Responding to Harassment: Moving Past Feminism 101
» Web developer since 2008
» Plays video games, tech-minded since childhood
» Robotics fanatic
» White, straight-passing, CIS woman
I'malso kind offrustrated
I know that, to a large degree, y'all are like-minded
here. But this subject really gets to me. If I appear
angry, know I'm not angry at y'all.
Y'all are amazing for being here and supporting this
This talk is about being a bystander. I've been
harassed, and I wouldn't dream about telling folks
how to deal with their own harassment. This talk and
these strategies are aimed at those who see reports
of harassment, and want to move the conversation
1.Marginalized person reports harassment in tech
2.Denial group tries to silence that person's lived
experiences with anecdotal "data" and/or smear
3.Shocked group either pretends to be, or is deluded
into, being shocked that this happened
4.Silenced marginalized person tries to put their
life back together with very little real aid.
Amarginalized person reports
A person takes on serious risk to themselves-- their
career, their reputation, their relationships, their
safety-- in order to publicly report their lived
The reactions ofour
industry, in some
Thetwo groups of
the ﬂank maneuver:
The shocked believe, or perpetuate the tale that this
can't happen in tech.
The reasonsthis can'thappen
» "We've progressed beyond that."
» "I know X and Y who work there and they're pretty
» "I'm just so shocked! This must be an isolated
We as an industry never seem to get beyond this
conversation. We just talk about how shocked we are,
and then the facts fade to time and we plod on.
We've progressed beyondthat
There are a litany of facts that prove this statement
wrong. And propagating this story is part of the
problem-- we can't move forward to solving the
problem without admitting there is a problem.
What's funny about this argument is most of us in
marginalized groups have to work in places where
troubling incidents occur, because they are so
Just knowing a few cool people who work there doesn't
give everyone a clear pass that works there.
"I'mjustso shocked!This mustbe
an isolated incident"
I like to think of these folks as ostriches, burying
their heads to avoid having to have a real discussion
about this real problem.
This one, to me, is the most aggravating.
Rule #1to believing
victims oftech or
Howto move beyond shock
» Talk to those who appear shocked: "Yes, this is
shocking, but we can't let shock paralyze us out
of learning from this."
» To those who claim we're beyond it: then why are
new reports of harassment appearing on a regular
basis? What happens to these harassers?
» Remind those with friends at the company in
question: calling out harassment may not be
calling out your friends that work there.
This group is more troublesome: they actively deny
that harassment happens in tech and gaming, or
worse-- they instead claim groups in power are being
harassed by 'power-hungry SJWs'.
The demanders ofproof
These brave souls demand proof that the harassment
happened, and insist it didn't happen until they
speciﬁcally see that proof.
Howdo I dealwiththem?
I tend to less-than-politely remind them:
You are not entitled to
the experience of anyone
else. It isn't about you.
The fact that these folks actively doubt victims
means they're not going to believe them under any
circumstances. I ﬁnd spending time trying to prove
things to them won't matter, because they'll claim
the proof was made up.
Plus, again, we're not entitled to the details of
that experience other than what the victim chooses to
share with us.
These folks will do anything, anything, to re-frame
the argument around the victim and their lives,
choices, and actions, instead of the harassers.
They bring up irrelevant things, like how the victim
dresses, if any time has passed between the
harassment and the report, anything they can ﬁnd (or
make up!) about the victim.
We've all seen the wonderful Wondermark cartoon
explaining sea lioning:
Honestly? These folks (sea lions and character
assassins) are usually beyond reason. I ﬁnd the best
situation for these folks is a call-out and a block.
I know callout culture is an issue, so I tend to be
careful about callouts. But my opinion remains that
callouts can be used as a tool.
My view is I only call out folks who either start a
public dialogue with me while saying offensive
things, or those who exhibit repeated, unrepentant
Thereare other groups
These groups are small, but vocal, and super gross:
» MRAs/TERFs/other blatant supporters of horrible
» The silencers- the ones who threaten and dox
victims into silence
I wish I knew how better to deal with these groups.
For the silencers, I recommend contacting Crash
Override, or OAPI for assistance
Howto move on fromtheanger
We can't be angry all the time, and we have to
practice some self-care while maintaining our shining
a light on this huge issue in tech.
If you are dealing with an especially toxic person,
you have every right to block, mute, or otherwise
Their right to free speech does not equal a right to
your time :).
A simple tweet to show that you support someone who
is being harassed can be great. Pointing them to
resources for dealing with ahrassment can be even
Respect their space, though. If they ask to be left
alone, or be un-tagged from a conversation, do so.
Be sure not to:
» Trivialize their lived experiences
» Say you know how it feels, if you don't. (avoid it
even if you do).
» Ask for details that don't belong to you
» Push them to do something they don't want to do
(tell management, etc)
Golden Rule: Dowhatworks for
My tactics do not work for everyone by a long shot.
I'm going off what I've done based on what I've gone
through and seen.