January 27th, 2014

One Person can Make a Difference

So you have a harassment policy. Now what?

Over the past few years, we've been doing a lot of 101 in fandom about sexual harassment and assault. We have agreed that the absolute baseline, the minimum decent standard, is that conventions must adopt a harassment policy. Many of us have stated that we flat-out will not attend a con without a harassment policy.

So: harassment policy, check.

Arisia, Boskone, and Readercon have gone a step further and gotten many staff members trained by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center on how to respond to disclosures of sexual harassment and assault, among other topics. Fantastic! (Non-Bostonian conrunners - please call your local RCC, because they can probably do this for you too, free of charge!)

Both Arisia and Readercon have made the fact that they've gotten that training and take harassment and assault seriously very public. Which is also a necessary part of the process. Because part of the reason to get that training in the first place is so people feel safe reporting harassment. So people know that you will listen and take them seriously.

Which brings us to 201, which is: People will experience harassment. If you have communicated to your attendees that you are anti-harassment, they will report the incident. What then?

This Arisia, twistpeach was harassed. Here is her post. I want you to read the whole thing. Go now. Then come back and finish this.

I know twistpeach. And I had just been introduced to the harasser in question that evening, as a friend of a friend; I was the person saving a seat for him at Rocket Fuel. With the benefit of hindsight and the new knowledge that he has a pattern of behavior, I realize that his hand on my lower back was an early boundary test. She's right. Dude is a Missing Stair.

I am so sorry that this happened to twistpeach. When she told me the next day that she'd reported him for groping her, my response was a vehement "GOOD." We need to have zero tolerance for this shit as a community, but it can be emotionally hard to report.

I am SO FUCKING GLAD that the work we've done as a community has been effective - that twistpeach knew that she could report without judgment, without fear of repercussions. That she would be listened to. That Arisia takes this stuff seriously. That she has an absolute right to be here wearing whatever she wants without anyone touching her inappropriately or harassing her. I am so glad that she had no doubts that Arisia, as a community, supported her and wanted to do the right thing.

The con investigated the harasser; as it turns out, he was ghosting the con. The conchair replied to twistpeach on LJ with "We have not only flagged him in our database, but will be talking to another con he works for, and action will be taken. I assure you he will not be happy with the result."

So after you have a harassment policy, then what?

* You tell the world.
* You handle harassment complaints appropriately.
* Lather, rinse, repeat. Because what we're going to see is a gradual decline in harassers as they realize that they can't get away with this shit here, that we will not let them. Not instant, but gradual. Fewer and fewer every year.

We are getting there. This is great progress.

I'm so glad twistpeach knew she was safe to report and did so, and I am REALLY REALLY GLAD she wrote everything up like she did (seriously please go read!), and I am proud of Arisia's response.

EDIT: From minkrose's comment below: "It appears that at present, Dustin is not officially removed from the CTcon volunteers (he was demoted from "staff" to "volunteer" a while ago, partly on Maddy's pressure, which was a nominal difference only). People to contact are Matt Daigle (president) and Ryan Pagella (vice president). Their emails are daigle.m@connecticon.org and pagella.r@connecticon.org."

laura47 believes he's also on staff for Anime Boston, and has a tale in comments that requires a trigger warning.

Things and stuff

Today is my day for doing not-writing things simply because there are so many of them to do! >.<

* I have a Patreon page now, because they're going to make the changes I was hoping they would. Not sure I'm doing it right - feedback is welcome!

* Nicky's checkup went swimmingly. His incisions and his mouth have healed perfectly, and he got another vaccination. He is the best. <3

* I'm going to try to get a little further in the (triggery as hell) SSDI application today.

* Much love and strength to Caitlin as she prepares for tomorrow's surgery; if you're in a position to help Michael, please do.