San Diego Comic Con – Let us talk about Safety

This is a thread specifically about safety.

This is an open thread for SDCC and the recent story of a minor who was sexually assaulted and left wounded. The other thread is a safe zone and not for discussion. 

For those who are unaware, San Diego Comic Con had a fairly big kerfuffle with regards to personal safety. When I say slight, it became one of the big issues.

Cosplayers have long complained about verbal and physical harassment at cons. The geek community has struggled to deal with women in “nerd-dom” mainly because this is a space that has been heavily dominated by men. We already saw the damage that can be caused by people like Vox Day. 

These places our ours. The places where we can truly be as weird and whacky and wonderful as we all want to be. You want to be a black female Captain America? GO FOR IT! I mean these are comic book fantasies. They aren’t meant to be taken seriously. Otherwise most of us would never really be able to participate. Hell, I am Indian. The number of Indian Super-Heroes are incredibly small. I am stuck being Mohinder from  Heroes if we have to be accurate. And even then? I would have to wear a wig. And lose like 20 Kg.

We question women and indeed minorities within our groups. Don’t be shocked. I mentioned this as a member of the Atheist and Skeptics community, that my atheism is often called into question based on the notion that my colour of skin lends credence to the notion that I am a double agent for Islam to undermine atheism through writing a blog. Women who are geeks get it too as we saw in the Fake Geek Girlsplosion.

Many women are subject to lewd comments, groping and staring.

Cons should be about celebrating our favorite games, stories and characters freely and without judgment. But for many fangirls, women and LGBTQ cosplayers, going to cons often includes sexual assault and harassment. Comic Con has refused to create a full harassment policy.

The notion was that SDCC has a harassment policy that was too vague and too broadly interpreted. 

This is unacceptable. This is something we want our children and our loved ones to enjoy. I am not dating a geek. Hera is a “normal”. I have tempted her into geeky stuff like Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica but her closest idea of geek is Big Bang Theory and the popular movies. 

Now think of it this way. This is something we love. Why would you not want it to be a safe space for women. They are entitled to the same stuff we are and the same safety. If a woman chooses to dress “hot” then sure. 

Why would you drive women away from an event and a culture that was once defined by an abject lack of women. Aren’t we glad that we are mainstream? That our movies aren’t just fantasies or crummy but mainstream blockbusters. I mean holy crap, people are still talking about Heath Ledger’s redefining of the Joker. We are no longer weirdoes, we are cool.

And part of that is greater acceptance from groups that once ostracised us and from parts that we never expected. Women have begun to come to these events in greater numbers and they don’t feel welcome.

From a purely selfish viewpoint as a man? Why are you trying to drive women who we were desperate for when were kids out of a culture. Do you not remember D&D games where it was just guys ? I remember Warhammer where the only girls we saw made fun of us. Do you not remember having to hide these things if you wanted to have a normal  social  life with others?

We made it big. Sure, we paid a price for some of this. Indiana Jones and Transformers got Shia’d but we benefitted as a whole with serious actors dressing up like our childhood heroes to punch evil space invaders and no longer having to hide the Space Marines from dates.

Women are so desperate to be part of geekdom that they are braving the harassment and the sexism to be part of this. The least we can do is encourage more progressive ideas to be more inclusive. 

The fact remains that we think a skimpy outfit is an invitation to simply grab a woman. We never learn the important words of “Consent, Consent, Consent”. Some women do like being grabbed. All women just wish they had a say in who grabs them, when and where rather than just being a carte blanche. 


It’s quite simple. This is a sexy male outfit. 

Slave Leo, made popular last year. I am assuming he is going Scottish under the kilt. Now imagine if random women groped you and touched you inappropriately. In fact a major issue with wearing the kilt one finds. A lot of women think it’s carte blanche to touch  and it is quite uncomfortable. You have to grab a lot of inquisitive hands. 

Now this at a con is more respected than a woman in a Slave Leia costume. In addition? Female on Male contact without consent is rarer than Male on Female contact.

Now needless to say people want these cons to be safe. At least provide some semblence of order in dealing with harassment and a hard set of rudes and guidelines in how to deal with the issue. 

