Tim Lieder (marlowe1) wrote,
Tim Lieder

Ok. Fine. Conventions

I have one thing to add to the Readercon controversy and that is that it is not the only convention with sexual harassment. One of the wonderful things about these conventions is the fact that in meeting likeminded people and getting into these kind of parties, there is a heterotopic space where all the rules of society exist but are suspended. This means that there is more freedom to engage in flirting, making out with strangers, cheating on spouses, having threeways, whatever. Hell, the first con I went to was MiniCon and it began with me walking into a room with friends-of-friends and this girl saying "Anyone want to give me a backrub" and me and this other guy volunteered and we both ended up making out with her with everyone else still in the room. She finally got bored and went away and we gave each other the high five (don't know what that meant besides "all right dude! that was cool!")

That was the Con where I also found myself kissing dudes. Wasn't into it, but I was trying to prove to myself that I wasn't homophobic (I was but I didn't want to admit it - but that's a really dumb way to prove it).

At the end of the CON, I was in that same room. The aforementioned girl got out of the bed with the guy that she was wrapped up with (she claimed that nothing happened), stated that she had to go to Mass (Minicon takes place Easter weekend) and as she walked out, kissed me goodbye. The guy didn't remember her name.

She's actually the only one from these Cons that I still keep in touch with on a semi-regular basis. Usually we see each other at the Cons.

But for a long time, that kind of "everything is free and everyone can possibly have sex with everyone" atmosphere defined cons for me.

Hell, the group I was with was even calling themselves Water Brothers. Thank you, Robert Heinlein.

Which was awesome - but seriously, this is a very easy place for predators to operate. And they can even work on the guilt and shame excuse. "Well you dropped your boundaries for that guy so why are you not dropping them for me" or even worse "of course, this is consensual because you didn't say no when I was groping you in the hallway." (not picking up on the cues that really amount to no). And amazing how easy these bullshit excuses are to buy if you are in the right frame of mind. I think I even have made some bullshit excuses in some debate or the other concerning sexual harassment at CONs (if you ever see them, please know that I was fucking wrong and I'm very ashamed of myself). The excuses that Rene Waller is "probably Aspbergers" are fucking pathetic but understandable. People WANT to make excuses for him.

Now I go to Con to go to panels, meet people and talk with friends. Hell, the last few CONvergences have been spent mostly hanging out with the same four friends (2 couples actually - one just had a baby who is very cute). But the same stuff goes on that was going on when I was eager to get laid at Con.

The ReaderCon board did something fucking stupid by contradicting their own policy. That's obvious. The one thing about it is that ReaderCon is not the only con with these problems. These cons are going to be places where people go to have fun, be more open with each other, let down their hair, etc. They are also going to be places where people are going to take advantage of that openness by engaging in sexual harassment. Every Con needs a sexual harassment policy (maybe not a no-tolerance policy but definitely one that makes sure that people know that it is a safe place and that lifetime banning is a very viable option) and needs to stick with it.

Of course, there are plenty of people like Rene Walling who have been coming to these Cons and really think that their shitty behavior is perfectly fine. And they've been doing it for so long that they might as well be Don Draper at a NOW meeting. But seriously, Rene Walling is an adult. He doesn't even have shitty little clueless teenager excuse and even if he DID have the shitty little clueless teenager excuse it wouldn't be enough of an excuse to keep him from getting banned.

Anyhow, Readercon had a chance to set an example, not just back in 2008 but now. And it blew it. Other cons will also have this chance, unfortunately because these predators are going to go to them as well. Hopefully, those cons won't fuck up.

And hopefully Readercon will fix that mistake since it seems like a cool little con and one that I'd be interested in going to (especially if falls 2 weeks after CONvergence instead of the next weekend).
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