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Filamena Young writes about her experience with sexual harassment at conventions, and she's not alone in these experiences. I've been groped at conventions, and it makes me feel like I'm not respected. That no matter what I do, or what I create, I'm just a set of body parts to some people. It's pathetic.
Nutty Nuchtchas's profile photoJ-P Losier's profile photoNobilis Reed's profile photoRichard Green's profile photo
I'm never sure what to do with posts like these.

I suppose what I can do is keep my eyes and ears open...I am having trouble thinking of a time when I've witnessed something like this, but I probably was/have been/am blind to it.
I've seen women groped or grabbed in bars and in so many mainstream events that it's pretty sad, whats worse is when those women don't object and just giggle. I've never seen this at a con, though I don't doubt that it happens. I've seen the leering and I've seen and been part of the "Can I take a picture with you" by a guy who only wants one because you're hot, dressed as a hot character or showing cleavage.

I think I'd be stunned if someone tried to grab me, I know when I was punched for the first time I was too stunned to react too. I have in the past seen behavior like this and confronted the offender and even got kicked out of a bar for it. I think more bystanders need to be proactive, because people who do this, do it because they think they can without retribution.

Also, every female gaming panel has that one guy "How do I get a girl to game with me." question :)
Disgusting. I've never seen it, so I honestly don't know how I'd react if I did. But I hope I wouldn't stand there as a bystander and stay nothing.
I think often it's easier to act if you are a witness rather than the victim. The idea that anyone could think this is OK is beyond me, but at a con is worse because that's my safe place, among fellow geeks.
I want to put together a monologue that goes something like, "You fucking fuckers, you're fucking spoiling it for the rest of us."

It would be about how I really like having women around who like to flirt and show off and be sexy but when you (the asshole) snort and ogle and grope and pose and shame, most of the women stop doing whatever it is we want them to do. Either they go elsewhere or they dress down or at the very least look at us all differently because you have this stupid, peurile hangup, and is it really so hard to treat human beings like human beings?

Except it would be pointless because they either nod and smile with the rest of us, pretending they don't do it, or never even listen in the first place.
As nasty as these stories are, it's good to hear them to know the utterly-different world women experience from the one I do.
You know what though, +Nobilis Reed ? I bet a monologue like that would make a lot of people feel supported, and let them know they have allies. Having allies is a great feeling.
Good point. I'll see what I can come up with. I don't get angry easily but this one is something I can do.
I'm sorry that you and other women have had these kind of experiences. It's sad and angering on so many levels.

Monologue away, good +Nobilis Reed , monologue away. :)
Nobilis, record it and get everyone to play it. Any help you need I'm there.
I offer my services as well, Nobilis, if you need another angry guy.
+Nobilis Reed, don't forget the table flip. Rants are better with the table flip. ;)

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
Need to figure out how to do that in audio...
The problem is catching perpetrators and making sure they hear you.
I started dressing in business-type attire instead of what I used to wear to cons in response to this kind of attitude. (And the fact that I experience significantly less shenanigans from the hotel front desk when I look like a professional.) I will never understand what these guys are thinking... do they think that's the way to get women to pay positive attention to them? Whatever cultural influence tells guys it's okay to think that way needs some serious smashing.
You know... I actually had cause a handful of years ago to take a stand with an attendee - that if I so much as saw his hand stray towards ANOTHER female attendee, I was going to break his wrist personally. Extreme, possibly over-stepping my bounds, even. But it DID curb the behavior.

Not even a year later, I ended up having the SAME conversation with a female attendee, regarding male attendees. And again, it absolutely curbed the behavior and I haven't gotten any complaints since, regarding either offender. Sometimes, all it takes is the community - or a very loud, very angry member of the community - taking a stand. (and ohhh, I was both loud and angry.)
Holy shit +Avonelle Wing, your story reminded me: I forgot that I have been groped by a woman at a convention when I didn't want it. It wasn't explicitly sexual but it was definitely a come-on and unwanted and unasked-for.
I suspect that if an unfiltered dialogue opened, we'd discover that more men than most people would suspect would speak up, saying that they've been groped, goosed or grabbed inappropriately at a convention. And I believe that there is a lot that can be curbed with appropriate community standards, and an open dialogue on the subject. If folks are encouraged to speak up, and given space to name bad behavior as such, there will be fewer dark corners for scummy behavior to lurk in.
We need to put the shame where it belongs, on the jerks. The women (or men) they grope (or otherwise touch inappropriately), should bear none of it. If I see any of this at Dragon*Con, I will be calling it out.
Any guidelines on how to describe inappropriate looking? I know how to handle inappropriate touching but I want to know what it is that creeps someone out when they're being looked at.
My eyes are up here has a certain ring to it. I used to know a girl who never looked at my face but just my chest, I never felt like I ever had to pulle the "my eyes are up here" until this woman, she chased a lot of people away from that certain social circle too.

