A few weeks ago I was the door bitch for A Night of Intrigue, a goth/alt/dark event. As you can imagine, explicit consent is a must in such an area, and hard to enforce. And much as it can be difficult to convey in a SFF convention space, it can be hard to remind everyone to be respectful and to ask permission and very importantly, especially in such a space, ‘nudity is not consent’ is critical.
I took on the role of gateway consent controller for the night, if I may call it that. We had signs up at the inner doorway (after paying and getting your tags and all the rest of it), and I gave the same spiel hundreds of times. We had a red tag for ‘PLEASE DO NOT TALK TO ME IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME,’ and a green tag for ‘hey, feel free to start a convo respectfully,’ or you could choose not to tag at all. And so many people were skeptical, why do you even need that? This is silly. Some people I had to explain it wasn’t a sex thing, but the traffic light was a good comparison. Some people made fun of people who were coming to a nightclub/social event and didn’t want to meet/hang with anyone new.
But there were a dozen or so people who ran towards that red armband and put it on so fast, and so obviously, so that their red stripe would be clear. And as Ju reminded me, when my voice was hoarse and it was after 1am and I was getting tired and frustrated at people rolling their eyes at me, every person who came through that door heard my spiel. So even if they thought the system was silly, they had all had the same thing personally delivered to them as they came to through the door: that we were looking for respect, and we expected it from everyone, and that we were gonna be enforcing that.
It’s not perfect; it’s hard to prevent bottleneck, and I felt at times that I was working against my own desire not to put anybody out. It’s not a system that works for everyone, but it’s a start, and I think having it personally delivered almost one on one helped.
(ps if you are interested, the next event is September 13 and you should totally come along)