piranha: red origami crane (Default)
in response to the latest ellison incident, there are some people who actually want to do something to improve respect for personal space at SF cons, rather than to just rail about it online.

there is a new community, [livejournal.com profile] bellwether_talk for the discussion. if you go to cons, and you are concerned about the issue, please participate. i've always been impressed with the people who populate alt.polyamory and soc.singles.moderated as being willing to discuss issues of personal boundaries, and to do something about them at their gatherings (sticker codes for hug/ask/no, guidelines about photography, etc); i figure those of you on my flist who also go to SF cons might have a lot to contribute to that discussion.

me, i don't go to cons (i've been to two and any groping was consensual, in private -- oh, whom am i kidding, there was no groping, we were too tired), so i am not the best person to talk about what happens there. :) also, i am old now and assertive, and nobody gropes me anymore. but hey, i hear things, so i know it still happens. it certainly happens frequently in greater society. and i remember myself at 18, when at college parties people (usually inebriated) used to grope me repeatedly and didn't react to me inching away and pushing their hands off. i would end up leaving those parties and feel ashamed, like a prude who didn't know how to have any fun. it would have been great to have a code of conduct that the community discussed and published and reminded people of via sticker codes or signs at the door.

this kind of violation is usually clueless, not indicative of the oppression of the patriarchy or worthy of calling the cops and suing somebody for sexual harassment. but it still needs to STOP.
piranha: red origami crane (Default)
harlan ellison has said some things about the breast-grabbing incident on his message board. that board has the world's most ancient and clunky interface; you'll need to scroll down until you find his posts, first dating from Tuesday, August 29 2006 12:19:50.

I was unaware of any problem proceeding from my intendedly-childlike grabbing of Connie Willis's left breast, as she was exhorting me to behave.

and in another post:

On a more serious note: if, in fact, Connie (or Courtney, or Cordelia) were/are/might in any way be offended by this latest demonstration of give'n'take jackanapery between Connie and Harlan (now in its longest-run on Broadway), you may all rest assured I will apologize vehemently, will crawl to Colorado through broken glass and steaming embers, and beg her (their) forgiveness. I need no one to prompt me.

that seems like evidence that the context was not the usual context in which i immediately define something as sexual assault. i still think it was wrong, even if intended as "childlike grabbing", still think that even if it doesn't upset the one you groped, if it upsets the audience, you need to think about what you're doing a lot more.

fortunately he doesn't make any excuses about it: Did I fail to mention, I am 100% guilty as charged, and NO ONE should attempt to cobble up mitigating excuses for my behavior? As with everything else I REALLY DO (as opposed to the bullshit that is gossiped third-hand by dolts), I am responsible for my actions 100% and am prepared to shoulder all consequences

that sounds about right. though ... *augh* ... so many things to criticize in those posts. but i've got other things to talk about. importantly he doesn't acknowledge, and i wonder whether he even realizes, that he might owe an apology to the audience as well. if other people tense up worrying whether they might have to intervene, whether this is going somewhere they do not want to condone, whether this is sending a message to young members of the subculture that is corrosive, then the entertainer is failing absolutely necessary communications. shocking the audience to wake them up from bourgeois slumber is something that's irrelevant here -- that's not what he was doing.

still, context does matter. how i feel about a grope, and how i react differs vastly based on whether i know the person doing it. i've been groped by drunken friends in college, and i wasn't about to call the cops. i didn't particularly enjoy it, mind, but it also didn't frighten me or make me feel cheap, or any number of personally negative things; it was in the same category with having to watch whether one of those inebriated was about to upchuck. reaction: take hand, move it away, say "don't do that", the end. the sort of mildly unpleasant thing that you've occasionally got to do among peers when somebody intrudes on your domain in some manner, and i don't reserve that domain for sexual or physical acts only; i have a long list of co-workers behaving badly in completely non-sexual ways.

that's a huge, huge difference from how i felt when i was forced into sexual acts by somebody who had power over me. and i do not like to have that sort of thing conflated with "stupid things pals might do" -- the former is what should get charges pressed, the latter is what needs a good talking-to. where it gets more difficult is on the borderline between "friend" and "people i know because we hang out in the same subculture". some of you will remember L who started to hang out in soc.singles when it was still in its "classic" incarnation, and how L did some inappropriate touching at his first boink in NC. L was pretty obviously confused about permissions; other people were cuddly, so why not he as well. *sigh*. L didn't grok the nuances at all, and that was a difficult discussion to have with him.

touching others is such a fraught realm. now i want to write another post about aunt harriet and her cheek pinching.


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

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