Tag Archives: science fiction conventions

Norwescon Apologizes for Sexist Volunteer Poster

5 Jul

nwcvolunteerThis week (6/2) I posted the photo on left to the SFFragette Facebook page. I took it with my phone at Norwescon 36 this past spring, and was really sad to see it as NWC is one of my favorite cons, and local to me–I attend every year. I wasn’t the only one: commenters on Facebook and Twitter chimed in with their disapproval, some going as far as to say it was enough to make them cross NWC of their list of cons to attend–ever.

Around the same time I attempted to send a message to Norwescon Chair Peggy Stewart via the NWC site asking for her assurance that she understood why the poster was problematic (and requesting a progress update on an anti-harassment policy from NWC, more on which later). I’m not sure my email got through, as the little spinny thing was still spinning quite a while later, so I’ll wait a few days and resend if I don’t hear anything.

But meanwhile, I received this tweet:

…and this comment on the photo on Facebook:

Screen shot 2013-07-05 at 11.32.05 AM

I’m really happy to see this, and I want to thank everyone who helped bring attention to it. And thanks to Norwescon for responding in a timely manner and taking appropriate action.

As for Norwescon’s anti-harassment policy, they don’t currently have one. Information wasn’t easy to find on their website, but a search for “harassment” dug up a post from January stating the following:

Norwescon’s concom has formed a committee consisting of members outside the executive team to address a possible official written harassment policy for convention membership.

The word “possible” above gave me pause, and as I said I (hopefully) have an email off to the con chair (and will resend if I don’t hear something soon). A member of this special committee posted on the SFFragette Facebook page that they have made a recommendation to the con committee, and I hope to be able to report soon that they are putting something in place before Norwescon 37. (If you have information about this, please let me know.)


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!)