Thursday, May 11, 2017


One of my acquaintances had something bad happen to her at a convention just recently and out of curiosity I did some research on whether anyone else had bad experiences there. I found one. Except it was the other side of the coin. This guy wrote a very long piece describing a feeling of exclusion and alienation because the con had ~been taken over by SJWs~.

He described the posters up at the convention outlining the harassment policy and reminding people that touching others requires consent. He described the opening ceremonies including a nod to the Indian tribes in the area. He described the discussions of gender-neutral bathrooms. He discussed feminist panelists.

And he rattled these off as if it was therefore self-evident that this con was hostile to him because he is a straight white man.

He specifically said that in the article. That because of these inclusive and anti-harassment perspectives, he himself as a white male was therefore being subjected to hostility, and he felt "tolerated," as though he were one step from being ejected and as though any move to "disagree" with anyone would have him run off by pitchfork-wielding feminists come to separate him forcibly from his penis.

It is frankly baffling to me that people see "don't touch people without permission" posters and they feel alarm over that--they feel THEY have entered a HOSTILE ATMOSPHERE where their values may be compromised. But no, he said in the article, he does not believe he has a right to grope people without consent--not at all. It's just, you see, the posters announcing this policy do not actually do anything to stop the behavior, so therefore, all they are there to do is function as virtue signaling for leftists. What actually works to stop groping pervs, he says, is slapping them or screaming.

He says this while noting that he has never been made "a sex object" and has admittedly never experienced the behavior. But my my doesn't he know how you "should" deal with it!

Not taking into account how people who think they have the right to your body are much more likely to be violent right back if you were to startle them with screaming or actively hit them.

Not taking into account how people just like him would probably say the harassed party was wrong to turn to violence immediately instead of asking them politely to stop first and appealing to the convention management before resorting to hurting the aggressor or embarrassing him.

Not taking into account that there is no "right" way to be harassed that results in safe, effective curbing of the behavior in all kinds of instances.

Not taking into account that those posters don't simply function as "lol look at us our con believes in Consent Culture" but as advertisements that the management knows harassment happens at conventions and has published bold public statements declaring their intention to side with the victim on any incidents. That this space is not a safe one for people to just ~have some fun~ with whoever looks hot. No, posters don't stop assault and rape. But much like they made this guy uncomfortable, they have the power to make it clear where the priorities of the con's authorities lie. If there are attending pervs who are used to getting away with groping people in costumes or rubbing on people in front of them in line and exploiting the event to get some kicks, and they see those signs, they know the con management will not back them up if they do the good-ol'-boy whinge so familiar to many of us: "She overreacted. He couldn't take a joke. I was cosplaying and just doing what my character would do. They misinterpreted what I did. It was an accident. I didn't hurt them. He should loosen up if we're going to have fun at these cons. I was drunk. She was smiling so I didn't think she disliked it. I've done this before and nobody minded." Et cetera. Those posters say we're wise to the excuses, and they do not excuse you.

Imagine looking at signs like that and seeing hostility toward you and your ideology. Imagine seeing those posters and feeling that you must write an online screed about how you're never coming back to this con because you feel attacked at the very idea that people here have taken a stand against sexual assault.

He also said the convention is for tech geeks and SF nerds and he doesn't understand why there have to be any panels for BLACK geeks or FEMALE nerds or GAY fantasy because after all these historically MASSIVELY underrepresented and oppressed groups of people certainly have no special need for a panel about what's different in their experience or work, and surely the main point of doing these things is to get off on virtue signaling and to make straight white men unwelcome. Because a panel is carved out for someone who is explicitly not him. Because he's so used to said panels being for and about people like him, and doesn't realize that when they don't name a population it's aimed at, it defaults to addressing and tailoring to people like him. You do not need a panel that specifically discusses male involvement in SF or nerd culture or computers because it has been overwhelmingly male for so long that nothing is particularly unusual or unknown about that experience. If it were to become so, or there was a particular angle that men tie to their masculinity within this experience, it seems like a panel about it would be interesting, but how many men have ever thought it was needed? Until women identified the special challenges of being female in some of these fields and wanted to discuss those, that is. Then people like this guy went, "where's mine?"

