Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Something is Better than Nothing

You might remember a few days ago, I linked this post by John DiBello on this blog. This post has, naturally, been linked many other places and prompted interesting discussion and even some dissention.

There are two types of dissention that I've noticed most prevalent. The first is of the type that questions whether some of the instances are indeed sexual harassment. Some of this is in the "Asking for a date is now harassment?" or "We can't criticize someone's art now?" vein of questioning. Personally I think those questions ignore fairly obvious details from John's post (namely things like not taking no for an answer or the critics targetting only female artists) but it's a fair discussion and not everyone's going to agree.

The other type of dissent though gets me just a bit angry. It's the type that uses the argument "Well, it's a he-said-she-said thing and it's really hard to prove..."

Did I say angry? I meant to say furious.

Look, I'm a pragmatist. I'm also a law student. I know how difficult it is to prove any sort of accusation like this on little to no evidence. I also know how important innocent-before-proven-guilty is, and I'd certainly not want to see someone kicked out of a convention based on a misunderstanding or even a lie.

I'm realistic. I realize that if SDCC actually HAD a policy in place, the employees there would only be able to institute it a very small percent of the time and much sexual harassment will go unreported or un-dealt with.

In all actuality, a policy like that would probably be damn near useless.

But it would be a GESTURE.

Right now the fact that SDCC has nothing in place for a sexual harassment policy just tells me that, as a woman, I am not welcome or wanted at SDCC. This tells me that my safety and security doesn't matter.

And you might point out that men are also likely to be victims of sexual harassment, and you're correct. In essence, they're saying that the safety and security of these men don't matter either.

It doesn't need to be much. How about just "If you're a victim or witness to an act of sexual harassment, please report it at room so-and-so." Or maybe just "all violators will be removed from the convention." Basic, simple, and while hard to enforce, it would at least be SOMETHING.

Oh, and to any and all commenters who have said something about what John could-have-should-have done during these instances, go fuck yourselves.

Have a nice day.

25 Comments:

  • At August 19, 2008 6:51 AM, Blogger Elayne said…

    Just a heads-up, this is also the subject of my ComicMix column tomorrow (which I finished writing before I saw your post).

     
  • At August 19, 2008 8:41 AM, Blogger Matthew E said…

    But it would be a GESTURE.

    Not only a gesture, but a structure within which something could be done. A structure that could be improved upon, perhaps even on the fly, if necessary. A starting point.

     
  • At August 19, 2008 8:46 AM, Blogger Arstal said…

    There are some people who do manipulate/abuse the system, and it's a lot more common then people think. Those ones make it worse for everyone, and to me, are just as bad as the harassers. Also, particularly at cons, misunderstandings can happen, and are more likely to happen at a con, then in general society.

    You are absolutely right that there is no excuse for harassment, and SDCC should do what a lot of anime cons do and have a simple policy that says harassment will not be tolerated.

    Since most cons have a policy that says if you violate the rules you can be thrown out on our whims, that would allow for enforcement on the obvious cases, while giving some protection from the false accusers.

    As for how I'd enforce such a policy, I'd only throw people out after repeated warning, or a batshit obvious case that even the biggest otaku-type would understand is harassment (such as the SDCC butt-pinching)

     
  • At August 19, 2008 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Another thing that seems to be getting lost here, but is implicit in John's original post, is that the incidents cited were in front of multiple witnesses. It would NOT be a "He Said/She Said" case... it would be a "He Said/THEY Said" case. And to have no way to appeal such a case that has any consequences for the perp is really quite unconscionable.

    HC

     
  • At August 19, 2008 10:18 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Here here. You're going to be a good lawyer, Kalinara.

     
  • At August 19, 2008 10:29 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    What makes SDCC not having anything in place so extra odd, is that so many smaller cons DO. Numerous people mentioned to my various cross-postings what their favorite cons had in place. DragonCon, A-Kon and OtakuCon come to mind...

     
  • At August 19, 2008 2:00 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Elayne: Heh, I've had that kind of thing happen before. I'm looking forward to your column. :-)

     
  • At August 19, 2008 8:16 PM, Blogger K. D. Bryan said…

    Amen to everything you've just said.

