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Reporting Sexual Harassment in SF/F

Snoopy Pumpkin

Please see http://www.jimchines.com/2013/07/reporting-sexual-harassment-2013/ for the most current version of this post.

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Last week, I described a conversation I had with several different people at World Fantasy Con about an editor known for sexually harassing women. This generated a lot of discussion. At one point I remarked that someone should put together resources and contact information for anyone who’s been harassed and wanted to report it.

A moment later it occurred to me that, “Hey … I’m someone.  I could do that.”

I want to make it as clear as I can that if you’ve been sexually harassed, it’s your choice whether or not to report that harassment.  It’s not an easy choice, and I obviously can’t guarantee the outcome.  But I can tell you that if someone has harassed you, it’s 99% certain that he (or she) has done it to others.  You’re not alone.

Reporting to Publishers:

As a general rule, if you’ve been sexually harassed by an editor or another employee of a publisher, complaints can be directed to the publisher’s H.R. department.  Please note that reporting to H.R. will usually trigger a formal, legal response.

I’ve also spoken to people at several publishers to get names and contact information for complaints, both formal and informal.  I’ve put asterisks by the publishers where I spoke with someone directly.

  • Ace: See Penguin, below.
  • Baen*: Toni Weisskopf, toni -at- baen.com. From Toni, “You would come to me with any complaint about the company.”
  • DAW*: Sheila Gilbert (sheila.gilbert -at- us.penguingroup.com) or Betsy Wolheim (betsy.wolheim -at- us.penguingroup.com).  They can be reached during normal office hours, Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Del Rey/Spectra*: HumanResources -at- randomhouse.com.
  • Harper Collins: feedback2 -at- harpercollins.com
  • Orbit: Andrea Weinzimer, VP of Human Resources.  andrea.weinzimer -at- hbgusa.com.  Inappropriate conduct can also be brought up with the publisher, Tim Holman tim.holman -at- hbgusa.com.
  • Penguin: Contact page links to an e-mail submission form.
  • Random House: Contact page has some info.
  • Roc: See Penguin, above.
  • Solaris Books: Please use the Contact Page.
  • Tor*: Report the incident directly to Macmillan Human Resources, or to Beth Meacham, at bam -at- panix.com or in person.

Publishers – I would love to expand this list with better information.  Please contact me.

Reporting to Conventions:

Often harassment doesn’t come from editors, but from authors or other fans.  If this happens at a convention, another option is to contact the convention committee.  Many (but not all) conventions are now including harassment policies in the program books.

A convention committee doesn’t have the same power as an employer.  However, if harassment is reported at a convention, the individual may be confronted or asked to leave.  In addition, reporting harassment by guests (authors, editors, etc.) is very helpful to the convention in deciding who not to invite back.

For example, to report harassment which occurred at World Fantasy Con 2010, I would start at their web site.  From the names listed, I would personally start with Lucy Snyder, simply because she’s someone I know and trust.

To convention staff, I would ask and encourage you to make sure you have a harassment policy in place, and equally importantly, that your volunteers are aware of that policy and willing to enforce it when necessary.

The Con Anti-Harassment Project includes a list of SF/F conventions and their sexual harassment policies.

 

What to Expect:

Ideally, someone who was sexually harassed could report it and expect to be treated with respect.  Her or his concerns would be taken seriously, and all possible steps would be taken to make sure the behavior did not happen again, and that the offender understood such behavior was unacceptable.  Disciplinary action would be taken when appropriate.

This is not a perfect world.  Employers are required to follow the laws and their own policies, which may mean a report results in nothing more than a warning (particularly if this is the first report of harassment).  And of course, there’s always the T.D. factor.  You might contact a member of the convention committee, only to discover that they are (in the words of George Takei) a Total Douchebag who blows you off or tells you to get over it.

That said, when I first posted about this, everyone who responded expressed that such behavior was unacceptable.  And there were a lot of responses, from fans, authors, editors, con staff, and agents.

As a rape counselor, I learned how powerful and important it can be to break the silence around assault and harassment.  However, it’s always your choice whether or not to report.  Making that report will be stressful.  It can be empowering.  It may or may not have visible results.  First and foremost, please do whatever is necessary to take care of yourself.

Other Resources:

Please contact me if you know of related resources which should be included here.

