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Sexual Harassment, and the OpenSF Conference Code of Conduct

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.

Comments

  1. says

    The policy’s results? No harassment (at least, as far as I am aware), and yet it certainly didn’t stop people from flirting and hooking up in a consensual fashion.

    Proof that you can be respectful and not only get laid, but get laid more.

  2. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Proof that you can be respectful and not only get laid, but get laid more.

    And proof that for most of the people objecting the issue isn’t “not getting laid,” it’s “having to be respectful.”

  3. Christophe says

    What in the world is “sex-negative” about the Geek Feminist template policy? It seems entirely sane and rational. If someone can’t flirt within the confines of that policy, they really need to examine exactly what “flirting” means to them, because their definition may not align with the standard one.

  4. MichaelD says

    Sounds good to me… why are we even arguing about this again? Having a hard time seeing anything to get all riled up about in such a policy.

  5. says

    That’s a perfect illustration of the issue here. I’m just as involved in Sex Positive St. Louis as I am involved in the St. Louis Skeptical Society, and the idea of an event with an explicitly-worded, very strict anti-harassment policy being sex-negative is bizarre and untenable on the face of it.

  6. Qwetzaqwetal says

    Seems like a perfectly reasonable policy to me.

    Also, I know this wasn’t the point of your thread, but I sure wish more conferences had the no fragrance/perfume/deodorant policy. It would make it much easier to breathe. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to leave a room with people I wanted to listen to or chat with because a strong fragrance made it impossible for me to remain.

  7. anon101 says

    get laid more.

    I really don’t care if anybody gets laid at all but who gets laid more and how the hell do you know that?

  8. says

    I was just saying to someone on Facebook that I felt perfectly safe and at home at kinky events and blues dancing events specifically because of the clear rules about respect (physical and emotional) as well as the clear lines of enforcement. I’ve bowed out of attending local poly events (my local poly potluck doesn’t do so well on the non-harassment front, because there’s a bizarre policy encouraging “flirt cards,” ie business cards with personal contact info on them, which can be thrust at a potential date and then the perpetrator can walk away. Not the worst kind of harassment, but definitely jarring and classically Northwest passive-aggressive), as well as geek/nerd events and atheist events specifically because of this lack. I want to support SlutWalk but I’m terrified of actually going. I get harassed enough on my daily bus/bike commute to last me weeks.

  9. says

    Seems we atheists/skeptics/agnostic types should consider the word “heathen” being bandied about. Although it can be a playful term in self-reference, “argh, us evil heathens…etc”, it could be subconsciously encouraging this discourteous behavior.

  10. Jeanette says

    “Seems we atheists/skeptics/agnostic types should consider the word “heathen” being bandied about. Although it can be a playful term in self-reference, “argh, us evil heathens…etc”, it could be subconsciously encouraging this discourteous behavior.”

    I find this a very confusing post. Heathen is just a word some religions use for people who are not part of their group. Why on earth should that “subconsciously encourage” bad behaviour?

    Perhaps if one came from a religious background that accused people not of the group of being some sort of human animals without ethics or moral guidelines that MIGHT be the case. However, without that indoctrination, I cannot see why anyone would have that reaction, consciously or subconsciously.

  11. Eliott says

    I think one of if not the key component of this code is that it is stated that “a social justice advocate to handle these situations” is available. As far as I can tell reading the recommendations of the blogs calling for a code at our conferences, this is a keystone for success that has been consistently overlooked. I would hazard a guess this social justice advocate has background in investigating and resolving these types of issues and are empowered to do just that and is probably not staff of the organization holding the conference.

  12. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Seems we atheists/skeptics/agnostic types should consider the word “heathen” being bandied about. Although it can be a playful term in self-reference, “argh, us evil heathens…etc”, it could be subconsciously encouraging this discourteous behavior.

    This seems like a ridiculous stretch, especially when there are scores of vastly more credible explanations.

  13. ik says

    The Geek Feminist policy is pretty good but it could be made far, far better with some minor modification. It’s a bit too vague for a policy *specifically for geeks who are already bad at social interactions*.

    It’s a bit like the high school harrassment policies that made us think that most people could read minds to tell whether it was safe to flirt even in a fairly laid-back manner, since most people were able to flirt at least sometimes and not harrass people very much.

    It’s NOT that much of a change.

  14. says

    This is good! In spite of the inflated rhetoric going around FTB, many of us who have been critical of “talibanesque” anti-harassment polcies are not against an anti-harassment policy per se, but do have a problem with the Geek Feminist one. And yes, I know it’s supposedly tweakable, except that the first thing I seem to hear from the partisans of that particular policy, when objecting to loaded language about “sexualization”, is resistance to modifying it all, fearing that this might make it a “weak” policy.

    In any event, I think the language of the above policy is a good example of a reasonable anti-harassment policy, and one that was written for the needs of that particular conference rather than “off the shelf”. It seems clear to me that there’s a clear difference between the kind of atmosphere and behavior that one would expect from say, the American Society for Cell Biology conference vs the Alternative Press Expo vs OpenSF. Something not very far from the strict policies that might be typical of a professional workplace might be wholly appropriate to the first, but not for the other two.

  15. says

    Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort says:

    “But, they want to ban Booth Babes! That’s so Taliban of them!”

    Well, in all seriousness, do all events need to ban “booth babes”? Sure, their presence at some professional IT events is out of place and I don’t see a problem with requiring more professional/conservative presentation by vendors there. But at a comic con? Sorry, but in that case the policy is way too restrictive. Especially if the policy is so broad that you start banning “sexualized” media like erotic comics along with it.

    But hey, I’m sure I’m just an sexist prick for even having that concern, right?

  16. says

    Hello! I was the organizer of OpenSF, and just wanted to respond to a couple things.

    First, the social justice advocate was actually drawn from conference staff, though I can certainly see the argument for an independent advocate. There was only one incident requiring her attention, and it was fairly minor.

    Overall, having the code of conduct set a good tone for the conference: people avoided things like harassment, blatant racism, and so on. I see such codes more as preventing issues rather than being reference points when issues happen, though of course they are good for that too.

    And when there’s a good anti-harassment statement, the whole conference feels more comfortable, which means people in it feel more comfortable, which means they are more likely to share their feelings, say interesting things, and hook up. Thus Heina’s statement about getting laid more. Getting laid more is really not the point here – respect is the point. But as it turns out, respect also happens to be sexy.

  17. anon101 says

    The double standard is that at science fiction or comic conventions the participants are even encouraged to dress up in costumes of comic characters which often are highly sexualized while at the same time baning companies from paying people to do the same thing.

