The Readercon Mess
Much of the SF/F community has posted about the Readercon mess, where Rene Walling harassed and stalked Genevieve Valentine throughout the convention. BC Holmes has a roundup of links and discussion here.
Readercon’s official statement announced that Walling had been banned from Readercon “for at least two years.” Honestly, my first reaction was relief that they had done anything at all, given how often this sort of behavior gets ignored or excused. But then I read further, and discovered that Readercon has a zero-tolerance policy about sexual harassment:
“Harassment of any kind — including physical assault, battery, deliberate intimidation, stalking, or unwelcome physical attentions — will not be tolerated at Readercon and will result in permanent suspension of membership.”
There was no question that Walling’s behavior fell under this definition. The board at Readercon simply chose to ignore their own policy. I’m sure they believe they had good reason. I’m equally sure it doesn’t matter. Whatever you might think of zero-tolerance policies, Readercon made a promise to its members that sexual harassment would not be tolerated, and would be dealt with in a certain way.
They broke that promise.
I’m not going to write a long rant here, both because I’m still recovering from the last rant, and because so many others have made the points I would have made (usually better than I would have done). Here are a few links I wanted to highlight:
- Genevieve Valentine’s original post, response to the verdict, and her follow-up.
- Rose Lemberg: Enough with the Aspie Bit Already. What she said, dammit! If you hear about someone sexually harassing another person, and your instinct is to assume a) Oh, they must be one of those Aspie types and/or b) that this somehow makes it okay, then please just go the hell away. My son is ASD, and I don’t have the spoons to deal with you right now.
- Elizabeth Bear: It’s not about the man. From Bear’s post, “We are not calling for Walling’s punishment. We are calling for the right of Valentine and other women to exist in an environment without predators.”
- Rose Fox: This is the opposite of what I wanted. Rose has decided to remain on the concom for Readercon. I appreciate and respect her for making this choice, and for working from within to try to make Readercon a safer place.
- Concom member Matthew Cheney has resigned as a result of this decision. “I want to live in a world that’s more about rehabilitation than punishment. But rehabilitation is not the responsibility of an event or its committees. If you hold an event, your job is to make sure the people who attend are as safe as you can reasonably ensure.”
- Veronica Schanoes’ petition to the Readercon Board.
I hope other conventions are paying attention and taking notes on what to do and what not to do in order to create a safe environment for their attendees.