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Reporting Sexual Harassment in SF/F

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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jenrose1
Nov. 8th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
I've never been a victim at a con, but I was repeatedly sexually harassed in school (junior high, high school, AND college) and in almost every situation was told I was overreacting and making too big a deal of it.

I applaud your efforts in putting this list together. I hope so much that things have changed. My teenager has always gone to schools with strong no harassment/no bullying policies, and I think it's people like you who help make her life a little easier than mine was.
jenrose1
Nov. 8th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I'm on the Orycon concom, and will ask on the concom list what the policies are.
jimhines
Nov. 9th, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
la_marquise_de_
Nov. 8th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
There is the core of a similar initiative over here in the UK but it's less far advanced. I'll see if I can get any resources for you to link to.
nelc
Nov. 16th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
I'd be interested in hearing about that. At a con I went to recently, a woman told me of her experience of being groped by two separate ancient luminaries of the British SF scene at that very con. She kind of treated it as a funny anecdote, but I think she was more than a little upset at two interesting conversations suddenly taking a left turn into bat country.
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Nov. 18th, 2010 11:45 am (UTC) - Expand
neintales
Nov. 8th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
Signal boosted via FB and some other blogs. Thank you for this!
elementalamber
Nov. 8th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
Posted this to Twitter. Thank you for doing this - as a victim of sexual assault (NOT by anyone connected to SF/F), I really appreciate it.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 8th, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
Harassment is a two way street sometimes.
I am a 50 YO male that works for a bitter, disabled, man-hating woman, that feels it's her god given right to make every man's life miserable.

Never mind the fact that anyone working for her is earning her paycheck for her.

This is not just a boy-on-girl problem folks.
jimhines
Nov. 8th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Harassment is a two way street sometimes.
"This is not just a boy-on-girl problem folks."

I don't believe anyone said it was.
funwithrage
Nov. 8th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
You are awesome. Thank you.
morbid_curious
Nov. 9th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
Thank you for doing this. No-one should have to simply put up with that kind of behaviour. Ever.
mrakg
Nov. 9th, 2010 01:49 am (UTC)
Thank you.

Seen too many cases.
apricot_tree
Nov. 9th, 2010 02:52 am (UTC)
Speaking of harassment - did you see this? http://tinyurl.com/26x2k2l
jimhines
Nov. 9th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
I did. Just haven't had the chance to read up on the details yet. Thanks!
saffronrose
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:20 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this! I hadn't heard, but I'm glad I know now.
(no subject) - apricot_tree - Nov. 9th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
comrade_cat
Nov. 9th, 2010 04:49 am (UTC)
Thank you Jim!
maedbh7
Nov. 9th, 2010 06:00 am (UTC)
A good list of alt-friendly community agencies in Columbus OH which conventions in the local area might consider contacting for support. http://www.bravo-ohio.org/links.html

Also, I would like your most excellent post to include a blurb about when to involve police. There is harassment that can/should be handled at the convention/publisher level, and then there is criminal harassment. Both the harassed and the convention should familiarize themselves with that difference. -H...
thatwordgrrl
Nov. 9th, 2010 06:08 am (UTC)
Here's the thing. Getting victims to report, while important, is only half of it. The other half involves being willing to punish those who do the harassing.

And in my personal experience, that's where concom's fall flat on their face.

I recall one guy at my local con who, despite numerous complaints from female guests and attendees over the years (myself as a regular guest included), continued to be a Problem Child.

It was not until he was heavily hitting on a 16 y.o. girl (who was prominently wearing a Jailbait ribbon) *within earshot of her mother* that he finally earned himself an invitation to the world. Thankfully, he finally moved out of the area.

I and many of my fellow female guests felt that our complaints year after year fell on deaf ears every time this guy got invited back. It should not have gotten to the point where the con was at serious risk of liability for him to be bounced, yet there you are then.

