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RPG Industry sexual harassment, Mentzer, abuse and what do we do about it?

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howard david ingham

We Don't Go Back
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I found reports (from multiple people at White Wolf and later OPP) of him calling a coworker a "Jewess" more disconcerting.
This is new to me. If he had done that, it would be bad, I agree.

However, this still does not excuse the racist shit he gets. Right, Holden?
 

wheloc

He's trying real hard to be one of the good guys.
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Gamergate calls her "based mom," if that helps give any context.
HAHAHAHAHAAAA

Sorry, I didn't know that Gamergate had discovered Somers. It makes a lot of sense, though. It also makes me laugh.

I kinda regret taking the wikipedia explanation at face value now.
So it's a thinly veiled "feminazi" equivalent, with the cover of "hey look this is the view of a respected female philosopher and expert in feminism"?
Was it a valid theory that got high-jacked, or was it always awful?

I'm exposing my ignorance here. With hard sciences I generally have a good base to spot red-flags and dodgy claims. My academic knowledge of Feminism, sociology and psychology is far weaker, making it harder to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Thank you for sharing some knowledge.
I'm not an expert either, but...

The idea of equality or "equity" between the sexes is probably the most basic tenet of feminism; it's not so much of a "theory" as a "basic principle of the philosophy". Most respectable* feminists talk about it in some sense or another. Sommers just co-opted the phrase, so I guess I do consider someone calling themselves an "equity feminist" to be red flag, but there's also still a lot of be said on the subject of equity.

As for Sommers, as near as I can tell she was mostly a second-wave feminist, who felt that the second wave really went too far, and so she's not at all pleased where the third wave is taking us (has taken us?).

* outrageous ones, too

Thanks y'all. Sounds like equity feminism is (a) kind of shit, but also (b) maybe a discussion that might be deep enough to derail this thread, potentially, which isn't my intent in the slightest. I appreciate the input, and I hope it doesn't distract from the ongoing harassment discussion.
Well, if it will help get the thread back "on track", I made some points about boycotts a few pages back that I wouldn't mind critique on.
 
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BD Flory

He Who Walks Between the Posts
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This is new to me. If he had done that, it would be bad, I agree.

However, this still does not excuse the racist shit he gets. Right, Holden?
This is excessively confrontational and you are deflecting from the topic. Leave the thread.
 
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Guvmint Helper

Starbelly Geek
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In my particular case? I have to assume the whisper network actively worked differently for me because one of the people mentioned in the thread - with declarations from other devs that they 'worked to keep women safe' and that his boss knew and they had meetings about it - was never mentioned to me. In spite of openly working with him and being female. As it stands, dude is safe for me and I have stayed in hotels with him and so on so it isn't a matter of opportunity, but I still believe other women didn't feel safe, felt uncomfortable or pressured or harassed. Complexity and nuance are things.

Same with big companies named as good in this thread. There is a public fb post calling out a guy for harassment and mistreating female coworkers but...not a mention in this thread. And again, it affected the choices I made wrt work (why would I want a mentor known to steal women's work?).

Whisper networks are as prone to cliquey bullshit as anything else. And the women left out of them are often queer, neuroatypical, unlikeable, and thus doubly victimized especially when the perpetrator is highly admired. They are utterly imperfect and rely on people being hurt and structural inequity, so it is no surprise they don't keep everyone safe.

And god help you if your predator is an equal opportunity offender and assaults men too. Because men are also kept out of the network a lot of the time unless they exhibit extreme safety to multiple women.
So I think all of that aligns with what I'm asking for - that the whisper network stop being the primary means for people to find out that someone's a danger, and, instead, for that information to become the subject of public discussion. "There are rumors about this person and a lot of people will refuse to work with this person unless they can't avoid doing so," for example.

One of the rules would have to be, as you suggest in a later post, that victims not be outed for this purpose. If they don't want to weather the storm that accompanies going public, they shouldn't be forced to do so. However, useful information to which the community, present and potential co-workers, and the person against whom allegations are made can react can be presented without forcing the victim to go public when they don't wish to do so.


I do think that RPGnet has to make an organizational decision about the extent to which it wants to be the site that provides a clearinghouse for names of alleged abusers, harassers, and worse. A discussion of what we as a disparate and amorphous community of gamers should be doing to combat these problems seems clearly in the mission of the site, and suggestions about how to shine a light on the problems to help stop them is appropriate, but in the long run the naming of names has a tension with the site's mission to bring creators and players together for ongoing discussion. The answer the site decides on may be that it wants to host, at some level, the naming of names, but I don't think I can decide that for them.

The upshot of that paragraph is that I want to be clear: my notion that the whisper networks should be open discussions shouldn't be construed as a suggestion that RPGnet is the place to bring and respond to specific and general allegations. That all may be a big garbled because I didn't get enough sleep last night - hopefully it will make sense, and will still make sense to me when I read it again later.
 

