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Jun 25 2012

Educate me on sexual harassment. Case 1.

Hello everyone. As a disclaimer, you are likely to be subjected to some pretty bad writing. If you feel the need to lament about recurring typos, poorly phrased sentences, crappy grammar and overall lack of talent, please send your complaints to the FTB admins. They brought me here, thus are responsible for any eventual traumas caused by reading my posts.

Now that we cleared that up …

You may have noticed that the subject of sexual harassment at skeptic conferences is still burning hot among bloggers here, and I for one am a bit conflicted. Conflicted as to what exactly should be considered sexual harassment.  On paper, the short definition of harassment is this :

harassment (either harris-meant or huh-rass-meant) n. the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands.

Also on paper, the generally accepted definition for sexual harassment (by courts and employers) is as stated below :

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when

  1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,
  2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals, or
  3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. (29 C.F.R. § 1604.11 [1980])

For the context of this discussion I think it’s necessary to replace “working environment” with “social environment”, but other than that things should be fairly clear. Only as it often happens with any kind of human interactions, sexual harassment seems to be an issue far more complex than the words in its definition might predict.

For this reason I will present to you a series of cases, and ask your thoughts as to weather or not these incidents belong in the “sexual harassment” category. The case I will put forth in this post is my own.

CASE NO. 1

About a week ago a friend of mine from US called me on the phone to ask me (what I thought at the time to be) a very peculiar question: “Would I like to report that couple who harassed me at TAM last year?”. This baffled me. “What couple?” “To report what?” “To who?” “Why?” “What’s going on?”.

You see, lately I’ve been a really bad “Internet person”. Due to some family issues which needed all my focus, I’ve neglected pretty much everything Internet-related,  so I was completely unaware of this discussion.

To keep it really short, my friend explained that DJ Grothe said in a comment on Facebook that no incidents of harassment were reported at last year’s TAM that he is aware of. And this generated a series of reactions, one of them being that now there are women coming forward and reporting that they have been, indeed, harassed while attending TAM. Ofcourse, there is a lot (LOT!) more to this which I don’t have time to get into, so for a detailed timeline of everything that happened you can click HERE .

But back to that call. When my friend mentioned the “couple who harassed me at TAM last year”, I initially had no idea what he was talking about. But when he started reminding me about the incident, I began to realize that we may have different perceptions of what classifies as sexual harassment. First, let me tell you what actually happened.

Those of you who’ve attended TAM before may know that after the “conference part of the day” is officially over (as in, all the speakers are done for the day), there’s almost always an un-official hang-out at this bar inside the hotel, where skeptics gather together for drinks and interaction – sometimes until very late in the night or even early in the morning.

On one of these late nights at this specific bar, I was having a drink with the very awesome AJ Johnson, when a young woman approached AJ and started making sexually charged “compliments” . She and her boyfriend were apparently looking for a threesome. She was the one doing all the talking, the boyfriend was sitting in a corner looking too drunk to talk, or too high, or both, or maybe even having some mental disability. He just looked completely out of it. The young woman was noticeably intoxicated too.

AJ had to literally get up and leave in order to get away from her. Fortunetly for AJ, the young woman didn’t follow her. Unfortunately for me, I became the replacement focus of her attention. She was very sexually explicit in her language, very persistent and not very coherent. I was very uncomfortable. After enduring a few minutes of drunken babbles about how awesome a threesome would be, I got up and left too. (I forgot to say there was only AJ and myself sitting at that table when she approached us).

I mentioned this incident to a few of my friends that night, but it never even crossed my mind to report it to the TAM staff as sexual harassment. Nobody else suggested this either at that time.

And when my friend asked me recently if I would like to report it now, in the light of the newly surfaced controversy, I again said that I don’t feel I should report it.

 

So here are my questions to you: 

  1. Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment ? 
  2. Would you have reported it ?

 

You see, the title of this post is in no way ironic. I am very interested to know and understand what are your thoughts here, and I would very much appreciate some detailed answers instead of just answering “yes” or “no”.

Here’s my main 2 reasons for *not* reporting it to the TAM staff:

  1.  I didn’t feel that this had anything to do with TAM in any way.
  2.  I didn’t feel unsafe at any point, just annoyed.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

 

379 comments

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  1. 1
    Sally Strange

    Sexual comments that made you uncomfortable so you left?

    Definitely.

    1. 1.1
      David

      My work web filter software thought that you were writing about “Restaurant and Dining”, so your English must be worse than you thought.

      1. bitphr3ak

        lol, or your web filter software is buggy.

        There are always differing perspectives when it comes to how people react to information. :)

    2. 1.2
      bitphr3ak

      I guess 80 percent of the late night bar crowd should probably be round up and prosecuted for harassment.

      Getting up and walking away from an obnoxious person is pretty common place. It’s when there are consequence to getting up and walking away that I’d be concerned about harassment.

      I suppose one could complain to the bar staff that drunk patrons are harassing you, but I wouldn’t be concerned about the sexual nature of the interaction, because again, there is no consequence to ending the interaction.

      If one was blocked from leaving, or if one might lose one’s job by ending the interaction, then yes, I’d make a sexual harassment complaint.

      imho

  2. 2
    echidna

    It’s a good question.
    It seems clear that the woman’s approach was unwelcome and sexually explicit. If you asked her to stop, or to leave, and she continued regardless of your expressed wishes, then it would be harassment.

    This line here:

    AJ had to literally get up and leave in order to get away from her.

    Did AJ make it clear the advances were unwelcome? Because if so, it would meet the criteria of harassment being repeated unwelcome advances.

  3. 3
    Malachite

    1. From the sounds of it, the two interactions (AJ + the young woman. then you + the young woman) come under the heading of “continued”, because it sounds like you and AJ weren’t successful at getting this person to go away with words alone (assuming that’s what you were trying to do), you actually had to get up and leave. That puts it squarely under the heading of harrassment, so as you say she was very sexually explicit (and I’m assuming neither you nor AJ did anything to invite sexually explicit conversation), then that puts it squarely into the definition of sexual harrassment.

    You don’t have to be afraid, or in danger for it to be sexual harassment. Being very uncomfortable counts too.

    2. If it was me, I’d have had a quiet word with someone on the organising team, if I could have found someone, giving details of someone going around being drunk and sexually aggressive, and it might be an idea for someone to gently get them to stop, or keep an eye on them and make sure noone else gets subject to similar treatment.

  4. 4
    Larry

    According to the definitions you cite and your reaction it was not sexual harassment in that it did not, for you, create an an intimidating, hostile, or offensive social environment. The standard is subjective. For someone else it might well have.

    1. 4.1
      chrisj

      I was very uncomfortable.

      Not only that, but sufficiently uncomfortable to leave the area. That very definitely sounds like a hostile environment to me.

  5. 5
    michaeld

    1 Is it sexual harassment?

    Sounds like you made it clear that this wasn’t something you wanted to her. So yes I’d say it was harassment. These things aren’t all of the same level there’s a gradient of behavior that would qualify. But yes I’d say won’t take not interested in your drunken threesome for an answer and move on counts as sexual harassment.

    2 Should you have reported it to TAM?

    I have to admit I’m unsure how this watering hole was attached to TAM. If it was going out to a bar across from the hotel after the conferences its not really under a TAM banner so no. If it was say an event on the TAM schedual with private attendance sure. If it had happened right after a speakers panel sure. Just in terms of trying to make the event a nice happy one for everyone.

    I don’t think I’m killing anyone’s fun by saying if you’re looking for a threesome at TAM and someone says their not interested you should move on to other prospects.

    If you’re new to this and are wondering what kind of policies we’re talking about here are two that have been suggested as example policies.

    http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Conference_anti-harassment/Policy

    http://www.open-sf.org/conduct.html

  6. 6
    LJ Briar

    Since it wasn’t, as you say, at TAM, then yeah, I wouldn’t see how this should be reported to the people there. As to whether or not this was harassment, as you describe it, I probably wouldn’t have felt threatened enough to find it more than annoying. If you didn’t feel unsafe, you didn’t feel unsafe. As I see it, only you can say if you were harassed.

    That said, it wouldn’t take much remixing for me to have felt unsafe in this situation, if it had been me there. If I told the woman to leave me alone and she didn’t, I would have started feeling nervous. If she and her boyfriend were sitting at the table in such a way that they were blocking my exit, I’d get very nervous. If the woman appeared to be larger or stronger than me (I’m pretty average height and weight), then I would have been nervous to start. If the man suddenly jumped into the conversation, I would be very nervous, because, you know, two versus one. If the man had been the one who approached me first, I would have been way more scared about telling them to bugger off or to just get up and leave because in my experience men who are aggressive enough to come to a table where they don’t know anyone and start making sexual remarks at you do NOT take rejection well. If the man had appeared to be larger and stronger than me, then I would have been very upset.

    But I still wouldn’t have reported it to TAM because unless you knew for sure the woman and her boyfriend were TAM participants, it’s not a TAM issue. I’d be more likely to report it to the hotel.

    Anyway, that would be my take.

  7. 7
    Notung

    1) Probably yes – but do you think they were aware that you (or AJ) wanted them to stop? If so, then definitely yes. If not, then I’m not sure – perhaps no.

    2) Again, conditional. If they continued to bug you, then reporting them to TAM staff might be the best way of getting them to stop. I think it depends on the severity of the harassment or whether they continue with it in spite of your protestations. By the looks of it, neither you nor AJ felt that a report was necessary, and in this case (from your account of it) I think you were right.

    1. 7.1
      Jesse Cruickshank

      I disagree with you on part 1. It’s not so much “were they aware”, but “did it negatively effect you”. Lack of knowledge of the other persons feeling gives no innocence if it is concievable that they could be aware, and arguing for the contrary clearly is vulnerable to reductio ab absurdum. If a simple “not interested” is not enough for them, or if you feel too threatened, they are in the wrong.

  8. 8
    Matt Penfold

    Since it wasn’t, as you say, at TAM, then yeah, I wouldn’t see how this should be reported to the people there.

    I would argue it should be reported. TAM are the people who decide where their conferences are going to be held. If they are unaware of problems occurring within the venue they cannot make a decision to avoid using a venue that has been the subject of a number of such reports.

    1. 8.1
      LJ Briar

      That’s a good point, actually. I hadn’t thought of that.

    2. 8.2
      Alan B d

      But then you are punishing a hotel because some patron was being a dick (or a cunt?) without giving the hotel the opportunity to rectify something they were not even aware of.

      Plain and simple, It DID NOT happen*at* TAM. It happened in a bar at the hotel. A bar for which ANYONE is free to use. Unless this couple was wearing Tam tags around their neck, they were most likely simply guests of the hotel looking for someone who shared their interests in extracurricular activities. They were drunk and the woman went about it the wrong way but I do NOT see it as “sexual harassment”. Even if she was sober and asked very nicely, but was persistent in trying to convince a person, it would NOT be “sexual harassment”. Inappropriate? yes, but “harassment” No.

      So to answer Christina’s question
      1. No, I don’t consider the situation as told to be harassment
      2. No, I would not have reported it.

      I would have had a good chuckle over the situation though.

  9. 9
    BaisBlackfingers

    I was very uncomfortable.

    That’s the most relevant bit of information needed to answer question number 1. Nobody can really answer this question for you, although you might find it useful to talk to AJ how she felt and compare.

    Regarding the second question, a few years ago I would have said that you *have* to report this. Reconsideration of my own situation leads me to conclude that demanding that other people report incidents that I was not involved in is stupid. I will say that if you don’t feel that you are/were in danger in any way, that puts you in a better position to report than others might be. Also the fact that TAM was not directly involved does not mean that TAM would not benefit from having official documentation of the situation.

  10. 10
    5ive

    I wouldn’t report it. She was being an obnoxious drunk, but you didn’t feel threatened or in danger. If we could report everyone who made us uncomfortable, I could turn in all the people peddling their religions at my door for harassment :)

  11. 11
    Lordxor

    Depending on who it was talking to me and how I was feeling at the time, I would have had two possible reactions:

    1) I would have said ‘no’, like your friend, if they were not my type of people or I was not alone at that time. If I was with a friend who was uncomfortable with it, I would have spoken up about that fact. But other than that, I would not over-react to the situation.

    2) If they were my kind of people and the other conditions I describe above are or are not met, I would have went for it.

    I think that it is situational as far as what is considered harassment and what is not. I also think those who are crowing the loudest are perhaps a bit hypocritical. I am sure if it was what they feel is a hot guy or woman who is their type that hit on them, they would not have thought of it as harassment. They may well have welcomed it.

    What is being forgotten here is that we are a very sexual species. Some people have the social maturity to know how and when to express it, others do not. Those who do not, tend to be labeled as predators by others. Even if the offending person meant no harm but just awkwardly expressed themselves.

    Also, on a subconscious level, we tend to evaluate others around us as either competitors or potential mates. Looking at them and judging their genetic fitness, so on. It is instinctive and on a level we are not aware, but that is a part of natural human behavior. Even friendships require a certain level of sexual attraction and studies have show this. Same sex friendships have also been show to be based on a bit of shared sexual attraction on a subconscious level.

    So, I think that what is going on is being over simplified and blown out of proportion in many cases. Yes, there are real cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault. No one can really deny that. But being asked for a date, or a one night stand, or a threesome is not assault or harassment. It only becomes harassment when it is persistent and a situation where one person can dominate the will of another. A pass or a flirt at someone, though unwanted, is not sexual harassment.

    So, to sum up: If there is shared mutual attraction, then an advance tends to not be rebuffed as sexual harassment. If there is no sexual attraction, it will be interpreted as unwelcome, hostile, and harassing. It is the situation, not the behavior itself, that should be in question here. Understanding the underlying drive, the fact we are a sexual species, should also be taking into consideration here.

  12. 12
    Timid Atheist

    So here are my questions to you:

    1. Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment ?

    I consider it sexual harassment because the requests from the woman were obvious sexual in nature and she refused to stop asking.

    2. Would you have reported it ?

    I would have if there had been an obvious way in which to report it.

    A few points I’d like to bring up:

    1. Was this girl or her boyfriend a part of TAM? Would that have been something obvious that you could tell? I think if they were attending TAM or were part of the event in some way that it would be even more reason to report them. But even if they weren’t part of TAM they were still in the same vicinity as the conference and perhaps if you didn’t report it to TAM people, you could report it to the Bar or Hotel staff.

    2. If you didn’t feel unsafe and you didn’t think the situation was one that required you report them then I think you made the best decision for you and there’s nothing wrong with that decision. You didn’t report because you didn’t feel it was a harassing situation to you.

    3. Not everyone would have reacted the same way as you, Christina, so I think we need to address the fact that if someone had been in the situation that it would have been okay if they had reported the incident. Sometimes people can feel cornered by this kind of interaction and their reaction is just as valid as yours of simply being annoyed.

    I’m glad this kind of thing is being discussed. It’s important to note that not reporting if you don’t feel a situation is harassment is just as valid as reporting if you do feel a situation is harassment.

    And most importantly have a good harassment policy and reporting procedure in place is good for everyone so that if you, Christina, or anyone else does feel unsafe or harassed, then you can report it and have it taken seriously.

  13. 13
    Matt Penfold

    I also think there is a big difference between simply starting a conversation with someone you don’t know and your opening gambit being a request for sex.

    In the context of TAM I would argue that in the event of the initial request should be regarded as unacceptable behaviour.

  14. 14
    embertine

    Being a bit drunk and coming on to someone in a clumsy, stupid kind of way? No.

    But if you or your friend replied with “Thanks but I’m not interested,” and the woman did anything other than stop, then yes.

  15. 15
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Yes. They made both you and AJ (two people in the space of a few minutes) uncomfortable by their cold proposal and explicit language. To the point where you had to leave to get away from them. And you’re a person who is fairly confident and secure. These people had no way of knowing that you’d be able to brush it off as easily as you did. In other words, their conduct was highly inappropriate and would be covered under a decent harassment policy.

    Not every person is going to go to the trouble of reporting harassment, but having a policy for doing so does the following:

    * it provides an option for people who do want to report either for themselves or to make a safer environment for others

    * it provides an incentive for people who want to go around inviting other people into their sex games to use civilised guidelines (e.g. chat a bit first and feel someone out via actual conversation rather than approaching them cold and violating boundaries)

    * it puts up a signpost that conference organisers (and by extension the community at large) considers harassment a serious issue and endeavours to make a safe space for women and minorities.

    If there had been a clear, publicized harassment policy and reporting procedure in place I certainly would have reported it. But I don’t think TAM had that last year and probably wouldn’t have in context, in your exact situation. Though I might have mentioned it to organisers personally, unofficially had I been a speaker.

  16. 16
    Matt Penfold

    If there had been a clear, publicized harassment policy and reporting procedure in place I certainly would have reported it. But I don’t think TAM had that last year and probably wouldn’t have in context, in your exact situation. Though I might have mentioned it to organisers personally, unofficially had I been a speaker.

    I think they claimed to have a policy in place, but given how many incidents were reported to TAM officials, including Groethe, but never got recorded, it seems the policy left a lot to desired. You not only need a policy, the people running then event need to know what to do when an incident is reported.

    1. 16.1
      Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

      Yeah. That’s where the “clear and publicized…reporting procedure” comes into it.

  17. 17
    jamessweet

    So, I keep saying that I can only assume the people who are terribly up in arms about the idea of instituting anti-harassment policies at conferences must not ever have worked at a job that had a strong anti-harassment policy… because it really is not that big of a deal.

    Here’s the thing: It’s not tremendously important whether or not you consider that to be “harassment”. The point is, if somebody felt really threatened and had a persisting discomfort with what happened there, they should have some channel to report it and be reassured that it was being dealt with. In your case, it sounds like you were uncomfortable in the moment, but it wasn’t that big a deal to you… so you don’t report it. I think that’s totally fine!

    What we want to avoid is someone having a situation where they feel threatened and have no recourse. If you don’t feel threatened, then there is no need for recourse.

    (There is the argument that if somebody is harassing, you have an ethical obligation to report it so that others don’t get harassed… but I would generally reserve this for the most egregious stuff. A drunk lady pitching a threesome in a bar… yeah, I mean, I’m with you, that’s the kind of thing that I don’t see as a tremendously big deal. But, again, others might, and it’s important they have recourse if they do.)

    1. 17.1
      konekon1nj4

      Much agreed. Just having a policy of how to deal with harassment can help those who may harass think twice and those who get harassed know that they have somewhere to report it that will take it seriously. It also makes it so much easier for the staff to know how to handle it. If there is no policy on how to handle it then it’s up to the individual who gets the complaint and how they handle it may or may not be in line with what the convention/conference would prefer.

      I would say that this instance would feel like harassment to me but I would probably just laugh at it after the fact with friends rather then report it.

      1. Ysanne

        It also makes it so much easier for the staff to know how to handle it. If there is no policy on how to handle it then it’s up to the individual who gets the complaint and how they handle it may or may not be in line with what the convention/conference would prefer.

        This is actually a good and important point.
        I’ve been on the organising side of uni events, and it is extremely helpful to have some explicit agreement about the rules that apply to everybody. It lends staff/volunteers dealing with trouble a very legitimate, fair and hard-to-dispute kind of authority, which is exactly what you need to deal with trouble smoothly and without big scenes.

        1. Alan B d

          And how would this have helped in this case. We have notidead if these speople werepart of TAM or not. How would hthis policy have ehp in a location that had NOTHING

        2. Alan B d

          And how would this have helped in this case. We have notidead if these speople werepart of TAM or not. How would hthis policy have ehp in a location that had NOTHING

        3. Alan B d

          And how would this have helped in this case. We have no idea if these people were part of TAM or not. How would this policy have helped in a location that had NOTHING to do with TAM with people that also possibly had no association with TAM? If they were simply guests of the hotel then a TAM “anti-harassment” policy would mean F-ALL to them and would not be enforceable in the slightest. There are people that will act like asses all over the world and two people going down to the bar in the evening looking for someone interested in joining their activities is not illegal, even if she was drunkenly insistent that you’d enjoy yourself. Your policy would do NOTHING to stop anything outside of the scope of TAM. INCLUDING the hotel bars after the events are finished.

          If someone not associated with TAM comes up to you and does something irritating to you, the policy which you have read and they have NOT read will do nothing to have stopped the incident.

    2. 17.2
      Usernames are smart

      Here’s the thing: It’s not tremendously important whether or not you consider that to be “harassment”. The point is, if somebody felt really threatened and had a persisting discomfort with what happened there, they should have some channel to report it and be reassured that it was being dealt with. — jamesweet #16

      A-farkin THIS.

      .

      We all have different tolerances and requirements for safety.

      I guess what I’m saying, is (for me), I could care less what TAM does or is informed about. For me, if I was being threatened, then priority one would be to get safe, and priority two would be to bring in the real guns (the police, not personal firearms!). Sure, after someone was in the backseat of the squad car, I’d let TAM know…as a courtesy. What can they do that I can’t? Nothing. They’ll call the cops the same as I would, except I’d do it faster. If TAM wanted proof of actual incidents, let them have a copy of the police report.

      If they’re pulling an ostrich and refuse to see an ongoing problem, then time to find another conference.

      I hope anyone who feels threatened will take care of themselves first — get safe, go where there are lots of people, don’t get so intoxicated beforehand, etc. Being safe is more important than filling out some form or “letting someone know” that their conference sucks.

      1. Alan B d

        So, what this girl did was *illegal* and required the Police????

        Boy, you sure do know how to blow a situation out of control.

  18. 18
    MandaSauce

    Several comments in this thread seem to suggest that it was Cristina’s or AJ’s responsibility to convey to this woman that her attention was unwanted before it can be considered sexual harassment. That strikes me as an unreasonable requirement, seeing as how the woman was clearly very intoxicated. The fact is that this woman created an unwanted, sexually explicit environment that made both Cristina and AJ feel very uncomfortable. That is sexual harassment. It doesn’t stop being sexual harassment because the instigator is too drunk, stubborn, or clueless to understand what they are doing. That smacks of victim-blaming to me. Yes, strangers can sometimes be unaware of our personal boundaries and it helps to create a friendlier environment if we all learn to communicate those boundaries clearly. But if an individual is unwilling or unable to understand and respect those boundaries, the responsibility for their behavior still lies squarely with them.

    1. 18.1
      Ysanne

      One detail left me wondering: Was “leaving the table” the way of saying “no, I don’t want this” to begin with, or the solution when saying “not interested” verbally didn’t work?
      I’m not asking in order to blame anyone, but because in some instances, I estimate that the person talking to me won’t be able to understand a polite “no thanks”, and personally I usually prefer ending a conversation by leaving to ending it by telling the other person to fuck off in a manner rude enough to register with an obnoxious drunk.
      So in the first case, I’d say it’s just rude, and in the second case I’d see it as mildly harassing, but harmless enough to deal with it on one’s own for most people.

  19. 19
    Matt Penfold

    A drunk lady pitching a threesome in a bar… yeah, I mean, I’m with you, that’s the kind of thing that I don’t see as a tremendously big deal. But, again, others might, and it’s important they have recourse if they do.)

    It is the sort of thing that could be dealt with by a TAM official simply “suggesting” to the woman it was time she went to bed.

    1. 19.1
      kaleissin

      A drunk lady pitching a threesome in a bar… yeah, I mean, I’m with you, that’s the kind of thing that I don’t see as a tremendously big deal. But, again, others might, and it’s important they have recourse if they do.)

      It is the sort of thing that could be dealt with by a TAM official simply “suggesting” to the woman it was time she went to bed.

      Sounds to me the couple were drunk enough to be in need of a babysitter to prevent that trip to bed from being the last thing they did, due to for instance drowning in their own vomit, so I would have reported it for that reason.

  20. 20
    Garnetstar

    I would consider it harassment, for the reasons other have cited.

    I’d first speak to the bartender(s). At any bar, that a customer is so drunk and is behaving so unacceptably as to discourage other patrons, is usually something the management wants to know. At any bar, such people usually get thrown out.

    If the management doesn’t care and doesn’t take steps to fix the situation, I’d then alert TAM, as Matt @7 says. TAM could make their displeasure known, and point out to the hotel that they do not care to hold conferences at such venues. Then TAM should follow through.

    1. 20.1
      cry4turtles

      I agree. As a former bartendr, I would want to know if my patrons were feeling uncomfortable at my bar. An attentive bartender would already be aware of the situation (depending on the size and floorplan of the establishment), and would’ve shut the drunken idiots off. My advice, if you’re in a bar, let the bartender know what’s going on.

  21. 21
    embertine

    Whoa, I’m not saying that the lady being drunk lets her off the hook. Absolutely not. But if someone, say, said to me “Hey baby, let’s go upstairs and get to know one another better,” I would not report it. As long as they then said “Fair enough,” and let me go with no aggro when I told them no.

    I suppose for me, that’s creepy but not worthy of outside intervention unless my wishes are not respected. And I do realise that puts the onus on me to make my wishes known,which isn’t really fair when perhaps the drunk idiot should have known I wasn’t likely to be interested by the fact that he had never spoken to me before, it was 4am and he had just followed me to an enclosed space.

    But I digress. ;)

  22. 22
    sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8

    Sexual harassment? I would say no, it isn’t. Rude? You bet.

    The thing is, sexual harassment is a specific thing, first of all requiring asymmetric power and/or an inability to respond reasonably (i.e. you cannot be expected to leave your place of employment to rectify the problem). It does not cover social interactions, no matter how rude nor how uncomfortable it makes one feel.

    That being said, there is another issue here. Does TAM want to provide an environment where women feel safe and comfortable and thus promote their involvement? In that vein you should report the behavior of anyone that behaved in anyway that jeopardized your enjoyment and future attendance at TAM. It is therefore an entirely subjective thing. If it doesn’t bother you and did not stop you from enjoying TAM and didn’t make you think twice about attending again, then it was just a normal rude social interaction.

    If the couple was rude to a lot of people over the course of the meeting, then the organizers might want to talk to them about it, or possibly ban them. That is a call for the organizers to make and they cannot if nobody reports it. On the same token, if a lot of people report incidents involving a lot of different people, the organizers might want to take a look at why they attract so many rude people, and either take steps to correct it (stated zero tolerance policy) or channel them (drunken orgy, room 315, tonight at 9) or throw in the towel and cater to that clientele. All of this requires reporting the incidents.

    If you don’t report an incident, then you are acknowledging that it is not something that you wish changed. Which is okay, there are a lot of rude people in the world and everyone’s level of tolerance is different. If you had trouble recalling the incident, then I would say it probably isn’t worth reporting. Unless it was so traumatic that you blocked the memory, of course.

    1. 22.1
      Alan B d

      Report them to whom? Were they attending TAM or were they possibly simply other guests of the hotel??If so, how does TAM have anything to do with a hotel guest hitting on another hotel guest in the bar??

  23. 23
    Jac

    I’m going by the definition of sexual harassment posted on Almost Diamonds because it’s more detailed and less oriented toward the work environment. Persistent propositioning, continuing after you have asked her to stop, to the point that you were made uncomfortable enough to leave, definitely falls under that definition. If this happened at the conference hotel within the duration of the event, then you could have reported it to the conference staff. It’s clear from the ongoing conversation that the harassment policy isn’t meant to be restricted to official events. (Obviously, if you leave the venue location, or stay after the conference has packed up and left, then you’re on your own.) The idea of a harassment policy is so that when this kind of situation comes up, the aggressor can be caused to leave the bar, rather than the target(s). In this case, reporting this woman would possibly been the safest option for everyone. From your description, it sounds like they could have benefited from a little supervision, possibly being escorted back to their room, to keep someone else from taking advantage of their intoxicated states.

  24. 24
    Porco Dio

    i’m wondering what i would do if a couple started pestering me with religiously charged comments that made me feel uncomfortable enough to get up and leave…

    would this be religious harassment?

    should i report it?

    to whom?

    1. 24.1
      julian

      your basic anti-harassment policy should cover that. Even at a bar if a couple of evangelist refuse to give you peace, you can complain to the owner (or whoever) and they can have them removed or placed on the opposite end of the bar from you.

  25. 25
    Matt Penfold

    i’m wondering what i would do if a couple started pestering me with religiously charged comments that made me feel uncomfortable enough to get up and leave…

    would this be religious harassment?

    Yes.

    should i report it?

    That a decision for you to make.

    to whom?

    To ever it would be appropriate to report it to. If you were in a bar, the obvious answer would be a member of staff. If you were at a conference, then it would some one in a position of authority at the conference. It is not normally that difficult to work this out.

    1. 25.1
      Porco Dio

      To ever it would be appropriate to report it to. If you were in a bar, the obvious answer would be a member of staff. If you were at a conference, then it would some one in a position of authority at the conference. It is not normally that difficult to work this out.

      ok, that’s clear…, but this guy on the metro this morning had really smelly feet that made me feel uncomfortable enough to get up and leave…

      is this personal hygiene harassment? where do i report it to?

      i think you’re getting the picture now…

      there is no difference between the girl Christina met, a couple of jehova’s witnesses and a guy with foot fungus.

      some people just like to blow things up either for their own benefit or to the spiteful detriment of others.

      but most people just take life one smelly sock at a time.

      1. Matt Penfold

        Still no more honest or more intelligent are you ?

        1. Porco Dio

          your retort neither vindicates your argument nor invalidates mine…

          but it goes some way to show that you agree that anything that makes anyone feel uncomfortable is some sort of harassment.

          and that’s a terrible shame really…, playing the victim card al the time…

          1. Matt Penfold

            Well this a new blog, so people here might not be so aware you have a track-record around FtB of being stupid and dishonest. Since you did not seem to want to tell people, and they have a right to know so you should, I thought I would save you the bother.

            What’s more I will not even charge for the service.

        2. Lordxor

          Personal attacks will not move the conversation forward. They are counter productive and only serve to harder someone in their position, right or wrong.

          1. Porco Dio

            that’s the style of the pharyngula crowd with whom you either agree or you are stupid and dishonest…

            it’s just to bad that pz supports and even praises such discourse.

          2. pentatomid

            While I would agree with your sentiment in most cases, there is some history here of which you appear to be unaware.

          3. SallyStrange

            Porco Dio is being attacked because he is not interested in moving the conversation forward.

            If you want to move the conversation forward, and you have someone like Porco Dio, who is interested in obstructing it, you have two options: either ban him or make it clear that conversation with him is not going to move the conversation forward.

            PD’s questions are disingenuous and not at all interesting. He isn’t being honest about his intentions. (That, or he really is that stupid–but I don’t think he is.) He’s played this game before.

            How do you suggest that people who ARE interested in moving the conversation forward deal with him?

      2. Timid Atheist

        Actually, there is a difference.

        Christina’s example and your Jehova’s Witness example were both examples of someone confronting someone else with something unwanted and not backing down when told no.

        The third example is one of environment. You don’t like that someone has bad odor. But if that person is not actively following you wherever you go and actively attempting to get as close to you as possible in order to force you to smell them, there is no harassment.

        some people just like to blow things up either for their own benefit or to the spiteful detriment of others.

        Someone being offended or scared or intimidated and reporting the situation through the proper channels is not blowing things up for their own benefit. Nor is it being spiteful to the person doing the fending, scaring or intimidation.

        Harassment policies are there for a reason. To protect those who are being harassed. The harassers do not need nor deserve protection unless they themselves are being harassed, though that still doesn’t excuse their own harassment.

        1. Porco Dio

          replace smelly feet with massive farts then… but keep the confined space of a metro carriage…

          it’s still harassment by the other two benchmarks – someone doing something that makes me feel uncomfortable enough to either ask them to stop or to leave.

          that’s the point i’m trying to make…, any type of discomfort is harassment by these standards…

          life is full of discomforts… and we should always yell as loud as possible about what affects us directly instead of taking a rational position… /sarc

          1. Timid Atheist

            life is full of discomforts… and we should always yell as loud as possible about what affects us directly instead of taking a rational position… /sarc

            This kind of rhetoric is what distorts the issue. No one said anything about yelling loudly or making a scene. Most people who do report harassment do it in a way so as to not make it into a scene. They don’t want attention drawn to themselves.

            Taking harassment seriously is the rational position. I’ve yet to see anyone suggest something that was overboard or not in line with rational reasoning.

      3. spellwight

        Well gee, if the stinky guy was all up in your business waving his odorous appendages in your face you certainly could report him to someone.

        There’s a difference between being offended by someone in the vicinity and being harassed face-to-face.

        Duh.

        1. Porco Dio

          what exactly do you mean by

          all up in your business

          and can you or a judge define this in legal terms?

          this phrase (whatever it means) seems to be entirely subjective and tries to conflate what many civilized people would consider normal discourse (even if it’s somewhat annoying) with some kind of direct assault.

          imagine if black people were constantly trying to pin racism on absolutely everything that made them feel uncomfortable… and many black people are confronted by madness/meanness every single bloody day of their lives.

          would it be helpful if each and every instance of covert racism was equated with a lynching?

          prolly not.

          1. kevinkirkpatrick

            Just 2 days ago I was channel-surfing and happened across a reality-tv show that was following an airline ticketing agent through various ordeals with customers. The issue that caused me to pause and watch: the agent needed to deal with a woman who, according to the passengers around her, absolutely reeked to high-heaven of some funky B.O. and/or urine.

            The passengers were able to report the problem discreetly to the flight attendent, who reported to the pilot, who phoned over for the customer-relations agent to board the plane and evaluate the situation. The agent invited the woman to have a conversation out of earshot of all others (her face was blurred on the camera, obviously), and had a polite but pointed conversation with her. She determined that because there was an odor but not over-powering, and because the flight was a short one (an hour in duration), she would allow the woman to remain on board. Other passengers were given a choice of a voucher of $100 or the option to bump to a new flight.

            So, what we have is a clear-cut policy: as a airline passenger, if another passenger is bothering you in ANY way, you can report it. Your reports will be taken seriously and dealt with by trained staff in a professional manner that works for the best solution for all parties.

            Porco Dio – does that more or less answer your question of how the “smelly feet/fart” situation ought to be handled?

          2. spellwight

            You should really change your login name to Mr. Obtuse.

            If you could read my entire first sentence you’d understand the context of all up in your business.

            You are not the least bit amusing, you know.

      4. oolon

        Ok Porco well I’ve no idea of your track record but your argument is obviously on dodgy ground.

        - Smelly feet, well yes if he was shoving them in your face or something and despite your complaints carried on then that is obviously harassment of a sort
        - Jehovahs Witnesses – they’ve always been very polite to me but if yours follow you around heckling you in the street and follow you to work despite your complaints then that is harassment and illegal.

        Sexual harassment in this case as plainly stated by many above become harassment when ‘despite your complaints’ the conversation continues in a sexual vein.

        Hmm now I’ve written it down it seems so damn obvious that maybe the others are right and you are being disingenuous for the lulz.

  26. 26
    Arancaytar

    Determining whether or not it was harassment would end in a debate over definitions. Whether or not a situation has to be potentially threatening, whether or not the perpetrator has to be consciously aware of and ignoring cues to go away, etc. The line between an inept pickup attempt and a creepy one can be flowing, particularly when intoxication is involved. So that sort of terminology debate would be pointless. It’s enough that you were uncomfortable.

    The situation sounds like a perfect example of a case where reporting is left entirely to your judgement. You would have been well within your right to report it (I think I might have in your shoes), but your decision not to report didn’t leave you or anyone else in danger.

  27. 27
    Anna Bula

    The way that I usually determine whether or not something is sexual harassment is by asking the following questions:

    1. Did I make it clear, either through body language or verbal communication that the suggestions, comments, etc. were unwelcome and were making me uncomfortable? If yes and the comments, actions, etc. continued, then it was harassment.
    If I did not, then the next questions applies:

    2. Did I not communicate my discomfort because I feared reprisal, either in the case of employment, or physical safety? If yes, then harassment occurred.
    If no, then although you may have been uncomfortable it was not technically harassment.

    Ultimately it comes down to intent. If someone is making comments with the intent of pressuring you into something (including threats) or with knowledge/the goal of making you feel unsafe, harassed, uncomfortable(in the sense that you have some fear) then the actions were harassment.

