Posts tagged comic con
Posts tagged comic con
Mariah Huehner is a comics writer and editor. She is badass, as evidenced by her appearance on the New York Times bestseller list. In July she wrote the below entry on her blog. I didn’t find it until by chance recently. In a nutshell, it’s a documentation of her experience at a past Comic Con. I just think it’s worth noting that this was not a booth babe, or a skimpily dressed cosplayer. Not that either of those things excuses the behavior Ms Huehner describes. But a lot of times, people outside of the situations like to commentate, and suggest that the way a woman is dressed has “something to do with it”. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, and that’s why I’m reposting her entry. Anyway:
SDCC is rapidly approaching, and amidst the stress of figuring out my flight, hotel, booth duty, and what the hell I’m going to wear so I don’t feel uncomfortable but also don’t look crappy for 4 days…I’m thinking about two incidents that happened at my first SDCC (which is about 5 years ago now, maybe even 6) that have forever colored the way I view it and every other convention I attend, and likely will attend, for the foreseeable future.
In short: during the 2nd night, at the Hyatt, I experienced two separate physically and sexually threatening situations. The first was a groping that I was too shocked to register until the next day. The other was being cornered, touched, and made uncomfortable by two drunk men.
Both left me feeling shaken, upset, and like I had done something wrong. I kept thinking: how did I get in that situation? What did I do to provoke it? What mistakes had I made? How did I allow this to happen? Why didn’t I make a huge scene? Basically, I immediately started blaming myself for being a woman who did not prevent someone else from making me an object. Something that I had absolutely no control over, did not deserve, and yet still feel responsible for in some way, to this day.
First, the groping. I was standing with a group of fellow professionals I had worked with for years. Most of them I knew quite well, one not very well. They were all drinking, I was not. I suddenly felt a hand trail down my back and cup my right…er…posterior. My stomach immediately flip flopped and I turned to the guy, shocked. He was talking to someone else and then stumbled away. He did not look at me once. I said nothing, because I had already started telling myself it hadn’t really happened, I must have imagined it, who does that, no way.
The second happened about an hour later. I had drifted away from the group I had been talking to, to write an idea down in my sketchbook. I was against one of the large windows. There were many groups of people around, as there usually are. I did not notice the two men until they were towering over me. I was stuck and felt very small and uncomfortable. I looked around to see if anyone I knew was close by, but they weren’t, and in any case, couldn’t see me because these two men had neatly blocked me from view. I didn’t know them at all and, the clearest thought I can remember when I realized I was cornered, is that I wished I was wearing my boots. I had left them at home because they’re a pain to deal with at the airport. I was wearing flats after a day of standing on my feet, and I suddenly felt about two feet tall (I’m actually a little over five feet tall). They started asking me what I was so intent about, why was I so serious, what was I doing at SDCC, was I a friend of someone there. I said, no, I’m an editor. This was a mistake as they were then curious about why a girl worked in comics. They moved closer. I backed up, but there wasn’t anywhere to go. I could tell they had been drinking, likely a lot, and for some reason I felt compelled to be…nice. I was scared to be mean or just get away, afraid they’d get mad or rough. I felt like I was stuck to the sidewalk. One of them men reached out and touched the front of my jacket, telling me I looked like a Tim Burton character. He tried to run his hand down the stripes and that’s when I unfroze. All I could think of to do, because for whatever reason I just couldn’t yell, I said…oh, I see some people I know, bye. And I quickly moved away. I had to squeeze myself against the window and duck. I practically ran to open the door and went up to my hotel room where I proceeded to have a very hard time sleeping.
My mind raced. I had every cliche thought you can think of. Had I been wearing something “wrong”? Not unless you think being covered from neck to ankles in baggy black, with a striped jacket is “revealing”. Had I somehow suggested I wanted attention? Not unless being shy and a little freaked out at my first SDCC indicates that. Had I acted inappropriately? Other than a bit awestruck and not drinking (which might be considered weird at a convention), no. Had I, in short, done something to deserve what happened?
