An Observed List of How Intelligent New Age Guys Respond to Burns Due to Privilege

No matter who you are, when you get called out on your privilege and realize you've been an ignorant jackass to people, it's embarrassing. It shakes your self-image as a good person. It makes you feel small and stupid. Also, now you can't just rely upon your own good sense any more. Because you might not have the experience to make any sort of sound judgment on a topic. It puts other people in charge of what's right. And that's scary. It makes everything complex and knocks you down a peg or two. In short, it sucks and nobody likes it.

I notice a few key reactions from smart, good guys as they reach the fork in the road determining "greater wisdom" and "becoming a douche" by bashing heads with a seasoned activist. These things usually happen to men who have a self-image as a good and intelligent person with sound judgment. So, for the edification of guys who may recognize some of these defense mechanisms and for the affirmation of activists who are SO TIRED of seeing them over and over again, here is a list of observed responses when intelligent new age guys are called out on privilege:

1. Upping the "civil conversations" quota to prove themselves good guys. When you kind of realize maybe you were an ass in an argument, there's a great temptation to go have as many productive, impersonal debates about "important topics" as possible with other people to prove that you are, in fact, a good arguer with many salient points. You need to prove that the fact you got dissed, got yelled at, got schooled, or lost a friend over your shit is in fact because the other person was overreacting, taking things personally, or just didn't get you. Not because you were kind of a shit who stuck your foot in your mouth.

2. Figuring "it will all blow over" when women stop being so emotional. Somebody just rain down some righteous justice on you? Do you figure everything will be ok again when they calm down? Plaster over that shit and make sure you studiously ignore that they don't want to stand too close to you, don't invite you to things with their gay friends any more, and put the rosiest possible spin on the fact that they do not speak to you about this topic again. That is obviously because they realized the error of their ways, not because you proved you don't care about being an ass to the people around you.

3. Co-opting victim status by claiming "oh, I take this personally too, I'm SO sensitive." If you ever find yourself inflating your own experience in order to "compete" with a victim's voice, please just stop.

4. Making it all about their own apologies. Showy apologies that are all about how you feel and your martyrdom to the gods of Very Sensitive People still doesn't count as actually listening. You have to shut up for a bit to do that.

5. Blaming the medium. Complaining that people misinterpret them in text/in writing/over chat because of the medium, not because they're saying horrible stuff to people who know damn well how to read words and how powerful words are. "Why does everyone jump down my throat when I say racist shit? People are misinterpreting my WORDS. I'm not racist!" - person with a fundamental misunderstanding of how racism works.

Redeemable? Maybe. Eye-rollingly familiar? Definitely.

The Golden Rule Pits Religious People Against the Weird

So, I notice that almost all people have this self-image that they are good people. They do their best. They're fair and reasonably nice. They follow the golden rule for the most part, sort of. Y'know, like everybody.

And yet I find myself really drawn to certain groups and they're groups of outcasts. Not outcasts. Not groups. Groups of outcasts. And I feel WEIRD around people who haven't hung around groups of outcasts very much. I find them difficult to talk to and awkward. Because every time I mention being different from them (in any number of ways: poorer, feminist, theater kid, mom, Halloween) they suddenly get very nervous. Or defensive. Or both. And suddenly things get... awkward. This sometimes happens with folks who aren't really group savvy, but it happens a lot less with people who are used to hanging out with diverse groups.

Know why? Because everybody wants to be a good person.

Good people follow the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's a great rule, echoed in almost all the major religions. And when you are with a group of people who are largely like yourself, with the same needs, the same language and culture, the same concerns and life experience, YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT TO DO. Because the golden rule really works. You give those people what you would like to be given and you are polite to them the way you would recognize as polite and everyone is happy and rather likes you.

But what if those people are not like you? What if their lives are completely outside your experience? What if they need things or have concerns that you have never fathomed? What if you are all polite and golden ruley and it all goes wrong. What if you are a bad person who can't treat people right, who doesn't even know HOW. What if you are bad at being good to people because they are so different from you?

