So that happened. Please take a moment to read. Please know that, as of this time, Dragon*Con has informed us that it will NOT be sanctioning people wearing or distributing Backup Ribbons at the con, nor will it be confiscating ribbons. We regret this was not included in their official statement.
Although we had been in discussion with Dragon*Con for a way to come to some sort of compromise, it was sadly not possible. In an effort to show our good faith, we agreed to stop targeting messages to any one specific con/event and to not have designated distributors at events. Unfortunately, the main issue — Dragon*Con’s contention that people with ribbons might pose a security threat — could not be resolved to anybody’s satisfaction.
Let us first make clear a few points:
- The Backup Ribbon Project does not care the event for which you might want Backup Ribbons. We don’t ask, and we certainly don’t keep e-mails (if we did, our inbox would explode) or track that information. It’s not our business. If you feel that your International Latvian Clogdancing Convention has a need for Backup Ribbons, we will cheerfully send them out for you to pass out to all your Latvian clogdancing friends (although we would love pictures from that event).
- We stand by our conviction that the benefits of making the Backup Ribbon Project accessible to as many people as possible far outweighs the risk of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Yes, there will be a risk of some Bad!Person taking advantage of the situation, but we believe that risk is minimal.
- There have been questions as to whether or not the Backup Ribbon Project is only for women. We make NO exceptions for gender, sex, orientation or presentation. If you need Backup, we will be there. That’s the end of it. While it is a sad fact that more often than not, women will be those needing backup, we again state we want this project open to as many people as possible.
Now, on to address the specific concerns Dragon*Con has raised. To be truthful, we are more than a little baffled at their response. In fact, we should be thanking them because the very existence of the Backup Ribbon Project came out of an incident we witnessed at the 2008 Dragon*Con. Were it not for their lax security, we would not even be having this discussion.
We are also confused by their assertion that a “potentially dangerous situation” of a Backup person doing harm is “scary” to them, particularly in light of the various reports that surfaced following the 2010 Dragon*Con (TRIGGER WARNING). In fact, we stepped up the Backup Ribbon Project for the 2011 Dragon*Con as a direct response to those incidents. At that time, Dragon*Con appeared to be supportive of our efforts.
Finally, in light of the recent ReaderCon fiasco, we find it curious that Dragon*Con appears to be more concerned with the potential (not actual) harm from a ribbon than with an anti-harassment policy that mainly boils down to “don’t be a jerk.”
[EDIT: Removed link to Dragon*Con costuming wiki, as it is not an official Dragon*Con site. We apologize for any misunderstanding in that regard.]
So we have a few questions for Dragon*Con:
- How many reports has it received of Backup Ribbon wearers accosting other attendees?
- How many reports did it receive of attendees being accosted just at the 2010 Dragon*Con?
- Why did Dragon*Con change its policy regarding the Backup Ribbons from 2011 to this year? Was there a specific incident that happened?
- What specific training do Dragon*Con staffers, security people, and volunteers receive to address harassment, both in terms of how to prevent it and how to deal with the aftermath?
- Given that it is all too easy for a potential harasser to remove their badge (thus making them unidentifiable), how will increased badge checks cut down on harassment?
- Does Dragon*Con have a detailed anti-harassment policy? If so, why is it not easily accessible on the Dragon*Con web site?
In conclusion, this whole mess leaves us confused and sad. We have been ardent supporters of Dragon*Con in the past. One of us, who lives within driving distance of San Diego Comic-Con, has noted she would rather fly cross-country to Dragon*Con than attend another SDCC.
Regrettably, in light of Dragon*Con’s decision to clamp down on fans’ personal expressions of their commitment to look out for each other, rather than to address harassment issues, we will not be attending again.
We would ask that if anybody wishes to voice their concerns regarding this decision to please do so at the top link in this post (goes to the LiveJournal Dragon*Con community post with their statement).