Monday, November 18, 2013

Silent All These Years

Comics, like the world in general, has a problem with sexual harassment. This isn’t new, it isn’t going away, and the only way to do anything to change it is to speak up about it often. This is going to be a rather long post because I don’t know any other way to discuss this topic other than thoughtfully and, for me, that usually means at some length.

I’m also going to get this out of the way now and it will not come up in the post again: not all men do this. But I am very tired of having to add that caveat every. Single. Time. this topic is discussed. We shouldn’t have to soothe anyone’s ego before being able to tell our stories. I’m telling you what I’ve experienced at, sometimes, the actual hands of men. I don’t need a reminder that not every man does this. I know that. All this really does is serve to distract/distance/derail the conversation away from the topic at hand. I’m sorry it makes you uncomfortable but it’s really not my job to make you feel better about all this. You need to work that out on your own.

Also: I am not now nor will I ever claim to be speaking for or about all women’s experiences in this sphere or with sexualized harassment. These are my experiences, I am not the representative for All Women Ever.

Moving on.

I’ve been working in comics for well over a decade and, unfortunately, I’m one of those women with more than one example of sexualized unpleasantness I can discuss whenever this topic comes up. I have rarely, if ever, talked about them all. Some of them happened at conventions. Some of them happened in offices I have worked in. Some of these examples were perpetuated by “known” creators and some were from fellow editors/professionals.  I truly wish I didn’t have such a broad group to choose from. I’d rather not have any.

Just about all of the more “severe” examples happened before I turned 27, so many of them are nearing a decade old. A lot of people seem to think there’s a time limit on how long events in your life will bother/influence you. There isn’t. I can no more control when one of these experiences will blossom up like a poisonous flower to make me feel sick and embarrassed than I can help when a memory from childhood will get triggered by a familiar smell. While time often helps these things feel less immediately painful, that’s not the same as them having no continued impact on your life. And, for women, since we are reminded pretty much every day that we are at risk, I’d hazard to say that it’s particularly unlikely that, just became something happened a decade, two, three, etc. ago, it will somehow evaporate and no longer have any importance in how we view the world and ourselves within it.

That doesn’t mean these experiences define us, but our lives are a mixed bag of memories, experiences, feelings. It would be pretty weird if they had no impact on us just because time had passed.

I’ve talked about what happened to be me at my first SDCC here. The TLDR version: I was groped by a “name” creator I had worked with for years at the Hyatt my first night. At first I thought I must be mistaken, but when I mentioned it to another creator he said, nope, he definitely did. He’s “known” for that. I want you to take that in. This fellow comics professional (who was also male) was not A. not surprised this other comics professional had groped me B. it was a "known" thing. And yet no one said anything about it.

I have not gone anywhere at SDCC or any other con by myself since, which was in 2006 or so. I don’t drink at conventions unless I am with VERY trusted friends and we are somewhere like a dinner. Never at a party of any kind. I will occasionally buy a drink that I don’t like so it looks like I’m drinking, but I don’t. I never let it out of my sight. If I do have to go someplace alone at a con, which sometimes can’t be avoided, I spend the entire time feeling anxiously keyed up, hyper aware of everything going on around me, and I tend to have a miserable time unless I can find someone I know.

So, that’s conventions. Aside from all the professional anxiety I have this added layer of stress that never let’s up. It leaks into my day to day life, too, whenever I go out. I think this is a familiar reality for a lot of women.

I wish these kinds of things were isolated to the madhouses that are conventions, because they might be easier to address if they were. They’d still be unacceptable, but it might make addressing the underlying problems somehow more manageable. More concrete. More about a specific environment than something wider, more ingrained and insidious like culture.

Unfortunately, I also experienced sexualized harassment in the supposedly “safe” environment of an office. None of these are things I really want to relate to anyone because they’re embarrassing, humiliating, gross. They make me feel wrong. But I think maybe they need to be said.

The one I remember most vividly was a series of emails from a creator that got increasingly more suggestive. I tried to derail the direction they were going in assuming, naively, that they were “jokes”. Or I just wanted to believe that. I’ve worked very hard at being professional but personable in my career and it actually takes quite a lot to offend me. I’ve also worked on a lot of mature content so discussing things like sex has been a legitimate aspect of my job. I just don’t discuss it in personal terms because that is the line that I draw professionally.