And this is the terror I see on people's faces who are not used to groups of outcasts. Outcasts that are to the manor born of weird have always been obliged to recognize that other people are not like them, and they must navigate this world anyway. They have to find a way to muddle through, and some of them gather in groups and learn that EVERYONE has a weird. Everyone is strange and alone in their own skin. The neuveau riche weird do not necessarily have this as a standard deviation in their lives and believe that they may be the only ones who carry this very human burden.

But if you've spent your whole life mostly with homogenous groups, you may have never realized that other people are all separate and different from you. And different people present this horrible threat. "You may NOT be a good person" they seem to say. "You may NEVER be able to be a good person. These different folks could take that away from you and never give it back." For if you can't use yourself and what you would like as the measure of how to treat people, what fucking determines it?

When you hang around groups of outcasts, you realize you need to learn what everyone needs before you can treat them right. You need to hear their experience, use your imagination, take other perspectives, and never quite be confident that your good intentions are translating to the other person. You kinda get used to it. And you stop thinking you can achieve being good to people just because you treat them the way you want to be treated. You start thinking about ethics instead of rules. You start thinking about kindness instead of etiquette. You start talking about your judgments as being small things from a certain place where you are. Which is distinctly not God.

Hire Me

I'm betting you don't need this rant, but just on principle:  “You know, you might be one of the luckiest women in the world right now. You managed to find two men who are not only willing but want you to make your own decisions.

Uh, not that I’m ungrateful or anything, but I kind of expect people to act like making my own decisions is my god-given right. It really doesn’t deserve thanks, because it’s not something anybody gives to me. I already have it. Always did. Always will. It’d be a pretty sorry thing if I couldn’t find two guys to rub together (*facesmack*) who bought into that. Fortunately, with very notable exceptions, I haven’t found them hard to come by (*facesmack2*). I do find my high expectation causes lesser men to slink away. Or they shape up and behave around me to avoid trouble. I've been told that happens some.

Eve Ensler said that happiness is telling your story and giving others the thing you most want. I think this is why it is so fulfilling to teach women stage combat. Stage combat is a lot about the permission to express anger and expecting collaboration with your actions. You have to be willing to claim space and intention if you want to perform. If you want to fake hit somebody, you have to mean it.

I notice many women enter physically frightened to do that, and leave feeling like they have a right to occupy space and state their intention. Moreover, that they SHOULD claim that space and commit to decisions. It is a kindness to communicate with others clearly, so that they can respond without both of you flinching and messing up the move. I've tried being subservient and letting someone else direct me, and other people generally suck at being me. They don't know what I want or what's good for me. I'm simply the best person to be the boss of me.

So if I want to be effective, I have to a) hire me and b) let me do my job. Letting other people get in the way is a kindness to no one.

Internet Mobs and Having a Voice

I've been thinking about people in power who have apologized after their poor actions were criticized on the internet. I've been thinking about this dynamic: "internet mobs" and "non-apologies" and harassment. I've been reflecting on shirtstorm and the Boston lawyer bullying the takeout place, and Bill Cosby and campus rape and gamergate.

I've been reflecting on how the internet has given power to people who had no voice before. Particularly in relation to the powerful. There are many instances where I applaud this transparency. I do believe sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the internet allows (VERY imperfectly, it's true) the disempowered to expose evil. Evil that hitherto would be perpetrated in secret, without recourse, without support, upon those who are less powerful. Now, all it takes is an internet connection to call for support, and sometimes that support comes in droves.

I listened to a report on NPR about "Emergence." The story was about a scientist in the burgeoning field of eugenics in the early 20th century. He truly believed people in the lower classes, especially in groups, were just stupid and shouldn't breed. He attended a fair which had a "guess the weight of the bull" game. As he predicted, almost nobody was correct. People are stupid. But amongst all the guesses of the group, the average was shockingly accurate. This is Emergence, a field of study that holds that the collective intelligence of a species is more than that of the individuals.¬

I understand when folks cynically state that people are stupid. Individually, we are. But I am often struck by how, despite this, collectively, we manage to progress. Despite this, collectively, haphazardly, imperfectly, we bumble toward the truth, toward more accurate understanding. It gives me comfort when people tell me the world will never change, that regression is snapping at our heels, or that activism has gone too far. Of course it has. Individuals’ guesses are far off. But collectively, perhaps, slowly, we are stumbling toward the light. And we aid that progress by allowing more of our world INTO the light, exposed to more people. We aid the light by education, awareness, engagement and listening to a wider swath of experiences than our own. We aid the light by supporting the voiceless and giving injustice fewer places to hide.

