The “Skeptics Don’t Need No Stinking Anti-Harassment Policies” Saga continues

Rebecca Watson won’t be going to TAM this year, and I think she’s absolutely right to take this stand after DJ Grothe’s statements.

Grothe has put his foot in his mouth quite a bit this week with regard to the issue of harassment at cons, but the last straw was him blaming Watson personally for scaring women off by misrepresenting TAM when discussing incidents of sexual harassment that have been her own personal experience in the skeptical community (not just TAM):

Over the past several years, I’ve been groped, grabbed, touched in other nonconsensual ways, told I can expect to be raped, told I’m a whore, a slut, a bitch, a prude, a dyke, a cunt, a twat, told I should watch my back at conferences, told I’m too ugly to be raped, told I don’t have a say in my own treatment because I’ve posed for sexy photos, told I should get a better headshot because that one doesn’t convey how sexy I am in person, told I deserve to be raped – by skeptics and atheists. All by skeptics and atheists. Constantly.

One thing we should be grateful for – Grothe just made the decision of where best to spend one’s non-infinite budget for conferences really, really easy for a whole lot of people. Go to TAM where apparently their much-vaunted anti-harassment policy doesn’t even have a proper documentation protocol so that data on incidents can be tallied (effective ad hoc action there and then is not enough when it leads to your spokes-figure claiming 0 incidents were reported)? Or go to a different conference where reported incidents actually get written down, by staff who actually initiate asking for details about the incident, so that patterns can be analysed, shortcomings identified and improvements made in future years to enhance the attendee experience?

I know which one sounds more appealing to me.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, skepticism

Tags: , , , ,

43 replies

  1. I was going to mention this yesterday, I’m glad to see you’re on top of it :-). I can’t begin to describe how much headdesking I’m doing (and I imagine a lot of other women) at the “we had zero reported events” when DJ himself kicked out the troublemaker and thus didn’t think it was a reported event.
    There’s also some interesting discussion in the first comments of Token Skeptic’s post about the JREF online forum being, at the very least, really bad advertising for TAM. Online moderation rears its head as an issue again!

  2. The absolute highlight of this debacle is in my opinion the comment here by echidna:

    Is “harass” one of those irregular verbs?
    I am harassed, you are made uncomfortable, she is the real problem?

    (I’m getting the “this page can’t be found” error when I try to post my full comment. I’m testing if I’ve got too many links.)

  3. TigTog, I’ll post the rest of my comment over at my dreamwidth, as I am getting tired of figuring out if I have too many links, or links to places your commenting system doesn’t like, or if it’s (as is looking most likely) because of the subject matter: child s-x offenses. I understand what a pain it must be to have a commenting system that’s censoring your posters according to rules you don’t have control over.
    [Moderator note: New Content Added from Aqua’s DW post ~ tigtog]
    I also haven’t seen many people mention this: DJ Grothe attributes the claims that TAM condones child sex trafficking and violence against women to crazy wimmins rumours out of thin air, but the origins of those claims seem to me to come straight from things DJG himself has said:
    Laurence Krauss defends a convicted child sex offender
    (note what a mess DJG makes of his first comment on this post, and apparently DJG has defended Krauss since, but I don’t have a link. Krauss is a speaker at this year’s TAM)
    DJ Grothe appears to endorse women being kicked in the pelvic region
    Further thoughts on the problems of men “running” feminism.
    Now in each of these cases, DJG has subsequently re-phrased and clarified. But (as with his recent statements to and about Rebecca Watson) it doesn’t really matter that he doesn’t mean the horrible misogynistic things he says. What matters is that these things are the first things out of his mouth, and that other people need to throw a big fuss to get him to pay attention to what he’s saying and how others, women particularly, might react to them.
    And that he doesn’t seem to be learning anything from any of these incidents other than “gosh them wimminfolks sure are noisy!”, as demonstrated by your most recent link.
    Rebecca Watson is also being picked on for her statement

    ”I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space and we have a lot of growing to do.”

    Apparently it’s not obvious how it could be the “biggest lesson”? These days, every time she posts anything in skepticism/atheism, she’s got to consider how much abuse, harassment, rape and death threats she might have to deal with as a result. Almost every other female blogger in the community has similar stories. I haven’t joined the community because I don’t want to do all that thinking before deciding whether or not to post on a subject. Half the (possible) skeptic/atheist movement is being censored, either in terms of what they say, or whether they get counted at all. How can that possibly not be the biggest issue the community faces?

