Why am I using such a generic title?!? Why? I think I’ll subhead it.::adds the OR:: There. That feels better.
I wrote an earlier post about Writing Conventions and why I don’t go to them. I talked a lot about the cost and the reciprocal obligations created therein but I realise I neglected to address the main issue because I didn’t know how to talk about it until today.
Today was the first time I’d heard about the Great Sexual Harrassment Event At Readercon. Since I’m not a conventioner by nature I hadn’t had this on my radar until a friend mentioned it on Facebook. The short version of the very long story is that an elfinly pretty female* Sci Fi author was hit on by a guy who looks exactly like the guidance counselor in Freaks and Geeks. Said dude used “pick up artist” techniques that were both juvenile and threatening. (One quote was “Stop saying things that make me think
dangerous wrong thoughts.” Uhhhh…wha? Psycho much?)
This has blown up all over the place and a lot of words have been spent trying to explain to people why it is not okay to make another person feel unsafe. That adults require an explanation of this most basic concept, a concept at the core of civilisation itself, is both troubling and unsettling.
Oops. I hadn’t finished the summary–which was supposed to be short. The convention had a Zero Tolerance policy for harrassers that said you were out forever if you violated said policy but they didn’t oust Mr. Russo because….
He is A “Big Name Fan” or a “Secret Master Of Fandom”
Yet again, we run into this thing that I find squicky and unsettling. This thing where people form hierarchies and are famous for liking something harder than other people.
Your currency in this realm of fandom becomes not how well you do something. It is literally a currency bought with your life. How much of your life is devoted to the minutae of this world? It reminds me so much of early childhood where popularity was obtained with the loosely random currency of having the most Barbie accessories. It also reminds me of my years in the Dead scene where your love of the music was not central to your fanship–it was the obsessiveness of your devotion. How many shows have you seen live? How many boards do you have? I don’t like you for you.
I wish cons were a level playing field. I’d be more inclined to go if it weren’t me paying a fee to swim through the Con Culture. It’s funny; BlogHer is going on right now, and one of the reasons I backed off serious blogging was because I couldn’t take that Con Culture.
I think I’m too introverted or reclusive or something. But I feel if conventions and fandom are something I’d have to negotiate to be a published author I will never acheive that dream. Because I don’t think I can do that. I honestly don’t.
*After rereading this I realised that this thought wasn’t entirely followed through upon. I mention Ms. Valentine’s appearance because there seems be an attitude in certain facets of those commenting on this fracas that believes that her “obvious desirability” is some sort of sanction for being flirted with. And that the harrasssment was just flirting which was misunderstood. (His looks I mention only because I’m struck with how much he reminded me of that guy from F&G.) Apparently it’s perfectly okay to flirt with someone who is conventionally pretty. And it is okay if that flirting includes physical threats and obsessive stalking.
There’s another hideous undercurrent to all of it in that several folks, in rushing to the man’s defense, claim that he “could just be an Aspie.” (Note: I hate cutesy names for illnesses and doctors. I see a Rheumatologist, not a Rheumy. People are diagnosed with Asperger’s. It’s a neuroatypical condition, not an award for a television program.) I hate this kind of ableist garbage so very much. “Oh, he can’t help causing psychological harm! He’s ill!” Well, you know what? I’m disabled. I made the decision not to drive because I didn’t like the thought of hitting someone with my car and “she can’t help causing harm! She’s ill!” is valid nowhere in any court of law or insurance company. Personal responsibility is in many cases not beyond the ken of people on the Autism Spectrum; if it is beyond them then they need to not go to massive social functions without a personal aide of some sort. The disabled and differently abled are not special snowflakes. We just have to do things a little bit differently.