Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, 11/19/13 – Sexual Harassment Edition

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CAStrip3DoneSite Kibbles n Bits, 11/19/13   Sexual Harassment EditionOh lord, I am so tired of this and you probably are too, but here goes.

§ LJ user Beccatoria has a summary of Our Story So far.

§ At Comics Alliance, Kate Leth has a great cartoon about this.

§ As you probably know, another woman came out with accusations against Brian Wood yesterday, former DC employee Anne Scherbina. The most unsettling element of this story seems to be that it was passed along to the then Lying in the Gutters, and a whisper campaign seemed to be unleashed. I worked alongside Anne, although she had a different last name then; I’m a little sad to say my memories of her are murky; my murky memories are that she was a very nice young woman who didn’t deserve this.

§ Jeremy Shane at the Outhouse has a very good post called Hate the Player, Hate the Game: Sexual Harassment in the Comic Industry that very usefully, i think, takes this from the frame of reference of the specific to the larger larger issues that we all need to be aware of.

That’s not to say any one person’s actions should be overlooked – they absolutely should not – but for our part, fandom’s part, of this conversation to be more productive, we should remember the bigger issue here: the hostile environment created around anyone who speaks out, the attempts to discredit and dismiss them, and the pressure to just stay quiet. Speaking out about these events, no matter how small, no matter how long ago, can only serve to show people that this is a real problem that needs addressing. The culture of silence needs to end, and what we can do to make that happen is to support the rights of women to express themselves on this matter.


And you know that’s why I’m writing this post. This whole subject now makes my skin crawl but the silence needs to end. A collective confessional seems to have taken hold as more stories are coming out.

§ Rantz Hoseley has a couple of stories that aren’t what you expect, In one, what seemed to be some consensual group, sexy times freaked him out entirely. Which is his right. CONSENSUAL. You don’t have to go along with it if you don’t like it. In another, Dave Sim, of all people, delivers a very balanced critique of a young woman’s art. I don’t think we should give him a medal for doing what’s, uh, the right thing to do but…well you never know where it’s going to come from.

§ Finally, my friend Mariah Huehner came out with her own stories of sexual harassment and this is where I lost my shit because I worked with Mariah and she is just about the nicest, smartest person in the world who deserves to be treated with nothing but respect and what happened to her is disgusting. A freelancer writes to her with lewd comments? FUCK THAT SHIT. How could you treat a co-worker-technically your employer—like that? Convention groping? Disgusting. I know it took Mariah a lot of courage to write that post but the ending is so powerful.

We’re told not to “make” men feel bad about what other men do. That relaying our stories is generalizing and condemning and unfair. We’re told it’s our responsibility to “get over it”. To internalize every single thing we are subjected to as “just the way it is” and, ultimately, our fault for existing as women in spaces. For existing in the world. For trying to make our way in that world and be treated as human beings. We are told: don’t feel this way. Don’t think these things. Don’t express normal human emotions, like anger and resentment, about upsetting experiences. Stop talking about things we don’t want to hear about. Stop telling us we are complicit through our inaction. Stop expressing yourself in ways we don’t like. Stop making us uncomfortable about the things that go on around us that we don’t see/ignore. Don’t trust yourself. Don’t exist in ways we don’t like. Don’t exist in “our” spaces. Don’t try to live your life like it matters. Like it’s important. Like you have the right to be here.

Women don’t exist for you to approve of or to make you feel better about the shitty way the world works. We don’t exist for you at all. We exist for ourselves. And we’re going to keep demanding for our rightful place in the world whether you like it or not.


Mariah’s stories—and sadly I know they are not the only ones of their kind—are just revolting. They could happen in many settings, but is this what we as an industry want to be the environment?

I was going to tell a few stories of my own here, but I’m too mad and sad to write them up. I will say that at least on one occasion, the men—the REAL men, I should say—of the con physically kicked out the offender. I’ve seen that happen several times, and it is the good part of the usually wonderful comics community that I’ve spent my adult life in. BarCon is a fun and essential part of the comics world, and obviously, the normal human pursuits of having a relaxing drink, talking shop and engaging in harmless flirting—or perhaps more serious flirting—with your colleagues in the industry is part of what makes life a rich tapestry of experience and companionship. I met my own husband outside a hotel bar at a con, and a lot of actual relationships have started in this setting. AND a lot of one-night stands that both people had fun with. CONSENSUAL ACTIVITIES. That doesn’t mean turning into a sloppy drunk, groping, leering, unwanted sexual talk, upskirts, calling your friends over to laugh, not taking no for an answer, belittling someone when you get shot down, stalking, or any of that other crap that WE ALL KNOW IS WRONG.

