Comic Con, Cosplay, and Consent Oct09

Comic Con, Cosplay, and Consent

Geek culture provides safe spaces for a lot of people; friends and fans alike can get together and enjoy similar interests. I have personally enjoyed many board game nights, trying out tabletop role playing games, watching superhero movies, and talking about favourite books with others. I have never felt unwelcome or unsafe. Geek culture has become mainstream enough to the point where many geeks and nerds who previously felt maligned by greater society have now found a place for themselves within it. Unfortunately, many women haven’t had the same experiences. I like to think of Comic Con as the ultimate fan experience and it is a dream of mine to visit San Diego’s one day. But sexual harassment is a huge problem at cons. A 2014 survey of con attendees reported that 13 percent of respondents said they received comments of a sexual nature at a con and eight percent said that they had been groped, assaulted, or raped. If 130,000 people attend a con (which is the average number of attendees at SDCC), 13 percent is 17,000 people. A woman’s revealing costume is not an invitation to grope her or take pictures of her. One of the main reasons for the large amount of sexual harassment at cons is our society’s general acceptance of rape culture. Rape culture blames rape victims rather than their attackers and teaches women that they are responsible for the abuse that men visit upon them. It also teaches men that they are entitled to women’s bodies. Nowadays, when we hear of a woman being raped, the first questions often asked are, “what was she wearing?” and “was she drinking?” When a boy pushes a girl on the playground and it gets passed off as “boys will be boys,” it teaches him that his violent actions don’t have consequences. A push on the playground may seem insignificant, but a lifetime of passes builds up. “Cosplay is not consent sign, Javitts Center, New York City, New York, USA” by flickr/Cory Doctorow. It’s been difficult to make any headway in addressing this issue because many are quick to dismiss it. In 2014, a group called Geeks for CONsent began a petition calling for SDCC to create a formal, visible, anti-harassment policy, including on-site support for people who report harassment and signs throughout the convention publicizing the policy. In an interview for Comic Book Resources, [http://www.cbr.com/comic-con-responds-to-anti-harassment-petition-safety-and-security-is-a-major-concern/] Marketing and Public Relations Director David Glanzer responded that such a policy was already included in con pamphlets. But, he also said that their policy was deliberately broad and that, if they drew attention to sexual harassment, the media might think that there is a problem: “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.” Others who dismiss the problem of sexual harassment at Comic Con often blame revealing costumes as the reason for comments and groping. This has led to a new movement called “Cosplay is not consent,” which endeavors to teach con attendees about appropriate contact—a woman’s revealing costume is not an invitation to grope her or take pictures of her without asking first. New York Comic Con started putting up signs displaying “Cosplay is not consent” in 2014. Rape culture blames victims rather than their attackers. SDCC took a small step forward by sending out its anti-harassment policy in an email to ticket holders in 2014 (though, the policy is not available on SDCC’s website). But until more is done to curb harassment and assault still present in geek culture, women will continue to feel unsafe at Comic Con. Education about consent is vital to combating rape culture. Someone I know once said, “there is always one jerk who you just have to ignore,”...

Learning from the best in San Diego Apr29

Learning from the best in San Diego...

The whole mission of Geekdom House is to love and serve the nerd and geek community. Our method is primarily through the support, encouragement, and facilitation of the arts prominent within geek culture. While the idea of doing that is perhaps rare, it is not new. There is a group of people at the largest con in the world, the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), who have been doing it for years. So when I flew to San Diego (pronounced San Dee-AHHHH-go, I learned) for a wedding, I opted to stay an extra day to meet up with Brendan Prout, Committee Member and Programming Senior Staff of SDCC. We shared stories back and forth of the practical ways we’ve found to serve the geek community. We bonded over our love for geek culture. Prout and other volunteers on their own will purchase single packets of sun-screen and hand them out to con-attendees as an act of kindness and service. Those random acts were met with a wide variety of response (Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes and all that). He was excited to hear about our efforts with the Geekdom House Wandering Minstrels and was curious to know if a small group (band) of us would come down and do it at the SDCC. Not a bad idea. So either I finally learn how to sing properly or don a costume and conduct. Let’s be honest, it’ll be the latter. His advice for Geekdom House? Two things. The first: don’t go too fast. Find the right people and put them in the right seats on the right bus. In the excitement of new beginnings and growth, we will no doubt come across very passionate individuals. Their passion will tempt us to incorporate them into key roles. Brendan...

The Wandering Minstrels of C4 Feb25

The Wandering Minstrels of C4...

“To love and serve the nerd and geek community.” That was our small group’s mantra and with Central Canada Comic-Con (C4) less than half a year out, we were frantically brainstorming service ideas. We settled on a plan that used many of the talents present in our small group  and formed the team who would eventually be called “The Wandering Minstrels.” The idea came to me when my wife and I remembered attending one of the coveted pre-screenings of Serenity back in 2005. Full disclosure: we arrive at the movies remarkably early to ensure that we get the primest of seats. So there we are, fifth row from the top, dead centre, and ready to witness what we believed would be cinematic gold. My favourite parts of the day were when someone was brave enough to request a song from us, or even more brave, to come up and sing with us. Even though we were surrounded by other Firefly flans, we felt alone. Sure, there was plenty of conversation happening around us, but it was all contained within small clusters of people. Perhaps it was out of boredom or from being punch-drunk on the anticipation of space cowboy drama, but after a quick whisper, my wife and I broke out into song. “Jayne.. the man they call JAAAYNNNNNNE!” What unfolded was truly a sight to behold (or something to earhold – is that a thing? Spell-check says no). The entire theatre joined us, erupting into song for our favourite loveable, untrained ape. The results were even more remarkable. Exhorbitantly priced snacks were being shared from the top row to the bottom, compliments of fandom t-shirts and cosplay were thrown from one side of the theatre to the other, and these former strangers suddenly found...