Open Source Boobs

Since I was at Penguicon over the weekend, people are asking me in e-mail to comment on the “Open Source Boob” thing that was going on there. Well, first, by way of explanation, the whole Open Source Boob project is best explained by this post and this post (which adds further clarification) by The Ferrett, so go there for the full details. But the gist of it is that at Penguicon women who were wearing buttons that said “Yes You May” were allowing folks of both sexes to touch their breasts (edit: the button apparently meant you could ask to touch, to which the answer could be “yes, you may” or not). The idea there, as I understand it, was to reinforce the idea that breasts were not these sacred and yet bizarre objects designed to attract attention to themselves and away from the person they are part of (there were also “No You May Not” buttons, although of course my understanding is that “Don’t Touch” was the implied default all weekend long, so these buttons were redundant).

Personally, I missed the whole Open Source Boob project while I was at Penguicon; I was busy doing my own thing and by the time I heard about it I had already left the convention and was having lunch with people who were talking about it, before heading home. One of the women I was having lunch with participated, I gathered, and seemed to think it went off well, so there’s that. And I didn’t hear of any geek being hauled off by the cops for abusing the privilege, or handling unapproved bosoms, so I guess it largely worked as planned.

Now, how do I feel about it? Well, philosophically, I think it’s fine: I think it’s reasonable for folks to get used to breasts being a component of a whole human, not these strange, mystical entities there to entice and distract one, and if there’s any place where there are people who could benefit from this lesson, it’s a convention full of computer, science fiction and anime geeks, many of whom are very young men (temporally and/or socially). Hopefully some of them benefited from the experience, and not just because they got to touch a girl’s breasts.

Practically speaking, I think context is extremely important for something like this. You can get away with an Open Source Boob thing at Penguicon, where the social atmosphere is supportive of such things and there’s also a bunch of people who will man-handle any lech who gets out of hand (so to speak). But I can think of a lot of places I wouldn’t try something like this, starting with half-time at Jets games and moving toward less obvious examples from there. There’s lots and lots of ways for something like this to go very very wrong, which I suppose makes the philosophical point of an Open Source Boob project, even as it argues against its practical application.

Personally, eh. I’m a fan of breasts, esthetically speaking, and enjoy them on a regular basis. That said, I don’t really have too much of a problem at this point in my life understanding that the way to a woman’s heart (metaphorically speaking) is not through her mammary tissue, and breasts in general are no great mystery to me at this juncture of my personal development. I like them; I’m not motivated to seek them out, even if doing so theoretically helps to make a larger social point. This is a project that doesn’t speak to me.

Yes, that’s easy to say after the fact, when boobs of all shapes and sizes are no longer on offer. However, if I had known about the Open Source Boob project while I was still at the convention, I still wouldn’t have partaken, because in general I’m not a huge fan of touching people I don’t particularly know very well, even if they have a button on that tells me I’m free to do so (or at least ask to do so). This is less about breasts than it is about more prosaic physical comfort zones. I’m not neurotic about it — I understand some people are huggers, and you have to go with that, and a couple of years ago at the ConFusion science fiction convention, when one of the Guests of Honor told everyone to kiss the top of my head by the end of the con, my response was to be amused, not to Purell the top of my scalp every five minutes. But generally, before I touch any part of you, aside from a hand, let’s, you know, talk a bit, okay? Thanks.

In short, Open Source Boobs: an interesting idea, deeply context specific, and generally not for me. But if they’re for you, well, I think that’s all right, too.

Update, 5:03pm: The Ferrett ads some final thoughts on the matter. A key quote: “Unfortunately, one of the things about life is that what works in a microcosm does not work in a macrocosm.” Another one: “If I’ve contributed to the idea that women are not safe, then I’ve failed with a capital ‘F,’ regardless of the underlying reality. And if people think that all cons are filled with horrific swarms of gropers, well, then I’ve also failed.”

Update, 7:01pm: Kate Nepveu on why this sort of thing doesn’t work in the real world.

Update, 8:09 pm: Just because while reading various threads out and about the Internets I’m seeing people thumping on Penguicon about this, I think someone needs to point out that this Open Source Boob thing was not an official part of the programming schedule; as far as I can tell it was the brainchild of some of the convention attendees, done on a whim. Penguicon’s own stated policies on this stuff is pretty standard — don’t touch anyone without asking, regardless of their state of dress, and remember that “no” means no (I checked the souvenir book to be sure).

Penguicon is the sort of convention where people clearly feel comfortable being able to do something like this, as previously noted. It doesn’t mean Penguicon should be blamed for it. It was entirely possible to get through the entire convention without seeing or hearing about any of this; I did, and let’s just say I wasn’t exactly hard to find during my time there. This was not a huge feature of the convention.

192 thoughts on “Open Source Boobs

  1. Yeah, I missed it too. But then again, that’s no surprise. I don’t have the sort of, erm, assets, that people would typically go out of their way to casually fondle.

    Ergo, I can’t decide if I’m relieved to have gone unconfronted with the project (I also have mild issues about total strangers touching me), or offended that nobody asked …

  2. Eh, other people have said it far better than I could but I don’t see how singling out a specific body part(2) for touching is going to make it *less* bizarrely separate from the person it belongs to.

  3. Espana Sheriff:

    Well, there is that, too. I think it might be in the category of “confront your obsession” to get past it.

    I don’t know, though. Personally speaking I think it’s a little bit of an overthink on the whole subject, but on the other hand maybe I’m just not boob-obsessed enough, nor ever was.

  4. If everybody’s happy, I have no moral qualms; however, the link twixt said glands and intimacy is just too close for me. I guess that puts me in Scalzi’s crowd.

  5. even if they have a button on that tells me I’m free to do so.

    My understanding is that the green button gave you the right to ask, not the right to touch. That had to be agreed to by the person wearing the green button. A red button or no button at all defaulted to “don’t even bother asking.”

  6. Just to clarify, if you’re getting upset about the Project, as Scalzi describes it, go read Ferrett’s writeups (which Scalzi linked above) before you rant. Some details in this description are misleading (for example, the buttons just said “you may ask” not “you may touch,” and the wearer had every right to say no (which, you know, should be obvious)).

    Not that I was there or participating, but I am a fan of it in theory. Huge debate over on Ferrett’s blog about it, and worth reading for the discussion.

  7. Kerry (and Brett):

    That indeed might be the case. I’m catching up to this after the fact. Although it seems to me that if you’re at a point where you want to say “no,” you’d just take off the button.

  8. I guess. As long as the project really does stay within the badged folks they can do whatever they want.

    I guess I’m just skeptical and not in love with the idea of my body being used to help someone else confront their own issues.

    OTOH, I am rather in love with the Open Source Knuckle Sandwich Project, so I guess I have issues of my own ;)

  9. I approve in theory. I’d totally do it.

    However, owing to my piercings, I would have to be a No You May Not, simply because I’d have to *explain* what is good touch and what will get you kicked in the nads because you hurt me. Kind of ruins the whole thing when you can’t just paw, I’d imagine.

    But then again, my friends (who have Skills 2.0 in the pierced boob department) and I have been running Open Source Boob for years. It’s fun.

  10. @Espana

    Thank you for the link to the Open Source Knuckle Sandwich project. I started reading and Dr Pepper came out my nose I laughed so hard (and yes, it burns like crazy).

    “The idea behind the OSKSP is to break down the societal barriers against punching strangers in the face.”

  11. I don’t see why it’s considered to be empowering to me to put the fondling of my mammary glands on the table as acceptable social discourse.

    This strikes me as a social macro for straight male geeks to get their fun on without having to do all the work of actual intimacy with a female. While, of course, casting it as female sexual empowerment, which means that refusing to participate makes you (at the least) a party-pooper, and possibly a prude. Women aren’t socialized enough into bending to male expectations for sexual behavior already? I can guarantee that if this experiment continues, there will absolutely be women who submitted to groping because they didn’t feel comfortable saying “no”.

    And the fact that you could wear a button meant that everyone would be staring at your breasts all the time, looking for the signal that would allow them to touch. Regardless of whether you chose to wear a button or not, the default social context of the con has changed to: ALL ABOUT THE BOOBIES.

    Women are subject to that all the time anyway: why should other people’s concept of sexual empowerment give them the right to stare at my boobs (“Just looking for your button, honest!”) and pass judgment on my sexual freedom (“Oh, red button, she’s frigid.”)?

    Yeah, thanks just the same for your concern about my sexual health, guys. I’ll pass.

  12. I call “shenanigans.” Both the original and follow-up posts clearly show that “Open Source Boob” is a deliberate misnomer. In a true open source project, the license-holder grants specific authorization without discrimination by user or intent. Since the women did discriminate against users (“no creeps”) and intent (“no heavy petting”), this is at best a more willful limited license, where the terms are at best unclear even if the sales pitch is enthusiastic.

    In other words, those who took part in the project decided to shift the license accessibility from “Apple terms” to “Microsoft terms.” I’m not convinced this is an improvement.

  13. cofax:

    Yeah, that’s a fair point.

    I think men were also wearing the buttons, too, although I don’t know what the significance of that is in the scheme of your particular comment.

  14. So utterly and completely strange…
    I am not sure what to think. Touching each other’s sensitive body parts should only happen during an exchange of intimacy not at Sci Fi conventions.
    Whats next? Orgycon?

  15. Ray: Certain friends tell me they exist, and for the sake of my sanity, I’ll believe them stay away.

    Gerrymander: Apple terms? Are you high? Apple are just as big a bunch of control freaks as MS. Permission to fondle and Open Source licensing concepts don’t map on to each other.

  16. Adam Rakunas @14:

    Open Source Boobs sounds like a misnomer unless you’re passing around DNA sequences. Wouldn’t 444 Boobs work better?

    Not to get pedantic or anything, but wouldn’t it really have to be ‘754 Boobs’?

  17. Cofax, to each her own. I personally don’t mind, if I’m asked first and the person knows what they’re doing, lol. It’s fun and at least, for me, it feels nice. My boobs make me happy, and from what I’ve noticed they make other people happy too. Why can I not share that? And if I don’t want people staring at my boobs, I know how to minimize them. I also know how to make them stand out, which is their default, because I love my boobs. Go ahead, look! I’m proud of them, they’re cute and perky and a very lovely shape to boot. Not everyone has my self-esteem, but I look at it this way–the conditions you describe tried to keep me down when I was younger, especially when you factor in the two sexual assaults. Then I stopped being mentally thirteen, realized it was bollocks, and took control. We have a very odd concept of female body image in this country…I believe the spirit behind Open Source Boob is trying to get America over it, one geek at a time.

  18. Cofax –

    I couldn’t agree more, and I’m glad someone posted that before I did.

    I’m male, but the whole concept of promoting these buttons strikes me as creating a hostile environment for women at the con. “Hey! Have you heard about the open source boob-thing that’s going on? Lots of women are putting on these buttons saying it’s ok to (ask for permission to) touch there breasts! Want one? Why not?” If that conversation were about an open-scrotum project, and I was surrounded by men eying mine as they asked, you can bet I would feel profoundly uncomfortable; and that’s as someone who doesn’t have people staring at that body part all day in the normal run of things.

    It also strikes me as an objectification of women’s bodies. Someone’s breasts (male or female) are part of their bodies, of who they are – not “fun bags” that you’re selfish for not letting others play with.

    I’m all for consenting adults doing whatever the hell they want with each other, but this environment is not what most women (and men) were signing up for when they bought tickets to the con. As if genre fiction fans don’t have a misogynistic reputation enough as it is?

  19. As I was standing in line for the Brazillian beef, a woman asked another if she could touch her boobs. Nonchalantly, the boob touchee was like, “sure”. I was not in on the whole “open boob” thing, so I was really taken by surprise that two females were groping each other in my lunch line. Granted, I didn’t mind so much, but it was jarring for a second.

    Considering the girl who was crawling on all fours acting like a guard dog, and the goth who was getting the tonsil tongue treatment by her boyfriend on the dance floor, this perhaps was the least intrusive or bothersome thing I saw.

    *shrug* To each their own.

    Regardless of the boob touching, I had fun.

  20. I think men were also wearing the buttons, too, although I don’t know what the significance of that is in the scheme of your particular comment.

    Staring at men’s chests doesn’t carry nearly the same cultural weight as staring at women’s does, John. Not even staring at men’s asses does.

    I could stare at men’s asses all day, and not one of them would be made afraid.

    But staring at women’s sexual parts? That’s all tied up with a cultural narrative of sexual violence that we’re raised up in from the time we’re in diapers. When men stare at my breasts, I’m made uncomfortable (at the least), and as Kate Nepveu says in her post, depending on the context, it can lead to fear.

    Given the amount of sexual violence in this society, and the sexualized violence in our narratives (hello, horror movies?), this is not an unreasonable response. We are enculturated to be afraid. Men however are not trained to be afraid of sexual violence (except for the limited context of prison, and that takes it back to a whole misogyny/homophobia thing that’s outside the scope of this comment).

    Men therefore are absolutely going to feel different about it all, even if they choose not to wear buttons. Nobody’s judging them for being disinclined to particpate, not in the same way.

  21. Maybe I should make a button that reads “Closed Source Pregnant Belly,” because I get heartily sick of random strangers touching mine as if it were some kind of public access totem.

  22. Nobody’s judging them for being disinclined to participate, not in the same way.

    Like Julia upthread, who seems to think that being concerned about this makes me thirteen.

  23. Julia @ 20
    No offense but I found your post a little funny (minus the sexual assault part). This is why. I think when people read the mind try and relates what they are reading to their own experience. So being a male I read your posting as something like…
    I love my c*ck, we have fun together and it makes me feel proud and nice. Other people have admired my c*ck as well. It is large and has a nice shape. So come on people. Get over it!
    Of course if I was to say something like this I would be dubbed a sexist male pig.

  24. Cofax:

    “Staring at men’s chests doesn’t carry nearly the same cultural weight as staring at women’s does, John. ”

    Well, yes. My point.

  25. @21, ecpyrosis sez:
    It also strikes me as an objectification of women’s bodies. Someone’s breasts (male or female) are part of their bodies, of who they are – not “fun bags” that you’re selfish for not letting others play with.

    But that’s the point. I think. By removing the power of the ‘object’ (the breast) you reduce or eliminate the objectification.

    I regularly go to Vancouver’s Wreck Beach, which is clothing optional. Objectification does not long survive such exposure. After an initial adjustment period where your conditioning screams at you, you are forced to see the whole person, in a manner of speaking.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the OSBP, but I think that ideas like this are going to eventually break down the taboos around people’s bodies.

  26. I don’t know what the significance of that is in the scheme of your particular comment

    — I interpreted that as a question. Or at least a jumping-off point for a discussion of that.

  27. I get where they’re going with it, and it’s an admirable notion of emphasizing body comfort, but as described, focused on women, it’s still sexualizing breasts. It’s still singling out the breast as this unique item for consideration, for attention. Even the language the Ferret used in that first post to describe the experience has a distinctly sexual overtone. And really, I’d much rather see breasts lose that sexual mystique completely, to be seen as just a (functional) body part women have, rather then open-sourcing the awesome sensuality of the boob, which is how that came across.

  28. Dean (29) –

    I have no problem with a clothing optional or nude beach, and I think the separation between the two cases is illustrative.

    As you said, you feel uncomfortable initially being nude, because there’s a taboo against being naked in public. You get over this however when the taboo is removed and you are able to enjoy the freedom of making choices about what you wear.

    The contrast would be the taboo against touching *other people’s* bodies, especially an area associated with sex, reproduction, and anatomical differences between males and females. Finally, praise Jeebus, the taboo is removed and you can express your desire to touch the breasts of all the women in the line to get Scalzi to autograph something.

    The difference between being in a place where people feel free to not hide their own bodies, and a place where people feel free to express a physical interest in yours is profound. The first is de-objectifying the body, as you said, but I stand by my statement that the second is treating boobs like a thing for people to play with.

    Finally, it should be pointed out that staring at people in an overtly sexual way – including their boobs – is very unacceptable socially at most nude beaches. That’s because people would feel vulnerable and, well, naked. Which is precisely what those buttons have the potential to do.

  29. I’ve already enumerated my feelings about this over at my LJ, but just to reiterate: NO. With a big fat NO on top.

    (Before anybody tells me to read the posts in question for context, let me say that I’ve been doing that all morning, and during my lunch break at work. I’ve been marinating in context. I’ve re-read that original post about six or seven times by now.)

