ABOVE ALL, DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY AND WELLBEING. If you don’t feel safe in a situation, GET OUT.
With that said, here are some actions you can consider taking.
If you are in a comic shop or a store
- DOCUMENT. Take notes, on your phone, notepad, post-it, whatever you have handy. If they’re saying gross things, set your phone to record. If there are displays or images around the store, take a picture.
- Not everyone will be great about this, but it’s possible that an employee at a comic shop might say something terrible, and their boss or the owner of the comic shop might actually fire them for that behavior, so sometimes reporting things to an available authority can be a good option. One person in a situation being terrible does not mean that everyone will be; however, this is ONLY a good option if you feel safe enough to take the risk of seeking out and talking to an authority without knowing how they will respond, which definitely is a risk.
- If you’re not comfortable going back to the store or documenting your time there, use other methods to alert people to the problems there. Send us a submission, obviously, but you can also leave a negative review on their Yelp, Google+, Yahoo, etc. page.
- Contact allies, both offline and on. If you have other geeky friends in the area, spread the word to them. If you’re not a local, do some research - see if there are any nearby activist groups you could check in with.
- Publicly shame them. Do they have a twitter account? A Facebook page? A tumblr? Be as anonymous as you need/want to be, but there is always a way to alert the internet, especially if you managed to document it.
Tweet about them to @EverydaySexism, @EverydayRacism, @TheMarySue, @GeeksOUT, @Racialicious; tweet to people like @Laura Hudson, @FEMINIST HULK. Don’t be afraid to tweet at allies in the comic / SF/F industry, like Gail Simone, Seanan McGuire, Kelly Sue DeConnick, N. K. Jemisin, Greg Rucka, Matt Fraction, John Scalzi, and Jim C. Hines, to name a few. Not everyone will retweet you, but some might, and that’s something.
- Depending on the size of your town or city, there may be other comic shops that are safer spaces. If you can, be sure to promote them as alternatives. And remember, you can always ask for recommendations here, or check out some of the above mentioned Twitters - both can give you a wider pool of reference and useful corroboration about places.
If a Google search turns up other shops in your area, check out their websites beforehand, as well as reviews on Yelp or Google+. If the information is available, see what events they’re promoting, what writers/artists they’re having in for signings, and what series/graphic novels the staff is recommending.
If you are at a con
- See if the con has a harassment policy. You may have seen or been part of the discussion going on in recent months about sexual harassment at cons, con harassment policies, and reporting harassment. One of the results was that John Scalzi created a “Convention Harassment Policy” template; you can see the list of co-signers here - there’s over 1000. Check the con’s website. If the con’s harassment policy isn’t easily findable, or if there isn’t one, consider it a warning sign. (Caveat: some con websites are difficult to navigate, which isn’t necessarily the fault of the people making good harassment policies. If you’re comfortable with emailing the con’s organizers, or if they have a place to submit questions, try asking after their policy there. The type of - or lack of - response you get can also be a determining factor.)
- Reporting Sexual Harassment In SF/F (2013 Edition) - contains an excellent list of resources, of which the Backup Project deserves a special mention.
Reporting Harassment At A Convention
On Con Sexual Harassment
- Many of the same suggestions as above apply. Document it, make sure people know about it. Cons tend to be crowded, so you may be able to gather a group of people who can corroborate your story or testify about their own experiences with harassers.
Cons may well have a staff member in charge of dealing with harassment reports, so if you feel comfortable enough to do so, you can attempt to seek out People In Charge who can direct you to the correct parties.
(oliviacirce’s note: Those of us who are responsible for trying to make spaces safer appreciate reports a lot, because we can’t do anything without them. It also helps, although is absolutely NOT required, if the person reporting has some sense of their ideal outcome. But again, the most important thing is sharing information about the problem
(written with the help of oliviacirce)
If you have additional suggestions and advice, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line! You can use the ask/submission box here, or send us an email at haterfreewednesdays (@) gmail (.) com