No toleration of sexual harassment and the mandating of a permanent ban on harassers is NOT about punishment of the harasser. It's about protecting and supporting the harassed.

No one knows in advance if they will ever feel completely safe again in the presence of their sexual harasser or relive the humiliating feeling of being treated as prey any time they are in the harasser's presence, or worse levels of trauma. Many of us, like Kate Kligman who actively worked on several con commitees, have a tendency to drift away from places and situations where we have been treated badly, and effectively ban ourselves.

This Readercon policy should be in place to keep sufferers of sexual harassment from being lost to that community. Again, it's NOT about punishing the harasser; it IS about rallying around the harassed.

Might those who have been sexually harassed be afraid to come forward if the result is a permanent ban of the harasser? Yes--IF people keep acting like a permanent ban from one con is a damned jail sentence!

The ban does not even involve being required to perform community service or make any kind of amends whatsoever. It's not the loss of rights--it's the earned loss of a privilege, one that the harasser obviously took for granted. It does not prevent him from attending any number of other cons.

What the ban provides for the harassed is some measure of peace of mind for future con attendance, affirmation that her safety is important, and assurance that she is a valued member of the community, so that after what may have been an uncomfortable, anxiety inducing, frightening, or painful experience for her, she will actually want to come back again and participate in the community.

When people wring their hands over what a terrible punishment being permanently banned from a con for sexual harassment is, what does get minimized in the consciousness of the harassed is her place in the community. Whether she is a valued member there or is at all welcome comes into question for her. Is your safety and well-being considered less important than the harasser's continued presence? Can you ever feel at home in a place where you have been marked as territory and called upon to fight for your autonomy just to be in a space that others can walk in freely without having to fight?

Nitpicking at the policy because you think all decrees should involve wiggle room, when there is already wiggle room in the Readercon board's determining whether or not the action is a case of outright harassment in the first place, further demeans the needs of the harassed. This minimizing effect makes the decision harder for those who experience harassment to come forward in the future. The minimization's effects can extend to everyone who has been subjected to sexual harassment. I know I feel it.

I know the sexual harasser may be a friend. Think less about him and focus on the harassed as the person whose continued presence in that community is now very much AT RISK, and must be ensured by the community taking action for her safety and peace of mind.

I greatly admire [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine and [livejournal.com profile] vschanoes for the magnificent fight they are waging in resistance to minimization of their worth and to make con culture better. They are demonstrating just how women backing each other up is truly done. I wish them their energy back for better things for themselves.

Roundup of links on the Readercon fail has been kindly provided by bcholmes here.

Addendum: [livejournal.com profile] vschanoes has written a petition to ask the board to resign, apologize to [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine, ban Rene Walling, and put people with a clue in place to make decisions. You can read it here and you can add you name to the petition here. Feel free to sign in anonymously so you can submit your given, rather than LJ/DW name.
spiralsheep: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society (Sewing Circle Terrorist Society)

From: [personal profile] spiralsheep


Readercon: prefers not to protect its membership from harrassment.
lbilover: (Default)

From: [personal profile] lbilover


Boy, this really touched a sore spot. We dealt for months at work with a man who came in when we opened, left when we closed, and spent the hours in between staring blatantly and unnervingly at us. And for months I complained to my supervisor and asked that something be done. His behavior escalated, but nothing was done. Most of the other staff were reluctant to pursue it or made excuses for his behavior because they were less bothered by the staring. But I would not let it go and except for one other staff member, I felt that I was waging the battle alone. I didn't want to confront the man personally as I felt it was the library administration's job to protect the staff. When I said this to my supervisor, her response was, "Oh, so you want to put me in danger?" Seriously, that's what she said. I finally told her that I was prepared to go directly to the police and file a harassment charge against him, and I was. Then the guy trashed the men's restroom a couple times and the maintenance guys complained and lo and behold, he was banned from the library a few weeks ago.

Complaints by female staff = shut up and suck it up and stop whining

Complaints by male staff = immediate action

Such is our fucked up culture.

Shame on the Readercon Board.
Edited Date: 2012-07-31 02:17 pm (UTC)
dharma_slut: They call me Mister CottonTail (Default)

From: [personal profile] dharma_slut


Well also, it was property damage, which is so much more important than the potential danger to women.
lbilover: (Default)

From: [personal profile] lbilover


Signed! Thanks for the link. And sorry for going off on a tangent, but it hit home for me after recent goings on here. It was especially disappointing to have my female supervisor be so unsympathetic- my opinion of her went down a lot. :/ *hugs back*
dharma_slut: They call me Mister CottonTail (Default)

From: [personal profile] dharma_slut


because the harasser is (almost always) a man, talking man language to other men. Who secretly wonder if they too will get busted for the same behavior and they KNOW they are a nice guy.
Edited Date: 2012-07-31 08:44 pm (UTC)
benedict: (pugs not drugs)

From: [personal profile] benedict


Sometimes I'm glad I'm a transman. It made me miss a lot of that socializing shit as a kid.
dharma_slut: Van Dyke (Van Dyke)

From: [personal profile] dharma_slut


Dude, this is so true of all the trans men I have ever known, heard of, or read their blogs.

benedict: The hamster is saying bollocks. It is a scornful hamster (Default)

From: [personal profile] benedict


What I said, or the buying into the man bullshit? If it's the second, I'm sorry, I was just speaking for myself D:
dharma_slut: They call me Mister CottonTail (Default)

From: [personal profile] dharma_slut


hehe--you're good!

