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Jun 27 2012

So Much Wrong, Part 3: thunderf00t and Sexual Harassment

Here’s Part 3 of my new series on thunderf00t’s horrible post about sexual harassment.

As some of you may know, videoblogger thunderf00t has recently joined the Freethought Blogs network — and has weighed in on the conversation about sexual harassment at conferences. Saying, essentially and among many other things, that:

*THIS REALLY ISN’T A BIG PROBLEM*

and that:

Put simply, YES talking about sexual harassment can sometimes be a bigger problem than sexual harassment.

There is so much wrong packed into this one post, I could write an entire novel-length systematically dismantling everything that’s wrong with it. But I don’t have time or energy for that today… and I can’t imagine anyone having it in them to read it anyway. So I’m going to look at one piece of this wrong at a time, until I get bored or otherwise sick of it.

Today’s pieces of wrong:

Now this is not to say that conferences are obsolete (they clearly still have functional roles to play), or that sexual harassment isn’t a bad thing. Sure it exists, I’ve seen it, although it seems to me that such acts overwhelming happen in the bars outside the conference.

So what? What’s your point? At many/ most conferences, hanging out in the bar outside the meeting room where the talks and panels are held, after the talks and panels are over, is a major part of the conference. In fact, at many conferences, after-hours bar time is organized by the conference, and is on the program.

I’ve seen some of this first hand, and was happy to help try to resolve the matter in an appropriate and mature fashion.

So what? What’s your point? If harassment happens at a conference that’s serious enough to warrant unofficial intervention by other conference attendees, doesn’t that indicate that it’s serious enough to warrant official intervention by conference organizers?

If I’m being harassed in a bar at a conference, I don’t want to have to depend on the kindness of strangers. I don’t know whether other folks in the bar are going to support me. If they do, I don’t know whether the folks supporting me are genuine allies, white-knight wannabes, jackalopes spoiling for an excuse for a fight, or what. If they are genuine allies, I don’t know if they have the knowledge or experience or ability to help me handle the situation — and I don’t want to put them in that position anyway. It’s not their job. They’re there to enjoy the conference, too. If I’m being harassed, I want to be able to turn to conference staff or volunteers, who have been trained in how to deal with these kinds of situations, and who have the authority to act. And I want the people attending the conference to know ahead of time that harassment won’t be tolerated.

Also, if this happens often enough that you remember it overwhelmingly happening in the bars… doesn’t that contradict your assertion (dismantled yesterday) that this hardly ever happens, and isn’t an important issue?

My personal estimate would be, of the things that aren’t just people being social clutzs, something like 1 guy in 100-1000 (and maybe the odd girl too!) causes almost all of the problems.

So what? What’s your point? I have no idea if your “statistics I just made up based on my personal experience and my own cognitive biases” bears any relationship with reality. But yes, for the record, I do agree that most people at conferences are generally well-behaved, and incidents of harassment are disproportionately caused by a handful of perpetrators. So what? Don’t we want those perpetrators warned that their behavior isn’t acceptable? Don’t we want them stopped if they do it anyway? Don’t we want them evicted from conferences if they do it egregiously or persistently? What possible difference does that make to the conversation?

My straw poll estimate from half a dozen such meetings is that the ‘harassment’ that goes on in the bars at such meetings is little different from that you would find in practically any other bar in the country.

So what? What’s your point? Nobody is saying that harassment is worse at atheist/ skeptical conferences than it is in the world at large. That point has been discussed and eviscerated ad nauseum in the conversations on this topic. We are saying that harassment is a problem in the world at large… and the world at large has found that having well-publicized codes of conduct at events is a good way to decrease the problem and to manage it when it does happen. (Codes of conduct are standard at most professional and political conferences.) We’re not saying, “Our corner of the world is so much worse than the rest of the world.” We’re saying, “This happens in our corner of the world — and in our corner, we have the power to do something about it.”

Further a female friend of mine who repeatedly attends many such events has informed me that the most recent TAM was the best ever in this fashion.

