This statement is regarding our stance on 7 April regarding the exclusion of the entry ‘Feminism’ from the Conpulsion Logo Competition. We would like to apologise sincerely for the errors of judgment in the way the Conpulsion committee decided to remove the entry, and the way the GEAS Committee handled the situation afterwards. We had not fully understood the consequences our decision would have on members of our community.
The GEAS committee realises that as a gaming convention, Conpulsion has a responsibility towards the community, and that our actions are part of a broader context of a culture and industry where women, non-binary people, LGBT+ people, and people of colour are excluded or harassed. This means that we as an institution have to make further efforts to include these groups and validate their experiences. We regret that by being deliberately neutral on the question of equality our actions failed to do so, and instead contributed to their exclusion. We will strive to ensure that this does not happen again. We wish to work with them to rectify this, and we welcome any feedback to help us do better.
We acknowledge that having ‘Feminism’ as a convention theme would have been a much-needed step forward for conversations around representation. Unfortunately, having considered our current options carefully, we feel that it would not be viable because giving it such prominence in our convention masthead risks drawing widespread, public backlash and attacks at the event from people in the hobby who are openly hostile to equality, and the scale of such backlash would overwhelm the limited resources and skills we have as a small, student-run charity convention. This is not a justification for our earlier decision to exclude it, but a practical constraint on what we can and cannot achieve within our limited means: we deeply regret that this is the state of affairs, but we simply cannot afford the police protection that we would need to hire as a precautionary measure.
However, regardless of the theme and available resources, we will take a feminist perspective in how we run the event and we will address the structural issues of discrimination at an institutional scale within our capacity. We commit to ensuring that GEAS and Conpulsion will always be inclusive and safe spaces for people from marginalised groups, and that their experiences will be validated and welcome. We have already enacted some initiatives in previous years — for example a robust harassment policy to protect members of the community from the aforementioned discrimination and hostility, and a panel on the ‘death of the gamer stereotype’ to spotlight discussions of equality and diversity — and we would like to build on these going forward and strive for institutional change.
To these ends, GEAS will take greater oversight to ensure that the organisers of Conpulsion and the GEAS committee going forward are sensitive to these concerns, actively work towards addressing them, and that they take responsibility for their actions and their consequences. We are currently reaching out to local organisations that work for gender equality with the intent of collaborating with them to learn more about issues relating to structural inequality and inclusion, and to develop our skills when addressing these issues within the gaming community; we will also select this organisation as our partner charity to support at next year’s convention. We will provide more information once we confirm the details. We will also organise events that spotlight feminism and the role of women, non-binary people, and LGBT+ people in gaming, so that we validate the voices and perspectives that the theme of Feminism sought to amplify. And whatever the theme for the convention, we will prioritise intersectionality and inclusion in the programming, organisation and communications for Conpulsion.
It is with great humility that we thank the members of our community for their patience and continued support, and we wish to reciprocate this by reassuring them that they are welcome at Conpulsion, their voices are valued, and that we are working towards making them included within the community.
Emily Booth, GEAS President
And the GEAS Committee
If you would like to get in touch with the GEAS Committee regarding our statement or our position, or with any feedback, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have been affected by these issues or have any concerns pertaining to equality and welfare, please contact our Wellbeing Officer via email at email@example.com or via our anonymous form on our Tumblr http://geaswelfare.tumblr.com/