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A couple of specific incidents from cons [Dec. 20th, 2006|10:46 am]
Bellwether: The Safe Zone Discussion Group


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.

[User Picture]From: jimhines
2006-12-20 07:33 pm (UTC)
Hi badger,

I'm glad to hear the con went ahead and banned that GM. It sucks that you've had to deal with this crap at all, though.

I wish there were more ways to make people understand that just because they prefer to see something as a joke doesn't mean that it is. Often, it means they're just too uncomfortable to admit what's really going on. It's so much easier to tell yourself it's all a game so you can turn your back to it...
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From: beth_bernobich
2006-12-20 11:06 pm (UTC)
And so often, I've heard the follow-up line "you have no sense of humor."

Maybe those who are uncomfortable feel that the weapons of harassment and mockery will be turned on them next. Which isn't an excuse, but it tells me that we have a long way to go.

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[User Picture]From: jimhines
2006-12-21 01:24 am (UTC)
Yup. "He didn't mean it like that" and "You need to lighten up." That's one of the reasons I'm so glad to hear about times when this stuff does get taken seriously, and the perps get tossed out on their asses.
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[User Picture]From: bodlon
2006-12-20 08:00 pm (UTC)
A lot of this comes from the larger culture where men are entitled to do what they want, and a woman protesting is "prudish" or "overreacting" or whatever fine bit of ad hominem, disempowering nonsense someone wants to spout.

That's why I joined this community. To hear what is actually happening, and to figure out how to work against it as a gamer and writer.

Thank you for sharing with us.
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[User Picture]From: asterling
2007-01-10 12:26 am (UTC)
Wow, I don't like any of these. As if that poetry one wasn't obvious intimidation to "get the job" and "get the attention."

I wanted to share that a young male friend of my daughter's has made a big point of vocally stating he's gay around the school (they are in 9th grade). The result for him has been that lots of girls "trust him" and hang out with him. She's told me before he's gotten pretty familiar with her and I've warned her that he may be "pretending" to be gay to gain trust. Last week, apparently he touched her breasts and said, "Would you look at those beautiful boobies?" and pointed out that they "bounced."

I told her that was not "okay" and told her to physically stop him and get friends to help the next time. I also told her to confront him about stating he's gay, but acting sexual with girls -- it's not his sexual preference, but what is he doing touching them like this, "gay" or "straight?"+
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[User Picture]From: britgeekgrrl
2009-01-26 07:53 pm (UTC)
At Strategicon in LA I was taken out of a Cthulhu rpg by the gamemaster....

I'm a Cthulhu LARP GM a short distance north of you (relatively speaking - I'm in the SF Bay Area) and I wonder if you wouldn't mind dropping me a private msg with that GM's name, if you happen to remember it. I'm moderately well-connected with the LARP-staffers at the gaming cons in the Bay Area and I'd like to keep an eye out for this creep (and, yes, pre-emptively ban him, if possible. RPGs are not democracies and none of the staffers I know would want that sort of fellow in their con, anyways)

In general, re: inappropriate physical action at a LARP, you have my sympathy. I'm very lucky in that most of my regular players are very smart folks who completely understand that "No contact" means no contact. But reports such as yours remind me why it's important to stay alert...
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