Executive editor, Cara Lee’19, added her own perspective from her experience at Comic Con:
I’ve attended Comic Con for six years and never had any trouble. The Comic Con facilities themselves (the Javits Center, Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theatre and the Hammerstein Ballroom) are a haven for men, women and gender non-conforming persons alike, as all in attendance can dress as any character they want or dream to regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, belief or body type. Comic Con is a home to Sailor Moons in hijabs, 40-year-old beer-bellied men in slave-Leia outfits and tiny, five-year-old girls clad in green face paint to rock Hulk costumes. All of these individuals would be photographed, hugged, high fived, and video recorded by hundreds of different con attendees throughout the days they attended. And every one of these physical interactions would be preceded by requests to do so in accordance with the rules of Comic Con, some of which are highlighted in a policy all attendees are required to read before attending and some of which are rules of etiquette that, though unspoken, are always followed to the letter.
However, this past weekend the con experience where everyone is comfortable to be who they are was tainted by the outside world. Protesters outside of the Javits Center shouted at all females in attendance, telling us we belonged to men, belonged in the kitchen, were only around to be used. Women like me, always comfortable walking along the all-common route between Penn Station and the Javits Center or any of the other venues during Comic Con weekend, were subject to profanity, followed, cursed at… I’ve lived, breathed, walked New York City my entire life at all different hours of the day and night, both alone and with family and friends. I never felt unsafe until this past weekend. It wasn’t even night time, I thought I was fine, walking my usual, public route from the train station to the Javits Center, bright and early in the morning. I didn’t think anyone would interact with me; no one had before other than fellow connies, except to give me funny looks or ask where I was going in “that get-up”. It was different this time and all I can say is that I have never been more grateful to see a group of men in anime cosplay as I was being screamed at. I walked the rest of the distance with them. Throughout the rest of the Con, women who attended alone joined together. Waiting additional time before leaving panels to walk the distance together or to cram as many of us into one free cab (provided by some company I can’t remember the name of) as possible, even though this limited the time we were at the Con.
This is a problem. It’s a problem that women can’t wear what they want through New York City without fear of being followed, verbally abused, or physically accosted. The fact that there is still a stigma that women should be held accountable for what they are wearing in order not to be sexually assaulted is disgusting and ridiculous.
I’m not naive enough to think it’s possible for this change to happen before someone else is yelled profanity at on the street. I’m not even naive enough to think that this change will come before my next Con–because no one and nothing can stop me from going to that haven where everyone matters. But, maybe, by the time the girl I’ve babysat for years, who I talk fandom with at a mile a minute, attends her first Con, she’ll be able to walk there all alone, without trouble, head held high in any cosplay she feels calling to her.