    And of course, next time someone complains that a girl was sent home from school because her skirt was deemed to small I will just ask what the problem is. Because the administration isn’t doing nothing but enforcing a standard anti-harassment policy of any skeptic convention.

  18. Pandademic says

    But hey, I’m sure I’m just an sexist prick for even having that concern, right?

    I dunno, possibly? Maybe you could explain why this is a concern for you in the first place. Why would banning booth babes at Comic Con be “too restrictive”? What’s the damage?

    Because here’s the problem: when you exclusively cater your advertising to appeal to a particular group, you send everyone not in that group a pretty clear message. “You’re not our audience. You’re not an important part of the community, and you don’t warrant our concern or efforts.”

    So do your concerns trump the continuing marginalization of women, homosexuals, and trans people in these communities?

    And just to point out, PAX is a gaming convention with a “no-booth-babes” policy, and it seems to be doing all right.

  19. says

    anon101 #19: Your analogy is laughable. “Booth babes” are a marketing strategy; this cannot be compared to attendees being free to dress up as whatever character they want.

    There’s also nothing forcing attendees to dress up as a sexualised character, or even a character of the same sex or gender as themselves, whereas the “booth babes” are forced to dress in a sexualised manner because that’s the entire point of the fucking marketing strategy.

    You win yesterday’s (since it’s only twenty past one and I don’t think I should award today’s yet) Not Getting It™ Award.

  20. says

    Or maybe somebody who actually gives a shit about free speech on general principal, Pandemic. Not that expect any of the –cough– “Freethought” Blogs crowd to actually grok this, busy as they are demonizing anybody who doesn’t agree with them as odious misogynists.

    Basically, I don’t share the MacKinnon-esque sentiment that images or displays aimed at straight men in and of themselves “exclude” or “marginalize” anybody, any more than like gay-themed images or venues are any kind of affront to me whatsoever as a straight man. Because I’m not petty that way.

    More generally, while any given convention can decide it’s own standards of what it does and doesn’t allow, efforts by pressure groups to blanketly ban certain kinds of “sexualized” displays and images from any and all public meetings rises to the level of censorship. And yes, in fact *I do* think that’s a bad thing. And spare me the argument that only governments can censor – while individual private entities can (and should) decline to provide a venue for anything they wish, when the demand for compliance is this *total*, the effect is the same as a state imposed ban.

    That is, if such demands actually go anywhere – thankfully, the FTB crowd is using such divisive rhetoric and generally being so fucking alienating that I’d say the kind of kind of policies FTB is pushing have less credibility in the larger secular community than ever before.

  21. says

    “There’s also nothing forcing attendees to dress up as a sexualised character, or even a character of the same sex or gender as themselves, whereas the “booth babes” are forced to dress in a sexualised manner because that’s the entire point of the fucking marketing strategy.”

    “Forced”? That’s rather rich. “Booth babe” is a job, in case you hadn’t heard, much like other forms of modeling.

    (Now counting off the number of responses that will pass before “There is no real choice under The Patriarchy” argument rears its head.)

  22. says

    “Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven”
    “Setár, self-appointed Elf-Sheriff of the Pharyngula Star Chamber”

    Hey, but since we’re on the subject of calling out things that we might see as being in bad taste, has anybody else noticed just how *played out* this FTB username meme is?

  23. Greta Christina says

    I am going to remind everyone in this thread of my comment policy. Dial back on the personal insults and the snarky hostile tone. This is not Pharyngula. I expect a basic level of civility in the discussions here. Thank you.

  24. Emburii says

    [blockquote cite=iamcuriousblue"...except that the first thing I seem to hear from the partisans of that particular policy, when objecting to loaded language about “sexualization”, is resistance to modifying it all, fearing that this might make it a “weak” policy."]

    Citation needed. Seriously. I don’t recall anyone ever having said that, ever. In fact, whenever that policy was discussed, even its ‘partisans’ mentioned it as a guideline and not absolute law. Prove me wrong in a particular thread with that particular idea, but until then it looks like you’re being mendacious.

    As for ‘booth babes’, the problem there is the unequal treatment of women as meat, as sex objects to be looked at, without any sort of counterbalance. I’d be a lot more in favor of the concept if those same booths had women speakers or representatives that weren’t just there as eye candy, OR if they had some males in Namor briefs or whatever. It’s marketing, yes. It’s skeevy marketing, with a skeevy message, and any people are right to think that a conference that allows such skeevy objectifying unequal treatment without even a comment might be a little skeevy itself.

    Nor does this have anything to do with ‘free speech'; those companies and individuals are perfectly free to choose conferences where their ‘booth babes’ are welcome. They are also free to use speech and expression to communicate, it’s just that if they can’t convey something of meaning without resorting only to female bodies as window dressing, then maybe these event and conference organizers are fully justified in deciding that said shallow parties do not meet a minimum level of quality for their events.

  25. Emburii says

    Ack, blockquote fail.

    I also wanted part of the last paragraph to read “They are also free to use speech and expression to communicate their core ideas at these events where ‘booth babes’ are discouraged, it’s just if they can’t convey something of meaning”…etc.

  26. says

    Or maybe somebody who actually gives a shit about free speech on general principal, Pandemic.

    Someone who actually “gave a shit about free speech on general principle” would recognize the right of the event organizers to determine whether they wanted their event to be associated with a practice that large numbers of people find offensive.

  27. Yuriel says

    The “poly” policy seems pretty good, but on a totally trivial point: what the crap?… no deodorant? and at a convention to boot?

    I completely understand the allergy and adverse reactions concerns about perfume and cologne. I don’t have any sensitivity and yet I hate when people pass near me and my face is hit with an almost-solid wall of Eau de Douche mist(a.k.a: Axe) or some sickly flowery cheap scent(not that excessive expensive perfume is any better). I’ve never been bothered by someone’s shampoo or soap but ok, I guess.

    But deodorant? they can piss right off, sorry. I’m not going to be all disgustingly sweaty and uncomfortable. I fail to see how a mild antiperspirant is going to create such a noxious fog that will pass through an under-shirt, a shirt and maybe an additional piece of clothing that will travel a couple of feet away and assault someone’s senses.

    Ironically, it’s one of the things people complain about geek cons: the heat and resulting awful smell at convention centres. “Shower and wear deodorant FFS!” they’ve been reminding people for some time. I know a poly-amorous convention is not Comicon but still, seems a bit extreme.

    I’m not at all trying to be dismissive of other people’s needs. If someone has the slightest problem with my deodorant, I’d get out of their way but banning it just doesn’t make sense for me so far.

    Ok, inane post that contributes nothing to the actual subject, over. That just caught my attention and I was bored, sorry.

