Arisia Announces Rosenberg Out

A day after Crystal Huff posted “Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again.” charging the convention with failing to enforce its code of conduct in situations where she had been the victim, Arisia’s president resigned, and the convention’s executive board issued this statement on Facebook:

Effective immediately, Noel Rosenberg is no longer President of Arisia, Inc. On October 26th, at an emergency meeting of the other members of the Arisia Executive Board, the first step we took was to ask Noel to resign as President of Arisia Corporate and we have accepted that resignation. The Arisia 2019 Conchair has informed the Eboard that Noel is no longer the Operations Division Head, and will not be placed in any other staff positions.

Yesterday we issued a short statement that “the Arisia Executive Board takes our Incident Response process and the safety and concerns of our community very seriously.” We mean that, but we acknowledge that we failed severely in this case. We will work harder to live up to our values going forward, and in order to begin to regain the trust of our community, we are going to acknowledge and apologize for our failures, and take immediate and decisive action.

We failed by allowing Noel to be part of any Incident Response process while he was the subject of a serious incident investigation. To be clear, he was not a part of the investigation which related to him. He was not privy to any information collected, nor was he involved with the discussion or voting on the results. He was still, in his capacity as President, participating in other incident investigations. That was an error of our judgment and we apologize for this. We will work with the Corporation to improve our policies so that this does not happen again.

We failed by mentioning a subject’s name at the September corporate meeting. We apologized at the time. However we understand that can’t make up for the error. We have ensured that the person’s name is not recorded in the minutes or printed in Mentor.

We failed to give the corporate membership sufficient transparency ahead of the 2018-2019 officer elections, and we apologize for this. While we did mention the Incident Report at the election meeting, we did not give the Corporation sufficient notice or detail to make an informed decision. Again, we will visit this with the Corporation to ensure it cannot happen again.

We have accelerated the creation of a webpage to act as a centralized, public location for our disciplinary policy process. This is intended to clarify and and make more transparent our processes as well as codifying, when possible, best practice into procedure. Please keep in mind that putting this together correctly takes time but the work in progress can be found here:

We are conducting a review of our Code of Conduct and Incident Response Process to ensure that it meets its goal of ensuring the safety of our community. We are reaching out to a third party consulting company for review and assistance and will report back to the Corporation.

Please send further questions about this situation, our Code of Conduct, or disciplinary policy in any capacity to This email goes to the Incident Response Team Heads, Conchair team, and Executive Board. We are working on additional steps that we will announce in the coming weeks.

The Arisia Executive Board

However, there was nothing contrite about Rosenberg’s resignation email to the corporate list.

Date: Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 15:56
Subject: [Arisia DH] My role in Arisia
To: Arisia Corporate <>, Arisia Divheads List </>

I take issue with what Crystal has said, both about me and about Arisia, most of which is at best misleading and at worst flat out untrue.

Nevertheless, it is clear that I cannot lead Arisia at this time and I have become too much of a distraction. Therefore, in the interests of Arisia I am resigning as president effective immediately. I have also tendered my resignation as Division Head for Operations for Arisia ’19, and the Convention Chair has accepted my resignation.

I make this decision with a heavy heart, as I know what the truth is regarding these accusations. I have worked on this convention for more than a quarter century, and have been served on the Eboard for a number of those years.

-Noel Rosenberg

Just last month Rosenberg ran for President unopposed, receiving 42 of 54 valid votes, with 6 noes and 6 abstentions.

Marie Brennan’s Twitter thread epitomized the early reaction to Arisia’s statement:

48 thoughts on “Arisia Announces Rosenberg Out

  1. Wait, so is THAT email what “well-meaning” people keep forwarding to Crystal Huff with “hope this helps” or “now we can go back, right?” reactions? As per the last scroll? If so, wow.

  2. Mike, it looks like you accidentally omitted the paragraph where they say:

    We failed by repeatedly refusing to recognize and acknowledge the depth and seriousness of harassing and abusive behavior which went on for years, and by choosing not to act to end the harasser’s ability to attend our events and participate on our staff.

