New York Comic-Con 2013: creepy camera crews, Arizona’s big cans, and harassment

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1378889 10151717790786305 872264268 n New York Comic Con 2013: creepy camera crews, Arizonas big cans, and harassment While stock is still being taken of the record crowd at this year’s New York Comic-Con—a crowd by and large peaceful and fun loving, and if my eyeball guess was right, perhaps 50% under the age of 21—it may be seen as a watershed for the continuing issue of harassment at cons. The issue of inappropriate behavior towards cosplayers has been widely noted, and several efforts are underway to draw attention to this and get conventions to set anti-harassment policies. At New York Comic-Con several disturbing incidents, while in no way condoned by the convention organizers, may not have been handled in the best way. The first involves a film crew from the local cable access TV show Man Banter, which bills itself as “The Most Unapologetic Man Show in the history of Public Access TV!” . Shockingly, the film crew got press passes pretending to be from Sirius XM and went around asking female cosplayers for interviews only to start asking very inappropriate questions. Cosplayer Bethany Maddock has one account.

Before the interviewer even uttered a question there was an immediate problem. He locked eyes with my chest. I noticed, covered myself up with my arms and pointed at my face powergirl style and said “HEY eyes up here buddy” He proceeded to tell me how he was “just looking at the costume” in which I proceeded to tell him he could continue to look at is as I covered up my chest. Off to an already embarrassing and perfectly douchy start. Then the very first question that pops out if his mouth was “So, does your costume help you get laid?” It’s at that point where all my con creeper stories I’ve read on tumblr and heard through my friends, kicked in. I ended the interview immediately, Was able of get a very liberating “FUCK YOU” in there as I walked off.

Maddock took a picture of the crew—all wearing rather hard to miss “Man Up Face Down” t-shirts—informed con security of the trouble, and yet found them hours later doing the same thing:

After meeting with security, sending them this very clear picture of the offender, and being assured something would be done to protect my fellow cosplayers…. I ran into them again much later in the day in the artists alley, interviewing other cosplayers. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed in security, the very people that are HIRED to deal with situations like this.

There’s ANOTHER account of the Man Banter shenanigans here:

My friend A was busy posing for other photographers at the time. I’m noting this in case any other photographer in the room noticed them and possibly took a photo with them in the background. The creeper interviewer (which will now be known at TCI) was about 5’ 2” – 5’4” tall (we were eye-level with each other), slightly stocky athletic built, short crew cut dark hair, brown eyes and tanned complexion. He had at least three others with him, dressed all in black. One of them carried a full camera with built in sound boom, and one other had a clip board and looked like a production assistant. There was some sort of logo on the cameraman and on the interviewer’s mic (probably some generic “The_____ show” but I couldn’t see clearly). The following the conversation we had: [snip] TCI: Can I be a geisha? (Warning bell two) Me. No, you can’t.

TCI: Why not? Me: Because you lack certain things, like style, tact, grace— TCI: Ah, but do I smell? Me: Well, I dunno, I’ve only stood next to you for about 20 seconds, so I can’t tell if you do or not. But however— TCI: Well in my experience, girls who stand next to me longer than 20 seconds get a cream pie. (silence) Me: I would give you a slap in the face. TCI: (back away) Really? Would you? (silence) (I snap my parasol shut) TCI: Thanks so much for the interview, bye! (leaves)

It’s bad enough that these idiots were there making people feel uncomfortable while pretending to be a legit news outlet, but that security was informed and did nothing is troubling, although apparently there was some confusion over who this crew was. NYCC show runner Lance Fensterman commented in Maddocks’ FB page:

As soon as we were made aware of this on Saturday night we began to investigate the media outlet (jerks) in question. On Sunday I began working with the second victim directly. The guys lied about who they worked with, we were eventually able to figure out who they really were. We’ve banned them from NYCC immediately and all ReedPOP shows. As I said, the details twist and turn a bit but what I hope the community will realize is that we take this seriously. We do not tolerate behavior like this from anyone. Once we are made aware, we will jump into action to do what we can to investigate and remove the offenders. We are not perfect but we do care deeply about our fans, all of them and want to create a place where everyone can have a great time free of garbage like this.

It’s not clear how many victims there were, but the fan community needs to have ZERO TOLERANCE for this shit. Man Banter has already removed their videos, FB page and twitter so it’s clear they’re on the run. While checking out Tumblr, it was shockingly easy to find more accounts of harassment, as in this one from Jenipedia:

Apparently, there is a YouTube trend where guys film themselves kissing random females to see their reactions. This actually happened on the show floor on Sunday. I couldn’t tell if these guys had press passes or not, but they looked pretty unofficial. They were “interviewing” what looked to be a sixteen-seventeen year old female cosplayer. I didn’t catch what they were asking her, but she seemed to be really uncomfortable. Then the “interviewer” grabs her and kisses her. The girl was understandably horrified and found some excuse to break away from them. I think they saw me glaring at them because they bolted soon after. Honestly, I had no idea how I was supposed to react to this, but I checked up on the girl who was visibly shaken and she said she was going to go get her mother. For her sake, I hope her mom raised hell over this and talked to somebody about it. I ran for the nearest security guard, but I couldn’t really give an accurate description because it happened so fast and I was kinda in a shocked stupor for a few seconds before they ran off. I have no idea what happened to these two guys, but I sincerely hope they were busted.

OKAY this is not a pretty picture. BUT THERE’S MORE. While cosplayers are putting themselves in the line of fire with flamboyant costumes (something that does not deserve the treatment above), women professionals just doing their jobs were also getting harassed, as Becky Cloonan reports::

Now on to the guts. There are really two parts to this con- the main floor and the Artist Alley. (This is what I see of it anyway.) I only spent one day walking around the show floor and it was insanity. Security did their best at the impossible task of crowd control, but it was still too much for me. I had too many people up in my personal space, and far too many of them being guys tell me things like “Hey baby,” “What are you doing tonight?” and “Come on, be nice!” among other things. I am so nice, you guys. I am really fucking nice, but this kind of shit just doesn’t make me feel comfortable, and as a professional who has been drawing comics since 2001, it’s absolutely ridiculous that I feel alienated and uncomfortable at a convention like I did at NYCC this year.

Sadly, these are not the only stories about this kind of behavior towards female professionals I heard at the show. And it wasn’t just aggressive assholes coming on to a random attractive woman. In some cases, the inappropriate comments came from fans who knew and recognized the professionals. Now, I know that human nature is human nature. I also heard of a female fan asking a male professional “what are you doing for dinner?” But when a guy gets this, he laughs it off. For women, who are already being treated as (lets be honest) marginal to the business by a show that has only 10% female guests it is far more alienating. And this is at a show that has 40% female attendees, according to Fensterman. This 40% is not booth babes, drag-a-longs and off-duty exotic dancers. It’s highly engaged fans who have been tumblring, tweeting and FBing their enthusiasm for the brands on display at the show for days and weeks. Their dollar is the same as anyone’s dollar. Sadly, it seems that something in the air at New York Comic-Con makes these casual examples of harassment and inappropriate commentary more common. And this atmosphere was not helped by the colossally inane and insulting Arizona I Love Big Cans campaign. In case you missed it Arizona Iced Tea, a privately owned NY-based maker of tea and energy drinks, was the sponsor of one of the big panel rooms, the Empire Room Stage, Sponsored by Arizona Beverage Co.—the con took Hall E, which was formerly split into smaller panel rooms, and turned it into one big room for things like Cup O’Joe The New 52 and John Barrowman—NYCC’s equivalent of Hall H. The sponsorship included this horrible ad in the program book: i heart big cans New York Comic Con 2013: creepy camera crews, Arizonas big cans, and harassment But EVEN WORSE was the video ad that ran before EVERY PANEL in The Empire Stage, as described by Leah Cornish, managing editor of LeakyNews. She reporters that before THe WAlking Dead panel, a live spokesmodel with ample assets came out and introduced a “special” video that was evidently meant for “special” people.

