Harassment at an Anime Convention – some thoughts

The Journey of Fandom Facebook group has a post about the woes and rumors of woes surrounding Anime Matsuri. It sounds like the convention could use, at least, some help organizing things.

The first comment on the Facebook post is:

[Ron Newman] should it surprise me that the ‘Lolita community’ (whose existence I was unaware of until today) might attract sexual harassers?

This seems to be one of the things you’re not allowed to say. The immediate response (well, 3 minutes later) is:

[Marc Brunco] I hope you’re not trying to imply that wearing Lolita fashion is to blame for being sexually harassed?

Which causes Ron Newman to back down, tail between his legs. He rallies a bit with:

[Ron Newman] it does strike me as a community whose events should be run entirely by women, though.

No, you’re not allowed to say that, either:

[Evan Reeves] See, but even that is sexist. Do not attach gender to behavior. There is nothing wrong with men enjoying and participating in Gothic Lolita fashion. There is a BIG problem with anyone harassing others, especially sexual harassment.

Well, I guess it’s cool that we can no longer label men as harassers, or even likely harassers, since that, too, attaching gender to behavior and is therefore sexist.

Phooey.

Guys, there is a concept in the law called “an attractive nuisance”. This is defined as any feature which would tend to lure people into a dangerous situation. The classic examples include a swimming pool. It is attractive because people like to swim and play in the water. It’s a nuisance because sometimes people drown in said water.

So the swimming pool analog of Marc Brunco’s comment is, “I hope you’re not trying to imply that wearing Lolita fashion wanting to go swimming is to blame for being sexually harassed drowning?”

Um…. no.

For the Lost In Space fans, that’s not what he’s saying. The presence of a “Lolita community” can very easily be seen as an attractive nuisance. (Perhaps even in the sense Jubal Harshaw uses the term.)  It’s not the fault of members of this community if and when they are harassed.

It is, however, the fault of people who have the job of recognizing possible problems at an event. They should be aware that they are maintaining an attractive nuisance, and should take steps to anticipate and prevent problems, and to deal with them quickly and effectively if and when they occur anyway. But if social mores prevent us from recognizing when an attractive nuisance exists, we can’t take steps to anticipate and prevent problems.

So in the modern sensibilities, convention organizers are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. They’re not allowed to recognize the possibility of trouble that might be drawn to particular groups, but Campbell help them if said trouble happens anyway.

 

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