Sexual Harassment

Discussion in 'Communications' started by Sith-Lord-Gunray, Aug 3, 2008.

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  1. Sith-Lord-Gunray Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2003
    star 6
    As many may be aware, there's been an unusual amount of sexual harassment on the boards lately, whether that be via pm or subtle remarks in threads. To be frank, I don't believe that this is handeled seriously enough. And I know that I myself don't handle it in the appropriate manner - because honestly, there is no appropriate effective manner. As a female user, I cannot post a picture of myself without getting a pm or two telling me how gorgeous I am. Also, if a female posts multiple pictures, she is deemed an "attention *****", while a male poster doing the same does not receive as much mockery. I've also been told that I deserve the harassment I get for posting a picture in the first place. Would you use this same logic in real life? If an attractive female leaves her house, does that mean she's asking you to cat call her? No. It seems as though people think that a picture is a formal request for harassment. And I'm not referring to a simple "Cute" or "beautiful". And how is someone subjected to this meant to act? If we report to a mod or speak up to the user, we're called a *****. If we pass it off as a joke (as I've been doing), we're considered perverts who are asking for it. We shouldn't have to choose between those two options.


    As far as private messages go, yes, there have been some horribly creepy ones. And I know for a fact that many other female users are receiving them, yet none of them will actually come out and report it because they don't think anything will happen. What needs to be realised is that sexual harassment is not at all in the same category as a user breaking the TOS by swearing, or spamming, or baiting. It's on an entirely different plane, it's far more serious, and therefore users should not receive a slap on the wrist for taking part in it. I seriously think that there should be far more attention directed to this issue, as it appears to be always passed over or hushed up in the past.
  2. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    I'm one of many who has noticed this. Obviously as a male I much less prone to being sexually harassed on the boards, but I still find the behavior of some of my fellow JC'ers to be appalling (and that's knowing little-to-nothing of what they say in private messages). On two occasions (one over a year ago, another in the last JCC Focus Group) I and others have tried to bring more serious attention to it. The responses from the administration were largely "It's not a problem because we take care of it immediately" and ridiculous excuses were made to dismiss my concerns.

    I agree completely with the topic post. Sexual harassment should be a primary concern on the boards, especially because it is so pervasive and accepted here. I'm glad targets of the harassment are speaking out because it's even more difficult as a third party to get anything done about it.
  3. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    :(

    While the PM stuff is creepy, and I have no doubt what's going on is making you uncomfortable, have you considered just not posting in the "Post A Picture of Yourself" thread for a while?

    And you admit males who post a lot in the PAPOY thread get some mockery, at least.

    If you're being contacted by PM in a way that makes you uncomfortable though , that's awful and the admin team should be doing something about it. But... if you don't like the comments you generate after posting photos of yourself, there's a pretty easy way you could reduce their frequency, no?

    A practical solution is that I believe if you leave 5 PMs from the same user unread, that user cannot send you new PMs. So if there are one or two repeat offenders, perhaps consider not opening their PMs? The "5 new private messages" notification may be annoying, but not as annoying as the PMs received I would guess.


  4. Sith-Lord-Gunray Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2003
    star 6
    On one hand, I would say that I shouldn't have to be forced out of that thread because of such a thing. But on the other, I have in fact dealt with it by avoiding the thread for a while. But after you post one, people remember, and it really doesn't matter how many more you post. They still know you're hot after the first.



    Sometimes you end up being shocked by the user who does it, and you can't tell if it's a joke or not. You don't always know how to handle the situation with someone who you respected, or thought was a trustworthy person.
  5. lexu Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2002
    star 6
    I've been subject to very inappropriate comments and attention a few times and frequently witness it happen to other users. Certain users seem to think there's nothing wrong with being creepy. We talked about it at length in the Focus Group earlier this year, it was illustrated to be a problem directly after that and still not taken seriously, and here we are again.

    I'm interested to see what MS has to say about this. Individually, you all say you're concerned and will not tolerate harassment when it's reported to you--and I believe that you genuinely mean that when you say it--but things continue to happen which indicate you're not doing enough to address sexual harassment as it happens or discourage it from happening again. The "we already have things under control" response just won't do.

    Edit: Japes, I agree with you to some extent, but it's still a little like covering your ankles so men don't get too excited to resist the urge to jump you. :p Users shouldn't just have to ignore repeated unwanted comments. There are rules on the boards that are here to make sure everyone has an enjoyable time, that's why we have spoiler rules and flaming and spamming rules and everything else. Asking users to change their behavior because someone else is taking the fun out of something isn't really fair, or necessary when it's simple enough to discipline the other person.
  6. dp4m Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 9
    It's not unsurprising to me that this rears its head yet again.

