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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
So you have a harassment policy. Now what? 
27th-Jan-2014 11:38 am
One Person can Make a Difference
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.
27th-Jan-2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
Oh. Oh. Him. I'm in a regular boffer game with him.

I think I'll go mention this to a couple people.
27th-Jan-2014 04:51 pm (UTC)
That would be greatly appreciated. <3
27th-Jan-2014 04:52 pm (UTC)
Still awful to have harassment happen, but very encouraging to see things dealt with swiftly and properly. Major kudos, Arisia.
27th-Jan-2014 05:53 pm (UTC)
So, my sister works/has worked for CT Con, and I forwarded twistpeach's post to her on Saturday. Turns out, while not specifically *sexually* harassing people, his behavior at CTcon has been concerning to my sister for some time... unfortunately, last time she checked, she hadn't been able to convince anyone to take any serious actions about it. We're hoping that with this additional information, she can get him completely removed from the con staff/volunteer corps. If other people want to put pressure on CT Con about this, I can ask my sister about what would be useful.
27th-Jan-2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
27th-Jan-2014 06:02 pm (UTC)
I am very happy that I live in a world where people can finally talk about this stuff. And I'm very proud of my friends who helped create that world.
27th-Jan-2014 06:07 pm (UTC) - Long Comment is Long
I think it's important to mention (apologies if you mentioned this somewhere; I might have missed it) that harassment can be physical without being sexual and that still needs to be addressed. I am extremely sensitive to people touching me anywhere, but especially on my head. It's not a sexual thing, but my reactions to it are always negative and can range from flinching to sobbing panic attacks, so if someone does that to me and I'm somewhere where there's an appropriate person to report it to, I do. I have reported 2 separate coworkers for this; both got spoken to. One got fired because he had a pattern of doing inappropriate things and generally being a jackass, and the other has worked there for a long time and is generally a nice person so she's still there. I haven't had any other problems with her or anyone else. Point being, if someone is making you physically uncomfortable, you should always feel ok in doing something about it.
27th-Jan-2014 07:37 pm (UTC)
Should this be shared with the Arisia Facebook and LJ groups, or is that a bad idea?
27th-Jan-2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
Good idea.
27th-Jan-2014 08:12 pm (UTC)
And reblogged by Scalzi. Have some more views, whydontcha!
27th-Jan-2014 09:09 pm (UTC)
Good! a) because Twistpeach's post is freakin' awesome, b) because this dude needs to be held accountable, and c) because hey, our home con did something very right here.

I think this is the first public example I've seen of someone choosing to report because they knew that the con would take no shit. It's good to publicize what that looks like.
27th-Jan-2014 08:39 pm (UTC) - Trigger warning for sexual assault in this comment.
Comment I left on the original post:

"Trigger warning for sexual assault in this comment.

Thank you for posting. I believe he is also on staff for Anime Boston, if anyone has contacts there.

Do you know about what time it was when Dustin assaulted you the second time/you reported him? Saturday night, sometime after 1 am, my friend had been drinking and had a headache and ran into him. She also has narcolepsy. Dustin agreed to let her nap in his room, and she was falling asleep. She heard him ask his friend to "do [him] a favor and leave [them] alone", and thankfully they refused to leave. My friend woke up in sleep paralysis, and Dustin was "nibbling [her] leg, touching [her] inner thigh and stroking [her] crotch." She was scared and stuck in sleep paralysis for a bit, then was able to get away and leave the con. She came back sunday because she had plans with me, and then broke down and told us everything. I was already very anti-Dustin because he'd been very aggressive at her at LARPs and she'd made it very clear nothing was going to happen, but she thought he respected her as a friend and wouldn't try again. I've spent a lot of the past week contacting various people about this, and there were some wires crossed where one of my friends was sure this had already been reported to Arisia, which seemed unlikely giving the timing, but I now believe that was this incident... or possibly something else! I have made a report to the Arisia convention staff and my friend is going to follow up. I am trying to do leg work myself for her sake, because this is difficult to talk about. People can contact me about this incident if they need to, my email is this username at gmail. I am not hiding the fact that I would like to see Dustin completely gone from the extended Boston geek/LARP community."
27th-Jan-2014 09:06 pm (UTC) - Re: Trigger warning for sexual assault in this comment.
Well, holy shit.

