We’re Watching

1 Jul

We want SF cons and events to be safe spaces for everyone. No one should ever feel that they have to tolerate harassment to be polite, because “that’s just the way it is,” because “he’s really a nice guy, he doesn’t mean anything by it,” or for fear that the harasser or his (or her) friends might retaliate.

Harassment is about power, and we believe that it’s time to firmly place the power back in the hands of those of us who refuse to tolerate it. To this end, we’re proposing a campaign that lets each individual take action at a very real, personal level by making one simple statement and standing behind it: “I’m watching.”*

Screen shot 2013-06-30 at 7.29.50 PMThis statement sums up for us a promise that…

  1. we are aware of and will not tolerate harassment in our community.
  2. we are available if a fellow con-goer experiences harassment and needs a rescue (and will help them get to a safe place and report harassment if that is their wish).
  3. we will call out and report bad behavior.

Our proposal is that we come together to create a presence at cons that makes it clear that harassment is not only unacceptable, but that it comes with real consequences (from public shaming to being banned from cons and even facing legal charges). We’d like to see volunteers at cons all over the world wearing “I’M WATCHING” stickers and buttons and handing out printed info on how to handle and report harassment safely. We’d like to see this image on websites across the Internet (linked back to us, of course!) proclaiming an end to sexual harassment at SF conventions. We want to put potential harassers on notice: We’re watching.

These materials will be available on an open-source basis. Avery label templates, PDFs, etc. will allow each individual, group, con committee, etc. to print their own stickers at low cost. We’ll also make them available via various print outlets such as Cafe Press in case folks want to print buttons, t-shirts, or laptop skins! The possibilities are endless.

What say you? We’d love your feedback, and if you want to be a part of this effort, please don’t hesitate to let us know via the Contact page.

PS: We’ve just become aware of the Backup Ribbon Project and Nerdiquette 101, orgs with similar goals, and we’ll be in touch with them to find out how our orgs can work together to bring about change. Check them out!


*We’re doing up some new graphics with alternate slogans to address comfort issues with the “I’m Watching” slogan and allow people to choose slogans they like best when printing materials. We want people to participate! Let us know if you have thoughts on slogans you’d like to see. Thanks to Blair MacGregor for “Eyes Open” which we’ll definitely employ.

And here’s a new design. (Thanks, Blair!)



20 Responses to “We’re Watching”

  1. Jennifer Williamson July 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Am I the only one who thinks that this looks like something Orwellian? I’m 100% behind the goals and ideas, but that slogan and that logo look like we’re setting ourselves up as a police-state. I don’t really think I’m super comfortable with that. Purely from a psychological perspective, people have time and time again demonstrated that they will act like criminals if treated like such. Isn’t that what this is doing? So anyway…my two cents.Love the sffragette idea, but I’m not sure about this aspect. (Again, purely a matter of the branding. I DO love the idea of having pins, bumper stickets, etc. It’s the slogan and the logo in specific that give me a knee-jerk negative response.)

    • Rosie July 1, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      It’s a fair point! I feel that harassers need to be put on notice, and I personally love the idea that these eyes will put them off, but I’m also happy to discuss alternatives. Thanks so much for chiming in.

    • Bridget McKenna July 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

      “…people have time and time again demonstrated that they will act like criminals if treated like such…”

      While there are contexts in which I totally agree that this happens, I don’t think this is one of them. In fact, I believe the power structure that operates in harassment is completely opposite the power structure you’re discussing above. Harassment thrives when kept in the dark, not talked about, and not acted upon. It blooms in the kinds of circumstances where no-one is supposed to pay attention to it: “He’s a senior editor at a big publishing company, and you know how small the publishing community is–I could be jeopardizing my career…”, etc.