    The original poster says this isn’t about objectification, and then promptly refers to a girl in a skimpy outfit as displaying her assets. The original poster holds up lots of women, many of whom comment on his blog, to say they didn’t mind, all the while ignoring or minimizing the concerns of those who most certainly would. “We’ve got this button,” they say, “so you wouldn’t even have to deal with the concept beyond the first attempt to recruit you.” Yes, but I would have to deal with that first attempt. I personally would be having ulcers all day over that encounter. I would feel unsafe and itchy because I DON’T LIVE IN YOUR HEAD. I have no way of knowing if your intentions are benign or not.

    Furthermore, I don’t have to reach into the distant past to see a time when I might have, due to vulnerability, depression, self-esteem, etc let somebody touch my breasts in order to feel praised. (Reading comprehension note: I realise that not all or even ANY the women who participated would fall under that category, mind you.) But it’s an awfully big elephant to ignore to say that there haven’t historically been pressures upon women to appease men using their bodies. Or that SOME women wouldn’t feel the pressure when confronted with a group. So you didn’t feel uncomfortable when somebody asked you? So you willingly gave consent? In a PRIVATE situation, I could see that not being an issue, but taking it on the road, as it were? Not cool.

    BTW, my breasts are not a resource in combatting other people’s issues with women’s bodies. So what if the geek boys of America are thrown by these taboos and notions? I am not their therapist. My body is not public commons.

    They are my breasts. I’m very proud of them, they’re awfully cute and perky, and no, they are not for you to touch. And the default assumption should be that. I shouldn’t have to wear a No button just to fend off further recruiting attempts, let alone questions about my breasts.

    Two final points I made in my LJ or elsewhere:

    + Funny thing, folks note, it is as simple as asking. Yes. Yes, it is. Asking people PRIVATELY where they can decline graciously or accept enthusiastically is GREAT. Asking people in public if you can enjoy their bodies by touching, not so much. If’n you wanna look, fine, go ahead. Appreciate my curvy female form in the privacy of your own mind. Thanks.

    + People keep pointing out other behaviours that are also socially sketchy, but the fact that other people are willing to be rude or harrassing in public doesn’t excuse that. People also pat my very pregnant sister on the belly, much to her chagrin and annoyance. Should she have to wear a button that says, “Ask me if it’s okay to touch my belly?” Should my dad (who is literally a hunchback) have to wear a pin saying, “Ask me before you touch my back?”

  30. One more point – you choose to go to a nude beach because it’s a nude beach. A regular beach where people started saying, “hey, how about we take off our clothes! Come on, I want to look at you naked!” Would be wildly unacceptable, at least in the US. As I said before, people were at the con for sci fi, fantasy, or what-have-you. Not dudes looking at their chests.

  31. I guess I lost direction of the discussion when this became an issue for anyone who wasn’t wearing a button?

    As for me, I firmly believe that women should hold on to their sexuality. The human body is an extremely beautiful thing to explore and should be cherished for that fact alone. To suggest breasts, vaginas or penis’ should be considered everyday tools, removes the mystique behind them and is far more degrading than appreciating them for the sensuality that they exhibit.

    It is perhaps why sex is so unfulfilling for a good majority of the population. Part of the fun of laying in bed with a person is the ability to feel your partner in more than one way, instead of just completing a job with the necessary tools.

    While I wouldn’t be one to wear a button, I most certainly don’t see a problem with those who did.

  32. Maybe I’m a little bit psychotic but this whole thing discomforts me.
    I’m very sensible to the violation of my personal space, I don’t like to be touched and I generally don’t touch people (with the unavoidable exception of the handshake or the greeting kiss who is unfortunately common here in Italy with female acquaintances).
    If you’re touching me, or I’m touching you, that means that we’re REALLY intimate, I would never touch a stranger.

  33. Unless it’s a fetish con or Orgycon, I do not expect or wish a basic sf con to include public groping. If people wish to do the button-enabled grope thing in a planned manner (the original event was clearly spontaneous), they should keep it to a clearly-labeled room.

    I fail to understand why the proponents of grope-buttons object to keeping it in its own labeled room, unless it is to create a hostile atmosphere for everyone who wishes to neither participate nor be exposed to it.

    Personally, I consider any public follow-ups to the original, spontaneous event to be a hostile atmosphere and an invitation to sexual harassment lawsuits. If I hear that any public, as opposed to confined to a labeled room, grope-button events are scheduled to occur at any con I attend, I will call the hotel management, inform them of the scheme, point out the possibility of sexual harassment lawsuits and criminal cases, and suggest that they tell the con organizers to ban the buttons outside of labeled rooms.

    I will further inform them that if I am groped at a con where buttons are present in public spaces, I will press criminal charges against the perpetrator and sue the hotel for enabling it despite a prior warning.

    Again, whatever anyone wants to do in a room is their own business. Once it becomes an organized public campaign, it creates an atmosphere of hostility and sexual aggression. That is not what I want at a con.

  34. Julie @32, I read the posts the same way as you. The project doesn’t do anything to change the fact that women’s chests are the focus of attention. It also seems pretty clear that for at least some of the participants, there were sexual overtones. I personally wouldn’t have participated, because I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life being frustrated when men speak to my chest rather than my face, and I don’t see how a project that encourages men to focus on my chest does anything to change that dynamic – except now I’m “being 13″ (to quote Julia @20) or “just don’t get it” because I’d rather not be treated like tits with legs.

  35. Rachel (39) – Allow me to jump in and say good for you for standing up for your rights, before someone posts that you’re being “unreasonable” or whatever synonym of same.

    It’s about a hostile environment, which should not be tolerated anywhere. A con should be a place for people to feel welcome and accepted, which they aren’t always in other places, not leered at and sexually intimidated.

  36. And to clarify, I don’t think there is anything wrong with participating if you feel comfortable with it. I just disagree with the idea that the project does much of anything to change the objectification of women’s breasts, and object to the attitude of some commenters that there is something wrong with women like me who would not want to participate . It’s that last bit that could make some women feel coerced into participating, because who wants to be the killjoy or the prude?

  37. ‘But generally, before I touch any part of you, aside from a hand, let’s, you know, talk a bit, okay? Thanks.”

    That’s pretty much my reaction – I’d be sort of squicked if someone randomly asked to touch my boobs, or even invited me to take part in this project, because it feels wildly objectifying.

    Name aside (it’s a long story,) I’m a girl, and I have, um, vast tracts of land. Therefore, I’m really over the whole concept of boobs being a source of fascination – I’ve had coworkers that I literally couldn’t talk to face-to-face because they were so distracted. I don’t see what allowing them to touch me would have done to alleviate that, and I’m not seeing any indications in the accounts that I’ve read so far. It looks like a bunch of people found that they could get a minor thrill with each other, and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not my thing. At all.

  38. This seems to be pushing buttons for a lot of people, but really, it was basically a game of the moment. Specifically, it’s just the sort of mildly-transgressive game, that pops up all the time at SF cons and similar “friendly microcosms”. (“lime jello” comes irresistibly to mind… ;-))

  39. really, it was basically a game of the moment

    Which would be less bothersome if the original poster hadn’t made it obvious it should be a Movement, and thus expanded to other cons.

    I would be vastly surprised not to see someone at least try to institutionalize this now that a precedent has been set.

  40. Oh, I’m sure it was, David, but it’s being framed as some great social experiment with a noble purpose, and I think that’s what people are reacting to. If it was more “hey, people are way cooler about mildly-inappropriate touching than you might have guessed, if the context is correct” then it wouldn’t be a big deal at all.

  41. [Deleted for cowardly anonymous trolling. If the poster wants to come back and put a name to the statement, maybe I’ll let it stay up — JS]

  42. Jeremy Preacher:

    “If it was more ‘hey, people are way cooler about mildly-inappropriate touching than you might have guessed, if the context is correct’ then it wouldn’t be a big deal at all.”

    I think this is important, actually. As I noted in the entry, something like this works at Penguicon, because of the convention itself, and the people who are part of it. I’m not hugely optimistic it’ll work the same way elsewhere, or that it should be imported elsewhere.

  43. I really have to say that if this sort of ‘movement’ ever expands to other conventions I will stop going to cons altogether. I am not (nor are my breasts) a mere object there for the pleasure of other people, regardless of the reasons given for them wanting to touch me.

    Julia @ 20: Not wanting other people to touch me or my breasts does not in ANY way give me the mental maturity of a thirteen-year-old, unless for some STRANGE reason as soon as I pass that age I’m magically supposed to be okay with men thinking my breasts are nothing more for them to touch or fondle. Or for ANYONE (regarless of gender) or do so. No. My body is my own, and I don’t like men so much as LOOKING at it, and will never be comfortable with them touching it, especially if I don’t even know them. (NB: Having met them at a con and having been on a first name basis for a whole of TWO DAYS does not equate to ‘knowing them’).

  44. Context was key. We started this project with the idea that Touching is an important human trait.

    The expansion, the growing of this Open Source Project, which NEVER should have included the word “Boobs” in it, has always been intended to be in the direction of human touch and perception of other humans. Not about sexual exploration, but about the social implications of touch and the lack thereof – how it makes us feel to be able to touch other people, either physically or emotionally.

    And the Open Source Boob Project is officially completed. There is no more data gathering. After some time, we will do what we can to write intelligently about it, though.

    Hopefully the next project will inspire as much discussion, without as much upset.

    If you want more information, I’ll be happy to tell you anything you want. I probably know. I’m married to the woman that printed the buttons, and was there before we gave it a name.

  45. My burning question is: Did the same rule apply to the ‘Yes you may’ buttons that applies at clothing optional beaches? Namely, the less likely you are to want to see it, the more likely you are to see it. (Or in this setting, be invited to touch).

  46. Thank you for a very rational and reasonable post on the topic. Most of the commentary is very spot-on too. I appreciate that there is a place where this is being discussed in reasonable terms.

  47. You’re welcome, although in terms of the comments, the credit goes to the commenters themselves. We like rational and reasonable here.

  48. I got as far in my thinking as, “For this to REALLY be a good Open Source movement, wouldn’t the breasteses have to be viral?” and then put the computer down to give my brain a good scrubbing.

    Perhaps a better strategy, for the touch-avoidant, would have been to don a green “Yes, you may ask!” button and then simply refuse all inquiries. But better still, IMO, would be for people to recognize that asking strangers for permission to grope is already a personal-space violation. (I admit to being a hugger, but I do try to read the cues and abort the hug if the potential huggee seems reluctant or ill-at-ease.)

  49. From The Ferret’s most recent post:

    “Some folks . . . see that it could be something healthy and sexual, but chances are someone’s going to end up alienated and skeezed.”

    It’s amazing how many sex-related things that sentence could apply to.

  50. One thought:

    Did it occur to anyone that in order to read the yes or no buttons you’d still have to get a good gander at someone’s chest?

  51. Geez… though it’s now been disappeared, this reply fromt heferrett made me just gape at the screen:

    And your response seems to come from a personal mindset of, “My body is something so special to me that only people I have firmly vetted and talked to and invested in should be allowed to touch those areas.” Which is fine. It’s a way of saying, “I only want people I find attractive and/or nice to want me,” which is in fact the prevalent societal attitude.

    But that also involves an interview process, and the attitude that your body is a vested space that is, by nature, exclusive. That’s fine. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to be, or that it’s always healthy.

  52. I can’t adequately express how much I hate this concept. Open source is about PROPERTY. Taking a relatively new concept in property management and applying it to women’s bodies isn’t progressive…it’s just another way of defining our bodies as property.

  53. @Scalzi

    And for some, having someone stare that hard at your chest may be just as bad as being touched.

  54. Hmm… seems to me there needs to be one more kind of button:

    No you may not ask, and my husband/boyfriend/S.O. may not ask anybody

    So John, how would Krissy respond if you asked random female fen if you could touch their boobs? I know I’d end up probably with one fewer ears.

  55. It seems to me that in one of Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries he said that the reason that breasts are sexually attractive is because they often look like buttocks. I found this an interesting theory. And to highlight the problems some have experienced as a result of favorable natural selection, I point you to the Saturday Night Live skit where the female space aliens eyes had evolved into their breasts as a solution to the problem of never being looked in the eye by the male aliens.
    I might note that bending down to have one’s head kissed potentially puts one in a position to get an eyeful of mammaries.
    Apparently I give off a “NO you may not touch me vibe.” Although, I have a few friends who I am perfectly comfortable with hugging. And, of course, close family members.

  56. I suppose the only thing that bothers me about the people who are actively offended by the project is the inability to accept that some women might, and in fact did, actually want to do this.

    I don’t like the idea that women are so thoroughly cast in the role of “victim” that their opinions about and motives in participating are ignored. Sort of a, “Well, I don’t want my breasts touched, therefore women don’t like this sort of thing, so it must be serving the men exclusively.”

    Do I think the OSBP was a good or bad idea overall? Probably a bad idea. When I first saw it, I thought, “Well, whatever works for you all, but it’ll probably start a … yep, there’s the internet shitstorm.”

    But it still bothers me that the immediate and overriding response is to protect adult women who have consented to participate. (From their friends and themselves, I guess.)

  57. Oh god, way to word that one, Keffy:

    In case somebody takes a meaning I didn’t mean, out of my first comment: I don’t mean that consent to some touching means that a person should NOT be protected from unwanted touching. (I kind of hope that protection from unwanted touching goes without saying.)

    I mean it specifically in the case of one person saying to another: “Yes, you may touch my breasts.” In that case I do think it’s inappropriate to act as if the person who has given that permission is in all cases unable to do so of her own free will.

  58. Jackie:

    No argument there. These folks probably shouldn’t wear the buttons, quite obviously. This is also why the “no” buttons are problematic from the outset; the default is “no,” with or without a button.

    joelfinkle:

    I don’t imagine Krissy would care, if it were a situation where women were willing to be touched and everyone knew the rules. She’s not particularly the jealous type. The limiting factor here would be my own profound disinterest in asking random women fen if I can touch their breasts. To be really blunt about it, there’s nothing about the concept that appeals to me.

  59. So, am I the only one who thinks that “Optimamistic” should have been the title of this post, rather than the previous one?

  60. Keffy @64 –

    The response that I’ve been reading hasn’t been “we need to protect women who want to do this” or “no woman wants to do this, even if they say they do”.

    Rather, it has been more along the lines of “this ‘project’ will make many people feel uncomfortable, and many women feel intimidated and bullied, REGARDLESS of other people’s participation.” As such, it hurts the reputation of cons, and makes many people feel like the sf community is an aggressive and misogynistic one.

  61. Dean #29 said:
    But that’s the point. I think. By removing the power of the ‘object’ (the breast) you reduce or eliminate the objectification.

    Hmmmm…. so by the same standard, if we want an open source penis touching, that would remove the power of the penis? Cool. I think most women would agree to that. Someone mentioned on one of the many blogs I’ve read today that another good idea would be to carry around rulers to measure said male members. All in the context of destroying the mystique, of course, and appreciating the beauty of the body.

    Sounds only fair, doesn’t it?

  62. Ecpyrosis: I do understand those concerns, and it’s very likely that we have seen very different posts/opinions regarding it, since it is literally everywhere right now. I have seen a lot of statements that are basically along the lines of: “Well, this whole thing is just serving male entitlement. Period.”

    I read the LJ of the guy who first posted about it (ferrett) so I expect that my opinions regarding it will also be different than somebody who saw criticism first, and then looked at the original post.

    That being said, I do wonder if the response would have been different if a female member of the original group had posted about it first.

    And, though I’m chiming in here, the whole drama that has erupted regarding it makes me uncomfortable, because I don’t think that anybody involved intended for it to spiral out of control. Since they were okay with it and it was intended as opt-in only, I can see not expecting it to be as big a deal as it is.

    (Basically, I don’t think that the feelings of people outside the project were considered, because those participating expected that people outside the project were exactly that: outside the project, and not subject to being asked.)

    I don’t really have much to say about criticism that it could become really REALLY nasty if this sort of thing were encouraged at cons everywhere with people who may or may not be as understanding of consent as the first people involved… because, well, yeah.

    Probably the sort of thing that’s best kept inside an invitation only room party, or such.

  63. Keffy: I’m willing to believe that any number of women may enjoy this or derive great benefits from it. (And men too.) Where this became problematical for me was the desire to turn it into a PUBLIC social movement. At that point, it becomes disingenuous to pretend there’s an opt-out for this–by being a woman, somebody may want to ask me if I want a pin or if I want to participate. (The original post even states that they didn’t limit it to their group of friends, but went up and down a hall at a con asking every woman even before the concept of the pin was broached.) It’s disingenous to pretend that the weight of the group versus a single person couldn’t come into play, when consent is considered.

    Again, privately, however you wanna negotiate boundaries is up to you.

    ….