Sphinx of Black Quartz

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Thanks y'all. Sounds like equity feminism is (a) kind of shit, but also (b) maybe a discussion that might be deep enough to derail this thread, potentially, which isn't my intent in the slightest. I appreciate the input, and I hope it doesn't distract from the ongoing harassment discussion.
I humbly opine that the ongoing effort to co-opt and subvert the word "feminism" in defense of the patriarchy is absolutely relevant to this thread — particularly as the people doing it invariably downplay the frequency and severity of sexual harassment and violence. Sommers has devoted her career to preserving the social institutions that provide aid and cover to missing stairs, and that's not an accident or a coincidence.
 

macd21

Registered User
Validated User
I kinda regret taking the wikipedia explanation at face value now.
So it's a thinly veiled "feminazi" equivalent, with the cover of "hey look this is the view of a respected female philosopher and expert in feminism"?
Was it a valid theory that got high-jacked, or was it always awful?

I'm exposing my ignorance here. With hard sciences I generally have a good base to spot red-flags and dodgy claims. My academic knowledge of Feminism, sociology and psychology is far weaker, making it harder to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Thank you for sharing some knowledge.
My understanding of equity feminism is that it is very big on 'equality of opportunity.' As in: there should be no legal or social barriers to women from doing anything they want to. Equity feminists will work hard to remove such barriers, where they see them.

The problem is in that last part - 'where they see them.' Legal barriers tend to be obvious, but social ones less so. Equity feminists tend to believe that gendered roles are natural constructs rather than social ones. Why are most engineers men? Because women just don't like being engineers etc. An equity feminist would strongly support the idea that a more qualified woman should get a given job, but tend to be slow to believe that the reason a woman doesn't get a given job is because of discrimination. They therefore tend to disapprove of things like positive discrimination in hiring practices.

Equity feminism is, I believe, quite popular amongst conservative women. When you get down to it, it's someone stating that of course they support equality between men and women, but don't we have that already?
 

Critias

Social Justice Galliard
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It sounds like a weird sort of -- for lack of a better term -- "Internet Libertarian Feminism." And I say that as a Libertarian on the internet.
 

macd21

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It sounds like a weird sort of -- for lack of a better term -- "Internet Libertarian Feminism." And I say that as a Libertarian on the internet.
I think it's pretty easy to understand. These days most people recognise and accept that equality is a good thing. Ask most people if they think men and women should be equal and they'll say yes. But if you're in a position where you're happy with the status quo, you have a subconscious vested interest in presupposing that the status quo is good - and therefore men and women must be equal. They will challenge overt inequalities, both because to do so is clearly a good and because such inequalities may threaten their own position, but are otherwise fairly content. And other feminists rising to challenge the status quo are also challenging the equity feminist's view of the world, so they must be 'wrong'.
 

Atlictoatl

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In my particular case? I have to assume the whisper network actively worked differently for me because one of the people mentioned in the thread - with declarations from other devs that they 'worked to keep women safe' and that his boss knew and they had meetings about it - was never mentioned to me. In spite of openly working with him and being female. As it stands, dude is safe for me and I have stayed in hotels with him and so on so it isn't a matter of opportunity, but I still believe other women didn't feel safe, felt uncomfortable or pressured or harassed. Complexity and nuance are things.

Same with big companies named as good in this thread. There is a public fb post calling out a guy for harassment and mistreating female coworkers but...not a mention in this thread. And again, it affected the choices I made wrt work (why would I want a mentor known to steal women's work?).

Whisper networks are as prone to cliquey bullshit as anything else. And the women left out of them are often queer, neuroatypical, unlikeable, and thus doubly victimized especially when the perpetrator is highly admired. They are utterly imperfect and rely on people being hurt and structural inequity, so it is no surprise they don't keep everyone safe.

And god help you if your predator is an equal opportunity offender and assaults men too. Because men are also kept out of the network a lot of the time unless they exhibit extreme safety to multiple women.
It's CA Suleiman, in case anyone wants to know. I'm just stating this because there have been multiple accusations regarding him and sexual harassment, anti-Semitism, and taking credit for other people's work. The second and third accusations are things that are widely discussed within the industry, in fact. The sexual harassment allegations are fairly recent and less widespread. But I think it's pretty hard for anyone to pin down who made the "he stole credit for my work" allegation when there's so many different people who have said that regarding unrelated projects.

I've never worked with him and don't know if those things are true. I just know that there's a long list of people who don't want to work with him for various reasons after having worked with him before.

EDIT: I also want to specify that "he stole credit for my work" has mostly come from other men, so I don't think it necessarily means anything related to whether or not he's specifically a problem for women.
It's a bit worse than that, I'm afraid.

One of OPP's female developers went public on Facebook with accusations of harassment against him at the time and was basically ignored or actively tossed under the bus by... everyone, more or less.

He's also publicly identified himself as a big fan of Christina Hoff Sommers and is a self-described "equity feminist." So... yeah.
It seems the whisper network is very much an imperfect thing, if someone who's been a subject of it for some time is being put in charge of a project that is running a talent search for new women for him to mentor, and by a woman-owned company that is otherwise noted for generally getting things right.

Are those of you who are part of the whisper network seeing any changes occurring in it as a result of the cracks in the mainstream wall of silence of the last month?
 

DaveB

No regrets
Validated User
That talent search was not just run by CA; he was one of a team including Nicole. All submissions were rendered anonymous and names replaced with serial numbers, and none of the panel knew the identity of any of the applicants. Green Ronin set it up like that to remove any interpersonal bias before the accusation against CA came out.

I am seriously impressed by how they did it, actually, and when I start my own company I'm doing Open Calls like that.
 
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