Joss Equality

Wiscon: Please Touch/Don't Touch (Feminism, Sex, and Gender)

Hi all;

According to the preliminary schedule for Wiscon '07, I will be on the Please Touch/Don't Touch (Feminism, Sex, and Gender) panel, at Saturday, 9:00-10:15 p.m.

"One of the many qualities which sets WisCon apart from most other SF
conventions is the perception that, for one weekend a year, the
Concourse is a safe and inclusive space for SF fans of all genders,
orientations, identities, races, and religions. Many people have
commented that this extra level of comfort seems to create a very
"touchy-feely" environment, with a lot more casual physical contact
between old friends and new acquaintance, and a very different, (more
open?) environment for flirting and hook-ups. But not everyone is quite
so comfortable with such a relaxed atmosphere... Where do you draw the
lines between casual and significant, affection and flirting, too much
and not enough? How do the conditions change from situation to
situation? And how do you tell someone to "back off"... or deal
gracefully when someone else lets you know that you've crossed a line?"

I've been watching this discussion (here, and elsewhere) with interest, but haven't taken part much, mostly because I personally haven't been in very many of these uncomfortable situations. But it's a topic very close to my heart.

Other than the existence of this group and the discussion taking place here, is there anything in particular people would like me to bring up? I hope I can display the artwork that has been created. If you would prefer not to say anything here, you can drop me a note at swanberg =at= gmail =dot= com.

This panel is, I believe, scheduled during the Tiptree auction. Panels at this time usually aren't attended very heavily.
me afro

Programme item at Eastercon (UK)


I'm co-ordinating the programme for Contemplation, the UK Eastercon in Chester in April. I've put aside an hour at 11:00 on Saturday morning for an item provisionally titled "These Are Not the Tits You're Looking For". I'd like to continue the discussion from Eastercon last year (Concussion in Glasgow), incorporating some of the things people have mentioned here, Harlan Ellison's behaviour and Connie's response to it, and whatever else people think is worth discussing.

Is anyone interested? in being on the panel, or attending such an item? do you think it's worth having?
action grrl

A couple of specific incidents from cons

For whatever it's worth I'd like to add a couple of incidents to the mix.

- when I volunteered to run the SF Poetry track for Worldcon in San Jose, I was stalked and harassed to some extent by a guy in the Worldcon community. I think he ended up running that track; I bowed out because I didn't want to deal with him. He heard I was doing the track, was pissed about it, looked me up on the web, called my home number and introduced himself. He talked a lot to me about how attractive I was in the photo on my web site, asked if it was really me or was I "bigger", and then asked if I was married. Then he told me that my credentials to do the job were not good enough and he should be the one to do it. I disagreed with him, but later quit anyway, just not wanting to deal with that sort of person.

- At Strategicon in LA I was taken out of a Cthulhu rpg by the gamemaster. I thought "Oh, cool, I get to know a secret in the game" and figured it was going to be him telling me something in the hallway. Instead he took me across the hall into an empty room. I said some things like "Why do we need to go in here? Can't you just tell me whatever it is here in the hall?" And then I said I was uncomfortable going in the room with him. But....then I went anyway. And he started sort of describing this encounter my character was having with a Cthuloid entity of some kind... And then turned out the lights and I protested and said I was leaving. He told me to wait a minute and this was for atmosophere... and I said again that I was leaving... And then he came up behind me and grabbed me. I struggled free and left. I actually continued in the game, while so furious and freaked out I was trembling. I can't really remember what happened then, (I think some abuse survivor disassociation was in effect) but after the game ended I went to the con organizers, told the story to some people, yelled angrily about it, and I think burst into tears. They ended up throwing that guy out and banning him from future cons. Unfortunately he started showing up at my weekly gaming nights at a local game store; that was pretty uncomfortable but I didn't think I could get him banned from that, so I didn't try.

At another game I was in, the GM took me out of the room, grabbed me around the body from behind, and held a knife to my throat; it was the only time anyone had "live action" incidents in the game. When I explained why this was horrible and inappropriate and actually assault, the guy apologized, but he and the other people in the game still treated it like a joke, and like I was being "too sensitive".

These are not isolated incidents for me - they are in a cloud of other similar incidents in SF, gaming, and working-in-tech incidents I have experienced.

Button Artwork

I hope all of the U.S. folks had a good Thanksgiving yesterday. To everyone else, Happy Friday!

Thanks to the talented Frank Wu, we now have artwork for three different buttons. What we don't seem to have right now is a buttonmaker. I believe ktempest had talked about doing it, but if I'm remembering right, she lost her button making machine in an unfortunate incident a little while back.

