Thunderf00t has a second post up on the topic of harassment policies. I don’t really care about most of it, but let’s take a look at the bit that is about the harassment policies themselves.
And maybe most pertinently, PZ explaining why his policy wouldn’t be a killjoy.
If you want to chew on some woman’s leg, no, you don’t have to consult the conference handbook.”
“You have to fucking consult the woman.”
Facepalm. Yes this is exactly why you are killjoys to the VAST majority of civil, honest respectable folks. IT WAS IN A BAR. I enjoyed it, she enjoyed it (she left a comment specifically saying so, just to remove all doubt (see MyLegMYCHOICE!)), AND I NEVER HAD TO CONSULT HER, NOR APPLY FOR PERMISSION FROM THE CONFERENCE, IN ORDERS SIGNED IN TRIPLICATE SENT IN, SENT BACK AND BURIED IN SOFT PEAT FOR THREE MONTHS AND RECYCLED AS FIRELIGHTERS etc etc. Indeed had I had to fill in the paperwork along with ‘permission to bite your leg in a horseplay photo’ form under conference interpersonal contact rule 144 b) 2, it would have probably kinda killed the moment, and neither I nor she would have got our mild thrills for the night. It’s boys n girls have fun in bars!
Look I’ll make it simple, the point of a bar isn’t to make everyone maximally safe (indeed if it were, they would ban bars, as it would be far safer if everyone just stayed at home and did nothing), it’s to let everyone have the most amount of fun. The reason people don’t go to bars that are maximally safe, is because they are DULL, with folks always living in fear of crossing some random rule written by some hypersensitive pencil-necked PC jockey. I want to go to a bar where people let their hair down a little and act like PEOPLE! Nor do I see why everyone who is happy with such bars should have to comply to your dull set of rules that would SPECIFICALLY PROHIBIT EXACTLY THE SORT OF FUN GOING ON IN THIS PICTURE.
There’s a good bit of irony in this language showing up in a post about strawmen.
Here’s the proposed sample policy. There’s nothing in there about paperwork. There’s nothing in there about asking permission from the conference. This is the language about harassment in the policy:
Harassment includes offensive verbal comments [related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, [your specific concern here]], sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.
Perhaps Thunderf00t could be so kind as to point to where this policy prohibits consensual horseplay?
The strawmanning isn’t the most problematic part of what he’s said here, of course. The huge problem is that he is using a consensual encounter to talk about harassment. It’s a very good thing that the person whose leg he bit happened to be cool with it. (I do wonder how she feels about being used as an argument against harassment policies, but that’s a digression.) But Thunderf00t manages never to deal with the fact that if she hadn’t been happy about it, it would have been criminal assault.
Is he okay with committing assault? Is he okay with just guessing that he isn’t committing assault? Would assaulting someone be okay because their boundaries would be just random and hypersensitive and easily dismissed as political correctness?
It certainly isn’t okay just because it happens in a bar. Bars where assaults happen frequently tend to get shut down as nuicances. That’s because the business of a bar is alcohol. It is not being unsafe. It is not serving up ankles to entitled douchebags. If you ever think it is, perhaps you should take a look at the wares behind the counter. I can all but guarantee you that any ankles you see on the counter or in the cabinets are not for sale.
Of course, it’s possible that Thunderf00t actually asked for and received permission for what he did–not necessarily for ankle-biting specifically, but for a general class of bizarre, familiar behavior. He may have actually gone to the trouble to make sure his actions were welcome, no matter how much he claims otherwise here. He may just be naive enough to think that consent really does require paperwork. (I know it sounds weird, but remember that he didn’t bother to find out what was in the sample policy.)
After all, it really isn’t that hard to get permission for something like this without breaking the mood, even something specific. Think you’ve flirted enough to know whether someone is interested in this sort of thing? Then lean in and say something like this:
“I’ve been known to bite.”
“Have you now?”
“I particularly like ankles. Is that a problem for you?”
“Hmm. No, I don’t think so. No problem here.”
“And if I do it right here, right now?”
There. Woman (in this case) consulted and look at that: clear consent that doesn’t break the mood. Assuming that “discomfitted partner” is not the mood you’re going for.
Now, if Thunderf00t’s idea of fun relies on that risk he refers to, relies on not knowing whether someone will consent to what he’s about to do, that’s another story. If that’s the case, I am completely unapologetic about demanding an anti-harassment policy at any conference he’s going to attend. That attitude would mean that he is exactly the sort of person these policies are meant to address.
I don’t go to a conference to get my leg grabbed and bitten. As with a bar, this is not the product being sold, to me or to him. Thunderf00t can whine all he wants about having his fun spoiled. I don’t care. His kink doesn’t get to dominate my conference experience, or my drinking experience, and the fact that he thinks it should demonstrates why these policies are needed.
Because, you know, we needed one more demonstration of that.