The Art of Darkness

Reporting Harassment

July 3rd, 2013 by Cobwebs

This isn’t precisely goth, but it’s an important topic in any community.

Fan conventions sometimes have problems with sexual harassment. Unfortunately all too often in these situations, complaints are overlooked or dismissed; sometimes the convention doesn’t have a complaint procedure in place at all. The targets of harassment are often told that it’s “their fault,” especially if they’re dressed in a costume that could be construed as provocative. Sometimes they’re so upset that they just want to forget it ever happened. This is the kind of thing that predators count on.

Author Elise Matthesen was recently “creeped upon” at SF convention WisCon by an influential editor (she’s circumspect about identifying him but someone with knowledge of the incident names him as James Frenkel and I’m more than happy to boost the signal). She decided to not let it slide and reported it to both the con management and his employer. She writes about her experience here and includes a guide to reporting harassment for others who might find themselves in a similar situation.

She notes specifically that she might have been much more reluctant to make a formal complaint if she’d been younger and less sure of her professional footing, fearing that an editor might be able to make things difficult for a new writer. She also learned that hers was not the first complaint about Frenkel, but it was the first formal one, and that made an enormous difference. The whole piece is worth a read, as are the comments.

Harassment is never the fault of the harassed, and reporting it is important for shutting it down. For other resources, see Cosplay is NOT Consent (Facebook), the Con Anti-Harassment Project, and Jim C. Hines’ resource list.

Posted in Resources | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. xJane Says:

    Hear, hear. I’ve a number of friends who cosplay and occasionally partake myself. AX is this weekend and I get protective of my friends. Be ye warned, con creeps!

    One of your links includes an admonition to report incidents to the Ad Astra Response Corps. I love the thought of wandering around various conventions in full Starfleet Security garb (complete with phaser and phaser rifle) protecting cos players from harassment.

    Upon further recollection, I realize I’m thinking of ex astris but the fantasy stands.

  2. Sisifo Says:

    When I was in high school I had a teacher that tried to get me to go to his house several times. It had happened to several other girls, but I was the ONLY one that reported it. The school board loved him and didn’t take me seriously. He raped several of those girls. He’s in prison now, hopefully getting some karma. I know it isn’t the same as high school, but people need to realize creeping happens everywhere, but it’s never appropriate. GREAT post.

  3. Pixel Pixie Says:

    Preachin’ to the choir, sister.

    I left my old job because I was being sexually harassed and corporate HR would do nothing about it. I was told to my face that I was lying, because why would someone sexually harass an unattractive weirdo like me?

  4. xJane Says:

    It’s things like this that make me stabby:

    why would someone sexually harass an unattractive weirdo like me

    I’m so sorry, Pixel Pixie. I’m glad you got out of there.

  5. Pixel Pixie Says:

    Thank you, xJane. I take a small bit of satisfaction in knowing one of the those HR bozos was fired. (For an entirely different matter, but I will take what I can get.)

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