Matters of Perspective
I’m peeved. The latest SFWA shitstorm (which appears to be at least in part a continuation of the previous shitstorm – it’s become rather more difficult to distinguish them since SFWA decided they needed to produce more shitstorms in a shorter time period to keep their members happy. At least I think that’s the argument) has, well… It’s shown me that I’ve missed something very important.
For those who are wondering the current shitstorm is centered around an accusation that an editor with a reputation for skeevy behavior harassed an author at a recent convention (not LibertyCon). The author did the procedurally correct thing and reported the incident to the convention authorities and the editor’s employer – and was surprised to learn that there were no complaints on record about the editor despite him having quite the reputation.
A veritable avalanche of “me too, he harassed me too” exploded after the editor’s name was made public, followed by a whole lot of people who should know better opining that the editor in question should be publicly castrated and fed his equipment or something (no, not literally. I haven’t been following the latest outbreak of Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa that closely but I’m quite sure fresh testicles weren’t on the menu. Yet. Compulsory re-education probably was). Authors posted guidelines for conventions wishing to have them as guests. I’m tempted to post mine: they’re pretty basic. Have me on a panel or three and be in driving distance of where I live. None of this harassment policy that basically says if it could possibly offend anyone at all it should be taken out and shot… oh wait. Taken out and re-educated. They don’t believe in shooting, mostly.
The feeding frenzy and hair-raising tales of harassment endured (which, peculiarly, neglected to mention precisely what the harassment consisted of) led me to conclude that I have been gypped. In all the conventions I’ve been to, I’ve never once been harassed. Never. This is why there are no rampaging harassers in the Con vampire books. I had no idea they existed.
I’m tempted to ask if I’m really so repulsive that males who – if one believes these tales – are incapable of keeping their hands and other body parts off anything with an innie find nothing attractive about me, but I know better. Besides, if I did ask one of you sods would say “yes”, just for the fun of it.
Alas, the truth is that the Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa is simultaneously all-powerful and more fragile than a Victorian fainting maiden. The same female who insists that she can do anything a male can do (even if she’s not actually physically capable of it) turns pale and has fits of the vapors if any man should – horror of horrors – actually see her as a female. If he shows any signs of being attracted to her, well, she’s likely to run screaming (usually screaming things like “sexism” and “harassment” and such).
This is not to say that actual harassment does not happen. Of course it does. The world is full of people who will use a position of relative power to get something that would otherwise be refused or to make someone’s life a living hell. Many of those people gravitate to positions of power because power inevitably attracts those who are already corrupt or who are corruptible. Those of us who fear that power would turn us into something we don’t want to be avoid that kind of position – and usually are fairly safe from it because we tend to see it as a responsibility and a bloody heavy one at that.
What the fainting Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa crowd forget is that there are ways a woman can make herself “off-limits” to a man who is basically testing the waters to see if any further advances on his part will be accepted. Most of them also work on the happy huggers who are excessively tactile (as someone who prefers to avoid physical contact, I find the huggy types a bit awkward sometimes – but I also possess this arcane ability to tell whether someone is a tactile type or if they’re taking unwanted liberties. It’s called ‘judgment’), and even to some extent those who practice the literary form of the casting couch. Of course, these options don’t appeal to the fainting Hoo Haas because they you sort of have to acknowledge that yes, you are female and yes, certain aspects of nature do in fact apply. (Males, don’t panic. I’m not talking about the icky female stuff here. I’m talking about things like females being typically smaller, weaker, having different body fat distributions, and having two built in male-attractors sitting on their chests. The things that males react to regardless of what they think about the person (yes, females also have hot buttons, as it were. Ours tend not to stand up and give semaphore signals)).
The big one is – of course – being a lady. Sounds odd, right? But, a certain confident dignity together with not behaving like a red light district streetwalker does a lot to tell the back brain that no, you would not welcome any kind of offer involving horizontal aerobics no matter how nicely it’s phrased (this may be the underlying reason for the storm in a B-cup over Malzberg and Resnick using the term ‘lady’. The Feminist Hoo Haas maintain that it should be possible to dress and act like a street whore and be treated like a lady even if they refuse to use the terminology). I tend to aim for this at cons, so I guess it’s working.
In work environments, I take the opposite tack: I go for “one of the boys”. That means I do my job, I don’t ask for favors – I don’t ask for favors at cons, either. Any kind of favors – and I don’t expect special treatment. Plus I give as good as I get. That works too. Once someone registers as one of the boys they’re off the “potential partner” list no matter how attractive they might be.
Either way, I’ve never had to go drawing lines in the sand. My behavior does it for me.
Now it’s possible that the Fainting Feminist Hoo Haas are such pathetic specimens that they think any kind of compliment is “harassment”. I don’t know. All I can say is that I haven’t been harassed at any cons, and I have it on good authority that I’m not so ugly that would explain the discrepancy.
Oh, and a free and just Independence Day to all our American readers.