a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
"This is the opposite of what I wanted" 
lonely, sad, hug
Readercon received a report of harassment at the convention, and the Readercon board has elected to refuse membership to the harasser for two years.

I'm not on the board. I'm not privy to the board's deliberations. I'm reacting to this as an individual, not as a member of the concom.

This is not the outcome I wanted, and it makes me very unhappy. My recommendation was for the board to follow the policy: lifetime suspension, the end. My recommendation was that the board should then rewrite the policy because I think zero-tolerance policies on any front do a disservice to everyone by creating a narrative that facts then have to be fit to. But even if there were not a zero-tolerance policy in place, I would have recommended that René not be permitted to attend Readercon again. I feel that would have been appropriate to what has been reported and confirmed, and I also feel it would have sent the right message to current and potential Readercon attendees. The message we have sent instead is leading to a lot of wonderful people saying they no longer plan to attend the convention, and... I really don't have words for how distressing that is. We are paying a very big price here and I do not see what we've gained for it.

I have no idea how much René's fannish activities actually factored into the board's decision-making, but I am entirely unsurprised that this is being read as "SMOFs get more leeway to treat people badly"; if I were an outsider to the convention I would read it that way too. I find that concept deeply upsetting. I very much hope there were other reasons for lenience.

I gave serious thought to resigning from the concom over this. Ultimately, I decided that I can do more good from within, so I will continue to work with the concom and the program participants--and, when my opinion is requested, with the board--on making Readercon a safer, more inclusive space where people treat one another with respect and courtesy.

I am, with some trepidation, leaving comments on. If you want to criticize my personal stance on this, go ahead, but please don't use this comment space as a way to send messages to Readercon. Feedback on the board's decision should go to info@readercon.org.

EDIT: The board has posted a statement clarifying that the suspension is for AT LEAST two years, with active information-gathering during that time to determine whether to make it permanent. That is a somewhat different thing from my initial understanding of what was going on. I still feel we should abide by our policies. I'm still greatly concerned by the privileging of one man's misbehavior-contrition-redemption narrative over a number of women's ongoing concerns over feeling unsafe. I am honestly very skeptical of whether someone with an acknowledged pattern of harassment is going to undergo "real and permanent positive change"; in other words, I think we will still have the end result of René being banned from the convention, only by a much more painful and circuitous route. But "at least two years, and permanently gone if we don't see you actively shaping up" is better than "two years and then we consider you to have paid your dues and will welcome you back with open arms", which was the idea that was circulating before, so I'm glad they clarified, at least.

And now I think I'm going to shut off the computer for a while.


You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.
 
27 July 2012 18:33
I hesitated before responding on any blogs, because I didn't - and don't - want you to think that my severe disappointment in the decision was a disappointment in you and what you've done with Readercon. It is NOT. I think you're an incredible asset to the organization, and while I feel very strongly that I can no longer attend the convention while the current decision remains in place, I believe you will continue to be an important and valuable ally by continuing to work with/for Readercon.

That sounded much more politicky and diplomatic than the swear-ridden language I usually use, but you know what I mean. You're a good person and you do good work. That's what I meant.
27 July 2012 18:37
Thanks.

This is just... breaking my heart.
27 July 2012 18:45
Rose - While I'm quite frustrated about the decision, I do feel better about Readercon knowing that you're going to be involved with them, and that your voice will be a part of what shapes the convention.
27 July 2012 18:48
Thanks for the vote of confidence. I appreciate it, especially from such a valiant ally as yourself.
27 July 2012 18:48
The backdown from "permanent suspension" specified in the guidelines to a 2 year "Time Out" for the offender, without any kind of explanation (and then being told that they will be rewriting what had been a perfectly clear, no-nonsense policy, one presumes to retroactively cover this year's decision) is just... What? Really?

I'm terribly disappointed in the board, and the message they have decided to send. And I'm sorry for the folk like you, who've put lifeblood into making sure Readercon rocked, only to have all that work undermined like this.
27 July 2012 18:51
Like I said, I think all zero-tolerance policies are inherently flawed. I've been asked to help with the rewriting of this one, and I will be glad to do so. But that doesn't change that it is the policy we had in place, and if we expect other people to abide by our rules, we should abide by them too.

I really hope the board members change their mind about not making an official statement. I would also like to know the rationale.
27 July 2012 18:51
I'm very glad the concom will still benefit from your wisdom and efficiency. I am, however, also writing a strongly worded letter to the e-mail address you've provided to say this is unacceptable and to urge them to revise their decision.
28 July 2012 00:34
Thank you on both counts.
27 July 2012 18:57
I agree with you about re-writing the zero-tolerance policy, and also that he should have been banned for life. It's difficult for someone like me, who'd been outside of the Readercon community, to look at this action and past actions and see it as anything but treating someone with power (of a sort)very differently from someone with none.

One of the reasons I've been very sorry not to be able to go to Readercon this year was because of your involvement and the confidence in the con it gives me, and the reason I'll go in the future if I can is also because of that.
27 July 2012 19:49
Ultimately, I decided that I can do more good from within, so I will continue to work with the concom and the program participants--and, when my opinion is requested, with the board--on making Readercon a safer, more inclusive space where people treat one another with respect and courtesy.