So what? What’s your point? “My friend’s personal assessment” does not equal “accurate statistics on the frequency of sexual harassment at TAM 9 compared to previous TAMs.” I don’t know if harassment incidents have actually decreased at TAM. If TAM had been keeping records of these incidents, we might have a better idea of whether that’s true. As I said yesterday: This is one of the reasons many people think reporting procedures are a crucial part of a conference’s code of conduct. Organizations need to know how often these incidents happen, so they know how serious a problem it is, and can take appropriate action.

But even assuming that your friend is right, and sexual harassment has gone down at TAM… how does that prove your point? I’ll say again what I said yesterday: LAST YEAR’S TAM HAD A SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY IN PLACE, WHICH WAS HIGHLY PUBLICIZED AND DISSEMINATED TO ALL PARTICIPANTS. This isn’t an argument for your position. It’s an argument for mine: namely, that having a well-publicized sexual harassment policy at a conference can play an important part in decreasing how often harassment happens.

And I would also like to point out, once again: The fact that your female friend was even talking about how often harassment happens at conferences in general and at TAM in particular… doesn’t that contradict your assertion that this hardly ever happens, and is a non-issue?

I’m tempted to go on… but the next bit is the really meaty bit, the bit that really cuts to the heart of the matter, and I want to give it its own post. So you’ll have to wait for that until tomorrow.

63 comments

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  1. 1
    TonyInBatavia

    Love your coverage, Greta, but given that he’s turning out daily dreck now, you’re going to have turn your new series into a series about his horrible posts, plural. His screed today is a lovely mess. It’s almost as if FtB just handed a blog to a random comment troll. Thunderf00t is really over his skis here.

  2. 2
    anna

    Why do men with straw polls assume any woman who has been harrassed would ever talk to a man about it? It would not be and has not been my first choice. Kinda makes your straw poll meaningless Thunderf00t.

  3. 3
    Kaoru Negisa

    Can we skip ahead to the next post where he says that it ruins his fun to have to consult other people before biting them?

  4. 4
    phil zombi

    Thank you for this. I am constantly amazed amazed at your ability to parse this sort of bs without completely going off the deep end. I really don’t know why these concepts are so difficult for so many, but maybe I’m projecting my perspective a bit. “WHY DON’T THEY GET IT? ARGLBARGLE HULK SMASH!!!!”

  5. 5
    ibbica

    Ugh, I do wish TF would slow down a little bit; I’m very close to wishing he would just STFU already, but I wouldn’t ask that of anyone on their own blog. It’s just that… at the rate he’s posting clarifications of privileged rhetoric regarding rants about others criticizing let’s say “attempts to justify” his comments, you’ll never catch up with all the wrongs if you only address one per day :/

  6. 6
    Gregory in Seattle

    I’m not sure what disturbs me more: that a refutation is needed (excellent job, Greta), or that the refutation requires three parts and counting (I want to say ‘Keep up the good work’ but I really wish you didn’t have to.)

    This is aside from my disappointment at how priviledge motivates some people to say, “If my being a creepy a-hole bothers you, that’s YOUR fault.”

  7. 7
    Deen

    Hey, whaddayaknow, Tfoot stops focusing on PZ and responds to Greta… in a post addressed to PZ.

  8. 8
    Pteryxx

    …And he implies Greta’s just following PZ’s lead. BWAAHAAHA…

  9. 9
    quietmarc

    Anna @2: I experienced a wake-up call in high school when, during a talk from a guest speaker on sexual assault/harrassment, the speaker asked people to raise their hands if they knew someone who had been sexually assaulted. Every single girl I knew raised her hand and I had no idea. I was upset that no one had told me that one of my friends had been treated like that, and I felt as if half my friends were keeping secrets from me.

    It took a lot of thought and conversation for me to understand why people might not feel comfortable talking to me about this issue and how important it was for me to respect their right to talk about it when and where they choose.

    But ever since, I’ve known that just because I don’t know about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, and I don’t rely on my personal knowledge to decide whether or not it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with.

  10. 10
    michaeld

    Ok he enters a brand new blogging network. First non introductory post is a seemingly clueless foray into an ongoing conversation with no signs of having been following the conversation too closely. Brings in strange extraneous points like consensual leg biting in bars. Focusing on how people just aren’t understanding what he’s saying and they need to go reread his post (often while quibbling over their choice of words). In my opinion using this to avoid the actual points his critics bring up. The liberal use of swarmy pictures, captions and capital letters.