    From James Angove:

    http://kate-nepveu.livejournal.com/323736.html?thread=3093144#t3093144

    Its not utopian to force other people to drop their boundaries with strangers, its not okay to try and cross other peoples borders (sexual, physical, emotional) without negotiating with them as individuals and changing the social rules so that it would be okay to cross those boundaries uninvited would not amount to improving the world.

  64. People need to grow up, or at the very least act like you’re grownups. I started reading this site because I was interested in a favorite authors opinions on “Whatever” but apparently all you want to write about is scifi conventions and the crap that goes on at them. Frankly, I stopped going to those things after the first couple because, while I love science fiction it quickly became apparent that I can’t stand science fiction fans. This sort of crap is the reason. Can’t say that I’ll be visiting your site anymore…

  65. Perhaps since the whole concept is wrapped up with Open Source, it’s naive to expect there to be a unified purpose being OSBP. But I’m confused as to whether the point was sexual or non-sexual.

    At least some of John’s post suggested to me (and maybe I’m just stupid today) an understanding that the program was meant to de-mystify and de-objectify breasts. Sort of like implosion therapy. Some of the comments, as I interpret them, seem to echo that. But The Ferrett seemed to be saying rather directly that this was meant to be at least in part a sexual experience.

  66. I was at Penguicon, I spent a vast portion of the weekend with the group that started this, and I consider them close friends.

    I also, for my own reasons, didn’t take part in the Project.

    So I can see both logical sides of the argument. What is bothering me is the people casting this as some kind of sexual-power play by men. A woman started this, and I’d be willing to bet that a majority of the “gropes” at Penguicon were between two women.

    Was it the greatest idea ever? No. It wasn’t even much of a brilliant social experiment. It was silly, consensual and fun. If everything as “offensive” as this is banned from cons, we’re going to wiping out huge swaths of traditional activities.

  67. Dean @ 29 said “But that’s the point. I think. By removing the power of the ‘object’ (the breast) you reduce or eliminate the objectification.”

    But how does it ‘remove the power’? They’re still women’s breasts to which an inordinate amount of attention (moreso than usual) is being drawn. If anything, it seems to separate the button-wearing women from their breasts as anatomy to become proprietors with license.

    For many male con-goers, I’d wager a quick grope–I’m sorry, “touch,” but not “petting”–would be the most action they saw all year.

    Finally, why, exactly, do breasts need to be ‘demystified’? I can’t remember when I learned their function, but I must have been in grade school.

  68. S.P. Bell:

    “apparently all you want to write about is scifi conventions and the crap that goes on at them.”

    Number of entries in April about scifi conventions and the crap that goes on at them: 2 (this one and one noting my return from Penguicon).

    Number of entries in April about anything else: 74

    Difficulty counting much, S.P. Bell? Or for that matter, grasping the concept of the title of the blog?

    Stop whining.

  69. I’m a gay male, but I really don’t understand the women that are freaking out.

    Once, at college, randomly (i.e. outside of an open source project) a girl walked up to me and asked me to pet her.

    My reaction, of course, was: “What?”

    And her response was to bark and say: “Like a dog!”

    And so I petted her head.

    There was nothing sexual involved in it. I didn’t know her, and she didn’t know me. Her hair was soft and I don’t think we ever encountered each other again.

    If you’re okay with a stranger touching you, so be it. In the context of the Con, it seems harmless enough. It wasn’t a requirement, if you were uncomfortable you didn’t have to participate, and I haven’t seen anyone that was actually there say that any harassment happen.

    I understand that there are creeps out there. If you don’t think that I’ve had to deal with ugly older guys hitting on me, you’re crazy. But really, I fail to see where anyone was harmed.

    Sorry. I know that makes me a misogynist pig, but I don’t get it. Unless someone actually felt harassed, this isn’t worth half of the crazed responses it’s garnered. Including this one.

  70. I can’t help wondering how men would feel about it if they could wear buttons saying “Gay men! Ask me if you want to touch my penis” (and, of course, badges stating the opposite. And no badge means that you can’t. Stand back, cowboy).

    I’m a straight male, big fan of breasts, and this just strikes me as yet another way for women to be “empowered” in a way that happens to fulfill a male fantasy. It also, I suspect, will cause many men to divide women at a con into two groups based purely on their willingness to be touched (or to be asked about being touched). That includes women who are totally uninvolved with the project and that doesn’t strike me as a good thing.

    I should also note that I have never been to a con and my bosom gropeage has been limited to females with whom I have some sort of exclusive groper/gropee relationship.

  71. Wow… A tempest in a “C”-cup.

    I have to believe that, on the whole, women may not fully appreciate the sheer awe and wonder — even reverence — with which adolescent (and adolescent-minded) men view most anything on a woman that jiggles. These are mysteries to a young man… and wondrous to behold.

  72. @SphericalTime:

    You haven’t lived your whole life as something to be watched and enjoyed by men. You haven’t dealt with men staring at your breasts your entire life, and you aren’t in a situation where you are made uncomfortable by a look.

    Unless, of course, I’m mistaken, but if you’re a man I don’t really see how I can be.

    Did you even read the other comments?

  73. @deCadmus

    I have to believe that men, on the whole, do not appreciate the fear of men that many women have that’s been put into them by the statistical likelihood of their being sexually assaulted.

  74. Wow…brains in a crotch cup.

    I have to believe that, on the whole, adolescent (and adolescent-minded) men may not fully appreciate the sheer awesome dread and dismay — even abhorrence — with which women view men who only see them as bits and parts of jiggling things. These are disappointments to a woman…and dehumanizing to experience.

  75. Emily @81 and maygra @82:

    There is a difference between objectification, and innocent admiration. Some folk (women and men, alike) fail to make, or discern the distinction.

    Further, Emily; WRT your comments @80: if you believe for a moment that women are somehow incapable of objectifying men, or that men cannot understand the experience of being discomfited by a sideways glance or a full-on leer, it’s my view that you are mistaken.

  76. I’m amused at the whole kerfluffle. A couple things that people keep missing are that the initial group included women, and that participation was optional.

    Half the fun of doing such a thing is about breaking taboos, both on the groper and the groped sides. Women aren’t supposed to be sexual, and most definitely breasts shouldn’t be treated sexually. They’re just flopping bits of flesh, right? Wrong. Some of us women like our breasts and enjoy showing them off. Ye gods, if I have my breasts out, puffed up, and on display, damn straight I want them stared at. And if someone’s bold enough to come up and ask me if they can grope them, I’ve put myself in that situation. (BTW, as long as the person isn’t too skeevy, I say yes, and I don’t care if they’re male or female, as long as they’re 18+ age-wise.) I’m advertising, damnit. My choice to, tyvm, and it’s not dewomanizing to me at all. It’s very reaffirming to my woman self, and I love it.

    If I’m covered up with three layers of clothes and definitely not showing off my assets, then someone asking to grope me will get the goaway response.

    SOOOOO tired of people assuming that all women feel the same about this issue. SOOOO tired of the assumption that this whole thing came out of male hormones. SOOOO tired of people assuming that all women feel the same about our bodies.

    Gods, I love breaking taboos. *snap*

  77. deCadmus @83

    I’d counter that the distinction is one made in the mind of the admirer and not immediately or even likely to be discernible by the beholden, unless they happen to be telepathic, which as far as I know is an ability that only exists in the realms of fantasy and fiction.

    As for the objectifying part, why yes, that’s true, however, it’s also true that most sexual assaults are perpetrated by men, regardless of the gender of the victim.

    And as for feeling discomfited by a gaze, I don’t think I’d be straying too far into the realm of probability that while some men may be discomfited by the gaze of a woman, for whatever reason, that discomfort is not automatically associated with a fear of violence. There may be social fear of being put in an awkward situation, but I don’t think the vast majority of men worry if a woman who gives them even a pointed glance may be waiting outside a club, or an office, or an apartment with the intent to do them physical harm.

    have a link: http://colours.mahost.org/org/maleprivilege.html

  78. When our society will allow women to return to breast feeding in public without shame or fear of reprisal then we’ve made a step forward intellectually.

    This is not even remotely a step forward in abolishing sexual objectification. Quite the opposite: you’ve merely allowed a perceived role reversal in social-sexual dominant behavior…through the clever use of a button.

    A button which drew attention to the breasts, wheter it was yes, or no you may not — that which you were attempting to de-objectify.

    Circumlocutious reasoning does not a wise statement make.

    I’m sure eye contact was made by both parties at all times.

    Utter hegemony.

  79. I think there were a few boys here who were not beaten enough as children.

    Seriously, you really do need someone around to say “NO!” and smack you on the back of the head to teach you that there are some things you just don’t do, even if the other person says yes.

  80. Emily @ 81: You haven’t lived your whole life as something to be watched and enjoyed by men. You haven’t dealt with men staring at your breasts your entire life, and you aren’t in a situation where you are made uncomfortable by a look.

    Unless, of course, I’m mistaken, but if you’re a man I don’t really see how I can be.

    You’re right. I don’t have breasts, so men can’t stare at them.

    You’re wrong about everything else, of course. It doesn’t matter that your comment was completely sexist (I mean, because all men must conform to your gender stereotypes apparently), because you’re a woman and I’m a guy that’s been hit on by men all of my life. It’s not the same thing at all.

    Even though I hate my body because I don’t live up to the pictures of male models I see in gay magazines, have been in manifestly uncomfortable situations while older/larger guys try to coerce me into sex, and felt powerless in a relationship, I still find the open source boobs thing harmless.

    Who cares if there was sexual gratification? The participants themselves didn’t seem to. As far as I can tell, you’re freaking out about the activities of consenting adults after the fact for no other reason than not all of the participants were women? It’s their lives and their feelings. If you don’t want to be a part of it, then fine, I accept that, but the amount of completely over the top vitriol I’ve seen spewed on The Ferret and Kate’s web sites is beyond my understanding. Do you really think that it helps the cause of “my breasts are my own” to turn this into a freaking circus?

    I don’t really even care if there was sexual objectification going on. It’s as though we’re all supposed to pretend that because this specific case of it wasn’t behind the locked doors of someone’s bedrooms it’s particularly egregious. It wasn’t. It was mild to the point of being benign to the participants.

    The thing that disturbs me most about this is that so many people seem to be assuming that participation was mandatory or without consent, or that the women involved didn’t understand what was going on and if they did that they absolutely have to react just like Kate reacted. I don’t see the violation.

    Well, whatever. Group mentality took over the debate a long time ago, from what I can see. No turning back now.

    Uhg.

  81. I was at the Penguicon hotel from 2 pm Friday to 11:45 am Monday (encompassing the entire con time and then some) and I never heard of this thing; I don’t even recall seeing one of the buttons. I just talked with one of my friends who was similarly at the con for its entire duration; she never heard about it during the con, either.

    And, let’s consider the numbers. There were about 40 people who got buttons; there were well over 1,000 con attendees. So there was certainly no generalized social pressure for women to participate in this, and no mass expectation by men of opportunities to grope.

  82. 87 Jim Bob I think there were a few boys here who were not beaten enough as children.

    Seriously, you really do need someone around to say “NO!” and smack you on the back of the head to teach you that there are some things you just don’t do, even if the other person says yes.

    *smacks you back*

    I think you were beaten too much as a child. You can’t recognize consensual behavior when you see it. Not all of us have your attitudes, morals, or preferences.

    What you are conveniently overlooking in your masculine rant is that women asked first, women groped women first, and it was consensual between women and men. Women got to grope men’s butts and man-boobs, too. This wasn’t a one-way street, damnit. Stop treating it like one.

    But OMFG women feeling up women is hawt, so that’s ok. What bullshit. Talk about the ultimate male degradation. That’s what’s degrading, acting like men are the only ones with sex drives or admiration for female bodies. Please. Women definitely like to touch, too. Women have sex drives. Women like to play. But OMFG nooooo! Women are always victims! Women are always the untouchables! Women are virginal or matronly! Women don’t ever want to be sexual!

    *sarcasm overfloweth*

    WTF ever. What’s worse is that women are feeding into the negative sexual stereotypes of women.

    *pst* Lemme let y’all in on a secret….

    Women like sex, and women like to be sexual, even to the point of groping both genders just because. Ask anyone at the RWA meetings about the female groping of males going on. Hormones, thinking with sexual organs, and drooling are not a male-only playground. Anyone who says it’s male-only is a. lying, b. clueless, and c. ignorant. In the end, that’s the worse stereotype than anything brought up here.

  83. Oookay. That was weird. (The topic, and the reading of the thread.)

    Cofax:

    Your comment about no men being afraid of you staring at their asses concerns me (#23). Do you really believe that men aren’t ever emotionally and/or physically intimidated by women staring at them? Staring is a form of aggression, no matter the gender of the starer. Many men are intimidated by and / or fearful of aggression by others, even if their fear is not expressed as openly as women may express.

    Any person you’re sexually attracted to or who may be sexually attracted to you is a potential threat, on a multitude of levels. The emotional stress of acceptance / rejection is a form of fear. The matter of self-perception and esteem is a fear factor as well. The possibility of someone going psycho if you reject their advances and attacking you. (And I have the pencil lead imbedded in my right palm under the skin as physical evidence to support the latter.) There are so many conscious and subconscious factors of how we perceive ourselves and one another, it’s far too assumptive for you or anyone to suggest that you can stare at anyone for any reason for an extended period of time and not expect that person to be fearful in some connotation.

  84. One thing that does disturb is how little a lot of fannish guys actually know about how much entirely warranted fear is a part of many women’s lives. It’s not that every woman is out there cringing every moment she’s in public…but the figures on violent crimes against women are out there, and on their lasting consequences, and this is something a guy can look up on the net without needing to actually talk to any of those fearsome and wondrous beings himself.

    Violence against men is concentrated in terms of space and circumstance. The worst for it is prison, and not a lot of fan guys are going to be spending much time there. The next worst is domestic violence (where it is usually a matter of a female partner defending herself against violence initiated by a male one). But then the trigger for this whole damn thing was apparently guys who aren’t going to be in domestic partnerships anytime soon anyway. That leaves the residual violence that can occur in any public or private space.

    Women, on the other hand, are at much higher risk everywhere they go. Sensible women have to function at a level of awareness of their environment and preparedness to avoid potential threats that few guys get. I’ve been told that my experiences in the years I was able to be out more than I am now but had my erratic seizure disorder in high gear got me somewhere in the ballpark, and as nearly as I can tell, that’s true. And it sucked. Remember that we’re not talking here about verbal abuse, condescension, and the like. We’re talking about physical intrusion that starts with poking and prodding of one’s genitalia and secondary sex characteristics and that goes up to physical blows and attempted rape. For every guy who gets shoved at some point in the year with a comment like “out of my way, fatboy” or “get a life, homo geekhole”, ten women got harassed or assaulted. It’s a whole different world than it is for guys, even guys way down on the social ladder, except for those in the real risk categories like GLBTs who fit some standard of “effeminate” and racial minorities in bigoted areas.

    But of course this is nothing new. “Liberation” efforts are all too often about liberating the initiators from any responsibility for the physical or mental well-being of those they’d like to use for their own ends.

  85. A couple things that people keep missing are that the initial group included women, and that participation was optional.

    Pffft, please. In all the many comment threads I’m reading, no one’s been “missing” that. In fact, people keep trying in vain to justify this ridiculous bullshit idea by saying “women did it too” and “you don’t have to wear a button.”

    Maybe you’ve been too busy patting yourself on the back for being soooooo awesomely hip and progressive to actually read the many comments.

  86. NyIter (#90): For the sake of argument, I’m willing to stipulate that the original occurrence was completely without coercion, social pressure, male privilege, and so forth. (I personally doubt that it was somehow within the Magic Bubble of Social Conditioning Exclusion, but I wasn’t involved so I can’t say for certain either way.)

    Assume that everyone involved, and everyone who encountered it, felt no pressure whatsoever. That still doesn’t make it a good idea to turn it into a “Project”. That certainly doesn’t make it a good idea to turn it into a “Project” as described in the original post and seemingly recommended as a great thing to do at other conventions, among other people, and so forth. The original poster’s later updates even recognized this, and it only took several hundred comments to get to that point….

    Whether or not women “started it”, the “Project” post was made from a male viewpoint, and even the name “Open Source Boob Project” reinforces that viewpoint.

  87. Rachel (#39): Would you care to list all the behavior that I might engage in (with other consenting adults) that you feel should be confined to “private rooms”? Are you likewise offering to limit your behavior in public to that of which I approve? Or are you claiming that your preferences should be granted universal, and other people’s should be ignored?

