We’re starting to prepare for next year’s convention season at work, which got me thinking about cons and, inevitably, because of the experiences of a lot of my friends, about the harassment that happens there.
And in thinking about and researching how to make conventions safer for women and other groups that are frequent targets of harassment (usual disclaimer — I’m going to approach this from the gender angle because it’s the one I’m most familiar with and immersed in, but men can be victims of harassment, women can be harassers, and most of what I say, I believe, holds true for harassment directed at other marginalized groups as well), I discovered that most of the advice out there is targeted at two groups:
- Victims of harassment, focusing on how to report incidents, how to ensure their own safety, dealing with fallout, etc.; and
- Con organizers and staff, focusing on explaining why it’s important to have policies about these things*, handling reports of harassment, discussing legal liability and how to minimize it, calling out both good and bad examples of how conventions have responded, and so on, as well as pieces such as John Scalzi’s policy (he won’t attend cons that don’t have policies in place to deal with harassment), groups providing collections of resources for getting cons to step up in this regard, such as the Con Anti-Harassment Project.
What I didn’t see a lot of was advice on what to do if someone tells you they’re being harassed, and/or asks for help. There’s the Backup Ribbon Project, which I admire and support in theory, although I have some concerns about its effectiveness and the potential for abuse. And Jim C. Hines has a great post on the subject, but it is mostly a list of things not to do. For the most part, however, there seems to be a tacit assumption that wanting to help is the same as being effective in helping. In my experience, however, that’s not true for a lot of reasons.
For us, eating and being eaten belong to the terrible secret of love. We love only the person we can eat. The person we hate we ‘can’t swallow.’ That one makes us vomit. Even our friends are inedible. If we were asked to dig into our friend’s flesh we would be disgusted. The person we love we dream only of eating. That is, we slide down that razor’s edge of ambivalence.
The story of torment itself is a very beautiful one. Because loving is wanting and being able to eat up and yet to stop at the boundary. And there, at the tiniest beat between springing and stopping, in rushes fear. The spring is already in mid-air. The heart stops. The heart takes off again. Everything in love is oriented towards this absorption.
At the same time real love is a don’t-touch, yet still an almost-touching. Tact itself: a phantom touching.
Eat me up, my love, or else I’m going to eat you up.
Fear of eating, fear of the edible, fear on the part of the one of them who feels loved, desired, who wants to be loved, desired, who desires to be desired, who knows there is no greater proof of love than the other’s appetite, who is dying to be eaten up, who says or doesn’t say, but who signifies: I beg you, eat me up. Want me down to the marrow. And yet manage it so as to keep me alive. But I often turn about or compromise, because I know that you won’t eat me up, in the end, and I urge you: bite me.
Sign my death with your teeth.
Helene Cixous, “The Love of the Wolf” (via fleurishes)
From the “weird thematic stuff that sneaked into The Heart of Darkness” files.
Yes. I worry about this a lot. When you spend three months signing for eight or nine hours a day, you have a lot of time to consider your signature and the relationship that people might have with it.
That is why, when I deliver what I feel to be a subpar version of the J Scribble, I write a secret URL beneath that signature, which links to a video of me apologizing for the terrible signature.