This may shock you, but I’ve only ever been to one “comic-con.” I’m not counting the three or so times I attended the Toronto Comic and Arts Festival, since it doesn’t really adhere as much to the stereotype of what such conventions typically are [or at the very least what people imagine them to be]. Namely: cosplayers as far as the eye can see.
cosplay [October 31, 2006 Urban Word of the Day]: Literally “Costume Play.” Dressing up and pretending to be a fictional character (usually a sci-fi, comic book, or anime character).
And people are going to dress up like whatever characters they want, like Power Girl and Lady Deadpool, seen below:
And the sad truth is, when you dress up as characters whose costumes have such features as Power Girl’s infamous “boob window,” there is a high chance of you being harassed. I mean, I don’t know the kid behind Lady Deadpool, but I’m pretty creeped out by just the look on his face.
CONvergence 2013 happened this past week in Minnesota, from July 4th through July 7th, and the people who ran the convention were faced with the fact that harassment really is a problem. Which is why the image on the right is so truly awesome.
Designed by Christopher Jones and featuring the mascots he created for the con, these posters were plastered around the convention halls, reminding people that just because a woman is in costume is not a reason to ogle her, or anything beyond that.
I read through one of the Mightygodking writer John Seavey’s posts about his experience at CONvergence, and honestly I was blown away. Not only were these posters constant reminders for people to not do horrible things, but they also featured both genders as a reminder that “men have as much right to wear kilts without having jerks use a leaf-blower.” And in addition to that there were officially designated “Safe Spaces” for people who were being harassed to escape to, a place for them to wait while the staff kicked out those responsible.
The CONvergence website even has a page dedicated to their policies, with a pretty straightforward, to-the-point stance on how they view harassment:
CONvergence is dedicated to providing a safe and comfortable convention experience for everyone. Harassment of any kind, including physical assault, battery, deliberate intimidation, stalking, or unwelcome physical attentions, will not be tolerated. If people tell you “no” or to leave them alone, your business with them is done.
Leave them alone. Do not follow them or attempt to disrupt their convention experience in any way. If you continue to attempt to have contact with those people, you may be removed from the premises.
Honestly, it pains me that this sort of thing needs to happen to begin with. As I was writing this post a friend was telling me about how she is sometimes harassed on a weekly basis, just walking down the sidewalk, and the things she said made my stomach turn. That being said I love the fact that this sort of thing is happening in general.
Conventions of every kind, dedicated to comics or otherwise, are meant to be a time when you can enjoy, alongside others, what you’re ultimately passionate about. To have these sorts of events ruined by people bothering you with inappropriate touching, or really just disgusting comments, is terrible, and I am so happy that there’s at least one con out there actively working to prevent it.
John Seavey [who I already linked to above] has co-signed a pledge by writer John Scalzi to not attend “conventions that don’t have harassment policies, that don’t publicize them or choose not to enforce them.” Over a thousand have joined Seavey in doing so, and that on its own is worth a Fame Day, I think.
So major props to CONvergence for prioritizing the general safety [and enjoyment] of its con-goers, and for generally implying [and believing] that people deserve to feel both respected and free from any possible harm, and for those who are supporting that standard for all conventions.