We were treated to a two-minute PSA about how “big cans” were just awesome. Jenny sported low cut everything, exercised on an elliptical machine in heels, and even joined two of her big canned friends, to spread the love for… um… iced tea. The shot that really got me, though, was the one in which Jenny attempted to drink a can of Arizona Tea. I say attempted because she did that terrible thing we’ve all done while extremely drunk and playing competitive drinking games, where you really aren’t drinking at all, but are in fact just opening the back of your throat and forcing the liquid down. And pretty much 90% of the liquid flows out over your mouth. Yeah. That got a nice slow-mo closeup. I wonder what that was supposed to remind us of? Oh wait. I don’t have to wonder. Because plenty of the classiest of attendees in the audience summed it up by yelling the classiest of epithets at the screens. Luckily, I would say most of the audience reacted like I did, with groans and a lot of “WHAT”s and a fair amount of facepalms. I just can’t understand what Arizona was thinking.

They were thinking their audience was morons, that’s what. Yes I know it was mean to be “edgy” like Go Daddy and Axe, but Go Daddy recently ended their cheesecake campaign and everyone thinks Axe is for tacky guys who can’t get laid. According to Cornish, Robert Kirkman reacted with disdain at his bottle of Arizona Iced Tea on stage, and if so, that was classy. The epic stupidity of running this kind of sexist campaign at an event that is supposedly inclusive and aimed at a wide audience that is not only family friendly but, I repeat, 40% female, is just….insulting. Even worse, the pervasive nature of a major sponsor of the show presenting “big cans” everywhere creates an atmosphere that promotes and tolerates objectifying women. You know, I can’t believe I just wrote the phrase “objectifying women.” It’s 2013. Are we STILL fighting the same old battles? What makes this even more exasperating is that

EVERYWHERE I LOOKED EVERYTHING ELSE WAS SO MUCH BETTER THAN IT USED TO BE.

Everywhere I looked there were female creators, female characters, female editors, female fans. Cosplay was everywhere. Gangs of teenaged girls dressed as Sailor Moon, laughing smiling and having a fun time. Spunky female Lokis and dangerous Poison Ivys. Participating, having agency, pursuing their own fantasies. NYCC is not “nerd” culture, its a much wider “regular folks” mix of people with an expansive list of interests. The show has become a “marketing” con with consumer brands taking up a huge portion of the show floor. And of course, with a wide mix of folks, there come creeps and jerks, and with them behavior that cannot be tolerated. In an interview I conducted with Lance Fensterman for PW, he told me he regretted the Arizona campaign and it should not have been done. (I’ll have more comments from Fensterman in my full report tomorrow.) Apparently, calmer heads prevailed though and the ads were pulled after Friday night.

I know the ReedPOP folks take safety and respecting their congoers very seriously. There was all, this aside, a very fun, enthusiastic, social and youthful vibe to the show that reminded me of anime show with the interest spread out over more. But clearly, now that “comics” events are fully integrated, more problems are evolving. I’d like to think our corner of he world can evolve to a higher place where these problems are someday not even an issue. But t’s going to take a lot of work from all levels of con society.  

Comments

  1. As someone who’s read comic books for over 40 of my 51 years on Earth, my enjoyment of the cons is dependent on the variety of comics for sale. I don’t get into the cosplaying, but I show respect to those that do, be they male or female. It’s really sad that backwards idiots like the ones mentioned above ruin it for others. Just shows that no matter how much we’ve advanced as a society, we still, even at this point, have quite a ways to go.

  2. Random Kissing = Sexual Battery aka a serious ass crime. I hope they catch that guy and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. http://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/crime-penalties/federal/sexual-battery.htm

  3. Craig Yoe says:

    This is disgusting! I’m very glad to see Lance Fensterman is extremely disgusted by it, too, and I’m sure he and the con will take strong measures to have zero tolerance for this deplorable behavior next year.

  4. It baffles me that A. people would hit a con floor and think it is funny to make women uncomfortable..not one person..MULTIPLE PERSONS in the SAME GROUP B. Someone wouldn’t identify forcing a kiss on someone as assault and attempt it right in public (hoping they catch those asshats) and C. a large corporation would advertise at a con they clearly are aware is attended by many, many women and still run with an insulting advert. I give a lot of credit to NYCC for not only addressing things like this that have been allowed to escalate (from videos shot at other cons, giving idiots ideas) to the point where we hear about them every day and looking for ways to make everyone’s con experience go off without incident. Unfortunately, I don’t think this behavior is going to end without some direct action and HUGE amounts of public shaming…so maybe we start a group of people who attend cons regularly and are ready to record folks on camera phones who are doing these things? Instant Karma is awesome…and Youtube shaming is even better.

  5. Not that it’s gonna solve everything but a coordinated campaign of stickers, buttons, posters at the con and on the web might help create strong awareness. My firm, Yoe Studio, has worked on public service anti-rape campaign in connection with New York State–directed towards young men and with a video game theme, BTW–and would be glad to be involved.

  6. I wrote a long post about all this on Sunday, because really, i’m just tired of the step by step inches we have to count as progress every year. Things don’t get better, they just get different. Dudes straight up grabbing a stranger and trying to kiss them? Thats worse than anything i’ve seen. Just blows right past “free hugs”

    http://ulisesfarinas.tumblr.com/post/63945463030/i-posted-this-on-fb-but-i-thought-id-share-it-here

  7. James Veitch says:

    That’s it for me and Arizona Iced Tea. I wish Peace Tea could be found in more locations.

  8. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Can I recommend Honest Tea? I work for them but they are good people and a great product.

  9. Mike Thompson says:

    I am surprised a well-meaning friend or even a bystander hasn’t knocked one of these idiots out. I’m sure a melee would ensue, which would be a bad thing, but still…

  10. And this is why you should carry a stun gun or mace in your bag. If some random guy did that to me, he’d be twitching on the ground in two seconds.

  11. Personally when ever I interact with cosplayers it is usually with respect to the fandom they are portraying (Like giving the “Are you a God?” test to Ghostbusters, Honking at Gamzee. etc.) but I was raised right, (I guess) because I would never personally sexually harrass Cosplay Girls, mainly because if they look good in their costumes, I WANT THEM TO COME BACK!
    It’s all about respecting boundaries, and treating people with the same respect you want for yourself.
    As far as the big Cans Promo for Arizona Drinks, I personally don’t have too much of an issue with that, In some way it actually makes sense, but then again that’s just me.
    While I applaud the efforts of NYCC to rework the Sexual harrassment policies, I would encourage everyone to learn how to mind your manners and treat one another with respect. It would also help if we looked out for one another. This way it’s not all on an already overworked group people working to make our con experience a good one. We’re Geeks, let’s act like it.

  12. Sounds like security wasn’t doing their jobs. Maybe there need to be male AND female security guards at these shows to ensure that these harassment incidents are taken seriously and charges are imposed. This is brutish behaviour that will ruin the convention in the future unless it is checked.

  13. I’m gong to go out on a limb and say that Man Banter was the equivalent of when a bunch of jocks (of the mean spirited verity, because I know some really nice jocks) decide their going to go to the goth club and harass the patrons, rather than comic book fans who need an attitude adjustment. They were probably getting the exact reaction they wanted, out of those women, and were high-fiving each other, afterward. As far as Arizona Ice Tea goes, they’re not interested in comics at all, and probably made their advertising decisions based on some way outdated “lonely nerd” stereotype. However, AIT should have considered that people bring their kids to these things. That was just dumb. As conventions continue to get more popular, there will always be instances of people from the “outside” misunderstanding the culture, without any frame of reference to go by, and therefor acting inappropriately. I think any kind of anti-harassment campaign might actually encourage more bad behavior. The real key is a better screening of what companies are bringing to the conventions, because over all, I find that the true believes are wonderful, and not only know how to behave themselves, but WANT to behave themselves and see their fellow fans having a good time. Most of all I sympathies with the younger girls who because of these experiences, might have trouble in the future, getting support from their parents, when they want to go cosplay another event. Last of all, it makes me sad, because there’s nothing wrong with a little sexy, in the appropriate content and setting, but because of incidents like this, people are more ready to turn their noses up at it, or deem it sexist, damning what otherwise might be something of quality. “This is why we can’t have nice thing!” If you get my meaning.

