Pixel Scroll 5/18/16 Griefer Madness

(1) GENRE RECAPITULATES ONTOLOGY. Damien Walter divides the audience into “The 8 Tribes of Sci-Fi”.

Calling sci-fi a genre in 2016 is about as accurate as calling the United States one nation. In principle it’s true, but in practice things don’t work that way. While crime, romance and thrillers all remain as coherent genres of fiction, it’s been decades since sci-fi could be comfortably understood by any shared generic criteria. What do Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Seas trilogy, the fiction of Silva Moreno Garcia and the erotic sci-fi of Chuck Tingle actually have in common, beyond being nominated for major sci-fi book awards this year?

The answer is they all belong to one of the eight tribes of sci-fi…..

The Weirds Most writers at some point play around with the effects that can be induced by engineering stories with internal inconsistencies, mashing together disparate metaphors, or simply being weird for weirds sake. The weirds take this as an end in itself. With China Mieville as their reigning king they were riding high for a while. However, with newer voices like Molly Tanzer’s Vermillion coming through, the American ‘bizarro fiction’ movement, and with authors including Joe Hill and Josh Mallerman rejuvenating the traditional horror genre, the Weirds are still among the most creatively interesting of the eight tribes.

(2) SILENT THING. According to Digiday, “85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound”.

Facebook might be hosting upwards of 8 billion views per day on its platform, but a wide majority of that viewership is happening in silence.

As much as 85 percent of video views happen with the sound off, according to multiple publishers. Take, for instance, feel-good site LittleThings, which is averaging 150 million monthly views on Facebook so far this year. Eighty-five percent of its viewership is occurring without users turning the sound on. Similarly, millennial news site Mic, which is also averaging 150 million monthly Facebook views, said 85 percent of its 30-second views are without sound. PopSugar said its silent video views range between 50 and 80 percent.

(3) YAKKITY CAT. Steve Davidson says an interview with Timothy the Talking Cat will appear on Amazing Stories this Thursday. I’m running neck and neck with Steve in pursuit of interviews with the hottest new talents in the field — he won this round!

(4) JENCEVICE OBIT. SF Site News carries word that Chicago conrunner and club fan Mike Jencevice died May 16.

Chicago fan Mike Jencevice (b.1955) died on May 16. Jencevice entered fandom in 1978, publishing the fanzine Trilevel and serving as the long-time president of Queen to Queen’s Three, a media fan club. He ran the dealers room at Windycon for more than 30 years and served on the ISFiC Board for much of that time. He was one of two associate chairs for Chicon 2000.

(5) VR. BBC News explores “How will virtual reality change our lives?”

Four experts, including Mark Bolas – former tutor of Palmer Luckey, who recently hand-delivered the first VR handset made by his company Oculus Rift – talked to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme about the future of VR.

Mark Bolas: Out of the lab

Mark Bolas is a professor at USC School of Cinematic Arts and a researcher at the Institute for Creative Technologies. He has been working in virtual reality since 1988.

VR hits on so many levels. It’s a real out-of-body experience, and yet completely grounded in your body. …

To find a way to make it low cost and still retain that field of view, we harnessed the power of mobile phones – the screens, tracking and processing – and we figured out a lens design that was extremely inexpensive.

It’s been really fun playing all these years, but there’s something more important now, which is making it a space that allows us to harness our emotions, our desire to connect with people.

I’m worried by our current computer interfaces. I watch people walking around like zombies with cell phones in their hands, and I have to manoeuvre a mouse to fill out little boxes on web forms in a horribly frustrating way. I think VR will allow us to transcend this.

I don’t worry so much about where VR is going, I worry about where we currently are.

(6) SHEER WEIR. By the Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach: “Andy Weir, author of ‘The Martian,’ aims his pen at the moon”

Lots of people who are interested in going to Mars have been gathering this week at George Washington University for the annual Humans to Mars Summit, and the star attraction this morning was Andy Weir. He’s the author of the novel “The Martian,” which has sold 3 million copies, been translated into something like 45 languages and served as the basis of the blockbuster movie by the same name, directed by the legendary Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. So, yes, that book did well — remarkably so given that he originally published it in chapters on his website and later as an electronic book that could be downloaded for free.

Weir, whom I interviewed on stage in the summit’s opening session (you can probably find the video here), was scheduled to pop by The Post for today’s “Transformers” event and then visit Capitol Hill to testify before the House subcommittee on space. Busy day! He said he was going to talk about how an interplanetary spacecraft, such as one going from Earth to Mars, can be designed to spin to create artificial gravity. That’s a potential way to moderate the severe physical effects of weightlessness on the human body. Without artificial gravity, the first astronauts on Mars would likely spend many days just trying to recover from all those months in zero-g conditions.

But he’s also working on another novel, this one about a city on the Earth’s moon that features a female protagonist who is something of a criminal but still lovable, according to Weir.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born May 18, 1931 — Mad magazine cartoonist Don Martin
  • Born May 18, 1930 — Fred Saberhagen

(8) THE REAL-LIFE GRINGOTT’S. The BBC tells where the gold is kept.

The largest by far lies in the Bank of England. It holds three-quarters of the gold in London, or 5,134 tonnes. Most of the gold is stored as standard bars weighing 400 troy ounces (12.4 kg or 438.9 ounces) – there are about 500,000 of them, each worth in the region of £350,000.

But the official reserves of the UK Treasury account for less than a tenth of this.

“Just 310 tonnes of the gold in the Bank of England is from the UK Treasury, the rest is mostly commercial,” says Adrian Ash of BullionVault.com.

The gold is held in a system of eight vaults over two floors under Threadneedle Street in the City. This is to spread the weight and prevent the vaults from sinking into the London clay beneath the bank.

“So no maze of caves bored into rock,” says Chip Hitchcock, sounding a little disappointed.

(9) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART ONE. Steven Saus relays “Reports of Harassment at MarCon 2016, including ‘The Chainmail Guy’ who harassed people at CONTEXT” at Ideatrash. (To refresh your memory, see File 770’s post about Context.)

Sadly, I’m hearing from friends who attended MarCon this year that the stance about Chainmail Guy’s harassment – the one that some members of the board decided to destroy the con over rather than censure a buddy who was harassing people – was completely justified.

According to multiple accounts, he was very visible in the main corridor, apparently with a table displaying some chain mail. (Which is exactly the setup that spawned problems at Context.) Sure, he wasn’t a volunteer, but had a very prominent bit of real estate. And, much like the complaints at Context, kept inserting himself into private conversations, just as he did before.

Unlike Context, he was in the main hall – and therefore much harder to avoid.

As one person put it, “if you heard about the stuff about Context, you’d get the very clear opinion that MarCon was okay with all that.”

Sadly, this might just be the case.

There were reports (and these were forwarded to the con chair) of another guy suggesting he should “frisk” a young woman after earlier reaching out to touch her without consent.

A corset vendor walked the line between creepy and harassment by insisting their corset fit perfectly, and any impression otherwise was due to the person’s “body issues”. He told another person that “he needed to see me try on one of the corsets and not in a friendly way…in front of my kids.”