    Oh, wait — you didn’t omit that paragraph. They did. 🙄

    This is why everyone on the Arisia board who was involved in the cover-up needs to resign. They still refuse to understand and acknowledge that his behavior was blatantly abusive and harassing — which means that they will do no better with the next harasser who comes along.

  3. I used to volunteer for Arisia and left because of how they dealt with a known creeper who was *on security* and used his security badge to push his way into parties, bother guests in the green room, and harangue women.

    Last I heard he was going to be let back into con staffing if he apologized to the e-board (not to the people he harassed).

  4. Just how deeply does the corruption go in the organisational structure of Arisa? In other words, who know that he was doing this, and why did didn’t did they get rid him of him years ago? Was it it just the Board, or did long term volunteers also know about it? Usually the conversation is such in these organisations that it results in pretty much everyone knowing what’s going on when you’ve got a problem like this from what I’ve from when I’ve been consulted about such situations before.

    I’ve told them to shut down the organisation as that was the only was to actually get tried of the problem.

  5. Sigh… that last paragraph should have been “I told them that to shut down the organisation was the only way to actually get rid of the problem.” Sometimes it just doesn’t pay not to have enough coffee in me…

  6. Thanks, Hampus. Here’s the part I found most enlightening, in the official response from Arisia: When something boils down to two people in a closed/private room who give conflicting reports, we feel we don’t have grounds to make a decision one way or the other.

    Because, you know, rape and assault are easier to determine when they happen in public, which is of course much more common than in private.

    It’s like no one involved understands the use of logic.

  7. Cheryl S.: Because, you know, rape and assault are easier to determine when they happen in public, which is of course much more common than in private.

    Well, and wasn’t one of Arisia’s excuses for failing to act, in Huff’s case, that she hadn’t filed a police report? This woman filed a police report, and look how much good that did her. 🙁

  8. JJ says Well, and wasn’t one of Arisia’s excuses for failing to act, in Huff’s case, that she hadn’t filed a police report? This woman filed a police report, and look how much good that did her. ?

    Precisely why I believe that the organisation itself can’t be saved. If they can’t understand what the problem is, I’m fairly certain that the organisation itself is beyond saving. Certainly a new organisation doing what they did can be created with new volunteers and a stronger sense of ethics that’s dedicated to being principled in a manner this one can’t be.

  9. JJ: Well, and wasn’t one of Arisia’s excuses for failing to act, in Huff’s case, that she hadn’t filed a police report? This woman filed a police report, and look how much good that did her.

    I think so, but I can’t actually nerve myself to reread either account. In both cases though, it definitely stuck with me that Arisia felt unable to act because the reported rapes were either a he said/she said or behind closed doors. Probably because my damn hair lit on fire each time.

    It’s like everyone involved has been in a lead lined box for the last 20 years and missed the parts about how and why thinking has changed around reporting rapes and why it’s actually a really good idea to believe women even if you didn’t see the actual rape.

    I’m rather of the same opinion as Cat Eldridge, or at least “burn it down” is my remedy for this much institutional clueless stupidity.

  10. As an Arisia staff member this year, I would really like to be part of making things better, but I don’t think I know a way to do that. My quitting would make things difficult for people who aren’t involved in the problems at all. And my position in the organization doesn’t provide me any influence on relevant policies.

  11. This thing about asking the victim what they want to happen sounds a lot like patient-led care — based on all kinds of well-meaning principles about ensuring the outcomes are good by letting the victim choose what happens next, but frequently ruined by the lack of providing options. It is not at all helpful, when you have no experience, institutional knowledge or authority, to be given an open question like “what would you like to happen?”. Any such policy should explicitly lay out the possibilities and explicitly require them to be explained to the victim. Possibly with the option of ordering them by preference rather than just having to pick one.

  12. Meredith: I see the sense of your suggestion, however, the approach of asking the victim what they want to have happen is appealing to the organization because it might open the way to an easier resolution. Also, offering a menu of choices feels like it implies willingness to do anything on the list — so would the list be limited to what the organization thinks is proportionate? And in that case, would that not limit the victim’s chance to express what they want?

