Harassment in fandom needs to be taken seriously – guest post by Lamar.
by Patch O'Furr
Thanks to Lamar for submitting. His articles on Flayrah include this recommended one: “Furry, not an obscure little fandom any more” – it’s as relevant today as in 2011.
A couple of weeks ago I put out a call via Twitter, helpfully reposted by some high profile people, to see if I could get any first hand reports of how Convention and Security staff handled issues at Conventions.
I had exactly three replies in total. One saying that they had once reported someone vaping inside the convention space. One security staffer who was unable to discuss any details but expressed that incidents of harassment do happen, and have to be handled correctly and with care. And finally, another con staffer who accused me of being on a “fishing expedition” and using rumours to ascribe bad faith.
And outside of twitter I talked to a young member of the fandom, who continues to receive targeted convention related harassment. I’m going to call him Adrian, but that’s not his real name. Adrian shared copies of the messages. They include slurs and rants, including for instance “You ATTENTION seeking c***”. Adrian received this harassment, for speaking out about what happened to him at a convention some years ago. I ask him to talk about it.
It started when he complimented someone on their fursuit at a convention.
Then some drinks.
And an invite to a hotel room to party.
And then being pressured into non-consenting sex.
Or to use the correct word, rape.
The next morning, Adrian had to leave the convention. Maybe if he’d stayed, he’d have gathered the courage to report it. But instead Adrian tried to put it behind him, after all surely it was just a mistake.
“I didn’t tell the staff because I thought the guy cared about me,” Adrian tells me, “Then after the con ended he told me that I needed to get [psychiatric] help because being trans is wrong.”
It wasn’t till later, when Adrian felt able to talk about what had happened. And that’s when Adrian started getting defensive messages, recounting a different version of events from those Adrian remembered.
Which quickly escalated to harassment from multiple people, all aimed at trying to keep Adrian quiet. “One of their friends contacted me and harassed me, I blocked their account and they went onto a fake one to continue harassing me.”
Adrian is a victim of the circle of silence that I fear has set in to the fandom. There seems to be a great amount of social pressure on not ‘creating drama’. What little is seen is in rumours passed around social media, and the occasional flare up when administrative action is taken against someone who made an accusation on a furry site. It would be incredibly naive to think that there’s such a small amount of harassment to warrant not having anyone willing to go on the record with me about it. Even if I hadn’t known of Adrian’s story, or multiples like it. I am deeply concerned that the Furry Fandom has developed a toxic culture where we don’t talk about harassment, because it might make the fandom look bad.
Notes from Patch:
Speaking of inaction, Lamar let me see a concept that has some attention in fandoms, the Missing Stair.
Here’s a story about BLFC 2017. It started when the below complaint got traffic on Furry Twitter and Telegram:
This is not the track record you want your convention to have, I hope. pic.twitter.com/8hVhkrRSxd— 🦠🧬gimme skunk emoji🧬🦠 🔜 MFF (@JUNIUS_64) June 2, 2017
There was no ID but the talk led me to notice that guy in the hall, so I got the badge name that was being sought. A little while later he was wandering a public area and going slightly over the line of physical respect by smacking stranger’s butts with a ball, so security kicked him out of the room and I got video. A tip connected all that to the original complaint.
I have no idea how they handled it from there. That’s something they keep private for good reasons, I think. The guy seemed chastened by being kicked out and I would rather not do shaming by sharing video without a compelling reason (which would likely only come from people directly involved). I’m not the police or con security, and I saw evidence of someone lacking friends or social skills. Basically, a lonely guy who wasn’t much of a threat, making its own punishment in a small way. (Same for Furry Raiders who were hiding like losers with a little gaggle of “bodyguards” to go anywhere.)
The original discussion on Twitter caused action to connect the ID and a record in case complaints repeat. I would take that as a pretty good result and a little positive sign about the goodness of the community. Be like that.
Here’s the alt-furries other side: “don’t just do something, sit there!” For the real fandom: if you see anyone acting like Adrian’s harassers, don’t let it go.
Experiences or opinions? Please comment.