  4. When they write the textbook on convention harassment policy and procedure, this, including comments, will be an example of how not to do it: how a harassment policy can make things worse than nothing at all.

    • Stephanie Zvan has some questions about that JREF/TAM anti-harassment policy too, especially considering that all published so far looks more like an anti-harassment statement rather than a policy.

      Here is the TAM Code of Conduct that has been printed in the front of this year’s conference program:
      We want TAM Las Vegas 2011 to be a welcoming experience for everyone who attends . . .
      Please respect your fellow attendees by not disparaging them based on unfair grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability; and by not making uninvited sexual comments toward others.
      If someone asks you to leave them alone or to otherwise stop a behavior that is directed toward them, please do so. Continued unwanted behavior directed toward another person is harassment. People who harass others or cause multiple complaints of disrespectful behavior may be required to leave without a refund.
      Problems can be reported to TAM staff or volunteers who will bring it to the attention of JREF management. A warning will be given when appropriate, but there will be zero tolerance for violence, physical intimidation, and unwanted intentional physical contact.
      Let’s make TAM fun for everyone!

      Compare that bare-bones statement with what is required of TAs working in tertiary education, as summed up by ischemgeek at Pharyngula (note how this summation is far longer than the Code of Conduct above):

      If a student complains to me about a TA, a prof, another student, or anyone else at the university, I report. Full stop. It doesn’t matter if I’m not in the course, or if I’m not in the section, or if they’re not my student or if I’m not in the appropriate chain of reporting. The student has confided in me, and I report. End of discussion.
      E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g gets reported. A student has a crush on me and flirts? I report , and my supervisor and I work out how to deal with it. A student is upset because they feel their TA was unnecessarily rude? I report. A fellow TA complains about a student acting inappropriately towards them? I report. What I think doesn’t matter: The rule is that if someone feels strongly enough to confide in an authority figure or fellow employee, I report. On my end, if I’m worried that something in my class might be seen as inappropriate, I report, to protect myself if nothing else (that way there’s a record that, yes, I recognize this situation is inappropriate and I’m trying to have it addressed even though I would never ask for disciplinary action in such a situation – the report is merely to have a formal record that it’s happening). End of discussion. It’s not my job to act as gatekeeper about what does or does not get reported. It is my job to make sure that stuff gets reported. And it does.
      And in my time here, not one of the things I’ve reported has been found to be frivilous. A few have been found to be a big misunderstanding with no harm intended (a touchy-feely person with interacting with a very shy guy, for example) and/or the product of immaturity rather than ill intent (a student flirting with a TA in class, for example), but none were found to be a false report. I’m sure they exist, but I’m also sure they’re vanishingly rare. And in my time, my workplace has gained a reputation as being one of the safest and most respectful in the city. That is because we have a strict policy that is also effectively implemented. I can’t tell you how many incidents have been reported so far this academic year. But this time next year, I will be able to say there were W reports filed in the academic year of 2012-2013, X were found to be founded of which Y were referred to the disciplinary committee and Z had alternative resolution (probably due to it being a no-fault-intended type of situation, like an overly-flirty student making things awkward for a TA). I will also be able to tell you, in general, what kind of incident they were and, if applicable, what the ruling of the disciplinary committee was (if it’s been resolved already, otherwise I’d be able to tell you when the hearing is scheduled) and what action was taken. I’ll be able to tell you the rulings of stuff from the previous academic year that didn’t get resolved by the end of that year. I could bring up the trend of the past ten or fifteen years, if I wanted to. I’ll be able to tell you all that because my workplace releases public reports on this stuff (and all other alleged infractions of the behavior code) once a year, organized by department. Names are not named, for the victim’s privacy. However, if you look up the record of a given student or employee, you will be able to see any infractions they’ve been found guilty of, and transcripts of disciplinary hearings are available on request (though the committee reserves the right to remove identifying info).
      No workplace is perfect, and I have my issues with this one, but IMHO, that is how you make and apply an effective anti-harrassment policy. We take it seriously, and we do not mess around where reporting is concerned. The rule is that it’s better to report something that maybe could have been dealt with unofficially than to not report something that should have been, so no matter how minor something seems to you, if someone has told you about it, you file your damn report.

      What ischemgeek describes above is pretty standard in most corporate environments. If TAM doesn’t have requirements at least as robust for the written reporting of any complaints, then it’s not actually a policy, it’s just a statement of good intentions. The statement of intent is better than nothing, but it’s not much better than nothing without transparency and accountability.