And this is just what’s managed to cross my awareness.

(10) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART TWO. Saus also published “A (Good) Response From One of the Security Team From MarCon about Harassment”. It is signed by JP Withers.

As a fan I really hate it when our community is damaged by harassing behavior. Inclusion is kind of the point of our thing to me.

Our security and operations folks need help making our space better for everyone, and that help is reporting stuff when it happens. I know there can be a lot of reasons someone might not report behavior, but if one of those reasons is a feeling we won’t take it seriously I can tell you that isn’t the case for anyone on my team….

(11) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART THREE. Ferrett Steinmetz, immediately after Marcon, published these generalized comments calling into question how some apply the principle that “A Person Is Innocent Until Proven Guilty By Law”.

…And all the complexity comes to a boil when we’re discussing how to handle missing stairs in a community – potentially dangerous people who have gossip swirling about them, but no definitive proof. (Because most consent violators are smart enough not to do terrible stuff in public with witnesses.) And what do you do to keep your parties free of dangerous players when the only proof you have is the equivalent of “She said Phil didn’t pay her back”? Do you ban people on someone’s word?

Maybe you think the court’s standards are worthy for any institution, which is a noble goal. There is a strong case to be made for “I will hold the people who would spread rumors to the highest of standards,” because yeah, the ugly truth is that there are corrupt cops and there are people who’ll trash folks they don’t like. Having standards for evidence is good, and though there’s no single True goal, having high standards when the penalty is “Banning someone from a party” is not necessarily a bad thing.

But stop extending that to the idiotic argument of “If something someone says has not been proven in a court of law, it is automatically untrue.” No. If that happens, you are adopting the court’s standard of, “We would rather have someone guilty attending our parties than risk ejecting an innocent person.”…

(12) MARCON HARASSMENT, PART FOUR. Reddit ran its own recap of the latest episode, the essence of which is —

But now a different Ohio convention, MarCon, has had a problem with a harasser… and it’s the SAME GUY:

It’s the same stuff different day syndrome at its worst. There is no way for cons in general to keep these people out since conventions don’t have any kind of shared governance… so even when “missing stairs” are dealt with at one con, they aren’t at another. 🙁

(13) UNPAID MINIONS. The Seattlish has screencaps of the legal papers — “Someone Is Suing Emerald City Comicon for Not paying Volunteers”.

A class action lawsuit has been filed by a former Emerald City Comicon volunteer—the organization calls them “minions”—alleging that the convention violates labor laws by treating their volunteers like employees, but failing to pay them.

The suit, filed in King County Superior Court on May 16 by plaintiff Jerry Brooks and naming ECCC and three members of the Demonakos family as defendants, alleges that as many as 250 people may be among the class.

According to the suit, the volunteers are expected to work essentially as paid workers would—performing functions necessary to the operation of the convention—but aren’t required to be paid for their labor or their overtime due to their volunteer status.

This suit could be hard to prove; the volunteers not only willingly enter into an agreement stating that they’ll work for free, but the culture of the convention fosters a competitiveness for the volunteer positions. A lot of people really like volunteering. In a blog post from 2013, a minion wrote that it “isn’t the  kind of thing you do for money.”

(14) STORYBUNDLE. The Story Collection StoryBundle is available for another 15 days. Readers can choose to donate part of each purchase to SFWA. Curator Lisa Mason tells how the bundle was assembled here.

As always at StoryBundle, you the reader name your price—whatever you feel the books are worth. You may designate a portion of the proceeds to go to a charity. For the Story Collection StoryBundle, that’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (“SFWA”). SFWA champions writers’ rights, sponsors the Nebula Award for excellence in science fiction, and promotes numerous literacy groups.

The initial titles in the Story Collection StoryBundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • The Green Leopard Plague by Walter Jon Williams. Two stories in this collection won the Nebula Award.
  • Collected Stories by Lewis Shiner. This extensive and multi-genre collection was prepared as an ebook for StoryBundle.
  • Errantry: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand.

Those who pay more than the bonus price of $12 get all three regular titles, plus five more:

  • Women Up to No Good by Pat Murphy. Two stories in the collection were nominated for the Nebula Award.
  • Strange Ladies: 7 Stories by Lisa Mason Six Stories by Kathe Koja. The collection was created by the author for StoryBundle.
  • What I Didn’t See: Stories by Karen Fowler. The collection won the World Fantasy Award and the title story won the Nebula.
  • Wild Things by C.C. Finlay. The collection was prepared as an ebook for StoryBundle and has a brand-new Afterword. Finlay is the editor of F&SF.

(15) NEBULA CONFERENCE. SFWA President Cat Rambo has vivid memories of “Nebula Conference 2016, Chicago”.

For me, so much of the weekend was a reaffirmation of joy in our genre and the worlds that we love, worlds created by some of the best and brightest. Opportunity to talk with so many talented, kind, and outstanding members of the industry. A chance to stand by one of my heroes, someone whose work I’ve read most of my life and who has been one of my role models, and see her body of work recognized. A chance to be in a place where people treated each other with respect as peers and took pride in each other’s accomplishments, where there weren’t the sort of pettinesses that belong on the playground rather than among fellow professionals. A chance to tell people some of what SFWA’s been working hard at in the past year, and some of what’s coming down the pike.

And Liz Argall is still buzzing about Henry Lien’s Radio SFWA.

(16) CONVERT MADE. Say what you like about Seveneves, Bill Gates wrote on his website that it’s got him back reading sf.

“What Bill Gates says: “I hadn’t read any science fiction for a decade when a friend recommended this novel. I’m glad she did. The plot gets going in the first sentence, when the moon blows up. People figure out that in two years a cataclysmic meteor shower will wipe out all life on Earth, so the world unites on a plan to keep humanity going by launching as many spacecraft as possible into orbit.

“You might lose patience with all the information you’ll get about space flight—Stephenson, who lives in Seattle, has clearly done his research—but I loved the technical details. Seveneves inspired me to rekindle my sci-fi habit.””

(17) STAY INVESTED IN THE FUTURE. Helen Sharman speaks out — “First UK Astronaut calls for more Brits in space”.

Britain’s first astronaut has said the UK risks becoming a “backward nation” if the government does not pay to send more people into space.

Helen Sharman believes the country would lose many of the benefits of Tim Peake’s mission if a commitment to more flights is not made very soon.

Ms Sharman said that this was the UK’s “last chance” to be involved “in the future of the human race”.

She spoke to BBC News on the eve of the 25th anniversary of her spaceflight.

The government has effectively paid for one spaceflight, Tim Peake’s, according to Ms Sharman. After he returns to Earth in June, it is unlikely there will be more UK astronauts in space unless the nation makes a further commitment of funds at a ministerial meeting of European Space Agency (Esa) member states later this year.

(18) MR. ROBOT SEASON 2 TRAILER. The Hollywood Reporter summarized the preview video.

“This is what revolution looks like,” the text of the trailer reads. “Control is an illusion.”

Although they were successful in their hack, fsociety will face more obstacles in season two. “They need to know we haven’t given up,” Darlene (Carly Chaiken) says. “That we meant what we said about changing the world.”

