Another reason women don't come forward
Often, women who come forward to publicly complain about sexual harassment and name and shame the harassers are told that they are over-reacting, that the harassment wasn't really “bad-bad,” that at least she wasn't raped, that she should be glad of any response from an official body. That's all part and parcel of the experience.
So is being threatened with retribution. I have been publicly informed that as the result of discussions among SMOFs (I like to imagine that these take place in the backroom of an upscale nightclub over a poker table where men in double-breasted suits and women in flapper dresses (or vice versa) raise, call, and fold in between promising to have problems “taken care of,” but I guess that like most of these things do, they really take place over a listserv), I may find myself blackballed from cons.
Well, OK. I can't say that I'm thrilled about that prospect, but on the other hand, I don't earn my livelihood through my creative writing, and I have plenty of other ways to see my friends. Not to mention that I am almost never invited and even more rarely can I attend, for financial reasons. I attend Readercon as regularly as financially possible, and I am certain that the concom on the whole understands that we are all on the same side, the side of making Readercon a place in which attendees can be confident that harassers are unwelcome, so I have no fears on that score.
With regard to these listserv discussions, if my name has come up as a potential persona non grata, I'm pleased that the help I've given Genevieve is effective enough to evoke that kind of response. And always remember this as well: threats are sometimes empty.
But mark my words, if anyone is discussing blackballing me, they're discussing blackballing Genevieve. And this is precisely the reason so many women hesitate to come forward.
(Note: I did not go over to Cogitationitis's LJ in order to start any sort of argument; that would have been unkind. I went over to her thread our of curiosity after she made comments in both Genevieve's and Nick Mamatas's blogs mentioning that she was on the concom—this was before the distinction between the board and the concom was clear to many of us, and we were still trying to figure out what had happened. My first comments were brief, noting that is not hard to tell the difference between flirting and harassment and providing points of information to people who had requested them. I did not respond argumentatively until victim-blaming entered the picture, and at that point, the person I was arguing with was not Cogitationitis. However, at one point, I referred to Walling as a “harasser,” which, according to Readercon's statement, and through that, to him, is accurate, and that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
I became angry when Cogitationitis felt it incumbent upon her to let us all know that her daughter thought that Genevieve was “stupid.”
I actually have a great deal of sympathy for the cognitive and emotional dissonance that happens when someone you care about behaves in a way that you can't reconcile with the person you thought you knew. It's a very, very bad feeling; I know it, as I'm sure many others do. But it still doesn't justify blaming Genevieve for the results of Walling's own actions.
Bearing all that in mind, I'm now withdrawing from that discussion. It's not doing me any good, and I can't see that it's doing Cogitatonitis any good either. I linked because I think it's important for people to see that these threats do get made, that they're not figments of women's imaginations, but I am specifically asking that if you wouldn't have gone over there and gotten involved anyway, please don't do so because of this post. Because life is hard enough for all of us. I wish I had withdrawn earlier, and not because I'm worried about being blackballed, but because the whole thing is pointless.)