    If this was in the comments section of one of the many bog posts explaining harassment policies I have a hard time thinking it wouldn’t be labelled as trolling. I’m just trying to decide if I’ve been giving trolls too little credit of thunderf00t too much. Currently sad to say I’m siding with the latter.

  11. 11
    baal

    While there is a backlog of stuff to address, I really like the one at a time approach. It makes it ultra clear what a single specific problem is.

    Taking on a number of points often winds up reading like a Gish Gallop and being hard to name what the specific problems are. Gish’s are good at suggesting there is a huge problem or overwhelming (by design) the opposition with the mass of volume rather than the strength of your points. TF is way down this road.

  12. 12
    Ace of Sevens

    OK. So you and PZ are strawmanning him. While he doesn’t say so directly, so is basically everyone else on who’s weighed in on this issue. Just like PhysicalConconservative, HappyCabbie, DLandonCole and Coughlan616 used to do on YouTube. I’m starting to think that the only person who’s truly ever understood what Thunderf00t was talking about is Thunderf00t himself.

  13. 13
    Deen

    @Pteryxx in #8: even funnier is his response to the suggestion that maybe, just maybe, it’s his writing is unclear:

    What you call a lack of clarity, I would call presenting a nuanced argument.

    I was so glad I wasn’t taking a sip of my tea at that point.

  14. 14
    Hank_Says

    Doubled comment from TF’s latest semi-coherent knives-out hoedown:

    Who’ll take bets on TF doing a Loftus-style flameout? Two months? Two weeks?

    Shitty, unclear writing and creationist CAPS LOCK/bolding aside, the bulk of TF’s “contribution” to FtB to date has been a huge fucking whine that a blog neighbour disagrees with him. Is this the kind of short-fuse tantrum we can expect whenever someone dares to dissent at Chez Thunder?

    FFS PZ? No. WTF TF.

    -

    Honestly, it seems as though The Thunderous Ego is going off the deep end in a remarkably short time and doing his level best to alienate people. Maybe he’d be happier next door to Abbie’s place.

    Aside: I wonder how many youtubers will bail on him?

  15. 15
    Pteryxx

    Oh lawl!

    What you call a lack of clarity, I would call presenting a nuanced argument.

    *I* present a nuanced argument, *you* lack clarity, and *they* are strawmanning meeeee!

  16. 16
    Kaoru Negisa

    Pteryxx @15

    You forgot, “I know you are, but what am I?” and “I’m rubber, you’re glue”

  17. 17
    Dunc

    My personal estimate would be, of the things that aren’t just people being social clutzs, something like 1 guy in 100-1000 (and maybe the odd girl too!) causes almost all of the problems.

    Wikipedia tells me that the attendance at TAM 9 was 1650. Using TF’s “personal estimate”, that would mean somewhere between 1 and 16 serial harassers at the “best ever” TAM. I’m not convinced that only having between 0.1% and 1% of your attendees harassing other attendees is something to crow about…

    How many incidents requiring first aid would you need to have at a conference before you instituted appropriate polices and procedures for first aid? (Such as: making sure that you have an adequate number of appropriately trained first-aiders, that you have a record of their training, that they’re visible, that all incidents are recorded, etc, etc…) Surely the answer should be “None – we always do that stuff anyway, just in case”?

  18. 18
    Bronze Dog

    Aside: I wonder how many youtubers will bail on him?

    You can add me to the list.

    I was ignoring the few videos that did trickle in for a while, since I just couldn’t work up the interest. Apparently I missed the more blatant Islamophobic stuff and only saw the bits where I could give him some benefit of the doubt. Of course, his current crap has removed any sympathies I had for him. I can’t see him doing anything to redeem himself.