  14. Jerome Conner says:

    I am comic book fan and a father of a 8 month old girl. I plan on bringing my little girl to Cons. That is where I met her mother. I plan on showing her the joy of the costuming, meeting new people, and getting advice from the Pros. But as a father, I will be teaching her how to defend herself. Morans that do stupid stuff like the random kissing, had better hope that she never gets near them. This is not what I want to teach her. Yet saddly, not enough people are stepping up stopping these fools or reporting them. The last show I was at, I had act like a member of staff. Not because they couldn’t do their job (they did once they knew about it), but because there was not enough of them. And that is part of the problem. OK, so I have rambled a bit. Let me simply say this, “You see something, Say someything.”

  15. mikemalo says:

    I agree with most of this post. I think the kind of behavior detailed above can not be tolerated, and it does sound like Reed tried to make things right but was a little slow to do so.

    However, I do wonder if we can so easily dismiss things being said to guys. The comment “when a guy gets this, he laughs it off,” doesn’t hardly seem fair. Yes, I am a guy. No, I am not particularly bothered if I’ve received comments from women or other men. I’m not cosplaying at every con and getting attention but I have been grabbed before. I just think over all the statements above should be directed to people basically respecting other people. No one should put up with this if they don’t want to.

    Also, one other note about “booth babes, drag-a-longs and off-duty exotic dancers.” Just because they are a booth babe or off-duty exotic dancer doesn’t mean they aren’t also highly engaged fans part of that 40%. I certainly am not able to judge their fan worthiness just because some people’s costume comes from a store and isn’t crafted. And if they show up in revealing costumes as a way to show off their fandom, why do we trash them?

  16. After a bunch of awful interactions at New York Comic Con in previous years, we decided to abstain from the show in 2013 and it appears it was a wise decision. Reed can spring into action after the fact, which is admirable, but what isn’t admirable is cultivating this environment in the first place. They allow people with booths labeled “WHORE COMICS” and long-box purveyors peddling their wares with mannequins from sex shops crudely dressed as superheroines. At C2E2 they touted ridiculous signs like “What happens at C2E2, stays at C2E2″.

    I’m about as tolerant of this crude bullshit as they come, I laugh off the small amount that drips through San Diego Comic Con, but NYCC 2012 is the first time I felt uncomfortable at a show as opposed to embarrassed. Until the show gets a little more switched on about who they let table and how they promote their wares, these things will keep on happening. But since Reed is a convention business, they will keep taking the money. These complaints likely won’t change anything in the short-term, maybe a few conscientious adults will abstain next year, but they will be quickly replaced by the creepy man-children who continue to throttle and stunt the growth of comics.

    Maybe Becky and I will be back next year for some more punishment, but it’s a sad feeling to have to roll your eyes at your own industry let alone dread being physically present in it.

  17. I hope it’s just growing pains, honestly. Our industry is becoming more and more fem-centric which I think is fantastic. Some of the most incredible, heart-felt stories I’ve read have come from women and some of the emphatic and avid fans I’ve met have been women. You gals are an awesome and NEEDED part of our industry, AND our culture!

    I’m certain that as these shows continue to grow from nerd culture to herd culture we’ll see the asshats roll in, and the core reject them until eventually they don’t come in anymore. But it’s vital – VITAL – that we REJECT them! Utterly! I’m really happy to hear that people were making a stand and were making a difference. Our community has ALWAYS been a community to welcome and embrace, no matter what your orientation, creedo, or favorite super hero was (though everyone knows Batman is the best ;) ) and we can’t let that change.

    We’ll see more and more of this for a year or two I wager, and the outcry MUST continue. It is not acceptable, it is not funny, and it will not be tolerated in our community.

    So long as we all stand united, that creeps will fall.

    Nerds, Assemble!

  18. Torsten Adair says:

    http://www.antibullyingcoalition.com/Anti_Bullying_Coalition/Welcome.html

    The Cartoon Network sponsored a big booth/hangout at Booth 630, right by the main entrance to the show floor, as well as a panel on Sunday.

  19. Steve says:

    This is so stupid. I’m so tired of reading articles about this. Do people really make money writing up rants because dudes were hitting on them at the con? If you’re wearing a cosplay that is revealing, you’re gonna get people who approach you this way. No way to avoid it. Just tell em to fuck off nicely or not. If it escalates get the authorities or security involved. This needs to end. Woman the fuck up and stop whining on the internet that you got approached awkwardly. This has been happening since the beginning of time and conventions.

  20. traci says:

    Poor Steve. It must be awful to be assaulted so often by articles about women being assaulted.

  21. So I found the host Personal Facebook https://www.facebook.com/babchik but all of the social media has been shut down.

  22. RegularSyzed Mike says:

    I’m going to be the guy to bring it up…

    Cosplay is a fetish for a lot of people whether they know it or not. If it wasn’t then there’d be a Rule 63 Blob costume. I have yet to see it.

    Now that statement is not to say that anyone dressing sexy should expect or put up with harassment because that’s ridiculous in any context. This statement isn’t about what the victims should do to avoid harassment.

    But I DO think we should start being honest with each other and ourselves about Cosplay and what that entails these days. This is especially important in a medium where the majority of female characters are sexed up for the male gaze. Male consumers are getting the imagery and ideas loud and clear from a lot of the same sources that we read critical articles about on places such as the Beat. Why are we surprised that some males are acting on this information?

    If you dress like sexualized characters who are notoriously objectified in their source material then you are likely to be objectified yourself. Again AGAIN this doesn’t give assholes a free pass to molest you but you shouldn’t be surprised when men assume you’re there for arousal and the male gaze. No one at a Burlesque show isn’t expecting that kind of attention. In fact, they’re banking on it!

    I’m not trying to make people feel shame or anything because I don’t find anything shameful in being sexual as long as everyone involved is consenting. I just think we need to re-evaluate the current cosplay culture with an honest eye. Maybe this will lead to better ways to avoid these kinds of problems from everyone’s perspective, the cosplayer, the male fan expecting flirtation and the event coordinator whose responsibility is the con-goers’ safety and security.

  23. evan dorkin says:

    It doesn’t matter how anyone dresses or even undresses in public, that doesn’t give anyone the right to do anything other than look, hopefully without being a complete creep about it. Hands, gestures, verbal taunts — that crosses over into invasive, cretinous bullshit behavior. A costume of whatever design is not an invitation for someone else’s outward behavior, especially asshole behavior. If you can’t understand that, if you think people are whining over nothing, if you feel you know what someone wearing a sexy costume is thinking and wants from a stranger, I feel sorry for you because you have some faulty mental and emotional wiring in you.

    Myke above tries to speak like an adult but fails very badly at it, for one thing, a professional burlesque show isn’t a comic book convention and even then if anyone touches a performer on stage they’ll pretty much have their asses handed to them. The fact that someone might respond to a sexy costume like an asshole doesn’t mean anyone has to expect it like the weather and put up with it or deal with it as if it’s they caused the behavior to take place. You say you’re not blaming the victim, but that’s pretty much what you’re doing with all that pop psychology about cosplay, fetishism, sexuality and whatever else you fumbled around with there. None of that is the issue when someone chooses to lay their hands on someone else or speak sexually to them when not implicitly invited to. I’m willing to bet you’re not a credited psychologist or sociologist who should be tossing such thoughts around as blithely as a Blob reference.

    If a person bares skin or dances around or poses or whatever the hell it isn’t an invitation for anyone to touch them or talk dirty to them or treat them in a disrespectful way. That’s on the person who chooses to touch, etc. That’s a decision made by a person, they are not mind-controlled by the world of fetishism or female sexuality or Mesmero (look, I can toss X-Men villain refs in, too, for no real good reason). An invitation is when someone gives you permission to do something, and if that sounds like I’m speaking condescendingly to a child, then maybe there’s a reason for that.

    At least Myke wasn’t being a moronic douchebag like the sad thing that posted as “Steve”.

    On a more even keel, someone mentioned security, and I saw very few security staffers in the aisles and the corridor leading to artist’s alley on Friday and Saturday when I was walking around. I only saw a serious presence when Stan Lee was signing at a table in the main hall, and those security people were acting pretty obnoxiously, to boot. Otherwise, they mostly clung to the outer aisles by the entrances and back wall. Very little presence in the thick of things to deal with crowd control or people running, let alone any harassment problems.

    Cripes.

  24. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    Mike, Steve, these women and girls were not complaining about men looking at them. If you wear a costume, you expect people to look at you. They were understandably upset about being harassed with crude comments and physically grabbed.

