Okay… here’s the thing.
That thing I said in the previous post about not really having to deal with sexual harassment at conventions? That’s true. But– but I still deal with the societal baggage that goes with it. For instance — I know who Elise was reporting and I know that because I fielded another complaint about the same editor.
So why aren’t I naming him?
These are events with witnesses. He has a reputation. This isn’t a case of it being a one time thing. So why am I afraid to say his name out loud?
Here are some of the reasons:
- He’s been nice to me. Given the balance of power, I’m not someone that he could get away with harassing. But, if he’s harassing my friends, is he still a nice guy? Why am I silent?
- He’s an editor at my publisher. And I know that Tor takes this seriously. So why am I silent?
- I didn’t actually see it happen. No, but I have reliable witnesses that did. There are a lot of things that I haven’t seen so pretending that this isn’t a pattern of behavior in the face of evidence is like pretending that Japan doesn’t exist because I haven’t personally seen it.
- I don’t want to rock the boat. I’m worried about rocking a boat when I should be warning people that there are holes in it? How does being quiet make it any safer?
- There’s a formal process for this. Right? Yes. And that formal process covers his employment, but what about at conventions? What about in our community?
- Naming him could ruin his career. Yes. It might. Why am I trying to protect him instead of new writers?
- Naming him could hurt mine. I don’t actually believe this, because anyone who would support this behavior is not someone I want to work with.
- What if I get sued for defamation of character? Well… that’s a concern, isn’t it? But only if I’m repeating something that’s not true.
So while I’m telling people to stand up for themselves, and make reports — while I know that reports have been made in the past — I’m using my inside voice. I haven’t been directly harassed, and yet I am afraid. I am letting all of that power frighten me into being silent and complicit in allowing this person’s behavior to continue. My silence. Mine. Yours. That is what allows this to continue.
This is the power of sexual harassment and how it affects everyone you know.
The editor that people have reported is Jim Frenkel.
EDITED TO ADD: On July 11, 2013 Patrick Nielsen Hayden reported on Twitter that “James Frenkel is no longer associated with Tor Books.”