    Out of curiosity, I had thought that there was a specific "task force" for sexual harrassment charges which was created back in the day of Kate and Rhonda, with a third member ot be added -- so "charges" of this nature could be investigated without all of the messy details being dragged out in the MS. As far as I can remember, this was just about the only thing I ever liked in terms of "things not being discussed in the MS."

    Of course, with Kate now gone and Rhonda on reduced time, the institutional memory of this type of thing may be gone.
  7. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    People should be able to post pictures of themselves without automatically getting negative attention for it. While there is a certain amount of attention-seeking associated with that, some people just like sharing pictures and it's one of the social aspects of this site. Simply being female and/or simply posting pictures shouldn't be something that automatically makes someone a target for harassment. It doesn't mean that we should be unsympathetic about it either.

    Ultimately, it can't all be a matter of enforcement though. If I get a complaint, I deal with it right away. But I almost never get any complaints--maybe other mods do, but as someone who's ready to act there isn't much I can do. If there isn't a complaint made, I can't intervene directly because the line between playful flirting and harassment is thin at times--and we're told that people do indeed enjoy some of the playful stuff that goes on.

    We shouldn't blame the victims, but let's be sure that you're being very firm when you say no. No should mean no, and if you're still getting harassed then it is a serious issue. It's an issue that has ramifications on the user and mod level.

    As users, you can see things you might consider a lack of enforcement or whatnot. As a mod, I see the things I mentioned above. Both of us need to make sure we're working on it if we're going to see something good come of it.
  8. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    I agree with everything that Jello just said.
  9. Rogue...Jedi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2000
    star 7
    I was typing up something similar, but Jello said it better than I was, so I'll just stick with saying that I completely agree with Jello here as well.
  10. Garth Maul Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 6
    Yes, I think that if the lines of communication between the MS and users are open and clear, it will go a long way to helping the situation. I believe MS really has to be "reactive", just because it is a grey area and particularly with PMs, it's more difficult to police.

    I think that unfortunately, some of this behaviour will always be around the internet and these forums.
  11. lexu Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2002
    star 6
    I totally agree that more people need to speak up about what they're uncomfortable with. Other users also need to respect that and not be critical of those users.

    But let's establish something: There are situations where users do not report things. There are other situations where they do and nothing really happens, which is discouraging. I just want to make sure we're not totally focused on just telling users they need to report things. That's obviously true, but this isn't going to be a constructive conversation if we don't also admit that even when harassment is reported, it's not often dealt with in a way which discourages it from happening again, or that the instigator is even made aware that their behavior is unacceptable by MS.
  12. dp4m Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 9
    On the other hand, Jello, there are comments which just cross the line to begin with.

    Yes, those obviously have to be reported to be acted upon, but I'd hope the MS response isn't "Well, NOW you have to say 'no' and if they do it again, we'll take action." Again, as with most things, that's a case-by-case basis, but to think that there are some comments which aren't inherently over a line is naive I think.
  13. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    Totally. And I like to think those are dealt with as swiftly as they're spotted--and that may be the limiting factor, really. Even with overlapping mod coverage, sometimes things do slip through--which is why we do always appreciate PMs even from those not involved.

    But yes, there is a line and if people cross it then action should/will be taken.
  14. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Well, this still strikes me as problematic. If nothing else, I would say that the way these cases are administered needs to be reconsidered. Given the number of mods who've stepped forward as willing to be responsive and proactive, and also the users who are stepping forward to say that they haven't received any meaningful response, there is a clear disconnect between the two parties. In such a case, I don't think the burden of responsibility should fall to the user to shop for the right mod that's actually willing to deal with sexual harassment issues. Rather, it should be the responsibility of the moderators to make sure these issues are addressed effectively. Ideally this would be because every mod is as willing to deal with these issues as the ones that have weighed in thus far (which apparently is not the case) or, failing that, because they forward the issue to someone who is proven willing and capable in this regard.
  15. Sith-Lord-Gunray Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2003
    star 6
    Wockey, that is where I'm confused. I don't think I'm the first person to have ever spoken up about this at all, and given that, why has nothing been done if mods are as eager as they claim to be? Not saying that the mods are full of lies, I have nothing against them at all, I just mean...there is some major lack of proper communication going on. If the mods are this eager, and the users are complaining, why is not enough being done?
  16. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 6
    Well, let me ask this . . . when we're talking about sexual harassment, are we talking about behavior from J. Random User? If we are, then I think Jello's answer is about right.