All I have to say is…decent men, be decent. Don’t let the sex pests out there ruin everything.

And women, if you are upset, talk about it. Find friends. There are plenty of great women in the business now, and many decent men. Rachel Edidin, who has been the tireless Agent Cooper in all of this, has a post called Comics, Conventions, and Harassment: A Personal Promise in which she promises to help harassment victims at a con. A lot more people should make that promise. It takes a village, and the village doesn’t need sex pests.

AND NOW…back to the comics.

PS: I’m keeping comments open on this but, in the words of Walter White, TREAD LIGHTLY.

Comments

  1. I wanted to bring in a little good news on some progress being made to help end con harassment.

    Last night I signed “The Exhibitor’s Anti-Harassment Pledge” which is an initiative by the Alliance Against Harassment “to combat harassment at cons and expos by actively involving exhibitors, vendors and attendees in a support/awareness function. Through The Pledge we hope to create a harassment-free community and a safer environment for all.”

    It can be found here: http://allianceagainstharassment.com/the-pledge/

    There’s only about twenty people pledged so far, but if plan to be an exhibitor or vendor at an upcoming Comic Convention, I strongly urge you to sign the pledge. Thanks!

  2. How disappointing. I no longer feel sympathy for Mr. Wood’s exit from DC Comics as it seems the real reason he was pushed out was not from sales or a regime change, as much as it might be from his bad behavior and reputation. The last title I supported of his was DMZ in trade form. While I try to look past personal things and try not to boycott artists when I try to determine whether or not I will support a book, much of what he writes at Marvel isn’t anything I wish to buy so I tend to read library copies of his work, but I might not want to the next time I see his name on a shelf. I might skip a podcast featuring him as well. What a pity, I am so thankful you courageous ladies have spoken up–I welcome and wish others would too!

  3. Callen says:

    Mariah Huehner nailed the problem of what women face when we speak out, when we protest, when we stand up for ourselves… in particular, what we face from “nice guys,” especially friends and loved ones, who insist that when we talk about men (and boys) doing these things, that inherently we’re saying *they* do it, that *they* are bad. They insist that every time we speak up, if we don’t include a “shout out” to the men who behave as decent human beings, that our arguments are invalid, that what we’re saying is prejudiced and sexist itself. I’ve even had my own husband get defensive like this—and the result was, it hurt and made me feel like I couldn’t even talk with him about the abuse and treatment females face—in short, he was shutting down my voice because, in the words of Frank Herbert paraphrased, “I’d displayed a general garment and he was insisting it was cut to his fit.”

    When we talk about murderers, does the validity of what we say depend on whether or not we *always* mention, give the nod, to all those who do *not* murder? If we become impassioned in discussing murder statistics or a specific case and forget to add “but of course, not everyone is a murderer, there are plenty of decent people out there,” does that automatically negate everything we just said? Does it mean we think *everyone* is a murderer? Does it mean we assume everyone wants to murder? Of course not, that would be ludicrous.

    Yet every day, every moment, women are told by otherwise good and decent men, “unless you specifically mention me and my type, it means you’re bashing me”—in short, they’re saying “it’s not about rape, or harassment, or anything else—it’s about ME, and if you don’t acknowledge me in this and specifically exclude me from it, you’re just being a vindictive bitch who’s guilty of sexism yourself (which makes you a hypocrite as well).”

    I’m getting really tired of this. Yes, my husband and I talked out our own version of this and came to an uneasy compromise—but I still too often feel the need to censor what I say to him on this topic… and that’s more than sad, it’s damaging to our ability to communicate with one another, and it’s damaging to the trust I felt in being able to be myself and express myself freely with him.