  28. baal says

    Both policies seem extremely reasonable to me. It strikes me as folly for JREF or related conferences to not have such a policy. It costs little to nothing and is at least good PR. Would the organizers really lose top star speakers for having them?

    As to the no deodorant, I’m very happy to see lines like that. I haven’t used any for going on 20 years and am much happier for it. Deodorant residue (even if you wash well) smells bad. I’ve wondered if that’s by design or just a helpful artifact to the vendors. Simple washing is more than enough and I’ve yet to have anyone complain (yes I’ve been sweaty around the vocal type who would love nothing better than to nail me socially).

    Deodorants are otherwise scent delivery systems. Strong scents have induced both migraines and asthma attacks for me. The usual mode of action of anti-perspirants is that an aluminum salt creates an inflammation in your sweat glands so you sweat less. eww.

  29. Vicki says

    Yuriel: There are unscented deodorants. They may take a little looking for, depending on your drugstore, but the scent isn’t what makes a deodorant or antiperspirant work.

  30. Yuriel says

    Vicki: I know, but like you say, at least here, they’re much harder to find and they tend to be overpriced for no reason.

  31. says

    “Nor does this have anything to do with ‘free speech’; those companies and individuals are perfectly free to choose conferences where their ‘booth babes’ are welcome.”

    And:

    “Someone who actually “gave a shit about free speech on general principle” would recognize the right of the event organizers to determine whether they wanted their event to be associated with a practice that large numbers of people find offensive.”

    And I want to thank the both of you for clearly not reading what I actually wrote.

    I wrote:

    “And spare me the argument that only governments can censor – while individual private entities can (and should) decline to provide a venue for anything they wish, when the demand for compliance is this *total*, the effect is the same as a state imposed ban.”

    And in case that wasn’t clear, that means any given convention or event can determine its own policies toward “booth babes” or anything else. Its when pressure groups start demanding an across-the-board policy from *all venues*, or in this case all venues with a “geek” interest (which can cover a lot of things) that this starts to rise to the level of censorship. That’s a distinction that’s quite clear to me, even if it seems to be lost on others.

    And, yes, you can go on about how “sexist” and “objectifying” booth babes are. The problem is, once you start to go there with blanket bans of “sexist/objectifying” images and displays, who sets the standards? The Gail Dines/Stop Porn Culture/Porn Harms crowd? The latter have already intervened in “sex week” events to ban speakers and vendors they find offensive. I think they’d have a field day taking advantage of analogous policies at other conventions.

  32. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    “Forced”? That’s rather rich. “Booth babe” is a job, in case you hadn’t heard, much like other forms of modeling.

    (Now counting off the number of responses that will pass before “There is no real choice under The Patriarchy” argument rears its head.)

    Why, after this hilarious load of garbage, did anyone continue to assume this dude is arguing in good faith?

  33. Greta Christina says

    And I am going to issue one more reminder to everyone about my comment policy. Dial back on the personal insults and the snarky hostile tone. This is not Pharyngula. I expect a basic level of civility in the discussions here.

    I do not like banning people or putting them in moderation; especially when they’re long-time commenters with a history of positive contributions to the discussions. But I will do it if I have to. I have done it before. If you can’t have a civil conversation about loaded topics, please don’t comment in my blog. Thank you.

  34. says

    And, yes, you can go on about how “sexist” and “objectifying” booth babes are. The problem is, once you start to go there with blanket bans of “sexist/objectifying” images and displays, who sets the standards? The Gail Dines/Stop Porn Culture/Porn Harms crowd? The latter have already intervened in “sex week” events to ban speakers and vendors they find offensive. I think they’d have a field day taking advantage of analogous policies at other conventions.

    That’s called the slippery slope fallacy. Voluntarily ending the practice of booth babes on the basis of widespread public pressure does not mean handing over the rules of society to the most extreme activists you can find. The comparison itself is offensive because it destroys all nuance and badly mischaracterizes the argument.

  35. says

    kagaerato – Well, the thing is, “slippery slopes” in general are not always a fallacy, even if it is correct to point out that “slippery slopes” are not automatic for every situation.

    Some slopes are more slippery than others. There are many cases where rules can move in a certain direction without ending at an extreme point (even cases where they can head off an extreme).

    Other cases where slippery slopes get pretty damn, well, slippery. I think restrictions on speech and expression are one of those places, and why such rules need to strongly circumscribed and clearly applied to a limited set of circumstances. Laws against incitement to violence and that kind of thing. On the other hand, I really see nothing in a generalized enforced-at-all-venues anti-“sexualized display” (aka anti-booth babe) policy that doesn’t have the strong potential to morph into the kind of extreme one I’ve described, especially given what’s happened with several college “sex week” events in the last couple of years.

    The other concept you might want to consider is the “Overton window”. That is, the phenomenon where an individual or group stakes out a more extreme position thus shifting what is seen as moderate. In this case, I think the extremists in the “Stop Porn Culture” camp make across-the-board “booth babe” bans seem like a moderate position when in fact it is anything but.

  36. says

    And, lets get specific here – I will note that DragonCon has had booths, screenings, and appearances by Blue Blood, Seduction Cinema, and Justine Joli among others. Does broadly-worded anti-sexualization language in policies like the Geek Feminist one ban these? To my reading, it does.

    And to those that argue “I find it offensive, so it should be banned to create a welcoming atmosphere”, I’ll point out that bans of the above offend the fuck out of me, and I find such bans unwelcoming.

  37. Pandademic says

    Its when pressure groups start demanding an across-the-board policy from *all venues*, or in this case all venues with a “geek” interest (which can cover a lot of things) that this starts to rise to the level of censorship. That’s a distinction that’s quite clear to me, even if it seems to be lost on others.

    We’re making an argument about why we think booth babes create an unwelcoming environment for some groups. If some conventions agree and decide to change their policy, great for us. If some don’t, there’s nothing we can do to compel them. If every convention chooses to enact a ban, then we must have made a pretty good argument.

    If you refuse to acknowledge the difference between private citizens using their free speech to convince cons not to allow booth babes, and a federal law that threatens fines or jail time for the same, then I don’t know what to tell you. Even if the ends are the same, but the means are fundamentally different.

    I will note that DragonCon has had booths, screenings, and appearances by Blue Blood, Seduction Cinema, and Justine Joli among others. Does broadly-worded anti-sexualization language in policies like the Geek Feminist one ban these? To my reading, it does.

    To my reading as well. But here’s a quote from the very top of the Geek Feminist policy:

    “This is an example anti-harassment policy suitable for most open source, computing, or technology-related conferences. It may be adopted unchanged or tweaked to suit your conference.”

