Fans at Comic-Con take fantasies too far

Fans at Comic-Con take fantasies too far

Sexual harassment has made an ugly appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con, making cosplaying an unpleasant experience for some women.

Scantily-clad cosplayers, dressed as Wonder Woman, Princess Leia and dozens of other fantasy characters, are now a fixture at pop culture conventions.

But many women have said that some of the fans who attend Comic-Con are taking the fantasy too far. An informal survey found that a quarter of the women who attend such events have been sexually harassed.

Female fans complain they endure unwanted leering, groping and crude comments at the San Diego convention - which is the largest and most famous gathering of its kind in the world.

"I had a 12- or 13-year-old boy come up and ask if he could touch me," 19-year-old Marla Russell, who dressed as Batman villain Poison Ivy, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"I told him no!"


Ms Mariah Huehner, the author of the True Blood and Emily and the Strangers comics recalls that her introduction to Comic-Con was a harsh one. She was then a young comic book editor looking to make connections in the industry.

But at a late-night party, she found out many of the men she met wanted a different kind of connection. "One of the guys suddenly had his hand on my butt," Ms Huehner told the Los Angeles Times.

A group of female fans has started a movement called Geeks for Consent to make Comic-Con address the issue of sexual harassment. They created a petition calling on Comic-Con to adopt a formal anti-harassment policy, post signs about harassment and train volunteers on how to deal with it.

So far more than 2,500 people have signed the petition.

Comic-Con has responded by including a note in the packet given to all 130,000 attendees this year: "Harassing or offensive behaviour will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy."

This article was first published on July 28, 2014.
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