However, the most worrisome image in the clip is Mr. Robot himself (Slater) as he puts a gun to Elliot’s head. “Our revolution needs a leader,” he tells Elliot.

 

(19) NEWS FOR HITCHHIKERS. “Towel Day” is coming on May 25, and Nerdist reports a candy store is readying its supply of babelfish.

The fandom of Douglas Adams and his writing is intense, to say the least, and has even resulted in a holiday to honor the late author. Every May 25th, fans around the world celebrate “Towel Day” which itself is a reference to what Adams thought to be the most important item you could have with you through your galactic travels.

As a way of showing their love of everything Hitchhiker’s, a candy shop in Florida that specializes in nerdy confections decided to celebrate by creating some Babel fish of their very own. Using an antique 19th-century drop candy roller, the folks at Public Displays Of Confection rolled out a serendipitous 42 bags of these fish shaped candies just in time for Towel Day, and we can only assume that they went with piña colada flavor because it’s just too hard to perfect the essence of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, Steve Davidson, Tracy Benton, Darren Garrison, Steven Saus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

219 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/18/16 Griefer Madness

  1. Rev. Bob: Assuming the OSBP is happening somewhere, the green pins have definite value. “I’m aware and have opted in.” The red pins also have merit. “I’m aware and have opted out.” No pin should definitely be taken as “I’m not aware and/or not interested,” and I would suggest that anyone taking it upon themselves to make a no-pin person aware (a) be very polite in doing so and (b) offer a red pin if the person is uninterested, so the person won’t get asked again.

    Now this is where I totally disagree. If someone is not wearing a button, they should not be approached and asked to participate — and they should not have to wear a red button to prevent being harassed by people wanting them to participate (I know, the people asking aren’t intending to harass, but that is the end effect, anyway).

    And as someone else previously explained, this is why a small group doing something like this inside a larger group’s event is a problem: women who aren’t participating and don’t want to participate or don’t know about it are going to have all kinds of people scrutinizing their breasts, looking for a button, and they are going to have people harassing them about whether they want to participate.

    That, right there, creates a “hostile environment” at a con. And that is the biggest reason why the OSBP was a horribly ill-conceived project from the start. There was absolutely no way that it was not going to become a harassing experience for a lot of women.

  2. What Ferrett did was problematic for any number of reasons, but it wasn’t harassment

    Shorter Aaron: Sure, behaviors that are the common pre-cursors for harassment are problematic, but he didn’t actually promote the harassment itself, so why consider him responsible for any part of the logical end-game?

    Come on, Aaron. If he didn’t have the common sense to see what was going to grow out of the seeds he was planting when everyone else could see he was rigging an entire convention for increased rates of harassment (as, indeed, appears to have very rapidly been the case), perhaps he’s pitiably ignorant of cause and effect, but standing around saying, “How could anyone possibly have foreseen that this would be misused! How could you implicate Ferrett and his good intentions in this?” doesn’t cut a lot of ice.

  3. ETA too late, which is definitely a sign I should Step Away From the Keyboard:

    No pin should definitely be taken as “I’m not aware and/or not interested,”

    Here’s where I disagree. No pin should definitely be taken as Don’t Ask Me. If they’re not aware and not interested, leave them alone. And there should be no pawing in general areas, either. Because that gives a message that “pawing is okay” to people who have no idea what the buttons mean. And is probably making other paying convention-goers uncomfortable for various reasons. Which is not cool.

    Um? Also I agree that “innocent until proven guilty” is not a standard that conventions should be using when enforcing a code of conduct? And I think that Chainmail Guy proved that he was not just socially inept but a deliberate bad actor here?

  4. Alexvdl said: “OBSP was a dumb thing. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. Even if you think it was a good idea, it was poorly implemented and poorly administered. So I’m not sure who you think is “in favor” of it?”

    Well, there sure are a lot of people standing up and saying, “Whoa, whoa, that wasn’t anything so terrible as harassment!” despite the testimony of many of the women involved saying they were harassed. Which feels very much to me like a recapitulation of the problems in the community regarding harassment–people won’t believe something is harassment unless there’s a leering serial rapist involved sneering and twirling their mustache at women.

    Harassment can happen even without conscious ill intent. It doesn’t somehow magically transmute into an “oopsie” if the person apologizes afterwards, it remains harassment. And frankly, if your priority is to defend the harasser against slights to their reputation, or to try to come up with a Hierarchy of Wrongness against which future complaints should be judged, your priorities are misplaced and you need to reevaluate them. The response to bringing up the OSBP should have been, “Oh, I remember that! I’m glad we haven’t heard about anything that dumb in a long while.” Defending it is a mistake, even on narrow and/or technical grounds.

  5. @John: “But once the first woman says, “I agree and freely consent to that!”, it creates a social pressure on all the remaining women to go along with the group consensus. No single person intends to pressure the remaining women, but that pressure is nonetheless real and documented.”

    That’s a dynamic that I find interesting. Not as something to be exploited, because ugh, but in terms of why it happens and if/how to defeat it.

    You’re observing that dynamic and looking to protect the women – and do you deliberately limit it to women, or is it an artifact of the specific example? – who don’t want to volunteer. That’s a valuable perspective and a worthy goal.

    It strikes me, though, that there’s also pressure from the other direction. Pressure not to volunteer, to be ashamed of yourself and your body. And I don’t think that pressure’s any better or more healthy.

    I would like to see a world where both options are given the same value, and the choice is actually free rather than being the result of giving in to one push over another. I think that would be a better, healthier place… but there’s that pesky path question again. How do we get there from here?

    @Amoxtli: “Bob, my understanding is that most people in the kink community will not engage in play in the presence of people who have not consented to be part of the scene.”

    And I’m asking what makes “I’m okay with being touched” a freakish kink that has to be hidden away from “normal” society, restricted to private parties and kept out of the light. You know, lest other people get the idea that mutually consensual touching might be fun. There’s a big difference between “go ahead, touch” and “put a leash on me and treat me like an animal.”

    How is playing out that kink in public any different from holding a public humiliation scene in front of the general public that didn’t consent to be a part of it? How is making people who didn’t consent to be a part of it deal with the same initial overtures fair?

    I’m about this close to breaking out the five-letter B-word that usually contains a Q (not to be confused with a very different five-letter B-word used to refer to canines) in an attempt to express my displeasure with the social pressure you’re trying to impose there.

    Are gay couples allowed to hold hands or (gasp) kiss in a public space, or does the likely presence of someone who doesn’t approve negate that freedom? Why, next thing you know, some impertinent woman might expose her ankle at the beach! Think of the children!

    Sure, there’s some level of behavior that crosses the public/private line and ought to not happen in public spaces. However, I disagree strongly with your apparent belief that “he touched her in a bikini place” is the right place to draw that line.

  6. On the topic of YKINMKBYKIOK — I thought it was considered rude in the kink community to make innocent bystanders participants in your kink. Thus, when a jerk of epic proportions whipped out a speculum and started waving it at me at a convention that was NOT Frolicon or any other kink-friendly con, I recoiled in horror and disgust. (Even in context–at my gyn’s office having an annual exam–I don’t like speculums, and I suspect a lot of other women don’t, either.)