    For a very good look into other ways we silence women, devalue their thoughts and voices, and teach them that said thoughts and voices should take second place to how men feel and see things, this is a good confessional from one guy who finally learned better:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harris-oamalley/on-labeling-women-crazy_b_4259779.html

  4. I couldn’t read this. I mean, I will return and read it after I finish the local school outrage piece I’m writing for Thursday, but just starting to read it now made me physically ill. What the fuck is wrong with some people?

  5. Erik Scott says:

    It’s no wonder we constantly have to ask the question “why aren’t there more female creators in mainstream comics?” No one should have to put up with this kind of ridiculousness.I just hope that this is shining a light that will make all the cockroaches scurry away once and for all. I’ve been sick to my stomach reading many of these accounts, and as a man, I just want to say I’m sorry to all you women who have had to put up with all this nonsense. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who calls this sort of thing when I see it happening, but I think especially we men can and should be even more so vigilant in voicing how unacceptable this behavior is when we witness it, whether in the workplace, at a con, or in public. These ladies who are sharing their stories are heroes and I only hope the courage they are showing in sharing these stories helps them find some sort of healing and peace of mind down the road.

  6. The truth is, we weren’t there, and we don’t really know what happened. We don’t know who is what kind of person, what their agendas are, or what’s been miscommunication the telegraph. It’s actually non of our business, either. We can only hope that the people involved can work to some satisfactory conclusion, and we can try to be decent people, ourselves. Yes, people (all people) act like assholes sometimes, and sometimes more times than others, and there’s always a victim. That victim has choices they have to make. They becomes responsible for their choices, whether they want to be, or not. How much are they going to fight back? They have to figure out how much of their lives are actually going to be effected by this or that person, verses how much of their lives can they move on with; how much power does this person actually have verses how much power do we give them; how does a persons decision to handle a situation effect the perception of the next person who has to handle something similar. It’s a heavy responsibility that is thrust on each and every one of us in some way, at some time in our lives. The court of public opinion is often a biased one, and is only good for justifying a public hanging or lynching. It’s good to speak up if you’re being wronged, and I’m glad these women have spoken up, but now we have to leave it them to handle, like grownups. The best thing we can do is to take a lesson from it. Try to be a better person to your fellow human beings. Try to remember that everyone has wronged someone at sometime, and that everyone has been a victim at another. They are not exclusive to gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, or culture, either.

  7. Callen says:

    Christopher Moonlight, I understand your desire to “see the larger picture,” to remind us that all humans at some point do wrong to others or are victims of a wrong. However, you’ve missed a very important point:

    When you dilute the message from a person or group about the *specific* wrongs they’ve faced, however humanitarian your motives may be, you’ve just joined the chorus of those attempting to silence those voices.

    Human Rights are an over-arcing umbrella that encompasses all others, yes. Yet, as human beings we *also* belong to specific groupings because of our gender, our race, our orientation, etc. etc. This is something very important I had to learn in advocating for human rights: the most valid voices about a group’s experiences come from within that group. They are your *teachers*. If you listen, you can grow in understanding specifically what it was and is like for them to experience the wrongs they’ve experienced… and often that understanding is key to *addressing* those wrongs and attempting to change what caused them.

    Humanity is universal, yes—but it is also Diversity. When you attempt to water down or silence the voices in a group who are trying to inform and teach you of their own experience by saying, “Well yes but all people______ and thus all people ________,” you’re not just missing the point: you’re actively choosing to ignore and negate the very specifics they’re giving to you—and thus, weakening the ability to focus a response on the places, people, behaviors and attitudes that are creating the abuse in the first place.

    The purpose of an LGBT Rights group, or a Women’s Rights Group, or a Black Rights Group, or an Immigrants Rights Group or an Elderly Rights Group (etc. etc.) isn’t just to support the members of the group from within; it’s *also* to try to give those who are *not* within that group insights into the wrongs, into *why* those things are wrong. etc., and to explain the many ways these experiences are often expressed in everyday life. If you have not stood under the hailstorm, about the only way you can get close to a real concept of what it feels like is for someone who *has* done so to describe it to you.

    Saying “Enh, but we all experience bad weather: rain, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, freezing cold or blistering heat… you just have to learn to deal with it,” does very little to further the specific understanding of being pelted by hail.

  8. ‘It’s no wonder we constantly have to ask the question “why aren’t there more female creators in mainstream comics?”’

