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MultiverseCon 2019

MultiverseCon

Ready for the first ever MultiverseCon? I am so excited for this convention! From the MultiverseCon website:

Every fan has a story. Together, our stories make up MULTIVERSE, the multi-genre literary con for everyone. Panels, Gaming, Cosplay, Shopping, Art Show, Book Signings, Parties, and more!

I am heading up the Writers Track and we’re going to have a bunch of great programming for you! Have I mentioned how excited I am? 🙂 Check out our Featured Guests of Honor:

Author Guest of Honor: SEANAN MCGUIRE

Artist Guest of Honor: JOHN PICACIO

Industry Guest of Honor: CAT RAMBO

And that’s just the beginning! 🙂

MultiverseCon memberships are now on sale. If you purchase before March 1, 2019, you can get an entire weekend pass for under $60!

Get your membership here!

Convention Life: The Other “Con” — Consent

Conferences

I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic. This particular post, about consent — a super important topic in con life — was published on August 10, 2017. You can find the original here!


Maybe you’ve heard the term “Cosplay is not Consent.” It’s a movement within the fan convention community to educate people on how to act — or rather, how not to act. And it all revolves around Consent.

Why talk about consent?

Conventions can be a lot like parties, and at parties people want to have fun. But generally, folks are thinking of their own fun and not necessarily the fun of others. So talking about consent is important both within and outside of conventions so that we can also be aware of other people’s comfort and wellbeing at the con.

It’s also important to talk about consent because having ownership over one’s body is a fundamental right of being human. Setting boundaries on how other people treat us is a healthy way of living life. And consent is a big part of boundary setting.

 

What is Consent?

Photo: CARE – Campus Assault ResponsE – http://campusassaultresponse.org/

Consent is simply agreement. It can be nuanced in different ways, but when you drill right down to its basic definition, it is agreement.

Consent means that all involved parties agree to what is happening, whether it’s something physical, like touching or taking a photo, or verbal, such as being catcalled, being talked about, or objectified.

What does consent mean at a convention?

It means that no matter how someone is dressed, no matter how much (or how little) skin is showing, there is no touching without asking. It is not an invitation for other people. It does not mean that the person — usually a woman — is a party favor for your use.

This isn’t just about touching, though. It’s about everything from touching to speaking. It’s about being aware of how the words we say affect the person we’re speaking to or about. It’s about treating people with dignity.

Cosplay is Not Consent is the movement that has come out of the flood of complaints of harassment and, in some cases, assault, that has happened at conventions across the country, from the biggest to the smallest. Check out Geeks for Consent for some great links to news stories about this topic.

Is it all in the gender?

Fan conventions are often male-dominated, so it makes sense that the higher number of consent violations are done by men. It can be difficult to explain to men why being touched without permission or being objectified by verbal comments is unwelcome.

Often, when we, as women, say, “How would you feel if…?” the response tends to be, “Oh, I would love it if a woman just walked up to me and grabbed my ass!”

What these men often don’t have perspective of is that women receive this sort of treatment all the time. Catcalls, inappropriate comments about their bodies, and even unwelcome touches from men. And it is all with no choice in who is doing these things. It can be any man, at any place, at any time.

If men think this is something they might enjoy, I believe they’re envisioning a woman they’re attracted to doing it at a time and place they would like it to be done. And that is not the experience of women who receive this sort of attention from men, both at conventions and outside conventions. These behaviors are done by men, regardless of whether the woman is attracted to them, is in the mood for such attention, or wants any attention at all. In other words, without her consent.

So men who think they would like this often don’t understand that they probably wouldn’t, if their reality matched the reality of women’s experiences.

But men are not the only people violating consent at conventions. Women do it too. Not nearly to the numbers as men, but they can be just as offensive as men. I once watched a woman literally grab a guy’s codpiece for a photo, to the man’s absolute surprise. I couldn’t tell whether he was offended or not, but it was still non-consensual and a sexual assault by its very nature.

Anyone has the ability to violate consent. It happens much more to women by men than vice versa, but it can happen both ways. The only hope in combating this is to make us all more aware.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to police our own actions.

