In just over a week, over a thousand people have co-signed onto my convention harassment policy, which says that I won’t attend conventions that don’t have harassment policies, that don’t publicize them or choose not to enforce them. Among those thousand people are writers, editors, publishers, artists, musicians, athletes, convention organizers and staffers, not to mention people who simply like going to conventions and having a good time there. This is just a start, but I think it’s a good start.
I’ve been asked how I plan to make sure all those people who co-signed stick to their pledge, and the answer is: I don’t plan to. Either people will do it or they won’t. I didn’t make this policy to police or nag other people, and I put up the co-sign thread because people were asking me to. Everyone who co-signed is on their own recognizance in terms of keeping to it. The only person I intend to hold to it is myself. Such was my plan all along. Bear in mind that I couldn’t (and didn’t) make anyone co-sign this policy; people did it because they wanted to. If they wanted to co-sign, I generally think that means they agree with it and want to put it into practice for themselves. That’s good enough for me.
I’ve also been asked whether my policy is binding only on science fiction and fantasy conventions, or whether it applies to conventions outside the genre, to conferences and writing seminars/book expos/trade shows/festivals/workshops, etc, and whether it applies to conventions in places other than North America and/or the English-speaking world. My answer here again is to tell people that, outside an obvious “a convention is a thing that calls itself a convention” rule, they should let their conscience guide them. Personally speaking I’m applying this policy to all the conventions and conferences I might be asked to attend; I’ve been a part of that world for a decade now, and I know how conventions and conferences work and run. Everything else, I plan to look at it case by case, but my default line of questioning will always be: If you don’t have a policy, why don’t you, and my default will be to skip events without them. Book Expo America (as an example) is a different on-the-ground experience than Comic-con (as an example), but creepy harassing people can show up both places, and both places need a process to deal with it. A policy — and the willingness to enforce it — is always better than none. There is literally no good reason not to have a harassment policy.
Another question I’ve been asked: What about conventions one had already agreed to attend prior to co-signing? Does one withdraw if they don’t have a policy? Personally speaking I would attend the things you’ve already committed to and exercise the policy going forward. But again, that’s just me. I believe, as nearly all the co-signers are grown humans with functioning brains, they can make the correct decision for themselves.
Shorter version of all above: I am not your dad; use your common sense. But if you co-signed onto the policy, you did it because you believed in the idea behind it. Act on that idea to the best of your ability. It will matter — right now and for the future.
And by all indications it has already begun to make a difference. Conventions that have been hemming and hawing about harassment policies have begun implementing them. People on con staffs have been asking their cons to develop policies when they haven’t had them. And lots of people are asking their local and favorite cons to adopt these policies if they have not already. Again, all a start, but a good start.
I’ve already explained why I chose to do this, and while I am happy to have been able to move the ball here, it’s important to note that at the end of the day I am just pointing toward work so many others, and particularly women, have already done on this score. Others had to deal with harassment on a personal level and push hard against a culture that was inertial at best and hostile at worst. Others had to develop the policies that do already exist, and push to have them adopted by the conventions that already have them. Others have had to fight the same battles, over and over, about harassment in a culture they are part of.
All I am saying is “look, they’re right, I support them and I won’t be part of a convention that won’t support them too.” I recognize that in many ways this is literally the very least I can do — it’s easy for me not to go to a convention. I don’t even need to leave my house to do it. I’ve been getting a lot of credit in the last week for the policy I’ve made, and I am not so lacking in ego that I don’t appreciate it, or don’t appreciate — and in indeed deeply humbled by — the fact that so many people have co-signed my policy. But I want people to know that I know where all the hard work is being done in all this. It’s not by me. It’s by others. Lots of others, and over a very long time.
And to them, let me say: Thank you.