Three Follow-Ups From Yesterday’s Post About Consent Violations

1)  Some people have stated that their local conventions are not at all concerned about what happens if one attendee sexually assaults another in their private room. “We can’t tell what happened once someone gets someone else alone,” they say.  “So it’s not our business.”
Here’s my take:
If you’re a convention whose reaction to “A person who paid to attend our convention is using our con as a staging ground to find people to sexually assault in private” is “Well, that’s too complex to bother with,” then please tell me immediately so I can never attend your convention ever.
You’re free to abrogate responsibility, of course.  But of the forty-plus conventions I’ve attended, I’m reasonably certain all of them would be sufficiently concerned by such a thing to act (and I know this for a fact about most of them).  And if you’re at a convention where the organizers are only concerned about sexual assault insofar as it inconveniences them, as far as I’m concerned your convention is trash.
(Which is not to say that they may successfully be able to prevent such things, or even accurately ascertain what happened.  But if their reaction to being told of nefarious activity is to fling their hands up and shrug “Whatcha gonna do?” I would run, run, run.)
2) One of the saddest reactions to yesterday’s post was that people could not assume, even in a fictional example, that a convention would have firm evidence of an abuser’s violations.  People repeatedly said, “Well, maybe you could follow the violator around, collecting evidence,” as if there was no way a con would ever catch someone outright.
Hint: they do.
And sometimes, they don’t do anything because the violator is their friend.
And here I quote some wise words from Lucy Snyder, a helluva scary fiction writer and a generally smart cookie:
“When we got our first report that Chainmail Guy had creeped on an attendee at Context, I and our programming head started quietly talking to women who had attended the convention. And we very, very quickly started getting reports from other women. He had been creeping on dozens of women for a long time but had (until then) flown under the radar because the women figured it would be easier to just avoid him than to report him and risk the uncomfortable hassles of not being believed.

“So I’d say that’s a major step you’re missing in your essay: don’t assume this is a one-time incident. Start asking around. You don’t have to name the first victim who came to your attention; just say something like, ‘We’ve had a report that this individual has assaulted someone at the event; do you know of anyone else who might have had a problem with him?’ Chances are very, very high that if you’ve got one report of an assault, you will quickly find other reports. Chances are very high he’s been a problem for a long time, but (like most predators) he’s been deliberately choosing women who he can bully into silence or who otherwise won’t come forward out of fear of not being believed. That is typical, deliberate behavior by most sexual predators.

“It is really, really important to get predators away from people and stop enabling them. It doesn’t matter what kind of “shit sandwich” you feel like you have to eat in the process. Context’s FANACO board wasn’t willing to deal with the harassment situation and the whole convention collapsed. I miss the con, but I don’t for a moment regret my and Steven M Saus aggressively pursuing the matter, because the culture has to change.”

If you liked that, Lucy has a Patreon.  Feel free to sign up for other smart posts and good poetry.
3) Some people took my “Sometimes there are no good outcomes” as “Ferrett, you’re telling people to give up!”  And here’s my brutal take:
 I think if the only way you can be motivated to do good is to be invested in INEVITABLE PERFECT OUTCOMES WITH NO BADNESS EVAR, then probably “quitting” is literally the best thing you can do for your community.

Because when that day comes when you get to choose between “Your con gets some bad PR but you know you did the right thing” and “You do the thing that gets you good PR but you do wrong by the victim,” you’re gonna have a serious risk of becoming that person who risks minimizing the downsides to the victims so you can fool yourself into thinking this is the nicey-nice outcome where EVERYONE WINS YAY.

More realistic people, I feel, will take the hit and recognize you’ve prioritized as best you can.

So yeah. If you hear “There’s no perfect solution” and use that as an excuse to walk away, maybe that’s better.  Because in my experience, when people who need a good outcome encounter the Kobayashi Maru, they start mentally massaging the facts to make it so that the choice that’ll hurt the victim isn’t really that bad, they’ll be fine, because there’s always a solution that rewards everyone and it’ll probably work out for this already-damaged person, right?

Wrong.

Sometimes, you do the right thing in the dark. Nobody’ll know you did right but you, and others may even be mad at you. Do it anyway.

3 Comments

  1. BJ
    Oct 24, 2017

    From CJ Cherryh’s short story “The Tower”
    .
    And there’s exemplum. That’s a thing you do because the world needs it, like setting up something for people to look at, a little marker, to say Marcus Regulus stood here.”

    “And what if no one sees it? What good is it then, if I never get out of here? There’s being brave and being stupid.”

    He shook his head very calmly. “An exemplum is an exemplum even if no one sees it. They’re just markers, where someone was.”

    “Look outside, old ghost. The sun’s going out and the world’s dying.”

    “Still,” he said, “exempla last. . . because there’s nothing anyone can do to erase them.”

    “What, like old stones?”

    “No. Just moments. Moments are the important thing. Not every moment, but more than some think.”

    • Ariel
      Oct 24, 2017

      That’s beautiful

  2. Jericka
    Oct 24, 2017

    I’m usually much happier being around people who will take “good but flawed” over “perfect answer” for several reasons.
    One, they tend to actually see the flaws sooner, because they are willing to deal.
    Two, they tend to actually take action and do something, anything, because anything you do will have critics.
    Three, people who require perfect answers make me feel insecure. Nothing I do will be good enough. No solution I propose will please them. Sometimes the perfection seekers want simplicity and consensus so badly that people have to choose between believing the facade or dealing with actual reality and Leaving.

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