I spent a lot of last night (way too late into the night) in a thread on Popehat, (Why does talking about creepers and harassment make people so angry?). It was a conversation much like many I’ve had on the internet. Not just to subject, but to form. It was exhausting. Not only was it some 700 comments long when I started reading it, but it was a venue in which I am not a regular. Not even all that irregular. I’ve made, maybe half a dozen comments in the course of as many years. And this was contentious. If you want to read it, well it’s all there.
It was good for me, emotional strain notwithstanding. It clarified a lot of things for me. No, it made them more coherent. I had to pound my thoughts into shape in ways I’d not done quite so thoroughly prior to this. In the course of reading it I found a piece by Ursula Vernon that I’d missed (as if this was a major failing, it’s less than week old) on how Being an ally is freaky as hell and was struck (in part by a comment in it, and how my convo at Popehat caused me to read this line:
“Nobody wants to be Readercon. We have to make this a safe place.”
And I thought no. It’s not about making a “safe” space. It’s about making a safer space. It’s about making a place people feel other people will Back you up.
Does it mean nothing bad can ever happen? No. Does it mean there won’t be the odd (sometimes very painful) fracas among the people present? No.
But it means we will do what we can to see people of good will are well treated, and that people who violate the social contract are called out. If it means we have to ostracise them, so be it. If we can fix the problem short of that, all the better. But to let the status quo continue is to decide that this is the Standard We Will Accept, and that standard is unacceptable. When we allow people to say, “oh, it’s just Fannish Male Syndrome, they don’t know how to act around women”, we are doing neither them, nor the women they afflict, any favors. Because it’s bullshit. They do know what the women are telling them, they just don’t like the answers. Worse, the non-trivial number of men who are actually serial rapists get cover from this. It affords them a level of Herd Immunity. (this isn’t quite the same as the guys who are tolerated because… I don’t know why: because outing them will bring discredit on the group they belong to?).
A large number of men admit to committing rape. A large number. 6 percent. So when they engage in the testing behaviors which let them know who will be an easier victim (because they admitted to doing this), it’s easier if the culture they are working in chalks it up as, “harmless”.
No, I’m not against flirting. I’m not against going out and getting a drink, or having a smoke, or sitting up talking to dawn. I’m against people being creepy. What do I mean by creepy?
Creepy: “unaware of or uncaring about what behaviors are likely to make others uncomfortable
If that gets cut down, everyone has a better time.