I am glad you are not resigning. This should come up at the debrief.
28 July 2012 00:35
I put it at the top of the agenda wiki a week ago. Now more important than ever.

I hope you will stay on the committee.
27 July 2012 20:12 - Oh, Readercon: NO.
User livia_llewellyn referenced to your post from Oh, Readercon: NO. saying: [...] Rose Fox says: This is the opposite of what I wanted [...]
27 July 2012 20:42
How is the board selected?
28 July 2012 00:35
Good question. I don't recall.
27 July 2012 20:48
Rose, looking at the about Readercon page, I can't tell who's on the board, and it seems that the a number of the folks listed there are people who have already spoken out against this decision. Can you point us to a page that makes it a bit easier to differentiate between the board and the rest of Readercon?
27 July 2012 20:49
(And yes, I know about the "info" address, but I generally assume the board of an organization should have its members identified.)
27 July 2012 21:26
You are in an incredibly difficult position, but I think that you're doing the right thing by staying and trying to effect positive change from within while being true to your principles. Good luck.
28 July 2012 00:36
Thank you.
28 July 2012 00:20
Rose - I am unhappy with the decision and have voiced my opinion to the conference's information email address. But I am thankful you will be staying on. It's a courageous thing to do. It takes more courage to stay and fight than simply leave. You've got my support.
28 July 2012 00:34
Thank you.
28 July 2012 00:55
I am so sorry. That's a very rough position to be in; I've found myself in similar binds in the past where there was no clear choice for what I could do best that would do the most good. I hope your continued assistance and work brings them around some.
28 July 2012 07:45
I have admired your efforts to make Readercon a safer space, and I agree with you that zero tolerance policies are inherently flawed (they've never really worked anywhere else).

I disagree vehemently with the board's decision, and I'm not sure yet what to do with that, but I do very much prefer it that someone who stood for enforcement of the policy stays involved with running the con--I'm sure this is not easy.
28 July 2012 12:04
I'm so not ready to talk about this, oh god. I left them a comment on the official statement, and I'll probably email them too, and write something more when I can stop sighing every five seconds. I'm not bailing yet, but damn. Damn. I share your frustration, <3 you, and such as.
28 July 2012 12:13
I think the Board made the error that EVERYBODY does, both when they made the policy, and now that they've been asked to implement it.

Everyone things that "bad things are done by 'them', not by 'us'."
28 July 2012 20:33
Agreed.
28 July 2012 12:18
Oh -- and as far as your choice to resign or not goes, I would deeply respect EITHER choice. Resigning in protest, and staying on to change things are BOTH honorable choices, neither one of which is easy.
28 July 2012 13:14
Although I'm not into fandom, I am into rules. How are Readercon's Board of Directors selected, and how can they be recalled?

Edit: I see someone else above asked this same question, my apologies for the duplication. A search on the Readercon website does not reveal any Constitution or ByLaws, nor does a web search. If these documents don't exist, that's a bad thing which should be rectified ASAP (by writing up a draft which can be ratified by a 2/3 majority of members). If they do exist, they should be made available to members ASAP.
29 July 2012 01:36
I'm so sorry. This is hurting so many good people, and I'm sorry you are one of them. I hope the working from within is productive and heartening.

P.
29 July 2012 04:32
I was about to recommend you contact damereading as a potential guest. She just got her PhD and did her thesis on how fans use multiple literacies and ways that can be brought into the classroom to work with low-literacy students. In fact, she did her data-gathering at a con. She just presented at the most recent Science Fiction Research Association convention in Detroit.

Sadly, having read Valentine's report of what happened, as well as the Board's response, I cannot in good faith recommend she attend ReaderCon, either as a guest or as an attendee.

29 July 2012 12:24
What a nightmare. I do think sticking around to try to make changes is a good thing to do. Readercon is going to need you.
29 July 2012 23:54 - July 30, 2012 Links and Plugs
User charlesatan referenced to your post from July 30, 2012 Links and Plugs saying: [...] Fox on "This is the opposite of what I wanted" [...]
30 July 2012 15:31
Speaking as Patty to Rose, with neither of our "official" hats on, I am sorry that this has hurt you so. You're a level head in a sea of hotheads, and your heart is one of the best I know.
31 July 2012 07:04
Total support for you, Rose. This situation is terrible, and it's awful that you're in this position when none of this was your fault at all. </3
31 July 2012 07:07
Thanks. I do still feel very responsible for fixing it.
31 July 2012 13:07 - sadly...
I would make the assumption that "at least two years" means exactly what you originally thought it did. Statements like that are usually horsehockey. In two years, it will be so far in the back of everyone's mind that they' simply accept him back - maybe they'll go through the motions of checking up, if we're lucky. In any case, as you point out, it doesn't actually matter, the message which comes across clearly is "this guy is an exception." And believe me, he got that message, and as soon as he can, he'll go back to do whatever he wants, because he knows he can.
2 August 2012 01:54 - Harassment, and Codes of Conduct
User baratron referenced to your post from Harassment, and Codes of Conduct saying: [...] There is a lot of debate on my friends list relating to an incident at ReaderCon [...]
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