  19. 19
    Pteryxx

    More on topic:

    If I’m being harassed in a bar at a conference, I don’t want to have to depend on the kindness of strangers. I don’t know whether other folks in the bar are going to support me. If they do, I don’t know whether the folks supporting me are genuine allies, white-knight wannabes, jackalopes spoiling for an excuse for a fight, or what. If they are genuine allies, I don’t know if they have the knowledge or experience or ability to help me handle the situation — and I don’t want to put them in that position anyway. It’s not their job. They’re there to enjoy the conference, too.

    THANK YOU for spelling this out so clearly! Folks have been calling for bystander awareness, but that doesn’t mean *the bystanders* know what they’re doing, or feel comfortable intervening with a harasser who might escalate. Lots of guys have asked how they can help without making the situation worse or being seen as white-knighting. This gives THEM an option too – bystanders can go to conference staff and ask for someone WITH training to keep an eye on the situation, or intervene if necessary.

  20. 20
    Ace of Sevens

    Oh, and if you say that if no one understands him, he needs to write better, you are victim-blaming according to the comments on the latest article.

  21. 21
    Deen

    @Ace of Sevens in #20: yes, as opposed to the reader-blaming he engages in himself.

  22. 22
    TonyInBatavia

    @michaeld in #10: After many years lurking on lots of blogs (and only infrequently dipping my toe into comment waters), I think I’m learning how to pick out a troll. And Thunderf00t is a troll. But instead of a troll in the comments of individual entries, he’s a troll for the FtB network of blogs … with his very own blog on the network! It’s almost meta.

    Or, wait … maybe he’s going Poe on us? No way, right?

  23. 23
    Tom Phoenix

    This seems to me to be a combination of two ways our minds can get things wrong.

    One way is privilege, which is nearly invisible from the inside. If you’re not left-handed, for example, you’ll probably never notice all of the ways that scissors or other devices are hard for lefties to use.

    Another problem is when you’re an expert in some field, it’s hard to notice when you’ve stepped out of the area of your expertise. Subsequently, when you’ve become used to always being right, it’s nearly impossible to admit that you were ill informed once you’ve stated your conclusions.

    Of course, none of us can see into his or her own blind spot; that’s what makes it a blind spot. The hard part is to realize that all of these people who are talking about something you don’t believe in — they’re trying to help you see better.

  24. 24
    A Hermit

    OK, I’m spamming everyone’s blogs with this link to Deacon Duncan’s latest post…I think he makes an excellent analogy here; try this same conversation only substitute “panhandling” for “harassment”:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/alethianworldview/2012/06/27/sexual-panhandling/

    “…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.”

    I think that’s a pretty good analogy; and if the problem being discussed was panhandling I find it hard to believe that those talking about the problem and offering solutions would be met with the kind of condescension, hyper-skepticism and outright nastiness we see when someone says they’ve been harassed and asks if maybe, possibly could we have a policy that says “don’t do that…”

  25. 25
    Mike

    Honestly, as much as I’d like to follow this discussion on both sides, I can’t get past foot’s oddly formatted titles to even read the oddly formatted, ranty posts at this point. There is something so classically troll about that and the “I don’t care about this so much I’m going to devote all my blog posts to it” aspect.
    I think it is great that freethought blogs continues to pursue a diverse group of bloggers and I hope he sticks around, but I’m done reading him and my enthusiasm for watching anything he might post to youtube is substantially diminished.

  26. 26
    mythbri

    Shorter Thunderf00t:

    Harassment isn’t a big deal at conferences, and no one goes to conferences anyway. Well, maybe people go to conferences, but hardly anyone is harassed. Well, maybe people are harassed, but mostly outside the conference in bars. And if I think that’s a big deal, I’ll do something about it myself (maturely). But it’s not. And anyway I don’t think it is, and I’ve talked to women who say that the level of harassment they’ve experienced has gone down! And it’s only a few people who are doing the harassing anyway. And it’s not like it’s worse than it is anywhere else. Plus I like to bite women on the leg.

  27. 27
    Amanda Marcotte

    I admire your patience. When “thunderfoot” started off the post using the classic gaslighting technique of claiming to speak from Reason while the opponents, stupid girls that they are, are clearly speaking from Emotion, I walked away. Ironically, such a framework is illogical and suggests nothing they say after that will be governed by reason, but instead will be an argument based strictly on using negative stereotypes to shame someone into silence.

