We are currently focusing on conference and convention anti-harassment policies.
a comic done by christianne benedict, posted on the womanthology art forum. brilliant!
YES. Jesus, thank you.
I cannot tell you how many times I have had to point out what the audience at conventions actually LOOKS like to people in the industry. They can do signings in a booth full of every kind of person all day long, every color, every size, every orientation and more, and STILL go online and talk about how only white straight males read comics.
IT IS PROFOUNDLY UNTRUE AND INSULTINGLY IGNORANT.
The other week I lost my temper and said some stuff about Marvel’s announcements of Captain America and Thor, who are replacing White Captain America and Dude Thor. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, mulling it over, because it’s been pretty inescapable.
I like Marvel’s characters. I think that much is obvious. I like the creators, too. I might quibble with some story details, but big whoop. That’s the smallest thing ever, “I don’t like this specific aspect of a comic that isn’t being written for me.” No me importa, basically. But it’s the marketing that’s killing me, and I think I figured out why.
Marvel’s making moves to increase the character diversity in their books, and drawing ire from the usual gang of idiots. Which I’m all for, even though I’m way more for creator diversity, and believe is a good thing. But the thing that’s grating is that instead of putting the work out on its own merits and marketing it about how great it is, a lot of the conversation around it has been about the basics that hate it.
I’ve been seeing Marvel folks, mostly white dudes but not entirely, retweet or address or bring up racists and scumbags and sexists while pushing their books, positioning themselves as taking a stand against these people talking trash.
They’re hijacking hate to a certain extent, in the Situationist sense, and are using it to market their comics. The new black Captain America, the new lady Thor, both of these announcements were followed, within minutes, by people talking about the people who are hating on the project. “Big ups to all my haters!” is such a soft position, because it positions you as good because these other people are worse.
On top of that, it also colors the reaction to the announcement. If you disagree with whatever for genuine reasons, but you phrase it as “I don’t like that the Falcon is Captain America,” the reaction to that is now tilted heavily toward “Oh, what’re you, racist?” instead of it being something more reasonable. By putting those people front and center, by tweeting about them and giving interviews about how you won’t change the project no matter the response because you believe in your stuff, you’re…it’s not ham-stringing criticism, but it’s definitely preempting it, in a way.
And I think that’s the gross part. I spend a lot of time consciously pushing back against the messages society tells me about being black. The unworthiness, the laziness, the dumbness…all of it’s fake. But I have to stay on the ball, I have to keep Black Is Beautiful in the front of my mind, because black IS beautiful, and it always has been, and it always will be.
But I remember being in kindergarten and getting called nigger on the playground. I remember fachas screwing with me and my friends in Spain. I remember getting followed around stores, people looking at me like I don’t belong, and getting ignored when trying to do my job because there’s a white dude next to me who people assume is the boss of me. This weekend I got confused for a few other black dudes in comics who I don’t even resemble, and it stings every time.
And I think it’s messed up to see somebody who doesn’t know that pain harness it to sell some comics. That’s what’s been grossing me out, that’s what I haven’t been able to properly articulate. It’s the corporate version of dudes crowing about how feminist they are, like being a decent human being means they deserve groupies. “One episode of The Wire, what you know about dope?” right? And I feel like Marvel gets it on a certain level, and they certainly employ people who get it, but they don’t get it yet.
Somebody calling you a nigger ain’t a badge of honor. You don’t show off your gunshot wounds. You don’t crow about how people hate you in the name of making yourself look good. You let the dead bury the dead and leave the garbage men in the rear view or in the ground. They should not matter to you or me not nary an inch.
That’s why it feels like diversity-as-marketing to me. The creative teams are killer, and I like that Marvel is putting the full weight of their machine behind these books. I respect the people creating the comics. But I can’t take seeing people be proud of getting hated on in a way that doesn’t hurt them but forces me to think about how crap and dangerous it is to be black (or anything else) and alive in America in 2014.
I personally wish they’d banked on the success of Captain America by keeping Sam Wilson as himself and marketing the Falcon as an up-and-coming hero ready to move to the big leagues. Anthony Mackie did such a great job playing Sam that it seems weird to erase part of his character by making him into someone else.