I cannot hope to be more than a stupid individual whose guesses are not very accurate. But damn, I should really try to drag my species toward a more accurate average.


People Invite My Rapist

Sometimes, I am a right cynical bitch. I try not to expect better of people than I know them to be capable of. I figure if I get hurt by someone who I should have known would act that way, yeah, that's maybe on them, but I was stupid not to have expected it and should try to be smarter.

I know I live in a culture that excuses rape and abuse, especially if the person is a friend. I know that victims of rape and abuse are uncomfortable to be around. I know that because I was the victim, this stuff happened to me, the harm happened to me, and other people do not want to deal with that horrible shit if they can avoid it. Dude, *I* would avoid it if I could.

But it still makes me SO ANGRY and SO ILL that people invite my rapist to things... and include me on the guest list. Like it ain't no thing. Like it's high time I stopped being a vindictive bitch and reconcile with my rapist. Look, I can even, in my more generous moments, concede that maybe my rapist has reformed his life, found Jesus, or whatever the fuck else he could do to atone for this, and has become a person that other people want to be around. I can PRAY that this was the price of entry, but remember that cynical thing? So I doubt it. But if I would rather think non-horrific things about the people I know, I can grant them this possibility.

But why would anyone want to put me in a room with him? Where in god's green earth is that ever an ok thing to expect of someone? What kind of lousy friend would do that?

I am aghast that I find myself needing to explain to people why this is a big deal, why that was inconsiderate, why raping and abusing someone means it's never going to be ok between us again. (And by the way, why is it ok with YOU?) Because it simply doesn't OCCUR to them to consider that. I know that this is a clear indication that I should not be friends with this person, but I'm honestly indignant about that too. Really? I've got to LEAVE you over it? THIS SHIT is what's limiting my social life and killing my friendships?

Then my cynical self tells me I'm being stupid and to stop expecting better of the world. I tell myself to calm down, explain politely why that makes it impossible for me to attend, and act like I assume they must have made some error to keep from implying that they are actually hurtful and awful. And it gives me this twilight zone feeling of being so upset that I cannot let any of the upset slip because it might all come tumbling out and scorch the earth.

On "I Have a Boyfriend"

So, I have been reading the mini-debate around the internet over whether women should be more honest and straightforward when they turn down men, particularly that they stop using the excuse "I have a boyfriend" as a handy shorthand for "I'm not interested." Folks have pointed out that this excuse is only useful because creepers respect other men more than they respect women's consent. Men complain that women are not honest with them, women complain that men don't listen to honesty.

So first, some distinctions:
I do not owe a stranger who approaches me at random my honesty any more than I owe him a welcome. I MAY owe him politeness if approached politely and appropriately. This would let out contexts of approaching me while alone in the dark, when I'm clearly busy with other things, or in other ways which may not register with the approacher as inappropriate, but may reasonably register with the approached as threatening. I'm sure the guy who lurched out of the dark and slurred something he thought sounded appealing had no idea how alarming and threatening he seemed, but it is not my responsibility to give him the benefit of the doubt.

My responsibility is to my safety, which would cause me, quite reasonably, to mace him in the face and scream and run away. He is a stranger to me and I don't know him. My safety trumps his benefit of the doubt. Women are trained from extremely early ages to be alert for signs of danger or harm, which they have a statistically reasonable expectation as coming from men. Men are, after all, our most common source of injury and harm. That ain't your fault, but it ain't a fault in her either.
This also lets out contexts which are culturally inappropriate. Leading with graphic sex, for example, is a breach of etiquette, and if you lead with a breach of etiquette, you should be prepared to expect one in return, even from a reasonably polite person. This should also take into account that both parties might not KNOW any etiquette for polite conversation. Sometimes you can approach someone politely and they do not happen to be a polite person. If one is approaching a stranger, one takes on a reasonable risk that the person they are approaching is having a bad day or is not nice. If men are uncomfortable taking this risk, they should not take it. If men wish to improve their chances of a polite response, they can do no harm in learning what the fuck "polite" is.

