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)

so, harlan ellison grabbed connie willis's boob at the hugos. the sfnal blogosphere has erupted and wants to collectively kick harlan in the 'nads.

which might be a good idea. i think he could use a good 'nad kicking, and has done so for a long time. and i mean that metaphorically; just sayin'.

while i am merely moved to play with photoshop. *sigh* -- but really, that's a darn good job there if i say so myself; i got the colours of the heads adjusted really well. ok. i better say what i think about the incident.

yes, it was wrong. no, his notoriety and fame are no excuse. he apparently thought it was time to put the "terrible" back into his enfant -- i don't grok mr ellison's personal behaviour. i think much of his writing is brilliant, but i am not a fan who defends his antics, some of which are truly eyeroll-inducing, and he strikes me as a spoiled brat and a bully, which is not a good thing in a grown man. while i've never heard a bad thing about connie willis -- i go out and buy everything she writes; she's one of my personal favourites. if somebody truly embarrassed her in a moment of triumph, i'd find that really nasty. and if that happened, he should be censured by whatever agency has that right (the SFWA?). but they ought to damn well talk to her first.

there are undertones in the discussions that bother me. i don't know either ellison or willis personally. while looking for source images for the above perversion of rembrandt's work, i found quite a number in which they were close, standing arm in arm and very obviously friendly; not just mugging it up for the camera. and there is a photo from the awards ceremony in which they're giving each other a sound smooch right on the mouth; i don't know whether that happened before or after the boob grab, and who started it -- is it possible she did the kissing, and he got her back by grabbing her boob? did he grab first, and then she smooched him as in-kind payback? he also apparently fellated the microphone -- was this whole thing an act? were either of them having alcohol? i don't know these people, so i don't know whether anything brought this on, or whether he is just a total arsehole.

it sounds all very grand to talk about how this is an example of how men have the power to put women back in their place anytime, even if those women are highly accomplished professionals. is that what ellison did? is that what connie willis thinks he did? then shouldn't she be the one to be outraged? it's not like he can ruin her career, which might keep a less experienced, newer writer from speaking up. is she a meek flower who has been socialized to not be critical of men in public? she doesn't sound meek in her writing, but that's her writing.

as i said, it was wrong; but i don't know whether it was a badly timed joke in a personal relationship that allows for such jokes in private, or an assault on her professional standing. and i think it gives him way too much power to assume it was the latter. the lack of outraged reaction from ms willis makes it wonder whether it was the former, and i dislike it when people proclaim those bits about socialization as if that were the only thing that might keep a person from immediate payback. maybe she actually didn't take it that seriously. maybe it's a lot more embarrassing to have everybody and zir brother yapping about it now, including those of us who weren't even there. i'm willing to bite the head off a stranger who touches me inappropriately, while somebody who is a friend might touch me inappropriately and i'd react differently -- but not because of my socialization, but because i care about this person, and i'd rather settle this in person than in public.

i sometimes wonder about the impression total strangers get of the paramour and my relationship when they inadvertantly overhear our banter. because man, that impression wouldn't be good. and yet we have a marvelous relationship; there isn't even a remote presence of power games and all that rot. i hope we'd know better than to let it all hang out at an awards ceremony, but if we did because one of us was badly off our meds and overexcited, i would resent it if people concluded that the ostensible woman in our r'ship is socialized to not defend herself. that, too, is patronizing.


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

July 2015

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