Tell New York Comic-Con to Defend Attendees Against Harassment

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Target: Lance Fensterman, New York Comic-Con Show Manager

Goal: Implement effective and accessible anti-harassment policy before next year’s New York Comic-Con

This year, an estimated 116,000 people attended New York Comic-Con, the second-largest pop culture convention in America. For some of them, however, the experience was marred by sexual harassment. Urge New York Comic-Con to adopt a strong and well-publicized anti-harassment policy in time for next year’s convention.

Mandy Caruso, a 23-year-old attendee of the convention, agreed to an interview with a film crew that approached her. But the “interview” quickly turned into harassment, as the questioner asked Caruso to spank him and demanded to know her cup size. When Caruso refused to participate, calling the interviewer’s behavior “degrading” and “unprofessional,” her harasser dismissed her, insisting that the questions were “all in good fun.”

Caruso published her account of the incident on her Tumblr account, and her story found an audience; the post has received over 40,000 reblogs and garnered media attention from sites like The Daily Dot, The Daily Mail, and Jezebel. And while Caruso has used her experience to shine light on an important issue affecting females at these type of events. Women at conventions like Comic-Con still face the very real possibility of sexual harassment.

There is reason to be optimistic, however. Several pop culture conventions have implemented strict rules of conduct and anti-harassment policies. For instance, BiCon explicitly forbids sexual harassment and provides attendees with guidelines for reporting any incidents they might witness. According to the Con Anti-Harassment Project, however, New York Comic-Con does not appear to have any such policies in place, and there are no guidelines published on the convention’s official website.

Conventions have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the fans who make them so successful. Join in demanding that New York Comic-Con implement and clearly delineate a comprehensive anti-harassment policy before next year’s convention.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Fensterman,

This year, an estimated 116,000 people attended New York Comic-Con. For many of these people, however, the experience was marred by sexual harassment. Please stand up for the rights of your attendees and implement a strong and well-publicized anti-harassment policy in time for next year’s convention.

At this year’s convention, a 22-year-old attendee named Mandy Caruso was publicly harassed, as an interviewer for a YouTube series invited her to spank him and asked her what her cup size was. Ms. Caruso blogged about the incident on Tumblr, and the post quickly went viral, garnering attention from other bloggers as well as from larger news outlets.

The media attention shed light on an issue that plagues so-called “geek culture;” the marginalization of and discrimination against female participants, who are, according to Ms. Caruso, often treated “as a fantasy and not a human in a costume.”

Many other conventions have recognized this issue and have implemented strong anti-harassment policies, but New York Comic-Con’s website does not indicate the existence of any such policy. The convention has a responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of all its attendees.

To that end, New York Comic-Con must have a clearly outlined anti-harassment policy, one that is easily accessible to all attendees at all times (even before or after the convention itself) and has specific and firm consequences for those who violate it. Take a stand and protect the rights of your attendees; condemn all forms of harassment at Comic-Con.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: workinpana via Flickr

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