Tag Archives: fandom

Sasquan, Exit Stage Left

Up until a week before Sasquan, the 73rd Worldcon, I was the Events Deputy Division Head and the Co-Director of the Hugo Ceremony. Resigning was a very difficult and painful decision. I did not do so lightly. Doing so left several of my friends in the lurch, and while I don’t regret walking away, I do regret the position I put my boss Jill Eastlake, and my co-director David D’Antonio in. They were both endlessly supportive during this entire situation and have taught me a great deal about how to make Events happen for a Worldcon.

It is common knowledge at this point that Lou Antonelli wrote a letter to the Spokane PD. It is also known that he went on the Superversive SF podcast and bragged about it. While many were rightly focused on David Gerrold’s reaction, the simple fact is that he wasn’t the only person harassed and intimidated, and he wasn’t the only one to report it. As the Co-Director of the Hugo Ceremony I reported my fear directly to my superiors. I did so several times – initially rather timidly because I didn’t want to make a fuss, but later rather firmly in a way that could not be misunderstood. One of the vice-chairs, Glenn Glazer, attempted to guilt me into not pursuing the complaint, and one of the Operations Division Heads, Robbie Bourget told me flat out that I hadn’t been harassed. When I pointed this out to them, I was told that I hadn’t ever made an official harassment complaint and lots of sarcasm that wasn’t in any way close to appropriate.

Senior members of the Sasquan committee responded to a member reporting harassment and asking for help with guilt trips, denial, victim blaming, sarcasm and dismissal.

In the interest of avoiding a he said/she said situation, I have PDFd all of the emails in this conversation and placed them in a Google Drive folder here:

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-XkKq2NGWUZfkEzMlNwMGl3amVndzZ1MmxmakhHUHpEdzJRNG1BOVNRYlBJZEZsd1dPT00&usp=drive_web

[EDIT – I have redacted the personal email addressed of those participating in this conversation. This is something I should have done before I posted, and I apologize for not doing so. ]

After a fair bit of crying, some time spent on the phone with Jill, and lunch with a good friend, I decided to resign. I cannot ever in good conscience support a committee that treats its members this way. Any member, including committee members and staff, should feel able to report violations of the code of conduct and be taken seriously.

Things did not improve when I got to the convention. I met with Pierre, one of the other vice chairs, who told me that because no evidence had been found online, it had been decided that I hadn’t been harassed. He told me that if I wanted to appeal this decision, I needed to speak to the Chair, Sally Woehrle. When I tracked Sally down, she gave me a number of excuses including “the convention could be sued,” “Antonelli would then become a martyr,” and “harassment is a legal term.” When I pointed out that intimidation (which is directly mentioned in the code of conduct) could easily be exchanged for the term harassment, she told me that I was bordering on irrational. And then, after all of that, she agreed that Glenn’s various responses to me were inappropriate.

It is going to be a while before I get over the whiplash that Sasquan has given me.

Deciding to speak out about this was in many ways just as difficult as deciding to resign. I was raised in and by fandom – so fandom is family to me in a very real way. Talking about this feels like airing dirty laundry, but if these sort of problems aren’t discussed, they will keep happening.  Reports of harassment will continue to be ignored and those who report them will continue to be mistreated. What good is a code of conduct if the committee doesn’t stand by it? We’re never going to make fandom a completely safe space, the world is full of people intent on hurting others. But we can, and we should do our best to make sure that our community spaces can be as safe as reasonably possible.

Performance Anxiety

I want to spend the weekend in Boston. There is a convention there that I very much want to attend – Arisia. At Arisia will be a very high concentration of my friends from all over the US: California, Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois and of course, pretty much the entire Eastern seaboard. I’ve missed all of these friends deeply over the last year even though I’ve been able to catch some time with them and I’ve been looking forward to this convention for a while now. But the thing is, I really don’t want to go.

Getting to Arisia involves spending four-ish hours on a bus and right now, that is the second to very last things I want to do. The only thing I want to do less is getting on another fucking airplane. Twenty-fourteen was amazing for a number of reasons – one of them being the number of new and exciting places I traveled to – but it has me 99% burnt out on travel. The grass is always greener and last year the other side was a home I didn’t have. Now I have that home and even though I logically know that it will be here waiting for me when I get back from Boston, it makes my skin crawl to think about getting on that bus.

It’s been difficult to write about my issues with traveling. I don’t want to seem ungrateful and I know just how magical it all looked. The reality was much different. I desperately missed my friends and family. I was frequently ill and the stress of traveling only made things worse on my body. A simple trip ‘home’ was expensive, time-consuming – usually at least fourteen hours one way, and involved dealing with customs and immigration. Usually by the time I got ‘home’ I was exhausted and barely had energy to enjoy the time with the people I had traveled to see. It was beyond difficult.

It’s not Arisia’s fault that it is the year anniversary of all that starting. I’m sure that I’ll have a great time there. But that doesn’t make me feel much better about getting on that damn bus.

In My Bubble

While overall I’m having a smashing time at Capclave this weekend, there was one encounter last night that I could have very much done without. My personal space was invaded, and someone made a remarkably inappropriate comment about what I was wearing. Why why why are these still situations that we have to deal with?