    I have met decent guys who were just being friendly flirts. They had no intentions of making the women they were talking to uncomfortable, and if they had known that the person in question wanted them to stop, or if they looked uncomfortable, they would have since they were not interested in that sort of situation. Were their actions maybe inadvisable and a little stupid. Yes. Should they be given a course or a tutorial into how to recognize discomfort or potentially harassing situations? Yes. Should they be fired, reviled, and accused to being horrible people? Not necessarily.

    Anyway, that’s my take. xD

    1. 27.1
      Garnetstar

      “Should they be fired, reviled, and accused to being horrible people?”

      No.

      They should be criticized or fired or asked to absent themselves if they continue some kind of harassing behavior after it’s been pointed out them (perhaps in the tutorial) that the behavior is negatively impacting someone else, and so also the mission or purpose of the organization.

    2. 27.2
      LeftSidePositive

      I strongly suggest you read everything the Internet has ever written about “Intent Is Not Magic.” Seriously. If someone is harming another person–physically or psychologically–ze is responsible for what ze does, and claiming nice intent doesn’t matter one bit.

      Furthermore, intent is basically impossible to determine by anyone else, so you’re setting up an impossible verification standard. There’s also tons of problems with privilege in that people from traditionally-respected roles in society are more likely to have favorable intent ascribed to them.

      And another thing–have you noticed that when people ACTUALLY have good intent, they fall all over themselves to FIX their behavior when they learn they hurt someone? On the other hand, privileged trolls just love to insist that they had blameless intent as an excuse to keep doing what they want, and the splash damage shouldn’t matter…which by my book is selfishness and ill intent!

  28. 28
    Traveler

    This was definitely harassment. You were bothered enough to physically move away from this jerk. If you were able to determine that the woman targeted AJ and/or you because she was at the conference, or knew who you were via the online atheist/skeptical community, then you should definitely report it to conference staff.

    If you weren’t sure about their conference connection, then you could have pointed them out to bar/casino staff, in the hope of saving other patrons from being harassed or getting help when harassed.

    Let me make it clear that I’m not blaming you for not reporting – goodness knows I haven’t reported every skeezoid who has harassed me, over the years. After being ignored, dismissed or mocked as oversensitive for so many years, it would take a fairly progressive statement from any conference organizers to convince me to take the personal risk of reporting. In my personal experience, the initial harassment makes me righteously angry, while the subsequent dismissal by people I thought should be allies is what is brutally emotionally crushing.

    But even before reporting, in my ideal fantasy of defeating-the-jerks, it would have been most important to show AJ that you had her back, in real time, as the initial harassment of her was happening.

  29. 29
    Ms. Crazy Pants

    I’m not sure if this would fall under sexual harassment, but I did want to comment that going to a conference that doesn’t relate to sex and then looking for a sexual hookup is highly inappropriate. There are avenues for people to find others into their activities without just randomly wandering around asking. I could consider this inappropriate enough to report it. At a minimum I would want the couple informed that they need to conduct themselves in a little more professional manner at conferences. This isn’t just some random night out at a bar.

    1. 29.1
      Alan B d

      How do you know?? Maybe it WAS a “random night out at a bar” for them. Maybe they were staying in the hotel but were not attending TAM and went downstairs for dinner and drinks and because they’ve had success in the past when asking someone if they were interested in some extracurricular activity, they saw nothing wrong with doing it again (this time unsuccessfully, or at least at the moment. We have no idea if they were ultimately successful and had a wonderful time….) Maybe the one flaw in their plan was to have a couple drinks too many before attempting the proposition that particular night.

      Secondly, attending a conference that doesn’t relate to sex does NOT mean that the activity is off limits. People have sex at conferences all the time no matter what the subject of the conference might be. YOU might not have sex at a conference. I won’t be having sex at a conference (unless my wife also happens to attend) but that does not mean that average people are not allowed to conduct themselves in whatever manner they choose.

      Professional manner?!?, who’s to say what “professional manner” is after hours?

  30. 30
    AMW

    There’s no evidence here that the offending woman and her boyfriend were in any way connected with TAM. TAM doesn’t own the hotel or the bar, and after-hours time in the bar was not a TAM-sanctioned event. Hotels tend to have multiple events happening simultaneously, and sometimes local people drink in hotel bars.

    If this should have been reported to anyone, it would be the bar/hotel management, not TAM, which had no “jurisdiction,” even in the loosest application of the word. The bar manager could ask the couple to leave and/or refuse to serve them. TAM, on the other hand, would have to ascertain whether the couple was registered for TAM, which would mean they would have to gather evidence in some manner, and, if these were TAM-folk, come up with some course of action to prevent this type of behavior from reoccurring. But I doubt if anyone at TAM has the right to demand identification from person in a public bar.

    So, Ms. Rad’s specific questions: Do I consider this an incident of sexual harassment? No. An awkward, discomforting, and inappropriate pickup attempt, yes. Harassment, as pointed out in the post, tends to involve conditions, demands, and threats. Both Ms. Johnson and Ms. Rad walked away from the situation without consequences. Should it have been reported? As I said, there’s no evidence that this was TAM-related or that TAM could have done anything about it, so I don’t think it should have been reported to them. It seems to be a situation to call to the attention of bar management, e.g., “That couple appear to be quite drunk and have been making sexually explicit advances to me and my friend. Please refuse them service and ask them to leave so that my friends and I can comfortably continue our social evening.” I think it’s pretty likely the couple would be escorted out and you’d get your next drink on the house.

  31. 31
    Matt Penfold

    If this should have been reported to anyone, it would be the bar/hotel management, not TAM, which had no “jurisdiction,” even in the loosest application of the word.

    So you don’t think TAM would want to know if there was a problem with a venue it had chosen ? If there were a significant number of complaints about harassment that involved TAM attendees, even if they happened in parts of the venue outside the control of TAM, do you not think TAM might want to reconsider using that venue in the future ? Well clearly you don’t, since you have made it clear that TAM does not need to know.

    1. 31.1
      Porco Dio

      So you don’t think TAM would want to know if there was a problem with a venue it had chosen ? If there were a significant number of complaints about harassment that involved TAM attendees, even if they happened in parts of the venue outside the control of TAM, do you not think TAM might want to reconsider using that venue in the future ? Well clearly you don’t, since you have made it clear that TAM does not need to know.

      well, judging by the raft of harassment complaints i expect TAM to get this year they will not only need to reconsider the venue but prolly also the city, county, state and maybe even country for next year’s event.

      maybe they should consider bringing it over to europe where far fewer people get harassed.

      1. Timid Atheist

        maybe they should consider bringing it over to europe where far fewer people get harassed.

        http://www.safetysolutions.net.au/news/45668-Workplace-violence-and-harassment-on-the-increase-in-Europe-

        The report also reveals that in many European countries, there is still not enough recognition of workplace violence, with few specific initiatives dealing with the issue. At national level and among individual organisations there is a need to raise awareness, and put in place policies and procedures to tackle and prevent violence and harassment at work.

        Fewer people don’t get harassed. Fewer people report the harassment.

        1. Porco Dio

          did you just google something and copy/pasta the first link that you found?

          it’s an immense failure to compare sexual harassment at a conference to a study that has to do primarily with violence, aggression, bullying, threats, mobbing and (almost as a side note) sexual harassment.

          this report is all about people using the business hierarchy to be bastards to one another… not about geeks in pubs.

          you’d do well to read the report but, clearly, you haven’t… one of the report’s conclusions is that the “increase” in the incidences come from increased awareness and, consequently, reporting.

          we will thus probably find that TAM 2012 was the worst year for harassment and therefore harassment is increasing when, in actual fact, it had decreased.

          and, i suppose, people like you would never let anything as pesky as facts get in the way of a good emotional fracas.

          1. Timid Atheist

            you’d do well to read the report but, clearly, you haven’t… one of the report’s conclusions is that the “increase” in the incidences come from increased awareness and, consequently, reporting.

            Indeed. It’s important to remember that there’s been the same amount of harassment, but that the harassment is being reported now and is thus visible. Which is the opposite of what you claimed, that there was no harassment.

          2. Timid Atheist

            Ah, correction, you claimed there was less harassment. My apologies. The rest of my comment still stands.

      2. embertine

        Yep, no-one ever gets harrassed in Europe. Except for me and all of my female friends, who have been groped in bars and clubs by complete strangers entirely unsolicited.

        Except for when I had to threaten to report a colleague to HR just last month for sending me a raft of personal texts on the weekends.

        Oh, and that time two guys followed my friend home from the supermarket and knocked on her door until she yelled through it that she was calling the police.

        I could go on, as the litany is endless, but you get the idea. Yup, no harrassment here.

        1. Porco Dio

          did i say no harassment? or did i say less? oh heck, i might have to actually read stuff before i post just to make sure.

          and then, even within europe there may (or may not) be different rates i’m not really sure so i’ll just make stuff up.

          p.s. are you from the uk? a place where men are decidedly less polite than on the continent? a place that is never actually “in europe” unless they want to try drag the rest of us down to their level?

      3. Sivi

        I know quite a few women, particularly from France or Italy, who love how little public sexual harassment they get in North America.

        Europe, people, is not magic. It’s often more openly sexist and racist that North America, where those things are generally considered in poor taste, and tend to be more covert.

    2. 31.2
      Alan B d

      I think the point PD was trying to make (and I agree with him) is that these things happen in bars all over the place. Blaming the hotel because humans will be humans is not fair. TAM would get moved to a different hotel and humans will be humans again and someone will get hit on in a perceived inappropriate way after hours, away from the conference, and then people will expect TAM to move again (and again)

      When would it stop and how did it help?

  32. 32
    Lordxor

    I am observing some common threads here and in other blogs:

    A lot of people are arguing from their passion and not reason. This is a common complaint these same people make of the religious, yet they are behaving in the same way. And from their passionate reactions they are quick to vilify anyone who disagrees or has a valid point to make. The only way to reach an understanding and consensus is if we take all the facts we can and set aside the emotion. Passion can be a motivator, but it should not be the driver. Reason should lead the way.

    There is a lot of putting all of the blame on the victim. Others put it all on the offender. Some put all the blame on the event host. I don’t think it is that clear cut either way. Again, as I said in a comment earlier, it is situational and contextual. I think there is enough blame to go around and needs to be addressed in a reasonable manor.

    Another thing that is being missed by all I feel is human behavior and personality. Humans cannot be pigeon holed in to certain types. We fall on a spectrum of behaviors and personality. Or maybe a Gaussian curve is a better model. In any case, we cannot expect everyone to be how we want them to be and it is unreasonable to think so. For the extreme cases, we can remove offenders from society. But those areas that are shades of gray, all we can do is tell people what our boundaries are in those situations.

    When someone crosses that line, a line that maybe we ourselves did not make so clear, then we cannot necessarily over-react and fully blame to offender. Nor can we blame the hosts or ourselves fully. This should all be taken on a case by case basis. I do not think blanket policies can solve the problem. They seldom do. Simply passing rules does not modify human behavior. There has to be the will to do it in the first place. That is why the case by case basis will work better. Deal with the individuals involved in the situation in a measured and reasonable way and the problem will be resolved.

    1. 32.1
      Timid Atheist

      When someone crosses that line, a line that maybe we ourselves did not make so clear, then we cannot necessarily over-react and fully blame to offender. Nor can we blame the hosts or ourselves fully.

      I would only blame the offender if they didn’t back off once they were informed a line had been crossed or they observed they were making someone uncomfortable.

      I would not blame the hosts, but I would certainly report any harassment that continued after a request was made for it to stop.

      I would not blame any victim.

  33. 33
    Rasmus

    Yes, it sounds to me like you were mildly sexually harassed by this woman.

    I think it was a mild case, because you didn’t perceive it as threatening. (I’m not implying that the victim’s interpretation is always true in sexual harassment cases, but it is the best information that we have in this case.) It also sounds like there was no malicious intent on her part. It sounds more like a case of a misunderstanding where the woman who propositioned you and certainly her boyfriend could have been too drunk to notice that you weren’t interested.

    I can totally understand why you choose not to report it to anyone. I can understand why you didn’t think of it as sexual harassment or of yourself as a victim, since it didn’t feel like any of that to you. There are always degrees of seriousness and this wasn’t particularly serious. You can’t be blamed for not reporting it.

    The woman who propositioned you definitely needs to train herself to be more attentive to other people’s signals and their lack of signals. If she’s not able to do that after a few drinks then she needs to learn to cut down on her drinking until she’s able to behave around other people.

  34. 34
    Zaphod

    Cristina,

    First, your use of the English language is fine, both in your videos and in what I’ve seen of your blog.

    As to the questions you asked…

    Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment?

    No, I consider it TWO incidents of sexual harassment.

    Would you have reported it?

    Yes, I would have reported it. No means NO. That is, the FIRST “No” means NO. As does the second, third, etc. But the first “no” should stop the whole thing so that there is no need to express NO again. Each time you need to say no after the first just provides evidence of how clueless the person hearing “no” is, and/or how little they care about proper conduct.

  35. 35
    John Sherman

    As told, I wold not consider it sexual harassment. Some one approached you and AJ and offered an invitation. A distasteful one? Yes to the both of you, but others might think it funny or an adventure. The question I have is why did AJ walk away? Did the woman become abusive or threating? Or was she just drunkenly saying, “Please? It’ll be cool! Really! My boyfriend is super nice…” In other words, if AJ and Christine walked away because they were annoyed and that was the fastest way of dealing with it, not sexual harassment. On the other hand, if there was some under current of threat, then yes.

    1. 35.1
      SallyStrange

      A distasteful one? Yes to the both of you, but others might think it funny or an adventure. The question I have is why did AJ walk away? Did the woman become abusive or threating? Or was she just drunkenly saying, “Please? It’ll be cool! Really! My boyfriend is super nice…” In other words, if AJ and Christine walked away because they were annoyed and that was the fastest way of dealing with it, not sexual harassment. On the other hand, if there was some under current of threat, then yes.

      Why should the ones who think it might be a fun adventure be set as the default? Listen, I’m quite sexually adventurous and might even appreciate being approached for a threesome, but not at a skeptic/atheist conference, and not out of the blue like that. I’ve been to sex clubs and met swingers and even then it’s still a bit impolite to cold-proposition people like that.

      Regardless of the intent of Christina’s propositioners, and regardless of her and AJ’s feelings about the incident, then end result was that they left, rather than the drunk inappropriate people leaving. That made that bar a more welcoming place for drunk, inappropriate people making cold propositions, and the tiny, tiny minority of people who think those propositions are cool. It created a chilly climate for people who aren’t swingers and sexual adventurers. This seems entirely inappropriate for a conference that isn’t geared towards swingers and sexual adventurers.

      I wouldn’t fault Christina for not reporting. The important thing is, should she choose to report, that there are mechanisms in place for a.) recording that there was a report and b.) making an attempt to reach the people in question and let them know that their behavior was inappropriate. Then, if they continue to do the same thing to other conference attendees, the conference organizers can point to a data trail to justify asking these people to leave, at least for the duration of the conference. If it’s impossible to get in contact with them because they’re not part of the conference, well, at least there’s a record of it, and at least Christian and AJ know that if they feel uncomfortable, the organizers have their back.

  36. 36
    Timid Atheist

    On the other hand, if there was some under current of threat, then yes.

    I don’t think sexual harassment needs an under current of threat to be harassment.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harassment#Sexual_harassment

    It involves unwanted and unwelcome words, deeds, actions, gestures, symbols, or behaviours of a sexual nature that make the target feel uncomfortable.

    I think someone simply asking for sex or making sexual jokes or comments and not stopping after they’ve been asked to stop most certainly can be considered harassment.

    The thing is that not everyone may feel harassed by this kind of thing. From Christina’s post it seems she wasn’t feeling harassed, despite the obvious harassing nature of the drunk woman. And that’s just fine! No need to report something if it doesn’t bother you.

    However, narrowly defining something to only be harassment in very specific circumstances means a lot of victims aren’t believed or even heard if they do feel harassed.

  37. 37
    JohnMWhite

    I can’t really answer your questions since I was not there and I’m not you, but you’ve clearly had plenty of food for thought here about the issue. What I want to say is that I’m glad to see somebody not afraid to say “I don’t know” and leave the issue open for discussion and debate. Contrast this with certain other responses to the incident that seems to have kicked it all off – dogmatically demanding that any time a woman feels slightly uncomfortable they be able to raise the sexual harassment flag, or patronising insistence that it’s all trivial from a man who always knows best because he’s a brilliant tactician and this is a wargame.

    Sexual harassment is an issue that pushes buttons because it is something that seems to frequently be dealt with unjustly. I have seen somebody accused of harassment for saying hello to someone, and I have seen people photograph up somebody’s skirt with little more than a wag of the finger from a supervisor. A lot of people feel victimised by the issue or the label, and it can lead to gut reactions. So it’s great to see somebody acknowledge that it is far from black and white, and that your mileage may vary significantly on what to describe as harassment and what is just somebody being a jerk.

    Welcome to FTB, looking forward to seeing more posts from you*.

    *not intended to be a sexually harassing statement

    1. 37.1
      LeftSidePositive

      Why on earth is it “dogmatic” that someone who is feeling uncomfortable BE ABLE “to raise the sexual harassment flag”? Isn’t that a good thing–more opportunities, more valid options for people who may be in a difficult situation? That is not saying “you MUST report!” nor is it saying “the accused MUST be kicked out!” or even “the accuser MUST be believed!” Those would actually be “dogmatic.” Just saying someone should have the ABILITY to report something, whether or not they want to, and whether or not the conference organizer chooses to act on it, is just expanding options, which is the exact opposite of dogmatism.

      But let’s look at other situations where we insist people have the ability to do something: is it “dogmatic” that we insist people BE ABLE to vote for the candidate of their choice? Is it “dogmatic” that we insist people BE ABLE to refuse self-incrimination? Is it “dogmatic” that we insist people BE ABLE to marry a person of the same gender? No–preserving opportunities and giving people options is ESSENTIAL for any type of freedom or equality, and the freedom to seek redress of grievances (including those pertaining to harassment) and to be treated with dignity and equality when reporting are foundational. In fact, limiting what people ARE ABLE to do is actually dogmatic–insisting on a wider range of abilities is not.

      By the way, your little snarky “not intended to be a sexually harassing statement” is actually pretty cheap–because it is taking something that cannot possibly be reasonably interpreted to have any sexual subtext and acting like “Ooooh boy, I guess I need to *clarify* this!” which entrenches the attitude that sexual harassment claims are made up out of nothing or that any innocent person should reasonably fear having an innocuous statement twisted into sexual harassment. This also greatly trivializes what targets of sexual harassment actually go through, and the magnitude of the problem.

  38. 38
    Porco Dio

    Indeed. It’s important to remember that there’s been the same amount of harassment, but that the harassment is being reported now and is thus visible.

    wot? do you have a crystal ball and you know that the harassment has stayed constant? or are you just misrepresenting the facts for your own benefit like that aussie link you sent?

    from the conclusions of the report:

    When focusing only on people within the workplace, the
    trend seemed to be decreasing. However, there seems to be a higher reported incidence of exposure to violence, as well as to threats of violence, in the northern European Member States and a lower reported incidence in the southern Member States.

    what this means is that the harassment studied in the report (and, again, the report has a lot more to do with violence/bullying than sexual harassment) is actually decreasing… this is probably why they use the word “decreasing” and not use the word “increasing”…

    and, like i have already stated (and a nuance that the aussies were too dumb to pick up on) the perceived increases are do to awareness and reporting as can be seen by the north/south split.

    higher incidence of reporting does not equal higher incidence of occurrence…

    this means that as people become aware of the problem they report more often, others get punished more often and people realise not to be naughty and commit fewer offences – hence the decrease…

    whatever you do, don’t let the facts get in the way.

    1. 38.1
      Timid Atheist

      higher incidence of reporting does not equal higher incidence of occurrence…

      Not something I said, I’m not sure where you’re getting this from.

      I have no crystal ball, but thanks for asking.

      The point I was trying to make was that every country has harassment in different amounts and in different ways. Europe is not exempt from harassment. And it’s not a monolith. Some countries have higher instances of harassment and some have lower.

      Telling people to move TAM to Europe isn’t helpful.

  39. 39
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    Hi Christina. Welcome to FTB.

    As for your example, yes I would consider that harassment. It was sexual in nature, unwanted and continued after it was very, very clear that neither of the two people to whom it was addressed were interested.

    (Side note: Threesome with pushy, self-centered woman and a near-comatose partner? Oh golly, that sounds nifty! <–sarcasm)

    Would I, personally, have reported it? No. I probably would have vented to the bartender and asked him to keep an eye on them. I might have watched where she went next and vented to any friends I had at the bar. (If I was lucky to have them, I was there alone.)

    I wouldn't have reported it because at that time there was no policy and the atmosphere was very forgiving of repeat attendees. (even those with a reputation for boorish behavior) Other women were kind enough to point out these boors so I was prepared when I encountered them but it was obvious that they were considered a natural part of the TAM experience.

    If there had been a policy in place, I would have casually mentioned it to which ever TAM representative was nearby.

  40. 40
    ashleywill

    Honestly I would just be annoyed and not report it. Sounds like something that happens at any bar when someone has been drinking.

  41. 41
    MyaR

    1. I would say “yes”, for some of the reasons stated above, but more importantly because the situation made you uncomfortable enough to tell someone else (the friend who called) about it.

    2. That is the harder question, because there are a lot of reasons both to report, and to not report. My personal rules of thumb — if the person seems threatening in any way, report. If the person seems likely to harass other people, report. Anything else falls into the ‘how am I feeling right now’ realm that means the answer could go either way, depending on the actual type of harassment, how convenient/inconvenient reporting has been made, how invested I am in the particular community.

    In other words, if someone seems like they could harm me or someone else (not that they probably would harm someone, but that they could, based on extrapolating their behavior based on my own past experiences), they should be reported.

  42. 42
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    I’m only joining the chorus, here, but had that been me, I probably would have reported it, if for no more than her safety considering how intoxicated she possibly was… I noticed someone else mention that maybe she and her boyfriend needed someone to babysit them to make sure that they wake up the next morning… a massive headache/hangover is better than drowning to death in one’s vomit, after all.

    I must admit that I’m not sure if I would have considered it sexual harassment, seeing as I wasn’t there and I wasn’t in your shoes, though I’ll also say that for me, personally, I do lean in that direction based upon your description. It appears that you probably didn’t consider it such, though. What I do know is that if I had been made uncomfortable , the bartender would have been the first to know, followed by TAM if the bar’s management didn’t do anything.

  43. 43
    Kevin

    What if the incident had occurred at a time and place complete unrelated to any convention?

    If you and your friend walk into a bar and have a drink, and are approached by a drunk woman who wants a three-way (or a four-way, or any other kind of way), I think there is an escalating scale of response.

    First: “No thanks. I don’t do that kind of thing.”

    If the person persists: “Really no. We’re trying to have a private conversation here, so if you wouldn’t mind.”

    If the person continues to persist: “Please go away now before I call the manager.”

    And then follow through.

    I know, that’s a lot of bullshit to go through to stop being annoyed. But I think most of us are not interested in making a scene or making a point. Because if you reach the stage where you DO have to call the manager, then the interaction persists even longer.

    As to whether that’s harassment, Harassment, or HARASSMENT…don’t care. It’s inappropriate behavior and I want it stopped.

  44. 44
    geraldmcgrew

    I’ve been reading through these sexual harassment at skeptic conferences posts for some time now, but until now I’ve not commented. Well, time to break the seal….

    If one defines “harassment” as including “being made uncomfortable” and “uncomfortable” as including “just kind of being weirded out”, then we have a much, much bigger problem than we ever imagined! By that standard, any time a person hits on someone and ends up being rejected, that is “harassment”. The rejection demonstrates that the advance was unwanted, and it’s guaranteed that some level of discomfort was felt, therefore…harassment! So keep that in mind folks; if you approach someone, even in a hotel bar, with “Hi. My name is Gerald. You’re very attractive. Any chance you’d like to get together sometime?”, and she says “No.”, you’ve just sexually harassed her. Because she rejected you, your advance was “unwanted and unsolicited”, and very few people give out rejections without feeling some level of discomfort, thus you made her uncomfortable. QED

    As for what you describe in your post, IMO it comes down to what you meant when you said “I was very uncomfortable”. Were you uncomfortable in a “Eww, gross” way, or in a “Ok, this isn’t safe” way? The former isn’t harassment (otherwise every time a fat ugly woman hit on me I could claim harassment), the latter is.

    As for TAM, I think the consensus is obvious. If these people weren’t associated with TAM, then there’s really no good reason to report it to them. If they are and can be identified, then maybe, depending on what you meant in my previous paragraph.

    1. 44.1
      Brisvegan

      You’re being disengenuous. No-one is defining sexual harassment as being weirded out. It is specifically unwelcome sexual conduct, usually of a repeated nature, or if a single incident, of an egregious nature.

      A no pressure introduction in a reasonable place with no prior indication that it was unwelcome would not get you kicked out of a conference.

      As you can see from this post, a lot of women are so used tou unwelcome sexual behaviour that they wouldn’t report even persistent creepy come ons of the type that makes them leave a venue.

      If someone did report “Hi I’m Gerald, would you like to get together for a drink”(where it happened in non-threatening circumstances and wothout a prior indication it was unwelcome), then the responsible authority would be able to moderate a response to say that there is no apparent problem, but please leave that person alone. If leaving a person alone is a problem for someone, then the “asker” is actually a problem.

      1. geraldmcgrew

        You’re being disengenuous. No-one is defining sexual harassment as being weirded out.

        Perhaps you’re not aware, but over at Pharyngula, “being hit on” has been lumped in with sexual harassment. Given PZ’s status among skeptics, that’s significant and worthy of comment.

        It is specifically unwelcome sexual conduct, usually of a repeated nature, or if a single incident, of an egregious nature.

        For the most part, I agree (depending on what you mean by “conduct”).

        A no pressure introduction in a reasonable place with no prior indication that it was unwelcome would not get you kicked out of a conference.

        Agreed.

        As you can see from this post, a lot of women are so used tou unwelcome sexual behaviour that they wouldn’t report even persistent creepy come ons of the type that makes them leave a venue.

        I’ve been to singles bars where after having been hit on by fat, ugly married women enough times, my friends and I decide to leave and go somewhere else. Were we “harassed”? I don’t think so, and the fact that it “made us leave” doesn’t change that.

        If someone did report “Hi I’m Gerald, would you like to get together for a drink”(where it happened in non-threatening circumstances and wothout a prior indication it was unwelcome), then the responsible authority would be able to moderate a response to say that there is no apparent problem, but please leave that person alone. If leaving a person alone is a problem for someone, then the “asker” is actually a problem.

        What “responsible authority”? Are you suggesting having someone oversee all social interactions?

        1. LeftSidePositive

          When “hitting on” someone is unilateral and they are not showing in real time that they are flirting back or being encouraging, then yes it is objectifying and harassment.

          If you want to consider unwelcome sexual attention at bars harassment, I would respect you in doing so. Please understand that you don’t have to deal with quite the same climate of repetitive intrusions that women do, and I can tell you, it’s not so much the first or fifth interruption of my privacy that’s bothersome–it’s the twentieth! In other words, don’t assume that just because something is fine for you it’s fine for everybody.

          1. geraldmcgrew

            When “hitting on” someone is unilateral and they are not showing in real time that they are flirting back or being encouraging, then yes it is objectifying and harassment.

            And thus you have exactly what I described earlier and for which was chastised as being “disingenuous”. Any time someone hits on someone and is rejected, it is harassment. That’s simply ridiculous.

            If you want to consider unwelcome sexual attention at bars harassment, I would respect you in doing so.

            Of course I don’t. That would be ridiculous.

            Please understand that you don’t have to deal with quite the same climate of repetitive intrusions that women do, and I can tell you, it’s not so much the first or fifth interruption of my privacy that’s bothersome–it’s the twentieth! In other words, don’t assume that just because something is fine for you it’s fine for everybody.

            There’s a difference between something not being “fine” with you and something actually constituting sexual harassment. We should not equivocate between the two.

          2. julian

            That’s simply ridiculous.

            No, it isn’t. “Hitting on” is a continued activity. It isn’t over in an instant. If you’re hitting on someone, baring an immediate “Fuck off and die”, you’re going to be engaged in this over a period of time.

            If there is no reciprocation, no hint the person is interested and plenty they want you to leave, then yes you are harassing someone. You may not want to admit it, but that’s what it is.

            That would be ridiculous.

            Stop saying ridiculous when you can’t explain why something is ridiculous.

            There’s a difference between something not being “fine” with you and something actually constituting sexual harassment.

            I imagine there’s also a difference between making a point and what you’re doing.

      2. geraldmcgrew

        Brisvegan,

        Think of it this way…

        One of the biggest drivers of this whole conversation in the skeptic community was “elevatorgate”. By Rebecca’s own account, it was a person telling her that he found her interesting and asking her if she would be interested in going to his room “for coffee”. She declined and he got off the elevator. End of story, right?

        Nope, and the rest, as they say, is history.

        1. Brisvegan

          You might notice I mentioned “non-threatening circumstances” and “without a prior indication it was unwelcome”.

          In elevatorgate, Rebecca had made several indications (including a con presentation and several statements in the same bar as elevator guy) that she found being hit on unwelcome. Also, being trapped in an elevator very late at night/early morning even for a few minutes with someone bigger than you who could follow you to your room if minded to do violence does not equal non-threatening circumstances, whatever magical intent elevator guy secretly had.

          Context and not elliding inconvenient facts, matters.

          1. geraldmcgrew

            In elevatorgate, Rebecca had made several indications (including a con presentation and several statements in the same bar as elevator guy) that she found being hit on unwelcome.

            Really? She actually gave a presentation where she said she never, ever wants to be hit on by anyone? That seems strange to me.

            Also, being trapped in an elevator very late at night/early morning even for a few minutes with someone bigger than you who could follow you to your room if minded to do violence does not equal non-threatening circumstances, whatever magical intent elevator guy secretly had.

            I agree that the elevator setting was poor form by the guy. Even if he was very polite (which Watson’s account indicates he was) and chose that setting because he was afraid of being rejected in front of people, it was still a pretty clueless thing to do.

            But then, having been to a couple of these atheist gatherings, I’d say the odds are he was somewhat of a geek for whom social skills are somewhat lacking. ;-)

          2. julian

            Really? She actually gave a presentation where she said she never, ever wants to be hit on by anyone?

            Stop being such a disengenuos twit.

            She made it clear getting hit on often grated her nerves. That’s the claim that was made so don’t create a twisted parody of it

            But then, having been to a couple of these atheist gatherings, I’d say the odds are he was somewhat of a geek for whom social skills are somewhat lacking.

            Or someone who was indifferent to her comfort, like most guys who hit on random women when they’re away from their friends or dates.

  45. 45
    BJ Kramer

    Much more important than deciding if this is harassment or not is to take care when crafting your next post on the subject. If you haven’t already, you run the risk of becoming an enemy of some faction or another.

    I’ve already been called all kinds of horrible names by virtue of association, and saying some completely non-controversial things that weren’t sufficiently aligned with how some members of the community think I should think.

    Good luck.

    1. 45.1
      Lordxor

      Yeah, all I have seen is one extreme or another. And when someone calls for civility, they are shouted down from both ends. It is sickening and all it shows the enemies of reason is that we are no better than they are. Why can’t some of you just disagree without the need to belittle or bully the opposition? I don’t care if you have a history with individual x, it is not an excuse to carry it over to a new blog/forum/whatever. There is no excuse for being a bully. Disagree all you want, but do it in a civil manor.

      1. LeftSidePositive

        Well, when someone cares more about the superficial appearance of “civility” than the fact that I am being harassed or accused of “distasteful locker room banter” when I discuss harassment I’ve faced, then their priorities are fucked up and they deserve to be called out on it.

        If a person is being wronged, they don’t owe it to you to be civil when they are addressing the harms done to them or to others.

        1. Lordxor

          You know, I just recently watched a wonderful video on Youtube. A dramatization of MLK’s “A letter from Birmingham Prison.” You want to talk about being harassed and victimized? Until you go through what HE went through, you don’t understand what victimization is really. Someone hitting you up for a threesome, not matter how rude and unwanted, does not even come close to that kind of harassment. In spite of what he suffered, he was civil. Watch the video and listen to his measured response to his treatment.

          What Christina experienced was bad, but it does not call for the venomous attitude some have taken in their dialog with those who disagree or have a point to make that contradicts someone’s world-view. I am sorry, but your excuse for poor behavior falls flat on its face.

          I don’t think anyone here is saying harassment is not bad or that it does not exist at these event. No one is saying that nothing should change or be done about it. I think it is being blow out of proportion and their are distortions coming from BOTH sides of this debate. Passing blame back and forth. The only way a consensus and real solution be found is with civil discourse.

          I too understand what it is like to be a victim, but there comes a time to set the strong emotions aside and deal with the issue in a rational manor. Otherwise you are going down the same road as the enemies of reason. You will become the enemy you so much are against. We need more MLKs and less victim players with burning torches.

          1. LeftSidePositive

            Did you seriously just pull a “Dear Muslima,” you motherfucking shitfaced fallacious idiot?!

            I hereby choose to respond to your steaming pile of horseshit in precisely the tone it deserves.

            You know what, EVERYTHING you will ever deal with in your life will pale in comparison to the suffering of someone somewhere else. That is not and never has been an excuse for telling people dealing with ANY level of injustice to shut up and take it. Did it ever occur to you that “not quite as bad as segregation in the 1960s” is not really a laudable standard for contentment?! (And, for the record, in his day MLK was told HE was being too outspoken and that blacks didn’t have it that bad and that he should shut up and take it, so trolls like you have always been around…) That you would even think such a statement was worthy of typing shows what an utterly illogical idiot you really are. I mean, REALLY? Tone trolling us to say that you can think of someone who had it even worse?! Yeah, big fucking news, dipshit… On what PLANET does that count for a valid argument?!

            And you know what, you motherfucking miserable tone-trolling asshole, rationality and emotions ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. If you want to say someone is being irrational, you actually have to MAKE A FUCKING ARGUMENT as to why they are being irrational, and what precisely in their argument was wrong. When you behave as asininely and as condescendingly (and as just plain idiotically!) as you have, frustration and umbrage are perfectly rational responses, and they serve a valuable and necessary goal of exposing the unbelievable stupidity and pomposity of your arguments and drop-kicking them outside the fucking sphere of legitimate debate. It is rational and productive to raise the social cost of saying unthinking asinine shit (which, let me remind you, motherfucker, is determined by poor quality of argument and NOT by emotion and NOT by the presence of profanity) so that the rest of the commentariat doesn’t have to waste our time humoring said unthinking asinine shit like “but I can think of someone who had it woooorrrrsse!”

            And finally, I don’t take kindly to being lectured on rationality from some nincompoop who managed to offer a Blowjobs vs. Darfur derailment AND a Tone derailment AND a Both-Sides-Do-It derailment AND a Magical Middle fallacy AND a Tu Quoque fallacy all in one post!

        2. Lordxor

          Thanks for proving MY every point. :)

          1. LeftSidePositive

            A smilie face does not an argument make, and when multiple derailments and fallacies were noted in your post, being a superficial idiot and focusing only on tone does not do much to show you actually understand reasoned argument. This is also begging the question–by stating that my swearing at you “proved your point” you are assuming that everyone agrees that civility is super important and swearing is super-duper-bad! You may not have noticed (because your pea-sized brain goes into self-righteous convulsions at the sight of profanity!) but I actually laid out an argument for why strong tones can be useful, and why your insistence on civility is misguided and disingenuous…so just declaring that my tone makes me wrong when the whole topic of the debate is whether or not it is appropriate or even logical to focus on tone is begging the question.

          2. Lordxor

            Also, no where did I say or imply to ‘shut up and take it’ as you say. You are being just like a fundy: attack, distort, shout loudly, insult, and lie. I said something should be done. Don’t lie or distort if you expect me to see your point of view. Your tone will not sway me be be a mindless minion yes-man such as yourself either.