However. There is nothing ambiguous about a creator sending, in response to an email asking about what other comics they’d like to have sent to them in an upcoming package:

“oh, x books, your used panties, and a recording of your laugh when you cum too soon”

Yes, I committed that to memory. Even now, typing that makes me really uncomfortable. When I got it, all those years ago, I immediately wondered what I’d done wrong. I didn’t respond to it, I didn’t know what to say. The creator in question apologized a few hours later, citing drunkenness. I honestly don’t find that to be a compelling excuse and I asked not to have to deal with that particular person again. I did not, however, specify why. It was simply too awful and I didn’t want everyone I worked with to find out.

Another time a co-worker, apropos of nothing, mentioned that his current girlfriend thought he was so great in bed that she couldn’t believe that I had “never blown him in the office” while working together. This was relayed to me as a very strange “joke” that it was perfectly fine to bring up because it was the girlfriend asking, somehow. I remember saying that it was a good thing I had a sense of humor and knew that wasn’t serious because other people, not me mind you, but other people, might think that was a highly inappropriate thing to say to someone you shared an office with and could lead to problems. It was never brought up again. This was previously someone I had had no issues with and didn’t want to get in trouble for what I hoped was a momentary lapse in judgment. I still don’t know if I did the right thing.

There are the little things that add up, what are now called “micro-aggressions”. The male co-workers who, when finding out I’d been with my boyfriend (now husband) since I was 15 started mentioning how their female friends who had been together that long always freaked out before marriage and started sleeping around. One of them felt compelled to specifically tell me that he was the one a lot of his female “friends” went to have sex with before settling down. He felt it was very important that I know, even though I had not in any way solicited his advice, that having sex with only one person meant an eventual sexual meltdown. This was all based on assumptions, I never discussed my sexual history with anyone I worked with.

Sometimes people would comment on my clothes which always made me self-conscious, as though by wearing black I had invited this attention on myself, when in reality there is nothing to compel you to comment on another’s person’s appropriate work attire. Sometimes they ‘d comment about other female co-workers looks, which always made me wonder: if you say that about these women in front of me, what do you say about me when I’m not around?

I look at the discussions about this in comics and I don’t really know how I feel, other than angry. I think about cos-players having to contend with creeper shots and groping and people posting pictures of them online to say shitty things. I think about the professional men who go to great lengths to tell everyone who is and is not a “real” geek girl, who are obsessed with ferreting out some sort of evil female interlopers who are wandering around, ruining their conventions and fandom with their cooties and their disinterest in sleeping with these men or conforming to their expectations of how women should interact with their geeky interests. I look at the endless online conversations that call any woman who talks about this topic “crazy”, who hypocritically demand names and then chide those who do name as “life ruiners”. I look at young women being told, in every possible way, that they are not welcome or safe in these spaces because they are women.  I see them being told that speaking up will get them rape and/or death threats, that their careers can be ruined. That they only reason they’d talk about this kind of thing is to somehow get attention, to further their careers, because naming well known creators has such a long history of making people instantly successful rockstars in their fields.

I see the gaslighting, I see the status quo perpetuating itself, I see people endlessly justifying this behavior, excusing it, and telling women that how they experience their own lives in wrong. That no matter what, we don’t get to define what happens to us. Because if we do, then we are “crazy” or wrong or “too sensitive”. We should just shut up and let other people tell us how things “really” are. Because we can’t be trusted to know how our own realities have shaped us.

We’re told not to “make” men feel bad about what other men do. That relaying our stories is generalizing and condemning and unfair. We’re told it’s our responsibility to “get over it”. To internalize every single thing we are subjected to as “just the way it is” and, ultimately, our fault for existing as women in spaces. For existing in the world. For trying to make our way in that world and be treated as human beings.

We are told: don’t feel this way. Don’t think these things. Don’t express normal human emotions, like anger and resentment, about upsetting experiences. Stop talking about things we don’t want to hear about. Stop telling us we are complicit through our inaction. Stop expressing yourself in ways we don’t like. Stop making us uncomfortable about the things that go on around us that we don’t see/ignore. Don’t trust yourself. Don’t exist in ways we don’t like. Don’t exist in “our” spaces. Don’t try to live your life like it matters. Like it’s important. Like you have the right to be here.

