Yesterday, Elise Matthesen told the world that she had been sexually harassed at an F&SF convention by sharing details and tips of how to report and make it count. The response from well-placed individuals in the industry has been heartening, uncharacteristically so for situations of this sort. I think that requires some recognition.
First, we have the six authors who shared Elise’s post, making sure it was widely seen:
Of these, Jim Hines also confirmed that this was the same editor whom a number of people had named privately in 2010 as a harasser. Mary Robinette Kowal also took everyone through the reasons to be afraid of naming the harasser and the reasons why they didn’t apply to her. She then named him as Jim Frenkel, editor at Tor.
This is where, in my experience, things would normally go badly wrong. They didn’t here. Nobody started dredging up dirt about Elise. No one started saying that Frenkel was such a great guy that this was impossible to believe.
In fact, the opposite happened. People went out of their way to be supportive. Yes, even at Tor. Several Tor editors have Twitter accounts. Here is a sampling of what they’ve looked like. (Tweets are shown in reverse order.)
Patrick Nielsen Hayden:
@seananmcguire: Our conventions need to be safe spaces. Our community needs to be a safe space. We need to stop taking silence as consent.
@Krasnostein: don’t be afraid that you will be blacklisted by editors – there are ALWAYS more editors.
@seananmcguire: “I am good at my job” is no compensation for “I am a raging asshole who will not respect your bodily autonomy or right to be safe.”
@MARIADAHVANA: It’s really shitty that often what happens is that one’s friends have to circle up and protect you from someone harassing.
@tdelucci: Victims of harassment have a host of reasons for not speaking out. And the guilt of not reporting can be as bad as the original incident.
@AlecAustin: Re: “no one else said anything” – often people are too blindsided by transgression to react in the moment. “Did I really see/hear that” etc.
@michaeldthomas: I am not scared to walk around an SF convention by myself. It is BULLSHIT that my friends & colleagues need escorts & safety plans.
@michaeldthomas: It is especially BULLSHIT that they need escorts & plans to protect themselves from people who are representing companies at an event.
@2muchexposition: Wow. Internet exploded during my meeting. If you’re behind, start w/ @MaryRobinette‘s posts http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/on-sexual-harassment-at-conventions-elise-matheson-speaks-out/ … & http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/category/journal/ …
To the best of my knowledge, Gorinsky is Robinette Kowal’s editor and Nielsen Hayden is Scalzi’s.
@seananmcguire Here’s a good way to check yourself: the second someone says “Please stop,” THAT’S WHEN YOU STOP.
@SevickBrown: These next three RTs are very important, writers, conference goers, please take note.
@seananmcguire: I have had several editors, at several houses. None of them would say “nope, we don’t wanna publish you” for enforcing safe boundaries.
@seananmcguire: And you know what? That’s part of how I know that they’re GOOD EDITORS and that I want to keep working with them.
@seananmcguire: “I am good at my job” is no compensation for “I am a raging asshole who will not respect your bodily autonomy or right to be safe.” @SevickBrown: Ok, so it was 4 RTs. I didn’t become an editor because of my math skills.
Other people who have worked with Frenkel have also weighed in:
@KellyDMcC: I’ve known Elise Matheson 30 years & Jim 14. Jim used to be my agent. I like them both. I believe Elise, and harassment is unacceptable.
This is the way a community is supposed to react to the news that one of their own has repeatedly sexually harassed many of their own. I don’t know whether it’s happening in this case because Elise is so well-established and well-loved here. That may be the case, or it may be simply that all of the education that people have done has taken root among what is basically a decent group of people.
What I do know is that this is what I’ll point to any time I need to show people how this should be done.