I’ve been remiss in posting this because Skepchick has been heavy on the anti-harassment talk lately. Hey, it’s not that anti-harassment stuff isn’t super important and it’s not that there isn’t a whole lot going on with the topic of late, it’s just that it’s now been straight-up 14 months now of me finding new and interesting ways to convey really obvious, basic concepts of feminism and how to create a welcoming environment and I’ll be honest, it gets a little tiring because sometimes I want to talk about other stuff like Limbo or this new terrible tattoo show (I love terrible tattoos), but whatever. Here’s what’s new in people getting harassed.
A few days ago the Freethought Bloggers kindly asked me to join them for a chat about DJ Grothe and TAM and stuff. I guess it was a response to another video done by assholes. I don’t know much about it besides that PZ called me and said, “Have you seen this [name of video done by assholes] video?” And I said, “No. What?” And he said, “Okay, well maybe don’t because all they do is talk about how awful you are for a few hours. But anyway, let’s do a video where we talk about the topic like well-adjusted adults.” I’m paraphrasing, here, but you get the idea. So I said, “Okay.”
The result was good. Google Hangouts now lets you add a lower third banner, and I expressed a desire to have one but someone on the chat told me that only menfolk were allowed to have one, so that’s why when I eventually figured out how to get one mine says something about owning a banner penis. I apologize. I am not a well-adjusted adult.
Over on the Crommunist Manifesto, Ian mentioned that he managed to get an elevator joke in, to which I responded that that isn’t really something worth bragging about. He was cool about it in the comments, so I’m only mentioning it here so that maybe some other people will see it and get the point: if you’re going to make an elevator joke in my presence, it had better be the funniest god damn joke that ever fell out of your mouth, because I’ve had about a year of dudebros basically yelling “ELEVATOR HAAAAAAAAAAA” at me and it’s a little grating for a few reasons. First of all, they don’t understand how jokes work. People telling unfunny jokes is nothing new but when the joke is on this topic, I’m expected to laugh at it because otherwise I’m a humorless feminazi, you know? So I have to laugh whether it’s funny or not. And it’s pretty much never really funny, so I most definitely have to fake laugh, which I usually do anyway when someone I like makes a joke that isn’t funny, because I’m a bit awkward and I don’t like seeing people tell jokes that bomb. But anyway, I have to fake laugh which makes my face hurt so it’s probably best to find other things to make jokes about.
The other thing I’ll mention here is that in the video I make a joke about us disagreeing about something at the very end of the discussion. The topic is whether or not speakers should be asked to refrain from sexing up conference attendees. Greg Laden is right – we don’t really disagree much. If anything, we disagree on what the analogous situation is. I don’t think speaker/attendee is analogous to teacher/student (I assume adult student), as mentioned on the show, simply because a teacher (like an employer) can potentially control you using grades, scholarships, workload, and I guess even pay in the case of grad students. A speaker doesn’t actually have any authority over an attendee, particularly once the conference is done for the day and everyone is at the bar, so a speaker’s potential blackmail is really only social in nature, and that’s a much trickier thing to quantify.
Anyway, all I think is that barring anyone from having sex with anyone else isn’t the problem. Sex with enthusiastic consent is great so long as all the participants are adults capable of giving consent. And so the people who seek out enthusiastic consent aren’t the problem, even if those people are speakers. This is maybe going to skew a little too close to the “gun laws are useless because criminals won’t follow them,” but I’ll go with it anyway – the problem is the people who don’t care about consent in all their interactions. A good policy will protect the people who are their targets, or if it can’t fully protect them then at least it can offer them some recourse and backup when needed.
And a good organization will demonstrate their willingness to apply their policy as strongly to a speaker as to anyone else. A good organization will make it blindingly obvious that they will not ignore shitty behavior just because it’s being done by someone who is capable of selling tickets.
In other news, Ophelia Benson has dropped out of TAM because of threats. A few people are asking her and have asked me to please come to TAM after all because we’re setting our “cause” back by not attending. It’s really bizarre that I’m expected to line the pockets of an organization that is directly opposed to the values I hold. Let’s all keep some perspective, here – we’re talking about one organization’s fundraising event that I’ve supported for seven years. There are other events, and there are other places to make a stand.