  28. 28
    Amanda Marcotte

    Also, the wingnutty technique of trying to claim that accurate labels for bigotry should be off-limits is, meh. It’s like trying to throw a fit over the use of “blue” to describe the color of the sky, during a discussion of the way the sky looks. You don’t have an argument if you’re trying to keep useful labels describing actual social phenomenon out of the equation.

  29. 29
    CT Chimako.27

    Honestly, as much as I’d like to follow this discussion on both sides, I can’t get past foot’s oddly formatted titles to even read the oddly formatted, ranty posts at this point.

    If you care to, I recommend reading it in a feed reader like Google Reader. It’s at least legible that way — in the sense that the formatting is less fubar. spelling, grammar and random punctuation still flow thru however. I scanned it – meh, same shit, different asshat.

  30. 30
    onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork

    I applaud your attempts to rationally deconstruct these arguments–I read through each of his posts twice and still can’t get past the OMFSM! *FLAIL* THE FAIL! stage.

  31. 31
    Ace of Sevens

    I think he’s writing this faster than you can respond. by the time you get to how you didn’t misrepresent his argument, he’ll have another 5 posts or so up about this the way he’s going.

  32. 32
    Wren

    Its nice to have some free thought here finally of FTB.

    +1 for thunderfoot.

  33. 33
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Wren, how did you come to believe that ‘freethought’ means “lying, gaslighting, strawmanning and being an idiotic bigot”?

  34. 34
    Mike Callahan

    I checked out Tfoot’s page and it jumped the shark on the first visit. There was an image of him while setting up a drone to fly over a wilderness area to rudely disrupt anyones experience there. As far as I could tell he never left the parking lot. There was a flash of his face in the video and it was not pretty. He looked unkempt, unwashed and severely beaten with the ugly stick. No wonder he resents woman so much. He hasn’t a clue how to make himself attractive in spite of his looks. I’m ugly too, but with a haircut and clean sharp clothes, I manage pretty well. I’m thinking that he has a really hard time connecting with women because of clumsy advances like leg biting. I surmise that his methods with women has no tact or subtlety. The new policy is a direct attack on his usual boorish methods.
    His writing is fragmented and often indecipherable. I won’t be going back to read the boor of FTB.

  35. 35
    karmakin

    I try to be a good constructive poster. Keep an open mind, try to state my opinion clearly and not disrupt the conversation.

    TF makes me want to go troll the hell out of him. This isn’t good.

  36. 36
    Pteryxx

    Mike: hey now, it doesn’t matter how a hateful asshole *looks*. J’sayin.

  37. 37
    Rae

    Honest question,

    Is sexual harassment illegal outside of the workplace? Are there laws governing it when it doesn’t occur in a workplace environment?

    I ask this because when I was discussing this issue with a friend he suggested women who are victims of sexual harassment should “just call the cops.” But I tried googling laws about sexual harassment and only found ones related to the workplace. It seems that if you aren’t at work, a man can do everything short of physically grabbing you without being in trouble with the law. Is this really the case, or did I miss something?

  38. 38
    doubtthat

    Thanks for burning calories on this. It’s a worthwhile effort, and this one was especially entertaining. My prevailing response to his discursive babble was a similar, “so what?”

    anna @2:

    “Why do men with straw polls assume any woman who has been harrassed would ever talk to a man about it? It would not be and has not been my first choice. Kinda makes your straw poll meaningless Thunderf00t.”

    Well said. It reminds of the narratives of freed slaves taken during reconstruction. They would send a white man to interview former slaves then follow up with an African American interviewee. The RADICALLY different stories told by the same people to different questioners was fascinating.

    I can’t imagine a feller with TF’s attitude is generally the first stop for a woman wanting to discuss an unfortunate episode.

    I haven’t talked to anyone complaining about being abducted into the international sex-slave trade, so I assume it doesn’t exist. Derp.

  39. 39
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Greta – I posted this on TB’s latest doubling-down on idiocy and am now pretty much done giving him hits. It was in response to how terribly mean the FtB commentariat is, and how we desperately need a unified policy to Protect The Children™. Basically I want to thank bloggers on FtB for their wonderul education of a number of teenagers, including mine.

