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Talk:Conference anti-harassment/Policy

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Change in wording? Edit

Currently this has

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, up to and including expulsion from the conference [with no refund]

"up to" makes it sound like this is the worst possible action. A couple of alternative wordings:

  • "... may take any action they deem appropriate, including expulsion from the conference [with no refund]"
  • "... may take any action they deem appropriate, including expulsion from the conference [with no refund]. Law enforcement may be contacted in the event of criminal harassment or assault."

Housing Arrangements A Neglected Topic?Edit

In the last 3 years, I have been invited to attend two conferences by my immediate superiors, at two different jobs. In both cases, only one hotel room booking had been made, a fact I discovered ahead of time in both cases by calling the hotel to determine what kind of internet connectivity and security on the same they provided.

The first time, I just made excuses not to go -- first that we had a release coming up and I had code to write and test. He didn't accept that excuse, so finally I told him in meeting, in front of about half a dozen people (where he announced that I was going to said conference with him) that I couldn't go -- I had "band practice." He quizzed me on what kind of "band" it was I belonged to, and I couldn't resist. I told him -- "Oh it's a country and western band. You know, cheatin' songs...murder ballads ... that sort of thing." He blushed beet red, and did not pursue the conference thing after that.

The second time, I made arrangements to stay with a girlfriend who lived in the same city, on public transportation lines -- and then informed him and bcc'd to HR that since only one room was booked, I would be happy to stay with my GFF's family. He went freaking ballistic, because of course he got called on the carpet by HR.

Which brings us to the topic of housing arrangements. Conference organizers are at least partially responsible for providing enough hotel rooms at a reasonable enough price that people are not pressured to "double up" with -- well you know, people with penises. What are the recommendations? It seems to me that this sort of expectation has got to be fairly common if it happened to me twice in the past three years.

I'm not sure how to fold it in to conference anti-harassment, but I added mention of lodgings to Male Programmer Privilege Checklist just now. Azurelunatic 03:07, February 3, 2012 (UTC)

Privacy of Reports Edit

One reason for not reporting incidents to the organizers is because few people who need a whistle blown on them relish the whistle-blower. Assuring people when reporting an incident that their report will be kept private is probably ideal... except that one generally has to share it at least with the person in charge of collating such things. I want more eyes before putting something in the main article.

Ideally any identifying information of the reporter or the subject of any harassment (not always the same person) would remain private except to uninvolved people directly dealing with anti-harassment enforcement, or law enforcement if their presence becomes necessary.

Barring the horrible what-if in "what if one of the anti-harassment enforcement team is themselves reported harassing someone", I just know that eventually someone's going to demand to know who accused them, especially if they're being ejected from the conference. It is probably best to maintain the privacy of the reporter even under those circumstances. Azurelunatic 08:33, December 8, 2010 (UTC)

Sexiness-appropriate venues Edit

This section popped out at me:

[Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.]

I think the scenario I am thinking of is less likely to be an issue at a professional conference, but more likely at an entertainment sort of convention: consider the dealers' room where most material is safe for the general public, but there is a partition behind which children and anyone who does not wish to view sexualized imagery should not go, and this is where the sexualized artwork is kept. This is the phrasing I might propose for venues at which a certain amount of sexualized content is acceptable/expected in its designated area:

[Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, any vendor who uses sexualized images, activities, or other material should arrange ahead of time to set up in the zone set aside for this purpose. Exhibitors in the general areas of the expo hall should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.]

