10.15.13 // Safety at GeekGirlCon ’13
by GeekGirlCon Copy Writer Erin Doherty
GeekGirlCon strives to provide a safe and welcoming place where everyone is comfortable, respected, and can be themselves. All attendees are expected to treat other attendees, contributors, performers, staff, and the general public with respect. Therefore, physically or verbally harassing behavior is not tolerated.
-from our Code of Conduct
Creating a welcoming, safe environment is a top priority for us here at GeekGirlCon. Of course, there’s no such thing as 100% absolutely-without-a-doubt safety, but we do our best to make our convention as safe as possible. We expect all attendees (including staff, agents, exhibitors and other contributors) to follow our code of conduct. Below is a bit of an overview of our expectations and our responsibilities.
No Means No
If someone says “no,” “stop,” “go away,” or anything similar, they really do mean it. This is Respect 101 (closely related to Consent 101): when someone has a boundary, you respect it. Sometimes people have a hard time saying the words, so paying attention to body language is important, too. We all have different personalities and come from different cultural backgrounds around touch and language, but backing away, averting eyes, and stiffening body posture are generally signs that someone is feeling uncomfortable and possibly threatened.
Use your common sense, pay attention to words and body language, and respect your fellow attendees!
Attire Is Not Consent
There’s a lot of cosplay at GeekGirlCon, and it’s fantastic! But just because someone is dressed in a chain-mail bikini does not mean they want your touch or your lascivious comments. Even if you’re just interested in how something was made or want to feel the texture of something, ask first!
I sometimes have to remember this one myself: as a knitter, I’ll see a sweater or scarf on someone that I’m intrigued by, and my hand will thoughtlessly reach for the texture. By now, though, I’ve trained myself pretty well to stop and say, “Oh hi, I’m a knitter and I love your scarf! May I look at it more closely or touch it?”
The same idea applies to cosplay, whether it’s that chain-mail bikini, some fuzzy satyr leg coverings, or a shiny Cyberman mask: ask before touching or even ogling.
Racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or any other kind of hate speech or imagery is just. not. tolerated. Part of how we create a welcoming, safer-feeling event is with our words.
That said, sometimes you just don’t know that something you’ve said is offensive until somebody lets you know. If someone tells you that you’ve said something offensive, try to take a breath and sit with it before reacting. And generally, the best reaction is to just say “I’m sorry, thank you for telling me.”
How to Get Help
If you feel threatened or harassed and want help (or if you’re concerned about something), find an Agent. We’ll be wearing dark blue shirts with yellow writing on the back that says “AGENT” in large, friendly letters. We’ll help you out and if needed, get one of our Reaction Team volunteers there to assist.
Our Reaction Team folks are there to help with any sort of tough incident or crisis; they’re the ones with the level heads, calm demeanors, and quick thinking to work with you to find solutions.
Photos and Video
If you don’t want to be captured on film, make sure to ask for one of our bright yellow “please, no pictures” stickers, and make sure to wear it in a clear, visible place—preferably somewhere on your chest so that our photographers and videographers know to steer clear when they see you. This will also help us after GeekGirlCon ‘13 is over: if we see someone wearing the sticker in a picture, we’ll try to ensure that we crop them out or not use that photo at all. And of course, you can always contact us to request that an image be removed.
And when you’re documenting your own GeekGirlCon adventures, try to be thoughtful about who else might be in the frame!
These are some of the ways we’re creating a safer community. Please let us know (in the comments below, via email, or in person) if you have any other ideas or concerns—we want you to feel safe so you can get down to the serious business of having a good time!