Why the Harlan Ellison Thing Matters

Ragnell at Written World explains why it matters that Harlan Ellison groped Connie Willis, discussing it in the context of how it has a chilling effect on women attending conventions and similar events.

When the stories about female professionals and the behavior they face at cons get out — hell, when stuff like Miller’s ASBAR SCRIPT gets out — and we see the harassment and unprofessionalism and general disregard for women behind the often defended as harmless surface material, what do you think we think? …

… it comes back to the horror stories online about how we’re treated in male-dominated fan communities, and comic book stores, in addition to conventions. We’ve all heard them and gone “so that’s how it is,” and it makes sense, because of the “Sex sells” attitude that actually translates to “Sexy Women sell” in comic book marketing. What are we supposed to think? What kind of message does it send? It all combines to tell us that we are not welcome there.

Those who are excusing the encounter as “between Harlan and Connie” are ignoring the very real message it sends, that women — and bear in mind that female fans may be just as shy and sheltered and uncomfortable dealing with other people as male fans can be — can have their space and body trespassed upon at any time and it will be considered entertainment.

6 Responses to “Why the Harlan Ellison Thing Matters”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Those who are excusing the encounter as “between Harlan and Connie” are ignoring the very real message it sends

    For heaven’s sake, it happened *on-stage* to an *honoree* at a *major industry ceremony*. How more public would it have to be to make it a matter of community concern?

  2. Mir Says:

    And are we supposed to believe that if a man groped Susan Ellison in public, Harlan would just laugh?

    I doubt it, somehow.


  3. Lisa Lopacinski Says:

    It is so unfortunate that this happened. It’s really no wonder why there are so few female comic book readers when these types of things happen and people are so quick to brush it off or make excuses for it.

  4. James Schee Says:

    Wow, I stay away from the computer for a couple of days, and come back to this. Man, I’ve never bought anything from Ellison, and this makes me kind of glad.

    I love Willis’s work, so much that I even bought what seemed like a too expensive HC after reading it from the library and loving it so. I wouldn’t care if a man or woman were strangers or heck even married, that kind of stuff especially on a public stage is just wrong.

  5. Highlander Says:

    It matters because one human being put their hands on another human being who did not want to be touched like that.

    What it means to various other focus groups and random strangers and other uninvolved folks is all well and good, but, ultimately, what matters is that someone did something very wrong to someone else, and apparently, they did so in a context and an atmosphere in which at least some people feel that the unacceptable act was actually fine.

    That’s why this matters — because some people are still extremely stupid about these things.

  6. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Someone get Ellison checked for senility, ok? His latest boo-boo (after groping Connie Willis during an award presentation) is suing Fantagraphics, Gary Groth, and Kim Thompson. […]




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