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November 6, 2013

WTF Philcon?
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:21 PM *

You may not know this about me, but I’m a long-time Philadelphia area fan. I met my wife in Philly, and we went to Philcon together. Philcon is where I first met PNH in person (after he’d already bought my book), and Philcon is where I stayed up ‘til dawn talking in the lobby with TNH the week I got back from Wilderness Rescue School. I was at Millennium Philcon; on panels even. The Philcon Brunch was where I pitched the Crossman series to Claire Eddy.

I’ve been to Philcons even after I moved to the Far Frozen North, ten hours’ drive away.

So, Philcon, what’s up? Have you failed to notice what’s been going on in fandom (and prodom) over the past couple of years? There was the Readercon mess, there was the Wiscon harassment event, and the whole SFWA Bulletin debacle. Anyone would think that concoms would notice that Times Had Changed. For the better, most say. But changed, certainly. This has all been widely discussed.

A week ago, over in Diffractions, I linked to Philcon’s Unclear Policy Page. At a minimum, you’d expect that by now conventions would at least have a clearly-stated harassment policy.

Now, let’s look at Philcon, coming this weekend, in light of gender equality. One small slice of one small aspect of gender equality in our beloved genre. Let’s look at the readings. You know, and I know, and the people over there know, that women are fully as capable of writing SF as males. Yet, here we see the reading slots (all one-hour slots), with fourteen males reading for fourteen hours, and seven women (if you count the six who are sharing the same hour in the Broad Universe slot) reading for a total of three hours (again counting the Broad Universe hour). (Note: One writer is both in Broad Universe and has her own one-hour reading).

Dudes, aren’t there more female writers out there? Aren’t there more female writers attending your convention? Aren’t there more multi-published, well-reviewed, best-selling, award-winning women who might like a chance to present new work? Maybe some fans who’d like to hear it? Did you consider calling me on the phone?

It isn’t enough to avoid impropriety. You have to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The 21st century is here. Deal with it.

Comments on WTF Philcon?:
#1 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 08:04 PM:

I would also like to know why the disparity exists or at least have more information so a better guess can be made.

I know that with MileHiCon in Denver readings are assigned on the basis of a mass emailing to all all authors potentially showing up asking them along with all the other panel preferences if they would like to do a reading. So the ratio is dependent on who is coming to the convention, who gets back to programing with a preference, who wants to do a reading, and finally on the basis of space. Usually there are more authors than reading slots and when the last few are being assigined it is on a basis of who is available, who wants to take those last less favorable times, and who is more famous-ish. I got handed the task of making the final cut this year and I used a combination of Goodreads and Amazon to decide between the smallest of the small press people left at the end.

I probably should have figured out the female to male ratio, but I did not because it just did not occur to me. I think we had about 40 reading slots. But that is an off the top of my head guess. At least with those I was making a cut on I think it was even numbers of females and males who got a reading. For the rest I have no idea. Not that I am in any way in charge of programing, I just help out.

#2 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 08:34 PM:

Just to be absolutely clear: I emailed the Philcon chair the full text of my post twelve hours before I posted last week in order to give them a chance to comment; as my home con, I want them to succeed and to do well. I have yet to receive a response or even an acknowledgement from them that they received my email.

#3 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 10:08 PM:

Natalie: ugh. That doesn't bode well, and it's also unprofessional that they didn't even acknowledge your email. At the very least they should have sent an email thanking you for reporting it and letting you know that they're looking into it--while, of course, they actually do look into it, in good faith, and come up with a reasonable course of action.

#4 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:15 PM:

I have been tasked with the goal of coming up with a harassment policy for my local con. What I'd like to do is look at a bunch of existing policies (so as not to waste time re-inventing the wheel), select the three that I think would best fit our circumstances, and present them for a vote. We're a small con (less than 500 people) and we don't have enough folks on staff to have a dedicated security force. Can anyone point me in the direction of good existing policies for a con of this size?

