The book world is a warm and intimate community, and it’s easy to feel safe at conferences because the vast majority of authors, readers, publishers, bloggers, etc. are genuinely wonderful people.
Many festivals have no anti-harassment policy in place whatsoever, and no place for conference attendees to report predatory behavior.
The boards are queasy about legal issues, obviously, but authors and readers are arguing that festival organizers also have a duty to provide as safe a space as possible to conference goers.
Here is a partial list of specific situations I and female author friends have experienced at various crime conferences.
Each one of these was a different man – either an author or a publisher. Some of the behaviors have been reported about more than one man.
I’ve included nothing that I haven’t personally experienced, witnessed, or been told by the woman/women involved, and I haven’t included some of the more serious accusations I know of. And I’m going to phrase this as a question to men, because I think part of the problem here is that even the most woke of our male friends and colleagues have no idea what goes on, and are putting themselves through emotional contortions thinking, “Wait, have I done it?” My answer to the good guys is NO, you haven’t done it – just check yourself against this list.
At a conference, have you ever….
- Stayed late in the conference bar chatting up the youngest and drunkest woman in the place, to the point that other authors have had to intervene and escort her home safely?
- Taken photos of a woman’s body parts without her knowing?
- Stood outside the hotel window of a woman who just turned you down at the conference bar?
- Stroked the leg of a woman you’ve just been introduced to, saying you like her tights?
- Had a conversation with a woman without once lifting your eyes from her chest?
- Followed a woman you were attracted to around a conference telling everyone “She’s so sexy” and trying to talk to her even when she is in the middle of a conversation with others, on the phone, or obviously otherwise engaged?
- Shoved a woman up against a wall, held her there and kissed her without her consent?
- As a publisher, told a female author who just won the Edgar that "women belong barefoot and pregnant"?
- Comforted a friend going through a nasty divorce when she’s broken down sobbing at the bar - by walking her up to her room, then closing and chain-locking the door and trying to kiss her?
- Draped yourself over a woman, just to be friendly?
- Touched the arm of a woman you don’t know two dozen times during a group conversation about sexual harassment and rape?
- Pursued and started relationships with three different women you met at a con without telling any of the others about the others – or informing any of them that you have a wife, a steady girlfriend on the side, and a serious STD?
And on the subject of sexual abuse:
All five books in my Thriller Award-nominated Huntress series are also on sale for $1.99 US - a perfect chance to catch up before Book 6 comes out this fall.
A haunted FBI agent is on the hunt for a female serial killer. This time, the predators lose.
If you buy the Kindle versions, you can also add RC Bray’s fantastic, award-winning narration for just $3.99, a great Audible bargain.