  13. @Mike Glyer

    Re: implied willingness, that’s part of why I thought of letting victims number them in order of preference. Gives a bit of wiggle room for the organisation to choose. Perhaps there could be more than one list and they could be tailored to severity, although that invites the possibility of excessive complexity and opens it up to convention staff having different opinions on how severe a given case is treated as being (and certainly in Arisia’s case the staff involved in handling these cases seem to be a large part of the problem).

    Re: victim’s expression, perhaps it could also have an “Other: Describe below” type of option if the victim wants something that the organisation hasn’t thought of.

  14. Mike Glyer: the approach of asking the victim what they want to have happen is appealing to the organization because it might open the way to an easier resolution. Also, offering a menu of choices feels like it implies willingness to do anything on the list — so would the list be limited to what the organization thinks is proportionate? And in that case, would that not limit the victim’s chance to express what they want?

    Additionally, an organization needs to understand that the final decision for the action they take is their responsibility, not the victim’s.

    While it’s important to ask the victim what they would like to see happen, the con is not bound to only do what the victim wants. Even if the victim does not want action taken against the offender, it’s likely that the convention would need to do so to protect its other attendees — and if the victim wants the offender nuked from orbit for something that falls on the lesser end of the scale, the convention is not required to use the nuclear option but may, and probably should, instead choose a lesser sanction.

  15. @Mike.

    One possibility would be for the Safety/Incident Response person to ask something like “Do you know what you’d like us to do here? The possibilities include A, B, and C.”

    So if the person was already thinking “I want him thrown out of the con” they can ask for that. If they just know they don’t like what happened, or if all they’re sure of is they don’t want to deal with the other person for the rest of the day, one of A, B, or C might work for that. Crucially, that minimal “easier resolution” shouldn’t be treated as the end of the matter–saying “I want him to stay away from me today” shouldn’t mean that the con won’t investigate further, or that the person can’t come back the next morning and ask to have the person kept away from them altogether.

    The sort of question I’m suggesting here wouldn’t substitute for policies about how to handle reports of harassment. The goal would be to avoid the all-too-common situation where an upset person is asked “what do you want us to do?,” says they’re not sure, and that’s used as an excuse to do nothing, while leaving room for someone who does know (at least part of) what they want to ask for it.

  16. I read all of Crystal Huff’s lengthy description of her experiences with this guy, and quite a lot of it took place in plain sight at the con.

    So I’m not buying the whole “oh however shall we decide who is telling the truth??” pearl-clutching on the part of the con runners.

    I don’t go to cons, so have no dog in this hunt, but given that he had a history at WisCon, too, this latest set of activities ought to get him banned from all cons, period. No one is so indispensable that their bad behavior should be ignored.

  17. Offering a list doesn’t have to be a finite thing, a “these are your only options”. But many people freeze or go blank when put on the spot about a question of protocol even when not traumatized, or when given an open-ended choice (it’s related to, though not the same as, decision fatigue). Offering a list of options is an excellent way to give the person something to think about to focus them down, and get them past the blank of too many choices. And if none of the options appeal, they give something to analyze to determine why they don’t work and therefore what would.

    And as JJ said, the final decision is not up to the victim even if it is taken into account.

    In some jurisdictions, a DV charge can be laid by police even if the victim doesn’t want to press charges themselves. This is because many victims don’t, when it’s a loved one, or the person on whom their housing and financial security are dependant, so waiting for a victim to press charges ties the hands of the police. This is hopefully about lesser crimes most of the time (Though in this exact case, I would consider rape and stalking of a piece with DV), but a similar principle applies.

  18. Techgrrl1972: I read all of Crystal Huff’s lengthy description of her experiences with this guy, and quite a lot of it took place in plain sight at the con. So I’m not buying the whole “oh however shall we decide who is telling the truth??” pearl-clutching on the part of the con runners.

    But I’ve noticed that none of the Arisia staff even mention any of that stalking and harassment — nor does their so-called “apology” — which makes me think that none of them are able to recognize harassment and stalking when they see it.