How To Avoid Being ‘That Dude’ (or ‘That Chick’)

Do

  • give compliments or ask questions focusing more on the costume than the body in it — “Did you paint your leggings yourself? Those are really cool!”
  • give generalized compliments –“Your costume is amazing!” or “You look just like Gal Godot! That’s incredible.” etc.Keep Calm and Get Consent
  • pay attention to body language and environment — If they’re waiting in line for the bathroom, be very brief in your interaction, if it’s necessary at all; if they look like they’re on a mission to get somewhere, let them go; pay attention to whether your attention is welcome.
  • be respectful of someone’s time and space — don’t monopolize.
  • ASK — Everyone appreciates someone who takes a moment to ask their consent to take a photo or touch a part of their costume or body; this can’t be stressed enough.
  • Be respectful of the answer to your question — Always remember that they’re allowed to say no. Don’t already be doing the thing as you ask for their consent. Wait for their answer.
  • Say thank you when they’ve agreed to something you’ve requested, because they’re doing something nice for you.

Don’t

  • catcall, unless it’s appropriate — It might be appropriate at a costume contest, or some other situation where an audience is expected to make noise.
  • comment specifically about someone’s body — Consider “You’ve got great boobs!” vs “You look great!” The first is a big no; the second is a big yes.
  • assume anything — And this means anything.

Accidents Happen

So what do you do when you’ve offended someone by accident, or realize you’ve done something inappropriate?

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

~~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It doesn’t have to be about you having made a mistake. It is absolutely about how you handle the mistake you made.

Always, the first thing to do is apologize. And be sincere. Sometimes, this is the only thing you can do. Sometimes the person you offended doesn’t want to hear it and will walk away. Let them go. They’ve made their decision, and you trying to force your apology on them is just another version of the mistake you made in the first place.

But if they do listen, you can then ask what you can do to fix the situation, what will make the other person okay? There may be nothing you can do other than go away. And that’s okay. But maybe you took a photo without asking, and they tell you that you can make it better by deleting the photo. Then delete the photo. Act with integrity.

The final thing you can do has nothing to do with the person you offended. The final thing you can do is remember your mistake. Remember it and do your best not to do it again in the future. Err on the side of caution if you’re unsure. And, again, you can never go wrong by asking.

Conventions can be a great time! They’re big and fun and exciting. We’re among our nerdy tribe and our fellow fangirls and -boys. Convention producers create them for folks to have a great time. But we have to make sure our good time doesn’t make someone else’s experience a bad time. We’re all in this together!

Do you have questions or comments about any of this stuff or conventions in general? Drop them down below! 🙂

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are mine or CC0 licensed.

Convention Life: Con Prep, Con Crud, Con Drop

Conferences

I’ve decided to republish the series of posts about conventions and convention life that were originally published over at Speculative Chic. This particular post was published on May 11, 2017. You can find the original here!


Convention Life

I’ve talked a lot about Conventions this past year and I’ve got one more set of important topics to touch on. You might hear some of these terms from seasoned con-goers:

  • Con Prep
  • Con Crud
  • Con Drop

The last two, especially, are things you’ll hear regular con-goers talk about. Prep is just really what happens before a convention and can vary, depending on the type of con you’re going to and the level of immersion (ie — cosplay) you’re looking for.

Con Prep

My staging area is significantly larger than this 🙂

When people think about prepping for an event, they often just think about packing. Maybe travel logistics. Certainly those are important things (we’ll touch on packing in a bit), but if you’re going to be doing fan, comic, or book/writing conventions regularly, there are some other things you’ll want to think about, as well.

When going to a new convention, you’re going to want to hop on Google Maps and check out the area around the con for restaurants. If you have the budget to eat out during the convention and there are suitable restaurants around the hotel, this will affect what you pack.

If there are no restaurants, you’ll want to try to bring a cooler with food to the convention, if possible, and/or a lot of good snacks that can live in bags for several hours. You may still want to bring these things, to some degree, even if there are restaurants. The ratio of eating in to eating out, just like at home, will depend a lot on your personal budget for the convention.

Speaking of money, note that most conventions have vendor rooms. These are magical places which will be hawking your favorite books, games, DVDs, comics, and even autographs from authors or stars that turn you into a huge fangirl/boy. Unless money sprouts from your ears, think about how much you’re willing to spend in the vendor room. Set a convention budget for yourself so that you will have money for your rent next month. 🙂

When you’re packing, you’ll want to make sure to remember some key items for the convention that you might not consider when you’re packing to go visit your folks, say. Things to think about bringing:

  • day bag: could be a fanny pack, a wrist bag, a messenger bag, a purse, whatever — I tend to
  • prefer something small and light
  • hand sanitizer (more on this later)
  • pain meds: for headaches, body aches, etc.
  • personal meds
  • water bottle: most cons will have water stations with cups; it’s often more efficient and environmentally friendly to have your own bottle
  • snacks: particularly the sort that you can carry around in a bag
  • ear plugs: especially if you’re sharing a room with others, but it’s a good idea in general too, since hotel room walls can be thin and people in hotels tend to play their tv on max volume (why do people do this?)
  • immune system stuff (we’ll talk about this in a minute too)
  • books or other memorabilia you might want to have signed by convention guests
  • if you’re cosplaying, a small sewing kit (or whatever would be most effective if you have a wardrobe issue — hot glue gun, duct tape…)
Convention Life - Dragon Con

Forgot my pants. Luckily, hubby wasn’t far away!

