In the post-ReaderCon sexual harassment revelations and groundswell, something that incensed me equally didn’t get much discussion. With autumn con season upon us, it’s on my mind again, and I welcome input.
Genevieve Valentine’s account of her harassment at ReaderCon also included mention that she, while on a panel, was referred to by a fellow panelist as “missy.” I find such belittlement, of anyone for any reason, colossally offensive.
Having at the time just moderated a ReaderCon panel myself, I immediately wondered, what’s the best response to something like that, when it’s happening?
I’ve thought about it, but I’m not the most socially adroit, so I would appreciate hearing others’ thoughts.
I think the response would be different depending on what role I was in: audience, fellow panelist, or panel moderator. Here are the responses I came up with. All comments welcome.
As an audience member: when the panel opens for questions, ask the disparaging panelist a two-part question. ‘Did you actually call that other panelist _____, and if so, why in the world would you disrespect a fellow panelist like that?’
As a fellow panelist: when the disparaging panelist finished, or maybe even interrupting them, ‘Did you actually call this other panelist _____? If so, then I’m not interested in a single other thing you’ve got to say.’ And leave the panelist table and walk out of the room.
As the moderator: when the disparaging panelist finished, ‘Did you actually call this other panelist _____? We don’t belittle people like that, at least on any panel I’m moderating. If you do it again, you can answer to the con-com.’
(My vindictive side would like to include in that last one ‘or I will call security and have you removed’ or the Conan-esque ‘or you and I can step outside and discuss it.’ But those don’t seem wise. :) )
Any thoughts? I do think it’s something that deserves pointing out in the moment. But if the disparager chose to get belligerent, things might get tense.
I hope to never need this. But if I ever see this sort of thing happen, I would like to have an idea of what might be a good thing to do.
Thanks very much for any comments.