[hackerspaces] sexual harrasment

matt matt at nycresistor.com
Wed Nov 12 07:32:15 CET 2014

If you need a harassment policy you have screwed up somewhere fairly
spectacularly.  that's an informed opinion.
what it comes down to from my perspective is that your hackerspace should
be a community of people that trust
each other.  if someone has been harassing another person in any fashion to
the point that there is even a
discussion of policy bandaids you need to reconsider how it is you go about
safeguarding your community.

If someone in your community has betrayed the trust of your community they
should be ejected.

Communities are founded on trust.  Without it, you have nothing.  You can
pretend all you want that all is well but
you are really just sticking your head in the sand.

If someone commits an illegal act, that's a betrayal of trust.  And first
and foremost that person has forfeit their
membership in the hackerspace through their own actions.  If there is
necessary legal action as well you address
that as a community.

If someone has betrayed the trust of another member, that can get dicey.
But as with any personal relationship
one of the members needs to do the honorable thing and bow out of their own
accord.  If someone has
acted inappropriately that should again be readily apparent.. if  you find
people not seeing that as readily
apparent then guess what... you have a personal grievance between two

In that case, just as if two members were dating and had a rocky break
up... someone is honor bound to do
the right thing and bow out of the community.  If someone among the two
can't be adult / mature enough
to do that, eject both members as they are selfish and juvenile and
therefore ultimately poor members of
the community.

I don't see why you guys see this as so difficult?  I mean I see people
build volumes of bylaws and repositories
of errata and then dive into massive bureaucratic traps to address
something that doesn't require any of this.

You either trust someone and they are a part of your community or they are
not.  There's no middle ground.

On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 7:00 PM, Brendan Halliday <wodann at gmail.com> wrote:

> After we had a spate of clearly sexist behaviour from some members on our
> mailing list (They opposed the female members having a female targeted
> event, somehow conflating it with removing their rights to attend the
> space) we implemented a very clearly written Safe Space Policy clearly
> outlining the behaviours considered inappropriate.
> Of course, one of the sexist members at the time was an executive and
> tried to block it claiming the terminology was wrong entirely and posted a
> 'rewritten' version that removed all references to what harrassment and
> sexism is. So be ready for stupid things like that when you try to bring in
> rules like this.
> You can read it at http://hsbne.org/admin/safespace.html
> On Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 3:58 AM, Alan Fay <emptyset at freesideatlanta.org>
> wrote:
>> \On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:52 AM, Florencia Edwards <floev22 at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> How do you deal with sexual harassment at your spaces?
>> Freeside based its Anti-Harassment Policy on the guidelines for
>> conferences provided by the Ada Initiative: [
>> https://wiki.freesideatlanta.org/fs/Policy_AntiHarassment]
>> That's just a policy, though - and is powerless without enforcement.
>> First and foremost, leadership has to lead by example.  Any person in a
>> leadership role in the organization that engages in harassment should be
>> removed immediately.  Any tolerance of harassing behavior by leadership
>> will quickly spread through the organization, and diversity will suffer as
>> a result.
>> Secondary, it's important to establish the right culture and attitude.
>> What I tell my fellow Directors and Officers is: "Treat every person that
>> walks through the door as your equal."  That tends to work really well.
>> There's always a few people that don't get it, so it's important to not
>> only follow-up with those individuals, but also with the members or
>> visitors that they interact with.  I have a serious conversation with the
>> individual, where I put all the cards on the table.  For example, to
>> explain exactly how their comments or actions impact the organization, how
>> the recipients of their words or behaviors interpreted their actions, etc.
>> Thankfully, our membership process tends to find any potential problems
>> before onboarding.  One really good test that works for us is taking
>> potential members out to a restaurant, to break some bread with other
>> members.  99% of the time, you learn everything about a person treats
>> others by observing their behavior towards a waiter.
>> It's kind of a chicken and egg problem, but having diversity promotes
>> diversity.  If there's enough women at the space, then women feel more
>> welcome and secure/confident to fight back harassment in the absence of
>> leadership.  I still don't know how to promote diversity, but respect and
>> non-harassing leadership seemed to work for Freeside.
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