Lowest Common Denominators

If you haven't read it already, John DiBello wrote an essay addressing the issue of SDCC not having a sexual harassment and brought up a few incidents he witnessed at the convention. Rachel Edidin, of Inside Out, has her own story about a dick with a 'Free Hugs' sign--an incident that also occurred at SDCC. She also posted yesterday, 'Blogging Isn't Enough' which I wholeheartedly endorse a thorough read of (I read it sometime during the writing of this post, then realized she said what I'm saying so, so much better. I'm going to say it again anyway.).

And there are a plethora of stories exactly like theirs, which shouldn't shock/surprise anyone. If it does, promptly dislodge your head from your ass and start over at the beginning of this level, you have failed.

Moving onto my point.

Between movies, video games, advertisements, comic books, so on and so on, we're becoming more and more used to and/or inundated with sexualized images of both women and men. It is becoming the average. Which is fine--so long as we're not disrespecting a sex (hey, shocker, there's an empowering way to look at sexuality??), engaging in Women In Refrigerator syndrome, etc--we're sexual creatures, we have base instincts and desires and I both recognize and encourage. Safely. Politely. Consensually, if incorporating another person into the mix.

But there is a group out there--let's call them the Lowest Common Denominators--that doesn't seem to understand that appreciating this:

Does not equal to assaulting women behind counters at comic book conventions.

Even this, which would have been so, so much better (read: less clearly a 'Jerk Off To This Later, Boys, hurhurhur') if they'd done both men and women costumes:

Does not mean yelling at a woman for not wanting a free hug is okay.

Our wonderful, ruining it for everyone Lowest Common Denominators don't actually understand that while whatever they'd like to fantasize about in the privacy of their mother's basement is fine, taking that fantasy and applying it to assaulting, either physically or verbally, real women is not fine. Women going to conventions in whatever costume they want is their business--it does not give you the right to grope them, even if they're Power Girl. It does not give you the right to walk up to them and touch them. You have to ask first because those women aren't their for your personal fetish. Even if they were hired for non-stripper entertainment purposes, you are not entitled to them.

And okay, if the first response your ape-like brain can muster is, 'But, but they're in skimpy outfits!! Clearly they want attention!!', you're a fucking idiot. Go outside and ask someone to punch you.

Spending a lot of time on a costume is not an invitation to harrassment. Looking pretty? Not an invitation for harrassment. Dressing up? Not an invitation for harrassment.

Attention and Harrassment are not the same thing.

"What an awesome costume, you look great!" is not the same as "I'mma touch me some biiiiig boobies, hurhurhur."

And it's responses like the latter that earn people the Lowest Common Denominator tag.

Enjoy yourself the pictures of the sexy girls, enjoy the girls in costumes on a inner level that might range towards the wee bit naughty--again, it's okay. I enjoy the hot men, after all. I'm not ranting against sexualized people or having a fantasy life--I have a huge problem with over-sexualization, blatant misogyny, images that are clearly Women In Refrigerators, but with sexuality in general?

Not so much.

Sexuality is important and I think it's a thing we all need to be so much more comfortable with, for a myriad of very important reasons. But I hope you get my point on this, and if you leave a serious comment about me hating sexuality in general, I'm going to sic the dogs on you.

But if you're going to write/draw/enjoy this, you need to take responsibility. Yes, you. Yes, me. We need to take responsibility for these Lowest Common Denominators because we're letting it stay out there. We need to understand that this problem is our fault and that we need to step up in a very big way.

Lowest Common Denominator Fanboys don't know when to stop. They do not know where to draw the line in their fantasy, so much so that they are harrassing women at conventions in order to get a little more of that fantasy fulfilled.

And that sucks for us, doesn't it? What a damn damper on our party.

Am I saying this means we shouldn't have sexuality in any form in our books?

Uh, hell no. Why let creeps dominate what we have? Why let them take away something that most others can enjoy without taking it to that level?

What I am saying is that this barrier of silence has to stop, that allowing these undersexed over-fantasizing assholes to run rampant around conventions is tired, old and only holding the industry back. You know what people think of when they hear Comic Book Geek? Yeah, they think of that guy. And that's going to kill any chance of our industry making it into something that's respected outside of our circles.

