ETA: Based on suggestions in the comments, I will be contacting the major publishers to try to find out who to contact if you’ve experienced this sort of harassment from one of their employees. I will publish that information as soon as I can.
Yesterday I posted about the good that was WFC. Today I wanted to talk about some of the bad and the ugly.
Over the course of the convention, I ended up talking to several different women about a particular editor from one of the major publishing houses. Each one of these women, all of whom are writers, described how this editor would ogle their chests, give uninvited massages, or explicitly compliment them on their breasts.
The more I heard these stories and thought about them, the angrier I got. Bad enough when a random creep at a con puts his hands on you without permission, or sits there leering at you. What do you do, as a writer, when it’s an editor? Someone who might be able to give you your big break, but could also ruin you, at least at this particular house?
(Gosh, it’s a good thing there’s no sexism in SF/F anymore, eh?)
And what do I do? I didn’t witness this behavior first-hand. Oh no, this guy was always perfectly civil around me. Nor do I feel comfortable telling other people’s stories for them. Meaning … what? I just write a vague post about editors who sexually harass writers?
So far, only a few other options have come to mind.
1. I can point out the back up project. The project does make a good point that, “it is unlikely that a woman who is already being followed around a con hotel by a strange guy will feel as comfortable asking another strange guy to walk with her to her car as she would asking another woman.” But if you feel comfortable asking me for backup, I’ll say yes. And if I see this behavior, I’ll do my best to challenge it. (Hey, he’s not my editor. The dude has zero power over me…)
2. I can point out that he has little real power over anyone else, either. Editors are not as powerful as they think. The truth is, if you’re a good writer, this guy isn’t your only option. There are other editors looking for good books. And ultimately, if your writing isn’t ready yet, then it doesn’t matter how much he looks and/or touches you; he’s not going to buy a book from you. Either way, this individual has no actual power over you.
3. I can point out that you’re not alone. I know sometimes this sort of thing can make you feel alone, but if you’ve been harassed by some guy at a con or elsewhere, I guarantee you’re not the only one he’s done it to.
I suspect this sort of thing is often overlooked because people tell themselves it’s not that bad.
I think it’s bad enough. It’s an unforgivable abuse of one’s position as editor. It’s an inexcusable way to behave toward others. And it’s not something that anyone should have to put up with.
Thoughts and discussion are welcome, as always.
November 2, 2010 @ 3:43 pm
I hope whoever this guy is, he reads this post and realizes that people are spreading the word about what an asshole he is.
Jim C. Hines
November 2, 2010 @ 3:49 pm
I have no idea if he’s a blog-reader or not, but that would be nice. (Or better yet, the mirror of this post over at LJ, which is already up to 40+ comments…)
November 2, 2010 @ 3:53 pm
Oh, yes! Even better.
I understand why you’re not naming the guy, but I wish I knew who it was. Not that I’m in his league, but it would be nice to know who never to submit to.
Tweets that mention Jim C. Hines » Editorial Boob -- Topsy.com
November 2, 2010 @ 3:58 pm
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MikeBrendan, Qwill, Jaym Gates, Lavie Tidhar, Jim C. Hines and others. Jim C. Hines said: New Post: Editorial Boob http://bit.ly/9Mxbz2 […]
November 2, 2010 @ 4:01 pm
November 6, 2010 @ 1:55 am
This isn’t directly related (and doesn’t involve an editor or publisher), but it’s on the same subject (sexual harrassment) and involves, er, Yale University and a fraternity that claims two former US presidents (both Bushes) among its alumni.
I understand high spirits and all that, but what would possess ANYONE to run around chanting things like, “No means yes, yes means anal,” and “I fuck dead women” (which these gits were, moreover, chanting outside of women’s dormitories).
Jim C. Hines
November 6, 2010 @ 8:54 am
My first question would be how much they had been drinking. There’s also the group dynamic which can leads to the diffusion of responsibility, and sometimes encourages the lack of … well, any thought whatsoever.
Sounds like the university is taking it seriously, though I’m (sadly) not surprised to hear some folks online are brushing it off as “boys will be boys.” I despise that particular defense. Boys will be what we teach them and encourage them and permit them to be.
November 8, 2010 @ 5:13 pm
I think there’s an equation that says “For every teen/college student added to the group, the collective IQ of said group goes down by 10 percent.” I may be off on my percentage, and I think it’s a geometric change. There’s also a “critical mass” point where individuals in the group suddenly recover their IQ and start flaking off at the edges. Young men in groups X drunkenness = massive stupidity.
But yes, boys will be what we encourage and insist that they be.
Words, words, words, art. » Blog Archive » Geek Culture and Inclusivity
December 16, 2010 @ 2:21 pm
[…] Violence Against Women are, the overwhelming majority of published authors being white and male, industry editors and publishers sexually harassing (female) employees and potential authors, enough incidents of sexual harassment/casual misogyny that a wiki is needed to keep them all […]