    Which is why every single Arisia staff and board person who had a part in deciding to do nothing needs to resign. These people have no business being in charge of anything until they get their sense of perspective fixed — assuming that such a thing is even possible. If people don’t understand the difference between acceptable behavior and stalking and harassment by the time they’re in their 30s, I’m not optimistic that they’re capable of ever learning it.

  19. Some of the problems with asking the target of harassment what to do about it have been mentioned above, but there’s a really big one that hasn’t been mentioned yet. There’s more than one entity that has been harmed. In addition to harming the target, the harasser has also harmed the convention. It’s not just the target’s problem; it’s the convention’s problem too.

    The harasser has harmed the convention, and the convention can (and should) pursue its own action in the matter.

    (If convention-runners don’t think harassment is a problem, they’re not likely to see the convention as having been harmed… even when it’s getting more and more obvious by the day to everybody watching. One might hope that the people declining invitations to appear would provide some illumination.)

  20. I actually have a problem with consulting the victim about what they want done. Most of us are not at our best after trauma and having a fairly comprehensive responsibility – and being asked what outcome would serve your needs is a large question – pushed on us when we’re vulnerable seems unwise. I’m not advocating for a paternalist pat on the head and reassurance that the grownups will handle it, far from it, but I know that I’ve made less than optimal decisions under stress and that appears to be pretty common.

    I’m trying to think of any other situation in which the victim is asked to
    be judge and jury and not coming up with anything. Besides, as Elise Matthesen points out, the convention has also been harmed and has standing to enact penalties.

  21. Based on personal experience, I strongly believe that it is always a mistake to ask the target what they want to have done. A lot of people who have experienced harassment or abuse are very emotionally labile, and it is actually not possible for them to actually know what they want. After my incident with Ken Konol at Minicon several years ago, I ratcheted between wanting to drop him into the sun and thinking that it wasn’t any big deal, over and over again. And this was true, not only in the immediate wake of the incident, but for weeks. And all Ken did was hide in a closet and listen to a really intimate conversation. I was not assaulted or harassed.

    It is also important to realize that people who attend conventions usually have a strong vesting in that convention, and do not want to do it harm. So asking the target what they want implicitly asks them to balance their own needs against the needs of their community, and that is a shitty thing to do to them when they are still processing the incident, or, actually, any time thereafter. Intentional or not, it encourages the target to minimize the incident.

    It is also really important to recognize that however much we may care about the targets, and I hope most of us do, the job of the convention is not to heal the target. It is to protect the convention and the convention attendees. This isn’t because we don’t care about the target, it is because it is beyond our ability to fix what has already happened. Instead, the goal of the CoC, in that case, should be to deal with the on-going problem, that is to say, the person who committed the offense. It is _really important_ to understand that the offender is a community problem, and needs to be dealt with by the community. It is so easy to identify that _target_ as the problem. Most targets are women, and most of them have a butt-load of social conditioning which causes them to believe that they are the problem, and that saying anything is the problem. The correct response from the convention should be to thank the target for bringing a problem _of the convention_ to their attention, as the offender is _the problem_. Obviously, the goal is to remove the problem for the target in the future, but it should also be to remove the problem From The Community!

    What I tried to train my people to do at Minicon was to never, ever ask “what do you want.” It ends up being a fraught and poisoned question. Instead, after carefully listening, the responder should:

    1) Identify what the next procedural steps will be.

    2) Establish a time line for how long these steps will take. For instance, I had a goal of always providing a written copy of the report for review within 24 hours.

    3) Outline the possible steps that the convention might take after following our process. This is not a menu, it is just a description of the process, and is not a commitment to make any of these steps. At the same time identify the authority levels and time-frames involved for the various solutions. Some things take longer than others.

    4) Ask if any of the possible resolutions will create a problem for the target/responder. If, for instance, the offender is also the target’s only ride home, you need to know this and figure out how to address it if you kick him out on a Friday of a weekend convention. If there is a potential problem, discuss with the target about how to ameliorate the issue.

    5) Follow up. Maintain clear lines of communication. If things change in the timeline, communicate that immediately.

