A re-written rant from Genevieve Valentine with more accurate language, complaining about an incident at this year's Readercon. Forgive me if this isn't in the spirit of the actual rant, but her original post was used as "evidence" at a different convention that MEN are guilty of terrible things just for the crime of being men. -------------------------------------------------------------- So a couple of pretty frustrating things happened this year at Readercon. Programming guidelines decreed I had to be on a panel in order to do a reading; despite not being comfortable in panels as a rule, I signed up for the Frankenstein panel. Rather than just attending as a member, I chose to follow the convention's guidelines in order to promote my writing and so I attended this panel. I was the only woman on a panel of 3-5 people (which didn't seem to be a rare thing, this year), and despite making some comments which would indicate I am wonderful, secure woman with a functioning critical-thinking module, the moderator, Theodore Krulik, made me the object of several patronizing comments (unfortunately I have no examples) and the sort of leading questions you would pose a three-year-old, from the same list as he was reading comments for the men. This happened repeatedly. I was the only woman on the panel. If another man had been on the panel, he would have been subjected to these questions and comments. I expect all panels to be at least 30-67% female just to keep it fair. Apparently at one point he called me "Missy." It could have been "Miss" or "Ms.," I'm not sure. But some people later told me it might have been "Missy." If he had called me "Missy" and I had heard it, I would have addressed it right there. It was very reaffirming for me to hear people supporting my stance that there should have been more women on the panel and that mine was not the only panel with a case of token-woman-itis. So my experience is probably not unique, though no other panelists have made a complaint. And speaking of unacceptable behavior! A MAN introduced himself to me and started a conversation, accompanied by elbow-and-shoulder touches that I moved away from. I turned my back on him and talked to someone else until he left. That night at a room party, I paused in the hall bottleneck and said to a passing friend, "Oh man, it's crowded." From behind me, the man from earlier touched my shoulders and said, "Well, we'll have a good time once we're in the room parties!" at which point I spun around and said loudly and clearly "YOU do not touch me," and moved inside. He stayed in the bottleneck for more than thirty minutes without entering the room I was in. Eventually a friend and I walked to the elevator. Sunday morning I fell in with some friends and was chatting near the entrance to the book room, when I saw him, again passing by. My friends, up to speed on my issues, eventually tried to walk me to the table, at which point he approached us and tried to apologize. I said, "Don't want to talk about this, don't worry about it, goodbye," and kept walking. Later, he stopped by a table I was at and hovered for awhile, obviously wanting to apologize again. So a friend stepped in for me and I went elsewhere. He didn't follow. I'm in contact with the Readercon concom about these incidents and thus do not wish to name him here, but I do want to talk about it. Because seriously, let's review. A man approached me and introduced himself to me, touching my elbow and shoulder in the process. My personal boundaries were violated physically, verbally, and in terms of my right to feel personally secure, although it was not enough for me to inform convention security. In addition, within minutes of meeting him, I decided to stop saying things because I thought it might make him somehow unable to control his thoughts. And I was subjected to not one, not two, but THREE incidents of this MAN trying to talk to me, two of which during he tried to apologize to me. And he wasn't going to stop until he did. All aspects of these run-ins are indicative of something greater, not just in the fan community, but among men in general. Let me break it down for everyone. A brief conversation is not an opportunity to try your luck. Sure, the only way for the human species to propagate is for men to talk to women. Those who do not are generally excluded from the gene pool. When someone moves away from an overture you are making? You are done. It's time to apologize if you have the opportunity. When someone indicates something you have said makes them uncomfortable and then turns their back on you? You are done. It's time for an apology. When someone turns to you and tells you in no uncertain terms that you are not to touch them again and moves off at speed? You are in need of an incredible apology for the offense. And when you have offended a WOMAN with boundary-crossing issues, no MAN can choose how he apologizes. He must wait for her to tell him it's alright to apologize. Possibly after legal or other punitive action. If a woman has indicated you are unwelcome (see above quick triggers, but also including but not limited to: lack of eye contact, moving away from you, looking for other people, trying to wrap up the conversation) and especially if a WOMAN has told you in ANY way or to ANY degree that she finds your friendly conversation unwelcome, your apology is YOU, VANISHING. You MEN have forfeited the right to unburden yourself by even ATTEMPTING to apologize to her until she forgives you, assuring her that you have learned things until she praises you. When a MAN has made a woman uncomfortable, he shows her he is sorry by leaving her alone. Hanging around or hovering nearby in hopes of finding the opportunity to apologize is absolutely indistinguishable from stalking, both of which have the same roots. Apologizing and stalking are a MAN's motives and feelings trumping a WOMAN'S right to exist in a world without him in it. Dudes across the world need to understand this; until then, they're just adding creeptown to injury just by being men and trying to talk to women or later apologize to women for any offense they may have caused. Overall, Readercon was a wonderful time - I got to catch up with friends, and meet new people who were great, which is what all the best cons are about. But I also wanted to talk about this, because I think that's important too. ------------------------------------------- This blog is mean in no way to disparage men or women, nor is it meant to detract from any real crimes or indiscretions that may have been made. It is merely an illustration of what the original blog sounded like with a slightly different filter.
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