          3. LeftSidePositive

            Um, then what the fuck was your point with all your basking in reflected glory over MLK? Very well, if you want me to be extremely pedantic and more charitable than your shitty reasoning deserves, you said that because some people have it worse that we should be perfectly (cough…impossibly…cough) civil and that standing up for ourselves is “poor behavior” and “blowing things out of proportion,” etc., etc. So I’m supposed to swoon over the fact that you paid some lip service to “oh yeah and harassment is bad” and ignore the fact that the functional reality of “be more civil–be more civil! You don’t deserve to be too outspoken! You should be obligated to consider disagreement charitably even when they disagree about your basic human dignity and autonomy!” is, actually, “shut up and take it” because that is the only option left when vociferously standing up for yourself is off the table…and patiently and nobly waiting for people to see the light and only mentioning problems as meekly as possible really just means “shut up and take it.” Because there is NO pleasing you tone trolls, and even if we behave just as unobtrusively as you want, you will always find some way to dismiss our needs…a lot of us have been down this road before, and we’re not catering to your disingenuous preening any more.

          4. NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

            Hate to say it, lordxor, but LeftSidePositive’s anger is justified. What you are doing is actually quite offensive.

            Do you know what LeftSidePositive was referring to with “Dear Muslima”? She’s referring to an incident a while back when Richard Dawkins strawmanned a throw-away anecdote and perfectly reasonable request by Rebecca Watson in order to brush it off at “unimportant”.

            It’s very insulting to the person it’s being directed to.

            Rape may be worse than making someone uncomfortable, but if you ask someone to stop flirting with you and they don’t, it’s sexual harassment and thus should be reported.

            And I really don’t understand why the fuck this idea is so god-damned controversial. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment. And yes, I think Cristina might have experienced sexual harassment. Both her and AJ were obviously uncomfortable, and I’m assuming they both asked multiple times for the girl to stop, and you mean to tell me that this is not harassment?

            So I take back my original comment… I do think it’s sexual harassment. Mild, perhaps, but harassment nonetheless. Granted, I probably would have found it amusing, but I still would have reported her (as much for her own safety as for the atmosphere of the place). Yes, the girl was drunk, but she was also making two people uncomfortable by being sexually explicit, and continuing to do so after being told to stop. That is the definition of harassment. I don’t see how this can be made anymore clear.

          5. Lordxor

            @Nate & Left

            Sorry, that kind of bullying is never justified. No one is saying you can’t be angry, and no one is say you should not speak out. And yes, I am familiar with the incident you and Left refer to. However, that does not dismiss my position either. My point is, their are constructive and far more effective ways to express anger and push for change. Calling people idiots and trolls does not accomplish anything. Start a petition, organize a boycott, have a sit-in. Name calling will not fix the problem or win hearts to your cause. No where did I say people can’t feel what they feel. An injustice is an injustice and should be addressed. Beating people down who do not agree with you as to how this should be handled… cowardly at best.

          6. LeftSidePositive

            @ Lordxor:

            Sorry, that kind of bullying is never justified.

            Nope, sorry–standing up for oneself when one is wronged or is the victim of dishonesty is not “bullying.” It’s accountability. Saying people confronting bullies are “bullying” is an extremely tired old tactic.

            However, that does not dismiss my position either.

            Your position had absolutely nothing going for it except to drag in MLK and try to guilt us into shutting up. It was EXACTLY the same error Dawkins made in “Dear Muslima.” So what is LEFT of your position? What possible intellectual defense can you provide for what you said?

            My point is, their are constructive and far more effective ways to express anger and push for change.

            This is a claim. Provide evidence or shut the fuck up.

            Calling people idiots and trolls does not accomplish anything.

            This is a claim. Provide evidence or shut the fuck up.

            Start a petition, organize a boycott, have a sit-in.

            Firstly, none of these things are even remotely hindered by also calling out bullshit on the Internet. Secondly, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but anything that even sounds like it might possibly inspire a boycott–even just announcing you yourself aren’t going somewhere–has been met with outrage and accusations of “ruining the movement” and such. This is the problem with you fucking tone trolls. You always know just what should be done, and when that happens, you always know that something else should be done.

            Name calling will not fix the problem or win hearts to your cause.

            This is a claim. Provide evidence or shut the fuck up.

            No where did I say people can’t feel what they feel.

            And what reasonable interpretation would you put on trying to shame people for “blowing things out of proportion.” What other interpretation is there for insisting that emotion and rationality can’t coincide?

            An injustice is an injustice and should be addressed.

            Oh. More lip service. Great. Why is it though, that you’re not focusing on addressing these injustices, and instead are only trying to distract, control, and ultimately defang those who are?

            Beating people down who do not agree with you

            Again, criticizing vociferously is not “beating people down.” And AGAIN, criticizing people for being disingenuous, self-centered, intellectually dishonest fallacious idiots is not the same things as criticizing them just for not agreeing with you.

            cowardly at best.

            How convenient for you that your opinion of what constitutes courage is what makes me as powerless and inconspicuous to you as possible! How convenient that you can systematically ignore my arguments about the ethics of anger and the role of vulgar outspokenness by hiding behind multiple complaints of tone and then call us cowards!

          7. Lordxor

            @Left

            You are just being a cyber-bully Left. Someone dares disagree with you and the other minions so you are attacking. Nothing you have said moves the process forward or is relevant to the issue. You think anyone who disagrees with you owes you answers or should cower away in the corner and keep silent. Sorry, I am not going to play that game. You want to sit back and cast insults like a troll, fine. Let other see how you truly are. It is easy to sit there in your mom’s basement and pass judgment on others so casually. It is so easy to fling insults like an ape flings feces. But in the end, you really offer nothing to the community and for that I feel deeply sorry for you. I feel sorry you will never amount to much more than you are now. You are truly a pitiful creature.

          8. julian

            Also, no where did I say or imply to ‘shut up and take it’ as you say.

            Everything you’ve posted, up to and including telling her she can never consider herself victimized unless she’s been through what MLK has been.

            btw, I’d say everyone sees you for what you are and understands Left’s anger but you obviously see yourself as the victim here so there are bound to be others.

          9. LeftSidePositive

            You are just being a cyber-bully Left.

            I have already repeated why this claim is disingenuous and unwarranted. For you to repeat this claim without addressing my refutations is tolling.

            Someone dares disagree with you

            You know, I’ve already refuted your contention that our objection is to the “disagreement” but is rather to the totally inept and derailing ways you are trying to make your points. You haven’t even addressed my comments on the difference between refusal to tolerate disagreement versus refusal to tolerate fallacious arguments, and yet you repeat this claim! Which, again, is trolling.

            and the other minions so you are attacking.

            How about, instead of casting on the victim mantle, you actually show where my criticisms of you are invalid, if you think they are so? If you can’t refute my criticisms, it’s not an “attack,” it’s just unpleasant for you to admit that you’re wrong.

            Nothing you have said moves the process forward

            Exactly HOW many times have you failed to substantiate this claim by now?!

            You think anyone who disagrees with you owes you answers

            Oh noez!! How unfair of me! To think that the foundational principle of skepticism requires that claims should be backed up by evidence, or at least an explanation of why evidence is unavailable.

            Sorry, I am not going to play that game.

            You mean you’re not going to adhere to the most basic standards of rational, worthwhile discourse?!

  46. 46
    Daemon6

    A couple of thoughts on this:

    On one hand I appreciate the fact that personal perceptions are being brought up. What one may consider harassment another may consider merely socially inept.

    On the other.. Considering the nature of the encounter that you described I’m very much inclined to call this a clear example of sexual harassment.

  47. 47
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Seriously, kramer? You just can’t stop whining about how everything is about YOU, can you. I just can’t imagine why only talking about yourself and your hurt fee-fees hasn’t endeared you to everyone! I mean, who doesn’t want to her more about Kramer and his hurt fee-fees!!

    Ms. Rad – it’s awesomely excellent you are here. I’ve been a video fan for a long time. I’m sorry that, so early on in your time here, you got infested with self-obessessed whiners and clueless white dudes.

    1. 47.1
      BJ Kramer

      See what I mean, Cristina?

      1. LeftSidePositive

        So you whined about yourself and now you’re whining about getting called out for whining? Seriously?!

        Look–it’s not about you. Don’t show up in a comment thread to make it about you. Don’t play the victim when people call out problematic behavior of yours, and yes, insisting that you’re sooo above the fray when people are getting harassed and silenced is problematic behavior. So is acting like the victim-blaming that DJ did is reasonable. So is refusing to realize that what DJ did is victim-blaming. Don’t further play the victim by insisting pre-emptively that of course Christina is going to get flamed, because you got flamed… Have you noticed something? Christina is, actually, not getting flamed! She’s getting thoughtful, appreciative posts and is being thanked for the way she brought this up. Maybe the reason you got flamed is because you DIDN’T actually approach this the mature way she did, and people are responding to your problematic behavior? Maybe people who care about feminism aren’t knee-jerk flamers, and you have been insufficiently introspective to realize what you’ve been doing is actually NOT the dispassionate, reasoned discourse you think it is, but is actually being a bit of a dismissive, self-centered ass?

  48. 48
    anthrosciguy

    If someone approaches you and you end up having to leave you are being harrassed. If the person is making sex-related talk it’s sexual harrassment.

  49. 49
    Amphigorey

    I see a lot of people talking about whether this incident was worth reporting or whether it was harassment or not – which is perfectly fair, since that’s what Cristina asked.

    However, the larger point is what TAM would have done if Cristina or AJ had reported it. Would they have listened respectfully? Would they have followed up? Are the relevant people accessible?

    Let’s say AJ wanted to file a report. Does TAM make it obvious who its attendees should talk to? Would you have known where to go and who to ask if you had wanted to alert TAM to this couple?

    That’s the heart of the issue. TAM, and other conferences, need to have a clear policy in place. That’s all people are asking for. We understand that harassment will still happen; what we need is assurance that reporting it won’t be ignored, diminished, or swept under the rug. Unfortunately, TAM has done nothing to provide such assurance, and that’s why people are criticizing TAM.

    1. 49.1
      geraldmcgrew

      Those are very good questions. This was at a bar, after the conference. Unless the woman was wearing a name tag or was otherwise known, what would TAM do?

      More likely, since it was a bar and the couple was drunk, the thing to do is to tell the bartender, “Hey, that woman is extremely drunk and is being really offensive.” Any decent business will remove the couple from the place (I’m assuming TAM isn’t held at a local dive).

      Then Cristina and AJ can sit back down at the same table and continue on as before. Problem solved.

      1. Amphigorey

        I think you are being deliberately obtuse.

        Yes, one solution to this particular case is to talk to the bartender. However, in a more general sense, attendees at TAM need to know that complaints will be handled well. For an example of the right way to do it, take a look at what happened in the recent incident with the couple who handed Elyse of SkepChick a sex calling card. In that case, the event staff responded immediately and with good grace. Basically, the staff had Elyse’s back.

        I am seeing no assurance that TAM has anyone’s back except their own. Really, this is all people are asking for: a sensible, well-known harassment policy. Are you against this? If so, why?

  50. 50
    Porco Dio

    Much more important than deciding if this is harassment or not is to take care when crafting your next post on the subject. If you haven’t already, you run the risk of becoming an enemy of some faction or another.

    i was thinking the same but now i’m more inclined to wait for the Rad-response without offering such advice.

    what’s become clear to me about this issue is that it’s largely americans who are doing all the shouting and hand-waving here (i know, that was quite polite of me) and those with dissenting views on any facet of the discussion (TF, Blackford, Dawkins and hopefully Rad) are of non-us disposition.

    if the usa is so backward with respect to religion, politics, education and human-rights it would not surprise me in the least if their sceptics and their attitudes to TAMgate/elevatorgate are also backward…

    my guess is that Cristina has experienced her fair share of misogyny, harassment, stupidity in her life to know what the real issues are that need discussing.

    i await her viewpoint, as always, very eagerly.

    1. 50.1
      Sethra

      what’s become clear to me about this issue is that it’s largely americans who are doing all the shouting and hand-waving here (i know, that was quite polite of me) and those with dissenting views on any facet of the discussion (TF, Blackford, Dawkins and hopefully Rad) are of non-us disposition.

      Oh, totes obvious, as there’s only threads-fulls of non-US people posting about how sexual harassment is a universal issue – and there’s quite a few Americans posting all sorts of crap about women are all great/fun/cute/hot/sexy/whatever but they’re complete lying McLiarPants when it comes to talking about places/situations where they’ve felt harassed or uncomfortable.

      I know it’s fun to blame Americans for all the world’s ills, but at least pretend to something resembling a rational evaluation of the problem. It’s not their fault that they inherited the rest of the world’s obsession with male supremacy.

      1. Porco Dio

        illogical yank is illogical…, i’m not blaming yanks for the worlds’ ills i’m simply saying that they are sick and they should please cover their mouths’ when they cough so they don’t infect the rest of us.

        1. Sethra

          Uh huh. Because chauvinism and machismo are so totally and completely unknown in other parts of the world.

    2. 50.2
      Brisvegan

      Actually, I’m from Queensland, Australia, where the events mentioned would be illegal, actionable sexual harrassment uder our anti-discrimination laws. I think this is sexual harassment.

      I support Rebecca, Ophelia, Stephanie, Ashley and all the others cogently raising this issue and calling for proper sexual harrassment policies (which, seriously should be a no brainer), so it’s not just the Yanks, thanks very much.

  51. 51
    Smhlle

    Side thought: maybe there are more obnoxious drunks wandering into TAM evening events because the bartender never cuts anyone off?

  52. 52
    Damian Wegner

    In the case 1 you outlined I would say no its not reportable as sexual harassment and it had nothing to do with the event organisers as I believe the bar was open to the public? People have to remember sexual harassment is about power and control and generally occurs in situations where the parties know each other or had a working ,or social connection. In any bar here in Australia a nice looking lady in a out on the town dress will draw comments and stares from admiring guys, unfortunately someone with too much alcohol on board might say something less that polite across the room or may even go up to the lady and say or propose something risque in person. Its not sexual harassment, its sexual innuendo, sexual flirtations, or if it over steps legal statute , then its just lewd or obscene language in a public place. Generally if a guy see a girl getting hit on to heavily by a drunk, most guys down under will go to her defence an try and get the drunk away from her. Management generally has them removed anyway. Harassment has all the connotations of a situation in which the victim can not escape, evade or avoid the continued harassment i.e in a work or structured environment where the two parties are inevitably going to keep being exposed to each other. There is generally a position of power involved (manager/supervisor) and an expectation of compliance and a level of arrogance of one party that they can do what they want because of the power they hold in that environment.

    1. 52.1
      LeftSidePositive

      No, actually harassment involving explicit power differentials and people known to each other is a SUBSET of harassment, but any form of making people feel worn-down, intimidated, uncomfortable, intruded upon, etc. etc., etc. is all harassment. Just like it’s “harassment” if some neighborhood kids you don’t know start prank-calling your house (esp. repeatedly)–there doesn’t have to be a power differential or an established relationship–rather, if someone is demanding of someone’s attention, intruding on their privacy, and generally trying to manipulate or intimidate them, it’s harassment.

      By the way, the situation in the bar you describe IS NOT FLIRTING. Flirting ONLY means when BOTH parties are happily engaged in suggestive/amorous behavior. If one party thinks ze is “flirting” and the other party doesn’t want to be flirted with, the word for that is…HARASSMENT!

    2. 52.2
      Brisvegan

      You might want to look into some definitions of sexual harasssment in anti-discrimination law here in Australia, Damian. I say this as a Queenslander with a law degree. The situation that you describe, if unwanted and persistent, might be caught by Qld law, Federal law in some circumstances and ome other state laws.

      1. Brisvegan

        “some” not “ome”!

  53. 53
    spellwight

    Here’s the thing. If one person (or a couple) reports say, Bob and Alice as harassing them… at least there’s a heads-up. If multiple people report Bob and Alice as harassers then something can be done. They can be asked to leave. They can be denied access again. Something.

    Report to who? In the bar, mention something to the bar staff. If at TAM mention something to TAM staff.

    If you feel iffy about something that happens, make a report anyway. You can’t expect the management anywhere to guess at what’s happening if nobody tells. If management gets enough reports they can no longer deny there’s a problem.

    Communicate.

  54. 54
    keansimmons

    Considering your account of what happened (specifically that you didn’t mention that you or AJ ever asked the woman to stop)then it wasn’t harassment and of course couldn’t be reported as such.

    I don’t think that any of those who have concluded that it was harassment and that they would have reported had they been in the same situation, would have actually done so.

    It’s a pretty sad day for so called freethinkers, when attempts at hooking up are labelled as harassment by the puritan police among us…please leave the puritan religious morality in the dustbin with the rest of your discarded religious baggage!

    1. 54.1
      LeftSidePositive

      Sorry, human beings do not exist in a default state of consent. You actually have to establish a rapport and CARE about how the other person feels before it is appropriate to try to hook up. Moreover, not wanting to have sex at any and every given time does not indicate “religious baggage.” It indicates that people have a right to have their boundaries respected, and that people’s attractions and people’s wants to be seen as sexual beings are highly variable and individual. Stop trying to shame people into always being sexually available to you, which is exactly what your “you must have religious baggage about sex!” is doing.

  55. 55
    Masakari2012

    1. Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment ?
    2. Would you have reported it ?

    1. It would be 2 separate incidents, one with AJ, and one with you. If she was given warnings on each incident to stop, but she didn’t, then the incident{s} where she didn’t stop would be harassment.
    harassment (either harris-meant or huh-rass-meant) n. the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands.

    2. If it was harassment, then yes. Security or the police would have assessed the situation and she would have most likely been asked to leave. Her boyfriend may have chose to leave with her too (though not his fault). If security/police failed to do their job, then there is a problem with them, and that should be addressed by getting their names, badge numbers, time of the incident, and reporting them to their superiors, not implementing some anti-harassment policy among grown adults. But as another blogger said, security/police usually take issues like this very seriously, the problem is that people don’t report it for whatever reasons. Instead, they cried that D.J. Grothe was at fault, and attacked him as the problem.

    1. 55.1
      Sethra

      But as another blogger said, security/police usually take issues like this very seriously, the problem is that people don’t report it for whatever reasons. Instead, they cried that D.J. Grothe was at fault, and attacked him as the problem.

      Neatly ignoring the fact that multiple women have stepped forward stating that they’ve reported harassment at TAM or that DJ Grothe was on-hand and participated in resolving harassment issues…and then he managed to forget these incidents and flatly denied that any reports were made. But then, it’s just the words of a bunch of women against his word, so they’re obviously making it all up. Right? Because that doesn’t at all sound like a completely fucking ridiculous conspiracy theory.

      1. Masakari2012

        Neatly ignoring the fact that multiple women have stepped forward stating that they’ve reported harassment at TAM or that DJ Grothe was on-hand and participated in resolving harassment issues…and then he managed to forget these incidents and flatly denied that any reports were made.

        D.J. Grothe went with the evidence, not hearsay bouncing around the echo-chamber of the FTB blogs. And if D.J. Grothe forgot about some incident which may have been brought to him, then he’s not a fault for not having a hard-drive for memory. Maybe there was some harassment, and if so, it should have been reported. But anybody can make up a harassment story and cry about it on the internet.

        https://www.facebook.com/SophieHirschfeld/posts/3831844709949?comment_id=4505844&offset=76&total_comments=116

        http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/05/30/where-are-the-women/#comment-84687

        Hell, I can easily make a sock account, and start claiming that I reported harassment at TAM, even though it’s not true. And what makes it worse coming from the FTB fans is that some of them don’t know what harassment is, judging my the many comments on their blogs in the past.

        1. Sethra

          Oh sure, the women must be lying because Grothe said nothing had been reported. Except that other staff members from TAM spoke up and mentioned that reports had been made. Now where does that leave your story?

          Please, do keep pretending that all women must lie all the time if one man claims something different happened. And that even if the women have witnesses, they must still be lying. Because WOMEN.

          What is it in Islam, a woman’s word is worth half that of a man and a woman needs four male witnesses in order to be believed if she says she was raped? How many male witnesses does a female skeptic require in order to be believed?

          1. Masakari2012

            Please, do keep pretending that all women must lie all the time if one man claims something different happened. And that even if the women have witnesses, they must still be lying. Because WOMEN.

            Of course I don’t think that all women do that. Just women who do what you did here, like strawmanning my position. Now fuck off!

    2. 55.2
      David

      But there had been reports, and DJ said there had not been reports.
      If someone isnt bothered by the behavior its not harrasment, If they are sufficiently botherd by it to have to leave, it is harrasment.

  56. 56
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    Harassment … as soon as you said “No” and the requests for a threesome continued, it’s rude and over the line. Drunk or not, it’s rude and annoying.

    Reported to whoever has control authority over the venue … in this case, the bartender, and not TAM because this was an “unsanctioned venue” and not under TAM control. Bartenders take these things seriously, because obnoxious drunks can chase off customers.

    ==========

    In the previous millennium I was having a quiet drink in my Mexico City hotel’s bar, relaxing after a frustrating workday on a business trip and waiting for co-worker who was meeting me for dinner … a drunken male American lurched over and started telling me in explicit detail how he could enliven the rest of the evening.

    I told him to go away, with emphatic body language, but he persisted.

    Seconds later a waiter asked me “Is he bothering you?” and when I said yes he told the drunk to leave the premises. Drunken gringo stood up and refused … I did not see the punch, but the drunk was on the floor and whisked into the elevator, where the wait staff frisked hos pockets and found his hotel key. they called a cab and had the cab deliver the drunk to his hotel with the bill and tip to be added to his tab.

    :)

    1. 56.1
      Porco Dio

      assault and battery… now a valid response to drunken boorishness.

      1. leftwingfox

        No, at that point it became a response to trespassing, when the man’s welcome at the bar was revoked and he refused to leave the premises.

        It would probably have been more legitimate to call the police, but given the reputation of the police in Mexico, he probably got off lightly. =/

  57. 57
    cortex

    This post illustrates one of the more interesting ways that perspectives can change perceptions of sexual harassment. Almost anyone reading this post can readily identify the event as sexual harassment, but it’s not so obvious to a person who actually experienced it. Likewise, by honest assessment, I’d probably have reported something like this had I witnessed it, but would probably shrug it off if it had happened to me personally.

    It’s a well-documented property of sexual harassment in the social psych literature that women will identify certain behaviors as harassment, but when those exact things are done to them, they don’t report that they were harassed. It’s one of the mechanisms that allows these behaviors to thrive, in spite of increased education about what sexual harassment is.

  58. 58
    Maruku

    I don’t think it’s necessary at all. First off, it obviously didn’t leave such a bad impression that you immediately reported it. Second, as thunderf00t said, and I tend to agree with, you’re all adults and this isn’t some daycare.

    Furthermore, even not considering that they were drunk, they probably won’t remember you or come “continually” bother you about it. Basically, it was someone drunk and sexually heated, so I think as a reasonable person, you should forgive them.

    Additionally, they didn’t inappropriately touch you or try to force anything. Really, if you were to report this, you’d be blowing things way out of proportion. Feeling uncomfortable and reporting such a non-incident only makes light trivialities out of true incidents that are actually worth reporting.

    1. 58.1
      LeftSidePositive

      Why is it that you assume that the only reason someone wouldn’t report something is that they don’t consider it a big deal? Are you not aware of the mountains of social science research on all the various reasons people don’t report?!

      Furthermore, “we’re all adults” is no excuse for someone refusing to respect my boundaries. In fact, since they are adults I think they are MORE responsible to respect my boundaries. The fact that people/organizations band together socially to address social problems is not “daycare”–it is protecting each other’s well-being, which is what social groups are FOR.

      Moreover, it is not up to you to decide what should be forgiven, and I’m rather shocked that you don’t understand that harassment is a continuum–there’s no clear line between “no big deal” versus “a big deal,” and the same attitudes that perpetuate the “little” things also make it easier for the big things to happen. Trying to dismiss something as “not important enough” pretty much buys into the narrative that women should accept whatever social standard the dominant culture wants to subject them to, and their OWN feelings about how they are treated can’t be trusted, and that’s bullshit.

  59. 59
    Grimalkin

    1. Yes. She was being harassed enough to want to leave, the harassment was in a sexual manner.

    2. In theory, I would say yes. In practice, it depends massively on whether or not I felt that the report would be taken seriously. There have been times before that my in-theory answer was yes to whether or not I would report shit like this, and then when it actually happened I didn’t actually report it because the risk of it coming back to bite me greatly outweighed the chance that it might do anything good.

    But should we change the answer to “does this warrant a report”, most definitely yes.

  60. 60
    Richard Carrier

    Answering the two specific questions:

    1. Yes. (In the context of the wider discussion, this is what I said on my blog today: My own answer: it does [meet the definition of sexual harassment], but only in the moral sense, not the legal, i.e. it was harassing, and it was sexual, and that’s the kind of behavior we don’t want at events, but not anything we’re calling to outlaw.)

    2. If they were TAM attendees, then I would have threatened to do that (i.e. report them) if they didn’t leave me and my friend alone (I would threaten specifically to have hotel/bar staff expel them, and to report them to the TAM committee later). If they still persisted, then I would carry out my threat. And now that I am aware of denials of this sort of thing ever happening, I would in any case report it after I got home, so the organizers would have a record of it. Even though, as I would not likely be able to identify the perps, it would just be background data for them, not anything they could act upon.

  61. 61
    otrame

    Criss, to me it is very simple. Someone, of any gender, says to me, “Would you like to {have coffee, a drink, meet me in the bathroom for a quickie, come to my room and have hot monkey sex all night long, what ever} is not harassment. It may be inappropriate. Any one of those invitations might or might not be inappropriate depending on context (such as 4 am in a an elevator after having said publicly that one was ready for bed and having talked at great length about how sexual advances, subtle or not, would not be well-recieved in that venue).

    Inappropriate is not harassment. If, however, you are not enthralled by the invitation, whatever it is, and say, “No thanks” or “Fuck no” or “I’d rather die” or what ever, and the person does not immediately say “I’m sorry you feel that way” and walk away, if in fact, they continue to approach you, you are being harassed.

    Ask once is not harassment, though it may feel that way when the asker is unpleasant or clueless enough. Continuing to ask, touching, making loud gendered insults because you failed to be inthralled by the invitation, THAT is harassment.

    In my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

    1. 61.1
      LeftSidePositive

      Do you have any idea how unpleasant it is to have to deal with those first requests over and over again? Even if each person is different, the fact that bunches of people think they can come up to you and treat you like a sex object is really, REALLY annoying, and it creates a stifling climate where I feel like I have to monitor how I act, what I wear, what I say…and all in all be worn down by harassment. Because even if each person only does it once, the fact that the culture tolerates cold-propositioning people and putting the burden on THEM to say no and deal with unwanted advances instead of just living their lives and enjoying the conference, means that I will have to deal with repetitive, sustained intrusions on my privacy.

      It would be much better to establish a culture where we actually respect each other as HUMAN BEINGS and relate to each other as such FIRST–if there’s a spark, by all means pursue it, but at least TRY to consider what the other person is going to feel like before you do something.

      Moreover, many women (myself included) have had to deal with some really nasty after-effects when we turn someone down, no matter how nicely we try to do it. So when we’re put in a situation out of nowhere of having to turn down someone we’ve never met and have no idea how they’ll react, we have to consider our risk and how to handle the situation, AND WE DIDN’T ASK FOR THAT. Putting up with a lot of one-time propositions should not be the price of admission.

      There’s a reason street harassment is called “street harassment”: even though any given person is likely to see you on the street only once as they drive by and shout comments on your body or suggestions for sex acts, it gets systemic and sustained and can severely limit how comfortable their targets feel in public. So: intruding on someone’s privacy, even once, is harassment–most harassment is sustained, but it doesn’t *have* to be, and remember that a climate where this one-off behavior is tolerated means the targets have to deal with multiple one-offs!

      1. otrame

        Do you have any idea how unpleasant it is to have to deal with those first requests over and over again?

        Well, yeah, I do. I was of average attractiveness as a young woman, but I had really big breasts so, yeah, I do. Each individual requester did not know about the others and I refuse to blame them. Though I do agree that repeated first requests can feel like harrassment. Again, such requests, from coffee to monkey sex can be completely inappropriate in some circumstances. Inappropriate is not harassment, which is what Criss was asking about.

        It would be much better to establish a culture where we actually respect each other as HUMAN BEINGS and relate to each other as such FIRST–if there’s a spark, by all means pursue it, but at least TRY to consider what the other person is going to feel like before you do something.

        I could not agree with this more. I find it sad and yet hilarious that all those PUAs out there don’t realize how much more often they would get laid* if they just took the time to get to know a woman even a little bit, before they proposed monkey sex. Of course, the offer to get a drink or coffee is usually in aid of getting to know so….

        But we aren’t actually in disagreement. When I was still young enough to get the invitations, both inappropriate and harassing, I got very very tired of them. But if my refusal was accepted, it still was not harassment, no matter how tired of them I was. To be honest, a polite acceptance of my refusal, with an underlying sense that I had a right to not accept and that the refusal was not, in and of itself, an insult, was actually quite attractive to me, if only because it was so fucking rare.

        *Though, to be honest, I suspect that for the more egregious PUA, the constant attempts are an end in themselves. Not that they wouldn’t like to get laid, but the pushing for it becomes the end–makes them feel all big and strong and MANLY–even when they don’t get laid. Especially when they don’t get laid, because when they do they have to actually deal with a woman one-on-one, something I suspect many PUAs are very uncertain about.

        1. LeftSidePositive

          Each individual requester did not know about the others and I refuse to blame them.

          You can still blame them for the fact that they themselves intruded on your time and attention and made some very boundary-jumping assumptions about your availability for/interest in/desires about sex, and were generally rude. Furthermore, all these repeated requests weren’t isolated incidents–so I’m not blaming the individual for the other individuals, but I most certainly AM blaming the culture that teaches them that this is okay and basically sets the stage for this being so repetitive.

          Inappropriate is not harassment, which is what Criss was asking about.

          No, the way I see it is that harassment is based on that resolve to break into someone’s personal, physical, emotional, or mental space; in other words, when that line is crossed between freely expressing oneself and forcing someone to pay attention to your expression. Yes it intensifies with repetition, but it is not non-existent without repetition.

          But we aren’t actually in disagreement.

          Not in very much, but I still think you–and all of us–deserve to expect better.

          But if my refusal was accepted, it still was not harassment, no matter how tired of them I was.

          I think this is a result of the toxic idea of women being in a default state of consent being so normalized that you don’t see this as harassment, even though it was still a blatant intrusion into your privacy, a willful disregard for your right to your own space, and it seems to have affected you like harassment. It’s okay to call it that, and there’s no need to compromise with these patriarchal attitudes.

          To be honest, a polite acceptance of my refusal, with an underlying sense that I had a right to not accept and that the refusal was not, in and of itself, an insult, was actually quite attractive to me, if only because it was so fucking rare.

          This is another reason why cold-propositioning is so fucking rude (and should not be tolerated)–putting the woman in the position of having to turn someone down means she has to deal with all the anxiety of all the times she’s been retaliated against (verbally, socially, or physically) all over again, and decide carefully what to do, and that shit is fucking taxing!

  62. 62
    otrame

    And by the way, if English is your second language, you are doing great and an occasional misuse or misspelling is not important. I’m glad you are here.

  63. 63
    LeftSidePositive

    Christina, I want to say I really admire how you’re approaching this situation by asking clear and thoughtful questions, and it’s definitely the responsible way to address a topic on which you don’t have a lot of background…(Thunderf00t, take notice!)

    Another thing I wanted to mention is quite a lot of people have been saying “if you felt threatened…” or “if you felt unsafe…” and this bothers me. Isn’t feeling bothered & uncomfortable bad enough? Shouldn’t people actually be HAPPY to be at conferences and at bars (or generally out in public)?! Is it too much to ask that civilized human beings treat each other with some basic pleasantness? There is actually a really big problem when women are disproportionately expected to be the ones who put up with repeated, low-level unpleasantness, and going about your life feeling generally uncomfortable, EVEN IF you are never actually afraid for your physical safety, can really wear you down (and certainly make one less-than-enthusiastic about traveling and paying registration fees for the privilege of being made to feel uncomfortable!). There’s a problem in our society (meaning atheism and in general) when men can enjoy the bar/conference scene mostly (I’ll grant not entirely) carefree but women generally have to deal with more discomfort and being treated like the sex class.

  64. 64
    Priscilla Parker

    No, you shouldn’t have reported it. Who the hell cares? From my experience of you, you shouldn’t have even bothered writing this post, you’re too smart. Focus on things that matter. One thing you could write about is how the documentary about vloggers is going or about what you hope to accomplish with your blog. I think you have a lot of potential and I really hope you don’t get caught up in the drama because I for one think you can do better.

    1. 64.1
      julian

      I dunno. If there was a disruptive group of people at a certain event every time you visited, would you consider that worth mentioning? Or any other troublesome/irkesome/rude/annoying what have you? Isn’t that the sort of thing an event’s planning committee and staff should know about?

  65. 65
    Greg Laden

    That might be called “unwanted sexual attention” which is often regarded as a form of sexual harassment. But I wanted to make a different point.

    Suppose the incident you described is typical of what might happen with enough frequency at a certain kind of conference that everyone eventually has a story of it happening either to them or to someoen they know. More common than serious dog bites, less common than having brunch. Suppose in this hypothetical community 50% of the people (distributed evenly by sex and age) feel that this is harassment and urge the adoption of a reasonable policy regarding this. By reasonable I mean the ‘harassers’ are not shot on sight, but rather, the behavior is defined and everyone gets a paragraph on their program talking about how it would be nice to not do this, and people who do this repeatedly after being asked not to are mildly punished.

    The other 50% of the people don’t regard it as harassment. The above mentioned 50% are “category A” and the half that don’t see it as harassment are “category B”

    The following two things should NOT happen.

    1) Someone from Category A should not force someone from Category B to report or other wise do anything about any of this they may encounter or see.

    2) People from Category B should not insist that, since they don’t personally feel harassed, that this beavhior not be classed as harassment.

    At the same time, people from Category B who are indifferent should, in fact, report or address this behavior because after all the people in Category A are their friends and colleagues. Also, as the behavior gets worse and becomes more likely to be classed as harassment by all parties, or less severe and thus is classed as harassment by almost no one, these positions change.

    There is nothing magic about the 50% number. But, if Category A was 1/10th of 1% of the population, it would be odd to make rules about it. Still, it is common to make rules to meet the needs of small percentages. Most offices have a no-strong-purfume rule but it really only medically benefits a small number of people and a somewhat larger number appreciate it at the level of annoyance.

    Here’s the point: One thing we are seeing in the conversation today is that Cat B people are not only looking askance at Cat A people, but in some cases, going out of their way to, well, actually harass them, to denigrate them, to openly insult them, to call them liars, to ostracize them, and to generally be bad to them.

    Which, I’m afraid,can only be explained one way in my mind: Category B people not only consider that which Cat A people see as harassment differently, but they actually see this “harassment” as preferred, beneficial, desirable, or in some other way, good.

    Some of them are, probably, the harassers. Others are friends of the harassers. Others are those who like harassment as part of the entertainment. Some, probably, are not into harassment at all but simply hate feminism and stuff.

    There is probably a “silent plurality” of people who don’t care much about harassment, don’t encounter it much, didn’t think it was a problem but since some people see it as a problem are just not getting involved. But that small number of people who see a not in significant number of people documenting, discussing, and doing something about it … and, really, following the pattern set a couple of decades by much of the rest of the world but blissfully ignored by the skeptical community …. are being just plain mean spirited and willfully obnoxious.

    I don’t smoke. I don’t mind the smell of smoke at all. Other people don’t like the smell of smoke. It is against the rules to smoke in restaurants. If I was with someone who complained about someone lighting up in a restaurant, I would be a real dick if I jumped in and countered their complaint with some argument about how they need to calm down and listen to some dumb-ass excuse for a rational argument.

