Signal-boosting Elise Matthesen's post on reporting sexual harassment, including the difference between "official" and "unofficial" reporting. Apparently "do you want this report to be confidential?" it can mean "do you want this to be kept away from the person's manager and the legal department?

[This post is hosted in several places, including Seanan's blog and John Scalzi's Whatever, so most of you have probably already seen it.]
Just because you like someone doesn't mean they won't do bad things. It's a cliche to hear "but he's a nice guy" when someone is accused of harassment, and we tend to side with our friends. That's part of what friendship means, in practice if not in everyone's ideals. (For me, if it's a matter of whose needs to prefer, who to help first, I will tend to help my friends. But there's a difference between helping someone with the rent and driving a getaway car or faking an alibi.)

I recently got a reminder that my judgment of people isn't perfect, that I can enjoy someone's company and call them a friend, and that proves little or nothing about what they're capable of when I'm not around.

Genevieve Valentine was repeatedly harassed at Readercon. She posted about it, and there was some discussion of ways in which the harasser's behavior was inappropriate, and why you don't get to insist on someone's attention to your apology after she has repeatedly told you to go away. The conversation in the comments was pretty good (despite one or two people effectively defending the harasser, by trying to create impossible and shifting standards of proof).

At that point, Genevieve had filed a complaint but was waiting for a decision from the Readercon committee. The harasser had not been identified. A few days later, on July 26, [personal profile] badgerbag asked if someone could tell her who was being talked about. They did, and she posted the information: The harasser was René Walling.

Until this, I've thought of René as a friend. A few weeks ago, I was playing board games with him while visiting [livejournal.com profile] papersky, and it's been the sort of friendship where we hug hello and goodbye, which I've been comfortable with.

The fact that I have felt safe around Rene proves nothing, or nothing relevant. (Few harassers or sexual predators try to grope every woman they meet, after all.) Maybe he's just not attracted to me. Maybe he leaves me alone because he knows I'm partnered and therefore I look less vulnerable. The reasons don't matter, because I don't think they're likely to change: whether I want to keep spending time with Rene will be about whether I am comfortable knowing that he harassed other women, not about my own safety.

Yesterday, Readercon told Genevieve that they were suspending the harasser for two years and would be making no announcement about this, just telling her (and presumably him) privately. Bear in mind that until now, Readercon's official policy was that anyone who harassed another con member would be suspended permanently.* After a few hours of people pointing out that they were violating their own policy, that Genevieve did not feel safe, and that they seemed to be prioritizing either the con's reputation, or Rene's, above Genevieve or any woman's safety, Readercon issued a statement which basically said that they were going easy on Rene because he had admitted his deeds but told them he was sorry. Oh, and if they get "substantiated reports" of him harassing anyone elsewhere, they may ban him permanently.

There's a lot wrong with that, discussed in the Readercon LJ community and elsewhere.

At the moment, I'm expecting to see René next weekend (in the company of dozens of other people). I'm not at all sure how I feel about this. Yes, he's a friend and normally I would ask him what he had to say about this. But having read and thought about most of the story before I knew it was about him, I can't think of much he could say that would make a difference. He has admitted to harassing Genevieve. The Readercon committee, while asking for his side of things, didn't follow up on the other complaints about him—but they are significant, and mean that my friend, this guy I enjoy hanging out with, is a repeated sexual harasser. One instance may not imply two; two implies more.

Do I want to try looking past that, and if so, why? Do I believe that he is going to try to rehabilitate himself, and if so, would my saying something like "I think the Readercon ban should be permanent*, but I think we can still hang out together" be helpful in that? (If I conclude that his contrition is an act, and he's just going to be sneakier from now on, my decision is easy: someone who intends to keep harassing women is no friend of mine.) My social circle is large enough that I am statistically confident it includes other sexual harassers. I can only hope that the harassment is entirely in the past. If René stops, is that good enough for me to keep socializing with him? Trust, no: but I don't need trust on that level to play boardgames or proofread something for him. (There are different kinds of trust: I don't think he'd be likely to cheat at cards, but that doesn't matter if I decide I don't want to sit at the same table with him.)

* I pointed out in comments to someone that while the phrasing in the not-actually-followed Readercon policy is "zero tolerance," enforcing that wouldn't mean throwing Rene in jail, or confiscating his car or other property, or banning him from all conventions. Just Readercon.
The state legislature has passed a same-sex marriage bill, the governor has signed it, and it goes into effect in 30 days. For everyone who is saying this will "destroy" marriage, I have no problem with our divorce rates reaching the shocking levels currently seen in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

If this was a threat to mixed-sex marriages, I'd have divorced [personal profile] cattitude and run off to Massachusetts years ago. Of course, our relationship isn't really what the people who talk about "traditional" marriage believe in either, even if their speeches suggest that gender difference is both necessary and sufficient for their idea of a good relationship.

