Whenever I go to a convention, I almost always do a general write-up of what I experienced at the event. Sometimes the write ups capture the mood of the show. Other times, they’re merely a timeline of what I did, but, no matter what they end up being, they usually help me to reflect and remember of the celebration that was that "x number of days." For me, NYCC 2013 was one of the best conventions I’ve been to. I got to meet some awesome people, hang out with some old friends, attend some amazing panels, play some videogames and have what will go down as a weekend I’ll remember for the rest of my life. However, I can’t help but feel a bit selfish writing that. Why you might ask? Well, it has everything to do with the numerous stories of abysmal behavior that took place over the weekend.
Before I go any further, let me just state that I was not there for any of the harassment myself. In fact, had it not been for Bethany Madock’s expose on the whole entire incident, I (like many others) would’ve only had heard about in passing, generally unaware of the greater impact this has on the people affected. Should you be one of those people, then clicking the link in the last sentence is absolutely vital. Seriously, go read it, so you can fully understand how things went down.
Since that account was written last Sunday, something really awesome happened. Many others decided to come forward and share their own stories of being harassed at the show. Doing the necessary legwork, Heidi of Comics Beat complied many of these stories, breaking down how they soured what was an amazing weekend for many. Of these stories, one of them involved Ay-leen the Peacemaker, which was the story I heard the thinnest details about in casual conversation. Naturally, any bit of context makes an already pernicious Geisha quote look even more poisonous, as shown in this quote here.
TCI: (hurriedly) Would you like to be interviewed for a show?
Me: For what show?
TCI: A TV show.
Me: What TV show?
TCI: A TV show.
(Note: That should have been the first warning, but I was on my guard)
TCI: So, if I were walking in the rain, could I pay you to walk next to me with your umbrella?
Me: Pay me?
TCI: If I paid you?
Me: Then, buy your own umbrella.
TCI: No, I want to buy an umbrella with an Asian girl.
(Warning bell one)
Me: Then no.
TCI: Are you a geisha?
TCI: Can I be a geisha?
(Warning bell two)
Me. No, you can’t —
TCI: Why not?
Me: Because you lack certain things, like style, tact, grace—
The full conversation can be found on Ay-leen's tumblur here. It also has more information on the group that has made waves for all the wrong reasons. Without question, Bethany and Ay-leen are not the only ones who had stories about their unfortunate experiences and should you want to learn about those in full, I recommend that you read Heidi's article, which does a better job than we could expressing why this is not okay. To reinforce that last point, Lance Fensterman would go on to say that Man Banter (the main offending party) had been banned from NYCC and every Reed Pop show going forward. One can only hope that the swift action taken here is followed with a more comprehensive and defined harassment policy going forward.
(Note: Should you want to know what possessed whoever it was to make that Geisha comment, there's a picture below. Needless to say, I do not endorse anyone who insinuates that wearing anything like the costume in the picture means that they're automatically a Geisha or that's okay to harrass them.)