The Comment

Well into Saturday evening I made my way to the elevator lobby with my friend Sherman to go do something that I can’t remember. After waiting a few minutes, an elevator arrived and several fans spilled out. Most took a right turn down towards the parties but one walked right up to me. He bent 45º so that his face was only about an inch from my chest and said “Your shirt is ripped, I think you need a new one!” He then laughed, stood back up and starting making his way to the right down the hall to the parties.

What do you even say to something like that?

It should hopefully be understood that that was a hypothetical question. I know what you say to something like that. “Fuck off.” “Get out of my personal space.” “Please don’t say that to me.” “Don’t ever say that to me, it’s in appropriate.” “I don’t know you, please leave me alone.” But I couldn’t say any of those things. I was so stunned by the encounter that my mouth refused to form the words. Instead I laughed nervously, mumbled something about liking the shirt that I was wearing as is and scurried onto the elevator with my friend.

The Shirt

This situation makes much more sense once you know that I was wearing, am while I’m going to show you, I’m loathe to do so. Because no matter what I was wearing, this behavior was absolutely inappropriate. At no point did I say to this guy, “Yes, you can bring your face an inch away from chest and talk to them like they are sentient.” At no point did I say that to anyone this weekend, because that would be fucking weird. My shirt did not say anything on it other than ‘DC17’ and I can think of no language in which that phrase is an invitation.

This is a picture of the shirt that I was wearing that I sent to my husband earlier in the night.

Not an invitation

I feel like I should explain why the shirt looks like that, but I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have the urge to explain what I was wearing, because it shouldn’t fucking matter. But I will, and I will be disappointed in myself and the world that I live in while I do.

One of my good friends Sydnie had the fabulous idea to DIY customize her DC17 bid shirt a while back to make them reflect a little better how much fun she is, and how much fun she’s having working on DC17. Let’s face it, a black t-shirt doesn’t always scream ‘AWESOME FUN TIME WITH AWESOME FUN PEOPLE!’ I saw her wear her versions of the shirt at Loncon and at Fencon. She did a few of them with a couple different designs, and I thought that it was a great idea that I was going to attempt myself. It didn’t go quite as I expected. It showed more skin than I was planning on, but I decided to wear it after all.

I almost didn’t. I was hesitant. I asked for opinions from several of my female friends and my husband. Was it too low-cut? Did it show off too much? Did it give people the wrong impression? I have a large chest, and so frequently something that looks flirty on someone with a smaller chest, looks provocative on me. This is true from everything to formal gowns, to cut out t-shirts, to thick strapped tank tops. This is part of what it means to have a large chest. This is my reality. At a certain point you either decide that you will wear seven layers of tops even in the dead heat of summer to keep yourself looking ‘modest enough’ for everyone else, or that you just don’t give a fuck and you wear whatever the hell you want.

For the last year or so, I’ve been in the first camp. I’ve covered up. I didn’t want to be pre-judged by my breasts. This changed mid summer when I was visiting my friend in San Francisco in the middle of July and she said essentially “Woman, it’s the middle of July. Take the cardigan off and just wear the damn tank top.” Last night another step in the right direction of me feeling better about my body and deciding to wear what I wanted to wear regardless of what somebody else thought. But this isn’t about what somebody else thought anymore, it’s about what somebody else did. What they did to me.

The Reaction

Throughout the evening I found myself getting more and more upset about the entire situation. I was mad at this man who I don’t know. I’m mad that he decided that it was okay for him to invade my personal space. I’m mad that he decided to say something so inappropriate to me. I’m mad that he said it with that damn look in his eyes and with a waggle of the eyebrow. I’m mad that he thought it was okay. I’m mad that we live in a society that allows him to think that his behavior was acceptable. I’m mad at myself.

I’m mad that I was momentarily stunned and that I didn’t tell him then and there just how wrong what he said was. I’m mad that I was frozen by fear about what he might do to me next. I’m mad that I didn’t get the guy’s name to tell to the con chair when I sat down and talked to him about it. I’m mad that I had to talk to the con chair about this. I’m mad that I couldn’t find the guy for the rest of the evening to correct his assumptions about appropriate behavior. I’m mad that I’m going to be more cautious about the shirts that I wear. I’m mad that I will most likely put on conservative outfits instead of the fun outfits that I want to wear.

Like I said, I don’t know this guy. I don’t know his name. I only know that he was wearing a grey button down and that I could recognize him on site if he wandered into my line of sight again. I wish I did. I wish I could pound on his hotel room door right now and tell him that he can’t say shit like that ever again. So, grey button down shirt dude, if you happen to find yourself reading this, know that what you did to me was not okay. Know that it wasn’t alright to get so close to me, to stick your face in my chest or to say those words to me. You were wrong. Don’t do that again. Don’t do it to anyone in the first place.

I’m just so fucking mad. And I think I’m going to stay mad for a while.

Travel Bug

Today I shall pass through four airports. I will take a bus, three planes and a cab of some sort to get me to my destination: Washington, DC.