Although I am rationally aware I did not, and that you can’t “deserve” being objectified in any case…emotionally, I was convinced I had done something wrong. Namely: that I had moved away from people for a brief moment, thereby allowing myself to be in an unpleasant situation. I had not been vigilant. I had not been “smart”. The groping I felt less responsible for, because it had just…happened. And I was sort of convincing myself it hadn’t, like somehow someone’s hand would trail down your back and cup your ass by accident. I just couldn’t process it. And it didn’t occur to me at the time that experiencing both in one night was perhaps a lot to deal with and that I was having a panic attack. I felt sick, I remember that.
The rest of the convention I didn’t really go out at night. I avoided the bar. I was at my industry’s largest event, with all kinds of people I admired right downstairs…and I was scared to leave my room. I felt wrong, that’s the only way I can describe it. I spent the rest of the convention nervous, on edge, and not because of how big it is or the fact that it was the first time I’d been there. That was overwhelming enough. I had wanted to be this strong, independent professional…and instead I felt like a groped, disrespected, thing.
Now, the only time I’ve been north of the border for anything comic-related was when I exhibited at TCAF a couple of years ago. And indie comic fans tend not to be as outwardly creepy for whatever reasons—smaller crowds and lack of cosplayers I assume—so I never witnessed anything weird happening there. But, a few people on Twitter had told me that they’d be going to Fan Expo this year, and inquired as to whether I’d be up, and if not, they could serve as freelancers for the Comic Con Pervs cause.
So, if you’re reading this, and you’re going to be at the Fan Expo, please, consider this a call to action! Any photos can be sent to me, as can any anecdotes, to email@example.com. If you prefer to send me some Timbits, I can provide a physical address as well.?
A reader submission, with photo AND story attached!
I’m part of a comedy group that performs at several cons through the year. The most recent was last weekend at GenCon. Our outfits usually consist of athletic shorts and the t-shirts that we sell. Some of our friends noticed a creeper taking MULTIPLE pics of our red head’s ass while we chatted in a circle. The guy even moved around to get different angles. Our friends moved my red head to the other side of the circle and he disappeared. I grabbed a camera phone, put her back in her original spot (butt out) and he reappeared. You can see him over her shoulder snapping away again.
I’ll try to keep an eye open (and camera available!) for these idiots on our travels. I think what you’re doing is good. Really good!—-
PS, their group is called The Damsels of Dorkington! Fair warning, pervs; when you try to creep on these ladies, you may want to make sure they’re not taking photos of YOU.
My first night there, Preview Night, I left the table to go to the restroom. I passed two large men. I am only 5’4, so most creatures over 5’8 register as large with me. Anyway, they seemed large. I walked past them, minding my own business and bladder, and right as I passed by, I heard the one…
So, with DragonCon approaching, I keep going back to the last time I went, and how, after the burlesque let out, I was taking the stairs up the few floors to the lobby, hoping to bum a smoke (bad, I know) before going up to my room in the same hotel. All my friends were staying in other hotels and had already gone their separate ways. I was dressed up, but not dressed as anything. Nor do I think I was dressed provocatively (not that that should matter!), esp. since I’d just spent an hour and change watching much better looking women than myself take off their clothes in humorous and artistic ways. Nevertheless, some dude followed me. Up one, two, three flights of stairs.
I finally whipped around and confronted him: “Do you need something?”
“Um. Can I take a picture of you?”
I said yes, struck what I hoped was a flattering pose, and then wheeled around and took the last flight of stairs a little too quickly to the relative safety of the smoking porch to get away.
He was a little guy, very nebbishy and shy and probably harmless, but it made me feel freaked out for three cigarrettes-worth of thinking time. I had been totally alone with him for the first three sets of stairs. It was so late it was going to be early soon, and there wasn’t a soul in most of the hotel (with the exception of the smoking porch and a couple other common mingling areas).