    Emphasis mine. The types of conventions this was explicitly written for would not be presenting erotic or sexualized products. Thus, it isn’t a problem to disallow “sexualized images, activities, or other material.” Those would be irrelevant to the products actually being presented.

    If you’re running a convention that is hosting vendors who do make and sell erotic merchandise, then of course you should allow them to present that. And naturally, your policy should reflect where the line is for your particular convention. That is one of the lines that should be tweaked depending on the convention.

    But let’s be clear about distinguishing between sexualized products, and sexualized advertising for non-sexualized products. These are different things, and can be policed differently.

    And to those that argue “I find it offensive, so it should be banned to create a welcoming atmosphere”, I’ll point out that bans of the above offend the fuck out of me, and I find such bans unwelcoming.

    Any limitation on free speech in private venues offends you, if it’s unanimously agreed to by convention organizers? Because I expect that blatantly racist imagery would be unwelcome in any convention in the US. So unless you object to that limitation as well, it’s pretty clear that there’s nothing inherently offensive about private organizations agreeing on speech limits inside their halls.

  38. says

    First off, I said “bans of the above”, meaning if DragonCon were to ban vendors they’d previously allowed like Blue Blood, Seduction Cinema, Justine Joli, etc, I’d be pretty fucking offended by that policy. And yes, I realize there might be others who are probably offended that the aforementioned vendors are even allowed there to begin with. Perhaps we shouldn’t attend the same conventions. It underscores the need to have different rules for different venues.

    In theory we’re on the same page, in that I acknowledge the right of individual venues to adopt any policy they wish (even if I might find some policies so noxious I might not wish to attend that venue), and you’re claiming that conventions don’t have to adopt the policies you advocate.

    Yet the inflated rhetoric here tells me that there are a lot of people here who won’t be happy until extremely hard-line policies are in place everywhere no matter what the wishes of the attendees are. (And yes, I know, it’s “modifiable”, yet the number of people here shouting down criticisms of the most hard-line versions of such policies doesn’t exactly speak to that being meant in good faith.) And that they’re going to attack whoever stands in the way of adoption of such policies (hence, the demands that DJ Grothe be booted from the leadership of JREF). Now perhaps you can say these are just citizens exercising *their* free speech, but then again, so are people who are pressuring local libraries to remove copies of The Hunger Games. More directly, I’m reminded of efforts by groups like the American Family Association to use boycotts, letter writing campaigns, etc to take media off the air that they don’t like. And technically, this is just one private entity pressuring another to make changes, but the effect when they are successful is one that many would quite rightly see as censorship. I see similar campaigns coming from extremes of the cultural “Left” (strongly represented on FTB) in the same light.

  39. says

    The difference between “booth babes” and women who voluntarily wear skimpy clothes isn’t the clothes. It’s that a volunteer retains complete rights to tell guys who are creeping on her to fuck off, and direct her attentions based strictly on who pleases her and who doesn’t. Booth babes are paid to endure the attentions of repulsive men in order to sell them products. If the only reason one wants booth babes around is for the skimpy clothes, then the non-paid women should suffice; you can see them just as well. Which leads me to conclude the angry defensives of booth babes has little to do with sex and everything to do with power.

    I continue to find the notion that’s sex-negative to expect enthusiastic consent be present during all sexual interactions, from flirtation to full-blown sex baffling. It’s not actually a flirtation if one partner isn’t into it; it’s just being a creep. And I don’t get the attraction of having sex with someone who doesn’t want to be there.

  40. says

    I don’t disagree that a blanket ban on sexual imagery is a good idea. They’re obviously trying to fix a specific kind of way that women are pushed out of a space, but they don’t have the language to talk about it.

    Here’s reality: A lot of men use pornographic images to tell women they are not welcome or hated. This isn’t what I wish were true. I wish that there wasn’t a cultural narrative that being penetrated degrades, and I wish that men didn’t use images that tell women they find us lesser because we’re sexually penetrated. But that’s just the facts. When a woman is under a sea of harassment, one of the ways she’s usually harassed is having porn sent to her, having her face photoshopped onto porn, etc. Look at how Anita Sarkeesian is being harassed by having porn images posted on her Wikipedia page. I think sex is awesome and using it to harass a woman and put her in her place insults both sex and women. It’s the men who use porn to say “I hate you and all uppity bitches” who are sex-negative, not the women who object to this tactic.

    Unfortunately, it’s hard to write a policy that distinguishes between trying to keep men from using sexual imagery to send the signal that women are hated and not wanted in the space—or at least, not wanted if they insist on being treated like full human beings—and sexual imagery that is meant to convey something else. The Geek Feminist policy fails to do that, but I challenge anyone to come up with a way to allow one and not the other. It’s harder than it looks.

  41. says

    Enter the Big Blogger:

    Booth babes are paid to endure the attentions of repulsive men in order to sell them products. If the only reason one wants booth babes around is for the skimpy clothes, then the non-paid women should suffice; you can see them just as well. Which leads me to conclude the angry defensives of booth babes has little to do with sex and everything to do with power.

    Um, yeah. I’m not sure why you need to drag your anti-sex work views into everything, but “paid to endure attentions” is your decidedly negative spin on what they do. Now if that’s how somebody who actually worked as a booth babe sees her work, I’d give that a lot of credence. Some blogger that’s probably never been anywhere near sex work or any “emotional labor” profession – well, not so much.

    “I continue to find the notion that’s sex-negative to expect enthusiastic consent be present during all sexual interactions, from flirtation to full-blown sex baffling. It’s not actually a flirtation if one partner isn’t into it; it’s just being a creep. And I don’t get the attraction of having sex with someone who doesn’t want to be there.”

    Rhetoric around “enthusiastic consent” is kind of a red herring to the argument at hand, which has to do with overly broad policies which ban certain kinds of displays and imagery where just maybe they shouldn’t be banned. So far, I don’t see any disagreement that non-consensual touching, persistent unwanted flirtation, etc, is uncalled for in an anti-harassment policy. Not what I’m arguing, nor is anybody here as far as I can tell.

    “Unfortunately, it’s hard to write a policy that distinguishes between trying to keep men from using sexual imagery to send the signal that women are hated and not wanted in the space—or at least, not wanted if they insist on being treated like full human beings—and sexual imagery that is meant to convey something else. The Geek Feminist policy fails to do that, but I challenge anyone to come up with a way to allow one and not the other. It’s harder than it looks.”

    How about not having a default toward banning thing if it’s not possible to write good policy?

