SAN DIEGO, CA — Amid the costumes and fantasy of this past weekend’s San Diego Comic Convention, it was clear early on that women were playing an even larger role within the genre.
Not only were they dominating the cosplay game, an increasing number of panels were geared toward gender and sexuality.
Thursday alone had three popular panels – most with standing room only, “The Most Dangerous Women at Comic Con,” “Creating Awesome Female Characters,” and a panel on transgender trends in pop culture.
The level of female participation in comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy fandom in contrast to the amount of popular media in those genres aimed at the opposite sex is always a good shock to the system.
Sadly, controversy still runs high regarding allegations sexual harassment at the annual event.
For years, costumed attendees — or cosplayers — have complained that verbal and physical harassment is all too common at Comic-Con conventions. Fans of comic books, science-fiction or fantasy genres often attend the lively event dressed as their favorite fictional characters, but some women attendees say they are too-often subjected to lewd comments, catcalls, groping and creepy photographers who aim lenses at their breasts or up their skirts.
Geeks for CONsent, founded by three women from Philadelphia, gathered nearly 2,600 signatures on an online petition supporting a formal anti-harassment policy at Comic-Con.
“Comic-Con has an explicit Code of Conduct that addresses harassing and offensive behavior,” said Comic-Con International in a statement on Sunday to The Associated Press. “This Code of Conduct is made available online as well as on page two of the Events Guide that is given to each attendee.”
In addition, Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer told the Los Angeles Times, “anyone being made to feel uncomfortable at our show is obviously a concern for us.” Additional security was in place this year, including an increased presence by San Diego Police.
But Geeks for CONsent argues that the policy is too vague, and that other events such as Comic-Con Seattle, have taken greater steps to protect attendees. At Seattle’s Emerald City Comic-Con, large signs warning that harassment will not be tolerated and “costumes are not consent” are visibly posted throughout the convention. The group launched an interactive Google map to collect and display the stories of harassment experienced by cosplayers at fan conventions.
Geeks for CONsent is also asking Comic-Con to post an anti-harassment policy throughout the convention venue and provide one-hour training for volunteers, teaching them how to respond to harassment reports.
Amid strong support, it remains to be seen how SDCC will respond for next year’s event.
Here’s a look at some of this year’s best cosplayers at San Diego – complete with surprise cosplayer Director Peter Jackson who walked the con unnoticed!