Comic book author Mariah Huehner (True Blood, Angel) wrote on her blog Squidy Girl about her experience in the comics industry as it pertains to sexual harassment. Like Tess Fowler, G. Willow Wilson, and others in recent weeks, Huehner is contributing to the growing, necessary discussion of sexism in the comics industry. Her post is a long one worth reading, and I encourage you to do so.
But I want to highlight one paragraph in particular, on conventions. The reach of convention culture has exploded in recent years. As San Diego Comic Con continues its ballooning national presence, others around the country find their influence growing as well. Even the small cons find their way into national news at times. The bottom line is that more and more fans are attending, and ever more money is being spent on and at conventions. These events matter. Here’s Huehner, after relaying a story of being groped at SDCC:
I have not gone anywhere at SDCC or any other con by myself since, which was in 2006 or so. I don’t drink at conventions unless I am with VERY trusted friends and we are somewhere like a dinner. Never at a party of any kind. I will occasionally buy a drink that I don’t like so it looks like I’m drinking, but I don’t. I never let it out of my sight. If I do have to go someplace alone at a con, which sometimes can’t be avoided, I spend the entire time feeling anxiously keyed up, hyper aware of everything going on around me, and I tend to have a miserable time unless I can find someone I know.
Just think about what this says. Re-read it. This is a powerful account of how bad things have become.
If you are a convention organizer, be it SDCC or DragonCon or any of the small cons across the country, I hope Huehner’s words sting, and burrow into your head. I hope you read them and do not assume that your event is different. Even if it is.
This is the “madhouse that is conventions” as experienced by women, in reality, in the comics industry. That’s not going to work. Do something.