Both of these moves seem more about the shock value of “What If?” stories rather than long-lasting changes to the way Marvel tells stories about women and minorities. I’m glad Marvel seems to believe that it’s worth courting us as readers (especially since DC keeps doubling down on the status quo) but I’m not naive enough to pretend that we’ve made a definitive shift away from white dudes telling stories about white dudes to white dudes. At least, not yet.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the unexamined belief that men are owed women’s bodies — that insidious, sadly commonplace sexist ideology that consistently makes women’s day-to-day life at best irritating and at worst dangerous — that causes catcallers to do what they do. This belief, internalized, leads some men to abide by several interconnected misconceptions: to think that any woman would be honored to be the recipient of their (obnoxiously vocalized) physical attraction; that women who dress in certain ways are asking to be heckled and intentionally courting male attention, because why else would a woman look appealing on purpose; and that it’s literally their God-given right to approach female strangers on the street and say whatever sexual thoughts pop into their heads.
Most of the thousands of people who attend Comic-Con leave San Diego with great memories, but the experience isn’t positive for everyone. There have been reports of harassment and assault — especially of women in costumes.
Among the crush of crowds at Comic-Con, you’ll find a real superhero in Rochelle Keyhan. She’s with Geeks for Consent, a group created to curb harassment against people in costumes.
"It’s a pretty big problem in that we’ve heard about it at every possible convention we’ve ever been to," she said.
Comic-Con has arrived and it’s a glorious place where many feel free to let their geek flag fly. But critics have recently dogged the con with concerns it doesn’t have strong enough policies in place to discourage sexual harassment among attendees and volunteers. Sara Libby interviewed a team of women, known collectively as Geeks for CONsent, who explained that not everyone feels so safe.
Men attending comic book conventions sometimes tell the group, “‘This is the only place we’re accepted – stop making it look bad,’” said Rochelle Keyhan. “And it’s like, ‘Wait, it’s the only place you’re accepted, but you’re still excluding me.’”
All this stalker-ly, rape-y behavior is accompanied by a total incredulity at women’s defensiveness. Weber writes of a friend who got angry at a female stranger who didn’t respond to his catcall on the street. He writes, “It got him so angry in fact that he ran after the girl who’d just snubbed him and began to berate her. ‘You know, all I did was say, hello … But you walk by as if l’m trying to rape you or mug you. What the hell’s the matter with you? Why are you being so damn suspicious? Don’t you have enough confidence and decency to return a fellow human being’s greeting?’” This harassment is presented as a successful pickup technique, because in the end, his friend gets the girl!
Comic-Con International’s dense crowds, Bacchanalian atmosphere and mask-wearing anonymity make it prime territory for misbehavior, according to both men and women who have attended the event many times. Here, and at other similar events around the country, convention-goers have been known to grope, stalk and take “upskirt” photos with impunity. The behavior is so common that there is even a term for it: Creeping at a con.
But as San Diego’s annual convention opens Thursday, a backlash is brewing. One prominent science fiction author is holding his event away from the official Convention Center site to protest what he calls lax anti-harassment policies. And a group calling itself Geeks for CONsent submitted a petition with 2,500 signatures calling on organizers to post signs in the convention halls detailing its anti-harassment policies. It also wants convention volunteers to get training on how to respond to harassment reports.
You may notice that a lot of things happen to do with sexism on the internet. Sometimes someone has done a sexist thing and people are talking about it. Sometimes someone has written an article about the time they experienced sexism and other people are having feelings about it. Sometimes a particular woman or women is being harassed on Twitter and you are witnessing it.
As you know, sexism is bad, and when bad things happen, you might have feelings about it too. But how can you help? What should be done? Here is a guide[.]
From their announcement:
For various reasons, Bass Coast Festival is banning feathered war bonnets, or anything resembling them, onsite. Our security team will be enforcing this policy.
We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets. They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated.
Bass Coast Festival takes place on indigenous land and we respect the dignity of aboriginal people. We have consulted with aboriginal people in British Columbia on this issue and we feel our policy aligns with their views and wishes regarding the subject. Their opinion is what matters to us.
In the wake of VidCon, and as more and more women start speaking up about the harassment they face online, it’s time to start realizing that our narrative of progress is deeply flawed. Things aren’t getting better for women on the Internet; they’re deteriorating and ignoring the problem amounts to being complicit in it.