The last progress report for the World Fantasy Convention went up, and it was really dismissive and terrible. Especially when it downplayed the harassment incident I blogged about earlier, reporting actual lies and using charged victim-blaming language:
“Regrettably, we learned of one small harassment incident that occurred on the Saturday night when an extremely drunken fan made a nuisance of himself in the hotel Lobby. Unfortunately, he was not reported to either of the professional Security guards who were on duty at the time or any member of the con committee. As a result, by the time we had found out about the incident and ascertained the details, the individual concerned (who was not attending the Awards Banquet) had apparently already left the convention.”
I’m going to break down the inaccuracies. Alex Dally MacFarlane already did a great breakdown of the victim-blaming language here, and Emma Maree, one of my friends who was harassed, spoke up about her experience here.
1. we learned of one small harassment incident
I know that there was one man who harassed at least three women, and I heard rumours of two other people who were also crossing the line.
2. an extremely drunken fan made a nuisance of himself in the hotel Lobby
The person wasn’t a fan, but in industry professional. This also is distancing, as WFC kept banging on about how this was an industry convention, not a fan convention (while still happily taking fan’s memberships). And it was nowhere near “making a nuisance of himself.” He made my friends deeply uncomfortable. I’m not even sure if it was in the Lobby, either.
3. he was not reported to either of the professional Security guards who were on duty at the time or any member of the con committee
I was the one who helped Emma and my other friend find someone to speak to, so this very much raised my hackles. I didn’t see any professional security guards, and even if I had seen them, I would have thought they were hired by the hotel and not the con, so I probably wouldn’t have gone to them. And it was indeed reported to a member of the con committee, another friend of mine (and this person reacted really well). The paragraph makes it sound like there was a huge delay before the incident was reported. It was maybe an hour, tops.
This is why, in my previous blog post, I stressed the importance of having a clear harassment policy in place. You can’t get mad at people for not following a policy that doesn’t exist. That makes no sense.
4. As a result, by the time we had found out about the incident and ascertained the details, the individual concerned (who was not attending the Awards Banquet) had apparently already left the convention.”
I was informed that the Board was told at 8 am the next morning about it. Had the person really left that early?
The whole thing leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. And it’s such a shame, too, because despite this huge disappointment, I had fun at WFC, and many people involved did a great job running and volunteering at the con, and this casts a shadow over that. If you care about the safety of your attendees, you don’t blame them in an email sent to every convention attendee. You don’t shame them for being brave enough to come forward. You don’t brush it away under a rug and lie on multiple points to try and make yourself look better. I didn’t really expect the board to do much, but I didn’t expect them to insult my friends, either. It’s like a parody of how I expected them to react.