So, now I’m wondering, what IS the appropriate response? That guy, ultimately, didn’t bother me all that much. I’m guessing he’s a chubby chaser with a preference for polkadot dresses or something. But I’ve had my ass grabbed and my boobs “accidentally” brushed by a stranger’s hand before. And I’ve both overheard and been the intended audience for comments about parts of my anatomy. Luckily, none of these at the ‘Con. But what should I say? How can I react in a way that lets the person know that they are being an asshole without provoking a really bad response?
Yikes. In all honesty, in THAT situation, alone the way you were, you probably handled it the best way you could. Creepy photo-taking aside, he followed you in a deserted stairwell. It’s… yikes. That’s when the game changes. And I am DEFINITELY NOT an expert or sociologist or cop or… whatever. So I can’t say I know for sure (not that you asked me) (and though i totally definitely did say that more women should speak up), but I did once just simply say to a guy, “Why do you have to be so rude? Are you proud now?” and he actually didn’t have anything to retort, and looked ashamed.
This DOES bring up a good question though, how SHOULD someone address the situation? And isn’t it fucked up we even have to wonder?
Because I won’t.
I haven’t been to Wizard World before, actually, so I don’t know if it is heavy on the dudes creeping on teen cosplayers, or booth babes, or whatever. But if you will be up there, and you’re so inclined, keep an eye out! Anyone who sends me a photo ( firstname.lastname@example.org), I’ll post it here.
I’m still toying with NYCC but it’s not like I have a budget to travel on (any rich companies wishing to sponsor me, I’ll send you that Paypal info lickety split), so it’s up in the air. Whether I get to go or not, I’d like to think that some of you who are reading this, and will be attending, would be vigilant enough to catch some creepsters in the act. Let me know!
Oh right! I forgot this shot; it was sent to me from artist @geoffsebesta.
Here we have a woman who is hitting up the con in her REALLY awesome Wonder Woman costume (seriously, good job, faceless lady!), and someone sees her, and is like, “You look rad, I’d like to take your photo,” and she’s like “Sure” and strikes a pose a la the real Wonder Woman, and this guy, wandering back to the exhibition hall from maybe getting a cookie at Mrs. Fields is like OH SHIT I CAN’T LET THIS PASS; and whips out his camera phone for a grainy, probably blurry shot of this woman’s ass. For no other reason than the fact that she is turned around, and WHY NOT RIGHT? IT’S A FREE COUNTRY, SHUT UP.
The ones with an asterisk are things I heard/saw; everything else came from my Twitter feed or were emailed to me.
*Forgot to mention; there was a bespectacled man outside Hall C saying in a flat monotone, “oh baby, oh baby” to every woman that walked by.
-@jerslater: Creepy nerd tries to roll up a dollar and slip it in booth babe’s shirt. “Thass for you,” he lisps. I walk off, laughing hysterically.
-@DavidUzumeri: Just saw a dude with a painting of Chloe moretz as hitgirl posing under sheets in a bed possibly nude. Want to punch both him and the artist (WTF; this still gets me— I wish I knew who would complete such a fucked up commission)
*OH: dude preparing to take photos of 2 cosplaying chicks adjusting their tops: “oh, yeah, keep adjusting.
-OH: Steampunk weirdo gesturing towards Steampunk lady’s boobs 10 feet away, “those are some peaches in a basket”.
-@kittykatemeow: Dear Men at Comic Con, I don’t mind taking a picture for you, but doing it candid while im waiting in line is just creepy (i believe she went to the con dressed as leia)
-@nerdabouttown: Just seen: She-Ra slightly bent, getting something from her bf’s bag, fat nerd quickly taking cellphone shot of her butt
*I just passed a white guy who keeps bowing to Asian girls as they walk by. Ech
Email from Jess: Saturday I definitely had to elbow a guy pressing his crotch to my ass in the crowd near Sideshow Collectibles. It was shoulder to shoulder and congested thru the aisle but it was certainly no accident, he did it at least 5 times as we slowly moved through the crowd. I elbowed him in the stomach, and I hope I am wrong but I think I heard him laugh.
My first night there, Preview Night, I left the table to go to the restroom. I passed two large men. I am only 5’4, so most creatures over 5’8 register as large with me. Anyway, they seemed large. I walked past them, minding my own business and bladder, and right as I passed by, I heard the one with a goatee say under his breath, “Day-um lookit them titties”.