    Obviously, the parents of underage girls and boys should have a discreet (if unfortunately embarassing) word with them about the fact that some costumes may be more sexualizing than they might, at first, think. Your average 14 year-old who super loves Sailor Venus and really wants to cosplay her may not be prepared for the kind of gaze she encounters. But grown men and women are fully aware of this. The problem is not that people are attracted to cosplay, the problem is people who act inappropriately on their attraction to cosplay.

    It’s really no different than wearing any other attractive outfit, it just has a different cultural context.

  25. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Kate: I doubt many 14-year-old girls are going to consult their parents on much of anything. The vibe I got from NYCC was that of manga/anime shows where teens were dropped off for the day and picked up later on a parents free con zone.

    Your comments about harassment stand, however. And the story of the girl who was kiss assaulted and went off to find her mom kind of broke my heart.

  26. I think the beach is a good example of how normal humans behave. Women (and men) are exposing themselves in various degrees while at the beach or public pools, but we don’t have this sort of behavior.

    And if Lance Fensterman would really like to clear his conscience, he can donate the money Reed Pop was paid by Arizona Ice Tea to a woman’s shelter or some group that works to re-educate shit head males.

    I didn’t see the ads, but good for Robert Kirkman. And good for all the women who yelled out when those ads were shown.

    As a small con promoter, I haven’t had to deal with this sort of thing, but we’re going to craft some policy and share it with other promoters we’re friendly with, and maybe even the one’s we’re not so friendly with. If there needs to be signs that say DON’T BE A JERK and here’s how not to be, then that’s what we’ll do. If it needs to be printed on the ticket, posted on the website, etc., then it’ll have to be done.

    In fairness to Reed, they had 130,000 or more people, and a few bad apples acted like A-holes. I’m hoping it’s a small percentage though it should be zero percent. Let’s hope Reed gets the message that they need more security. Let’s make sure they make JERK awareness an issue. But I believe the entire comic convention industry should deal with this before it goes any further. We need to launch a KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF campaign at all cons.

  27. Bill Gatevackes says:

    Before my wife and I had a kid, I would find this behavior repugnant. Now that my daughter is 4, I am terrified. I have been bringing her to comic cons so she can experience a part of my life that I love. After reading things like this, I feel that by doing that I am setting her up to be fed to the wolves.

    The sad part about this is that this isn’t new. Wasn’t there a Black Cat cosplayer last year that was accosted by a film crew in a similar fashion? Depressing.

    And “Steve”? You should have read the articles Heidi linked to. The second example goes out of her way to say that she was covered head to toe in Asian steampunk garb. And Becky Cloonan? I didn’t see her, but I’d imagine that she was cosplaying as Becky Cloonan. I only met her once, and once again I didn’t see her at this con, but that entails everyday, non-revealing street clothes. So, the whole “they wouldn’t be harrassed if they weren’t dressed provocatively” argument is invalid. Well, it’s invalid to begin with because more often than not women cosplayers dress this provocatively to try and be as accurate to the characters they are cosplaying and not because they are looking for sex from fanboys, but in this case it is especially invalid.

    I really wish that people would just grow up and show some maturity. That they would show respect to everyone no matter what gender they are, what they are wearing or who they are. But I fear that we are very far from that, and I fear that it will get worse before it gets better.

  28. RegularSyzed Mike says:

    I agree totally that dress is no excuse for touching. I thought I made that clear a few times in my post. I also mentioned multiple times that my intent was not to get the cosplayers/victims to change their habits as though they were the only ones with the power to avert the situation. The burden of responsibility in this situation is wholly on the offenders in these situations.

    What I was trying (apparently poorly) to say is that the whole Cosplay situation needs to be re-evaluated as it has changed now that it is as popular as it is. You can act like it hasn’t but it is very sexualized these days and cosplayers like Yaya Han and many others are helping forward that new reality. There is no shame in that but you can’t do that, not lay down ground rules and then not expect douchebaggery to ensue. This is especially the case in a genre of comics both considered the “mainstream” by outsiders (and many insiders) and has a lousy track record with how female characters are portrayed. The male audience has been given massively contradicting signals on this situation. Plenty of them are apparently dumb enough to believe it!

    Speaking of, how do Burlesque/stripclubs deal with conduct? They have sufficient security, house rules and a specific layout intended to keep the women safe and keep the crowd under control. They also don’t allow under-age people to participate. The patrons must be responsible for their actions lest they be thrown out and barred from re-entry. The women also have rules of conduct to keep situations from going out of control. Everyone has to do their part.

    Unless people start admitting to the fetishistic side of some Cosplay, start regarding it as the arousal culture it is and adjusting attitudes appropriately, these events will continue to be a hormonal free-for-all and these kinds of incidents will continue.

  29. Jim Caldwell says:

    Kate Fitzsimons sez: Mike, Steve, these women and girls were not complaining about men looking at them.

    Except Bethany Maddok, the first person quoted in the article reports: Before the interviewer even uttered a question there was an immediate problem. He locked eyes with my chest. I noticed, covered myself up with my arms and pointed at my face powergirl style and said “HEY eyes up here buddy”

    I’m on your side, but it seems that there are women who were harrassed at this con who definitely disagree with your statement.

  30. Great article for the most part. The only thing I disagree is when you downplay the behavior when a female engages a guy. I think part of the problem is we portray a double standard, which can give the creeps justification. A creep is a creep no matter the gender. We need to hold everyone to the same standard, which is to respect each other. Dragon Con has *two sets of rules* when it comes to harassment. They are both pretty much the same thing, but the wording is made gender specific. I think it is nice because it takes away the excuse, “I didn’t think that was about me because it is only XXX gender.”

  31. That Word Grrl says:

    So harassing booth babes is not so much of a problem? Here’s a newsflash: They are there to do a job. They are selling a product. Just because some game company has hired them to dress up as a character from their game DOES NOT mean that they should get treated with any less respect than female con attendees who are dressing up for fun.

  32. ChrisZ says:

    Myke – I think you fail to realize that there’s not a mode of dress for women that’s not a fetish for someone and that hasn’t been sexualized. Nurse, cheerleader, police officer, school girl, waitress, librarian, secretary, nerd girl, etc. There’s nothing a woman can wear that won’t turn some dude on somewhere, even a burka.

  33. Steve Replogle says:

    Excellent article, Heidi – thank you. Also some good comments from many folks (right on, Evan!) … and, of course, a few stupid comments. Sigh.

    It seems clear that cons are going to grow and grow now. Maybe that’s what happens when “The Avengers” reels in a couple billion dollars of ticket sales. Our Denver Comic Con was a huge hit in just its second year this last summer. Because of this growth, I think cons are simply going to have to hire more security, train them better, and make administrators more available for emergencies. It’s costly, I know. But one or two bad stories, well-publicized, could be a more costly disaster for a con. To me, the NYCC sounds awful.

    Oh, and i have an idea. Cons should simply hand out free mace to every female attendee that comes in the door. That would help set the right tone, I think.

  34. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Cliff: >>>I think the beach is a good example of how normal humans behave. Women (and men) are exposing themselves in various degrees while at the beach or public pools, but we don’t have this sort of behavior.

    You know what? That’s one of the smartest things I’ve read in this whole thread.

  35. Legal Eagle says:

    *******You have a GROWN man, and ADULT who forced himself a kiss on a CHILD, a MINOR. You don’t need to WAIT FOR THE PARENTS you witnessed a CRIME and you should REPORT IT. Again, anyone who stood idly by and does not report a crime against a child particularly a sexual crime, can be held liable. DO NOT THINK IT IS THE PARENT’S RESPONSIBILITY. While they can and should file a police report, any person who witnesses any crime has the responsibility to call police, not “security” and give their account in a police report for prosecution. It’s not too late, you need to report anything like this against a minor and there IS NO STATUTE OF LIMITATION FOR A MINOR TO REPORT CHILDHOOD MOLESTATION……even well into adulthood.