    I was even more disgusted when my reporting of said incident was met with “Oh so-and-so? He’s harmless.” NO. He’s NOT.

    As for OSBP, I have to say that whenever theferrett’s name comes up, it’s the first thing I think of, fair or not.

  7. Rev Bob said: “That’s a dynamic that I find interesting. Not as something to be exploited, because ugh, but in terms of why it happens and if/how to defeat it.

    You’re observing that dynamic and looking to protect the women – and do you deliberately limit it to women, or is it an artifact of the specific example? – who don’t want to volunteer. That’s a valuable perspective and a worthy goal.”

    Artifact of the specific example. There were women present during the original OSBP who later said that they really didn’t feel comfortable at all with what they were being expected to do, but who didn’t want to be the only person not going along with it. They spoke up when theferrett decided to hold it up as a Model for the Nation. 🙂

    The Rev Bob went on to say: “It strikes me, though, that there’s also pressure from the other direction. Pressure not to volunteer, to be ashamed of yourself and your body. And I don’t think that pressure’s any better or more healthy.

    I would like to see a world where both options are given the same value, and the choice is actually free rather than being the result of giving in to one push over another. I think that would be a better, healthier place… but there’s that pesky path question again. How do we get there from here?”

    I agree with you that there’s a principle to be discussed, but bringing it up specifically in context of a notorious incident of harassment that is widely seen as one of the biggest failures ever is probably not a good idea. Even if you agree that the OSBP was a disaster and in your head the two are linked only in a sense of “Here’s what not to do, but what should we do?”, saying that pressure not to display/allow people to touch your body is just as unhealthy (“I don’t think that pressure’s any better or more healthy”) comes out looking like you’re defending the OSBP. Which, again, I’m really hoping nobody is doing because it was a horrible, horrible mistake.

    I would table any discussion of, “Hey, why aren’t we more comfortable with strangers touching us?” for another thread, and to be honest probably not a File 770 one because I’m not sure where it would be on-topic here. 🙂

  8. Then we’re done for today, Bob, because there is no good faith in your argument at all. This is plain old jackass behavior and character insinuations on your part.

    By the way, having to wear a stoplight to visually tell the men around me whether or not I want them to ask about touching my boobs, so that my sexual availability to them is the first thing they see about me and my sexual receptivity is treated as the first issue to be negotiated with friend and complete stranger alike before they even bother to say hello to me like a human being? Not actually that different from being treated like a breeding animal being allowed out in public. A leash would be a downright improvement, because when men propositioning women think they’re owned by other men, they let them say no without turning it into a time-consuming power struggle. But, please, keep telling me how the root of my objections is that I’m homophobic and personally cockblocking and body-shaming you out of my fear of bare ankles.

  9. It strikes me, though, that there’s also pressure from the other direction. Pressure not to volunteer, to be ashamed of yourself and your body. And I don’t think that pressure’s

    What is your [explitive deleted] problem? I DO NOT GO TO SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTIONS BECAUSE I WANT TO BE FONDLED BY PEOPLE. NOR DO I APPRECIATE BEING TOLD THAT THIS IS A SIGN THAT THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME. I DO NOT KNOW HOW I CAN POSSIBLY MAKE THIS POINT CLEARER.

    I was thinking of getting back into SF cons (having been gaming-con only for the past few years), but no. Just no.

  10. Jesus.

    No one is advocating that you should have to wear a sign that says “don’t fondle me”. No one is saying that “not wanting to be fondled” is a sign that there is something wrong with you. No one is saying you should have to wear a stoplight to visually tell men around you whether or not you want them to ask about touching your boobs.

    No one is advocating ANY of those positions.

    @John Seavey,

    Oh. So when you said “who will jump up in favor of” you meant people who don’t believe that it “wasn’t anything so terrible as harassment”. which is a DIFFERENT thing entirely.

    Especially when there are people, of which I am one, who said that something such as the OSBP which is heavily predicated on levels of consent, is MUCH DIFFERENT from someone like Chainmail Guy who was in no way shape or form, about consent. And then from THERE, saying that it is really shitty that someone would use an event of almost a decade ago, to say that someone should stop advocating for “believe victims of sexual assault.”

  11. alexvdl said: “Especially when there are people, of which I am one, who said that something such as the OSBP which is heavily predicated on levels of consent, is MUCH DIFFERENT from someone like Chainmail Guy who was in no way shape or form, about consent.”

    Except that this is a blatant misrepresentation of the event and its subsequent consequences. The initial account, which was made by one of the harassers, made it sound like the OSBP was “heavily predicated on levels of consent”, but many of the women present said that it was an obliviously optimistic account at best that ignored women who were present and who felt harassed and unable to speak up, and certainly that the subsequent event where it was repeated had numerous instances of blatant sexual harassment and assault of non-consenting non-participants.

    In short, you are doing exactly what the community does all too often–taking the harasser’s statements at face value, ignoring subsequent reports by women involved in the incident of harassment, and insisting that the whole thing really wasn’t that bad and that people shouldn’t harp on it anymore. How are you not able to see that?

  12. @Amoxtli:

    If you indeed can’t see a distinction between “I have control over my body and what I allow people to do with it” and “I get a veto over your body and what you allow people to do with it,” then yes, we are indeed done.

    Because, when you describe “go ahead, touch” in and of itself as “playing out [a] kink in public” and say that it is exactly the same as “a public humiliation scene”, that IS claiming veto power over what other people do, and it DOES put you in the same company as the people who want to prevent gay smoochies and exposed ankles.

    Of course you shouldn’t be pawed [EDIT: or propositioned to be pawed!] without your consent. Sure, no-pin should be functionally equivalent to red-pin – and yes, that’s a change from what I said earlier, because I was wrong earlier, freely admitted. But in no way does any of that give you – or me, or anyone else – the right to go up to a couple of people with green pins on and tell them to get a room. Not unless they’re doing a lot more than some brief touching-with-clothes-on, or if one of them is showing some signs of discomfort. (In a public area, expressed distress trumps a worn symbol every single time!) [EDIT 2: Some private areas have different rules. I am NOT saying “ignore distress just because it’s in private.”]

    Heck, think about how many times you’ve seen a couple walking around with smiles on their faces and their hands in each other’s back pockets. Right there in broad daylight – in the middle of a mall, a park, or anywhere else. I’m not going to tell them to stop. I’m also not going to ask them how well they know each other, because it’s none of my business. I’m just going to be happy for them, because they’re happy and sharing a mild level of physical intimacy.

  13. @ Rev. Bob: Even in the most open, sex-positive societies in Europe, there’s a general understanding that you don’t grope people in public. I don’t understand why you seem to think that’s a bad thing and something we should be fighting to change. It’s not “physical touching of any sort is a nasty kink”, it’s “not everything is about sex every minute of every day, dammit!”

