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AnachroCon Controversy

Two weeks ago, one of my dearest friends called me to tell me this article was coming out the following week. I listened with compassion and solidarity as he told me that he was DONE. No more. Finit. Enough of this sexual harassment/assault bullshit in our convention spaces. This time the target was a close friend of his, and the (alleged) assailant, the husband of his cherished colleague.

Here’s an excerpt:

AnachroCon 2014, held February 14-16, at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center, announced last week via Facebook that one of its founding members and co-chairmen William MacLeod would be leaving the con. In his original message (dated Tuesday February 18th) he stated, “The Army finally took its toll on me…. After 6 years as Chairman of AnachroCon, I (William MacLeod) am stepping down and turning convention operations over to my beloved co-chair Cindy so that I may focus on medical issues that have begun to plague me even more over the years.”

However, in the two days leading up to William MacLeod’s announcement, accusations surfaced that a member of the con staff allegedly received inappropriate and unwanted verbal and physical advances from the co-chairman. The staffer, who asked not to be named publically but was interviewed at length by a member of the Steampunk Chronicle staff, states that William MacLeod made repeated offers of sex over the weekend and fondled her at the most recent convention. According to the staffer, this was not the first time he had inappropriately touched her, and she alleges a pattern of such behavior going back several years.

A Troubled History

SpC has uncovered a string of allegations against William MacLeod, including a related sexual harassment allegation in the resignation letter of a former AnachroCon Senior Director of Promotions, Dan Carroll, who cited MacLeod’s behavior toward female members of Carroll’s staff. Carroll stated this week, “I resigned from AnachroCon because of the completely inappropriate treatment of women by the Chairman. All of the women who worked under me at the convention had asked me to address the issue. He did not seem to take these concerns seriously. It was my understanding he had taken steps to seek treatment and was working on the problem.” Carroll resigned in 2011. According to Cindy MacLeod, at the time of Dan Carroll’s resignation, AnachroCon, was not as well organized and they were still running it as a “private party.” There was no formal investigation.

A more recent departure was that of Megan Maude, director of the Fashion Track. She alleges that the problem of harassment has been pervasive at the con for a number years.  In a statement to Steampunk Chronicle, she said, “Predatory behavior was being tolerated and even encouraged by the chairman and his friends… I explained my many concerns about the safety of women at the con to Strobel [Charles Strobel, the Director of Programing and Anachrocon LLC Board of Directors member]… There was even talk of having a woman on staff whose only job would be to handle sexual harassment reports…[but nothing changed]… I genuinely don’t feel that I can safely invite any of my younger girlfriends to the con. I don’t want to tell a bunch of girls in their early to mid 20s to come to an event where I’m genuinely afraid they will be sexually assaulted.”

MacLeod has a long (alleged) history of harassing and assaulting women at his convention. Unfortunate for each of his subsequent targets over the years, no one did a thing about it before now.

Additionally, this man MacLeod supposedly spoke quite loudly for the “Cosplay is not Consent” campaign, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. As I’ve said countless times on this blog, offenders have no moral qualms about hiding in feminist ranks–just as they hide in other places like spiritual and sex-positive communities.

Enough.

Enough.

Enough.

I’m so proud of my dear friend for making a stand on this topic. This is what it takes. Every time another person stands up and says NO MORE or I’M DONE and takes action, the space in which these predators and rapists can operate becomes smaller and smaller. Standing up and saying NO MORE, no matter who is accused, and revoking their social license to operate will stop these predators from operating in our spaces.

Let’s make our convention spaces and communities safe for everyone, except those who perpetrate violence, especially sexualized violence. A good start for conventions is to have a response policy in place and posted publicly on its website, distributed in its literature, and announced at opening ceremonies. Join John Scalzi in boycotting events that do not take sexual harassment and assault seriously enough to have an action plan in place.

Join me in boycotting these events and events who continue to schedule known rapists as their musical guest and Guest of Honor (SteamCon & Wild Wild West Con, specifically), and let them know why you won’t go.

Support conventions who refuse to book known assailants like The Steampunk World’s Fair and AnomalyCon.

Read the entire fascinating article on MacLeod and the AnachroCon Controversy in The Steampunk Chronicle.

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Oppressed Majority

Powerful video.

Brilliant, really.

