I learned about that gap in my knowledge via a 2012 post of Stephanie’s, We don’t do that anymore, which shares some pretty staggering information. She shares correspondence between Earl Kemp, chair of Chicon III, and Isaac Asimov, in 1961. Go read it: she has permission to post it and I don’t.
[pause while you read it]
Got that? Hahaha let’s do a thing about pinching women’s bums, with some women you can demonstrate on; hahaha yes let’s, I’ll “stiffen the manly fiber of every one in the audience” (because women don’t count as part of “everyone” even though they are there, in the audience).
That was how sexual harassment and assault was dealt with at the genre’s major convention back in 1961. Everybody knew, and not only was it not stopped, but it was encouraged. Tee-hee. Isn’t it funny. Let’s put the guy on stage to tell us all how to enjoy this wonderful thing. Because “us”, like the audience at the masquerade, excluded everyone who wasn’t male. Women weren’t considered at all.
Eeeesh. Things suck now but at least we do get the chance to speak up.
Things have gotten a little bit better since then. The general political situation outside fandom has changed enough that any conrunner has a good idea of the volume of protest that a “witty” speech on sexual assault would bring. The Harlan Ellison incident was met with a very loud outcry. (See the comments on that post for more about Asimov.)
So that’s why I caught up on the Harlan Ellison incident.