    BTW, it’s not just gay people who have had to deal with being shamed for showing affection. Ever heard of the “PDA” offense? And the problem for gay people was that they were being shamed for showing affection in ways that were considered normal and unexceptionable for hets, AKA “double standard”. Which makes it a completely ineligible example for you to use while you’re trying to shame everyone else into allowing “anything goes” to be the norm everywhere.

    And I’m not at all surprised that other people are starting to lose their tempers with you. Once again, one way that you DON’T get there from here is by trying to pretend that we already are.

    @ Nancy: Please don’t let yourself be discouraged by a couple of flaming idiots. Yes, there’s a problem. Yes, people are working to address it. I don’t think you’ll find it any worse at a general-interest con than at a gaming-con.

  14. @Steve, the Timothy interview is great. What a scoop for ASM.

    I was famous on the internet once (pre-web). I didn’t get $13M. I got a couple of paperbacks, a t-shirt, one shot of whiskey, and a set of coasters. Literally.

    @Sunhawk, Heather, Amoxtli, JJ, John, Nancy: Yes. Exactly.

    But Nancy, honest, general SF cons are no worse than gaming cons. Don’t be scared. This stupid boob groping thing was several years ago and it got shut down pretty quickly. (What if it had been the open source dick project? Shudder.)

  15. Rev Bob said: “Heck, think about how many times you’ve seen a couple walking around with smiles on their faces and their hands in each other’s back pockets. Right there in broad daylight – in the middle of a mall, a park, or anywhere else. I’m not going to tell them to stop. I’m also not going to ask them how well they know each other, because it’s none of my business. I’m just going to be happy for them, because they’re happy and sharing a mild level of physical intimacy.”

    But if they were, y’know, grabbing each other’s bare breasts, which is what we’re actually talking about here, you’d be a little less laissez-faire, right? I mean, you are aware that you’re radically redefining the issue to be “any physical affection” instead of “clear and inarguable sexual touching”, right? Because that’s kind of at the root of why people don’t think you’re arguing in good faith, because you keep talking to people saying that they’re not really comfortable with strangers being groped in public and saying, “Oh, so you don’t like it when people touch each other?” It’s a bit disingenuous, even when not intended as such.

  16. Reverend Bob, you might want to step back for a bit and consider why people are getting so angry over the defense of OSBP. And discard any answer you come up with that involves any term similar to “prudishness” or “overeacting”. Seriously, take a break and think snout it.

  17. Earlier today I came across a claim that 1996’s AMARYLLIS by Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick) was the first “paranormal romance”. That’s probably a silly claim, with many earlier books that could be so classified, but it might have been the first to have the “paranormal romance” label put on it as part of its marketing, instead of just being a romance that happened to have paranormal elements. I’d call that the first (maybe) example of “paranormal romance” branding, rather than the first paranormal romance.

    Amaryllis definitely was not the first paranormal romance. For starters, it’s actually a futuristic, i.e. science fiction romance, since it’s set on a colony planet cut off from Earth. And it’s not even the first science fiction romance either, Sweet Starfire, also by Jayne Castle a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz was first published back in 1986, i.e. 10 years before. Amaryllis was not packaged with current paranormal romance branding either – the original cover featured flowers.

    As for paranormal romances, the RWA has been handing out Rita Awards in the paranormal romance category since 1992, so the subgenre was definitely established enough by that point to justify an awards category of its own. And authors like Rita Clay Estrada or Margaret St. George a.k.a. Maggie Osborne have been writing the occasional vampire romance since the 1980s at least. A bit further back and paranormal romance start to bleed into gothics.

  18. “In short, you are doing exactly what the community does all too often–taking the harasser’s statements at face value, ignoring subsequent reports by women involved in the incident of harassment, and insisting that the whole thing really wasn’t that bad and that people shouldn’t harp on it anymore. How are you not able to see that?”

    Lord. How melodramatic are you going to get? You’re sitting there whining about an incident that ended 8 years ago. I am neither “taking the harasser’s statements at face value” or “ignoring subsequent reports”.

    Let us be very clear what I am doing/saying.

    Taking an event that happened 8 years ago, was apologized for, and for which there have been no signs of recidivism, is a STUPID reason for Sunhawk, or anyone, to say that Ferrett should be side eyed for saying

    “We should listen to those who say they have been harassed or assaulted, even if a court doesn’t corroborate it.”

  19. Sure, behaviors that are the common pre-cursors for harassment are problematic, but he didn’t actually promote the harassment itself, so why consider him responsible for any part of the logical end-game?

    If your standard is “anything that could lead to harassment even if it isn’t in and of itself harassment”, then we need to ban a whole lot of things, starting with room parties with alcohol, panels about BDSM and how to live a poly life, and conventions at hotels with bars. I also disagree that a setup in which people had to consent twice in order to participate is something that would be apparent ab initio as a “common pre-cursor for harassment”. Saying “your idea was used by other people for harassment” is a fairly problematic position to take, because it puts people on the hook for things they didn’t actually do, and yet you’ve jumped right to it. It seems a bit like telling someone that because a person at a party they hosted drank more than they should have and harassed someone, the host of the party has engaged in harassment because they should have foreseen that having a party would lead to that.

    One thing that has been repeated several times is that women would feel pressure to consent, and so it becomes harassment just by existing. But that attacks the very notion of consent: If their consent is actually secretly non-consent, how do you differentiate between harassment and non-harassment? Is there a reasonable way to tell the difference between actual consent and “I said I consented but secretly I didn’t because I was socially pressured into consent”? For harassment policies to work at all, the idea of consent has to be established and respected, because if it isn’t, there’s no practical way to differentiate between harassment and non-harassment. If you create an environment where consent can be given but secretly not mean consent, then you’ve effectively destroyed the existence of a harassment policy.

  20. Returning to this morning’s conversation…

    alexvdl on May 19, 2016 at 7:57 am said:
    The thing that amuses me the most about that particular putdown of Brad’s is that Brad isn’t even famous on the internet and Scalzi has hit list numerous times and therefore is pretty damn popular outside of “the Internet”

    Oh, hell: “famous on the internet” isn’t even the worst part of that insult.
    Mocking someone for being “scrawny” shows that Torgersen is a child, the sort of person who reaches FIRST for grade-school insults about appearances..

    And that says a lot – Brad Torgersen is the kind of asshole who thinks that it’s perfectly appropriate to mock others for their appearance.

    I don’t know if it shows that he’s just THAT immature, or if that sort of thinking is an insight to his entire worldview.

    Shorter Brad:
    “Only the strong and powerful need to be ass-kissed; the scrawny and weak deserve to be mocked.”

    At minimum, that insult (yet again) reveals him to be a terrible person.

  21. Alexvdl said: “Especially when there are people, of which I am one, who said that something such as the OSBP which is heavily predicated on levels of consent”

    Alexvdl then said: “I am neither “taking the harasser’s statements at face value” or “ignoring subsequent reports”.”

    These are mutually incompatible statements. Either you believe theferrett when he said that the OSBP was heavily predicated on levels of consent, and disregard the statements of the women who said that it was not, or you don’t. You can’t say “it was heavily predicated on consent levels but I’m not at all disregarding the people who said it wasn’t!”