“Oppressed majority” takes place in an alternate reality where women jog half naked and work while the men take care of the kids and endure daily sexual harassment….The short film, in French and directed by Éléonore Pourriat, shows a father taking his kid to kindergarten and going through the rest of his day facing catcalls, sexist remarks, sexual assault, and contempt. (Source)

From the experience on the street to the way the father was treated by the police and his partner…it’s all extremely accurate to how women are treated daily. By flipping the gender to men, we start to see just how damaging such behavior is and the absurdity in putting up with it (and perpetuating it).

Pay attention to what comes up in your thoughts as you watch it. You’ll see how deeply ingrained rape culture truly is in all of us.

May you find peace.

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Quite Clear Lines

I’ve had more than one heated, triggering discussion about the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and mostly what I hear just before I completely disengage from the discussion in self preservation is rape apologia, victim-blaming, and other such rape culture rhetoric.

An amazing person by the name of Sezin Koehler put together this undeniable proof that “Blurred Lines” not only promotes rape culture, it also attempts to normalize rape. In fact, his lyrics are things that repeatedly come out of real-life rapists’ mouths, as shown by selections from Project Unbreakable. There is absolutely nothing blurry about these lines. What Thicke sings about is coercive rape, period.

The following is a long excerpt, but please visit the source for the entire comparison, as well as the very eye-opening and highly disturbing comments that illustrate our rape culture more than anything else.

Robin Thicke’s summer hit Blurred Lines addresses what he considers to be sounds like a grey area between consensual sex and assault. The images in this post place the song into a real-life context.  They are from Project Unbreakable, an online photo essay exhibit, and feature images of women and men holding signs with sentences that their rapist said before, during, or after their assault.   Let’s begin.

I know you want it.

Thicke sings “I know you want it,” a phrase that many sexual assault survivors report their rapists saying to justify their actions, as demonstrated over and over in the Project Unbreakable testimonials.

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You’re a good girl.

Thicke further sings “You’re a good girl,” suggesting that a good girl won’t show her reciprocal desire (if it exists). This becomes further proof in his mind that she wants sex: for good girls, silence is consent and “no” really means “yes.”

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Calling an adult a “good girl” in this context resonates with the the virgin/whore dichotomy. The implication in Blurred Lines is that because the woman is not responding to a man’s sexual advances, which of course are irresistible, she’s hiding her true sexual desire under a facade of disinterest. Thicke is singing about forcing a woman to perform both the good girl and bad girl roles in order to satisfy the man’s desires.

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Thicke and company, as all-knowing patriarchs, will give her what he knows she wants (sex), even though she’s not actively consenting, and she may well be rejecting the man outright.

 

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Do it like it hurt, do it like it hurt, what you don’t like work?

This lyric suggests that women are supposed to enjoy pain during sex or that pain is part of sex:

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The woman’s desires play no part in this scenario – except insofar as he projects whatever he pleases onto her — another parallel to the act of rape: sexual assault is generally not about sex, but rather about a physical and emotional demonstration of power.

The way you grab me.
Must wanna get nasty.

This is victim-blaming.  Everybody knows that if a woman dances with a man it means she wants to sleep with him, right? And if she wears a short skirt or tight dress she’s asking for it, right? And if she even smiles at him it means she wants it, right?  Wrong.  A dance, an outfit, a smile — sexy or not — does not indicate consent.  This idea, though, is pervasive and believed by rapists.

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And women, according to Blurred Lines, want to be treated badly.

Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you.
He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that.

In this misogynistic fantasy, a woman doesn’t want a “square” who’ll treat her like a human being and with respect. She would rather be degraded and abused for a man’s gratification and amusement, like the women who dance around half naked humping dead animals in the music video.

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The pièce de résistance of the non-censored version of Blurred Lines is this lyric:

I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two.

What better way to show a woman who’s in charge than violent, non-consensual sodomy?

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Ultimately, Robin Thicke’s rape anthem is about male desire and male dominance over a woman’s personal sexual agency. The rigid definition of masculinity makes the man unable to accept the idea that sometimes his advances are not welcome. Thus, instead of treating a woman like a human being and respecting her subjectivity, she’s relegated to the role of living sex doll whose existence is naught but for the pleasure of a man.

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Still Think It Doesn’t Exist?

The following are some Facebook responses to this graphic. Thank to notemily and jhameia on Tumblr for this.

This is rape culture.

As long as we tolerate this behavior, it will continue. A woman is raped in the USA every two minutes.

This is largely why.

I read a great quote yesterday. I’ll paraphrase: Many people love to say that feminists think all men are rapists, but they don’t. You know who does think all men are rapists?

Rapists.

