a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
"This is the opposite of what I wanted" 
rosefox: Me hugging a giant teddy bear, very sad. (sad)
Readercon received a report of harassment at the convention, and the Readercon board has elected to refuse membership to the harasser for two years.

I'm not on the board. I'm not privy to the board's deliberations. I'm reacting to this as an individual, not as a member of the concom.

This is not the outcome I wanted, and it makes me very unhappy. My recommendation was for the board to follow the policy: lifetime suspension, the end. My recommendation was that the board should then rewrite the policy because I think zero-tolerance policies on any front do a disservice to everyone by creating a narrative that facts then have to be fit to. But even if there were not a zero-tolerance policy in place, I would have recommended that René not be permitted to attend Readercon again. I feel that would have been appropriate to what has been reported and confirmed, and I also feel it would have sent the right message to current and potential Readercon attendees. The message we have sent instead is leading to a lot of wonderful people saying they no longer plan to attend the convention, and... I really don't have words for how distressing that is. We are paying a very big price here and I do not see what we've gained for it.

I have no idea how much René's fannish activities actually factored into the board's decision-making, but I am entirely unsurprised that this is being read as "SMOFs get more leeway to treat people badly"; if I were an outsider to the convention I would read it that way too. I find that concept deeply upsetting. I very much hope there were other reasons for lenience.

I gave serious thought to resigning from the concom over this. Ultimately, I decided that I can do more good from within, so I will continue to work with the concom and the program participants--and, when my opinion is requested, with the board--on making Readercon a safer, more inclusive space where people treat one another with respect and courtesy.

I am, with some trepidation, leaving comments on. If you want to criticize my personal stance on this, go ahead, but please don't use this comment space as a way to send messages to Readercon. Feedback on the board's decision should go to info@readercon.org.

EDIT: The board has posted a statement clarifying that the suspension is for AT LEAST two years, with active information-gathering during that time to determine whether to make it permanent. That is a somewhat different thing from my initial understanding of what was going on. I still feel we should abide by our policies. I'm still greatly concerned by the privileging of one man's misbehavior-contrition-redemption narrative over a number of women's ongoing concerns over feeling unsafe. I am honestly very skeptical of whether someone with an acknowledged pattern of harassment is going to undergo "real and permanent positive change"; in other words, I think we will still have the end result of René being banned from the convention, only by a much more painful and circuitous route. But "at least two years, and permanently gone if we don't see you actively shaping up" is better than "two years and then we consider you to have paid your dues and will welcome you back with open arms", which was the idea that was circulating before, so I'm glad they clarified, at least.

And now I think I'm going to shut off the computer for a while.
 
27 July 2012 19:18 - Not okay with this and non anonymous
mystery gardener
My feelings are much in line with yours. I'm hurt and sick to my stomach and angry, and am deliberately not letting myself send a flouncy email yet, but my instinct is to yell and then flounce. I believe much the same as you do, that it is probably better to stay in fandom and try to make it better, but I'm not certain how to work for/with the people who think this is okay. - Kim
28 July 2012 01:58
freyjaw: (bleek)
This is disturbing as hell. Banned for life should be exactly that.

I'm with you.
28 July 2012 04:49
cogitationitis: Clip art from Arts & Letters (Default)
I acted as a character witness. I hadn't known, before the board contacted me, who was the harasser, though I'd read Genevieve's LJ. When I was told it was Rene, I was utterly shocked, as this seems so out of character with the man I've known for years. I suggested the contact two other women who know him even better than I do--Jo Walton (papersky) and Val Grimm. I don't know if that was done--like you, I may be on the committee, but I'm not in the inner circle. I don't know what other evidence was brought forward. I do know I lost a night of sleep trying to wrap my brain around it all.

Personally, I think the board should have abided by the policy as written. It's a very harsh thing for me, personally, because his daughter and mine are friends, and they only get to see each other at Readercon (due to school schedules). OTOH, I believe that people can make mistakes, realize their errors, and seek redemption, and, like you, I feel a lifetime ban--for anyone--is a bit harsh.

I hate people saying that Rene got off because he's a BNF. Trust me, smofs can be pretty cutthroat.
29 July 2012 18:49
Wait, wait, you mean the board, in a misguided attempt to feel good about not following their own policy, called up his friends and told them he harassed someone at a con?

Am I the only one who thinks that's a terrible thing to do to someone who doesn't even know what happened, to call them up out of the blue and say to them, "So, what do you think of this person you like having engaged in universally reviled behavior? And please, be honest."?
31 July 2012 03:40
mystery gardener
Yes, that sounds pretty lame. To be fair, I doubt the board has much experience in investigations of this type, so I'll cut them a little slack.

I was not happy with their response to the growing anger. They have a very short window to repair their reputation and it starts with "We are very sorry..."

And ends with permanent banning.
31 July 2012 03:43
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
With regard to the "very short window", please keep in mind that we are all volunteers trying to deal with this while many of the committee members are at their day jobs and traveling. This post lays out why convention committees can't react with the speed of corporations.

I get a new email from the concom list every minute. We are all feeling the same urgency--or more--to get this settled, and we also want to make absolutely sure that we take the best possible actions. Rest assured that we will make a statement as soon as we can.

Also, for future reference, I will not be approving anonymous comments that are not signed with at least a pseudonym that can be used to track which anon is which. And I'd appreciate you not using "lame" as a pejorative term in my space.
31 July 2012 14:42
karadin: (Default)
Just coming in sideways, I was wondering how the board is supposed to police someone from other venues during the two year ban period. I think it's enough for the board to consider what happened at their convention and act accordingly.
1 August 2012 20:17 - Consequences
mystery gardener
I'm coming in from outside, but I have attended business conventions and have had to deal with similar behavior.

One thing that needs to be addressed - if a harasser/stalker is given a slap on the wrist, not only will he not have any reason to control himself, but others who see him not facing consequences will have no reason to control themselves.

Some venues are willing to face the possibility of legal action for not dealing with a harasser/stalker rather than make him face the consequences. But I think the tide may be turning and it will become less acceptable as time goes on.
2 August 2012 04:17 - Cynicism and morbid curiosity prompt me to write...
mystery gardener
You wrote, "Ultimately, I decided that I can do more good from within, so I will continue to work with the concom and the program participants--and, when my opinion is requested, with the board--on making Readercon a safer, more inclusive space where people treat one another with respect and courtesy."

Having seen the actions of the board, filtered through this lens- specifically, through this scenario- why do you think that the board will even ask you for your opinion? And, if they did, what grounds have you to think they would take it seriously? After all, to those people, you are merely a woman.

More to the point, what circumstances have conditioned you to simply wait to be asked?
2 August 2012 04:22 - Re: Cynicism and morbid curiosity prompt me to write...
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
why do you think that the board will even ask you for your opinion?

Because they have repeatedly done so.

And, if they did, what grounds have you to think they would take it seriously?

Because they have repeatedly done so.

My phrasing was very specific only because technically members of the committee work with the board only when the board requests it. In practice, it's a lot looser than that. You will just have to take my word that my understanding of what's happening internal to Readercon is more thorough and nuanced than yours.

After all, to those people, you are merely a woman.

Two of the five board members who made the decision in question are women.

(And I don't identify as a woman, though I'm often mistaken for one.)

More to the point, what circumstances have conditioned you to simply wait to be asked?

Ahahaha, you don't know me very well, do you! I am an editor, a critic, and an editor of critics; I am professionally opinionated. Believe me, hesitating to offer my opinion is really not a problem I have.
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