    What other buttons (and, presumably, t-shirts and other forms of expressive clothing) do you want the right to ban? I’ve seen women wearing t-shirts that say “My body is mine. . . but I share” Should they be banned?

    Will you accord other people the same privilege of deciding what everyone is or isn’t allowed to do or wear in public? Or only those people who agree with you?

  88. Seth, let’s flip that around for a moment. What happens if a dude or lady says “Hey, man, I’m a parent, and my kids are at this convention. I don’t wanna to tell you how to live your lives; would you mind keeping the touching behind closed doors?”

    Seriously, what could you say without sounding like a self-entitled, self-absorbed tollbox?? “Durr, nuh-uhn you need to get over all of your hangups, and restricting it to private rooms goes against this experiment?”

  89. Wow, I wish I had more time. This is an interesting discussion from a number of viewpoints.

    To all those people who have replied to my comment above, and whose comments I don’t have time to address individually (I have Day Job problem – I need a Day Job to survive)

    I wasn’t trying to suggest that the OSBP was a good idea. If I had been there, I very much doubt that I would have participated. I’m all for reducing societal barriers to things like touch, but it seems to me that starting with women’s breasts is courting disaster.

    What I was trying to say was that the OSBP was well-intentioned, and that from my point of view not completely out in left field (just maybe somewhere between second and third).

    In other words, I admire the sentiment behind the OSBP. I think it a noble goal. But I think that women’s breasts were the wrong place to start, and an SF Con was an unfortunate place to do it.

    Oh, and to the person who suggested that I might not support a penis-touching project, I don’t see anything wrong with it for those who want to participate. And, oddly, I’d be more willing to participate in that program than in the OSBP. But no measurements. Too many variables.

  90. Seth @ 96, Rachel doesn’t have to defend her position here. The state of Michigan stands quite clear on laws regarding PDA, sexual contact, definitions of what is “sexual contact,” and sexual harrassment.

    The hotel has rules and regulations regarding sexual harrassment and conduct of it’s guests.

    The convention has conducts behavioral guidelines for it’s attendees.

    I’m sure the convention’s sponsor’s and the convention’s board of directors would have been glad to discuss appropriate events with the gurus behind OSBP… I’m sure the answer in light of potential legal ramifications and in the spirit of the convention would have been a resounding “Hell no,”…but you’re free to do whatever the hell you like in a private forum

    So yes Seth, there is a list out there…there are several.

    The fact that even one person felt that this event; which was held in a public forum, for all to view; felt uncomfortable, threatened and intimidated by the conduct makes it unwelcome.

    OSBP created a hostile environment for several men and women that have already spoken on their own behalves.

    You can rebuttal with an onset of “Puritanical” social restrictions if you like… but it’s unthinking idiots like OSBP that force these written restrictions.

  91. Seth at 96: I’ve seen shirts like that…and if somebody wants to wear ‘em, more power to them. Again, where many of us are objecting is turning the pin or the shirt or whatever into an artifact of con culture. If there wasn’t a red button, and if this hadn’t been played off as bringing boobies to the masses, many of us wouldn’t be objecting. On an individual basis, how you negotiate your boundaries is up to you.

    There are plenty of behaviours that I feel would be perfectly fine for consenting adults to participate in, BUT only in spaces where all participants are aware of what to expect. The open areas of the con are not that place.

    Christopher makes some good points in comment 96. It’s the Project aspect of this that many of us object to, and the implementation. You shouldn’t even have to explain your boundaries in public if you don’t want to….

    (The best way I can think of to explain this is chastity rings. Where I grew up was extremely religious, and while we didn’t have chastity rings, we had something similar. When you have a group of people approach you, and ask you if you’ll wear a ring to show your commitment to chastity, and if you’ll make a pledge. First of all, there’s a huge amount of pressure because a GROUP of people has just asked you to make a decision about boundaries. You CAN say no, and even without explaining yourself, but the pressure is fairly high. I don’t much like that either, but I don’t complain if people want them for themselves. Where I object is when people try to proselyte the idea and confront others. There’s a difference between letting the idea hang around casually and asking people if they want to mark themselves.)

  92. Also, the program was never REALLY “opt-in”, because everyone *is* participating because everyone there has a body. A woman can’t exactly “opt out” of having breasts. She can’t even “opt out” of people making a value judgment when they see wasn’t wearing aa “YES, you may” or “NO, you may not” button… even if she had no earthly idea about it all when she arrived.

    Seth:
    Beleive it or don’t, but beiing ranked as ‘unwilling to play along’ is not optional. Women really have to wear a metaphorical “NO, you may not” button every day, often amongst the metaphorically color blind.

  93. #93, Bruce Baugh

    One thing that does disturb is how little a lot of fannish guys actually know about how much entirely warranted fear is a part of many women’s lives.

    If they thought about it, they might have to take time to consider how the day to day actions and comments they make create a supportive atmosphere at the least, and sometimes directly contribute. And worse still, if they *really* thought about it, they’d realize that women like Kate Nepveu and Sarah Monette know more about it than they do, in a way that they’ll never fully appreciate. And that unlike all women, men have the luxury of just not worrying about stuff like that.

    They might have to look at their beloved F/SF and consider how it too might in many cases contribute to this atmosphere.

    The option to just not think about it is really tempting, and there’s no real reward they can see for doing it. In fact, a lot of the women who think about this stuff a lot are pretty pissed off. Conversations with them can involve tripping over privileges you didn’t know you had, and pissing them off, even if that’s not your intent. Then the urge to snark back comes up, and the next thing you know, you’re agreeing with Rush Limbaugh on feminists.

  94. Shawn 97:

    Considering the amount of public activity that has been responded to by passersby with “get a room” that has occurred at conventions over the past 40 years (of my attendance), I’d suggest they keep their children behind closed doors.

    If you can decide what parts of my behavior must be performed behind closed doors, can I do the same for you? (I’ll start with telling other people what behavior they may engage in in public; I think you should do that only behind closed doors where all present are consenting adults.)

  95. Mr. Struck, you’re apparently letting fantasies about what happened at the con dictate your response. As I mentioned above, my (attractive twentysomething) friend managed to attend the con from beginning to end, and she did so without even learning that there was an “Open Source Boobs” project, much less feeling any pressure to “play along”.

  96. JK Richard 99: What are those laws? Saying that they exist isn’t helpful. Are you claiming that the behavior I engage in with my girlfriend (or some other consenting adult, since you aren’t privy to my relationships you don’t know) that both of us approve of is somehow harassing to someone else who we might not even know is present?

    Do you feel that any public behavior that makes someone uncomfortable should be prohibited? Should we start with a group of people deciding to go to dinner and not inviting me? That makes me feel uncomfortable. Turning me down if I ask to join them makes me even more uncomfortable.

    Pixelfish, I’ve been going to cons for nearly 40 years now. I still can’t predict what behavior to expect at any of them.

    Shawn, I have bad news for you. I make judgments all the time, based on whatever information I have. (Typically they’re “I don’t care.”) Whenever anyone does anything, that provides a contrast with others who don’t do it. Should everything therefore be prohibited, because it leads to judgments of those who don’t do it?

    Josh, “worrying” is a state of mind. Some people control their own minds, others don’t. That’s independent of reality; “It is better to be mugged occasionally than to live in fear.”

  97. Seth, from a abstract level, your right to swing your fist ends right where my nose begins.

    On a practical level, there are all sorts of reasons why this sort of behavior isn’t appropriate in public.

    Sci-fi cons (or anime cons or cosplay conventions etc) do not exist in a vacuum.

    Open boob-grabbing in a public shared space can a bad idea for all SORTS of reasons:it can be a trigger for those who were assaulted or abused, or if you’re not at an adults-only convention you could make someone (say a parent with kids in tow) and their family uncomfortable, or conventions taking place at hotels also have a fairly large percentage of “mundanes” or people not attending the convention that won’t wish to see that, to the fact that you may be giving Mr. Off-Duty Cop With No Sense of Humor A Reason To Bust You.

    This whole railing against strawmen with an undertone of “Hey, I can’t do whatever I like in public places, why not HUH” has me wondering if there’s some sort of code word dog whistle I’m missing.

  98. Seth #107:

    Josh, “worrying” is a state of mind. Some people control their own minds, others don’t. That’s independent of reality; “It is better to be mugged occasionally than to live in fear.”

    Really? Is it also better to be murdered occasionally than to live in fear? Worrying is a survival tactic. Yes, it’s good when we can overcome our lizard brains and do dangerous things like walk unprotected into a roomful of strangers. That’s harder to do if the strangers indicate that they’d like to invade your personal space, or otherwise push your buttons. The fun of a con, for many people, is exactly that kind of challenging, odd experience, but the line between exhilaration and fear is a thin one for almost everyone, and its location is different for each of us.

    I don’t think things like this should go on behind closed doors; I just think people should have empathy when they propose a new way of engaging with strangers.

  99. Seth as someone who engages in research on a professional level I do not necessarily feel obliged to provide resources. In other words: if you are truly interested and sincerely care, here is an excellent link to begin your own homework.

    Otherwise, my research rates are $65.00 US/hr, I will gladly summarize, chart, graph, and abstract for you providing all resources in digital and/or print format (print format at an additional cost). My opinion on the matter in relevance to the OSBP will be free of charge.

    “Are you claiming that the behavior I engage in with my girlfriend (or some other consenting adult, since you aren’t privy to my relationships you don’t know) that both of us approve of is somehow harassing to someone else who we might not even know is present?”

    I am claiming that there are laws in every state, county(parish), district, city/municipality governing socially acceptable and decent behavior while in public. These laws are specific in definition as to what is “sexual misconduct,” what is considered lewd and lacivious behavior, what constitutes sexual harrassment, and what areas of the human body are considered erogenous.

    The rest of your arguement is tangential to the conversation and you are speaking in gross generalities. I am being very specific to the topic at hand.

    There is a certain level of responsibility that comes with both freedom of speech and starting social movements — that level of responsibility was not met with OSBP.

  100. Nylter@90: As someone who has been attending RWA meetings and conferences since 1998, I can tell you that “the female groping of males going on” is not standard fare in my experience.

    You might mean the Romantic Times convention (RT), which is not an RWA event. I have never attended and therefore have no first-hand opinions on them.

  101. Shawn, I agree. My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins. It doesn’t end half a block away because you get upset at seeing fist-swinging.

    Your description (“open boob-grabbing”) doesn’t match what I’ve read about what actually happened (which in each case, started with requesting permission). Are you sure you could distinguish what actually happened from a physical greeting between two people who are significantly involved?

    Mary, if you think worrying is good, go ahead and worry. I don’t know where you get “they’d like to invade your personal space” from people who (according to descriptions) wouldn’t have asked or approached you at all. But what someone would like is up to that person to decide.

    JKRichard, without you providing any evidence all I see is the claim from someone (who apparently isn’t an attorney) about what the law says. I take that for what it’s worth.

    I was at that hotel last year (I think Penguicon was at the same hotel this year), and I don’t recall any rules for guest behavior similar to what you claim to exist.

    “I am claiming that there are laws in every state, county(parish), district, city/municipality governing socially acceptable and decent behavior while in public.” You’re wrong. There are laws in many such that define illegal behavior. “Socially acceptable” varies by context within the same government district, therefore is not defined by law.

    I’m not claiming I can do whatever I like in public places, I’m challenging people who are specifying their limitations on what other people do. Why are some people’s limitations on third-party behavior to be respected, and other people’s ignored? Who defines which people are special?

  102. Seth at 107: Josh, “worrying” is a state of mind. Some people control their own minds, others don’t. That’s independent of reality; “It is better to be mugged occasionally than to live in fear.”

    Magical thinking! If I just believe hard enough, I won’t have to be worried about the guy on the street grabbing my breast as he walked past (true story), about the group of men calling me a bitch and threatening me for failing to smile at them when they whistled (true story), about the way I got hit on on the public bus when I was sick by a guy who wouldn’t leave me alone (true story).

    I’ve been really lucky with regards to sexual assault experiences, compared to most adult women I know. I know lots of way scarier stories than that.

    How dare you assert that if we just stop worrying about it, it’ll get better. My respect for John (and his comment rules) prevents me from saying any more.

    Josh: And that unlike all women, men have the luxury of just not worrying about stuff like that.

    Thank you.

  103. Seth @ 112: Are you sure you could distinguish what actually happened from a physical greeting between two people who are significantly involved?

    My husband doesn’t grab my breasts in public. In fact, I don’t think the thought has ever crossed his mind to try. But I guess we’re probably those “prudish people” that some seem to be decrying.

  104. Seth:

    It is starting to appear to me thar you’re either being contrarian, willfully obtuse, or are somehow otherwise really steamed that you don’t get to do whatever you want in public,

    Public display of inappropriate touching forces it to be the business of others, whether they want it to be not.

    I don’t have kids, but if I did, I wouldn’t want them to be around to see that kind of behaviour– I think it’s pretty immatuure at best, and misogynistic at worse.

  105. cofax, things happen whether or not you worry about them. I’m pointing out that the worrying part is internal to your mind.

    Do I have to worry about getting mugged? No, I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t worry about it. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, it just means I don’t worry.

    Julie, there are billions of people in the world. The fact that one particular person does not greet another particular person in some way doesn’t imply that there aren’t some number of people who do. I see no reason to care how your husband greets you in public, as long as it doesn’t involve knocking me over or blocking traffic.

    Shawn, who defines “inappropriate touching”? I say that the people involved in that touching get to decide whether it’s appropriate. Anybody else is entitled to an opinion, but that doesn’t require anyone to be concerned with it.

    Should everybody get to limit other people’s touching if they feel it’s inappropriate? Do you think two men holding hands should be prohibited in public? Lots of people think that’s inappropriate.

    Or are your opinions somehow supposed to be definitive, and other people’s irrelevant?

    If you don’t want your hypothetical children to see something, that’s your problem. Or can anybody use that as an excuse to prohibit any sort of behavior?

  106. Cofax: Ugh. I hate hate hate hate being hit on while riding public transit.

    I started carpooling when I lived in Sandy Eggo because of a really bad transit experience. He started off by trying to kiss my hand–and keep in mind, this was while the SARS epidemic was going on. Then when I balked, he got offended, and started badgering me with questions. Did I have a boyfriend? Did my boyfriend beat me? How big was his dick? Had I ever considered becoming an exotic dancer? He could tell I never would because I was probably inhibited. Had I ever slept with a black guy before? Did the curtains match the carpet? (I’m a natural red-head and I hate that question.) Could I stand up and turn around? He started taking pics with his cell phone. I switched trains ASAP and got into work a frazzled mess. When I told my co-worker what had happened, she was all, “You are carpooling with me from now on.”

    This was the worst of the transit experiences, but yeah, nothing seems to deter guys. Having headphones on, reading a book, sketching, anything that indicates I’m busy and would not like to be approached–completely ignored by a lot of guys. And I’m a very average woman. I can’t imagine what some women go through.

    I’ve too have had guys get pissed at me because I wouldn’t smile on command. “Hey, you’d be really pretty if only you’d smile/wear makeup/get rid of those glasses/wear skirts/wear heels/grow your hair long.” I’ve been wolf-whistled. I’ve had guys rub up against me in lines for the ATM, transit, the store. I’ve been harrassed by a former co-worker, who made personal comments about my appearance, would come up behind me and rub my shoulders, and who would just sort of happen to “accidentally” nudge my ass. I’ve had men suggest that I was a lesbian because I didn’t respond to them. “C’mon, baby, it’s just a joke. Lighten up.” Not just a cliche line, but commonly used. “I’d tap that,” casually uttered by guys walking down the street. A friend was trying to get me a job where he worked, and the first words out of his male co-workers mouths: “Is she hot?” I used to hate walking and I would drive in my home state because I was less likely to get honked at and have guys drive up and hang out the window while following me slowly. It’s not just one or two small things, it’s a zillion of them. Water drop torture, a long slow erosion.

    Seth: This is the cumulative experience of many many many women, and while it would be great if we lived in a utopian world and didn’t have this baggage….WE DO. And yeah, the magical thinking and wishful thinking doesn’t make this go away. The worrying doesn’t go away.

  107. Seth:

    Sweet Zombie Jesus, now you’re building a straw HOUSE. I’ve defined exactly what my objections are, and why. HEck, if you want an even longer outlining of why I think this was and is a bad idea, I have a whole entry on this myself.

    If you have any specific question realted to the actual matter afterwards, I’d be more than happy to answer your questions.

  108. cofax, things happen whether or not you worry about them. I’m pointing out that the worrying part is internal to your mind

    I’ll get assaulted whether or not I take action to prevent it, so I should just suck it up and deal? Well, that’s certainly and interesting variation on the whole “she brought it on herself by wearing those clothes/walking there after dark/getting drunk” trope.

