The first San Diego Comic-Con of the #MeToo era started with no mention of sexual harassment or Comic-Con mainstay Chris Hardwick, who is absent this year after accusations that he emotionally and sexually abused former girlfriend Chloe Dykstra.
When SDCC programming director Eddie Ibrahim gave his traditional kick off speech in Hall H on Thursday morning, he focused on tips for staying healthy and reminding attendees not to pirate footage shown to fans during Comic-Con. It was a notable omission after a year that included accusations of misconduct against several men in the geek pop culture space.
Last year, both Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles and “Honest Trailers” creator Andy Signore were accused of sexual harassment. And Hardwick stepped down as moderator of several Comic-Con panels after his Dykstra accused him.
SDCC’s code of conduct says that “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated.” It adds that “persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy” should seek out security or SDCC staff.
And on Sunday, Comic-Con told the Associated Press in a statement: “We want all participants to feel if they are treated in a manner that makes them uncomfortable, that there is a system in place that will respond to misconduct and sexual harassment.”
While representatives for SDCC didn’t provide specifics about any additional security measures it may take this year, the organization told AP that it will work closely with the San Diego Police Department and other law enforcement entities, and that it has employed several private security companies.
However, in recent years, there has been a push for more explicit policies regarding sexual harassment. In 2014, a group called Geeks for CONsent called for such changes with the slogan “Cosplay does not equal consent.”
Comic-Con and geek culture in general were also a backdrop to Hardwick and Dykstra’s relationship. She gained early fame as a cosplay model. And in the Medium post where she detailed her accusations against Hardwick, she said that when they first attended SDCC together, “he instructed me to not leave the hotel room. He went to parties by himself and got a famous actress’s number with intention to date her at the same time as me. I found out months later, and couldn’t bring myself to say anything because by this time, my self-worth was in the toilet.”
Hardwick has denied any abuse. Comic-Con did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.