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Apr. 16th, 2012

How I hold myself accountable.
Liz"s Personal Score Badge

And if you're wondering who this Azahru person is, this is the somewhat ancient blog of Liz... Australian writer chick, now living in Seattle and not hiding this blog from web search of her name too much, but not making it too easy either.

Sadness of the creeper

As some of you are aware, there was a craptastic sexual harassey creeper at World Fantasy Con this year. He was offensive to many many women, was kicked out of parties repeatedly, and while complaints were made he kept turning up and the convention was slow to respond. Many people have spoken about their experiences. Jaym Gates is collecting people's experiences and working on a Sexual Harassment policy for WFC. Hopefully out of the ashes of this conventions in general will have leading practice around sexual harassment policies and the actions a convention should take to create a safe and inclusive environment.

Many people have stories about how he inappropriately propositioned them and they told him to go away. I may have accidentally fed into his delusions and that makes me a little sad.

Context: This guy clearly has serious mental health issues, in some ways this is handy, he was so clearly unhinged the convention was forced to take action and many people are galvanized. Hopefully future sexual harrasors do not need to be so extreme for a convention to take action.

Story: I was late to the Australian party (btw Tina Connolly's play reading seriously rocked and you should go to anything she organizes because it will be good) and was wandering around chatting to people. A person I had met at a previous convention said hello to me, I said hello warmly in return and as we struck up conversation the person next to him (I assumed his friend) asked for a hug.

I think I might have said "do I know you?" I certainly, after a moment's pause, said "no."

He looked a bit sad and said something like "but I would like a hug." or "please" or something. I paused to think about it. He had just seen me hugging a bunch of people. I love to hug people. Humans are relatively physically isolated these days and safe non sexual touch is good for mental and physical health. It's a nice form of acceptance and celebration of another person's human-ness and it's just a happy thing to do. I'm also fairly physically confident and can hug like a marshal artist if need be.

I assessed the guy and he seemed non-dangerous and a bit sad, so I thought, fair enough, everybody needs hugs,  and being a total softy I thought, what if my hugging of other people is making him feel sad about his own physical isolation? That was the deciding factor for me, as I didn't particularly want to hug him, but I hated the idea of making someone feel like an outcast... another sub-factor was I didn't feel like engaging with the guy further around whether I would hug him or not and hugging him was easier than entering into a debate.  So I decided I shall give this guy a hug. I said something like, "Why not?" hugged the guy and then went back to chatting to his friend. The guy I hugged just sort of stood there for a while before wandering off.

Later I discovered the exact same guy had then followed an escalating path of abusive behavior and unreasonable demands. He also believes that he has magical powers and can spell people into following his commands.

And this makes me sad, by hugging a fellow human being because they asked me to I actually fed into his psychosis. He probably thinks he spelled me into hugging him. I actually fed the flame of delusion and escalating demands. Ughhhh.

Human beings need hugs and safe physical contact has enormous health benefits. Women especially are trained to be nice and give things to people if they are asked to... and I wonder how much shit this guy has got by demanding at less professional and assertive conventions... how many cosplayers has he harangued into physical contact? How many larger conventions has he been to where he hasn't been called on his actions? Or people have complained, but voices have been lost in the crowd and dismissed?

As I write this I'm wondering what to do if I get propositioned like that again. Perhaps If some guy asks for a hug and they clearly need a hug (this guy did seriously need a hug... but I think he also needs serious therapy and medication and in my wishful universe this convention is the convention that showed boundaries and helps him get the mental health intervention he needs and the magical finances/insurance to get it)... perhaps if a guy asks for a hug I shall see if I can delegate the hugging to physically confidant man in the nearbye area. Sure, have physical contact, but not with me and my tits, get some from this nice man. Perhaps a crazy idea, but certainly a response someone like motorhead shirt would not be expecting... and it is an entertaining thought to have!

So damnit that creeperness exists. It took a pretty extreme case from a guy with low social status to get action, but hopefully this will flow on to a lot of improved processes. And I'm sorry to everyone who had to deal with motorhead guy and that my innocent hugging actions fed into his delusional psychosis and escalating demands.

Edit, later comment that I think is important:

I should add, that although I think this guy has serious mental health issues, that isn't an excuse in my books, just part of the factors. Some of the most emotionally self aware and amazing people I know have serious mental health diagnoses and utilize effective self-management techniques.

Self management techniques that I really wish more successful people in suits would use.... how many suits do you know who, during strategic planning meetings, say "I'm sorry I'm feeling a little bit emotional, I'm going for a walk so I can come back in a minute with a clear head, and look at things in a more balanced way."

Edit 2, where to now and the problems of rape culture 

Jaym Gates has been doing a stellar job tracking stuff and putting herself through a lot to turn shitty stuff that goes on into a more positive outcome. It's easy to get cranky about an individual, but there is a lot of systemic stuff to deal with, that is really important to deal with. Jaym has written up her experiences of the creeper (plus an insight into the impact taking lead on some of this stuff is having on her). You can read it here.