Every time you let a comment like this slide, or laugh at these kinds of comments–or a rape joke, or make excuses that they’re just being trolls or aren’t serious or whatever-other-rape-apologia-rhetoric, you are validating rapists. You are telling the rapists that it’s okay to rape, that all men are rapists, really.

Stop accepting this behavior. Don’t excuse it. Don’t explain it.

Make it completely unacceptable. Shun friends over it. Speak up against misogyny.

Please, don’t validate rapists.

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Several Disturbing Examples

The following excerpt has been copied from Tumblr. Seems to have been originally compiled by scooterpiebanana. Find the entire post here.

men can take upskirt pictures of women and girls because women in public spaces have no legal expectation of privacy

women are treated as property that can be bought and sold and stolen as opposed to people

girls as young as kindergarten are called “sluts” for wearing a short skirt and forced to change clothes because boys and men might be distracted

men and boys literally can not seem to empathize with women (because i swear to god if melinda was a male character and everything else was the same the boys would not be asking that question)

men view women as literal objects

men build their own superiority into achievement tests that (in america) determine your future prospects

men believe that fat women don’t deserve to be loved simply because they are fat

women are villified for normal miscarriages and for aborting fetuses that were the result of rape (not to mention intentionally asserting bodily autonomy simply because you don’t want a fetus)

women can be raped on screen but can not masturbate on screen (even though men have masturbated on screen all the fucking time)

not wearing make up is one of the ways that psychologists determine if a woman is mentally healthy

Men have flat out stated that even if there is concrete evidence that a rape happened they would vote not guilty if on a jury.

Women need about 6 more years of education than men on average to make a comparable amount of money

Male Police officers have arrested women for resisting their advances with no initial punishment (until activists spoke up)

and this is just what i can think of recently.  There is so so so so so much more

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We See You.

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Misogyny Defined

reut-miso-e1350497963883The meaning of the word “misogyny” is literally “hatred of women.” Although that is the actual definition of the word, most misogynists think they love women. Misogyny usually manifests less as overt hatred and more as a general belief that men are better than women. They objectify women, belittle women, and control women.

The results of misogyny are rape, abuse, murder, lower pay, less opportunity, general discrimination and loss of power, restrictive gender roles, and more.

In it’s most basic form, it’s treating women as if their purpose on earth was for male pleasure and service, whether sexual, social, or professional. “Smile, sweetheart. You look so much prettier when you smile” is an example of every day misogyny, where the man is saying this to a strange woman on the street, suggesting that her very existence is to look pretty for him. He doesn’t take into consideration that her mother might have just died or she’s going through a divorce or struggling with a disease or a million other things that humans deal with. He interrupts her world to tell her to smile. It’s offensive.

This is an example of where he genuinely thinks he’s doing a nice thing, but the underlying cultural meaning is much deeper. He doesn’t realize it and she likely doesn’t either. It’s perpetuating the cultural understanding that women are supposed to be pretty and sexy and fuckable for men. Just look at any magazine on the shelves to see this. All those horrible star magazines about who’s fat and flabby in their swimsuits…they’re all women. They’re not showing men with beer bellies, they’re showing celebrity women aging or without their normal airbrushed perfection, and they’re mocking them for it.

The “smile, sweetheart” is a basic example, but the same intentions (whether conscious or not) are behind men who shout, “nice tits” or “I’d tap that” or the like at women on the street. It’s called street harassment.

As for the over-sexualization of women in our culture…It’s halloween, just look at the difference between the male costumes and the female costumes.

These are cultural examples. Both men and women perpetuate misogyny and rape culture without even knowing it. This is why it’s so important to talk about it and make people aware. Because, for the worst men, all of this gives them social license to continue more overt forms of misogyny, like abuse and rape. And they’ll get away with it, too. Most of them. 97% of rapists get away with it. Only 3% ever see even a single day in jail. Only 14% ever even see a trial.

Think about how the media handled the Steubenville Rape Case, where they lamented how those poor, poor rapists’ lives were ruined by that vindictive bitch. That is the mentality of the culture. Women rarely lie about rape, about 1.5-2% lie. That’s less than other false crime accusations, like theft or whatever, which are around 8%. What happened in Steubenville happens every weekend and hundreds of high schools around the country. That one just got some media attention. 600+ women are raped every single day.