But let us focus on situations where safety and politeness are NOT at issue. *pause while I scroll down the list to that point* Let's say a man makes a polite inquiry of a person and *what luck* she is also a polite person. A polite person is perfectly within their rights to tell a stranger a white lie. "I have a boyfriend" is an acceptable white lie to spare a person's feelings. The rejection is not on their merits, it is about circumstance. Strangers do not owe one an honest account of their reasons for refusal. They barely owe you the information that you are refused. They are strangers. They do not owe you honesty any more than they owe you a welcome.

So women are under no obligation to "be more honest" in their refusals if they are approached cold. Strangers owe you nothing, and you are lucky to walk away with polite consideration of your personal pride.

In spite of this lack of obligation, however, I am personally in favor of DEMANDING respect for my honest response. I am in favor of, whenever safely able, standing up to creepers. It is not always safe, it is certainly not always comfortable. But there are indeed benefits to be had.

I am lucky in this regard. I am assertive and physically intimidating. I'm rarely at a loss for words or retribution, so men who get within my line of fire usually severely regret it. But I do that out of the kindness of my heart as a public service, not out of any obligation. I've loudly confronted a guy who kept touching me at a crowded party, I've humiliated and excoriated creepers on the bus.

I expressed surprise when an acquaintance was outted as a creeper, for he had never shown any sign of it around me. "Of course not," my friends replied. "he was TERRIFIED of you." College men whisper about the chick at the local clubs that will hand you your balls if you act like a jerk to her or ANY of her buddies. Forum leaders ask me if I would like to hide my identity so as not to be associated with my activism, and I say no. I'd rather be known for it.
Do you seriously think I have guys clapping me on the back for my honesty? Of course not. Don't promise me that. It's bunk. Know what I do have? A fair number of loud confrontations and a reputation in my community as a chick that creepers fear. Because if I can't have respect, I'll take fear. I want men to be afraid every time they approach a woman that she might be me, and I want every last man in my community on their best behavior. That is my public service. That is what I can accomplish.

It is not an obligation. It is a favor.

And I don't expect anyone's thanks.

Hey, was that everyday sexism?

I had an encounter of everyday sexism today. It didn't actually much register with me because I was just bopping along my day.

Two guys were examining the floor in the coffee shop where my boyfriend and I were having lunch. They were complimenting the realistic pergo and speculating on whether it was all one piece. I helpfully offered that it was several pieces, you could tell if you ran your fingernail over the seams. We chatted amiably about how it was great stuff, some came with a 20 year guarantee, wasn't as durable as bamboo, though. I explained that I'd installed a few myself.

"Really? Why's a pretty girl like you installing floors?"

"Because I can."

I didn't elaborate, I just stared at him. Feeling slightly awkward, he turned to my boyfriend to help him laugh it off, but BF was buried in his salad and wouldn't even look at him. He was stuck with my stare and an embarrassing silence.

"uh... We do it because we get paid."

*shrug* "I do it so I don't have to pay anybody." They laugh politely and leave quickly.

As a self-identified ugly chick, I resent the implication that only ugly people should be doing manual labor. As a guy-I-love-identified pretty chick, I resent the implication that being pretty means I never learned how to do shit for myself. As a chick, I wonder "the fuck's that got to do with anything?"

I don't have any lasting resentment for the guy. He was probably just trying to be charming and fell on his face. Like I've never done that myself. *looks around guiltily* But it's entirely right for that patronizing comment to leave him feeling distinctly awkward. And it felt kinda good that it was him, not me, who walked away blushing. 


My son sometimes lets me know I'm being bossy and he doesn't like it. Some days, I take this with a grain of salt, but I can't say I take it on any day without sympathy. Kids need some bossing, but it isn't very fun to be on the receiving end. I want my kid to have faith in my leadership, not (just) resent it.

I apologized to him once for continually interrupting his play to get ready to leave when we weren't in fact ready to leave. I told him that was unfair to him and proposed that I not call him unless we were really ready. In return, I ask that he come running when I called. He liked this plan and it worked like a charm the first time and pretty well the next few times, so I am encouraged.

