Last week on Google+, someone I follow linked to the Con Anti-Harassment Project. The mission is simple, but powerful:
The Con Anti-Harassment Project is a grass-roots campaign designed to help make conventions safer for everyone. Our aims are to encourage fandom, geek community and other non-business conventions to establish, articulate and act upon anti-harassment policies, especially sexual harassment policies, and to encourage mutual respect among con-goers, guests and staff.
I’m not a regular con-goer; I’ve only had two con experiences in my life (ArmadilloCon in 2010 and 2011). Both of my experiences were overwhelmingly positive, and I look forward to attending again. However, not all cons and con experiences are created equal (hence the problem, I suppose), and I seem to be in the lucky minority of women who do not face harassment at conventions.
I should not be in this minority, and I should not consider myself “lucky” that I’ve never been subject to unwelcome encounters at a convention. I also hate to think that if I return to ArmadilloCon this year (which I probably will), I run the risk of getting harassed because my luck has run out. I hate hearing from female friends and acquaintances that their con experience was tainted because some people thought that they had the right to interfere with personal space, or refuse to take no for an answer. So I was really happy to find out that this Project exists.
The Project has a three-point plan that it encourages con committees to adopt and implement. They also have a database of cons and what their specific policies are. And if you’re concerned that your con of choice doesn’t have a comprehensive enough policy, or doesn’t think that harassment is a problem with their con, CAHP is hosting a letter-writing campaign to help raise awareness. And if you’re going to a con and want to know what to do in case a situation arises, check out the Open Source Women Back Each Other Up Project and Gentlemen’s Auxiliary (comprehensive enough to warrant a post of its own).
Thank you, CAHP, for existing, and for helping to create safer, happier con experiences for everyone.