Also, a shout-out to Republican State Senator McDonald, who announced his support for the bill by saying he was going to do the right thing, and "They can take this job and shove it."
The first panel I went to, "How Intersectionality Enlarges Feminist Community," was about politics and activism, and grouped under "Feminism and Other Social Change Movements." The pocket program description is:

item description cut for length )

cut because this got long. And a bit rambly. )
The annual meeting of SF3, Wiscon's parent organization, was on October 3. According to the SF3 blog, the meeting passed two resolutions, one saying that "it is the sense of the SF3 Annual Meeting that rescinding Elizabeth Moon’s GoH invitation would best serve WisCon’s goals and community." and the other a vote of confidence (and chocolate) to the troika for their handling of the situation.

This has been mentioned on the Dreamwidth and LJ Wiscon communities; the post at the SF3 blog is closed to comments, but there's an email address for feedback about these statements. Not having been at the meeting, I have no further information.
As many of you know, Elizabeth Moon recently made a post about citizenship, Islam, and assimilation that combined a rather narrow view of what assimilation should mean with claims that Muslims are inherently unfit for citizenship. It was quickly and widely linked to, and a lot of people argued with her in comments on her LJ. After two or three days, Moon deleted all the comments and basically declared the conversation over.

I've read and liked some of Moon's books, but this isn't the first time I've been disappointed by the opinions or actions of writers whose fiction I liked. The reason this is an immediate issue is that Moon is one of the guests of honor for next Wiscon; the other is Tiptree Award winner Nisi Shawl ([livejournal.com profile] nisi_la). The responses to Moon's post included requests that Wiscon rescind that invitation, because the opinions Moon was stating were offensive, and inappropriate to the Wiscon ethos.

The concom have thought about it, and decided that Moon will still be co-GoH next May. What they say about wanting to open a dialogue sounds good, but not having been privy to the concom's conversations with Moon, I don't know what sort of dialogue she's interested in having on any of those topics. (I am assuming they're using the term loosely to mean a conversation between people who start out disagreeing, rather than a literal one-on-one.) But that isn't the main point. The problem is that we may lose other people, either people who've been coming for years but now feel unwelcome, or people who were thinking of attending for the first time, and now don't feel welcome or safe.

I don't know how much can be achieved with even very good programming, given this context: but I suspect there's going to be a lot of 101-level discussion, again, and people torn between wanting to counter prejudice, and being tired of having to do so over, and over, and over.

I've been going to Wiscon regularly for fifteen years. In a number of ways, this is my community. I'm still planning to attend, partly to support Nisi and partly because there is a lot that is good about Wiscon, and a lot of people I want to see. But that's an easier choice for me than for some of my friends, because while I disagree with what Moon is saying, it doesn't make me personally feel unsafe or unwelcome. I'm not one of the people she disapproves of, and who hear similar views in too many other places.

(I don't remember, this long after, whether anyone tried to convince con committees not to honor Orson Scott Card that way, after he'd started arguing that the government should arrest and imprison enough gay people to scare the rest of us [back] into the closet. I just know that I skipped a few cons because of him.)
The visit to Mom was mostly good (though sad), but I did get into two brief but heated arguments, one of them with her.

[Mom, you don't have to read this.]

Dramatis personae: Ralph and Liz are Simon's children (my mother's stepchildren, and incidentally my third cousins). Jenny is married to Ralph, and Peter is married to Liz. Liz and Peter live in Australia.

The first argument was, I think, the day before Simon died. Peter was talking about weight loss, and wondering whether he could believe the scale at Ralph and Jenny's house. My mother got the bright idea of using her scale, but trying to calibrate it. She didn't make that clear, she just said "Vicki, do you know how much you weigh?" I said "yes," meaning I have a rough idea. (For years I tried not to; I'm more relaxed about this now. But more relaxed does not mean entirely relaxed or calm.) Mom then suggested I go weigh myself on her scale, so I could report back on whether it was accurate.

I said no. She asked again, starting to explain why. I said "No!" She asked a third time, and I said "No! We are not having this conversation!" and walked out. I sat in the guest room and did puzzles until I felt a bit better. After a while, Mom came in, and we sort of smoothed things over. But that was more about why it wouldn't have worked anyway (the inaccuracy of scales meets random variation in almost anyone's body weight, certainly a pre-menopausal woman's, and I don't track it that closely) than about why I really don't want to be pushed on that subject. And certainly not by her.

