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My Sexual Harassment Policy

Snoopy

As many of you saw, Readercon posted a statement about their handling of sexual harassment. The convention committee has voted to overturn the board’s decision and issue a lifetime ban to Mister Walling, in accordance with the convention’s policies. They also offered an unreserved apology for the con’s handling of the situation.

As a part of the larger conversation, I’d like to offer the following pledge. Feedback is welcome, and anyone is invited to co-sign.

#

My Policy on Sexual Harassment

My goal in convention/fandom spaces, online, and in general, is to interact with others in such a way that all parties feel safe and respected. Therefore…

  1. I will be accountable for my actions. If I mess up, I will not make excuses or blame others for my behaviors or the consequences of those behaviors. (Nor will I make or accept excuses about other people’s inappropriate behaviors, even if they’re friends or Big Important People in the community.)1
  2. I will try not to make assumptions about physical interactions, or statements/behaviors that could be construed as sexual. For example, if I don’t know whether or not you’re comfortable being hugged, I’ll ask you.2
  3. I will listen to and respect your boundaries. Period.
  4. If I see a situation where it looks like you are being harassed, I will ask if you’re okay and/or attempt to offer you a way out of the situation. Depending on the situation, I will confront the harasser and/or offer to back you up in confronting/reporting the harasser yourself if you choose to do so.
  5. If someone I know is harassing others, I will pull them aside and confront them on their behavior.
  6. If they refuse to change their behavior, I will “ban” them from my life (both in the real-world and in my online spaces).
  7. I will continue to speak out, and to try to encourage discussion and action to reduce sexual harassment.

#

Other Reading:

  1. I would love it if I NEVER saw another ‘Oh, but what if he’s a socially clueless Aspie’ remark…
  2. I don’t know why asking is such a difficult concept for people.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
hilleviw
Aug. 10th, 2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
I think yours is an excellent policy, and I'm very curious about the logic of number 5. Why will you pull them aside? Is it so they don't get embarassed by being called on their behavior? Is it because if you talk to them privately they are more likely to change their behavior? I'm really asking, not challenging, because I would like to understand more of what works in changing a harasser's behavior.
jimhines
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
Good question!

Mostly because if it's a friend, I figure I have a decent chance of getting through to them about why their behavior is a problem, and I'm guessing that's mostly likely to work if I 1) interrupt the situation by pulling them aside and 2) in a more private setting, say something like "Dude, you're being a dick and it needs to stop!"

Probably not in those exact words.

There are good reasons for public confrontation too, but that can also lead to a lot more defensiveness, if that makes sense?
(no subject) - hilleviw - Aug. 10th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - emilytheslayer - Aug. 10th, 2012 05:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
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margaret_y
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
I hope you were okay with me giving you a friendly hug on Wednesday. I'm a hugger and I hug people a lot, but I need to be more careful about asking first. Thank you for the reminder.
jimhines
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
I love getting hugs, and I was more than okay! You have blanket hugging permission with me :-)
northernwalker
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:31 pm (UTC)
*wild applause*
tylik
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And especially for the links, which I had not seen.

I wonder... a sometimes dear friend, while himself extremely respectful in this sort of space* tends to be a major apologist for men doing creepy harassing things. Like when I told him about a creepy incident** that had happened a few minutes before, him feeling compelled to lecture me on what was really going on and how the guy in fact had no creepy intentions, despite his not having been there and not having even heard a fully description on the incident.

This has been pretty typical of him on many things having to do with unpleasant gender dynamics - including lecturing me on matters of fact when he knows that I have more experience on the subject than he does and likely am saying what I'm saying from a basis of hard evidence. It's like some weird spinal reflex on someone who is in many other ways a really outstandingly decent human being.

Do you have any ideas on how to bring this kind of stuff up? I feel like I'm getting better at speaking clearly about these dynamics, so my current plans is just to try really hard not to get all shocked and jaw dropped, and to not only address the matter of fact but also gently point out his behavior. Because this kind of stuff is so not okay with me, and it does leave me feeling that in some basic ways he is neither friend nor ally. Because I am a woman.

* And he's recently gotten really a lot better about not saying dismissive, devaluing and belittling things if someone brings up something he's not comfortable about, like in the sort of way I generally expect people just not to change.
** In this case, a guy who changed his course to follow me for *half a mile* trying to chat me up.
jimhines
Aug. 10th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
It might be worth sending him to the Captain Awkward link from the end of my post.