    At all times, it should be clear that the convention believes that harassers and assaulters are a problem for the convention, and that our being unaware that we had this problem is what has led to the incident. The incident itself is not the problem. It is the person who behaved badly.

    And, you know, no matter how hard I drummed it into people, in role playing situations, practically the first thing my trainees said to the target was, “What do you want to happen?” It is hard not to do that. I believe it is really important to not do that. I would also point out that if the target has a specific thing that they want to happen, they are very likely to volunteer that, and it is useful to note that down in the report, as it may help you think about possible responses. But there is a huge difference between someone volunteering a thing, and being pressed to make a choice.

  22. Also, pay attention what what Elise said! I wrote my post before I read hers (stupid internet tricks) but she said it ever so much ore succinctly.

  23. I should point out, I’m not nearly as smart as I like to present myself as being. It took a kind and generous person with personal experience hours of tactfully hammering at me until I understood why asking “what do you want” was a terrible, terrible idea. I will forever be in their debt for thinking that I was educable, and then doing the work. It cannot have been easy for them.

    I think that the question is meant empathetically and sympathetically. I think it comes from a place of honest distress, and not really knowing how to deal with something awful. The problem is that the safety people at the convention are supposed to be the people who know what to do next. That is, precisely and by design, their job. Expecting the target to do their job is just not ok. And, again, I am grateful to the person who helped me learn this.

  24. @ Lydy Nickerson
    I learned a lot by reading your post. This sounds eminently sensible to me.

    @ TechGirl and JJ
    Yes, that was my observation, too, upon reading Huff’s essay: much of what she describes occurred in public, in front of witnesses. She names various people who were aware of and alarmed by Rosenberg’s behavior toward her. She names at least one con that took the problem seriously enough to restrict Rosenberg’s attendance. She describes his behavior going on for several years and herself raising the alarm about it for several years. One can actually exclude Huff’s account of the alleged rape, which occurred in private, and still recognize there has been a serious ongoing problem…. and wonder why Arisia didn’t recognize it.

  25. Some of the people involved in covering up harassment and abuse at Arisia are also on staff at other conventions; for example, several of them hold prominent positions on staff at Boskone. I hope that those conventions are going to clean house, because if these people have enabled and covered up harassment at Arisia, they likely have been/are going to do it at your con, as well.

  26. @JJ: I wonder who you have in mind–the few Boskone (and one Readercon) staff names I recognize on the Arisia committee page don’t seem to be in relevant positions.

    I note that the Arisia page was edited recently, however.

  27. Jeff Jones: I wonder who you have in mind

    Well the Guest Liaison for Boskone is someone who has been deeply implicated in covering up harassment at Arisia and in treating someone who reported appallingly badly. I should think that is the very last sort of person who should be a Guest Liaison.

    And the Boskone Code of Conduct says to send an e-mail to a “NESFA Officer” — not a person, an e-mail address — and the person in charge of handling the messages that come to that e-mail address appears to also be one of the other people at Arisia who has been hugely complicit in covering up and enabling harassment for a period of years.

    So yeah, I think that Boskone has some housecleaning to do.

  28. OK, I’ve matched a couple names to those descriptions. Interesting (Strictly speaking, it’s “the Con Chair or a NESFA Officer”). Perhaps Boskone/NESFA should have an IRT with an email address independent of that person?

  29. Jeff Jones: Perhaps Boskone/NESFA should have an IRT with an email address independent of that person?

    Yes, but they should also have their IRT listed on their staff page. I sure as hell wouldn’t be willing to send a harassment report to a generic e-mail address without knowing who the people are who would be receiving it and (hopefully) acting upon it.

  30. @Elise, @Lydy,

    Thank you for pointing out why my suggestion doesn’t work in the real world.

  31. @Vicki: It is one of those answers which is simple, obvious, and wrong. 🙂 As I said, it took a kind person _hours_ to detach me from that “solution.” Later, when I had the experience with Ken Konkol, I was able to understand what they had meant on a much deeper level.

  32. You said it good, Lydy. Thank you. And thank you for all the work on improving incident response and procedures that you’ve done and are still doing, both in person working for conventions and sharing that work online so others can learn from it.