Azurelunatic 16:39, February 6, 2011 (UTC)

Clearly there are venues where sexual displays even within talks are in-scope for the conference. Consider a sex community conference! I'd suggest that a conference who wanted to either not have this rule delete it, or adapt it as you suggest (the licence is very permissive), rather than edit the sample policy to suggest that this is what conferences should do by default. It might at some point be useful to have a sample adaptation for, eg, sex community conferences and similar which deal with warnings and the right of people to walk out without being queried or heckled and so on. Thayvian 00:12, February 7, 2011 (UTC)
I like the idea of a sample adaptation quite a bit. I was wondering about putting the limited-sexual-displays thing in alongside the no-sexual-displays clause, but did not at all want to just up and do it, for reasons similar to yours. Hooray for talk pages! Azurelunatic 00:29, February 7, 2011 (UTC)

Sexiness unquantifiedEdit

I think some wording is loose, and open to misinterpretation between cultures and geographic regions. What does "Sexual images" mean? Is it nudity? Is the clique advertisement of a pretty sales girl standing next to a car considered a "Sexual image"? Should we be using a Middle East definition of "Sexual image" or "North American" where the norm for acceptable clothes are different? Is wearing a mini-skirt considered acceptable? I suggest referencing an established social norm, such the "G ratings within film classifications", as a guide. 10:10, January 10, 2015 (UTC) Cameron Shorter 10 January 2015

Cameron, in general, when a code of conduct provides very precise wording about what's not acceptable, that language serves to allow people to game the system by coming as close to the boundary as possible without (in their mind) violating it. In my opinion, it's better to leave things up to interpretation by whatever committee of people is responsible for enforcing a code of conduct. There is always an element of human judgment in codes of conduct -- a large one, in fact -- and I think this is an example of that. (This is just my opinion; I'm not speaking for anybody else here.) Monadic (talk) 18:22, January 11, 2015 (UTC)

Public statements: keeping it classy Edit

Currently there are suggestions for what not to do in a public statement (talk about specific people) but not much suggestion for what to do. Maintaining silence when everybody knows that something really problematic went down is itself problematic.

I have heard of events making public statements of the form that they cannot comment about behavior of individual attendees but [specific unacceptable behavior from well-known incident] is unacceptable and against conference policy. I think that's a reasonable suggestion; are there other suggestions for public statements?

Azurelunatic 01:29, September 6, 2011 (UTC)

offense not always harassment. Edit

I support much of the policy, but it concerns me that the text:

Harassment includes offensive verbal comments [related to gender, ...

Appears to equate Harassment with offence in various areas. Sadly that equivalence has turned up in derived works and discussions. Verbal coments can be overheard from some random conversation between like-minded people - or some legitimate and balanced expression of an offensive opinion. It is also unfortunate to juxtapose and lead with this, followed by the more serious stalking, touching issues it seems to me.

A minimal improvement might be to add Harassment can include - but that unfortunately weakens the stalking etc. that it is joined to. Perhaps another minimal improvement might be unsolicited offensive verbal comments or somesuch - perhaps that helps capture and proscribe the unwanted / abusive comments that I assume are being targetted. Ideally, re-working the paragraph to provide a clearer separation, and (perhaps) re-order that paragraph to re-prioritise the most serious offenses first, leaving some equivocation for the last one ? thoughts appreciated.

Age Discrimination Edit

Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination law in the United States provides protection against harassment/discrimination based on age. Any conference held in the US should probably include explicit admonition against age-based harassment/discrimination.

See: 17:02, December 4, 2013 (UTC)

Problems with sexualized clothing languag Edit

I have a few problems with the sexualized clothing language as written. I've been chewing over it for a while, but I've had trouble putting my exact issues into words. The policy is clearly meant to ban booth babes and random porn in presentations, but I think it both fails to address the core issues with booth babes and inappropriately polices the clothing of adult women. So, on with the specifics...