But the "working" part wasn't nearly so important to me as the talking with him. I let my son know that it wasn't ok for mommy to be unfair to him, gave him some say in a better solution, and reinforced that our goal was to have "a happy family walk out the door on time." Ain't nobody happy if one of us is getting trod upon. Social justice writ small.

Bravery, Public Service and Priority

My last post about getting harassed at Arisia went viral, and I had my first experience with internet fame.

1) I got posted on reddit by some MRA type. My first reaction was "MRA's are criticizing me? GOOD" Then I panicked and spent about five hours cleaning my blog of all identifying information in case somebody decided to be a phenomenal douche and hunt me. Then I wrote a form letter in case I get threats. THEN I went to check reddit and realized that the first three respondents to the criticizing post were people saying "Well, I dunno that actually sounds pretty creepy." Gosh, even MRA's got my back on this one. Talk about a sea change. There were mostly objections to me naming him and posting his picture. Which I can take.

2) I was nearly outted on the Arisia facebook fanpage.  My blog got posted there and was deleted, which I support. I never saw the original posting before it was deleted, but I understand the comments discussion was heated and personal reputations were in play. I support the fan page declaring this was not the discussion they wanted to host. However, one of the discussants in the thread ABOUT the deleting referenced a post I made on the Arisia fanpage through my personal facebook account. Thankfully, I caught the comment within minutes and deleted my post. I wrote the discussant and pointed out to him that he just outted a victim of harassment with his reference and to please have more care with my identity. It was hella scary and I shiver to think what might have happened if I hadn't caught the comment soon enough to protect my identity.

3) There was much discussion of libel and slander in the discussion of the deleting, which honestly made me laugh. I support anyone who doesn't want to host a discussion of my blog on their blog. But the idea that someone who DOES wish to host this discussion might be in legal trouble for slander is ludicrous. First of all, I don't have to prove that my version of events happened (even though I have ample evidence and witnesses to do so). Slander and libel require that the story be demonstrably false. And the blog alone includes confirmation from the Arisia con chair of my report.

4) Because of the attention this post has gotten, the retribution I hoped to net for Dustin has been left in the dust. He is now getting fallout from cons across the country that he presumably has never attended. I'm not sure how I feel about that. What Dustin did to me was super-rude and disgusting, but I wouldn't characterize it as criminal. My hope continues to be that Dustin is remorseful, apologizes to me, accepts appropriate consequences, and demonstrably amends how he interacts with women. That's how it's supposed to work to improve our communities.

5) HOWEVER, also because of the attention of this post, several other people have come forward claiming more serious violations from the same person. Some of those violations DO deserve a massive public shaming and banning from communities.

6) I am giving a tiny bit of side-eye to people who are eager to ban a person who has been publicly shamed whom they are never likely to encounter. I would feel much better if people used this post to examine their harrassment policies, work with advocacy groups to devise staff trainings on how they handle sexual harrassment and reporting, and to make a concerted effort to CHANGE THEIR CULTURES rather than BAN THIS PARTICULAR GUY. The key isn't getting one person. It's making sure that everyone feels they live in a culture where non-consent matters and is taken seriously.

7) I'm also giving a side-eye to myself as I accept kudos for my bravery. And I finally figured out what it was. The point of my post was that I was not brave.

Let me say that again: the whole POINT of the post was that I was not brave. I didn't have to be.

I had an education about consent, support from close friends and authority figures, and Dustin was a stranger to me who never got an opportunity to make me feel betrayed, unsafe, or deeply hurt. I didn't need to be very brave to turn him in. That's the point. I want to celebrate the fact that, for privileged little me in my life in this con, I needed jack for bravery to do this.

Not everyone has the luxuries (both internal and external) that I had in this situation. And I HAVE been deeply hurt by someone close to me who made me feel not only unsafe, but that I had no right to be mad. And you know what? I stayed silent then. Because I was hurt and scared and had no support. And that's fine. I am not required to be brave in that situation. I had a little boy and myself to take care of and I felt I was all alone.

