After I posted my Convention Harassment Policy Starter Kit, I learned about a study Nicole Stark had done about harassment policies at fan conventions. Stark’s article is available on Google Docs, here. I’ve seen a fair amount of discussion on harassment policies and why we do or don’t need to worry about them, but this is the first example I’ve seen of a more rigorous academic survey and discussion of harassment policies. Stark gave me permission to link to her paper, and to discuss some of the highlights.
From the abstract:
This study uses content analysis to evaluate a sample of 288 fan convention websites. These conventions took place within the United States from March to November 2013. The analysis was used to determine how common sexual harassment policies are and their characteristics. This study examined both frequencies and descriptions of codes of conduct, including promoted and prohibited rules, sanctions, reporting guidelines, and the existence of a sexual harassment or general harassment policy. Less than half of the sample contained any behavioral policy at all. Those behavioral policies that were present were found to be generally informal, unstructured, and devoid of a sexual harassment policy. However, many policies contained rules that could be used in the prevention of sexual harassment. These rules, when made clear and recognizable, may work as effective policy in informal spaces. (Page 2)
Stark opens by discussing an instance of sexual harassment from New York Comic Con, and goes on to note that:
A study on sexual harassment policy in manufacturing firms revealed that an available written policy resulted in a 76 percent reduction in one year’s reports (Moore and Bradley 1997).
In other words, to anyone arguing there’s no need for a sexual harassment policy, there is actual research showing that such a policy can significantly reduce sexual harassment.
I expect some people to protest that a convention isn’t the workplace, and that’s true. There are likely to be some differences in the dynamics and effects of a harassment policy in a convention space vs. a workplace. But the underlying premise and conclusion here is pretty straightforward: “We created a written policy on sexual harassment, and sexual harassment decreased significantly.”
I assume most people would like to see sexual harassment at conventions decrease significantly as well. Ergo, creating a written policy seems like a really basic and obvious first step.
Of the 288 convention websites, 59.38% had no listed policy on their website in regards to behavior or code of conduct. Less than half of all websites (40.62%) had at bare minimum, a behavioral policy explaining acceptable or unacceptable actions while at the convention. These rules ranged from a basic ‘be polite’ to lengthier explanations and examples of what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Of the total sample, only 3.47% used the phrase ‘sexual harassment’. However, 13.88% used the word ‘harassment’, not detailing readily available distinctions between harassments, whether sexual, bullying, or annoying otherwise.
Fewer than half of conventions have a posted policy about acceptable behavior, let alone harassment. And the policy is only the starting point; what about instructions on reporting harassment and other unacceptable behavior?
Only 15.27% (44) of the 288 convention websites contained guidelines on reporting. Of the three conventions participating in Project: Women Back Each Other Up, only one employed the use of purple ribbons to indicate female staff members who were prepared to intervene and handle potential sexual harassment. Several policies listed that if there were emergencies, to dial 911 or building security. This left 84.72% (244) of the convention websites devoid of response or guidance to potential victims.
Stark goes on to recommend:
…in evidence of the language and audience in these informal spaces, the following are suggestions for a comprehensive policy at fan conventions. The policies need to be recognizable and readily available (Moore & Bradley 1997), properly enforced, include and define sanctions, train employees for prevention and response, (Harmus & Niblock 2000), detail complaint procedure (Fowler 1996), and define sexual harassment in terms that the audience understands. (Emphasis added)
I have very little to add beyond Yes. That.
I recommend anyone interested in the ongoing conversation about sexual harassment in fandom read the full study. And my thanks to Nicole Stark for letting me link to and chat about her research here.
Yesterday evening I lost it again. There are pressures on my life I don't talk about in public, because they are not my story to tell, but they are running very high. Plus my luggage is still missing, even though it was supposed to be delivered yesterday. Plus I lost my phone under weird circumstances, which even though I found it again left me feeling very foolish and incompetent. Plus a productive but sobering discussion about clinical trials with a research oncologist yesterday. Plus a missed meal (due to a fasting glucose check in lab) which put me off for the day. Plus the whole dying of cancer thing. Plus plus plus plus.
So, yeah, some days the hamster wheel in my head breaks loose and rattles down the highway, carrying me with it screaming all the way.
Lisa Costello held me and put up with snot everywhere and us going without sleep because naturally all this occurred (relatively) late in the evening.
I'm still here, but it's a damned hard life, even on the best days. Yesterday was not one of the best days.
At Least 194 Children Have Been Shot to Death Since Newtown — The NRA says arming more adults will protect kids—but most are killed at home, our investigation shows, often with unsecured guns. Yep. Definitely safer dead by those guns than they would have been remaining alive in a gun-free household. Ask any gun owner.
The Heartland Institute and the American Meteorological Society — If climate science really is in such disarray as the deniers claims, then why do so many resort to misleading tactics so often? Why post misleading graphs, why cherry pick data, why engage in egregious ad hominems, why send out emails about papers that say the opposite of what the paper actually concludes? If their claims are correct, then why even risk the perception of impropriety? It might seem as if they're more interested in scoring political and ideological points rather than scientific ones. But then, the evidence is solidly against them. So are 97 percent of the scientists who actually do research in climate science, as are the data, the science, and the reality of global warming. As with virtually all conservative causes, bearing false witness is far more productive than providing evidence, given that evidence-based reality almost never favors the conservative viewpoint.
12/11/2013 Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain) Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid) Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride Weight: 239.4 Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0 Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)
Air temperature 7 F for the newspaper walk, wind WSW at about 5 mph, scattered clouds. We embrace yesterday's high of 32 F, as it is probably the last time we'll reach that milestone for a week or more. There's an air mass up in Manitoba with our name on it . . .
Apparently that sign-language interpreter at the Mandela eulogies was a fake. Raises all *sorts* of interesting questions . . .
So as I continued flipping through the January 1989 issue of The Nickell, a tiny ad, no more than 1/16 of a page in size, caught my eye. It was mixed in with other similarly small ads for things such as skate sharpeners and cancer cures, only this one, instead of being quaint, was puzzling.
It offered to sell readers a “bold, brave book” about the “ethics of marriage,” but as I looked more closely, I wondered whether the fine print was a coded message for information about contraception.
Well, some of you earned it. The rest of you are freeloading off their #2feedothers good works. But we'll let that pass.
Anyway, it's hit 3k and may have a while to go yet but I'm thinking it's Pre-Draft - that is, I know where it starts, where it ends, and have a whole bunch of stuff happening in the middle that stands up to being poked.
And it has, no lie, a 73-word sentence in it. Yes, a functional, intentional 73 word sentence. Well, it wasn't intentional that there be 73 words, but I knew it would be...extended.
Fight scenes, man. They're either brute-force short, or elegantly elongated.