    I hope you may live so long as to understand how completely you’re missing the point, and how your lack of empathy may fail to endear you to other human beings.

    I say that the people involved in that touching get to decide whether it’s appropriate.

    Wow. What planet are you from? Do you usually have sex on the sidewalk in broad daylight? Do you think it’s somehow outside the police powers of the state to arrest you for that?

    You live in a social context. You don’t get to choose what rules of conduct apply to you. It’s that simple.

  109. So, Seth, are you saying that you greet your SO by grabbing her breasts in public? Do your friends do so? Anyone in your family? Acquaintances? Because, if so, you obviously run in far different circles than I do. Maybe you live in a fraternity house…

    I am going to dare to say that this is not a normal greeting amongst people who are intimate with each other. For you to imply otherwise is disingenuous at best and willfully obtuse at worst. I’m not talking about “one particular person,” I’m talking about NO ONE I KNOW AT ALL would greet their SO, in public, that way.

    What they do in the privacy of their own homes is another matter, of course. But there’s the key word: Privacy.

  110. I just can’t understand why one person’s (or many people’s) experience that something is bad is a reason to prohibit other people from engaging in behavior that they (all) want to.

    Shawn, that’s a bad link. Going back to #97, you don’t want to tell me how to live my life, you just want to limit what I do in public, right? How is that not telling me how to live my life?

    cofax, I didn’t say you should “just suck it up and accept it”. If worrying is going to prevent something you don’t want, then you should worry. Whether you worry is up to you.

    I have a friend who is very scary-looking (and friendly and harmless if not attacked). Should he not be allowed out in public because some people will be afraid when they see him?

    I didn’t read about any behavior that violated actual laws. Laws regulate what I’m allowed to do. If you decide you don’t like what I do, you’re free to not associate with me. If you think bald bearded men shouldn’t be allowed to wear t-shirts in public, that’s too bad. It’s not going to affect my dress style. There are laws regulating clothing; I’ll obey those, but not other people’s arbitrary rules (unless I choose to).

    Julie, that’s not the way I normally behave. I have observed others doing so. Where is the line to be drawn? May I hug someone in public? Kiss?

    I’m not talking about the law; that has limits which are well beyond what people here are objecting to.

    How about giving backrubs in public? Should I care if you find that acceptable?

    Do you ever see people walking down the street with their hands on each others’ asses? Is that objectionable?

  111. JKRichard: OSBP created a hostile environment for several men and women that have already spoken on their own behalves.

    Point to one. Perhaps I missed a post in the hundreds that I’ve skimmed, but I haven’t actually seen someone involved or present that thought this created a hostile environment. All of the people that have suggested that it did have done so after the fact, based on second hand reports.

    You can blow me off with the same line about research rates and I suppose I really don’t care. I simply won’t believe you until I’ve seen it for myself.

    Seth: Shawn, who defines “inappropriate touching”? I say that the people involved in that touching get to decide whether it’s appropriate. Anybody else is entitled to an opinion, but that doesn’t require anyone to be concerned with it.

    I agree. The people that don’t scare me, because it hints at the resurgence of people who think they can tell me that holding my boyfriend’s hand in public is inappropriate and that I have to stop “for the children.”

    Really, what happened to all of the freaking internet Libertarians?

  112. Well, by god, until I hear a woman say that she felt uncomfortable, I’m not going to believe that a woman WOULD feel uncomfortable or feel like the situation was hostile! And even then, it’s just one woman. And even if more respond, that’s just the hysterical few.

    That’s what it sounds like. This is pathetic.

  113. Pixelfish @ 117:

    “Nothing seems to deter guys. Having headphones on, reading a book, sketching, anything that indicates I’m busy and would not like to be approached–completely ignored by a lot of guys. And I’m a very average woman. I can’t imagine what some women go through.”

    Sketching in public is not a detterent of any sort, Pixelfish. If anything, it’s an unspoken informal invite for passerby to enter your personal space, just out of curiosity of whatever it is you’re working on. Many strangers come up to me when I’m sketching or drawing in a public area. Oddly enough, I’m more likely to be given privacy while sketching at a table at a convention, than I am in “normal” society. But I guess it’s because at a con, there are thousands of us artists, pro and aspiring, so they can choose to ignore me and go bug someone else. ;-)

    As for reading a book, it would depend on your body language and where you had the book whether I’d approach you. If it was open with the cover face down in your lap where I cannot read what the title is, and I think you’re attractive, I might approach and ask what it is you’re reading, to see what your reading tastes are and gague your personality a little. If you’re holding it up close to your chest, hiding your bossom, or have your face hidden in it, then I would get the hint that you are closed to personal interaction.

    And headphones? They’re so damned tiny today half the time you don’t even notice when someone has them, especially if they have long hair. I’m more apt to notice the Borgtooth implant on the ear than I am headphones. Just saying.

    So none of those are ‘sure fire’ signals that a guy should not approach you.

  114. Seth @112

    I don’t know where you get “they’d like to invade your personal space” from people who (according to descriptions) wouldn’t have asked or approached you at all.

    According to The Ferrett’s description, the first phase of the “project” did not involve buttons to distinguish participants from non-participants, and a few askees were offended.

    My point wasn’t just about this–an “open source hug project” would freak a lot of people out, too. People with weaker mind control than you have, apparently.

  115. Louis: You are right in that those are not universal signals. And in fact, I am not opposed to casual contact which is friendly and indicates that there is possibly more to me than a nice ass. Starting with an “Excuse me, but….[ insert question about book/picture/music ]” might actually elicit a conversation, and I would be me much more amenable to conversation, if one starts like that. If I’m in the mood. Where this gets problematical, is when I further indicate that I am not in the mood.

    Side note 1: I have frickin’ big headphones actually. The buds always fall out. (I used to have a really nice pair of Sennheisers actually.)

    Side note 2: Lots of girls I know use headphones as protective armour, and it was the suggestion of one of my other girlfriends after the infamous transit incident. We know it doesn’t have a 100 percent success rate, but it does work better than nothing.

    Digression: And as an artist, I’m unfortunately well aware that the sketching doesn’t deter people, let alone males. I just wish it would. What’s REALLY awesome (and has nothing to do with sexism and body issues) is when people SIT right in front of me while I’m sketching, between me and the thing I am sketching, and then I stop, and they say, “So, you’re drawing, huh?” (Seriously, this has happened about six or seven times. As a side note, I don’t mind the respectful hover from about three feet back, but I do mind the “pepper the artist with questions” thing if I’m in the zone.) BTW, curiosity doesn’t mean you get a free pass. Hell, rubberneckers at accidents are curious.

    When I DO indicate that I’m already occupied, and the person persists, the message I get from all these behaviours is that nothing I do is important, so it’s okay to just bust in and interrupt me. Which is kinda rude.

  116. Wow, Seth: “It is better to be mugged occasionally than to live in fear.”

    So, is it better to be raped occasionally than to live in fear? And how often is “occasionally”?

  117. In response to the “if they say yes, they consented, so it’s alright” – no.

    In response to the “if they offer it, it’s alright” – no.

    A prostitute walks up to me in the street and offers me sex for money. That he or she offered it, that if I accept it’ll be “consensual” does not matter. It’s wrong because of things beyond the immediate moment, the position of prostitutes in society and so on.

    You have to take a wide view of these things to understand that sometimes “consent” is not entirely free and informed consent.

    And some shit is just plain bad manners, bad manners which should be corrected by parents with a thwap across the back of the head early on, so that boys don’t grow up to creep out girls.

  118. Doctor Science: Apparently you didn’t read very carefully.

    How does fear prevent rape?

    Jim Bob, so you think that adults can only make their own decisions if those decisions are what you consider right, otherwise you define them as “not entirely free and informed consent”?

    Sure, some shit is just plain bad manners. Telling other adults how to behave, for instance. Or posting on this blog using a non-word that pushes the owner’s buttons.

  119. Seth: How does fear prevent rape?

    Gavin Black’s The Gift of Fear explains better than I can, but basically: fear is nature’s way of saying “Danger Danger Jill Robinson!” Yes, it can be over-active, but a *real* problem a lot of women have is being too worried about being nice to listen to the inner voice that says, “this guy is dangerous, he will not respect your wishes, he will not listen when you say No.” That nearly-subconscious feeling of fear is what we mean by “creepy”, as in “that guy is creepy.”

    One reason TheFerret’s post set off such an uproar is that he pushed a lot of “Creepy Guy” buttons, and the last thing fannish women want is for Creepy Guys to feel any more empowered and validated in their Creepiness. Some are probably capable of evolving into decent human beings, but this is *not* the way to do it and besides, it’s not the job of the breast-growing portion of the population to help.

  120. Listen, at an all ages con, there are and should be convention events that just are not appropriate for children.

    But it shouldn’t be the whole convention. If you expect them to grow new gamers or sci fi fans or somethingg, then they need to expose them to games and sci fi.

    And people wearing “grope me/don’t grope me” buttons pretty much erases the possibility of not having sexual discussions that are age-inappropriate.

    Seriously, kids get plenty exposed to things enough as it is without trying to explain about green buttons and red buttons and having them see breast or junk groping while on the way to the next Pokemon tourney or to the dealer’s room for some comics or to the Ben-10 marathon room or what have you.

  121. Seth: I just can’t understand why one person’s (or many people’s) experience that something is bad is a reason to prohibit other people from engaging in behavior that they (all) want to.

    Have you heard of the Civil Rights Movement?

    It’s called Moral Law there, buddy, and it’s the basic difference between right and wrong. Between what’s acceptable in public and what’s not. Yes, it’s flexible from person to person and from culture to culture, but if you don’t actually think that Moral Law affects your life then you’re deluding yourself as to where actual laws come from. If enough people get offended by it then yeah, it’s going to become a law.

    And I’m not sure exactly where you live, Seth, but I’m not sure why you think that you aren’t told how to behave every day.

    You are told that you have to wear clothes when you go outside and what side of the road you have to drive on and that you have to pay for your food at a restaurant. You may not recognize your behavior as being shaped, but it is.

    And I’m happy that you don’t feel the need to worry about being mugged but you also don’t have strangers grabbing your back pocket with your wallet in it as you pass or staring intently at your wad of cash as you pay for your sandwich or coming up to your house and asking to view your valuables on a daily basis. You don’t see or hear about or experience the repercussions of it happening to you or someone you care about. And I’m happy that you don’t, but understand that fear for our safety is something that many women do experience on a daily basis, and it’s hard to put aside the worry when it’s constantly in your face like that.

  122. Seth, again: (sorry, about adding on yet again– I had this up in vim and I thought I posted everything)

    I don’t see anything wrong with asking people to take what is an intimate function for many people (touching someone else’s breasts or buttocks) to a private area or an informed consent area or a room or something. I have already read one LJ entry by someone who was present but not involved directly that she felt pressured to conform by the event. I’ve also read lots, and lots, and lots of comments from others that said they uncomfortable.

    Yes, VirginiaSeth, sometimes the only way for people to avoid hurting those who have differing preferences is to take part in those activities in a separate place.

    It’s asking for some basic comfort and safety. It’s obvious that many women and some men do not feel comfortable and safe with this game being a public part of what is essentially a non-sexual social event.

  123. Seth @ # 107

    “worrying” is a state of mind. Some people control their own minds, others don’t. That’s independent of reality; “It is better to be mugged occasionally than to live in fear.”

    Perhaps you think “worrying” is considering others experiences, and trying to be considerate of them. It’s hard to tell, because you were not particularly clear, and your response to my post was practically a nonsequitor.

    I said that men don’t think much about women’s experiences, and how they contribute to a crappy atmosphere for women, and how they ignore, enable, or actually engage in harassment without even thinking.

    Ferrett thinks of himself as not a bad guy. His wife does too. People I know and respect like him. But he just made a colossal ass of himself on the internet, and may never live it down.

    He’s not that differnt than you or me.

  124. Seth… I would like to know, why you think that I as a parent shouldn’t bring my child to an all ages con (having paid money etc to get in) so that YOU could grope someone in public. Whereas you can take your groping elsewhere, I cannot “phone in” visiting the dealers room etc. And yes, even if the con didn’t send you a letter saying “these are the laws of the state/city” you must abide by them. Ignorance of the law is not a defense.

    As a side note, the 40 or so people who had badges and the people who groped… Did someone check ID’s to assure that all willing people were over 18? Cause if not, they just opened themselves up to some nasty legal repercussions.

  125. Pixelfish @ 123: Here’s one person’s experience of the OSBP:

    http://novapsyche.livejournal.com/1996568.html

    Interesting duality. She admits that at the time she had no problem with it, and wasn’t freaked out until she looked at it from a larger context later. Which is basically what me and Seth have acknowledged since the beginning.

    If you think we disagree with that, I think that you’re seriously misinterpreting what we’re saying.

    This conversation is starting to remind me of those great abortion debates: No one is willing to listen to anyone. Wonderful.

    Emily Weise: Well, by god, until I hear a woman say that she felt uncomfortable, I’m not going to believe that a woman WOULD feel uncomfortable or feel like the situation was hostile! And even then, it’s just one woman. And even if more respond, that’s just the hysterical few.

    That’s what it sounds like. This is pathetic.

    Yay! A straw man!

    Of course some women would feel uncomfortable. Calling it a project or a movement or whatever was moronic. It shouldn’t happen again, and I don’t think it will, after the crap and the occasional rational argument that’s been spewed about it.

    But assuming that women felt uncomfortable with it at the time when apparently none did is the SAME FARKING THING THAT YOU’RE ACCUSING US OF.

    I agree with Shawn’s arguments for why this should never happen again, but given the limited number of actual real people at the Con, I’m not sure that this was the gender equivalent of the Kristallnacht that so many people seem to be making it out to be.

    You’re right, what you are arguing is pathetic, weak, and devalues the freaking agency of women to make their own choices.

    Between this and the comment that you made earlier about all men being incapable of empathy, one of us seems to have some serious problems with prejudiced generalizations.

    I am disgusted by some of the comments that I’ve seen in this thread. You’ve already won in your own minds. Good for you.

    Elandria: Remember, it’s against moral law (i.e. public acceptability) for me (a male) to hold the hand of my boyfriend in most parts of the United States.

    Hopefully you’ll understand why occasionally I say screw that and do it even though it might make you uncomfortable.

    Sometimes I don’t do it out of fear, and sometimes when I’m alone at night I worry that someone will call me a faggot and beat the crap out of me, but that doesn’t affect my argument at all: that part of your moral law is craptastic and should be done away with.

    They’re not God-ordained and universal.

    /Godwinned myself and I can’t bring myself to care.

  126. Oops. When I said “they’re” in that last line, I meant Elandria’s unitary “moral law.” It shouldn’t have implied pluralization.

    I’d somehow already forgotten that there was just one universal moral law, and not ten engraved on a tablet on Sinai.

  127. Shawn, that link works. I’ll respond there later.

    Doctor Science, what keeps people safe is not doing stupid things. I understand that some people have conditioning (“you must be nice”) that encourages them to do stupid things; fear overcoming that conditioning is better than not overcoming it. However, it’s the “not doing stupid things” that keeps people safe, independent of fear. (In fact, given the same level of not doing stupid things, fear makes people (me, anyway) less safe: the fear reaction costs me physical control so I’m more likely to fall or drop something.)

    Shawn, if you want to run a G-rated convention where every button, t-shirt, public activity, item in the dealer’s room, comments on panels, etc. is appropriate for (your) children, go ahead. But I doubt you’re going to get far trying to force other people to run their conventions your way.

    Elandria, I’ve heard of the civil rights movement. That’s the one that insists on allowing two men to hold hands in public even when some people think their children shouldn’t be exposed to such horrors, right?

    The stuff you’re referring to as Moral Law is actually Legal Law. That’s the one that specifies things like “don’t steal” and “drive on the right side of the road”.

    The reason I don’t worry about being mugged is that I choose not to worry about it. That doesn’t mean I do stupid things like go places I’m likely to be mugged. I still avoid such places, I just don’t worry.

    Shawn, I don’t see anything wrong with asking people something either. I’m consistent that way. Some people seem to believe that certain requests (“Please take that to a private room”) ought to be enforced (meaning they aren’t really requests, and the person making them isn’t merely asking), and others (“May I touch your breasts?”) ought not to be allowed to be made.

    Josh, one can consider other’s experiences (and preferences) and take them into account in deciding on actions to take or avoid without “worrying” being any part of the equation.

