“Please stop touching my breasts: and other things I say at cons”

Cross-posted from Carrie Cuinn, June 2013. She breaks her silence about harassment at genre cons, examples of which have been ongoing in her life over the past 20 years. Click through for a powerful, triggering read! The examples of harassment are below – but the post talks about how the pervasive harassment has affected her, and how she’s seen it affect others.

Hi, I’m Carrie, and I’ve been sexually harassed at genre conventions. (Putting this behind a link because triggering. You’ve been warned.)

Examples:

  1. I was asked to hand a Big Name writer a drink at a con party, I assume because I was standing next to the person pouring them, and without the author even knowing who I was, he asked me if I the girl who’d be blowing him later, or was that a different girl? He wasn’t joking, he really didn’t know which young fan would be giving him oral sex on demand, but he knew there’d have to be one.
  2. I was picked up by a man I didn’t know and carried out the room, all while I progressed from “Hey, put me down” to “Let go of me!” to hitting him until he dropped me. His response: “Fuck, you’re no fun.” The response of everyone around me: Nothing. No one tried to help.
  3. Guys have, more than once, walked up to me, put their hands on my breasts, and said the equivalent of “Nice tits, they’re real right?”
  4. Heard, “I can’t help myself, you’re just so hot,” more times than I can count.
  5. Been kissed on the back of the neck by a guy I didn’t know and hadn’t seen walking up behind me.
  6. Had my clothes pulled down, up, or otherwise adjusted so they could see my tattoos.
  7. Had an established writer, after hearing I was a fan of SF, put his arm around my waist and say, “I should show you my appreciation. Or do you want to show me yours?”
  8. Been hugged by men who’d never met me before, and either didn’t know at all or only had a limited online relationship (Twitter/Facebook) with.
  9. Had guys follow me from one panel to the next trying to convince me to go to the bar with them.
  10. Heard multiple variations of “You can’t leave yet, you haven’t tried/heard/tasted/given me a chance to convince you to stay”.
  11. Told, “You said you liked my work, I thought you were flirting with me.”
  12. Had (always older) women tell me:
    1. “What did you expect?”
    2. “That’s just how he is.”
    3. “You’re lucky, he doesn’t go for everyone.”
    4. “I’d be flattered if it was me.”
    5. “You have to get used to that if you want to come to these things.”
    6. “You just have to be clear with him if you really don’t want to. He doesn’t get the hint right away.”

 

I do want to be clear that not all of those things happened at just one con, as if conventions are a giant cesspool of inappropriateness–it’s an incomplete list drawn from 20 years of being a woman in genre (as a fan, and now writer). Some of those things happened at the same con, some of them happened repeatedly over several cons. Some happened in the early 90s, and some happened last year. It’s meant to be a broad overview to show this is a big enough problem that it warrants conversation/solutions, not to scare anyone away from attending conventions.

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