C2E2 and Responding to Criticism

C2E2-Logo-Square-Hi-ResBetween recovering from Chi-Fi on Saturday and a nasty migraine, I’m a little behind. I’m pleased to say, however, that C2E2/ReedPOP responded positively to the open letter expressing concerns about the image on the Saturday badge. With permission, below is the reply I received from Lance Fensterman, Global VP for ReedPOP, who addressed his reply to everyone who had co-signed the initial email:

Hi there and thanks for the thoughtful letter.

In short, I completely agree with you. We should have displayed more thoughtfulness on this and erred so much more on the side of being sensitive about using any imagery that would be offensive to anyone.

Your note was so well-crafted and pragmatic yet clear on exactly why this kind of badge art is unnecessary and not reflective of the image or spirit we want any of our events to convey.  Thank you for taking the time to write it.

We plan to have alternative badge art available at the show so anyone who is uncomfortable with the image can easily trade the badge in for something different.  I understand that does not change the fact that the badges were produced in the first place, but I hope it is indicative of our effort to assure that everyone feels welcome, safe and comfortable at any ReedPOP event.

Again, thank you for your note and I appreciate your care in bringing this to my attention.

Lance Fensterman
Global Vice President
ReedPOP – A Quirky Offshoot of Reed Exhibitions

This response is indicative of the kind of care and thoughtfulness I’ve come to expect from C2E2, and is an example I hope other cons will learn from. I appreciate Mr. Fensterman’s effort in taking the time to respond to the concerns we initially expressed in the initial email – in my personal opinion, making alternative badges available is a reasonable solution. I would like to thank everyone who co-signed the email and lent their support in the comments of the original post – I firmly believe that a plurality of voices made a big difference here.

One point that I think is important to make, considering some of the viewpoints I saw being brought up in various conversations about this issue: The concern about this image was centered on the idea that a sexually objectified image on an official con badge sent a contradictory message about who the con considers their primary audience and who is welcome, especially in light of the many, many conversations about con harassment and the treatment women in geek communities often experience. However, there’s a difference between this kind of image appearing on official con material, as well as the use of sexualized images to sell products, and the choices individual attendees make in terms of costume and attire. Expressing concern over the use of sexualized images on con badges isn’t expressing condemnation for individual expressions of sexuality. The issue isn’t that the idea of women in “sexy” attire is “wrong” across the board – context plays an extremely important part in determining appropriateness and whether or not an image delves into objectification.

I think this is an important distinction to delve into and I’m aiming to have a post exploring this more in depth next week.

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