    Vail, to what extent am I responsible for your children? Why should the fact that you bring them somewhere control my behavior?

    I don’t go to a convention to listen to screaming brats, either, but I accept that there may be some and I don’t have the right to kick them out.

    Suppose that the behavior that you didn’t want your children exposed to involved, say, someone praying in a religion that isn’t yours. Should members of such religions be banned from praying? Some religions require prayers at various events and activities, so saying “take it to your room” means that such people couldn’t participate in those activities.

    Since I wasn’t at either of the conventions, I have no idea who was involved (other than the few who have mentioned their involvement here or in other places I’ve read).

    And as a side note, it seems that the age of consent in Michigan is 16 (per a quick google).

  128. The original event doesn’t bother me. IRL, I hang out with a group of people that are very touchy-feely and open about their sexuality; this sort of thing has happened at gatherings before, and it’s never to my knowledge left anybody feeling uncomfortable. People that wanted to participate did, and people that didn’t did not. Nobody was expected, pressured, or coerced, and anybody that did would be thrown out the door on their arse — and they’d be lucky if that were all. So, I can see what people are talking about in regards to the first con.

    What concerns me is the growth into a “movement.” IMO, taking it to that level does put some implicit pressure on women to participate, regardless of their comfort. It also becomes more public; tbh, I doubt this is the first time something like this has happened at a SF/F con. The major difference now is that it’s become turned into a “movement.”

    I think that is wrong. I don’t think there should be a “movement” for women to allow random people to touch their breasts. Yes, that’s simplifying it, but honestly, that’s what “Open Source Boob Movement” is going to say to people that women should allow their breasts to be “open source”, aka touchable by all. Sharing with the public/community is the base of open source.

    I’m all for people embracing their sexuality and body image, but I don’t think that kind of message is okay.

    I’m concerned that this is going to negatively affect the public image of SF/F conventions and the fandom. I’m concerned that women are going to feel pressured to allow themselves to be sexually touched by strangers, and thus either not go or go in fear. I’m concerned that there will be abuse of such a “movement” and someone will get hurt. Even if the offender is punished afterward, even a so-called “minor” altercation can be emotionally devastating (and if the person has a past history of abuse, so much the worse). I don’t see that the supposed overall good of this movement outweighs the risk that people will misunderstand its intended nature and abuse it.

    I’ve seen people try to say that it wouldn’t be abused (which is naive) or that it would not be tolerated (which is missing the point). I don’t think it’s a good idea, because there is almost a certainty that someone, somewhere is going to be hurt — and IMO, it’s not worth it.

  129. Nonny:

    “The major difference now is that it’s become turned into a ‘movement.'”

    Well, I think more accurately, someone suggested it should become a movement, after which the massive backlash from Teh Internets caused the person who suggested it to reconsider the wisdom of such a plan. As movements go, this is a pretty dead one at this point.

  130. Ah. I hadn’t read the updated post from The Ferret. My mom’s been visiting the past few days, and I haven’t had as much time to keep up with blogs as I normally do. :P

  131. Mornin’ John. Just woke up from my post-con crash and wandered over to visit. One of my biggest regrets of the weekend was that Tammy and I had a panel so I missed breakfast with you.

    Now, you know I’m an old married man so, maybe I just don’t function on the same continuum as everyone else but coming home and discovering the breast kerfuffle for me has mostly been a dissappointment. It was by no means widespread at the convention. I never so much as suspected it and I was “on” well over twenty hours.

    At that convention, we had a panel on war (and it’s affects on art) that was so filled we had to use microphones and a panel on literacy that was so intense that it was standing-room only and people were yelling (including yelling at the GoH, which I think is in very poor form). So, what gets the meme? Breasts. That’s a real shame to my way of thinking. Breasts we have around every day. Rooms full of good writers (and me) we do not.

    On the other hand, I was inappropriately touched by pirates and I blame Bear.

    Hope to see you at ‘Clave.

    MKeaton

  132. There was such a small group of us doing this – seriously, guys… it was like 25 people at the most. If 40 buttons were given out, well I know I got three, due to me losing them left and right, since they were so freakin’ tiny!

    I’m a woman that participated, the one that Mr. Scalzi had lunch with that Sunday, and I am amazed at what has happened in the last few days in response to our silly little game.

    We did NOT ask random people. We did NOT go up to strangers and ask to touch their breasts/butts. The only place that you might have caught it publically was in the party hallways/rooms after midnight on Saturday night – and I’m sorry, but I don’t know any Con participants that let their children wander those halls during those hours, so please don’t make it sound like we were shoving it on Con-goers, their children and their little dog Foo-Foo.

    The name was silly – it was just a joke between friends. I, for one, never even considered making it a real “project” or applying it to anything outside of my tight-knit friends at Con. Ferrett’s post was, at the very gentlest, poorly written. It has spawned a lot of good debate and a lot of topics have been brought up that should be discussed. In no way do I, or the group members that I have talked with believe that this is something that should be implemented in all social situations, with all age groups!

    However, offering violence towards us, offering attacks on us is not acceptable in my mind. That people are responding to this with violence and threats are violating rights, and it’s plain hypocrisy in my mind. I don’t mind the debate that goes on here, I do mind that my boyfriend has, indirectly, been offered a swift kick in the balls because he wore a button, and grinned along with the rest of us at our silly hilarity.

    The idea was never meant for the big world out there. It was not even meant for the whole Con population. Or even a minor part of it. The place where novapsyche put her button on was a LINGERIE PARTY, for goodness’ sake. She was wearing a cute little outfit, and no, that doesn’t give anyone the right to expect her to allow her boobs be groped – and I’m sad if she felt that way at all (she is one of my friends!) but I just want to put out there that it was not in the hallway during the lunch break.

    As for people who tell me that I should be ashamed for letting the people grope my breasts, pshaw! I’m a big girl! There was no sexual intent to any touch, nothing was ever under any clothing, and I got to touch and fulfill curiousity as much as any man or other woman there. I’m not using that as an excuse (Oh, it must be ok because women were doing it too!). They were my friends. All intimate friends – we spent the majority of the weekend piled up on a king size bed chatting and giving massages (which is probably why most con-goers never even ran into the OSBP!). Well, ok, I did let one strange piratey type guy heft my breasts, but guess what? It empowers me. I don’t believe that breasts are this ultimate body part to worship and demand sacrifice for. They are part of MY body, and I wish I could be as free with them as women are in so many other parts of the world.

    None of us intend on making this a global project. I’m sorry that Ferrett made it sound that way. I’m not sorry that the good debate and discussion has been spawned. I am sorry that my friends and loved ones are being attacked and castrated for something that never was what it has turned into in the great world of the internet.

    Take from it what you will, I will never regret enjoying the best and silliest con I’ve had with my family of friends, gropes and all. No one can turn it into something dirty and nasty for me, with any words.

    The idea – duh, not applicable to the macrocosm
    The actual event – not that big of a deal!

  133. P.S. I know I’m late in this comment, and that probably by tomorrow no one will be talking about it and how the internet flows and all, but I haven’t responded to anything about this yet because of the way my other friends have been treated. I felt this was the most productive place for civil debate and discussion, thanks everyone for keeping it interesting and intelligent here!

  134. Thank you, Lucy! This is EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to tell the people who think the Open Source Nut Kicking Project is an applicable level of response to this.

  135. Spherical Time: Remember, it’s against moral law (i.e. public acceptability) for me (a male) to hold the hand of my boyfriend in most parts of the United States.

    Hopefully you’ll understand why occasionally I say screw that and do it even though it might make you uncomfortable.

    Sometimes I don’t do it out of fear, and sometimes when I’m alone at night I worry that someone will call me a faggot and beat the crap out of me, but that doesn’t affect my argument at all: that part of your moral law is craptastic and should be done away with.

    I do understand why you think moral law is craptastic because the one in particular relation to you sucks. But that doesn’t mean they all suck, and it also doesn’t mean that they should all be done away with unless it seems like a good idea to you to live in a world of chaos. Which it might seem like a good idea to you, I don’t know. I don’t like that idea of chaos so instead of doing away with all the moral laws I try to help change the ones I don’t agree with. All laws can and have changed over the course of human history. Sometimes we move forward and sometimes we move backward, I think, but they can change.

    If you think it’s a good idea that people should be able to ask random women if they can touch their breasts, then I’m going to have to disagree with you. I don’t think men should have to be afraid of being beat up while walking down the street with their boyfriends, and I don’t think women should have to be afraid of walking down the street without being molested.

    If what I’ve read since my first post is accurate, then this project was partly about taking some of that fear away. I applaud that effort, but believe that it was done badly. It was trying to treat a symptom instead of the underlying problem and for some people I think it made the problem worse.

    Seth: I’ve heard of the civil rights movement. That’s the one that insists on allowing two men to hold hands in public even when some people think their children shouldn’t be exposed to such horrors, right?

    The stuff you’re referring to as Moral Law is actually Legal Law. That’s the one that specifies things like “don’t steal” and “drive on the right side of the road”.

    The reason I don’t worry about being mugged is that I choose not to worry about it. That doesn’t mean I do stupid things like go places I’m likely to be mugged. I still avoid such places, I just don’t worry.

    I’d say at least half of legal law started out as moral law. And, as I mentioned to Spherical Time, moral laws (as well as legal laws) can and do change over time. If you think that two men should be able to hold hands in public without being attacked, I agree with you 100%. If you think that men should be able to ask women to touch their breasts in a public place with no pre-set ground rules, I disagree with you 100%.

    I – like you – don’t usually worry about being mugged (or being molested). However, you and I are two people and we are the privileged few. Others are not as privileged, they do fear and many of them with good cause. I am very happy that for the most part no one was damaged during this project, but it just as easily could have gone the other way.

  136. Corby and Lucy:

    You are aware that the “open source kick to the nuts” post is an exercise in satire, yes?

    Not to say that thiere are not serious, actual counter proposals, like the “Open Source Women Back Each Other Up” Project.

    Which, since there is now signifigant discussion of how (not when, but how) the OSB Project is going to be implemented there, seems like it’s going to be needed now more than ever.

    It was a bad idea. It’s implicitly sexist and more then a little creepy when you broaden your perspective even the tiniest bit. As much as the spirit of it was good and honest, there are obviously better ways to promote an open and mature mind towards sexuality.

    So much of this, “but.. but.. it was nobly intentioned! He’s a good guy! Really!” semms to slide a little too easily into Look! A monkey!”

  137. Once upon a time, there were feminists who believed that women owned their own bodies, and were entitled to decide what would be done with them, each woman deciding for herself. Those women didn’t want others telling them what they could or could not do with their own bodies, whether those others were their father, husband, boyfriend, the Pope, or the government. This included positions like legalizing prostitution.

    Times have changed. Now it’s women (who would undoubtedly call themselves feminist) who insist on the power to tell other women what those other women are permitted to do with their bodies.

    Elandria, not letting you enforce your moral law is not chaos. It’s freedom.

    I find statements that Freedom of Speech doesn’t apply to offensive speech to be offensive. So people who believe that offensive speech should not be permitted are being hypocrites if they say so.

    Or do you think you’re special so that speech which offends you should be banned, but speech which offends me is just fine? You’re not the ruler of me, so I don’t have to care.

    Many people have cause to fear. Some of them choose not to fear despite that. Others do not make that choice, or lack sufficient control over their own minds to do so.

    Do you oppose anything which might have damaged anybody if things had been different? Is there anything that doesn’t meet that criterion?

  138. Seth:

    The more and more I keep reading your responses, the more I’m reminded of something a good friend said (I’ve linked to a similar post he did in this thread already):

    “[people] intend to mean one thing but in almost all cases reveal a huge amount about their thought processes and prejudices.

    Like, for instance, when a cranky older guy goes off on a big long rant about how preteen girls in this day and age dress too provocatively? You know in that situation that it is safe to guess what’s actually happening is he wants to bang preteen girls.”

    You know how when someone has something explained exactly why many people have differeing comfort levels and yes this does mean that there are even laws in place, and that someone keeps trying to lead the discussion about “You want to ban all forms of public expression and touch and making out, don’t you, huh, HUH?”. It’s safe to say that this person really, really wants to grope people in public whenever they want (consentially, natch) and is all upset that this person can’t.

  139. One minor point, Shawn: your telepathy doesn’t work.

    I prefer doing my groping in private.

    And if I wanted, I could do it in public with someone else who wanted that.

    My real goal is exactly what I say it is: I believe in freedom. That means that people can do things that other people don’t like.

    Remember the statement above that you made about my freedom to swing my fist ends where your nose begins? I don’t have the right to punch you in the nose; agreed. But I do have the right to practice karate in the park, even if you don’t want to watch. Your nose does not extend to the limits of your vision (or beyond). You don’t have to watch.

    Your right to enforce your preferences ends where my freedom begins. What forms of consentual touching do you think should be prohibited in public? What distinguishes those from the forms you think should be permitted? If the distinction is “Shawn approves of these but not those” then I don’t want to live in Shawn’s Dictatorship. Fortunately, I don’t.

  140. Shawn @152

    I think that is called “Projection”, as in, “I don’t understand why this old man would possibly even notice these young girls wearing half shirts and flaunting their bodies in lewd and lascivious ways. I know! he couldn’t possibly mean what he’s saying, since no one tells the truth. he must passively aggressively want to bang them, just like me! I am going to project my own ideas through him; that’s the only way life could possibly work.”

    I think your “good friend” should get some counseling and figure out why he has a hard time believing some people could possibly mean what they say. He’s actually telling us a good deal about himself by his statement.

  141. Shawn@150

    Oh, BTW. Yes, I am aware of the attempt at satire here.

    I don’t believe you will be able to find one statement from me about what a “Good guy” the ferrett is. I’ve stated from pretty much the beginning that I was unsure if this was a good idea and then decided after looking into it that, yes, it was not a good idea.

    I do not agree that it was sexist, though, since at least half the originators were women and the main point was to have women taking control of their own bodies. Plus, the women that participated claim it was not sexist. Are you saying they are too stupid to understand how sexist it was? Don’t you think that is in itself the definition of “sexist”?

    I am now convinced more than ever that your “friend” really needs some professional counseling in dealing with your, I mean “his”, personal issues regarding women.

  142. Cory:

    I didn’t want to double dip in linking to the same journal ebtry twice, but for what relevance this has to the discussion here is his journal entry (which I previously linked to) in this discussion. Do a find for “dog whistle”:

    http://astolpho.livejournal.com/278656.html?nc=48

    Here is my journal:
    theotherbaldwin.livejournal.com

    I am all over the ‘net under my actual name, so yeah, different people, non-starter.

    Anyhow:

    Seth, whhile it really appears that you are missing the point of a lot of people, and you really sure seem hung up on your perception that people–

    Let me try again.

    Seth, what is so valuable about public groping that justifies profoundly offending and frightening people who don’t want to be exposed to it?

    Spherical Time:

    Well, I can think of one pretty big way this is different from gay people holding hands in public. I am not offended by gay people doing anything that would not offend me if straight people did it (I’d be offended by straight people groping in public). I feel that there is also a value in bringing down homophobia which is justified im offending people who are offended by gay people doing stuff that wouldn’t offend them if straight people did it (I wouldn’t be offended by people holding hands).

  143. Shawn, there’s nothing particularly valuable about any particular little freedom. That’s why they all should be defended, otherwise freedom gets nibbled away until there’s none left.

    What’s so valuable about public holding hands that justifies profoundly offending and frightening people who don’t want to be exposed to it? What, you think there aren’t a lot of such people? What if the hand-holders are both men?

    The issue isn’t whether you’re offended by something. It’s up to me how much to care about how offended you are; it’s not a matter of public policy.

    The fact that you feel that something has value is likewise irrelevant.

  144. Seth:

    I’m trying to work arounf the mutual disconnect here; maybe you’re not understanding me because I’m not communicating cleary, and I’m not understanding because I’m making an erroneous assumption.

    I think that if people want to have consensual sex, for example, they choose somewhere private to do so, OR they go somewhere where those who choose to be there are informed “a priori” of the events that will be taking place. There are also laws in place that say people have to do as such, too.

    If people want to have intimate touching at an event, they should choose either to do so in a private place or to inform people “a prior”i that this sort of thing will be going on so that people who do not want to be involved or exposed don’t have to be.

    Informed consent, basically.

    I mean, you’re not really bemoaning people’s lack of choice in not being able to have sex or go naked in public, are you?

  145. Shawn –

    A Sense of Humor – get one.

    You are assuming, incorrectly, that this was akin to a public group grope.

    It was not.

    Therefore your reasoning is irrelevant because that is not what happened.