If your friend would like to file a police report and would like an advocate from BARCC with her, please let me know. I stand ready. Also, please pass on BARCC's hotline number: 1-800-841-8371. BARCC is for survivors of all kinds of sexual assault, not just rape. The hotline and all other BARCC services are 100% free of charge and confidential, and the hotline is 24/7.
28th-Jan-2014 12:29 am (UTC)
I sent twistpeach's post to Matt Daigle (ConnectiCon president).

Matt informed me that Dustin is "no longer welcome at ConnectiCon as staff or an attendee."

Please feel free to spread this. I don't know if there's anything I can do, but please let me know if there is.

(Disclosure: I'm staff for ConnectiCon; I help run the Magic tournaments at the con.)
28th-Jan-2014 01:35 am (UTC) - Yikes!
I remember him. He claimed to be in charge of "Safety" for the Connecticon Pub Crawl (I think you recall me asking him questions about how they were planning to implement this and he seemed to evade all my questions with "no worries, I'm in charge" so and I gave him my business card to pass along to the higher ups since I was already thinking I would only want to attend if I was sure of a safe environment and he was clearly too drunk to elaborate on WHAT was going to be done), but now it really sounds like he is a big part of the problem. I am so sorry that this happened to anyone, much less more than one person. :(
28th-Jan-2014 03:29 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this.
28th-Jan-2014 03:59 am (UTC)
Thank you for not only talking about it but providing this forum for other people to discuss these things.

Improvement is always slower than we want, but THIS is what it takes. And yes, that original post is awesome.
28th-Jan-2014 07:41 pm (UTC) - Arisia FB page discussion
Obviously, I can't comment on the discussion currently raging on the Arisia facebook page (over 300 comments last I checked). I don't want my blog linked to my facebook account, which contains my real identity.

But just to clarify, I support the mods taking down the link to my blog if it was becoming an inflammatory discussion. Nobody has to host a discussion about my blog on their blog.

However, I am finding the comments by some accusing commenters or linkers as vulnerable to accusations of libel and slander to be dangerous. It is not illegal to pass on information about an alleged assault or to decide that an accusation carries enough weight for private action. Not inviting the guy to your private party or not welcoming his volunteer services is a private action and you can do as you damn well please. Deciding you no longer wish to employ or date the guy is also fine.

So, first off, this is a bald-faced lie. Libel and slander suits require demonstrable proof of falsehood and/or ill-intent. Sharing a blog is neither of those things. So the idea that sharers, commenters or linkers could be sued is absolutely ludicrous.

But what is worse than the lie is the true objective. By shooting off their mouths that it is ILLEGAL to share stories of assault, these commenters are making victims scared to talk, concerned bystanders scared to talk, and the entire community scared to spread awareness of known assailants in their midst.

Fears like this are why bystanders don't intervene, why victims fear reporting, and why people talk in hushed whispers about the missing stair. Because we prioritize perpetrators reputations over victims' stories.

Let me repeat. The problem is not that we give equal scrutiny to everyone's stories. The problem is not that we pass on a story with a "hey, is this for real?" The problem is that we actively give precedent to perpetrators REPUTATIONS rather than a victim's personal experience. The person threatening libel on everyone in the thread is not bothering to figure out whether my account is true, verified, witnessed, officially recorded, or if I have any reason to fabricate such a thing. But he is actively silencing the story by threatening others so they will stop talking about it. Not "until this is verified," not "because this story is doubtful" or even "because your response is out of proportion with what this guy (allegedly) did" but because it threatens the reputation of some guy. Any guy. Like that is more important than anything else.

And I dearly wish someone would invite him to my blog to discuss this with ME.
28th-Jan-2014 11:23 pm (UTC) - Re: Arisia FB page discussion
i have my friend's permission to use my judgement about posting her account -- should i post it to FB? I'm really angry at everyone claiming things are illegal that acts to silence future accounts!
28th-Jan-2014 10:25 pm (UTC) - Update
My friend has decided, in part because of twistpeach's post, to speak publicly about what happened here. I am linking this with her permission, but she is unlikely to respond to comments. Feeel free to contact me instead: http://k1ttycat.livejournal.com/160255.html
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