  36. Rich Harvey says:

    If we stop clicking on these links, giving these guys views on YouTube, it might end. You’ll see thousands of videos like this on YouTube, where guys stop random women at comic shows and ask inappropriate questions and make inappropriate comments. It may even have been funny at first, but it’s the lamest attempt at “humor” … the whole “roving reporter” asking insulting questions shtick has been done to death. Time to get a clue, YouTube “stars” …

  37. Legal Eagle says:

    Women are conditioned since birth than men. It’s a proven fact and one that has to be recognized. Women are more likely to be “nice” or “polite” because subconsciously they either do not want to offend or to use their skills of diplomacy to stop harassment not realizing it could escalate into something else. Adult women as well need to take responsibility when there are adult males around minors. There are those on both genders that do not set boundaries, and that’s when troubles start or difficult to prove consent. A minor child legally is never able to give legal consent, therefore, any sexual advances, even a “kiss”, is legally construed as rape or a lewd act with a child, etc. and to what extent dependent upon the age of the perpetrator and the state.

  38. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    Heidi, of course kids don’t consult their parents, but parents generally know what their kids are wearing. They might not want to hear “Honey, are you sure you want to wear that there?”, but it’s a parent’s responsibility to at least discuss these issues with their kids.

    Jim, there’s a difference between people looking at you and enjoying it normally and being rude about it. No sensible person is shocked, shocked that other people find a Poison Ivy costume hot, but that’s no reason to behave inappropriately. Staring at someone’s breasts, or indeed crotch, is an offputting and creepy thing to do, unlike just, you know, looking at them. Like Cliff was saying, if you wouldn’t do it at the beach, don’t do it at the con.

  39. Craig Yoe: a support & anti-harassment group already exists: The Backup Project. Its purpose is expressly give women (and men, but women have FAR worse trouble and in greater numbers) help in ugly situations such as NYCC. Participants wear purple ribbons that say BACKUP on them.

    http://backupribbonproject.wordpress.com

  40. This piece in its entirety was a very interesting read. It was difficult to finish based upon how it was delivered. Joseph Goebbels would be very proud at this effort.

    My initial reaction after the first read was the level of what some Internet based ‘journalists’ try to put off as ‘journalism’ is straight out of the “Rush Limbaugh School of Journalistic Integrity”. Opinion-Opinion-Rumor-Minor Nugget of Truth To Give Credibility-Opinion-Rumor. There are times when it would be nice to have the British system for personal slander, for if I were running NYCC, I’d have Ms. MacDonald in court quickly.

    For instance, the passage which Ms. MacDonald writes: “It’s bad enough hat these idiots were there making people feel uncomfortable while pretending to be a legit news outlet, but that security was informed and did nothing is troubling…” Did she contact anyone with the Convention to see if they did or “did nothing”? If so she doesn’t mention it. But she writes it as FACT. It is not Fact. At best this is an OP/ED piece and should be taken as such.

    I find it interesting she goes on to quote a ‘show runner’ to say action was taken. Huh? DID the Convention or did the Convention NOT take action?

    After a second read, I’m not sure Ms. MacDonald ever attended the Convention and simply wrote this diatribe from her ‘desk’. Everything she quotes is from searching social media. Hope she gets paid well as apparently she could ‘sell ice to Eskimos’. But speaking of being paid…

    So my career investigating things usually boils down to the best way to answer the “WHY?” question is to find the motivation requiring the investigation.

    So let’s look at this article again. What is the complaint?
    – Comments. (1st Amendment. No one is even going to consider this as criminal. Full stop. Don’t like the comments? Don’t be around idiots who make them. Believe me, if enough Dollar Bills fail to arrive, the NYCC or whomever will take notice. Follow the money!)

    – Touching. (From what I read here, it’s a gray area. It would be tough to get a Prosecutor to issue. And remember folks, being arrested is one thing, having twelve people who were not smart enough to get off of jury duty to convict a criminal, quite another thing. I’ve seen Prosecutors refuse cases with more credibility than a Cosplayer with exposed buttocks, getting kissed.)

    The symptom is the behavior but in this case it would appear the DISEASE is having Event Room Sponsors which promote the behavior. She references this several times about the “Big Cans” and the ‘Info-mercials’ before certain panels. Back to follow the money…

    So I read the ‘Comments’ section and while doing so, I found this by Ms. MacDonald:
    (Heidi MacDonald says: 10/15/2013 at 12:45 pm
    Can I recommend Honest Tea? I work for them but they are good people and a great product.)

    Just so I have some FACTS… Someone who works for a competing consumer product is writing a story about bad behavior during a convention heavily sponsored by a competitor? No. I don’t see any conflict of interest there at all. Rush would be proud. (By the way, the best part is, ‘I work for them BUT they are good people…’) She’s not even a good slanted writer.

    As far as those who dress up, partially exhibiting breasts, buttocks, etc. I’m not sure why they’d be offended at any individual staring at those here-to-fore hidden fleshy bits. Don’t want to be stared at? Don’t dress up. Take some responsibility for your own situation. Don’t play the innocent victim when you’re mugged leaving a club at 3 am after you’ve been out partying all night. Moron 101 Course.

    These types of articles are only written to hype themselves, (ala Rush). Apart from the date, location and title of the gatherings, I saw VERY little fact but tons of innuendo and forwarded opinion. Ms. MacDonald didn’t even have the wherewithal to put she ‘attempted to get comment from NYCC, but they did not return phone calls.’ Come on. That little trick is direct from the Lazy Reporters Bag of Tricks.

    In the NOT ON MY WATCH category…
    Let some bone head assholes pull that crap when I’m in charge.

    “Fake News Team” crew would find, at the very least, some nice personal appearance notices to Court for breach of Contract. I’m sure, again in this case the NYCC had forms filled out. Either NYCC dropped the ball or these goofs lied on the form. Think lying isn’t important? Ask Martha Stewart how much she enjoyed prison. Remember she went to jail for lying, not for any actions she took. Wanna get someone’s attention, wait to their personal possessions and wages are on the line and see that crap behavior dry up quick. (Once more… Follow the money!)

    Random Kissing Cheese Brain would find it difficult to do so with a fat lip. I don’t like random people touching me and I won’t allow it to happen. If they want a response for some video to put on their clandestine web sites, they’ll have high-def action shots of an angry middle aged dude stomping on their heads.

    So… With that said, thanks for the read. I would place this in the same category as parents who make their children wear helmets while playing on the playground. Which is next to my favorite grouping of how people would complain about ‘all these speeders’ on their subdivision streets. “These kids are racing up and down the road!” Then when we’d do traffic enforcement, all we’d catch were people who lived on the street. “God damn cops. Go stop a rape.”

    Let me close with my favorite portion from this piece:
    “I think they saw me glaring at them because they bolted soon after. ” 1) I wanna get this person’s picture whose glare can apparently stop crime. 2) Why did she just glare and not say something, draw attention to them, take some sort of action? Maybe she’s like Cyclops and wants to control her super Power of Personal Glare.

    Rip away dingbats. “The number you have reached is no longer in service…”

  41. So many things wrong with this comment! I don’t have all day, but let me start here: Heidi was at the con. I know that because I was there. You obviously were not there, and I think it’s pretty funny that you are doing the exact thing you (falsely) accuse her of: Drawing conclusions from a distance. Heidi is a consummate pro and doesn’t need me to defend her, but I’m going to anyway, because I’m so offended by your comment. You may not like what Heidi has to say, but you can’t question her integrity. Full stop.

    Secondly, I’m not a lawyer but my understanding is that putting someone in fear is assault, and touching them without their consent—yes, including a surprise kiss—is battery. It’s not a gray area, it’s a crime.

    Thirdly, you don’t have to be working for a competing product to recognize that the Arizona Iced Tea promotion was beyond offensive. You just have to have eyes. And a soul, I guess.

  42. Jim Caldwell says:

    Kate,
    As this is not the first time this has been discussed on The Beat, I know there’s a difference between staring and not staring. How long that is, based on this and other discussions, seems to be entirely subjective. Sometimes it’s the look-er, sometimes the look-ee that determines that. Is “3 Mississippis” too much? Is “1 Missisippi” too much? You don’t know how long “locked in” is as a measure of time. Neither do I. We just know it was unwelcome. Sometimes, it just comes down to Who’s Doing the Looking/Glancing/Gazing, and whether they’re Hot or Not. This applies at the beach too, by the way. (Or how the Five Second Rule for dropped food can depend on the cleanliness of the kitchen, or the hunger of the dropper.)