It sounds like he might be coming from a position of never having seen or experienced any harassment, as a guy, and therefore not really recognizing or understanding how much of a problem it really is. Given the choice between acknowledging the problem and minimizing it, the latter lets him hold on to that nice, comfy worldview where everything's just hunky dory.

Obviously I don't know him, so I'm only generalizing from other conversations and interactions here.

One thing you might try would be to just have a very blunt conversation with him.

1. "This kind of harassment is a part of my life, and many women experience it every day."

2. "It happens not only because some men think it's okay to harass us, but because a lot of other people make excuses for it, which perpetuates and encourages the behavior."

3. "I want you to be a friend, but for that to happen, I need you to stop making excuses. Because right now, you're a part of the problem."

That might be too blunt, I don't know. And he might not be willing to listen at all. It might also be worth talking about the areas where you've seen him improve -- balance the positive and negative feedback, if that makes sense?

I have no idea if this helps or not, but I know that for me, one of the most powerful things was finally reading and seeing and hearing about the kinds of abuse so many women have to put up with, things that had been all but invisible to me as a guy. (But of course, we can't *force* anyone to see...)
(no subject) - OtherBecky - Aug. 11th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC) - Expand
midnightblooms
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
This made me cry with relief a little. And wish I saw something like this in more places.

I saw a wonderful article (I can't remember where or when...Captain Awkward, perhaps?) on the internet about how women are already doing what they can to protect themselves from things like harassment and rape. What needs to happen is for men to stand up and say it isn't ok to treat anyone like that.

Thank you for being a stand-up guy.
jimhines
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
We spend so much time and energy lecturing *women* on what they should be doing to stop *men* from harassing, abusing, and raping them. It is seriously messed up.
darkangel_wings
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:53 pm (UTC)
I had not heard that Readercon had overturned the initial decision. I'm very glad to hear that they did, and think they handled it well, even if it took too long for them to. I hope they stick to what they say they intend to do for future cons.

And I think yours is a wonderful policy. I definitely cosign.

I wish more places and "scenes" would put anything like this in place; as imperfect as geek spaces are when it comes to harassment, at least it's a topic that gets discussion. I hope it continues to improve, and I hope that someday this type of policy against harassment and harassers becomes standard rather than a rare exception.
emilytheslayer
Aug. 10th, 2012 05:22 pm (UTC)
It was right about a week between the Board of Directors making their statement and the ConCom making theirs. We were editing a document by committee and wanted to get it right, otherwise it would have been out a lot sooner. :)
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anderyn
Aug. 10th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Excellent points, all.

BTW, thank you for an excellent signing on Wednesday, and I am really loving both the Jig book and Libriomancer. I've been doing alternate chapters. :-)
jimhines
Aug. 11th, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Or you're welcome! Both, I guess :-)

So glad you're enjoying the books!
mtfay
Aug. 10th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
I wish the lessons you are discussing could be handed out to every kid starting in about 5th grade and being reinforced daily until they graduate from high school. I don't know that it would keep the juvenile adults in college and after from acting creepily, but it would help with some. I remember my high school environment being all afraid of this discussion, until someone was raped, and then it was too late.
pantryslut
Aug. 10th, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
Asking is hard b/c it sets you up for rejection. Why is it more OK for someone's ego to be a harasser than to be rejected, though? I think I'm going to have to blame the patriarchy, as it were.
jimhines
Aug. 10th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
It risks rejection, and it's something we've been taught not to do. You're supposed to just magically know when someone wants a hug, a kiss, or whatever. Asking destroys the moment.

All of which, to me, is bullshit. I wish we were better at teaching people -- especially guys -- to communicate openly, to just ask and to *respect* the answer.
etcet
Aug. 10th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
Providing backup
Re: point 4 - There's the Backup Ribbon Project - https://backupribbonproject.wordpress.com/

I have a couple dozen of these, which I will be wearing and distributing at Dragon*Con, and I encourage other con attendees to support this idea, both by requesting ribbons and sending them a few bucks to cover the ribbons and postage.
etumukutenyak
Aug. 10th, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Providing backup
And what happens when a predator puts on a ribbon?
Re: Providing backup - thatwordgrrl - Aug. 10th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Providing backup - etumukutenyak - Aug. 11th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Providing backup - thatwordgrrl - Aug. 12th, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Providing backup - etumukutenyak - Aug. 12th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Providing backup - thatwordgrrl - Aug. 13th, 2012 03:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sapience - Aug. 18th, 2012 04:51 am (UTC) - Expand
dionysus1999
Aug. 10th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you brought up hugs. Most of the incidents where I felt like my boundaries were being violated involved "mandatory hugs".