    Just sayin’

  66. 66
    Porco Dio

    I would be a real dick if I jumped in and countered their complaint with some argument about how they need to calm down and listen to some dumb-ass excuse for a rational argument.

    nice misdirection there greg…

    of course, the 50/50 split is ridiculous enough to bandy about but, for the sake of argument, you had the opportunity to make one.

    basically what you are saying is that 50% of people are experiencing harassment (first, second or third hand – whatever) and the other 50% are dicks… not very intellectually honest to say that 50% of people experience harassment so you back down from this number and then slap on that “let’s make stuff up to protect the minority” which is not something any rational person is arguing about here and this is where the misdirection comes.

    by lowering the one category to 0.1% you are increasing the category of dicks to 99.9% are you not? 99.9% of us are dicks… great… and even if that figure was 10% dick the other 89.9% is being painted with the same brush as the 10%…

    very very very few people indeed are trying to mitigate arguments against sexual harassment (maybe 0.1%?) but anyone that has absolutely anything to say other than the party line gets shouted down by another very small percentage of frantic, hysterical, hand-waving lunatics.

    like pz said about TF that he’s lost all his credibility by making any argument that differs from they party line… nah…, TF lost nothing but pz did, i’m afraid.

    just sayin’

    1. 66.1
      LeftSidePositive

      basically what you are saying is that 50% of people are experiencing harassment (first, second or third hand – whatever) and the other 50% are dicks…

      No, and learn to read. He said that only that subset of people who tried to shout down/intimidate/derail/deny the feelings of Category A were dicks. He said the rest of the group who didn’t care were part of a “silent plurality” who were generally indifferent.

      Moreover, PZ did not smack down Thunderf00t because he “deviated from the party line.” Rather, he smacked Thunderf00t down because his reasoning was absolute horseshit, and PZ showed in detail why Thunderf00t’s reasoning was so woefully ignorant and patently illogical. If you have substantive critiques to make of PZ’s critique, do it on his blog, but don’t just go around whining that poor Thunderf00t was being so unfairly held to a “party line” when you haven’t controlled for the extraordinarily poor understanding and strawmanning of the situation Thunderf00t was engaging in.

      1. Porco Dio

        actually this issue has gone beyond “extraordinarily poor understanding and strawmanning of the situation” and is now simply an issue of two sides… either you’re on the side of the frantic hand-wavers or the side being slapped about by the frantic hand-wavers…

        we are either supposed to agree entirely with you or feel the wrath of your scorn or stfu entirely…

        way to go, sceptics.

        i’m certainly not one (and certainly not alone) to be told what to think… and the pedestal on which the other side is standing is pretty shaky too.

        1. LeftSidePositive

          You know, if someone tells you (or Thunderf00t) why you’re/he’s wrong, and all you can do is whine that you’re being “told what to think” instead of actually refuting zir arguments and defending your position, it’s a reasonably reliable heuristic that you are, in all probability, wrong.

        2. Lordxor

          Indeed, this topic has brought out an almost cultist attitude that if you do not agree 100% with certain parties then you are an idiot. They are just like the religious fundamentalist they often accuse of the same behavior which they are exhibiting here. I feel the over reaction and raw emotion is distracting from the issue. They try to smack down anyone who want to have a civil discussion. I am not a fan-boy minion and I will not be intimidated or bullied by such people. I want to see these issues resolved, but only civility can get us there. If you don’t agree, then you are more a part of the problem than part of the solution.

          1. LeftSidePositive

            Great job totally ignoring what has already been said about the fact that we are criticizing flaws in reasoning and flaws in ethics and NOT simply insisting on 100% disagreement. Look, numbskull, some things are within the sphere of legitimate debate. Some are not. Or are you one of those people who thinks we should teach “both sides” of the origins of life and that we’re “expelling” those who believe in Intelligent Design and that academic conspiracy insists that you have to agree 100% with evolutionists and they won’t tolerate any questioning because they won’t include Intelligent Design in their curricula?? This is a perfect example of something being outside the sphere of legitimate debate, and whining about being rightfully dismissed for lack of merit. What Thunderf00t posted on this topic was entirely without merit, and thus we will criticize it as such. If you think the criticisms are wrong, SAY WHY but don’t whine about “cultist attitudes” and “agreeing 100%.”

            You are also repeating your tired claims about “raw emotion” when you have utterly failed to even ADDRESS what people have brought up about rationality and emotion not being mutually exclusive. Repeating the same shit without even addressing others’ refutations is trolling.

            We do not smack down “anyone who wants to have a civil discussion.” We smack down tone trolls who insist that civility is more important than substance and who try to silence people expressing themselves on important issues. If you want to have a civil discussion, then be civil, and others will likely follow suit. Telling people that “civility” is more important than their actual experiences is actually quite hostile and condescending, and will be met with an appropriate lack of civility.

            I want to see these issues resolved, but only civility can get us there.

            This is a claim. You need evidence. Provide any type of reasoning of support as to why “only civility can get us there.” You have just asserted this. You have not provided any evidence for people overcoming their prejudices through the oppressed’s civility alone. You have not provided any mechanism by which people will voluntarily give up privilege if there is no social cost to it, much less if they are treated so “civilly” that they are not even made aware of their privilege. You have not even acknowledged the role of anger in social justice movements, something that’s actually pretty well known in these parts since Greta Christina wrote a book on it! In contrast, I have discussed the roles of different tones in setting the terms of the debate. I have provided reasons why an outspoken tone is ethically appropriate and strategically useful. Address my points on civility, make an argument, or just admit you are trolling.

            If you don’t agree, then you are more a part of the problem than part of the solution.

            You know, for someone insisting that demanding 100% agreement is oh so wrong, this is pretty rich!

          2. cortex

            Well, the important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to both sides.

            The only people behaving like religious fundamentalists are the ones uncritically clinging to patriarchal norms and disbelieving any claim that doesn’t seem immediately, intuitively true to them.

            only civility can get us there.

            Citation needed.

  67. 67
    Lordxor

    I think what we are seeing is the fracturing of the skeptical movement. The cases of harassment and the reaction to those cases are only symptoms of a much deep problem in the skeptical movement. Extremism. No, not the extremism of the muslim extremist or evangelical. A social extremism of us against them.

    The extremist in the skeptical movement have gone to war with each other and are dragging the rest of us down into it with them. The battle lines have been drawn. Yet, their destructive attitude knows no boundaries. They now go after anyone not on ‘their side’. They lambaste those who want and offer reasonable solutions and desire peaceful discourse. They gather and pat each other on the back, claiming victory over those they bully and intimidate. They feel every time the click ‘submit’ they have beat the recipient down and humbled them. Arrogant and self-assured, they march together to the tune of a few whom they hold as worthy of their ‘follow’. Only those chosen few can declare what is logical, what is not. What is right-thinking, and what is wrong-thinking. Only they can discern that which is true and that which is not true. Never admitting error and believing they can do or say no wrong.

    So, the anger and recrimination will continue and little will be done about the real issue at hand. I feel nothing will change because everyone is too angry to budge from their positions. They are just as happy to lob insults careless of whom they are attacking. Women like Christina are caught in the middle now. Her experience is being used as a weapon by one side and downplayed by the other.

    I am sickened and saddened by the skeptical movement right now. I see and have experienced anger, arrogance, intimidation, and cyber-bullying. Anyone who wants to rise above it is labeled, taunted, judged, and condemned. If this is what the skeptical movement has become then I will no longer support it. I have done my fair share in the skeptical movement. Not on-line so much, but out in the streets where it counts. Its time I move on from it. I don’t like the company of many in the skeptical movement.

    1. 67.1
      Egbert

      Good post. The atheist community is becoming irrational and decadent. It’s time to move on to post-atheism.

    2. 67.2
      Mike de Fleuriot

      Yes, I thought that atheism meant against theism. Or is the movement giving up on that because it too hard to win against theism.

      How would the powerful women of our history have handled sexual harassment? You women have the eloquence and intellect to learn the art of the put-down. And this will be your best tool against sex pests, besides the fact that it will show that you are the confidence woman that you know you are. How would women like Benazir Bhutto, or Katharine Hepburn have handled these situations? Are they more than you, I strongly doubt that.

      The facts are that there are these people in the real world, and you will come across them. You have to learn the best way to deal with them, and rightfully asking for a safer environment is a start, but it is not the solution.

      1. embertine

        I agree, Mike, that is not the whole solution. Another part of the solution is to change the culture so that when women express concerns, they are not told to get over it or have the onus thrown back on them to fix the problem.

        You know, like you just did.

      2. LeftSidePositive

        Did it ever occur to you that concern-trolling us about how to battle sexism by being more ladylike is, in fact, total shit?

        Logical fallacy alert: you have an unstated major premise. You are assuming that being polite is “better” than being outspoken. You have not defended this claim, nor indeed have I ever seen it defended rationally, much less successfully, so my prior probability on your being able to do so is quite low.

        By the way, do you lament that George Carlin, Eddie Izzard, Tim Minchin, Jon Stewart, and plenty others are/were known to swear to make their points known?! Why is it that they are seen as insightful and thought-provoking when they swear??

        1. Silentbob

          They’re fucking comedians. Are you seriously saying you base your behaviour on professional clowns?!

          1. LeftSidePositive

            Oh, so there’s a clear dichotomy between “comedians” and “people who are influential about thoughtfully critiquing our culture and are effective communicators for social change”? Riiiiiiiight….

        2. Silentbob

          … not that I’m saying that wouldn’t explain a great deal about your comments.

    3. 67.3
      cortex

      Anyone who wants to rise above it is labeled, taunted, judged, and condemned.

      Irony, thy name is Lordxor.

      1. Lordxor

        Thank you, cortex. I love it when my points are clearly demonstrated for all to see. You point your finger at others and fail to see the other fingers on your hand pointing back to you. Hypocrisy, thy name is cortex.

        1. cortex

          I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Are you accusing me of being unintentionally ironic? Like, oh, I dunno, someone who judges and condemns everyone on both sides of a conflict for judging and condemning each other?

    4. 67.4
      Scr... Archivist

      So, the anger and recrimination will continue and little will be done about the real issue at hand. I feel nothing will change because everyone is too angry to budge from their positions.

      Well, there has been some progress. Several conferences have established policies against sexual harassment and procedures for reporting such incidents. There may be others who will in the near future.

      Even if things aren’t perfect at first, the organizers can improve their policies over the years, learning from experience. And tracking the statistics about these incidents will give us some idea just how large or small the problem is, and whether it is getting worse or better.

      That should count for something.

      1. Lordxor

        Yes, I saw that American Atheist just enacted such a policy. It is a good one too.

        And thank you for your kind words. I get angry like anyone else; but I have learned how to curb it to a more constructive path, not a destructive one unlike some in this movement. Being civil is not being accommodating. You can confront theist or other important issues without being rude, insulting, degrading, bullying, or otherwise intimidating.

    5. 67.5
      geraldmcgrew

      Loxdor,

      I fully agree. What you describe is a phenomenon I’ve been noticing for some years now. Within the skeptical movement there are a subset of folks who are hyper-aggressive. At first their aggression was directed mostly at the religious. They saw absolutely no problem with belittling, name-calling, and demeaning theists of all sorts. No rhetoric or stunt was too extreme.

      Then, the hyper-aggressive started to do the same to people in the skeptical movement who advocated a more civil, measured approach to the religious. Suddenly “the accommodationists” were the target of the hyper-aggressive vitriol.

      And now they’ve turned their flame throwers on anyone within the movement who disagrees with them on this issue. Honestly, if anyone is surprised by this, they haven’t been paying attention.

    6. 67.6
      geraldmcgrew

      Lordxor,

      I fully agree. What you describe is a phenomenon I’ve been noticing for some years now. Within the skeptical movement there are a subset of folks who are hyper-aggressive. At first their aggression was directed mostly at the religious. They saw absolutely no problem with belittling, name-calling, and demeaning theists of all sorts. No rhetoric or stunt was too extreme.

      Then, the hyper-aggressive started to do the same to people in the skeptical movement who advocated a more civil, measured approach to the religious. Suddenly “the accommodationists” were the target of the hyper-aggressive vitriol.

      And now they’ve turned their flame throwers on anyone within the movement who disagrees with them on this issue. Honestly, if anyone is surprised by this, they haven’t been paying attention.

      1. Egbert

        The game being played is reaction against reaction. Things were rational once they were on idea, beliefs, institutions, or authority figures, but then those critics were criticized by accommodationists, which in turn were criticized back and so on, in an ever decreasing spiral of negativity.

        We’re not aware of our own irrationality once we turn from our understanding to ethical judgment, and the internet is a format that gratifies our demonic desire for attention instantly. It’s time for those who are aware to realize the trap we’ve got ourselves in and jump ship back to reason.

    7. 67.7
      LeftSidePositive

      No, you have not experienced cyber-bullying. You have merely been called out on your bullshit. This is really very simple: if you do something bad, the person telling you how bad you are is not bullying you, but rather standing up for zir own rights. You’ve already used the bullying line before, you were called out on why it’s bullshit, and you’ve just repeated it in a blatant attempt to claim victim-status without addressing the substance of why your claim to be bullied is wrong (morally and factually!). Repeating arguments without acknowledging counter-arguments is trolling.

      How exactly do you “rise above” something with a focus that is immensely more superficial and pointless than that which you’re trying to “rise above?” Who are you to declare yourself “above” those who are outspoken advocates of intellectual honesty and social justice?

      And your idea of “rising above” has included blatantly failing (repeatedly!) to provide evidence for your assertions about what communication is better. Now you’re wrapping yourself in victimhood to avoid substantiating your claims.

      1. Lordxor

        @ Left

        No, you are a bully. Here is why:

        Normal person: “I disagree with you, and here is why…”

        (You) Bully: “Prove your claim or shut the fuck up.”

        Normal person: “I think that point is wrong, let me explain why…”

        (You) Bully: “you motherfucking shitfaced fallacious idiot?!”

        See the difference? You practice bullying behavior. I don’t care if you are angry, you have no justification to attack someone that way on line of other wise. Disagree if you wish, but verbal assault will not win you an argument. And, it will not intimidate me or does it make your case for you to me. People shut down when attacked like this. They don’t listen to what you have to say. Yeah, it makes you feel big; but in the end, it just makes you small in people eyes. You defeat yourself when you stoop to this level. I do not think you have what it takes to even comprehend what I was saying. You instead, quote mine and take out of context what I say. You are just as bad as a theist. Worse in many ways. If you want me to take you seriously and listen to your point of view, try being more mature. I might come to agree with you if you make a valid case. But not if you are going to try to bully me or others.

        1. Lordxor

          @Left

          And, about your claim I do not back myself up: I do not need to justify anything I say to you or anybody beyond Christina as it is HER blog. My comments were addressing her solicitation for comments. My point stands as it is and my opinion is my own weather you agree or not. If Christina has questions about, or issues with what I posted, it is up to her to ask or challenge. You, out of your arrogance and presumption thinks you rule the internet or are some big hotshot in the skeptical community, so therefore you can condemn anyone who dare disagrees with you. You are a nobody. Get over yourself. I am not so arrogant to think to think anything I say is more important to more correct than anyone here. I state my opinion and people can take it or leave it.

          1. LeftSidePositive

            And, about your claim I do not back myself up: I do not need to justify anything I say to you or anybody beyond Christina as it is HER blog.

            Oh, of course you don’t HAVE to back yourself up–but if you don’t you will make it very clear that you are a mendacious troll who doesn’t give a shit about accuracy or standards of evidence. I mean, look, I CAN go around saying the sky is pink with cerulean spots, and while it is technically true that only Christina can ban me for it here, the rest of the commentariat would be well within their limits to tell me I’m full of shit.

            My point stands as it is and my opinion is my own weather you agree or not.

            I never questioned the fact that it was your opinion. I questioned whether it had any merit and whether it bore any correlation to reality.

            You, out of your arrogance and presumption thinks you rule the internet or are some big hotshot in the skeptical community,

            No, actually, one of the foundations of the skeptical approach to, well, ANYTHING, is that there is no hierarchy for justification, and anyone should be expected to substantiate their claims to anyone else.

            so therefore you can condemn anyone who dare disagrees with you.

            AGAIN, this is not about “disagreeing”–I’m condemning anyone who makes a claim completely without evidence, which is an intellectually lazy and likely dishonest thing to do.

            You are a nobody. Get over yourself.

            Don’t you realize this is basically attempting a flipside of an argument from authority? Incredibly fallacious reasoning!

            I am not so arrogant to think to think anything I say is more important to more correct than anyone here. I state my opinion and people can take it or leave it.

            You know, unlike you, I actually CARE if whether the stuff I say is true and withstands scrutiny. I don’t go throwing around “it’s my opinion!” like some pathetic intellectual coward.

        2. LeftSidePositive

          Nope, sorry, using forceful language to call someone out for their bullshit is accountability for the bullshitter, not bullying. What you are doing is tone-trolling, and you are trying to make it so that people have to be as meek as possible in addressing your bullshit, so that it is as easy for you as possible to keep on spouting that bullshit and maintaining the appearance of having something useful to say. Well, FUCK THAT SHIT, DOUCHEBAG!!

          If you’re going to be a dishonest ass, expect to get called a dishonest ass.

          By the way, saying you were “taken out of context” is a claim. Prove it or shut the fuck up.

          Really? I’m just as bad as a theist?! Yeah, being unflinching in expecting evidence for a provided claim is just as bad as unilaterally declaring that gay people will burn in hell for eternity. Got it.

          If you only agree with people whose tone you find appealing, that makes you a shallow idiot. Moreover, did it ever occur to you that I (and others) have lots of experience trying to be nice for people like you who insist they need people to be nice? It’s never true. And I have, on more than a few occasions, told someone off pretty strongly and they acknowledged their error and thanked me for explaining the issue to them–because these are actually thoughtful people, instead of idiots who tone troll to try to deflect attention from their total lack of argument.

          1. Lordxor

            “And I have, on more than a few occasions, told someone off pretty strongly and they acknowledged their error and thanked me for explaining the issue to them–because these are actually thoughtful people, instead of idiots who tone troll to try to deflect attention from their total lack of argument.”

            HAHAHAHAHA…. yeah right….

          2. LeftSidePositive
            “And I have, on more than a few occasions, told someone off pretty strongly and they acknowledged their error and thanked me for explaining the issue to them–because these are actually thoughtful people, instead of idiots who tone troll to try to deflect attention from their total lack of argument.”

            HAHAHAHAHA…. yeah right….

            Eat your words, idiot!

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/05/16/do-rape-victim-have-too-many-rights/#comment-530623183

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/05/16/do-rape-victim-have-too-many-rights/#comment-530681861

            http://skepchick.org/2012/02/seeing-the-patriarchy/#comment-143887
            (I was “sphinooccipital” on skepchick for a while before I finally got around to getting it fixed)

            http://skepchick.org/2012/02/seeing-the-patriarchy/#comment-144085

            And, you know what…when you challenged me on my claim–I ANSWERED IT WITH EVIDENCE! You could learn a fucking thing or two from that.

          3. Lordxor

            @Left

            Nah. Could be sock puppets. Could be that even a fool gets something right now and then. Does not matter or prove your point. Sorry, but being an asshole to people does not help in the least.

            As I read the comments in this post, I can see a couple of things: 1) There are people who agree with me in principle. Maybe I could have been clearer in a couple of points, but oh well. 2) More than a few people here also see you as a bully and a jerk. Not and argument from majority, just the facts.

            You say I wont answer you in your charges, and you are correct in that. I don’t care. I do not have to answer you and I wont as long as you are taking the attitude you do. I am only going to keep challenging YOU and YOUR attitude. I think you would be better off just dropping this and walking away. Otherwise, I am just going to keep calling you out on your bad behavior.

            What you miss in your mental dimness is that I do agree with most people who have commented here. What Christina experienced is wrong and should be addressed and is being addressed now in the skeptical community. But it is not being down with hand-waving and recrimination. It is not being done by people shouting other down with insults. It is being done respectfully.

            I also never said someone should not be angry. Anger is a good motivator, but it should not control the dialog. I never said anyone should sit down, keep quite, and take it. Only someone with poor reading comprehension skills can get that from what I said. Quote mine all you want, you still don’t get it, nor do I think you will. Again, oh well. I guess I have to go through life without your approval. How terrible is that! HAHAHA!

            Left, at this point, it is best we both move on. You are not going to win this with me. And that is because after you hurl insults, I just tune you out. You distort and twist what I say just like a theist. Anything and everything you say is irrelevant. If a more reasonable person can show me where I am in error, if I am in error, I can learn from it. But the barbaric chest thumping and throwing of feces will not get me to pay attention to anything you have to say. I and others see you as everything that is wrong in the skeptical community, and that is a shame really. Anyway, I am sure you will go on to tout victory. Arrogant bullies usually do when their victims simply move on because they have better things to do.

            As one skeptic said after being bullied: ‘I am done.’

          4. LeftSidePositive

            Nah. Could be sock puppets.

            Are you seriously claiming I made sock puppets in random internet debates MONTHS ago in order to bring them in to this discussion? How plausible is that explanation?! But if you’re really so concerned, why don’t you consult Rebecca and Hemant to verify that the IP addresses are different?! Otherwise, you’re just demanding a standard of evidence that is not possible to meet, and that is not skepticism, just derailing. By the way, extraordinary hyper-skepticism of someone else’s evidence while completely failing to provide any of your own? That sounds like a fundie creationist tactic!

            Could be that even a fool gets something right now and then.

            But you made several categorical claims. Any counter-evidence refutes them because you offered them as universal, unqualified statements.

            Sorry, but being an asshole to people does not help in the least.

            This is a claim. Provide evidence or shut the fuck up.

            Not and argument from majority, just the facts.

            You know, you can’t excuse a blatant logical fallacy by simply declaring by fiat that that’s not what you’re doing, and just declaring that you have “just the facts.” That’s pretty pathetic.

            You say I wont answer you in your charges, and you are correct in that. I don’t care.

            You know, for someone who doesn’t care, you’re sure as fuck replying an awful lot!

            I do not have to answer you and I wont as long as you are taking the attitude you do.

            Funny, this argument could have been over quite some time ago if you had simply defended your points…it seems the reason you’re so intent not to do that is because your arguments are completely indefensible!

            I am only going to keep challenging YOU and YOUR attitude.

            But you haven’t even addressed my arguments about the validity of my attitude! You’ve just made arguments from assertion after assertion!

            But it is not being down with hand-waving and recrimination. It is not being done by people shouting other down with insults. It is being done respectfully.

            That’s not true. The very outspoken people have been extraordinarily successful in making themselves heard and in shifting the terms of the debate.

            I also never said someone should not be angry.

            Really, then what the fuck was all that false dichotomy between reason and emotion that you were trying to pull?! What about all that shit about how we’re ruining the skeptic movement?

            I never said anyone should sit down, keep quite, and take it. Only someone with poor reading comprehension skills can get that from what I said.

            Yeah, and Ronald Reagan never explicitly said black people were lazy, either…but that’s pretty fucking clear that’s what he was communicating. What else could you have been communicating with all your pathetic excuses for predatory behavior with ‘well we’re just a sexual species, and maybe they didn’t mean any harm’ and ‘well you don’t have it as bad as MLK so why are you making such a fuss’ and ‘you’re blowing this out of proportion’?

            You are not going to win this with me. And that is because after you hurl insults, I just tune you out.

            This is your fault for being a shallow, tone-trolling idiot.

            You distort and twist what I say just like a theist.

            This is a claim. Provide evidence or shut the fuck up. You can’t get out of the obvious implications of your words (and outright statements!) by just declaring that someone else is distorting. You actually have to point out the distortion and why it’s wrong if you want any credibility. If you don’t then you can just keep on being a troll.

            If a more reasonable person can show me where I am in error, if I am in error, I can learn from it.

            Well, that’s certainly strange. I actually want to learn from people so if someone has something to say, I will actually consider its substance and not restrict my potential gaining of valuable knowledge to those who use a certain tone. That seems like something only a superficial, willfully ignorant idiot would do.

            I and others see you as everything that is wrong in the skeptical community, and that is a shame really.

            Well, frankly, I see YOU as everything that’s wrong with the skeptical community. Privileged, pompous, and willing to engage in exactly the same fallacious reasoning that you decry in homeopaths when it suits your ends. Hyper-skeptical of the contributions of people who aren’t like you, but expecting your own claims to be accepted simply on your word. You, sir, are a pseudo-skeptic, nothing more.

            Arrogant bullies usually do when their victims simply move on because they have better things to do.

            Oh noez!! Someone asked you for evidence on A SKEPTIC FORUM!!! Whatever shall you do?! You used several completely idiotic arguments and were called an idiot for engaging in such idiocy! Oh, teh humanitee!!!

          5. Lordxor

            “Provide evidence or shut the fuck up.”

            No. And I will not shut up. It is not your blog. You are a hypocrite, Left. You accused me of tell someone to sit down and shut up. Yet, here you are doing just that. Total hypocrite. So, from now on, when you type those words, just imagine me saying ‘no.’

            “You know, for someone who doesn’t care, you’re sure as fuck replying an awful lot!”

            Yes, I am. Because I what to show people how to stand up to a cyber-bully: by not playing their game. I will not do anything you demand. I will not be intimidated by you. You want me to respect you and answer you, change your attitude to me and others commenting here in FTB. Otherwise you are just showing people what kind of person you really are: the worse humanity has to offer.

            “What else could you have been communicating with all your pathetic excuses for predatory behavior..”

            That is an outright distortion and lie. Taking what I said out of context is another theist tactic. Gee, you would make a great theist Left. :)

            Anyway, I am not angry like you are Left. I am disappointed in you. Disappointed in those like you. You make fixing these issues way harder than it has to be. You divide us. You make the community look bad. You are pathetic. I am sure you have some smart ass retorts coming, pathetic as they are. Go on and continue to rail feebly. :)

          6. LeftSidePositive

            You were strongly implying that people to shut up about discussions of real harms to their lives and equality. I told you to shut up about making mendacious, completely unsourced claims. There’s a difference. Notice, also, the presence of “or”–you don’t have to shut up, you could just, you know, provide evidence–logical or empirical–for your claims. If they had any merit it really shouldn’t be hard to do.

            And great job trying to pull the victim card YET AGAIN with your pathetic accusation of “bullying,” all the while continuing to fail to address my argument that forcefully rejecting dishonest, mean-spirited, misleading bullshit that entrenches unequal power structures is not the same as hounding people for harmless traits or preferences.

            And great job just declaring again that you were taken out of context, without actually stating what you think was taken out of context and what difference the context made.

            You know, there’s this great way of looking at the world called skepticism. It involves looking into factual evidence for claims and making consistent arguments. It might help you with some of the deficits in your thinking.

          7. Lordxor

            Blah, blah, blah, yawn… next.

  68. 68
    Damien

    I believe it was definately sexual harassment.
    The thing is, they were both drunk (as you said in your post).
    I think the proper thing to do is, when you see them the next day when they are sober, tell them that they did something sexually unwanted and confront them with it (take a guy you trust with you if needed), or let the hotel personell do it for you, it’s their job. Chances are that they either don’t recall it and are super emberassed about it. Drunk people can be annoying no matter what they talk about.

    If there are people in the community that are ‘famous’ for bugging women, confront him with it. Chances are that that person doesn’t know he’s being an ass. If he knows it and does it anyways, spread the word. Assholes are assholes, known/famous atheist or not.

    The thing with these conferentions is that all kinds of people come together with basically only 1 thing in common. There are creeps there, just like at concerts or other conferences.

    If these things happen at the hotel, notify the hotel personell about it, let them handle it. If it happens on the conference floor, let the organisers know.

    I’m saying this as a guy: If a dude touches you unwanted at private parts, PLEASE kick him in the balls or smack him in the face, circumstances allowing, naturally.
    Basic self defence lessons are not useless in today’s society as well.

    What I want to say to all women that say they are harassed or intimidated, please don’t associate it with atheism. Just look at it from a human perspective.
    Remember, the religious people claim that atheists are pigs with no morals, don’t feed them.
    It’s fine to bring it to the attention of people if you were bugged etc, but don’t pair it with atheists. That’s something religious people do. Blame it on the individual that happens to be there.

    I can agree with what Thunderf00t said in his latest video, an internal fight withing a community that has enough outside things to worry about is a bad thing. Let’s not fight among ourselves, if there are issues, resolve them but don’t blow it up.

    1. 68.1
      Sethra

      I’m saying this as a guy: If a dude touches you unwanted at private parts, PLEASE kick him in the balls or smack him in the face, circumstances allowing, naturally.

      Why, so we can get arrested for assault? I watched a fight between a couple of guys and one kneed the other in the groin. It didn’t drop that other guy and he went on to beat the shit out of the guy who kneed him. You think we should be on the receiving end of that crap too?

      Basic self defence lessons are not useless in today’s society as well.

      And one of the first things you learn in self-defence classes is how to evaluate a threat and try to defuse a situation OR ESCAPE SOMEONE’S GRIP AND RUN. Because the idea is to get yourself safely away or to get the other person to walk away, and NOT TO FIGHT AND POSSIBLY LOSE. And of course, running away means…not staying at the conference you paid to attend. So yay, let’s keep taxing women for other people’s bad behaviour.

      And seriously, why does it keep coming back to what women need to do or how women need to respond instead of saying, “Hey, maybe we as a community shouldn’t let some people get away with acting like jerks toward women.” Let People Acting Badly™ take responsibility for their own behaviour.

      1. Damien

        Let me start out with a little disclaimer:
        I don’t intend to attack or offend anyone. I’m trying to understand what the hell is really going on and do my best to help out.
        If I sound stupid, that’s because I am.
        I hope I didn’t screw up the quoting either..

        Before I begin my response, the vibe I’m getting from your response that women are weak beings that need to be protected from the big bad outside world, need to be handled with exreme care and that all men are potential rapists.

        Why, so we can get arrested for assault? I watched a fight between a couple of guys and one kneed the other in the groin. It didn’t drop that other guy and he went on to beat the shit out of the guy who kneed him. You think we should be on the receiving end of that crap too?

        That’s what I mean with circumstance allowing. If someone gropes you (or something else inapropriate) in a bar with dozens of people, slap him and call him a pig for touching you. Just make the whole place look at that perv. The one getting the hell out of there will be that person, trust me. There are enough men in there that will respond to that immediately and protect you and see the person out. Maybe a kick in the nuts might not be the best way, I’ll give you that, but if you take it with no reaction he’ll get away with it. (it was more of a gut reaction to personally want to kick those people in the nuts. you are right that it can go the wrong way.) Pervs need to be punished.
        If you don’t thinkt slapping might not work in a situation, just raise your voice and make it known to the people around you that someone is doing a bad thing.
        React to such things, then report it to either the police (ask for a female officer, it’s sad, but the male ones tend not to take it seriously.) or at an employee at the place you’re at.

        And one of the first things you learn in self-defence classes is how to evaluate a threat and try to defuse a situation OR ESCAPE SOMEONE’S GRIP AND RUN. Because the idea is to get yourself safely away or to get the other person to walk away, and NOT TO FIGHT AND POSSIBLY LOSE. And of course, running away means…not staying at the conference you paid to attend. So yay, let’s keep taxing women for other people’s bad behaviour.

        Self defence not only teaches you how to fight. It teaches confidence as well. If you feel scared and intimidated, it shows.
        Knowing you can do at least something if needed can make you feel more confident. I am in no way suggesting you should risk injury in attacking people. If that is how people interpret it, I’m sorry.

        Nobody is suggesting you should leave a conference, especially if (what I understand) stuff happens in a bar of a hotel that has nothing to do with the conference. The visitors of that bar can be locals or just people that visit the hotel for other reasons. Do they have badges on that tells they’re from the conference?
        I’m not saying you should go home íf something happens. I’m suggesting you should respond accordingly and let someone know. If somebody complains about it on the internet later, nobody can help anymore.

        I’m not taxing women in any way for the behavior of dirtbags. the problem is, there are dirtbags out there that can’t help themselves.
        Instead of crawling in the victim-role and cry about it please give realistic ideas on how to address this.
        What I mean with this is that the sentence:
        “So yay, let’s keep taxing women for other people’s bad behaviour” does nothing to help. It just shouts ‘Women are victims of a perverts and all men are against us.’
        This is not constructive in any way. Instead I’d like to see a solution that ‘we’ can work with. If pervs are called out they will be punished in some way. What else cán we do? Even amoung men those people are considered scum. There ís an unwritten rule that you don’t touch or herrass a woman, that’s a simple moral men with common sense have.
        It is not that we can flick our fingers and everyone behaves. All that can be done is show them that we don’t tolerate it and hope they will behave next time.

        And seriously, why does it keep coming back to what women need to do or how women need to respond instead of saying, “Hey, maybe we as a community shouldn’t let some people get away with acting like jerks toward women.” Let People Acting Badly™ take responsibility for their own behaviour.

        Not only the (atheist) community, but the whole society doesn’t want pervs to run free. The problem is, ther áre perverts out there and it’s very hard/impossible to identify them beforehand and keep them off the streets.

        What do you mean with let people take responsibility for their own actions? I can’t control the minds of sick bastards, so how can I take responsibility for it?

        It’s obvious that men should behave, but that’s not just the case for a minority of the men. If I have the numbers right (correct me if I don’t), the numbers of reported cases of sexual intimidation or molestations at the bars at these events are the same as every other bar.
        What exactly is the extra problem that seems to lead to a boycot from the women?

        Telling the conference organisers to specifically add a rule that states that you should behave around women will simply not stop pervs.
        I as much as anyone else would like to see no incidents at all and everyone behaving like a gentlemen, but reality isn’t like that.

        This is what I meant when I said I agreed with TF. What happens at those conferences seems to be no different then anywhere else, so is it really needed to go this far and make it look like at atheist conventions most of the men are drooling, sex depraved individuals that can’t wait to rape any woman that gets in their sights? This is the image that is being portrayed and I’m sure it’s not true. Not to mention that idiots like venomfangx etc. will exploit this and see this as proof of a lack of morality withing atheists.
        Are there incidents at (any) conventions with thousands of attendees? Likely. Should there be? No.
        Every incident is one too much, nobody would debate that.
        But please, keep it in proportion. It’s fine that it gets attention, but the way hów is doing more harm then good and doesn’t help your cause at all.

        1. LeftSidePositive

          Let me start out with a little disclaimer:
          I don’t intend to attack or offend anyone.

          Guess what? INTENT IS NOT MAGIC!! It doesn’t matter whether or not you “intend” to offend anyone, your willful cluelessness and your insistence on offering long-winded, evidence-free, half-assed “advice” is trivializing, pompous, and offensive, and you should THINK about what you’re doing rather than just declare by fiat that your intentions are pure.

          I’m trying to understand what the hell is really going on

          Then why don’t you start by asking a lot more questions and giving a fucking hell of a lot less prescriptive advice about what you’re sure will work?!

          and do my best to help out.

          No one fucking asked you to help out. From everything you’ve written here, it is clear you have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER about harassment and the many forms it takes and the social dynamics surrounding it. Your experience seems laughably thin and based, apparently, on your own half-assed conjecture, especially since you’ve neglected really obvious consequences that occur with alarming regularity to the vast majority of those who actually experience this harassment.

          What you’re doing is mansplaining. You have no experience in this issue, you are lacking knowledge in basic background information, and yet you feel like you can “help” us and feel qualified to tell us what to do. Do you not understand how fucking offensive this is?!

          the vibe I’m getting from your response that women are weak beings that need to be protected from the big bad outside world,

          This is complete and utter bullshit. You are trying desperately to shoehorn some trope about women being weak that you can’t see a request for common decency without having to project some rationalization about women being weak onto it. Try this on for size: ALL PEOPLE, no matter who, need social support and need the assistance of their fellow human beings to be protected from harm and exploitation. The reason you don’t think of yourself as needing social support is because the social support you need–everything from a police department to a sanitary grocery store to being perceived as competent by employers to friends who trust you and have your back, has already been given to you without your having to make a big deal about needing it. This doesn’t make you strong; it makes you LUCKY. Even fucking GLADIATORS weren’t able to stop themselves from being exploited–society decided they were exploitable, and for all their strength and power, the lucky ones still had to endure horrible regular wounds and exhausting drills and the constant fear of death for someone else’s enjoyment, and the unlucky ones dealt with all that and were exploited to death.