  5. OMG the comments thread! At least the good comments outweigh the bad comments about 3:1 but my goodness there are some people there who don’t have a clue. Well they do now. I only got to 172 of the over 500 though.
    NB: rape apologists and ‘you should do this’ comments on the thread.

  6. Yes, this thing is still going, and I predict will be, for at least the next few months – TAM itself is on a month from now, so there’s going to be a lot of analysis/discussion afterwards, I bet. And there’s interesting analysis of the liability risks TAM is exposed to.
    What I find fascinating is the way the social justice (or feminist) “side” of this argument keeps bending over backwards to insist that there is no special sexism problem within the skeptic/atheist community, it’s just a reflection of larger society, and also that there is no special sexual harrassent problem at TAM in comparison to any other conference.
    And on the other hand, as Mindy points out, the comments. The tale of the BuzzCam. And now OB withdraws as a speaker.
    I’ve been to a few conferences and conventions in my time, often as one of a small number of women outnumbered by men. I’ve been awkwardly propositioned at same, heard sexist jokes I didn’t know whether to say anything about, and generally felt less comfortable and welcome than the average man there (but I expected that and didn’t think anything of it, that’s just how it is, you know?). I’ve never attended anything where someone was observed to be carrying around a camera at ankle-height, pointing up. These weren’t particularly women-friendly spaces, but they sure weren’t so women-hostile that someone would feel comfortable and within their rights to do that.
    For some compensating warm fuzzies, there are nowfeminist horsewomen of the skeptic/atheist apocalypse, on My Little Ponies.

  7. American Atheists have just announced their Code of Conduct, including strong anti-harassment language. Well done, AA.
    JREF is making itself obsolete as part of skepticism moving forward by refusing to do the same.

  8. I’m not part of the atheist or sceptical movement (because I’m neither, and not a joiner anyway) but I find myself wondering what the HELL sort of men attend these things? Yeah, they won’t all be like that, and sexist losers to be found in any movement – but oy, the ‘we are so rational’ crap that cuts out the millisecond it might affect their entitlement to treat women as sperm receptacles who shoud shut up and put out … sickening.

    • Louise, from what I can see most of the pushback is coming from the cadre of Internet Glibertarian Skeptics, who (like all other Internet Glibertarians) react to any sort of proposed rule or code of conduct regulating behaviour whatsoever by throwing huge steaming piles of “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO” in all directions (often at the same time as arguing elsewhere that their proposed libertarian utopia won’t need a system of courts because everything will be laid out clearly in binding contracts ( through which apparently the fine details of obligations laid on various parties therein nobody will ever ever ever possibly ever ever even maybe feel the need to dispute the interpretation of maybe someday)).
      After these massive displays of being generally unfit for congenial adult society, they then wonder why women don’t want to join their parties.

  9. Via the comments thread on Pharyngula, here is an excellent field guide to the Pseudosopher, frequently seen in these discussions.

  10. It occurs to me that for a group of people who are very into contracts, they hang quite a lot of their denial of sexual harrassment on ‘miscommunication’ and ‘talking explicitly about what you want ruins romance’ tropes.

  11. The ‘it has never happened to me therefore it doesn’t happen’ brigade are really f’ing annoying.

  12. TigTog, because that T-shirt makes just as much sense when worn by a man as a cool chick(tm).

  13. I’m just head-desking, here. Even if this was a completely irrational fear, one does not demonstrate the safety of aeroplanes by laughing at people who are afraid of flying, and it sure doesn’t make them less phobic. I can’t imagine a much better way to demonstrate profound lack of human empathy. But these people are probably skeptical about the existence and worth of empathy.

  14. This view of identity as a zero sum game is really frustrating, like you’re a jug of identity water and if some of your water is poured into the “woman” or “-chick” (or “-doc”) category then the amount in the “skeptic” glass will be smaller. It is of course a “damned if you do” trap for people with an othered identity: your identity is visible in the conversation and will be no matter what your actions but don’t you dare embrace it or feel pride in it, your mission must be to minimise it!
    In Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing, Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher write:

    … we discuss how the [single-mindedly passionate, “boy wonder”] male hacker has become the cultural norm in computer science, the standard to which women students begin to compare themselves. We have found that women who persist [in CS majors] are those who find a way to… develop a personalised view of computing and their place in it. Women who accept the prevailing culture as the norm and who continually compare themselves to this norm and find themselves coming up short are the ones who suffer the most.