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I will be updating this page as needed, and doing my best to keep the resources and information up to date.  Feedback and suggestions are welcome.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 76 comments — Leave a comment )
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callistra
Nov. 8th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Also, if someone does wish to report to relevant authorities, it may be useful to have a good friend with you who can speak *for* you at times, such as asking people to be a bit more gentle in their questioning, or a bit more tactful in their handling of situations. Or just to hold your hand while you speak, and ensure you have a safe(r) space in which to talk.
jimhines
Nov. 8th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
That's a very good idea. There's a lot to be said for having someone there to help advocate for you if needed, and to provide moral/emotional support.
jennielf
Nov. 8th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
Yet one more reason why you are a phenomenal wonderful person.

Thank you for putting this all together. you rock.
suricattus
Nov. 8th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
linked via Twitter and FB.

You doth rock mightily.
jimhines
Nov. 8th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(no subject) - suricattus - Nov. 8th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - threeoutside - Nov. 8th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
casacorona
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
Just FYI -- contacting a publisher's HR department will probably start a legal response. These departments are pretty much in the business of protecting the company from threats of lawsuits, not in providing small scale solutions.

Which is not to say you shouldn't do it. Just be aware.
jimhines
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
True, and good point. I'll update Updated to clarify.

Edited at 2010-11-08 02:19 pm (UTC)
tinkrbellicoptr
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
You really are a remarkable person, Jim. If there were more people like you out there, we wouldn't even be having this discussion...
jhetley
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
Go you!
jhetley
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)
Mentioned in my LJ, with link . . .
(no subject) - jimhines - Nov. 8th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
mtlawson
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks for doing this, Jim. I hope that SFWA links to your page, and that this inspires the other genres to kick this into gear.
jimhines
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Ooh, good idea. Just shot an e-mail off to SFWA...
(no subject) - mtlawson - Nov. 8th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Nov. 8th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - apis_mellifera - Nov. 8th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Nov. 8th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - apis_mellifera - Nov. 8th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
michaeldthomas
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this resource. I wonder if SFWA would boost this signal... (hint at SFWA officers)

jimhines
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
Already e-mailed one of the officers about it :-)
(no subject) - michaeldthomas - Nov. 8th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
otterdance
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
You've done some great work here, Jim. Kudos!
arouraleona
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
You are continuously one of the most awesome people I 'know' (in an author/reader/internet context). It's important to remind people that it's their right to file complaints and reports and give them the resources they need to help them if such action becomes necessary. That support, that belief and understanding, is vital in giving people the courage to move through the hoops and the pile of crap that sexual harassment reporting can quickly devolve into.

So ... thank you.
neva_butterfly
Nov. 8th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
I really don't know anything about the publishing world. HOWEVER, as someone who lost my job standing up for someone else who was being hurt years ago, and someone who has watched friends file complaints and even lawsuits, and has seen other friends walk away and just keep quiet, I'll just say that as great as policies sound on paper and as nice as laws sound, or tv shows make them seem, there is a mobbing mentality in many workplaces and it's not just "sexists" who rush in to condemn victims. Women, and "nice guys" do it too, particularly if they like/trust the accused, if all their buddies are mobbing, if the victim wasn't well liked/wasn't important... People will say, in theory, every single time that sexual harassment and violence is unacceptable--what they do when their friend is accused doesn't always measure up. Just the reality as I see it. I would be very reluctant at this point to pursue legal actions in any future incident, since I've seen it fail so badly in the past.
jimhines
Nov. 8th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
I've seen this sometimes too. With rape, pretty much everyone will agree that in theory, rape is a horrible thing and anyone who does it should be punished. But the moment it becomes real, many of those people start saying "Oh, but that wasn't *really* rape," or they point to "gray areas," or make up extenuating circumstances, or talk about what a nice guy that person is and he would never do that, and so on.

I wish I had a solution, but all I can think of for myself, personally, is to keep trying to challenge those who excuse or minimize or victim-blame when confronted with real-life examples of harassment and assault.

I'm sorry you were punished for standing up for someone else. You and they deserve better.
(no subject) - nyxalinth - Nov. 9th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suricattus - Nov. 8th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mme_hardy - Nov. 8th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sylvanstargazer - Nov. 9th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC) - Expand
las
Nov. 8th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for doing this, Jim.

I know it's difficult to speak up about/report harassment, but I hope people who've suffered it will do so.

