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Jul 03 2013

Still Not Consent

CONvergence is continuing with its awesome anti-harassment campaign (see picture) with a new poster. This one has been needed for a long time.

Text: Costumes are not consent. A message from your friends at CONvergence. Picture: Cartoon of a mad scientist wearing a lab coat and tartan kilt with sporran.

It amuses me in a weird way that people assume that all anti-harassment activism is for women. I know one policy put into place in the last year that was prompted by a female serial harasser. The one person I know to have been formally reported at a con I attended in the last year is female. And as wife or friend to several kilt-wearing men, I’m applauding this poster so hard right now.

29 comments

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  1. 1
    carlie

    And John Scalzi has just announced that he will no longer appear at any con that doesn’t have a robust harassment policy: Here

  2. 2
    Dunc

    Damn straight. Although I’m not sure how I feel about the implication that a kilt is a “costume”… ;)

  3. 3
    AsqJames

    @2, I thought it was a costume? Wasn’t the kind of outfit in the poster invented by upper class twits playing at being authentically Scottish?

  4. 4
    Dunc

    @3: Originally, yes. That was about 200 years ago though, so I’d say it’s fairly well established as authentic now. It’s certainly not as recent an invention as the tuxedo or lounge suit, and nobody calls them “costumes”…

  5. 5
    Stephanie Zvan

    Dunc, you might be surprised by what this crowd refers to as “costume”. It’s one of those places where people are more aware than usual that norms of dress are largely arbitrary. :)

  6. 6
    robertbaden

    Most of the scots I know say it’s not a costume.

  7. 7
    rowanvt

    It depends where/why you are wearing it. I sold kimono at a couple of anime conventions. Actual, vintage kimono that we silly white folks would wear because we find the clothing beautiful. However, at con, it was a costume. It was part of cosplaying.

  8. 8
    dukeofomnium

    This is probably a silly question, but what exactly would a kilt be consenting to? Besides a few snickers, I mean.

  9. 9
    Stephanie Zvan

    People who wear kilts get anything from questions about what they’re wearing underneath to being groped, with having their kilts lifted being a common “middle ground”.

  10. 10
    blorf

    No, no, no no no! We’re not allowed to post anything that might imply that men suffer from unwanted sexual contact here! Didn’t you get the memo?
    /snark

  11. 11
    Nathaniel Frein

    I remember at my second anime convention, I went with a girl who proudly wore an “Official Kilt Checker” pin. We were in an elevator with a guy wearing a kilt. The girl was five foot nothing. The guy was six and a half feet and…built. She had no problem just pulling up the guy’s kilt to see if he was wearing it “properly”.

    I was twenty, new to conventions, socially awkward, and had never witnessed this kind of open harassment before.

    I still regret not saying anything.

  12. 12
    Anthony K

    No, no, no no no! We’re not allowed to post anything that might imply that men suffer from unwanted sexual contact here! Didn’t you get the memo?
    /snark

    If we’re reversing the tropes, I believe this is where a woman would write to ask what’s the big deal with having your kilt lifted, and that she’d kill to have that kind of attention, and how are people supposed to ever get laid if they don’t reach for the brass ring?

    Snark aside, is anyone else familiar with that character in the cartoon? I’d swear I’ve seen him before (if I weren’t already awash in false memories of the past: like the gas bills I was sure I’d paid, all those abductions by aliens, and my remembrances of adequate parental care.)

  13. 13
    Stephanie Zvan

    Anthony, that’s Professor Max. He’s one of CONvergence’s mascots, though he doesn’t appear nearly as much as Connie the robot. You may have seen him in older pictures of signage or things like that, or he may just remind you of another cartoon character.

  14. 14
    Anthony K

    Thanks, Stephanie. That must be it.

  15. 15
    athyco

    Awwww, Connie the robot for CONvergence. In that case, I woulda named the professor Vergil and shortened it. Connie and Verge. Then…they could have both been tree herders from Middle Earth!

    OK, sorry. That was uncalled for.

  16. 16
    Nick Gotts

    I’d say it’s fairly well established as authentic now. It’s certainly not as recent an invention as the tuxedo or lounge suit, and nobody calls them “costumes”- Dunc

    But it’s still worn by (andor to impress) people who think it’s the way Scots men dressed centuries ago; no-one thinks the tuxedo or lounge suit is an ancient national tradition. With all the glories of the Scottish Enlightenment to celebrate, most Scots still seem happy to be represented by the image of a man in a pleated, checked skirt, apparently torturing an octopus.

  17. 17
    Jackie the wacky

    Nathaniel:
    That sounds absolutely awful. Seriously, who acts like that? Yeesh!

    They make led lit skirts now. I wish I could think of a way to let kilts give off electric jolts to handsy creepsters without making sitting down very uncomfortable for the wearer. Since I can’t, I guess harassment policies and awesome campaigns like this one will have to do.

