Shorter Wiscon: In recognition of the possibility that a harasser may eventually learn to behave himself like someone who graduated kindergarten, we will guarantee that a minimum of two people (the ones he harassed) will no longer feel comfortable at our convention.
Good job, folks. That is some solid community-minded thinking right there. When you have loads of people saying "As long as this dude is at your convention, I will not feel safe there" the OBVIOUS feminist position to take is that the dude's potential rehabilitation matters more than the feeeeeeelings of all those laaaaaadies. They're probably just being oversensitive. They'll come back. After all, there are no other soi-disant feminist conventions for them to go to!
All sarcasm aside, I suggest that any con that has ever permanently banned a harasser begin labeling itself a feminist convention, as the claim to the term is clearly pretty wide open at this point.
I wrote about redemption narratives and convention harassment in 2012. I could write about it again, but why bother? It's clear that the people who needed to read it the first time around either never did or forgot it as soon as they closed the tab. And we're right back where we started, following some guy through his sin-repentance-redemption story while ignoring all the women who will be going to other conventions or just staying home.
(Incidentally, if you want to help mitigate the financial costs to Elise for having to stop selling her gorgeous handmade jewelry at Wiscon, please consider buying some of her wares for yourself or someone else.)
Note that Frenkel can appeal the decision in case he thinks it's too harsh, but no one else can appeal it for being too lenient. That's a very clear sign as to which way the committee thinks it's erring. And it's dead wrong.
The subject line of this post is from Dan Harmon's plot embryo:
1. A character is in a zone of comfort
2. But they want something
3. They enter an unfamiliar situation
4. Adapt to it
5. Get what they wanted
6. Pay a heavy price for it
7. Then return to their familiar situation
8. Having changed
That's the Frenkel story. He's supposed to pay a price for getting what he wanted--the opportunity to harass a couple of women--but all he loses is four years of Wiscon. However, anyone who doesn't want to be around harassers loses Wiscon forever. And Elise and Lauren pay the highest price of all for having spoken up: the price of being told, almost in so many words, that their pain and sorrow don't matter as much as Jim Frenkel getting a second chance. They don't get to return to their familiar situation. They don't get what they wanted. They don't get the neat episodic story arc. They're left to make new stories for themselves, with so much less cultural and community support than they need and deserve.
This is really dispiriting.