No one knows in advance if they will ever feel completely safe again in the presence of their sexual harasser or relive the humiliating feeling of being treated as prey any time they are in the harasser's presence, or worse levels of trauma. Many of us, like Kate Kligman who actively worked on several con commitees, have a tendency to drift away from places and situations where we have been treated badly, and effectively ban ourselves.
This Readercon policy should be in place to keep sufferers of sexual harassment from being lost to that community. Again, it's NOT about punishing the harasser; it IS about rallying around the harassed.
Might those who have been sexually harassed be afraid to come forward if the result is a permanent ban of the harasser? Yes--IF people keep acting like a permanent ban from one con is a damned jail sentence!
The ban does not even involve being required to perform community service or make any kind of amends whatsoever. It's not the loss of rights--it's the earned loss of a privilege, one that the harasser obviously took for granted. It does not prevent him from attending any number of other cons.
What the ban provides for the harassed is some measure of peace of mind for future con attendance, affirmation that her safety is important, and assurance that she is a valued member of the community, so that after what may have been an uncomfortable, anxiety inducing, frightening, or painful experience for her, she will actually want to come back again and participate in the community.
When people wring their hands over what a terrible punishment being permanently banned from a con for sexual harassment is, what does get minimized in the consciousness of the harassed is her place in the community. Whether she is a valued member there or is at all welcome comes into question for her. Is your safety and well-being considered less important than the harasser's continued presence? Can you ever feel at home in a place where you have been marked as territory and called upon to fight for your autonomy just to be in a space that others can walk in freely without having to fight?
Nitpicking at the policy because you think all decrees should involve wiggle room, when there is already wiggle room in the Readercon board's determining whether or not the action is a case of outright harassment in the first place, further demeans the needs of the harassed. This minimizing effect makes the decision harder for those who experience harassment to come forward in the future. The minimization's effects can extend to everyone who has been subjected to sexual harassment. I know I feel it.
I know the sexual harasser may be a friend. Think less about him and focus on the harassed as the person whose continued presence in that community is now very much AT RISK, and must be ensured by the community taking action for her safety and peace of mind.
I greatly admire glvalentine and vschanoes for the magnificent fight they are waging in resistance to minimization of their worth and to make con culture better. They are demonstrating just how women backing each other up is truly done. I wish them their energy back for better things for themselves.
Roundup of links on the Readercon fail has been kindly provided by bcholmes here.
Addendum: vschanoes has written a petition to ask the board to resign, apologize to glvalentine, ban Rene Walling, and put people with a clue in place to make decisions. You can read it here and you can add you name to the petition here. Feel free to sign in anonymously so you can submit your given, rather than LJ/DW name.
Also posted at http://lavendertook.dreamwidth.org/1168