Talking About Harassment

I’m not yet dead of con crud. I simply want to be intermittently. Bleagh.

Luckily, it didn’t really kick in until after SkepchickCon/CONvergence, because in addition to my three panels and some very loud parties, my voice had to last for a radio show with Debbie Goddard and a podcast recording with an old friend, both on Sunday. It did, but just barely.

As you may have seen, Felicia recorded our panel on the kinds of abuse women on the internet are subjected to, and Criss posted the video. (Aside: *Squee* on meeting both of them in person.) Jason posted a bit about the reaction to the video, as well as an audio track for those who can’t hear the video well enough. I got to see Criss’s reaction to the YouTube comments on this one, but they’re hers to share when she feels like it. I’ll be interested to see how they go over, though. Matt Lowry also has some notes that are not a perfect transcription (so check the video if you want to rely on anything someone said) but will give you the gist of the panel if you don’t have time to watch it.

That being said, some of the most interesting conversations I had at the con about harassment and policies were had outside that panel. They were also mostly with men. There was the fellow who came up to me at the end of the panel. He wanted to get a policy in place for his anime convention (judging from his description, it’s Anime NebrasKon) and asked me where to start. I recommended both the OpenSF policy and the Geek Feminism Wiki sample policy as starting places.

I also had a long talk with another old friend, Corvus, who has been following along with harassment in the video game and tabletop gaming industries. He’s one of the developers who dropped out of PAX back when the “dickwolves” fiasco happened. If you look at the comments he received for doing so, you may note some striking similarities to events in organized secularism and skepticism. He also wrote very openly about his own experiences in hopes of helping others understand why there was a problem at all.

Corvus is one of those strong voices for social justice that we need, working in a field that is perhaps even less welcoming to the idea than this one. He’s made progress. He’s changed minds. And he’s paid an emotional toll for doing it. We had a lot to talk about, though little that would add to discussions here.

Then there were the guys who wanted to thank me. Some thanked me for getting policies in place. Some thanked me for putting up with all the crap that came from making changes and shook their heads over why anyone would put up opposition to the policies.

Some shared their own stories of harassment, not easily or with a lot of polish, but as people who hadn’t had the opportunity to talk about the problem with someone they were sure would understand. Those are some of the hardest conversations to have around this topic. I’m not entirely comfortable being the recipient of this kind of confidence from strangers, but as an advocate, I think it’s important to listen when someone is ready to talk. I just wish there were fewer stories needing to be told.

Luckily, this convention made it quite clear that they feel the same way. It was a good place to be, con crud be damned.

Talking About Harassment

18 thoughts on “Talking About Harassment

  1. 2

    “I’m not yet dead of con crud. I simply want to be intermittently. Bleagh”

    I think ConCrud is proof (proof!) that G-d wants atheists to cut back on all that promiscuous handshaking and reckless hugging.


    (Offers sincere sympathy. Couldn’t quite stop the riff on the downside of touching (and breathing) at Cons. Silliness has me in its grip.)

  2. 4

    Speaking of various policies at conferences, I just checked in to a big one (which shall remain nameless, to me), here where I just drove to, in Las Vegas for this weekend.
    I had been assuming that they would have a policy that they would hand out at registration, or that their web site would be updated with one today. No such luck. I got my badge,with a nice holder. I got a conference schedule. I got a beautiful full-color booklet with various welcome messages and speaker bios. I even got the included t-shirt. But no policies.
    It did say that the welcome gathering at the bar right now is not an official evert of the conference. Although I did see the executive director there talking with people.
    The brochure did also mention that the private party this weekend is also not an official event.

    And the brochure did assure me that the organization does want this to be a nice experience for everyone, and that they want things to be good. Sorry I don’t have the wording in front of me now.

    Anyway, I plan to try to get my money’s worth of enjoyment out of the meeting. Maybe buy some more Surly-Ramics. But I’m no longer expecting to go back in future years. A shame. Particularly as there had been no connection between this conference and any current discussions on policies until its exec director chose to bring up his specific conference for no specific reason. Enough said. Sorry for bringing it up again. Never mind.

  3. 9

    I’ve heard the question asked among Skeptics, if you could choose one bit of “woo” or pseudoscience to be true, which would it be? I wish that Airborne actually worked, i.e. that there was something you could take before traveling that would prevent you from catching con crud.

    I hope you feel better soon, Stephanie. I wish I could have been at CONvergence to see several old friends and to meet you and the other FTBloggers.

  4. 10

    I’d be pretty interested in hearing stories about harassment in the table top gaming industry, as that’s one of my hobbies. I’m not aware of anything there, and I’ve been to a few large tournaments/cons and there’s no question it’s almost completely males there – so I’m wondering about harassment. Or is it “in the industry” in terms of stuff at the game developers themselves?

  5. 11

    John, there was recently a HUGE kerfuffle across G+ and over a petition about some problematic RPG books, a disingenuous publisher, some very misogynistic attitudes among the community and – as is sadly typically – overt threats against the woman who launched the petition.

  6. 14


    Thanks for the info. I read “table top gaming” as “wargaming”, and didn’t think about the RPG side of it since I’ve not done or followed that in years. Mostly a confusion on my part, sucks that it happened though.

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