Several people have gotten courage from my post, which is great, but I want to emphasize it is not anyone's responsibility to see past their own trauma or to accept the consequences of criticism, loss of privacy, social devastation, disbelief and all the other hardship our culture is capable of heaping on victims to perform a public service. Because that's what this is. Posting Dustin's name publicly on my blog and making sure he faced consequences was a public service to the community and (stay with me here) to him. And the only reason I did it is because it was easy for me.

Educating Dustin to be a better human being and making our communities safe is NOT a victim's responsibility, nor should it be their main concern. Because timely, individual creeper education is not as important as people who are hurt. People who are hurt (and their wellness, safety and healing) get priority over creepers and public service announcements. Communities are responsible for making THEMSELVES into safe places. They should not rely upon the bravery of people who've just had something shitty happen to them. People should not be waiting for someone to be brave. They should be making their communities and cultures safe places so that people DON'T HAVE TO BE BRAVE.

I wasn't very brave. I didn't have to be. Lucky me. Please make sure no one has to be brave to report rape and sexual harassment. Do it in your own communities. Do it for your friends. Do it TO your friends. Do it for real.

Q and A: Who are you now?

I have changed. I answer questions differently. This was made apparent to me by an experience this weekend at Arisia, a sci-fi and fandom convention in Boston, MA.

I attended a private party called Rocket Fuel, where they make a legendary drink with dry ice. I happened to be there when they were "cooking," and eagerly sat on the floor near the plastic tub that was to be the mixing bucket. Someone politely asked me to move over as they were saving a seat for someone, so I moved into the open space next to the one where I was sitting. The person arrived and sat down next to me. And kind of on me. They rested their own thigh on mine and leaned on me. I was annoyed. I had thought there was plenty of space, and I really wanted to be near to watch. But I had some space on my right and so I gave them a little more room. The person spread themselves out and actually leaned even harder on me. I didn't know this person and I did NOT like this. Thus began a series of questions that my former self seemed to ask my current self:

Can't you just move away if you are uncomfortable with being someone's pillow?
NO. I have every right to be right here and enjoy the party like anyone else. I don't have to give up my place or my enjoyment because someone else is being rude and invading my personal space. I thought about men taking up too much space on the train and noticed that he was sprawled quite comfortably while I was pinched. This was unfair. And if I didn't like it, I could damn well speak up.

"Dude. Could you please stop leaning on me. It's kinda freaking me out." He looked at me like I'd just been VERY rude myself, said "jeeze" and grudgingly removed his weight from my person. He gave me the hairy eyeball for the entire event, as he timed the concoction with his watch, blew on the dry ice vapors, and gave feedback to the hosts. He acted like I was made of snakes.

Aren't you embarrassed now?
No. I really wasn't. Fuck him.

Later that night, my boyfriend, his buddy and I were all dancing to one of our favorite songs when my boyfriend suddenly clutched his chest and said he felt like his heart was racing. Alarmed, I led him to an empty row of chairs in the ballroom and ran to get him a glass of water. When I returned with it, a couple of people were sitting near him: his buddy and someone else. I assumed everybody was rather concerned. I handed him the water and knelt in front of him to talk to him about how he was feeling. I barely noticed someone repeatedly stroking my arm. I flicked them off, but they came right back and started doing it again. It was a distinctly sexual stroking, not any comforting pat. Annoyed, I went to pick the hand off of me. I was BUSY, for crying out loud. And there he was again! The same guy was leaning over my sick boyfriend's shoulder to rub my arm up and down like he was trying to seduce me.

"YOU again! What are you, following me around trying to touch me without my consent? That's really fucking creepy!" He looked like I'd slapped him and moved one seat away to sulk. My boyfriend, who was alarmed enough at my outraged tone to forget about the fact that he was in physical distress, asked what was wrong. I complained loud enough for CreeperDude to hear that this guy was bugging me and wouldn't leave. My boyfriend's buddy helpfully, moved around us to plunk himself between me and this guy. I thanked him and turned my attention back to my boyfriend. We had to leave the ballroom and have one of the EMT's make sure it wasn't anything serious. Probably just an anxiety attack or a pulled muscle.

