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

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Nikchick

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Ah, here it is. And with Holden Shearer of all people predictably popping up to fan the flames.

Before I address the question of CA Suleiman I'm going to take a moment to call Holden out: You have no credibility with me on this. None. You have acted as a shield for an actual serial harasser in your own midst and somehow your callouts never address that. Several months ago I watched you eagerly spreading rumors about Suleiman's "anti-Semitism" on public Facebook posts for anyone to see, accusations that were based on outright lies and half-truths. You only stopped publicly piling onto that one when the WOMAN responsible for the material you were attributing to Suleiman came forward and said "Actually, *I* wrote that and there was no heroic suicide bomber in the piece." But you never corrected yourself, you didn't apologize, you just quietly backed off that particular bit of "evidence" and have continued to pull up whatever else you think you can use to keep driving this vendetta. When I called you out for this behavior on Twitter, you blocked me. So much for getting your "hearing women" brownies! What Sulieman has never been accused of is non-consensual sex (with ANYONE, let alone a minor ten years his junior). He has never been accused of abuse. He has never been accused of telling a woman that she had to break up with her boyfriend in order to work for him, or to come to his home state and suck his dick if she wanted a contract. Until the people who are pointing fingers trying to stir things up against CA aren't the same ones who have THOSE people in their own houses? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.


So, to the subject at hand. Yes, Green Ronin Publishing is working with CA Suleiman. No, I am not ashamed of this fact nor do I think it makes me a hypocrite or someone who cannot be trusted on the issue of sexual harassment. No, we are not backing away from that. I did my due diligence on this. I did more research on this than I've done on any other company or individual Green Ronin has worked with in the almost 18 years we've existed. I spent months untangling truth from rumor and fact from incidents that had been conflated and exaggerated and passed around as "known." I spoke with former co-workers, with women who have worked with him more recently than 1999-2004, with people who previously employed him and supervised him. I came away with a dozen testimonials to his conduct of today from women who have worked with him without problem and continue to do so, and from trusted men who worked for him or vice versa and who testified to his personal and professional growth in over the last decade. I addressed the subject with Suleiman directly, bluntly even, and at length before deciding to go forward.

Green Ronin in general and I in specific will not truck with harassment, my people all know that I have their backs on *any* matter that causes them concern and I would never have gone ahead with the project if I believed there was such a risk in working with CA. Suleiman works for ME on this. He reports to ME. He understands and fully agrees with my expectations and he has lived up to that for the entire year we have been working on Lost Citadel together. He has *earned* my trust in this.

Also, let me be VERY clear here, the accusations of sexual harassment that were brought to me happened a decade or more ago at the most recent and were of the least severe sort (a man thinking he's being flirty or funny, inappropriate jokes and insensitive comments) and should NOT NOT NOT be conflated with the kinds of behaviors the first 100 pages or so of this thread were talking about. This is not remotely the same category as Webb or Mentzer or Morke or MacFarland and should not be conflated with those situations. People who insist on doing so have their own agendas. I have been accused of throwing the woman who came to me with her experiences "under the bus" but that is something I will push back on. I am accused of "not supporting" her not because I don't believe her (I do) but because I don't agree on the course of action that should be taken about it.

I have been in the gaming industry for 28 years. I am no stranger to sexual harassment, harassment of other kinds, or sexual assault. I have woken up in a convention hotel bed with a "colleague" pumping away on top of me. I have been groped, pinched, kissed, and picked up and carried off by men without my permission. I have had people in positions of power creep on me, suggest that we have sex, speculate on whether or not they "have a chance" were I to break up with my husband... to my face and at the start of an official business meeting. I have crossed many important people with big industry reputations and I have no doubt that has at times harmed my career.

