Odyssey Con is a Madison, Wisconsin convention scheduled to take place later this month. I want to share two tidbits from their website.

From their harassment policy:

“It is the intention of Odyssey Con to create a safe, friendly, welcoming environment…”

From their Who is Odyssey Con? page:

James Frenkel, Guest Liaison

#

I’ve talked about Frenkel on the blog before.

As have others.

As is the nature of these things, there’s a lot more that isn’t written about publicly. I’ve spoken with other people harassed by Frenkel who chose not to post about it online, or to file complaints. Given the way we tend to treat victims of harassment and assault — demanding details and proof, blaming them, excusing the harassment, telling them why they’re wrong or overreacting, and so on — I can’t and won’t blame anyone for making that choice.

Even so, knowledge of Frenkel’s history is widespread in the SF/F field. He lost his job with Tor Books shortly after the 2013 incident. He was banned for life from Wiscon. Hell, some of this stuff is on his freaking Wikipedia page.

In other words, there’s no way Odyssey Con was unaware of this history. But they still chose to allow Frenkel to serve as their Guest Liaison.

That’s their right. It’s their convention, and if they want to put a known repeat harasser on staff, they can do so. But that choice has consequences. Consequences like their Guest of Honor withdrawing from the convention. Or having other guests and companies withdraw because the con prioritized a harasser over the safety of their guests.

ETA: Or then having another guest of honor withdraw…

#

I haven’t seen a public response from the convention yet, but I’m bracing myself for the typical refrain:

“But he’s such a nice guy. I never saw him harass anyone!”

He was a nice guy to me, too. He was genuinely kind and supportive when I was a nobody starting out in this business, and I hated learning about this other side of him. But the fact that he was nice to me doesn’t mean he’s nice to everyone. Harassers can be quite charming, and they learn to isolate their victims.

It would be like saying, “But Hannibal Lecter never tried to eat me, so how can you say he’s a cannibal?”

“He has a long history with the convention.”

Yes…he also has a long history of harassing women. What’s your point?

ETA: Called it! From the Odyssey Con program chair:

I have been personally acquainted with both Richard and Jim for many years, and, as program chair, I am 100% certain that they will both conduct themselves in responsible and appropriate fashions. Both Jim and Richard have made valuable contributions to Odyssey Con for years and I expect that they will, given the opportunity, continue to do so for years to come.

“He hasn’t done anything wrong since Wiscon 2013. Doesn’t he deserve another chance?”

Some things aren’t mine to share, but I question the assumption behind that statement. As for deserving another chance…personally, I think it depends. What work has he done to try to earn another chance? I do believe that everyone deserves the chance to learn and grow…but not at the expense of their victims. In other words, why is giving Frenkel yet another chance more important than giving your convention attendees a safe, welcoming event?

“It’s a witch hunt!”

Oh yes, of course. I’m sure it’s a big old conspiracy between Matthesen, Kowal, Priest, Kendall, Wiscon, Tor Books, and everyone else who’s spoken out about their experiences with Frenkel…

#

You can try to create a convention that’s safe and welcoming and friendly. Or you can put a man with a long, public history of harassment in a position of authority, with access to your guests.

You can’t do both.

#

ETA: Odyssey Con has posted a statement on Facebook (now removed, but screencapped by Natalie Luhrs), which includes this gem: “Odyssey Con is now, always has been, and always will be, open and welcoming to all. We do not allow anyone, not even a guest of honor, to dictate that someone else must be excluded from it.” (Read the full statement for context.)

ETA2: As of 4/12, Odyssey Con has posted a new statement on Facebook. This one notes, “Frenkel is no longer a member of our ConCom in any capacity, he has no position of authority in the convention proper, and he is not a panelist or lecturer. He has the right to purchase a badge and attend the convention, but as of this writing, I do not know if he is planning to do that.”

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Tags:

From: [personal profile] martianmooncrab


and what is interesting is that I followed all the links and the con still shows Monica as attending.. no comment on their site or news blog that I can find.

From: [personal profile] martianmooncrab


I guess it was recent, and I will give them the benefit of the doubt (as much as one can when they have a known harasser on staff) and they just havent posted the announcement. And like you, it will be interesting to see how they spin it.
dragovianknight: From the start of the Pandaria quest chain. (WoW - Varian Angry)

From: [personal profile] dragovianknight


I wonder if the thinking is, "Well, she tried to throw her weight around and failed, but she'll still come." Because she couldn't possibly have a valid issue with a straight white dude!
elf: Dust sprite being squished by rock (Keep Trying)

From: [personal profile] elf


It really is fascinating how "I don't feel safe around that person, and if he's in a position where I'd have to interact with him, I'm not attending" gets twisted into "I'm the GOH and I demand you fire one of your staff members."

I expect the next few years to see a surge of "how dare you tell us that there's a problem with this straight white dude being in charge" in all sorts of organizations.
kore: Sam Wilson and Jane foster kiss as Cap and Thor (Default)

From: [personal profile] kore


It would be like saying, “But Hannibal Lecter never tried to eat me, so how can you say he’s a cannibal?”

HAH! too true.
onyxlynx: The words "Onyx" and "Lynx" with x superimposed (Default)

From: [personal profile] onyxlynx


Facebook statement has been removed.

It just gets worse.
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (Default)

From: [personal profile] niqaeli


I do wonder if a dealer refused to come to the convention because a known thief, whom witnesses had repeatedly watched steal things in front of them and had been fired from a job for one such incident, had been put in charge of security: would OdysseyCon also consider them to be throwing their weight around to get someone else excluded?

Because that's actually pretty fucking much this exact situation, substituting out only the precise type of misbehaviour the asshole's known for.

And, you know, most of us I think would just call it protecting yourself and telling others what and why we'd call giving them the information to protect themselves since the con itself not only refuses to do so but is actively enabling the asshole.
swan_tower: (Default)

From: [personal profile] swan_tower


Oddly, nobody ever tells the victim of theft they should be flattered that the other person liked their belongings so much.
gehayi: (xena (cila81))

From: [personal profile] gehayi


The Odyssey Con Concom page is now under construction. Oh, and they claim to have two new Guests of Honor: Christopher R. Mihm, whose name is unfamiliar to me, and Tad Williams.

As of 12:34 a.m. on April 11, 2017, however, Monica is still listed as a guest of honor on their news page.

Sigrid Ellis also said last year that Richard Russell--who is listed as Hotel Liaison and the person running the Spontaneous Writing Contest--"has, for years, made explicitly and openly racist remarks during panels he ran."

That a science fiction convention would knowingly admit both of these guys two years running...

What the absolute HELL were they thinking?
tbonejenkins: (Get down to business Izumi)

From: [personal profile] tbonejenkins


Oddcon has now posted another statement: https://www.facebook.com/groups/22351026475/permalink/10154572302686476/

My favorite line: "Odyssey Con is an all volunteer organization staffed by people who have many strengths, but not all of us are great communicators."

...not all of us are great communicators....

GEE...YA THINK?
gehayi: (zoe_you_paid_money (irulan_amy))

From: [personal profile] gehayi


And according to one of the members of their Facebook page, "the board mods are banning people for posting about this." Isn't that just lovely.
lagilman: coffee or die (Default)

From: [personal profile] lagilman


"But WHY can't we do things the way we want and that don't bother US? Why do you have to ruin OUR fun?" seems to be the tone of pretty much everything OdCon has said in response to all this.

The comment above about known theft being handled more appropriately than harassment is dead-on.
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