Love Letters to Inanimate Objects

I have started a new art project. For 6 weeks I will be writing love letters to inanimate objects and a few other creations of love that scare the hell out of me!

I'd love you to have a look. And if you feel like it, I would love you to sponsor me -> and then you can determine one of the love letters. http://objectsoflove.wordpress.com/
Subscribers have had it in their hands for a week, but my story is now available free for everyone on Daily Science Fiction. A Study in Flesh and Mind.

The feedback has been really nice thus far, which has been really nice. I may have to revisit the Albury-Wodonga Academy of Fine Arts and Neuroscience sometime.

Daily Science Fiction doesn't have bio photos as part of it's formatting, but if it did here's a link to my earlier blog post with a very rare life model photo. How safe it is for work will depend on your workplace (it is lifemodel-ly but not pink bits-y. Photo taken while the Canberra Times were interviewing me for an article about the Parisian Life Model strike.)

Wiscon and Same Sex Marriage

What I have been writing recently

Same Sex Marriage - Everything to gain. Inspired by reading by John Scalzi http://lizargall.com/2011/05/same-sex-marriage-everything-to-gain/

What I'll be getting up to at Wiscon: http://lizargall.com/2011/05/wiscon-schedule/

Mothers day and other website updates

Heya all,

I haven't been doing as I said I would and cross posting to here as changing the markup between lj and wordpress has been making me cross. But I have blogged recently:
Mother's Day http://lizargall.com/2011/05/mothers-day-in-gratitude-and-in-my-thoughts/
Norwescon http://lizargall.com/2011/04/norwescon-further-reading-and-little-lesprit-de-lescalier/
love letters to inanimate objects http://lizargall.com/2011/04/love-letters-to-inanimate-objects-clarion-writeathon/

Cranky post update

Well, draft 1 of my comments to the Mercury got up and I think it has made a difference. It is hard to tell, but there haven't been any more comments, which means no more toxic comments proliferating either. Makes me happy and hopefully makes life easier for others too :-)

I've been riding out a couple of storms recently, but I'm hoping most of the storms have passed. Yay. Now to actually get some fucking stuff done!

My Birthday

ZOMG Birthday!

Hello hello lovelies,

I am having my first ever birthday part in AMERICA. 31! I will officially be in my 3rd decade!

When:
Saturday, April 9, 2011
6:30pm if you want to cook foods on the BBQ and dine together, 8pm until late otherwise.

Where:
Let us know if you need the address

We have the community centre (with pool table, outdoor BBQ, theatre-ette etc) until 10:30pmish. It's on the second floor, we'll buzz you in. Then (depending on weather and inclination) return to our apartment #238 or rampage out into the park across the road.

What to bring:
Your good self, the invite is pretty open, but please let us know if you're bringing someone we don't know. RSVPs are awesome where possible (liz@lizargall.com). It would be a sad thing to make tasty foods that go uneaten.
Dancing shoes or music making instruments if you have the inclination
If anyone has fire-twirling gear that would be fantastico. Fire is a happy thing... and there is this park across the road.
Other stuff...

Optional Theming:
Chiaro Oscura (bonus points for Italian flamboyance)... we will provide glowsticks for extra light.

Dear Internet

I know it is foolish to read the comments section on any newspaper article, but when it's a friend gone you kinda want to read everything. After the comments on a number of posts by the Mercury (Tasmanian Newspaper http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2011/03/25/217131_tasmania-news.html) I got pushed too far, wrote a blog post with many fucks in it and then got to a quieter place where I was able to write this. I don't know if they will publish this comment:

Dear commentators on this and previous articles,

Please do not tell us how to process the loss of our friend. Personally I find it tiring and offensive the way some commentators make assumptions about our competence and the ways in which we are creating resolution in these tragic circumstances. Rachel has strong activist friends and if we were unsatisfied with the way the police were conducting themselves we would be doing something about it.

Please do not assume that just because she is a woman she is automatically a victim. When commenting please consider if you would make the same statement if the person disappearing in rugged wilderness was a man. By assuming that woman=victim you are perpetrating sexist notions. Rachel was a wonderful feminist who battled sexism in many arenas, don't contribute to what she fought so hard against. Know that there are smart people who love her and are not afraid of having opinions who have been involved in her search from the outset. If there is cause to accuse the police of incompetence (and as far as I am aware there is not) let it come from them - they know a lot more about the case than you do (unless you have _actual_ information, in which case go to the police now).

Let her have dignity and not be some chew toy for your fears.

Nice things said - Campbell Awards

Amidst writing stuff for Rachel I totally neglected to cross-post my happier writing from my website (also, if you go to my website and scroll down a wee bit you can see my Norwescon schedule).

Hugo Award nominations and Campbell Award nominations are due at the end of the week. I haven't done much spruiking in this regard, other than keeping my writertopia bio page up to date.

But Mary Robinette Kowal wrote about me here, amongst other worthy candidates.

And the Ferret (also eligible for the Campbell) wrote this lovely stuff here.

Thank you both. I am happy to be in such excellent company.