Women don’t exist for you to approve of or to make you feel better about the shitty way the world works. We don’t exist for you at all. We exist for ourselves. And we’re going to keep demanding for our rightful place in the world whether you like it or not.


You can get on that bandwagon or you can fuck, permanently, off.

38 comments:

  1. I'm glad females are starting to speak out about this more, but I feel like it's going to fall on deaf ears. You want to change the culture, name names. Without doing so, I feel that the aggressors will feel that nothing has changed. Put it out in public. Embarrass them. Let people know who is guilty so they can NOT buy their books. Let the aggressors be outed publicly and pay the price for their transgressions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, so, you pretty much missed the part about the severe professional and personal repercussions of going public with allegations, huh?

      Delete
    2. Rae, how is it supposed to stop if you don't set people out? If they keep getting away with it, what's to inspire these overgrown children to quit? It's the comics industry. Not exactly a hallmark of maturity to begin with.

      Delete
    3. Yes, it's good when women name names. It helps. But it's asking a lot from them.

      What can make a bigger difference is for MEN to speak up against it. We (men) have the power in the comics community, and with that comes responsibility to use it. If a guy is "known" as a harasser, we have to make it equally known that being a harasser makes him a lowlife. We can shame him in ways that woman cannot.

      At the least it'll make him more cautious, and at best it'll set an example for others who haven't gotten as daring in gratifying themselves at others' expense. Just like white people have played a crucial role in the black civil rights movement, and like straight allies are turning the tide on LGBT rights, men have a key role to play in fighting sexual harassment of women.

      Delete
    4. It stops when people stop thinking that just calling out individuals is going to change the mentality rampant in the geek community.

      Delete
  2. If you're comfortable doing it, don't ever listen to anyone telling you to stop fucking telling us how uncomfortable this shit makes you. Hearing this stuff DOES make me uncomfortable. Pretty sure it's SUPPOSED to. It's like, if I'm this uncomfortable just hearing about people being treated like this, I cannot begin to imagine the discomfort suffered from it directly.

    Fuck this treatment and fuck the people and culture protecting and cultivating it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You didn't write "fuck" enough there. I was almost moved by your intensity, but you didn't write "fuck" enough.

      Delete
  3. I think this is a good subject to talk about, thank you for sharing your experiences. Maybe this can open a dialogue about boundaries and perhaps, by female professionals sharing this info, maybe guys who do something that makes the opposite sex uncomfortable in a work environment unintentionally (and I'm not talking about Brian Wood here. From the detailed accounts, I'm inclined to believe he acted quite intentionally and knowingly) will gain a new perspective.

    In the interest of perspectives, here is another....

    I started out in the film industry. I left it long ago, but where I was, the sort of things Wood is accused of (i.e. the quid prop quo/"let's discuss your portfolio in my hotel room", the gossip-spreading about offered sexual favors, real or imagined, the "I'm just joking unless you're into it" nudge nudge comments at work functions, etc.) were pretty much business-as-usual. I'm not so much shocked by anything Wood is accused of, because I've seen people do the same things countless times (well, except maybe the online insults after the fact or the text message pleas for understanding, those are new to me).

    I still have acquaintances in the industry who behave in this way or will tell me about girls they've hired recently based on their looks and what they want to do with them.

    I don't approve of this behavior, but I am not in a position to stop it either. I keep seeing these blog posts asking why misconduct is allowed to continue by people who know about it. Well, the truth is, sometimes this behavior works.

    Sometimes, the nudge nudge comments and the wildly inappropriate suggestions lead to hook ups. Sometimes someone with hiring power asks someone out to dinner or to their room "to discuss their work" and sometimes the other party "plays along" and it ends.up "mutually beneficial." Sometimes an applicant tries to use their charms to their advantage (I've never been hit on by women more overtly than back when I had a position with hiring and buying power). I've seen all of this happen many times.

    I don't say this to excuse it. Please don't misunderstand me. I find much of what you described in your article and what Wood is accused of as sickening behavior. At the same time, however, you ask why people allow something to go on, when they know someone who does this stuff and I am trying to explain why, to a bystander, it is complicated.