Hilariously, despite “gearing up” to take photos and tweet about this very shit, I completely blanked on anything to say. I just stopped in my tracks and stared after them. I saw him say something for his friend’s benefit and when they both looked back I gave them my very best Evil Eye (i can look really fucking mean). The first one looked taken aback/surprised, but they kept walking. I was momentarily mad at myself for not chasing them or unleashing a barrage of insults—that’s typically my M.O—but I ended up just laughing. Because WTF. We were a half hour into Comic Con. I realized then too that not everything could be documented, unless I and every woman at the show were to be equipped with a wire. And I didn’t have that great of a budget. So.
In similar news, I found myself walking through the food truck lot over at 1st Avenue, and as I passed a dude who referred to my boobs as “thangs”. I can’t really remember the context but seriously? This time I didn’t forget that I am typically incredibly foul-mouthed and yelled at him, calling him an asshole, without breaking stride. I muttered a “Sorry” to the shocked teenage girl that was standing near me. I’m sure I looked like a total nutcase, but that’s the problem with some women: they’re too afraid to LOOK like a nutcase, so they don’t call out people who offend them. And so a guy will comment on your “thangs” or your ass, and you don’t say anything, so they’ll say something to the next girl, and the next woman, and they don’t change their behavior, because no one is showing them it’s wrong. ***
That was pretty much it, as things related strictly to me. It’s actually sort of sad when you look at a stretch of 4.5 days and you only get verbally harassed twice, and you think, “wow, that wasn’t bad at all!” because you expected worse.
***Update. It was suggested that I was shaming women who may not speak up in regards to this sort of behavior. I just wanna hop up here and say no, that’s not what I’m *trying* to do. To clarify—and this is something the few guys reading this may not get— sometimes it is either not safe to do so, or your brain just sort of…. doesn’t react. I’ve been in that position. While it is my M.O these days to yell at people, I’ve been in a situation where I absolutely can’t. It’s no one’s fault, if they are harassed by someone else, and they don’t react, and yell. I’m not saying someone should be ashamed, or that THEY were wrong. There are some women—some who I actually have talked to—who don’t say anything because they don’t want to look crazy. I’m not saying everyone is like that. I do not mean to group everyone into that “afraid to offend polite society” group. And that’s why I said “some” women. We’re all different, and have been in different situations with different circumstances, and I don’t presume to know any more about anyone else’s past confrontations than they do about mine. I’m sorry if I made it sound like I think anyone should be responsible for their own harassment. It’s not the case.
Before you say anything: I was gone. Okay? I was gone, away from a computer, and hanging out on a raft on a lake, and I was drinking and there were birds singing and it was great, just great. So I didn’t post any pictures from Comic Con.
Here they are now, just as the con and I have faded from your collective memory.
Tropical Shirt Guy! Right! I forgot about this guy. Despite his not looking like the most athletic gentleman, he ran up, nearly trampling a child (or was it Seth Green?) at the toy collector booth at the end of the row, then stopping abruptly to get off at least two shots of some Booth Babe Asses.
Here’s my thing about the Booth Babes— they’re in bikinis; they’re dressed to get attention for whatever product they’re pushing. They, as they are paid to be, are engaging with the attendees and often will take photos. Yes, I got an eyeful that weekend, and yes, they are likely just as aware as you and I that people are grody and they are going to be exposed to some grodiness. It doesn’t change the fact that a full-grown man fucking running 20 yards because they saw a glimpse of flesh shimmering in the distance like an oasis in a desert in order to pull out a camera with a zoom lens and zero in on the target is just WEIRD.
Oh, and here’s another one. This is the one where the guy took so long zooming in, and adjusting his composition that I had time to get my phone, stand up, walk around my table, walk about oh, 25 feet, turn, and take his photo. He was still snapping photos. I distinctly heard him say to his friend, grinning, “I’m trying to get the ass.”