    Bingo. I’ve seen women come into comics journalism/commentary and leave because of these issues. And that’s on the perimeters of what the women creators are dealing with. Every con I go to I hear another story because I’ve written about issues of sexism in the past and women see me as someone safe to confide in.

    But if you so much as hint at sexism or harassment at conventions online, even that which can easily be avoided, everyone gets the hump, “how dare they slightly imply that I am maybe sexist?!” and everyone turns on the woman (never if it’s a dude mind) who shines a light on these things or speaks out.

    I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of the floodgates being opened, of women being LISTENED to instead of silenced, and that we can clear out the creepers and predators and those who silently observe it all happening right out of this industry.

  9. Dan Ahn says:

    I don’t doubt that Wood behaved badly. But I find it incredibly dubious that that Tess Fowler worked on comics like this one…

    http://comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/434/217115_20101228215300_large.jpg

    …and now she’s championing Women in Comics.

    It strikes me that the very real issues here are getting obfuscated from all sides because so many of the people involved just seem somewhat dysfunctional in their own right, as separate from any very real grievances that they might have regarding the behavior of other people, who are also dysfunctional.

    “…We exist for ourselves. And we’re going to keep demanding for our rightful place in the world whether you like it or not.”

    I wholeheartedly agreed with the entire statement here UNTIL it got to this point at the end. Existing “for ourselves” just seems narcissistic. We live in a community, and artists should have more integrity than just this bull-headed attitude of “I’m gonna do whatever I want and the public IS gonna like it, or else I’m gonna call foul.” Who’s to say what anyone’s “rightful place in the world is”? The whole concept is ridiculous. We should create an open environment where every individual is able to find the life that’s best for them. There is no preconceived “rightful place”. Thinking about things in those kind of terms is just ridiculous and WILL cause you to keep coming into conflict with reality, no matter what. There were once people who thought that women’s “rightful place” was behind a kitchen sink all day. That was cruel and ridiculous. But now there are women cartoonists who think that their rightful place is at the top of the sales charts, no matter what. The point is, the whole concept of a “rightful place” just doesn’t work; it automatically subjugates the person in question, whether literally confining her movements or giving her a dysfunctional sense of entitlement might not pan out, no matter what the individual’s talent.

    I don’t really see much good coming from any of these conversations. The most you’ll get is certain men becoming more nervous around women. I guess that might be a good thing; Brian Wood could definitely have done with being more humbler around women. But in terms of actual learning and growth? I don’t see it happening. Literally every individual involved is bringing his or her own personal baggage into this. I don’t really see how “social media” has ever solved any problems ever. It just creates an environment of paranoia, entitlement, and thought-crime.

  10. Mr Ahn, with all due respect, what does a picture of a woman wearing a basque got to do with sexual harassment? A woman has the right to own her seuxality. That includes the right to say yes, and the right to say no. Ms Fowler exercised her right to draw a comic book, and her right to say no to sex with Brian Wood. Which is how it should be.

    A woman has the right to say yes to sex with one man, and no to sex with another man. To draw a sexy comic while still saying she doesn’t want to have sex with you. The sexuality a woman displays in one arena does not make her open to sex in all arenas.

    What any of this has to do with women thinking their rightful place is at the top of the sales chart, well I don’t see it, but Kate Beaton seems to have done pretty well on The New York Times Bestseller list without demanding it as her rightful place. I don’t see where any woman has done so. But thanks for the straw man argument. It was fun.

    Rightful place is the right to own one’s agency, the right to self determination, the right to say no to sex with people like you and not be punished for it. Not to the right to a bestseller.

    Women will just have to earn that…whoops they already did!

  11. Heidi MacDonald says:

    Dan: Fowler didn’t draw that cover. HAven’t seen the insides but the cover isn’t her work. Also, sorry, but I do exist for myself and not for the wishes of other people, or an entire other gender. That is not narcissism. It’s simple individuation.

    Chris: Hm, I think you are putting a lot of the pressure on the victims in this. Let’s say the perps have choices, too. They can be sex pests, or not.