    I’ve no idea why you bothered to mention crotches, by the way. It seems like a deliberate attempt to cast me into the unenlightened crowd. It’s patronizing and offensive of you.

  43. Joseph Goebbels??? You people are hopeless.

  44. Carolina Cooney says:

    Just to inject a little positivity here, I was at the convention, in a fairly sexy costume, and I had a great time. This was the first time — after exhibiting at conventions for nearly 15 years now — that I “cosplayed”, and it actually was a much better experience than I anticipated. Attendees were polite and respectful, people running the show were friendly, fun, and helpful. I posed with numerous fans and no one tried to grope me. I know my experience is not everyone’s experience, but for me it was a fabulous show that I will definitely attend again.

  45. Heidi MacDonald says:

    CJ:

    Ms. MacDonald didn’t even have the wherewithal to put she ‘attempted to get comment from NYCC, but they did not return phone calls.’ Come on. That little trick is direct from the Lazy Reporters Bag of Tricks

    You mean this part?

    In an interview I conducted with Lance Fensterman for PW, he told me he regretted the Arizona campaign and it should not have been done. (I’ll have more comments from Fensterman in my full report tomorrow.) Apparently, calmer heads prevailed though and the ads were pulled after Friday night.

    I’d think CJ was my old troll J—V in disguise except his complaints are even more wonky.

    I’m always tornas to whether to leave trolls of this type up as a warning to others or take them down because they are batshit crazy.

    What do you think, Group Mind?

  46. MBunge says:

    “I really wish that people would just grow up and show some maturity.”

    That sentence should never appear in any article dealing with grown men and women who dress in usually ridiculous and often highly sexualized costumes inspired by fiction that, let us remember, was originally designed and intended for adolescent and child audiences.

    No, that doesn’t excuse being a jerk and it certainly doesn’t excuse assault of molestation, but c’mon!

    Mike

  47. RegularSyzed Mike says:

    Thank you Mr. Bunge! The whole superhero genre is built upon adolescent male hormones. Admitting that and adjusting accordingly across the board would go a long way in curbing these incidents!

  48. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Myke: news flash the comics industry is Not Just Superheroes.

  49. RegularSyzed Mike says:

    Heidi: Hence the term “genre”. But honestly, is anyone getting harassed dressed like Hopey from Love and Rockets? Be honest. Most Cosplay is anime and superhero characters. I still think there is a partial link between how female characters are generally treated in superhero comics and what’s happening to lady cosplayers.

    YET AGAIN, I’m not excusing any of the behavior of the guys causing these problems. I’m also not trying to indite people like Becky Cloonan who got harassed for being a female pure and simple. I’m not trying to lay blame on ANYONE for someone else’s actions. I’m just saying we need to be honest about the sexual tone of some Cosplay (not all) and address the disconnect between what Beat readers think is Cosplay and what the average folks on the street think is Cosplay based on the kind of exposure it gets in mainstream media.

  50. Synsidar says:

    But honestly, is anyone getting harassed dressed like Hopey from Love and Rockets? Be honest. Most Cosplay is anime and superhero characters.

    I’d agree that people who dress up as SF and fantasy characters are treated differently from people who dress up as superheroes and superheroines, because the SF and fantasy characters are more respectable–and because the superhero costumes aren’t actual clothing. They’re accepted as clothing in comics stories, perhaps, because the people in normal clothing are drawn as cartoonishly as the people in the costumes–visual equivalence–and the garb is colored into place on nude bodies. When someone wears a superhero costume in public, almost any costume, he looks strange, if not bizarre.

    SRS

  51. Eva Hopkins says:

    Ugh! It doesn’t matter what someone’s wearing. They don’t deserve to get harassed.

    Period, full stop.

    Ms. Becky Cloonan – who I’ve seen at shows, so I’ll guess she was wearing dark jeans, tee shirt, maybe a hoodie – in her normal street clothes, doing her job – doesn’t deserve to get harassed. My pal BelleChere, a pro level cosplayer; one of her scantiest outfits is Red Sonja – & she doesn’t deserve to get harassed. There’s classy ways of complimenting someone on their outfit; there’s classy ways of getting that picture that you want of a cosplayer (or comics pro, or actor/actress); & there’s no huge sign hanging over the doors to a convention that says: check your manners at the door. Wouldn’t do it to a stranger on the street? You probably shouldn’t be doing it at a convention.

    NYCC has grown under ReedPop & Lance Fensterman’s care to the second biggest convention int he country. There’s gonna be growing pains. I hope they get proactive about this instead of reactive, in the future. Cash is king – as Evan noted – but people take note of where that cash comes from, too.

    As Heidi mentioned, Cliff’s comment rocks. People wear very little on the beach, but somehow we manage to act with basic human courtesy to each other. A string bikini doesn’t mean you get to touch or talk nastily to a woman you don’t know. Why would a Red Sonja chainmail bikini? Stop making excuses for this behavior. It’s not OK & hurts fandom. Not just for women geeks but for the 90% or so of decent guy geeks, who want to have that moment of connection – that, “can I take your picture” or get their books signed.

    It sucks that the moment of connection – one of the staples of convention happiness – has become dulled by suspicion & wariness, but that’s how things are unfolding.

    (Obvious disclaimer is obvious: sometimes there is female on male harassment, or same-gender harassment – that’s not OK either.)

  52. We have reported on this so we Add our own blog report for you to read and ask for everyone’s comments on..we reported on this twice among other things and its been held against us as press.

    http://atwistedmyth.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/a-con-from-a-radio-standpoint/

  53. The sexual harassment is terrible, but the Arizona ad is getting way too much attention. It’s an ad aimed at a target audience which is primarily male. So what?

    They have probably also done market research which say people who drink Arizona are primarily male also. Let’s not go overboard where we try and connect two very different things just to prove a point about gender inequality in comics.

    It does a disservice to the actual issue which was the harassment.

  54. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Tim: Unfortunately, stupid and demeaning campaigns like Arizona’s create an atmosphere in which harassment is seen as less offensive. They are part and parcel.

    Also…why would you want only men to drink your product?

  55. It’s not that only men should drink Arizona, but these companies only care about money. It’s not like makeup ads are marketed to guys, though some guys wear makeup. Beer ads are marketed towards men, but women drink beer. It’s about money, not a social message.

    And I disagree with your point about Arizona creating an atmosphere in which harassment is less offensive. For me, that is too similar to the argument that violent videogames are to blame for mass shootings.

    People know the difference between right and wrong. They choose to make stupid decisions like harassing women on their own. Arizona’s ad is only about appealing to its target audience. Boys like breasts and bad puns. It’s probably why the Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men are so popular.

    The harassement is a whole different argument and those people should get what’s coming to them.

  56. so you’re telling me that women who specifically go to these conventions dressed in sexy outfits to be photographed and oogled by random strangers are being sexualized. please, tell me more.

    it’s like if a bunch of guys dressed as mechanics and stood around a garage got offended if a girl asked if they could change her oil. puh-lease.

  57. Bill Gatevackes says:

    “I really wish that people would just grow up and show some maturity.”

    That sentence should never appear in any article dealing with grown men and women who dress in usually ridiculous and often highly sexualized costumes inspired by fiction that, let us remember, was originally designed and intended for adolescent and child audiences.

    No, that doesn’t excuse being a jerk and it certainly doesn’t excuse assault of molestation, but c’mon!

    Mike
    So, because comics were once marketed exclusively towards kids (although it hasn’t been for 30 years or so) and dressing up as characters from comics is in itself silly and immature, the behavior of these men, while inexcusable (you make a point of saying that, twice), is just an example of the immaturity of the whole comic book world and women just have to suffer through. We shouldn’t call on these idiots to act their age and treat everyone with maturity and respect because (shrugs shoulders) comics.

    I hope that wasn’t what you were trying to say. I’m sure you’ll clarify.

    But regardless. No matter how immature the world of comic books are and how immature cosplay is, it doesn’t mean that everyone should be calling on men who abuse and insult women to act with maturity and respect, no matter how the woman is dressed.

