Or, perhaps more properly, The Great Gender Con.
The debate is toxic, whether you’re talking about gaming, genre fiction, technology or anything else where there’s a current gender disparity, yet I still keep coming back to it. I don’t know why really. All it gets me is opprobrium and misrepresentation but I feel that there have to be counter voices.
We are now at the point in this ‘debate’ that merely pointing out that there are any nice guys at all is somehow controversial and problematic.
Off the back of that Sarah got some flak and I, foolishly, felt compelled to stick my oar in.
Well, we’ve seen the fallout in the atheist and skeptic movements, it rumbles on in gaming. To see it spreading to genre fiction meets and conventions is depressing, for several reasons.
- There is no indication that sexual harassment is any sort of particular or special problem at any of these events any more than it is for the general public in any social situation. This isn’t to say sexual harassment isn’t a problem, just that making it seem that these sorts of events are hotbeds of sexual misconduct is not correct.
- Creating the impression that they are full of harassment reduces women’s involvement in these causes, activities and meet-ups. Completely the reverse of the supposed goal of the crusaders who spread the idea that it is. EG: The Amazing Meeting’s female attendance ratio dropped massively. Not because of any indication of endemic harassment, but rather because of the fearmongering.
- The scaremongering is predicated upon a demonisation of male sexuality and is thoroughly gendered, as the response to Sarah’s post shows.
- The proposed solutions, such as harassment policies, are unnecessary, negatively impact socialisation at events and cement the fear and sexism towards men in writing, subject to wilful abuse.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to create an inaccurate atmosphere of fear, particularly of something as serious as sexual harassment.
I don’t think it’s a good idea, or in line with what these people say they want to do, to put women off attending conferences.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to tar the male gender with the same brush.
I don’t think it should be controversial to point out that there are also nice guys – or that they’re the majority.
Why do I regard this pearl-clutching pseudo-feminism as a problem? Because it’s a lie, because it’s irresponsible, because it creates a bad impression that doesn’t reflect reality (as does their response to criticism), because it’s sexist, because it’s preying on people’s fears for no clear end.
The Daily Mail and other media create an impression of the rate of crime which makes many pensioners and others afraid to leave their houses and terrified of youths. It makes them afraid to a level utterly disproportionate to the actual levels of crime or the ‘risk’ they take in popping down to the shops. Sure, it sells papers (or webclicks) but if it’s causing unnecessary fear and genuinely causing harm is it a responsible thing to do?
How is this any different?