  42. says

    Er, I used too many negatives. To be clear: I think a blanket ban on sexual imagery is a bad idea, especially since it’s a little difficult to define “sexual”. The problem isn’t sex, but objectification/sending the message that women are less-than or unwanted. That a primary means men use to send the message that they think women are lesser is to use sexual imagery is a fact, not really up for dispute. (Though I find when people are defending a sexist status quo, facts get thrown aside easily.) But obviously, that’s not the only thing sexual imagery can say.

    Instead of freaking out on people who are trying their hardest to find a way to address the objectively factual problem of men using sexual imagery to intimidate and harass—and accusing them of being anti-sex or whatever—the better approach, if one is sincerely interested in a sex-positive anti-harassment strategy, is to work with them to create more clear guidelines to distinguish between non-harassing sex-positive imagery and sexual images being deployed to harass.

  43. says

    “Instead of freaking out on people who are trying their hardest to find a way to address the objectively factual problem of men using sexual imagery to intimidate and harass—and accusing them of being anti-sex or whatever—the better approach, if one is sincerely interested in a sex-positive anti-harassment strategy, is to work with them to create more clear guidelines to distinguish between non-harassing sex-positive imagery and sexual images being deployed to harass.”

    I would actually tend to agree with that. And certainly, blog wars like this one are not exactly the place to shed more light than heat on the subject. Freaking out? Guilty of my share of that, but there’s plenty of that to go around.

  44. says

    I’m not anti-sex worker. But that’s just it; it’s work. They’re compensated. The booth babe/stripper/beer girl is only nice to you because she’s paid to be. Men deny this when women tease out the implications, but the fact of the matter is pretty much every time I see someone doing these jobs, I see the men gleefully saying things to them they wouldn’t dare say to someone who wasn’t being paid to put up with it.

    I used to go about Austin with a friend of mine who works in alcohol sales. When he was low on the totem pole, one of his job duties was wrangling the beer girls who dress skimpily and go to bars to get men to try the new product he was marketing. He absolutely hated that job because it was a constant stream of having to deal with men who took the fact that women had to smile and pretend to like their gross “flirting” as permission to grope and harass. As soon as he got promoted, he cut that part of his job duties off his roster. You aren’t fooling anyone with your weak denunciations. I have been around this dynamic a whoooooole lot.

    Anyone who resorts to “the stripper actually likes me!” has resorted to a bad faith argument.

  45. says

    Iamcurious, I really do think if you’re arguing in good faith, you should actually take the distinctions in mind and try to come up with your own phrasing of a policy that both allows sexual imagery but keeps men from using it to harass women.

    As for booth babes, if their only purpose is to be eye candy and not to pretend to like unlikeable guys, then the women who voluntarily wear skimpy clothes should be enough for the must-have-eye-candy team. If it’s just about the clothes, there’s no value-add to the paid employees.

  46. says

    “I’m not anti-sex worker. But that’s just it; it’s work. They’re compensated. The booth babe/stripper/beer girl is only nice to you because she’s paid to be. Men deny this when women tease out the implications, but the fact of the matter is pretty much every time I see someone doing these jobs, I see the men gleefully saying things to them they wouldn’t dare say to someone who wasn’t being paid to put up with it.”

    I understand the fact that booth babes, strippers, etc are being paid, and that much of what they do falls under the heading of “emotional labor”. In fact, there’s a very good book on the entire subject, “G-Strings and Sympathy”.

    Where I do not agree with you is your often-stated conclusion that anybody who’s a client of sex workers (or similar “sexy” labor) is a complete piece of shit creep that is secretly hated and despised by those doing the work. The reality I hear from actual sex workers is a hell of a lot more nuanced then that, and ranges from views of clients who are indeed creepy pieces of shit (including sex workers who see pretty much all of them that way) to ones they actually like, to the vast majority somewhere in the middle – guys who wouldn’t get sex or that level of attention if they weren’t paying for it, but not inherently bad people either. It sounds about like what I hear from people who do a lot of customer service or “listening” in their line of work.

    And, believe me, I’m not the only one who finds your views of the nature of sex work to be problematic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62nAMM_1D0E

    Just saying!

    Ultimately, I’m not sure in any event if this angle is entirely relevant to “booth babe” policies at conventions. I think “booth babing” is a legitimate form of labor, but a role that is pretty out of place at more sober “professional” events. But do all public events need to be professional, sober, and politically correct? I don’t think so.

  47. says

    But do all public events need to be professional, sober, and politically correct? I don’t think so.

    The underlying context behind all of these posts on FTB has been atheist and skeptical conferences/meetings/events alone. Widening the discussion to “all public events” is moving the goalposts very far from the original point.

    Do conferences like TAM have any legitimate purpose in using booth babes? No, of course not. Thus, there’s no real loss in setting policies that would ban them. Unfortunately, some rather influential people who get invited to these events — and apparently the organizers themselves — have little express interest in actually changing policy. Probably because, like you, they don’t believe that allowing behaviors of this nature creates a hostile climate for most women.

    However, the real issue underlying this is not sexist displays but sexist behaviors — particularly harassment. See how you moved the goalposts on us there again?

    It’s impractical to make any headway on this when individuals such as yourself divert our attention to barely related issues.

  48. says

    “The underlying context behind all of these posts on FTB has been atheist and skeptical conferences/meetings/events alone. Widening the discussion to “all public events” is moving the goalposts very far from the original point.

    Do conferences like TAM have any legitimate purpose in using booth babes? No, of course not. Thus, there’s no real loss in setting policies that would ban them. Unfortunately, some rather influential people who get invited to these events — and apparently the organizers themselves — have little express interest in actually changing policy. Probably because, like you, they don’t believe that allowing behaviors of this nature creates a hostile climate for most women.

    However, the real issue underlying this is not sexist displays but sexist behaviors — particularly harassment. See how you moved the goalposts on us there again?

    It’s impractical to make any headway on this when individuals such as yourself divert our attention to barely related issues.”

    Right…I’m moving goalposts and derailing. Projecting much, Kagerato? Because the fact is, there actually *is* pretty broad consensus on the need for some kind of anti-harassment policy, just disagreement over breadth and specifics and of the need to adopt the “Geek Feminist” one off the shelf. And in spite of the fact that you acknowledge “booth babe” policy to not have much relevance to skeptic/atheist conferences, it is people like you who are pounding the table demanding adoption of *that* particular language, then claiming that people like me are derailing when we disagree about the outliers and not the core policy. Of course, the reason I keep bringing it up is that it’s overly broad and the specific language bans a lot more things than booth babes. And I’ve already had several people concede that point.

    And I want to point out that on the latest Ask an Atheist podcast, they bring up the *exact* issues I’ve brought up here, from the overly broad anti-sexuality language to the dogmatic insistence on “I want THAT policy”:

    http://askanatheist.tv/2012/06/14/dogmatic-feminism-pt-2-and-some-other-things/

    Mind you that I have no connection with Ask an Atheist and haven’t even brought up this particular issue in their comments, yet they’re seeing the same thing.

