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Crap People Say About Sexual Harassment

From various posts and conversations around the internet…

“If you obviously can’t handle the social interactions at an SF Book con, then perhaps you need to seek some education … I suggest that you never, ever leave the confines of white, educated middle class North American society. In Nigeria and Saudi Arabia they take people like you and kill them with rocks.”

  1. The assumption that “people like you” are treated even worse in some other part of the world does not mean you should just shut up and accept how you’re treated here.
  2. If we’re taking “people like you” to mean “women,” then guess what — white, middle class North Americans kill an obscene number of women too.
  3. I suppose harassment and even assault could technically be defined as “social interactions,” but trying to normalize this kind of behavior and suggest that anyone who isn’t tough enough to take it should just stay away? Yeah, bite me.

“…during my freshman year in college, I knew two women who’d been raped, and a third who was probably raped but was too drunk to know for sure (that was in a fraternity basement).  At the same time, I never heard about a woman being raped at a con.”

  1. See response 1, above. The fact that you perceive things to have been worse at your college does not, by definition, mean that things at a con are all fine and dandy.
  2. The fact that you’ve never heard of a woman being raped at a con does not mean it’s never happened. (It may just mean you’re not paying attention.)

“There are several Learning Disorders and Behavior Disorders that affect a man’s ability to understand body language … Some guys are just creeps but some have a true social disorder.”

  1. I should ask my therapist about this one, because I’m very curious what kind of social disorder causes a man to:
    • Selectively target women to invade their personal space and touch them without permission.
    • Ignore verbal boundaries set by women, but pick up on the unstated message right away when a man steps in to “protect” the woman.
    • Maintain socially normal relationships with men and with women who aren’t in his “target” demographic.
  2. See Rose Lemberg’s post “Enough with the Aspie Bit Already!”

“Is flirting at cons now forbidden? When does flirting become harassment?”

  1. Things people should have learned in kindergarten:
    • Respect.
    • Keep your hands to yourself.
    • No means no.
  2. If you seriously can’t tell the difference between flirting and harassment, I strongly suggest you do neither until you’ve worked that out.

“Is a convention committee obligated to provide a Utopian space throughout the convention? Should the convention committee have some sort of thought and action police, empowered to pull badges at the merest whisper of complaint?”

  1. No. Which is why nobody’s asking for this.
  2. Does anyone else think that equating a space where there are rules against harassment, and those rules are enforced to some kind of impossible Utopia is just depressing as hell?

“Their eagerness to see and punish harassment worries and befuddles me.”

  1. And your eagerness to ignore and accept harassment terrifies me.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 122 comments — Leave a comment )
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tithenai
Sep. 13th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
That first quote. Where has it come from. Feeling a strange need to set my brain on fire and sprinkle its cinders with salt.
jimhines
Sep. 13th, 2012 01:57 pm (UTC)
I went back and forth about posting links, and finally decided not to. But Googling a quote should let you find the source without too much trouble.

That said, I'd recommend against it. It's much more of the same, and I'm feeling protective of your brain.
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crewgrrl
Sep. 13th, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
Can I throw my hands up and just run screaming? Because this nonsense from people who don't care to know better makes me despair of fandom.
jimhines
Sep. 13th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, I do think more people are becoming aware. While there will always be ignorance and outright dumbassery, I also see signs of progress.

But yeah, sometimes you just need to run and shout for a while.
beth_bernobich
Sep. 13th, 2012 01:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the excuses, victim blaming, and downright dismissal of what happened has me extra tired and stressed this week. It's one reason I posted this yesterday:

http://beth-bernobich.livejournal.com/435794.html

jimhines
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
"'You are uniformly charming!' cried he, with an air of awkward gallantry; 'and I am persuaded that when pursued relentlessly over the next two days, you will not fail to find my proposals acceptable.'"

::Twitch::

Nicely done.
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yendi
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
These are uniformly awesome responses. But you're probably eliminating any chance of your winning the Hugo for fan writing next year. ;-)
jimhines
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC)
I already recused myself from that category, and it's TOO LATE FOR THEM TO TAKE AWAY MY SHINY TROPHY FOR THIS YEAR!!!
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nyxalinth
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
I read Captain Awkward all the time (I might have even found her blog through you) and she has some great advice for just these sorts of things.

I went to my first con in 1986 and there was a guy there. He flirted with me and when things progressed to an uncomfortable point for me, he was very kind and left me alone. I don't recall his name, only that he worked for that company that used to produce dice, etc. I think it was The Armory. I got off really, really lucky.
naomikritzer
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC)
You know, I disagree that this was luck. I think MOST of the time at cons the flirtation stops when the target acts uninterested. I've been flirted with and hit on, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly, sometimes by guys who are interested in me specifically and sometimes by guys who are looking for anything available in the category, "Female and breathing." When I have acted Not Interested In That Way, it has always (so far) stopped.

I'm not saying this because I think I did it RIGHT and the victims of harassment did it WRONG. My point is that I think the norm, in modern fandom, is appropriate behavior. And that's great, because it provides us with really excellent groundwork for further marginalizing unacceptable behavior.
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rosefiend
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC)
You are seriously awesome. That is all.
also_huey
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:33 pm (UTC)
"If you seriously can’t tell the difference between flirting and harassment, I strongly suggest you do neither until you’ve worked that out."

