MomoCon Responds to Harassment Allegations… Sort of

On Sunday we reported on how Cosplayer Luna Lanie was harassed by MomoCon staff after complaining about… well… really gross sexual harassment by other attendees on social media. Also in that article, we posted an account of another cosplayer who was inappropriately touched by MomoCon security personnel as well.

So yeah, it’s a pretty bad situation.

Well, MomoCon has now issued an official response. Nerd Reactor is reporting that MomoCon has put out the following official statement:

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

Now there’s a lot of ass-covering here, but, in all honesty, I’m not sure I buy a lot of it. They appear to be doubling down on the idea that Luna Lanie was in violation of the convention’s dress code.

The MomoCon dresscode for women is, and I quote, “full-coverage bikini top and shorts.” Looking at the video put out by Luna Lanie, she does not appear to actually be actual violation of said code — and you can find plenty of photos of women online who were not told they were in violation of the dress code at MomoCon who wore a lot less.

But I don’t think we should be surprised that a defensive convention co-chair is trying to throw shade at a person accusing her organization of something. I mean, it’s ironic that they claim they didn’t inform her that her outfit was inappropriate because it would be “victim blaming,” and then proceed to blame her for violating a dresscode she really clearly wasn’t… but whatever.

Beyond MomoCon’s official statement, MomoCon’s director of public safetly James Lee has ALSO put out his own official statement. And by “official statement” I mean an over 1300 word rambling monologue about how much he loves conventions.

He starts out by saying he’s responding to the negative statements about MomoCon, but then proceeds to give us his life story (which sounds pretty much like the life story of every con staffer I’ve ever met) and not address the situation at all. Honestly, I was planning on posting the thing here, but it would literally triple the final length of this article.

None of this really addresses what actually happened at the convention, but I don’t think that’s a shocker. MomoCon is in damage control mode right now, and determined to not admit it was their fault.

Which is, y’know, not a good thing.

Via Nerd Reactor, KorFan

  • RenRen

    Yo. As someone who did attend the event I can say the following:
    I will also testify to the fact that they didn’t really have set security even with three different sets, nor did they have staff that were actively involved in helping the attendees.
    There had been cosplays that I saw that were much more revealing at that convention, including someone who was clearly underage dressing up as Shimakaze from Kantai Collection, and various other costumes.
    I saw a lot of people at that convention, and heard of a lot of security failures of that particular weekend, including sharing an elevator ride with a very angry wife because someone stole her husband’s phone, and that the security in charge of their area (they were in charge of a certain section of the vendor hall area) did NOTHING, she ended up having to go to the district police and shut down the phone remotely, losing several hundred dollars and who knows how much personal data from the device.
    This event had absolutely no feeling of togetherness that you would even remotely expect from a convention of it’s size. It took up three city blocks worth of space, and yet the security was pathetic. I can’t speak on behalf of other vendors, but I can say that I am glad that nothing was stolen from my table.
    The staff themselves were completely unhelpful, too, all the way from set-up to tear-down. Most conventions have staff on hand to actually help vendors who are understaffed with their displays, and we only got help once the entire weekend, and that’s when I dropped a box of ramune at the very end.
    All in all, while I did have fun, there were incredibly lax security protocols, and very little inter-communication with the convention center staff, professional security, and convention staff.
    Its a serious shame that I am not shocked at all by the complete failure of handling this matter with any diligence or grace, and causing much more harm than good.
    Also, if people are looking for a local convention to attend that isn’t Momocon, may I suggest Kami Con in Birmingham. It was a lot of fun, and everyone there was very nice. While it is smaller by more than half it may be a more enjoyable experience for people who were victimized at this event because their staff actually cares and the security teams are actually doing their jobs.

  • Amanda

    A comment on reddit by the con chair. I’m sure he’d never act that way. (This is the reddit account he uses for managing momocon’s subreddit, and answering/advertising on behalf of it btw, so it’s not like he tried to hide it or use a separate account).

    http://imgur.com/a/IT2Y