    For anyone working on incident response at conventions, I recommend role-playing multiple report scenarios. Play through them until you have some muscle memory for words, actions, body language. If you’ve never practiced, you’re not prepared. (I have run between three and one dozen report scenarios when I’m helping a team practice.)

    First responders practice a lot before they do it live. There are reasons for that. This is a different sort of first response, but still.

    And don’t just practice your procedures for taking reports and supporting the safety of reporters. Practice doing debriefings with your teammates. When I’ve led the practice role-plays, we practice debriefings from the exercises we’ve just been through. Keeping your team in good shape, and improving their ability to handle incidents, and making sure you clean up after mistakes — these are really important. There are a lot of pressures on people not to do the right thing. There’s often been a lot of opprobrium and isolation for people who have done the right thing, unless a community has already educated itself on why “don’t make a fuss about harassment” is not OK. Your team will need support.

    Also? Taking these reports is hard. Support your people. Hold them to high standards, and support them.

    tl;dr – Good teams are built and trained and supported. Your convention will deal with harassment better if you build and train and support your team, and clean up after your mistakes when they happen.

  33. Also? I’ve gotten asked “Hey, can we find a quiet spot and talk about this stuff, because my convention now has a CoC and I’ve been handling reports” a lot. Every convention code of conduct director and safety team (incident response team, harassment committee, whatever you call them) member that I have had those conversations with has said the same thing to me at some point. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

    “When we started this, I didn’t realize I’d be taking reports about [ the con chair / the concom / my fellow department heads ].”

    You will be.

    That should be incentive to build good policies and procedures, to follow them well, and to train and support your team and your fellow convention members. This stuff is not easy. But it may be essential.

  34. @JJ: While listing the IRT people is a good idea, just as it is for other staffers, for 90% of the fen the individual names won’t matter at all, since they won’t know any of the people behind the names.

    More than most things in fandom, CoC business runs on trust. The con makes a promise when they post a CoC, and the con tells the attendees that they can trust the people in the IRT. That’s what’s so damaging with what happened here at Arisia, because it breaks the trust in the con on following its own CoC and building a good IRT, and if Arisia does it, will that be true for Boskone or Philcon or Swecon or the next Worldcon.

    As for me personally, I personally know of only two fen that I would personally trust to have the competence, judgment, and empathy to handle a complex or high-profile harassment case. But I don’t know every fen who has those qualifications (a few of them are likely active in this thread), and I can’t demand that every con I go to have Britt-Louise Viklund or Karoliina Leikomma run their IRT.

    What I can do is look for people I don’t trust to handle it, which sadly is a much longer list.

  35. I find it incredibly frustrating, saddening, and maddening that a victim found it necessary to go public outside the Incident Response process in order to effect something resembling an appropriate response.

    That it was someone within the organization who found her contributions considered of such little value in comparison with those of her abuser makes the entire episode even more of an insult. I cannot imagine what less the IRT and Arisia corporate could have done had the complainant been “just” an Arisia attendee…

    It should not take a public statement to remind those in charge who had taken the step of implementing a progressive, proactive anti-harassment policy that it must apply equally to everyone in every case.

  36. Karl-Johan Norén: While listing the IRT people is a good idea, just as it is for other staffers, for 90% of the fen the individual names won’t matter at all, since they won’t know any of the people behind the names… What I can do is look for people I don’t trust to handle it, which sadly is a much longer list.

    This is why I said it’s important to list the IRT. I may not recognize all of the names (or maybe any of them), but if there’s an “Oh, hell NO” name on that list, I want to know about it before I send my harassment report — because in that case I will be figuring out which of them I can contact directly instead of using the generic IRT e-mail.

  37. ““When we started this, I didn’t realize I’d be taking reports about [ the con chair / the concom / my fellow department heads ].”

    First time I was asked to become one of the hosts for a regular beweekly event was six years ago. It took less than half a month before the senior host was accused or rape. And at a small dinner at my place, I was told by the other hosts about how he regularly stepped over their boundaries with unwelcome touching.

