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Entire board at local science-fiction convention to resign over handling of sexual harassment at recent event

Update: Harasser has now been banned from Readercon for life.

A woman's account of being harassed by a guy at last month's Readercon at the Burlington Marriott has erupted into a furor that continued this morning with this official Readercon tweet:

The entire Readercon board has now either resigned or announced intention to resign at the next meeting.

Shortly after the convention, Genevieve Valentine posted a detailed account that started with the way she was basically dismissed as a woman at a male-dominated convention (at one point, the moderator on a panel she was on called her "missy," - a panel on Frankenstein, a book written, of course, by a woman) and ended with a recap of how this one guy kept harassing her throughout the convention (from telling her she had to stop saying things that made him say "bad things" to putting his arm around her and talking about what a "good time" they were going to have to hovering around her wherever she went).

The convention's board of directors met and decided not to ban him for life - as allowed by its own "zero tolerance" rules on sexual harassment - but to suspend him for two years, after he expressed his remorse.

One problem: the guy had done it before.

When word got out of the suspension, somebody started a petition to have the entire board resign. People explained why they would never attend Readercon again. This morning came the tweet of resignation.

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Comments

Worst. Readercon. Ever.

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Not that it means her harassment should be taken any more or less seriously, but Valentine wasn't just a run-of-the-mill convention attendee. She's a Nebula award nominated author and was a guest of the con.

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Wow. This story made Universal Hub. Readercon has hit the big time!

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... -- though frankly, other than Kirk Poland, there never was much for me there.

I'm (from the dark ages) a former ConCom member, very occasional staffer, and hosting some now former members for dinner this evening.

I'm not in any way surprised about the harassment (which is ubiquitous in the convention community, both SF and gamers), but I'm disgusted about how this has played out. The pie fighting both on- and offline has been the most vicious infighting for the lowest possible stakes.

After some less-than-courteous treatment by one (female) volunteer and one (male) staffer two years ago, I have declined any further involvement with Readercon. This mess was absolutely inevitable, given the other dynamics of the convention.

I predict that Readercon will not survive beyond 2014. Loss of institutional memory and lack of fundraising will kill it dead. At this point, IMNSHO, good riddance.

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I'd have a booth at every one of these cons.

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Erudite and polite is one thing, but a well placed kick in the balls could have solved her problem right there.

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..."Get the FUCK AWAY FROM ME" in front of the volunteer(s) staffing each panel should have brought the ConCom into it immediately.

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I'm shocked to learn people lacking in social skills or personal hygiene attend these things! Since the guy is a repeat offender, some letters to the Hugo Awards and other cons of his behavior and suspension are in order. That is much stronger than a life ban at one con. Perhaps he will edit his behavior.

Lest we forget, GW Bush's creepy shoulder massage of German Chancellor Andrea Merkel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTQY1Aw9zcs

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You know, I'd just noted to someone that some people just cannot help themselves, and would just have to mention their political POV, even during a discussion about crochet and macrame.

Thank you for illustrating I was correct.

(What the F' does Bush have to do anything with this story?)

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Like many issues, this one has more going on than one can cover in a couple paragraphs. The previous comments help fill in the details. Here is some more reading, from scifi author and blogger John Scalzi:

And Scalzi himself has posted more than once on this. I find him to be very thoughtful. I read him almost as closely as I read Universal Hub ;)

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