I’ve been asked by a few different people to respond to Rebecca Watson’s post, so I’m going to be brief with my thoughts. I think the first three are the very most important things that everyone who is writing about this needs to understand and, in their anger, some people seem to be forgetting.
1. Rebecca Watson is not a bad person, cares deeply about making TAM the best it can be, and has contributed greatly to making that happen.
2. DJ Grothe is not a bad person, cares deeply about making TAM the best it can be, and has contributed greatly to making that happen.
3. I care deeply about JREF and TAM and have been honored to speak there in the past. I owe TAM a great deal, and want it to be the best it can be. I do not hate nor am I mad at DJ. I continue to owe DJ a debt of gratitude for helping me last year and he’s always been nice to me, even through this. I do not consider anyone in the skeptic movement my enemy. I can’t say they all feel that way about me, but that’s OK too.
4. DJ has a habit of saying things poorly in comments and getting himself into trouble. Telling Rebecca that it is partially her fault that women are not coming to TAM was a major misstep. If I was told that I was the problem by the president of an organization that I had devoted that much time and support to, I would feel unwelcome and not want to participate.
5. Rebecca boycotting the event is likely to hurt TAM in the short run. It’s possible that this will lead to the organization doing a better job of communicating in the future, it’s possible that it will weaken the organization longterm. It is her choice and I understand it and I hope that even the Rebecca haters could put themselves in her shoes.
6. TAM is a safe event for women, but it is not a safe space. These are two different concepts. DJ has policies in place to protect women. They are enforced. There are problems with how TAM keeps tabs on what happens, but that does not mean women are in danger.
7. I believe DJ and his explanation of his recollection of events. I also believe he had initially forgotten the event entirely, though I am surprised that he did not try to find the answer before publicly accusing me of making it up. However, after seeing several other people verify the story, he did the research and confirmed the event. The initial misstep was rectified and we worked through it amicably.
8. I would not have used the term gaslighting to describe DJ’s immediate response, but I don’t know that Rebecca’s use of it was incorrect. He was intentionally trying to make me doubt my own memory, but because his memory disagreed with mine. I was very fortunate to have so many other witnesses that corroborated my story, many women do not.
9. I am surprised that when being alerted to bad behavior of a man towards women the only thing he remembered about the event, once he figured out what we were talking about, is that the guy wasn’t on the invite list. The invite had nothing to do with why it was pointed out to DJ. I can’t personally imagine being alerted to bad behavior of a man towards women and not thinking harassment immediately and not writing the incident down. But I also am a woman who has been harassed by men, so my perspective is different from DJ’s.
10. DJ did the right thing when (re)alerted to this problem and located the guy to whom I was referring and asked me for a written report, which is now on file. He has been very vigilant and polite to me — even when he thought I had no idea what I was talking about, he did it in the politest way possible and in an attempt to reach a conciliatory conclusion, not to create a fight. He handled this with more grace than I would have.
11. The question DJ refers to on the survey is whether you felt welcome at the event or not, not whether you were sexually harassed by attendees. These are massively different questions.