rachelmanija: (Little but fierce)
([personal profile] rachelmanija Apr. 24th, 2008 01:16 pm)
As a result of [livejournal.com profile] theferrett's smarmy, sexist, creepy description and advocacy of what was apparently, to at least some of the female participants, a fun experiment in sexuality and touch, I have read multiple comments and heard in person from a LOT of female fans that they will never or never again attend a convention, lest they be sexually harassed or subject to an atmosphere of misogynist hostility.

I like conventions: certain conventions, in moderation. It makes me sad to see that a venue that is already male-dominated will now become even more male-dominated, when I would like to see more women get involved and so make it more friendly to women.

But I also can't dismiss their concerns, or promise them that nothing will happen. For one thing, people are already posting to the Dragon Con comm under the assumption that now that public button-enabled sexual harrassment has been described and advocated, it will happen as a matter of course. For another, sexual harassment has occurred at cons way before this particular incident.

Conventions are not more sexist than the outside world, but neither are they less so. The world is incredibly sexist. All women are subject to misogynist taunts and harassment, and frequently have no recourse. This goes double if they are a member of any other oppressed or disrespected group: old women, young girls, women of color, lesbians, transsexuals, disabled women, immigrants, sex workers, the poor.

On a side note, it baffles me how fandom and cons seem quite happy to discriminate on every basis except that of personality. If you are a member of any generally-oppressed group, that's your problem. But if you are a fucking asshole, people will come out of the woodwork to say stuff like, "Oh, that's just Harlan/the ferrett being Harlan/the ferrett, don't mind him."

That is not OK.

I have probably experienced less random harassment than many women, and yet I have had my breasts groped twice (once before I hit puberty), been threatened with rape, murder, and sexual mutilation (in high school; the teacher I reported it to wouldn't even let me change my seat to get away the boy who was threatening me), a hostile atmosphere at work, public cat-calls, and men exposing themselves to me.

This is why many women feel that for groping strangers to be truly consensual, it must be kept in a labeled room and not in a public place. There's enough of that going on outside and non-consensually already.

However, I am not going to stop going to cons, nor am I going to stop wearing corsets and other attire which scumbags like [livejournal.com profile] theferrett think mean I won't mind being asked for a grope. I assure you, I will mind. Also, I will call security and the police. However, for the benefit of the socially impaired, that does not mean that you may not look. Looking is fine. Compliments are fine. Polite requests for photographs are fine. Touching and requests for sexual access are not fine.

But I hope that what will come out of this is a movement to make cons more safe and fun for everyone except those who want to grope freely in public spaces, sorry guys; room parties only. One is that we press conventions and the venues that host them to create and enforce sexual harassment policies. The other is the brilliant plan invented by [livejournal.com profile] vito_excalibur, Back Up: Women Defending Women. Yes, there is a gentleman's auxiliary.

Project Back Up

I intend to wear my Back Up badge to A-Kon and every other con I go to in the future. If you need assistance of any kind, I pledge to help you out as you wish and to the best of my ability.

From: [identity profile] nestra.livejournal.com


FYI, the Dragon*Con staff did post to the LJ, reminding people of their policies, which include "Please keep all behavior that polite fans would find offensive in public, in your hotel rooms."

I'm not particularly worried about my safety there, nor was I ever really worried. I'm just so fucking angry.

From: [identity profile] shalanna.livejournal.com

Applause


(Note that my cheerleader is NOT scantily clad)

Hooray for you. I already had stopped going to SF/F conventions some time ago because the creepiness level of the attendees had gone up so sharply. I usually interacted with a few people I already knew and tried to approach those I knew from LJ or online venues, but then I said, "Why??" It wasn't fun any more.

I hate to bring up politics, but I can't ignore the rampant, blatant sexism that the media is using against Hillary Clinton. All right, maybe you/he/we don't want to vote for her or we're for the other guy (although I *thought* that journalists and media types were not supposed to SO blatantly show their bias in favor of one over the other--they say the name of the Anointed One every few minutes, and then when SHE wins, they say, "She avoided disaster" rather than "She won.") But still, the sexism and the sexist nature of so many of the remarks bothers me. Yes, I'm happy that America is now color/race-blind, but America is still the land of the male chauvinist pig . . . and I've heard so many guys say, "I don't ever want ANY woman for president, especially not HER," and then when asked for reasons, they don't say, "She's a socialist," or "Her policies are all wrong," but instead say, "She's a b**ch." This bothers me. Even if you think someone is aggressive or ambitious or ruthless or whatever, the default nowadays is to "b**ch." It's revealing. (Now, don't everyone come argue with me that "person X *is* a b**ch," because that is not the issue I'm discussing. The issue is sexism and how eager people are to attack and lord it over someone because of gender.)

