On reading the discussion at anatarcticlust post
, I'm finding the Frenkel subcommittee issue an unfortunate example of the persistence of a certain sort of Wiscon conrunning culture -- slow motions by committees and subcommittees, opaque to the outside despite calls for (and promises of!) transparency; a concern for the legal exposure of Wiscon and the accused transgressors over the mental safety of some of the attendees; and falling back to defense by adherence to procedure. Most maddeningly, despite this, things end up being blamed on individual decisions.
Perhaps it's unfair, as some have claimed, to see these matters of organizational style as problematic, rather than simply cultural. I counter that by noting that Wiscon prides itself on being *the* feminist science fiction convention, not a small (and minor) regional con. (I note with some acerbity that evidently the other end of the scale also precludes effective action on issues of attendee harassment, for other spaces tagged as the premier international gathering.)
"We are volunteers!" Indeed. And yet the claim at other sorts of venues is that their organizations are profit-motivated, and thus unlikely to privilege the emotional safety of attendees. What sorts of organization can have functional codes of conduct? I have been seeing more than a few stepping forward to effect fundamental changes in the assumptions of proper behavior among attendees.
Slippery slopes are often invoked, as if the attendees are troublemaking exception-seekers rather than reasonable members of a community.
Wiscon's programming looks like Third Wave Feminism in action, and for that it's much beloved by many. Wiscon's concom (in the loosest definition of the term, as used by members of the wider Wiscon community who are not *on* the concom) appears not to be on the same wavelength.
Wiscon has an opportunity to be among the vanguard of organizations transforming the cultural expectations around contact and interaction, especially in a fandom where the emergence from a culture of male entitlement is among the most heated issues under discussion.
Wiscon at its inception may have stood lonely, as did the fannishness of which it was a part. In 2014, having a fondness of stfnal topics is no longer a proud and lonely thing. We are no longer in the age of the APA, nor even in the age of rec.arts.sf.fandom -- we are scattered, we are numerous, and we are far less subject to the gatekeepers. Wiscon is feeling Entish in a world that's increasingly lead by fast-acting social media. The slow deliberation would be less disheartening if it appeared to serve the gathering of the widest net for inputs (e.g. Readercon and Arisia's policies, and more importantly the *debate* that lead up to them, and the fallout from the first rounds of implementation.)
There seems to be a desire to re-invent the wheel...or perhaps just an ignorance of the existence of other transportation technologies. I understand that antarcticlust stepped up into a void, armed with willingness and some experience in a different realm. Forgive me, antarcticlust as I mean no personal insult toward a person with whom I have no prior significant interaction...but this seems rather colonialist, to come in from outside the culture with foreign knowledge, and to lead a council without taking on knowledge of the region's history with the topic at hand. Perhaps the fault lies with the other members of the committee. I do not know.
I can follow the logic of naming the committee for Frenkel, but it seems to me that this lead to a focus on Frenkel rather than the message this action was going to give...and further an excuse-making for the coming fallout as "we're not going to make everyone happy". The question is not "is everyone happy", but "what are the grounds for the various unhappinesses?" It reminds me of the way in which "dudebros" claim that all women will have issues with all interactions with all men, and therefore it's pointless to be mindful of consent and the comfort of women.
There's an implication that the problem is people being unreasonable. I counter by saying that it appears that the issue has been flattened by bureaucratic handling; as if the problem was encapsulated in the words set down on paper, and needing handling as an administrative issue, rather than being indicative of a cultural matrix that needed substantial shake up.
For some of Wiscon's most ardent attendees, Wiscon stands alone. For some of the rest of us, Wiscon is part of a cohort...and this divide seems to be part of the issue. My ideal Wiscon is part of a larger community. Is yours?