Keycon code of conduct appearsPosted: May 2, 2011
I’ve already written a couple of posts about Keycon, a Winnipeg scifi convention where there have been incidents of sexual harassment and rape in the past. One attendee put quite a lot of effort into writing gathering info about incidents and asking for a policy to stop more incidents happening in future.
For me, the change I wanted to see was simple: I wanted Keycon to clearly acknowledge the problem and say that sexual harassment is not acceptable and would result in people getting banned. I wanted them to do this in a way that would result in all Keycon-attendees seeing this message.
What I ideally wanted was for Keycon to write a message about sexual assault very clearly on the website front page. They haven’t done that exactly – the phrase “sexual harassment” doesn’t appear on the website front page – but there is a very prominent link “letter to Keycon members” on the front page near the top, which states that sexual assault has been a problem and talks about changes that have been made to the Keycon code of conduct to address this. There is another prominent link “Keycon code of conduct” which says that harassment is not acceptable and specifically says that anyone who has experienced sexual assault can report it to any member of the convention staff at any point.
I’m really happy to see this. To me the important elements were making it clear that a problem exists, and making it clear that sexual assault is not tolerated. While I don’t believe that simply having a policy will prevent sexual assault from happening altogether, I do believe it will tend to make sexual assault less likely. Unfortunately there are some individuals who believe that sexual assault is acceptable behaviour. They may have carried out sexual assault in the past, maybe even in public, and gotten away with it, which would strengthen their impression that sexual assault is generally acceptable. I think the new policy shows leadership and goes some way towards creating a community in which it is clear to everyone that sexual assault is not accepted.
I would like to thank the Keycon organisers, and I would like to especially thank succubus_esq for putting effort into this. Talking about sexual assault can be very disheartening and thankless and can result in a lot of push-back. I think a lot of the people involved found this to be a very negative and painful situation. But I think the new policy does create greater safety for Keycon attendees and I’m truly grateful for that.