I thought some of you might be interested in seeing the sexual harassment policy of a polyamory conference.
In the last couple/few weeks, there’s been a lot of conversation about sexual harassment at atheist/ skeptical conferences. Many folks are saying that it would be a really good idea if these conferences had policies in place saying that sexual harassment wouldn’t be tolerated, defining as clearly as possible what kind of behavior was not to be tolerated and what the consequences would be for this behavior, and putting official reporting procedures for harassment in place… so people who are harassed have a way to report it without exposing themselves to the public excoriation that often gets aimed at people who report sexual harassment, and so conference organizers get a better idea of how serious a problem this actually is. (Almost Diamonds has an extensive series of posts on this issue, as well as links to other posts.)
There’s been a fair amount of pushback against this idea. And a fair amount of the pushback has centered on a specific anti-harassment policy — the one on the Geek Feminism Wiki — that’s been widely proposed as one possible template for conferences to adopt. Some people are complaining that feminists are dogmatically demanding the blanket adoption of this one policy, regardless of whether it’s appropriate for the particular conference.
I’m a bit baffled by this complaint. I haven’t seen a dogmatic demand anywhere that this policy, and this policy only, be adopted wholesale and without question or alteration, at all atheist/ skeptical conferences. What I’ve seen is a strong request — in some cases a demand — that some sort of anti-harassment policy and reporting procedures be in place, and a proposal of this one as one possible example or template. And it’s an odd complaint, anyway… since the policy template on Geek Feminism specifically says, right at the top, that it is template, an example, and that “it may be adopted unchanged or tweaked to suit your conference.” (Emphasis mine.)
But since some people don’t like this particular anti-harassment policy — or rather, if they don’t like this particular tweakable template of an anti-harassment policy — and since the issue might be with this one particular template being adopted across the board — I thought some of you might like to see the code of conduct that was in place at OpenSF, the recent conference for the open, poly, or ethically non-monogamous in the Bay Area. If people think that the Geek Feminist template is too sex-negative, or too restrictive on consensual flirting and consensual sex, it seems that it might be worth throwing the policy of a polyamorous conference into the mix, so people can have some ideas how a very sex-positive community handles this question.
BTW, I’ve included the entire code of conduct here, including sections that don’t have anything to do with sex or sexual harassment, so you can see the whole thing in its context.
Yes means yes, no means no, and maybe means no. Please take no for an answer, for everything from simple social requests to intimate encounters. Do not corner people socially – if someone is looking trapped, give them space. Sexual or other harassment will not be tolerated at this event. We encourage you to seek enthusiastic consent for all activities during the weekend.
No touching other people without asking! (Or unless you already have that sort of relationship with them.) We really mean it. This means no random hands on knees, shoulders, etc. We know this is California and everyone hugs, but please do that awkward “wanna hug?” gesture before actually hugging. When in doubt about any kind of social or erotic touching, please ASK FIRST. We have attendees who do not like to be touched, and they will like you much better if you respect their personal space.
We have many different sorts of people attending this conference: different sexualities, genders, races, and abilities, among other differences. Also, we have many different kinds of non-monogamous folks: poly people, open relationships, swingers, BDSM types, and non-monogamous sex workers, to name a few. Please respect folks who are different from you. In particular please respect the chosen pronouns/genders of the people you are talking to. Blatant instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on should be reported to the conference staff, who will have a social justice advocate available to handle such situations.
Please do not wear fragrance! This includes perfumes, colognes, deodorant, heavily scented shampoos, and so on. We have a number of attendees who will have bad allergic reactions to scented products. We love the smell of your body – please don’t cover it up!
Please respect the sessions and the presenters. Please do not interfere with a facilitator’s ability to run their session or speak. Please respect the other session attendees. Try not to hog the limelight or speak over other people during discussions. We encourage you to actively seek out and hear perspectives that are different from your own and which challenge you.
We are allowing parents to bring their children into some sessions. Please do not give them trouble for it. Parents are however ultimately responsible for their children’s behavior in those sessions.
There are chairs and spaces at the front and the back of most of the session rooms which are marked reserved. The front row chairs are reserved for folks who are vision or hearing impaired. The back row is reserved for folks needing mobility accomodations. As well, back row seating chairs will be spaced further apart to ensure extra room for folks needing this accomodation.
Due to hotel rules, there is no nudity at the conference proper, though it is allowed at the affiliated Pink party. In the hotel common areas and sessions, please wear something that you would be able to wear on the street without facing arrest. Note that in at least one session the presenters will be using “technical clothing” (genitals, ass, and women’s nipples covered – but just barely) to illustrate what they are teaching. You will be warned which sessions are doing this.
Violations of the code of conduct may be cause for expulsion from the conference.
You may want to note that this code of conduct was easily accessible from the conference’s main website, as one of the main tabs on the home page.