    But regardless, your new claim that:

    “Taking an event that happened 8 years ago, was apologized for, and for which there have been no signs of recidivism, is a STUPID reason for Sunhawk, or anyone, to say that Ferrett should be side eyed for saying

    “We should listen to those who say they have been harassed or assaulted, even if a court doesn’t corroborate it.””

    is an entirely different misrepresentation. Because that’s not what Sunhawk was saying. They were saying that it’s important to note that a harassment policy has to be consistently applied, because even people who are outspoken against harassment can sometimes have blind spots when it comes to their own misconduct or those of people close to them. In which light it makes perfect sense to bring up the OSBP when the person who did it is talking about harassment problems, because it’s an illumination of the way blind spots can affect us all.

    But of course you didn’t say at the time that it was unfair to hold it against him eight years later. You said, “the OSBP which is heavily predicated on levels of consent, is MUCH DIFFERENT from someone like Chainmail Guy who was in no way shape or form, about consent.”

    In other words, you didn’t say “this is unfair because it was so long ago,” you said, “this is unfair because this thing is harassment and that thing wasn’t.” Which is, again, taking the harasser’s side over the victims. I don’t want to harp on it, but until you realize you’re doing it, you won’t change.

  22. “I don’t want to harp on it, but until you realize you’re doing it, you won’t change.”

    First off, if you don’t want to harp on it, maybe you should stop harping on it, and move on to something else?

    Second, did you really just accuse me of sexual harassment?

  23. Apologies for disappearing but I had to take a breather, as the conversation was becoming very hard for me to participate in without losing my temper. Making strawmen arguments of what I said especially after I have repeatedly said “No that’s not what I said” makes it very hard to feel like I am participating in the conversation in good faith. I don’t mind explaining my train of thought of why things are a problem from my perspective as a feminist (disclaimer: not all feminists share the same thoughts obviously) but it’s very frustrating to feel like people are just jumping off on their own tangents from what I’ve said or didn’t even say AND also scolding me for going “off-topic” ESPECIALLY on this particular blog where going off-topic is practically a sacred tradition, so it just comes across as you trying to silence me while I talk about oppression and being really just unfriendly to me for no particular reason that I can think of, other than you don’t like that I’m criticizing this project that you think has no problems.

    (Sorry that was a run on sentence or two, sheesh)

    I am not going to continue to repeat myself about what I said, I have done my best to clarify what I meant and clearly some people DID get what I mean, and thank you to Lee and John Seavey for your efforts, John’s posts in particular about the OSBP were a balm to my battered soul (no one in particular battered me, just the patriarchy really, it’s a daily grind), excuse the dramatic phrasing (there is a secret writer hidden in me under all the silly art, after all) and I agree that reading the original LJ comments/reactions to the OSBP are vital to understanding why exactly it was such a bad idea and why it got people so upset.

    What I will say one more time is that if Ferrett DID learn and has absorbed the various reasons why OSBP wasn’t just impractical but the larger issues of society’s attitudes towards women and consent and objectification, better than the update apology he issued at the time which did not demonstrate him really getting it, then GOOD. Glad to hear it. Perhaps I am a bit cynical and some may think its unfair of me to not give him the benefit of the doubt but it’s even MORE important for male allies to “get” the issues so it’s nothing personal to him (I don’t even know the guy!) but rather my personal history of participating in feminist spaces that makes me more prone to adopt a “trust but verify” attitude. Really, if someone had just said “Yeah the guy totally regrets the project now and here’s where he posted about that regret” I would be happy as a clam.

    If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go do something that’s the metaphorical equivalent of giving all my feathers a good shake out in an effort to unruffle them 😛

  24. @Lee:

    I mentioned gay kissing because of that double standard. People tried to squash the behavior because it was icky (to them) and they didn’t want to see it. Same behavior, different participants, squicks a third party, third party claims a veto power. (See also gay marriage.)

    In the same respect, I see hetero PDAs pretty often, in ways that significantly overlap what’s being discussed… and by and large, people don’t object to those. (For example, “hands in each other’s back pockets.”) But if the “hetero couple” part changes, the same behavior (despite mutual toucher/touchee consent) magically becomes Not Okay. Same behavior, different participants, squicks a third party, third party claims a veto power. See the parallel?

    To state it clearly: No, I do not support or advocate going up to random people and asking to feel them up, or saying they ought to let people feel them up, or feeling them up without permission. That’s harassment and/or violation of consent, and those things are wrong. Don’t do that.

    I am saying that if we, as third parties, find ourselves around people who are okay with consensual touching – if, say, they’ve got some recognition symbol and they don’t approach others who lack it – we shouldn’t expect to get a veto over their consent decision, because that is also harassment and it’s a violation of their consent. We have to extend to them the same right to make their decisions that we claim for ourselves. Our opinions of their decision to consent are irrelevant.

    And I’m not trying to pretend that we already are “there” in terms of a more body-positive, less sexualized society. I don’t think anything I’ve said expresses a belief that we are. Although I’m still looking for the map to “there,” I feel pretty confident in predicting that “put your sense of self-worth and your ability to consent into the hands of other people” isn’t going to be a part of that route. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s part of a completely different journey, and one I want no part of.

    EDIT, @John Seavey: “But if they were, y’know, grabbing each other’s bare breasts, which is what we’re actually talking about here,”

    Bare? Unless I’ve missed something huge, “bare” ain’t part of the equation. And if it is, public nudity laws come into play that trump general mores.

  25. Alexvdl said: “First off, if you don’t want to harp on it, maybe you should stop harping on it, and move on to something else?

    Second, did you really just accuse me of sexual harassment?”

    I will cheerfully stop harping on it the moment I get a sign that you have actually understood something I’ve said. Not happened yet. 🙂

    As evidenced by your second statement. No, I did not ‘really just accuse you of sexual harassment’. I pointed out that you were taking the side of a sexual harasser. Which is an entirely accurate summary of you pointing to something that everyone concerned has agreed is sexual harassment, including the harasser and the victims, and saying, “That’s not harassment at all, because this guy who did the harassing said he cared deeply about consent in his original account of things!”

    Again, if you want to walk back those comments about how the OSBP wasn’t harassment, and how it was deeply concerned with consent, we have significantly less of a beef here. But as long as you keep doubling down on a statement that clearly and unequivocally takes the word of the harasser over the multiple statements of the women involved, and treating other people as just terrible for pointing out that’s what you’re doing, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to keep correcting you with facts.

  26. Which is, again, taking the harasser’s side over the victims.

    At what point does consent become non-consent? How do you determine that someone’s consent was secretly not consent? That’s what the argument that this was harassment seems to hinge upon. How do you establish a practical guideline for that that can be applied at the time of the event?

  27. @John Seavey.

    “I will cheerfully stop harping on it the moment I get a sign that you have actually understood something I’ve said.”

    Hahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    What kind of patronizing bullshit is that?

  28. No one is advocating that you should have to wear a sign that says “don’t fondle me”. No one is saying that “not wanting to be fondled” is a sign that there is something wrong with you. No one is saying you should have to wear a stoplight to visually tell men around you whether or not you want them to ask about touching your boobs.