    Since then I have had yet another host accused of rape and another host of threatening others and making people feel unsafe (this one a woman). I think she managed to scare one man from ever daring to attend an event again.

    If I should add complaints about people I only know

  38. ““When we started this, I didn’t realize I’d be taking reports about [ the con chair / the concom / my fellow department heads ].”

    That’s the scenario we see over and over. Volunteers/committees assume they’ll field complaints about some random stranger. And when instead, the complaints are about people they know, like, volunteer with, have a relationship with, themselves, and/or someone who they or their con wants to cultivate a relationship with (a popular writer, a senior editor, etc.)–which is very often the case–they don’t know what to do, and the results keep turning out badly for the victims, and also for the cons.

    It’s a mistake that can be understood, but it nonetheless needs to be fixed.

  39. @Lydy Nickerson great comments and advice.

    I’d been thinking of starting to attend local conventions but this leaves me rethinking my plans. Some of the people mentioned and others not mentioned but involved with local conventions gave me poor advice when I was stalked at a local convention so I wouldn’t “rock the boat” a few years ago. It wasn’t sexual “just” stalking but looking back and at this situation my faith in any of the local conventions being safe has dropped significantly.

  40. There’s been a shift of wording happening in the evolving discussions about this topic both here and in the wider world.

    Instead of talking about victims, more and more people are talking about targets.

    It’s an interesting shift. The phrases “the victims of harassment” and “the targets of harassment” carry different… well, baggage, for lack of a better descriptive term. (Sorry, tired Lioness is tired, here, and the word-well needs to refill. Sleep will help.)

  41. @Elise: I have also been seeing the shift, and rejoice in it, as I think you do, as well. It moves away from trying to tell people how to feel about their personal experience, and refocuses the discussion in what I think are useful ways. If someone is shooting at me, whether or not he hits me is pretty significant, but the fact that he is shooting requires redress, even if he’s a lousy shot. Requiring that I actually take a bullet before somebody decides this shit is serious is fucked up. I totally get to be angry, and demand that he be stopped, even if he misses. Similarly, if someone is the target of harassment, this is a problem, even if the target does not feel damaged. The community has a problem if a member is targeting other members, even if their aim is crappy.

  42. Dear folks,

    Coming into this as the co-reporter in the Ken Konkol matter.

    “Target” is a whole lot better than “victim,” but it’s not quite nailing it for me. “Reporter” struck me as to disconnected and emotionally distant but “target” feels too specifically pointed in ways. Sometimes it’s spot on, but other times…

    Lydia and I weren’t the targets of Ken’s initial transgression. We were collateral damage. Which doesn’t leave you any less dead. Oft times egregious and unacceptable behavior harms a whole bunch of people who aren’t directly in the sights of the transgressor. On the other hand, we unquestionably were targets at the desiccated dodo party.

    I’d love to be able to say that I’m fixating too much on the vocabulary, being an English major, but I know from all the rules lawyering that that that isn’t the case. So, still searching for the best general term.

    I’ll second what Lydy said, because I had the same experience, and I’ve seen other “targets” react the same way: Oscillating between thinking the transgression is not a big deal and like the very worst thing that could happen to anybody *ever*. Knowing that these are not rational reactions doesn’t keep them from having control, especially if someone’s asking you how the matter should be handled. It’s going to lead to a bad result. Sasquan, for one example. A certain Minneapolis fallcon for another.

    Even asking your target what they need from you at that moment isn’t going to always get the right answer. (It’s still a good question.) I was subject to a different traumatic incident at Minicon that shook me enough that a good friend approached me a while later and asked if I was all right and if I needed anything from them. I reassured them that I was okay, because I thought I was, very likely because of their kind solicitude at that moment. Five minutes after they left I was in a corner crying.

    People who have been traumatized are not in their right minds! They may well not be for some time. Except, when they are, but there’s no way for an outside observer to tell. We are exceptionally unreliable witnesses to our own reactions to trauma.

    And yes to all the institutional points that Lydy and others bought up. Plus, turning to the Reporter for remedies conveys the message that this is a personal problem that the convention is trying to solve rather than an institutional problem.

    – pax / Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

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