What then is to be done?

So, what to do about sexual harassment? Well for a start, as Jen says, it helps to be aware of it.

I didn’t realize so many people were oblivious to these problems. I thought because I was so quickly brought into The Know, this had to be something everyone in the movement was aware of. But it wasn’t. After I made my comment, dozens of people kept asking me for the names on The List (which I didn’t give – see my previous points). I was independently approached by multiple big names at the conference who wanted to help and learn what they could do to make their conferences safer.

Stephanie Zvan has given an excellent suggestion: Our conferences need to start adopting anti-harassment policies with guidelines of how to handle harassment that are clearly known to everyone, including speakers.

And that’s happening already.

And her blog post is already having results. Groups are pledging to adopt this policy, including American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance (which had an anti-harassment policy last year but will make it more prominent). I encourage you to ask other major atheist and secular organizations to adopt similar policies with a link to Stephanie’s post. Because an easy first step is to put pressure on organizations to address this problem. EDIT: Freethought Festival and the Minnesota Atheist Convention have also pledged to adopt a policy.

Only a few hours in. I’m impressed.


  1. jamessweet says

    I think, for the types of behavior we are talking about, an official anti-harassment policy should be pretty effective.

    My workplace is pretty progressive, although it is male-dominated (more or less unavoidable for my field… but the gender balance is much improved over similar business in the field, as well as over my university class, and this company has won numerous awards for diversity). There are sexist behaviors — usually, though not always, unintentional — which I see persist even here, but they are subtle. Not that their subtlety detracts from their perniciousness; in fact in many ways it amplifies it because it’s so difficult to actually do anything about it.

    But the kind of stuff that Jen describes? Yeah, for the most part that stuff doesn’t happen here. And when it does, the offending party gets a stern talking to, right quick. For some of the more egregious stuff Jen described, that would pretty much immediate grounds for termination. And everybody knows that, and (with the occasional aberrant new hire) it’s simply not a problem here anymore.

    Well, that’s a little unfair; I suspect there is some talking-the-chest that goes on here. And once in a blue moon some fucking idiot will tell a sexist joke.

    But blatantly inappropriate propositioning? Groping, for crying out loud??? Virtually unheard of. That kind of bullshit can be fixed with a good anti-harassment policy. So I think there’s a lot of promise here.

  2. fastlane says

    Damn uppity wimmenz (Nicely done)! It’s good to see results so quickly.

    I suspect it will be enough to discourage this kind of behavior rather quickly, but I suspect one incident, if properly handled, may be all it takes to nearly eliminate the worst of it.

    I’m afraid the more subtle, pernicious kind, will persist for a while, much like racism has in the US.

  3. cafeeineaddicted says

    Ericka M. Johnson posted a blog on this issue on Friendly Atheist and the comments have exploded.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *