Mark Oshiro Says ConQuesT Didn’t Act On His Harassment Complaints

Two-time Hugo nominated fanwriter Mark Oshiro (Mark Watches Star Trek), ConQuesT’s Fan Guest of Honor in 2015, has publicly aired on Facebook his grievances about the racism, sexual harassment, and abuse he experienced at the con after working within the con’s complaint process produced no action.

In light of what I’ll reveal at the end, I find it more important than ever to talk about the persistent and pervasive racial and sexual abuse/harassment I was the victim of at ConQuesT because I did everything I was told to do in the event that I was harassed. I reported most of the events you’ll see described below, and I did not do so anonymously. I stuck my name on every incident report, partly because I was not afraid, but mostly because I wanted things to change. If putting my name on a report ensured that a better community could be built from my actions, then I felt it was worth it.

Alas, that does not seem to be the case.

ConQuesT is held annually over Memorial Day Weekend in Kansas City. The three-paragraph Behavior policy in effect at last year’s con began with clear expectations:

Behavior

ConQuesT is committed to offering a convention experience as free from harassment as we can make it for our members, regardless of characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, age, race, religion, nationality, or social class. We do not tolerate harassment of convention participants in any form. ConQuesT attendees violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the convention without a refund, at the discretion of the convention organizers.

Before suffering any violations of the con’s behavior policy, Oshiro’s weekend as ConQuesT 46 Fan Guest of Honor got off to a rocky start because of poor hospitality. He was due a comp room but had to use his own card to register ‘til the committee straightened that out. The room was in the hotel’s secondary tower. He and his friend (now partner) were driven to a restaurant for the guest of honor dinner, but were not seated at the chairperson’s table with the rest of the GoH’s (George R.R. Martin, Nene Thomas, Brandon Sanderson, and Toastmaster Selina Rosen). At the end of the meal they were asked to pay, another mistake that had to be fixed. Oshiro says there were added reasons for his sensitivity about these problems.

As a brief aside, I wanted to provide some emotional context to this. Baize and I were the only people of color in this entire group, and both of us are gay. I’ve struggled my whole life with reading situations to see if I’m actually being discriminated against, and the fear that that had happened to us was particularly strong that whole dinner. We are both part of marginalized communities that had very little representation in this group, and it became impossible not to consider the possibility that we were treated differently because of it.

At Oshiro’s first program item he was sexually harassed – by the con’s toastmaster.

I was moderating a panel titled, “Are Fans More Open Minded?” The panel progressed wonderfully for about ten minutes before it was derailed and then never made it back to normal. Early into the panel, someone in the audience made a joke about the panelist Selina Rosen, who sat next to me on my left and was ALSO a Guest of Honor at the convention. They called her a princess, and in response, she stood up and pulled her pants down to her ankles. For the next few minutes, Selina, wearing nothing but men’s boxers, proceeded to periodically rub her bare leg against mine. At first, I thought she was merely bumping me, but she kept doing it, over and over, and if I looked at her while she was doing it, she would make a face at me.

I texted Keri O’Brien, the Vice Chair for the convention, and told her that Selina had taken off her pants again. (She had done so at ConQuesT 45.) Within a few minutes, Selina had pulled her pants back up and Keri arrived and pulled Selina out of the room. Selina returned, and she made the bulk of the remainder of the panel about how fandom was NOT open-minded because someone had reported her for removing her pants. Multiple things happened in response to this. In a strange sign of solidarity, another panelist, Robin Wayne Bailey, removed his OWN shirt and kept talking about his nice body and his big muscles. Selina tried to grill multiple members of the audience to determine if they had been the ones to report her, even going so far as to yell at anyone who chose to leave the room, accusing them of being a “rat.”

(Tiffany Robbins saw Rosen’s act in 2014 and wrote in ConQuesT 45: 10 Things I Learned From Selina Rosen – “8. Sometimes, it’s okay to pull your pants down to your ankles in a public setting.”)

Then Oshiro described how, later that night at a room party in the main hotel, his partner Baize was sexually and racially harassed. (The full text of Oshiro’s post appears below, following the jump.)

On Sunday he was the moderator on a panel titled, “Erasure is Not Equality” and had this experience:

This panel was specifically about the erasure of people of color in historical fiction, fantasy, and other genres. I was the only person on the panel who was not white. Furthermore, not one person on the panel seemed to understand the point of the panel, which was to talk about erasure. Instead, the conversation teetered between self-righteous back-patting and flat-out racism. Within the first five minutes of the start of the panel, I brought up a topic for us to discuss: how “historical accuracy” is often poorly used as a defense of the erasure of people of color. One panelist, Chris Gerrib, then began to talk about how people misunderstood history. The “Indian” people in Central America were already busy “killing each other” by the time the Spaniards arrived. When I asked for clarification, Gerrib confirmed that he believed that the Spaniards were “unfairly blamed” for the genocide of the indigenous cultures in Central America. I was so horrified by his continued talk of this ahistorical point that, after very little conversation, I asked that we change topic.

This set a tone for the remainder of the panel, which was easily the worst panel I have ever been a part of. All three of the white panelists confidently stated things that were simply not true; each of them kept saying “Indian” when they actually meant Native American or indigenous; every few minutes, more than half the audience was viscerally horrified by what the other panelists said. At one point, Jan Gephardt derailed the panel into talking about women instead of race and said that she was “happy to see any sort of women, like black or white or green.” Gerrib then chimed in with, “Or purple.” She also responded to a lengthy point that myself and an audience member made about the physical and emotional injury that can come from experiencing racism by reminding us that “racism is not real” because race “is just a social construct.” During a different conversation about how many authors mistakenly blur the line between different cultural groups, Chris Gerrib jokingly said, “Did you know that the Japanese aren’t the same as the Chinese?” Jan’s response? The Japanese and Chinese just think they’re different in their heads. She heavily implied that they were mistaken in this belief.

Oshiro told about several other disturbing comments on the panel. And he outlined another harassing experience he had at a fireworks viewing party. That night, he reported all of these incidents to committee members Keri O’Brien and Jesi Pershing.

They were both incredibly professional and sympathetic to myself and Baize, and I have nothing negative to say about that specific experience. They did exactly as they should: they made the two of us feel better, and they were very thorough in getting details about all of the above experiences. I was asked what I wanted done. I did not recommend that anyone get kicked out or un-invited for future years. I simply wanted two things:

1) That those I reported not be allowed on programming that triggered such a terrible response in them. (That was mostly in regards to the “Erasure is Not Equality” panel. A panel about race should not have one lone person of color on it.)

2) That someone tell these people that there’d been a report made about their behavior and that they should not behave in a way to make people feel so upset and unwanted.

I was realistic about what I wanted. You can’t make everything a teaching moment, and some people might not want to learn. But I needed someone to tell each of these people that their actions made someone else feel terribly unwelcome at the convention. I just wanted the conversation to be started.

Oshiro completed about seven incident reports and signed them.

I was told that the concom would discuss them, and that, at the very least, some action would be taken, either a notification about their behavior and a warning, OR people would not be invited back for programming in the future.

Months went by. Jesi Pershing, in her official capacity as part of the concom, would give me periodic updates. Sometimes, if I saw her at another con, I would ask her what the status of my reports were. She had recommended specific courses of action in response to my incident reports, and [convention chair Kristina Hiner] seemed to agree to them. But last month, she finally told me that, nearly eight months after I’d reported multiple people, ConQuesT and Kristina Hiner had done absolutely nothing with my reports.

In contrast, at another convention where he experienced a problem, the committee immediately resolved his complaint:

Harassment is unfortunately a part of my experience at SF/F conventions. Not at all of them, but at most of them, something happens to me. I’m an outspoken queer Latinx, and it’s inevitable. However, since ConQuesT, every con staff that I’ve had to make a report to has dealt with my report quickly and fairly. At ConFusion this year, the concom dealt with my incident report in two hours. Meaning they spoke to the person and that person apologized to my face within two hours.

Oshiro recognized that ConQuesT was not going to take action, and decided it was time to go public.

And a month ago, after she told Oshiro about the committee’s inaction, Jesi Pershing left the committee, as she explained today on Facebook:

Shortly after the ConQuesT 2015 ended, I typed up the incident reports I had taken, along with my recommended follow-up for each incident, and passed them along to the chair. My understanding was that she agreed with the actions I recommended, and that the Board did as well. The actions I recommended either needed to come from the Chair or Board, or required certain decisions to be made by the Chair or Board before I could enact them. This is where things stalled out. I heard that the Chair and Board agreed with what I had recommended…and then I basically heard nothing.

I inquired several times, both in email and in person, over the next several months, as to where things stood, whether anything had been done, what the hold up was. At one point, it was expressed to me that the Chair was wondering, since we hadn’t done anything by now (I believe this was about four months after the con), should we even bother at this point? To which I gave an emphatic “YES” and was once again under the impression that action would be taken. It never was.

As Mark relates in his post, he was asking me for updates during this time. I let him know that a course of action had been agreed upon on (early on in the process when I thought that action being agreed upon meant action would be taken), and then, as time went on, I would have to tell him that, no, to my knowledge, nothing had been done. Still nothing. Still nothing.

In January, I had a sudden lightning bolt epiphany that, if nothing had happened up to this point, nothing was going to happen. I let Mark know that, in my opinion, the con was never going to take action on his reports, and that I was stepping down from the committee.

Combating harassment in our community is an issue that is very important to me – I’ve worked on writing and implementing Codes of Conduct at multiple conventions. When I take on a role like this at a convention, I feel that I am making a promise – a promise that complaints will be taken seriously and that, if warranted, action will be taken. I cannot work for a con that has made me break that promise, which is why I stepped down from the committee.

Keri O’Brien, who has stayed on as the 2016 ConQuesT chairperson, made this comment on Oshiro’s Facebook post:

I have never felt comfortable talking from the perspective of a whole group of people. That is not something I think I can easily do here. I am also the current chair of ConQuesT in Kansas City. A good friend of mine, Mark Oshiro, told his story today. This needed to happen I feel. There were some horrible things that happened last year and they did not get the attention they deserved. This post is part apology. Mark Oshiro and Baize Latif White should not have found out 9 months later that nothing had happened. This was a mistake, a terrible one. Caused by a series of miscommunications over the course of those months. The reasons are not as important as the hurt the mistake and miscommunication caused. ConQuesT is a very old convention but has only very very recently instated any sort of behavior policy. ConQuesT 46 was one of the first years that formal reports were taken in under this system. It was not handled well, at all. But this does not mean that it cannot learn from those mistakes. As chair for this year, it is my responsibility to ensure that any reports taken at con are dealt with in ways that respect our membership and our policies. Thank you for taking the time to read this, Keri O’Brien

O’Brien is just one of hundreds of fans who left comments on Oshiro’s Facebook page. Among them was Chris Gerrib who set out to apologize, only getting it right on the second try after Oshiro answered his first attempt, “I don’t se an apology here.” Gerrib wrote in his initial comment:

Since I was mentioned by name in the original post, I feel I should respond. I want to apologize. What I *intended* to say was that the Inca and Aztec empires were unpopular with other native tribes, and that the Spanish used that unpopularity to form an army with themselves at the head. I did not communicate that correctly, and I’m sorry. I don’t recall saying that the Spanish were unfairly blamed for anything, but if I said or implied otherwise I was wrong. Much of the current issues with Central and South America can be traced to bad Spanish decisions and/or conduct.

Then he followed up:

I am sorry you were miserable on the panel, and I’m sorry what I said caused that. My statement at the time was in error.

(Gerrib also discussed this at File 770 and in a similar comment on Vox Day’s post about Oshiro’s revelation.)

Other notable responses include K. Tempest Bradford’s “Expect More From Your Regional Convention”:

Kansas City fans have pointed out that it is the very essence of a local con. Most folks running it and putting people on panels know each other well and know the panelists. Robin Wayne Bailey  is a local and, from what I can gather, a regular at that con. Selina Rosen, who pulled down her pants, is apparently a serial pants taker off-er at that very con. Yes, this is a small local con. That means it’s probably even easier for programming volunteers to know that they’ve staffed a panel about diversity and erasure with one person of color and a bunch of problematic white folks who are prone to undressing at the slightest provocation.

And Rachel Caine is calling upon audiences not to let things slide, in “Dear Regional SFF Conventions: Enough Already”

But you know what? It’s not necessarily the fault of the volunteers throwing conventions. Audiences and panelists must hold each other accountable if fandom is going to continue as it began. ConComs are not gods. They can’t vet moderators, they can’t interview panelists about every panel topic to see if they’re qualified. They are organizers of a show for which they don’t get paid, and while they do shoulder the burden for responding to bad behavior, WE are responsible for responding immediately to the bad behavior in the first place. (I have been guilty of letting things slide, of trying to play “can’t we all get along,” of not pushing myself hard enough to be articulate and responsible. And I’m sorry. If you see me falling short or saying dumbass things, stand up and say so. I will learn and grow as a person from that discussion.)

Surprisingly, Oshiro says he’s still going to the Worldcon in Kansas City this year.

Mark Oshiro gave general permission to share his Facebook post; the full text follows the jump.

TRIGGER WARNING: For extended, detailed talk of racism, sexual harassment, abuse

This has not been an easy post for me to write. I’m keeping the introduction of it relatively short because I’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Over the past nine months or so, the events of my weekend at ConQuesT 46 have haunted me, and recent events inspired me to finally talk about my experience. I have spoken to nearly fifteen people, most of whom are a part of the SF/F community, about what happened to me so that I could get some insight. Was what I experienced wrong? Was I imagining the intensity of the weekend? Is it wrong for me to publicly talk about it?

In light of what I’ll reveal at the end, I find it more important than ever to talk about the persistent and pervasive racial and sexual abuse/harassment I was the victim of at ConQuesT because I did everything I was told to do in the event that I was harassed. I reported most of the events you’ll see described below, and I did not do so anonymously. I stuck my name on every incident report, partly because I was not afraid, but mostly because I wanted things to change. If putting my name on a report ensured that a better community could be built from my actions, then I felt it was worth it.

Alas, that does not seem to be the case.

*

I was invited to be the Fan Guest of Honor at ConQuesT 46. (From here on out, GoH will stand for Guest of Honor.) I was thrilled to take part in it, not just because I’d attended ConQuesT 45, but because George R.R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson would be guests alongside me. Hey, for my first GoH gig, that’s a pretty spectacular line-up! I arrived to Kansas City on the Wednesday before the convention, and my friend at the time (now partner) Baize was my guest. We headed to the con hotel and, upon check-in, discovered that we were placed in the secondary tower of the hotel, not the main one; the room was also not paid for, so I had to put my own card down. This was fixed by the time dinner was over, but it was a disconcerting start to a bad weekend. On Thursday evening, I was driven to Jack Stack BBQ for the guest of honor dinner, which Baize and I were quite excited about. We are both fans of the Song of Ice and Fire books and the show, so it felt like a very special occasion. We were ten minutes or so late due to going to the wrong location first. When we arrived, all of the guests of honor were present with their own guests, and they were all seated at the table. There were two open spots next to George R.R. Martin, so I gestured to them as I arrived, and Baize and I moved to sit in them.

The con chair, Kristina Hiner, stopped us. She told us the seats were for her and her husband. She then gestured behind us to an empty table two tables away from the main one, and told us we could sit there. By ourselves. I am certain she saw the glare of anger on my face and the confusion on my guest’s. We were so shocked that we couldn’t even say anything. She then quickly suggested that we sit at the table with the staff members, and we took the only two spots left at said table. They were literally the farthest point away from the Guest of Honor table. If it were not for our friend Jesi and two other staff members who briefly greeted us, not one person at that table would have ever said a word to us. We were ignored and segregated from the main table the entire time. (As a brief aside, I wanted to provide some emotional context to this. Baize and I were the only people of color in this entire group, and both of us are gay. I’ve struggled my whole life with reading situations to see if I’m actually being discriminated against, and the fear that that had happened to us was particularly strong that whole dinner. We are both part of marginalized communities that had very little representation in this group, and it became impossible not to consider the possibility that we were treated differently because of it.)

At the end of the meal, I was asked to pay for mine and my guest’s meal, unlike the entire guest of honor table. This was rectified after I told the server to please tell Kristina to include us on the main bill, which had nearly been paid for without us on it. After the meal, Kristina finally spoke to me after our initial confrontation, and I told her that we were in the wrong hotel, that my room had not been paid for, and that I felt weird about the evening. She assured me that everything would be taken care of and that my guest and I would be treated well.

I’m including this at the start of this because I want everyone to have context. While I didn’t make a report about this or opening ceremonies, I thought it relevant to include it here. It is necessary to help explain the atmosphere of this convention. When it wasn’t outright hostile to Baize and I, we were utterly invisible. Mistakes happen at cons, and by no means do I think that ConQuesT or ANY convention should never have anything go wrong ever. However, this was the start of an unnerving pattern.

By the time I got to programming on Friday afternoon, I felt deeply uncomfortable about my experience at ConQuesT thus far. I had two panels that I was on prior to Opening Ceremonies. I was moderating a panel titled, “Are Fans More Open Minded?” The panel progressed wonderfully for about ten minutes before it was derailed and then never made it back to normal. Early into the panel, someone in the audience made a joke about the panelist Selina Rosen, who sat next to me on my left and was ALSO a Guest of Honor at the convention. They called her a princess, and in response, she stood up and pulled her pants down to her ankles. For the next few minutes, Selina, wearing nothing but men’s boxers, proceeded to periodically rub her bare leg against mine. At first, I thought she was merely bumping me, but she kept doing it, over and over, and if I looked at her while she was doing it, she would make a face at me.

I texted Keri O’Brien, the Vice Chair for the convention, and told her that Selina had taken off her pants again. (She had done so at ConQuesT 45.) Within a few minutes, Selina had pulled her pants back up and Keri arrived and pulled Selina out of the room. Selina returned, and she made the bulk of the remainder of the panel about how fandom was NOT open-minded because someone had reported her for removing her pants. Multiple things happened in response to this. In a strange sign of solidarity, another panelist, Robin Wayne Bailey, removed his OWN shirt and kept talking about his nice body and his big muscles. Selina tried to grill multiple members of the audience to determine if they had been the ones to report her, even going so far as to yell at anyone who chose to leave the room, accusing them of being a “rat.” Near the end of the panel, an audience member asked the panel if fandom could be considered open-minded when it clung to so many of its own racist/sexist/homophobic heroes uncritically. Specifically, I addressed this in the context of the World Fantasy Award and brought up the fact that many people do not think we should criticize H.P. Lovecraft. Robin Bailey then responded by saying that anyone who spoke about Lovecraft’s racism should be considered “human garbage,” and said that Lovecraft was just a product of his time.

Following this panel, I went to opening ceremonies, where I once again felt invisible when Selina Rosen skipped introducing me. It was not until people in the audience yelled this out that they came back to me.

On Friday night, at a room party in the main hotel, my partner Baize was sexually and racially harassed by someone attending the same dance party: Liz Gooch. At multiple points during the evening, she gestured behind him as if she were going to grab his butt. She kept referring to it as his “juicy booty.” She danced around him and told me to “not let this sweet piece of chocolate go.” Despite that our body language clearly showed discomfort, Liz would not stop harassing either of us. We had to move to another side of the room, and we eventually told the person running the party what she was doing. We both considered that perhaps she had been so forward and gross because she was drunk, but I had multiple interactions with Liz Gooch when she was sober following that night. The next morning, she was leaving an elevator as I was getting in a different one. She turned around and made a number of sexual gestures while pointing at Baize, which including kissing faces, winks, and licking her lips in an exaggerated manner.

On Sunday afternoon, I was the moderator on a panel titled, “Erasure is Not Equality.” This panel was specifically about the erasure of people of color in historical fiction, fantasy, and other genres. I was the only person on the panel who was not white. Furthermore, not one person on the panel seemed to understand the point of the panel, which was to talk about erasure. Instead, the conversation teetered between self-righteous back-patting and flat-out racism. Within the first five minutes of the start of the panel, I brought up a topic for us to discuss: how “historical accuracy” is often poorly used as a defense of the erasure of people of color. One panelist, Chris Gerrib, then began to talk about how people misunderstood history. The “Indian” people in Central America were already busy “killing each other” by the time the Spaniards arrived. When I asked for clarification, Gerrib confirmed that he believed that the Spaniards were “unfairly blamed” for the genocide of the indigenous cultures in Central America. I was so horrified by his continued talk of this ahistorical point that, after very little conversation, I asked that we change topic.

This set a tone for the remainder of the panel, which was easily the worst panel I have ever been a part of. All three of the white panelists confidently stated things that were simply not true; each of them kept saying “Indian” when they actually meant Native American or indigenous; every few minutes, more than half the audience was viscerally horrified by what the other panelists said. At one point, Jan Gephardt derailed the panel into talking about women instead of race and said that she was “happy to see any sort of women, like black or white or green.” Gerrib then chimed in with, “Or purple.” She also responded to a lengthy point that myself and an audience member made about the physical and emotional injury that can come from experiencing racism by reminding us that “racism is not real” because race “is just a social construct.” During a different conversation about how many authors mistakenly blur the line between different cultural groups, Chris Gerrib jokingly said, “Did you know that the Japanese aren’t the same as the Chinese?” Jan’s response? The Japanese and Chinese just think they’re different in their heads. She heavily implied that they were mistaken in this belief.

Holly Messinger, a ConQuesT staff member, was also on the panel. She spent a great deal of time talking only about her own work, repeating the message that she had read “five books on Indians” and that she had written her first black character, who kept the white character “sane.” She stated at one point that she was “terrified” about the response her book would get because people would get “mad” about her writing an “Indian” character. When I asked for clarification – specifically, was she worried about getting representation wrong? – she told the room that she had no concern about that. She’d read five books about “Indians.” She was concerned that people of color would misinterpret her.

There were many more incidents on this panel, and I could not recount them all here. The panel ended on a sour note, too. Baize spoke up and pointed out that part of the problem with erasure was that there was only one person of color on a panel about race. Holly Messinger shot back, “Well, we’re in the Midwest.” I left the panel feeling drained and numb. If you were at ConQuesT that weekend and you wondered why Closing Ceremonies started late, it’s my fault. I dashed up to my hotel room to cry because I felt so triggered, rejected, and alone. I’ve been on uncomfortable panels, but this was unique. The entire panel was argumentative; my questions as moderator were constantly avoided or ignored; anything I tried to state was fought or dismissed or contradicted. It was exhausting.

Sunday night, at the viewing party for the fireworks display, someone accidentally sat on a remote and turned off the live news broadcast. A man behind Baize and I yelled out, “Cocksucker!” at whomever made the TV go off. We were both holding hands at the time, and while we didn’t think the expletive was directed at us, we still turned around and glared at the man. After the fireworks, I left the room quickly because… well, I’d heard so much nonsense all weekend that I needed to get out of that space before I lost my temper. The man sent his friend after us – some young woman whose name I did not get – who then harassed us for nearly a minute by repeatedly telling us that her friend was sorry and that we “needed” to know that he was a nice person and not a bigot. When I told her that I didn’t care, she actually said, “But I need you to know he’s a really nice guy.” It took me telling her, “Please leave me alone right now” for her to leave the hallway.

That night, I reported all of these incidents in one long session with Keri O’Brien and Jesi Pershing. They were both incredibly professional and sympathetic to myself and Baize, and I have nothing negative to say about that specific experience. They did exactly as they should: they made the two of us feel better, and they were very thorough in getting details about all of the above experiences. I was asked what I wanted done. I did not recommend that anyone get kicked out or un-invited for future years. I simply wanted two things:

1) That those I reported not be allowed on programming that triggered such a terrible response in them. (That was mostly in regards to the “Erasure is Not Equality” panel. A panel about race should not have one lone person of color on it.)

2) That someone tell these people that there’d been a report made about their behavior and that they should not behave in a way to make people feel so upset and unwanted.

I was realistic about what I wanted. You can’t make everything a teaching moment, and some people might not want to learn. But I needed someone to tell each of these people that their actions made someone else feel terribly unwelcome at the convention. I just wanted the conversation to be started.

*

I moved on. It’s now been nearly nine months since this happened. Why did I wait so long? Why didn’t I say anything earlier? Initially, it’s because I believed the process would work. I completed about seven incident reports total, as far as I can recall. I put my name on them, and I signed them. I was told that the concom would discuss them, and that, at the very least, some action would be taken, either a notification about their behavior and a warning, OR people would not be invited back for programming in the future. Months went by. Jesi Pershing, in her official capacity as part of the concom, would give me periodic updates. Sometimes, if I saw her at another con, I would ask her what the status of my reports were. She had recommended specific courses of action in response to my incident reports, and Kristina seemed to agree to them. But last month, she finally told me that, nearly eight months after I’d reported multiple people, ConQuesT and Kristina Hiner had done absolutely nothing with my reports.

I’ll reiterate that. No one was contacted. No one was spoken to. As far as I know, none of these people even know that they harassed me or my partner. Neither Kristina Hiner nor any of the Board ever took the steps to make any sort of follow-up happen. When Jesi realized that there was not going to be any movement whatsoever on this, she decided to step down from ConQuesT as a staff member. She could not, in good conscious, continue to work for an organizing that refuses to take action.

Harassment is unfortunately a part of my experience at SF/F conventions. Not at all of them, but at most of them, something happens to me. I’m an outspoken queer Latinx, and it’s inevitable. However, since ConQuesT, every con staff that I’ve had to make a report to has dealt with my report quickly and fairly. At ConFusion this year, the concom dealt with my incident report in two hours. Meaning they spoke to the person and that person apologized to my face within two hours. At that point, it almost seemed comical that over half a year had passed, and both ConQuesT and Kristina Hiner did nothing at all.

That’s why I’m talking. I did what I was supposed to. I kept quiet, I trusted the system in place, and it completely failed me. I will not be attending ConQuesT this year or for the foreseeable future. (I’m going to WisCon for the first time instead!) I don’t feel safe there, and ultimately, that’s why this bothers me so much. There are people who are part of that community who were actively hostile to me, and when I reported them, the message was sent loud and clear:

We don’t care about you. At all.

You have my permission to share this post on your own pages or outside Facebook.

 

430 thoughts on “Mark Oshiro Says ConQuesT Didn’t Act On His Harassment Complaints

  1. Curt: Please stop playing the “I’m an old guy” card. I find it distasteful when you use it to excuse your ignorance of Things Modern, and equally distasteful when you use it to tell us How Things Were Back Then. I’m 67–and female–and I can tell you that your accounts of fan (and general societal) attitudes about sexism and sexual assault certainly don’t tally with my experiences.

  2. lurkertype: I know a LOT of people older than Curt Phillips, and they’ve somehow managed to use this whole new-fangled intarweb contraption thingy. One of them’s well over 80 and has a smart phone, which I even don’t!

    I get the impression from the way his responses have been posted that Curt may be trying to participate in this forum via a smartphone which he’s only just learning to use, and hunt-and-peck typing. Which is difficult even when you’re proficient on a smartphone and have spent years interacting on the Internet. This is why I only use my smartphone for internet access as an absolute last resort when I don’t have a desktop or laptop or tablet available, and need to access a map or my e-mail.

    Starting out on the internet is hard — much more so now, when it’s become fairly highly evolved. Back in the days of Usenet and the early WorldWideWeb, most people were relative newcomers and were all learning together. So there wasn’t such a steep learning curve. And people tend to not have a lot of sympathy for someone who just comes charging in, assuming they know how it all works when they actually don’t, instead of hanging back and figuring out the lay of the land first.

    Curt, I think from what you’ve said, you had the mistaken impression that interacting on one of these forums was just like chatting in a consuite, or exchanging letters in a fanzine. It’s very different now — and I think that your experience here would have been very different, much more positive, if you had taken the time to familiarize yourself with how it all works, and learn the etiquette, rather than just diving in.

    My recommendation would be, until you’ve become really proficient at the internet, to only interact on forums like this if you’re using a desktop or laptop computer. Keeping up with it all on a smartphone is a Herculean task even for an internet pro (which is why I don’t attempt it, because I can’t stand the tiny fonts and hate hunt-and-peck typing when I can type 100 words a minute on a keyboard).

    The people here, even me! are pretty nice people — when they don’t perceive someone to be trying to tell everyone else what’s what without even bothering to familiarize themselves with the community first.

    I hope you’ll take the time to re-read this thread in its entirety, and come back to File770 with that added perspective, which I think will make a real improvement in the quality of your interactions here.

  3. Lurkertype: I’ve got to admit my personal con memories don’t go back all the way to 1976; I didn’t attend one till 1977, but I don’t imagine things changed hugely in one year.

    Truly, they were best of times, they were the worst of times. I have been Googling for something to help me explain them. If you aren’t already familiar with Janus, Jan Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll’s fanzine, do give it a try. Probably every issue has its share of analysis, but I see this one is retrospective about the degree of progress feminism made in fandom around that period. http://sf3.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/11-Vol-4-No-1.pdf.

  4. @Mike Glyer
    I’ve been mildly concerned that my comments, specifically about age, and fandom of 40 years ago, might have come off as insulting to you.

    If they did I’m sorry. I may have overreacted to Curt Phillips as he hit one of my hot button topics and I’m not sure I was as careful with my words as I normally try to be.

    Please accept my apology.

  5. Tasha Turner: I didn’t feel insulted, but I won’t let that stand in my way of accepting your apology. 🙂

    It’s late and I am about to turn in. When I’m awake in the morning I will reread the exchange. I had the impression Curt also made several apologies, and perhaps a fresh reading will help me understand why that didn’t resolve things.

  6. Mike Glyer: When I’m awake in the morning I will reread the exchange. I had the impression Curt also made several apologies, and perhaps a fresh reading will help me understand why that didn’t resolve things.

    The apologies are mostly of the sort “I’m sorry you misunderstood what I said”, “I didn’t say that (even though I essentially did)”, “It’s not my fault I didn’t take the time to learn Netiquette and get to understand the community before I leapt in and started posting, because I’m an old guy”, and “Well, you all are not the sort of friendly, kind fans *I* am used to hanging out with, so obviously the problem is with you”. 😐

  7. @Curt,

    a small number of brave women speaking up against sexual harassment in the past does not mean that women in general did not “keep their mouth shut” (because that was what was expected – to “not make a fuss”). A single exceptional person from an oppressed group speaking up against oppression does not mean that many more do not suffer through it in silence.

    A much better indicator is when, for members of that group, speaking up for themselves or against bad behaviour does not require bravery.

    We’re still not there: Women often still don’t report sexual harassment or assault; people are afraid of even sharing the information that they may be gay, or trans, and instead prefer to suffer in silence because they fear potential consequences. And those are just a few immediate examples, and today.

    I am very much a player on the lowest difficulty setting in most regards (straight cis white male). But even I can see those things.

    Best wishes,

    // Christian

  8. @LauraH: “Yes, if you’re a straight white male, I suppose fandom IS one big happy-go-lucky place. If you’re queer or a woman or a POC (that’s “person of color,” in case you’re not up on all this newfangled terminology), not so much. Some of us want to make it better, but it feels like we’re fighting an uphill battle, and the “I’ve never seen it happen so clearly it’s not a problem” attitude is part of the difficulty.”

    I used to feel right at home at one of the local conventions. That is no longer true. It took a while for the light to dawn, but I gradually came to realize that I was benefiting from what I can only describe as accidental camouflage. My skin color, body type, general mannerisms, and speech patterns make it easy for people to assume I fit into one box with one set of beliefs and allegiances, but the reality is quite different.

    I do have to credit the Puppy fiasco for speeding that process of realization along to the point where I acted upon it… by stepping down from the staff and taking the con off of my will-attend list. I regret that a little bit, because there are some people there I’ll genuinely miss – but there are many more who I am now convinced only reacted positively to me because they assumed I was of their right-wing tribe.

    So, yes – as a SWM, I indeed used to look at fandom as one big, happy family that did a good job of self-policing. I now realize that at the very least, I wasn’t seeing the whole picture. I was naïve, and I’m making an effort to do better and to see more clearly.

  9. Does anyone else find it outrageous that Curt has turned a thread about Mark Oshiro into one about himself, filling it with disingenuous walls of text?

    I call shenanigans. And possibly sealioning. I suggest we stop throwing fish to him.

    Plonk.

  10. Wow, looking over that issue of Janus sure makes me again appreciate the fanzines back in the day for their content and depth.

  11. Without getting into any specific people who may have been posting specific things in this thread, I will offer a tiny bit of hard-learned advice for cishet white men regarding discussions of sexual harassment:

    MOUTH OFF. EARS ON.

    People who are discussing sexual harassment with you are giving you a perspective that you, by definition, cannot share–what it is like when you are not around. There is no advice, no insight, no information that you can provide to the conversation, because it is about something that you (again, by definition) have no experience in and no expertise on. So just. Listen. Actively, intently, listen and accept the validity of what they’re saying. That is all you need to do in that particular conversation. At a later time, once you’ve fully processed the validity of what they’re saying and if they ask you for assistance in finding a solution, you can chime in, but that first time they talk about this to you?

    MOUTH OFF. EARS ON.

  12. @emgrasso Does anyone else find it outrageous that Curt has turned a thread about Mark Oshiro into one about himself, filling it with disingenuous walls of text?

    Yes I did at the time. I shouldn’t have continued responding to him as it was disrespectful of Mark Oshiro and what he’s gone through.

    @Mike Glyer
    This might be one reason why his apologies didn’t get far. He kept the focus on him. On how we should teach him 101 stuff in a thread about how a concom totally failed someone who was sexually and racially harassed numerous times. In addition to the con not treating a GoH as one. Also see JJs points.

    Thanks for the link to the issue of Janus. I haven’t gotten to read much yet but it looks fascinating.

  13. @Tasha Turner
    We’re trained to be polite, and it can be hard to get out of a harassing conversation once the rhythm of discussion has been established.

    When I came back to the thread this morning and scrolled and scrolled and scrolled (and scrolled) and it was all about him, I decided I had seen enough from him for a good long while.
    I thought about silently plonking, or just dropping the thread, but that would have been too much like the kind of silent tolerance of misbehavior that is, in fact, the topic of the thread.

  14. @emgrasso
    Yep I noticed at the time that my way of responding to him changed after he called out my anger. Which is a way of silencing people. It’s hard to know if it’s being done unintentionally or intentionally as its a part of institutional sexism/racism and baked into our culture. Even acknowledging it to myself at the time and kvetching to my husband about the tactics being used (conscious/unconscious) I continued to participate.

    As I said previously in the thread I’m much better standing up for others than I am for myself.

  15. Curt Phillips on February 23, 2016 at 10:24pm said:

    LauraH, are you talking about the Southern Fandom Classic group? I’m horrified to hear of this. I own and moderate that group and did so in 2009. I’m sorry but I don’t remember your name or anything about this incident.

    Curt, I am not surprised that an experience that I found deeply upsetting didn’t so much as make an impression on you.

    If you’d care to look at the SFC archives in late August/early September 2009, you’ll see this and its accompanying discussion threads, including when I quietly unsubbed from the listserv when it became clear that my harasser was going to keep doing what he was doing unchecked.

    Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2009 2:19 PM
    To: SouthernFandomClassic@yahoogroups.com

    > — In SouthernFandomClassic@yahoogroups.com, Robert [redacted]
    >
    >> Sorry, Laura, that you feel so, um, threatened by my
    >> comments. (And if having to deal with bullies in high
    >> school counts — “I’ll get you after school!” — then I
    >> have been both stalked and threatened.) But your
    >> personal scenario, with which I completely sympathize,
    >> is pretty far afield from the underlying discussion of
    >> addresses appearing in the SFPA Index (which they won’t,
    >> in case you’d missed that).

    > Robert, you weren’t making “comments.” You were, quite
    > frankly, grilling me. And kept on pressing for more and
    > more details. “Did they get your information from the
    > Internet?” “Was it a fan? “Did it happen at a con?”
    > You’re being fuggheaded, and I’m not responding to you
    > further after this.
    >
    > YES, I get that the index won’t have any addresses,
    > that’s fine, but the discussion had, in case you’d missed
    > it, taken on the rather broad-reaching topic of privacy
    > in general and why or why not someone might or might not
    > feel safe with sharing certain things.
    >
    > Good day.

    I didn’t make any grand pronouncement at that point; I just dropped out. You then decided for some reason to tell the entire list that I’d gone (flounce by proxy? I’m still confused by that).

    In a group of around 100 people, four, including your wife, oddly enough, but not you–a case of a woman doing the emotional labor for her husband?–wrote me privately to express regrets at my departure, but not a single one said anything publicly on the list at the time.

    (FYI, this is a good article on the concept of emotional labor: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/08/women-gender-roles-sexism-emotional-labor-feminism )

    So while fandom, and Southern fandom, may be your comfortable, happy place, please understand that if some of the rest of us want it to be that way for us as well, we’re having to fight for it.