Basically, you can look at my tits, especially if they are out, but take a break, look at my face first, or occationally please :)
I cannot speak for all people, but looking rarely bothers me. People have the right to their own experiences. What often is the issue is that the leering precedes the actual physical assault.
And there's also a component (I'll imagine) that comes from how far away you are. The rules for looking at someone from across the room are different than they are when you're in conversation.

Expression is also important.

I'm beginning to think this might work better with a video component.
Looking and leering are two different actions. an appreciative glance is one thing, but a sustained leer might become uncomfortable or feel threatening.
It's hard to quantify inappropriate looking because it all comes down to intent. Recognize and appreciate someone as a whole person and not just an object, and any looking will probably not be inappropriate. Think of someone as an object, and the looking is likely inappropriate.
+Nuri Steinhauer That's probably true, but it's hard to quantify or portray. How do you tell someone you don't like what they're thinking, rather than what they're doing?
That's one of the reasons we focus on the touching problem more. My characterization of inappropriate looking is very much a self-evaluation test, so it really can't be judged externally. The leering problem is one that you probably can't really address unless the guilty party wants to change his or her behavior (which happens - I've seen a lot of socially-awkward people take well-meant feedback and improve their social behavior). Touching has discrete incidences, and definitely crosses the line of acceptability, so it is easier to identify and take appropriate action.
I'm with Nuri on this one. Or as they say at my undergrad: Friend Speaks My Mind.
Okay, understood. Heck, if we can just get rid of the inappropriate touching that will be a big thing right there.
There's another element that I haven't seen mentioned, and that's "pack behavior". The post referenced in +J.R. Blackwell 's original G+ note specifically describes what I would call a pack assault. One person leering isn't hard to ignore. Three people leering is a threat. In my personal experience, abusive behavior with a sexual overtone is harder to combat when it comes with a group-think that validates the abuser, and frames the victim as a target. or prey.
That same pack behavior discourages dissent, instigating bad behavior as a group where individuals wouldn't have done it. I think we are starting to see some systemic work in this area (anti-bullying programs), but most of the historical peer pressure resistance education has been in the drug area. We need widespread peer pressure for good behavior to counter the peer pressure for bad behavior. (Or raise an entire society with enough confidence to stand up for their convictions.)
Half the time, bad behavior isn't even recognized as such. I once had an industry professional run up behind me and run his hands along my legs, from my thighs to my ankles. I had no idea who was touching me or why. When I turned around, totally creeped out and saw that it was another professional that I knew through the con, he just laughed and said he had done it because my tights were so nice.

The people around us didn't react at all, seeing it as all in fun. Because he was drunk, his behavior was excused. It is rare that anyone wants to confront bad behavior because of the fear that it will ruin the fun of an event.
There's also an element of not jumping in, because who knows - maybe you have the sort of dynamic where that would be acceptable between you. Goodness - I might have been so stupefied by the tights thing that I would have been struck dumb.
I'm with Avie on that; I tend to be so assertive myself that I forget other people might not react as vocally when there is a problem. Maybe we all need to be a little more aware of what's happening to our lady friends and remember to ask them if things are okay.
It's a good point, +Nuri Steinhauer Part of the issue is that I'm often at events as a professional, and yelling at someone about their behavior is often damaging in a professional context. It gets you labeled as someone who overreacts or is unprofessional, and then you are the person who doesn't get invited back.
I wonder if a good reflex for observers to cultivate would be "Wait, wait..." (to the possibly aggrieved party, as neutrally as possible) "Was that okay with you?"
Hmm. For what it's worth, if you stand up for yourself at a DE event, we will make you a cup of tea and offer you a cookie. and THEN we'll invite you back.

