The Best Things We Heard at NYCC’s Anti-Harassment Panel


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The increased and welcome push toward a more considerate conference attendance citizenry continued today at New York Comic Con, with the “#YesAllGeeks: Let’s talk about harassment in fandom” panel. Panelists included writer and activist Mikki Kendall, blogger Marlene Bonnelly, Tor.com blogger Emily Asher Perrin, and Robert Anders (a nurse specializing in harassment related issues). We’ve pulled our favorite fandom-related bits for your nugget-of-wisdom-seeking brain:

Harassment is rarely an isolated incident
It’s too often, the panelists said, we are silent about a one-time incident of harassment because we consider it isolated, or figure we’ll never have to see the harasser, and then the story breaks, and you discover that the person in question attends most big conferences and has been habitually harassing people for years.

“Believe the victims…start from that place.”
The chance that harassment allegations are false is less than one percent, panelists said. “If it’s false, the story will fall apart,” Kendall said. “Especially in fan communities, even if this is something that you are not seeing personally directed at you, you at least pause enough to find out what is going on, because sometimes that person who is so nice to you is not that person with other people.”

Getting called out for being awful online =/= ‘reverse racism’
“I don’t really believe in the term reverse racism,” Bonnelly said, to an ovation. Structural racism, institutional racism, requires power, Kendall reminded. “Sometimes you were just an asshole and somebody got mad at you.” 

What you should do if you notice harassment:
Check in with the victim to see if they need your help: if it’s not obvious that they need you to help, don’t assume it, but do ask the victim to find out. Also: “Make sure you, yourself, are safe,” Anders said. “The other thing that’s beneficial is it’s 2014 and we all carry recording devices around in our pockets.”

“What should men do to prevent harassment?” was asked of the panel via twitter: Perrin said, simply, “what anyone else should do.”

And lastly…don’t be Sam Pepper.
“Sam Pepper done f*cked up,” Bonnelly said, to applause, in a response to a question about whether the panel had any thoughts on the sexual abuse scandal that recently came from his YouTube videos. Kendall addressed Pepper’s previous videos, such as the one in which he handcuffed himself to women and wouldn’t unlock the cuff unless he got a kiss, and how likely these activities are to end in violence.  ”Let me tell you something. You walk up and you throw a handcuff on my wrist and you tell me you won’t open it until I kiss you? I promise you the handcuff is coming off and it won’t be because I kissed you. It’s a phenomenon that when their violence is met with violence, they’ll say ‘Oh they’re chimping out’…Well you just walked into the ‘hood and you grabbed someone and you stole their property. But we don’t call the police because when we do they shoot us. … Let’s be clear, if I was in Midtown and I walked up to someone and stole their phone, I’m going to jail. They do it where they do it because what they want is the response.”