New York Comic Con Cracks Down On Harassment With ‘Cosplay Is Not Consent’ Signs

Grabby geeks won’t be tolerated at this year’s event


by Fiona Byrne |
Published on

You can only imagine how many comic book nerds fantasise about their favourite female characters, so it stands to reason that they can sometimes get inappropriately excited when it comes to seeing real-life females dressed as these characters at the various Comic Cons around the world.

However, dressing up as one’s favourite comic book lady does not mean females are asking for untoward attention-slash-harassment – the only thing is, many guys don’t quite seem to ‘get’ that, and ladies attending these cosplay conferences have started to push back.

At the biggest Comic Con event in San Diego in July, Philadelphia-based group Geeks for CONsent passed out literature and temporary tattoos to educate both organisers and attendees on the importance of being respectful and keeping one’s hands and comments to oneself throughout the event. It seems that before this, organisers had not really seriously considered how invasive some male geeks can get during cosplay outings.

Costumes are perfect for those who behave inappropriately. Firstly, there’s the masks – men can grab asses and touch boobs, all while safely hiding behind whatever character’s mask they’ve got on. At Sydney Comic Con recently, a teenage boy dressed as The Slender Man was kicked outafter creepily invading people’s personal space and touching people without their permission.

But policies are finally changing. At New York Comic Con this weekend, attendees are to be welcomed with a big sign saying ‘Cosplay is not consent’. It reads: ‘Please keep your hands to yourself. If you would like to take a picture with or of another NYCC fan, always ask first and respect that person’s right to say no. When at New York Comic Con, be respectful, be nice, be cool and be kind to each other.’

It’s very heartening that the sign was created and positioned as an official NYCC policy, showing that the organisation is taking its treatment of women seriously, and acknowledging that dressing up as a comic book character does not mean you are courting gross comments and catcalls from men, kind of like how wearing a short skirt or a cleavage-bearing top isn’t ‘asking for it’ either.

The NYCC also has a new ‘zero tolerance policy’ for harassment for all attendees, regardless of sex, and details banned behaviours on its website, along with contact details, so if you’re being bothered by someone, you can report it. It’s kind of like a really cool #heforshe moment in the comic book world, and a lovely, geeky step forward towards equality.

Poster design: Amy Reeder

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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