Reporting Sexual Harassment in SF/F
Please see http://www.jimchines.com/2013/07/reporting-sexual-harassment-2013/ for the most current version of this post.
I want to make it as clear as I can that if you’ve been sexually harassed, it’s your choice whether or not to report that harassment. It’s not an easy choice, and as we’ve seen, even written policies don’t guarantee the outcome. But I can tell you that if someone has harassed you, it’s 99% certain that he (or she) has done it to others. You’re not alone.
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.
- Ace: See Penguin, below.
- Apex Publications*: “Any harassment issues related to Apex Publications should be sent to Jason Sizemore.” jason -at- apexbookcompany.com.
- Baen*: Toni Weisskopf, toni -at- baen.com. From Toni, “You would come to me with any complaint about the company.”
- DAW*: Sheila Gilbert (sheila.gilbert -at- us.penguingroup.com) or Betsy Wolheim (betsy.wolheim -at- us.penguingroup.com). They can be reached during normal office hours, Tuesday through Thursday.
- Del Rey/Spectra*: HumanResources -at- randomhouse.com.
- Edge*: Brian Hades (publisher -at- hadespublications.com).
- Harper Collins: feedback2 -at- harpercollins.com.
- Orbit: Andrea Weinzimer, VP of Human Resources. andrea.weinzimer -at- hbgusa.com. Inappropriate conduct can also be brought up with the publisher, Tim Holman tim.holman -at- hbgusa.com.
- Penguin: Contact page links to an e-mail submission form.
- Random House: Contact page has some info.
- Roc: See Penguin, above.
- Solaris Books: Please use the Contact Page.
- Tor*: Report the incident directly to Macmillan Human Resources, or to Beth Meacham, at bam -at- panix.com or in person.
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 or other fans. If this happens at a convention, another option is to contact the convention committee. Many (but not all) conventions include harassment policies in the program books.
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.
The Con Anti-Harassment Project includes a list of SF/F conventions and their sexual harassment policies (Note – As of October 2011, this list is rather outdated.)
Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) – Per John Scalzi, current SFWA president:
If there is an instance where someone feels that they have been harassed at a SFWA event or in SFWA online environs, they may contact the board. This should ideally be done through their regional director, or by contacting SFWA’s ombudsman, Cynthia Felice, at ombudsman -at- sfwa.org. SFWA takes very seriously the responsibility to have its events and online areas be places where members and others feel safe and valued.
What to Expect:
Ideally, someone who was sexually harassed could report it and expect to be treated with respect. Her or his 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 may mean a report results in nothing more than a warning (particularly if this is the first report of harassment). And as we’ve recently seen with Readercon, there are no guarantees that a convention will even follow its own policies.
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 backlash against the Readercon decision suggests that a lot of us are taking sexual harassment more seriously.
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 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.
- The Back Up Project See also http://backupproject.livejournal.com/
- The Backup Ribbon Project
- On Harassment Policies, via Cheryl Morgan. Discussion and examples of convention harassment policies.
- Sample Conference Anti-harassment Policy, from the Geek Feminism Wiki. I particularly like that the policy includes internal guidelines for convention staff.
- The Con Anti-Harassment Project (Out of date, but still includes useful examples and information.)
Please contact me if you know of related resources which should be included here.
July 31, 2012 @ 11:42 am
I was sexually harassed by a female temp worker at my old job. I had no idea what to do. All the sexual harassment training we had gone through was oriented toward women being harassed. I didn’t know if HR would take me seriously. I told the person in the cube next to me what was happening, and she said, “Shut up. You’re a guy. You probably like it.” I never did go to HR. I just took different routes through the building and disappeared into the bathroom if I saw her coming until her six-month contract ran out.
All these years later, I’m actually more upset with the “You probably like it” than the temp worker that wouldn’t take a hint.
Under the Beret » The Readercon Thing
July 31, 2012 @ 12:04 pm
[…] Jim C. Hines: “Reporting Sexual Harassment in SF/F” […]
July 31, 2012 @ 1:00 pm
August 1, 2012 @ 3:40 pm
That’s terrible! I’m so sorry you received that response. Completely unacceptable. Telling any victim of harassment that “they probably liked it” is so far from appropriate response from any person with the slightest shred of empathy or compassion that words fail me.
Jim, thanks for updating and reposting this!
That Word Grrl
August 2, 2012 @ 3:38 pm
I run the Backup Ribbon Project (backupribbonproject.wordpress.com), a small division of the overall Backup Project you mention. I distribute BACKUP ribbons so fans can identify themselves at cons as being willing to step in and help if needed.
Thank you for this helpful list, which I have tweeted. Your site has also been added to the blogroll.
That Word Grrl
Jim C. Hines
August 2, 2012 @ 6:51 pm
Not okay that it happened, and not okay for someone else to dismiss and blow you off like that.
It definitely happens to guys too, and it sucks. Nobody has the right to do this crap, period.
Sean the Bookonaut
August 4, 2012 @ 10:17 pm
I was going to say that that their needs to be some onus on us the blissfully unaware con-going public to become a little more aware of the possibility that harassment is occurring. But then I see the Backup Ribbon project and see that someone has already considered that angle.
I don’t think it should be just up to victims to report harassment. If we’re at a con and notice a person engaging in harassing behaviour, I think we should be able to report it. It may not be given the same weight as a report from a victim but it certainly adds weight if con goers independently notice and report a number of incidents. Imagine only one person has the wherewithal to report that they were harassed – that single case may not be dealt with or may receive a lighter ‘sentence’. But if several other con goers reported that the harasser was displaying odd behaviour it may add weight to a boards decision.
Convention tip #14: Don’t be a creeper, or, basic human decency 101
August 20, 2012 @ 12:59 pm
[…] more prolonged contact than just a con, but I suspect we’ve all known guys like this. Also: Reporting Sexual Harassment in SF/F, The Con Anti-Harassment Project and Why It’s Important To Cut That Creeper Guy From Your Social […]