  • Sexualized clothing inevitably means disproportionately policing the clothing choices of adult women. A rule that bans sexualized clothing is unlikely to catch many men for the simple reason that in mainstream US culture, a man's clothing must be far more unusual before it's widely perceived as sexualized. That means the modal case will be a woman that another attendee perceives as being dressed too sexually. And that's madly problematic, because existing structural biases mean complaints are more likely to be directed against women who are perceived to be non-white or who do not fit mainstream beauty ideals. This seems to get hashed out every spring on numerous feminist blogs due to young women in high school running afoul of school dress codes that likewise seek to ban sexualized clothing from schools.  
  • Beyond that, sexualized clothing is typically synonymous with immodest clothing. Modesty policing has a nasty history across the world, and it is typically a key component of various systems of structural sexism. 
  • Sexualized clothing is left entirely undefined, and that's problematic. What constitutes sexualized clothing is very culturally specific and may change rapidly with time. My paternal grandfather grew up in a house where they covered the legs of pianos with skirts because they were too sexual (not kidding the tiniest bit-- he was born in 1878 and upper middle class Victorians were quite odd). There are tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of peopl in the US right now who consider a woman's hair too sexual to be seen in public. Leaving it unspecified leaves you with some unpalatable options:
    • Implicitly privilege the social and cultural background of the committee members. This is likely to have a chilling effect on women attending because they are unlikely to know most if any of the committee members well. This is also likely to cause a lot of trouble and hurt feelings since no-one really knows where they stand. 
    • Committee members may feel obligated to enforce a more modest clothing standard than they would themselves set in order to cater to the needs of people they feel are otherwise disempowered because they are members of religious minorities with stricter public dress codes than mainstream US society. 
  • It ultimately fails to address the core issue with booth babes, which is the use of human beings as decorative objects. That doesn't require sexualization to be morally problematic; just the use of a person as a means to an end is bad enough. I think this anti-harassment policy would be greatly improved by specifically banning that, with a few examples. Arguably, that's a more difficult rule to enforce because it gets into the grey areas of other peoples' intent. However, it both avoids policing adult women's clothing and specifically targets booth babes. 

PierceNichols (talk) 03:15, June 3, 2015 (UTC)

  • This page mentions restricting mode of clothing/costume/uniform only once, and only in regard to booth workers and volunteers.
  • In case of booth babes, their outfits or modes of outfit are dictated by their position and/or job as a booth babe, and thus do not represent true choice. Women whose position is not that of a booth babe, but other type of booth personnel, can choose their clothing independently that's true, but:
  • the attention value of booth babes is a known thing, and outside or inside pressure, implicit and explicit, can leak into a woman's choice on what she wears to a booth position
  • in current sociocultural climate, any female booth personnel wearing booth-babe-worthy clothing can and will be assumed, treated as, and function as a booth babe -- for all genders of visitors and employees
  • a policy aiming to ban use of booth babes but not banning other wearing of sexualized clothing by booth personnel is nothing but a giant loophole for companies who can just choose to not call their booth babes booth babes, and cry foul if this is addressed
  • in the end it's a matter of sacrificing personal choice of those [few] women who would work at booths, would personally (regardless of employer, co-worker pressure etc) prefer to wear clothes that could evoke the idea of a booth babe, for the experience of the [many] visitors and workers, or all genders, who would feel uncomfortable, marginalized, objectified, unsafe, embarrassed, unwelcome, Grunched, etc. due to the presence of what would look to them like booth babes. --Pecc (talk) 11:20, June 3, 2015 (UTC)

Additional Personal Report ConsiderationsEdit

Having just made use of this policy for a small conference I'm organizing, there are two additional points I'd like to suggest for the Personal Report section:

  • If you would prefer to make your report specifically to a person of a particular gender, let us know.

This covers cases of harassment where the reporter may not be comfortable or indeed able to make a report to someone of a particular gender. As a concrete example, a woman who was sexually harassed by a man may not want to make the report to a man.

  • We won't pressure you to talk about things you don't want to talk about, and we will only contact the police or other emergency services with your permission, or if we have reason to believe that this will prevent significant additional harm.

Also there to make it more likely that cases of sexual harassment (etc) will be reported. Participants may feel that they do not want to escalate the situation out of their control by making a report. The "prevent significant additional harm" clause weakens this somewhat but is meant for extreme cases.

Let me know what you think of these additions. Zarkonnen (talk) 14:26, January 6, 2016 (UTC)

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