As fun as it is to travel to new and exotic places, I have to admit that it’s getting a little old to have to spend at least ten hours on a plane to go to a semi-regular convention. The people, however, are very much worth it.

So, if you’re in DC this weekend, let me know. I’ll be at Capclave and in the area until Tuesday and a few spare hours to get together with friends.

Necessary Evil

Nobody likes eleven hour flights. As much as I love going to places on the other side of the world, I don’t like eleven hour flights. But I need them. 

I frequently find it impossible to disconnect from the world. I feel itchy if I don’t have a wifi connection that can help me connect with people. Some of that I’m sure has to do with the volunteer work I do for Worldcon, but it’s also because of how I keep in touch with the majority of my friends and family. 

For the last five years I’ve lived at least several hours away from the large groups of people that I love and I used the internet very heavily as a crutch to keep in contact with them as I didn’t have the money to visit as frequently as I would have liked. 

Now, while I have the means to visit my friends frequently, I still live mostly in isolation and my phone and my laptop are very real extensions of myself that allow me to keep up with the world around me and the world my friends are in. 

But sometimes, I just need silence. I don’t get as much as I should. The ability to be connected to everyone has turned into what feels like an addiction, and even if I’ve sworn I’d put my phone away for dinner, I’ll sneak away to the bathroom to catch up. The ability to connect like this allows us to ignore our reality, and to a certain extent, ourselves. 

So, what does an eleven hour flight have to do with this? Well, turns out that most flights from Tokyo to England or the US lack wifi. I cannot connect. It’s a blessing and a curse. After I get rid of the shakes that come with the realization that I can’t in fact open Chrome and play on Tumblr or Facebook, I relax. I listen to music, I read a book, I sleep, I ignore the rest of the world, sometimes I even write. I cannot be productive in the usual way that I crave to be, but I am given the time to recharge so that I can be. 

I hate eleven hour flights. I love eleven hour flights. 

Leaving on Jet Plane

Will left for Japan this morning. At 8:30am (EST) his car showed up, his driver helped him drop his giant suitcases in the back, and off he went.

I admit, I was a little worried about how sad I would or would not be after he left. Will and I have played the long distance game before and it sucked. And of course, no newlywed wants to split up only a few months in. Thankfully, I’ve got an intense travel schedule that will keep me on my toes and allow me to see almost everyone that I want to see before I start my adventure in Japan. I’m also really grateful that I’ll have the two flights home to use. Convergence and Detcon will allow me to see pretty me to see two-thirds of the people that I’ll be missing the most, and then Worldcon will allow me to see the rest. Smofcon at the end of the year will give me the highest concentration of friends that I’ll be missing, so all in all not a bad year planned out.

I’m digging deeper and deeper into research about the area we’ll be living in and creating a long list of things to see and document in one way or the other. I’m exciting about planning a climb up Mt. Fugi. I didn’t think that climbing a mountain would be in my plans during college, but I’m happy to add it and actually get the chance to cross it off of my To Do list. To be fair, living in a foreign country wasn’t on that list, either. I’m tremendously excited about this entire opportunity.

It’s a grey day in NYC today. It’s hard to believe that I only have seven days left in this magnificent city. I’ve got a short trip to North Carolina this weekend and then I’ll be packed and ready to go. If Will’s firm wasn’t paying for movers and packers, I don’t know what I’d do. Well, whatever it would be, there would be a lot less of it. I’m going to hit as many museums this week as humanly possible. Scratch that, enjoyably possible. I always hated running ragged during trips as a kid. Wen I visit somewhere, I want to enjoy the place. Not make myself miserable trying to pack every little bit in.

One of my fellow interns from the summer is crashing with me this week, and I have no doubt that she’s helping me keep the blues away. Julie is always full of life, and I’ll be staying with her for a while in Chicago in February.

And now, back to bed for some reading. This is probably my last lazy Sunday in months, and I’m going to enjoy it.

Exodus

I changed my subscription to the SmofList this morning. I will no longer be getting the emails. It’s just not worth it anymore. 

My mother had me added to the list several years ago. When I joined, I was excited. Finally, a spot at the ‘grown up’ table. The chance to join conversations on how to make fandom and conventions better. To learn from great people with more experience that I’d looked up to for years. 

The List at present is much different than the list that I joined. Since I’ve only been on the list for several years, I asked a friend if they’d ever seen it this bad. They said that they had seen the list this hot before, and that it’s gotten hotter for longer before, but they weren’t sure that it had ever stayed this hot for this long. There are no more productive conversations. There are endless arguments and conversations that are derailed by people trying to make a light joke to make things easier. Very few people are friendly, and it feels like everyone (not just new members) feel like they are under attack. I wanted a channel to continue communication that started in the consuite, and in the bridge, and The List is no longer that. 

This weekend I went to Smofcon and I found out that one of the people that I wanted to engage with no longer even reads The List because its so toxic. That was at once so, relieving and so disappointing. I’ve been sticking around this shitty place where this person isn’t even going anymore?! But on the other hand I can finally leave! 

Deleting all of the unread threads in my inbox was magical. It felt just as good as knowing I’d done a good thing for fandom. 

I’m looking forward to spending more time actually doing things, than talking and arguing in circles about them.