Harassment amid the fantasy

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Amid the costumes and fantasy of this weekend’s Comic-Con convention, a group of young women drew widespread attention to a very real issue — allegations of sexual harassment at the annual pop-culture festival.

Founded by three women from Philadelphia, Geeks for CONsent collected almost 2,600 signatures on their online petition in support of a formal anti-harassment policy at Comic-Con, an annual multi-genre entertainment and comic convention.

 “Comic-Con has an explicit Code of Conduct that addresses harassing and offensive behavior,” said Comic-Con International in a statement on Sunday to The Associated Press. “This Code of Conduct is made available online as well as on page two of the Events Guide that is given to each attendee.”

And yet, convention-goers of the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con told Geeks for CONsent that they were being groped, cat-called, followed, and photographed without their consent. Scantily-clad women were still used as decoration for presentations, an example being the row of women in belly-baring garments standing silently and purposelessly in front of the stage for Dwayne Johnson’s surprise promotional appearance for his film, Hercules.

Although sexual harassment is a larger social issue, it is especially concentrated and vulgar within the comic space. Costuming, more commonly referred to as cosplaying, is a crucial part of the convention, with both male and female fans dressing up as their favorite characters. You may see a woman dressed as Wolverine and a man dressed as Wonder Woman. Given that fantasy plays such a key role in Comic-Con, with all of the fans’ favorite characters coming to life, manifested in these cosplayers, sexual harassment becomes amplified. To remind convention-goers of the seriousness of sexual harassment, Geeks for CONsent and their supporters carried signs and distributed temporary tattoos that read, “Cosplay does not equal consent.”

Geeks for CONsent want the convention to adopt a policy in addition to the existing Code of Conduct that requires staff members to be trained to handle sexual harassment complaints.

“It makes it feel safer for the person being harassed to report it and also for bystanders who witness (inappropriate behavior),” Keyhan said.

24-year-old model, Toni Darling, who dressed as Wonder Woman at the convention, argues that this issue goes beyond Comic-Con and its costumed attendees.

 “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.”

However, strengthening the convention’s Code of Conduct is certainly a good start to addressing this larger social issue.

To read the full article by Sandy Cohen, click here.

Post submitted by JoAnna

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