    Sometimes we get tired of fighting the same battles over and over and over again and we simply go away, and thus the community is diminished by all of the people who’ve been run out of it.

    As for what to do to make the situation better—several commenters here have said it but I’ll say it again. When someone starts talking about their lived experiences with harassment, don’t poo-poo them. Realize that your experience of fandom isn’t the only one.

    Learn from the past, and don’t repeat it. When someone is being harassed and you’re in a position to stop it, then please do so.

  16. I actually thought Curt was (eventually) listening and (mostly) being humble, though he didn’t always understand. I think he was shocked at how much he didn’t understand. He also was aware that this discussion was taking over the thread, and tried a couple of times to end it. I kind of hope he reads up, listens for a while as several have suggested, and comes back with somewhat more understanding.

    I think there are a *lot* of fans like him still, and they need to understand this stuff, which, yes, I would rather they had learned a long time ago. But people tend to talk to their own crowd. Look at the Puppies.

  17. Thanks to emgrasso and Tasha Turner. When I checked the thread this morning, I was a bit dismayed to see how much the focus had drifted from Oshiro’s experience, especially given that the entire post is dedicated to that.

    One of the things I’ve been thinking about is Oshiro’s expression of self-doubt at the beginning and how internally complicated this can feel, “Oh, am I just making a big deal out of nothing? Am I letting earlier incidents color my reaction,” so there’s value even in the 500th repetition of “WTF, that’s horrible. I’m so sorry that happened to you.” I noticed in Oshiro’s Facebook comments, that he seemed particularly relieved to hear other people who went further, those who could say “Yeah, I was there too and it was just as bad as you thought.”

  18. Has there been any further comment from anyone on the ConQuesT BoD with regard to the topic of this thread? I tried reading through the replies to the thread since yesterday evening, but I started skimming through them after a while.

  19. @jonesnori/Lenore Jones I actually thought Curt was (eventually) listening and (mostly) being humble, though he didn’t always understand.

    I have to disagree. A number of the responses to him were go read x & go research x, y, z & take time to think about them. Instead he kept responding and made it clear he wasn’t off reading the links and certainly not taking time to think about things. His compliments to me were because I changed my way of responding to fit his requirements. But he still ignored my advice (research, listen instead of talk, don’t discount people’s lived experiences) and argued with my perception of his posts when he was mansplaining or talking about topics he knows little to nothing about. He even ended the conversation asking us to stop responding to him because he couldn’t keep up. Click the receive in email or come back another day. But interrupt a conversation and then tell people to end it because you are out of time? That’s a lot of things but not humble.

    OMG I just can’t stop letting him take over this thread.

  20. Curt’s last message ended

    Can I redirect this thread back to Mark Oshiro now? That matter is still a lot more important than what any of you think about me.

    Right after a bit of humble pie.

    I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when/if he returns if he sticks to that or if his comments indicate he is listening to the stories of harassment and how much of it slips under the radar of those it isn’t directed to (and not accidentally. Predators do not hide their actions by accident. ) or gets downplayed as a joke, sometimes even by eyewitnesses.

    (And indicating you’re listening doesn’t need to require answering everyone. Less exhausting).

    Maybe my patience is because I used to work with a woman about my mother’s age (which at the time was more middle age than old) who, despite having taken all the secreterial style and office computing classes from the community college that I never did, not only needed me to continue hr training when we learned a computer program new to us all, but periodically had to ask me to remind her how cut, copy and paste worked. Not a stupid woman, and quite more pleasant a person than me. But not a computer type.

    She came from a background of severe blue collar attitude as well as work; her mother cleaned houses, her father and husband worked in factories, not many of her siblings did much reading for leisure (her husband never became literate in English, though he read the Hungarian newsletters). She was working where she did because even data entry and phone office work had cachet in their circles. Were it not for that, she personally preferred cleaning (and a good cleaning job would have paid about the same).

    Worlds different from our own can be that close.

  21. @CKCharles

    One of the things I’ve been thinking about is Oshiro’s expression of self-doubt at the beginning and how internally complicated this can feel, “Oh, am I just making a big deal out of nothing? Am I letting earlier incidents color my reaction,” so there’s value even in the 500th repetition of “WTF, that’s horrible. I’m so sorry that happened to you.” I noticed in Oshiro’s Facebook comments, that he seemed particularly relieved to hear other people who went further, those who could say “Yeah, I was there too and it was just as bad as you thought.”

    This struck me also. Self-doubt and wondering if you are being too sensitive is hard. Validating someone is so important if they share privately or publicly. If you see an incident and don’t know what to do, going over to the person it was aimed at and letting them know you saw it and were appalled will mean the world to them. It may give them the support needed to report. At a minimum it lets them know they aren’t crazy and it really did happen.

    As bystanders there are so many things we can do:
    1. Let the person know we saw it and support them
    2. Text/call proper concom person to alert them to problem in progress
    3. Stand up and say something
    4. Take someone quietly aside and ask if they are aware that what they did was x
    5. File an incident report
    6. If you are on the concom do something at the time or right afterwards. You don’t have to wait for an incident report if you see someone behaving against the Code of Conduct. It’s your job to enforce it.
    7. Check in with the person later during the con to see how they are doing, offer to get together for coffee or tea and vent time
    8. Keep an eye out for the problem person and if you notice them doing the behavior again consider filing incident reports, talking with them about behavior, casually connect the 2+ people who were targets “hey you two might have something in common this con, your bad experience with x, I can’t believe what I’ve seen, what can I do to support you both” (this might not go well as the people involved might not want others to know. Possibly approach each asking if they’d like to meet someone at con who had similar experience without divulging names until both agree)

    I’m sure there are other things I’ve not thought of.

  22. I think I owe some people here an apology and an explanation.

    Somewhere way back upthread (before the derailment), I said to our resident Puppy that I didn’t think he sounded like someone with a disability, but like a predator who has learned to use people with disabilities as a shield. That needed more explanation, and I didn’t give it.

    I’ve been in fandom for over 40 years. Most of my friends and social circle are fannish, both online and in meatspace. As a result, I know a lot of people who have social disabilities of the type that was under discussion. A lot of those people are also non-neurotypical, although it’s not necessary to be non-NT to have social-disability issues.

    One common thread I’ve observed, across many years and many people, is that people who have social disabilities don’t want to upset people. When they say or do something and someone else inexplicably (to them) gets angry, their reaction is to back off. If someone can explain to them why what they did made the other person angry, in a way that makes sense to them, they will take that information to heart and modify their behavior accordingly.

    Another common thread I’ve observed, particularly in the last decade as fandom (and I) became more aware of harassment issues, is that there are a lot of harassers who don’t respond that way. If people act angry with them, they keep pushing. If people try to explain why someone else was angry with them, they give a blank look and don’t ask for clarification. And meanwhile, there’s a lot of pushback to “cut them some slack, they’re just clueless / have a social disability / can’t help themselves” — mostly from people who do not themselves have said issues.

    IMO, these harassers are in fact predators who are using non-NT people and those with social disabilities as human shields. They understand perfectly well why people are upset with them; they just don’t care. If called on their behavior, they double down. And they defend and back people like themselves, using the pushback memes above.

    IMO, the resident Puppy seems to be falling into the second category of behavior rather than the first, and that’s what I meant by saying he sounds like a predator. If anyone read my comment upthread and was hurt by it, I’m sorry.