      What the eye and “We’re watching” says to me is that it’s no longer one of those things everyone pretends not to see. The days when we sighed and said “Yeah, that guy’s a creep, but what can you do?” are gone. The days when we apologized for harassers because they were otherwise “nice” people, or accepted the apologies of others on their behalf are gone. Now we’re watching, and seeing, and not apologizing and doing what we can to make it stop.

      To me, the eye also speaks to anyone who feels they’ve been harassed. It says “I’m looking out for you. I’ll help you get to a safe place and take the next step, whatever that may be.” So my mileage varies. I like it.

  2. blairmacg July 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m uncomfortable with the “We’re Watching,” and freely admit it’s because it triggers all sorts of people-judging-me responses that have _nothing_ to do with the issue at hand.

    However, I would be quite comfortable with something like, “Eyes Open.” or “Eyes Open, Voice Ready.” Same idea, but broader in scope. Maybe?

    • Rosie July 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

      And ultimately, participation will depend on what people are comfortable with. Thank you.

      • blairmacg July 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

        …and I deeply hope my comment didn’t sound dismissive! I really love this whole idea.

      • Rosie July 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

        Not at all! So glad to have your input. And I loved your post. Shared it on the FB page. 🙂

  3. Rosie July 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Reblogged this on FEMBORG.

  4. Mike Czaplinski July 1, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    As someone who works security at a lot of east coast SF cons, I support the general aim of this initiative wholeheartedly. However, I would strongly urge you to engage the security groups at the various cons. I think you’ll find that a lot of the larger conventions already have a ready-made and motiviated volunteer force whose aims are already those that you espouse.

    • Rosie July 1, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      Yes! That’s an excellent point I didn’t cover. The aim is for participants to coordinate with security at cons they attend, learn reporting procedures, etc. as part of the process. Thank you!

      • Mike Czaplinski July 1, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

        I’ve already shared this with my friends who head security/public safety (various cons call it various things), and for at least one of the cons I work the con policy is actually a bit more strict than your suggestioned guidelines.

  5. Nerdiquette101 July 1, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Last year, after three of us all had egregious “that guy” encounters at one particular con, we banded together to form Nerdiquette 101, with the goal of doing presentations at our local and regional cons on how to not be creepy, what to do if you’re creeped on or harassed, to support and encourage victims that (a) we believe them and (b) we’ll support them whether they decide to report or not, and to encourage concoms to develop and enforce comprehensive anti-harassment policies. More folks joining in the good fight can only be to the good. Rock on! 🙂

    • Rosie July 1, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

      Awesome! I would love to talk more with you about your efforts and how we can work together!

    • omgrey July 2, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      Excellent! I’ll add you to the blog post I just put up at http://wearawhitefeather.wordpress.com. Let’s definitely work together.

  6. Damo July 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    I think I agree that the “We’re watching” might not be perfect. While I think, from experience, that the idea of intently staring at a transgressor works a treat to make them aware that what they’re doing is wrong, it can also really get some people’s backs up. I’m fully behind this though, because I’m so tired of those idiots who give the community such a bad name. Cons should be safe places.

    • Rosie July 1, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      Yeah, I think we might do some alternative designs and see how they go. I like “Eyes Open.” But the idea isn’t really to stare at people, just to make them aware that we’re aware.

      Thanks, D!

  7. omgrey July 2, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    This is brilliant. I’m behind you 100%. We’re doing something similar at The Order of the White Feather. http://wearawhitefeather.wordpress.com — This is so very powerful. All of us doing the same thing at once. It speaks to our determination to end sexual harassment and sexualized violence in our communities. The end of rape culture is near.

    Peace to you.

    • Rosie July 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      Yes! Thanks for the blog post. I think maybe an e-summit is in order!

      • omgrey July 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

        I agree! That would be awesome!


  1. SFFragette: Moving SF/F into the 21st Century | Make Me a Sammich - July 1, 2013

    […] write a blog post telling your story or giving your perspective, and consider participating in the upcoming campaign to be part of the solution at cons you attend. I’d love to have your help making SF/F the […]

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