So, does anyone have any suggestions? CafePress will only let you do one design per product unless you pay extra for your shop, so that wouldn't be my first choice.

I've put the images behind a LJ cut to spare people's bandwidth. Click on any image for a larger file with the border removed (since that seems like it would work better for the actual buttonmaking).

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A Note from the President of SFWA

Discussion about sexual harassment continues in parts of the SFWA Lounge. Unfortunately, that lounge is private. However, I asked Robin Bailey (President of SFWA) if I could re-post one of his reponses:
I'd encourage everyone to take reports of these sorts of incidents (the groping, the sexual harrassment) to the pages of the FORUM. See if a conversation can be started among the larger membership about this sort of climate. Make the broader membership aware.

Only a small percentage of SFWAns read, and an even smaller percentage any particular topic, including this one. And frankly, a conversation in the FORUM will have more of an "imprimatur" than mere postings here. IMO.

I can devote a President's Message to it, also. But to do that without supporting letters relating actual incidents and complaints will result in a lesser impact.


I know only a small percentage of bellwether_talk members are a part of SFWA, but I wanted to spread this as widely as I could, in the hopes of continuing to generate discussion in different venues.

I also know it can be hard to publicly talk about this sort of thing, especially when some of the reaction will potentially be unpleasant and hostile. But I also know that talking publicly can have an impact, at least on some people. I would never presume to say what someone should or shouldn't do, but I think the invitation is important.

And I hope that "can devote a President's Message" becomes "will devote a President's Message".

Hands to Yourself Pic

I got the third picture from Frank Wu a few days back. Sorry -- I would have posted it sooner, but it's been a crazy week here.

From Frank: "I opted for the more casual spelling of "Hands 2 Yerself" and "All of 'Em" 'cos that way I had more space for the words - otherwise it was wayyy too many letters and the type was too small."

A medium-sized version is behind the cut. A full-size, borderless version is available at to Yourself-No Border.jpg

Tempest -- if you're still here, were you still up for selling buttons of our three designs? I can e-mail or send you links for the large files, if you need.

Huge thanks to Frank for putting these together.

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Reposted from Comments

From marphod:

For ICON (the 31 year old con in Iowa, not the young upstart 26 year old one at Stony Brook in New York), we have traditionally had a list behavior in the program book.

It first covers our asses. If there is a rule in the program book, and you violate it, its your fault. Since you need to get a program book when you get your badge, it makes the insurance company happy, it makes kicking you out of the con your fault, and it also just promotes safety.

Second, most of them are just codified good sense or messages from the hotel.

Anyways, in shorthand (there's more, usually, but the essence of the rules):

1. No projectile weapons allowed!
2. All weapons or weaponlike objects must be peace bonded.
3. Badges must be worn in order to enter the convention space and attend programming.
4. Federal and State laws must be followed by all. (Drugs and alcohol, especially)
5. You kill it, you eat it. Whatever “it” is.
6. No form of sexual harassment will be tolerated by the convention and its staff.
7. Concom and convention staff reserve the right to tell you to stop what you’re doing. If you persist, you may be asked to leave the convention.
8. Smoking is forbidden outside of smoking rooms and specifically designated smoking areas.


Thanks for posting that. I'm curious -- does anyone know of a time when people were kicked out of a con for violating this sort of rule, particularly the sexual harassment one? How has that been enforced (or not) in people's experience? It seems like you could run into a lot of the problems you see with reporting sexual assault to the police. A lot of "he said, she said" situations where it happened at a party where nobody noticed, and so on... The public harassment and groping would probably be easier to confront.

I know I've seen similar rules in other convention books, though I don't have them handy here. Does anyone else have an example? I would love to see us come up with a generic one which could be put out under a Common Content license for anyone to use for conventions and other events...

Convention Question

Are any of you involved in organizing your local cons? (If not, go find someone who is and send 'em over here, will ya?)

I'm curious -- do the cons you work on include a statement in the program book about appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior?

If so, would you be willing to post the gist here? Have you seen or heard any feedback about this, positive or negative?

If not, why not?

For the non-organizers among us, what's your reaction when you see something like this included in a program book?

Eventually, I thought we might try to come up with a few sample statements along these lines, to be linked from the community page and posted for anyone to use.

On a totally different note, I'm told Frank is at work on the third of our buttons, at which point I'm hoping we'll be able to get an online shop set up. I'll post the artwork as soon as I see it.

Not Huggy

Frank Wu finished a second pic. I'll be passing this one along to ktempest tonight once I clean up the outside border (which seems to work better for the buttons, from what I can see). I'm told Frank is still working on a "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" image, too.

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