Reporting Sexual Harassment in SF/F, 2013 Edition
I first put together this resource list in 2010. I intend to keep updating and reposting it every year until it’s no longer necessary.
If you’ve been sexually harassed, it’s your choice whether or not to report that harassment. It’s not an easy choice, and I obviously can’t guarantee the outcome. But I can tell you that if someone has harassed you, it’s 99% certain that they’ve done it to others. You’re not alone.
Please also see this post by Elise Matthesen about reporting sexual harassment. Of particular note is her explanation of the “formal” reporting process vs. informal or anonymous reports.
Reporting to Publishers:
As a general rule, if you’ve been sexually harassed by an editor or another employee of a publisher, complaints can be directed to the publisher’s H.R. department. Please note that reporting to H.R. will usually trigger a formal, legal response.
I’ve spoken to people at several publishers to get names and contact information for complaints, both formal and informal. I’ve put asterisks by the publishers where I spoke with someone directly.
Publishers – I would love to expand this list with better information. Please contact me.
Reporting to Conventions:
Often harassment doesn’t come from editors, but from authors, convention guests, or other fans. If this happens at a convention, you can contact convention security, ops, and/or the convention committee. Many (but not all) conventions include harassment policies in the program books and the websites.
A convention committee doesn’t have the same power as an employer. However, if harassment is reported at a convention, the individual may be confronted or asked to leave. In addition, reporting harassment by guests (authors, editors, etc.) is very helpful to the convention in deciding who not to invite back.
To any convention staff, I would encourage you to make sure you have a harassment policy in place, and equally importantly, that your volunteers are aware of that policy and willing to enforce it. Please see the “Other Resources” section below for starting points on developing such a policy, if you haven’t already done so.
Please see also John Scalzi’s Convention Harassment Policy Pledge, which has been c0-signed by more than 700 people who will not attend conventions that lack a posted and adequately publicized harassment policy.
Per SFWA’s president Steven Gould, if you feel you are being harassed at a SFWA event or in SFWA online environs, please contact any SFWA board member, employee, or our ombudsman, Cynthia Felice, at ombudsman -at- sfwa.org. You don’t have to wait until after the fact to report it. (Though that is also your choice. There is no expiration date on harassment.)
What to Expect:
Ideally, someone who was sexually harassed could report it and expect to be treated with respect. Their concerns would be taken seriously, and all possible steps would be taken to make sure the behavior did not happen again, and that the offender understood such behavior was unacceptable. Disciplinary action would be taken when appropriate.
This is not a perfect world. Employers are required to follow the laws and their own policies, which take time. Even a formal report may result in nothing more than a warning (particularly if this is the first report of harassment).
That said, when I originally posted about sexual harassment in fandom, everyone who responded expressed that such behavior was unacceptable. And there were a lot of responses, from fans, authors, editors, con staff, and agents. The growing conversation suggests that more and more of us are taking sexual harassment seriously and working to put an end to this behavior.
As a rape counselor, I saw how powerful and important it can be to break the silence around assault and harassment. However, it’s always your choice whether or not to report. Making that report will be stressful. It may also be empowering, but there are no guarantees. It may or may not have visible results.
First and foremost, please do whatever is necessary to take care of yourself.
Please contact me if you know of additional resources that should be included here.
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