Hi there. As the organizers of the annual Genderfloomp party at WisCon, we learned of a recent wave of concern that Genderfloomp is uncomfortable/appropriative for gender non-conforming or non-binary people. We’d like to open a discussion about this issue.
To start off, we want to determine if the problems primarily reside in the party’s messaging online, its actual setup/conduct at the con, or simply its existence. We’ve spoken to some GNC/GQ people who really enjoy the party and find it to be an important space, and we would find it helpful to hear what aspects of the party do work as well. Ideally, we can find a way to rework Genderfloomp so that it can serve the entire community, but we also are open to much bigger changes.
We are both queer people who are gender non-conforming in some ways that are important to our identity, but do not pretend that this gives us access to the wide spectrum of GNC, GQ, and trans experiences. Our intentions with Genderfloomp are to embrace the liberatory aspects of “party,” rather than the trivializing connotations, in order to foster a space of gender play and binary destabilization, much in the same way that the Tiptree award celebrates work that “explores and expands” ideas of gender. If our party is hurting GNC/GQ folks, it is failing at its mission, and we apologize for any hurt we have caused.
We know a wide spectrum of Wiscon has insight to share on Genderfloomp, but we ask that this thread be restricted to folks who identify as GNC/GQ/Trans in order to give people room and safety to speak. If commenting here feels uncomfortable or unsafe, we
can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here primarily to listen with humility and openness, though we are also happy to answer any questions.
Meghan McCarron and Liz Gorinsky
If you have thoughts about things that went well at WisCon 37 or things that went not-so-well, we’d love to hear from you. We have a general survey as well as a survey about programming.
Lastly, if you have programming ideas for WisCon 38/SFRA, you can submit them now.
ETA: If you’re coming here in May 2014, this is an outdated post! The post with links to surveys after WisCon 38 are here.
Did you attend WisCon 36? Please take a few moments to fill out the WisCon 36 survey and let us know what you liked and what we could change to make WisCon a better experience:
WisCon members who attended a WisCon 33 panel entitled “Take Back the SciFi,” have expressed serious concerns about the panel’s focus and moderation. They have raised important questions about comments and decisions the moderator made in guiding the conversation and accepting questions during the discussion of personal experiences.
The panel was intended to focus on the use of rape and sexual assault in science fiction writing and the influence of rape culture in the genre. The panel was described as “Sexual assault and rape frequently get used as symbolic plot devices with no consideration about the realities of how these events effect survivors and the people around them and the larger social realities of this epidemic. Sometimes these stories get told well but often they perpetuate social myths and stereotypes that normalize predatory behavior and make survivors complicit. How do authors work to create a culture where stories that perpetuate rape myths are not acceptable? Examples?”
However, as can happen in programming on topics such as this, the discussion shifted to personal experiences of rape and sexual assault. Unfortunately, the panel also became a place in which male survivors, their families, and friends felt marginalized and re-traumatized.
We are very sorry that this occurred. As organizers of a feminist convention, we understand that rape knows no gender.
We thank the panelists and attendees who have expressed their concerns. WisCon’s Convention Committee (ConCom) will continue to discuss these concerns and to respond to people who contact us directly. Also, ConCom members have spoken with the moderator, who may choose to respond individually. Moderators, like all program participants, are volunteers who express interest in a panel. Although we believe the moderator had no intent to harm, we know that harm occurred and we take that harm seriously. In response to member suggestions, this programming item will be offered again at WisCon 34 in a facilitated discussion format to encourage audience participation.
We understand that panelists and attendees will continue to engage in dialogue about this panel, and we welcome any additional suggestions that arise from these discussions. Please contact us at email@example.com.
If you attended WisCon33, help the WisCon concom provide you with a better con experience! Please complete the WisCon 33 Survey and let us know what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what we can improve for WisCon 34!
Thanks so much!