    But, hey, anybody who doesn’t agree with you and the FTB consensus more generally is just a troll and a sexist and a derailer who can be dismissed out of hand, right?

  49. Emburii says

    So Iamcuriousblue makes a specific claim about what people have said. I ask for proof. I also make a statement that would spark an interesting discusssion, if they were really interested in that, in having ‘booth bods’ instead of just ‘booth babes’.

    Iamcuriousblue IGNORES the request for proof on their specific claim and ignores a point of discussion to accuse us of being dogmatic at this point (‘pounding the table demanding that language’) in response to Kagerato when it’s only on the table because of Iamcuriousblue anyway, skipping right past all that to the part where they can chide other people.

    That IS derailing. That IS moving the goalpost. Greta Christina, I’m sorry if this violates your comment policy but I really think Iamcuriousblue is arguing in bad faith.

    Iamcuriousblue, if you want to prove otherwise, show me where people didn’t want to change any bit of the policy you object to for fear of making it too weak. That’s your claim, a very specific one, and it’d be a marvelous way to bolster your credibility. Cite it or apologize for misspeaking/misremembering. Either would work.

  50. says

    Emburii says:

    “So Iamcuriousblue makes a specific claim about what people have said. I ask for proof. I also make a statement that would spark an interesting discusssion, if they were really interested in that, in having ‘booth bods’ instead of just ‘booth babes’.

    Iamcuriousblue IGNORES the request for proof on their specific claim and ignores a point of discussion to accuse us of being dogmatic at this point (‘pounding the table demanding that language’) in response to Kagerato when it’s only on the table because of Iamcuriousblue anyway, skipping right past all that to the part where they can chide other people.

    That IS derailing. That IS moving the goalpost. Greta Christina, I’m sorry if this violates your comment policy but I really think Iamcuriousblue is arguing in bad faith.”

    I could care less whether some nasty little keyboard warrior thinks I’m arguing in good faith or not. I think it’s pretty clear from the context of this thread that there are a number of FTBers who are being pretty demanding of one specific anti-harassment policy, given the freakout when anybody dares question whether that one in particular is a good idea. An observation that Ask an Atheist has also made independently, BTW.

    “Iamcuriousblue, if you want to prove otherwise, show me where people didn’t want to change any bit of the policy you object to for fear of making it too weak. That’s your claim, a very specific one, and it’d be a marvelous way to bolster your credibility. Cite it or apologize for misspeaking/ misremembering. Either would work.”

    What??? How fucking DARE you waltz in out of nowhere DEMAND an apology from me or anybody else. If Greta wasn’t trying to maintain some semblance of civility here, I’d go into detail about what you can do with your demands.

  51. julian says

    Iamcuriousblue, what freakout? Where?

    His own no doubt.

    How fucking DARE you waltz in out of nowhere DEMAND an apology from me or anybody else. -iamcuriousblue

    Because you are wrong and have misrepresented something. You should apologize and retract what you’ve said. That should be basic.

  52. Emburii says

    ‘Nowhere’? I commented at 26, asking you for citation of your claim that ‘partisans’ were unwilling to modify harassment policies per venue. Furthermore, I know you saw me posting there because I’m one of the people you accused of not reading what you wrote. Now, once again, you are skipping past the part of my comment that involves actual discussion and actual information to get all defensive, reading me in the way that lets you bluster and avoid my request for proof on a specific claim you made. I asked again at 51, giving you the perfect ‘ah-ha’ moment to prove me wrong, and again you moved the goalpost (my ‘demands’) rather than facts. I thought you liked facts. If so, bring them. Or bluster again and prove me right once more, your choice.

  53. says

    “Stephanie Zvan says:

    “Huh, Greta asked the same question a week ago and you promised to get back to her. Are you ready to answer it now?”

    Um, probably because the conversation has moved on and shifted to this thread. If you feel there’s some remaining points that need to be discussed, let me know.

  54. says

    Kagerto – Perhaps you should be congratulating Emburii and Julian, then. They’re clearly flaming at this point (with Julian attacking me on several forums, I’ll add), and you expect any response other than “fuck off”? Seriously?

    I’m not sure if there’s anything left to be said at this point, but if you actually want to raise a further point of discussion or debate that’s not just flame-bait, I’d be happy to carry on.

  55. Emburii says

    Iamcuriousblue: I thought you didn’t like the tactic of declaring anyone who disagreed with you as ‘trolling’ (though I could be wrong in attributing that particular sentiment to you, if so I apologize for the mischaracterization). I’m not certain how my posts qualify anyway, I’m not baiting you; I asked for clarification on a claim you made. If you’d proven the citation, it would have helped your claim immensely. I asked for an apology only if you couldn’t prove your claim and yet still wanted to say we were the ones being unreasonable or inflammatory. You could just, well, provide proof of your statement.
    Furthermore the question is still relevant, given that you brought up the idea of people refusing to modify the language of template policies in this thread in the first place. Apparently you’ve said it before and people are still waiting for the answers you promised then. I’m still not clear how asking for this evidence is flame-baiting, I thought that’s what skeptics are supposed to do. What would you suggest instead, if you’re so sure you have the moral high ground?

  56. says

    On the contrary, although I strongly disagree with the position that Stephanie Zvan has taken in this debate, I would not characterize the tone she has taken with me as “trolling”, and I’ve asked for clarification in case she’s interested in further discussion.

    You, on the other hand, are simply being inflammatory, and I suggest you re-read your own words if you can’t see that. And because you’re simply being inflammatory and demanding, I’m not going to give you any more response than I’ve already given.

    You want an actual conversation? Tone it the fuck down.

  57. Emburii says

    From what she said she seems interested in the proof to your assertion, proof you steadfastly avoid giving. That’s alll I’ve asked of you, proof for what is quite bluntly an inflammatory statement of your own that implies that you opponenents are repressive, prudish, and brave only as a collective.

    ‘Nasty’. ‘Troll’. ‘Pile-on’. Those aren’t my words. My only word has been ‘mendacious’, a claim you could easily countered after my first post with the proof of a statement you made, a statement very pertinent to the subject of this post in the reworking of policies to fit the circumstances. Re-examine your own words and understand why I am saying what I am to them, because from this end of the keyboard it looks to be true. You make a statement and you dodge the proof through several exchanges, even when someone else asks for the same back-up. You ignore an actual discussion point of ‘booth bods’ in favor of waxing indignant on how DARE I ask you for anything, even when you brought it up as a relevant ‘fact’ in the first place. I even apologized if I mischaracterized your application of the word ‘troll’, an apology and assumption of good faith that you have not once given me. If you consider my statements inflammatory, perhaps it is because you are feeling the burn of your own guilt.

