Keep Cons Safe: Tips And Advice For A Better New York Comic-Con
This year, New York Comic-Con is taking harassment on their convention floor more seriously than ever before. Their brand-new anti-harassment policy is comprehensive and offers a great deal of protection for attendees. Still, we here at ComicsAlliance wanted to offer some tips for ensuring you and others around you have the safest, most fun convention possible.
ON THE FLOOR:
- Do read and understand the harassment policy of the convention and how to report any situations that might occur -- to you or someone else. New York Comic-Con has a zero-tolerance harassment policy that does not allow things like stalking, intimidation, physical assault, and inappropriate physical contact. The con also allows you to report harassment via the NYCC app should you need assistance.
- Do not grope anyone, even if you think it's "only in fun" or that you won't be caught because you're on a crowded convention floor.
- Do not force kisses or hugs on anyone. Even if you want to assume a situation welcomes it, be aware of other people’s interest or lack thereof. Some people even have health issues that make rough touching painful or disturbing. Respect boundaries.
- Remember that comics professionals are often captive audiences behind their tables, and that it's not always easy for them to walk away from uncomfortable situations. Be extra careful not to create those uncomfortable situations.
- Don't make sexual comments that could possibly be construed as creepy, especially around people who are not your close friends. In general, if you have any doubt at all about making sexual comments, just don't make them.
- Ask before you take a photo of a cosplayer. Some cosplayers are fine with having sexy photos taken of them but others have different feelings on how they want to be photographed. The respectful thing to do is to ask to take a photo and be sure that you’re not taking photos only from behind without the cosplayers’ knowledge.
- Don't make rude comments about anyone's gender, race, sexual orientation, appearance, or anything that would make people feel unwelcome for being who they are.
- Treat others with respect, regardless of gender (or your sexual interest in that gender). Everyone has just as much right to be there as you do.
AFTER THE CONVENTION:
- If you're a man, realize that if you ask a woman to go somewhere with you alone, she may not be comfortable. No matter how good your intentions, realize that women often get harassed, cat-called, groped, assaulted, and/or receive rape threats online on a fairly regular basis, and if they do not know you, they might just be nervous. Harassment is often rampant and unexpected. Try to create situations that minimize discomfort, especially if you don't know the woman well.
- Alcohol can be fun, but it's not an excuse to behave badly. If you can't respect other people's boundaries when you drink, don't drink.
- Similarly, do not push alcohol on anyone. Understand that not everyone enjoys, wants, or can have alcohol.
- Since NYCC is set in New York City, it's much more spread out than other conventions, and events are all across the city. While the city is safer than a lot of people think, it's still important to be on guard and alert to the fact that it is a massive city with its own dangers beyond the comic convention.
- Know how to get to your hotel from various events you're attending -- don't just rely on cabs to get you back there.
- Don't take unofficial cabs around New York City -- look for the seals that mark cabs as licensed by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, and when in doubt, only get in a yellow cab.
- Download a subway map onto your smartphone. Most can be used even while underground, so you have a general idea where you are at all times.
- Wear comfortable shoes, and try to know where you are and where you're headed.
- If you do drink, remember to stay hydrated--and keep your eye on your glass.
- Never initiate any type of sexual contact without consent. If the other person doesn't or can't consent, it's sexual assault.
- Try to help if you see someone being groped or assaulted, even if that just means alerting a volunteer or an employee of a restaurant or bar. If you think a friend is stuck in an uncomfortable situation, try to run interference or help them remove themselves from the situation.
- Bring a back up battery for your phone and carry your charger with you. You never know when you'll need it.
- Be a good friend and make sure any drunk friends get home safely.
IF SOMEONE HARASSES OR ASSAULTS YOU:
- If someone harasses, gropes, assaults, or rapes you, or if you experience any other similar situation, do find a safe person to talk to or a safe space to sit down and think about how you want to proceed.
- If you want to report a situation, contact a member of NYCC Staff (black shirt with an NYCC Staff Badge), a Security Team Member (yellow shirt) or a Crew Member (blue shirt with an NYCC Crew Badge). Security may also be contacted by visiting the Show Office.
- Whether or not you want to report a situation, write down for yourself as many details about the incident and the harasser/rapist as you possibly can. Later you might wish you had made a report.
- Women: Don't feel like you have to accept anyone giving you any grief for being a woman at a comic convention.
Illustrations by Amy Reeder for New York Comic Con's anti-harassment signs and website.