I'll tolerate annoying relatives, but I know I've hurt some people's feelings by backing away from a hug. Hugs aren't a social lubricant for me, they are a genuine sign of affection. And if I think you're creepy it doesn't matter how long I've known you, I don't want you to touch me.

It's kinda a thing in the pagan circles I used to run in, the "aggressive huggers".
la_marquise_de_
Aug. 10th, 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'll happily co-sign.
And thank you.
kit_the_brave
Aug. 10th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this great post.

Incidentally, being directed here from a friend's LJ also caused me to discover Libriomancer and immediately grab it for my Kindle. The sample chapter had me at the barcode scanner. I had to tell the teens at my library this summer that they couldn't put barcodes on themselves and play laser tag with the scanners, not because it wouldn't have been totally awesome in theory, but because the scanners don't work that well. (Also, I didn't want to have to catalog all of them.) :D
jenjoou
Aug. 11th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC)
Your post makes me want to find scanners that could handle that game... though I don't want to catalog the teens at my library either. :D
(no subject) - jimhines - Aug. 11th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
saoba
Aug. 10th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Further input on the ask first hug policy- I have arthritis. I have some complex issues going on with one shoulder that mean that it basically hurts most of the time and really hurts if it gets jostled or thumped or squeezed.

An unexpected hug or arm slung about my shoulders* can mean I have to go take srs meds now and stop having fun. So don't do that.

* I'm a shade over five feet tall, and the arm across the shoulders trick is a favorite trick of the Just-Being-Friendly Brigade. Even when the leads on my TENS unit are visible. I haven't zapped one of them yet but I've thought about it.
carmy_w
Aug. 10th, 2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
LOL!
*imaginary conversation in my mind*

"Oh, I'm sorry! I appear to have accidentally zapped you!
You might want to ASK before you drape an arm around a person; the next one might "accidentally" elbow you in the solar plexus, or "accidentally" stab their spike heel into your instep."

(the last two would be my way of reacting to the unwelcome arm-along with a most profuse apology afterward)



**edited to change a colon into the quotation mark it was supposed to be.

Edited at 2012-08-10 09:19 pm (UTC)
serialbabbler
Aug. 10th, 2012 08:31 pm (UTC)
(I don't know why everybody has latched onto Asperger's as the perfect excuse for social cluelessness anyway. I know people with schizoaffective disorder, ADHD, bipolar type I, Asperger's of both the self-diagnosed and the officially diagnosed varieties, social anxiety, depression of various stripes, hearing impairments, and visual impairments... and all of them have trouble picking up on social cues or body language at times. What's so special about Asperger's apart from the fact that it also comes with a stereotype of higher intelligence?)

((No, none of them has ever stalked or harassed anyone as far as I know. This is because they are actually nice people despite their difficulties.))
socchan
Aug. 10th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
I co-sign to the best of my ability; I allow myself room for my social phobia to interfere with me carrying out some of this (4 and 5 mostly), but will do my best inasmuch as I have spoons for the task.

For example, if I don’t know whether or not you’re comfortable being hugged, I’ll ask you.
With the prevalence of "Free Hugs!" signs at various conventions, and the fact that any number of said huggers are already counting their hugs, I've been sorely tempted to start a "Hugs For Charity" thing. You know, ask people to pledge a certain amount of money for every hug you get at the convention, that sort of thing. The thing that stops me is that not everyone is comfortable being hugged, and I can easily foresee huggers attempting to pressure attendees into getting hugged because it's "for a good cause". And I can also imagine attendees attempting to pressure huggers into hugging someone they don't want to as well. I like the idea, but I'm pretty sure there's too much room for abuse for it to become viable in our current culture.
OtherBecky
Aug. 11th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC)
You could make it a dual project -- the huggers have to ask, and have to respect the answer. The tally is of the number of unique individuals respectfully asked, and then the money goes to a rape crisis center.