  12. @Dan Ahn – I respectfully disagree. When I first saw this story getting passed around, I was skeptical of the veracity of Tess Fowler’s claims. My initial thoughts were that it was a bit much to take Brian Wood to task over flirting in a bar. And I didn’t see how shouting into computer screens was going to do much good about it either. So you can use me as an example of someone with lady parts – someone most people would’ve probably suspected was immediately on board with this whole post-a-thon – as having changed their mind about what constitutes sexual harassment in an industry and community.

    The more I read and thought about it, the more I realized that I’ve had several experiences like this too – often with men whose work I respect and who I like personally. It’s not necessarily even specific men that are the problem – it’s a general attitude about women and the perception both men and women have about men’s power. Men in society at large are often mistaken that any power or admiration for their accomplishments they have automatically translates to sexual potency. And a lot of guys – good ones even – will take advantage of that when given a systemic pass.

  13. Callen says:

    Dan Ahn,

    So every job you’ve ever taken to put food on the table and pay your rent met or exceeded the highest moral standards, and if it didn’t you refused to work or quit? So if you work for a company and you’ve been tasked with writing the press release for the company closing a plant—something you know will put a great many people out of work and cause their families hardship—you would of *course* refuse to have anything to do with it…even knowing that doing so may kill all chances for advancement, or might even get you fired? How lovely. And of course, if you *did* write that press release, it means you can never ever advocate for workers’ rights without being a total hypocrite, yes?

    In short, you yourself are “jumping to judgment” and choosing to invalidate this woman’s argument based upon a single incident you chose to highlight from her career, without knowing any of the particulars about it. Maybe she felt pressure or intimidation to work on that project. Maybe it was the only work she could get. Maybe her understanding of her own rights, women’s rights, and how a comic like that may reinforce harmful stereotypes about women has grown or changed, from the time she worked on that title until now. Maybe she didn’t see the comic as being harmful toward women. You really don’t know, do you? I certainly don’t. The point is, you’re attempting to de-value her argument and undercut her position by making a lot of assumptions and insisting that, before her argument for respect for women can be considered valid, she much satisfy some standard for purity of behavior and intent for her entire past work-life that you yourself have chosen. Ergo, since apparently she “fails” in this litmus test you’ve designed and for which you set the criteria, she “has no right to champion women’s rights.”

    Now let’s move on to point number two about your response: you’ve chosen to deliberately misinterpret Ms. Huehner’s final statements; taking the one statement totally out of context to the sentences that immediately preceded it… and then used that to attack her position and make it seem to be a call for utter selfishness and license to do anything in the world no matter how much harm it causes others. Do you by any chance work as a political aide? I had to ask because that’s the place I most often see this tactic used.

    For anyone who actually reads what she wrote and reads that sentence in context with the ones that came before it, the meaning is quite clear: women are *not* appendages to men; we are equal creatures in our own right. We will not accept being treated as or told that we are your appendages; we are separate living beings who should be able to expect the same kind of rights and respect that you enjoy. If a man has a problem understanding that, or denies it, that doesn’t alter the core truth that we *are* our own beings and *deserve* to be seen and treated as such, with the same right to be heard, to have our thoughts and opinions and experiences and feelings viewed as valid and normal, rather than “how dare you say that” or “you’re being over-sensitive” or “you’re blowing this out of proportion” or “when you say that you’re attacking all men and that means you’re attacking ME,” etc.

    It’s a sad fact that anyone who’s actually paying attention can find a myriad of examples every day in which women’s thoughts, opinions, voices, arguments, stances, positions, feelings and experiences are belittled by men who refuse to give them equal validity to their own and those of other males. Further, those women are told it’s something wrong with *them*—not that the men in question don’t want to listen, don’t want to give the woman an equal standing in “who has the right to say what, when, where, and how much.”

    As to social media and its value, we learn through communication with one another. Social media (for all its faults) has a huge bonus: it provides a way for a great many people to communicate thoughts, ideas, and experiences… and that is how we learn and grow: by encountering thoughts and ideas and information that are new to us.

    Are people often too quick to make judgments on social media? Of course; they often do this in their daily lives as well. We are often prone to making a judgment while being in possession of partial facts, or hearing only one side of a story, etc. Parents encounter this all the time, when one child tells their version and another child tells a different version. Married couples do it; co-workers do it. Church people do it. We ALL do it at one point or another.