Why don't we let all this blow over now? No harm done.
There was harm done. This is the second time this guy has invaded my personal space. He wasn't there when my boyfriend sat down. He came over there to get to me. I was easily recognizable in my costume. He knew who I was, and he'd already been directly told, just hours before, that unwelcome touching freaks me out. This was NOT innocent or bumbling. The man leaned over my sick boyfriend to deliberately tell me he could touch me whenever he damn well pleased. He did it to punish me for presuming I had a right to space or to be consulted. That is harm. I have been told that enough and know very clearly exactly how harmful that message is.

So I made a detailed report to the con staff. They asked for my badge number.

Oh no! Are they going to ID you as a crazy victim-lady who makes hysterical accusations and is a wretched party pooper?
No. Because I know Arisia has a great harassment policy. I know from my friends that they follow through on it. I know they understand how victim-blaming and slut-shaming works. They will not put me in line for retribution or bug me if I don't want to talk to them further. They won't ask questions that will make me feel like I did something wrong by being at a party, being a woman, or wanting a night unpunctured by non-consensual groping.

Well, for god's sakes, put a shirt on before you talk to them.
No. This is Arisia. They know how many hours it takes to sew 24 feet of EL wire into a bra, cover it with fur, and program it to blink. I expect them to know that my costume is not consent and that whatever way I was dancing with my friends doesn't make me public property. And if they are not aware of these things, I will tell them in a very loud voice.

They were very kind, apologized that this happened to me and asked if there was anything I wanted. I asked that someone sweep the ballroom, kick this guy out, and send him home or to his hotel room. I didn't want to be worrying about whether or not he was going to approach me again.

Oh, come on now! You're gonna get the guy kicked out of the big party at a once-a-year event?
Yes. Because that's HIS problem. I don't need to be the one to shoulder fear and defensiveness. I'm the one who earned the right to a comfortable night of fun. And this is indeed a question of who gets priority. Does this drunk fuck who follows people around to get a revenge grope deserve an unmolested night of fun? No. Do I deserve to jump every time a friend taps my shoulder or need to take a sharp look around before I sit down or approach a group? No. So I don't have to feel guilty that I want him gone. I get to have fun. He doesn't.

At the end of the night, I returned to my hotel room and told my roommates what had happened. They'd been at the rocket fuel party too and when I described the creeper, my Boston-based roommate covered he eyes "Aaah, fucking Dustin*!" Because apparently this guy has an M.O. And my other roommate asked if this was the same acquaintance who had tried to put his hands down my pants the previous year when I was kissing my boyfriend. It was indeed. I had asked my Boston-based roommate to have a talk with the guy last year. Obviously, it hadn't worked.

I was livid.

I wanted to nail this guy to the wall. I have sworn that this shit ends with me, and if this jerk is really a missing stair, then I would personally take him out. I demanded his last name. As soon as I woke up the next morning, I marched down to ops and told them everything I had learned about dear ol' Dustin Hennessey*. Again, they were very nice, apologized that this had happened to me, and told me that they would be bringing my complaint to the Con Chair and the Division Head. All of security would be on the lookout for him. He would be thrown out of the convention and possibly banned in future years. They asked me if there was anything else they could do for me. "Just tell me anything that I can do for you to exacerbate the consequences this guy will face."

Wow. Vindictive much?
On the one hand: no. I'm concerned much. I would have had a different reaction if people who knew this guy said this was highly out of character for him and/or he was going through a nasty breakup/bout of mental health issues/death in the family. But that was not the case. The info I got was that this guy was consistently creepy and showed signs of being a proto-rapist. So somebody needed to get to him before he did more or worse. Somebody has to let him know that this is a big deal. I don't do him (or certainly his future victims) any favors by letting him continue to think his behavior is ok.

On the other hand. Yes. So? I get to be fine with the fact that people who do shitty things face consequences. I get to say GOOD, without embarrassment or remorse. I'm glad he'll be kicked out. I hope he goes home and cries. I hope he shakes in his boots about losing something else that's valuable to him the next time he's tempted to grope a chick without consent. I hope he walks in that fear the rest of his life. Because that is exactly where fear belongs. It does not belong with me. GOOD.