  58. Greta Christina says

    Reminder about my comment policy: No personal insults aimed at other commenters in the thread. And dial back on the snarky hostile tone. This is not Pharyngula. I expect a basic level of civility in the discussions here.

    Iamcuriousblue: This means you. You are not the only offender in this thread, but you are by far the worst one.

    If I have time, I’d like to respond to some of the actual content you’ve been expressing here. It’s not going to happen today, though, as I have other, non-blog-related plans. And if you can’t respect my comment policy, you are going to get banned.

    I do not like banning people or putting them in moderation; especially when they’re long-time commenters with a history of positive contributions to discussions in the past. But I will do it if I have to. I have done it before. If you can’t have a civil conversation about loaded topics, don’t comment in my blog. Thank you.

  59. says

    “Iamcuriousblue: This means you. You are not the only offender in this thread, but you are by far the worst one.

    Really? I think *demanding* an apology from somebody because you disagree with them is pretty outrageous behavior, and I’m don’t see the obligation to be nice about it.

    I am asking for that badgering to end, and I would be happy to resume civil conversation.

  60. julian says

    Demanding an apology for misspeaking, mischaracterizing someone or stating something that is false is not outrageous or uncommon.

  61. Emburii says

    In comment 51 I asked you for EITHER ‘Cit[ing] it or apologiz[ing] for misspeaking/misremembering. Either would work.’ Not an apology for disagreeing with me, but an apology for an inflammatory statement if you would or could not prove it. But you skipped right past proof and good faith in every response to assume I’m trolling and badgering. That is against Greta Christina’s comment policy.

    Now, admittedly, I broke that clause against reading people uncharitably at first blush as well in my first comment and I apologize to her for that and to you for that SPECIFIC incident. However, I do not apologize for asking you {to support a claim that would be worthy of discussion whether it were true or false.

  62. says

    No, actually, individuals who have been wronged in some way often demand apologies from those who have wronged them. You and Emburii are demanding an apology based on disagreement and difference of interpretation. That is outrageous and flamebaiting behavior, in my estimation, implying that the mere act of disagreeing with you is an offense that demands an apology.

    And I have to say, I’m strongly clinging to the idea that Greta’s rightful demand for civil behavior is meant in good faith, and that this badgering for an apology be called out for the extremely uncivil behavior that it is.

  63. says

    And, really, Emburii, I have no idea what it is you want proof or clarification of at this point. I’m just going to point out that I think you’re a bully, and I’d rather not be interacting with you at all.

    Unless there’s anybody who has actual questions or points of discussion for me, my participation in this “conversation” ends here.

  64. Emburii says

    In comment 16, you said “And yes, I know it’s supposedly tweakable, except that the first thing I seem to hear from the partisans of that particular policy, when objecting to loaded language about “sexualization”, is resistance to modifying it all, fearing that this might make it a “weak” policy.”

    In response at comment 26 I said “Citation needed. Seriously. I don’t recall anyone ever having said that, ever. In fact, whenever that policy was discussed, even its ‘partisans’ mentioned it as a guideline and not absolute law. Prove me wrong in a particular thread with that particular idea, but until then it looks like you’re being mendacious.”

    (That last bit about mendacity is the specific incidence I was apologizing for, an apology that you STIll have not acknowledged as any sigh of good faith. In the mean time, the idea that she might have been asking you not to call people flamebaiters or bullies seems to have sailed right over your head.)

    And once again, you jump past what I was asking for, the previous parts where I cited and quoted what I was looking for, to insist that I am asking for an apology to me. That is, again, breaking the clause of Greta Christina’s where she asks people not to make the worst possible assumptions. I DON”T WANT AN APOLOGY FROM YOU TO ME FOR DISAGREEING, I want you to put up the quote where people insisted the Geek Feminist policy be adopted as is for fear of weakening it, or an apology for disseminating erroneous information without being able to support it.

  65. says

    [Iamcuriousblue]: Right…I’m moving goalposts and derailing. Projecting much, Kagerato?

    Do you not see the hostility in your tone? You can’t tu quoque your way out of answering people.

    Because the fact is, there actually *is* pretty broad consensus on the need for some kind of anti-harassment policy, just disagreement over breadth and specifics and of the need to adopt the “Geek Feminist” one off the shelf.

    You haven’t actually shown any specific agreement on any specific provision of any policy. Therefore, no, there is not consensus here on the establishment of an anti-harassment policy. Unless you want to count one so vague as to be unenforceable.

    It’s a falsehood that anyone here has said any particular policy has to be adopted wholesale and unmodified for every public event everywhere. Yet you deny this is moving the goalposts. Well, if it’s not that, then it is straw-manning.

    And in spite of the fact that you acknowledge “booth babe” policy to not have much relevance to skeptic/atheist conferences, it is people like you who are pounding the table demanding adoption of *that* particular language,

    Try to show where I said that. You won’t find it, because I didn’t. No one did. Your hostile tone is noted again here. I am not pounding any tables, nor am I yelling, nor am I hurling insults.

    Again, you have fully missed the point. You brought up the whole booth babe debacle; no one else was going to. This is misdirection, because that matter was irrelevant to the topic we were supposed to be discussing — harassment at atheist conferences. It makes literally no difference whether booth babes happen to be banned by any particular policy, because they weren’t being used anyway.

    then claiming that people like me are derailing when we disagree about the outliers and not the core policy. Of course, the reason I keep bringing it up is that it’s overly broad and the specific language bans a lot more things than booth babes. And I’ve already had several people concede that point.

    Oh, and what else does it ban? Probably also things that aren’t used or brought to atheist conferences, am I right?

    Talking about outliers that don’t even apply to the cases we’re trying to address is derailing. It misdirects the conversation from actual cases of harassment that ought to be dealt with to imagined accounts and viscous concern about things that didn’t happen and weren’t going to happen.

  66. says

    “Do you not see the hostility in your tone? You can’t tu quoque your way out of answering people”

    Do you not see the hostility in this entire conversation, and the rather extreme hostility directed against me in particular? You seem to think I should be OK with this, and just suck up and answer apologetically.

    And given that hostility, I’m either going to respond in kind, or, given that Greta has specifically requested a more civil tone, not respond at all. If you want a response, and you want one that’s civil, check your tone. Please!

    I will also invoke an old phrase that applies to this situation – “I am not on trial here.”

  67. says

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    “Iamcuriousblue, where has anyone insisted on the Geek Feminism Wiki language as it stands?”

