Stephanie Zvan has a pair of great posts on…well I’ll let her tell you, in the first one:
It had its genesis on stage, when Jen McCreight mentioned that, when she started speaking at conferences, multiple people contacted her behind the scenes to tell her which male speakers she should steer clear of.
Stephanie summarizes via a FAQ:
Q: Do famous atheist speakers really act like assholes to women?
A: I said, “Yes.” I’ve experienced some of it, in front of witnesses. I’ve talked to other women who’ve experienced it personally. I’ve talked to conference organizers who have strategies for minimizing the damage when they have to invite one of these men to one of their conferences.
Also, did you just express “skepticism” over this? It’s a completely uncontroversial statement. Unaccetable gendered behavior exists. Our movement is not immune. Men don’t become immune to bad behavior just because people like how they speak or write or organize. Yes, it happens.
Unwanted sexual overtures, is what this is about. Lunging, grabbing, cornering, flashing, leering, following. Not “romance”; not “flirtation”; sexual harrassment; hostile work environment.
And then there’s who are they. (I knew one name before the conference. I now know three.) We’re not in a position to say.
Q: Why aren’t you naming and shaming?
A: Until a year ago, this was harder to explain succinctly. Now, sadly, it’s much easier.
Did you see what happened to Rebecca Watson? Have you seen what’s still happening today? That’s why.
And Rebecca didn’t even name.
Q: How bad can these guys be if they keep getting invited to speak?
A: As bad as they’re allowed to be. As I already pointed out, you’ve probably seen the public behavior of some of these guys already. Has it kept them from getting audiences and invitations? Has it kept them from getting jobs? Has it kept them from being treated as the cool kids?
No. It has not.
Not only are these speakers still allowed to show up, but they’re still in demand. Conferences need to sell tickets and fill seats. When organizers stop inviting some of the people on this list, unless sexism is a primary concern for donors, unless experiences are allowed to be made public, organizers get overruled. If the speaker is a draw, there is a limited amount organizers can do.
That’s the part that really bites. “Oh hey, so he makes a few women miserable, big deal – he’s a name and we can get him, so he’s in.”