That ~sounds~ like a great idea, but I think it misses a lot of the real problem. It's not that the perpetrator can't tell the difference; they can, and they're certain that what they're doing is called 'flirting'.
The problem is that the victims don't see it that way.
jimhines
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:47 pm (UTC)
That's an internally inconsistent statement. It's a lot like saying a rapist totally knows the difference between consensual sex and rape; it's just that the rapist thinks he's having consensual sex, and the victim disagrees.
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sartorias
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:47 pm (UTC)

When the whole thing first happened I put in a lot of time trying to find actual witness accounts since there was so much conflicting info, finally found the victim's own account after wading through a lot of posts by people who hadn't actually been there.

What I found disturbing was in the search, I came across not one but threads of posts vilifying the guy in question, which I could partly understand, but what I couldn't was exhortations to one another to make sure he could never attend another con, that he should be banned from all cons, that there should be a list of all such people (as if every situation will be just like that) and con coms ought to be on the watch if they try to register, and apparently some took that seriously enough to send death threats, etc, to the guy's home--as if that would take care of the problem for all time.

I never particularly liked Le Guin's Omelas story, or ones like it--seemed too easy--but here was that behavior pattern being carried out online: it appeared from a distance as if they could hammer that man hard enough for his stupidity, it will never happen again. But that's not how human nature works.

Your post just cleared up a confusion for me: yours was not about the guy, either self-congratulatory (well, we taught HIM a lesson!) but about the problem itself.

Acceptable behavior is evolving--and it will take a lot of examining from all angles, I suspect, to get change to happen--and to stick. Thanks.
jimhines
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
I don't agree with everything that's been said. For example, I've seen criticism of Jo Walton for thanking Walling in her Hugo acceptance speech, but while the name made me twitch, I didn't have a problem with her thanking him. She might not have been aware of this whole mess. Had she used her platform to try to defend him, that would be another matter, but what she said seemed okay to me.

I do think behavior and opinions are evolving, which is good. But I also think we're not there yet.
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sihaya09
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC)
I can't fathom how one could think that way, and yet I see those same tired, flaw-riddled arguments again and again and again. It's exhausting.
sylvanstargazer
Sep. 13th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
What a mess!
Why is it that makes so many virulent sexists run straight to racism? Maybe it's some special strain of insecurity that makes them utterly unfit to interact with other people.

I'm still baffled at how all the blame-it-on-neurology people never consider what it's like to be a neuroatypical woman forced to deal with unwanted social pressure and interactions. You'd think that'd be kind of key.
jimhines
Sep. 13th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
Re: What a mess!
"I'm still baffled at how all the blame-it-on-neurology people never consider what it's like to be a neuroatypical woman forced to deal with unwanted social pressure and interactions."

I think the default is just supposed to be that we sympathize with the poor men, while women are expected to tough it up and deal with whatever comes their way without complaining.
Re: What a mess! - sylvanstargazer - Sep. 13th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What a mess! - jimhines - Sep. 13th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What a mess! - 6_penny - Sep. 13th, 2012 09:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What a mess! - klgaffney - Sep. 13th, 2012 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
la_marquise_de_
Sep. 13th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
The male privilege and entitlement in that blog post is just breath-taking. He isn't sheltered, he's utterly enveloped in his own context and has no respect for anyone else's, because, well, he knows best.
I know of at least one rape at a UK con. And many, many sexual assaults. I am hit on at least once at every single con. And I am, ffs, 50. Too old for this cr*p, surely?
rarelylynne
Sep. 13th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
NB: Successful flirting ends in enthusiastic consent from BOTH (or ALL) involved parties.

If you aren't getting enthusiastic, active consent and reciprocation, STOP.

Why is this so hard?

Edited at 2012-09-13 03:06 pm (UTC)
jimhines
Sep. 13th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
"Why is this so hard?"

I wish I knew.
Run-on sentence runs on - ankewehner - Sep. 13th, 2012 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Run-on sentence runs on - vixyish - Sep. 17th, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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northernwalker
Sep. 13th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
That first quote sounds a lot like Richard Dawkins whining from the Rebecca Watson situation last year. I was really hoping there weren't two of them.

And an emphatic YES to all of your rebuttals.
marlowe1
Sep. 13th, 2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
I just read that one yesterday. Damn Dawkins is an asshole.

I mean I already thought that he was an asshole for being so damn pushy with the atheism (in the same way that people are being assholes for being pushy with their religion) but pulling the "women are getting their clitorises removed so shut up you whiny bitch" move was just beyond the pale.

kellymccullough
Sep. 13th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
*crack*

That's the sound of the headdesk that broke the desk's back, or something like that. Clues are cheap and plentiful, it should not be that hard to buy them. Sigh.

Also, thank you for wading through the swamp to find this shit and call it out.
thedragonweaver
Sep. 14th, 2012 03:27 am (UTC)
"Clues are cheap and plentiful, it should not be that hard to buy them."

That is awesome and I am saving that with your name attached.
(no subject) - kellymccullough - Sep. 16th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
idancewithlife
Sep. 13th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
There's been an interesting somewhat related discussion about this topic in the LJ filk community. You may have to join the community to see it:
http://filk.livejournal.com/695320.html
browngirl
Sep. 14th, 2012 04:27 am (UTC)
That was an interesting, if dismaying, discussion.
[Sorry for the two versions of this; I decided to edit a bit.]

Edited at 2012-09-14 04:36 am (UTC)
(no subject) - idancewithlife - Sep. 14th, 2012 07:39 am (UTC) - Expand
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