By JJ: I was going to post in a File 770 comment a link to a recent blog post, because I wanted to make a comment about the trend it represents – but then I realized that it would be unfair to single out one of many of the same sort of posts being made on blogs and Facebook and Twitter right now, posts which express horror and anger about harassment and abuse in fandom, and then just say “We need to do something about this!”
I know, from my own experience upon finding out that MZB, the author of the Darkover books I’d loved so much when I was young – books I will never be able to read or recommend again – was actually a horrible person in real life, that it’s horrifying for most of us whenever “new” news comes out about someone in SFFdom having done awful things which were enabled, excused, deliberately overlooked, or just not recognized for what they were, by people at the time.
Yes, it’s awful, and yes, we need to talk openly about it, and yes, it needs to stop.
But instead of yet one more piece (and the one I just read is by far not the only one) in which someone waves their arms around and says, “OMG!!! All this stuff that happened 20 to 60 years ago! We absolutely must do SOMETHING!!!”, I would like the people who feel compelled to chime in to do so in a constructive way that accomplishes more than just arm-waving and regurgitating ancient history.
The Geek Feminism Wikia contains a wealth of information about harassment and abuse in SFF fandom. Their Incidents section contains information about things which have occurred in recent history. Those who are outraged about decades-old abuses, but unaware of what has gone on in the last 20 years, should educate themselves about the recent ones.
Their Resources section contains information and links which can help people who would like to know how to actually make a difference: how we can help the cons we work on, or attend, to proactively set up mechanisms for recognizing, reporting, and dealing with abuse; how we can each fight abuse in our fandom, gaming, or other social groups; how we can find the words and the personal strength to speak up when abuses occur in front of us.
For those of you who feel that something should be done, I ask you to read about what people in fandom have actually been doing, for quite a few years now, to change con and fandom culture for the better, so that harassment and abuse no longer happen or get tolerated. For example, many fan conventions have instituted official Codes of Conduct in recent years, and these are being enforced. Last month, ConFusion, whose Harassment Policy is clearly specified here, dealt with an incident at their convention, and did so according to their clearly-written reporting and enforcement guidelines.
For those of you who feel that something should be done, I ask you to consider current efforts and think about what could, and should, still be done, to improve those efforts.
For those of you who feel that something should be done, I ask you to figure out how you can contribute personally to those efforts.
Arm-waving outrage pieces unfortunately do not add value to the never-ending work we as fans should be doing to make our fan spaces into better places. We can, and should, be doing more. I am going to actively try to do more in working toward that, and I welcome constructive comments on this post about ways in which we as genre fans can all work toward that.