The other argument was with Ralph, not long before we were going to be leaving Mom's house to go to the cemetery for the funeral.* I don't know all the back story on this, but Mom started to say that Ralph tends to dominate conversations (I think she said he did 90% of the talking), and please let her and other people have a chance to talk too. He interrupted her in mid-sentence, saying "You have to raise your hand."

I interrupted back, pointing out what he had done—refused to let someone talk about the fact that he wasn't letting her talk. He seized on the fact that I had also interrupted. Before it could go much further, Mom asked me to stop and led me into the living room.

I understand her, or anyone, not wanting a noisy argument the day after her beloved husband has died. I did tell her that Ralph had pushed a button there. (I didn't mention the feminist aspects of this, or that I think it was a "protect Mom" button.)

That led, a little later, to Mom saying, surprised, that I seemed to have a lot of buttons (the weight thing being another), and me saying that I guessed she hadn't been pushing many of them. A piece of that, in turn, is that I don't normally see her when we're under that kind of stress, and that everyone present was under stress there. I wasn't anywhere near as close to Simon as my mother, or his children, were. But I was short on sleep from the travel, and I was sitting with Mom during those last couple of days of his life. [livejournal.com profile] adrian_turtle also said that being present for a death is a strain, even a quiet one.

I know we were all under stress, so I am cutting Ralph some slack and hoping that he is usually a bit more willing to let other people—and specifically women—talk.

*Customs differ. In the U.S., we'd have gone to a funeral home for a service, and then out to the cemetery. In London, the eulogy and prayers are in a building at the cemetery, and then the mourners walk to the graveside.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Jun. 1st, 2009 07:39 pm)
I don't have anything new or particularly insightful to say about the terrorist murder of Dr. George Tiller, but I don't want to ignore it, or ignore that it was terrorism: the deliberate use of violence against civilians for political ends is terrorism.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Jun. 1st, 2009 07:39 pm)
I don't have anything new or particularly insightful to say about the terrorist murder of Dr. George Tiller, but I don't want to ignore it, or ignore that it was terrorism: the deliberate use of violence against civilians for political ends is terrorism.
redbird: Picture of an indri, a kind of lemur, the word "Look!" (indri)
( Sep. 13th, 2008 02:33 pm)
My friend [livejournal.com profile] serenejournal has started a blog for pointing to, and maybe discussing, healthy love songs. This was prompted by a discussion of how many popular songs show really unhealthy relationships—ranging from the subtext of trading sex for financial support in "Eight Days a Week""A Hard Day's Night" (thank you, Avram) to the weirdness of people using the blatant stalker song "Every Breath You Take" as a wedding song. I'm also blogging there, as is Rob (who may be on LJ but I don't remember his handle), and I have skimmed the song list in my iTunes library (just because it's handy) and been disconcerted by how few of the songs in there definitely qualify. A lot are about other things, of course—for example, the only love song in Sondheim's Assassins is "Unworthy of Your Love," the duet for Squeaky Fromme and John Hinkley, but that's not primarily a musical about relationships. (Company is, but I'm not convinced there's anything there either, much as I like the show.) But I was still hoping for more, and will be posting some of these, probably only one or two a day, and seeing what else I find. There's a lot I don't remember well enough to be sure of: it may be an afternoon for listening to VNV Nation and/or They Might Be Giants and seeing which lyrics fit. This definitely calls for attention, as a lot of music has disturbing subtext but is far less blatant than "Every Breath You Take."

Obviously, people may disagree on what counts as healthy here; this thread started on alt.polyamory, though quite a bit of what we come up with is more or less explicitly monogamous, which is fine as long as it's "I love you" and not "s/he's mine, keep your hands off" or "I'm watching to make sure you don't look at another man."