    Obviously, parts of the skeptical movement are at best indifferent to whether women individually or collectively persist with it, but insisting that gender identity pride ought to be minimised or is better minimised is not the path to women’s persistence.

  15. like you’re a jug of identity water and if some of your water is poured into the “woman” or “-chick” (or “-doc”) category then the amount in the “skeptic” glass will be smaller
    That’s a really good metaphor. And it illustrates the way that “man” isn’t similarly called upon to be an identity.

  16. I still haven’t got the full details involving Surly Amy’s decision to leave TAM early – I imagine that it might well take her some time to decide exactly what she wants to say about it.
    On Harriet Hall’s t-shirt, I think this comment by 1000 needles at Ophelia Benson’s blog sums it up well:

    What Harriet Hall doesn’t understand is that gender-blindness is one of those libertarian delusions that doesn’t exist in the real world. When women are experiencing the majority of harassment at cons, pretending that no gender differences exist ignores, rather than addresses, the harassment.

    and this response from Bill Dauphin clarifies exactly what’s wrong with the tactic:

    ^^QFT^^ With all due respect to Dr. Hall’s history and awareness of sexism, it doesn’t mean she can’t be wrong about how to respond to it. Trying to fight endemic sexism with gender-blindness is like trying to fight racism with color-blindness: It may be grand in theory, but it’s useless in real life.

    (and both of those quotes are addressing only the fail contained within “not a woman skeptic, just a skeptic” without the added fail of the dig contained in “not a skepchick”)

  17. Later in the thread, Benson posts a comment by Surly Amy about why she left early.

    • Thanks for the pointer to that, SunlessNick. So Amy took the trouble to explain to Harriet Hall that she felt personally targeted by the t-shirt on the first day, and Hall made a point of wearing it for the next two days? And then Hall didn’t wear it on the final day, after Amy had changed her flights to leave early?
      The conversation somebody else reported having with her, where Hall claimed to just be wanting to spark a feminist conversation and not target Skepchick particularly, is sounding more and more disingenuous. How horrible for Amy to be so undermined by someone she admired.

      • Clarifying comment from Surly Amy on Ophelia’s post:

        Just some facts: I was an official sponsor of TAM, you can even see my business name printed in the sponsor list in the program. That should not even matter but I noticed some comments had that information incorrect. I was also a speaker on a panel about skepticism and the humanities.
        This was not the only incident that happened to me at TAM where people were targeting me with personalized items meant to mock or diminish my presence. I only bring up the Harriet Hall instance because she is already in the spotlight as a leader in our community and because she was someone I looked up to. The other people who targeted me don’t deserve our attention at this point. So know that just a ‘silly tshirt’ did not reduce me to tears. Sadly, there was a lot more going on.
        I have a lot of respect for Harriet, I hope that at some point she will realize that she could have sent the message she wanted without using the name of the blog I write for in the wording and that it was unnecessary. I think that gender/sex/color blindness etc is not the road to enlightenment but I respect the fact that that view was necessary for some to overcome certain obstacles in the past. It’s an outdated view, but I understand were it comes from. I hope that Harriet will realize why it was so hurtful and why I was offended by both the front and the back. Some of us have been harassed at event and do not feel safe. The shirt was also hurtful to those in that context as well.
        As for people being supportive, yes many were. I am a longtime attendee of TAM. I am a public skeptic. I have many fans of my art and writing that collect my work there. I am very grateful for that. Those people are absolutely wonderful. I personally thanked every single one of them. It is because of those people and my grant winners that I went to the event and why I stayed as long as I did. This does not diminish the fact that there was an extreme undercurrent of ‘othering’ and angry divisiveness swirling about me the entire time. It was very, very stressful.
        I am still very upset by the events that transpired last weekend. All I know is that we should as a community strive to be better than all this. I will continue to try to be a better person and I will continue to try to help other people get involved and to set an example of kind, productive, proactive behavior in hopes that more people will follow my lead than the those who want to mock and belittle.

      • It’s also come out, for those who prefer to avoid TODs, that TAM’s much vaunted “independent security consultant” appeared to have no understanding of the difference between security policies and anti-harassment policies. This is the paragraph of the TAM website’s FAQ section which is being pointed to as telling people what to do if they wanted to report instances of harassment, despite the fact that this paragraph never once mentions the word “harassment”:

        How does JREF handle safety concerns?
        The Amazing Meeting, while a private event, is held at the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa, which is open to the public. The safety of our attendees and speakers is a priority. If an attendee encounters a problem within the conference area, they should report the situation to TAM staff or hotel security. JREF has also engaged an independent consultant on these issues, with decades of experience handling security, boundary and safety concerns, to assist us in dealing with any matters should they arise at the event.

