Comic-Con Harassment: Are Activists Taking The Protests Too Far?

Comic-Con harassment has become a real issue, and Geeks for CONsent is determined to stop it. The problem is that their methods, although noble, might not make much difference without taking freedoms away from attendees.

Some female Comic-Con cosplayers have expressed discomfort at the four-day event, claiming that throughout the day they are groped, followed around, and photographed without their consent. The Comic-Con Code of Conduct has rules against this behavior already, and some attendees blatantly ignore them.

One display at this year’s Comic-Con featured Dwayne Johnson himself promoting Hercules, and the activists noticed several bare-bellied women simply standing there in silence like decoration. I’m sure they were doing that by their own consent, of course, but that isn’t stopping activists from crying out over sexual harassment.

The problem of Comic-Con harassment has led three women from Philadelphia, the founders of Geeks for CONsent, to collect over 2,000 signatures on an online petition.

What are they planning to do with that? Will they start picketing booths with the ever-popular “booth babes”? Are they planning to start having even more police roam the grounds just in case someone is touched inappropriately? What will any of this solve other than to drive people away?

Rochelle Keyhan, LGBT activist and founder of Geeks for CONsent, stated:

“It’s a separate, more specific issue within the convention space. It’s very much connected (to the larger problem) and it’s the same phenomena, but manifesting a little more sexually vulgar in the comic space.”

Comic-Con International has said that they have already set the rules in place, “Comic-Con has an explicit Code of Conduct that addresses harassing and offensive behavior. This Code of Conduct is made available online as well as on page two of the Events Guide that is given to each attendee.”

In spite of the Events Guide clearly stating rules against such behavior, Comic-Con harassment still happens. Attendee Toni Darling, who dressed as Wonder Woman for the event this year, stated:

“I don’t think it has anything to do with cosplay or anything to do with costumes. People who are the kind of people who are going to take a photo of you when you’re not looking from behind are going to do that regardless, whether you’re in costume or not. The kind of behavior that needs to be modified is somebody taking a photo of you bent over while you’re signing a print.”

Could we start seeing cosplayer and attendee freedoms taken away, or local security agencies attending the grounds just to help reinforce the Code of Conduct in case educating staff members to deal with it isn’t enough? If groups like Geeks for CONsent end up taking certain freedoms away from attendees, I’m expecting attendance to drop off in later years.

What exactly is going to be done if activists change things over Comic-Con harassment?

[image via evtrib]