First off, thanks to everyone who’s RT’d, reblogged, reposted, and pointed to the Misogyny in the Furry Fandom post. If you couldn’t tell, I feel sort of passionately about it, the way you might feel if you’d been hearing about a group of your friends being made uncomfortable for years with very few people knowing that the problem existed. I hope that even just a little more awareness will make things better.
Two responses have come up a few times, both in the sense of “I don’t mean to diminish the importance of this, but…” The first is that men get harassed too. The response to that is yes, of course they do. It’s happened to me. The difference, and the reason I didn’t talk about it in that post, is that the way men view people who give them unwanted attention is generally much different from women, simply because of the way society has affected all of us. Most men, if there’s a creepy person hanging around them, think, “This is uncomfortable. How do I resolve this without being mean or hurting his/her feelings? I wish I didn’t have to deal with this.” Women, I am told, think, “I hope my body or life aren’t in danger. How can I get away from him without giving him a chance to touch me (or worse)?” Yes, this is oversimplifying. Yes, I have occasionally felt in danger of my life (never at a furry con except for that street crossing in front of the Hyatt two hotels ago at MFF), and I’m sure that women at cons don’t feel like every guy who leans too close wants to assault them. But my understanding is that men simply don’t know the constant threat that women feel from men, and that’s my understanding because I did not get it until a couple years ago when women on the Internet started to explain it (and they had to explain it because a lot of men didn’t–and still don’t–get it). I don’t want to diminish the experiences of the men who have felt like someone was seriously threatening their life or well-being at a furry convention. Report that shit. And obviously, people, don’t be dicks to men either. But that is not, so far as I can tell, a constant, ongoing problem the way harassment of women is.
(Also, I don’t want to give the impression that furry fandom is some kind of growing Men’s Rights community. By and large, the VAST majority of furries I’ve met even briefly, even ones without social graces (see below) have been pleasant and well-intentioned and, if anything, over-concerned about whether they were being intrusive. I love this fandom and the people in it, and that’s part of why I was so mad about this harassment shit.)
The second point people have made is that a lot of furries just don’t have social graces and don’t understand how close is too close, how long of a conversation is too long, when touching is inappropriate, etc. Yeah, I grant this point (though I will say that there are still some incidences and stories I’ve heard about that are clearly intentional). I’m not sure a guide to social behavior will help very much–all my readers are of course socially savvy lovely people–but I have started putting together something and will post it maybe this weekend when I have time.
Anyway, those points aside, thank you again, all of you who have expressed your willingness to help this not happen anymore, all of the women who have shared their experiences, and the people who have told stories about successfully handled harassment complaints. Let’s be more aware at cons, let’s post harassment policies and train our staff members to both look out for and deal with incidents, and let’s talk about these things when they happen (I don’t mean posting details on the Internet; I mean talking with each other in person about how to behave and so on). If people are harassing out of ignorance, talking about it informs them. If they aren’t, then it lets them know that there are a lot of people out there watching them and they aren’t going to keep getting away with it.