    No one is advocating ANY of those positions.

    Alex, a number of people have been pointing out that there is no meaningful opt-out for the women at the convention, even if they choose not to wear a button. It does not opt them out of having their chests stared at, being subject to a lot of curiosity about their participation, being handed buttons to wear, pressured to participate, propositioned, or outright groped. That’s not just the prediction (and it was pretty damn obvious that’d happen at the time), but what actually happened when it was tried. There is no meaningful opt-out. Not wearing a button was no protection from it, predictably enough. In that environment, not fondling women and women not wanting to be fondled has stopped being the default behavioral expectation for the people who want to fondle women. (Again, not just prediction, but also what apparently happened.) That puts all the women attending in the position having to wear an explicit “do not fondle” sign, whether it’s the buttons or not.

    I’m sorry, I simply disagree with you that OSBP was heavily predicated on levels of consent, or indeed that, in light of the result, it even matters. OSBP may have been formulated with consent in mind, but it would take a lot of naivety to assume it was ever going to remain focused on consent when it spread beyond the men who designed it to the people they had no control over or the people who could intentionally misuse it, and if it truly were heavily predicated on levels of consent, the raised consent issues would have been taken seriously before the problems occurred rather than dismissed, and thought through to prevent problems. Neither of those things happened. Consent-theater at best. And, more damningly, regardless of intent, actually creating a consent conflict involving multiple people harassing multiple women is, to my mind, considerably more problematic a result than Chainmail Guy, who is, at the end of the day, one single missing stair, rather than an entire missing staircase. One of the big difficulties in enforcing harassment policies is the misunderstanding of intent as excusing the impact of their behavior. Intent isn’t what people are judged on when it comes to harassment issues, but rather on impact.

    Whether or not that has any bearing on Ferrett’s credibility today, I have no strong opinion, so I’m not going to argue that with you. That was some time ago, and people make mistakes that get out of hand and learn from them. That’s fine. As far as I’m concerned, he has every right to speak out on whatever he wants now. (Though I understand why people might find it humorous.) But the description of the OSBP as “not real harassment, because it was intended to be consensual, and much more excusable than Chainmail Guy” is galling, because it created a systemic problem that was bigger than any single harasser.

    Bob, I shall simply repeat, there is no meaningful opt-out for the women who don’t want to be involved, and leave you to get on with your personal journey on this one. You’re a decent guy, and I think you’ll look back on this discussion with some embarrassment later, so I have no desire to go any further.

    Aaron: But that attacks the very notion of consent: If their consent is actually secretly non-consent, how do you differentiate between harassment and non-harassment?

    It’s like you’re grasping the whole problem with this scenario, and assuming it’s somehow a problem with the critics rather than a known feature of how harassment and sexual coercion works. Attacking the notion of consent is one of the things sexual harassment is designed to exploit. It’s part of why women aren’t often believed. It’s designed to undermine consent. (And I’m surprised people are shocked to be told that a project designed to streamline sexual consent might have an effect, intended or otherwise, in undermining meaningful consent.)

  29. @Amoxtli Thank you for saying what I was trying to say but much more clearly and fully. I feel like there’s someone else I want to thank too for tackling the explanations, I should go back and reread this thread, as sunburned as it makes me feel heh.

  30. Attacking the notion of consent is one of the things sexual harassment is designed to exploit.

    Sexual harassment has to be predicated on whether consent is given or not. So as a practical matter, how do you determine whether consent was given or not? In the comment thread on the original OSBP post there are dozens of participants who say that everything was predicated on consent: Who is going to gainsay them? How do you determine at the time that someone who consented didn’t actually consent?

    It’s part of why women aren’t often believed. It’s designed to undermine consent.

    I can’t think of anything that would undermine the notion of consent and support the notion that harassers aren’t getting a fair shake more than the idea that even if someone consented, they secretly did not. Either we have to accept that people have agency and if they consent then they actually are doing so, or you can just put all anti-harassment policies in the bin and declare the world a free-for-all for harassers, because there’s no way to differentiate between them and everyone else.

  31. “because it created a systemic problem that was bigger than any single harasser.”

    Yes. I’m sure a project whose idea was germinated at one con, and that took place at another con created a systemic problem, rather than reflecting the systemic problem that is patriarchy and rape culture.

    I’m doubly sure that the event is at all relevant to Ferrett’s statement of “But stop extending that to the idiotic argument of “If something someone says has not been proven in a court of law, it is automatically untrue.” No.”

  32. Aaron said: “Sexual harassment has to be predicated on whether consent is given or not. So as a practical matter, how do you determine whether consent was given or not? In the comment thread on the original OSBP post there are dozens of participants who say that everything was predicated on consent: Who is going to gainsay them? How do you determine at the time that someone who consented didn’t actually consent?”

    Context is a big part of it, and it should be clear from the context of the event that it would be difficult to meaningfully determine consent and that this was part of the problem.

    If I am a boss and announce to my employees, “Hey, guys! Friday is Clothing Optional Day at work! It’s strictly optional to participate, but I’m going to come in naked and Cindy and Amy and Melanie have already said they’re not uptight prudes,” then I have created an environment in which there is no reasonable way to opt out. In that context, consent is meaningless because there is simply too much pressure on the participants to acquiesce.

    The same is true, in less extreme form of course, for the OSBP. Once you’ve announced that touching breasts is a perfectly normal thing and people shouldn’t get so hung up over it, and one woman has volunteered to be groped, it is pretty obvious that it’s going to be hard for other people to opt out. Maybe not at the time, to the participants involved, but that’s why they went back and re-evaluated everything in light of the multiple post-event complaints about their behavior and admitted it was wrong and why are people still trying to defend this?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Okay. Calm again. But seriously. There are three people defending the behavior of someone who has already admitted his behavior was indefensible. Why?

  33. @August:

    But honestly, I can’t understand reading for pleasure if you aren’t interested in letting people use language to do beautiful things.

    Doing beautiful things with language does not exclude accomplishing something relevant to the story at the same time. In Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda does amazing things with language, and yet the story still goes at a break-neck pace.

    Have you ever heard of Nancy Pearl’s Four Doors to Reading? It’s pretty clear that Language is a big door for you. For me, it’s the smallest, nice to have but not as necessary as the others.

  34. Oh FFS, Aaron, “if someone consented, they secretly did not” is what’s happened to women for probably all of the human race. “She didn’t scream and fight him off, she must have WANTED it!” You can’t overthrow thousands of years of patriarchal rules and millions of years of dudes liking boobs overnight. Women have been conditioned to think that no one’s going to believe their lack of consent for so long that it’s easier to just go along with the pressure. And if the consent consists of something displayed on a woman’s torso, you can bet all boobs will be ogled on the way to looking for those buttons.

    You’ve made a HUGE fallacious leap into “Think of the poor pervs! How are the menz supposed to know?”. It’s bullshit. I thought you were smarter than that.

