I must confess, I didn’t read a lot of San Diego con reports this year. My SDCC attending days are probably well behind me; in addition to Robin just not being as into comic conventions as my first husband Steve was (maybe it’s because, for many pros, conventions are part of their job, whereas for the rest of us they’re part of a hobby), between hotel and airfare costs the darn thing has just gotten ridiculously expensive, and that’s if you can get a room or a flight or even admittance at all.
Plus, there’s the mobility thing, which has started becoming less of an issue now that my new job has increased my physical activity to a level it hasn’t seen in a number of years and my 50-year-old body is responding accordingly, much to my surprise. Of course, this year’s excuse has also been the job thing; after being out of work over half the year, I wasn’t about to make plans to travel anywhere further than New Jersey during the first few months of my new employment!
But, aside from the always-enjoyable pictorials that many folks uploaded to their blogs, the two posts that piqued my interest the most this year had to do with harassment. Yes, we’re still talking about harassment in this day and age. But, as has been pointed out recently in response to hypocritical and sanctimonious politicians presuming to lecture Russia from their own lack of moral high ground with admonitions like “this doesn’t happen in the 21st century” — well yes, yes it does. Anything that’s happening now is by definition happening in the 21st century. One can certainly argue that we as a civilization ought to have moved beyond sexual harassment by now, but one can argue we should have moved beyond various forms of discrimination and intimidation hundreds of years ago as well. It’s still happening even today, and it still needs to be addressed.
Fortunately in the 21st century we have an amazing communications tool that, to our collective knowledge, has never existed before in the entirety of human history. This electronic paper trail certainly has its flaws, but it also helps hold people accountable when there’s no other recourse. So when Rachel Edidin writes an open letter decrying the behavior of someone at San Diego who sought hugs from unwilling strangers, it gets discussed in an open forum where all sorts of interesting observations are made. One commenter noted it wasn’t "necessarily a male privilege thing," while Rachel herself added "I was generally hella impressed with the general respect for personal space at SDCC. In crowds packed shoulder-to-shoulder, I encountered only a very little bit of pushing, and aside from Creepy Hug Guy, I didn’t have a single encounter that made me uncomfortable." Someone else pointed out that "In Canada pestering a stranger for physical contact is a form of criminal assault even if it’s not intended sexually."