          Furthermore, why does the assumption that standing up against poor treatment equals weakness apply only to women? I have honestly never heard “black people are weak beings that need to be protected from the big bad outside world” whenever anyone speaks up about a racial slur, nor have I ever heard “gay people are weak beings that need to be protected from the big bad outside world” when people propose starting up a Gay-Straight Alliance or a pride club. Women are asking for much the same social support when we are wronged–we’re not going to curl up and die if we don’t get it, but why are we “weak” to want the same social support that others get without asking?!

          need to be handled with exreme care

          No, they just deserve to have their bodies and privacy and personal preferences respected, just like every other human being on the fucking planet. Why is this so hard to understand? Why is treating people with common fucking decency “handling with extreme care?”

          and that all men are potential rapists.

          Oh, great, patronizing AND dragging in strawfeminist bullshit?! Wow, I can’t imagine why we aren’t enthralled by your brilliant opinions. Fucking NO ONE claims all men are potential rapists. The claim is that a woman CANNOT KNOW who does or does not intend to do her harm–are you seriously going to argue with that?! Given the extraordinary risks if we guess wrong, shouldn’t we err on the side of caution? Moreover, a man who is disregarding boundaries and not acting like he cares what the woman wants is exhibiting BEHAVIOR, independent of the mere fact of his gender, that strongly indicates he should not be trusted.

          If someone gropes you (or something else inapropriate) in a bar with dozens of people, slap him and call him a pig for touching you.

          This is so fucking ignorant I don’t know what to say. Look, slapping someone will STILL get you arrested for assault. Women are habitually disbelieved and told what they experience is no big deal–have you even fucking been paying attention this past year?! Who wants to take a risk that the police officer will not believe that you were groped and will arrest you for assault? I know YOU don’t think it happens, but if you actually LISTENED TO WOMEN and understood how they were retaliated against by law enforcement/employers/school administrators/family/church, etc., etc., you would know that women have to consider this as a very real risk.

          Just make the whole place look at that perv.

          Firstly, you don’t live with these experiences, so don’t you fucking DARE tell us what we should “just” do. Secondly, what makes you think everyone there will agree he’s a perv? Did it ever fucking occur to you that they might think he’s cool? They might think you had it coming by how you’re dressed? He might be a friend of the owner? It’s more complicated than you realize, so stop giving advice and LISTEN.

          The one getting the hell out of there will be that person,

          HOW THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW THIS?! Seriously–you have provided no evidence whatsoever, and many of us have experienced the EXACT OPPOSITE.

          trust me.

          Why the fuck should we trust you and your total ignorance of these situations instead of our own lived experience?!

          There are enough men in there that will respond to that immediately and protect you

          Why the fuck do you assume that it’s only men who will respond?! Seriously–check your fucking gender privilege!

          By the way, YOU made a big stink above about acting like it was so wrong of us to want women to be “protected”–but lookey here: it’s YOU who is projecting this White Knight fantasy onto us. It is YOUR fucking prejudice that you see dealing with harassment as “protection” rather than a community effort and collaboration for a safe space. It is YOU whose basic assumption is that men need to be protected by women.

          Maybe a kick in the nuts might not be the best way,

          I suggest you read Dana Hunter and learn from her exactly how ineffective kicks to the nuts were when she was trying to fight off her rapist.

          but if you take it with no reaction he’ll get away with it.

          I strongly suggest you read just about everything on FTB about why burdening victims with preventing the next assault by the attacker is multiple levels of fucked up. If you are not familiar with this discourse already, it is even further evidence that you need to shut the fuck up and learn about this issue before you start doling out advice.

          just raise your voice and make it known to the people around you that someone is doing a bad thing.

          Again with “just.” Holy fuck, you’re a pompous, condescending ass! Quiz: have you noticed the hostility that women have gotten in this community for doing exactly this?

          Self defence not only teaches you how to fight. It teaches confidence as well.

          Seriously–do you have ANY idea how patronizing you are?! I mean–what the FUCK? Seriously dude…we know a lot more about this than you do.

          I’m suggesting you should respond accordingly and let someone know.

          Ooooh, what a brilliant idea!! I can’t imagine why none of the little laydeez has thought of it yet–oh, wait WE ALREADY FUCKING HAVE, and you’re just willfully ignoring the PAGES and fucking PAGES of discussion on how much more complicated this is in real life. Seriously, motherfucker, do you go up to your professors and tell them how easy their research would be if they’d just write better grants?!

          If somebody complains about it on the internet later, nobody can help anymore.

          This is a claim. You need to provide evidence. As counter-evidence, there is A LOT people can do to help–we can raise awareness about what behavior is unacceptable. We can insist that conferences adopt anti-harassment policies. We can analyze why reporting in real time isn’t working and reduce those barriers. We can address the systemic cultural attitudes that make this behavior so common. If you actually understood this issue–which you fucking don’t!–you would know that the issue is not any given particular instance of harassment: it is the climate in which it is accepted and allowed to flourish. Addressing those systemic causes can definitely be done productively on the Internet (and, indeed, it is!)

          I’m not taxing women in any way for the behavior of dirtbags.

          Yes you are, as we have already shown, and this little throwaway line doesn’t change that.

          the problem is, there are dirtbags out there that can’t help themselves.

          Have you actually done any fucking research on this topic? I have, ignoramus! Go look up Lisak’s work on “the undetected rapist.” The vast majority of perpetrators of sexual assault CAN help themselves and they engage in deliberately predatory behavior, and people familiar with the social science research on this topic already know this, which is yet another reason why you’re so utterly unqualified to give advice!

          Instead of crawling in the victim-role and cry about it

          Go fuck yourself, you condescending asshole! You know what? OUR EMOTIONS ARE VALID. We are not lessened by being honest about how we feel and the harm that is done to us. You don’t have to deal with this shit and the toll it takes, so who the fuck are you to act like you’re better for not crying about something you don’t experience? Moreover, why the fucking fuck do you think that acknowledging the toll this behavior takes and standing up to fight it are mutually exclusive?

          please give realistic ideas on how to address this.

          First, don’t fucking order us around. Second, WE HAVE given realistic ideas about how to address this: it’s called a HARASSMENT POLICY and it is being discussed here at length. Another realistic idea is to educate the community about what is and isn’t acceptable, which both helps people know what to do when someone tells them about harassment (and so they know, as with this post, what harassment can actually look like!), and it shows harassers that we’ve cottoned on to their “plausible deniability” tricks.

          What I mean with this is that the sentence:
          “So yay, let’s keep taxing women for other people’s bad behaviour” does nothing to help. It just shouts ‘Women are victims of a perverts and all men are against us.’

          Take that strawman and shove it up your ass, idiot. Saying women should not have to be burdened with more responsibilities after they are harassed or violated does NOT mean they are “victims” and there is no textual support WHATSOEVER to give any credence to this “all men” bullshit. Where the fuck are you even GETTING that?! Please, try to explain your reasoning, because I’m fucking baffled.

          This is not constructive in any way.

          This is a claim for which you have provided no evidence. As counter-evidence, read some of the recent comment threads where people discuss why expecting victims to bear the burden of reporting is problematic, and read comments by those who have come to a better understanding of this issue because of it. If memory serves, Ophelia has had some posts recently where the comment threads have been very enlightening on this topic.

          Instead I’d like to see a solution that ‘we’ can work with.

          Then why haven’t you fucking NOTICED all the efforts made towards this solution?!

          If pervs are called out they will be punished in some way.

          This is a claim–provide evidence or shut the fuck up. You said “will be” which is definitively predictive, so you would have to be able to show with certainty that the universe always behaves this way. Well, you’re fucking wrong. Remember how when Elevator Guy was called out a sizable faction rushed out to punish…REBECCA? Have you noticed how Monopod Guy is being defended?!

          There ís an unwritten rule that you don’t touch or herrass a woman, that’s a simple moral men with common sense have.

          Man, what a blissfully ignorant world you live in!! Are you seriously so out-of-touch that you think harassment is only this crass, egregious, highly-visible behavior that only barely-functioning losers do? You know what–someone who harassed me (and touched me inappropriately on several occasions) had quite a bit of common sense (and a PhD!), and he was generally a trustworthy, responsible guy…but he felt entitled to my attention and my body because he found me attractive and thought I was “wrong” not to return his feelings. He even thought he knew harassment was wrong! That didn’t help a fucking bit when he rationalized away everything he wanted to do to ME.

          I can’t control the minds of sick bastards, so how can I take responsibility for it?

          You can shut up and listen when a woman tells you something. You can publicly tell off your friends when they make rape jokes, even in male-only company. You can learn about this issue before you spout off about it. You can distract a pest if he is bothering someone. That’s only the beginning.

          What exactly is the extra problem that seems to lead to a boycot from the women?

          This has already been discussed at length, so if you’re not familiar with it–shut up and listen before you pontificate! The issue is that people don’t want to have to spend money and travel and take time off work to go get EVEN MORE of the same harassment that they get in their daily lives. They will preferentially go to safer spaces. Furthermore, the backlash in this community against those who have spoken out show women that even though it’s relatively unlikely something will happen to them, they will be trashed if they try to address it.

          But please, keep it in proportion.

          Go fuck yourself.

          It’s fine that it gets attention, but the way hów is doing more harm then good and doesn’t help your cause at all.

          You have made YET ANOTHER claim without evidence–do you see the problem in your reasoning yet?!

          And what about this claim? Well, American Atheists just came out with a great harassment policy and CFI is going to announce one in the next few days. Lots of conventions are discussing harassment policies and this is becoming an accepted norm. We’ve actually made GREAT progress in this cause in just the few months since it’s been brought up, so I don’t see where (except for your commitment to be a dogmatically tone-trolling, patronizing ass) you are seeing any substantiation for your claim.

          1. Tak the Hideous New Girl

            I’m mainly a lurker on FTB but I have to say that is one righteous take down! Bravo!

            This whole harassment issue is fucking rage-inducing. The sheer arrogance of certain men and Chill Girls is appalling.

            That sexism isn’t considered an important issue in the atheist community pisses me off to no end, especially when sites like the reddit atheist board r/atheism exists.

            This whole thing has taught me that I’m not an atheist feminist, I’m a feminist who just happens to not believe in god or other supernatural crap.

          2. johngreg

            Ooh, Ooh, look at the raging GenderFem completely missing the point of everything, revising reality, and accusing the Whole Wide World of butthurting her ’cause it’s all about her … dontcha know.

            Yummees.

            Gotta love the sanity.

    2. 68.2
      Sethra

      I can agree with what Thunderf00t said in his latest video, an internal fight withing a community that has enough outside things to worry about is a bad thing.

      Dear Muslima, please do shut up. Your constant whingeing about not being treated as an equal is quite tedious and I have Better Things to Do™ than listen to you.

  69. 69
    jake

    In the fifth grade each member of my social studies class was asked to draw a political cartoon. One girl in my class drew a pretty funny one where a woman and an offensive man were standing in front of a “Sexual harassment judge”. The woman was pointing at the offensive man and explaining to the judge, “This creep tried to open the door for me!” The “offensive man” looked baffled.

    I have undergone sexual harassment training at several companies here in the states (it’s commonplace anytime you get hired at a legit company). The legal term “Sexual Harassment” applies to everything from “Elevator eyes” — a.k.a. looking a fellow employee up and down, to commenting on their their choice of clothing, etc. Nearly anything beyond absolutely ignoring another person could be litigious under the grounds harassment or sexual harassment. It’s all subjective comfort levels.

    At the very same company where I underwent, what I thought as, overly-sensitive sexual harassment training, I was called into a meeting one day with a woman at the company who just had breast enhancement surgery. She and I sat in front of our boss (another female) and just as the meeting started a coordinator (yet another female) leaned in the door and asked “How are the girls feeling?” to the woman with the recently enhanced breasts. I just sat there in silence as the women conversed about breast jobs and all the soreness involved until my boss said, “Jake looks like he wants to die, let’s change the subject”.

    It was true – I was horribly uncomfortable in that situation. Had those women routinely asked me into a room and put me through the same routine over and over I would’ve considered it harassment. But harmlessly over-stepping your boundaries once or twice because you expect everyone to be adults about the subject matter? I can’t really blame it. Maybe passive aggressively these women were trying to make me uncomfortable but who can psychoanalyze a singular incident? They all knew better and it never happened again.

    As a one-off incident where booze is concerned, I would just chalk it up to bar room nonsense. It would be lovely if there was a place to go get a drink for conversation but in the states (particularly Vegas) all bar rooms are meat markets and you can’t really be surprised otherwise. Here in LA I’ve heard people say “Why would you stay out past two a.m? If you haven’t gotten laid by two – go home. It’s over.” As if the only reason you stay out on a weekend night is for sex — I’m sure a huge percentage of people think that way about anyone they see out late at night.

  70. 70
    Kilian Hekhuis

    I think there’s a difference between sexual harassment and harassment that happens to include sexual reference. Had the woman in the example been pushing you about, say, buying a life insurance, or getting a tattoo, or selling you a pluck of your hair, it would’ve been (presumably) just as annoying and uncomfortable. The fact she solicited a threesome is, imho, of lesser importance.

  71. 71
    SF

    Interesting example, Christina. It’s worth noting that there is some debate here in the thread on whether the situation is an example of sexual harrassment or something milder, like annoying behavior.
    I suspect the reason for this ambiguity is the idea that harrassment is generally associated with power imbalances. For example try switching the situation – how would you think of it if it was not the woman who was pestering you for a threesome, but the man (and it was the woman who was not involved). I suspect that this simple change in the scenario is all that is needed to make the vast majority of people to come down firmly on the side that it IS harrassment rather than annoying behavior.
    The other side of the question is what a skeptical organization can do to stop incidences of this sort when they occur in public places – like hotel bars. It’s all very well having the perfect anti-harrassment policy that covers everything within the conference boundaries but I get the impression that the contentious incidents are not occurring in these situations but rather in public areas like bars (and in many cases it’s not even clear if the perpetrators are even part of the skeptical community in the first place.)
    If the current level of behavior is unacceptable – I’ve never been to a TAM or other major skeptical meeting so I don’t know from first hand experience – then tackling the public/private situation would seem like the obvious priority. This means not having events where conference attendees mix with non attendees.
    Holding events in an alcohol free venue would also go a long way towards preventing drunken behavior that many will consider harrassing, and having events finish at an early time would also minimize the risk of harrassment. Let’s face it, the vast majority of this sort of behavior occurs late at night and with the help of alcohol – remove both of those factors and you’ll prevent far more situations than almost any anti-harrassment policy.
    To those that might say – “that sounds like a mormon convention, not a skeptics meeting” I would say, yes, I agree, and I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to attend one of these meetings. However if the situation is as terrible as is being claimed (constant harrassment of women attendees, death threats etc) then what other option is there?
    Finally Christina, perhaps you could do a video about the case you mentioned here, warning women about how this sort of behavior is wrong and suggesting that they stop it – you could call it, “Girls, don’t do that”.

  72. 72
    Matt Penfold

    As a one-off incident where booze is concerned, I would just chalk it up to bar room nonsense. It would be lovely if there was a place to go get a drink for conversation but in the states (particularly Vegas) all bar rooms are meat markets and you can’t really be surprised otherwise. Here in LA I’ve heard people say “Why would you stay out past two a.m? If you haven’t gotten laid by two – go home. It’s over.” As if the only reason you stay out on a weekend night is for sex — I’m sure a huge percentage of people think that way about anyone they see out late at night.

    Well that might be something JREF wants to reflect on. Do they really want to hold TAM in such a place ?

  73. 73
    bertilak

    I don’t think this creepy behavior quite meets the standard for sexual harassment, but I think it should have been reported to TAM.

    The reason is that conference organizers need an overall picture of what is happening.

    If this was the worst incident at the meeting, they can congratulate themselves on a job well done. If there were worse incidents, or a lot of similar occurrences, then there is a problem. This may be resolved by policies for the meeting, having a word with the hotel management, or deciding to choose a better venue.

    However, if nobody reports, the organizers don’t have any factual basis for making any changes.

  74. 74
    Cathryn

    1. If you didn’t feel threatened, then I really would consider it harassment. I’m not sure if I would feel the same way as you did about the occurance, but I really wouldn’t consider it harassment if I didn’t feel unsafe.

    2. I would not have reported this to TAM. If something like this happened during the conference, then I might have reported it. Since it happened at the hotel bar, then no.

    Note: If I had felt the need to report it at all (and I would have to feel threatened to do so), I would have gone directly to hotel security. It is not clear that the couple was there to attend the conference so I can’t see reporting it to TAM.

    1. 74.1
      Matt Penfold

      So how are TAM going to know there might be a problem with a venue ? If they unaware that those attending TAM are having their time there marred by such incidents how can they come to a decision to change venues ?

      The incident may not have happen during a TAM organised session, but the idea it is not of import for them to know is just silly.

      1. Cathryn

        I imagine that if people think there is a problem with the venue, they will tell TAM that they feel that way – don’t you?

        1. Matt Penfold

          Well not if they take your advice, no.

          1. Cathryn

            I don’t have to “file a report” with TAM to voice a complaint about a venue if I feel there is a problem. Those are two different things.
            Furthermore, I’m not convinced that the venue is the problem in the first place. People who behave inappropriately would be the problem if we are discussing sexual harassment. Surely you don’t think that merely moving to a different location would solve all the problems, do you?

          2. Matt Penfold

            I’m sorry, I thought you were just being a bit sill;y rather than dishonest.

            Do you want another ago, this time without erecting the strawman ? Or shall I just consider you another cretin like Thunderfoot ? Your choice.

    2. 74.2
      LeftSidePositive

      While feeling threatened and/or unsafe is a common result of harassment, neither of these are a necessary condition of harassment.

  75. 75
    jose

    Yes and yes. Let the bouncers throw the fools who keep bothering everybody out the airlock. Then we may finally have a good time.

  76. 76
    geraldmcgrew

    I think you are being deliberately obtuse.

    How so?

    Yes, one solution to this particular case is to talk to the bartender.

    Yup. That’s what one usually does when someone at a bar won’t leave you alone.

    However, in a more general sense, attendees at TAM need to know that complaints will be handled well. For an example of the right way to do it, take a look at what happened in the recent incident with the couple who handed Elyse of SkepChick a sex calling card. In that case, the event staff responded immediately and with good grace. Basically, the staff had Elyse’s back.

    Agreed.

    I am seeing no assurance that TAM has anyone’s back except their own. Really, this is all people are asking for: a sensible, well-known harassment policy. Are you against this? If so, why?

    Not at all. I think it’s a good idea, as long as the policy is crafted with the help of someone (i.e. a lawyer) with experience in this area.

  77. 77
    Astrokid.Nj

    No, and No.
    I am a male. Since this is a very subjective issue, it makes a great deal of sense to understand the psychology behind our response to such situations. GirlWritesWhat has talked about the evolutionary origins of differences in male and female psychologies, and it all makes sense to me.
    ‘On Objectification’ http://owningyourshit.blogspot.com/2012/03/transcript-of-i-am-sexy-woman-so-stop.html

    Now, you don’t hear the kind of moaning and caterwauling over the sexual objectification of men that we ALWAYS seem to hear over the slightest hint of the sexual objectification of women. And the difference not that men have male privilege–it’s that men who are UNable to be seen as sexual objects by women because they fail to meet the criteria are seen as losing out, while women who ARE objectified usually feel threatened.
    And THAT can be attributed to the differing biological costs and benefits of sex depending on whether you’re a man or a woman. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s just pretend that we’re living 20,000 years ago, before the pill and abortion and slutwalks and the sexual revolution and all that, because 20,000 years ago is the environment our instincts think we’re living in.
    Unwanted sexual attention–that is, sub-par men or men who haven’t been vetted ogling a woman–feels threatening to a woman because the biological cost (pregnancy) of that attraction carried too far (rape) is extremely high.

    It might come as a shock to a lot of people, but WE DON’T LIVE THERE ANYMORE. In this reality, in this environment, with women’s fertility on total lock-down if they so desire, and men facing legally enforceable $100,000 baby mortgages when they have an “oops”, our instincts are actually diametrically opposed to our current relative risks and costs.
    And all this female kvetching over a few appreciative glances or the thought that a guy you wouldn’t have anything to do with might be jerking one off with an image of your tits in his mind, really needs to stop.
    If feminism wants women to be taken seriously as men’s equals, then it’s women who are going to have to do the adjusting for a change. And that means not calling for her smelling salts whenever some guy tells her she’s pretty

    Feminism has taken a ‘personal’ issue and made it ‘political’.. and Govts love it coz it expands their power.. and this has caused all sorts of problems. Plenty of women heartlessly make false allegations for very little reason.. as in the following cab-driver episode, and get away with it all the time.

    1. 77.1
      dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

      Bringing up girlwriteswhat right off the bat? Way to out yourself as the woman hating MRA scum that you are.

  78. 78
    David

    yeah if only all those upitty women would stop Kvetching, about potential upskirt photography, being mithered (until they have to leave the table) for 3somes at conferences and all the other creepy behaviour reported recently.
    as for “Plenty of women heartlessly make false allegations for very little reason” i think we need a citation for that beyond one news example.
    As for the “feels threatening to a woman because the biological cost (pregnancy) of that attraction carried too far (rape) is extremely high.”
    Nothing to do with the violence of such an act
    What a load of old wank.

  79. 79
  80. 80
    Eric

    you aint too bright, are ya? lmao.

  81. 81
    Eristae

    1) Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment?

    Other people have probably said this, but given this definition

    such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s social performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive social environment

    I would say that the answer is clearly “yes” based on the fact that AJ had to stop socializing completely to get away from the woman’s unwanted attention. If I, or you, or AJ, feel like the only way we can get away from unwanted sexual propositions is to leave the social arena, then I would count that firmly as harassment.

    2) Would you have reported it ?

    I don’t know, but I think that I (or you or AJ) would have been more than justified in reporting it so that I (or you or AJ) didn’t feel like we had to leave in order to get the sexual behavior to stop. In short, I don’t think that the “correct answer” had to be AJ leaving (although if that’s what he’s most comfortable with, that’s fine). If he wanted to stay without having this woman impose on him in an unwanted sexual manner, I think it would have been more than acceptable for him (or you) to report it.

    AJ had the right to be there without having someone act like that to him. If he had chosen to report, he should not be minimized or blamed, but rather treated with serious consideration and respect.

  82. 82
    Eristae

    Oh, and part of the reason that I might not report is that if I’m feeling afraid, uncomfortable, and unhappy because someone is harassing me, I would not benefit from being made to feel more afraid, uncomfortable, and unhappy if I reported and I was blamed, minimized, dismissed, and otherwise treated poorly by the people I reported to. And given the backlash that women have been subjected to for reporting in our community, how I would be treated if I reported would be a concern.

  83. 83
    LJ Briar

    Returning late to the party but upon reading the comment thread and giving it a bit more thought myself, I would amend my opinion to be that yes, this was harassment, because, as other people have pointed out, you were uncomfortable and bothered enough to pick up and leave.

    Just throwing in my second cent.

    1. 83.1
      geraldmcgrew

      So LJ, help me out here. When you say “this was harassment”, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean actual sexual harassment in the legal sense and that the perpetrators should be subject to legal action? Or do you mean “harassment” in the same sense that a street preacher is “harassing” people waiting for the light to change?

      I think that’s a distinction that isn’t being made often enough in these discussions.

      1. David

        Are they the only two options?

        1. geraldmcgrew

          I don’t know. What did you have in mind?

          1. David

            geraldmcgrew, its good that you admit that you dont know, but i think you might suspect that there are more options. That is why a clear, published and promoted , anti harrasment policy benefits everyone, including the dont know’s

          2. geraldmcgrew

            Again, I don’t know. In general, the only two categories I can think of are, 1) “harassment” where the conduct is annoying but not harmful or threatening, and 2) “harassment” where the conduct necessitates a legal action in response.

      2. MarkB

        I dunno Gerald…if the street preacher was grabbing people, or impeding them in any sort of way, that would probably get them warned, if not arrested.

        On the other hand if sexual harrassers just stood in a corner, not engaging with anyone, and calling out “Hey, anyone wanna fuck me?” that might not be a problem either.

        1. geraldmcgrew

          No doubt. Grabbing or blocking is definitely within the category of illegal harassment, for which legal authorities need to be contacted.

          But merely asking someone out?

          1. davidmc

            it depends how its done gerald, mid afternoon in a room full of people, probably not, if youre prepared to take no for an answer following someone at 4am into an elevator, probably isnt a good idea.
            this is david from earlier, im just “logged in” now

          2. MarkB

            But merely asking someone out?

            Dude, seriously. That’s not what people are talking about.

          3. geraldmcgrew

            David,

            Again, I’m trying to distinguish between “harassment” and “sexual harassment requiring a formal response by the appropriate authorities”.

            Mark,

            Over at Pharyngula, I’m in a thread where some folks are advocating exactly that.

          4. geraldmcgrew

            Oddly enough, over at Pharyngula after I posted a handful of simple suggestions and pointed out where I thought the American Atheists’ Code of Personal Conduct could be improved, I was called all sorts of names, insulted in just about every way, and eventually threatened with being banned by PZ. Why? For asking too many questions apparently.

            What is it about this subject that does this to certain people? I’m still in a bit of shock that I would be threatened with banishment for asking too many questions at Pharyngula of all places? Obviously this is an extremely touchy subject for some folks, and one cannot assume anything. To some people, being asked out is a traumatic experience requiring an extreme response, and for many others merely questioning that view is reason enough to trigger over the top, hyper-aggressive reactions. For others still (and I suspect the majority), being asked out is merely handled by saying “No” and leaving it at that.

            I guess I underestimated the baggage some people bring to this type of discussion. It’s much like trying to discuss biology with creationists. They’re so emotionally entangled in their position, they cannot in any way objectively process what you’re saying, and instead react from pure, raw emotion.

            This, I suppose, is why these things typically end up in court or similar settings (e.g. arbitration).

  84. 84
    MarkB

    I suppose “merely” asking somone out on a date could be harrassment. And I’m focussing on the word “merely” here.

    When someone “merely” asks someone out on a date, and nothing else, they may have failed to;

    1. Initiate a polite conversation first.
    2. Establish a rapport.
    3. Evaluate body language.
    4. Gauge the mood of the recipient.
    5. Establish their sexual preference…maybe a good idea?

    Do you really think that its normal to approach someone who is a total stranger and have your first introduction to them be a request for a date? Do you really think that’s normal? I don’t, and I wouldn’t blame any woman for viewing such a person as socially clueless at least if not possibly mentally unbalanced.

    And for the record, I think Christina’s encounter was sexual harrassment. When someone disregards normal bounderies, ignores refusals and makes it impossible to remain in a desired location, that’s harrassment.

    1. 84.1
      geraldmcgrew

      Mark,

      Again, what do you mean by “harassment”? Do you mean in the colloquial sense, as in “Those Mormon missionaries really harassed me”, or in the more strict sense such that formal sanction is required?

  85. 85
    johngreg

    MarkB said:

    “Do you really think that its normal to approach someone who is a total stranger and have your first introduction to them be a request for a date?”

    Please define normal.

    It very much depends on location, and yes, in much of the world approaching total strangers and requesting a date, or even spending the night together is to a very large degree normal behaviour in an adult bar. That’s not a value judgement; that’s a simple fact.

    “When someone disregards normal bounderies….”

    I suspect we do not live in the same city, or country, and we certainly do not participate in the same culture: What is a normal boundary?

    “ignores refusals”

    Please point to and quote where Cristina actually states that refusals were given.

    “makes it impossible to remain in a desired location”

    This might be nitpicky, but please point to and quote where Cristina said it was impossible, rather than simply uncomfortable to remain in a “desired location”?

    1. 85.1
      LeftSidePositive

      yes, in much of the world approaching total strangers and requesting a date, or even spending the night together is to a very large degree normal behaviour in an adult bar. That’s not a value judgement; that’s a simple fact.

      No it isn’t. Even in these situations, the VAST majority of civilized, functioning people engage in a bit of small talk, see if they click, look for positive social signals and THEN request a date or sex. These conversations may be *briefer* depending on the location, but they are not absent.

      Please point to and quote where Cristina actually states that refusals were given.

      This is irrelevant. People aren’t open to sexual attention until they say no. Moreover, a LOT can be communicated by body language: frowning, looking down, turning away (or just staring blankly with a WTF?! look on your face). Seriously, if you’re talking as long as was described without explicit encouragement, it’s pretty damn clear you’re getting a “no.”

      please point to and quote where Cristina said it was impossible, rather than simply uncomfortable to remain in a “desired location”?

      Who the fuck decided this was the standard?! So if I want to enjoy an evening in a bar, I now have to stick through a lot of unpleasantness until it’s IMPOSSIBLE to deal with!? What about a simple recognition of the fact that I deserve to enjoy my evening on my terms, and people don’t have the right to intrude on each other?!

      1. johngreg

        “No it isn’t”

        Yes it is. Ha. I know that looks like I’m goofing on you, but I’m not. We need to be careful to disnguish between the word normal, and the word common. They mean different things.

        My argument is that while approaching total strangers and requesting a date, or even to spend the night together, may by no means be what a vast majority of people do in an adult bar (hence, it may be uncommon), it is nonetheless a subset of normal behaviour, by which I mean it is neither deviant, nor, for most adults in an adult bar, wholly unexpected or offensive.

        This is not a criticism, but I am curious: how old are you? I am 56 and have been, figuratively speaking, spending time in bars for approximately 40 years. And while it is only anecdotal, my experience hanging out in and working in bars that, at least in my neck of the woods, such behaviour is normal, perhaps not overly common, but certainly non-deviant normal.

        It’s also fair to point out that some of my argument does rest on past history, and of course with some shifting socio-political perspectives, and probably more important, with the advent of AIDS, this kind of behviour is clearly far less common now than it was on the past. So, in that sense I suspect you may be right about quantity.

        “This is irrelevant.”

        Actually, it is wholly relevant, because Cristina’s post is quite specifically asking for comments regarding people’s opinions on her specific experience. And MarkB is answering to those speciifc questions. So, yes it is relevant.

        “Who the fuck decided this was the standard?”

        I am not talking about standards. I just feel people should stick to the facts as presented, especially in this situation where Cristina is quite specifically presenting an instance of behaviour she would like people to comment on. And, when placing value judgements on something like this, to inflate the language, or to present inaccuracies or falsehoods or misrepresentations, breaks the experiment, so to speak. So, accurate diction, quotations, and so forth are important.

        “What about a simple recognition of the fact that I deserve to enjoy my evening on my terms, and people don’t have the right to intrude on each other?”

        I don’t wholly disagree with that, and neither have I said I do. Nonetheless, one person’s intrusion is another person’s friendly howdy-do.

        And the exact same thing could be said about the irritating drunk couple. What I mean by that is that we don’t actually know whether or not Cristina and/or her friend did give the drunken person rejections — Cristina doesn’t say, and drunks are drunks and rather notorious for tending to be somewhat oblivious to the more subtle of social cues to get lost.

        So, in that light, it is quite possible, in that the woman was quite drunk, that she did not actually realize that she was treading on someone’s toes, and may have felt she was doing nothing more than presenting someone with an opportunity for fun and entertainment. That’s not a defense; it’s a perspective on behaviour.

        1. LeftSidePositive

          Oh holy FSM, you can’t fucking read!

          Look–the bit about approaching random strangers: YOU TOTALLY FUCKING FAILED to address my argument AT ALL. Nothing. Not one fucking damn thing! I said that what you are classifying as “approaching total strangers” usually INCLUDES some level of breaking the ice and chatting to the point that people feel comfortable moving into more explicit flirting or requests. THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING as propositioning someone out of the blue, and you’re being willfully fucking obtuse not to notice it. How could you post such impressive logorrhea and not even ADDRESS my main point as to why you were wrong? What the fuck is wrong with you!?

          Actually, it is wholly relevant, because Cristina’s post is quite specifically asking for comments regarding people’s opinions on her specific experience.

          Did you deliberately misunderstand what I wrote? I honestly can’t fathom your boneheadedness any other way. I said that it is CATEGORICALLY irrelevant if the harassee requested the harasser to stop, because it is ipso facto unethical to talk about sex at someone for an extended period of time without a clear yes. Therefore: if Christina/AJ verbally said “no,” the situation is harassment, and if Christina/AJ did not verbally say “no,” the situation is still harassment, so the detail is irrelevant. Yes, I know damn well it’s a specific. That’s not the point! The point is that this specific is utterly irrelevant to the ethical issues presented in the case. You could try to disagree with that (you’d probably fail, but whatever), but at least acknowledge what I’m actually saying!

          I am not talking about standards.

          Bullshit–this level of pedantry is absurd and is blatant derailing. Besides, THEY BOTH LEFT, so clearly they did not think it possible to stay *and enjoy themselves* (which is the whole fucking point of being in a bar or any entertainment venue!), so saying “impossible” is perfectly appropriate for all practical intents and purposes.

          Nonetheless, one person’s intrusion is another person’s friendly howdy-do.

          I think it’s vastly more likely that certain people love to defend their or their friends’ intrusions by *insisting* that they’re just “friendly howdy-dos.” There’s an easy way to tell: if someone makes a “friendly howdy-do” that is perceived as intrusive, an actually friendly person will apologize and try not to do that again. A person who wants to be intrusive will INSIST that what he’s doing is friendly, and it must be perceived as friendly, goddammit!

          That’s not a defense; it’s a perspective on behaviour.

          Isn’t it interesting that you seem to focus the most on the perspectives that are the most minimizing to women’s experiences, and alleviate as much blame as possible from the perpetrators?

          1. johngreg

            Now, now, LeftSidePositive, don’t get your delicate panties in a twist. I did address your arguments, but perhaps the connection was too nuanced for you to see.

            “THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING as propositioning someone out of the blue”

            I never said it was. There, that addresses that argumement.

            “How could you post such impressive logorrhea and not even ADDRESS my main point as to why you were wrong?”

            I did address your main point, in that I disagree with it. There, that addresses that, er, argument.

            “I said that it is CATEGORICALLY irrelevant if the harassee requested the harasser to stop, because it is ipso facto unethical to talk about sex at someone for an extended period of time without a clear yes.”

            Point one, we don’t know if it was an extended period of time, and anyway, define extended period of time. Point two, I addressed that argument in that I disagree with your hypothesis that it is unethical to have such a discussion without a clear Yes. It would, however, be inappropriate (I don’t know about unethical: where do ethics enter into it?) to have such a discussion if a clear No were given. We do not know if a clear No was given, do we. There, that argument is addressed.

            “The point is that this specific is utterly irrelevant to the ethical issues presented in the case.”

            And I disagree. There, that argument is addressed.

            Clearly, you do not understand the phrase “Nonetheless, one person’s intrusion is another person’s friendly howdy-do.” What that means, in one instance, is that the in this case drunken individual doing the propositioning may feel it is harmless, and may very liekly be too drunk to either understand that it is not just friendly chat, but was also quite possibly too drunk to perceive that their attentions and propositionss were unwanted. Have you ever been slam-dunk drunk? If not, then you don’t know, first-hand, what you’re talking about.

            “… this level of pedantry is absurd and is blatant derailing.”

            Yes, I have noticed that when arguments are opposed by the FfTB commentariat, one very common defense against the unwanted argument’s originator is to accuse them of some kind of rhetorical crime: It’s too pedantic; stop using correct word definitions; stop being a dictionary ‘insert nom de plume’ stop using nuance and good grammar; I want my words to mean what I want my words to mean; if you disagree with me you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

            LeftSidePositive, you can go and play with diction and word definition, sideswipes, and name-calling all you want. And you can shout and stamp your feet all you want. That neither makes me wrong, nor makes you right. And just because we disagree neither makes me right nor wrong, neither does it make you right nor wrong. We just disagree. And in all, it just means you’re stamping your feet in a fit of somewhat inarticulate anger, calling me names, and mis-associating “did not address my argument” with :”did not agree with me”.

            Take a chill-pill; act like a critical thinker and a skeptic; act like a thinking adult. Bars are not daycare centers; bars are not kindergartens.

          2. LeftSidePositive

            don’t get your delicate panties in a twist.

            This is blatantly sexist language, and you ought to be FUCKING ASHAMED OF YOURSELF, you loathesome motherfucking bigot!!

            I did address your arguments, but perhaps the connection was too nuanced for you to see.