    Some excellent models for an anti-harassment policy for SDCC were listed in Bully's original comments section. I've been to WisCon and I have to say that it was probably the most inclusive of any cons I've ever been to. I know it'll be a lot harder to enforce such standards of behavior at something as huge as SDCC but I'll be damned if it isn't time for someone to try.

     
  • At August 19, 2008 9:06 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    I would understand the lack of a policy more if this were some low-level event run by a rookie organization. But Comic-Con has been in existence since 1970. Nineteen-friggin-seventy!

     
  • At August 20, 2008 7:09 PM, Blogger Rachel said…

    Trying to organize a letter-writing campaign to that effect; contact me for info / organization stuff. More here: http://www.girl-wonder.org/insideout/2008/08/18/blogging-isnt-enough/

     
  • At August 21, 2008 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I certainly agree that it would seem to be a reasonably easy goodwill gesture for SDCC to note an official policy, but to be fair, there's a third kind of dissention out there in discussion of this issue, which goes something like this:

    Sexual harassment is illegal, just like theft, assault, kidnapping, etc. are illegal. Does a convention really need to write a specific polict against something that's already illegal? (Assuming that the convention has reasonably effective systems to respond to any reported illegal activiity, of course...)

    Now, I don't particularly think that's a compelling argument agsint enacting a simple, hard-to-enforce-but-a-good-gesture-at-least policy, but it's at least a somewhat understandable position for someone to hold.

    At the very least, we shouldn't think that every dissent to such a policy arises from the two more egirgious rationales you cite.

     
  • At August 21, 2008 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In all actuality, a policy like that would probably be damn near useless.

    But it would be a GESTURE.


    Ah, yes, a gesture. That it certainly would be. So, why doesn't SDCC rush right out and do it, given how well the comic feminist culture (and pretty much the comic culture in general)responds to token gestures to their complains (whether they are valid or not)?

    Oops... looks like I answered my own question, doesn't it?

    I don't know what I find more insulting: That you would actually suggest that such a token gesture would be accepted by the feminist comic community (when any fool who steps online knows how false that is), or that you think SDCC and others so stupid to actually believe that line of crap?

    You want a real solution? Read this: http://digitalfemme.com/journal/index.php?itemid=932

    THAT is a solution (not to mention empowering). It sure as hell beats a token gesture, which wouldn't just be unaccepted by the group it was done for, but give them all yet ANOTHER reason to attack the comic industry and its fandom (I can see the blogging posts now: "How stupid do they think we are?! Do they really think telling people in the program inappropriate touching isn't tolerated is good enough?! Just another fine example of how little regard the industry and male comic fans have for women! Those sexist bastards!").

    Yeah, I really wonder why SDCC isn't rushing to put that notice in their programs.....

     
  • At August 21, 2008 2:20 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    It's always fun to see commenters so willing to bask with pride at missing the point. :-)

     
  • At August 21, 2008 2:29 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Oh Most Recent Anonymous Imbecile, I implore you to reread the Digital Femme link you submitted, and explain to me how she invalidates the usefulness of a harassment policy, how her solution will work for every person--the tall and the small, particularly the MUCH smaller than the guy harassing her.

    Oh, and did you notice that the linked post ends with "How can I help?"

     
  • At August 21, 2008 2:37 PM, Blogger Ken Lowery said…

    Here's why the gesture works, Anonymous:

    It puts a rule in the books that therefore becomes enforceable. A "problem" attendee can therefore be kicked out with a solid rule stated, plainly, in black and white, for everyone to read. This (mostly) rules out arguing over specifics or the threat of a person kicked out later bringing a suit against SDCC.

    That might be too legalistic for you, I guess, but then you don't seem too hot on nuance anyway.

     
  • At August 21, 2008 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here's why the gesture works, Anonymous:

    It puts a rule in the books that therefore becomes enforceable. A "problem" attendee can therefore be kicked out with a solid rule stated, plainly, in black and white, for everyone to read. This (mostly) rules out arguing over specifics or the threat of a person kicked out later bringing a suit against SDCC.

    That might be too legalistic for you, I guess, but then you don't seem too hot on nuance anyway.


    All well and good, Ken, except, oh wait, there's tons of people in costumes running around.

    So, "Spider-Man" grabs a woman's ass, she reports it, so, what? ALL people in Spider-Man costumes get ejected? That hardly seems fair. And if you enject none, the policy, as the OP states is pretty much useless.