    I have teenagers who hang out on Pharyngula and FtB. I have been astonishingly grateful for the wonderful mentoring they’ve received from those naughty, naughty, name-calling fiends. They’ve learned to call stupid arguments stupid, perhaps not on the first presentation thereof, but certainly after some repetitions and doubling-down and JAQing off. They’ve learned to insert [citation needed] into real life conversations and to identify fallacious arguments by type and subtype. They know what an actual ad hominem is, and why it’s not just calling someone a bad name. They’ve learned to argue on the internet, with and without using invective. They’ve been inspired to insist that their dad not use gendered insults (seeing a 16 year old guy tell this to his very argumentative father, in a flatly unemotional tone of voice, was fantastic). They’ve gone to parties at conventions, they’ve gone to bars (with me or other actual grown-up types), they’ve observed harassing behavior and learned to identify it as the fault of the harasser. They’ve learned about fashion and sexual ethics without god (Greta Christina), trans issues (Natalie Reed), mental illness (WWJTD), racism (Crommunist, Black Skeptics), philosophy (B&W, Richard Carrier, Camels with Hammers), and political and constitutional issues (Ed Brayton). They’ve learned quite a bit of actual science, both in blog posts and comment threads.

    They’ve even learned about why it’s not okay to be a Chill Girl™, not okay to dismiss other people’s experiences, and not okay to employ PUA tactics to get laid. These last lessons were all due to the severely confrontational tone of the wonderful Pharyngula Horde.

    Keep it up, Horde. Welcome, teen skeptics. This is a wonderful place for you.

  40. 40
    doubtthat

    Rae @37:

    It would depend on what was happening. The type of behavior that someone would describe as harassing outside of an office atmosphere could easily just be assault (placing someone in apprehension of harm or unwanted contact) or battery (unwanted contact).

    A lot of workplace specific sexual harassment issues (quid pro quos, for example) don’t really apply, but like I said, when people say they were “harassed” outside of a workplace, they most likely mean that they were assaulted which is very clearly something warranting a call to the police.

  41. 41
    Skellington

    @33 Illuminata: I believe Wren meant to say “Free OF Thought” rather than “Free Thought.” Honest mistake. :P

  42. 42
    Pandademic

    Rae @37:

    Stephanie Zvan put up a great post about this the other day. Here’s a relevant part of it:

    Sexual harassment is illegal in situations where a state or the federal government has chosen to recognize a right to equal access regardless of gender or sexual identity. It is a civil rights issue and it’s treated as such under the law. The limitations on the illegality of sexual harassment map very closely to the limits of our understanding of civil rights.

    So basically, in most situations where it would be illegal to discriminate against someone, it is also illegal to (intentionally or not) create a hostile environment through sexual harassment.

    So yeah, it seems that at private events, there’s a pretty wide range of behaviors that, while unwelcoming or even toxic, are not legally actionable. All the more reason to have policies in place to discourage them.

  43. 43
    lrah

    @Mike, 34: There’s no reason whatsoever to resort to insulting his appearance. I hate it when people focus on women’s looks instead of their thoughts, and it’s no better when you do it to thunderfoot.

    Seriously, it’s not as if there was too little opportunity for criticism about his posts.

  44. 44
    jimmiraybob

    LAST YEAR’S TAM HAD A SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY IN PLACE, WHICH WAS HIGHLY PUBLICIZED AND DISSEMINATED TO ALL PARTICIPANTS.

    I’ve lost track. I thought the original problem was that they didn’t have a policy in place. Did they have one last year and decide to shelve it or ignore it this year? What am I missing?

  45. 45
    Matt Penfold

    I’ve lost track. I thought the original problem was that they didn’t have a policy in place. Did they have one last year and decide to shelve it or ignore it this year? What am I missing?

    Well they said they had a policy in place, but in reality all it amounted to was a few words. Not much, if any, thought had gone into thinking about how the policy should actually be implemented.