I am not oblivious nor immune but neither am I perfect. No one is, we're all imperfect humans here. What I DO try to do is walk the walk. I make space for women in gaming through my own company. I support individuals, conventions, and companies that do likewise. I have consulted with GenCon to diversify their Industry Insider Featured Presenters and helped them achieve gender parity. I co-organized an Industry Women's Mixer at GenCon this year and am investigating how to make such a thing a regular event and even bring it to other conventions, because mentorship and networking between women is something we as an industry sorely lack. I am deliberate about my choices in these arenas and dedicated to continuing to improve the environment out there. I don't expect perfection and don't promise it either. When we put out the first version of Blue Rose, we unintentionally included some material in the original game that read as transphobic, which was absolutely NOT the intent. We acknowledged, we apologized, and when the time for Blue Rose AGE came around we DID BETTER. It took us 10 years to correct those hurts we caused but when the time came to step up we did it and from the response we've gotten, we did it right this time (while inadvertently stepping in it on another issue that we will work to correct going forward... because that's life and the world).

It is with the full force of that experience and with my very public history of working loudly and fiercely on behalf of women in the business that I have been and will continue to be vocal in my support of CA Suleiman. I do so deliberately and having given the subject the kind of thorough deliberation and research I usually reserve for presidential candidates. You can tell me you don’t like him, that you find him arrogant, ambitious, dismissive, that he’s “an insufferable dick” (as one woman put it to me), that he’s “difficult”. I have known and worked with the man and he has at times been all of those things but that doesn’t make him an abuser, a harasser, a predator, or a threat. He is not.
 

Cannibal Smiliest

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"Be a mod", I said. "You get to kill spam and make the forum a better place," I said.
 

Cannibal Smiliest

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You do make the forum a better place.
I appreciate you saying so, Rachel, thank you. I was just composing what my restless shade is going to scrawl in ghostly, clotted blood across RPGnet's primary server rack.
 
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VL Darling

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What Sulieman has never been accused of is non-consensual sex (with ANYONE, let alone a minor ten years his junior). He has never been accused of abuse. He has never been accused of telling a woman that she had to break up with her boyfriend in order to work for him, or to come to his home state and suck his dick if she wanted a contract. Until the people who are pointing fingers trying to stir things up against CA aren't the same ones who have THOSE people in their own houses? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Okay wait, are you accusing John of all of those things and holding Holden responsible? Or is he responsible for everyone at OPP? Because it was McFarland with the rape, not John. Conflating those accusations is not okay in a discussion like this.

And as we have pointed out - men don't get to be in on most whisper networks. So why are you calling him out as a shield? When he has repeatedly come out in belief and support of women here and elsewhere at the expense of his career, and friendships?

Like, fair bias here, Holden has talked me through more PTSD flashbacks and retraumatising incidents than any dude who is not my husband.

And here is the thing when you say "(a man thinking he's being flirty or funny, inappropriate jokes and insensitive comments) and should NOT NOT NOT be conflated" thus far the only public story about John is that level of behaviour. Which, from her own account, he stopped when he found out she was working for OPP too.

Muddying waters by lumping together offenses is not helping anyone stay safe.

And as I said before - whisper networks are as much social networking as any other damn thing.
 

Fildrigar

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Okay wait, are you accusing John of all of those things and holding Holden responsible? Or is he responsible for everyone at OPP? Because it was McFarland with the rape, not John. Conflating those accusations is not okay in a discussion like this.
And yet, it's perfectly OK to conflate them when the topic is CA and Green Ronin? ( See Holden's repeated posts above. )

Ok.
 

VL Darling

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It brings up the interesting notion of statute of limitations and just how much we ought to consider growth and change.

Like if 'harassed women, stole credit' was ten years ago and enough people vouch for CAS and so we cannot discuss him as a missing stair - although I gotta admit putting new talent under a dev known to be an asshole and a dick to people seems strange to me - then what are the limits elsewhere? What are the rubrics for growth/change/trust?

Like the boycotting thing, it helps to have a notion of what needs to be done. I don't have the depth of grace to forgive a man his rape of another woman and that is not my place, regardless. But the rest is less personally devastating to me.
 
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