    You also have the problem of evidence. If a guy grope a women and no one else sees it to back up her story (and believe me, you'd be surprised what people DON'T see, even in something as crowded as SDCC), what then? It comes down to "he said, she said." Who's side do you take?

    See, there are sticking points to a policy like this, not the least of which is because of the "open nature" of the event, the fact it is not permanent and people can (and do) disguise themselves. Unique issues that you don't find in your typical office environment, where you know who your co-workers are and can easily point out a guilty party and have someone who can back up your claim.

    So, I guess I'm more nuanced than you thought. And it still doesn't take from the fact that the OP's statement of how useless such a policy would be, yet they should make the token gesture anyway, when anything in the past resembling such things aimed towards the comic feminist community has been shouted down and ridiculed as a personal affront to women, is totally insulting, to both that community and the intelligence of anyone who knows how that community reacts to such things.

     
  • At August 21, 2008 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh Most Recent Anonymous Imbecile, I implore you to reread the Digital Femme link you submitted, and explain to me how she invalidates the usefulness of a harassment policy, how her solution will work for every person--the tall and the small, particularly the MUCH smaller than the guy harassing her.

    Sure thing, Oh hateful and clap trap spewing tard.

    Her example wasn't just about socking them in the eye, but yelling and screaming, too.

    And while I noted to Ken just how much people DON'T see happening in a crowded area, when someone is screaming, that will always draw their attention. And even if the culprit gets away, they are embarassed and fearful that they were seen, thus, less likely to try such antics again.

    So, a woman's size or stength level doesn't really factor into that. Just so long as she has working lung and vocal chords. Something your loud mouth seems to have no issues with.

    Oh, and did you notice that the linked post ends with "How can I help?"

    Yeah, I did. And her posting how she handles such a situation is the best help she could have provided. That's why I linked it, to spread it around.

    Have fun in Germany. Considering the foul and hateful-minded person you are, you ought to fit right in with the cournty that helped to spawn a certain other well-known loud-mouthed and hateful jerk.

     
  • At August 21, 2008 3:53 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Anonymous, I find your use of "the OP" to refer to me very rude. This is not a livejournal community or a public forum in which there are many posters and the appellation would be appropriate.

    This is my personal blog. My screenname is attached to every post and comment I make. I would also accept your referring to me as "Melissa" as it is my real first name and has been used publically on Blog@Newsarama and elsewhere.

    If you wish to continue to post on this particular blog entry, I will appreciate the effort to use my name otherwise, I will happily enact my comment policy.

     
  • At August 21, 2008 4:00 PM, Blogger Ken Lowery said…

    You just compared Ragnell to Hitler, so no, you don't understand nuance very well.

    Now fuck off.

     
  • At August 21, 2008 4:04 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Anonymous, there are quite a few reasons why a particular victim might not be willing to yell and scream, let alone fight back.

    She may be too afraid to scream. That happens, it's a very bad feeling. She may have a panic attack. She may have larangytis. She may have psychological issues. She may be a deaf mute. She may be afraid that he'll hurt her if she screams.

    Personally, I don't find it empowering to try to attack someone who touches me. I CERTAINLY don't find screaming in outrage/for help empowering either.

    You know what I find empowering? Reporting his fucking ass for sexual harassment/assault.

    ---

    And actually, Ken is right. I hadn't seen your comparison to Hitler when I posted last.

    You're gone from this thread. Try and post again, and I will delete it at my convenience. Go get a free blog/livejournal and take it there.

     
  • At August 22, 2008 3:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At August 22, 2008 3:50 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    Personal insults, sidestepping actual factual responses, ignoring the main point to concentrate on a minor secondary point and then the Martry card. I give your trolling a 6.5 since you fail to stick the landing...

     
  • At August 22, 2008 4:22 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    This guy is starting to seem familiar.

     
  • At August 22, 2008 1:47 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Sorry man, but according to my comment policy, I can delete after I've issued fair warning. You want to take it up with me, try email. Somehow I suspect you know it already.

     
  • At August 23, 2008 6:03 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    "You just compared Ragnell to Hitler, so no, you don't understand nuance very well.

    Now fuck off."

    No, Ken. Since he brought Germany into it, the correct response is
    "Now fuck off. SCHNELL!"

     

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