This is a screencap of a comment made by Jerry Pournelle in the SFF.net private SFWA lounge.
Transcription of the text:
Subject: Sexual Harassment
From Jerry Poumelle
Date Sat 29 Jun 2013 07:41:41p
Over at the Org there is a new topic about sexual harassment It is Mary Robinette Kowal reposting a blog report by Elise Mattheson reporting on an incident at a fan convention. Neither participant in the incident is a SFWA member nor is it a SFWA event The man said to have been involved is James Frenkel. who has been in the SF editing business long enough that he was the editor who offered me the work for hire of novelizing the script of Escape From The Planet Of The Apes. which I did because I needed the money. and for which I am grateful.
There is a great deal of talk about the incident, but nowhere have I found a description of what he is said to have done Since the police are not involved it must not have been an assault or battery He is reported to have said something to the effect that “You get prettier when you’re angry and you’re getting more and more beautiful” or something of the sort. but precisely what he is supposed to have done to get her angry enough to report him to convention officials doesn’t seem to appear in any of the published reviews, all of which are universally condemnatory of the male individual who seems to have been named as Frenkel.
I admit I have a certain degree of voyeur curiosity about all this, but since there seems to be a real revolution in fannish ethics and social practices in recent times. I am also curious as to what the new standards are It used to be that boorish behavior was disapproved of. and fan conventions might go so far as to inform individuals they were no longer welcome at future events There might even have been a few words to other con committees. but formal reports published outside the convention were pretty rare and involved some really barbarian activities And at least one bit of boorishness became almost a conventional practice at conventions a sort of standing bad joke.
I refer to Randall Garrett’s practice of getting stinking drunk and going to parties where he would look for young women he had never met before. approach them standing well away from them, no contact, bowing. and saying “Hi I’m Randall Garrett Let’s fuck” The result was usually laughter. although it got his face slapped a couple of times, and attention from husbands/boyfriends/paladins more than once But everyone knew he did that. and his defense was that he was making a polite offer to someone of the proper age. and always respected their answers — and it saved a lot of time for both parties Incorrigible Not really barbaric because he was in fact very polite and even respectful He seldom did this sort of thing at big open parties. or publisher promotion events. confining himself in general to less open parties attended mostly by invitees In any event this became a well known story So much so that another well known author who one would usually think would be the very last person to do this sort of thing got smashed at a LACON about 25 years ago. and entered a large party. finding himself at one vertex of an equilateral triangle.
At the other two vertices were a pretty young lady. and Randall Garrett Garrett had just caught sight of her Our protagonist moved toward her and got there just as Randall began a deep bow “Hello I’m John Carter His Randall Garrett Let’s fuck.” which resulted in Randall being consumed in a laughing fit that became a coughing fit the young lady looking totally non-plussed before laughing nervously, and then. upon it all being explained. joining the general laughter It got to the point where another well known SF figure got drunk enough to say “Hi! I’m Edgar Rice I know John Carter He knows Randall Garrett Let’s fuck” after which there was general agreement that the whole damn mess had got out of hand Randall coming down with Alzheimer’s and undergoing a rather long and painful death to the horror and consternation of ivliss Vicky his final wife took the last dregs of humor out of what was. after all. a rather outrageous performance. All this was long enough ago that LASCON was at the Huntington Sheraton hotel in Pasadena so it has to be thirty years or so Since that time Science Fiction has become less fannnnish so to speak. and the convention that what happens at conventions (actual assault aside) pretty well stays at conventions and social custom would take care of the rest.
Of course nothing of this sort would have been tolerated at a SFWA event, and Randall was well aware of that.
All right That’s the way it used to be. I know things are changing now Fans and fan parties are becoming more tame, and perhaps even more sensitive. There are more women at fan events now (perhaps because there is less of this kind of stuff?) It’s odd Now polite society excuses “the f-bomb” in what used to be known as polite company. ribald jokes are permitted. but now there are formal reports of sexual harassment Understand I am not making a brief for anyone here I’m just startled at the changes that are going on Me. I’d rather a society in which everyone is more polite and uses much more temperate language. with occasional relief from restrictions in private parties after hours in fan conventions (again barring actual assault or battery). I tend to favor the notion that hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue But that’s another story.
One final question Would it matter if the genders of those involved in a Randall Garrett type incident were reversed? Would it matter if the approaching party were a Rubenesque well fleshed out middle aged woman and the one approached were a young man in his twenties?
I’d love to discuss this over at The Org but I fear the consequences would be unpleasant