            As people have gone to great lengths to explain to Thunderf00t, verbose garbled non-sequiturs do not “nuance” make!

            “THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING as propositioning someone out of the blue”

            I never said it was. There, that addresses that argumement.

            You do realize, don’t you, that this COMPLETELY INVALIDATES your argument? I said “A is unacceptable.” You said “No, actually B is very common and acceptable behavior,” so if you’re not saying B=/=A you have literally NO ARGUMENT WHATSOEVER.

            I did address your main point, in that I disagree with it.

            Firstly, you didn’t even disagree with my main point–that what you described was NOT in any way propositioning someone cold–you just kept repeating your scenario without ever even acknowledging I found it lacking. Furthermore, above you seem to be trying to pretend you agree with my main point, since you admit the two things are not the same–which is it?!

            Point one, we don’t know if it was an extended period of time, and anyway, define extended period of time.

            Christina specifically said the woman was being very persistent. That necessarily implies an extended period of time. “Extended” is in relation to what is normal or acceptable for an interaction or event. Since unwanted conversations among decent people stop after a few seconds, even a minute would be really weird. If you don’t believe me, try setting a stopwatch and have a friend of yours talk to you for a full minute without getting any positive feedback–it’s really weird.

            Point two, I addressed that argument in that I disagree with your hypothesis that it is unethical to have such a discussion without a clear Yes.

            One, you never actually made an argument for this–you just talked about it as a “specific” but you never even addressed my hypothesis. You also aren’t making any argument about it here; you’ve just offered an unsubstantiated statement.

            I don’t know about unethical: where do ethics enter into it?

            You don’t understand how ethics enter in to treating your fellow human beings with basic decency?! For fuck’s sake, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

            We do not know if a clear No was given, do we. There, that argument is addressed.

            If my argument is “A is irrelevant,” how the fuck does “We don’t know if A is true” address that argument?! “We don’t know if A is true” by necessity implies that A is relevant, so you’re using an unstated major premise in failing to address my argument.

            And I disagree. There, that argument is addressed.

            Are you really so fucking stupid that you don’t understand that simply saying you disagree is not, in any meaningful sense, addressing my argument!?

            What that means, in one instance, is that the in this case drunken individual doing the propositioning may feel it is harmless,

            Intent is not magic. Whether or not the instigator of an act feels it is harmless is totally irrelevant to whether or not the recipient of an act is actually harmed–individuals get to make subjective assessments of THEIR OWN experiences, not anyone else’s! How is this so fucking difficult?

            and may very liekly be too drunk to either understand that it is not just friendly chat,

            That doesn’t matter–they are still responsible for their actions and for their effects on others.

            but was also quite possibly too drunk to perceive that their attentions and propositionss were unwanted.

            This is why conferences need a strong harassment policy so organizers can tell these people in no uncertain terms that their behavior is unacceptable. If they are too drunk to perceive that they are doing bad things, then they need to stop getting so drunk if they want to continue enjoying the conference. But they are still responsible for their actions.

            one very common defense against the unwanted argument’s originator is to accuse them of some kind of rhetorical crime:

            Great job actually providing an argument as to why the “accusation” is wrong–oh, no…wait…you didn’t. There is nothing wrong with accurately pointing out failures of rhetoric.

            stop using correct word definitions;

            I don’t think you understand the criticism of the “Dictionary Defense”: it refers to when the dictionary definition of a term is INADEQUATE to describe its full meaning in an academic/sociological sense, or when the person is using and inappropriate definition of a term (i.e., conflating “believe” as in “I believe in Jesus, son of God” with “believe” as in “I believe it might rain tomorrow”).

            if you disagree with me you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

            As has been shown amply in my rebuttals to you, we also tell you WHY you’re wrong.

            And just because we disagree neither makes me right nor wrong, neither does it make you right nor wrong. We just disagree.

            Oh, holy fuck, are you trying to play a “just because you disagree with me!!!” whine?! Seriously–do you think I’m going to fucking fall for that!? No, the fact that you disagree doesn’t necessarily make you wrong, but the fact that you cannot support your position without resorting to evasion and logical fallacies greatly raises the probability that you’re wrong.

            mis-associating “did not address my argument” with :”did not agree with me”.

            No, I’m telling you that not because you don’t agree with me, but because you have utterly failed to say WHY, idiot!

            Take a chill-pill; act like a critical thinker and a skeptic; act like a thinking adult.

            Stop being such a tone-trolling, condescending ass. Furthermore, you’re mansplaining pretty fucking badly if you think YOU have any business talking about critical thinking when you can’t even understand why an unstated major premise, conflation, and argument from assertion are invalid.

            Bars are not daycare centers; bars are not kindergartens.

            The way in which bars differ from kindergartens is that SOME sexual overtures are allowed in bars. HOWEVER, consensuality is not some piddly little youngster concept–consentuality is the foundation of how functioning adults interact with each other in ANY setting.

          3. johngreg

            So, I says to LeftSideImplosive:

            “don’t get your delicate panties in a twist.”

            LeftSideExplosive says to me:

            “This is blatantly sexist language, and you ought to be FUCKING ASHAMED OF YOURSELF, you loathesome motherfucking bigot!!”

            Well holy mother of PeeZus, who would have known that “panties” were exclusive to, um, well, gee, Men? Women? Children? Pink bunnies? Or is it twist? That must be it. Women used to love doing the twist back in the 60s, so to use the word twist is even worse than that awful awful word Cooter, so it is of course ooh! ultimate evil: Sexist!

            You are fucking hilarious, Peanut.

            As for the rest of your raving raging beyond angry hysterical idiocy, you misquoted me, misrepresented my position, and wholly failed to do much beyond admitting that you think Lord PeeZus and his holy roley Scripture FfTB is your golden idol, so carry on young hero, carry on.

          4. LeftSidePositive

            Panties refers to women’s underwear, you idiot. It is a classic dismissive term to shame women by implying that their womanhood makes them unstable, or that they couldn’t have a rational reason to be angry–it must just be that all their ladystuff isn’t working properly! You are fully aware of this, and yet you try to act like this has no gendered meaning so that you can pretend to be shocked–SHOCKED!–when I get angry at your blatant sexist, othering, demeaning bullshit, and then use my entirely justified anger as a means to confirm your stereotype that women are irrational.

            You, sir, are a worthless fucking troll being disingenuous and trying to get a rise out of people, all while comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

          5. johngreg

            I am shocked, LSP, positively SHOCKED at your rebuttal. Shocked! No!

  86. 86
    David

    Gerald, i dont think there is any point in makeing a distintion betweeen harrasment and sexual harrasment, for the purposes of this excercise. they are both harrasment. Folk dont go to conference to be harrased, sexually or otherwise.

    “This, I suppose, is why these things typically end up in court or similar settings (e.g. arbitration”

    I doubt very much that they do, or will do in a conference related scenario. With a policy in place , everyone will be aware that no means no, and fuck off leave me alone means just that. In the extremely unlikely event that things escalte beyond that, im sure the harraser will have each individual scenario explained to them by conference organisers, if they still dont get it, im sure being chucked out of the event, will give them a further clue, and im almost certain, again, that that will, and should happen, well before there is any need for a recourse to the law.

    A good rule of thumb for you,or anyone, just to be on the safe side: If you are worried that a paticular behavior may be regarded as harrasing , sexually or otherwise, it probably will be. If someone has a word, unofficially oor officially about a certain behavior, stop it and apologise, it aint that hard

    1. 86.1
      geraldmcgrew

      David,

      A few days ago, I would have agreed with you that there was no need to distinguish between “harassment” in the colloquial sense, and “sexual harassment” in the legal sense. However, after having attempted to discuss this with various folks, I’ve found the distinction to be extremely important.

      For example, the post by Cristina asks “is this harassment” in regards to her encounter with the drunken swingers. Lots of people have responded “Yes, that was harassment”, but when explored a little further, it turns out that they don’t mean actual sexual harassment that would require a formal action from some organization or legal authority. So there is obviously an important distinction.

      Conversely, when I first responded to her question, I said it wasn’t harassment, because I was thinking of sexual harassment in the formal, legal sense. Had she asked “Is this harassment” and specified that she only meant “harassment” in the “being annoyed” sense, then my answer would have been different.

      Given the emotions people bring to this subject, IMO this distinction is vital and making it initially can help avoid a lot of turmoil.

      1. LeftSidePositive

        You are aware, are you not, that “sexual harassment” refers to more than only that which is legally actionable?! Are you further aware that other types of harassment may also be legally actionable? Are you even further aware that an organization only addressing types of harassment that are legally actionable IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH?!

        Organizations have much more leeway in whom they may turn away as customers than whose employment may be terminated. Furthermore, any decent harassment policy will include the organization getting involved for discussions/warnings of behavior far short of what they will use as grounds for ejection. I think you really ought to know this.

        Fuck, I’m so sick of this “it must be legally actionable or it doesn’t matter!” attitude!

        1. John C. Welch

          Minor humorous interjection

          I! USE! LOTS! OF! EXCLAMATION! POINTS!

          THAT! MAKES! ME! RIGHTER!

          /Minor humorous interjection

          Cristina:

          as far as “is it harassment”, well, that’s kind of your decision. Others can weigh in on what they might do, but at the end of the day, you have to decide what it was and how to deal with it.

          Coincidentally, when I worked at a mexican bar just before joining the USAF, we had a customer and her friend who got put on the “two” list, i.e. they get two drinks, then it’s water or coffee, or tea, anything but alcohol. The one, Agnes Claire Hazel, (you can’t forget a name like that attached to behavior like this) was EPIC in how blatantly she’d proposition me, the bartender, or really, anyone within visual range possessed of a penis. Not with any subtlety either. Started with “you’re kinda hot” and depending on how many she’d had, went to “how about you join me in the bathroom and I’ll {insert varied acts, some rather imaginative for the space she was actually talking about}.”

          Sober, she was a fun camper, and we liked having her in the place. But after two, agnes’s “I WANNA GET LAID” side came out and it was deflect the octopus time.

          She wasn’t the only one. There were a lot of closeted gay men, (mid to late 80s here), who weren’t as careful as they thought once they were in their cups.

          We never got pissed or felt harassed regardless of the source. When a normally upright lawyer-type looked at me through some seriously thick tequila glasses and said “if I wasn’t married, I’d fuck you right in the ass”, I just laughed and said “Well, that’s a nice thing to say, I’m kinda fond of my ass too. Not gay, so no thanks, but I appreciate your recognition of how awesome my buttocks are.” and went on about my work. Rude? Sure, but why make the guy feel like crap for a momentary faux pas? He got the message, he was allowed to save a bit of face, and everything was all good. A bit of wit and kindness kept things working smoothly.

          Was it harassment? Well, not as far as I was concerned. Legally? Oh probably, but again, I didn’t have a problem with it so why should anyone else. I got where it was coming from, (people don’t change THAT much due to alcohol unless they have some crap going on deep down), and never saw a need to be a douche about it. And besides, Agnes and her friend made life fun. Bars are a lot of work, and when you’re in the middle of a rush, running around, someone randomly being unintentionally hilarious made for some needed laughs. Loved Agnes to death, still think of her from time to time.

          The thing with harassment is, it’s not like gravity, or what have you. There’s a huge “well, do you FEEL harassed?” component that has to be taken into account. Absolutism, binary thinking, highlanderism is as unhelpful here as anywhere else. You come across as a damned smart person fully capable of making your own decisions. I don’t see a point in second-guessing that.

  87. 87
    A Hermit

    One of the best posts I’ve seen on this whole “debate” is here: <a href="http://freethoughtblogs.com/alethianworldview/2012/06/27/sexual-panhandling/&quot;

    Replace “harassment” with “panhandling” and try having the same conversation…would there be the same kind of outrage and resistance if conference attendees came forward and said that panhandling and the occasional pickpocket were sometimes a problem? Would there be any objection to having a policy against panhandling and a procedure for reporting it?

    As Deacon says in his post, “the complaint I think I’m hearing is not coming from women who expect the crowds to part and everyone to bow as they walk past in pristine purity. The complaint I hear is that the panhandling is getting out of hand. It’s not that they can’t or won’t respond appropriately to the rare, isolated incident, it’s that the frequency, severity, and persistence of the incidents is raising the nuisance level above acceptable limits…

    …Women shouldn’t have to put up with that sexually any more than any of us should have to put up with it monetarily. And all it takes is for people to agree that, yes, that’s unacceptable, and we have policies against it, and we actively enforce those policies. We shouldn’t need to call in the police and have anyone arrested (except in rare cases), we just need to take a firm stand.”

    1. 87.1
      johngreg

      That is really not a very good analogy, for several reasons, one of which is that many pan-handlers, and depending on where you live, often most panhandlers, have a very good and legitimate reason for panhandling, and to bar them from doing so is actually to abridge their UN-stated human rights. And, again, dependant upon where you live, people who are opposed to panhandling and who go out of their way to abridge a panhandler’s activities are, unlike people who are opposed to harrassment, directly hindering an individual’s means of survival.

      That is in no way analogous to unwanted sexual harrasers.

  88. 88
    A Hermit

    html is our friend…I’ll try that link again:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/alethianworldview/2012/06/27/sexual-panhandling/

  89. 89
    johngreg

    To answer the OP’s questions….

    1. Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment?

    No. Harrassment, yes. Sexual harrassment, no. As presented in the anecdote, minor and inconsequential social harrassment.

    2. Would you have reported it?

    To convention staff and/or organizers, almost certainly not. I don’t think it is resonable to expect convention organizers to control and police offsite locations.

    There are a couple of important unanswered questions:

    1. Did Cristina and/or her friend explicitly reject the drunken woman’s proposals?

    2. Did Cristina and/or her friend ask the drunken woman to leave them, to go away.

    If either of those questions is answered Yes (especially the second question), and the drunken woman persisted, then that is an escalation of the harrassment and at that point I would have called bar staff to resolve the situation. That is one of the functions of bar staff.

    One of the roles that bars play is specifically to provide an environment where people can let their hair down from the ordinary social constraints and mores of the day, and to drop some of the social restrictions that are in place in most cultures.

    If an individual is unable or unwilling to anticipate and accept the remote chance that they might encounter some socially inappropriate behaviour in a bar, a bar for crying out loud, then perhaps that individual is too emotionally immature and/or too psychologically naive, and/or too scarred or damaged by some past event to be in a bar in the first place.

    A bar is not a daycare center; a bar is not a kindergarten.

  90. 90
    Deepak Shetty

    (disclaimer – Im male)

    Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment ?
    Borderline yes. You should be able to say no and not leave. It’s not clear from your description if the woman was persistent , Im going to assume that was the case if AJ had to leave in order to get away.

    Would you have reported it ?
    No. Nothing to do with TAM.

    But given the context of these questions , I’d say if this happened repeatedly , would I be likely to go to TAM? Probably not. Thats not what TAM wants.
    if TAM wants more women representation then having an explicit , transparent policy helps – atleast some people would be aware of what is and isn’t good and may carry over that awareness to bars.

  91. 91
    Brian

    This was quite clearly an unwelcome sexual advance. Thus, yes, it is harassment.

    But whether or not it is or whether or not it should have been reported is not the issue. You may have been fine with just letting it go, which is fine, but other people aren’t like you. Others have pointed out that it costs a lot of money to go to TAM, and someone who drops serious coin to go there is not going to want to go back when they end up having that kind of an interaction with someone at the conference.

    Granted, your experience was with a random couple who was inebriated, so it’s easy not to associate that interaction with TAM itself, but others have reported similar advances coming from speakers at the conference.

    At any rate, the woman’s behavior in your story was wholly inappropriate under any circumstances. I can see why you didn’t feel like reporting it, but what if you and AJ weren’t the only ones being accosted? If everybody who was made uncomfortable by the behavior just sat by and ignored it, the behavior won’t change. Personally, I’m all in favor of just making a big scene to embarrass the person in front of everybody, but whatever floats your boat.

  92. 92
    johngreg

    It seems to me that a lot of responders to Cristina’s two questions do not seem to understand what a bar is, and what people go to bars for.

    One of the primary social functions of a bar is to enable all attendees to allow their day-to-day social constraints, and mores, to drop to some degree; to drink some booze and become looser and less strict about the day-to-day social rules we all play by.

    It is completely inevitable that different bar customers are going to drop those constraints to more or less degress than others.

    To go to a bar without anticipating and accepting that there is a remote chance that some individual in that bar might behave in a way that you feel is socially inappropriate, and to not accept that there is a remote chance that that individual may even behave towards you in a way you feel is socially inappropriate is ridiculously naive.

    And, again, that is one of the functions of bar staff, to remove people who step over the line. If you are unwilling or incapable of making at least some attempt to let bar staff know there is a problem, you should not be in a bar in the first place.

    1. 92.1
      Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

      So, what you’re saying is, rights and freedoms and all that only apply to skeezy douchebombs and their ‘right’ to BE skeezy douchebombs, but not to decent people just looking for a beer?

      1. johngreg

        Illuminatta said:

        “So, what you’re saying is, rights and freedoms … only apply to skeezy douchebombs and their ‘right’ to BE skeezy douchebombs, but not to decent people just looking for a beer?”

        I said no such thing. Neither implicitly not tangentially.

    2. 92.2
      Deepak Shetty

      It seems to me that a lot of responders to Cristina’s two questions do not seem to understand what a bar is, and what people go to bars for.
      It seems to me you don’t get to decide what I go to bars for.

      1. johngreg

        Deepak Sheety said:

        “It seems to me you don’t get to decide what I go to bars for.”

        I didn’t.

        I pointed out that one of the primary reasons why most people go to a bar, is, etc. — OK, OK, I should perhaps have said in the intial post, “It seems to me that a lot of responders to Cristina’s two questions do not seem to understand what a bar is, and what most people go to bars for.”

        Shoot me for the oversight, now corrected.

        But even without that, I am not deciding what, specifically, you, specifically, go to bars for.

        1. Deepak Shetty

          What according to you is “most”?
          To go to a bar without anticipating and accepting that there is a remote chance that some individual in that bar might behave in a way that you feel is socially inappropriate, and to not accept that there is a remote chance that that individual may even behave towards you in a way you feel is socially inappropriate is ridiculously naive.
          See if you can find similarities between your views and the one’s expressed in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-18589737
          (women who wear shorts should anticipate and accept there is a (not so) remote possibility that some jerk will behave badly)

          Women already anticipate that stuff can go wrong (hence elevatorgate) – it shouldn’t be that way. It’s not a status quo that should be retained.

          1. johngreg

            This applies to actions in a bar, not the wide open public, and is specific to location, not to gender; it applies to women and to men.

            And keep in mind that the individual doing the so-called harrassment was a woman.

            Or should I say sister-punisher, or gender traitor, rather than woman?

  93. 93
    EveryMan

    You say…

    “For the context of this discussion I think it’s necessary to replace “working environment” with “social environment”, but other than that things should be fairly clear.”

    Sorry but that is not how the law works. Sexual harassment can only be described in a legal sense within the workplace (in America, for now).

    It does not, at all, apply to social situations. So, in the context you’ve described its simply a form of protected speech. Now, if you felt physically threatened it could be considered assault, which is a different issue entirely.

    Whats going on here is we have a very specific minority with a very specific agenda regarding their own interpretation of “social justice” that they are trying to force on the rest of us. Concerned parties will note that this sort of thing is what religious fundies do.

    And it absolutely has no place in a supposedly secular movement.

    1. 93.1
      moebius2778

      Is that actually the case? The counter example that immediately comes to mind is students in an academic setting. For example, “Sexual harassment is defined by law and includes requests for sexual favors, sexual advances or other sexual conduct when … or (3) the behavior persists despite objection by the person to whom the conduct is directed.” (Quote from my university’s sexual harassment section of the policy and procedures.

      As far as I can tell, there’s nothing that limits it to people employed by the university – that is to say, based on the description one student can sexually harass another student. And I would be hard pressed to say that the school constitutes a workplace for students who are not employed the university. They seem to be more clients of the university, rather than workers of the university.

      So it appears there can be cases where sexual harassment can occur outside of a workplace – I may be misinterpreting workplace, but that’s the only potential interpretation I can see.

      1. EveryMan

        I work for a large, public university,

        Legally, we operate much like a workplace. Faculty, staff and students are all considered affiliates; which is a rough approximation of employees. Private and for-profit schools may operate under a different model.

        1. moebius2778

          Right – but that’s the thing – clearly universities are not workplaces for everyone that goes there. That’s why you’ve described it as operating “much like a workplace” instead of it just being a workplace.

          So, it would seem there’s clearly a place that isn’t a workplace (not sure if it counts as not being a workplace environment – I’d argue that if it isn’t a workplace for everyone, it’s not a workplace environment for the people who it isn’t a workplace) – which means, the question would seem to be what are the sorts of environments in which sexual harassment is illegal? It certainly seems to be more than just workplace environments, which is what you initially claimed.

          1. EveryMan

            I’m not sure if you are American or not, so you might want to read this:

            en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment#United_States

            US law re:sexual harassment applies only to the workplace and educational environments. Issues among staff and faculty are usually handled via the standard workplace law. Issues between students and staff/faculty have separate regulations.

            Incidents among students that occur on campus are usually handled via internal policy, which is usually not legally enforceable. They can always be expelled, of course.

            Sexual harassment in all other contexts, provided it doesn’t break any other laws, is considered protected speech in America (for the moment).

            Note that you are still not allowed to touch people without their permission, threaten or stalk them. But these are all separate and distinct issues.

          2. LeftSidePositive

            Hey EveryMan,

            You know, that “internal policy” you mentioned sounds an awful lot like…I dunno…A HARASSMENT POLICY!!

            Not only that, but a university having the power to expel a student for violations of their own internal policy pretty much exactly mirrors the possibility of a conference to kick out a misbehaving attendee?

            NO ONE has said here that conferences should be pursuing legal charges against those who violate their harassment policies, so your obsession with legalism makes no fucking sense in this context. All you’re doing is engaging in some dubious goalpost-shifting!

          3. EveryMan

            Hey LeftSidePositive!

            I fully endorse existing sexual harassment law.

            I also fully endorse the right of organizations to draft and enforce their own internal polices. I dig the whole social contract thing.

            So kindly stop building that straw man.

          4. LeftSidePositive

            So, if you’re so in favor of sexual harassment policies, why are you so determined to derail every conversation about them? If you’re in favor of these policies, what the fuck are you DOING?!

            Why, if you are so in favor of sexual harassment policies at conferences, are you saying that prohibiting exactly the behavior that a sexual harassment policy would prohibit (e.g., targeting and bothering non-consenting, disinterested total strangers for sex) is akin to Saudi Arabia?

  94. 94
    Stephen

    I would say it was a sexual annoyance, not sexual harassment.

  95. 95
  96. 96
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    EveryMan:
    Sorry but that is not how the law works. Sexual harassment can only be described in a legal sense within the workplace (in America, for now).

    So you can’t describe sexual harassment in a social environment? This is veering too close to dismissing the concerns of women who *have* been sexually harassed. I’m a bartender and I see this crap all the time. The vast majority of the time the one doing the harassing (leering eyes, unwanted physical contact, unwanted physical proximity, sexual comments, cat calls) is a man. The recipient is almost always a woman. If that’s not sexual harassment, what is it and how do we combat it?

    So, in the context you’ve described its simply a form of protected speech

    So if a man encounters a woman at a bar-one that he’s never met and has no prior sexual contact with-and tells he he wants to take her to his room and have sex, he has the right to say that? Ok (well not really because his presumption that she’s sitting at a bar waiting to be propositioned is arrogant and sexist), but she has the right to say “I’m not interested. Please leave me alone.” If he continues, that’s harassment. It’s not *simply* anything.

    Whats going on here is we have a very specific minority with a very specific agenda regarding their own interpretation of “social justice” that they are trying to force on the rest of us.

    How can you not see through your privilege? A specific minority? Women are sexually harassed *every day* and these conventions are merely a sample of what goes on in society. It is a significant problem and people like you are part of it. The specific agenda women (and the men who support feminism) have is to (among other things) help foster an environment where women can feel safe. Minimizing the harm sexual harassment has on women is not helpful. It’s harmful. No one is being forced to do anything. Unless you believe that recognizing and supporting human dignity is ‘forcing’ you.

    Concerned parties will note that this sort of thing is what religious fundies do.

    No.
    Concerned parties will note that religious fundies seek to keep their privilege and deny minorities equal rights (not *special rights*, as many of them are fond of saying). They want to impose their views on others through discrimination and bigotry. How can you equate deliberate discrimination of minorities with equality for women?

    If you’re not part of the solution, get out of the way and stop being part of the problem.

    1. 96.1
      EveryMan

      Here’s a tip for ya, Tony. If you use the code-word “privilege”, you just lost the argument. Think of it as Godwin’s law for the new millennium.

      To answer your question re: harassment (of any sort) in bars; as an accomplished barfly here’s what I’ve found works well.

      1) Tell the guy to knock it off.
      2) If that doesn’t work, have the door guy kick him out.

      Problem solved. One of my lady friends is a bartender at a dive bar and probably does point 1 daily and point 2 weekly.

      I’m going to assume you missed my post in the previous discussion where I mentioned that I live in one of the largest metro LGBT areas in the country, am a straight male and get sexually harassed (by men and women) fairly frequently. If I hung out in certain areas/venues I would get harassed daily.

      I also mentioned that I find such attention mildly annoying at worst. I’ve also found the best solution to dealing with these people is to simply not interact with them. No eye contact, nothing. About the worst that’s happened was I had a guy follow me for a few blocks in a car while walking home.

      Regardless, we already have laws against sexual harassment in the workplace. We already have policy and processes in place for conferences itself and associated social events, which are being enforced. There really isn’t anything left at this point.

      In public areas (like hotel bars), women are just as free to sexually harass individuals as men are. I’ll provide this article as evidence.

      So, unless you want a Victorian-styled segregation of the sexes (let me know if that’s the case please), there really isn’t much else we can do. Something the gay community has done here is hire independent “pink shirt” security to patrol the streets to keep the panhandlers, harassers and muggers to a minimum. Maybe we could do something similar.

      But I suspect you (collectively) are more interested in drama than solutions, so I don’t expect a constructive response.

      1. davidmc

        So, basically you agree,”We already have policy and processes in place for conferences itself and associated social events, which are being enforced”,it was harrasment, you get it all the time. But you think that “… unless you want a Victorian-styled segregation of the sexes (let me know if that’s the case please), there really isn’t much else we can do”

        so what the fuck are you on about because at this point im beginning to think you are lonely and just want some attention.

        1. EveryMan

          No I absolutely do not agree.

          I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to a conference in a hotel, but they are big places and the conference organizers can’t control everything. The hotel bar is outside of their jurisdiction.

          Christina was not harassed at a conference. She was harassed at a hotel bar (maybe). I don’t even consider that sort of thing harassment; getting crudely propositioned by a drunk woman at a bar is just typical for the environment. If you don’t like it, don’t hang out there. It isn’t mandatory.

          I’m commenting here (and offering solutions) to prove to the impartial observer that this clique isn’t interested in actually solving problems. They are professional whiners.

          As mentioned, if the SkepChicks are so concerned about security (and this is a security problem) they could spend some money to hire their own bouncers. I’ll suggest using the money that would have gone to Watson’s fees (and bar tab) to cover it, given she is boycotting conferences these days.

          But they won’t, of course. Then they wouldn’t have anything to talk about at all.

  97. 97
    John Horstman

    I consider that sexual harassment; I don’t see that it has anything to do with TAM if it’s not in a TAM-affiliated space, so I don’t know what the point of reporting it to TAM staff would have been, any more than reporting that riding the bus from the hotel you had someone make unwanted sexual advances, or someone shouted at you on the street while you were walking to the venue. You could have reported it to the proprietors of the bar, in case the couple frequently goes there and harasses their other customers.

  98. 98
    davidmc

    Most commentators seem happy with the solution already provided by the american athiests, you seem to be the only one whining

    “I’m commenting here”

    You are commenting here,

    (and offering solutions)

    you think you are

    “to prove to the impartial observer that this clique isn’t interested in actually solving problems.”

    massive fail

    ” They are professional whiners.”

    As opposed to amatuers…..like er……

    Perhaps the impartial obsever can chip in here…..

  99. 99
    Kevin

    The easy question to answer:

    No, I wouldn’t report it to TAM.

    Firstly, the official TAM event had ended some time earlier.
    Secondly, it also sounds like the TAM event was not in the bar but only in the same hotel.
    Thirdly, it’s not clear if the woman was attending TAM.
    Fourthly, the person was most likely intoxicated.
    So, it was a different time AND location from the actual TAM event, AND possibly a non-TAM-attending intoxicated person who harassed you.

    However, if there was any reporting to be done it may be to the bar and/or hotel manager and possibly the police. At the point and time that this occurred they were responsible for your well being and safety.

    The harder question to answer – does this constitute harassment?:

    No, in my opinion, though I can certainly understand why many would say it is and I really think it’s borderline.

    BUT the more important things to keep in mind are:
    1) You were in a bar – unfortunately you have to expect some behavior like this in a bar.
    2) The woman was drunk – you have to expect even worse behavior.
    3) The woman was … a woman! – if it were a man there probably would have been a heightened level of discomfort and possibly danger to the situation.
    4) It was a one time occurrence – the person didn’t follow or chase you.

    If you had called the police they probably would have considered it harassment, but would have not taken any action other than to tell the woman to leave you alone. Her intoxication level could have probably gotten her into more problems than her harassment of you and your friend.

    I’m not justifying what the woman did, but you have to consider the setting.

    -Kevin

  100. 100
    LeftSidePositive

    Firstly, the official TAM event had ended some time earlier.
    Secondly, it also sounds like the TAM event was not in the bar but only in the same hotel.

    This is mind-numbingly myopic. People go TAM for the whole “TAM experience,” which includes after parties and such. Now, TAM can’t be expected to successfully control everything that goes on at those outside events, but they should at least CARE about whether or not there are problems and be involved in ways to improve them, because they, as good business people, should know that it’s in their best interest to optimize the surrounding factors as well to make their conference a success.

    Thirdly, it’s not clear if the woman was attending TAM.

    All the more reason why someone should consider reporting the event to TAM to find out!

    Fourthly, the person was most likely intoxicated.

    That is no excuse whatsoever. You do not get a magic get-out-of-consequences-for-what-you-do-to-others card when drunk. If anything, a MORE stringent standard should be applied!

    However, if there was any reporting to be done it may be to the bar and/or hotel manager and possibly the police.

    You do understand, don’t you, that reporting to TAM and reporting to other authorities are not mutually exclusive?!

    BUT the more important things to keep in mind are:

    ProTip: your screen name indicates you’re a guy, and therefore much less likely to have to deal with these issues to the same degree as women. Therefore, it’s poor form to tell the people actually experiencing something what “the more important things” are.

    1) You were in a bar – unfortunately you have to expect some behavior like this in a bar.

    NO WE FUCKING DON’T. The fact that our culture tolerates this is BULLSHIT, and that’s what we’re trying to change. A huge reason for why this behavior persists is because people like you make excuses for it, so entitled selfish assholes know they can get away with this.

    Also, person-with-a-male-identified-screen-name, who the fuck are you to tell women what we “have to expect”?! Here’s a thought: maybe we deserve BETTER and we’re trying to make it that way.

    2) The woman was drunk – you have to expect even worse behavior.

    Again, being drunk in no way excuses what someone does to others. Some people get drunk so they can use it as an excuse because they know too many people will cut them slack when they are shitty to others. Again with pompously telling us what we “have to expect”–here’s an idea: maybe we’re not exactly *surprised* by the woman’s behavior, but that does not fucking mean we’re going to excuse it.

    3) The woman was … a woman! – if it were a man there probably would have been a heightened level of discomfort and possibly danger to the situation.

    This is utter gender-essentializing bullshit, and extraordinarily patronizing and sexist to boot. Furthermore, where the fuck do you get off declaring that it must be more uncomfortable to be intruded upon by a woman? This not only infantilizes the woman doing the harassing (not the most sympathetic figure, but you’re still being a sexist douche to her!), but is also wrapped up in a whole lot of toxic heteronormativity. And why the hell do you assume that maleness must NECESSARILY inform the discomfort or danger of a situation? Why don’t you consider the actual behavior that was going on, and acknowledge the individual’s right to identify their own subjective impressions of what happens to them?

    4) It was a one time occurrence – the person didn’t follow or chase you.

    Have you even read what we’ve already said on this thread about one-time occurrences? You seem woefully ignorant. Furthermore, this whole attitude smacks of “you should have to put up with a certain amount of mistreatment, as decided by me, not by you!”

    I’m not justifying what the woman did, but you have to consider the setting.

    Telling us we “have to” consider (by which you mean “excuse because of”) the setting is basically saying we have to resign ourselves to the status quo. Well,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzVmPsqHDDQ

    By the way, WE KNOW the cultural norm in bars right now is that women as a class have had the decision made for them that they’re fair game for hitting on, regardless of what a woman herself communicates. We don’t need you to mansplain the status quo to us. We are trying to CHANGE the status quo so that we can actually enjoy the same full range of activities you enjoy without constantly having to be on our guard, in a way that you don’t have to deal with and apparently can’t even empathize with.

    1. 100.1
      LeftSidePositive

      Fucking replying, man…how does it WORK?!

      *headdesk*

    2. 100.2
      EveryMan

      So you admit that you want to force your own ideas of sexuality on everyone else. As such I’ll suggest you move someplace like Saudia Arabia. Such behavior is antithetical to a free country.

      Part of being a member of a secular community is accepting that other people have different ideas about what is and is not socially acceptable behavior regarding sex. And *you* need to be tolerant of that; not the other way around.

      Some people are swingers, some are gay. Some are asexual sex-phobics.

      I am none of the above while still being tolerant of all.

      You are not. Get it yet?

      1. LeftSidePositive

        So you admit that you want to force your own ideas of sexuality on everyone else.

        No, you miserable fucking idiot, I want to have the right to be free of other people forcing their ideas of sexuality ON ME. Here’s the thing–freedom refers to what you do to and the choices you make for YOURSELF. As soon as your behavior starts to encroach on others, you’re interfering with their freedom. As such, the person who just wants to be left alone always wins.

        And everyone is perfectly free to enjoy their sexuality however they want WITH CONSENTING PARTNERS. When they start bothering people who have shown no interest, they are no longer just enjoying their own sexuality, they are trampling others’.

        As such I’ll suggest you move someplace like Saudia Arabia.

        Yeah, totally–countries with child brides have such deep-rooted adherence to the principles of consent!

        Such behavior is antithetical to a free country.

        Respecting the freedom of others is antithetical to a free country?!

        Part of being a member of a secular community is accepting that other people have different ideas about what is and is not socially acceptable behavior regarding sex.

        And I’m sure some people have different ideas about what is acceptable regarding money, but I’m sure as hell not going to put up with them trying to pressure me into giving my money to them! If some people’s ideas about what is socially acceptable includes a blatant disregard for the comfort of their fellow human beings, than those people are FUCKING ASSHOLES who deserve to be shunned.

        And *you* need to be tolerant of that; not the other way around.

        No, you miserable fucking idiot–”tolerance” does not mean we look the other way when people are taking advantage OF OTHER NON-CONSENTING PEOPLE. Seriously, what the fuck?!

        Some people are swingers, some are gay. Some are asexual sex-phobics.

        Are you seriously too stupid to understand that people’s identities about what they want to do with other consenting persons is entirely irrelevant to the discussion of sexual harassment?! The point is not what you want to do, but rather how considerate of others are you when you try to find like-minded people!! Why is this so fucking hard for you to grasp?!

        1. EveryMan

          I happen to enjoy being sexually harassed by hot girls, in bars, without having to explicitly express consent.

          I personally think it’s quite hot, actually. Making it formal just kills the mood.

          Now, being an adult, I accept that in order to enjoy this experience I will have to also tolerate occasional harassment by some individuals I am not attracted to.

          This is a completely fair and equitable situation as far as I’m concerned. It would be unreasonable to claim otherwise.

          It’s also one you wish to deny me, by demanding that I explicitly express consent in all situations. You are the one doing the pushing, here.

          And seriously, lay off the ad-homs. You sound like an angry fat girl.

