On Harassment and the SFF Genre

These days I spend quite a lot of time reading things that are going on within the SFF writing and publishing community, because of Twitter and the blogs I follow. Lately a lot of the discussion has been around misogyny and sexual harassment within that community.

There was one big mess in the SFWA recently, where articles by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg in the SFWA Bulletin, the organisation’s internal publication, included comments widely criticised as sexist, and a response to those criticisms that only made things worse. The stir caused by this was massive, there are dozens of posts you could link to, but I particularly like Foz Meadows’ complete tearing apart of the writers of the column.

On top of big flare-ups like that, you have the ever-present reports of sexism, sexual harassment and even groping of women at conventions – not just SFF conventions, but other “geeky” fields like video games, anime, comics. Recent examples, but by far not unique, are:
Slut Shaming and Concern Trolling in Geek Culture, about the responses women receive when they cosplay at conventions, from men and women.
The “Gropecrew” terrorising an anime convention, which was one trigger of the Hal Duncan post I linked to a few days ago.
– Today’s widely shared post on Reporting Harassment at a Convention by Elise Matthesen, which along with talking about her own experience also highlights the fact that so much of the harassment that occurs is never officially reported.

All of this together is weighing more heavily on my mind because I know that in August next year, I will be attending my first ever convention. As a straight, white male, I can say that in all likelihood the only thing I will have to fear when I go there is my own anxiety. It’s depressing to think, however, that for a large portion of the people attending, that convention will not be a safe place. It seems almost a certainty that some level of this will occur at any such event. At the very least that women in attendance will have to spend their time their aware that it could happen.

It’s something that deeply concerns me, because at the same time that I acknowledge the problem I do not know that there is anything I personally can do to change it. All I can think to do is share links like these, and add my voice to those saying that it needs to stop.

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