So then, let’s talk about San Diego Comic-Con, shall we? In response to increased attention about harassment at cons in general (and SDCC in particular), SDCC spokesperson David Glanzer stated that the con has only garnered a few reports of harassment. Glanzer felt little need to emphasize SDCC’s harassment policy beyond having it on the website, in the event guide, and emailed out to attendees.
You would think, for an event the size of SDCC, that having posters around the convention center warning about harassment might make it more difficult for harassers to claim that they did not know about the policy. Glanzer instead thinks that “the story would be harassment is such an issue at Comic-Con that they needed to post these signs around there. Now, people within the industry, and fans, know that isn’t the case, but the general public out there, and I think the news media, might look at this as, ‘Why would you, if this wasn’t such a bad issue, why do you feel the need to single out this one issue and put signs up about it?’ I think that’s a concern.”
Let’s now visit a few highlights just from this year alone:
1. Even before SDCC started, Geeks for CONsent garnered national attention with their online petition for SDCC to have a more comprehensive and easily accessible anti-harassment policy. This led to Glanzer’s response about what he considers to be the adequacy of SDCC’s anti-harassment policy.
2. Model Alicia Marie posted on Facebook about somebody who tried to pull down the bottoms of her Tigra costume. He got chased down and beaten up by her companion, well-known cosplayer, model, and TV host Adrianne Curry, who was in a Catwoman costume.
3. Sadly, as many people may already know, a young cosplayer was found unconscious and bleeding in the pool area of the main SDCC hotel. Although initial reports said that she had been assaulted, San Diego Harbor Police concluded she sustained those injuries from falling off a fence (we would be curious to know how a fall from a fence could result in these injuries). A cosplay photographer who had brought her to SDCC was arrested and, although he was not charged with assault, is still facing charges of sexual contact with a minor.
Now people might say that this was only a handful of problems at an otherwise harassment-free event. Here’s the thing, though: How many assaults go unreported? Marie’s harassment only made headlines because both she and Curry are considered geek celebrities. The young cosplayer’s case only came to light because her parents took to social media for help in finding her (and we have no doubt that there was a flurry of “Fake story!!!” comments).
For every one of these two cases, there are probably many more that go unreported. Which, in a horribly ironic twist, actually gives credence to Glanzer’s assertion that SDCC does not need to make more of an effort to protect against harassment because only a few cases are ever reported. And if harassment is not noticed at SDCC, why there’s no problem whatsoever!
We can do better than this. And by “we” that’s all of us in the geek community. We all rallied behind Marie and that young girl, sending them messages of encouragement and support. All to the good. But we need to be better toward each other before it gets to the point that those two cases reached.
As for Backup Ribbon Project, we are looking at partnering with other groups, having more panel discussions at cons, and even putting together a Backup Street Team of people who will have ribbons, cards, and stickers at events that we cannot get to ourselves.
What are YOU doing?