    For example, there were reports of harassment at last year’s TAM, most of which seem to have been dealt with reasonably well. However they recently claimed there had been no reported incidents of harassment. When it was pointed out this was simply not true, they replied that yes, inciddents had happened and been dealt with by TAM staff, but nothing official had been reported. Since they had not bothered telling anyone how to make an “official” report, or even had a mechanism in place for taking such report, it cannot really be said to have been much of a policy.

  46. 46
    doubtthat

    There really wasn’t an original problem. No one was discussing or criticizing TAM. There was an issue with speakers behaving inappropriately and discussion of how to handle that, but that involved all conferences. Likewise, there was conversation about improvements that could be made to existing policies, but there wasn’t ANY complaining about TAM, specifically.

    This is all a TAM/JREF/DJ own-goal. He brought TAM into this.

  47. 47
    Rob

    Greta. Thanks for your TF posts, but to be honest I don’t think they’re needed. He’s such an obviously privileged oblivious asshat with appalling writing skills that the only people who can’t figure this out are the ones who have already taken an entrenched position. Much as it must burn to have that idiotic posting just a page click away from your blog I’d far rather read you writing about something else where at least I will learn something new – as I usually do when visiting here.

    Mike @34. Yeah not cool to bag him for being scruffy and ugly, but this…

    I checked out Tfoot’s page and it jumped the shark on the first visit. There was an image of him while setting up a drone to fly over a wilderness area to rudely disrupt anyones experience there.

    I sooooo agree with. When I’m in a wilderness like that I am not there to listen to the high pitched whine of a model plane.

    karmakin @35. YES! I can’t decide if it is more like feeling unclean or anticipation of a guilty pleasure.

    Mattir @39. Well said.

    Somebody tell me if and when his page is worth going back to for something lucid and constructive. I’m done with the stupidity.

  48. 48
    jimmiraybob

    Thanks for the TAM clarifications.

  49. 49
    KT

    Just out of curiosity, I googled “Code of Conduct” and conventions to see how standard of a practice it is to have a code of conduct. It is very standard and social conventions are not excluded. Some of the groups that feel it is important have a code of conduct are:

    People who play Second Life, Anime fans, Furries, Science Fiction and Role Playing fans, the Key Club, Cretan-Americans, Indian-Americans and that’s just the first page.

    I’m still weirded out that some skeptics saying “hey maybe we should have one of these too” has become such a big deal.

  50. 50
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    @ Rob (#48)

    I’m basically there just to smirk at the idea that FtB needs to have a policy to protect the Yoots (teen commenters) from abuse and harassment by the Mean Commenters From Pharyngula™. Apparently when I used the word “whinging”, I gave a good example of the sort of rough language that the tender readers of TF need to be protected from.

    Note: Greta, I probably would not use the word “whinging” on your blog, but you generally seem to have significantly less irritating commenters.

  51. 51
    Rob

    @Mattir (#51)

    You bad bad Mommy you ;-)

    I don’t have kids of my own (worse luck), but looking at friends kids I’d say they are a lot more resilient and capable if expected to act that way than our culture currently gives them credit for. I think the ‘protect the children’ thing is much more about making parents feel secure and unchallenged than actually protecting children.

  52. 52
    Rob

    Mattir -I don’t know why I assumed you were a Mommy – bad or otherwise – Total brain fart I have no idea why. Apologies.

  53. 53
    LykeX

    The “1 out of 100-1000″ bit grated on me from the beginning. For one, the actual research suggests that the number is higher, more like 4-6%
    Research. You know, that thing that skeptics are supposed to care about?

    Also, note that this research focuses mostly on actual rape. Presumably, the number of people willing to engage in harassment is higher than those willing to rape someone.

    One more point suggesting that Thunderf00t hasn’t bothered to think or read before opening his mouth on this.

  54. 54
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Rob, I am indeed a Bad Mommy. Someone on ThunderFoot’s blog has told me so, even. (Seriously, I am actually a female human with biological spawns, but I’m actually pretty good at parenting and the sprouts seem to be turning out just fine.)

  55. 55
    joel

    Thank you Greta. You are so patient, as are many of the women and men here who over and over again explain what sexual harassment is and how it affects women and ultimately all of us.