  18. 18
    Nathaniel Frein

    @Jackie

    I was sharing a hotel room with her and some of her other friends (I was a “new friend”), and she acted that way with all of us (guys and girls), as well as a couple of the other guys. Which I didn’t mind. I actually had a rather fun time with one of the guys who just kinda took an opportunity to pounce me in a corner during a rave. But this was the first time I saw her do this to a stranger, and it took me a long time to really figure out how to describe just how wrong it felt. He wasn’t part of the group. He wasn’t part of the group consent.

  19. 19
    WithinThisMind

    The existence of this policy is the only reason we are going in costume. Otherwise, no way I’d risk my oldest niece. She’s 10, but in her costume can pass for 16, and there is a lot of shit she shouldn’t have to deal with.

  20. 20
    HP

    While I don’t doubt that there are cases of women harassing men, I would wager that most male sexual harassment is male-on-male. Some of it is unwanted homosexual attention, but an awful lot of it is frat-boy homosocial dominance/humiliation leg-humping bullshit.

  21. 21
    Jackie the wacky

    HP, a friend of mine just left a job where the guys did that stuff. They would yell, “Hot pussy coming through” at my friend (who presented as male at work) because “he” had longish hair, not long, just not super short. My friend was actually a transwoman, but they had no way of knowing that. One guy thought it was funny to hump the back of my friend’s chair while she worked. There was alot of displaying ones machismo for the other guys going on by either calling them gay or “playing” at sexual dominance. This was an office. I can’t imagine how guys like that act when they’ve had a few drinks and aren’t being “professional”. As you can imagine, my friend got the hell out of there as fast as she could.

  22. 22
    freemage

    There’s a webcomic out there, quite popular, called The Devil’s Panties. It’s pretty good, but several of her con-tales (it’s a quasi-autobiographical thing–kind of a fantasy version of her real life as a geek) have elicited a bit of concern, because she often took real-life incidents that involved full consent and portrayed them as less-such. Most notable was her regular calendar shoot that featured kilt-wearing men getting a lift from a leaf-blower. (She may still be doing this–I’ve kinda let that particular comic slip from my daily reading schedule.)

    Real-world: Jenny Breeden goes to an out-of-the-way corridor, sets up a table for interested dudes to sign up, including a full consent form, and the guys get to set their boundaries in terms of just how much gets shown.

    Comic-world: Jen runs around the con, chasing kilt-wearers with the leaf-blower, attempting to get them on-camera as soon as they let their guard down.

    Yes, it’s vaguely humorous, but mostly because it IS such an obvious fantasy sequence. However, I’ve got no doubt that there’s plenty of girls who just assume that any guy in a kilt is giving pre-consent to, at a minimum, a ‘flip-up’.

  23. 23
    smhll

    @21 While it’s not easy to enforce, at least this behavior is against the law in offices (in the US). I think what gets interesting, and alarming, in atheist circles, is that after hours at a conference is thought of as more like a party than a day at the office, and all kinds of atrocious behavior might be defended by the most overzealous “defenders”. (And we seem to have been “blessed” with lots of them, with more than adequate lung power.)

  24. 24
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Jackie:

    I can think of lat least one way to electrify kilts/skirts. It probably would not work well with sheer or very thin fabric, but I expect this would not be an issue for someone interested in a zapper kilt. More options open up if we throw in a Arduino.

    And we can still add the LEDs to taste.

  25. 25
    Adamo

    Now that I’ve finally stopped laughing and can talk/type again, I’m never going to view a set of bagpipes the same way ever again! Thank you, Nick Gotts.

  26. 26
    SallyStrange

    I think what gets interesting, and alarming, in atheist circles, is that after hours at a conference is thought of as more like a party than a day at the office, and all kinds of atrocious behavior might be defended by the most overzealous “defenders”.

    Yeah. I see what you’re saying. My response is: I’ve been to a fuckload of extremely wild parties. Sexual harassment is entirely optional, even when everyone’s behaving “badly.”

  27. 27
    Dunc

    But it’s still worn by (andor to impress) people who think it’s the way Scots men dressed centuries ago

    Not so much here in Scotland… It’s worn because it’s our national dress now. The most common way to wear a kilt these days (in informal settings) is with a T-shirt or rugby shit and a pair of hiking boots, and I can assure you that absolutely nobody thinks that’s an ancient tradition.

  28. 28
    Michael Brew

    [blockquote]It amuses me in a weird way that people assume that all anti-harassment activism is for women.[/blockquote]

    Too true. In my school days I had plenty of girls grab my hand and place it on sensitive body parts (like the upper thigh or in one instance firmly on the butt cheek) with the assumption I would be cool with it. One girl in college started grinding her junk on me while I was half asleep on someone else’s couch in the dorms. Even when I was in a relationship, my girlfriend would often just grab my bits and play with ‘em even when I explicitly said I didn’t like it. Her response was basically “It’s mine so I can do what I want with it.” In AIT I even knew this girl who decided to teach me some sign language and immediately used it to sign “I wanna f*** you” and other such things during our classes all the time. It was decidedly uncomfortable even with the girls I found attractive. But, you know, if you operate under the assumption that women are human beings, it’s not too surprising that sometimes they behave as badly as men.

  29. 29
    Michael Brew

    Ugh, obviously I switch back and forth between sites that use different tag formats too much.

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