A group of young women from Philadelphia that founded a website titled ‘Geeks for CONsent’ has gathered nearly 2,600 signatures from attendees at Comic-Con this weekend complaining of sexual harassment.
The four-day science fiction convention held annually in San Diego may seem an unlikely setting for such behaviour, but Comic-Con attendees have been contacting Geeks for CONsent to say that they had been groped, stalked about the convention and photographed without their permission.
In addition, the group’s director Rochelle Keyhan has highlighted the amount of exhibitions over the weekend that have used techniques that objectify women in their presentational set-ups. Some have featured scantily-clad women as little more than silent window-dressing (the Hercules presentation that featured a surprise appearance by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, for one), and one of the panel moderators is alleged to have described some costumed women who were in attendance as “vaguely slutty”.
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Obviously all of these issues also ring true in wider society: it clearly isn’t just a Comic-Con issue. But when even an event such as this that usually attracts a quieter, more introverted audience over the kind of knuckledraggers that are typically associated with such boorish behaviour, it makes it even more newsworthy than normal. If we’re able to get analytical on this topic, perhaps this is rooted in the way that a large number of comics (and movies in general) stereotypically portray women as damsels in distress whose narrative function is little more than to be rescued by a strong male character.
Comic-Con has responded by publicly re-stating its commitment to stamping out such behaviour, pointing out that each of the convention’s attendees was issued with an Events Guide whose second page contained a Code of Conduct.