I enjoyed reading Robert Gehrke’s brilliant send-up of everything wrong with Richard Paul Evans’ response to allegations of sexual harassment at FanX, as well as the ridiculous response by FanX organizers to Shannon Hale’s request for better policies to ensure the safety of all women involved. He really seemed to get it.
Then he quoted Kerry Jackson, “an expert on all things nerdy,” and I became angry. Jackson talked about how, to “geeks of a certain age,” it can feel threatening to have women involved in fandom that used to be “just guys.” Since he didn’t notice the geek girls in high school, clearly we didn’t exist, though women have been involved in all fandoms represented at FanX as long as men. In Utah alone, there have been a major symposium/con, a magazine and fan clubs at BYU and Provo since the early ’80s, and Conduit con in Salt Lake since ’91, among others. These always involved many women.
So what? Why get angry? I thought about my reaction. When another woman and I tweeted this point, Gehrke’s response was, “Good grief. He’s on your side. He wants women involved.” Several people, including Jackson, agreed.
But here’s the thing: It should’ve been easy to just tell us, “Good point. Sorry.” And as long as even helpful men feel the need to write all the history and own all the institutions they aren’t used to seeing women as part of, and as long as they feel we should be grateful when they want us in what they see as their spaces, we face an uphill battle.
Acknowledge women, listen to women, re-examine what you know about our history — or it will still be a long time before we can rest from the fight against sexual harassment.
Stephanie Asplund, Layton