A young girl was attacked at a convention. And in response to that we have this.

I know no one agrees with this opinion, but if you walk around with your ass and tits hanging out like a prostitute, you’re going to have to expect that this could happen. Walk into a lion den with a meat suit. Maybe young girls who want to dress like sluts should have the means to defend themselves as well. Or, you know, maybe put some fucking clothes on.I know no one agrees with this opinion, but if you walk around with your ass and tits hanging out like a prostitute, you’re going to have to expect that this could happen. Walk into a lion den with a meat suit. Maybe young girls who want to dress like sluts should have the means to defend themselves as well. Or, you know, maybe put some fucking clothes on. – Frank the Tank

Frank when you regard men as nothing but beasts you harm us. You tell us that we cannot control our actions. You make men sound out to be inherently dangerous. We are not lions. We are human beings, and we can say no. And she wasn’t dressed like a slut. She was clearly dressed as Rodger Rabbit.

It’s simple. If a woman was naked as the day she was born in front of you and did not give you consent to touch her then touching her would be wrong. And if you cannot control yourself then it is you who is the danger rather than her. 

My dog will not eat food unless I give the command. If my dog can do it, so can a human. It isn’t hard. Just respect women.

And it doesn’t stop you from having sex or having fun. No one is suggesting sex become some taboo thing. You can get sex through consent. Women like being sexy. Men like being sexy. Everyone wants to be sexy, it is just that men aren’t likely to cop as much flak as women. And women have precious few characters out there who aren’t scandalously dressed. 

I often hold League of Legends as a productive force due to their additions of champions who break trends. They still have some problematic champions but they have gone for the whole gamut of male eye candy too and have tried to make female characters fit into as many roles and archetypes as possible. So while you have Ahri (the fox) who is relatively lightly armoured (and indeed has a skill where she causes enemy champions to run towards her because she bewitches them) it is more due to the fact she is based on a Kitsune and the powers match the mythical creature which does seduce people. Leona by contrast is a tank. A tank who ploughs through a goddamn tree. Kat’s an assassin (the one with the knives). 

See even in a progressive game such as this there are women in clothes that are considered skimpy and sexy. People love dressing up as these characters women too. So why punish them for their choices? Especially in a game where people play champions because they like them and not because they associate with the gender? And many women like to dress up in a way that’s considered attractive. 

I know women in Saudi Arabia who wear full burkhas but still dress up and wear make up underneath not for other people but for themselves. Because to them it is empowering.

Your argument is the same one people use to dump women into Burkhas. No matter what a woman wears if you don’t respect her she will be at risk and sexualised. In general? I find that clothes rarely stop rapists. That if a person doesn’t care about consent, they don’t really care about about the length of your jeans or how much skirt is below your knee. 

Safety will not come by forcing women out of cosplay but by creating an environment where women are safer to cosplay. Part of that is harassment policies to protect women if things go wrong. Part of it is a change of how we think as male geeks and an encouragement of a culture of consent.

- I am collecting posts from people who have said things excusing and defending the assault of women at conferences or blaming it on the victims.

While I definitely do NOT condone violence, I agree with @FrankTheTank.
Everyone else is just too much of a pussy to step up and say that she should not be going around partying and hanging her breasts out at an all-ages convention. That’s some bullshit.

And for both the men women in this thread: It’s not about women as a whole being the victim, it’s just about ignorance and violence, not about men victimizing women, get the fuck over yourselves and your new-age pseudo-understanding of sexism and feminism.

This sort of cosplay is a joke – It’s not even cosplay!!! It’s ignorant teens trying to take that same route as the cake-face Jessica Nigri did, and try to get their 15 minutes of fame by flashing their breasts and calling it “cosplay.” I’m sick and tired of this shit! If you’re dressing up with your breast hanging out, or your frank and beans in a tiny banana hammock without a shirt and pants on, thinking your a fucking funny-ass riot, you deserve to be kicked the fuck out of an ALL-AGES con and banned for life!! Have some fucking respect and recognize that there are parents that are bringing their little kids to an event like this.
Go to the fucking AVNs or start acting in adult films if this is how you are going to portray yourself.