As I enjoyed my last two days at Arisia, my old self had a brief and strangling spate of

Is he here? Is he there? Will he confront me? Will he try to give me that awful message louder and more clearly?
With a hard think and with great joy. I told my former self to calm down. Dustin Hennessey would be thrown out as soon as he showed his face, if he hadn't gone home by himself already. I was confident that I was in a safe place, surrounded by people who I could rely upon to back me up. No one will fail to support my right to exist unmolested in space and time, displacing the room for entitled jerks to have free reign. So I don't have to be afraid. I am not alone. And yes. I have a right to be here.

I have these things because of activists against rape culture, movements against harassment at conventions in general, Arisia's policy and personnel particularly, feminism, supportive friends, and a culture that has been significantly altered by them. I am so grateful that somebody told me that I have a right to be here. My community supports that right and it is because of them that I have the conviction to stand up for myself. Thank you to all of you who have made me strong enough to be a warrior.

Update: The Con Chair of Arisia commented below to update me about Dustin Hennessey, who was apparently never a guest at Arisia and snuck into the ballroom that night where he wasn't allowed. Since Arisia will likely have a difficult time banning a person who is already a sneak and a mooch, I am more willing to out this guy to make sure his actions are public or have consequences.  So I posted his contact information below.

*His name is Dustin Hennessey, he lives in Massachusettes, is an alum of Emerson College, and is an affiliate editor at NBC Sports. He used to work for ConnectiCon. Since he locked down his facebook because of all the attention this post is getting, here is his picture so you know what he looks like.
Dustin Hennessey
a) if you have received harassment or assault from Dustin, please report it wherever you see fit. He is now identified as a problem-person at Arisia and has connections to ConnectiCon.
b) if you know Dustin Hennessey already, please be a good friend and community member and make sure he knows this behavior is completely unacceptable for a human being, let alone a friend of yours. Be a good ally to your female friends and make sure they are warned and that Dustin has no access to them.
c) if you go to conventions and want to make sure a known and consistent CreeperDude gets extra scrutiny, notify your favorite con of this blog.
d) if you wish to tell Dustin Hennessey he is a shit on social media, please do something more useful and donate here.
There are people who deserve an avalanche of internet hate. While I believe Dustin behaved in a truly disgusting manner, there is still room for the best case scenario. Perhaps he made a (series of) horrible mistake(s), will wise up, and will be a better person after humbly accepting the consequences of his actions, which he richly deserves. I do not believe that will be facilitated by a lot of strangers calling him a fuckhead on facebook.

Update: I have received an anonymous request to take down Dustin's identifying information from my blog because it puts him in danger of more retribution than I intended and even some which might be out of proportion to his actions. Because of the virality of this post, I now wield considerable power in keeping or deleting Dustin's information, and with great power comes great responsibility. Ultimately, Dustin is not the star of this post, which is primarily about my internal monologue and Arisia's excellent response. I listed four objectives in posting his information:
a) to encourage any other victims to report
b) to enlist help from Dustin's immediate community in convincing him his behavior is unacceptable and needs to change
c) to give con-goers the option of asking their cons to exclude Dustin because of his actions
and I discouraged people from just being mean to him because that's actually counter to the objectives.

There are more people than I thought there would be who would like to disinvite Dustin from their cons, parties, and volunteer roles (objective c). I can't say whether they're trying to punish him, jumping on a popular bandwagon, or just don't want him around. I think that's a decision they have a right to make, but I don't need to facilitate it beyond my original objectives, and so I considered taking his info down. Then I remembered this:

This is a public post from someone who alleges Dustin assaulted her THAT SAME NIGHT. She came forward because she saw her assailant publicly called out on this blog and it gave her courage (objective a). I know because she messaged me to tell me that. And her account is worse than mine. HER account, not mine, is the reason I will keep Dustin's information up here and why I update this entry with a link to her entry. Because there may be more. And what is reported so far is enough to warrant keeping it here. It is worth the damage to his reputation. It is worth his embarrassment. And I support folks who hold these accounts credible and serious enough to want an opportunity to NOT have this guy around.

Let me be perfectly clear. If mine was the only account, I would take his identifying information down from my blog because my objectives would be complete. Dustin was rude and gross to me, but I wouldn't characterize it as criminal. I am leaving his info up on behalf of people who came forward because of this blog. From those accounts, it looks like my objectives may not be complete. I take responsibility for saying this information deserves to remain public.