
Want some ribbons of your very own? Here’s how to order!
Want to donate? We have a handy Paypal donation button on the right-hand sidebar under the picture. Our suggested donation is $10.
We are very excited to have now taken the Backup Ribbon Project to the next level of donation gathering. We are proud to announce that yes, we have finally figured out *how to add a Paypal donation button* to the website!
You can find it on the right-hand sidebar, underneath the picture of the ribbons. Keep scrolling…keep scrolling…down just a little further…got it! With just one click, you can send us a donation. How sweet is that, we ask you?
Please remember that our suggested donation is $10. But we will gladly take any amount you wish to send us.
Why more Backup Ribbons, of course! They are set to drop around the end of March/beginning of April (no foolin’!). Details for how to order yours can be found here.
Ribbons go out in the order they are requested. HOWEVER, if you want them for a specific event, please let us know, including the dates, so that we may give you a Fast Pass to get to the head of the queue.
As always, we gratefully accept donations. The suggested donation is $10. Use the same mailing address to request ribbons to send donations via Paypal.
In other news, we are gearing up to pitch a panel to Geek Girl Con about harassment/backup at geek events. It will feature 2/3 of the Backup Ribbon Project team, along with a great friend who will be repping for Cosplay is Not Consent. We are very excited and hope it gets accepted. More on that as events happen.
First up, Slave Leo is back again with a post on his reaction to being groped while crossplaying as Slave Princiess Leia. He has some interesting insights on how he felt compared to how women in that costume may feel.
Next up is an interesting TED talk on a mobile phone app to provide backup between college students. We think this app has possibilities beyond just colleges as a means to help out in a bad situation anywhere.
We now move on to a summary on The Mary Sue of a female comic book creator recounting a very uncomfortable panel experience at Long Beach Comic-Con. It is worth taking the time to follow the link to MariNaomi’s original article on xoJane, as well as Scott Lobell’s apology. Frankly, we are getting more than a bit tired of “I’m sorry you did not get my humor” being passed off as a sincere apology. How about instead not using your outside voice to tell someone you barely know that you find the color of their lipstick sexually distracting?
And now we have PAX, which has a rather problematic history when it comes to harassment. Kotaku reports that for next year, they will be having “diversity lounges” apart from the rest of the event. Which sounds great…except how about including it as part of the main event? Thoughts? Suggestions? Our marvelous social media wench, Danicia, is very involved with PAX and would love to hear your suggestions!
And to end on a more positive note, we turn to a recent blog post from one of the leading voices in the geek community, Wil Wheaton, on being bullied as a child. As always, Wheaton is thoughtful and perceptive about the problem of bullying and what might be done about it. We NEED to find a way to get a Backup Ribbon into his hands. Can you guys help out?
And that’s all the links fit to print from the Backup Ribbon Project. We have tons of ribbons, cards, and stickers in, so just drop us a line if you want some!