April 23, 2008
A Little Respect Please
I recently read about the "Open Source Boob Project" that, while not intending to be intimidating to women or harassment, turned into a huge debacle. I am not going to comment on it as the person who started it has retracted various statements with apologies and has had to deal with numerous not-so-happy-or-shiny reactions to it. Nor will I comment on the "Open Source Knuckle Sandwich Project" or any of the other offspring reactions of the whole situation.
What I will say is that it is true that often microcosms do not do well in macrocosms and there will always be that one person who messes it up for everyone else - be it on purpose or accident.
This whole situation has me thinking about Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Gaming conventions and what happens when sleep deprivation, an unusual environment and (sometimes) alcohol mixes with often socially inept people. Mistakes happen. But so does goodness. Unfortunately, it is the badness that we hear more about. No one cares if the voices tell you to plant roses but everyone cares if the voices tell you to plant roses and fertilize them with human blood.
Ok. So, that's an extreme example but its true. Especially when speaking about things that happen at conventions. Like it or not, many of the normal social rules of personal space and boundaries are ignored because of the convention atmosphere. There are horror stories of Guests of Honor groping other guests or convention goers. There are examples of people invading personal space and ignoring boundaries. There are unrepentant, incorrigible but well-meaning people who overstep the lines who then apologize profusely when they realize they have upset someone when they did not mean to.
Then there are those people who push boundaries and ignore societal norms because they can get away from it and make the victim - male or female - feel guilty for objecting to the offensive attention because they are at a convention and they are suppose to loosen up. Not to be such a prude or wet blanket. You know the type. These people are the reason we can't have nice things.
I have been thinking about this a lot more because the next convention I will go to, I will have been married for a month. I've been in a monogamous relationship with this man who is to be my husband since we started seriously dating. Married and monogamous. That puts a very different spin on things for me in one sense when it comes to flirting or being hit on at conventions. I am a taken woman and there are hard boundaries that Will Not Be Crossed. Period.
That all said, it should not matter whether or not I am a monogamously married woman or a single swinger with an eye for everyone. How I should be treated at a convention should be the same as if I were in the "real" world. I should be treated with the same respect you give me outside of the convention - whether or not I'm married. I should not be reduced to wearing buttons or stickers or whatever to tell you to keep your bloody hands off of me! It doesn't matter whether or not I'm wearing a corset. I wear corsets in the "real" world, too and don't get groped. I don't give a damn if we are at a convention or not. If you would not grope me in the hallway of an office building on a Wednesday afternoon, what the hell makes you think it would be OK to grope me in the middle of a hotel hallway on a Friday afternoon because we are "at con"? It's not OK. Not in the "real" world and not at con.
I have been groped at conventions. I have slapped hands, stomped feet and verbally cut down the offenders who did so randomly and without permission or warning. I do not appreciate this. If I know you and we flirt innocently, that is one thing. We have an established relationship. We know each other. We like each other. We are aware of where the boundaries are. I am fine with this - married or not. There is consent on both sides and that is very important.
I've been thinking about this a lot because of past experiences. It wasn't right when it happened back then and it won't be right when it happens again. (Sad that I have to assume since I won't stop going to conventions that I will be molested again.) But now, I will be married and that bothers me more. I suppose it bothers me because there is an inherent disrespect for the victim as well as for any relationships they have. Ya'll know me, disrespect me, I won't be happy but I will deal. Disrespect one of mine and I'll bury you. That goes triple for anyone who dares mess with my husband-to-be.
I guess I am just asking for a little respect - now, at work, in the grocery store, wherever I may go - including conventions.