MomoCon, a convention that took place in Atlanta, Georgia last weekend has been on blast by the cosplay community for a string of accusations concerning harassment cosplayers report experiencing throughout the weekend.
The cosplayer who has brought the most attention to this has been cosplayer Luna Lanie, who has tweeted about the issues she’s had with the convention before posting a video detailing her experiences with the convention. She had posted about being groped and touched by other attendees on social media. When MomoCon’s director saw this he arranged a meeting with Luna, whose suggestions offended them. After the meeting security came to her saying they received complaints from other attendees about her costume and she needed to change. She explained why she didn’t feel the need to change and then security proceeded to saying all the complaints she had made that week were a result of her own doing for wearing a revealing costume. Watch the video in its entirety for more details.
This has resulted in a show of tremendous support from cosplayers like Jessica Nigri and lots of bad word of mouth for MomoCon.
Supporting these claims are various tweets like this, as well as cosplayers speaking out about getting harrassed.
— Luna Lanie (@LunaLanieee) June 1, 2015
Despite the large amount of badmouthing on Twitter and Facebook MomoCon has remained silent about these accusations. Neither their homepage, Facebook, or Twitter has had anything to say about the controversy.
We have reached out to MomoCon for a comment. We’ll be updating this article whether we get a proper answer or not.
Our email has received a response from MomoCon’s co-chair Jess Merriman. We would like to thank her for taking the time to write back to us.
From Jess Merriman:
My co-chair and I pride ourselves on developing a family-friendly convention that welcomes a diverse group of people with inclusive content such as feminism in geek culture panels and, like any other convention, we have rules on cosplay attire. To ensure the security of our attendees we had more than 900 volunteers, building security and law enforcement on site at all times.
As soon as we saw a tweet from a local cosplayer saying she was harassed, MomoCon co-chair Chris Stuckey personally requested to meet with her so he could apologize on our behalf, provide her his direct phone number, request a description of individual, and have them removed from the convention. Unfortunately she was unable to provide a description at that time. Our security team would have enforced our zero tolerance policy for harassment.
While her attire that day violated our dress code, Chris did not mention it during the meeting because he recognized this would be victim-blaming. The cosplayer says when she left the meeting and returned to the convention some team of security, who would have been unaware of the situation as Chris did not mention her attire to anyone, rudely said her costume did not meet the guidelines. We have been unable to confirm this, but are still actively attempting to find the involved person(s) in order to ensure they are no longer affiliated with MomoCon.
We are extremely sorry this cosplayer had a negative experience, have apologized to her on multiple occasions and offered open lines of communication. The safety of our community is paramount to MomoCon. We take all issues of harassment and victim-blaming very seriously and these matters are always proactively addressed. We strive to instantly respond as soon as we become aware of any incident.
Moving forward, we will clearly and delicately communicate dress code violations in addition to continue to increase the amount of law enforcement and hired security on site. As MomoCon continues to grow we will do whatever is necessary to increase awareness among the general public that cosplay is not consent.
– Jessica Merriman, founder and co-chair, MomoCon
Here is our exchange in full.
I would like to close the topic by saying this probably took a lot of courage because of the public backlash. Conventions are not easy to run, and although the convention community is full of very kind, supportive people there are also terrible people, and sadly these terrible people can find their way not only as attendees but as staff and security. What I believe MomoCon should do is apologize publicly. It would show the con community you have enough respect for them to own up to the actions of these individuals in your staff and make it clear you are not going to be tolerating this behavior. I highly suggest you say you will make sure to better enforce your no tolerance policy from now on.
MomoCon also needs to fire those that are known to engage in inappropriate behavior and make it clear they don’t associate themselves with anybody against the cosplayers that have spoken up about their negative experiences. Recently Luna Lanie has tweeted a Facebook post of a con attendee threatening to ruin her reputation, and although you haven’t directly supported him to the con community your silence seems to suggest you’re fine with people doing these things since they’re (or so they think) fighting on your behalf.
— Luna Lanie (@LunaLanieee) June 2, 2015
Cosplayers when they cosplay put themselves in a vulnerable position. They are putting forth their sweat, blood, and tears into a costume and leaving themselves open to critique and ridicule when they go out, they all know this. However one thing they don’t expect because it shouldn’t happen is being groped and harassed. Having a con remain silent to these issues hurts them, because to them cons are supposed to be safe havens where they can just be geeky with other geeks and to them it’s equivalent to saying I don’t care.
I guarantee, if you apologize and go out of your way to ensure these incidents don’t happen again the community will respect you and you might get more attendees. Doing nothing is the worst things you can do since the irreparable damage word of mouth can create guarantees the community that serves as your primary attendees will never come back.