Back to misogyny, “dizzy broad” “she must be on her period” “she’s overreacting” are all examples of every day misogyny. Shortly after we got Buster, our new dog, he got out one day we were away. Some guy found him and called the number on Buster’s tag. I thanked him over and over and went to pick Buster up. The guy wasn’t there when I did, but his father was. I thanked the father again, and he said I should thank his son, since it was he who found him and put Buster in the yard to keep him safe. So I did. I texted the sone and said I couldn’t express the depth of my gratitude. He responded, “I can think of a few ways. You sounded hot over the phone. I’d like to see if I’m right.”

I was flabbergasted! He turned my gratitude for doing a decent thing into sexualized debt. Since I’m already a survivor of rape, I was terrified because he knew my address. I called the police to report it just in case it escalated, and they minimized it and dismissed it (just like the police did when I reported the rape, by the way…which is why 60% of women don’t report rape).

That’s misogyny.

Other examples of misogynistic speech:

  • “Calm down. You’re too emotional.” (Classic gaslighting.)
  • “She’s a spinner!” (normally said about a very thin, petite woman)
  • “Look at those tits/that ass!” (objectification)
  • “She needs to know her place.” or “Did you put her in her place?”
  • “I’d like to get me some of that.” (objectification)
  • Any comment meaning to control a woman or tell her what to do
  • Any comment that belittles a woman to a sexual object or a collection of body parts
  • Talking about a woman as if she has no other purpose than a life support system for her vagina
  • Supporting misogynistic industries like the bulk of (notice I did not say all) porn and overtly sexualized images of women
  • Treating women as if their sole purpose for existence is for your visual or sexual pleasure
  • Suggesting that a woman was “asking for it” or “deserved it”
  • Uttering the phrase “cry rape” under any circumstances
  • Phrases like “skull fucking” and “bone smoking,” “fish taco” and “carpet muncher”
  • “This is not just about sex. There are 30 women I could call right now who will fuck me.”
  • “Nice guys finish last, awesome guys finish on her face.
  • “Why can’t you look like her?”
  • Rape or roofie jokes of any sort.
  • “You throw/run/hit like a girl.”

My father is a misogynist. A serious misogynist. He is also a generous and kind and loving man. He has little idea he’s a misogynist. He was socialized that way and he has hurt a lot of people because of it, me and my mother not withstanding. He has become more aware of it over the years, but he’s still a pretty serious misogynist. I call him on it these days. One of the hardest things for me to grasp is that someone can do horrible abusive things and they can also do wonderful, loving things. It’s complex. The struggle to understand two completely opposite things like this is called cognitive dissonance. You might have come across the term in your medical studies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

Saying some of the things above doesn’t necessarily make someone a misogynist, because it’s been so immersed in our culture (especially the seemingly innocuous things like ‘you throw like a girl’), but as intelligent, compassionate people, it’s up to us to challenge the underlying cultural problems with perpetuating this type of thinking and become more self aware around the language we use.

Kids are being exposed to this kind of thinking and speech every day at every turn, it’s important to understand this so boys, especially, can be taught to view women as complete human beings, not entities put on earth to please them. That’s what’s called male entitlement, and it’s running rampant on college campuses and in high schools these days.

A recent report shows that 1 in 10 adolescents (between the ages of 12 and 17) have sexually assaulted a classmate, mostly because they don’t know what they’re doing is sexual assault. Forcing someone to kiss them, grabbing someone’s ass or breasts, snapping a bra strap, those are all instances of unwanted sexual contact; i. e. sexual assault. Having sex with someone too drunk to consent is rape. People can say “No Means No” until they’re blue in the face, but when a wo/man says no and the other doesn’t stop but continues pushing pushing pushing past hours of NO until they finally get a yet, that’s coercive rape. It’s not a yes. It’s a coerced yes. If s/he says no. Stop. Period.

We must start teaching enthusiastic consent to where it’s not a “yes” mumbled through fear or tears or coercion, it’s a YES! YES! YES! said either through their lips or their actions. It’s a beautiful dance for two people to come together in this way. No coercion. No begging or breaking down barriers. Enthusiastic consent only, then there is no question. We must start to teach our sons and daughters that sex isn’t something a man pursues at all costs and women are not the gatekeepers. Sex is something two adults choose to do together an expression of love and/or desire for one another. It is not a power tool. It is not a duty or something owed. A woman is not an ejaculatory machine to be discarded after use. We must teach respect.

Just think:

“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now. You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt, skank. Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy, I’ve even heard the term “mangina.” Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. No tell me that’s not royally fucked up.” – Jessica Valenti, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited and it’s newly released sequel, of sorts, Avalon Revamped. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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