ETA: The script could go something like this: "In order to raise awareness about the importance of consent, we're asking people whether or not they would like a hug. Money will be donated to $ORGANIZATION based on the number of people whose answers we listen to and respect. Would you like a hug?"

Edited at 2012-08-11 01:12 am (UTC)
(no subject) - socchan - Aug. 11th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC) - Expand
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juniperus
Aug. 10th, 2012 09:13 pm (UTC)
I'll co-sign, a thousand times yes.

Thank you.</p>


And yes--the Aspergers excuse-crutch angers me like whoah (I've ranted about it on my LJ recently, actually). I'll see you in a couple of hours--my aspie son and I are looking forward to it! :) Booooks!

fibro_witch
Aug. 11th, 2012 12:08 am (UTC)
When I attend my first convention in 1978 in New York City I was backed in to a corner by Isaac Asimov. He wanted to "check on the quality of my breasts" I almost escaped when two people grabbed, me, spun me around and held me in place while I was assaulted. I was told, it's not personal he does it to everyone. I wonder how many male fans still think if they do it to every woman than it's not wrong.

I also wonder if the victim at Readercon had been a 20 something nobody we would not be having this conversation. Was René Walling's biggest mistake harassing someone with a name and a following? Will he be more careful next time to harass a nobody, as he and many other like him have in the past?

Why are we still having this conversation in 2012? Is the only protection against harassment going to be a programing badge?

fibro_witch
Aug. 11th, 2012 12:24 am (UTC)
It's 2012 why are we still having this conversation
When I attend my first convention in 1978 in New York City I was backed in to a corner by Isaac Asimov. He wanted to "check on the quality of my breasts" I almost escaped when two people grabbed, me, spun me around and held me in place while I was assaulted. I was told, it's not personal he does it to everyone. I wonder how many male fans still think if they do it to every woman than it's not wrong.

I also wonder if the victim at Readercon had been a 20 something nobody we would not be having this conversation. Was René Walling's biggest mistake harassing someone with a name and a following? Will he be more careful next time to harass a nobody, as he and many other like him have in the past?

Why are we still having this conversation in 2012? Is the only protection against harassment going to be a programing badge?
badgerbag
Aug. 21st, 2012 05:38 am (UTC)
Re: It's 2012 why are we still having this conversation
I have heard that SO many times about Asimov and yet almost never in public. Thank you!

Edited at 2012-08-21 05:39 am (UTC)
sapience
Aug. 18th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
Co-signed, as a general life policy.
badgerbag
Aug. 21st, 2012 05:36 am (UTC)
I try to always speak out about bullshit including sexist bullshit, right in the moment. And I'm extremely confident and ass-kicking. Yet, in practice I only manage to do it right then maybe half the time, maybe a bit more. Then end up talking about it later. I'm only saying this because I wonder if you will manage to speak up every time you see something untoward happen. Likely this is because that my line of unacceptable bullshit is marked a bit more broadly than "harassment". But I would like to ask if you have one of those, "OMG why didn't I say something, or do something" moments, let us know! It would be interesting!
jimhines
Aug. 22nd, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
That's a good point. I've certainly had moments like that before, where I second-guessed myself or let uncertainty get in my way. So while I certainly intend to live up to this policy, it's also true that I'm human, and likely to mess up sometimes.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 23rd, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
Asking for a hug? Really?
Can't you be just smart about it? Can't you just tell if the other wants a hug or not? Body language, duration of hugging, etc...
You know, crossing physical boundaries (like hugging) is an effective way to make your relationship to another human being deeper.
Even if they are at first surprised.
I'd go so far to say that it could even overcome barriers, barriers that would lead them to answer "no" to you questioning them.
jimhines
Aug. 23rd, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Asking for a hug? Really?
This comes up a lot in discussions of relationships, too. And it's weird. Guys spend so much time talking about how they don't get women, we get books like Men are from Mars, Women from Venus. On and on about how hard it is to understand the opposite sex.

But then it comes to anything physical, and the assumption is that we'll just know. Asking isn't necessary. You'll just magically be able to read the mind of this other person.

Shorter version: Crossing physical boundaries when you don't know whether or not the other person wants you do to so is a good way to get your ass kicked out of the convention for harassment.
( 60 comments — Leave a comment )

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