The lesson is that individuals with a great deal of education often lack the self-awareness to see how their actions can affect others. Even if the comparisions to you and Lewinsky were true, of which I cannot know since we've never met (sigh!), it was inappropriate given the sexual connotations of the "gag" gift. If the instructors had done this in their office, rather than in this type of setting, human resources would be screaming because of the potential for a law suit. Given that this was done by attorneys, of course, makes this even more egregious. They should know better (of course, they were probably prosecutors and wouldn't think about it anyways because their inherent belief that they are above the law).


The fact that you didn't understand the gag gift is what made it a “bad” gag gift, as in completely ineffective. Isn’t that the real offense here? Let’s say, for example, that people had been telling you, e.g., friends, family, colleagues, for months that you were the spitting image of Lewinsky. And it had even come up a couple times in a joking manner at the seminar. Would that have changed things in your mind about the gag gift, or was it the fact that it had sexual connotations that teed you off?


In 1981, I attended a science fiction writing workshop run by professional writers. I was in my early 20s. It was a really big deal for me to be accepted; it was the first indication I had that my work was publishable. The six weeks were fabulous and I learned a great deal.

The last night, a party was held, and for laughs, they staged a scene from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE: the scene where the group of young men tie up and rape a woman. They of course didn't actually rape me, but they did try to tie me up and tape my mouth. No one had warned me ahead of time. I'll never forget everyone clapping and laughing while these three guys I had trusted and felt were my friends were trying to tie me up, making a joke out of humiliating me that way.


The Happy Feminist

Richard, you're on the money. (What did you do with the real Richard anyway?)

It was disturbing both because it came out of left field AND because of the sexual connotations. If it had been random joke about me and some other well-known figure, I might have been mystified but not embarrassed because there wouldn't have been a sexual aspect to the joke. If I had previously encouraged a discussion or laughed about my (alleged) resemblance to Lewinsky, it also would have been a different story.

The Happy Feminist

Laura, that sounds truly awful.


oh jesus, that's terrible.


Sorry to hit and run like that. I had to pick up kids.

Your experience, HF, reminded me of what had happened to me -- the fact that these were friends and colleagues. They were completely bemused when I got upset.

It never ceases to amaze me, how clueless people can be, sometimes. Sexually humiliating someone as a friendly gag is, um, never a great idea.



goddam, Laura.

i read that and immediately connected to the Harlan Ellison gropes-Connie Willis scandal just recently. Twenty-five years later. I can understand why people who go to the SF cons are talking about having Had Enough.


Belledame, yeah, I was pretty disgusted about the Ellison BooB Event, myself. Imo, we definitely have been guilty, as a community, of letting a few Grand Old Men get away with crap they shouldn't. I'm glad there was an uproar about it this time. It's got to stop.

In fairness, while there have been a few ugly incidents in the years I've been involved in SFF fan/writerdom, in general my experiences have been very positive. There is a strong strain of feminism in the community, and a comfort level among most fans and writers with different concepts of social roles and sexuality -- that goes beyond the norm for this country. SFF is very much my "home" country. (Which of course makes it all the worse when you get misogynistic crap happening.)


Fred Vincy

Wow. That is so completely out of line. I would have been absolutely mortified.

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