    Because, well, these people are obviously more intelligent and, dare I say it, moral than to want to expose children and unwilling participants to it.

  146. Shawn, having sex in public is illegal (in most of the US, at least), and therefore irrelevant to this discussion.

    I think a large part of the point of the osb was that it was not “intimate touching”.

    Which legal activities do you think should require “informed consent” of all bystanders? Why? Who gets to decide on that list?

    And, frankly, I think people should be allowed to go naked in public. And I think people should be allowed to stare and make rude comments about it, too.

  147. Question, Seth, if you’re still banging away at this post: would it be acceptable, say, for my boss to require his employees to wear color-coded badges indicating their openness to being sexually harassed, be it verbally or physically? What exclusive benefits might accrue to those employees who opt to wear the badge that says, “Slap my ass”? Where do the propietor’s rights leave off and the rights of his employees begin? Who mediates the conflict between those rights? Of course, it’s the law. Everybody knows that, whether they argue the ins and outs of the laws or not.

    So, too, standards apply to public places and other venues. A nude beach, where men, women, and children disrobe but don’t make a practice of fondling strangers. A sex-segregated locker room in which I don’t expect to be asked whether my breasts are up for touching by total strangers. Places are regulated toward specific purposes for convenience and, yes, for comfort and security.

    If I were anywhere, and a stranger—no less a group of them—asked without preamble to touch my body, do you understand how fearful that might make me? Do you understand why I might question what the price of saying no is? Do you understand why I might be plain angry?

    You make remarks to the effect that it’s my choice as a woman to go around worrying or to enjoy my freedom of movement. What you aren’t grasping is that my fear—statistically and anecdotally founded—restricts my freedom of movement. I cannot, as a woman, go to a poorly lit college campus at night without risking sexual assault. I cannot, as a woman, go for a run at night through my own neighborhood because I am afraid that my pepper spray isn’t enough. What if somebody comes up from behind and gets the drop on me? I cannot open up all the doors and windows in my house in broad daylight because I’m afraid of who might see me—a woman living alone—and take me for easy pickings.

    I keep track of cars that seem to be following me. I park as close as I can to storefronts so that I don’t have to cross yards and yards of parking lot, not because I don’t like walking but because the longer the walk, the greater the risk I won’t get to my car. Do you think this is simple paranoia? Or can you put yourself in my shoes—me, an ordinary woman—and perhaps sympathize with my plight?

    I am afraid. I live in a world that’s taught me to be afraid. To have no fear is a luxury. To be oblivious—well, this explains why so many schoolgirls you see on the news don’t make it past graduation. I’m angry about it. Most of all, I’m damned sad.

  148. sophie@162

    Some of that is paranoia.

    Not many people can run through their neighborhoods at night. That’s just asking for trouble, man or woman.

    Walking around alone at night in ANY unsecured location is asking for trouble. Man or woman.

    I would like to see the statistics of how many people generally but women statistically are abducted from parking lots and how far or near the door they parked. If it is more than an incredibly rare occurrence and had anything at all to do with distance from the front door I would be surprised.

    The thing you are every other person freaking about about this is missing is that IT WAS NOT RANDOM! It was not a bunch of strangers. It was a small group who all knew each other and most of the con didn’t even know it was going on until after the fact. Try reading more than the rabid blogs and get some context and perspective.

  149. Sophie said: a lot of excellent, true-ringing stuff about the disproportionate burden of fear women are obliged to carry around with them, and how it honestly affects her personally.

    Corby said: “Some of that is paranoia.”

    Corby, of course, is right, and is so much better at evaluating how much of Sophie’s day-to-day guardedness is truly warranted and how much may be dismissed as Oh Those Hysterical Wimminfolk than Sophie herself could possibly be, because Sophie is only one of them hysterical wimminfolk, don’t you know, and us wimminfolk are all paranoid and illogical and stuffs. Oh, and all those actual stories of actual harassment reported on this thread experienced by the actual women who experienced it (and who had no reasonable way to be sure that said harassment wasn’t an overture to violence)? Lies, all of it! Lies!

    [/end sarcasm]

    Shawn said, “I think that if people want to have consensual sex, for example, they choose somewhere private to do so, OR they go somewhere where those who choose to be there are informed “a priori” of the events that will be taking place.”

    In synecdochic’s excellent post about the OSBP (and its equally excellent follow-up comment thread), this issue figures prominently in her argument against the movement that TheFerrett initially championed. The phrase for it is “BYSTANDER CONSENT,” and it is extremely important, for example, amongst those with Master/Slave fetishes and participants in other forms of “performative sexuality.” If I may be forgiven for quoting the relevant couple of (longish) paragraphs of the (even more longish and worth reading) OP here:

    But something like this — some semi-organized, something public, something that hasn’t been thought out in advance and designed to take into account everyone’s differing comfort levels, something that isn’t aware of the practical difference between empowering “sex-positive” and skeevy “getting-laid-positive”, something that doesn’t have boundaries and doesn’t offer people a way to remove themselves from the environment, something that is aggressively public and pushy, something that is presented and framed as “if you don’t agree wholeheartedly you are One Of The Bad Evil Them” — does a hell of a lot of damage. To the people who are approached to be part of the experience, to the people who are around the fringes of the experience, to the people who aren’t comfortable with the experience, and yeah, to the people in that particular subculture who do try to be ethically “sex-positive” in a way that doesn’t push their attitudes on uninvolved bystanders.

    There used to be a tradition in the BDSM subculture — and it’s still there, though it’s primarily active among people who are involved in a physical, real-world BDSM-friendly community, and less present in people whose experience with the BDSM culture is primarily internet-based — that consent-for-involvement-as-a-bystander must be specifically given. It’s kind of hard to sum up neatly, but the gist of it is: don’t involve other people in your scene unless they indicate they want to be involved. Performative sexuality (which in this context can be anything from one person calling another person “Master”, to kneeling, to explicit sexual contact — anything you get a sexual charge from, really), on display, should be limited to areas that are clearly labeled, that other people can leave (or not encounter in the first place). It’s okay to, say, order your submissive to fetch drinks for the whole table on his/her knees if you’re at a play party where that sort of thing is normalized, but it’s not okay to order your submissive to fetch drinks for the whole table on his/her knees if you’re out at the local sports bar — because by doing that, you’re involving people in your sexual game who not only haven’t given their consent, they haven’t been offered a chance to give consent.

    These are extremely “sex-positive” people who are concerned that bystanders–of any age, not just minors–not be involved in sexual scenarios they did not consent to. Such concern is obviously not merely the concern of the prudish or the legalistic Puritan.

    Concern for others’ boundaries and comfort levels, rather than simply for one’s own whims and pleasures, seems to be a big difference between those who are both sexually liberated and yet just might have qualms about this whole OSBP thing… and those who are co-opting the terminology of sexual liberation to justify entitled, spoiled-brat “nobody tells me what to do in public!” behavior and their “if you have a problem with public feel-copping you’re just sexually repressed/immature” snidery.

  150. Angry sarcasm and chained prepositional phrases don’t mix. That should have been…

    “Oh, and all those actual stories of actual harassment reported on this thread experienced by the actual women who actually experienced it…”

    Carry on.

  151. sophie, employment is a special case (as is public accommodation). Suppose a few people decided to wear t-shirts that said “It’s OK to sexually harass me”. Would you have a problem with that?

    There are standards for many things. (“The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.”) In private property (e.g. your locker-room example), the owner of the property sets the standards. In public, the law sets the only enforceable standards.

    I understand why some things (that don’t resemble anything that happened in the underlying topic under discussion) could make you angry or uncomfortable. I also understand that banning speech that makes somebody uncomfortable is a worse evil.

    I didn’t say that it’s your choice to worry or to enjoy freedom of movement. You can take the same sensible precautions without worrying, just by deciding that they’re sensible so you do them.

    You don’t need fear to be observant; in fact, as anybody with training will tell you, you’re more observant when you don’t fear.

    Corby, people don’t estimate risks properly. They tremendously overestimate the likelihood of the sorts of stuff that’s so rare they see it in the news whenever it happens anywhere in the country, and underestimate the stuff that’s so common it happens all the time. (How much would you pay for magical insurance that guarantees you won’t be injured or killed in an automobile accident? A terrorist attack? What is the ratio of those amounts, and the ratio of number of people injured/killed by those events?)

    Nicole, if any of those stories of harassment applied to the underlying event, I missed it. It seems to me people were saying “A harassed B. C and D did something they agreed on. But if I were there, and E wanted to do something vaguely similar to what C and D did with me, that would make me uncomfortable, therefore what C and D did was wrong.” Their logic is missing some critical steps.

  152. Seth: First, it is not my moral law, but it is, however, my concept of moral law so I’m not going to argue that. I will argue that ultimate freedom is chaos because if anyone is free to do anything according to their own internal moral code then there is no regulation, no order and thus chaos.

    Shawn mentioned earlier that your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of his nose and you agreed. I agree as well, but my addendum is that violence can be verbal as well as physical and can hurt just as much. You probably don’t go swinging through a crowd with your fists so it’s my opinion that you shouldn’t go swinging through a crowd with your words either.

    It’s totally my opinion and I’m not trying to force you into my way of thinking, I’m just trying to explain it. It looks like in this instance we’re going to have to agree to disagree, however.

  153. Elandria, I’ve never agreed with “Everyone has to do what I think best or it will be chaos.” I’m not arguing for “ultimate freedom” but rather that any restraints must be codified in law. If you can’t get the law passed, there isn’t enough support for your position; and having (some) people able to say “You’re not allowed to do that” without the support of law is dictatorship.

    “Violence” can’t be verbal. Sure, words can hurt. The greatest pain I’ve had was caused by words. Do you think it should be illegal for a woman I love to break up with me? But that isn’t violence.

    I support the freedom to do wrong things, because if that doesn’t exist, then someone is going to define my right things as wrong and prohibit them.

    I agree you shouldn’t go “swinging through a crowd with your words”. But that isn’t the issue; if you want to consider such people rude and not associate with them or invite them to your parties, that’s fine. But you don’t have the right to prevent them. People have the right to do things that are wrong.

  154. Seth:

    And people also have the responsibility to deal with the consequences of their actions.

    Wait, on preview:

    In public, the law sets the only enforceable standards.

    But, but.. the law was pointed out earlier.. and you.. but then… your position.,.. I.. I…
    that contradicts what you…

    *head explodes*

  155. If you wanted to wear such a tee-shirt, Seth, I’d be okay with that, assuming you consented to it. And the issue really does come down to the definition of consent.

    At what point do situations manufacture consent? When peer pressure and other forces come into play. I think I’m about as well-read on the goings-on at this con as anybody. That doesn’t mean I have the full picture, of course; I wasn’t there. If a group of friends choose to participate in a groping game, I can’t dispute that. The issue is when it becomes systematized so as to include people outside that group of friends. Badges were introduced. Presumably, to come by one of those badges, regardless of whether a person chose the red one or the green one, people were propositioned in the first place. How many of those propositioned expected such a question in that environment? How many were upset or put in fear by such a question? That’s what I wonder, and I wouldn’t be surprised by underreporting: people who consented under pressure.

    Is that real consent?

    I don’t have to go back ages to remember a time when, if somebody had put me on the spot by asking to touch my ta-tas, I would’ve been inclined to agree. Why? For purely social reasons. After all, other girls were doing it. Who wants to be a killjoy? theferret mentions women who came begging for approval by the end of this project, wondering if their breasts were “worthy” of being touched. I question these womens’ consent. I think it was manufactured by the game and preyed on their insecurities.

    Does that mean this project didn’t start innocently? No. But it does indicate, no matter how good your intentions, the execution and/or systematization of your plans on the broad scale can have unintentional negative results.

    Corby, on a practical level, who’s stupider? Who’s inviting more disaster? The man who runs at night or the woman who does so? Consider the she’s-asking-for-it phenomenon. And if you met a stranger on the street at night, would that stranger strike the same fear in you if she were a woman? Or would you relax? Criminals tend to victimize people who have the appearance of weakness: the elderly, children, women. Whether those people turn out to be packing heat, pepper spray, or a mean punch doesn’t function as a deterrent. This is a calculation made at a glance.

  156. Shawn, no law was pointed out earlier. There was a claim that the law was clear, with no support or even statement about what it clearly said.

    People fondling other people in public has been going on for a long time.

    sophie, situation don’t manufacture consent. People either grant it or they don’t. They might be influenced by the situation, but it’s still their choice (by definition; else it isn’t consent).

    Your presumption doesn’t match the reports I’ve read; rather, people who asked about the buttons were told and offered one.

    You are not the arbiter who gets to decide “Even though she said she consented, and she believed she consented, and she wanted to consent, I think that she might not really have consented so it doesn’t count.” Adults make their own decisions. You are, of course, welcome to question anything you want. But public policy should not depend on your questioning of what other people actually did.

  157. Nicole @164

    I’m not sure why you put “/sarcasm” since you obviously were not kidding. Do you not have the courage of your convictions? I do. But I also have some class, so I won’t stoop to ad hominem attacks and inane comments. But thank you for showing your true colors so I no longer have to pay any attention to your comments. It will save me lots of valuable time I could be using to insult women.

    sophie @170

    “Corby, on a practical level, who’s stupider? Who’s inviting more disaster? The man who runs at night or the woman who does so?”

    In my opinion, both.

    “And if you met a stranger on the street at night, would that stranger strike the same fear in you if she were a woman?”

    Yes. Well, not fear, caution. I cross the street when I am alone and other people are on my side coming toward me if it is dark, or I suck it up and ready my fight or flight. People. ALL people. It’s called being observant, and I recommend it to everyone.

    “Criminals tend to victimize people who have the appearance of weakness: the elderly, children, women. Whether those people turn out to be packing heat, pepper spray, or a mean punch doesn’t function as a deterrent. This is a calculation made at a glance.”

    You are talking about crimes of opportunity and they don’t occur nearly as much as the news would make you think. Generally, if people are looking for trouble, they bring a knife or gun. Who cares if you are a guy or girl if you are on the receiving end of one of those? The main difference between sexes is that as a guy you are more likely to be killed by an attacker rather than raped. Gee, I guess guys DO have it better.

    The simple fact is that if you or anyone else puts yourself in a compromising position, like jogging alone at night on a dark street, you have every right to do so but if something happens you only have yourself to blame.

    And the whole shopping center thing? Still paranoia.

  158. Corbyu Kennardf:

    Gee, I guess guys DO have it better… if something happens you only have yourself to blame

    Plus, the slut was probably asking for it, dressing like that, amirite?

  159. Wow, Shawn. You are simply amazing at, not only intentionally butchering my name which you obviously have no respect for, and for taking my words completely out of context.

    I’ve made pains to get your name right and actually read and respond to the salient points you have made.

    I’ve made an effort to actually use your context when answering.

    But you have not only made no such effort, now you are doing it just to annoy.

    Lets see if I can do it, too.
    “The slut was probably asking for it, dressing like that.” said Shawn. Look, women! Shawn is a frat boy!

    Now, if you really care about what was said, you would be fair about it. But you do not, and you, too, are showing your true colors here. You are not interested in actually having a conversation, just in attempting to trap people by taking their words out of context.

    If you read the WHOLE paragraph, it says:
    “The main difference between sexes is that as a guy you are more likely to be killed by an attacker rather than raped. Gee, I guess guys DO have it better.”

    In other words, Shawn, in case you have some sort of learning disability, is that as a man, you will probably not walk away from an encounter that a woman, while she may very well be raped, probably would. Since everyone is lamenting how women are constantly having to watch out because, as one woman said, they spend 80% of their time avoiding rape; the implication here is that men don’t have any such issues. I was merely pointing out that, while women may be raped, men are more likely to be KILLED IN THAT VERY SAME SITUATION and I’m sorry, but I don’t see how that makes men any better off.

    The second part says:
    “The simple fact is that if you or anyone else puts yourself in a compromising position, like jogging alone at night on a dark street, you have every right to do so but if something happens you only have yourself to blame.”

    In other words, Shawn, in case you cannot actually figure out words like compromising since they have lots of letters, if you or anyone, including myself, walks around in a dark area, alone, at night, with no help nearby, and someone attacks us: while there is no law that says “Do not walk around late at night alone in deserted areas because you may be attacked.”, one should know this, being a, supposedly, thinking individual. Should you be able to walk around without being attacked? Why yes, you should, and how nice that would be to just enjoy the evening by the docks or staring up at the stars in the park. But if you are alone, you are putting yourself out there for predators, Shawn, and as much as I really can’t stand you, I wouldn’t want you to be attacked. That would be BAD. However, knowing that it could happen, and is actually pretty likely if you go to places like that were predators hang out, if you do it anyway, well, you need to take the responsibility for being in the wrong place, male or female. You know the word responsibility, Shawn, right? It means “Owning your own shit.” You have every right to walk in the middle of the street – if you get hit by a car it is your fault. You can point that gun at your head and pull the trigger – if you die it’s all on you. Why not stick that fork in an electric socket? It’s only a small shock which might not kill you. See, Shawn? Your fault. Your right, but your fault.

