I just added my name to John Scalzi’s pledge (original pledge here, place for others to co-sign here) to refuse to attend any convention that does not have a clearly defined, well-publicized, rigorously enforced harassment policy. Admittedly, John Scalzi would be refusing to attend as a Guest of Honor, while I would be refusing to attend as a paid guest, possible volunteer and occasional panel presenter, but the principle is the same.
Why is this important to me? Because I was just at CONvergence. For those of you who’ve never been, it’s a good-sized sci-fi/fantasy/gaming/general geekery convention in the Twin Cities (actually the largest entirely fan-run con…there are plenty of larger ones, but they’re all run as for-profit businesses.) And it has a great harassment policy. You don’t need to take my word for it; Paul Cornell came here and has said publicly that he thinks it’s the best of its kind in the entire world. (Not that it’s a competition. Although maybe it should be…) The con doesn’t just have a policy, it commits to it. They have posters in every public space with slogans like “Costumes Are Not Consent” (with models of both genders on the panel, just to make it clear that men have as much right to wear kilts without having jerks use a leaf-blower on them as women do to wear Power Girl costumes without inappropriate “boob window” comments.) They have officially designated “Safe Spaces” where people who are being harassed can go and find someone who will keep the harasser away until con staff can come and kick them out. They make people feel safe at their con.
And it is wonderful. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that everyone there feels free to be themselves and to enjoy themselves without having to worry about someone taking their self-expression as a license to attack, demean or belittle them. It creates a welcoming, friendly environment full of great people who share a common interest. It’s basically everything you’d hope for in a con. (And it’s got a great consuite. And it’s got amazing, amazing, AMAZING volunteers who make it all happen, including the harassment policy. I can’t praise the volunteers enough; cons this good don’t happen in a vacuum, and so let me take advantage of the huge soapbox for a moment to tell everyone how AWESOME they are.)
And having seen a really good con with a really great policy, I want to give everyone that opportunity. So I co-signed. My voice might not be noticed as much as John Scalzi’s, but I’ll add mine to his for whatever it’s worth.