New York Comic-Con's anti-harassment policy


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I had to look up the term ‘bathroom policing’. It seemed odd that there would be a policy against telling someone to ‘pick up that paper towel and put it IN the trash this time’.


I was hoping someone here would explain wtf that meant.


Does anyone have an actual, ya know, Text link to the policy? Rather than a photo of a sign that cuts off at least part of the bottom?

Further, on top of @newliminted’s point/question about the term “bathroom policing” not really being in the common lexicon, what exactly is “harassing photography or recording”?

Frankly, with terms like that, phrases where they can decide new definitions on the fly, I’m glad I’m nowhere near it.

We’ve seen incidents where people decide on a whim what they feel is “harassing photography”, from a dude with a quad on a beach taking general photos from tens to a hundred feet up, all the way to things some rational folks might raise an eyebrow at. Doesn’t mean it should have a “zero tolerance” (aka, zero thought process) policy toward it.


For “bathroom policing”, read gender policing in the toilets — it makes it clearer. People who can’t “pass” as “fully” male or female for whatever reason attract verbal and/or physical abuse in toilets for being in the wrong one.

Now if all public toilets were a unisex area with an open and common hand-washing area with basins and private toilet cubicles off it, there would be no issue. There is no policing a public area that everyone has to use …


I had to look it up, too. It refers to policing who is using which bathroom. ie. transgendered or androgynous people should not be told to use the other bathroom

It’s in the article. Click the “Cosplay is not Consent” link.

Harassing photography is when you chase down someone who clearly doesn’t want to be photographed. These rules basically codify the social construct of: Don’t be a dick.

Sure, they are in a public space, but you can still be a considerate person. People who cannot be a considerate person will not be allowed into the con. Since you have no constitutional right to attend comic con, your rights are not being infringed upon.

Makes sense to me.


Nobody said anything about constitutional rights. If you’re a paying attendee of the con, it seems like you should have a clear idea of what conduct is and isn’t allowed, and, this doesn’t cut it.

There was a discussion on Boing Boing just a few weeks ago, where it’s clear that even among regular photographers and cosplayers, there’s no clear understanding of what the social construct is. Combine that with a so called zero tolerance policy, the result is a chilling effect, and a one way ratchet.

It may seem obvious to you, it may seem obvious to someone else. Question is, are you coming up with the same obvious? Because from other discussions, that dosn’t necessarily seem to be true.


I could see how that could cut both ways, not that I have an suggestion for improving it.

Here’s the social construct:

Did you seek consent?

Was it given freely?

If the answers to both are “yes” then you are not harassing someone.

If you didn’t seek consent, you’re a dick. See what you can do about that.

If it wasn’t given, and you proceed with the action anyway, you’re a dick and should be removed from the con.

Frankly, I don’t think they are worried about the chilling effect on the people taking pictures, they’re worried about the chilling affect of asshole photographers making attendees uncomfortable. And if that ratchet were to mean you can’t go to the con just to take pictures, I imagine they are okay with that.


Unisex washrooms would still have the risk of “policing”, e.g. users not presenting as male using the urinals. Possibly why proponents of unisex washrooms also advocate for the elimination of urinals?

Urinals are a large part of why men’s toilets have shorter lines; you can pack more urinals into the same area (or even higher density with a ‘trough’ or ‘wall’ setup), and turnover is significantly faster – sitting to pee takes twice as long as using a urinal.

Personally, I’ve seen the inside of a public women’s washroom, and oppose Unisex washrooms because it would lead to men peeing in the bushes outside.

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So, if someone takes a picture, say, from an elevated position, of the area at large, the expectation is that they’ve sought and received active consent to all people possibly contained in that photo?

I think not.

That there’s no candid photography, it all must be staged, and pre-approved? Kinda doubt it.

This isn’t as cut and dry as it seems to you, doubtless because you’ve not thought it all the way through. Quick and glib answers sound great, but “Don’t be a Dick” isn’t actually a very useful way to manage human behavior when the rubber actually meets the road.

This is much bigger than just one person taking photos. Or even photos in general.

Look, Nobody wants harassment (well, possibly a few assholes do. So, nobody of consequence wants harassment). But defining it in vague terms, with heavy notices of “Zero Tolerance” doesn’t actually solve much. Your social construct doesn’t match everyone’s. And enacting so called “Zero Tolerance” generally means gravitating to not even a lowest common denominator, rather a weakest link approach. And that’s insanity.


Again, I believe the intent of the organizers (and I agree) is that if the end result of this policy is less photographers and more cosplayers, they are ok with any collateral damage.

So a “zero tolerance” works fine, because they are okay with it occasionally hitting an incorrect target as long as that makes their attendees feel safer.

How is that hard to process?


I’m totally down for “no sexual harassment”, and agree that it’s needed. I also Cosplay myself a wee bit when I get my geek on, but - and I am certainly not in the “wearing a short skirt == asking for badness” camp, but I just have to point this out - yes, it’s a specific example, but it supports the larger point of “scantily clad women wondering why they’re being treated as sex objects” when, lets face it, today’s media says “women are sex objects” in every way/shape/form it can.

Check this video out at YouTube from DragonCon 2014:

Specifically, check time 0:43 to 0:59 (same girl that’s used for the bumper on it). If you are going out in public dressed like that - even a Con - you are going to get stared at, even leered at - by both men and women. You’ll get the attention you’re obviously seeking. Not to play up the “nerds who live in their parents basement and the only access to women they have is via pr0n” angle either, but, in all honesty, if this girl gets bumped by a “boner”, I’m sorry, but she has no one to blame for that but herself.

It’s a touchy subject, and I’m skirting the edge of it - I get that - but as with all things personal responsibility is always a factor. Yes, any gal should/is free to dress however they like, but they also must understand that - in the really real world - dressing a certain way will solicit a certain response. Which response your attire will solicit should be taken into account.

Side Note: I typed this out while I was in a meeting @ work, so if it’s rough and not as eloquent as it should be - don’t harp on the little-things - think big picture if you strongly disagree.

Sigh, you’re not really getting the objection. This is more than just photos, it’s just that happens to be any easy thing to point at because it’s REALLY nebulous.

Obviously they ARE ok with it, they’ve gone that direction, but, the question is, is it really a good idea?

If you have a zero tolerance policy, you are forced simply accept any report of harassment as valid, with no real investigation or evaluation, and simply kick anyone out reported as such. If you investigate, then you are making a judgement call on if it’s harassment or not, and if you decide it isn’t, you’ve “Tolerated harassment”. So any action that anyone might perceive as harassing becomes suspect. It leads to a toxic environment, not a safe one.

If you’ve ever been around a so called zero tolerance policy, your stupidity in bureaucracy alarm should be going off as loud as mine. This is the sort of thing that leads to schools suspending or expelling first graders for chewing pop-tarts in the shapes of guns.

In this instance, given it’s a private event, not a public school, you have few to none of the constitutional issues, but, the issues with stupidity in application of the policy arn’t limited to school bureaucracies.

The end result, once this goes to it’s logical progression, is fewer attendees period, cosplayers or not.


Where are you deriving the “no investigation or evaluation” amendment?

I see it neither on the sign, nor the linked policy.


“She was dressed like that and that means she was asking for it!” is not a good defense of harassment.

Costumes are designed to get attention, of course. But this isn’t Thought Policing. This is a policy against harassment. Harassment is a behavior. And while we cannot control our thoughts and feelings, we can control our reactions to them. It is a policy against ACTION. We are in control of our actions (more or less).

That lady – like any cosplayer – is dressed in part to get visual attention. This does not give anyone else free reign to touch, stalk, intimidate, or verbally harass her. Look. Leer, even, no one can stop you. But don’t harass.

And if that’s ambiguous to you in the moment, you need to clarify that line with the cosplayer before you do anything.

Honestly, that last bit is sometimes more what policies like this are about: think before you act. Ask before you do something to someone else. If you don’t, we’re not going to give you the benefit of the doubt, here. Consent is something that is granted specifically and verbally, not something that can be assumed. But, of course, no one can stop you from having whatever private fantasies you have in your head at a con any more than they can on the subway.


It’s inherit to the concept of “Zero Tolerance”, a more or less natural result. If you’re simply interested in prohibiting clear wrongs, you don’t need such a policy. No institution that has implemented such a policy had a real issue kicking out those that were clearly violating some known norm. For instance, Schools didn’t need zero tolerance gun policies to kick out the people that shot other people, That happened with or without Zero Tolerance. They enacted it for the cases where an administrator would otherwise choose some lesser action. But we see the sorts of things that result from that.

What you get from Zero Tolerance, enacted to be more stringent than a simple not allowed policy, is absolutely no room for gray area. No judgement allowed.

If you investigate, and, find there’s no actual evidence, he said she said, you have to assume it’s valid, because Zero Tolerance. If the objection is that it dosn’t violate the policy, well, it’s worded to apply to just about anything, and is judged in the eyes of the accuser, so, that makes no difference either. In that case, why investigate at all? It’s a complete waste of time. If you’re more or less forced to take the accuser at their word, because the presumption is set that they’re correct, What would even be the point of investigating?


So your suggestion is exactly what? All I hear from you is that there might be problems with this.

Guess what? There were problems before. If there are fewer problems with this in place, it’s a win.

If there are more problems in place, they can adjust the policy next year.


What planet do you live on where the correct course of action in the above situation isn’t “blame the guy bumping people with his boner”?