  58. Bill Gatevackes says:

    *should stop calling on

  59. Rikk Odinson says:

    Y’know, when I was younger, my friends and I would prowl the streets looking for “bag-snatchers” on halloween, those older kids that would run around stealing bags of candy from little kids, and we would thump the crap outta them and give the bags of candy back to the kids they were taken from.
    What am I getting at?
    Well, maybe it’s time the fan community could use some guys doing the same thing at cons to the jackasses that are harassing folks like this.
    How many comics fans have been put down, insulted or worse over the years? How can WE let that kind of crap continue? How many people just stand by and watch it happen? Many of the con-goers spend their days reading about heroes that stand up for the oppressed and those that can’t defend themselves.
    Any of you fans that stand there and watch this kind of stuff happen are just as guilty as the offending perverts. Man up and do what’s right!
    I know the next con that I go to, I will most definitely be looking out for this kind of stuff and maybe once people see that this kind of behavior will have real physical consequences, maybe they’ll think twice next time.
    Stop being pussies! We are ALL fans. We should protect our own.

  60. Jim G. says:

    I don’t know Lance Fensterman, but it seems odd to me that he would need someone else to point out to him the inappropriateness of a “Big Cans” campaign. I also find it hard to believe that it would take any length of time to address asshats ID’ed by their t-shirts in a photo. Fair or not, I get the impression that Fensterman’s approach is overly passive and reactionary, with a healthy dose of “let’s just hope that the complainer leaves or the problem goes away on its own.”

  61. ConGoer says:

    You people do realize that nobody is obligated to give a shit what you think or feel. How dare men think that women are hot. How dare they be aroused by women in scantly clad clothes, portraying women who have sex appeal. Little tip for you all: in the real world, men generally (but not always) are attracted to women. IF you don’t like that then leave the Earth. I gotta hear all the time about how some overly ripped, tall, perfect guy on the silver screen or at a con or anywhere on the street is sexy, or “I’d fuck him” but nobody says anything to these women. Why? Because they have every fucking right to be attracted to guys. They have every right to express themselves and speak their minds. Grow a fucking spine. If someone actually touches you inappropriately, or stalks you around the con, or tries to force you to do something you don’t want to do then that is a fucking problem. Don’t come to me and bitch about how men like tits and ass. Furthermore don’t come crying to me about how the women involved with that Big Cans event were oppressed or exploited, because they had the choice to do that event, just like strippers. I’m sick of people saying female sexuality is liberating, but if man is sexual he’s perverse and evil for expressing it. Just like you don’t step into a lion’s den expecting it not to eat you, you don’t wear scantly clad clothes and expect everyone to not notice or not say anything. What those guys did was pretty ridiculous, but it’s not criminal. All you can do is report them and if they did something against con rules, they’ll get banned.

    I’m a polite and decent human being, but I’m sick of the one sided whining as if to say men are never objectified, touched inappropriately, or harassed at cons. I have been and I don’t really care. Do you know why? Because I’m not a fucking victim. I stand up for myself if something really is hurting me. Unless a woman tries to force me to do something I don’t want to do, I don’t really care.

  62. ConGoer says:

    Furthermore, what is inappropriate about making a double entendre about cans and tits? People aren’t supposed to like breasts? Why? Nobody cries when they see a sexy woman in the movies, a comic book, or game…especially the women that DRESS like these heroines at conventions. This Political Correctness bullshit needs to stop and people need to gain a sense of humor and stop being offended by EVERYTHING. News for you folks, we don’t live in a bubble where nobody can offend or bother us, for all eternity. You’re uncomfortable? So fucking what. Here’s an idea. Learn to not give a shit about the stupid things people say. I mean, fuck, we live in a world where people believe in the old man in the sky and that the world is 6000-12000 years old. Does that mean we have to listen to them? No. The Westboro morons get to express themselves and say whatever they want and they’re horrible horrible people. Some company uses some racy Big Cans campain and you’re all up in arms like the female body is this temple that shall not be looked at, or talked about, or noticed, or even joked about. How about you fucking morons look at the congress and do something about the fact that this country is going to DEFAULT soon. There are people starving and dying in this world and you motherfucking idiots are pissed off because some douche-bags played a trick on some women. If it was the other way around, women on men, nobody would bat an eyelash. This misandry has got to stop.

  63. Lea Hernandez-
    Not sure if you will see this. While the back up project is a step, I think other campaigns can definitely help. Getting back up/support is just a start. The next step is to make creeps aware of how serious their behavior is and the consequences. Maybe even shame campaigns that display the general disdain for people who do not respect boundaries.

  64. ConGoer, I think you are missing the point of most of this. The issue with Arizona Tea is that is was in poor taste and there were children present. At least the way the article presented it, I read it as the ads were tacky and made the author feel like the company doing the advertising did not actually know the audience and was using an outdated stereotype.

    As far as the issue being one sided and, “If it was the other way around, women on men, nobody would bat an eyelash.” I have to disagree. I stated in an earlier comment that there are cons that go to great lengths to make it clear that harassment is not okay, no matter who the offending gender is. Dragon Con goes as far as to write a harassment policy for both genders. Last time I read it, they were identical aside from changing pronouns to fit the target audience. I think this is a good policy because it keeps either from having wiggle room. (Like, “Oh, I thought that was just meant for *guys*.)

    Yes, there are people starving in the world and far worse things. That doesn’t change how someone feels when they experience what they believe to be a personal violation of some sort. I was at a con a few years ago where a guy got a little too close and petted me on the head out of nowhere. It sounds so silly, and looking back I think the guy was too drunk to even realize he crossed way over my personal bubble. But at the time it happened I freaked out and just froze. I don’t general have experience with these sorts of things, I had no idea how to respond. It actually made me skittish the rest of the night. . . and all he did was pet my head. I cannot fathom how others handle the full range of inappropriateness. Girls being touched or recorded without their knowledge. I have seen guys at anime conventions have their personal space completely disregarded by weebos.

    If you feel everyone’s ranting and whining is so ridiculous, then why not give real suggestions at solutions. Complaining that other people are complaining will only further the cycle of no one really doing anything. I would genuinely love to hear your suggestions. You say you stand up for yourself. How? What gives you strength? Do you have advice for someone who does not think they have what it takes to successfully stand up for themselves?

    I get that you are angry, though I may not fully understand your reasons. I bet if you channeled that outrage you could help start to turn things around.

  65. ” People wear very little on the beach, but somehow we manage to act with basic human courtesy to each other. A string bikini doesn’t mean you get to touch or talk nastily to a woman you don’t know. Why would a Red Sonja chainmail bikini?”

    If she was wearing it at a beach, it probably wouldn’t. Beach attire is worn by a majority if not 90% or more of people that go to the beach. Sexy costumes are NOT worn by the same percentage of convention attendees. They stick out, and it’s probably intentional. It comes off as attention-seeking behavior. People react accordingly.

    Beach attire at the beach=commonplace.
    Sexy costumes at a convention=eccentricity

    Maybe that explains why they’re not treated the same way and why it’s not even close to being the smartest thing anyone has said in this thread. Also, this was about a few people causing a problem at a thing. The same crap or worse does occasionally happen at beaches. It can and does happen anywhere at any time, and what’s really interesting is that it happens for the same reason as dressing up in a costume–grabbing someone’s attention.

    When it comes to “touching”, I think the Supreme Being said it best, “Never Without My Permission.”

  66. Mark Fuler says:

    Interesting read. No argument that there was some pretty despicable behavior on display here and it should not be tolerated.

    Buuuuut, I think there’s an elephant in the room that is something an underlying issue. That is, much as we can feel very pleased about increasing audience diversity and all that, the fact remains that genre fandom is still dominated by socially maladjusted males.

  67. Heidi MacDonald says:

    That is, much as we can feel very pleased about increasing audience diversity and all that, the fact remains that genre fandom is still dominated by socially maladjusted males.

    Actually, it isn’t. That is a total fallacy.