  35. @August

    I’d tend to be in the same boat. I like some linguistic stuff, such as the Firefly references that the author of that piece made, but if it gets too far off the rails such as Cormac McCarthy’s the road or Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, I just get frustrated. If I have to spend more time figuring out what the author is saying than actually enjoying the story and characters, then I’m out.

  36. @’As You Know’ Bob: Not only is it petty and childish, it’s pot-kettle.

    Brad is no great specimen of manhood himself. He’s short, pasty, kinda chubby, kinda dorky, his hair’s retreating like an ice shelf. And he’s not powerful or important.

    By his own rules, everyone should feel free to mock him. Yet he gets petulant and pissy when people treat him by his own standards.

  37. Thinking about it more, going up to a strange woman and saying “I think you’re beautiful. Can I touch your boobs?” is sexual harassment. It doesn’t matter that the person doing the approaching was female. The woman on the receiving end of that question has to do a lot of sudden unwanted mental algebra to determine the safety of the situation.

    @Sunhawk:

    Really, if someone had just said “Yeah the guy totally regrets the project now and here’s where he posted about that regret” I would be happy as a clam.

    Aw, dammit, I just reread his apology update at the top of the LJ post in order to ask why that wasn’t a sufficient expression of regret. And I see what you mean. There are a lot of good words there, and just a smattering that show the defensiveness and “but it wasn’t really like that!”. I’m feeling sunburned too. Here’s hoping you feel unruffled soon.

  38. @Rev Bob: The big thing you’re missing in your analogy is that couples kissing, hugging, etc. does not result in the passersby being invited to participate.

    It also doesn’t result in passersby having to decide if they need to report the participants to con security. “Is it consensual, or isn’t it?”

  39. OSBP and consent: What I’ve gathered from the discussion is there wasn’t any problem with the women who did consent. The problem was the women who did not consent were treated as though they had just because they were physically present near those who had. Which happens all the time.

  40. I can’t think of anything that would undermine the notion of consent and support the notion that harassers aren’t getting a fair shake more than the idea that even if someone consented, they secretly did not. Either we have to accept that people have agency and if they consent then they actually are doing so, or you can just put all anti-harassment policies in the bin and declare the world a free-for-all for harassers, because there’s no way to differentiate between them and everyone else.

    Aaron, a great many things are well-known to compromise, for example, sexual consent, and often without the person receiving consent having good warning of that fact. Age compromises verbal consent, and ignorance of someone being underage is not considered a legal defense. Intoxication, whether drugs or alcohol, compromises verbal consent. Coercion can compromise verbal consent. We don’t, and never have, lived in a world where verbal consent is iron-clad. Any consent has some risk, usually vanishingly small, but not always. The less well you know someone in order to evaluate their consent and whether it’s compromised by external factors, the higher the risk is. No one ever has a total guarantee. And yet, very few people argue that makes sexual consent meaningless and therefore there’s no such thing as rape, because you can’t differentiate between consensual and non-consensual sex. It means the bar for understanding consent is higher than many people believe it to be.

    Consent is not simple. Consent cannot, in the current culture, be made simple. Consent from near-strangers is one of the most difficult forms of consent to navigate. People want consent to be simple. That’s the pipe dream of the OSBP. I understand why it appeals, and to the women who participated as well as men. But it doesn’t bear up to reality. And the failure mode of that pipe dream is the sort of consent-gaming that is the bread and butter of sexual harassment and assault.

  41. @Lurkertype:

    By his own rules, everyone should feel free to mock him. Yet he gets petulant and pissy when people treat him by his own standards.

    You’ve just written the perfect blurb for the dust jacket of The Brad Torgersen Story.

  42. Once you’ve announced that touching breasts is a perfectly normal thing and people shouldn’t get so hung up over it, and one woman has volunteered to be groped, it is pretty obvious that it’s going to be hard for other people to opt out.

    So when is consent real and when is it not? Looking through the comment thread on the original OBSP post, I haven’t seen anything from anyone that said they consented when they didn’t want to. I saw at least one person say they declined and there was no issue resulting from that decision.

    The issue here is one of practical application: How do you differentiate between consent and “consent but secretly not” (which, at the point, seems to be entirely hypothetical with respect to the OBSP, unless you can point to a comment on the original post that says that happened) when you are applying a policy to determine harassment?

    There are three people defending the behavior of someone who has already admitted his behavior was indefensible.

    Except he hasn’t, and your continued misrepresentation of what he said only undermines your argument.

  43. a great many things are well-known to compromise, for example, sexual consent, and often without the person receiving consent having good warning of that fact. Age compromises verbal consent, and ignorance of someone being underage is not considered a legal defense. Intoxication, whether drugs or alcohol, compromises verbal consent. Coercion can compromise verbal consent.

    Sure, but we don’t seem to have any of those elements present in the example being discussed. What we seem to have is “lots of people were doing it so someone may have felt they had to as well”. That isn’t something that normally obviates consent. Its not age, its not alcohol, its not coercion. How do you define what is and isn’t consent in such a way that allows people who want to consent to do so but doesn’t have the “I consented but secretly didn’t” issue when those elements you’ve described aren’t present?

  44. “if someone consented, they secretly did not” is what’s happened to women for probably all of the human race.

    Come up with a harassment policy that follows your version of consent that can be fairly applied as a practical matter.

  45. @ Aaron: Our legal system certainly recognizes the concept of “coerced consent” — about everything BUT sex. Why do you think there’s a 3-day window after you sign a sales contract during which you can change your mind without penalty? Because high-pressure salesmen are recognized to be a real problem. But the minute it’s about sex rather than money, that whole idea just doesn’t seem to be on the table any more.

    @ Rail: Interesting link! For me, Character is the biggie — if I can’t get interested in (or worse yet, actively dislike) the major characters, no amount of story, worldbuilding, or language will save it. Language, for me, is largely the icing on the cake; while I will notice poor handling of language, “serviceable and competent” is plenty good enough. There are a couple of authors whose lyrical style of writing I admire, but (as you note) things are still moving along at a pretty good clip, lyrical writing or no. One of my persistent issues with the lit-fic genre is that its authors tend to spend most of their time on language pyrotechnics to the detriment of all of the other three elements.

  46. Our legal system certainly recognizes the concept of “coerced consent” — about everything BUT sex.

    The legal system does accept coerced consent with respect to sex (and most states define what constitutes sexual coercion by statute), but there’s not been any allegation that Ferret or anyone with him coerced anyone. The legal system wouldn’t accept “everyone else bought an Audi so I felt like I had to as well” as coercion in a sales contract matter, and that seems to be the argument that is being used in this case.

  47. @Aaron
    You might want to stop the rules lawyering and keep in mind a number of your fellow filers have been sexually harassed, raped, abused and you are hurting them right now. Do you want to continue being That guy?

  48. You might want to stop the rules lawyering and keep in mind a number of your fellow filers have been sexually harassed, raped, abused and you are hurting them right now.

    I’ll drop it for you. I’m still concerned that there’s a lot in the allegations sloshing around here that effectively makes differentiating between harassment and non-harassment impossible as a practical matter, and that’s a problem, but you’re more important than solving that problem.

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