Monday, August 25, 2008

Forgive Me If This is a Stupid Question

But what exactly is so bad about erring on the side of being overcautious about possibly fostering harassment - even if it means kicking out a few clueless but otherwise nice con-goers?

(Especially over the course of a single convention, in an attempt to set a new tone for the following years.)

We are talking about getting kicked out of a con, not being fired from a job. The con people can make up all kinds of rules about who they get to kick out (so long as no one's civil rights are violated) and have every legal right to enforce it. There's no reason why cons have to rely on legal definitions. If they feel the need to toss out people who are not acting illegaly but are still making the con a less pleasant place for others, they can certainly do so.

A part of the problem is that this stuff feeds off of itself. Anytime you go someplace new you test the waters and see whats considered normal for that group/place. Habitual harassers take that one step further and seek out places that have lax rules or enforcement. (Yes, sometimes even if it costs lots of money. Creeps have hobbies and options on where they can spend their money just like everyone else.) By pretty much ignoring known instances of harassment, (some) cons help make the situation worse than it would be otherwise. Their lack of action is seen as permission by people who are testing the waters and as an opportunity by outright creeps.

I'm not asking for the con to throw out every guy who oogles a metal-bikini-clad Leia. (Or every manga-fan who rudely glomps a fellow cos-player without gaining permission.) What I'm asking is for them to take note when shit happens (such as someone who is spending his day insulting female - and only female - artists), issue clear warnings, and follow through with the warnings as much as possible.

I'm not asking that every male con-goer be scared to speak to any female con-goer for fear they will say the wrong thing, I'm asking for a system that makes it clear to certain people that what they consider reasonable (glomping w/out permission) is not in line with what everyone else considers reasonable, so they may want to be a bit more cautious in the future - or face the consequences.

And yes, as part of the management team of a new library that gets literally thousands of (very noisy) patrons daily, many of whom had never been to a public library until we opened, I do realize what a huge task I'm asking the cons to do. Just the hundreds we have at once are overwhelming at times. I also know from experience, however, how quickly it can go from bad to out of control if you don't do something - or even when you limit the "doing" to giving warning upon meaningless warning. And that a part of why this happens is because your lack of even bothering to lift a finger drives away the best-behaved people, so bad behavior becomes even more normalized.

Kicking people out of the freakin' library pisses people off. Kicking people out of a con is going to cause most people to go nuclear. But it also shows that you mean what you say. And it makes the experience more pleasant for everyone. Often even for the person you kicked out last year.

The fact that there are cons where this shit is an issue but they don't even have a stated policy - much less give warnings and follow through on them - just completely blows my mind when I stop and really think about it.

4 comments:

JSP said...

I'm of the mind that a lot of the pushback (at least from what I've seen) comes from the tendency of male privilege to blind folks to its own existence. A lot of the comments I've seen are from men who are terrified that this will be used as a weapon against them - ignoring the fact that there are already a million lies which can be told about someone to get them ejected from a convention and thus far the problem hasn't been pandemic. I don't really know why they're so dead-set on not seeing things from anyone else's perspective or why the reactions to anything which gives women any agency in a public space is so histrionic. Honestly it's all pretty frustrating.

Mickle said...

oh, yes.

And it cracks me up (and makes me both really sad and really mad) when guys ask how you are going to protect some poor sop who said something truely innocent that just happened to piss someone off. ("you mean we can't even ask girls out anymore?" etc.)

To me, it shows several things that aren't very flattering about the question asker:

1) either they are very dumb - or they simply think everyone else is. how else could they think it would be that hard for so many people to not be able to tell the difference between what's clearly reasonable and what isn't?

2) they think that women in particular are hysterical and overreact - or else , as you point out, they'd be all up in arms about all the other kinds of lies that people have the ability to tell

3) both empathy and sympathy are really hard for them - at least when it comes to stuff like this (thus the over projecting)

4) there's a good chance that a guilty conscious (justified or not) is helping to keep them dumb, histrionic, and self-sentered

Ami Angelwings said...

2) they think that women in particular are hysterical and overreact - or else , as you point out, they'd be all up in arms about all the other kinds of lies that people have the ability to tell

This seems rly true :o It's the whole "omg girls are so sensitive and illogical and vengeful and etc etc" thing, and immediately all they can think about is all the ways that women will use the rule to destroy them (b/c women aren't at the con to just like enjoy themselves or something right? no, it's all about the guyz) >.<;; But they dun seem concerned about rules that could be used by men to get them kicked out, b/c y'know men are logical and calm and.. rawr! >:|

3) both empathy and sympathy are really hard for them - at least when it comes to stuff like this (thus the over projecting)

Yes. :O It always shocks me about how some ppl can't see past their own privilege at all when it comes to stuff like this :\ Like when transgirls are killed and the reaction from so many cisppl is "oh she asked for it" or "he didn't mean to" or "we're allowed to freak out!" and stuff.. ignoring that SOMEBODY WAS KILLED and not even caring that they were and seeing it only from how it could affect them, not the victims. >:|

Mickle said...

".. ignoring that SOMEBODY WAS KILLED and not even caring that they were and seeing it only from how it could affect them, not the victims. >:|"

Totally.

whether it's transpeople, gays, or anyone else that was murdered bc someone freaked out over the victims lack of conformity, that shit is just beyond wrong