          1. LeftSidePositive

            I happen to enjoy being sexually harassed by hot girls, in bars, without having to explicitly express consent.

            I don’t think you understand what sexual harassment is. Sexual behavior you enjoy, and that you’re giving tons of positive signals to and enthusiastic reinforcement of the behavior, is not sexual harassment. Furthermore, we’re not saying that consent has to be “explicit” in the sense that it be verbal or discussed in clinical terms–we only mean that it has to be clear and enthusiastic.

            I personally think it’s quite hot, actually.

            Really? Being “sexually harassed” turns you on? It sounds more like casual encounters turn you on, and that’s fine, but you seem to be conflating any time two people who don’t know each other start talking about sex with sexual harassment (i.e., you’re trying to use the fact that squares are good to mean that all quadrilaterals are good, and refusing to acknowledge that parallelograms are bad). I presume when these “hot girls” (I appreciate how nuanced and humanistic your appreciation of women is, btw…) start talking to you, you do not turn your shoulder away from them, look down at your drink, mumble replies trying to change the subject, etc….

            Making it formal just kills the mood.

            No one has said that consent has to be in any way formal–that’s a rape-apologist tactic to try to discredit concepts of consent. We are just saying it has to be clear and enthusiastic. And by the way, the idea that actually talking about what you want “kills the mood” is a very sex-negative attitude, and most people seem to find that their sex lives get better when they get over that hangup.

            Now, being an adult, I accept that in order to enjoy this experience I will have to also tolerate occasional harassment by some individuals I am not attracted to.

            Nope, sorry, while YOU might enjoy “sexual harassment” (even though it’s clear you don’t really know what that means!), this does not mean that you can speak for others, and commit OTHER PEOPLE from having their boundaries violated. I mean, someone out there probably hopes their car will get stolen so they don’t have to go visit their parents…does this person’s desire mean that we are violating his freedom by having norms and laws against car theft?!

            Furthermore, I find it highly unlikely that all these unattractive people are actually committing sexual harassment. Are they coming up to your barstool, acting friendly and non-threatening, and making non-sexual small-talk, not asking you personal questions or trying to be alone with you right away and then leaving when you’re not responding? In that case probably not sexual harassment. Now, I freely acknowledge some of these people you describe may in fact be engaging in sexually aggressive behavior, and that is a problem…but mostly what you seem to be describing is generally benign pick-ups in bars and trying to conflate that with harassment.

            This is a completely fair and equitable situation as far as I’m concerned. It would be unreasonable to claim otherwise.

            Frankly, comparing the “hot girls” who come up to you and start friendly sexual banter that you find enjoyable to women being besieged by creepy guys who often won’t take no for an answer is pretty disingenuous. This is argument from ignorance and a blatant display of privilege.

            It’s also one you wish to deny me, by demanding that I explicitly express consent in all situations.

            That’s not true. You are perfectly free not to express anything to the people who want to hook up with you. It may make you rather lonely, but that’s not really my fault.

            If you are interested in being “sexually harassed,” then why don’t you get what you want–wear a T-shirt that says “please sexually harass me…but only if you’re hot!” (and good luck with that). Or make a posting on Craigslist like “I really love to be sexually harassed, but only if you’re hot. I’m the dark-haired guy with a moustache wearing a striped shirt having a Guinness at the Darkwing & Blunderbus. Please show up and start talking very graphically to me while I stare blankly back at you.”

            And seriously, lay off the ad-homs. You sound like an angry fat girl.

            Could someone please lend me a new irony meter? Mine’s just exploded!

          2. EveryMan

            Oh FFS.

            Going by your tortured definition; if Miss Rad had been “enthusiastic” about a three-way, she wouldn’t have been sexually harassed. While A.J. would have.

            See the problem yet? Two identical approaches, yet one is harassment and one is not. Sans psychic abilities, how is one to know ahead of time what will work?

            I’m not sure about U.S. law, but I’ve seen EU sexual harassment law that includes the very important word “repeated”. So if we use that definition, Miss Rad/AJ were not sexually harassed.

          3. LeftSidePositive

            Going by your tortured definition; if Miss Rad had been “enthusiastic” about a three-way, she wouldn’t have been sexually harassed. While A.J. would have.

            No, we’re talking about the state of the interaction BEFORE it turned sexual, and thus how appropriate it is to make it sexual. Going to up to random strangers to proposition them in the hopes that someone will find it hot is asshole behavior. If this woman had struck up a platonic conversation, and Christina was nodding happily, laughing at her jokes, contributing to the conversation, leaning in eagerly when she was talking, then the woman could perhaps shift gears to slightly more risqué funny stories, see if those get a positive reception, and THEN it might be appropriate to make an invitation if you’re getting good signals. Do you see how with that, the people who are interested get their threesomes (and probably don’t have to have them delayed for more than 5 minutes of chit-chat, which would probably improve their chances anyway!), and the people who aren’t don’t have to deal with anything more personal than “So–how about Phil Plait’s talk?”

            Do you see how the question of consent at this point applies solely to “consent for sexual banter” NOT to how excited they would be about the suggested acts AFTER they already had an inappropriate intrusion foisted on them. So it’s not about whether or not your offer is accepted, it’s about how you approach it in the first place.

            Sans psychic abilities, how is one to know ahead of time what will work?

            Um, actually, human beings are generally pretty good at telling when people are responding positively–it comes with being a social species. (And those who are “awkward” could actually take it upon themselves to learn some etiquette, which would improve their chances of getting laid, if this were actually about getting laid instead of just enforcing a sense of male entitlement!)

            Read the above to see some of the positive social signals that will tell you if someone is interested. This won’t tell you whether or not you’ll get a yes, but it will give you a much better idea as to whether or not it’s appropriate to ask. This is not difficult, if you weren’t being so willfully obtuse.

            I’m not sure about U.S. law, but I’ve seen EU sexual harassment law that includes the very important word “repeated”. So if we use that definition, Miss Rad/AJ were not sexually harassed.

            You are aware, aren’t you, that there’s quite a bit of difference between what is just short of behavior severe enough and certain enough to be addressed by the legal system, and what is being a decent human being? Moreover, Christina specifically described the woman as being persistent, so she must have been repeating her behavior after many (at least) nonverbal rejections. To say these have to be separated into distinct instances is just playing legalism-bingo and does not address the fundamental issue that human beings have a right to be treated with consideration for their privacy and for their feelings when they’re just out in the world minding their business, and that a conference should be pro-active in enforcing this standard.

          4. EveryMan

            No, what is really so wrong is when people like you try and force your own ideas about sexuality onto everyone else. This sort of dogmatic moral-whoring is exactly what the hyper-religious do and has no place in a secular movement. If you want more restricted gender roles, be a Mormon or wear a burqua. Just leave the rest of us alone, please.

            Sex isn’t a big emotional deal for some people. Maybe they are missing out, maybe not. Either way its not for you or I to judge.

            If you go to a gay club, you will see all sorts of outlandish behavior. Even amongst total strangers. Which is why I don’t go to gay clubs, even with my gay friends to run interference.

            But I don’t presume to tell them how they should or shouldn’t behave.

            If you are a man and go to Las Vegas, you will almost certainly be crudely propositioned by prostitutes for (paid) sex. While I am personally not interested, I’m also not offended.

            And again, I don’t presume to tell them how to manage their business.

            Do you get it yet? Do you understand that you and your cronies are not allowed to control other peoples sex lives and social interaction; especially in public venues where such behavior is considered acceptable? Like a hotel bar is friggin’ LAS VEGAS, for example?

          5. LeftSidePositive

            No, what is really so wrong is when people like you try and force your own ideas about sexuality onto everyone else.

            You’ve already tried this line and I’ve already shown why it’s bullshit. To repeat the same claim without at least acknowledging the arguments previously made against it is trolling.

            This sort of dogmatic moral-whoring is exactly what the hyper-religious do and has no place in a secular movement.

            Yeah–”respect people’s basic human rights” is such a dogmatic concept!

            If you want more restricted gender roles, be a Mormon or wear a burqua.

            Where are you getting ANYTHING about “gender roles” from what I posted? The basic idea of caring what someone’s openness to sexual approach may be is foundational advice for people of any and all genders!

            Sex isn’t a big emotional deal for some people. Maybe they are missing out, maybe not. Either way its not for you or I to judge.

            I never said it had to be a big emotional deal for everyone. I just mean that it is that way for a significantly large number of people that you run a very high likelihood of hurting people when you barge into their lives and act like their personal feelings on sex don’t matter. That’s why you should reduce the risk of damage by breaking the ice a little first. Is that so hard?

            If you go to a gay club, you will see all sorts of outlandish behavior. Even amongst total strangers.

            But those are people participating in outlandish behavior with other people who are also eagerly participating in this behavior. People are able to communicate that they enjoy this behavior and they want to keep doing it with these people. The “outlandishness” isn’t the issue, it’s making sure that you’re not forcing non-willing participants to be part of your play.

            If you are a man and go to Las Vegas, you will almost certainly be crudely propositioned by prostitutes for (paid) sex. While I am personally not interested, I’m also not offended.

            Did it ever occur to you that just because some things are okay for you it’s not necessarily okay to apply them to ALL total strangers?

            Do you get it yet? Do you understand that you and your cronies are not allowed to control other peoples sex lives and social interaction;

            When they are trying to drag me or other non-consenting people into their sexual interactions and treat their fellow human beings like shit, I damn well will say this is unacceptable. Really simple rule to set up your ethics: “You can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t harm anybody else.” This is so incredibly simple I don’t see what your problem is! Harassment is very likely to harm others, so it is not included in the behaviors that you can crow FREEDOM about.

            especially in public venues where such behavior is considered acceptable? Like a hotel bar is friggin’ LAS VEGAS, for example?

            You seem YET AGAIN to be unable to understand the difference between considering more sexual behavior to be acceptable, and considering blatantly disregarding the other person’s interests and desires to be acceptable. These are not the same thing, and you’d have to be willfully ignorant to fail to understand that.

            And, even if we assume making total strangers deeply uncomfortable is “acceptable” in this particular situation, did it ever occur to you that this might be a big part of why so many women don’t want to go to these events?!

    3. 100.3
      johngreg

      Well, LeftSideExplosive, it is always, er, interesting to read your, um, commentary.

      To paraphrase Paula Kirby, it’s nice to see that the feminist movement is in such calm, rational, and sensible hands.

      1. LeftSidePositive

        Your concern is noted, troll. Now fuck off.

        1. johngreg

          LOL.

          Ooh, ooh, LeftSideLeftBehind, you mean, mean, sexist personthing.

          Here let me respond to you FfTB stylee and paraphrase some of your pals here at FfTB, to wit:

          Why don’t you fuck yourself into the ground (one of Lord PeeZus’s, the eloquent college educator, bon mots).

          Or better yet, why don’t you liberally lubricate anal orifice and violently insert a dead porcupine (a generic FfTB good morning call).

          No, I know. How about you just fuck off you fucking fuck (that’s an Aquaria, and many OM posters’, fave).

          How about an Ophelia / Stefunny / ReGreta ploy, with genders flipped: How dare you demand evidence from [wo]men; we are [wo]men skeptics, we do not need to provide evidence, everything we say is true because we are [wo]men, and because we are [wo]men skeptics, our anecdata is incontrovertible proof that whatever we say is true because it is because we are [wo]men skeptics and everything [wo]men skeptics say is always true because we are [wo]men septics and we are always [wo]men truthy people … yadda yadda ya.

          Or I could even do a Watson thingy and just lie about you calling me names you didn’t call me, and then escalate on that until I’ve run your reputation right into the ground just ’cause I can, and if I’m really lucky, PeeZus will, staunchly if dishonestly, back my lie up and do his professorial best to derail the entire incident and make it about something it was never about in the first place, like, oh, I don’t know, circumcision or something.

          Nah. None of the above. I am actually more respectful than that.

          Actually, what I think I’ll really do is view the preceding as hyperbolic nonsense and just respond ERV stylee, and say, Well, we disagree. And although I am not in agreement with you, that doesn’t make you, or me, a lesser person, it just makes you someone with whom I disagree.

          Yes, yes, yes I know that it is profoundly difficult for most FfTB folk to adopt that kind of attitude, and such ERVesque responses as “we just disagree” are incredibley vile, rapeist, and of the most evil evil evil sort, but, well, so it goes …

          cupcake.

          1. LeftSidePositive

            I think you’ve misunderstood Stephanie and Ophelia’s points–it is NOT POSSIBLE to provide evidence of having been groped in a conference hall. How would you do such a thing? DNA samples? Hope someone had a camera out at just the right time? Hope the venue has security cameras that cover every single room and convince them to release hours of footage to you and hope that the camera angle is just right to see the assault? So, when you demand increasingly high standards of evidence for things for which it is not usually possible, what you’re basically saying is that you will never believe someone who had that negative experience. And, moreover, they are calling for more stringent record-keeping which would provide more evidence.

            Oh, and ERV is a bastion of civilized behavior…yeah, if you happen to be male, otherwise you’re a “cunt whore”! And if you happen to be anti-feminist, otherwise you’re a “mangina”!

          2. johngreg

            LSP, please, oh please, stop cyberstalking me. I’m all a’quiver.

          3. LeftSidePositive

            Answering you on a public forum is “cyberstalking”?! What the fucking fuck?

            What, may I ask, do you get out of such pathetic intellectual dishonesty?!

          4. johngreg

            ROFLOL! Here, Lefty, just for you, Stefunny at her best:

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/06/28/is-cyberstalking-abuse/

          5. LeftSidePositive

            Hey johngreg, did you notice that she said:

            These are people who get together to talk about what we write, our speeches, our tweets, our postings on Facebook, pictures of us available on the web. They glean the personal information we use to make ourselves and our topics more relatable and go back years to try to dig up dirt. They lie when they can’t find anything ugly enough for them. They built a fucking wiki dedicated to us. Not only that, but every bit of them talking about this stuff is meant to damage us. We have cyberstalkers.

            Do you notice how she DIDN’T say, “these people reply to our comments on an open forum”?!

          6. johngreg

            Aw, LSP, you’re kind of fun.

            Here, have a gander at that nasty old Wiki that the nasty old skullduggery-prone evil ERV people built, dedicated to honouring, ahem, er, highlighting the FfTB universe:

            http://phawrongula.wikia.com/wiki/Cyberstalking_the_InZvanity

            While I doubt it very much, this specific link might give you a slightly different perspective on Stefunny’s utterly lunatic Cyberstalking thesis.

            And the Phawrongula wiki in general might, though as I say, I rather doubt it, give you a slightly different perspective on the extraordinary level of hypocrisy that is prevlaent on so many FfTB blogs.

        2. Kevin

          Definition of Harassment – See LeftSidePositive’s replies.

          1. LeftSidePositive

            Yeah, ’cause clearly showing why someone is wrong is just sooo beyond the pale!!

            ‘Cause not putting up with blatant evasions and intellectual dishonesty is such cruel harassment!

            ‘Cause criticizing an opinion on a publicly available blog is totally the worst sin ever, provided that opinion enjoys the sanctity of propping up male privilege.

            Fuck that shit.

      2. Lordxor

        Left is not a feminist. I am a feminist and I have friends who are feminist. We have civil discussions about these things. Left is just angry and uncivilized and a feminist that does not make. Like a tot told he/she can’t have any dessert unless he/she eats his/her dinner first. Left lacks the social skills to converse like an adult. No, LEft just rides on other’s coat-tails and parrots what Left’s idols say like a good little minion. It is a waste of time to debate with people like Left.

        1. Tak the Hideous New Girl

          Wow, just wow.

          How dare LeftSide not be a good little feminist and interfere with the dudebro sacred right to get his dick wet anytime and anywhere he wants. Don’t you know that your right to be left the fuck alone is trumped by any random dudebro dick?

          C’mon dudes, admit that that it what it comes down to – women are primarily here to be your dick receptacles, well unless they’re not hot, then they might as well not exist at all.

          You know what you should do LeftSide, you should sexually harass some dudebro, he’ll love it (unless you’re an uggo, then how dare you!)

    4. 100.4
      reality checkguy

      You bring up some very goods points, I just wish you weren’t so angry about it.

      Case in point, I mentioned not bringing up the issue with TAM because from the original article and then reading many replies I interpreted the issue as one of “who do I contact to report this person so it will stop and they can be reprimanded”, and not one of “TAM should know about this so they are aware of the environment surrounding the location of their meetings”.

      You, and others, bring up the very valid point that TAM should be aware of the environment so they can decide if it warrants moving the location of their meetings. I absolutely agree with that. However, I don’t know if that would really change things all that much because wherever they go there will be people congregating together after the meetings and some of those people will be rude and harassing. BUT, they should know about the incident because if they receive a large number of similar reports they may be able to either figure out why there is a high occurrence and resolve it, or move next year’s location.

      Thirdly, it’s not clear if the woman was attending TAM.

      All the more reason why someone should consider reporting the event to TAM to find out!

      I wouldn’t say “all the more reason”, I would simply say that if she was attending TAM and the event is reported to them, then they can ban her from attending further events. If she was attending then they can’t do much about it unless they have her contact info.

      Fourthly, the person was most likely intoxicated.

      That is no excuse whatsoever. You do not get a magic get-out-of-consequences-for-what-you-do-to-others card when drunk. If anything, a MORE stringent standard should be applied!

      I didn’t say it was an excuse, I was indicating the obvious fact that the intoxicated person’s faculties were adversely affected so, if anything, this is a case of public drunkenness rather than harassment. Yes, it may have included harassment, but if somebody is drunk they could also be a nuisance or a hazard for many other reasons, but the root cause still remains intoxication, and that’s the biggest issue and what should be addressed first.

      ProTip: your screen name indicates you’re a guy, and therefore much less likely to have to deal with these issues to the same degree as women.

      I would agree that it is “less likely” for a guy to experience this type of harassment, but you are completely wrong in assuming that guys haven’t experienced them and can’t understand them to the same degree as a woman.

      Therefore, it’s poor form to tell the people actually experiencing something what “the more important things” are.

      You’re right, I could have better phrased it “additional things to consider” or such, rather than “more important”.

      1) You were in a bar – unfortunately you have to expect some behavior like this in a bar.

      NO WE FUCKING DON’T. The fact that our culture tolerates this is BULLSHIT, and that’s what we’re trying to change. A huge reason for why this behavior persists is because people like you make excuses for it, so entitled selfish assholes know they can get away with this.

      YES YOU DO! You’re in a bar! Humans are humans and no amount of wishful thinking will change that. People drink, they get drunk, and they behave poorly. We may not like it, but get over it, that’s part of life. That is not to say that it’s acceptable. I’m merely pointing out that they were in a bar. If this happened at church or while walking down the street I would be much more surprised and possibly have a different reaction.

      I’m was merely pointing out the degree to which you could expect this behavior and in a bar it should be expected more than at the local grocery store. If I was at a gay bar and a guy hit on me I would be more likely to expect that “behavior” than if I were at a strip club.

      “people like you make excuses for it”

      I’m not providing an excuse, I’m providing an explanation. And, whether you like it or not, the environment in which it occurs helps to determine if it crossed the line of harassment or not. BTW, this was a woman hitting on another woman and I think that also factors into the equation.

      After considering it more carefully, in fact, I would call it harassment, although I originally did not. I would also call your harsh reaction abusive. It’s OK to not agree with me, and I think you made some valid points but your message would be better received if you toned your language down.

      Also, person-with-a-male-identified-screen-name, who the fuck are you to tell women what we “have to expect”?!

      I’m not telling women, I’m telling anyone who wants to listen – men, women, aliens, and anyone else. And it’s only my opinion. If you don’t like my opinion, then that’s OK too, I’d love to hear yours, I’m willing to listen and I may learn something.

      Here’s a thought: maybe we deserve BETTER and we’re trying to make it that way.

      You deserve BETTER than what? You mean that you want to go through life without ever being harassed, so would everyone.

      Who is we? Women? It sounds like you’re making this a man against woman thing? Remember it was a woman harassing another woman. It’s about harassment and anyone can be the harasser or harassed.

      I only mention gender in my earlier response because I think that plays a part in determining at what point it becomes harassment. I could be wrong, maybe it doesn’t.

      But still, you seem to be converting this to a typical “man is the harasser, woman is the victim, we must all fight to stop this behavior, and we won’t rest until it’s wiped off the face of the earth forever.” Well then, you’re in for a very long fight, one which you’ll never finish. I think it would be more constructive to figure out how to handle it rather than attempt the impossible task of ridding it forever.

      By the way, WE KNOW the cultural norm in bars right now is that women as a class have had the decision made for them that they’re fair game for hitting on, regardless of what a woman herself communicates.

      First, the decision has been made by nature, not “culture” or “us men”.
      Second, if every guy gave up as soon as a woman said “no” then humans would be extinct by now.

      I know that you’ll probably interpret that as me saying “rape is OK”, which I’m not. What I mean is that guys are persistent and don’t run way at the first negative response from a woman. They try to show their interest by being persistent; that’s the very thing that let’s a woman know that a guy is honestly interested. However, this is where things get tricky because at what point does a guy’s “persistence” become “harassment”? That point can be different for everyone and probably is, and this is why we have to be careful where we draw that line.

      We don’t need you to mansplain the status quo to us.

      BEWARE, sarcasm ahead!

      And I’m apparently the one who is sexist?!

      We are trying to CHANGE the status quo so that we can actually enjoy the same full range of activities you enjoy without constantly having to be on our guard, in a way that you don’t have to deal with and apparently can’t even empathize with.

      BEWARE, more sarcasm!

      Oh no, us guys never have to deal with harassment of any kind!

      End of sarcasm.

      Try attending an anger management class, it would do you good! And that’s an order not a request or opinion.

  101. 101
    TwoPiDeltaIJ

    I realise I am very late to this conversation, but I will throw in my two cents anyways.

    1) Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment ?
    2) Would you have reported it ?

    A lot of things happened in this story, and I would like to consider them in parts:

    when a young woman approached AJ and started making sexually charged “compliments”

    I suspect from this and the scare quotes that the compliments were not considered complimentary. I do not think this in its self qualifies as sexual harassment from the definition you have given.

    The young woman was noticeably intoxicated too.

    I presume that this is context for understanding why the young woman might be missing hints of (or obvious) rejection of her advances. This by its self probably also does not qualify as sexual harassment.

    AJ had to literally get up and leave in order to get away from her. Fortunetly[sic] for AJ, the young woman didn’t follow her. Unfortunately for me, I became the replacement focus of her attention.

    If this means that the young woman had not before this been targeting you, but has now changed targets I would essentially start over at a new “incident” for the purposes of answering your question. At this point, I do not think (from what I have read) that you have been sexually harassed. I think then you should not report having been sexually harassed.

    She was very sexually explicit in her language, very persistent and not very coherent.

    I think that this is probably rude, but not by its self sexual harassment.

    I was very uncomfortable. After enduring a few minutes of drunken babbles about how awesome a threesome would be, I got up and left too.

    I think that this is the first time so far that this might by its self be sexual harassment of you. As to if it was sexual harassment I am still not sure, but I would lean on the side of yes for the purposes of telling someone in a position of authority. I think it should be reported at this point simply to have someone make sure that the young woman does not go further into something clearly harassment with someone else for her sake and the sake of other people in the bar. That person probably should not have been the TAM staff who were likely also around, I would suggest the bartender if no one else obvious to talk to is apparent. I would say though that given your reaction you did not consider it harassment at the time. As such, it might have been too much to ask to have you report it as such. I do think a friendly warning to the bartender or someone else with some authority in the bar might have been prudent. I do not know if you were mistaken about it being harassment, but that is my view of what happened and my answer to your two questions.

    1. 101.1
      LeftSidePositive

      I would say though that given your reaction you did not consider it harassment at the time.

      The problem with your assessment here is that you’re failing to consider that because our culture normalizes sexual harassment to such an absurd degree, women are trained to ignore our feelings and “put up with” a whole lot of baggage, and we’re shamed into believing from a young age that if we stand up for our boundaries we’re unreasonable bitches. After a while, this kind of thinking becomes so internalized that it’s basically unthinkable to recognize sexual harassment for what it is. This means that we still feel like shit for being treated like this, but we blame ourselves a lot, skip out on doing things we’d otherwise like to do, and when we finally acknowledge the reason we feel so uncomfortable is not because we’re insufficiently feminine/understanding/fun, but rather that people are treating us badly and we don’t deserve this, it really takes a big weight off one’s shoulders (and enables us to find places/people where we ARE treated well!).

      Your post in toto is actually a perfect example of this–you’ve gotten so used to the norm that the natural state of the world includes the entitlement of men to hit on women that you are constantly making excuses for why a particular behavior isn’t sexual harassment…probably without even realizing how compulsively you’re doing it! But that’s the thing: it’s basically NEVER enough–no matter what happens (yes, even up to rape involving weapons!), there will always be a gaggle of commenters (and lawmakers, sadly) who will insist that there’s some reason that makes this particular case okay. And people who like to make women feel uncomfortable or try to manipulate them THRIVE on that ambiguity–they try to do just enough to wear the victim down, but in such a way that it sounds like nothing when they describe it to someone else.

      Although my particular favorite of yours is insisting that when AJ left apparently the harasser’s slate was wiped clean, and that we need to totally start over in our assessment of her behavior now that she shifted to Christina…um, WHAT?! So if you’ve seen someone do something persistently to someone else (in your presence) to the point they drive the other person away, and now they shift to you, do you honestly claim that doesn’t inform your assessment of their behavior and how uncomfortable you are? Are you seriously trying to claim that because a harasser shifts targets regularly we should not name their behavior for what it is?

      Seriously, look your post over again and realize how much you’re trying to define the problem away instead of dealing with the fact that a culture that doesn’t respect people’s privacy and consent is toxic, and that this toxicity tends to be born mostly by more marginalized people–in this case women.

      1. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        I think you might be tired from arguing with other people, but in any event your analysis of my post is, I believe, incorrect.

        The problem with your assessment here is that you’re failing to consider that because our culture normalizes sexual harassment to such an absurd degree, women are trained to ignore our feelings and “put up with” a whole lot of baggage, and we’re shamed into believing from a young age that if we stand up for our boundaries we’re unreasonable bitches.

        I do not know if you were mistaken about it being harassment…

        I do not think I have failed in considering the points you raised, I am simply unwilling to impose my imperfect view of what happened onto someone else. I answered Christina Rad’s questions given the limited set of information I have and using the definition of harassment she provided. I did not draw any generalizations about women and society.


        Your post in toto is actually a perfect example of this–you’ve gotten so used to the norm that the natural state of the world includes the entitlement of men to hit on women that you are constantly making excuses for why a particular behavior isn’t sexual harassment…[edited for brevity] …it’s basically NEVER enough–no matter what happens (yes, even up to rape involving weapons!), there will always be a gaggle of commenters (and lawmakers, sadly) who will insist that there’s some reason that makes this particular case okay.

        First of all, I did not ever discuss a situation of men hitting on women (in any setting). Second, my “excuses” for why individual events are not by them selves harassment is nuanced with “by them selves” which is part of the definition of harassment given. In total they might all add up to harassment. As to the rant about “never enough” I think I pointed out that this, as minor as it was, probably was enough to count as harassment. In fact many people in this thread have said the same thing. You can rant and rave all you like but your anger at society is misdirected when you rant at me about the commenters and lawmakers who insist that everything is fine.

        Although my particular favorite of yours is insisting that when AJ left apparently the harasser’s slate was wiped clean, and that we need to totally start over in our assessment of her behavior now that she shifted to Christina…um, WHAT?! So if you’ve seen someone do something persistently to someone else (in your presence) to the point they drive the other person away, and now they shift to you, do you honestly claim that doesn’t inform your assessment of their behavior and how uncomfortable you are? Are you seriously trying to claim that because a harasser shifts targets regularly we should not name their behavior for what it is?

        If this means that the young woman had not before this been targeting you, but has now changed targets I would essentially start over at a new “incident” for the purposes of answering your question. At this point, I do not think (from what I have read) that you have been sexually harassed. I think then you should not report having been sexually harassed.

        I think I pointed out that Christina Rad had not yet been sexually harassed. So the possibility of being sexually harassed by this young woman did not begin for Christina Rad until she was actually a target of the young woman’s unwanted advances. I did not say anything about the previous behavior informing or not informing Christina’s view of the young woman or her comfort level. Also the question of if the young woman harassed anyone else is not one I was asked, and so I did not answer it.

        Seriously, look your post over again and realize how much you’re trying to define the problem away instead of dealing with the fact that a culture that doesn’t respect people’s privacy and consent is toxic, and that this toxicity tends to be born mostly by more marginalized people–in this case women.

        Seriously, read my post for what it is (an answer to two specific questions given a definition by which to judge the answer to one of said questions) and cease piling your baggage on my post. If I had wanted to make a broader statement, I would have.

        1. LeftSidePositive

          Upon re-reading your post and in light of the clarifications in your reply, I will acknowledge that I was uncharitable in my initial read of your post, and for that I apologize.

          Oh, and I didn’t mean that you were drawing generalizations about women and society: rather I meant that your assessment (as I imperfectly understood it), was weakened without taking into account larger social gender dynamics.

          I guess at first I was reading you as saying Christina hadn’t been harassed once the woman had already transferred her attentions to Christina (because you included the transition in the blockquote), rather than just before, so yes your take is reasonable. I’m not really sure if since they were both there trapped and listening to all that, if it would in fact be fair to say that both of them were being harassed at first (AJ more than Christina, obviously), but that seems a pretty academic/pedantic point.

          Also, I now gather that you meant that it would “be too much to ask” OF CHRISTINA to report it at the time, and yes that’s certainly fair. I was reading it as “too much to ask” OF THE CONFERENCE to have a policy that addressed this sort of thing, as if it wasn’t a big enough deal to be identified as harassment at the time. Unfortunately, lots of people use the fact that victims are often in shock/denial after a wide variety of harassment or assault (and the cultural normalizing of it certainly doesn’t help), to deny that it was that serious if they didn’t identify it at the time and seek help later, and I wasn’t sure if you were referencing that when I thought (erroneously) you were saying the conference shouldn’t consider this worthy of dealing with.

          I hope this clarifies the sources of our misunderstanding. I still stand by my comments on the social dynamics of how our culture rationalizes sexual harassment, but I was wrong to address them to you specifically.

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

          1. TwoPiDeltaIJ

            No problem. I presumed there was something miscommunicated. While I might not always (or maybe even frequently) agree with you, you do usually make rational cogent posts and this reply just seemed out of the pattern I would expect.

            As to my misunderstanding (as you pointed it out, about generalizing my argument), I am not sure that I think a catch-all rule can apply to objectively and correctly identifying sexual harassment in all cases. Since the consequence of being accused of sexual harassment (when taken seriously, as you point out it is sometimes not) is severe I prefer remain a bit conservative in my willingness to label someone that way.

      2. Smhlle

        I just want to repeat “our culture normalizes sexual harassment to such an absurd degree.”

  102. 102
    cassmorrison

    1) To me it would be sexual harassment.
    2) Because she’s drunk and in a bar, I would at most report it to the bar tender/server (who should have cut this person off by now). Depending on how much it bothered me and how the bar staff reacted I would mention it on the satisfaction survey.

  103. 103
    johngreg

    I have a question, which is a little bit off-topic, but I cannot post at most of the other FfTB blogs.

    One of the ongoing claims is that there are, specifically in regard to TAM and other atheist / skeptic / feminist conferences, lots and lots of people who:

    “want to harrass. They want to sexually intimidate. They want to do stuff they think is fun, but are perfectly aware is offensive to others. They want to make women and other marginalised groups uncomfortable. They want to get their jollies this way.”

    And, apparently, these pro-harrassment people are coming out strongly and publically stating that they are anti-harrassment policy; they are supposedly stating publically that they are strongly opposed to any sort of harrassment policy.

    So, my question is, where are all these pro-harrassment, anti-harrassment policy people?

    Where do they hang out, comment, post, blog, and so forth?

    I think there is one person stating some anti-harrassment policy opinions on the ERV blog, but that’s about it.

    I’ve seen several people in several different blogs, and tweets criticising certain specific aspects of proposed anti-harrassment policies, but that is not the same thing at all as being anti-harrassment policy.

    And with all these claims about all these anti-harrassment policy people, I cannot recall anyone linking to any of them, or citing specifics, or providing specific quotes.

    1. 103.1
      Lordxor

      There is some evidence that this controversy is manufactured. Ophelia Benson apparently claimed she was getting threats and dropped out of TAM because of them.

      See: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/im-out/

      When asked to back it up, she backed down on that claim:

      See: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/closing-the-file/

      I am losing a lot of respect for some in the free thought community.

    2. 103.2
      EveryMan

      I’ve stated that while I (of course) support such policies; I’m now concerned that some individuals might abuse them to get someone they don’t like or disagree with kicked out of a conference.

      Does that count?

      1. johngreg

        Of course not, you misogynist, gender traitorious, sexist, rapeist, rape culture supporting douchebag who is just too stupid to agree with me … uh, erm, what?

        :)

        I’ve liked your posts so far on this topic, Everyman. And I suspect that you, like me will almost certainly be counted, by the Grand Inquistion (see FfTB) as anti-harrassment policy dicks, indeed.

      2. LeftSidePositive

        Aaah, the old “bitchez be lyin’” argument–thanks, I hadn’t heard that for nearly 40 minutes!! This is one of the most foundational pillars of misogyny in our culture, and cheap tactic to avoid having to seriously consider women’s autonomy–just say she lied, and then we don’t have to deal with the fact that she wants justice for how she is treated!

        Look, one complaint against someone is *very* unlikely to get zem thrown out of a conference, and at most you’ll get a talking-to from a staff member. Furthermore, do you try to raise the specter of false accusations to argue against enforcement of laws against theft? fraud? arson? None of these things are treated by our society as “let’s barely deal with them at all until we can be absolutely sure no one will be falsely accused!!” which would basically declare open-season on these activities…and yet, somehow, women’s interests seemingly cannot be addressed, even by something as minor a conference harassment policy, unless we’re absolutely sure that no man is getting even inconvenienced in the slightest. This seems, to me, to show a society in which women’s concerns are treated as secondary.

        1. johngreg

          LeftSideUndefined said:

          “Aaah, the old ‘bitchez be lyin’ argument–thanks, I hadn’t heard that for nearly 40 minutes!”

          Who said that?

          Huh? Y u On dRugz lEfty?

          Wheehaw, LSP, you really are certifiably nuts, aren’t you.

          Yippee-aie-kai-aye, cowboy / girl/ she / he / it / them / their / fluffernutter sandwich, whateverthefuck you self-define as.

          Have fun roasty-toasting your puffy marshmallows on the fire of your self-righteous rage, Honeybunny sweetykins.

        2. EveryMan

          We, as a nation governed by rule of law, absolutely do consider the specter of false accusations when prosecuting crimes. Hence the legal concepts of “innocent until proven guilty” and “trial by jury”.

          Of course, this is more of a code of conduct thing, but given the amount of false accusations and abuses of power I’ve seen here I’m especially leery of giving you or any of your peers authority over anyone in any manner. You are like children with a loaded gun.

  104. 104
    LadyShea

    1. It might help to take the sexual out and insert something else to determine if it was harassment for you. If this person had been inviting you to a prayer meeting, MLM rally, make money flipping real estate seminar, or to play a game of pool, would you have felt harassed by the level of persistence and/or refusal to acknowledge your declines? If yes, it was harassment, if no, probably not.

    2. If it wasn’t a TAM sanctioned event I wouldn’t have reported it to TAM no

    1. 104.1
      LeftSidePositive

      Is it really so wrong to acknowledge that some people find sexuality to be a bit more personal and important than a lot of that stuff? Can’t we at least accept that there is a very significant portion of the population that would be more disturbed to be dragged into a sexually explicit discussion than into a real estate pitch?

      I think part of sex-positivity is to acknowledge that sexuality is a huge part of who we are as individuals and that sexuality *matters* and has a big emotional impact on people. Now, hopefully with sex-positivity we’ll be able to develop and enhance people’s strong emotional and social attachment to sex in order to achieve better, happier, more mind-blowing sex, rather than to use people’s deep emotional investment in sex to control them or limit their social role to their sex organs.