    If talking *sometimes* leads to hasty judgment, should we all totally stop talking? Aren’t there a lot of *other* things talking accomplishes—often, things that help us understand each other better, help us discover facts, help us learn and grow? Isn’t it better to address the specific problem of “jumping to judgement” than to condemn talking altogether as “no way to solve any problem, ever”?

    Like it or not, social media are one more way in which people communicate and share information—and while that can be mis-used or abused at times by either the sharer, the receivers, or both, it’s also a valuable tool for changing how people see the world, for bringing out and addressing social issues and problems, and in seeking solutions and fighting for better behaviors.

    Everything any one of us will ever do starts as a thought in our heads—I personally think it’s important that we pay attention to what those thoughts are, and how they got there, and whether or not they cause damage to ourselves and/or to others—and social media is one way of doing that.

  14. Callen says:

    And the beginning of my prior post to Dan Ahn is predicated on the idea that the statement he made is true, that she *did* work on that comic. I don’t see her name on it, nor am I familiar with it… and at least one other person here has stated that she did *not* work on that comic. I can’t edit my post to include that, so saying it here: as of yet, I’ve seen no proof that she did work on that Grimm’s comic… if she did, see the argument above (along with some other rebuttals that are really great).

  15. Suzene says:

    @Callen – Tess Fowler’s last name is at the top of the cover. She didn’t do the cover shown, but she did work on the interiors. Not that it means anything, mind.

  16. Callen says:

    TY for the correction! :) And yes, absolutely—as Traci pointed out so well, above.

    As a feminist, one of the challenges I (and I think many other feminists) face is figuring out the ways women are sexualized to their detriment, on the one hand, and the ways women are denied the right to determine and control their own sexuality, on the other hand. We get treated and depicted as objects… but at the same time, we’re judged and circumscribed and shamed for making our own choices and decisions about our sexuality, our sexual expression, etc. I personally am still trying to work my way through it, because I strongly support a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, her own life, her own sex life and it’s nobody else’s business… but at the same time, media still inundate us with pictures and concepts of women being objects meant to satisfy men’s sexual desires and needs.

    Where do we draw the lines, say for instance, in a woman enjoying her sexuality and her body by posing on the cover of a men’s magazine that objectifies women? Some women might be on that cover because they see themselves as objects; some might be there purely for the money; but some might be there because they are proud of who they are and are strong in their own identity. Perhaps the accompanying story inside actually emphasizes that… or perhaps it furthers the objectification.

    I’m not speaking for anyone else here; just trying to convey that I still haven’t worked all that out. I’m totally against women being objectified; I’m also totally against women being shamed or persecuted for their sexuality, or being forced into some mold that inhibits her self-expression. I’d love to hear others thoughts on this (if we aren’t getting too far afield). Maybe, maybe the real issue isn’t “does her posing sexily promote this, or promote that?”—maybe instead it should be “if you see her posing sexily, then just accept that she’s a woman who enjoys her sexuality and a person in her own right,” and fight against attempts to objectify her, and move on? Thoughts?

  17. Callen, I think you miss my point. I’m not trying to silence anyone, or say that anyone should be silent. I’m saying that when standing up for oneself, one must be self aware of the ideas that they empower, and how those ideas can be used or abused by others. I’m married to a woman and I have two daughters. My wife is very much my equal and is perfectly capable of taking care of herself is she needs to. I want my daughters to be able to do the same. They know that help and support are always there if they need it, friends and family are at their service, but they also know that they are empowered more if they can find a solution and take care of a problem on their own.

    Let me tell you a story. Wile visiting my sister-in-law a few years back, I observed her feeding her two dogs. The one dog had a trick for getting the other dogs food. It would tip over its own bowl. While the other dog scrambled to eat up all the bits of food all over the floor, the first dog went over to the next bowl and eat all the food there. It was all in one place, so it was much easier to eat it quickly, then go back to what was left of the other food on the floor. The dog didn’t care that it had done something bad, it just took what it wanted, because the other dog chose to be concerned with what had been spilled.

