What is consent & harassment and how does it affect me when I’m at nerd and pop culture conventions?
Attendees of nerd and pop culture conventions should be able to attend such events free of unwanted harassment. A good consent and harassment policy instills a culture of safety and goodwill for all and makes everyone safer.
Definition of consent
Compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another: ACQUIESCENCE he shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties— U.S. Constitution
Here are the basics of consent. Consent is:
- Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Reversible. Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime.
- Informed. You can only consent to something if you have the full story.
- Enthusiastic. When it comes to consent, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.
- Specific. Saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others.
Did you know 67% of people do not fully understand how to properly give or get consent?
You get the final say over what happens when you consent to anything. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been friends for years, the person is a stranger or even if you said yes earlier and then changed your mind. Consent is never implied by things like your past behavior, what you wear/how you’re dressed, or where you go. Consent should always be clearly communicated — there should be no question or mystery. Silence is not consent.
What is Harassment?
Harassment is governed by state laws, which vary by state, but is generally defined as a course of conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety. Harassment is unwanted, unwelcomed and uninvited behavior that demeans, threatens or offends the victim and results in a hostile environment for the victim.
Harassment includes, but is not limited to; making unwanted and/or discriminatory advances on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, physical appearance, age, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, veteran status, or any other basis protected by applicable federal or state laws, intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of events, inappropriate physical contact, un-welcomed sexual attention or other verbal or physical conduct of a discriminatory nature, or by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment by engaging in such conduct.
What should I do if I or my friend’s consent was violated or they were harassed?
Issues surrounding consent and harassment violations don’t happen in one single way. There doesn’t need to be a weapon involved and the victim doesn’t need to have fought back, screamed, or said “no” repeatedly in order for it to count as an assault, harassment or consent violation. Most importantly do not judge or blame yourself for what you did or didn’t do.
Key tips to follow in the event of a consent or harassment situation.
- Do NOT blame the victim for the consent or harassment violation or the situation they are experiencing. Often times people will blame the victim or state they were in an unsafe situation.
- Ask them what they feel that they want to do to address the situation. Often times victims of consent violations do not want to talk to the police or anyone official such as a staff member or convention management.
- Encourage them to file a report and take up the situation with convention management or local law enforcement.
- Take their account and version of events seriously at all times.
- Be supportive and kind to the victim.
We understand that not all victims come forward when a consent of harassment violation happens. It is up to the victim to want to come forward and make a report to any official or convention management. We recommend only making a report when the victim is ready. It should be noted that many victims do not come forward and often times convention management is unaware of anything happened. We recommend making yourself aware of your specific conventions harassment and consent policies prior to attending any nerd or pop culture conventions.
What to do if you don’t want to make a report to convention/event management?
We understand that often times victims will not make a report of a consent issue or assault to staff or convention management. Making a report is not mandatory however there are many resources that can help and advocate for you in the event you do not file a direct report.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673)
The National Sexual Assault Hotline was the nation’s first decentralized hotline, connecting those in need with help in their local communities. It’s made up of a network of independent sexual assault service providers, vetted by RAINN, who answer calls to a single, nationwide hotline number. Since it was first created in 1994, the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) has helped more than 2 million people affected by sexual violence.
Consent & harassment: Attendees by James Fedora is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.conventionfirstaid.org/consent-harassment-attendees/.
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