It's an understanding that these morons are out there at conventions--how many jokes are cracked about the Typical Basement Comic Nerd? We know that some people, for whatever reason, don't know where to draw the line--be it pure uncultured idiocy or purposeful assault.

What we don't seem to know is how to stand up for each other. How many people witnessed that Ghostbuster's girl ass being grabbed? Probably a lot.

How many actually said something? Probably no one--and the one person that did go to do something about it found that there wasn't anyone to tell. What the hell?

Seriously, in all the years SDCC has been going on, someone's going to honestly act like this hasn't ever happened before? And John is the first person to check? That just can't be right.

These girls aren't telling anyone? Witnesses aren't stepping in with a 'hey, man, that's not okay.'?

This is bullshit, and I am calling a goddamn shenanigans.

So, here's what I'd like and here's my challenge to everyone. Stop talking big on the message boards, stop being full of shit where it doesn't count. The next time you're at a convention--the next time you are anywhere and you see something you know isn't okay, step up. Say, "Hey man, that's not okay". And get them thrown out.

Be more like those fictional heroes we all love so much. (Uh. Not like Punisher, though, thanks, you don't need to get arrested.)

You do it. I'll do it. That guy over there will do it and that chick over here will do it. And then, our Lowest Common Denominators are going to find that there's no one left to pick on. That, in our awesome comic book industry, there is no room for them. That they can no longer infest something that is becoming more and more awesome with every year that goes by. Go figure.

Enjoy your sexy. I'll enjoy mine (even if there should be more). I don't mind the sexy camp in my books, so long as it's all in the spirit of appreciation and not manipulation, but what I do mind is how almost everyone just lets this sort of behavior slip by. It being written off as 'Those Comic Geeks' isn't okay.

And massive props (are the kids still doing those these days?) to John DiBello for stepping up, for using Bully's blog as a microphone to get this gone.

ComiCon Internationals contact information, courtesy Rachel's Blogging Isn't Enough post. Polite correspondence only--while it's highly remiss of them to not have something regarding harassment in their rules, it isn't their fault that these guys are out there.




Comic-Con International
P.O. Box 128458
San Diego, CA 92112-8458

San Diego, CA

HOTLINE: 619-491-2475
FAX: 619-414-1022

Now go tell a friend and then have yourself a soda.


Mike Miller said...

A-fucking-men! You just said what I wanted to try to say but a lot more concise. Someone's got to stop this sort of crap and... *looks around* wow you were right the only ones who can do it are us, those in the geek culture. I'm so glad that a lot of people are talking about this problem, now I just hope they step up and start doing something about it. Knowing the difference between fantasy and reality is not diffucult, and people who blur that line in this manner have been quietly tolerated for too long. Interestingly enough as a twenty something nerd-boy who does live w/ his parents (but upstairs damn it) I don't seem to have any problems NOT sexually or verbally harrassing women... I'm just sayin'...

Evie said...

Here, here (hear, hear? I can never remember.) If you see something, say something may be a lamely vague slogan, but it's still good advice. This is also relevant because I just got off a lengthy interview with Rucka, and his awesome feminism gave me hope for the future of comics. At least the ones he writes.

Kristina Wright said...

@Evie: I think it's 'hear, hear', but I'm not positive.

It seems like a lame slogan because it's such simplistic 'kids stuff', but it's still the thing that works.

And oh, an interview with Rucka--he's really great and I'm sufficiently impressed/jealous! Where's your article/interview going?

Evie said...

PWCW, focused on Queen & Country and the release of the third definitive edition. I have way way more interview than space, though, so I'm hoping I can post some of the Q&A on the blog.

technogreek said...

I don't really have anything weighty to add, just wanted to say kick-ass post K!

Kyle said...

A great blog. It really is all of our duty to report when we see these things at a con or ANYWHERE. I guess common sense really isn't all that common for some. I'm spreading the word!

Arkonbey said...

Extremely well said (even though it's a shame it had to be said).

Not to make light of a serious situation, but I think the con needed a super-heroine called Kick-in-the-Jimmy Girl. Her mission: to issue kicks in the jimmy to those most deserving of such.

Evil Twin said...

@arkonbey: stop your shameless plugging of your characters, mister!
that's not the blogger way!

oh and by the way folks, be sure to check out my new art blog: http://antibullshitdome.blogspot.com!

ha ha ha.
moo hahahahah HAHAHAHA!!!!!

sorry for the off topic.