Sorry, but until I hear better things from the con, it's staying on my Red Alert list.
*EDIT THE FINAL* Keycon has updated their Code of Conduct and it is FANTASTIC. You can read the Code of Conduct here and the Letter to Members prefacing it here. It took a while, but I am very proud of the Senate and the two other members of ConCom's response. (You can read Levi Labelle's response here, and I want to say that he seems like a class act all the way and I hope he stays involved in Keycon.)
I AM KEEPING #RAPECON ACTIVE. With con season kicking off, a specific Twitter feed for highlighting safety issues at other conventions is a great place for activism. I also endorse using it to promote conventions that are safe and respectful. If people want to flood it with thanks for Keycon, I would be, as the kids say, down with that.
The #rapecon hashtag has been started. You can tweet @Keycon28 and ask what they're thinking. #rapecon is NOT just for Keycon, it for publicizing assault and harassment at ALL geek conventions.
I posted a few months ago about starting the Back-Up Project at Keycon, and was looking for suggestions on panels. I was asked to talk to both women and men and get a general idea of what the situation was at Keycon, and how safe it was for women.
The results were absolutely horrifying. I couldn't find a single woman who hadn't been followed, groped, or harassed. I couldn't find one woman who hadn't been followed, groped, or harassed for even one day at the convention. Many of my friends who go have been raped attending the con, and I myself was raped after being at the con for approximately eight hours. The rape was never prosecuted, because I couldn't find anyone who didn't treat it as a joke and took me seriously. The defense was, "That's just what happens at Keycon."
I sent in my findings and received this in response:
"We share your concern over the issues you have raised in your email and I would like to assure you that we take your concerns very seriously. We encourage anyone who has experienced harassment or feel that they have been threatened in attendance of our convention to bring forward their complaints directly to the convention chairs who will deal with it promptly. In the case of criminal victimization and assaults of any nature, we strongly encourage that victims approach the police. We would support any criminal investigations and legitimate case brought to the authorities to the best of our ability."
- LeAmber Kensley
Now here are a few problems:
1) I brought forward my complaints. They were brushed off.
2) Pushing survivors to file police reports is re-victimizing, forcing them to relieve what happened and justify their actions. (Because Keycon is a convention at which alcohol flows freely, there is a large amount of victim-blaming directed at women who have the misfortune of not having rapist-dar.)
3) The convention chairs are, depending on how they're defined, three to ten people in a convention of hundreds to thousands. They are strangers to most of the congoers. Asking someone reeling from her assault to spend what can literally be hours hunting down one person to report is cruel and inhumane.
3b) This is their response to my complaint that their volunteers don't take rape and sexual assault seriously, and either victim blame and slut-shame the woman, or ignore the problem. Their solution is to make it harder for assault victims to get help.
4) They want the survivor to prove that her rape was legitimate, and only then will they prosecute "legitimate cases". Here is what I wrote in my e-mail to them:
"This is the heart of the problem. Until all victims are trusted to be telling the truth, you are perpetuating an atmosphere that implicitly supports rapists. No woman, upon reporting her rape, should have to go through questioning to determine whether it is "legitimate". The percentage of false rape accusations is lower than the percentage of false vehicle theft allegations, so unless you are treating all criminal incident reports as fallacious, there is absolutely no reason to force a traumatized woman to relive her rape to prove its veracity to a group of voyeuristic onlookers."
This is Keycon's solution to the problem of harassment. Rather than banning harassers and gropers, they want to make it even more difficult for women to come forward about their harassment. Instead of having a Code of Conduct, they basically have a Code of "What You Should Do When You Get Assaulted (You Dirty Slut, You're Probably Lying)". This is completely, utterly unacceptable.
The Keycon website is here. All of the con heads and their e-mails are on the far right side. Let them know that this their actions and policies are cruel, inhumane, and hateful towards women.
(If requested, I will post the full e-mail chains between myself and Keycon. I've been trying to keep the exact numbers of my findings out of the public. If Keycon decides to shape up, I don't want those numbers haunting them.)
*EDIT v.1.0* I have started receiving death and rape threats, sent from various public libraries.
*EDIT v.2.0* A write-up of the Keycon info session in which these concerns were addressed and brushed off is here (part one) and here (part two). Looks like Keycon doesn't care about preventing the assault of women OR children.
*EDIT v.3.0* ConCom called off a meeting for women's safety, told the concom member concerned not to attend, and then dragged out the meeting so the issue couldn't be raised by other members of the community.
*EDIT v.3.1* This may have been misinformation by a well-meaning volunteer. Either way, Keycon's response to assault is accurately represented by their comments to this post.
*EDIT v.4.0* LeAmber responds here and here. No comment, as they speak for themselves.
*EDIT v.5.0* LeAmber deleted one of her responses. A copy of the e-mail she sent to me (more or less the same as her response) is here. My response on the background is here for those interested.