  68. Shawn M. says:

    I have a lot to say on this issue, but I’m going to try and make it short. I have a girlfriend that cosplays and we attended new york comic con. As an outsider looking in a get a different perspective on issues, especially the constant, hounding, thirty ass dudes who always try to holler at my girlfriend, and also the awkward kids who really don’t how to talk to a lady or know how to act. I see it ALOT, not just at cons, but in general. It irritates me, but it happens, I can’t go around beating every juvenile or old pervert that screams “Twerk for me!” or that tries to sneak a picture of my girlfriends ass. I know that my girlfriend is a very strong, smart female and she knows how to handle these situations without causing a scene or being dramatic, I also know when to step in if needed. With that being said, New York Comic Con wasn’t that bad for us on that front. I’ve read about the video crew “Face down, Man Up” and I did see them at the con, and tried to figure out what that meant, but it went over my head. It disgusts that these people exist and they are being more and more common like all of the mega-trolls on facebook. That would have been a situation where I would have jumped in. As far as the Arizona issue, we bumped into their booth and they loved my girlfriend and her friend and the ladies asked them to stand up on a platform to take a picture with some of their products, and they received a free bag with the slogan “I <3 big cans!". We all thought it was awesome. Through the day as we were walking around, of course I was carrying everything being the great boyfriend I am, I was carrying the Arizona bag like a purse because I have no shame, lol. A lady by the food court approached me when someone was snapping a picture of my girlfriend and she tapped me and seemed excited/perturbed, I couldn't tell. She asked me "Where did you get that bag?!" I told her the story and about the Arizona booth. I thought there was an issue, but then she smiled and asked where the booth was exactly and she asked what I thought of the bags and then she proclaimed "I designed and created all of those bags and have been looking for the booth all day." I do not think those bags were made out of malicious intent, however I did not get to witness the ad that you mention in the article, but the way you described it makes me feel like it is just like every other commercial on cable TV that tries to get the attention of people. Sex sells, and everyone knows that, granted children also attend these cons, but they are subjected to this every day on T.V. Also, I think there were more derogatory, graphic things that were happening in the show room that was more important to take action on besides that ad, like one booth was dedicated to a "Vagina Characters Blogging Site" or a webisode of some sort, I can't remember exactly but its definitely a site I wouldn't want my children to see, if I had some. I'm all for your opinion on the video crew but not on the Arizona issue. Granted this is just my opinion, that everyone is entitled to, I just wanted to speak up on the article. Have a great day =D

  69. Jason T. says:

    I was at the con in a wheelchair (not my usual mode of transport), so I got the unique and unexpected experience of being a bit closer to the ground and thus more atuned to what people were saying as they walked the show floor.

    I did not know that there were that many synonyms for the word breast.

    I’d like to resign my man-ness if this is what we’ve devolved into.

  70. RegularSyzed Mike says:

    It’s really frustrating to see how there is no room for thinking between the polar opposites here. Are the only choices “Don’t Harass Me” vs. “Deal With It”? Is there no room for nuance in my answer? Does this requirement really lend itself to maturity as called for by others in this discussion? Do we really think this attitude is productive? Maybe a simpler approach is in order…

    — No one deserves to be sexually harassed in any situation.
    — In real life there are people who are assholes.
    — Sexy Cosplayers and Event Planners hosting an event where Sexy Cosplayers are likely to attend need to plan accordingly.
    — Sexy Cosplay is sexy. Expect minor spectator arousal and oogling when being sexy or maybe just dress up at home by yourself if you don’t want that kind of attention from strangers.
    — Sexy Cosplay and minors don’t mix. Maybe stop mixing them and the children will be safe.

    and also…
    — Modest people can wear bathing suits that cover more of their bodies. If you’re modest then maybe the Black Cat or Power Girl costume isn’t for you. If you want to let it all hang out no one can shame you for it but be aware of real life and what happens in it.

  71. Frank says:

    Genre fandom isn’t dominated by males, but traditional comic book fandom still is.

    I don’t like being lumped in with the underage or creepy older manga fans. I wish more women read traditional comics instead of that trash.

  72. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    Frank, one man’s trash is another person’s masterwork created in another country or after 1980. As a fan of traditional American comics as well as other types of comics, I have to wonder if you just haven’t, you know, read any.

  73. Mark Fuller says:

    That is, much as we can feel very pleased about increasing audience diversity and all that, the fact remains that genre fandom is still dominated by socially maladjusted males.

    Actually, it isn’t. That is a total fallacy.

    I sincerely hope that is the case and bow to your industry wide perspective. However, my admittedly limited experience of regularly going to UK comic shops and the occasional con indicates otherwise, as does a look at the discussion forum of the vast majority of comic websites. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I love comics but I hate comics fandom.

  74. Art Liggens says:

    Interesting that Jim Brooks cheered the removal of the sexist Arizona ads by using the stereotype-perpetuating (read: racist) hashtag “victoly”.

  75. Kate: I don’t care whether manga is the great art missing from my life. What my point is that these two genres need to be separated.

    It’s like saying you are a fan of literature and combining fans of The Great Gatsby and Twilight.

    Manga and traditional comics have crossover fans, but they should be considered separately.

    And yes, I’ve read manga before. I find it to be garbage. But don’t try the xenophobe angle. I read a lot of European and specifically, French comics.

  76. Frank – well said. I think as a whole, cons need to be more devoted to one idea. Having Breaking Bad and Glee at SDCC or Craftsman Tools and electric cars at NYCC makes zero sense.

  77. I’m only here because I clicked on this link during an unrelated google search. I have no interest in comics or comic culture whatsoever.

    Thank you for your time.

  78. Get this cosplay out of my comics please.

Trackbacks

  1. […] New York Comic-Con 2013: creepy camera crews, Arizona’s big cans and harassment (comicsbeat.com) […]

  2. […] Bistro delves into the channel and The Beat gathers up a number of accounts, and looks at other examples of similar behaviour across the show. Bleeding Coolers were mocking […]

  3. […] a good masterpost on reports of organized skeevy behavior at the con, I recommend reading The Beat’s article on it, but to go in chronological order, we start with Arizona Ice Tea’s I Heart Big Cans ad […]

  4. […] The Beat: New York Comic-Con 2013: creepy camera crews, Arizona’s big cans, and harassment […]

  5. […] The Beat: NYCC 2013: Creepy Camera Crews, Arizona’s Big Cans and Harassment […]

  6. […] and I was only initially made aware of Arizona Iced Tea’s “Big Cans Jenny” from this article from The Beat. But I’ve rarely heard Heidi MacDonald being called out for egregious errors in […]

  7. […] definitely packed, and with the crowds came a mixed bag of good and bad occurrences that I’m sure you’ve heard about (I’ll touch on that in another […]

  8. […] was definitely packed, and with the crowds came a mixed bag of good and bad occurrences that I’m sure you’ve heard about (I’ll touch on that in another […]

  9. […] last week a (male) friend posted up a link to an article by The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald on some incidents of sexual harassment at NYC Comic-Con, with the […]

  10. […] I can, do, and will continue to support Geek Girl Con. It is because GGC is the kind of place where this would never […]

  11. […] Beat‘s Heidi MacDonald blogged about the unacceptable widespread sexism and harrassment at this year’s NYCC.  All this despite the fact that, as she points out, “EVERYWHERE I LOOKED EVERYTHING ELSE […]

  12. […] Apparently, a camera crew from a local cable show called “Man Banter” got in to the convention hall on SiriusXM credentials and proceeded to racially and sexually harass any and every woman they could find. From cosplayers to journalists to comics professionals, if you were a woman — and got caught in Man Banter’s crosshairs — you were gonna get harassed. Heidi has a roundup of first person accounts from the con over at The Beat. […]

  13. […] 6. Cosplayers: si la persona que se te acerca a pedirte una foto o una entrevista te da mala espina, dile NO. […]

  14. […] presence at the Con provided visibility for their products, it may be the type of marketing more likely to misfire than to build brand loyalty. Successfully promoting a pop culture brand involves more than just […]

  15. […] good documentation. Other industry professionals and geek news sources had done the same, too. There is a petition out, created by the activist group 18 Million Rising in order to hold […]

  16. […] reported the sexual harassment of minors at both PAX East, a Boston convention held in March by Penny Arcade, and New York Comic Con, held […]

  17. […] more information on the creepy New York Comic Con camera crew check out this story on The Beat by Heidi […]

  18. […] as reported by a cosplayer known as Lady Noctis. The event is similar to the one that took place at New York Comic Con last fall, with a camera crew asking women in costume to be interviewed and then asking them vulgar and […]

  19. […] places like [jeez any place I name here will get me in trouble so lets just say Westeros] but incidents of harassment and inappropriate behavior that would be actionable anywhere are sadly growing. Clearly stated and […]

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