And as Jim said, otherwise, the odds are good that the predatory editor in question may be invited to be a guest at another convention, and the con organizers will have no idea they're bringing in someone who will treat their attendees badly. (If he's going to act that way at WFC, which is supposed to be a professional gathering, I shudder to think how he'd act at the local media con).
azurelunatic
Nov. 8th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
(also found via the Con Anti-Harassment Project) This one looks even more thorough than the Anthrocon policy: http://www.bicon2008.org.uk/codeofconduct.html
serialbabbler
Nov. 8th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being someone.
bondo_ba
Nov. 8th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting the links. Even TD's (the only kind of person who would act this way, IMO) would have to take notice if their employers and publishers are being contacted.

I support you on this 100%.
kalmn
Nov. 8th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
wiscon: http://www.wiscon.info/rules.php

i quote, but please note that we may revise the webpage in the future and i'm not coming back here to revise my quote here after... :)

"Harassment

Harassment is generally any behavior that annoys, alarms, or threatens another person or group. This includes unwanted physical contact, following someone around a public area without their consent, or threatening to physically attack someone. If you approach someone and they tell you "no" or to leave them alone, you must do so and have no further contact. If you fail to honor their response, they may have a legitimate complaint of harassment.

Harassment of convention members online or in electronic venues will be treated as seriously as physical harassment. If you aren't sure what constitutes harassment, err on the side of caution and restrict your contact. For more information, please review the privacy policies in the following section. If you feel you have been harassed please report the matter immediately to the convention committee, especially Safety and the convention chairs. Please remember that we need to know about any incidents during the convention to be able to take immediate action. If you have been accused of harassment and feel that a committee member's response was unjustified, you may appeal to the convention chairs, but that decision will be final.

If you feel that you have been the victim of criminal conduct, please notify the local police immediately and, if necessary, seek medical attention."


to get to the police, call 911, to get to safety or the convention chairs, safety are the ones carrying clipboards, the convention chairs will have been on stage at opening and other convention wide events; in either case if you're not sure, talk to any convention staff and we'll get them for you.
greylistening
Nov. 8th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being a good man who is not doing nothing.
shanrina
Nov. 8th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. I think it's a really good idea.
archiver_tim
Nov. 8th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
Would the hosting hotels have anyone that would be an intermediary or go-to-person that one could find via front desk staff? I am sure they could be interested, particulary if a police report needed to be made involving an overnight or public space guest of their hotel.
filkertom
Nov. 8th, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC)
You also might want to give Book View Cafe a try for signal boost.
klwilliams
Nov. 8th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
From my years as a manager in large companies, a useful thing to do is: If someone has said or done something to harass you, it really helps if you tell them directly to stop. You may be too uncomfortable if it's a person in a position of power over you, but if possible, tell them to stop. Then write down the date and time, where you both where, and what you said. If they do it again, document it. When you talk to their HR department, any documentation that shows sustained harassment after you've made it clear to them that their behavior is not asked for and should be stopped. Otherwise, they can claim that they thought you welcomed the behavior (and maybe they do think that). Document, document, document, and make clear your feelings where you feel comfortable doing so.
lavvyan
Nov. 8th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
Last week, I described a conversation I had with several different people at World Fantasy Con about an editor known for sexually harassing women. This generated a lot of discussion. At one point I remarked that someone should put together resources and contact information for anyone who’s been harassed and wanted to report it.

A moment later it occurred to me that, “Hey … I’m someone. I could do that.”


And that, right there, is why I admire you.
glynisj
Nov. 8th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jim. What you didn't state was that man are harassed too. Women may do it different but it's still the same thing.
jimhines
Nov. 8th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I tried to make the post gender neutral. (For example, there's a line which talks about how in an ideal world, "her or his concerns would be taken seriously."

If there's a spot in the post where I flubbed my gender-neutrality, please let me know and I'll take another look at that.
(no subject) - glynisj - Nov. 8th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - secretsoflife - Nov. 9th, 2010 08:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - glynisj - Nov. 9th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
laurahcory1
Nov. 8th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for doing this.
socchan
Nov. 8th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
Hmm; I know the convention I help staff has an anti-harassment policy, but I'm not sure if we include it in our program books, or if we talk to volunteers about it. I'll have to check any program books I have laying around, and even bring this up at the next staff meeting....

Edit: Forgot to mention! I went ahead and linked this over at Shakesville. I'm sure you wrote it with the intent that it make the rounds around the 'net, but I figured letting you know would be polite.

Edited at 2010-11-08 07:24 pm (UTC)
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