    Alternately, are we talking about moderators, ex-moderators, and VIP's? I've seen two cases where I thought a user was allowed to get away with harassing behavior well past the "Hmm, I can't tell if they're just playing" point, and in both cases, the individual was a VIP or above. There seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge and discuss problems regarding users who have colored usernames. More people in and outside MS simply say, "Oh, that's just the way _______ is," or, "There's no point in complaining about it. He's got MS in his pocket. Who would you complain to?"

    I'm reasonably certain we're talking about VIP's+ here, and I think it's telling that the issue hasn't been mentioned yet. If we have a culture of silence surrounding people who happen to have a few extra buttons, we need to explode that. That's not to say we need to list names, dates, and offenses here, but I think it's fair to ask, "Why does a different setting on the user permissions panel seem to give some people extra insulation from the consequences of their actions?"
  17. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    No, it's not just users with colors who get away with it.
  18. MaidenLumpe VIP

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2000
    star 3
    In those cases, could it be made policy to contact the user being harassed to check in on them? If there are two people who are constantly flirting back and forth, that's one thing, but in cases where users are seeing the flirting, and then have an innapropriate comment sent their way, they may not know that it's okay to report it. In cases of sexual harassment, very often people tend to be quiet or brush it off as "no big deal" even when they are affected by it - having a mod reach out and say "hey, saw that this comment was made and you didn't respond in kind, just wanted to check on you" might make a big difference. It may also make people think twice about making potentially inappropriate comments, if they know that mods are being proactive about it.
  19. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    Absolutely. From everything I've gleaned in conversations with the various victims, it's the whole atmosphere of harassment that's the issue. A lot more people than those with colors are doing it and it seems a constant enough thing to drive people away. That's the issue. If people with colors are doing it as well, they're doing it for the same reason people without colors are doing it--and that's what we need to address. It's the larger issue.

    The first step is to always say no. If that fails, report them. But I agree that it's not enough, and that the atmosphere needs to be addressed too. The question is how?


    Carmen: Yeah, that sounds like a great idea./>
  20. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    There's no way moderators on a messageboard are going to be able to change some peoples' attitudes, so I think the best solution (unfortunately) is to adopt a hard line. A crackdown is needed, and harsh (harsh) punishments must be handed out so that they change their behavior or, if they don't, they're banned indefinitely.

    I don't know how to address the apathy regarding the issue-- and acceptance of the behavior-- among moderators and regular users who don't do it themselves. Those sorts of attitudes ("That's just the way so-and-so is," "Stop inviting it") are a problem far beyond the scope of this board. Hopefully enough people care to change it here, but I'm skeptical.
  21. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 6
    Guy, I'm looking for suggestions, as well as a sense of what people find generally acceptable . . . in ideal world, where would you draw the line at which action is taken?
  22. Excellence Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2002
    star 7

    This hasn't happened overtly in Literature. We're cultured. O:)
  23. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Ok, there are some aspects of the "line" I would like to define

    Unsolicited comments of a sexual nature...

    • "Unsolicited" meaning no buildup and no justifiable provocation (e.g. a pretty picture is not justification).

    • "Of a sexual nature" doesn't just refer to "omg i want to bang you"-- it can be anything from comments about the person's physical features to inappropriate references to her romantic life.



    ...that may make the target feel uncomfortable/violated/etc. (Moderators will have to ask sometimes.)


    I'm really iffy about defining it, because it's more of a "I know it when I see it" kind of thing. (It seems lame, yeah, but most of the time it's pretty easy to spot).

    And I'm also hesitant to say the target must feel harassed for action to be taken if, for example, the target was subject to behavior that most people would find objectionable. I say that because if the offender thinks the behavior is acceptable he will keep doing it until he targets the wrong person.

    Hahaha, I left Lit partially because of an episode in which an author was subject to insane amounts of vitriol and harassment based upon an "incorrect" number of clones in the Grand Army of the Republic. [face_laugh] I remember you, though, so your comment may be sarcasm-class.
  24. Strilo Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 8
    Please note that guys can be sexually harassed too.
  25. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Yes, of course, but on the JCC it seems to happen to females far more than males... I'd say about ten to one.

    I only recall one instance in which a male user was sexually harassed overtly. No one likes him so it was ignored for a long time by the users and moderators. [face_dancing]
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