    I hope this helps. Try to read everything next time, or, if there are too many words and your head starts to ache, have a friend read it to you. Maybe they can smack the shit out of you, too, when you start to act like a jerk.

  160. Corby:

    The “U’ and “f” are right next to the d and ‘f’ keys. Since the spell check always gives the angry red squiggle under proper names that aren’t incredibly common, I usually ignore it by default.

    On top of that, it was two thirty in the morning. I should be asleep, but stead of counting sheep, I just read a bunch of words from someone who attributed a personal attack to a simply manual typo.

    While I have made snarky arguments against your arguments, I haven’t resorted to personal attack, and (if my memory serves) I have endeavored at least to make sure I said “it seems to me”.

    To make sure I don’t set you off, I’ve hit preview twice now. I’ve checked your name, and it’s giving the red “you’ve misspelled something squiggle”. It’s also doing that for “snarky”, but I’m sure I’ve spelled both of them right.

    So Corby, please accept my apologies on mistyping your name. It wasn’t intentional, and it wasn’t malice on my part– just crappy typing. You can’t see my type live, but I also just had to go back an change the capital t in the last sentence to lower-case two; I guess I hit the shift key down a little too long. I really, truly appreciate you efforts in spelling my name right. There are at least five different ways I’ve seen to spell my name.

  161. Oh, for the love of pete. Above, replace the second instance of f with the number y, and that should have been “I guess I held” instead of I guess I hit.

    I’m going to bed.

  162. Not really saying much about the OBP, but Nekkid Hot-Tubbing and casual nudism was de rigeur in my younger days. Groping was considered strictly verboten and staring was frowned upon, and no one ever got bent out of shape about it and it wasn’t overtly sexualized. Public sex was Right Out.

    Maybe I was just lucky in my circle of acquaintances.

  163. sophie, situation don’t manufacture consent. People either grant it or they don’t. They might be influenced by the situation, but it’s still their choice (by definition; else it isn’t consent).

    But choices under pressure cannot be the same, qualitatively, as free choices. In this way, situations can and do manufacture consent. For instance, a woman with a degree realizes she can make more money by stripping than by working in her field. She is compelled, by economic reasons, to strip. Therefore, the situation has manufactured consent. If she wants to strip and that’s it, fine. But any time specific benefits and downsides are accrued based on the choices she makes, her consent is a little less free.

    Your presumption doesn’t match the reports I’ve read; rather, people who asked about the buttons were told and offered one.

    This is possible, insofar as a lot of hot air has been issued on this topic. But many are using this project—which I understand to be dead in the water, according to its participants—as an opportunity to discuss broader issues. It helps that theferret’s initial writeup lacked clarity. Toward the end, he talks about women who came to him seeking his approval of their boobs; I’m not at all surprised by this. He depicts them in a halting, sad light—whether he was aware of how that came across—and I submit that the behavior of this particular group of women shows the failures of this project, in the context in which it was implemented and on the grand scale, should it be implemented elsewhere.

    You are not the arbiter who gets to decide “Even though she said she consented, and she believed she consented, and she wanted to consent, I think that she might not really have consented so it doesn’t count.” Adults make their own decisions.

    It’s tough to have libertarian leanings and consider yourself a feminist. Again, it plays on the age-old tension between freedom and security. But I’m not advocating laws, rather awareness. For me, it comes down to what’s fresh in my memory, Seth. I remember being younger, and I remember being insecure; I remember what kinds of exploitation that opened me up to. I would prefer that people listen to the issues being raised and think about their own behavior; I would prefer that the law enter into any matter only as the last resort. To that end, even though I suspect we’ll continue to disagree, I’m glad to have had this conversation with you.

    Okay, Corby. Here we go! This part’s for you.

    In my opinion, both.

    I agree that both are engaging in risky behavior. But I have a feeling society has less sympathy for the woman running at night, thus my reference to the she’s-asking-for-it phenomenon. That was the purpose of the question.

    It’s called being observant, and I recommend it to everyone.

    Naturally. This question was about appearances and the iconography of threats we trade in, on a very superficial basis. I go jogging in the day, and I feel rather at ease when passing women, children, and elderly people. I’m on guard for guys; it’s a gut reaction. That’s not to say I start hyperventilating; it’s to say I start paying much more attention. I have a feeling hackles raise in the case of coming across men, regardless of the jogger’s sex in my equation. So this point was about perception. I was curious about yours. That’s really it.

    You are talking about crimes of opportunity and they don’t occur nearly as much as the news would make you think.

    Of course, they don’t. But there’s nothing that isn’t touched by sexual politics in some regard. For instance, if I were a man and criminal, I would be more likely to employ a gun if my target were another man. Youth, sex, and health in general play a large part in threat assessment. Being perceived as threatening can spare you a confrontation without your even knowing about it.

    The simple fact is that if you or anyone else puts yourself in a compromising position, like jogging alone at night on a dark street, you have every right to do so but if something happens you only have yourself to blame.

    On a practical level, courting disaster is dumb. But I would simply caution you that finding fault with a victim obscures or, worse, lessens the culpability of the perpetrator.

    And the whole shopping center thing? Still paranoia.

    I find this to be a little mean-spirited, the phrasing of it, but okay. I’m not interested in joining the swarm of Persons Offended by a Particular Statement, which is so often what the Internet devolves into. The thing is that what you call paranoia—seemingly because of its extraordinary appearance to you—is what has become a simple precaution in my life.

    Are you getting the picture of a woman clutching her steering wheel with sweaty hands? I think perhaps, but that’s not me. Maybe the worst part about it is the cold calculus of these decisions I’ve described to you. They feel unremarkable, but intellectually I know them to be a sad road to take. They may say something about me, but I’m arguing that they say more about the world we live in. However much you disagree with me, understand that the world we live in and how I perceive it has had the effect on me I underlined in my initial post.

  164. Seth:

    Alright then, here’s how it works.

    how it actually works in law:

    1) Randomly asking someone you don’t know a question like, “May I touch your breasts” is a form of sexual harassment.

    2) If you don’t want to end up committing harassment, then you don’t ask that question.

    3) A woman may wish to be asked “May I touch your breasts”, but encouraging the asking of that question will create a hostile environment for other women.

    In a workplace, this is something that in and of itself is a form of sexual harassment that is covered by law (Hotels and convention centres are workplaces, and it is their responsibility to not allow their guests to create a hostile work environment for their employee).

    4) People harassed at least one woman in a public place. Doing thisd created a hostile environment and made the convention venue vulnerable to litigation if they had known this was happening at all.

    Sadly, as noted in the other thread at http://scalzi.com/whatever/?p=650 there are already those planning on attending DragonCon discussion how (not if, but how) this will be implemented there. Large part or not, it’s gotten bigger, and it could have a chilling effect beyond “just one con” or just one circle of friends.
    Had the “Open SOurce Boob Project” been in a private room, with everyone involved consenting beforehand, it would have been just fine. But it wasn’t. It was sexual harassment, plain and simple.

  165. Shawn, are you a lawyer? Your interpretation of the laws seems incorrect.

    A hotel is not a workplace for the customers/convention members. Saying that something would be illegal if it happened to a hotel employee is irrelevant, since nobody (until you, now) ever suggested that.

    Asking someone who is wearing a button that says “You make ask to touch my breasts” if you may touch her breasts is not “randomly asking”.

    Someone encouraging behavior involving herself is not “creating a hostile environment” for others.

    Everybody is always subject to litigation (as in, at least in the US, “anybody can sue anybody for anything”). Winning, or even not getting laughed out of court, is another issue. Can you point to any actual examples, ever, of what you claim is a serious risk?

    Organizations are responsible for the behavior of their employees. They are not responsible for the behavior of their customers or members.

  166. sophie, pressure might make for non-consent. But choices made pretty much imply consent; choices made when there’s no coercion involved are definitely consensual. There are always benefits and downsides to choices, that doesn’t make consent less free.

    If John started this blog because all the cool kids had blogs so he felt social pressure to do so, does that mean his consent to have a blog doesn’t really exist?

    The claim that there is tension between freedom and security is bogus (see, e.g. Bruce Schneier’s writings). It’s generally made by people who want to reduce freedom.

    I’m always in favor of people observing and thinking. I’m also in favor of letting them make mistakes and do wrong things; if people weren’t allowed to do wrong things, somebody would define my right things as wrong and prohibit them.

    People can have sympathy. Society is not the sort of entity that can have sympathy. In the situation described, some people will have more sympathy for one or the other of the victims.

    Taking sensible precautions is not paranoia. What level of precautions is sensible depends on circumstances, and you haven’t provided nearly enough information to make a judgment.

  167. Seth:

    Well, first of all, the buttons said “Yes you may” and “No you may not”.

    “Organizations are responsible for the behavior of their employees. They are not responsible for the behavior of their customers or members.”

    Eh, not quite.

    There’s not a huge amount of case law on the subject, but what has been put out there has made cthat employers must make a “reasonable effort” to address such harassmentt.

    While the hospitality operator’s lack of control over its guest must be considered in determining liability, no reported case has excused liability on this ground alone.

    California, for example, enacted a law a few years ago explicitly allowing employees to sue their employers for harassment by guests. Also, virtually every jurisdiction that imposes liability for third-party harassment requires a judge or jury to consider the degree of control the employer exercises over the third party. No reported case from those jurisdictions, however, had excused liability simply because the employer had no real “control” over the third party (e.g., the guest).

    The law identifies two forms of sexual harassment. The first is quid pro quo sexual harassment, in which a job, a job benefit, or the absence of a job detriment is explicitly or implicitly conditioned on an employee’s acceptance of sexual conduct. The second form of sexual harassment is hostile environment sexual harassment, which is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct because of sex that was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment from the perspective of the complaining person and also that of a hypothetical person with the same fundamental characteristics.

    When a hotel or other employer fails to respond appropriately to complaints about either type of sexual harassment of one employee by another employee, the institution could face serious financial liability.

    The interpretation that several federal circuits across the country have given Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (that’s the anti-discrimination law) indicates that employers may be liable for failing to address sexual harassment by their guests and clients. Most of the cases to date focused on whether the employer promptly and effectively remedied an alleged act of sexual harassment by a non-employee as opposed to whether the employer could have prevented the incident.

    There was also a ruling by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that, under federal law, “an employer may be held liable for sexual harassment on the part of a private individual, such as the casino patron, where the employer either ratifies or acquiesces in the harassment by not taking immediate corrective actions when it knew or should have known of the conduct.”

    So there actually is some legal precedent. If even one worker at the convention felt this contributed to a hostile environment, then there was liability there as well.

    All of this is an offshoot of the main point that this was a bad idea because it was assumptive, invasive and wrong to do in a PUBLIC space.

  168. shawn, all the stuff you’re quoting is about the responsibility of employers to their employees. In case you haven’t noticed, conventions (at least Confusion and Penguicon) don’t have employees.

    The hotel has employees. If any hotel employee felt harassed by a guest (or other convention member), I haven’t seen any evidence of that. Have you, or are you just inventing strawmen?

  169. Seth:

    My point is, one of the many, many reasons why doing this sort of thing in a public space is a bad idea is because it opens up a hotel to liability for just such a reason.

    Were you serious in implying I was constructing strawmen?

  170. shawn, I was quite serious. Are you actually proposing that any other activity that might possibly cause somebody to feel harassed should be banned? Or is this one special for some reason?

    Remember, a third party has no idea what the prior relationship of participants in anything is.

    In any case, it’s the hotel’s problem, not the convention’s. (Just like violations of the law aren’t the convention’s problem; the convention isn’t the police.)

  171. Are you actually proposing that any other activity that might possibly cause somebody to feel harassed should be banned?

    That’s not what I’m saying at all.

    Or is this one special for some reason.

    Bingo.

  172. shawn, why is this particularly bad, given that it involves only consenting adults, while something else that mike be equally harassing to the hotel employees isn’t bad?

    Suppose there were some people whose greetings tended to be rather enthusiastically physical; should they be told not to come to conventions, or at least not to greet each other in public? How far do you think you’d get with that campaign?

  173. Suppose there were some people whose greetings tended to be rather enthusiastically physical; should they be told not to come to conventions, or at least not to greet each other in public? How far do you think you’d get with that campaign?

    What you’re describing has a name in anime circles: glomping. Most anime conventions have taken to adding a rule disallowing it.

    Seth… plenty of posters, men and women, have gone over (and over, and over) the myriad ways, legal and ethically, at why this behavior is a bad idea, and wrong to do, in a public space.

    I’ll try one more time, with the only way I don’t think I’ve tried explaining it.

    Involing consenting adults is not enough(*). You also need to have a consenting environment, a place or space where anybody who attends knows what it is they’re getting into. That way, attendees are still allowed the freedom and the dignity of having their personal space be their own space. They’re also aware of the ways in which that personal space is accessed by others’ consensual decisions.

    With great freedom, somethingsomething &etc.

    Consenting environments are why things like hentai rooms and leather nights and the like exist. If the group had kept the “Open SOurce Boob PRoject” to a private room or space, there would have been far less of an uproar.

    (*)Assuming that you have some way to one hundred percent without a doubt verify the age identify people under the age of consent on sight of both genders, of course. What happens when a 13, 14, 15 who “looks 18″ gets a “yes, you may” button and her parental unit(s) come to pick her up, only to come across her across getting felt up by a bunch of 20 or thirty year old guys? In some states, this will get you placed on a sexual offender list for the rest of your life, plus mandatory jail time.

  174. Shawn – very few conventioneers who were not participating in the OSBP even knew about it, which means that it was not in the “public spaces” of the convention. So you can stop using that argument because that isn’t what happened.

    The people involved all knew each other and one person only was giving out the badges, the WOMAN who made them. They had complete control over who had badges, and the woman who made them already stated on the other thread that no one underage was given a badge or was part of this. So you can give that argument a rest as well.

    No one was coerced into taking a badge, and they basically had to ask for them. They had to find the woman who was handing them out and get it from her. So you can retire that peer pressure argument as well.

    If they had to ask for them, they had to make a decision to be asked, and took a position where they could control their own sexuality. Some men even got a badge, which allowed people to ask to touch their ass. This was, name notwithstanding, an equal opportunity situation. No one was harassed because they were, seriously, actually “asking for it.” So you can retire the sexual harassment argument, too.

    The uproar is only from people who were not there and are reacting to ferrett’s poor choice of words, not the actual event. Only one person involved has even expressed the slightest amount of remorse, and that not at participating, but at how ferrett’s blog made it all sound. Not one person involved has reported anything but a positive experience, and other con goers have posted numerous places stating they did not even know this was going on.

    Basically, all of your arguments are, quite honestly, crap.

    If you want to say that you feel it promoted negative stereotypes about con culture, I could see that. If you were to say you felt it was a bad idea, I can agree with that. If you were to say you would not participate in this sort of thing, I am with you.

    But when you come out with a line of crap about sexual harassment or underage participation when you don’t know what you are talking about and obviously have not taken the time to find out – you are just stoking the fires of ignorance.

    Please, give it a rest.

  175. If you were to say you felt it was a bad idea, I can agree with that. If you were to say you would not participate in this sort of thing, I am with you.

    I’ve said that. I’ve explained just that.

    Out in the hallways, not in a set-aside sapce is public.

    I’ve explained myself, over and over, in as many different ways, as have others. I don’t think I really can be any clearer.

    I’m done.

  176. shawn, my personal space extends to about as far as I can reach. Somebody 50 feet away is not in my personal space, even if I can see them.

    If you claim to be able to regulate anything that happens within your site because it’s your personal space, then I’m going to demand the same right. The first regulation I’ll make is that you may not look at me or what I’m doing. Therefore, you can no longer object to what I do at any distance from you, because you can’t know about it without violating my personal space.

    Or are you somehow entitled to all the personal space you can see, and other people aren’t? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Whatever rules there are apply to all.

    If you don’t want to see me doing something, then I don’t want you to look at me. Why should you be able to control my behavior more than I can control yours?

    As for it being a bad idea legally, I’ve seen only strawman claims (first, that there were laws; that poster never actually specified which laws or what they said) (second, that “convention employees” are entitled to some higher degree of protection; there are none of those).

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