There is so much I could say. After I scream and curse and throw things at the wall, that is. There is so much I could say, so much I want to say. But my time and energy are limited… so for now, I’m just going to say two things.
First: In the conversations about sexual harassment at atheist/ skeptical conferences, I have noticed a tremendous amount of goalpost-moving when it comes to the question of reporting. “If you wanted something done about this harassment, why didn’t you tell anyone?” “Actually — I told someone on the JREF staff.” “Well, why didn’t you tell D.J. Grothe about it?” “Actually — I did tell D.J. about it.” “Well, why didn’t you report it in writing?” “Actually — I did report it in writing.” “Well, why didn’t you tell hotel security?” “Actually — I did tell hotel security.” “Well, why didn’t you send a written report in triplicate, to the police, to hotel security, and to D.J. Grothe, using registered mail so there could be a documented paper trail?”
Okay, that last one was sarcastic. I wish I could say the rest of it was.
As Ashley F. Miller pointed out in her excellent piece, Aren’t you making it up? – Why women don’t report harassment: When a woman is harassed and speaks out about it… even when she does everything “right”? Even when she has witnesses who are willing to make public statements; even when a complaint about the harassment gets made when the incident is happening and not later; even when the complaint isn’t being made about a well-known speaker; even when the target of the harassment is a known and respected member of the community with a platform from which to speak? She will still (a) be blamed for not reporting in the exact proper channels, and (b) get called a liar. In fact, the fact that she didn’t report through the exact proper channels (or rather, her critic’s idea of the exact proper channels) will be used to impugn her credibility. “Well, if this really happened, why didn’t you tell anyone?” Repeat goalpost-moving script above.
Second, and much more importantly:
D.J. Grothe, president of JREF and organizer of TAM, was told about these incidents.
D.J. Grothe was told that a male attendee of TAM had been using a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod to surreptitiously take photos up women’s skirts.
And he nevertheless made this statement:
It should be said that there has never been a report filed of sexual harassment at TAM to my knowledge and there have been zero reports of harassment at the TAMs we’ve put on while I’ve been at JREF.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.”