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Jun 15 2012

More people speak up

Update June 18 8:29 a.m.: I modified two items in Act II to reflect later discussion and amplification, including one of the two complainants. They didn’t see him taking photos up skirts, they saw him walking around with a camera on a monopole held at his ankle pointing up. The guy in question – Buzz0 – has also been commenting on the Facebook post.

One of the things I didn’t get to in the hail of shrapnel yesterday – a Facebook post describing two incidents of sexual harassment at TAM.

Act I:  TAM 2009

I notice an outrageously drunk conferee hitting on a non-conferee in the Del Mar Lounge.  She was at the stage of being quite anxious but trying very hard to remain polite.  I asked him if maybe the woman had had enough.  He was far too drunk to notice his inappropriate behaviour and became surly.  I watched from a distance.  He decided to kick it up a notch, leaned across the table, and licked the woman’s neck.  Myself and another gent physically restrained him and frog-marched him to his room.  Hotel security wanted to eject him immediately.  God knows why, but I intervened so he could stay.  He was a royal pain in the ass for hours while we babysat him in his room, and he remains bitter about the experience to this day.  I would not plead with hotel security if that were to happen again.

Act II:  TAM 2011

Two women people approach me and another conferee.  They are pale and trembling.  A man with a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod has been attempting to surreptitiously take photos up their skirts in a position to take surreptitious photos up women’s skirts. Yes, he was attending TAM.  They had taken concerns to conference organizers and got little satisfaction.  Hotel security confiscated the camera.  I later learned the individual was well-known and had been complained about in previous years, and yet there he was again.

Act III:  Female safety?

I go to conferences.  Lots of conferences.  I am nauseated with conferences.  None, NONE, involve the kind of outrageous shitshow behaviour I routinely witness at TAM.  I could supply many more anecdotes.  Oh, anecdotes aren’t data?  Well, these anecdotes are human beings – our sisters.

Frankly, I admire Rebecca Watson’s restraint and tenacity, and her longsuffering support of an organization which, while it does perhaps do net good in the world, has yet to take a long, serious, hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that, if we’re ever going to get past this sophomoric bullshit and present a credible face of rationality in an irrational world, the irrational world we need to start with is us.

There are many comments, informative comments. There are comments from Fred Bremmer, whom I actually know - he was at the talk I did at CFI Vancouver last year, and the pub afterwards. He was in the car that conveyed me and others to the pub. He took some of the pictures I have on FB from that occasion. He’s a great guy. His comments are informative.

Fred Bremmer I provided a picture of the monopod guy to the two traumatized women last year so they could identify him to hotel security. They told me they also reported the incident with him to DJ and to the company that ran the conference for the JREF. They told me the professional conference staff people were the most helpful and understanding about it, but they were frustrated by DJ’s response, or lack of one. As far as I know, the monopod guy was asked to stay away from the women who complained about him, but he was still sitting close to them in the bar later that weekend. When I asked him to move away, he moved his chair, but only AN INCH away. I had to call him out on THAT, and he moved farther away, but stayed in the same general area. These women’s report seems to be missing, or at least significantly downplayed, in the story we’re hearing from DJ about sexual harassment at TAM.

A woman reports some things.

Personal Anecdotes TAM 8

#1 A certain rather well-known male TAM attendee is taking pictures with random TAM goers and I approach him for a picture. “Whoa, I’m married!” he blurts out as if I was asking for something more than a picture. My demeanor had not been different from that of others who had asked him for a picture.

#2 At the bar after the day’s conventions, a TAM goer is flirting with me and is very persistent about coming back to my room with me. I am scared and I have to sit there until a friend comes back to get me because I am not going down the hallway if he decides to follow me. It was more than regular or humble flirting, it wasn’t normal.

#3 I am at the IIG luncheon and a gentleman arrives late so me and my bunch who also arrived late and got a separate table from the main table wave him in to welcome him to sit with us. I act perfectly normal, I am not wearing cleavage, I do not touch him, I am not flirtatious. After the convention this man describes me as having been “sexually manipulative” during that luncheon. I definitely was not and it hurts my feelings.

#4 After TAM ours Mark Edward writes a sexist blog about my TAM event. Mark Edward overall is very sexist not just in his demeanor toward me but to other women also, I have observed. Mark did not attend that particular TAM but does attend other ones and is part of the sexist bunch. http://www.skepticblog.org/2010/07/20/i-wasnt-there-but/

That’s four hideous experiences within a short few days. An alarmingly high frequency, though I wouldn’t go as far as holding D.J. Grothe responsible.

Interesting, I think.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Bernard Hurley

    If people behaved like that in my local pub they would be in danger of being duffed up, to use a quaint anglicism.

  2. 2
    cass_m

    WRT TAM8 item 3. That she waved the guy over then didn’t flirt would be considered manipulative by someone who has no idea how to interact with women in a social setting that doesn’t include the possibility of sex.

    It’s a reflection on him.

  3. 3
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    Back in 2006, monopod guy (DrBuzzo) discusses upskirt photography of cheerleaders. Decides it’s legal or difficult to prosecute.

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=57571

  4. 4
    Bernard Hurley

    Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. It’s legal for me to walk around covered in horse manure but if I went into a restaurant I would be thrown out.

  5. 5
    carlie

    I’d suggest that people in the know save the pages where upskirt guy is talking about it, as well as other people talking about such things. Never know when a forum might just disappear mysteriously.

  6. 6
    Peno Malaputo

    It does honor you that you even take reports from Anita “VisionFromFeeling” Ikonen seriously.

    She may be clinically insane, but even her reports of harassment should be taken seriously.

    Bravo. No, I’m not being ironic.

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