Due to a discussion on Facebook started by Scott Edelman, I’ve spent the last couple of days arguing with people about Rene Walling and what constitutes “real” sexual harassment. I have a lot to say on this subject, but it’s going to require a longer blog post and a lot of crafting.
In the mean time, I’d like to point you to the blog of Laurie Mann, who posted a stunningly ridiculous and stupid post in which she wags a finger at all the bad fandom people who are just blowing this whole ReaderCon thing out of proportion.
I left a comment on that blog, but I doubt it will escape the moderation queue, thus I am posting it here. You really, really need to go over to Laurie’s blog and read her post1 before reading this because of context.
I always felt very safe in fandom.
This right here is the crux of everything that is wrong with your post, Laurie. Just because you have always felt safe does not mean that fandom is safe or that other women do. This entire post is you positing that your experiences trump everyone else’s and all these evil friends of Genevieve are just being soooo unfair. It’s bull.
I can think of a couple of times having long discussions with men, sometimes in their hotel rooms during SF conventions. A few of them came onto me – a kiss, a grope, whatever. I said no, and we just resumed our conversation.
UM. Laurie. This is not in any way okay. Yes, it’s good that when you said no they stopped, but what the hell is it with you thinking it’s just fine for them to have groped and kissed you without permission? That’s the way you wrote it. That you were with them, they touched you, you said no.
Perhaps you’ve been socialized to think that this is just harmless flirting and, as long as they back off when you tell them to, all is copacetic. I’m here to tell you it is not. There is never a scenario in which someone touches you un-accidentally without your permission and that’s okay.
Here again we come to the real problem with your entire post and attitude: you have decided that certain boundaries are okay and attempting to say that anyone who feels differently is just blowing things out of proportion. You don’t get to decide that for others.
No meant no, but an unwanted kiss did not mean I’d just been raped.
It did mean you’d just been sexually assaulted. And I know you’re going to say “That does not rise to the level of ‘real’ sexual assault and by saying it does you belittle people who have actually been assaulted!” so I’m going to head you off by saying: Nope, wrong. Just because a grope is not rape doesn’t mean it’s not a violation and wrong. There is no getting around this.
Sexual assault is not a matter of degrees. It’s a violation of boundaries without consent. Period.
Fannish women knew how to stand up for themselves, right?
And yet you are angry at a fannish woman and her female and male friends standing up for herself because we’re a mob. It’s okay okay to stand up for yourself alone.
At the same time, I never heard about a woman being raped at a con.
Because you’ve never heard of it, it never happens. I’m so glad that your reality is the only reality, Laurie. It makes the world so much easier to live in!
Do you know how ridiculous you sound? Just because you knew women in college that got raped but didn’t hear from fannish women who were raped does not mean that the latter did not happen.
Perhaps the fannish women you know or don’t know didn’t tell you about their rapes or didn’t announce it. And perhaps they didn’t do so because women LIKE YOU would trot out of the filk room to say you’d never heard of anyone being raped at a con, plus that guy is totally nice and all, so obviously they must be wrong about their own experiences.
Why do you insist on invalidating other people’s experiences, Laurie? Oh right, because it makes your reality that much less real and more like a fantasy you made up.
Can I also point out that you’ve been told by multiple people at this point that your little summary of what happened at ReaderCon is both incomplete and inaccurate, yet I have not seen you correct it here on this blog post. That’s class, Laurie.
You ask for people to be respectful of each other, but you have not been respectful of the person who had to deal with the harassment at the con or of anyone who has ever had to deal with harassment, sexual assault, rape, and more.
Instead you’re sitting up here defending Rene Walling.
Keep being classy, Laurie Mann. You’re going on my list of people to avoid at cons.
- As much as you can stomach, anyway [↩]