    I’m going to have to bookmark this, and quote it back, next time somebody gets bloody insistent on the “Geek Feminist” model when discussion of TAM policy comes up. Hopefully in a more neutral forum.

  68. Emburii says

    Of course we’re being persistent, you made a truth claim about how people wanted to use the Geek Feminist policy. This would be important if it were true, but no one has seen this quote. Therefore, we would like the link because it could mean some useful discussion that could solve some of the problems you seem so upset about in the first place. In response, you have gotten incredibly upset at this standard skeptical approach and now you say you’re going to use our request for information as an example of how nasty we feminists are?

    *boggles*

    Or are you saying you’ll have to find an instance of someone insisting on that policy as is in and link us back to it later, because no one has said it yet? That’s not what you said at the beginning of the thread…

  69. says

    Look, once and for all, I think there’s a double game being played here. On one hand, the claim that there’s no insistence on that particular policy, and yet, rhetoric to the effect of “What’s wrong with the Geek Feminist policy” (from #3 onward, at least) and “What’s wrong with banning booth babes *everywhere*”. And believe me, this is not the first time this subject has come up in discussions I’ve been involved in – it came up in discussion at San Francisco’s Noisebridge, something I’m involved in, in discussion around interpersonal issues that had nothing to do with sexual harassment. When I pointed out that the language as worded would prohibit the talks of Arse Electronica, I had the standard “Of course this can be modified to fit AE, but let’s adopt it for everything else.” Which kind of missed the point – if that particular policy was that nannyish by default, it was not a good one. In any event, the point became moot rather quickly given the dislike of the larger Noisebridge community for rules in general. (My problem with “progressive” venues in general – either anarchy or way-too-intrusive rules.)

    Hammer me all you want for being outspoken about this. I no longer care. But don’t think you’ll shut me up in other forums where this might come up.

    And to try and end it on a positive note, thank you again Greta, for posting the OpenSF policy. A good example of a policy that fits the event and not just grabbed off the shelf.

  70. says

    You’ll have to bookmark it because you won’t or can’t answer it. I see. You do understand how transparently dishonest repeating allegations you won’t back up makes you look, yes?

  71. says

    Stephanie Zvan – On the contrary, see how you look. In answer to Emburii’s previous assertion, I’m not just implying that you’re brave only as a collective, I’m saying it outright. Nasty hateful, piling-on bullies and harassers, and it’s simply amazing that people who act the way you do and create the kind of atmosphere at work here would be seen as the worthwhile proponents of an “anti-harassment” policy.

    This may get me booted here, but don’t think you’ve heard the last of me, nor other critics. Freethoughtblogs and Skepchick are not the entire skeptical universe, and your tactics here may not play so well in spaces where you don’t dominate.

  72. says

    I see that blue has now opted for the “I’ll take my ball and go home” and “you’ll all such mean, mean bullies” gambits. Fascinating.

    When was the last time I met someone with this level of ability at dodging the point? Oh, only last week…

  73. says

    “I see that blue has now opted for the “I’ll take my ball and go home” and “you’ll all such mean, mean bullies” gambits. Fascinating.

    And that wonderful response says everything I need to know about the value of any kind of dialogue with you.

  74. Embutii says

    Iamcuriousblue, thank you for giving some indication of where you may have heard such sentiments. It sounds like it was in a venue that couldn’t have easily been cited, but you could have just said that in the first place and I would have accepted it!

    For the record, as I stated earlier, I’d actually like to see the language amended not to ban ‘booth babes’ but to insist on equal representation; if you want a scantily-clad lady, then you’d better include a scantily-clad male as well. That way no one gender is being designated only as eye candy while the other does all the ‘important’ stuff. (Of course you’ll probably ignore this point, the same way you’ve called me ‘nasty’ and ‘bullying’ repeatedly and never once acknowledged your own language or my apology for reading your first comment uncharitably.)

    Look, imagine that someone said “I don’t like those Ask-A-Skeptic people because one of them said that they do believe in God but they hate ‘Him’ and that’s why they call themself an atheist.” Would you think it was a weird claim, and worth addressing if true? Would you want a link or a quote or at least a name? And would you think something was fishy if the person immediately went into high dudgeon that you’d DARE question them or ask them to walk it back if they wouldn’t or couldn’t explain further?

  75. says

    Emburii wrote:

    “Of course you’ll probably ignore this point, the same way you’ve called me ‘nasty’ and ‘bullying’ repeatedly and never once acknowledged your own language or my apology for reading your first comment uncharitably.

    I missed your apology in the heat of things, and I therefore apologize for the nastiness of my language. I just tend to respond at the level I’m being addressed, but hopefully this can be a better conversation going forward, as much as there are remaining points to discuss.

  76. Emburii says

    Iamcuriousblue, thank you for acknowledging the apology. I will quibble with your assertion that you responded on the level you were addressed at, given that you resorted to name calling way before I did and that my apology was several posts back, but i do want to move forward.

    How do you feel about a ‘booth bods’ policy? That instead of outlawing women’s bodies, even for noble reasons, we insist that people who want to use human bodies as marketing give equal representation? As I stated earlier, the issue with ‘booth babes’ is the message they send to female-bodied/female-identified folks, that they are eye candy and decoration and valued only for their looks in a way that men seldom if even have to deal with. The ‘booth bods’ fix would correct this, acknowledging women (and male-bodied/male-identified of same-sex attraction) as agents rather than just the desired.

  77. Stephen Beesley says

    Alex #10 Thanks for that link, Alex. I was especially pleased to see mention of ageism which seems to have been lacking in all the other suggested policies.

  78. says

    I’m just now hearing about this entire mess and have relatively little idea of what’s going on, but this particular policy seems so completely sane and tame that I can’t imagine how anyone could object to it, even more so if it actually proved empirically effective at damping down sexual harassment without being sex-negative. If we ever have to deal with this sort of issue at a rationalist conference I have any involvement in, I’ll propose that we adopt this policy, stamp it “Approved by Greta Christina”, and make sure the page doesn’t allow comments.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Some people want a harassment policy and feel don’t comfortable coming without one. Anyone who doesn’t care won’t be affected and anyone who actively opposes a harassment policy should think long and hard about what exactly their reasons are for opposing it. Do you think it’s because such policies are anti-sex? Then you should check out the anti-harassment policy of a goddamned sex-based conference: OpenSF. [...]

  2. […] Greta Christina points out that the OpenSF 2012 conference for people in open, polyamorous, or ethically nonmonogamous relationships has a detailed code of conduct, including things like: “We know this is California and everyone hugs, but please do that awkward ‘wanna hug?’ gesture before actually hugging.” […]

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