  23. @ Tasha:

    Yes, I saw that and I can’t say I was all that impressed with the statement itself, which was essentially boilerplate. It reminded me of the “bed bug letter”.

    I started reading the posts from last night/this morning and got to the point where I was skipping past posts after reading the first line or even some when I saw the name. I got tired of that argument years ago-not even on this board, but elsewhere. So I thought I may have skimmed past something by accident. My eyes were glazing over. 🙂

    Thank you for your response.

  24. @Lee IMO, the resident Puppy seems to be falling into the second category of behavior rather than the first, and that’s what I meant by saying he sounds like a predator. If anyone read my comment upthread and was hurt by it, I’m sorry.

    That’s how I read your comment. I’ve come to the same conclusion. This particular puppy troll also runs back to LCs blog to brag about how he’s shown us and we don’t have a clue what’s hit us (paraphrased as I didn’t think to capture quote and I refuse to put myself through reading all the comments again).

    I think it’s past time we stopped feeding this troll given his agenda: stop by say racist, incoherent gibberish, run back to previous puppy leader blog to claim victory, get patted on head/do bro fistbump.

  25. @Robert Roberts
    The only other new item is a tangent. New page item Valley Forge NASFiC Bid Appoints Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Related as Chair, Kristina Hiner, of the con Mark Oshiro was harassed at, who still has not said anything, is on the bid committee (regular staff) which has added a queer POC to act as hall monitor (the chair’s words) to help them be less bigoted and more inclusive as a concom.

  26. @Lee, I’m on the autistic spectrum and I wasn’t offended by your remarks in the first place. I’m definitely with the dropped-jaw faction over Oshiro’s experience….

  27. @Lee,

    I read it as related to my…intemperate response regarding social disabilities. I know a lot of people who worry a lot about what others think of them. I know others who never fail to take advantage of politeness or the social contract to bully/intimidate/derail a conversation. I understood your meaning and agreed wholeheartedly.

    @Tasha Turner:

    Kristina Hiner needs to be removed from everything con-related ever until she makes a real apology for her incredible rudeness to a supposed Guest of Honor and her gross inaction in dealing with harassment complaints.

  28. Does anyone else find it outrageous that Curt has turned a thread about Mark Oshiro into one about himself

    I deleted a reply when Curt asked for an end to the conversation, in which I was going to gently suggest that this was not the most compassionate approach to take to a weighty discussion that deeply affects quite a few people. It’s a bigger issue, with a wider impact, than his personal desire to feel less insecure when he’s told his understanding is limited, and that was not a great direction to take the conversation. Defensiveness is incredibly natural when you’re told something like that, it’s difficult to not take it personally and to respond with a more generous approach. But that narrow focus on oneself is not an impulse that serves one well in the sorts of discussions that require compassion and helpfulness.

    I don’t suspect disingenuousness, so much as I suspect he didn’t have the experience with these discussions to understand how badly he was coming across. Age doesn’t make it impossible to learn this stuff, but it does give you a wider gap to bridge, and not everyone learns that the easy way. But I do suspect that he might be stretching the truth a little with the repeated arguments that he’s too new to know any better. Curt’s been commenting here on File770 on and off for at least a year, probably longer than me. It takes a real obliviousness not to pick up a few things in passing to help communicate with the personalities and views here. Next to the obliviousness of the firm statements that it wasn’t a problem in the ’70s and “It wasn’t a book, so I didn’t see it or think about it, which makes me one of the good guys, right?”, which was an understandable and widespread blind spot at the time (though not the stirring self-defense he seemed to think – that was definitely one where he should have stopped digging the hole a little sooner), and the obliviousness of “I can’t be expected to know anything about the past three, ten, twenty years of these issues because I’m old and you’re whippersnappers,” which is pushing it right to the very limit of most people’s comfort with ignorance, I do look askance at the obliviousness of, “I’m new here, I don’t know how this newfangled community works, I’ve only been posting here a year.” I don’t doubt that it’s possible, and I’ll believe that’s how it looks from his point of view, but, come on, man, at some point it’s time to drop the apathy and take a real interest in the people around you. Community is a two-way street. You don’t get there by making excuses about why you can’t be expected to notice other people.

  29. Should a convention’s policy include a commitment to respond to all reported incidents within a certain time frame? Maybe 30 or 60 days after the date of the report? That probably won’t get a ConCom that isn’t taking reports seriously to do so, but it would give a time certain when a reporting individual knows that their complaint was being ignored and can choose to take other actions if they so desire.

  30. Saw Tasha comment on Facebook comments on Oshiro’s original post so went back and read all of them. I was relieved to see one commenter who’d been present at the panel discuss how confused and unhappy the entire audience was, not just her and her husband. I’ve seen panels go off the deep end with the (seemingly tacit) approval of the audience. I am glad this was not the case here.

    Was sorry to see this conversation derailed. If Mike wants to start a separate thread on pseuds and another on harassment, I will lurk with interest and may even comment. Like many others, I have plenty of earned experience on this.

    I have some sympathy for anyone named and shamed on the Internet because the punishment rarely fits the crime. All those people who behaved like a**holes should also be demanding apologies from Conquest. If the con runners had done their jobs, they would have been able to (hopefully) apologize quietly for their appalling behavior instead of being called out on it so publicly. Death threats are likely to come their way now. That said , I admire Oshiro for coming forward and naming names. I blame the con runners for any and all negative fallout from their inaction.

  31. @Dawn Incognito
    Kristina Hiner may consider the statement from the board as all she needs to do. Obviously I don’t think the statement was an apology and I think Kristina Hiner as Chair of the Con where the Harassment happened should make her own statement. The board may disagree with me and have told Hiner to keep her mouth shut. No way to know.

    Mark Oshiro had said he was going to post an update but I hadn’t seen one as of an hour or two ago. It’s possible he’s received private apologies we aren’t aware of.

    @all
    I’m working on a very long comment which addresses some issues @Laura Resnick and someone else brought up last night during the derail. It’s a document I’ve updated a few times since I first put it together after the Wiscon Frenkel mess summarizing a long comment thread on Scalzi’s blog. Adding thoughts from this latest and expanding previous thoughts is hard to do emotionally. So I’m working on it a few minutes at a time.

  32. @ T. Wright Barnes
    An acknowlogment of the complaint in, lets be generous, 10 days by a member of the board on behalf of the whole board followed by a substantive reply in 60 days. I think 30 days would be better, but people do have day jobs.

    We can argue and dicuss what happened and how bad it was, but the concom did nothing that’s the problem at the root.

  33. @Mike: Truly, they were best of times, they were the worst of times. I have been Googling for something to help me explain them. If you aren’t already familiar with Janus, Jan Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll’s fanzine, do give it a try.

    I think I understand what you’re getting at. When I read discussions of sexism and racism from the ’70s, like this one, there’s a forcefulness and a radical tone to the opinions that I don’t see today. Even the watered-down sit-com version sounds radical. But at the same time, you know they’re operating in a culture where the systemic problems were far more invisible and implicitly acceptable. The extremes were much sharper. Sometimes the old zines like this feel a little SFF alternate-history in their own right.

    Also, I don’t say this enough, but you have a level head and a kind heart, Mike, thank you.

    @LauraH: Man, I’m sorry. What an unfortunate situation. 🙁

    @Tasha: The “hall monitor” phrasing made me wince hard when I first read that. It had the faint smell of something tied to Mark Oshiro going public. I’m reminding myself that it can take time to change organizations after a very public failure, and it’ll take several steps along the way to get there.