#5 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2013, 11:44 PM:

This is the harassment policy of Viable Paradise. About forty people on-site for a week.

#6 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jean Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:56 AM:

Here are WisCon's.

#7 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jean Jones has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 01:57 AM:

Guylian seashell chocolates?

#8 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:37 AM:

Lee @4: GeekFeminism has some useful material on harassment policies. I don't think the discussion over there assumes you have a huge con with dedicated security. It's probably not perfect for what you want, but it's a good place to start looking for examples and discussion.

#9 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 10:49 AM:

I posted this in the open thread, but perhaps it's more appropriate here: Learn to Search!

#10 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2013, 11:25 PM:

Lee @4, Here is Windycon's harassment policy . (Anyone else here going to Windycon this weekend...?)

#11 ::: Gaie Sebold ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 06:01 AM:

An interesting article on this in the Guardian regarding conferences in general:

#12 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 09:20 AM:

A couple nights ago I did a very quick and informal analysis of the gender split when it came to program participants and panel assignments at Philcon. It was much worse than I thought it would be. Here's the results.

#13 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2013, 05:40 PM:

Orycon 35 starts today, and they have printed the Code of Conduct on the back of the badges. Nice!

#14 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2013, 09:42 PM:

I hesitate to comment, but I'm afraid that the Viable Paradise policy seems a bit Draconian to me.

#15 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 06:22 AM:

iamnothing @14: Well, now you've got me wondering what a policy written by actual dragons might be like.

#16 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:03 AM:

iamnothing @ #14: if it comes down to a choice between people not attending Viable Paradise because they're afraid they might be accused of harassment, and people not attending Viable Paradise because they're afraid they might be harassed, I'll pick A.

Ideally, of course, it wouldn't come down to that.

Easy for me, of course. I'm a married middleaged ciswoman; I am neither powerful nor imposing; and I don't do intoxicants, so my impulse control is pretty good. (So far I've never been sleep-deprived enough to get inappropriate, but I guess it could happen).

For those who might be in a position to be misinterpreted: I acknowledge you have a difficult path ahead of you. Whether it's worth negotiating is your call.

#17 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:08 AM:

elise: probably something along the lines of "guests who violate the courtesy due to fellow guests and hosts will be eaten".

#18 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 08:30 AM:

iamnothing @14 - Viable Paradise is 40 people, so presumably everyone will quickly get to know everyone else which ought to make it easier for misunderstandings to be headed off with a quiet word or similar. In addition, a writing workshop requires a certain level of trust that a more general con might not need.

#20 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 11:28 AM:

I'm told that four of the male authors at Philcon donated half of their one-hour reading slots to four of the female authors who had been excluded.

#21 ::: sussura ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 11:47 AM:

Totally agree with Lila and Neil W.

> probably something along the lines of "guests who violate the courtesy due to fellow guests and hosts will be eaten".

I need this framed. Possibly in cross-stitch.

And yes, the split readings at Philcon worked out wonderfully. Gregory Frost, E.C. Myers, Alex Shvartsman, and Lawrence Schoen all offered of their own volition to share their readings. This allowed four more women to read. Kudos to them.

#22 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2013, 11:50 AM:

One thing I found interesting was that they found an additional hour in the programming to give a reading to another man--in one of the panel rooms on the main floor. All the other readings were in a cramped and nearly inaccessible room without enough seating.

Photographic proof here.

Also note the shuffling around the 9-11 pm slots. At 8:55, we wanted to attend the Self-Censorship panel. We noticed it had been moved to 10--we verified this with the program chair who was standing there. We went away and came back an hour later and discovered that it had been moved back to the original timeslot and upon closer perusal of the printed schedule, we discovered that the "Time Keeps on Slippin'" panel never seemed to actually exist. So I don't know what was going on with that but the result was that the Self-Censorship panel ended up being one panelist short. Or it ended up not happening at all.

#23 ::: Inquisitive Raven sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 11:53 PM:

And unlike my mom who is from Hawaii, I don't like it.

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