Oct 11 2012

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Help with “Missy” Response?

Posted at 9:31 am under cons,hm,SF/F,writing

In the post-ReaderCon sexual harassment revelations and groundswell, something that incensed me equally didn’t get much discussion. With autumn con season upon us, it’s on my mind again, and I welcome input.

Genevieve Valentine’s account of her harassment at ReaderCon also included mention that she, while on a panel, was referred to by a fellow panelist as “missy.” I find such belittlement, of anyone for any reason, colossally offensive.

Having at the time just moderated a ReaderCon panel myself, I immediately wondered, what’s the best response to something like that, when it’s happening?

I’ve thought about it, but I’m not the most socially adroit, so I would appreciate hearing others’ thoughts.

I think the response would be different depending on what role I was in: audience, fellow panelist, or panel moderator. Here are the responses I came up with. All comments welcome.

As an audience member: when the panel opens for questions, ask the disparaging panelist a two-part question. ‘Did you actually call that other panelist _____, and if so, why in the world would you disrespect a fellow panelist like that?’

As a fellow panelist: when the disparaging panelist finished, or maybe even interrupting them, ‘Did you actually call this other panelist _____? If so, then I’m not interested in a single other thing you’ve got to say.’ And leave the panelist table and walk out of the room.

As the moderator: when the disparaging panelist finished, ‘Did you actually call this other panelist _____? We don’t belittle people like that, at least on any panel I’m moderating. If you do it again, you can answer to the con-com.’

(My vindictive side would like to include in that last one ‘or I will call security and have you removed’ or the Conan-esque ‘or you and I can step outside and discuss it.’ But those don’t seem wise. :) )

Any thoughts? I do think it’s something that deserves pointing out in the moment. But if the disparager chose to get belligerent, things might get tense.

I hope to never need this. But if I ever see this sort of thing happen, I would like to have an idea of what might be a good thing to do.

Thanks very much for any comments.

One response so far

One Response to “Help with “Missy” Response?”

  1. Larry Hodgeson 11 Oct 2012 at 11:49 pm 1

    Hi Scott, I’d recommend you just turn to the person and say, “What you just said was inappropriate. Please don’t do it again.” If he/she does it again, then ask him to leave the panel.

    Now I’m worried David Louis Edelman brings his wife and I call her “Miss E.” :)

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