A few days ago I posted (here) a list of things I’ve experienced over 20 years of attending conventions–a few “big ticket” items that were obviously horrible, and several “smaller” things that are still definitely harassment, but only sometimes get considered that (and, as always, context is key, but we’re talking about things done by strangers who usually hadn’t even introduced themselves first). I expected it to be read by my usual readers, and thought it was a good way to lend support to the other women doing the same thing right now; instead it’s been spread around the Internet and I’ve spent the almost 48 hours since dealing with the reactions–good, supportive, confused, and trolling–to it. I’m introverted by nature, and the whole thing has been a bit overwhelming.
Almost everyone said they’d only seen one or two of the big bad things, or maybe not seen any, but at the same time, the smaller things? Everyone’s seen or experienced those. I’ve heard things ranging from “oh I thought it was just me” to “well, I’ve seen guys pick up women they didn’t know and carry them out of the room, and no, no one even tried to help those women even if they were protesting, but is that really harassment?” to “you should be grateful a guy wants your attention”. I realized that not saying anything sooner was an example of the problem: we’re so used to it that we notice, enough to roll our eyes and mumble, “Jerk,” when it’s over, but don’t do anything about it.
We’re worn down. Tired. I’m exhausted just from talking about it, and having my experiences talked about, for less than 2 days. Imagine how hard it is to speak up when you’re a regular con attendee and you’ve been convinced that this is an inescapable something that happens. The power needed to break free from the gravity of this mess is astounding.
I’m writing up a post now about how to deal with harassment at cons. UPDATE: Part 2, Stopping Harassment, is here.