Whether we have the internet or real life experience to thank, most human beings are aware of the every day existence of cat callers and subway perverts. Less is said however, about the presence of sexual harassment at events like Comic Con. Often, in preparation for these conventions, super fans will spend months planning insanely amazing, elaborate costumes that perfectly and uniquely embody their favorite characters, movies, TV shows, and comic books (this is called cosplay). But often, ignorant people mistake this creative form of self expression as permission for unsolicited pictures, touching, and taunting.
I find it not only disgusting but also tragic that a tradition meant to provide people with a sense of empowerment has become a source of disrespect and dehumanization. When women decide to dress up as their favorite characters, some onlookers seem to forget that despite the costumes these are still PEOPLE, and sexual harassment is not suddenly acceptable.
But these female cosplayers are taking a few tips from Wonder Women and are fighting against harassment using the campaign Geeks for CONsent. Their mission is to get the San Diego Comic Con to adopt an anti-harassment policy and spend an hour training volunteers to respond appropriately if harassment is reported at the convention. As most conventions do not have formal anti-harassment policies or internal procedures for recording and responding to reports of harassment, GeeksForCONsent has developed training for convention volunteers and staff, in addition to collecting testimony from people about their experiences with harassment at conventions (see below).