Don't misunderstand. Providing a way for victims to feel safer about coming forward is vital. But unless the concom is willing to have follow-through by removing the offenders, it tends to leave a cynical taste in the mouth.
azurelunatic
Nov. 9th, 2010 07:57 am (UTC)
Your comment made me start thinking about things that a convention could do to make it clear that they were being responsive to complaints (in addition to actually being responsive to complaints), and the thought of the convention security equivalent of a police blotter suggested itself.

It would be not insignificant work, but it would add to transparency. I imagine that there would be a lot of stuff like "Complaint of loud room party. Shushed." and "Complaint of blatantly immodest costume in public area. No longer present when we arrived." but also some "Complaint of harassment. Guest spoken with." and "Multiple complaints of harassment. Guest asked to leave."
hvideo
Nov. 9th, 2010 09:35 am (UTC)
In the past this tended to be strictly a "He said, She said" thing where it was almost impossible to actually prove what was happening.

With the growing availability of compact video equipment, however, it may be possible to actually present a case that CAN'T be ignored.

I can be found in Filk Rooms with my video gear, or at panels or other such things - usually at the back or side out of the way, but the camera on a tripod is easy to spot. If anyone tells me that someone is harassing them, I am quite willing to drop everything and try to get them actual EVIDENCE of what is happening. If necessary, hidden mikes might be arranged as well.

Granted, those with actual videocams are still rare at cons - but these days, lots of people have cell phones with some video capacity. It shouldn't be all that hard to round one up for such a cause. Getting actual evidence makes SUCH a difference.
saffronrose
Nov. 9th, 2010 10:17 am (UTC)
Thank you for being a rape counselor. A lot of times, women who've been hurt by men don't want a male in a theraputic or counseling setting.

In 1987, I sought counseling because I was having severe problems with four different men: my poisonous father, my newly-minted-MBA boss, my not-gay-just-homosexual mysogynist neo-Nazi alcoholic busy-body neighbor (who harrassed me in several ways, and I was unable financially to move away), and my off&on ex boyfriend. I was assigned a nice calm guy who listened to me, and dropped his jaw a lot at what I was telling him. That told me a lot about how bad the nonsense I'd been dealing with was. Stupid sentence construction.

At one point, he asked me, since I was having trouble with so many men in my life, maybe I'd prefer a female counselor? I said I did have a friend who was a nice guy, who was giving me positive examples of how men can behave around women. I didn't think that 4 bad examples necessarily spoiled the whole truckload of apples, and that his reactions to what I was saying was going a long ways to helping me see that what I was dealing with was not normal, not healthy, not right.

I expect you are able to do the same for the women and men you counsel.
aphephobia
Nov. 9th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
Random person here saying thankyou for being awesome and doing something about this. And for... at least believing that it happens and that it's awful when it does. You have no idea how that feels-- all too often people carry on about people "overreacting" or "making things up."

I'm scarily used to sexual harassment happening to me, and I'm scarily used to not saying anything or just writing it off for fear of being told to worry about important things or that it wasn't that big of a deal. We live in a culture which encourages people to think this acceptable, and it's not.

Thanks for being one of the people challenging this.

In short: you rock.

scotis_man
Nov. 9th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being the "someone" to get the ball rolling.

I would like to add that this also applies to venues where people can somehow divorce themselves from reality such a Renaissance Fairs, etc.

1. Get yourself safe
2. Report the individual to the correct authorities
exorcizo_te
Nov. 18th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
You are awesome for putting this together. It's always wonderful to find out a great author is also a great person. :)
(Anonymous)
Nov. 6th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
Sexual harassment? Bad idea.
There's a reason why I wear heavy "birth control" shoes with hard thick heels at cons. While I have never had to use this ploy, I know how to break someone's instep, and anyone who pulled something like this "creeper" jerk on me would certainly find his toes mashed. "Oh I am SO sorry. I am SO clumsy!" Unlike a punch, you can pull off foot-stomping as an "accident." And unlike a punch, getting your foot mashed tends to make people bend over and yell in pain rather than punching you back. It also prevents them from rushing you.
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