I had the great pleasure of doing two cons almost back-to-back with Ms. Priest in 2011. They were in between my first sexual assault by a colleague, for which I was still both in denial and recovery, and about six weeks before the second by the Steampunk Musician. Needless to say, I wasn’t at my best. Still, I had a lovely time with Ms. Priest during both conventions, and I hope to see her again in the future.
This post “Maybe It’s Just Us” is in response to the SFWA sexism scandal and to Elise Matthesen’s post about how to report sexual harassment,even if (maybe, especially if) the perpetrator is a prominent member of the community. I’m thrilled to see how her story has spread across the internet and inspired these discussions. I’m also so happy to see that the convention took it seriously. More and more are doing so because we’re speaking up. I’ve spoken to three different conventions privately about the sexual assault/rape by that Steampunk Musician after SPWF 2011, and two of the Con Chairs still say: “Yes, so sorry that happened and we take these things seriously, but our hands are tied.” In other words, he’ll still be welcome as GOH and such. The third, however, which will be made public shortly, not only say they take such things seriously, they’re showing with their actions. They will no be bringing him back next year. Yes.
Excerpt from “Maybe It’s Just Us”:
Sure, this other dude is all up in my personal space, but it’s kind of crowded in here, maybe he didn’t mean to rub his arm against my boob. Either of those times. My boobs aren’t very big. They’re easy to miss.
Besides, I attend these events as a professional. It’s my job to be Nice and Warm and Approachable. Therefore, I get Approached.
So it’s easy to wonder if maybe it’s just me, sending out the wrong signals. Getting the wrong approaches. And God knows if I do bring up my discomfort, the odds are very, very good that I’ll hear, “I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way.” “He’s just trying to be friendly.” “You’re overreacting.”
With enough repetition, enough reinforcement … (enough dismissal) … any reasonable person would start to think, “Well, I’m the common denominator, here. I guess it is just me.”
She concludes that Elise’s post will make it easier for her and other women to report and to stop before second guessing themselves. It will indeed. Every woman who speaks out makes it easier for the next woman. Several have written to me privately saying how my posts at Caught in the Cogs on rape, rape culture, and misogyny, along with my very personal accounts and healing, have helped them out of dangerous situations or abusive relationships. We must talk. We must shout!
We will never be silent again.