Every time sexual harassment at conventions comes up, somebody trots out the red herring that it’s just too hard for certain persons to know when they’re being polite and when they’re being rude, and it’s just unfair to ask these poor insensitive people to read the fickle minds of the lovely mysterious creatures they’re attracted to.
To which I say, with as much respect as I can muster: Please fuck off.
Sensitivity can be learned. Manners can be learned. Manners in fandom are not, much as some fans like to pretend otherwise, significantly different from manners outside it. Erring on the side of being a shy violet because you’re afraid of giving offense may cause you to miss out on a sexual opportunity or two over the years, but if it also causes you to miss out on even one occasion of putting some other person (who, we hope, you’re well-disposed toward, right?) in fear and ruining their convention, then it’s a public service and well worth the sacrifice.
There are people in the world who are physically and mentally incapable of learning to tell the difference between courtesy and rudeness but as a proportion their number is vanishingly small, even in fandom, despite what some self-serving fans like to pretend. And even if it weren’t, their right to hit on people does not come close to trumping the right of other people not to be sexually harrassed.
(Please don’t anyone say “What about the Aspies?” which is usually where this goes next. The autistics and the folks with Asperger’s syndrome that I know are too polite to punch you but that won’t stop me wanting to and my blood pressure doesn’t need it this week, for reasons completely unrelated to SFWA.)
(I know this isn’t a new sentiment and I’m sure it’s been put better by other folks, and recently, but it wasn’t being said in certain venues. So I posted there, and I’m reposting here.)