Female Comic Book Store Employee Fired After Complaining About Rape Jokes

Window display at Harrison's Comics in Salem, MA

Window display at Harrison’s Comics in Salem, MA

Ick. What a horrible situation. And if the information we have now is accurate – and obviously, it’s possible we don’t have the complete story – it so needlessly escalated. (Bleeding Cool has a bunch of the tweets, mostly from Jennifer Williams, the fired employee).

The manager who made the “we call this the rape room” joke could have apologized. Or the owner of the story could have been taken the manager aside and told him very firmly that jokes about rape are never acceptable in the workplace, and extra-double aren’t appropriate for a nervous new female employee on her first day. Either way, the new employee could have walked away with a feeling that her objection had been taken seriously and there would be no more rape jokes.

No need to fire anyone. The manager could have learned some basic etiquette that he should already have known, and Jennifer Williams could have felt like the store’s owner will support her and be willing to listen if harassment occurs. And Harrison’s Comics would not now be known as that comic book store where the manager jokes about a rape room.

Instead, Jennifer Williams was fired for no clear reason – which sure looks like she was fired for reporting a hostile workplace environment. And not only this store but all of comics culture looks – not for the first time – like a misogynist boy’s club culture full of guys who don’t have the basic social skills needed to understand “maybe I shouldn’t be telling rape jokes to the brand-new female employee who I barely even know.”

Aaargh. So much fail.

In the comments of the Jezebel story, a reader related a similar story about racism in a comic book store:

Shared this with a friend from across the country who actually works at a comics shop and also happens to be black, and has many amusing stories about casual nerd racism. He had a pretty good comment I’m going to paraphrase here.

Him: “Okay, so if my shop had a room that everyone called ‘dead nigger storage’, think they’d fire me if I complained? No. Because that’s fucked up if you have employees dropping n-bombs casually. Nobody cares if its just a Pulp Fiction reference, you don’t say that shit casually, especially around a black dude who’s a co-worker you don’t really know that well. This kind of the same idea.”

Me: “Did that actually happen to you?”

Him: “Yup.”

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