Many science fiction writers, in the interest of being decent human beings, won't go to a con unless there's a policy in place against sexual harassment and the con has procedures in place to protect people who feel they are being sexually harassed.
So when I was looking at the VidCon website -- because I love the way Youtube has opened up creative opportunities and created some amazing art (like The Lizzie Bennett Diaries) -- I was surprised that I couldn't find any conduct policy.
Surprised because VidCon had a very public sexual harassment incident last year.
Surprised because of the scandal surrounding Tom Milsom, a featured VidCon artist who had a sexually abusive relationship with a teenage minor he met at VidCon.
Surprised because VidCon is marketed to teens and emphasizes direct contact between creators and fans, and people are rightly pointing out how that can lead to problems.
That's three examples of surprise because of the rule of threes, but there are many more. Other featured VidCon creators have been implicated in sexual assault and harassment cases and one of them, Mike Lombardo, is currently in prison for child pornography because of images he solicited from his underage fans. A young woman who has attended every VidCon offers her perspective on the pattern of problems here.
So I contacted VidCon and asked them to direct me to their official conduct policy online. Here is the message I sent using their contact form:
Subject: Conduct policy
Message: Can you direct me to a link that has Vidcon's official policies about harassment and conduct? Thanks!
Simple. Direct. That's me.
But when I didn't hear anything back after a couple days, I tweeted about it:
After I tweeted, VidCon got back to me. Their answer? They don't have a policy against sexual harassment and they don't need a policy. But they're looking into it for the future, just in case.
I'd love to tell you that that's an oversimplification, but here's the actual reply from VidCon:
"As far as an official harassment and conduct policy goes, I don't know that we have anything publicly available yet. VidCon attendees, guests, and staff are extremely respectful to each other, and we work hard to provide a safe environment at our event. It's because of this that there hasn't historically been a need for such policies. Though as VidCon continues to grow, I think it is important to have something in place, and we're certainly looking into it."
Here's a screencap, so you can see it all in context:
I think VidCon is mistaken. They do need a policy against sexual harassment. They do need a conduct policy to protect the teens who attend. And they need it now, this year.
Every con does.