The USA seems to have a huge sexist element that is just barely buried, and it has come up to ground big time.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

Re: Applause


Hey, thanks for commenting. You bring up some valid points and some that I totally disagree with, but for subsequent commenters: please do not discuss Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, the media's treatment of either of them, or the US Democratic primaries here. It will completely hijack the conversation.

From: [identity profile] sensational.livejournal.com


On a side note, it baffles me how fandom and cons seem quite happy to discriminate on every basis except that of personality. If you are a member of any generally-oppressed group, that's your problem. But if you are a fucking asshole, people will come out of the woodwork to say stuff like, "Oh, that's just Harlan/the ferrett being Harlan/the ferrett, don't mind him."

Isn't that geek social fallacy number one (http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html), just with a big ol' lack of awareness? There's no examination of issues like race and class and gender in certain circles because "of COURSE I'm not sexist/racist/classist, because I'm smart*", but oh lord we must protect the socially inept geek.

*My girlfriend just left academia in part because of that kind of absurdity, so it's on my mind.

From: [identity profile] coraa.livejournal.com


oh lord we must protect the socially inept geek.

Yeah, that. I vastly dislike the feeling that I often get that I am required to put up with the behaviors of socially inept geeks. No: I may choose to do so, and, depending on the kind of ineptitude, often do -- but I am not required to do so, especially if the behavior is offensive or harmful.

Why should I privilege the feelings of someone who has said something hurtful over my own hurt, after all? If someone understands when called on it and attempts to do better, fine, but 'I don't get it' ceases to be an excuse when what one is doing is refusing to get it because social ignorance is such an easy excuse for bad behavior.

From: [identity profile] sensational.livejournal.com


I hear you. I love geeks, and I can put up with a lot of social ineptness (and perpetrate it myself!), but awkward is different than rude.

What's even worse is when someone refuses to get it because they think that by not being polite, they are being iconoclastic and not giving in to the man. Which means that anybody who is reserved or polite in company like that is a sheep, which, no.

From: [identity profile] coraa.livejournal.com


Yes. Well, and also, often times it only works one way. I have so many times seen someone say something awfully rude under the guise of being honest and rebelling against the constraints of society... who, when called out for it, tries to brand the caller-out 'mean' or 'bitchy.'

"I'm just being honest about how I feel" isn't much of a defense for rudeness at the best of times -- but it's downright hypocritical if one then complains about an honest response from someone else.

From: [identity profile] delle.livejournal.com


thank you for this. I'm a friend of [livejournal.com profile] nestra's, and will be attending Dragon*con with her this fall. I've already had a discussion with a ... man on the D*C comm that women dressed too skimpily are "asking" for harrassment. I'm still going to wear MY corset, thankyouverymuch, and any cretin that decides to hassle me is going to get a big honking scene on his hands and a call for security.

In reading around, I found some discussion that this scumbag [livejournal.com profile] theferrett has also posted a. about trying to get sex from a homeless woman and b. advocated that a woman that refuses a man's sexual advances *15* times and then gives in should be beaten, because she gave in. Not that anything should happen the guy for being obnoxious beyond belief being persistant.

my husband's support is the only reason I'm not hating on all men right now.
ext_6385: (Default)

From: [identity profile] shewhohashope.livejournal.com


That's such an arbitrary number. I'm tempted to say I'd say 'yes' just to shut him up at the point, but it would be untrue. I'd likely just resort to violence.

But what does he say about the guy harassing women to that extent? Boy will be boys?

From: [identity profile] delle.livejournal.com


nothing, apparently. I will freely admit I didn't read the thread myself, as I was so enraged by his "Free Boobies Project" that I won't give him the site hits and I don't want to ever read anything by him again.

From: [identity profile] shati.livejournal.com


What [livejournal.com profile] giandujakiss quoted him saying was:
    Unfortunately, I can't decry the process of "asking repeatedly," mainly because it's the only stimuli a lot of women respond to. Frankly, I think any woman who has to be begged fifteen times before she eventually accepts should be drug into the back alleyways and beaten, because her rampant need for a string of pleadings trains the wrong sort of men that no doesn't mean no. And then we should go beat up the men for good measure.
So apparently beatings for everyone, but women are responsible for rape, and it's perfectly reasonable to ask a woman 15 times if that's the only way you can get sex out of her.