    If someone is using inappropriate comments at work or asking for quid pro quo favors or the like, it is hard to take a hard stance that "this is always wrong" when, sometimes, both parties are happy/willing to engage in it. If, as a cowrker/acquaintance, I am taking a stance like that, without knowing for certain that one party isn't happy with it, then I risk looking like some uptight puritan or nosy busybody. Obviously, if the aggrieved party takes a stand and publicly says "This is not right", I would be willing to back them up, but as you know, this is rarely the case in these situations.

    What I am saying here isn't intended to excuse the behavior. I just want to offer a different perspective to those who are asking "If people know, why don't they stop it?" Maybe bystanders should take more of a stand. But at the same time, I feel like, when you blame them, you also need to give some of the blame to those who do go along with the "sexual favors/flirtation for professional advancement" system too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope. Here's the thing: culpability follows power. There's a really good reason that, say, a student and professor fucking is grounds for dismissal for the teacher, but not necessarily expulsion for the student: the power differential matters. When you're in a position of power, it is your responsibility not to abuse that in ways that it is not your subordinates' responsibility not to *offer you the means* to abuse it.

      The casting-couch system may take two participants, but they're negotiating from vastly unequal positions; and the fact that it's possible at *all* is symptomatic of an unjust and broken system.

      Delete
    2. Rae, I wouldn't argue otherwise. I'm not defending the perpetrator. I thought that was clear. I am talking about the coworkers of the perpetrator who know what they do, but find it hard to come forward or do anything about it, when the victims don't and when some of the "potential victims", go along with it and don't seem to have a problem with it.

      I never said the casting couch system is a good thing. But it's hard for an associate producer to object to what the producer is doing, when the actress doesn't object and actually plays along. At that point, it becomes a matter of insinuating yourself between two consenting adults and, regardless of who has the power, as the associate producer, you can't very well speak for the actress without risking being accused, by both parties, of essentially sticking your nose where it doesn't belong.

      Delete
    3. You could, on the other hand, approach the subject from the perspective of every non-participant, pointing out that by not reporting/calling attention to the behavior, you have put every other prospect at a disadvantage and are, in fact, enabling not just the consensual behavior, but the culture in which it is allowed to occur. You could even make it a professional point, in that a less qualified applicant is given preferential treatment, thereby weakening the film/property.

      Delete
    4. You, also, as someone who is no longer in the business, have a unique power. When your friends talk about this stuff, sure, you can't make them stop. But you can tell them they're scumbags. That would be the RIGHT thing to do.

      Delete
  4. Thank you for this post.

    It's no excuse but it is hard for a bystander to go against the current power system and speak up. I the past I've had the guts to do it on a number of occasions, but I've lacked the guts on many more. Your post is a reminder to me that my relative position of power means that I should step up more often.

    ReplyDelete
  5. RE: "not all men do this. But I am very tired of having to add that caveat every. Single. Time. this topic is discussed. We shouldn’t have to soothe anyone’s ego before being able to tell our stories. I’m telling you what I’ve experienced at, sometimes, the actual hands of men. I don’t need a reminder that not every man does this. I know that. All this really does is serve to distract/distance/derail the conversation away from the topic at hand. I’m sorry it makes you uncomfortable but it’s really not my job to make you feel better about all this."

    Wow, that's got to be the most hypocritical thing I've read on a female blog in a while, and that's saying something given the constant stream of hypocrisy that seems to be the norm on the blogs of comic book fangirls.

    First off, if someone had written a story about a woman who accused an innocent guy of rape, we'd be hearing all sorts of bullshit like "but that happens SO RARELY! We need to focus on all the jillions of women who are telling the truth! This is diversionary!!! Rape is REAL!!!"

    I've seen that and more hand waving with false accusations and women castigating the writers of such topics whether male or female. Actually, the women who write articles about such things are attacked much more viciously by their fellow women than a male writer is.

    I think what offends me most is the insinuation that these "micro incidents" are on par with rape or any kind of physical violation. We've now got cosplayers who compare having their ass photographed without permission to a "violation"(that's right Molly McIsaac, I'm looking at you). Sorry, but no. That is bullshit.

