I am a techno anthropologist studying culture in online games. I retired from my role as the Team Captain of the Frag Dolls (an all-female professional gaming team) in 2011 to daylight as the eSports Maven for Red 5 Studios, the makers of Firefall.
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I am reposting a story that my friend Michele made public this morning because I know others have experienced sexual assault in a convention environment, and those stories usually end with “I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to do. And the guy walked away”. In fact, the moderator of the panel I was on just days ago reported her experience from THAT DAY of being groped on the show floor, and asked us sincerely what she could have done, and what can be done in general.
Michele’s story is an example of a great way to handle this kind of behavior. Granted, this happened in a closed party scenario, which gave her the rare opportunity to confront her assailant again. But there are valuable lessons to learn here anyway.
As the founder and former captain of a team of girls who are at Cons like this all the time, I feel especially like a Protective Mama Bear about this topic. My hope is that if we can share this story and the valuable lessons it contains, we can show the Con creeps that their actions will have consequences.
Before the story, here is a summarized Action Plan if you are sexually assaulted at a Con:
And now, Michele’s story:
I originally wrote this because I wanted to get it out of my head. But I’m hoping sharing it will help someone else who might have the same thing happen to them.
So last night I was assaulted at an after hours party at San Diego Comic-Con. I’m not going to say which one, but let’s just say it’s one of the very few that go after normal party hours and if you’re even a casual acquaintance of mine, you were probably there.
It started out as an wonderful geektastic time. SDCC is my nerd summer camp; it’s my place to see all my friends and people whose work I admire, to enjoy soaking up the fandom energy and marvel at the imaginative t-shirts. Fun, right?
I was following a few friends away from the dance floor when my brain froze. It took a half second to process that I had just felt the guy going the other way slide his hand up my leg and under my dress to cup my ass. It took less time than that to turn around away from my friends and grab the creep by the shirt, spinning him back towards me as hard as I could. I had enough time to register his face before he wrenched away from me and drunkenly pushed into the packed dance floor.
It’s interesting just how much went through my mind in that tiny moment. There’s the shock it happened at all. The gut reaction of PUNCH THAT REPULSIVE WHORESON INTO NEXT WEEK!!1! The pre-emptive guilty mind (You’ll just make it worse). There’s even the the instinct to dismiss it completely (It wasn’t that bad, it happened so fast, it’s not a big deal).
By this time he had lost himself in the crowd. I debated for a moment more, but decided that if I saw him again, that would be a sign. A sign the universe wanted me to beat the crap out of this douchenozzle.
By this point my boyfriend had come back around. He immediately could tell something was off and asked about it. I, having already decided I wasn’t going to play Hunt-The-Dicknose, tried to play it off. My smart guy was keen to my wiles and pursued the matter til I hesitatingly explained what had happened. At that moment, the universe was clearly in a sign-giving mood because guess who walked Right. By. Us.
Boyfriend slammed the dude up against a wall. Security separated them and held me back. We explained the situation, cops were called, the human ass-barnacle was identified and it all ended with them taking him away.
…I HATE that I didn’t hit the guy.
It’s not like I didn’t come close. My fist was clenched. I had started towards him. Something stopped me. It might’ve been that my boyfriend already had him and it just would’ve been a sucker punch. It might’ve been that I didn’t want to escalate things further. It’s hard to say.
Don’t get me wrong. I know I did the right thing by not hitting him. Besides grabbing him and turning him around, I never laid a hand on him. According to the police I now have an ironclad case of misdemeanor sexual assault against that bucket of reptilian poo.
But I HATE that I never hit him.
The only thing that kept me from feeling like I had failed myself was knowing that my first instinct had been to go after the guy. I didn’t hesitate. I turned around and confronted him.
The cops currently have him in custody. They tell me that my boyfriend and I did everything exactly right. I’m apparently “the best victim witness” they’ve ever had.
So…achievement unlocked? Best Victim Witness….10 points?
What I truly loathed about the whole encounter is that it had ruined the night. It ruined the true FUN I was having with friends in a place where I was supposed to be able to feel safe. This party was invite-only. I knew a lot of people there. That means this cowardly weenie (who was by himself the whole time) probably knew a friend of mine.
That bothers me. It also bothers me that this unevolved primate ruined not just my night, but the nights of my friends who care about me and made sure I was okay afterward (By the way guys: you know who you are. I love you all). It bothers me that this one single skin tag of a Homo sapien could have that effect and that even now I can still feel his hand on my skin.
Writing this was mostly therapeutic. But I wanted to share what I went through because while I can hope this violation never happens to anyone else, I know it will. Unfortunately, that’s just the world we live in. All I can say to you is that even though a giant part of me still wishes I had knocked that drunken ape’s teeth out of his head, most of me is glad that there is now absolutely no doubt who was, for lack of a better term, a victim. We left the guy in the hands of the police and he is hopefully even at this moment staring at a jail cell wall.
I managed to have the best case scenario: Lots of security around, tons of cameras documenting the action, and a loving boyfriend who knew enough to only make sure that guy wasn’t going anywhere. You may not be so lucky.
But don’t let the guy get away. Don’t convince yourself that it’s not a big deal. If someone does this to you, chances are they’ll do it to someone else. AND IT’S NOT OKAY.
Call the cops. Press charges. It’s worth it.
Oh, and stick around after you identify the jerk. Watching that pimple on humanity’s taint get led away in handcuffs and put into the back of a cop car will make you feel better. I guarantee it.