From: [identity profile] green-knight.livejournal.com


I refuse to be marginalised. I have a right to go out in public without being molested, I have a right to go to cons without being molested, and I will not voluntarily withdraw from a space that I enjoy because a very small number of people feel they have a right to impose their personal rules of behaviour on the rest of us.

In withdrawing, we make it easier for them, we give them power over us.

From: [identity profile] annafdd.livejournal.com


I didn't know about Dragon*Con. Not a con I have ever been interested in attending, but I am still spitting angry that this vileness, despite our best effort, hasn't been stopped.

Gah.

I feel so angry and helpless and impotent.

From: [identity profile] janni.livejournal.com


On a side note, it baffles me how fandom and cons seem quite happy to discriminate on every basis except that of personality.

Really. What's up with that?

It's better than it was. When in my early 20s I started congoing, I was one of the youngest adults there, and the older writers and fans I met kept telling me it was just how people were. Now, there's a couple decades behind me agreeing with me that no, this is not okay.

(One of my very first cons was one Harlan was GoH at. He was better behaved there than at some, but by the end of the con I knew this was someone I did not want to interact with nohow, noway, never. I couldn't care less how generous he is to his friends. Been there, done that--if you're good to your chosen friends and horrid to everyone else, you are in fact a horrid person, and I'd rather not interact with you.)

From: [identity profile] annafdd.livejournal.com


Oh yes. I know of at least a very active fan that gets away with sexist and generally rude stuff that others would be called on, because... I don't know. I can't figure it out. People tell me "oh, he's nobody, don't get yourself worked up about him". Also, this being Britain "Please, don't Make A Scene".

Growl.

From: [identity profile] smtfhw.livejournal.com


However, I am not going to stop going to cons, nor am I going to stop wearing corsets and other attire which scumbags like theferrett think mean I won't mind being asked for a grope. I assure you, I will mind. Also, I will call security and the police.

Well put, I'd say. I admit my reaction would be rather more extreme - I'd just do what I've done in the past - a sharp slap to the face and a knee in the balls. It tends to get the message across with no ambiguity whatsoever...

From: [identity profile] annafdd.livejournal.com


I would really like a more proactive approach - contacting various con comms and eliciting a clear policy about harassment, if necessary involving the authorities.

From: [identity profile] seshat.livejournal.com


Most cons worth their salt should already have such a thing. Even if it's not clearly stated on the front page, it should be in the Ops training manual.

From: [identity profile] dichroic.livejournal.com


Thanks for the link. I went and commented, but not being much of a congoer, I am joining Project Back-Up for life - for all relevant life situations.

I was thinking about this just the other day; a male coworker was telling me of his (very commendable) interference in a domestic violence case in the hallways of his apartment building and I was trying to think of how I could have handled the same situation. Coworker could directly interfere, being large and male. I think I'd have had to call the police.

From: [identity profile] porphyrin.livejournal.com


Wait.

There are BADGES?!

...very next Con I go to, I'm wearing one.

From: [identity profile] daedala.livejournal.com


Thanks.

I felt compelled to point out to someone who was noodling about "how to do this right" -- i.e. changing buttons and stuff -- that people really were going to contact hotels about this. He said that it was too much work to actually do and he wasn't really interested... but how many other "geek fix-it types" who are are otherwise ok are going to try to make the game workable?

From: [identity profile] james-angove.livejournal.com


(I feel like I'm wondering around the internet pointing out the non-sexist ways in which this whole project sucked. For the record, its not because I don't see the sexist reasons, or disagree, but because they seem to be adequately covered)

I cannot wrap my head around how many people are failing to get this part: Groping in public is a violation of the people watching. It is including them in your sex life, without their consent. (For the syntactically challenged: If you are in a labeled room, its no longer public.) This is true totally independent of the how the participants feel about it the groping. Because I know for sure that watching a public grope fest will make damn uncomfortable; 5-10 years ago it would have made me nervous and uncomfortable and confused to the point of tears and vomiting and panic attacks.

I don't understand why so many people aren't getting this. Apparently Embracing The Stupid has become a key component of the Rite of Denial of The Existing of [Select as required: Racism/Sexism/Classism/Privlige] in fandom.

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com


And also, a kiss, a hug, or handholding does not equal a grope.

From: [identity profile] dichroic.livejournal.com


If it makes you feel better, I did point this out, but there have been so many posts about this idea I'm not entirely sure now which one I commented on.