    TF appears be a one-way skeptic that is, one who does not look with a skeptical eye at his own views.

    How did he get invited to ftb what is the process? .

  56. 56
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Another thing about that 1 in 100-1,000 ‘statistic’. It says nothing about the number of harassed, just the number of harassers. Seems like an arse-about-face way of looking at it, I’d think.

  57. 57
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    I’ve seen some of this first hand, and was happy to help try to resolve the matter in an appropriate and mature fashion.

    So why is this issue getting such resistance from Thunderf00t?

    Prevention beats intervention, and the appropriate and mature thing to prevent most of the harassment is to make the conference’s stance on harassment (sexual, racial, etc.) clear and unambiguous.

    You know, like with a written policy about it, and procedures to follow if/when it happens so that everyone is on the same page, has the same information, and everyone knows what to do.

    It should be right in there with the how to call emergency medical assistance policy and procedures.

  58. 58
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    What’s your point? “My friend’s personal assessment” does not equal “accurate statistics on the frequency of sexual harassment at TAM 9 compared to previous TAMs.”

    The friend of TF may have the sort of body language and interaction style that inhibits harassment. Harassers in part pick their targets based on whether they think they will get away with it.

    Decades ago, I worked with a sales manager who never – never, by glance, movement, or words – acted inappropriately towards me. He was abruptly dismissed when he tried to play grab-ass with a newly hired office assistant. She shoved him away, marched right into HR and said, “You wouldn’t believe what ___ just did!” They believed her.

    The investigation revealed that he had been sexually harassing most of the female production techs ever since his hiring. But he never viewed me as prey, never viewed me as someone he could safely harass. So he planed it safe.

  59. 59
    Mike Callahan

    When I insulted Tfoots looks, I thought it was begging to be said by someone. His scruffy appearance and attitude probably has a lot to do with his inability to connect with women. He is probably just another awkward social misfit that chokes near a nice woman. They look right by him as if he was invisible. Remember when ZZ Top said, “Woman go crazy for a sharp dressed man”? TFoot hasn’t a clue I think.
    When he was flying that drone over the wilderness area, he was probably scanning for naked women swimming in those lakes. That might be his only way of ever getting a good look.

  60. 60
    anna

    @Mike

    Its not begging to be said. Its better left unsaid and is really really innapropriate. Insulting someones appearance adds nothing to anything, its really demeaning and dismissive

    If you are being a troll please stop

  61. 61
    volty

    @Mike

    Agreed with Anna. That’s really inappropriate. How someone looks has nothing to do with how misogynistic or likely to harass they are.

    It also feeds into the idea that the people doing the harassing/defending harassers are just “socially awkward”, “have trouble with girls”, or “probably just have Aspergers”. (Now, blaming harassment on people on the spectrum is common, and horribly, horribly ableist and FUCKING INCORRECT and people need to stop doing it.)

    The whole “well they’re just awkward” thing also perpetuates a LOT of myths about sexual harassment itself. Namely, that it’s something that happens mostly because of innocent misunderstanding. Or, “that’s something only creepy people do, so those types are easy to spot and avoid”. This leads to a shit ton of victim blaming and also blaming the wrong people for the problem. Sexual harassment happens because of rape culture and the entitlement complex that comes with it. This obviously makes a policy to deal with it that much more important. People who harass need to know they won’t get away with their bullshit.

  62. 62
    Greta Christina

    Mike Callahan @ #60: No. It is not begging to be said. As someone who has been on the receiving end of way too many “you’re ugly, therefore I’m going to dismiss what you say” attacks (and any amount is too many), I’m going to step in. This is not appropriate. Please do not criticize people’s ideas by insulting their personal appearance.

  63. 63
    Brandi Wandi

    I am a bit surprised at how T-foot decided to make his blog debut. Considering how he acts over attacks on his personal yt channel he can’t possibly expect us ladies to just shrug all this off.
    I guess if it doesn’t effect him in the slightest he could give a fuck.
    I am somewhat thankful to him though, without him these fabulous posts wouldn’t be here for my consumption

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    Return On Investment? « SkepDirt

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