Costumed Female Comic-Con Attendees Ask For Sexual Harassment Protection

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Female’s Comic-Con attendees dress the part of sci-fi and fantasy characters, but they say widespread sexual harassment is becoming a serious threat at the annual event.

Three women from Philadelphia founded Geeks for CONsent after being groped, followed and unwillingly photographed during the four-day event in San Diego.

Geeks for CONsent collected nearly 2,600 signatures online in support of a new anti-harassment policy for Comic-Con to stop blatant objectification of cosplay attendees.

"Cosplay does not equal consent,” the group says.

With scantily clad females used as props throughout the convention, there may be a larger problem of objectification of women within the Con and comics themselves. But Geeks for CONsent say they’re not calling all the issues onto the mat – just protection from sexual harassment for attendees.

"It's a separate, more specific issue within the convention space," said Rochelle Keyhan, 29, director of Geeks for CONsent. "It's very much connected (to the larger problem) and it's the same phenomena, but manifesting a little more sexually vulgar in the comic space."

Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer told the Los Angeles Times last week that added security was in place at the event this year and that "anyone being made to feel uncomfortable at our show is obviously a concern for us."

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

"I don't think it has anything to do with cosplay or anything to do with costumes," said Toni Darling, a 24-year-old model who was dressed as Wonder Woman on Saturday.

"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,” she said.

She said the message has made some people afraid to take photographs even when she is posing at a booth.

"The kind of behavior that needs to be modified is somebody taking a photo of you bent over while you're signing a print,” she added.

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle (2), New York Daily News

Image credit: Charles Fettinger, Brian Van Der Brug