The Official Response to the Dragon*Con Statement Regarding Backup Ribbons

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

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20 Responses to The Official Response to the Dragon*Con Statement Regarding Backup Ribbons

  1. JanetM says:

    Good ghods, that FAQ entry is vicious. And to think I used to *enjoy* DragonCon.

    Please continue to count me as an ally, with or without /p/o/r/t/f/o/l/i/o/ ribbon. If I ever start going to conventions again, I’ll apply for said ribbon.

    • Rob Wynne says:

      I’m not terribly familiar with the goings-on here, though I will say upfront that I support anyone wearing a ribbon saying anything they please, without the con having much to say about it.

      That said…the FAQ appears to be from a fan-run Wiki, and isn’t an official Dragon*Con page. Frankly, that entire article is vicious. And sadly, probably reflects a certain percentage of people and their attitudes towards costuming.

      I am planning to be at Dragon*Con this year for the first time in nearly a decade. It’s probably also my last, since I’m not planning to be in the Atlanta area much longer, but I support general idea behind your campaign, and I’d wear such a ribbon and act on its intent if necessary.

  2. Crazeyal Dah Debil says:

    Excuse me. I would like to start off saying that I support your efforts and hope for the success of the movement. It’s saddening that the con and your people could not come to an agreement. One thing. The FAQ that you are pointing to is fan made and not linked from the Official website. It even says it is unofficial on the front page. I agree with your assessments of the content completely. I do think it’s a bit unfair to reference it as evidence of “bad attitude” or Misogyny on Dragoncon’s part.


  3. DJ says:

    You know, that’s not an official DC wiki. It even says so on the Front Page “This wiki is completely unofficial, made by attendees of Dragon*Con, for attendees of Dragon*Con.”

  4. J says:

    You misquoted their “FAQ” just to be clear. “grab their crotch … ” not “grab your crotch …”

    That said, carry on …

  5. Grim says:

    That FAQ isn’t an official D*C FAQ, btw… That is a fan-run site.

  6. I completely agree with your position and am also confused and frustrated by Dragon*Con’s position on this issue (and have told them so in the lj thread).


    The FAQ you cite as an example of D*C’s attitude is from a wiki that clearly states on its front page “This wiki is completely unofficial, made by attendees of Dragon*Con, for attendees of Dragon*Con”, so I really don’t think it’s fair to attribute the language there to the powers that be at the con.

  7. chrisboote says:

    These ribbons aren’t free
    How can I contribute to the cost? (seeing as it’s unlikely I’ll be at a con in the US to lend physical support)

  8. Icon O'graphy says:

    Oh please. Dragon Con hired extra private security, extra Atlanta Police Deprartment officers two years ago, instigated the room check / badge check policy in the Hyatt and and Marriott and are now expanding that to the Hilton.

    For that matter, when was the last DragonCon you have attended?

    I fully applaud your effort to make ALL conventions safer venues but you seem to have a bug up your ass when it comes to DragonCon.

    • thatwordgrrl says:

      Two years ago in 2010, when security was a disaster. And, as we said, they supported our efforts last year.

      Yes, we want to make all cons safer, including Dragon*Con. Sadly, we have been told no by the concom.

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  12. me says:

    I attended in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.

    07–absolute best time in my entire life. First time and it was perfect.
    08–I was pregnant (and tired) but still—awesome.
    09–started to get a weird vibe to it. Just didn’t feel “con”. Felt like a bunch of outsiders gawking at the women, making fun of geeks, and barfing everywhere
    10–worse than 09. Haven’t attended since.

    I think any effort to beef up security, provide an extended arm to addressing problems and more help in a non official way (official meaning police) is welcomed and needed. What made 07/08 so great is the vibe–it felt like home. The right people attended. The right people were respectful and even if there were a couple of pervs or head shakes, by no means was anyone a drunken, slovenly, direspectful, near rapist as I’ve experienced in 09 and 10.

    I would LOVE to return and bring my toddler. But quite honestly, between the decline in quality of attendees (meaning people who go for skimpy costume oggeling and barfing) and the state of where mass violence is going in this world, I am extremely concerned about the overall safety of this con continuing in the future.

    Look, we are deemed a lot not to be the best “social” crowd (geek/nerd stereotype), combine that with outsiders who are going for the wrong reasons, combine with the increased number of people, combined with a lot of hidden spaces, combined with late nights, combined with costumes where you can’t identify anyone, combined with weapons which look like weapons = one big huge set up for something really, really bad to happen. I think soon enough, they will ban all peace bonded/any weapons related to costumes to be safe. Then there goes the neighborhood and the point. It’s going to take one catestrophic disaster to ruin and shut down Con for good. Let’s find a way not to have this happen. Metal detectors?

    • thatwordgrrl says:

      Honestly? The solution is not metal detectors. Leaving aside the logistical nightmare involved in getting the host hotels to agree to install such devices, weapons are a miniscule part of the problem. Increased attendance, lack of effective security, choke points going to and from host hotels — these are all much larger contributors to the problem.

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