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Unread 04-08-2013, 09:55 PM   #1
Gale
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CosIsNotConsent: What exactly constitutes Sexual Harassment?

We all know that sexual harassment is wrong...but it is becoming very clear that not everyone understands what constitutes sexual harassment. I want to know what you all think.

I do NOT simply want to talk about how bad sexual harassment is. That topic has been done to death all over the internet. Not that that's a bad thing (it's great!) but we need to take a step further! I want to see examples (either theoretical or specific) of behaviors that are inappropriate from a sexual harassment point of view and WHY such behaviors can be considered sexual harassment, or that is WHY they are wrong.

Where do you think the line falls? Have you been victim of serious harassment? Or do you think you've been unfairly accused of harassing someone else? Let's try to keep this discussion as civil and objective as possible. We're trying to learn from and educate each other so we all, as a community, can move toward getting on the same page about what sort of respect we all deserve and how we should be treating each other.

So, what do you think?
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Last edited by Gale : 04-08-2013 at 09:59 PM.
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Unread 04-08-2013, 09:59 PM   #2
Rhapsados
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The line falls wherever a person's comfort zone is. When they say "no" or "stop". That could be just a hand on someone's shoulder for some people or it could be a pat on the hip for another, or something less or more modest. There's no definition of "when someone does _____ it's harassment" it's "when one of the people tells the other to stop and they don't, it's harassment".
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Unread 04-08-2013, 10:04 PM   #3
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Some things are just so far over the line that there's no question. Coming right up to somebody and saying "I'd fuck you" or similar crude things, likewise groping, trying to take upskirt or down shirt photos, crap like that.
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Unread 04-08-2013, 10:04 PM   #4
Gale
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhapsados View Post
The line falls wherever a person's comfort zone is. When they say "no" or "stop". That could be just a hand on someone's shoulder for some people or it could be a pat on the hip for another, or something less or more modest. There's no definition of "when someone does _____ it's harassment" it's "when one of the people tells the other to stop and they don't, it's harassment".
Totally true! But I feel like there are some more universal and generally agreed upon behaviors that almost always cross the line.

For example, most people by now have heard about the incident at PAX East. I encountered a young man that just couldn't fathom why the statement by the interviewer was offensive to the girls. He kept arguing "if anything, it's offensive to any men who overhear it!" Obviously in that case the girls felt uncomfortable, but it's also been generally agreed upon in the community that this comment was out of line. Yes, some individuals might have been less shocked, or even played into it, but largely the reaction is that this was NOT the time or place to use such off color humor. I know we can't come up with a concrete rule book of specific do's and don'ts, but I'd like to see if we can come close.
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Unread 04-08-2013, 10:28 PM   #5
Rhapsados
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Oh, yeah, that's true as well. I really dislike it when someone has an AMAZINGLY done cosplay that could also be very revealing and all people can focus on is the sexual aspect. Think Yaya Han and how a lot of people dislike her because her cosplays aren't very modest - but they're also very, very good.

It could also be taken in the perspective that any comment that makes a person fear for their safety and comfort around a person/group of people could be considered harassment.
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Unread 04-08-2013, 11:40 PM   #6
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Rhapsados I agree with your perspective that it does depend on a person's comfort zone.

I think what everyone needs to keep in mind is look for cues that you are making the person or people you're interacting with uncomfortable.

Telling one person that they're 'hot' or 'sexy' may not upset them, for others that could be upsetting or even a little alarming, especially if they're not used to that kind of attention.

Likewise, with physical contact DEFINITELY make sure that individual is okay with it. Generally I don't make physical contact at all, but if I want to give a person a hug in thanks for an awesome cosplay or to a fan I'll ask if they're 'hug friendly'. Likewise if I'm comfortable with someone and think they might want to ask but feel bashful about it, I'll let them know that I'm hug friendly. I've had people who didn't ask if it was okay to do something like kiss my hand, trying to be gentlemanly and flattering, and it come across a little creepy. I wasn't offended, but I was put off a bit considering I'd only talked to these individuals (yes, two different ones...) for a few moments, and wasn't comfortable with them yet.

There are some cues, such as facial expressions like a tight smile, stiff composure, or even slowly backing away from you that you can look for to tell if you're making someone uneasy. Likewise a person who is feeling comfortable with you will probably step closer towards you, or even mimic your stance or small gestures (which people really do subconsciously when interacting with each other) and of course look more relaxed. It would be a good idea to first assume a person could be easily offended, then ease into opening up to them.

Universal no's to me are: No touching unless they say it's okay
No lewd comments
No taking pictures without permission
No lewd questions

Not everyone will be offended by these things however, and some may be more offended by other things. I'm kind of really open so somewhat lewd comments or questions don't phase me, and hugs usually don't bother me at all. I am offended at the thought of someone taking my photo without my permission however. I don't want someone to possibly take lewd photos of me if I happen to have a skirt or somewhat low cut top on.

My advice to avoid harassment at cons?

It's dangerous to go alone, take a friend! People are less likely to harass someone with someone else.

Be alert. Be aware of your surroundings and the people in it.

If you are uncomfortable, split. If you're afraid of confrontation, make an excuse to leave.

Anyway that's my two cents on the matter lol. Sorry to rant.

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Unread 04-09-2013, 05:40 AM   #7
Gale
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No need to apologize, Eiashian! This is some fantastic insight and info.

Personally I've always been annoyed by unsolicited photographs, but more from a standpoint of wanting to present my costume in the best way possible (I had a guy "drive by photograph" me once while I was on the phone; when I yelled at him he said he likes candids best. RUDE.) but you bring up a good point that it is also an issue of potentially lewd or inappropriate photos too. That would really botht me, and knowing DeviantArt's stance on "artistic" license and the freedom people have to post their own works just about anywhere, one the photo is taken its out there!

