There’s been dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people who, after reading about or hearing about the recent sexual harassment incident at Readercon, are pledging to never go back. Many more are saying that they won’t be back for a few years, not until the con can prove it’s changed.
I’m not one of them.
I completely agree that the incident shouldn’t have happened, that the person responsible is wrong and should be banned for life, and that the Board was wrong for ignoring its own policy and not banning him. That’s pretty much a fact at this point – it’s the truth, and people can generally agree on it.
However, Readercon is my home convention. I mean that in the sense that it is the only major recurring con within driving distance of me each year and at a time of year that I can schedule my attendance. It’s also my home con because it’s one of the few book-cons in the country – the programming and events are based on a shared love of books, not fannish activities. I am, simply, not a fan. I don’t dress up, I don’t get all squee-y over major authors, I don’t attend cons for autographs. I go to work, to meet others in my field, and to learn more about literature. Readercon is that for me.
Yes, it has flaws. Major ones, it seems. But I simply don’t have the luxury of walking away. I can’t decide to fly to some other con instead, to make some other con in some other part of the country (or world) my home convention. I’m not begrudging those who have the privilege of choosing some other event, but my choices at this point in my life/career are limited. I can skip out on conventions entirely, or I can do what feels right me:
I can show up and say this will not stand. I can show up and be a woman who will not be silent if she witnesses events like what happened at this year’s con. I can show up and volunteer to help make the programming and the convention in general a better place. I can show up and document what is happening for those who can’t attend to see the good, the bad, and the “oh no they didn’t moments”. I can say that what happened was wrong and I won’t allow it to happen again, because I’ll be there to help make sure it doesn’t.
I’ve emailed Rose Fox to volunteer and show my support. I know that my position may be unpopular, and I hope it’s clear that I’m not saying anyone else is wrong for not going. I don’t want anyone to be somewhere they don’t feel safe. Everyone should do what they think will make the world a better place, and for some saying “I won’t attend” may cause a lot of change. I’m not important enough, right now, to be able to make that kind of stand.
I’m going to make this other stand instead.