From: [identity profile] annafdd.livejournal.com


I don't understand why so many people aren't getting this. Apparently Embracing The Stupid has become a key component of the Rite of Denial of The Existing of [Select as required: Racism/Sexism/Classism/Privlige] in fandom.

I feel like I have bumped into teh Stupid all over the place yesterday. This is very aptly put.

From: [identity profile] sparkymonster.livejournal.com


but how many other "geek fix-it types" who are are otherwise ok are going to try to make the game workable

I'm torn because the concept of being able to freely touch another person, with their consent, in non sexual ways is a good one. I'm involved in a variety of communities where that happens. And being able to give and recieve touch/physical affection in a fully consenting, aware and conscious way can be fantastic.

BUT

It can't be done in a big public space. It can't be done without a lot of awareness and discussion of consent. It can't be done with fucking buttons, and it can't be done with people gloating about getting away with something.

I wish that more sci-fi fans would learn about both having boundaries (physical and emotional) and about not pushing them. Given that sci-fi cons are often filled with people with crappy boundaries and minimal awareness of shoving up against them, I sigh deeply.

And yes, I am confident that sci-fi fans will do this at parties in the future. Possibly being all "edgy" and "not-PC". You know, fighting The Man by acting like an entitled jerk. The usual.

From: [identity profile] seshat.livejournal.com


*sigh* Penny Arcade's Internet theory holds true for cons as well. The larger the con, the more people act like jerks. And the more people seem to come into my ops room with complaints of being groped, harassed, photographed without their consent*, etc. The anonymity of the crowd apparently empowers the trolls.

I wish I could say cons are a safe space, but outside of the small local community cons, they really aren't. Play safe, but play carefully. Be aware that there are predators out there. And while Ops at my con will pull the badge if we can catch the guy, nine times out of ten, by the time the issue gets reported to us, the harasser is long gone.

*This sounds frivolous, but I've seriously had girls come in complaining that some guy managed to snap pictures of their underwear when they were walking down the halls and such. Deeply uncool and not ok.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com


If anyone really doesn't see what is not cool about this (and so far it seems that a majority of people do see it, but of course our results could be skewed), one way of looking at it is that it's no different than the philosophy behind chador and Victorian curtains for piano legs. That is, unless a woman wears something to indicate clearly that she is off limits, she is not, and it's her fault for not broadcasting it. It's really as simple as that.

I fault [livejournal.com profile] theferrett more for this kind of thinking than for "not having a clue." Anyone's capable of not having a clue. We all have moments when due to some unexamined assumptions we upset someone in a reprehensible way, but not due to some planned reprehensibility. Women too, including around issues of touch. Women sometimes seem to go under the assumption that it's OK to touch another woman at any time. I once touched a friend who was suffering through an upsetting scene in a film, and freaked her out. Later I got an idea of why when a perfect stranger (a female) walked up behind me and hugged me during a lecture on sexual abuse, and gave as her reason "you looked upset." There are also such things as mixed messages, and if someone, man or woman, in all innocence or ignorance misreads something as a sexual invitation that isn't, it doesn't have to mean that a person is constitutionally reprehensibly clueless. If that were as far as it went, so be it. That much, one can call "experience."

But putting the responsibility for restraint on the other person as a consequence of having been told "No" is a classic sexist/hierarchical maneuver and truly reprehensible, even as a joke, and we should all take responsibility for notifying people in charge at any con where something like this might be taking place. Taking the most generous view of it possible, the people who might do something like this don't have to plan for it to be dangerous for it to become very dangerous fast. It sounds all too much like high school and no, that isn't meant to make it sound innocent (speaking as someone who was removed from junior high and educated privately because I was being sexually harrassed to such an extent).

From: [identity profile] naomikritzer.livejournal.com


It is really interesting how much this conversation has evolved in the last six years.

I'm not convinced that what actually goes on has changed all that much. But how we talk about it seems a lot more empowered. It helps that there's been explicit pressure on cons to create sexual harassment policies, and publish them. It helps that cons like Convergence have worked to make things safer with things like the "Costumes are Not Consent" campaign.

But let me just note one aspect of the discussion that has improved a lot since 2008:

But if you are a fucking asshole, people will come out of the woodwork to say stuff like, "Oh, that's just Harlan/the ferrett being Harlan/the ferrett, don't mind him."

God ALMIGHTY this metaphor is helpful when talking about that phenomenon.

(Not that it has eliminated the problem. But it's given us a handle for demanding that the community deal with the creep rather than saying, "oh, but you have to understand: he's just a creep.")
.

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