To add to it: after seeing this girl’s Cosplay FB page, this girl looks 100% irresponsible, and maybe needs her parent’s to step the fuck in and be a little more involved in their daughter’s life. I guess now they will be after this.


  1. Alverant says

    I don’t do cosplay. I don’t have the time, skill, or build for it. But I respect those who do have the time. If they have the skill to create a great costume, all the better. Some of the costumes are very detailed and creative. I ask before taking pictures and don’t criticize if a costume isn’t exact or they put their own spin on a character. I appreciate those who are creative, it’s a welcome break from all the Deadpools who think it’s funny to run around being jerks in costume.

    I too would like to see more women and minorities in fandom. The latter seems more scarse apart from Japan and Korea. Sadly it’s a self-feeding loop. No one makes things for minorities because there’s no market for it which prevents there from being a market for it.

    Fandom is in a state of transition now. The old guard who are used to being marginalized and ignored is being replaced by a new guard who grew up when it was more accepted. With that growing acceptance we’ve started marginalizing others, effectively becoming what we hated.

  2. says

    These guys seem really, really angry that a teenage girl dared to dress as if she is a sexual being.

    No wonder they endorse someone punishing her for it.

  3. Jackie says

    People wear less at the beach, where kids also play. I guess women shouldn’t go swimming either.

    People like Frank and his friend are disgusting jokes and they are the ones who should be kept out of spaces where other people should be able to expect to exist safely.

    Blaming the victim and her parents, but not the man who committed the assault is so common and it’s so wrong. There is literally nothing a man can do that will not be blamed on a woman. If he shot up a school, his mother did it or a girl who wouldn’t fuck him was to blame. I’ve seen it over and over again and I’m sick of it. Men can control themselves and if they can’t, they need to be kept in cages. After all, that’s where we keep lions and that’s what these men think they are. The fact that they equate women’s bodies with literal pieces of dead meat to be consumed by the manbeasts they say they are tells me that no woman is safe in their presence. Also “meat suit”? The human body is made of meat already. Lions eat animals all the time without those animals “dressing up in meat suits” just as women are raped despite wearing T-shirts and jeans or even burkas. If hungry lions prowled out streets, we would not tell people to stay indoors. We’d shoot or cage the fucking lions so that people could go about their lives without worrying about being eaten. So, why do so many men think dangerous men should roam free while women navigate their lives around them?
    Oh..that’s right. We aren’t people. We’re dead meat for their consumption. Silly me.

    Meanwhile, I bet these same men will say that there is nothing at all wrong with the sexualization of women in comic books and video games. Even though when women actually dress like that, they think we should expect to be raped.

  4. Jackie says

    When we live our lives as if we have the right to exist and own our bodies, it always pisses misogynists off. It’s removing some of the power of their privilege and power over women. They know the threat of rape keeps us “in our place” and in a state of trepidation. They know that it prevents us from participating fully in society and they like it that way. A man does not have to be a rapist to gain power and the ability to intimidate women with rape. He just has to be a man in a society where men commonly rape women without consequence, while the woman goes on to be blamed. It’s threatening to patriarchal power to be female and sexual, but not for the consumption or under the control of a man. They like seeing that punished. It takes some of that power back from the woman and they think they deserve that power and we deserve to pay for taking what was rightfully theirs to begin with.

  5. cartomancer says

    One has to wonder at the thinking of the people managing these things – the ones who refuse to come up with effective harassment policies and enforcement mechanisms for those policies, even when told repeatedly by attendees that this is a problem. It’s not as if it would cost a lot of money. These things (the big ones, anyway) already have legions of security people, who are briefed and trained accordingly – it could certainly be done within the existing frameworks. I would have thought that ensuring that your attendees – especially those who are minors – were safe from assault and harassment would be a sine qua non of organising an event like this.

    I also think it is a mistake to tie the drive for a safe and supportive environment for all to the drive for increasing participation by women and minorities. Even if there were only one woman in attendance out of millions of attendees, it would be no more acceptable to harass and ostracise her than if it were an even mix of genders. Having more women present might well help to turn the tide against harassment, but those women who do want to attend should not be relied upon or expected to act as crusaders or standard bearers in this fight. Even if all these things – gaming, comics, movies, fantasy fiction – were and forever remained 99% male-dominated, that wouldn’t justify discrimination against the 1%. The house can and should be cleaned before fresh guests arrive, and those guests should be under no obligation to help do the cleaning.

