Comic-Con's Anti-Harassment Policy Still Criticized

Though an online group claims the policy isn't enough, Comic-Con organizers say safety is a major concern at the pop culture event in San Diego

As costumed fans take over downtown San Diego for Comic-Con this week, one online group claims the event's current anti-harassment policy simply isn’t enough while organizers insist safety is their main concern.

Every attendee with a Comic-Con badge received an email from organizers a few days before the convention outlining policies, including the Comic-Con code of conduct and anti-harassment policy.

The anti-harassment policy states:

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 Comic-Con staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner.

Security may be contacted by visiting our Show Office in Lobby C. A Comic-Con staff member will be in the office during public hours.

Last month, a group called publicly criticized San Diego Comic-Con for not doing enough to protect women in costume who attend the annual event.

At the time, Rochelle Keyhan, creator and director of the group, said many costumed women walked away from the convention feeling uncomfortable and violated.

“They’ve been harassed, either sexually with pretty verbal harassment, or physical groping, or being followed around the convention space,” said Keyhan.

While Geeks for Consent says harassment is a problem at many of these pop culture conventions, Keyhan said she believes Comic-Con is perpetuating the problem by not creating a more detailed anti-harassment policy.

The group created an online petition asking for change at Comic-Con. As of July 23 – just one day before the big event – the petition had garnered more than 2,500 signatures. The group planned to deliver the petition to Comic-Con organizers.

According to a recent post on the Geeks for Consent website, the group believes that, as it stands, Comic-Con’s anti-harassment policy is vague and includes no definition of “harassment” and what would warrant an offender getting kicked out of the convention.

The group feels as if Comic-Con is treating this “like a minor issue, radicalized by the ‘few’ people who’ve experienced harassment.”

Last month, Comic-Con spokesperson David Glanzer defended the current policy and told NBC 7 it was “broad by design.”

“The fact of the matter is the broadness of the policy allows us to take more action than if we were specific. If we said ‘A, B, C, D was not allowed, what if somebody tries to circumvent that?’” said Glanzer.

He pointed to the heavy security and police presence at the event as proof that Comic-Con doesn’t take harassment claims lightly.

“The reports we’ve gotten have been few and far between," he added.

On Wednesday, Glanzer reaffirmed that safety has and always will be a "paramount concern" for Comic-Con organizers and said they take any and all claims very seriously.

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