    This situation is very much like that. A person can cry that their gender or race cased someone to be an asshole to them, and probably it’s true (although assholes have deeper issues and most of the time bigotry is just their crutch) but the fact is, there is nothing these people have to offer you that you can’t get another way, probably a better way. Because people let them take up space in their head, it uses up all of their time and energy thinking about it, crying about it, fighting over it, when they could just be moving on drawing that next great comic book page that’s going to get them closer to their heart’s desire. If this is you, regardless of what you are, congratulations, an asshole has just exercised power over you. That’s the part where I said, “That victim has choices they have to make.” comes into play. If the person becomes a nuisance then absolutely speak up. That’s the OTHER part where I said, “That victim has choices they have to make.” comes into play. Everyone has a choice. Most of the time people chose to pick up the pitchforks and torches without having all the facts, so I’m only cautioning people to take under consideration who’s actions are worth the time, who’s actions we can all shine on, and be better for it, and who might be hurt (on both sides) if you are wrong.

    Another story:
    When I was young, I had a drunk girl (and I had been drinking too) at a party climbing all over me, only to have her call me up the next day and tell me how crappy it was that I took advantage of her, and that she was going to tell her (surprise) boyfriend. It was only the fact that several of my friends (some female) came forward and told her that they all saw her making very strong advances at me, that saved me from having to deal with her spreading her untrue side of the story around. Imagine if I had no witnesses on that night. Who do you think public opinion would have sided with?

    I’m not saying that any of the cases at hand are like that (again, I wasn’t there for any of them, so I CAN NOT SAY) but even so, if the mood of the masses is a hanging one, then any woman that has it in for a man can say anything she wants, and that man is done. On the other hand, if to many women start getting upset any time a drunk guy makes a clumsy pass at them, then we’ll have a society where the real victims will go ignored, because people will just think they’re crying wolf.

    That’s what I meant when I said, “It’s a heavy responsibility that is thrust on each and every one of us in some way, at some time in our lives.”

    So, please don’t take anything I say to mean that a woman should be silent. That is not my message. My message is, we must be careful to consider and be responsible for what and who our actions empower, because it’s not always going to be who or what we intend to. Outrage can be a wildfire. Each issue has to be considered in a responsible and individual matter, by the people who were there, and the people who are empowered to help. Anyone else who wants to have a dialog around it, should take care to do so in an objective manner.

  18. Ugh…

    Dan Ahn, thank you for defining the term “non sequitur” for us. Who in their right mind would think that being involved in a sexy project means she has no right to not be harassed by men when she’s out doing her thing? You don’t seem to understand the difference between “artist” and “dressing sexy and sitting on a guy’s lap then getting upset when he flirts back”.

    You’re stuck in American Puritanical Naivety to think that women who express their sexuality are to be shamed and the men who exploit their sexuality are to be excused and defended.

    And no one paying attention to life would call independence by narcissism’s name. How narcissistic is it to insist a group of people are beholden to others’ whims?
    ————————————
    As a man I have been constantly disappointed in men since having these realities brought to my attention with a situation that happened to my sister a few years back. So many of us men are just giant children stomping through the landscape wholly unaware of the damage we can leave in our wake. A man doesn’t have to be sensitive to other groups’ needs or feelings because there are no consequences if he isn’t! Even men who are, at their core, good people often times never learn about these issues because there’s no one teaching them about these consequences!

    Brian Wood isn’t a rapist or sexual predator. He’s just creepy and has no tact and doesn’t internally comprehend how his treatment of these women is wrong. He’s got a lot to learn if he wants to coexist with women as equals but our current iteration of society doesn’t require him to learn anything. He’s not a mastermind of evil against women but he’s a participant in their marginalization.

    Until the men who recognize these societal imbalances for the wrongs that they are start holding these guys accountable for their actions then nothing will change. Men need to start understanding what’s actually going on and begin holding their peers accountable for their actions.

  19. Heidi, I place no pressure on the victims. I’m only aware of the pressies and responsibilities of being a victim as well as the accused. It’s not a pretty picture, any way you paint it. The real bad guys don’t care if you think they’re a bad guys. They just feel it’s important to have the power to effect people. Anyone else, well, it’s like the song goes: “We can work it out.”