        There was apparently an undercover dealing-with-harassment squad who were called in by TAM staff if they saw somebody who appeared upset, at which point they would aggressively interrogate the upset person, tell them not to inform anybody else that they existed, and “reassure” the upset person that from now on they would be fully monitored by the venue’s surveillance cameras “for their safety”.

  18. Proud to say that Oz skeptical attendees, including the women, have distinguished themselves by mocking the “skepchicks do nothing for skepticism” “non-issue” on Facebook and on Twitter for some time now, including their overseas podcast contributors.

  19. I’m losing count of the current Threads O’Doom stoushes regarding this.
    The latest anti-policy trope appears to be than anybody advocating that NOBODY should have to put up with verbal harassment/abuse at meetings/events is actually being misogynist.
    How so? These writers always suggest that anti-harassment policies are only meant to protect women, for a start. From there they argue that it’s infantilising to suggest that women aren’t capable of “manning up” and suppressing any emotional response to being treated like shit.
    Blithely disregarding the shrapnel from thousands of irony meters exploding, they continue to disparage any signs of emotion as “weak” at the same time as insisting that there is no sexism problem.

  20. BTW, I’ve modified the timeout period for comments on this post so that comments will remain open for an extended period, because I don’t think this particular Deep Rift is going to be bridged any time soon.
    The only bright side I can see to this is that TAM has so very clearly demarcated itself from other skeptical events which are growing rapidly, while TAM’s attendance was down 25% this year.

  21. A glimpse into the “tears are weak” mindset from Improbable Joe commenting on B&W:

    I saw more than my share of abuse in the Marines though. Three years of people shitting on each others heads for mostly no good reason, and then the last year I managed to hide from most of it. And yes, lots of using “woman” and variants as insults, and almost as much threat of sexual violence as a “joke”. Plus some borderline sexual assault stuff that I wasn’t involved in but knew about. But you know, there was always some woman who got promoted first or manipulated the system,(hypothetically, since we didn’t work with any women except accidentally) so the casual misogyny was just peachy.
    Some few of us learned slowly that maybe no one should have to deal with that, rather than saying “I took it, why can’t you shut up and take it too?” Then again that sounds a little like the Golden Rule, and since it is both a rule (anathema to libertarians) and adopted by various religious traditions (poison to “skeptics”), it means that treating other people decently is both totalitarian and dogmatic, and must be resisted at all costs.

    I think he might have nailed it.

  22. Don’t burn yourself out trying to chase all this, tigtog.
    I noticed the decline in numbers of TAM, but it’s a little hard to tell if that’s a real effect, or due to last year being particularly large and successful (because Skepchicks made sure lots of women attended, among other things). The two years before last year seem to have had similar attendance to this year.
    My inner 16-year-old keeps wondering if all this “weak emotional women need to man up” stuff is code for “skeptics have to stand erect, hard and firm, at all times. Rigid membership rules apply”.

  23. I’m finding shooting fallacies down in flames over at FtB to be rather therapeutic, Aqua. I just give the edited highlights here every now and then because I note that we’re still getting a fair few hits on this post every day.
    Even if TAM just stays static at pre-2011 levels while other skeptical/secular-humanist events continue to grow, then it’s still an obvious slide from JREF’s triumphalism at the growth in numbers for 2011. If they refuse to enact policies which make it more likely for their conference to grow, which is what their efforts this year seem to indicate, then I fail to see a downside for those of us who find skepticism without humanism to be hollow.

  24. I’d add something to Improbable Joe’s analysis, that skeptics prize rationality – which they should of course – but we live in a culture that defaults to placing emotion in opposition to reason, and reads female reactions as emotional rather than rational. And not all skeptics examine cultural dogmas with the same rigour as religious ones.
    Which is why Surly Amy getting upset at a slogan designed to isolate her is deemed irrational – as is considering that writing “skepchick” instead of “Skepchick” does not mean it obviously wasn’t targeting the Skepchicks – and yet few if any of the people who do so make the same judgment of the months-long campaign of hatred and threats that’s been thrown at Rebecca Watson over “Guys don’t do that” and daring not to buy Dawkins’s books any more.