ETA: I think I shall spend some time tracking down some of the songs people have pointed to here (though it may take a while). If anyone would rather not be credited elsenet, or wants to be credited under a name other than your LJ handle for songs you've pointed to, please let me know.
redbird: Picture of an indri, a kind of lemur, the word "Look!" (indri)
( Sep. 13th, 2008 02:33 pm)
My friend [livejournal.com profile] serenejournal has started a blog for pointing to, and maybe discussing, healthy love songs. This was prompted by a discussion of how many popular songs show really unhealthy relationships—ranging from the subtext of trading sex for financial support in "Eight Days a Week""A Hard Day's Night" (thank you, Avram) to the weirdness of people using the blatant stalker song "Every Breath You Take" as a wedding song. I'm also blogging there, as is Rob (who may be on LJ but I don't remember his handle), and I have skimmed the song list in my iTunes library (just because it's handy) and been disconcerted by how few of the songs in there definitely qualify. A lot are about other things, of course—for example, the only love song in Sondheim's Assassins is "Unworthy of Your Love," the duet for Squeaky Fromme and John Hinkley, but that's not primarily a musical about relationships. (Company is, but I'm not convinced there's anything there either, much as I like the show.) But I was still hoping for more, and will be posting some of these, probably only one or two a day, and seeing what else I find. There's a lot I don't remember well enough to be sure of: it may be an afternoon for listening to VNV Nation and/or They Might Be Giants and seeing which lyrics fit. This definitely calls for attention, as a lot of music has disturbing subtext but is far less blatant than "Every Breath You Take."

Obviously, people may disagree on what counts as healthy here; this thread started on alt.polyamory, though quite a bit of what we come up with is more or less explicitly monogamous, which is fine as long as it's "I love you" and not "s/he's mine, keep your hands off" or "I'm watching to make sure you don't look at another man."

ETA: I think I shall spend some time tracking down some of the songs people have pointed to here (though it may take a while). If anyone would rather not be credited elsenet, or wants to be credited under a name other than your LJ handle for songs you've pointed to, please let me know.
[livejournal.com profile] desayunoencama just posted that he'd noticed, and been unhappy with, a lack of an organized queer presence at Wiscon, something he had felt and appreciated in previous years. In response, I wrote a bit about one of my panels, and am expanding that a bit here to talk more about the panel itself.

Sunday afternoon, I was on a panel about Alison Bechdel's book Fun Home, which by design and in practice discussed the possible reasons for and effects of the book's unexpected acceptance in mainstream contexts as well as the book as book, in terms of structure, content, stylistic choices, and how we (panelists and audience members) had reacted to it. The discussion went into details like the book as artifact, and what that says about support by the publisher; Bechdel's choice to use limited color; the inclusion of quotes from the Western literary canon; the nonlinear, or maybe spiraling narration; and the ways that Bechdel grounds her personal story in what was going on in the world, and how that connects to what she's done over many years in Dykes to Watch Out For.

It was a very good panel. At the end, the moderator asked each of us what we would like to have happen as a consequence (either causal or sequential) of Fun Home success. I came up with something about more cross-fertilization, I don't remember what the next three people said, and then the last panelist, who came at things from a comics background, actually said that she expected to read more by and about lesbians, which she hadn't previously done because she isn't one. I interrupted and said "We read about straight people."

I shouldn't have to be having that interaction at Wiscon, at a panel about a book by Alison Bechdel.

[footnotes: I'm not naming the person who said that because there were two panelists I didn't know, and I'm not sure which it was. Janet Lafler might, but she's not reachable right now. And yes, I'm bisexual rather than exclusively lesbian.]
[livejournal.com profile] desayunoencama just posted that he'd noticed, and been unhappy with, a lack of an organized queer presence at Wiscon, something he had felt and appreciated in previous years. In response, I wrote a bit about one of my panels, and am expanding that a bit here to talk more about the panel itself.

Sunday afternoon, I was on a panel about Alison Bechdel's book Fun Home, which by design and in practice discussed the possible reasons for and effects of the book's unexpected acceptance in mainstream contexts as well as the book as book, in terms of structure, content, stylistic choices, and how we (panelists and audience members) had reacted to it. The discussion went into details like the book as artifact, and what that says about support by the publisher; Bechdel's choice to use limited color; the inclusion of quotes from the Western literary canon; the nonlinear, or maybe spiraling narration; and the ways that Bechdel grounds her personal story in what was going on in the world, and how that connects to what she's done over many years in Dykes to Watch Out For.

It was a very good panel. At the end, the moderator asked each of us what we would like to have happen as a consequence (either causal or sequential) of Fun Home success. I came up with something about more cross-fertilization, I don't remember what the next three people said, and then the last panelist, who came at things from a comics background, actually said that she expected to read more by and about lesbians, which she hadn't previously done because she isn't one. I interrupted and said "We read about straight people."

I shouldn't have to be having that interaction at Wiscon, at a panel about a book by Alison Bechdel.

[footnotes: I'm not naming the person who said that because there were two panelists I didn't know, and I'm not sure which it was. Janet Lafler might, but she's not reachable right now. And yes, I'm bisexual rather than exclusively lesbian.]
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