      1. LadyShea

        @LeftSidePositive

        I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. Yes, from a social and personal perspective the woman was a ridiculous, rude, inept boor in her sexual aggression and explicitness. Most people would be uncomfortable with that. If we’re talking how best to approach strangers in a bar to see if they’re interested in sex, the woman (couple) failed miserably.

        But the question was “was it harassment”, and to me that designation requires a bit more. Not ascertaining boundaries before jumping into the solicitation is stupid and gross, but not immoral or unforgivable IMO, persisting despite boundaries being communicated (verbally or through body language or facial expression) is harassment. Using any kind of power differential coercively is harassment. Any kind of physical contact or barriering is harassment. Continuing the pitch when it is clear it is unwelcome is harassment.

        I very well might have found this situation to be sexual harassment personally.

  105. 105
    Smithy

    There is some evidence that this controversy is manufactured. Ophelia Benson apparently claimed she was getting threats and dropped out of TAM because of them.

    See: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/im-out/

    When asked to back it up, she backed down on that claim:

    See: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/closing-the-file/

    I am losing a lot of respect for some in the free thought community.

    1. 105.1
      EveryMan

      Brilliant.

      Paranoid #2 sends paranoid conspiracy theory to Paranoid #1.

      Paranoid #1 interprets paranoid conspiracy theory as threat from Paranoid #2.

      Paranoid #1 reacts with further paranoia.

      Paranoids #3+ amplify via echo chamber.

      Great example of how to create something from nothing using the magic formula of “Internet plus crazy people”.

  106. 106
    Tim

    No way would I report it. Go with your first instinct, it has to be right because as you said, you completely forgot about what happened.

  107. 107
    Denis Robert

    I have no issues with clear, well written, unambiguous harassment policies. What I do take issue with is the kind of vaguely written stuff that is getting adopted by a number of organizations right now that don’t make the distinction you make, Cristina. To me, you can only call harassment something that is either insistent (such as not taking no for an answer), directly physical (such as grabbing a body part not usually touched in public), or involves a power differential that makes it difficult for the person on the other end to feel fully free to say no. But this thing about asking explicitly to even touch someone on the shoulder is pushing it too far: of course, it’s far better if you do, but to the point of legislating it? Of course not. I hate it when strangers (or even acquaintances) touch me; I’m an aspie, and it’s a common aspie trait. But would I call it harassment? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I’d call it harassment if, after saying I don’t like being touched, a person insisted on doing it, yes. But a single act? Let’s not be idiots here.

    But what I find utterly insane is the Godwinization of the debate: it’s getting impossible to talk about what the best way to tackle the problem is without being accused of ignoring it altogether. It’s the old tactic of shouting “Nazi!” as soon as you feel like you may have to review your position. This has to stop. It’s no longer a debate, it’s become all out war.

  108. 108
    Tom

    I think it’s usually best to warn someone before reporting them, they may not realize that what they were doing is wrong. Most people will stop if you ask them to, if they refuse to, then you should report them.

    I’m not sure if I would consider this sexual harassment. A bar’s a social environment and there has to be a reasonable tolerance for discomfort. I wouldn’t consider it harassment unless the person either refused to stop, touched inappropriately, or was attempting to intimidate. From what you’ve described this lady was certainly being obnoxious, but I feel sexual harassment may be too strong a term.

    1. 108.1
      Patrik Olsson

      To constitute a harassment it must be repeated after the person have been made well aware of the inappropriate behavior and that they will be reported if it continues.

      Had the person followed either of you and been more persistent then maybe. The fact this took place in the hotel at a later time it’s got nothing to do with TAM (unless the woman was a fellow speaker at the event).

      So in your scenario I would say ‘no’ to both questions.

    2. 108.2
      Patrik Olsson

      My post above was not intended as a reply to Tom…

  109. 109
    Vipermagi

    I’m going to mince words a little bit here, sorry for any confusion but it’s how I see it.

    She was interacting with you and your friend in a manner you didn’t appreciate, and she continued to do it even after you told her not interested and to stop and go away (I’m assuming since you didn’t mention it, but it is a logical step for most people). This qualifies as harassment.

    I would call it harassment of a sexual nature because she was asking for you to be sexually involved and explicit in her opinion of it. This meets all the requirements definitional to be called sexual harassment, but is not the word I use for the reason I will list below.

    Sexual harassment in my book is all of the above, with the added influence of power. The you have sex with me you get special benefits, you don’t have sex with me you get special punishments. This is a second degree of harmful that I think should be made apparent with a second degree of punishments that it deserves.

    As for whether or not you should report it to TAM, that is a ludicrous reason, what does TAM have to do with it? If you are going to report it to anyone, report it to the bar or the police.

  110. 110
    M. A. Melby

    It is incredibly inappropriate behavior.

    If you needed to leave to get away from her instead of just say “no” – it was harassing.

    It doesn’t fit the strict definition of “sexual harassment”, as it lacked the element of a power difference or intimidation.

    It wasn’t assault because she didn’t touch you.

    Depending on the severity of the encounter, I might flag down an employee at the bar, if that is what it took to make her leave.

    If this was at the conference or at a sponsored event at the conference, I would report the incident. Reporting does not mean insisting that she be kicked out or otherwise punished. It means that if she is doing this to several people at the conference, making them feel uncomfortable, and acting inappropriately – then the staff know about it. A simple, “Just so you know, this happened,” isn’t blowing the situation out of proportion.

    This would not be something I would call the police about – not even close.

  111. 111
    M. A. Melby

    I think it’s an important question to ask:

    Would having a conduct policy that addresses this type of behavior be an undo imposition on those who would instigate the behavior?

    No.

    Would having such a policy possibly decrease the incidence of this type of inappropriate behavior?

    Probably.

    Would having such a policy create options that may be useful in addressing this type of inappropriate behavior if it does happen?

    Most likely.

    Would having a conduct policy that addresses this type of behavior be an undo imposition on those who would instigate non-harassing behaviors (such as proposing a threesome and taking “no” for an answer)?

    No, if it is written well.

  112. 112
    Maruku

    I posted this on Zinnia Jones’ new YT post, but it’s largely related.

    “In regards to the atheist conference sexual harassment issue, however, we’re looking at a tug of war between rights. Let’s say everyone is straight for this example. A man hits on a woman, and the woman doesn’t care for the man. Assuming she leaves or tells him to stop, any reasonable man would. It’s only after it passes a certain boundary (like him not stopping) that it becomes a threat/issue.

    In other words, it’s a tug of war between person A’s right to be sexually forward and try to garner interest from person B. And it’s person B’s right to say no and to get help/get away if it gets too scary or unwanted or what-have-you.

    But when person A goes too far, it’s sexual harassment (fair enough). The problem, as I can currently see it though, is that it’s leaning towards basically ‘men should be punished for their bad luck, hitting on women that end up not liking them.’ Not fair, in my opinion.”

    If you need an example of this type of opinion, merely look at Left Side Positive’s arguments.

    And to Left Side Positive, I think it’s important that you realize that most guys aren’t thinking “Oh, shut up and let the girl be harassed until she’s raped.” It’s like you’re thinking in very black and white terms. No one wants anyone to get raped or even harassed.

    At the same time, your definition of harassment is basically random bar hook-up attempts/picking up girls. Whether drunk or not, I think every man (and woman) should have the right to be sexually open and try to pick up a member of their preferred sexuality.

    The kinds of harassment rules you’d impose are overly socially conservative.

    1. 112.1
      LeftSidePositive

      Seriously? “Try talking to people for five minutes first to get an idea if they might be interested in sex” is too conservative?! WHAT? FIVE FUCKING MINUTES?!

      Look, what you’re doing is acting like women are completely inscrutable and therefore you can’t be held accountable for basic human decency, and that’s bullshit. You people are basically acting like there’s no other way to relate to a woman besides hitting on her, so it’s just luck-of-the-draw as to whether or not you get turned down. It’s like it’s never even fucking OCCURRED to you that she has opinions and a personality and a subjective impression of your behavior. It’s like you think women are slot machines (double entendre very much intentional) that will either turn up yes or no, and there’s like totally no way to tell beforehand! It’s like the entire concept of building up a rapport is completely fucking baffling to you people, because you’re incapable of seeing women as anything other than sexbots, or even as sentient beings who can communicate their own interests and desires. As I’ve said repeatedly before, it’s not about getting turned down, it’s if you go about asking in a remotely respectful way. A way that actually treats her like a person and understands that like all people, she will have some interpretation of what behavior is socially appropriate (and that it may differ from yours). If someone gets an invitation they don’t intend to accept but that was within a reasonable social context, they will think to themselves “Oh, well, I can see how he would think that…” and that would be the end of it. We can easily tell the difference between that and being propositioned out of the blue, because the difference is really fucking obvious.

      Moreover, you haven’t even understood my argument. I have NOT been saying on this thread that sexual harassment inevitably leads to rape, nor even that people who are opposed to sexual harassment policies necessarily ignore any behavior short of rape. What I AM saying is that even this low-level harassment, especially when it’s as frequent as it is, can really wear a person down and make an otherwise entertaining venue or event extremely unpleasant, and many women feel no alternative but to stay home, and this is an unequal and unfair social situation. This would be abundantly clear to you if you would actually pay attention to what women are saying. I know it’s difficult for you, but seriously, try to listen…you might learn something.

      1. Maruku

        I did listen, don’t worry, I’ll respond about that in just a second, but first off, I just wanna make it clear that I’m not okay with anyone doing this like completely out of the blue or anything, but at the same time, I’m not really sure I’d want to punish someone just because they don’t have as much tact as me or the most respectable gentleman/lady that exists.

        Like, I personally wouldn’t just hit on a woman in a bar. I might try to talk to a nice woman I’m interested in or something, but probably not at a bar, either. I have different ways of doing things.

        What you said is agreeable. I don’t disagree. I wouldn’t go near sex even after 5 minutes and probably not in the first night unless the other person was seemingly in good chemistry with me. And then, once again, I’d try to be tactful about it.

        My main point in all of this isn’t that I’m some creep and I think my level of enjoyment would be turned down. I just am not so sure we should be punishing men and women for not having any social grace or dignity.

        1. LeftSidePositive

          I don’t understand where you’re even getting anything about “punishing” either. In a case like this all that reporting would turn up would be some data for the organization’s files, and if the woman & her boyfriend did turn out to be part of the conference, a volunteer would come up to them and say “Excuse me, but we got a complaint at the bar last night that you were being very sexually explicit and drove two people away. Please be more considerate of your fellow attendees in the future.” That’s hardly “punished”–it’s not even a quarter as awkward as what they put Christina & AJ through! I have not seen anyone suggest that a harassment policy take any disciplinary action for this level of behavior, and it would have to be repeated several times (or have a pattern of this behavior at other conferences) before this would rise past a helpful discussion (which, if the parties in question were genuinely well-meaning but clueless, they should appreciate).

          1. Maruku

            I honestly didn’t notice that, either. A lot of people were just nearly dogmatic about it, without giving any rational arguments. Mostly just spewing flames and profanity at Thunderf00t, etc. and not really talking about the issue at hand like you have.

            So, from some of the things they said, plus a slight bit of assumption, it really did seem like a lot of people on FTB wanted to heavily punish people that got even into these minor incidents, which was baffling to me.

            If everyone’s of the same position as you, I can actually respect and understand it.

          2. LeftSidePositive

            I think I’m very much in the FTB-mainstream as far as harassment policy goes, and I’ve followed the discussion pretty closely.

            Even on this thread, I haven’t seen anyone suggest inordinate disciplinary action. I skimmed over again, and the suggestions have been:

            and it might be an idea for someone to gently get them to stop, or keep an eye on them and make sure noone else gets subject to similar treatment.

            -

            TAM are the people who decide where their conferences are going to be held. If they are unaware of problems occurring within the venue they cannot make a decision to avoid using a venue that has been the subject of a number of such reports.

            -

            It is the sort of thing that could be dealt with by a TAM official simply “suggesting” to the woman it was time she went to bed.

            [A few people suggested the bartender throwing them out of *the bar* for drunkenness, but not revoking their conference registration or anything...]

            They should be criticized or fired or asked to absent themselves if they continue some kind of harassing behavior after it’s been pointed out them (perhaps in the tutorial) that the behavior is negatively impacting someone else, and so also the mission or purpose of the organization.

            -

            At a minimum I would want the couple informed that they need to conduct themselves in a little more professional manner at conferences.

            -

            The important thing is, should she choose to report, that there are mechanisms in place for a.) recording that there was a report and b.) making an attempt to reach the people in question and let them know that their behavior was inappropriate. Then, if they continue to do the same thing to other conference attendees, the conference organizers can point to a data trail to justify asking these people to leave, at least for the duration of the conference.

            That was in the first 50 main-level comments & their sub-comments, so I think that’s a pretty fair assessment of the mainstream, but frankly, I’m not going to re-read all 300+.

            As for what you’re reading in, I suggest you watch this video to see how “The Straw Feminist” is portrayed in our culture, and how it leads people to perceive feminist arguments as more extreme than they are:

      2. Maruku

        Re-reading this, I see what you mean now (not that I didn’t necessarily understand most of it when I made the first reply, but still). Sorry.

        The point of the conference isn’t for men and women to hook up. It’s to share ideas and personally see and hear speakers.

        I have a tendency to be overly trustful and I tend to conflate my good intentions with other people’s intentions and that’s probably why I had a slightly skewed outlook on the issue. I tend to curb toward freedom than punishment unless there’s not a shadow of a doubt of incoming harm.

        I apologize on behalf of myself, seriously. I’ll try to understand it better.

  113. 113
    DanDare

    I’m more a cafe kind of guy than a bar person, so I’m not up on bar culture. However, don’t bars have a code of conduct? Don’t they stop serving drinks to people that are too far gone?

    It seems to me that in public places there are explicit rules and implicit rules to ensure that the maximum number of people in them enjoy themselves. People that break these boundaries and are odious are often shunned. But they have to go further than merely odious to be given hints to curb themselves.

    In your case study I think its unfortunate that you guys didn’t seek some assistance in curbing someone who was interfering with your enjoyment of the place. Still, if the staff had been on the ball or trained for such things they might have intervened discreetly.

    I feel an explicit code that puts the minimum boundaries is a helpful thing for everyone.

  114. 114
    SpennyJay

    This has probably been said already, but if you didn’t feel that you were being harassed sexually, then I would not count it as a case of sexual harassment. Unless I am sorely mistaken, sexual harassment is a subjective thing. You simply felt annoyed by the encounter and did not feel unsafe or threatened at any point, and to you that suggests that this was not a case of sexual harassment. That judgment is entirely up to you, and should not be influenced by the ideas of others.

    Someone else may have been presented with an identical situation, and subsequently felt unsafe, or simply harassed. That is their interpretation of the situation and is equally valid.

  115. 115
    C Tran

    Not harassment unless you made it verbally clear you wanted that person to leave.

  116. 116
    FlowDisruptor

    Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment ?

    Not really. There was no real threat and no physical contact, afaik, just some random chick being annoying.

    Would you have reported it ?

    No. It was a non-incident. Also, I rather dislike the underlying petty, whiny victim mentality of people who are eager to ‘report things’. If you have a problem, you should try to fix it yourself instead of running to some ‘authority’ like a scared little bitch. We really need to stimulate strength, pride & self-sufficiency instead of pettiness and infantile dependency. People should be given the means to defend themselves and the freedom to use them. No more bureaucratic fascism and litigation culture; the state should stay out of private matters and only intervene in extreme cases.

  117. 117
    Gradivus75

    It is sexual harassment due to the sexual nature of the event, overt nature even. Would she have acted that way if she were sober?

    It could a case of someone drinking too much, in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Meaning where she could bother you and your friend.

    I suppose one would have to know her to know what the hell she was thinking. Should someone had called the cops, I believe the charge would have been drunk and disorderly. But drunk or not she was certainly inappropriate.

  118. 118
    Traveling Txn

    Chiming in with the above:

    1. yeah this probably falls under sexual harassment, but on a sliding scale of 1 being not harassment and 10 being “OMG thats really bad harassment” if Im reading the situation right Id say this is probably around a 2 or 3. Yes its harassment, but it was not threatening, the person does not sound like they were in a condition to continue the harassment after you left, and it seems like they were too messed up to notice their attentions were unwanted. Not that thats an excuse for the behavior, but its more forgivable than if say she had been sober and fallowed you out and continued asking as you went through a dark alley. It sounds like it was completely free of malevolent intent and while she was apparently sexually objectifying everyone she saw it seems more like the kind of act thats full of stupid someone whose desperate to have a three some under some unlikely but preset conditions that are nonthreatening to their primary relationship might do.

    2. It doesnt sound like it was worth reporting so much for the harassment as for their drunkenness. So maybe reporting them to the bars staff would have been good, but from the description IDK why it would be reported to the conference. Had it been at the conference proper IDK that Id report it as harassment to the conference, but I probably would report it as a couple who are highly messed up and causing a disturbance and maybe someone needs to escort them to a safe place where they wolnt bother anyone and arnt a danger to themselves.

    I may not be reading this properly, and definitely didnt read anywhere near through all the comments so if this has been said before or other clarifying information is available above sorry for the rehashing. I also maybe taking this read of the situation presented because Im a guy and it was the woman hitting you and your friend up which seems like it would be a lot less threatening or annoying than it was for you in real life compared to what it seems like when I try to put myself mentally in that situation.

  119. 119
    John

    1. Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment?
    When I think of harassment, I think of deliberate annoyance. I doubt the person was deliberately being annoying. They didn’t follow you after you left, and you appear not to have tried very hard to communicate that they needed to leave you alone. Therefor I would not call it harassment.

    2. Would you have reported it ?
    No. When somebody offers sex to me, I take it as a compliment whether or not I find it an appealing proposal. If they can’t figure out that I am not interested after clearly communicating it to them, and they can’t figure out that they need to drop the topic and leave me alone, then I would report it.

  120. 120
    rogerjohnson

    Like many others have stated, if the advances were continual after it was made clear you were not interested, than I would agree with labeling that sexual harassment. However it seems to me if you are attending an event that has ended, and are in a random bar, and are sexually harassed, you should notify someone at the bar, so they can remove them/discontinue serving them alcohol. Or if the harassment is sever enough threat you feel you are in danger the police would be an obvious next step. I don’t think I would report anyone for sexual harassment unless they became heavily physical, or were so aggressive that I was unable to get away from them.

  121. 121
    Andre

    I clumsy proposition is annoying but hardly harassment. However if she was told that you were not interested and kept pushing the issue… drunk or not then yes this was light harassment.

    Now if you should report it is up to you. but as for myself, seeing as I am an adult who’s skin is not so thin that I can’t handle my own little annoyances, I would not have reported anything unless the situation was escalating.

    Sorry for my poor spelling and grammar.

    1. 121.1
      LeftSidePositive

      It’s not about “not being able to handle” this type of behavior, it’s about having a sense of I DON’T DESERVE THIS SHIT. I shouldn’t be shamed for being “thin skinned” just for wanting to be treated equally to my fellow conference-goers. Moreover, reporting is more of an altruistic effort to improve the atmosphere of the convention for everybody (or, the non-harassers, anyway). It’s not that I “can’t handle” this petty boundary-disrespecting, it’s that I want to enjoy a conference where it’s not a social norm and therefore rarer, so I can have fun without having to waste my energy “handling” this kind of annoying shit.

      1. Andre

        “I DON’T DESERVE THIS SHIT.”

        What shit don’t you deserve to have to suffer? Some women flirting with you? Some drunk women flirting with you?
        There has to be realistic limits to what shit you don’t deserve to function in a social setting.

        When someone steps slightly out of those bounds…. I don’t think a guy having to turn down a drunk women’s advance is cause for the guy to run off and report it unless she pushes the issue.

        If I am sitting at a bar and a women walks up to me and offers me a drink… do I deserve this shit? Is it the bars job to make sure I am not approached for a drink? I think it is reasonable to expect me to handle this myself don’t you?

        1. LeftSidePositive

          This shit isn’t “flirting” and you damn well know it. This isn’t someone offering a drink. This shit is behavior where people are extremely sexually explicit and persistent and make people prefer to leave rather than deal with them. This shit is people following others into enclosed spaces and propositioning them. This shit is behavior highly suspicious for upskirt photos. This shit is people staring at my breasts instead of my face. This shit is people not caring whether or not I’m uncomfortable.

          Seriously–you know this already. You know we’re talking about predatory, inconsiderate, boundary-violating behavior, so why the fuck are you pretending we’re objecting to socially-appropriate communication? This is a blatant strawman and I earnestly suggest you cut it the fuck out.

          1. Andre

            “This shit isn’t “flirting” and you damn well know it. This isn’t someone offering a drink.”

            No this is a women skipping the pretense and asking if your up for a threesome. Much more crass and clumsy to be sure but much the same.

            You need more the a clumsy effort to see if you would like sex before you should expect someone else to handle the situation for you.

          2. LeftSidePositive

            Someone being “crass and clumsy” are valid reasons to feel uncomfortable, and valid reasons why this behavior should not be excused as a social norm. Women are telling you overwhelmingly that it makes them uncomfortable. The vast majority of those here who insist it is no big deal are men, who don’t have to deal with this behavior to nearly the same degree as women. That should tell you something, shouldn’t it?! If you’re forming your model of social norms without input from those who are directly affected by certain attitudes or behavior (or only listening to them very selectively), you’ve got a problem…

            Also, we women wouldn’t have to make a big deal about why this is not okay if people actually respected our feelings on how we are treated in the first place. If we said, “this thing X happened and it was shitty,” and everyone responded with “wow, how shitty indeed!” the conversation would basically stop there. It’s people like you who insist on minimizing and explaining away this kind of thing and tell us that you only respect certain responses to being treated shittily, and try to debate us on our own feelings and on our rights to be treated fairly, that really exposes how deep-seated these sexist attitudes are.

            And, AGAIN, I’m not necessarily asking someone else to “handle” the situation. There are many instances where I’m perfectly capable of handling it myself (women deal with this shit ALL THE TIME, after all!), and do in fact handle it myself, but after the fact when I have the option of going to an event organizer, I might want to let them know this happened, and should not be acceptable. They are official representatives of the organization, and will be listened to in ways I can not, and are instrumental in modeling a community-wide standard for good behavior. In contrast, no matter how adeptly I handle that particular situation myself, I will still be just one random person that it is easy for the harasser to rationalize away or brush off.

          3. Andre

            “Women are telling you overwhelmingly that it makes them uncomfortable.”

            “Women” are telling me lots of stuff but women hardly all agree on where the ok and not ok lines are.

            The real women I have told about this seam to put this in the ok but creepy category, fallowed by questions on if she pushed the issue after she was rejected. This was all friends and family but simply discounting them…

            I ask my friend and family at dinner tonight about this and am told all sorts the story about being fallowed in a car by guys and how it scared her. I go to the bar and see creepy guys get pissed off because my wife won’t let them buy her a drink. My female friends going out to a club having to make up hand signals to let the boyfriends know they need help getting away from some guy who won’t take no for an answer… this shit bothers me and needs to stop. Some tiny drunk girl walks up to a group at a table and makes a clumsy unwanted pass looks solidly in the realm of awkward but harmless to me.

            “if people actually respected our feelings on how we are treated in the first place.”

            Who’s feelings are you talking about? Remember this was another women who made the pass here, she has to put up with the same crap as the rest of you.
            This drunk girl who was making the offer for a threesome was surely not showing respect buy being drunk. Being drunk can happen in a place of drinking like a bar, but she must be responsible for her actions anyway. Still reporting this so it can be put to an end and people don’t have to put up with it anymore…. When this is something that women should not have to deal with, I do wonder how much longer before simply making a pass at someone becomes a issue because it also makes people feel awkward.

          4. LeftSidePositive

            Andre:

            1) Just because something is okay for your friends does not mean it’s okay for everyone. Also, you seem to be ignoring the many women on this very thread who have objected to this. Moreover, your friends were not there and could not know how uncomfortable they’d be in real time. The fact that this behavior caused two people to leave the area should tell you something.

            2) Harassment exists on a continuum, and the general callous disregard for boundaries and for caring about others’ (especially women’s) comfort manifests itself both in the minor, “normalized” forms of harassment, and in the more egregious forms you mention. Caring only about the big stuff is short-sighted and ignores the root cause.

            3) Whether or not the harasser is a woman herself is irrelevant. I suggest you read up on the phenomenon of internalized sexism, and our culture’s general sex-negativity which often translates into a disrespect for the boundaries of others one would like to sleep with.

            4) Have you read anything on this thread apart from the replies to your own comments? The issue of how just “getting turned down” differs from approaching someone in a callous and/or creepy manner has already been discussed at length.

          5. Andre

            “Also, you seem to be ignoring the many women on this very thread who have objected to this.”
            I also take republicans threatening to move to Canada with a grain of salt. The internet tends to push everything up to 11.

            “Moreover, your friends were not there and could not know how uncomfortable they’d be in real time.”
            Sorry I thought this happened to someone else and not you.
            Still like I said my friends deal with much much worse and I think they have a pretty good idea of how they might have felt. Still without all the context we can only guess… unlike you who was there.

            “The fact that this behavior caused two people to leave the area should tell you something.”
            Yah it tells me she was obnoxious but the adults handled it in the way they felt best. Maybe I missed it but did they feel they had to leave the bar or just walked away? Did they tell her no and she pressed the issue? If the answer is no I would think just walking away was a pretty good fix and leaving it at that is fine. If she pressed the issue reporting it would have been called for imo.

            “phenomenon of internalized sexism”
            So a drunk women trying to pick someone up is sexism? What if she had been trying to pick up a guy or if she was a guy trying to pick up a guy? Yah I think your pushing it if your finding sexism here but I am not going to argue it with you.

  122. 122
    Maruku

    @LeftSidePositive on “Straw Feminism”

    The woman in the video makes things pretty clear. I didn’t really think that media was having much of an effect on me as such, but I suppose it’s possible that it was. I’m glad I saw that, thanks.

    1. 122.1
      LeftSidePositive

      That’s Anita Sarkeesian. She’s the one who just got an avalanche of harassment, death & rape threats, having her youtube videos flagged for “terrorism,” having her Wikipedia page vandalized, and having her website hacked, all for asking for funding to do a similar series as the one I linked to, but on video games. Fortunately, she got lots of support and funding beyond her wildest dreams as people heard about the harassment and wanted to protest it, but it’s a really rude awakening to the level of sexism that’s brewing under the surface of a significant subset of the population.

      More about the story, and examples of some of the harassment & vandalism she’s been getting:

      http://FeministFrequency.com/

  123. 123
    Brooke

    No, it is NOT harrassment!
    It is an annoying drunk woman asking you for a threesome.

    I have to say I am on the TF side, though I do think he got too personal in his debate.
    1. if someone is annoying you and making you feel uncomfortable, assert yourself strongly and say so.
    2. if they persist, recruit friends and even other strangers around you for help in stopping them.
    3. if they persist, get the bartender or hotel security to escort them away!
    4. if they give trouble at that point, then the police will enter on the call of the hotel management!

    There seems to be an equating of “I feel uncomfortable” with “I am about to be physically hurt”!

    No one ANYWHERE is guaranteed a “right” to not be “uncomfortable”! If you are, you are the only one that can do something about it!

    We do have the “right” to not be physically harmed, and for that the reality is you have to prove “intention”, which is trying to “read thoughts” and thus very difficult to prove.

    Sorry, but that is just reality! I would rather live in a society where we are allowed “uncomfortable”, but not allowed “harm”. It seems as if many people think “uncomfortable” = “harm”…very strange.

    1. 123.1
      LeftSidePositive

      I expect someone of even minimal intelligence to realize that this pat little list of yours may not work in all situations, or with all people. People have had many varied experiences where your vaunted advice most definitely did not work.

      Second, no one is saying that being uncomfortable NECESSARILY means that one is about to be physically hurt. We are just saying that it makes us uncomfortable, and that should be socially unacceptable.

      Moreover, if you insist on exerting your “right” to make others uncomfortable, without regard to social norms or basic human decency towards your fellow human beings, much less any empathy or general manners, yes you have the “right” to behave like that, but a conference also has the right to refuse service to anyone who is messing up their image or discouraging other paying attendees from participating or registering again next year. To that end, have you considered that maybe being around a bunch of people who think like you and act like they are entitled to make others uncomfortable is not a lot of people’s idea of a good time? That maybe we’d prefer not to pay airfare, hotel, and registration fees for the privilege of being in the company of a bunch of callous, selfish, willfully antisocial shitheads?

  124. 124
    mimi

    No, not harassment, just douchy and oblivious. Had they been your boss, maybe. Mentors, maybe. Continued on and on after you said “get lost”, maybe. Also remember that they are under the influence of who-knows-what substance.

    I know I’ve been offered disgusting sexual acts by complete strangers and coworkers too-I just said “no way”-that is that, no harm done. However, I have also been the victim of real sexual harassment when I got fired for refusing to date my boss-then he blacklisted me. Big difference between the two.

    1. 124.1
      LeftSidePositive

      Yes, there is a big difference between the two, but just because grand larceny is very wrong doesn’t mean we simply excuse pickpocketing. Moreover, the cultural resignation to the lesser types of sexual harassment breeds a climate that encourages and perpetuates the greater types.

      1. mimi

        I said neither to excuse it nor condone it-just that it does not appear to fit the criteria for sexual harassment as it was relayed in the blog.

        I wasn’t there, but by the description, I did not see this as sexual harassment, sorry-just as pick pocketing isn’t grand larceny and has different punishment.

        In my opinion (and this is only an opinion), this deserves the same punishment as other boorish behavior-shunning, and if necessary a curt or rude response to go away. If and only if the behavior continued would I feel harassed.

        1. LeftSidePositive

          But “sexual harassment” isn’t just a term for the most severe stuff. “Sexual harassment” is a term that describes a wide spectrum of behavior, like “theft,” which would include both grand larceny AND pickpocketing.

          And yes, shunning this behavior would be good–but we can’t even GET there…we seem to have a very vocal segment of this community that excuses this sort of behavior and welcomes its practitioners.

          1. mimi

            See, this is where we part ways. To me, sexual harassment isn’t just any boorish behavior that involves sexuality. There is a difference between wanting to get laid and abusing dominance or humiliating someone on purpose.

            Sexual harassment is behavior designed to “put someone in their place”, to humiliate, to conquer someone’s will, to bully, to disregard someone else’s right to choose their path sexually, to reduce an entire person’s worth to a set of genitalia. Big frigging difference, if you ask me.

            Also, any number of people with social disorders like autism, TBI or under the influence of substances will behave in ways that they think is absolutely fine, but it isn’t. Not all unwanted attention deserves the “sexual harassment label. It just weakens the word.

          2. LeftSidePositive

            I disagree–I think that our culture’s pervasive hostility to women’s consent and women’s right to feel comfortable and treated like an equal, which is very much expressed in the attitudes that women should “expect” certain behavior in a bar, etc.–IS a matter of (subconsciously) expressing men’s dominance over women, and lots of the sexualized comments I’ve received in public have been intended to demean and humiliate, and others report this is very common for them too. I can’t think of a better description than “putting women in their place,” and that place is apparently not in the street, in the subway, or being in a bar without the intention of fucking someone. This is a spectrum of behaviors, and all the same attitudes about entitlement, dominance, and control inform the lesser manifestations of this spectrum as the greater ones.

            It’s also laughable to pretend this is only about “wanting to get laid.” The fact that our culture excuses such boorish, inconsiderate behavior with the aim of getting laid IS A MAJOR PROBLEM. Look, if you want to get laid, post a Craigslist add, start up a nice polite conversation and see if it is socially appropriate to make any advances, and generally care about the experiences of those with whom you’re interacting.

            And, I’m really fucking sick of neurotypical people throwing around the Autism spectrum as an excuse for their boorishness. No, sorry, the vast majority of the people who act this way toward women have fully functioning brains–they’re just privileged, entitled assholes.

          3. mimi

            I’m autistic. I don’t agree with you, and you are becoming hostile. Goodbye.

  125. 125
    douglasmcfarland

    “Do you consider this was an incident of sexual harassment ?”
    I think it would qualify as sexual harassment under the definition you gave and changing workplace to social in the definition. I do not think you would have been wrong to report it to the bartender. I also agree as described it didn’t seem to have much to do with the TAM event.

    “Would you have reported it ?”
    No. Bars are places where people sometimes act inappropriately in a variety of ways and having had much experience with it I do not think I would have even thought of that option. Come to think of it I can’t recall having ever reported anything to any type of authority ever. I just don’t like authority. It would be an extreme situation which I felt was beyond my ability deal with personally. But that is just me. If someone is acting in an inappropriate way and won’t stop and one has exhausted all diplomatic means of disengagement I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who dealt with by that means.

  126. 126
    Patres

    No.

    Sexual harassment seems to carry a lot of weight, it’s almost a legal term to me. To me should mean severe consequences for the perpetrator.
    If any simple approach or advance at a bar is now going to be labeled sexual harassment, then everything flirtatious, ever, will soon be too. People will stop approaching people in fear of getting their asses thrown out or sued. It’s human nature to try and interact with the opposite sex in hopes of a sexual encounter.

    Sometimes as we are approached, it’s someone who we are not initially interested in and find annoying. What follows is they either grow on us or they remain annoying, and it’s up to the person to decide to follow through the conversation with “something else”. Most people will finally give up after they’ve been shown no interest, cos they don’t wanna keep wasting their time. In this case, switching to somewhere else seemed to work, either another table or finally turning in for the night… it’s not like she followed and kept insisting.

  127. 127
    Matt

    Your writing is fine, although I must admit I am reading it with your Romanian accent in my head…

    This definitely crosses the line into harassment in some ways, but I’m not sure reporting it is the way to go. On one hand, you could be militant about the fact that she made you uncomfortable enough that you had to vacate the area. But as someone else said, most of us have had to simply walk away from obnoxious people at one time or another. If she tried to prevent you from leaving, that would be something else again.

    There is also the fact that she was impaired. It’s not an excuse of course, but it might tend to make her blind to social cues that she might pick up sober. The embarrassment she might possibly feel when she remembers how she acted might well be punishment enough. Anyway, in the absence of actual coercion, that makes you the adult in the room. Your decision to simply disengage was a good one.

    One thing I can’t help wondering: You say there was a man with her. I wonder if they decided that she was going to do the talking because as a woman she was less likely to be perceived as harassing, threatening, or “creepy?”

  128. 128
    mobile phone numbers uk for sale

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  129. 129
    flawlesslogic

    No, it is not sexual harassment, it is just the persons freedom of expression practiced.

    Also, no i wouldnt report it, probably we should have some sex party at spot, after they are clean enough (would be kind of awkward that way). However, i dont think the female would have approched me considering my look.

    On the other hand i also think you should have accepted the offer, considering if you had no other important activity which would have been delayed this way. For example if you were talking with your friend, you could have had sex in the same time parellel. Of course precautions taken, blah blah, its obvious.

    Do you agree? If not, then detail reasons.

  130. 130
    clarisonic mia 2

    Prefer may be imperfect worries commence, however it multiplies sturdier as we grow older if accurately provided.

  131. 131
    Hiedi Kilts

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  132. 132
    seemeinhereone33

    There are some fascinating deadlines in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them heart to heart. There’s some validity but I will take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like extra! Added to FeedBurner as well

  133. 133
    Luiz Carlos, Brazil

    Hi, I could not find this video in English, sorry, but this would be a great help that you can not understand the Bible (Please try searching). His convictions have no support, are not grounded, has no logical consistency, and also not fully convinced, at least not those who know the Lord and what he means in his writings … The words, the phrases in question are being analyzed for their crude sense, and not by the context in which they operate.
    This is only a request from someone far away who felt motivated by their videos to rid you of your convictions misleading!
    I have a message for you: God still loves you very much, and is unipotent, this means that there is impossible for Him, and He always will accept you back, no matter what state you are. His love is unconditional! Just truly repent of their sins and confess Him as only and sufficient Savior of your life.
    A very nurturing embrace of a friend that you just want to win and very good for you.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI4DIoJ79GI

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