The good news for him, and his friends, is that yes, I think they did get the ass. But again, this sort of behavior: fucking weird. What’s the point? I can’t imagine any other use for these photos other than (a. jerking it alone while the cold, blue light of the computer monitor washes over you (b. showing it to some male friends and laughing, because LOL! Butt!
As with anything on the Internet, I suspect there will be someone out there that will be, for lack of a better word, butthurt about my little endeavor here. So I figure I’ll explain myself here, and also to people who don’t understand what it is I mean when I make reference to Comic Con Pervs, because they’ve never been to a con.
So, REAL TALK:
I started going to Comic Con in 5-6 years ago. My boyfriend and I are exhibitors. Let me set the stage for those of you who have never been: it takes place every year in the San Diego Convention Center. The hall is enormous. It’s cavernous and dark and dank and cold, and each year I fear a catastrophic earthquake that will result in tens of thousands of people in various costumes trampling each other to death in an attempt to escape the collapsing roof. If you’re claustrophobic or agoraphobic, you will not survive. It’s thousands and thousands of people (I need an accurate number for the hall’s capacity but I think it’s over 20,000) milling about in congested aisles as they peruse toys, comic books, get autographs, test new video games and so forth.
So something that’s big is, yes, costumes. It goes beyond dudes dressed as Batman (though rest assured, there are a shitload of those dudes), and the ladies get in on the act. It’s like Halloween. For four days. Why not, right? Besides, if you want to be a random chick from that obscure anime that came out 6 years ago for Halloween, no one might get it. But, if you take that costume to Comic Con, you’ll not only be recognized, but your taste will be validated by people taking your photo or congratulating you. From that comes a sense of community, and it’s fun for me to watch from behind my table.
But this is where the pervs come in— Take for instance, the Sailor Moon cosplayer I saw the first year. She was quite cute and her skirt was the appropriate length (read: tiny as hell) for the character. Someone stopped her in the aisle as I was walking back to my table, and snapped a photo. She smiled warmly and turned to walk away in front of me. I suddenly became aware of two guys quickly shuffle up behind her, stick their camera phones underneath her skirt, take photos, and disappear. I whipped my head around in shock but by the time I turned towards her, she was gone in the crowd. “Holy shit,” I thought, “what creeps”. Except that wasn’t the only time that happened. No man, that happened over and over all day, every day. I saw it in various places— the most blatant thing I saw were guys sitting on the floor training video cameras up the steep, steep escalator in the front, undoubtedly zooming in when a girl in a short skirt rode up. There are thousands of people shoulder to shoulder milling about that hall, so there’s plenty of time for someone to train their iphone or digital camera on your ass while you’re facing the other direction.
I’ve said things to guys before, but they typically act like they don’t hear me and duck away. My boyfriend reminded me of the time I loudly started yelling at some guys for pulling the upskirt-camera-trick on an unsuspecting girl while we were waiting for a trolly to pass outside the convention center. They basically ran away in fright.
And, in case you’re one of those people who wants to pull the “they’re asking for it” card, fuck that. Would I wear a short skirt in a crowd? No. Not anymore; I’ve been groped in public by a stranger when I did. That happened years ago, and I learned you can’t trust other people not to be assholes. I didn’t ask for that anymore than a girl in a costume at the convention—whether she’s paid to be there to promote something or is there as an attendant— is asking a mouth-breather she doesn’t know to stick a flipcamera up her skirt and take grainy photos to spank it to later.
I just think that it’s time for someone to catch the dudes in the act. If they’re too pathetic to make eye contact with a woman but will sneak up behind her and take a photo of her ass, or “accidentally” touch her there, then there’s no reason in the world why I shouldn’t take a photo of them in the act and post it publicly. You can’t get away with that shit at the mall, so why should you get away with it at a comic convention?
To paraphrase Uncle Ben: “With a great cameraphone comes great responsibility.” Nerds, you know better! Behave or it’ll be your pasty face on this tumblr!
Those of you with appropriate social skills that are going to SDCC, join me, won’t you? Let’s shame the hell out of some dudes; if you catch shady behavior, you can submit it here.