I've never met a trans man who tried to pretend that he could get what he wanted solely because testosterone.

Nearly every man who has started T late in life has remarked on the power of the stuff. But I can't remember anyone claiming they had the right to surrender all self control to it.
benedict: (owl unamused)

From: [personal profile] benedict


It's the weirdest damn thing. It's like, we think we should be in charge, but we also argue we have no self control. Definite dichotomy.
dharma_slut: They call me Mister CottonTail (Default)

From: [personal profile] dharma_slut


Handy how that works out, isn't it... Very infantilizing for the men who act that way, if you ask me.
benedict: (owl unamused)

From: [personal profile] benedict


Oh hey, I just saw you in the post I was talking about! The sheer amount of not getting it on Adrianna_R's part is causing me mental pain. I keep having to stop myself from commenting 'WHY DID I EVER LET YOU COMMUNICATE WITH ME'
dharma_slut: They call me Mister CottonTail (Default)

From: [personal profile] dharma_slut


Last year someone friended me in lj. I went to her bog, saw a screed on why gay marriage didn't need to be made legal and anyway the bible, and I told her her; Well, you're welcome to friend me and read my posts. But I wont friend you back.

Yeah I do not know what Adrianna_R's deal is. She seems to have bought into the "Women are better and must suffer for it" myth.
benedict: (owl unamused)

From: [personal profile] benedict


we roleplayed together back when I was a teenager, in the same game I met Lavendertook in (who seems to have forgiven me for what a whiny little kid I was) and it's so petty that the thing that has always irritated me most about her compared to all the horrible things she says, is when she told me my male character was definitely a woman and I was wrong because I was using a girl pb at the time because of a curse.
dharma_slut: Van Dyke (Van Dyke)

From: [personal profile] dharma_slut


So basically she's fucked up in the head about gender roles.

Ooookay then. I think I'll let her be fucked up in the head about gender roles all by herself from now on.
benedict: (iron giant: cupshake)

From: [personal profile] benedict


Yeah. She comes from a conservative area, but that doesn't really excuse things though it may offer an explanation.
benedict: (birds: pals)

From: [personal profile] benedict


Well, I was actively being abused by some other adults so our arguments were rather healthy in comparison.

Adriannna_r was Arvedui.

Short responses not crankiness, just totally tired but couldn't seem to sleep without answering. Omnom snacks.
benedict: (hamster brb)

From: [personal profile] benedict


Yeah, I don't think her character ever went to the shire. She was always in Gondor. It really is disappoiting to see people you know saying such damn stupid things.
benedict: The hamster is saying bollocks. It is a scornful hamster (Default)

From: [personal profile] benedict


I just saw this in action, it made me finally unfriend someone I hadn't liked for a long time. She was busy defending the harasser because he was friends with her friend, and going on about how the victim had done wrong.

I'll go sign. No con should allow its attendees to feel unsafe.
ext_28878: (fairymoon)

From: [identity profile] claudia603.livejournal.com


You know, this really rings deeply true to me.

For me, I have faced not exactly this, but it's a similar bit of rage that I used to get when people downplayed the potential danger of traveling in Tobago and implied that if "common sense prevails" nothing bad can happen to you, therefore, if something bad happens to you, you must have done something wrong. And in addition, it's perfectly safe to travel there and that I shouldn't bad mouth the experience, thus minimizing my experience and other violent crime victims' experiences. So yeah, I know it's not the same thing as what the person involved in ReaderCon experienced, but it rings true in a similar manner to me. I'm so happy there are people fighting to make those who have experienced such things feel safe.

*hugs*

From: [identity profile] lavendertook.livejournal.com


*hugs all round, then goes back to tromping around in her stompy boots looking all serious*

From: [identity profile] lavendertook.livejournal.com


Yeah, it is related. I think that's a kind of verbal abuse. They're attacking you in order to not identify with you to make themselves feel safe. I guess it's a kind of scapegoating. Instead of saying "I'm sorry that happened to you," they're saying "better you than me!"

*hugs you back*

From: [identity profile] addie71.livejournal.com


When people wring their hands over what a terrible punishment being permanently banned from a con for sexual harassment is I can't understand why someone would feel bad for the banned person, even if it is a friend. The actions of the harasser are despicable. I can't feel sorry for someone who does something like that to another person.

From: [identity profile] lavendertook.livejournal.com


Yeah. I do well understand the feelings of torn loyalties, especially if the harasser has been a good friend to you for which you are beholden and can understand reasons why you may decide to maintain the friendship.

But an awful lot of people who aren't in that position are spending a lot of time trying to come up with policies that would be less excluding for the harasser, because they think a lifetime expulsion would be too mean to him, which is an awful lot of time worrying about his feelings, at the expense of the feelings of the sexually harassed.

And I really, really don't want to be in a room with these people. Why would I spend my fun time going to a con with people who have more empathy for sexual harassers than the victims of harassment?

From: [identity profile] brouhaha.livejournal.com


Also, I am 1000% unsurprised at some of the people on the other side of this issue. They're basically people who were friends of mine due to circumstance, and then I slowly stopped talking to them because they were kind of dicks.

From: [identity profile] lavendertook.livejournal.com


I'm sorry you had to spend time with them, but I'm glad you dropped them. They seem to spend a little too much time empathizing with sexual harassers instead of the sexually harassed. And yeah, I'm not surprised. One of the board members is someone I tangled with online during Racefail'09 and I knew Readercon would never be one I'd want to go to as long as he was on there.
.

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