  20. Christos Gage says:

    @Callen – interesting issue you raise about men getting defensive. I hate to generalize (but I’m going to) but I suspect it might have to do with the fact that we feel we are complicit, because we all (or the hetero among us) have probably been guilty of ogling a Power Girl cosplayer’s boob window or laughing at a dirty joke that was mean-spirited and made the women present uncomfortable and we knew better than to laugh at it but did anyway, or whatever. And we get defensive because we really want to make it clear (to ourselves as much as anyone else) there is a difference between us and THAT GUY who grabbed the Vampirella cosplayer’s butt. And that defensiveness is OUR problem. We need to acknowledge that we aren’t always the hipster feminist saints we’d like to be, and be aware of our own contributions to a hostile environment. And also realize that the fact that we may not be perfect shouldn’t stop us from calling out others behaving badly…in fact, it makes it all the more important we do so.

    Having said that, there’s a reason I felt fine going up to my room to sleep and leaving my wife down at the bar at NC Comicon. Partly it’s because she grew up in politics and can handle herself, but it’s also because the guys there were representative of the vast majority of people in the industry and fandom…good people.

    And Heidi was there. And she and my wife could have whooped ass on the whole room.

  21. Callen says:

    @Christos: Thank you for your insights, and you’ve raised a corollary thought in me: most people at some point enjoy looking at someone else; sometimes (maybe often) they even feel some (or a lot) of arousal in doing so. That’s true for both women and men. Perhaps at least a little of that “good guys being defensive” actually comes from them being told or taught that in and of itself, this is wrong—hence, they feel guilty and get defensive when women being objectified etc. comes up? Maybe at least some of it goes back to the questions I posed above about “being objectified vs. enjoying one’s sexual nature”… that maybe some men are feeling a bit fuzzy or uncertain on how to define what goes on which side of that line, as well? Maybe the answer is to enjoy someone’s assets (physical, carriage, attitude, mental, emotional, etc.) but at the same time to always remember that they’re a *person,* a human being, and not just what you’re seeing/admiring… and that their purpose in life is to be them, not “to be oogled/admired and that’s it” ? I tend to think that way when I see someone I admire, feel attraction toward, or outright think is “wow, HOT!” :D

    @Christopher: I need to re-read your reply and go away and think about it for a while. I’m getting a tad brain-fried in the discussion. I think I may agree with a fair many things you said, and may have others that I want to point out an alternate viewpoint on… but right now, I’m a bit too worn out, apologies. (Trying to fight off a cold here; time to go take some vitamin C and rest for a while, heh.)

  22. No worries Callen. Some of the things I say tire me out, too.

  23. …and I don’t know if I’ll get to return to this thread for a bit, so forgive me if I don’t reply back. I’m getting ready for Wizard World Austin, where I plan to have a good time with my family.

  24. Callen is right on in that last response. I agree totally!

  25. Synsidar says:

    Maybe, maybe the real issue isn’t “does her posing sexily promote this, or promote that?”—maybe instead it should be “if you see her posing sexily, then just accept that she’s a woman who enjoys her sexuality and a person in her own right,” and fight against attempts to objectify her, and move on? Thoughts?

    Posing on the cover of Cosmopolitan isn’t the same as posing on the cover of Playboy. Enjoying one’s sexuality in private isn’t the same as enjoying it in public. Someone might wear skimpy attire in public without thinking twice, simply because it’s comfortable, but associates could have considered her a candidate for What Not to Wear.

    Cosplaying might be fun, but a cosplayer isn’t simply wearing a style of clothing. She’s imitating a fictional person, or object. If she chooses to dress up as the “boob window” version of Power Girl or as Vampirella, she should be aware that she’s imitating what is, to many men, a sex object. She probably doesn’t think of herself as a sex object, and is counting on guys to exercise self-restraint, but to many men out there, her thoughts won’t matter. They’ll view her as someone who’s announcing to the public that she’s sexually available.

    Sexual harassment can appear in many different forms. Striving to effect cultural changes might reduce some forms of the harassment, but won’t affect sexual predators. There was recently much discussion about the argument that women should avoid binge drinking and getting drunk, so as to reduce their vulnerability to rape. Some women responded that women shouldn’t be subjected to pressure: no man should take advantage of a woman’s condition to have unwanted sex. That principle would work wonderfully in an ideal society, but in the real world, sexual predators and men who lack self-control will take advantage of whatever openings they get.

    SRS