I read a post on “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?” over on Captain Awkward with growing horror and recognition. It combines two letters asking for advice about dudes in social groups who act inappropriately to the point where sexual assaults have occurred or are very likely to occur, yet the SOs and male friends of the letter writers refuse to step up, back up their partners, and team up to cut these dudes out of the social groups.
There’s so much good stuff about solving these problems in that post that I don’t even want to quote because you really do need to read it all.
The post is particularly apropos right now since the issue of sexual harassment at conventions and conferences is getting much attention due to recent happenings at ReaderCon (a literary science fiction/fantasy focused convention) which led to some other cons (both genre and not) reiterating, bolstering or creating anti-harassment policies. This is good news and an unexpectedly good outcome for the whole ReaderCon thing.
Not everyone is happy about the outcome, as this post and subsequent comments show. When I read the Captain Awkward post it struck me how the situation those two women find themselves in where a creeper guy is excused by members of the group who haven’t ever been the targets of his harassment and thus don’t see what the big deal is (plus, he’s fun to hang out with and has the best table for gaming, GOD WHY CAN’T YOU STOP BEING A BITCH?) tracks so closely to the shit coming from the convention crowd who defend the ReaderCon harasser and any number of other dudes who harass.
Though the people you deal with at conventions may not be your regular social group, it’s just as important to deal with the creeper guys there (and in a similar fashion) as it is to deal with them where you live. Beyond having good anti-harassment policies at the executive level of the convention, you and your friends or peer group should have an anti-harassment policy amongst yourselves. No matter how much that creeper guy is cool or fun to hang out with, no matter if he’s an editor or an agent or a SMOF or someone else you feel you should know and be nice to for career purposes, that person should not be allowed to creep on, touch, and harass your friends (or anyone else).
When you go to conventions, have each other’s backs. Keep track of the dudes who are too often noted for being creepy and close ranks to shut them out. Guys, don’t let your female friends be the only ones looking out for each other like this (because we often are, even if you don’t know it).
And if that creeper does something out of line and you know about it, give the harassed person your unconditional support and make sure they know that if they choose to report it, you will back them up. Some people aren’t comfortable coming forward, but if there’s a way you can do so on their behalf (with their permission), please do so. It helps, it really does.
Any time you have someone’s back in cases like this you’re fighting back against rape culture, which allows these kinds of creeper guys to get away with their behavior.