I keep coming back to a sense that this is about cultural norms - if the norm can be shifted to applaud a woman who says "yo! this is MY space bubble. get out." then women who stand up for themselves will be supported, not exiled.
That's an excellent point, +Avonelle Wing. It is about cultural norms. Every time I've stood up for myself and my space I have been called crazy, sensitive, and unprofessional. There is a group of people that no longer speak to me because a man they like assaulted me at a party. That's right, THEY don't like ME because I was ASSAULTED by a dude that they are friends with and I said I was mad about it and left the party.
Well, fuck that shit. That's definitely going in the rant!
This only works for people you know and can see later, but I am a fan of taking a moment (or several) to wrap your head around your feelings, calm down, and figure out exactly what you want to say to a person. Most of the time, if I go back to someone and say, "Hey, remember when you did X? That's really not something that's okay with me. Please don't do thing like that without getting permission first," they get it. It saves you both the face of the confrontation in public.

However, that doesn't work when a jerk gropes you and then runs away. How exactly are you supposed to handle that gracefully and also make it clear that it is NOT OKAY? Sounds like a problem with the people handling the Events as well as the individual jerks.
Yeah, that's why the rant is going to be directed toward everyone else. The aggrieved party is allowed to react as appropriate to personal circumstance.
In my experience, +Nuri Steinhauer that's kind of reasoned reaction has gotten me labeled as "sensitive" and "crazy". Though maybe it's worth the label.
I've strongly considered skipping conventions this year entirely, because emotionally, I'm just not in a good place to take the usual dose of sexual harassment.
"Crazy" can be a synonym (for some people) for "makes me upset thinking too much."

+J.R. Blackwell , you make people think.
Stuff like your story*, +J.R. Blackwell, makes me really violently angry. It taps into the side of me that wants to go to Alabama and work security at a place that provides abortion services.

It's probably pretty ugly; just some unfocussed rage looking for a righteous excuse to vent itself. But, phew boy, is it intense.

* Edited to add: And the fact that it might take you away from the con world.
+J.R. Blackwell and that is EXACTLY what I'm talking about with the whole "You're ruining it for EVERYBODY" line of the rant.
I don't get angry easily, but I may need to record this rant in the car on my phone rather than waiting until I get home.
The people doing the labeling need some education. Or maybe a LOT of education. If we keep letting them do that to brilliant and fun female creators like you, then how can we also claim to support women in the industry? I guess until enough people converge on these guys and make it clear that we support everyone's bodily autonomy, the attitude is going to persist. You should never be shamed for standing up for your personal rights.
That's what I'm going to try to do. Educate.
The fact that it's just a part of attending events - go to con, be treated like crap - breaks my heart. :-( I will personally be twice as aware as usual - there's no place for that shit at my events, and if I see it, I will be offering myself as an ally in stopping it cold.
All of these stories need to be told. There are so many people, myself included, that are unaware of these types of things. As I said before I think of cons as a safe place to go, then again, Balticon is my first con and everyone in the tribe has been so supportive and awesome to me. I need to know just like everyone needs to know this isn't the case for everyone.

A point was brought up that I think is very important, how do you know if a grope is unwanted? Some people do have that sort of relationship, there are some people that I would openly grope because we have that relationship, and others I would not, even though we are friends (both male and female on both sides of this, this also goes for those I will hug and those I wont) so how is someone supposed to know if someone grabs my tush that it's not a friend I allow to do that? (had that happen all too often when I was a waitress in college, guess what, people thought I over reacted when I shamed my customer asking them if they would allow someone to do that to their mother, sister, child?)

As for the crazy or sensitive label being put on the victim that is all too common. I've heard it all before, I've been labeled the crazy bitch for stopping someone from groping a woman at a bar, or telling someone they are being inappropriate. Just like when someone hits on you to the point that you have to spell it out for them that you aren't interested and they keep pursuing in a hostile manner they then label you as crazy for telling them to leave you the fuck alone, or my personal fave, if you're not interested in them you're just a crazy D word... cause that's the only reason.
I'm thinking this could make for a very interesting video campaign. I know we have the people with the skills between us all.

I have the right to make decisions about my body. That includes who gets to touch it. I am not over-reacting, crazy, or unprofessional when I tell someone to stop. I am asserting my rights. Don't expect me to accept a stranger groping me because it's "not a big deal." You don't get to make that decision for me.
here, here, just because I choose to wear a low cut top, or not, or tights, or not, or show a little skin, is not an invitation for you to touch me. (i'm also one of those people who don't understand why people think it's OK to touch a pregnant woman, even a stranger)
It makes me angry too, +Robert Bohl. The fact that it's happened to me, the fact that it's happened to others, the fact that it gets excused, the fact that the victim gets blamed, all of it gets me angry. I'm right there with you.
In my experience is that the harassment doesn't happen when I'm "with" a man. If Jared has his arm around me, or even if a man is standing close enough to me that it seems like I might be his partner, I'm not harassed. This happened when I was with my publisher at a convention. When I was with him, no one bothered me. When I left his company, I was felt up by a stranger. This stranger was watching me while I was with him, and waited till I moved away to harass me.

