There is a dangerous person in our community. I didn't know about it. I've always felt safe when I hang out with my community. These people were my people. I thought we had the same values, same interests, same passions. We talked comic books and danced to Depeche Mode. Even if we stopped working on the same things, we still clung to each other like family separated at birth.
I was asked to join a code of conduct meeting for one of my favorite conferences, I laughed. What could be less necessary in MY community? We aren’t pycon or SXSW. How silly.
And then stories started coming. When I heard the first one, I thought “Oh, he got really drunk. Or else he wouldn't have grabbed her there.”
‘Cause we’re the kind of people who flirt, but no means no, right?
Then I heard about the menacing 3 am calls to another woman. And the cornering and groping of another. And the online harassing of another. I heard about when he didn’t pay an invoice, and instead stalked her and threatened her until she gave up trying to collect. The restraining order filed with the police. Each woman I talked to pointed me to another. And she had a story about the guy and the bad thing he did.
And I thought, wow we have a live one here. A crazy person. No one would take him seriously, right?
And then I found out he was speaking at some conferences organized by my community.
And then I found out the conference organizers had been informed of what he had done.
One blacklisted him. The others did not. Others said, he is important. They kept him on the roster.
My cousin had a baby girl today.
I have a daughter.
I am a woman.
I know sometimes bad people happen. And they prey on others. I thought then we stopped them. Because MY COMMUNITY is better than that.
But we live in a world where sane people allow dangerous people space to prey on others. That is beyond my understanding. That is beyond my tolerance.
My safe world where I thought good people did the right thing has been shattered. I’m scared for the little girls and the big girls who know that when bad things happen, nothing will be done.
Except maybe they’ll be branded as troublemakers, sluts, feminists, high-strung or just “hard to work with.”
The conference organizer who said he was important was right. He’s important test of our fortitude and of our morals.
My beloved community. Now is the time where you grow up. Being a grown up means doing the hard thing. It means doing the right thing. It means protecting the weakest members against the strong ones. It means being willing to be vulnerable so others aren't. It mean saying, we made a mistake, and I’m afraid we can’t let you in after all.
Beloved community: do the right thing. Have zero tolerance for men who prey on women.
Conference organizers: feel free to contact me privately, and I’ll give you a few pointers where to look.