I was thinking about not following up on yesterday’s post right now. Principally because it’s Remembrance Day. But it’s going to be Remembrance Day all day, and this isn’t going to take long.
Now, some background, and why that background matters: This is a very low traffic blog, and the activity here yesterday was way above the daily norm. Yesterday’s post about the Hydra’s Hearth reading series, and related matters, garnered more attention than when I post about anthology ToCs (which are usually what garner higher views here).
At the time of writing this post, there’s been a little over 350 individual views of yesterday’s post about why I’m not reading at the Hydra’s Hearth series (if you’re coming here and you’ve not read that yet, do so first; it’s short, and it’ll give you the ground for this). And just shy of 100 clickthroughs to read Derek Newman-Stille’s blog post about the events at Ad Astra in April. Nothing on this site gets that many clickthroughs. Nor that many views in less than 24 hours. That’s tiny for most websites, but around here that’s unheard of.
Except the problem is that though people are reading about this, pretty much no one in the Canadian community is talking about it. (Or the conversations are getting backchanelled again. Though I will note that the people who did speak up in response are who I expected to do so, and they are awesome.)
Oh there’s some activity on facebook. Primarily on the facebook pages of people who’ve shared the blog post. Very little (and in some cases nothing) on my updates directly. And when I shared it on Twitter there was a long, unfortunately expected silence (again, discussion elsewhere, but almost nothing through my own direct sharing). Yes, I shared the blog on a Monday evening (didn’t have a chance to write it earlier in the day), the evening before Remembrance Day. Yes, I have limited reach on social media, and of the few people sharing, some of them had distinctly wider reach and followings.
But the silence from all but a very small number of the Canadian SFF community is DEAFENING.
Shall we tie this into larger context?
What we’re talking about is the widespread core of Canadian SFF who don’t speak up about harassment issues. It’s not that we don’t name the people responsible. There’s a small group of missing stairs the bulk of the community backchannels about routinely. I can think of six people talked about at the head of that list, for varying reasons and some more frequently than others, off the top of my head. The only one of whom has been outed being René Walling (who is pretty much batshit fucking crazy given the fact that he’s been spreading stories about Valentine after being thrown out of Readercon over harassing her). But we don’t discuss it publicly. Canadian SFF buries its head in the sand and waits for people to stop talking about it.
Why we’re afraid of talking about it, I don’t know. It’s not like there’s actually any power to be had in Canadian SFF. No one wields anything appreciable. (Though several of those six think they do. It’s adorable, really.) We exist in a culture of fear where there’s no bogeyman to warrant it. There is, I suppose, the possibility of being sued for libel, or slander. But that’s really the only repercussion hanging over anyone’s head.
Also, what, some of those six people might not ever talk to us again if we name them? Oh, yes, a mighty repercussion indeed…. [/snark]
Now, I’m not just out here saying “Oh, I said this yesterday, and no one’s talking about it. Woe unto me.”
I have been shouting about the SFContario things (there are several to choose from) off and on since April of this year. Perhaps not publicly enough, and not loudly enough?
The thing not mentioned last post is that at the last SFContario, I, Leah Bobet, and Simon McNeil jointly took two harassment issues to the SFContario ConCom. Those complaints went undealt with. (That’s in case you were wondering why the three of us are boycotting the con this year.) And you know what the real kicker is? How SFContario fixed the problem with their Anti-Harassment Policy (which they were ignoring)? They stopped having one.
Let me say that again: THEY STOPPED HAVING ONE.
This is what their revised “Member Behaviour Policy” looks like: http://sfcontario.ca/member-behaviour-policy.
And this is not just a local issue:
The two people I named yesterday: Marah Searle-Kovacevic and Alex von Thorn? They’re ConCom at Sasquan (Worldcon 2015 in Seattle). Alex has multiple positions on the ConCom, and Marah is the fucking Social Media docent and the Hospitality Division Head for Christ’s sake. (http://sasquan.org/committee-list/) That’s not counterintuitive, that’s fucking Dadaist.
Given their involvement in Sasquan, I absolutely will not attend. Because I signed Scalzi’s Anti-Harassment pledge. (That’s me, right there: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/07/03/my-convention-harassment-policy-co-sign-thread/#comment-488056) Which is also yet another reason I’m not attending SFContario. If you signed that pledge, you should absolutely not fucking be going to either event until these issues are fixed/addressed. I say this noting that some people who did sign that pledge are going to at least one of those cons (I’m going with obliviousness of the issues as a reason, rather than malice; I choose to be charitable this afternoon).
And this speaks to a larger problem. The problem that keeps cropping up when I see a lot of people online asking why none of the women Ghomeshi assaulted/abused/violated reported him to the police. (Or any similar instance.) Or when I see a lot of people wondering why women who are assaulted/harassed/or otherwise violated at cons and other events don’t report to ConComs.
This is why.
Also the disbelief. The victim-blaming. And the continued support of harassers.
Yes, some harassers get kicked out of cons. And some lose their communities. Not all. Hell, René got booted from Readercon, but he’s still extremely well-liked in the Canadian SFF community. Not by me, admittedly. But then both times I’ve dealt with René in person he’s been a raging asshole–and the second time, in a setting where there were no women to overhear, wildly sexist, which never flies with me–so small surprise there.
Also because many of the harassers in the community are in perceived positions of power. And it’s incredibly hard for most people to come forward when no one has their back because their friends/community members are afraid of losing whatever they think they’re going to lose by supporting the people who speak up.
And, you know, I get that because so much of this is backchannel and insider baseball that a lot of people simply don’t know how bad it is … really across North American SFF, rather than just Canadian SFF.
And we’re all busy. We’ve all got lives. And we’re all dealing with other issues in the community right now.
But that doesn’t change the fact that when a bunch of us know, we still don’t speak up about it. And we’re hurting others by not doing so.
Every day I debate making that list public.
It would be awesome to be part of a community where there wasn’t a list.
[Edit: It was pointed out to me that I’ve been misspelling Sasquan on this post, and that’s made it harder to search for it. I’ve amended that in the title and in the text, but I’m leaving the link with the original misspelling so that all existing links to this post are unaffected.]