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Maybe you’ve heard us talking about Boston Comic Con on our Facebook page over the last week or so? No? Well, you’ll definitely hear us talking about it now! We’re going to be at Boston Comic Con on Saturday as part of the Comic Book Tour that Hollaback! Philly has planned. We’ll be bringing their comic, harasser cards, a COSPLAY =/= CONSENT sign, and a supportive and interested ear to the convention as we talk to people about harassment in the comic book world and at conventions themselves.
That’s cool. But why should I care about this?
There are lots of reasons that you should care about CONsent, namely that consent is important in all spaces and everyone is deserving of it. But you probably want a better answer than that.
If you’re new to thinking about CONsent, a great place to start is this post by 16 bit Sirens. She has spearheaded a lot of the work around harassment at conventions, specifically of female cosplayers.
What is cosplay? Cosplay stands for “costume play”. It’s basically when you dress up as somebody from something. Most cosplayers will sorta adopt the personality or other traits of that character while in costume. So you’re not just a lady in a Wonder Woman outfit. You ARE Wonder Woman. Cosplayers are usually shooting for a high level of authenticity, creativity, and ingenuity. Many will sew or build their own outfits. Some of them are insanely impressive! For a ton of examples of cosplay, check out Comics Alliance Best Cosplay Ever (This Week).
Most cosplayers are women and there’s been a lot of problems with men taking pictures up their skirts, touching them inappropriately, kissing them against their will, stalking them online, etc. Unfortunately, some con-goers see women in costumes as just a part of the convention scenery and believe they are dressed up solely to attract male attention. As an anti-street harassment organization, it is important we continue the conversation about existing safely in public places into environments such as this. Comic book conventions are supposed to be a safe place for geeks to be their geekiest and that should apply to both men and women.
Great! I totally agree that CONsent is important and harassment at conventions is a problem. But how is showing up at the convention going to help?
We want to get the message out! The more people we can talk to and stories we can collect, the more weight our concerns have when we bring them to the people that run the conventions. Philly is doing this at several different conventions, as is Hollaback! Baltimore. Next year we hope to get all the Cons to adopt anti-harassment policies and are more proactive about change! In order to accomplish this, we’ll have a mobile harassment team, as opposed to a panels or table in artist alley.
We want to give con-goers an idea of what it would be like to have anti-harassment volunteers at the convention for them to reach out to. The way the harasser teams will work is a team of 2-3 people at the convention, talking to people in costumes, and anyone else who is interested. We want to talk to cosplayers about street harassment and harassment they get for wearing costumes, how the types of harassment vary, if at all, and if it would make a difference to them knowing that the convention had an anti-harassment policy and volunteers to talk to about any harassment they experience.
All of this will help strengthen our campaign and the work we do next year! And on top of all of this, we have Hollaback Philly’s comic book, which gives comic book fans a concrete way that they can be heroes in their daily lives– they can be an active bystander and stand up for someone when they see them being harassed. And who doesn’t want to be a hero?
If you’re at Comic Con this Saturday, please come find us! We’ll be walking around with our materials and would LOVE to talk to you. Come show us your costume, tell us why you love the character you’ve chosen to cosplay, and talk to us about your experiences with harassment at conventions. We’ll be there to support you and advocate for CONsent!
image credits: Hollaback! Philly
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