  6. Pen says

    I wasn’t aware that cons were ‘lion dens’. I wasn’t aware that there was an official ‘slut’ costume. Given that ‘slut’ is misogynist talk for ‘sexually available woman’ i thought there would be some kind of verbal signal like ‘how soon can you get to my room?’ Not a costume with more cloth on it than my rather prim swimsuit ffs!

  7. Ed F says

    Some things are clearly wrong and should not be tolerated. Rape and assault are obviously included, as are verbal harassment, physical contact, sexual talk, stalking, etc.-hell, you all know what they are and men are supposed to know what they are. As for women’s clothing, if a woman dresses in attractive and revealing clothes and is out in public going to work, out for dinner, whatever, she is not doing so because she wants somebody to surrepticiously take her photo because she is not performing for him nor is she putting herself on display for public consumption. She is going about her daily business, which has nothing to do with you or me. If she is a stripper and you know it, when you see her at the grocery store, leave her alone. She’s not working. However! When anyone, women included, take part in a public event that requires a costume, they put themselves on public display and have no right, as far as I am concerned, to complain because somebody takes their photo, with or without their permission. As a photographer, I always ask to take the photo unless the situation makes it impossible, for example, if the person is involved in a performance. I have no respect for the pack of photogeeks with three foot telephoto lenses who stalk the women and take the picture from across the street. Be that as it may, the dancer in the Carnival parade who is wearing only body paint, the porn star at the porn convention who is dressed to titillate, or the woman who shows up at comic-con dressed like a harem girl or a superhero in skimpy outfit and a pushup bra knows full well or should know that she will be photographed by many people because she has chosen to put herself on display as part of the event. If one does not want to be photographed, one can always wear levis and a blouse instead of the harem girl outfit. Let me make one thing clear here. Touching, etc. are still off limits and should not be tolerated. As far as photos, however,if you don’t want your picture taken, don’t make yourself available for public consumption. The use of women as, say, Hercules’ harem and comments from group officials about ‘slutty’ outfits are separate issues and should be treated as such, furthermore, if one believes that being a part of Hercules’ is offensive, then one should not take the job. So, ladies, if someone touches you or insults or harasses you, take his head off, then have him tossed out of the event but if you show up at Comic-Con wearing dental floss and a chromed helmet, you will be photographed. Deal with it. If you can’t deal with it, put some clothes on.

  8. lochaber says


    I disagree with you. I don’t really know what the legalities are, and I’m sure they are complicated at best. However, I do think Everyone has a right to their image and likeness, and that includes being photographed.

    I can see exceptions for crowds, or where someone is in the background of a photo, but if someone is the focus of a photo, the photographer should get permission.

    and costume has nothing to do with it. Tumblr and Reddit are full of candid photos of women in all states of dress and all types of clothing.

    This is just another way men collectively try to claim ownership of women’s bodies as another form of property.

    I’m glad to hear that you ask your subjects permission, but I’m bothered by the idea that you don’t think they have any expectation of privacy, or ownership of their image.

  9. Jackie says

    There was a guy who used to sit up at the local car wash and wait for women to come wash and vacuum their cars so he could secretly photograph them bending over, leaning down etc. while they cleaned their cars in jeans, shorts and T’s. Creeps are not made to creep by what women do or wear. They creep because they want to, they have no respect for women and know they can get away with it.

    There are men who jog in the park (where children play! *gasp*) in nothing but shorts and sneakers. They don’t get catcalled or assaulted for doing so. There is no one calling them sluts o claiming that they are trying to provoke rape or that their bodies being seen harms children.

    I can’t believe there are people who are still enforcing rape culture and misogyny while pretending it is for the good of women.

  10. says

    Where the fuck did photography come into this? We WERE talking about the right to dress however you want and not be blamed if some violent asshole decides to assault you.

