Jul 11 2012

Talking About Harassment

I’m not yet dead of con crud. I simply want to be intermittently. Bleagh.

Luckily, it didn’t really kick in until after SkepchickCon/CONvergence, because in addition to my three panels and some very loud parties, my voice had to last for a radio show with Debbie Goddard and a podcast recording with an old friend, both on Sunday. It did, but just barely.

As you may have seen, Felicia recorded our panel on the kinds of abuse women on the internet are subjected to, and Criss posted the video. (Aside: *Squee* on meeting both of them in person.) Jason posted a bit about the reaction to the video, as well as an audio track for those who can’t hear the video well enough. I got to see Criss’s reaction to the YouTube comments on this one, but they’re hers to share when she feels like it. I’ll be interested to see how they go over, though. Matt Lowry also has some notes that are not a perfect transcription (so check the video if you want to rely on anything someone said) but will give you the gist of the panel if you don’t have time to watch it.

That being said, some of the most interesting conversations I had at the con about harassment and policies were had outside that panel. They were also mostly with men. There was the fellow who came up to me at the end of the panel. He wanted to get a policy in place for his anime convention (judging from his description, it’s Anime NebrasKon) and asked me where to start. I recommended both the OpenSF policy and the Geek Feminism Wiki sample policy as starting places.

I also had a long talk with another old friend, Corvus, who has been following along with harassment in the video game and tabletop gaming industries. He’s one of the developers who dropped out of PAX back when the “dickwolves” fiasco happened. If you look at the comments he received for doing so, you may note some striking similarities to events in organized secularism and skepticism. He also wrote very openly about his own experiences in hopes of helping others understand why there was a problem at all.

Corvus is one of those strong voices for social justice that we need, working in a field that is perhaps even less welcoming to the idea than this one. He’s made progress. He’s changed minds. And he’s paid an emotional toll for doing it. We had a lot to talk about, though little that would add to discussions here.

Then there were the guys who wanted to thank me. Some thanked me for getting policies in place. Some thanked me for putting up with all the crap that came from making changes and shook their heads over why anyone would put up opposition to the policies.

Some shared their own stories of harassment, not easily or with a lot of polish, but as people who hadn’t had the opportunity to talk about the problem with someone they were sure would understand. Those are some of the hardest conversations to have around this topic. I’m not entirely comfortable being the recipient of this kind of confidence from strangers, but as an advocate, I think it’s important to listen when someone is ready to talk. I just wish there were fewer stories needing to be told.

Luckily, this convention made it quite clear that they feel the same way. It was a good place to be, con crud be damned.


Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Pierce R. Butler

    I wish I knew enough Latin to render, “She came, she saw, she con crud.”

  2. 2

    “I’m not yet dead of con crud. I simply want to be intermittently. Bleagh”

    I think ConCrud is proof (proof!) that G-d wants atheists to cut back on all that promiscuous handshaking and reckless hugging.


    (Offers sincere sympathy. Couldn’t quite stop the riff on the downside of touching (and breathing) at Cons. Silliness has me in its grip.)

  3. 3
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Get better soon. Good on you for standing up, helping, & listening.

  4. 4

    Speaking of various policies at conferences, I just checked in to a big one (which shall remain nameless, to me), here where I just drove to, in Las Vegas for this weekend.
    I had been assuming that they would have a policy that they would hand out at registration, or that their web site would be updated with one today. No such luck. I got my badge,with a nice holder. I got a conference schedule. I got a beautiful full-color booklet with various welcome messages and speaker bios. I even got the included t-shirt. But no policies.
    It did say that the welcome gathering at the bar right now is not an official evert of the conference. Although I did see the executive director there talking with people.
    The brochure did also mention that the private party this weekend is also not an official event.

    And the brochure did assure me that the organization does want this to be a nice experience for everyone, and that they want things to be good. Sorry I don’t have the wording in front of me now.

    Anyway, I plan to try to get my money’s worth of enjoyment out of the meeting. Maybe buy some more Surly-Ramics. But I’m no longer expecting to go back in future years. A shame. Particularly as there had been no connection between this conference and any current discussions on policies until its exec director chose to bring up his specific conference for no specific reason. Enough said. Sorry for bringing it up again. Never mind.

  5. 5

    I wish I knew enough Latin to render, “She came, she saw, she con crud.”

    There’s a circle of Hell for punsters like you. (He said, laughing his arse off.)


  6. 6

    Veni vidi sicky?

  7. 7

    I really enjoyed chatting with you and I’m really glad we had the time to do so.

  8. 8
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    brucemartin #4:

    Speaking of various policies at conferences, I just checked in to a big one (which shall remain nameless, to me), here where I just drove to, in Las Vegas for this weekend.

    I assume that it is most definitely not a Meeting of any sort, and if it is, it most certainly is not an Amazing one.

  9. 9

    I’ve heard the question asked among Skeptics, if you could choose one bit of “woo” or pseudoscience to be true, which would it be? I wish that Airborne actually worked, i.e. that there was something you could take before traveling that would prevent you from catching con crud.

    I hope you feel better soon, Stephanie. I wish I could have been at CONvergence to see several old friends and to meet you and the other FTBloggers.

  10. 10

    I’d be pretty interested in hearing stories about harassment in the table top gaming industry, as that’s one of my hobbies. I’m not aware of anything there, and I’ve been to a few large tournaments/cons and there’s no question it’s almost completely males there – so I’m wondering about harassment. Or is it “in the industry” in terms of stuff at the game developers themselves?

  11. 11

    John, there was recently a HUGE kerfuffle across G+ and RPG.net over a petition about some problematic RPG books, a disingenuous publisher, some very misogynistic attitudes among the community and – as is sadly typically – overt threats against the woman who launched the petition.

  12. 12
    Jason Thibeault

    Pierce @1: Wouldn’t that be “veni, vidi, cruddy?”

  13. 13
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Are you sick?! you know how to cure that, right?

    Several days of couch sitting with Netflix. Works EVERY time.

  14. 14


    Thanks for the info. I read “table top gaming” as “wargaming”, and didn’t think about the RPG side of it since I’ve not done or followed that in years. Mostly a confusion on my part, sucks that it happened though.

  15. 15
    Stephanie Zvan

    Me too, Corvus. It was one of the highlights of my con.

    brucemartin, oh? Oh, boy.

  16. 16
    A Hermit

    Vini Vici Viral?

  17. 17
    A Hermit

    …vidi…not vici…never mind…(runs back to cave)

  18. 18
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    -hears your definition of trolls-

    Waaaait a second.

    trolling: derailing or otherwise obstructing a discussion through the use of false and/or misleading and/or irrelevant statements, logical fallacies, unreasonable demands, or other actions

    Yay, I got something right. Now to listen to the rest of it! =D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>