If this is a convention that encourages cosplay and you’re going to be dressing up as your favorite Marvel character (or Game of Thrones or Doctor Who or whatever 🙂 ), make sure you’ve made a list of all your costume pieces and checked them off as you put them in your convention suitcase. You don’t want to be in the middle of getting dressed, then realize you left your pants at home (I say this from experience!). It’s a real disappointment if you’ve put all this time and energy into creating an amazing costume, but then can’t wear it at the actual convention because you don’t have all the pieces.

I mentioned immunity system stuff above. About two weeks before the convention, start taking something for your immune system. Some folks swear by Airborne; others love Vitamin C and Zinc. I use standardized Elderberry, myself. You want to bolster your immune system because conventions can be a lot like school in regards to germs. You’ve got a lot of people from all over in a somewhat confined place. Someone in that giant group will be sick, getting sick, or just getting over being sick. And those germs are gonna get passed around.

Another thing that will help your immune system pre-convention is to make sure you get enough sleep, enough food, and enough water in the weeks prior. This will set your body up for the crazy stressors of being at a convention for 3-4 days — an event that can feature bad eating, half your usual sleep, and a ton of fun.

Con Crud

So what happens if your immune system doesn’t prevail over all the germs at the convention? Well, then you’ll likely end up with a case of Con Crud. It’s a mystery illness that usually shows up a week to two weeks after attending a convention.

Con crud – It’s not *usually* this bad 🙂

Keep taking your immune-boosting stuff throughout the con itself and for a week or two after. Even if you end up getting Con Crud, symptoms will likely be lessened if your immune system is stronger.

Con Crud can be anything, really. It might be the flu, the common cold, an infection of some other sort. Seriously, just about anything.

During the convention, you can use hand sanitizer and other things to help with the germs. A lot of people swear by them. Personally, I don’t use hand sanitizer, but it’s mostly because I’m terrible at remembering to use it! I pack it, then forget to put it in my convention bag. Or I put it in my bag and forget to take it out of my bag to use it. It’s just a lost cause for me. But I also believe that being exposed to some germs is good for the immune system because they cause it to work, rather than not work. So instead of hand sanitizer, I just wash my hands whenever I’m near a sink and let my body do the rest.

Whether you use hand sanitizer or not is entirely a personal call, just like what you decide to take to bolster the immune system itself (if you take anything at all!). It’s all down to personal risk management. No one else can make that decision for you. Try different things and see what works for you.

Con Drop

Okay, so you’ve come home from an amazing convention. You’ve unpacked and you’re back to work or school. Things are going along great! You’re telling fun stories about stuff you did  at the convention to all your friends and talking them into going with you next year! And then, three days after you’ve come home, you’re super emotional, you’ve got all the feels, and you just cried during a Kleenex commercial. Wtf?

Convention Life - Con DropThis is Con Drop. First, understand that it’s completely normal. Most people have some form of Con Drop, even if it’s mild, such as just being unmotivated to do anything productive.

Con Drop is a physiological reaction that often has emotional or psychological symptoms. Essentially, it’s the endorphins and other happy chemicals your body has been spewing out at the convention for the last 3-5 days drying up. It’s the crash after the high.

Con Drop generally happens two to four days after the end of the convention. Some folks get it as early as 24 hours later, but I think most people get it right around the 3 day mark.

So how do you get rid of Con Drop? The bad thing is that you don’t. The good thing is that it usually only lasts 24-36 hours. So you won’t feel this crappy forever. Know that there’s an end.

The best way I’ve found to mitigate Con Drop is to simply be kind to myself. If you find yourself dropping, do things that you like, that bring you comfort. Read a book. Take a bubble bath. Go biking. Whatever brings you joy and comfort in the world, do those things for a while. And, again, know that this isn’t going to last forever. It’ll be over soon.


Hopefully you’ve gotten some good stuff out of this convention series! And hopefully you won’t let the idea of Con Crud or Con Drop keep you from heading out to a convention and enjoying the hell out of it!

Do you have questions or comments about any of this stuff or conventions in general? Drop them down below! 🙂

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