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Friday, August 22, 2008

More Convention Controversy: CAHP

I don't always see eye-to-eye with the folks at Girl-Wonder about everything. But THIS is something I can very firmly get behind.

They've also got a nice FAQ up here. Those documents do a fantastic job of explaining why a sexual harassment policy should be in place as well as offering suggestions as to what the individual person can do. Check it out!

5 Comments:

  • At August 22, 2008 5:47 PM, Blogger Rachel said…

    Thank you for the link and support!
    I'm still kind of amazed we got that running as quickly as we did--it went from idea to organized project, database, etc., with the full content, in less than forty-eight hours.

     
  • At August 24, 2008 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As a long time SDCC attendee (who has attended the con with a few girlfriends and gal pals over the years without incident), my initial reaction to this discussion was something along the lines of, "Does there really need to be a policy against something that's already illegal?"

    But I've since come around to the idea that some sort of stated policy would be a good addition to the con guide...if for no other reason that underestimating the extent to which some geeks are socially maladapted is probably naive. Some language regarding personal space and unsolicited physical contact would probably be useful and informative to many attendees.

    However, I'm a little uncomfortable with the following passage in the FAQ you linked to:

    "Finally, be aware that it’s entirely possible to scare and harass people without meaning to, or with the impression that you were just being friendly or just flirting."

    Scare (or otherwise make uncomfortable), yes. Harass, I'm not so sure.

    I think a definition of harassment that doesn't have intent as one of its necessary elements is going to be a problematic one. Such a definition would be a nightmare to implement and/or enforce in a convention setting, especially a convention as densely packed as the SDCC.

     
  • At August 24, 2008 7:16 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I don't agree with everythng in the FAQ mind.

    But I do think it's important to realize that many guys don't REALIZE when they cross the line from "persistent" into "harassing."

    I've known well-meaning guys who would keep pestering a girl who turned them down for a date for HOURS and never understood why she got upset. They were guys who were actually nice and wouldn't intend to make her uncomfortable, but their behavior would definitely be harassing by any sane definition. (I do think perhaps punishment probably ought to be different/lighter in cases of stupidity over malice but I do think something still needs to be done.)

    Really though, I'd imagine those cases would end up being looked at and considered on a case-by-case basis. I.e. someone reports, they get statements, they decide based on what they hear. So I don't necessarily think it'll change anything.

     
  • At August 24, 2008 10:16 PM, Blogger Mickle said…

    anon:

    Since it's my understanding (based on gov required training) that the legal definition of harassment does not depend upon intent (and I live in the same state as SDCC) it would actually be a disservice to imply, much less ooutright state, to potential accidental harassers that it does.

    Intent may make a difference in sentencing, but all harassment requires is either ignoring a prior request to stop or ignoring what most people would consider reasonable boundaries.

    Needless to say, that definition is open to interpretation. Much like obscenity laws. But that's the actual legal definition. (either that or my county lied to me, which is always possible.)

     
  • At August 25, 2008 3:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "I do think perhaps punishment probably ought to be different/lighter in cases of stupidity over malice but I do think something still needs to be done."

    I mostly agree...but the cynic in me wonders how (and also who) will determine whether it's stupidity or malice...in many cases I think that would be very difficult to determine with any certainty. At best, I think judgment calls would end up being VERY subjective.

    I think the SDCC con staffers, volunteers, and the private security crews are almost all good people trying their best to control the uncontrollable, but I doubt that most of them would be able to do a thorough and impartial job evaluating individual cases in the midst of the chaos of the SDCC.

    Sure obvious stuff like the gleeful ass grabbing DiBello cites in his initial example would be pretty easy to enforce and/or punish but the CAHP website also cites 'staring' and 'silently observing' as kinds of harassment in their FAQ. Expecting the SDCC to discipline that sort of behavior in an effective, not arbitrary manner, would be a really tall order. I also think doing so would result in an inordinate amount of 'false positives'.

    "Intent may make a difference in sentencing, but all harassment requires is either ignoring a prior request to stop or ignoring what most people would consider reasonable boundaries."

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing those specifics. I'm a CA resident too, and have gone through the perfunctory sensitivity training type of stuff common to most corporate workplaces, but I was unaware of the current legal standard.

    But 'ignoring a prior request to stop', would seem to constitute intent (at least to me)...and would probably be the sort of thing the con could enforce, assuming the target could make that request in the presence of staff.

    'What most people would consider reasonable boundries' strikes me as a more problematic, ephemeral standard...particularly since we're talking about geek social mores.

    All that aside, I just browsed WFA before writing this reply, and noticed the CAHP cited...er... Anthrocon's harassment policy as a positive example. And it...actually does look pretty reasonable. I'd be fine with SDCC adopting a policy similar to that one.

    Wow, I just complimented something created by furries. I feel dirty.

    PS -- Thanks for the pleasant and informative discussion Kalinara and Mickle. It's a very pleasant change of pace from the usual comics blog / messageboard fare.

     

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