    However, since we’re talking:

    If I make a fly costume and wear it to a con, I do expect people will want to take my photo, whether it’s “revealing” or not. I also expect them to ask permission first, though, if they don’t, it’s not a huge deal–to me, perhaps not to other people. Which is why it’s always best to ask permission.

    What is DEFINITELY a huge deal is this asshole Ed coming along and unilaterally deciding that, contrary to convention policy, Cosplay DOES equal consent. No, fucker. It does not. Not to groping, not to sex, not to harassment, and not to photos. CLOTHES ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR CONSENT. This isn’t hard, to I can only surmise that the reason people like Ed wilfullly misunderstand this basic concept is that they are creepy fuckers looking to get away with creeping on and possibly assaulting others.

  11. says

    I actually point out that getting permission for photography isn’t hard. And indeed most Con goers are quite willing to pose. Simply wave, point to your camera and smile. If they strike a pose then you get a photograph.

    Holy moly! You don’t need a written permission and a stamp, just some common sense.

  12. Pen says

    The law says that in general, people in any public place may have an expectation of being photographed. If they’re incidental background, no big deal. If they’re the main subject, it’s good manners to ask them, especially IMO, if you expect to be making money off the shot. If you’re taking sexualised photos without their knowledge and consent we’re in a whole different ball park. The law may not say much about it yet but that can change. It’s not about photography, it’s about the right not to be turned into a sex object for public gratification – even if you happen to be nude!

  13. says

    The law says that

    And please to remember that the law often defines a bare minimum baseline for behavior. Put differently: there’s the law, and there’s what’s right, and then there’s the big difference between the two.

    I photograph a lot. I don’t point a camera at someone without permission, and I don’t use the image unless I get approval for the final use of the final version. Usually, that means handing someone my card (which is a large postcard including a photograph, links to places where my work can be found, contact info, etc) – I tell the person to email me if they want the full-rez version for (whatever purpose) and if I ever hear from them that’s when I can ask “is it OK if put this up …?” I understand fully that the law allows me a great deal more leeway. But, as the nice folks from Westboro Baptist were so careful to teach me – there are a lot of things the law allows you to get away with that decent people won’t do anyway.

  14. BigJoe31337 says

    There is plenty of blame to go around. Boys need to control their urges and if they don’t then they should expect to receive the proper consequences. That said you can’t expect people to be responsible and I would be willing to say that some people that attend the conference are lions. So don’t go hold food down in front of a hungry lion and at the same time watch out for yourself be creative but be responsible. The responsibility goes in all directions here people need to remember to call him about epic fun. The host of the con needs to take more responsibility and comic con needs to have a policy warning people of such behavior. Without policy there is no firm deterrent for retards. So everyone needs to be willing to except blame for their stupidity. If people are going to the cotton to act like a hoe and they should just hang out in the red light district. And for those that are condoning that behavior because you want to get a hard-on shame on you. If you want to get hard go watch some erotic videos.

    And the whole thing about minorities: if you want to represent other races/ethnicities and games and media then go freakin learn to draw and stop complaining because the American majority is white. The majority dominates the media what can you expect? Get some money and invest in bollywood. Don’t expect white people to go there with 500 different cultures and languages of the world because she won’t be put in the spotlight to if you got money put it where you and stop watching crap media that you don’t like if you don’t agree with the lack of diversity. Who freaking cares I don’t see people going out of their way to learn about the different white cultures. I’m Irish and my people have spent more time in slavery in the Africans in America some cry me a river. If you don’t like this post that’s fine you’re entitled to your opinion but I’m sick of being people as a bad person because I’m a white man, and if I complain about reverse discrimination Im categorized with the nazis ir the kkk. Wtf. The problem is people or Jules but with the US and success in America has thanks to immigrants regardless of their color. Stop believing with the media says and do some reading up on history about some of the early immigrants success especially from our African American community. Btw Italians are part African thanks to human geography so stop discriminating against mixed types with the “one drop” policy. Someone could be white and be born from an entirely 100% african couple – its called genetics and micro-evolution based on geoenvironmental variables.

    Haters gonna hate. Im glad we all have our freedoms. Thank you George Washington for not becoming a king when they asked him to.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>