March 17th, 2015

That Brony Story, Take 2

Remember this blog entry that I posted about the Brony business?

Well, it turns out that my friend, elizalavelle's, LJ is friend-locked for various reasons, so you couldn't follow the link from my post to hers, but Eliza has been kind enough to allow me to re-post her blog entry here through the wonderful medium of cut-and-paste. So I present it here to you folks. Thanks, elizalavelle!

That Brony Story

I’m all for inclusiveness in fandom. I’m entirely okay with adults who like content that’s created for children. I’ve watched My Little Pony and it’s adorable with smart enough writing that means it’s not boring for adults. That said there’s a time and a place for everything and there definitely are a subset of fans, usually men, who feel so entitled to everything that they can’t be a part of creating a safe space for young fans.

The guy in the story above is clearly a paedophile. He may or may not also be a Brony but he was at that convention to be around kids. He tried to get an 11 year old into his room, in no way is that okay. He’ll do it again because he wasn’t caught. I can’t blame the kid or the girls at the booth for that though. The kid was scared and probably had a fear that she’d done something wrong and would get into trouble. I feel the booth girls are going to get a lot of flack for not reporting it but without someone who’s going to validate the story they’re going to convention organizers and looking like they’re trying to stir up drama. The likely result: the guy gets talked to, denies everything, probably gets apologized to by the convention and the girls never get a booth there again – and if it’s a corporation running the event they may find themselves banned from others.

I do wonder where this kids parents were because while yes it's a My Little Pony convention it's not as if Brony culture isn't well documented online, 5 minutes of internet research would have taught the parents enough to know that their child should not have been left alone.

As someone who has been harassed by convention staff at an event, followed around and made to feel very unsafe I get the decision to stay quiet. Once I’m done running my event (this year!) I’m certainly telling my creepy stalker where he can go. But I wasn’t willing to jeopardize our last year of fundraising to do that. I don’t know if I’d really be risking our event tables but I can see where I might get blamed for causing problems so until I’m no longer a representative of my organization I’m just dealing. So I can't expect people who are running a booth to cause a scene about an incident that they didn't witness, have no proof of, and who have the only witness to the problem saying they won't report it. They aren't this girl's parents and from the sounds of it they're not that old themselves so how are they supposed to know what's the right way to address the situation?

Even when you report something and don’t get reprimanded for it the results are still frustrating. I reported a guy taking upskirt photos at a con a couple of years back. He was an official convention photographer, I didn’t get his name but he was shooting photos up teenaged girls skirts and I had a description of him. The convention security and organizers gave zero fucks. They couldn’t be bothered to even try to find him. I’ve seen a women be thrown out of a convention for screaming when a guy in the crowd flashed his penis at her but as she “caused a disturbance” she was kicked out and no one looked for the guy.

Even in lesser ways I see men at conventions though who just have such entitlement that they make a space that’s entirely not okay for younger fans, or really any fan who doesn’t share their tastes. There’s one guy I see every year at Anime North who has a lanyard worn around his neck with various pictures hanging on it of anime girls with their legs spread usually squirting/dripping wet. These are in plain view to everyone he encounters. This is not a porn con, he’s not putting those on for adults only panels, he’s showing them off to everyone. This is more than the Disney example given in the Tumblr post of a grown man pushing children aside to go grope Cinderella, this is a man wearing a shirt showing Cinderella as a porn fantasy being ravished by her fairy godmother and thinking it’s appropriate to walk around a theme park aimed at children wearing that. There just needs to be some concept of the fact that there are other people in the world and we all should be considerate of that fact. I'm not saying don't buy the shirt if that's your thing but I am saying to think about the appropriate time and place for wearing it.

Ugh, there are just so many problems that can occur in the convention industry which are so rarely addressed. There are efforts made to fix things but a lot of the time you’re dealing with corporations who only care about their financial bottom line. Even with fan run events there are still financial concerns. Not to mention the times when it’s event staff causing the problem which means other event staff are going to be less willing to address it.

Here’s the thing, I love conventions. I love that it’s a space where largely I feel safe and like I’ve found my people. I like being somewhere where being nerdy is normal and where for the most part people are widely accepting and considerate. There just are a few people who take events and use them to prey upon others and know how to manipulate the situation to ensure that they can do more there than they maybe could in the real world. I’m not sure how to fix that entirely but I hope that more stories like the Brony one going public helps somewhat by making more event organizers aware of the issues and of their responsibility to create a safe space for their attendees.

Again, my thanks to elizalavelle for allowing me to post this LJ entry here on my blog.