Sunday, May 4, 2014

Get Your Geek On! - Convention Safety

Dude, conventions are fun! Especially the ones geeks and gamers have. But there are people at cons who are looking to have too much fun, and there might even be people who could make others feel uncomfortable. How do we deal with that? Also, how do we deal with sexuality at cons? Here's some basic information on convention policies and how to be safe.

My partner and I went to PAX East last weekend and we had a blast! I felt very blessed to be completely comfortable (emotionally. Physically, it was a 20,000 people sauna of sweat and testosterone in there) in my surroundings. Sexually, my partner and I weren't doing anything because we were being respectful of his family which we were sharing a room with. You just don't do that to family...

I looked online at some policies because I wanted to know what would happen if someone felt unsafe at a convention. Here are a few examples:

PAX East

"If at any point you feel unsafe at PAX or that any of the rules have been broken, we ask that you inform an Enforcer or member of PAX staff immediately. Your safety is our primary concern, and if you feel that safety has been compromised, we will do everything in our power to rectify the issue. Issues of violence and harassment are addressed immediately, with guarded “Safe Areas” being designated in case any incidents do arise."

"Any form of harassment, whether that’s based on gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or religion, will not be tolerated at PAX. If you are caught or reported to have harassed anyone at PAX, you will go through our reporting process and face remediation steps."


"PAX has a strict ‘no booth babe’ policy with the purpose of creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome, and the focus is on games, not hired booth staff. Booth babes are defined as staff of ANY gender used by exhibitors to promote their products at PAX by using overtly sexual or suggestive methods. Partial nudity, the aggressive display of cleavage and the navel, and shorts/skirts higher than 4” above the knee are not allowed. If for any reason an exhibit and/or its contents are deemed objectionable to PAX management, the exhibitor will be asked to alter the attire of its staff."http://east.paxsite.com/safety-and-security

San Diego Comic Con
"Attendees must respect common sense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior 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. Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate a member of security, or a staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner."
http://www.comic-con.org/cci/convention-policies

Anime Boston
Unsolicited physical contact is part of their prohibited contact policy and will be dealt with according to their "Reprecussions and Violations" policies depending on the severity of the action.
(There wasn't much on this topic, so I didn't add the link because I didn't have any legit blurbs)



With these in mind, how could one keep themselves safe at a convention sexually and personally?

I went to a panel on gender inequality in video gaming where one of the panelists mentioned that a cosplayer for her video game was approached by an attendee and he asked if he could grab her ass because he liked her costume. I would say this is a huge no! But it brings me to my first topic:

1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings and Your Cosplay
If you're feeling uncomfortable right off the bat with your cosplay and others making gestures or comments towards you, I think it's time to change. I suggest bringing a small bag with extra clothes in it so you can change at any time. Likewise, be aware that your cosplay may entice others to make passes at you, grab you, make comments, etc.

Personally, I wish I had thought about this. I dressed up as Kaylee from Firefly and my coveralls were too tight. Wedgies galore...

2. No Means No
If someone asks an inappropriate question, make sure they know the answer if you're not into that. Some folks think that when they're in cosplay that they are that character. I know a few people who dressed up as characters from Hetalia and they're engaged. One of them was groped by another Hetalia cosplayer because those characters are often shipped together. Also, please ask others if you can have hugs and get pictures taken.

My partner and I got to meet our favorite Youtuber, Markiplier. One question that I was asked by a friend was "DID YOU TOUCH HIS BUTT?!" My first reaction was no, but I should have. Realistically, I probably would have asked to touch considering he might have said yes and grabbing might freak him out or something. I want to be polite, not get kicked out of PAX.

3. Consider a Group



By that, I mean tag along with a group of people! If you're 18 and younger, it's a good idea to go with friends or family. At least there's someone there to help if you feel unsafe. If you're 18+, still consider traveling with a group in case there's a problem. Make sure to get contact information so you could meet up if someone is lost.

4. Know Your Exits, Ride, and Stay-Over Location
Be sure you know where your convention location is and to arrive on time to get inside and without trouble. You never know, these things happen. Also, give yourself enough time to get your things together. You're going to want a water bottle or another water-storage device, a pen for autographs and stuff, money for merchandise and prostitutes (not really), protection in case there will be some sexy times (you never know), and food.
You should know where your ride will be (if you're getting driven by a friend, walking, taking a bus, etc), and how you're getting to where you're staying for the night.

5. Consult Security
Please feel free to talk to security if there are any safety concerns you have during your time. They're pretty friendly folks and I'm sure they wouldn't mind to help.


This was just a brief overview of what you should do for a convention. I hope it helped! I'll be posting more in the near future during summer vacation :)

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