Why is there always a “that guy”?
A couple of years ago, I started vending at a con in Columbus. I was at a table next to guy with tasers and “horror videos.” He was just over middle age and gave off a creepy vibe. He had some of his models with him and they looked barely legal. Every time he demonstrated his tasers, I jumped. I did my best to ignore him, and prayed the girls with him were older than they looked.
This past May, another vendor, selling corsets and other leather items, gave off a similar vibe. He also made inappropriate comments to me. In talking to others, I found I was not the only person who had had issues with him. I reported him.
Last weekend, I vended at a show I have come to love. The man who runs it earns more of my respect almost every day. Late on Saturday, I wandered around in order to shop some of the other vendors. I came across a table with geeky t-shirts – a weakness for me. No matter how many I have, there is always another design I’m sure I “need.” They had Firefly ones, specifically one that said “Big Damn Heroes.” There was only one though, size small. I held it up and it didn’t seem that small. They were unisex sizes.
A man working the booth asked what size I was and I told him it depended – in men’s sizes, I can wear a medium. He held up a medium and it looked like it would fit. A small would be pushing it though and I told him as much. Rather than simply agree, however, he looked me up and down and replied, “Well, I’d enjoy the view.” I gave him a wan smile, already done with the interaction. He went on to tell me about another big-breasted gal he’d seen squeeze herself into a too-small shirt. I walked away.
Today, I reported him too. I also talked to a couple of other vendors and made sure they knew about him.
Neither of these incidents is egregious enough for me to want the other person banned or for me to boycott something they will be vending at. They’re relatively minor compared to some of the harassment I know goes on at cons. But I hate being this person. I feel like such a tattle tale, like I’m running to the teacher saying, “he was mean to me.”
Unfortunately, I don’t come up with good responses to these incidents in the moment. I tend to freeze, wonder if they’re really as bad as they seem. I tell friends to see if I’m overreacting. Once I feel validated, only then do I feel like I can tell someone who can actually do something about it.
I also know that if I don’t say something, I will feel worse. If these guys go on to worse harassment, I’d feel at fault for not doing my part. I just wish it wasn’t necessary. I want these guys to not just understand, but care about the effect they’re having. I want these cons to be safer spaces than this.
So yes, I will continue to speak up. I encourage everyone to. At the very least, I want my reports to corroborate someone else’s. I want someone else to know they are not alone and that they aren’t overreacting either.