The Good Guy Comprehension Gap

With the debate about harrarssment coming to the fore in a whole lot of places at the moment, I’m seeing a phenomenon I’ve noticed before, which deserves a post of its own.

The Good Guy Comprehension Gap. Which really does trip up the good guys, the nice guys, the ones raised man and boy to respect women and girls in the same way that they have always respected their mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, Miss Teacher and all the rest.

They would no more consider running naked down their local high street than they would, to take today’s example, send a 1615 word email to a woman berating her for not agreeing to a second date, while still clearly expecting one to happen. (see here for the story).

They would not dream of intruding, pursuing, or indulging in any of the entitled, obnoxious behaviours detailed in this post A Guy’s Guide to Approaching Strange Women without Getting Maced or this one, I Just Want To Go For A Walk.

So they can really struggle to comprehend the extent of the reality which women live with.

Which can, alas, so often lead to the minimising comments so ably skewered by Jim C Hines.

Sharing a personal experience with the good guys usually doesn’t help either. For example, if I tell the tale of the fat, sweaty sleaze who admired my tits in a lift when I was on my way to the library in the shopping centre in Poole and suggested we go and have sex – when I was thirteen years old.

The good guys’ eyes instantly give them away. Relieved, because now they know, they understand. Clearly I had this unpleasant, unusual encounter at such an impressionable age that’s so traumatised me I now have this skewed viewpoint.

Er, no. For the record, I was startled, repelled and yes, I took stairs everywhere in public places for months after – but I really wasn’t traumatised. I might have been if he’d tried to touch me but all he did was leer. Please believe me when I say it wasn’t a big deal. Not least because when I told my pals at school, pretty much every girl had her own equivalent story to tell. And that’s what should be the big deal. Why should a class full of teenage girls be forced to conclude this is an inevitable part of life?

But I digress. This post is for the good guys, the nice guys, the white knights and heroes. Mind the Gap.

Sexual Harrassment at SF&F Conventions

As some of you will have learned – actually, as I hope most of you will have learned – there was a particularly unpleasant individual at the San Diego WFC sex-pestering women, up to and including making physical contact, which is by the way, assault. He was eventually removed from the premises, not without difficulty.

This was a notable incident but harrassment in whatever degree is still harrassment, it’s vile to be on the receiving end, and it is as unacceptable in SF&F fandom as it is in any other walk of life.

Increasing numbers of writers are standing up to be counted, as people someone being subject to harrassment can count on to help them deal with such an incident. I am one. Never mind if we’ve not been formally introduced. If some creep is wrecking your convention experience with unwanted attentions, come and find me. I dealt with such cases in my time as a personnel officer and still have that particular skill set.

Whether you’re male or female – this doesn’t only happen to women. I will stand between anyone and these jerks.

If this has never happened to you personally, you’re still involved, if you’re involved in fandom and want that to be a safe and enjoyable place for everyone.