And he not only went "where's mine?" but interpreted others having theirs as an act against him. This alienation he feels is his reaction to having things identified as not for him or as not primarily for him. He found about sixteen different ways to say "not all men" in the post, failing to understand that including a specific group by name is not the same thing as disincluding all men and designating them as not good enough to participate. And furthermore, if it actually IS designed as a space for only a certain demographic to discuss their experience, as some caucuses have been when I've gone to activism conferences, I am not offended that I don't belong in that room. When I went to the asexuality conference in Toronto and there were several caucuses devoted to disabled aces, aces of color, and religious aces, I didn't think, well, where's MINE? Where's a room for ABLE-BODIED WHITE ATHEISTIC PAGAN ACES anyway? Spaces are already readily accessible to me all the time as a person without a disability. I never experience racism. I don't have a need for a discussion about how my religion impacts my sexuality. I went to panels that were relevant to me, and I didn't resent the existence of the ones that weren't about me, nor did I feel that the con's decision to designate these as special minority needs were hostile to me as someone who did not need them.

I have, however, experienced hostility in plenty of nerdy spaces. As a woman with a fair number of geeky interests, I've been condescended to, harassed, and propositioned inappropriately in places and at events with primarily male participation, and I was certainly treated like I was at best a curiosity, at worst an interloper who should provide some kind of service or GTFO. I've been treated like I had to earn the respect that was given to male participants as a matter of course, and I've had men completely disregard what I said about comics to tell me stuff I already know until I become so obnoxious and unpleasant in showing them my knowledge that they decide I'm a bitch. (Meanwhile if any other guy came up to them and started interrupting them or assuming they didn't know what they knew, they'd think that guy was a jerk. But some dudes by default assume women do not have their knowledge, or that if they do, they're a rare exception.) So if I'm in a space that not only declares its support for me but has panels about my specific experience, I think "Okay, this is a place I belong."

It's really, really gross to me that someone sees explicit inclusion of someone else as a warning sign that they themselves are therefore not invited and must be explicitly unwelcome. 

It's like if a meat-eater went to a restaurant and saw that there was a vegetarian section on the menu and decided that meant it was hostile to meat-eaters, or interpreted the restaurant owners as judging him for eating meat or declaring a preference for vegetarians. 

Without understanding or acknowledging that outside of this space and at most restaurants, it is harder for vegetarians to find food appropriate for them; without understanding or acknowledging that in most places they just assume you eat meat and are happy to cook your food with meat products unless you make special arrangements; without understanding or acknowledging that most of the menu is still for them and doesn't have to be designated "for meat-eaters" because you can see it is for you because it is steak; without understanding or acknowledging that you still have many many dishes you can eat and that you can even eat the vegetarian ones if you like what they're offering. (I guess a restaurant analogy for the ones that are like specialized panels just for certain populations might be like if a restaurant offers gluten-free products, but specifies that they have limited resources and therefore only offer these alternatives to people with gluten allergies or intolerances.) 

It speaks volumes that someone who has always been catered to in these spaces feels that something is being taken from him if others are explicitly invited to share it (and are reassured that roadblocks to their enjoyment of it in the past may be lessened or eliminated). It's an attack on them and a limitation of their freedom to have opinions, and it's part of a leftist takeover that just won't let them live.

I gotta say I was amused when the guy also admitted that not a soul harassed him, questioned his politics, or asked him to leave a space. He just imagined that they would do so if he opened his mouth. And he resents that the kinds of antifeminist and anti-inclusive language he'd like to feel free to use would seem hostile to us. It's like the religious folks who claim religious discrimination when they aren't given the freedom to treat gay people as second-class citizens. YOUR freedom is not being infringed upon because we made the world safer for someone else and your definition of freedom has always been contingent upon being free from having to think about or consider them.

It's vile.

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