    If you're weak, if you let shit slide because you "thought you were mistaken" (whatever the fuck that means) or didn't kick the asshole in the balls, then that's on you. Any further embarrassment you feel after the fact, that's also on you. Just like you're not responsible for making guys feel uncomfortable with your tales of woe, guys aren't responsible for your residual embarrassment from a decade old ass grab or off color comment at the water cooler. Grow the fuck up. This is the world you live in. It's not likely to change in your lifetime, if ever and that's because the weak rarely do anything. The weak are prey, end of story. The weak don't affect change, because they're too weak. If someone fucks with you, fuck them up. If you're too weak, then it's because YOU are too weak. You know what kind of people grow up never having to deal with shit from bullies? Those who beat the shit out of the bully, that's who. Don't blame men because you are weak and pathetic.

    If a rape victim doesn't testify against their rapist and the rapist rapes again, that's on the victim. Is that victim blaming? Fuck yes is it. But guess what? In the real fucking world the victim is sometimes to blame. That's objective truth. Using "victim blaming" as some psychobabble term to avoid objective judgment to make the victim feel better about their own guilt and weakness does the victim a disservice and only perpetuates the wrongdoing.

    Deal with your shit. No one gives a fuck about your "troubled past" and yammering on about it is pathetically self indulgent and vain. You sound like you're looking for a "awww, there there, how bout a hug? Feel better?". When instead you should be dealing with the fact that you fucked up by not saying anything. Yes, you fucked up. Don't look for sympathy now, deal with the fact that you perpetuated the behavior and allowed it to continue. That's on you. Deal with it. Own it. But don't try to alleviate feelings of guilt that you should rightly and justly be feeling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to treat this novels worth of misogynist bs with the contempt it deserves and say the TLDR version of your rant = everything my post was talking about in terms of toxicity.

      Also? Be careful with that axe you're grinding. It's so dull and old you might get cut and infect yourself with your own blathering stupidity.

      Delete
    2. I love that this person posts this anonymously. How very brave of them.

      I am so sorry you, and many other women like you, are still having to deal with this crap. This industry needs to change, to grow up. I appreciate this post so much, and feel that even though this shouldn't happen at all, at least we are starting to hear about it so we can do what we need to to stop it from happening in the future.

      Delete
    3. All she's saying is "duh, of COURSE not all guys do this", you moron - and asking her tell every guy who proclaims they're a good guy who doesn't do this takes away from the topic at hand.

      Do you really need to be told constantly that a writing about a few terrible people is not, actually, about you specifically?

      You're a total asshole.

      Delete
    4. hey dude, your issues are showing.

      Delete
    5. Wow, that guy's a real dick.

      Delete
    6. I had no idea 1992 era Denis Leary was reading this blog.

      That's a lot of opinion that has very little to do with the issue at hand. Do you feel better having gotten that off your chest? Good. Because I'm going to follow your advice and tell you YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

      If your only point in posting was to assert the opinion that people need to toughen up and grow up and stop talking about fucked up things that happened in their past, I can do that. Because your post is fucked up, antiquated, and not worth discussing in the future.

      Enjoy the rest of your day,

      Anne Scherbina

      Delete
    7. Cowardly anonymous ranting dude: fuck you.

      Delete
    8. To defend this guy for a minute - and boy does he need defending - it is in human nature for people to just not understand until one has experienced something like this firsthand.
      To put on my amateur Psych 101 hat for a minute - what bugs me most about this dude is this deep seated fear of "weakness" - and blaming the weak for what happens to them. I wonder what happened to him in the past to make him like this...... the truly strong, the truly self-secure person has no problem empathizing and helping those who are in need......... I actually feel quite sad for him.....

      Delete
    9. I'm a comic pro - a pro who writes stories that you may actually be reading. I see and interact with a lot of women at conventions, etc.

      Want to know why I don't get defensive and demand a disclaimer that not all comic guys do this stuff? I'm secure with myself and I know damn well they're not talking about me because I don't treat women like crap. I leave them alone, I don't touch them, I keep my conversations friendly and professional.

      It's really simple: Don't be a dick and don't be creepy. Don't yell at people who are trying to make comics a better place for all of us. Be NICE for fuck's sake.

      Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

      Delete
    10. Isn't just precious how the misogynistic jackass rants and raves about all the "weak" women while cowering in anonymity? How typical.

      Delete
  6. Mariah, I'm so sorry you've had to deal with all of that for so long. I support your efforts, and those of others who've recently spoken out about this, to make things better for everyone in the comics community. The men in this industry, and in fandom, that do this kind of thing shame all of us by their behavior. Good for you for not letting your voice be drowned out by the whiners out there.

    David Peattie

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post. You are very strong.

    It's terrible to read these stories. Let's keep hearing them until they stop!...

    LOL at the Anonymous comment demanding names...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for this brave post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. While I agree all harassment forms are bad, as being a male child who has been abused by alchoolist parents both mentally and physically in my childhood, and had to protect my little sister from the same things as a child, I humbly suggest that you should really stop comparing superficial and gross behaviour effects to real rapes or abuse. Too much American young girls and mans are living on this "trope" that someone telling you bad sexual jokes to try to get laid is a mental abuse that traumatise. Really, if you get a trauma by someone touching your ass instead of giving him a slap, what would a real abuse do to your mind? It required me several years to get back from my traumas, but yet I did and I also forgave my parents since they had their own problems of alcohol dependence. All this talking about minor harassments as being very important is, in my view, just making you don't get on with your life. You CAN'T be traumatised so much by what you told, not much more than from "normal" bullying for males in school. I don't justify this things and I think the world would be a better place shutout them, but you should react to them internally and externally and not talk about them and compare them to rape/real abuse, because that makes them more strong in your mind and you more weak when you will have to face more serious problems in life like starving, dependances , serious illness, government abuses and similars, and all this things are becoming more common in everyday life.
    So, I hope you will grow out of your perceived internal problems into a stronger being to live life.
    Sincerely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interestingly, I did not compare them. I put them in a context that they all exist in, as examples of an attitude that lead to a spectrum of behavior.

      I find it interesting you think that, because of this one post, I have never experienced any other difficulties in life that I have handled well/constructively, or that I've been traumatized. I have not. But those experiences have mattered and influenced things. That's how life works, really. We experience things, process them, and deal with the consequences. It's curious you leap to the conclusion that I don't "live life". You seem to be projecting a lot.

      You don't get to decide what other people discuss, what is important, and what is or is not a "real" trauma. I never compared anything I experiences to rape, is the thing. Again, curious that you think so.

      I wish you luck. I hope you will learn better reading comprehension skills and make less assumptions based solely on your own experiences.

      Delete
    2. I don't think she in any way compared these things to rape - we're not always in control of the things that bothered us in the past and for some reason stay with us - the mind and its emotions are not logical sometimes.
      But for some reason people always want to dismiss other's issues as "not being important enough", *"grow up".....
      Thanks for your post - I'm a man and I understand that intellectually I can comprehend how women experience the world differently from me, but I realise that emotionally you have to experience it for yourself to really get it....... goes for a lot of things I guess, abuse, bullying etc.

      Irish Brian in Stockholm

      Delete
  10. The anonymous guy who wrote "If someone fucks with you, fuck them up" will get a lot of of heat but I think he is rigth, he should have said "If someone fucks with you, SUE them" and with that his rant its quite a good advice. Name dropping can promote a heated and ambiguious witch hunt and its as unprofessional as the creeps who pull actual sexual harrasment: SUE them. If inefective, PUNCH them. Or do have some kind of reaction evident and to the creeps face because that particular creep may not stop and neither those who'll may follow. To the Wood thing I first tougth "what a creep, he should be put to to jail" but them I felt hypocrital: as a male, I'm sure I have not done harrasment, not that I'm aware off, but what if I have done it because maybe I hit a girl at a bad day of hers, or because I did it in a unconventional way to her or because I'm just not her type...I'm not 100% sure that I have not pulled a "micro attack" in my 32 yeard old life span. Thats how it is and how we men think, so if we are doing some kind of harrasment to you you should express it clearly to us: "you are acting like a pervert" or "you are harrasing me". If we keep at it, you do react to rigth away, not ten years later not dropping names, but to the face. If you are afraid to react because of the consecuences, well, every kind of minority is afraid of doing so, and pervs and bullies of both genres and any race are lurking everywere, they are not going away unless you make a statement to yourself and your behaviour becomes bullet proof (not insensitive nor blind, but strong) to shit like that.

    Oh, and female cosplayers who feel harrased because a guy took a picture of your ass? Sue. And consider what your attourney or a jury will conclude about you on a Power Girl costume.

    I'm really sorry this shit happens to women anywhere but shit happens. You have to find a way to deal with it, come up with your own resources, and become strong. Dont wait for another woman to speak for you or react for you years after the fact: react strongly and rigth away and be smart. You'll earn either the respect of educated folks or the fear of possible creeps and bullies. Name dropping aint smart, most of times it'll be dismissed as a heated opinion (see what Tess herself wrote to the Wood response, if she eas rigthfully mad at him, she lost the argument, and a possible court case rigth there).

    Obviously another anonymous guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He isn't, though. He's just doing what I discussed in my post: telling women how to deal with situations he has never been in. It's easy to tell other people what they "should" do from the safety of never having to deal with something like it.

      I find it curious that you're the 3rd guy who apparently can't read context properly and feels a deep and compulsive need to tell women what "real" harassment is and who does and does not "deserve" it. Your bias is showing with that cosplayer comment, dude.

      As for the rest: spare me. When you've been a young 20 something women in my position then you can have a say in how someone "should" react. And for the record: my life is great, thanks. I live abroad, I travel, I have written bestselling comics, I have a wonderful community of friends and colleagues, and I have used my time in this industry to help other young women get published and find confidence in their voices. That's my definition of being "strong".

      All you've done is make yet another tired old comment on the internet, mansplaining about something you don't understand and clearly have no willingness to. If you can't be bothered to read the piece you're posting on and LISTEN, then I can't be bothered to take you seriously.

      Delete
    2. I've read some of the comments surrounding this issue and I feel like I'm in the Tardis going back 30 years. What in the world?

      In months I will be a 50 year old woman. I'm also an engineer. I had hoped attitudes, if not behavior, would have evolved since the early days when the seriousness of sexual harassment first exploded in to mainstream consciousness.

      I'll never forget an HR driven meeting we had to attend back in the late 80s. One of the high level company men took the stage to explain the purpose of the seminar, he started by saying "I wish somebody would sexually harass me"

      There were 3 women engineers at the time, two of us in our mid 20s, the other in her 40s. The man on stage was in his late 50s / early 60s. My friend and I who were the same age wrote it off as some old dinosaur who just didn't get it, which shows how young we were. Our older colleague knew better.

      It makes me so sad to think little inroads has been made with regards to the seriousness of sexual harassment.

      This is a *professional* setting. It doesn't matter if women are designing modems or making comics, we are doing professional work just as is the guy sitting next to us is.

      I don't know why the comic book industry some how gets excused because, well, they're making *comic books*. So? It's a product. It can also be a lucrative profession if you have the right skill set. An equitable and safe environment for all should be paramount. This means conventions as well as the office. Conventions (electronic, SDCC, etc) are professional musts for those in the industry, it's an important way to make business contacts.

      Nobody should be put in the position to field off unwanted advances.

      Meanwhile, the harassed isn't the one responsible for explaining the obvious to the harasser.

      Delete
    3. "Oh, and female cosplayers who feel harrased because a guy took a picture of your ass? Sue. And consider what your attourney or a jury will conclude about you on a Power Girl costume."

      Instead of, "It's all your slutty fault for sluttily daring to sluttily show any slutty skin, you slutty slut," which is precisely the sentiment you're expressing without having the goddamn courage to actually say it, why not expect more of male attendees at conventions? You and everyone else who espouses this idiotic notion that men are like wild animals, incapable of behaving like civilized people, and women are always at fault (and probably evil, too) for cruelly tempting them with an exposed thigh or something really need to crawl back under your rocks and stay there. If treating human beings LIKE HUMAN BEINGS, even if they happen to not have a penis, really strikes you as too much to ask, females in costumes aren't the problem. YOU are the problem.

      Delete
  11. I actually think it's a pretty big stretch to consider any of the incidents you mentioned to be sexual harassment. Harassment is when someone won't stop doing something to you when you ask them to. Let's look at each of them and see if that happened.

    In the first one, a guy touched you without asking, then stopped touching you without you asking him to stop touching you, and he didn't touch you again even though you never specifically told him not to.

    In the second one, a guy asked you for sexual contact, you told him you didn't want him to say things like that to you, he apologized, and when you asked not to have to talk to him, he stopped contacting you.

    In the third one, a coworker said something suggestive to you without actually asking you for sex. When you suggested that might make people uncomfortable, he stopped talking about it.

    The "microagressions" include someone telling you about his sex life after he found out something about your sex life (you don't say how he people found out about your sex life, you never mention telling him to stop talking to you about it), and people commenting on each other's looks (which I agree is annoying, because appearances are generally a terrible indicator of how useful a person can be to the rest of humanity, and giving people the impression that they should waste time worrying about what other people think of their appearance is counterproductive, but it's still not harassment until you tell them so).

    There's not a single incident here of you telling someone to stop doing something and them not stopping, and while some of them were people you worked with or knew through work, none of them were indicated as being people who had any authority over you, let alone people who tried to use authority to pressure you.

    Two of your main three examples, from what you described, are people who asked for sex, either directly or covertly, were turned down, accepted no for an answer, and moved on with their lives. Even if what they asked or how they asked was weird, you didn't indicate that they were threatening or intimidating, just that they requested their own unique sexual interests. To say they went too far is to say that asking someone for sex - something people are supposed to do so they can get consent - is going too far. Are we supposed to ask permission to ask someone for sex? Perhaps we should ask if it's okay to ask about asking for sex before we ask if we can ask for sex. Maybe there's a form to fill out? :P

    Even in the first example, while he did touch you without asking, simply touching someone doesn't do any objectively measurable harm. He didn't physically harm you. You never asked him to stop. He even stopped immediately after, without you verbally telling him to. Had you told him to stop, or asked him not to do it again, and he continued doing it, then it would have been sexual harassment or even assault. You have every right to decide for yourself whether you like or dislike something and whether you wanted him to stop or continue, and I think we should make it clear to both men and women that they have a right to tell people how they feel about things even if they dislike what someone is doing, but unless something is objectively harmful, we shouldn't be stopping people from doing it. Simple touching isn't objectively harmful unless the person being touched has told them not to do it (even in some cases where they may be unable to respond, such as getting someone's attention or checking to see if someone is conscious/alive).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course you think so, because you are the arbiter of what is and is not appropriate behavior in PROFESSIONAL CONTEXTS. For everyone.

      1. No, groping is unacceptable, it doesn't matter if I asked them to stop, they should have never done it to begin with. It directly violates my person without my permission.

      2. I notice you ignored the email one. That's not an appropriate response to someone asking you what else you can send them along with PROFESSIONAL materials for work. Ever. I should never have been put in the position to receive that email. It doesn't matter if he never sent another one.

      3. Actually, that's not how harassment in the work place works. It can, in fact, be one comment. And it's a pretty big "stretch" for you to think that suggesting you co worked blow you is ever appropriate unless you are in a relationship with them. We were not, end of.

      4. Yes, I did. I said I do not ever discuss my personal sexual life at work. The co-workers who started commenting on it had asked me how long I'd been in a relationship. I told them, the math showed that it had been since I was 15 and I was in my 20's. That co worker then decided to regale me about what I would or not want to do sexually and the rest. And no, it was not the only time something similar happened. They were told to stop.

      5. Give me a break with this "objectively harmful" bullshit. People touching you without permission, in a sexual way, is sexual harrassment/assault. You don't get to define it for them.

      These weren't dating requests, these weren't respectful "I like you's", these aren't examples of mild misunderstandings between adults. These are aggressive, messed up, toxic things to be subjected to and they should never have happened. They don't need to happen multiple times to "count", they just have to happen.

      And I'll remind you again: all of these happened in PROFESSIONAL, work environments, including the convention groping, because that's what those situations are.

      All I've really got to say to you is: NOPE. And this is last comment of this kind I'm approving because if you can't see how wrong you are, after reading what I wrote, then you are the problem I'm talking about.

      Delete
    2. Wow, Anon. You are amazingly dedicated to being part of the problem! It must be really neat to be part of a privileged group who can disregard people's personal and professional boundaries with impunity and then write epically patronizing lectures when they call you on your shit!

      Delete