Monday, August 04, 2014

Harrassment and Intervention

I had heard about the incident that Amy Jo Cousins has blogged about here while I was at RWA.*  There's been a lot of discussion in the interwebs about cons and harassment and the daily harassment overall.  Now, Amy was in the hotel for a con, but given the multiple attempts by the harasser to find himself a sex date, it seems just as likely that he was targeting any and all hotel guests.  Nonetheless, as the post very correctly points out, we are often socialized to let little things that affect us slide.  To not make a big deal.  And to expect that if you tell a story where the simple act of riding an elevator or sitting in the lobby resulted in being solicited and groped by a person unknown to you, well, it's because you're so pretty.  It's a compliment really.  And so you let it slide, because you have become so accustomed to being brushed off.
Except, in this case, Amy was encouraged and supported in reporting.  And while Amy feels sorry for the woman who they had to rescue from him while she was still reporting it, she has a really good point about how we are socialized to minimize these incidents, to expect that we will not be taken seriously if we do gather up the courage to report it. So, ultimately, this story ended, I hesitate to say well, since we still have multiple people harassed and assaulted, but the harasser was apprehended.  And yes, not everyone has the support of a conference full of understanding friends, or speedy hotel security and local police.  But I have been spending a lot of time trying to think about how we, as a society, should, where possible intervene.  It's not always safe, and it's definitely not easy.  But I think the assumption that reporting it won't help is just as damaging.  And, as Amy said, it is so much easier to intervene in the defense of others, so maybe we start there. I will do my best to assist when I see others being harassed.  In whatever way I think is safe, be it direct intervention, checking on victims, reporting it to authorities.
*The link appears to be temporarily down. Hopefully it will be back up soon.