    • not all skeptics examine cultural dogmas with the same rigour as religious ones

      In fact a peculiarity of JREF/TAM too is that the member base has been having Deeeep Riiiifts over “too much emphasis on atheism” which is seen as being “too political”, and that they should be sticking to the “pure skepticism” of debunking Bigfoot and moon-landing conspiracy theories (but taking 9/11 and climate-change-is-a-NWO-conspiracy theories seriously, because somehow those topics are not “too political”).
      The same members who are hostile to theany emphasis on atheism are even more suspicious of emphasising humanist ethics as part of the skeptical movement, so that was yet another reason for many members to ostracise Amy.

  25. The same members who are hostile to theany emphasis on atheism are even more suspicious of emphasising humanist ethics as part of the skeptical movement
    An odd tie-back to what Improbable Joe said, since the Golden Rule – from a strictly humanist perspective – is as close to a moral axiom as I could imagine.

  26. Geneveive Valentine describes two kinds of appalling sexism that happened to her at the recent Readercon (a SFF con): being the belittled token woman on a panel, and a sexual harasser who wouldn’t let up.
    The comments are overall quite good, there are the usual “but we have to choose the BESTEST people on panels, and what if they’re all white men?!!???” objections, WJ MacGuffin is your classic sexism hyperskeptic and best avoided unless you need the stress, but there’s no-one excusing the harasser with stalky tendencies. There are real Readercon organisers asking to be emailed details of sexist incidents so they can avoid the offenders sitting on panels again. The commenters often mention the parallel issue in the atheist/skeptical community – Rebecca Watson and That Guy In The Elevator are rather famous by now.
    Comment highlight so far is nojojojo explaining why diversity matters – relevance to TAM and the skeptic/atheist movement is left as an exercise for the reader.
    Comment headdesk prize to sparkymonster for this anecdote

    How about a panel moderator saying to the only woman on a panel: You’ve may never heard of this book. You probably weren’t born when it came out. It’s called Neuromancer.

    #34: I don’t see the extended time on this thread (next to the post comment button it says “Comments will be closed in 2 weeks”) but that could be my browser?
    #37 I’m glad it’s therapeutic, go right ahead. I just didn’t want it to be a burden.

  27. Ack, that Readercon harassment link. I’m gonna share something that happened to me a couple months ago – outside a shopping centre, not at a con. Longish, sorry.

    I received mail in my post office box addressed to the previous owner of the PO box. I pulled my scooter way over to the side of the wide walkway, stopped, and pulled out my pen to write “Not at this address” on the envelope.
    Whereupon a bloke came up from behind and grabbed my upper arm. I startled rather a lot (I was tired, hungry, and rather cranky; we just got back from holiday a couple hours ago).
    This bloke bent over right into my face, and said at me “I’ve seen people texting while walking, and I’ve seen people talking on their phone while walking, but I’ve NEVER seen someone writing while riding one of those things.”
    Taken aback, I said, deadpan and in a fuck-off tone, “I was stationary.”
    Him, actually literally WAGGING his finger in my FACE: “But that’s still naughty, isn’t it?”
    Me: “No, no it’s not.” *glare*
    Finally he started to back off and turned to walk away, and I said, “And please DON’T touch me.”
    Him, turning, “Pardon?”
    Me, very loud now, “DON’T TOUCH ME. I DON’T KNOW YOU.”
    He may have said sorry, I don’t know. By then I had put in my earbuds and started to get the hell away from him.
    Why do people keep doing this to me? I was proud of myself for speaking up in the end, but I really need to try to cultivate an initial “STOP TOUCHING ME” when they first lay on hands. Somehow it still always takes me by surprise, and I kick into ‘polite'(ish) mode for a moment before getting my shit together to defend my space.

  28. Sorry, I didn’t realise the link needed trigger warnings.
    Laudredhel, I am so sorry about what happened to you, that’s so many kinds of wrong I don’t know where to start. No, I do: you were supposed to get out of your parked scooter in order to write “not at this address” on some envelopes????????
    I notice that people who are visibly disabled get more than their fair share of non-consensual touching. Now in my experience, able-bodied women tend to get non-consensual touch in sexual contexts (as in the incident described in the link). So I was wondering how the intersectionality works out – do women with disabilities get touched more than men with disabilities, or does the general social attitude towards disabilities mean the sexual context touch disappears, or something more complicated I haven’t thought of?

%d bloggers like this: