SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON DOESN’T WANT TO ADDRESS ITS HARASSMENT PROBLEM BECAUSE PEOPLE MIGHT THINK IT HAS A HARASSMENT PROBLEM
By Chris Sims
San Diego’s Comic-Con International has a problem that it doesn’t want to address. See, a few weeks back, a group called GeeksForCONsent launched a petition urging Comic-Con to adopt a formal harassment policy in place of the broad, basically unenforceable “code of conduct” that’s currently in place. Like many conventions, SDCC has a huge problem with women — particularly women cosplayers — being harassed by other con-goers and dubious media “professionals”, and the present policy offers victims little recourse.
Comic-Con’s existing policy, which can be found in its 200-page programming guide and on the event’s website, is as follows:
Attendees must respect common sense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy. Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate a member of security, or a staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner.
GeeksForCONsent’s petition asks that Comic-Con amend the policy thusly:
- A harassment reporting mechanism and visible, easy to find on-site support for people who report harassment.
- Signs throughout the convention publicizing the harassment policy and zero-tolerance enforcement mechanisms.
- Information for attendees on how to report harassment.
- A one-hour training for volunteers on how to respond to harassment reports.
As a response to the petition, David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of marketing and public relations — someone whose actual job is to talk to the media about this sort of thing — gave a remarkable interview to CBR‘s Albert Ching where he suggested, astonishingly, that instituting a more explicit anti-harassment policy would be a problem in and of itself, because people in the media and the attendee base might think that Comic-Con has a problem with harassment.
…because we’re really an international show, and have 3,000 members of the media, I think the story would be harassment is such an issue at Comic-Con that they needed to post these signs around there. Now, people within the industry, and fans, know that isn’t the case, but the general public out there, and 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.
That’s not really how rules work.