Also, asking people before you touch them is so important. Any training I've had for working with others (be it fitting them for a costume, or running a group theater workshop), you ALWAYS ask permission before physical contact. Not a bad idea to keep in mind for the costuming world too.

I think the most distressing part of this issue, however, is to some extent what is "lewd" might be subjective too. What a young woman thinks is a comment with inappropriately sexual overtones, a young man may view as just plain humor. Granted, I laugh at Family Guy as much as anyone, but I do worry what a culture of jokes like that do to perceptions of how to be respectful.
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Unread 04-09-2013, 09:25 AM   #8
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actually according to the back of most con badges you can take somebody's picture with our asking them. it says on the badge the badge holder permits the can to use his/her likeness and all reproduction thereof in all media now and hereafter know for all purposes in perpetuity
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Unread 04-09-2013, 09:38 AM   #9
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The line of sexual harassment falls differently to different people. Like Rhapsados said, it all depends on the person's comfort zone. For me personally, I have no problem with someone saying "Wow you look great in that cosplay." or "Hey you look beautiful." To me, that is fine. But when they start pointing out things, thats when I draw the line. Hearing things like "You're boobs look great." or "Damn that's a nice ass.", or even making advances like "Hey lets go back to my hotel room." (I have gotten that one by the way) is NOT ok, in my book.

As far as touching goes, I draw the line at unsolicited touching. You want a hug, sure I'll give you one, as long as you ask. Or if you want to put your arm around me for a photo, ok not to keen on that, but don't put it around my waist, only shoulder. Other then that, don't touch me. However I met people who don't want to be touched at all, ie no hugging. So, yeah, it all depends on the person and their comfort level.


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Originally Posted by cosplaynewb11 View Post
actually according to the back of most con badges you can take somebody's picture with our asking them. it says on the badge the badge holder permits the can to use his/her likeness and all reproduction thereof in all media now and hereafter know for all purposes in perpetuity
I think what they mean is candid shots (Please correct me if I am wrong). And it's generally just really rude to photograph a cospalyer without asking them. You do have a right to decline a photo for whatever reason.

What that really means is that you may be caught in the background of someone photo or video. I just grabbed my Katsucon badge and it states "The bearer has the right to decline being photographed or recorded close up" So if they just want you as the focus, you have a right to decline. However if your caught in the background, there is nothing they can do.
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Unread 04-09-2013, 09:39 AM   #10
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@cosplaynewb11 -- that's unusual in my experience. The con I went to last weekend had a disclaimer that appearing at the con is automatic permission for THE CON to use pictures that you appear in for promotional purposes. In other words, if the official con photographer is roaming the halls taking pictures of crowds, panel discussions, autograph lines, etc. and you happen to be in one of the pictures, they don't require special permission to publish that picture in advertising or promotion for the con itself.

An individual who wants pictures of hot cosplayers to drool over at home might be able to get away with candid photography legally, but they'll also find themselves shunned and given the side-eye everywhere they go at the con once someone finds out they're doing it. Consequences happen. It's still good manners for a congoer to ask permission for photography.

Back on topic: I think it's dangerous to spend too much time picking apart why something is sexual harassment. Most women who are sexually harassed don't know why it makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. It's something that happens in an instant or a short moment. What's important is that someone at a con doesn't feel uncomfortable just being there around other people. If she says "stop that", don't keep doing it until you figure out why she's saying stop, or try to justify your actions. If you're a guy and you've read this far in the conversation, you probably care about conducting yourself like a decent human being and not imposing yourself on others. So if she says stop, just stop. Take her word for it without question. You can analyze it later if it helps you modify your own behaviour in future.
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Unread 04-09-2013, 10:04 AM   #11
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Every convention is different. AWA badges state, " By accepting this badge you are giving consent to be photographed or videotaped." That's it. I think it's a good point that all con goers read the rules of the con given to them each year, and simply report any offences to the proper authorities.

I believe the cosplay =/= consent people are also asking that if you see someone taking a picture of a cosplayer without thier permission, you should take a picture of the photographer and post it at #ConCreep or something like that. And to me, that's just 2 wrongs not making a right. Especially considering certain conventions say having a badge = consent to be photographed.
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Unread 04-09-2013, 10:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hunterlight84 View Post
Every convention is different. AWA badges state, " By accepting this badge you are giving consent to be photographed or videotaped."

I believe the cosplay =/= consent people are also asking that if you see someone taking a picture of a cosplayer without thier permission, you should take a picture of the photographer and post it at #ConCreep or something like that. And to me, that's just 2 wrongs not making a right. Especially considering certain conventions say having a badge = consent to be photographed.
Yeah, but the photographers are wearing badges too, so how is taking a photo of them wrong?

Think before you post.
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Unread 04-09-2013, 10:18 AM   #13
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I agree with everything in this thread EXCEPT that being photographed without permission equals harassment. Legally speaking that is wrong by definition. No one needs your permission to photograph you in public because you have no right to privacy and to be considered harassment something has to be done multiple times to constitute harassment under the definition of the law.

Now, that doesn't mean that it isn't rude. And you COULD dodge a picture by hiding behind someone or an object and if that person continues to pursue you to try to take the photo THEN it IS harassment.
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Unread 04-09-2013, 10:19 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Yeah, but the photographers are wearing badges too, so how is taking a photo of them wrong?

Think before you post.
Its wrong to label them a creep if they are just snapping a regular picture in public and can be considered libel or slander. Two wrongs don't make a right.
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Unread 04-09-2013, 10:19 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by sam vimes View Post
Yeah, but to photographers are wearing badges to, so how is taking a photo of them wrong?

Think before you post.
I did, I was reffering to harrassing them back by posting the picture in a blog intended to embrass or demean. Read before you react.
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