It makes me feel like the implication is that I have to "belong" to a man to feel safe and respected - that respect is only issued as an extension of respect to him, that by myself, I'm not worth it.
+J.R. Blackwell Please know that in the minds of the people whose opinion matters, you are respected. It shouldn't be the ass-hats that determine who is deserving of respect. And they don't for people like those of us who are responding to this post.

I pity (and not in the positive sense of the word) people who are so frakkin' insecure that they have to stoop to such anti-social behavior. And as far as I'm concerned, though it is anti-female, it is also anti-society or at least anti- any society I want to be a part of.

It's bullying,it's objectifying women, it's predatory, it's cowardice, and it's just plain wrong. I hope that it's just a very small minority doing this stuff, but even that is too much.

Women do not need to "belong" to any man to be worthy of respect. You deserve it by just being who you are. And feel free to send anyone who has a problem with that my way.

O.K. I'm a 48 year old desk jockey, so if it comes to blows, I'm fighting dirty and I'll still prob get my ass kicked. But I'll curmudgeon their sorry butts in the process ;)
I've been watching this closely, and wanted to touch on something sensitive to me. (wow, that had a lot of double entendres. Sorry.) What his me so hard in this is that even though I've been a victim of it and volunteered in capacities to prevent and deal with it, I still recognize my social awkwardness and am VERY aware of my potential to cross many a line. Not the gripe and run away premeditated line, but the lingering look, uninvited hug, or the immature and inappropriate joke. I wouldn't call it conscious heterogeneity on my part, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't feel like iton the other end. Does that make any sense?
+J-P Losier I don't think we are talking about behavior that is just socially awkward, especially based on what some of the ladies have commented on. Frankly they seem more tolerant than I'd probably be under the circumstances. (But then again, I'm not exactly lingering look material).

With hugs, they can see you coming and you aren't grabbing places that they are talking about. And I don't think you are waiting until you can try to put yourself in some kind of power position before swooping in. Are you looking at other people's faces to see if you are crossing the line so you can back off?

Yeah none of us like the uncomfortable, and we should all be more sensitive before we initiate any physical contact. But we all can be awkward, and we've been on the receiving end of the awkward too; it's not the same kind of violation as having your feeling of safety intentionally taken away.
Yeah, I'm familiar with power play of the consensual and non-consensual varieties, and never felt that I was worth harassing. Right here, right now, with no women in sight for me, I have no problem thinking in a gentlemanly manner. I'm not trying to over-emphasize my difficulties, or worse, to minimize the all-too-real problems they are going through, but I do feel that in some situations, my more base thoughts pressuring me. I can relate to the rationalizations of "The way she was dressed, she was practically asking for it." (I don't agree with it, but I "get it.") and sometimes wish women would be covered from head to toe. Not realistic, I know. Plus, then it would mean I could misinterpret showing ankle as provocative. It's me, not them.
I feel bad if I glance down to a neckline.
I look forward to more of this conversation, and +Nobilis Reed 's product.
If you look at their face once or twice and you don't grab, I'm sure it's fine. I like what +Scott Roche does as cons, he says "Are you a hugger?" and then hugs when you say yes, and gives great hugs. Best part is they are co-ed hugs.

Sometimes it's hard to know people's boundaries, especially when we talk so much online, meeting for the first time we can feel super close but not know a person's limit. Some people don't like hugs, others do, asking works. Another friend at my first con (won't name names) was also super awesome when he leaned over at dinner and asked if I was Poly, knowing I was married. I said no and he said then he wouldn't seriously hit on me but might flirt if that didn't bother me. That was cool and I felt totally comfortable.
+Nunuche Nuchtchas , thank you. You've made me realize also that while I have potential to be part of the problem, my motivation is in the other direction, and a lot of my worrying is because of these knowing harassers. To paraphrase +Nobilis Reed , they're ruining it for me as well, since I'm over thinking myself, avoiding situations instead of becoming more comfortable and learning what's truly proper, and missing out on wonderful people who just happen to be as beautiful on the outside.
And my apologies to +J.R. Blackwell for the sidebar from an important discussion. I hope I haven't derailed it in my selfishness.
We've sidebarred all over the place, I think...
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