The Biggest Comics Event of the Year Has a Disgusting Problem

The news: “Groped, followed and unwillingly photographed.”

These are the realities many female Comic-Con San Diego attendees face, according to an Associated Press report. Incidents include upskirting and unwanted touching, and even high-profile female authors aren’t immune from such harassment. It has become so common at the massive fantasy event that there’s a phrase to describe it: Creeping at a con.


Image Credit: Screen Crush

In response, Geeks for CONsent, an organization started by three women, has launched a Change.org petition to stop sexual harrassment at the festival and launch an official anti-harassment policy.

"It's very much connected [to the larger problem of sexual assault] and it's the same phenomena, but manifesting a little more sexually vulgar in the comic space," Rochelle Keyhan, director for Geeks for CONsent, told the AP.


Image Credit: Peta Gadget

The background: Comic-Con San Diego (CCSD) is the largest comic convention in the world, and is renowned for its use of cosplaying, or costuming. Much of it is scantily-clad, which it has invited problems for female attendees.

But the problem goes beyond San Diego. The petition has collected stories from women at various conventions:

One woman at New York Comic-Con reported that a man grabbed her breast while taking a picture with her. Another woman who likes to cosplay as Chun Li from Street Fighter says she’s considered dropping the character because men keep demanding she do a “flying bird kick” (upside-down splits) for photos.

Geeks for CONsent say they’re targeting CCSD because it’s the largest festival, and hence has the potential biggest impact; if they adopt an anti-harassment policy, it’s likely other conventions will as well.


Image Credit: NY Daily News

A spokesman for Comic-Con told the LA Times, “The safety of our attendees is a primary concern of ours.” But Geeks for CONsent say this means nothing: “Glanzer’s response makes it clear that they care more about press and publicity than making the largest convention in the world a safe, inclusive space,” they wrote.

Cosplaying is a celebrated aspect of Comic-Cons, and it shouldn’t disappear. But it also shouldn’t be used as an excuse to sexually harass those who decide to participate.


Image Credit: Screen Crush

Cosplaying is done by both women and men, and it’s not just the women who are dressed suggestively. But women, it seems, are the primary targets for cat-calling, groping and harassment. This is a trend Geeks for CONsent desperately hopes to reverse.


Image Credit: LA Weekly

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Sophie Kleeman

Sophie is a staff writer at Mic covering the intersection of tech and culture. She's based in New York and can be reached at sophie@mic.com.

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