  34. Re: A much earlier question about Mark Oshiro being a Person of Color.

    When Mark Oshiro traveled through Scandinavia, Germany, and Belgium in 2013, he was repeatedly subject to microaggressions and frequently asked to produce his passport. The light dawned when someone commented that as a “brown person” he was assumed to be Turkish.

  35. There’s an update on Mark Oshiro’s Facebook page now. Linking is awkward on my phone but I recommend reading the whole thing. There has been some progress and Mark is very gracious (and funny). Sadly the usual suspects have been doing their best to give him a hard time but he has also had a lot of support.

  36. Amoxtli: I suspect what you’re reacting to about the “hall monitor” thing is that it ties in with Puppy’s sneer about “Mark running to the teacher because someone touched him!” We aren’t in elementary school, or even high school, any more, and that sort of thing shouldn’t be necessary. The fact that it might be necessary is rightfully disturbing.

  37. I hope you don’t mind me quoting one of Mark Oshiro’s points in full:

    6) The Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (KACSFFS), who are the board responsible for ConQuesT, have posted…. well, I don’t know what it is. It is a saccharine, vague, and laughable attempt at… I don’t even know. The post seems to immediately shift the blame to the “volunteer chairs and convention committee, who change from year to year.” Not only that, but the person who posted it? LITERALLY ONE OF THE PEOPLE I MADE A REPORT ABOUT. The board itself is comprised of the person who was responsible for programming last year (Earline “Cricket” Beebe), Kristina Hiner, Jan Gephardt, Keri O’Brien, and Diana Bailey, Robin Wayne Bailey’s wife. The only believable person on that board who could have said that they didn’t know of any problems is the president, Margene Bahm. So to immediately try to make it seem like they’re ~just finding out~ about what happened is offensive and hilarious. The message itself makes ambiguous references to what happened to Baize and me, but addresses absolutely nothing. Nothing! It’s like someone felt compelled to respond with ANYTHING rather than something thoughtful and meaningful.
    I still can’t get over the fact that Jan posted it. Lord.

    Said far better than I ever could.

  38. Oshiro absolutely nails it with that new post. Among other things he treats real apologies with grace, while giving the KACSFFS distancing attempt exactly the consideration it deserves.

    ETA: or just read that section just above me!

  39. Great update by Mark Oshiro. I’m glad Kristina Hiner apologized to him. I like his take on the boards statement. One person wasn’t part of the concom one out of six. Wow, just wow.

    Mark has more class than I do. I’m not sure I could write such a calming follow up.

  40. From the Journeypersons of Fandom (JOF) group on Facebook, Jesi Pershing says:

    In regards to GoH liaison – ConQuesT does have a GoH liaison who works with all the GoHs. On Thursday, I was talking with Mark about some issue, some piece of information he didn’t have, and asked “didn’t the GoH liaison tell you this?” To which he responded, “What GoH liaision?” I went and asked the chair why Mark had never been put in contact with the GoH liaison, and was told, “oh, I assumed you wanted to be his liaison.” I had never volunteered to be his liaison; I had never been asked to be his liaison.

  41. Here’s another take on the whole problem (specific and general):

    http://mikkikendall.com/2016/02/24/on-bad-cons-how-you-kill-an-event-in-advance/

    Mike, thanks for the link. Plus ca change and all that. Susan Wood’s editorial could have been written today with few changes. But I adored seeing the word “Gestetner” again! Mentioned by our own Ctein, who was 100% correct about how we were soon going to be doing our zines on a computer. No more ditto. I pulled a hectograph once in the 80’s under the supervision of an old zine fan, just to see how it was. Whew. So glad to go back to my computer and printer.

    @Tasha: I have a story about Rene Walling from 10+ years before the Readercon incident. The women’s grapevine warned me, though the men still had no clue.

    Mark Oshiro is a damn fine human being; strong and forgiving. I am so impressed with him through this whole experience.

  42. Lurkertype:

    @Tasha: I have a story about Rene Walling from 10+ years before the Readercon incident. The women’s grapevine warned me, though the men still had no clue.

    Natalie Luhrs made a post awhile back about Missing Stairs, and how one of the problems with the back-channel warnings is this–what if you’re not enough a part of the in-crowd to receive the warnings? Ah yes, here it is: Harassment and the Back Channel:

    http://www.pretty-terrible.com/2013/07/01/harassment-and-the-back-channel/

  43. If it’s appropriate, could somebody quote the JOF post for those of us who don’t have Facebook? It’s giving a “you must log in to continue” message.

  44. @Lee,

    Zen Cho said it in a way I found hard to forget: “When you are a prominent, vocal PoC/queer/marginalised person in Western SFF fandom, you are often called upon to be a sin-eater. You are invited to anthologies & placed on programming. Your very presence is intended to absolve the publisher/con of bigotry. But often it stops there. YOUR experience is unimportant. Who cares if the con is white-dominated/racist/stressful, your panels boring? You have served your purpose. That puts a lot of pressure on those of us made to play those roles. We’re panellists, GoHs, names on magazine/anthology covers, so we’re associated with these establishments & feel compelled to defend them, even as the con/publisher has no concern for our interests/welfare, does nothing to support us.”

    So when the press release boiled down to “lone visible minority in charge of educating us and keeping us all in line while we misbehave in the hallways”, I thought… that’s the sin-eater. Bill Hung seems like a great guy, and it’s important to have informed people working on representation, race, and LGBT issues. It’s just not a job he can do alone, and “hall monitor” is an oppositional working relationship. It’s a bad phrase to use if you want to get across the idea, “We take responsibility for this, too. He’s part of the concom and our support is behind him,” because the student-hall monitor relationship is the opposite of that. It reads like it’s a little tone-deaf to the difficulties minority fans are having with carrying the burden of representation and education.

    But clumsy phrasing is sometimes just clumsy phrasing. Not every press release is Hemingway. They may really know what they’re doing and what’s going on in the wider conversation, and just picked a metaphor that twangs badly in the heightened scrutiny and flurry of activity after Oshiro going public.

  45. Thanks for the links and quotes everyone. It’s good to see us back on track. I don’t know if people saw but Mike Glyer was mentioned by Mark Oshiro in the list of people thanked for signal boosting and creating a place for discussion on his update today. I want to thank filers who brought this up in threads and Mike for spending hours putting together this page and moderating us to keep things civil.

    @Lurkertype
    I’m sorry you had to deal with Rene Walling. I’m sorry it took Readercon, a con many of my friends have helped run over the years, so long to get things better.

    I’ve got friends running all the cons I attend (chair, safety, next year’s chair, last year’s chair) and none of them warn me about missing stairs. Doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies about our system working very well. On the other hand I’ve got friends leading the way on stepping up, creating policies, procedures, enforcing them, taking public responsibility for the fallout, and looked to by others for advice. I have hope for the future.

    What drives me crazy is this stuff doesn’t need to happen. There are so many resources out there. No one has to start from scratch. Reach out to SMOFS and JOFS and use Google.

    Not communicating basics? Make a list of what everyone is doing and post it. Update the list as new things come up. Today’s technology makes this easy to do.

    Talk to each other. If 6 of you need to make a decision talk. Even if the decision is none of us are willing to do anything. That’s a decision. You can then let the person waiting know. But we had miscommunications because you couldn’t get 6 people in a room or on the phone for 9 months. That’s avoidance in hoping the problem will go away. Have you not heard about Readercon or Wiscon or… Get it over early if you can’t do your job & publicly announce We can’t figure out how to handle complaints we received this year because they cut to close to home. Sorry we failed. We are spending the next 2 months working with people from X & Y to be better prepared next year

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