Thursday, August 22, 2013

First they came for the saucy-sloganed panties...

Gen Con: The Best Four Days in Gaming! is dedicated to providing a harassment-free Event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, or affiliation. We do not tolerate harassment of convention participants in any form. - GenCon No Harassment policy
No complaints here. Wait, is that
a whip in her hand?
No sooner do we hear a report of a victory against the PC Police in the Escapist Expo controversy, and now we have had an incident at GenCon, no less. (So much for the commenter in the previous post saying game conventions were mostly unaffected by this trend.)

In this case, it turns out that one of the vendors at GenCon, Belle & Blade, decided to add some women's panties to their usual stock of war movies. What do panties have to do with gaming? Beats the heck out of me, but then again vendors at conventions sell all sorts of things that to my mind have nothing to do with the theme of the convention itself. But sell them they did, and the panties bore slogans like "I could use a little sexual harassment" and "Get me drunk... and we'll see."


According to the vendor, "the response to them was overwhelmingly favorable even at GenCon." Okay. Takes all kinds. Just because it's not my cup of mead doesn't mean that I get to ban it, right?

Wrong. Naturally, someone, in the interests of protecting womynhood disagreed, and complained to the GenCon staff. Certain corners of Twitter went berserk, and certain blogs decided to complain as well (even going so far as to call it "rapey"). The offending garments were moved to a position inside the booth, where they were not visible to casual traffic. Eventually, however, someone still complained, and the according to vendor, after what was apparently a civil conversation with the complainer...
"...after the gentleman and I had discussed everything, I again asked him which ones really bother him, and he pointed out the two I mentioned above.  I walked over, took both down and put them in a box.  I then said, I am not required to do so, but you made an adult presentation and even though I do not agree, I will respect you feelings and remove those two.  I believe we all must play nice." (from a private email, posted with permission)
Now, I am certainly not in favor of harassment, as I have stated clearly on previous occasions. No means no, and if you can't process that, you have no place being out and about in society, let alone in a fandom or gaming covention. Period.

Is she even wearing panties?
If so, do they have any slogans?
The question becomes, however, whether is it "harassment" or "advocating date rape" to sell women's clothing that implies sexual promiscuity on the part of the wearer? I would say it is not, because no one is forcing women to purchase or wear the slogans.

What this is, is another example of slut shaming by the forces of the feminist ultra-left. I remember a time when being a feminist meant being in favor of sex. You know, that whole "sexual revolution" of the 1960's? But now, sex has somehow been twisted into something bad, something that The Patriarchy inflicts on womyn to keep them oppressed. As Camille Paglia recently said in an interview at
"I am of course delighted that the fanatical puritan feminists of the anti-pornography crusade of the 1980s have been forced to eat dirt! Their arrogant success in pushing Playboy and Penthouse out of the convenience stores (a campaign where they allied with conservative Christian groups) evaporated when the Web went big in the ‘90s. ... Their shameless partisanship eventually doomed those Stalinist feminists, who were trampled by the pro-sex feminist stampede of the early ‘90s (in which I am proud to have played a vocal role). That insurgency began in San Francisco in the mid-‘80s and went national throughout the following decade. "
At least she is wearing a veil,
for the sake of modesty.
Alas, those puritan feminists have returned. Now we are to believe that it's "harassment" to sell something to a woman who wants to be flirty, or sexy, or even slutty. No one is forcing them to buy it, wear it, or agree with it. For those who don't want to, they certainly have the option not to. But that's not what this is about. This is about taking away the choice from women who do want to be flirty, or sexy, or, yes, slutty. Even at a gaming convention.

And because that choice bothers a certain Politically Correct segment of the population, they think no one else should make that choice, either. Ironic, isn't it, how today's "feminists" are now on the same side of the fence as the Pat Robertsons of the world?

The photos accompanying this article are from this year's GenCon, by the way. The very same place where this "incident" occurred.


John Matthew Stater said...

It's all about power, and the modern key to power seems to be "I'm Offended".

Stephen Miller said...

Isn't the company in question the same company who sells t-shirts and hats with SS Panzer division logos and their "World Tour" dates? I am not even sure why that sort of thing would be allowed at any convention. While I can understand why some folks may be upset that a controversial article of clothing was banned, I would hope that those same people would see that not every piece of clothing needs to be available at a family-oriented convention.

The Degenerate Elite said...

Freedom of Speech means that you will sometimes get offended. It also means that both sides have a right to express their opinions and ideas, through words, text, or products.

To imply that an inanimate object can "harass" a person is moronic. There are thousands of equally stupid sloganed products out there, and probably plenty at GenCon.

As far as panties go, you can see the same sort of suggestive phrasing, but not exactly the same, on panties at Target. Hell, Target openly displays items that are damn near Lingerie (ie, not for normal day to day wear), and not utilitarian undergarments.

Erik Tenkar said...

Not for nothing, but Gareth should put his energy into finishing his nearly 2 years late Kickstarter before getting his panties in a bunch.

Hey, I made a funny ;)

TheShadowKnows said...

My local Target definitely DOES have lingerie on display. And I live in West Virginia.

Frankly, the sexually-themed panties sound a whole lot less offensive to me than the disgusting Nazi t-shirts and hats Stephen Miller mentions above. The panties are obviously jokes, albeit not especially funny ones. If a woman wants to buy and wear something so idiotic, I think that's her right.

Joseph Bloch said...

Youch, Erik. December 2011 is pretty far back in the rear-view mirror, isn't it?

Herb Nowell said...

I was thinking about going to GenCon, finally, next year.

Maybe I won't bother. I get enough of this bs in the work world and the news.

Now I can't even go to a gather of people pretending to be elves and not have to deal with it.

Better to just stay home. Yes, that gives the complainers want they want, ruining my fun (well, they don't want mine personally but that of anyone who might not be 100% like them) but if that makes them happy I can find some other hobby they haven't ruined yet?

Herb Nowell said...

@Stephen Miller: Given the number of bumper stickers (among other things) I see I consider offensive every day I have a hard time getting worked up about either.

That said, I agree about the family oriented convention or just a gaming oriented convention that was 18+. I'm not interested in going to GenCon to meet people and have sex. I'm interested in going to meet people and play games.

What happened to the idea of appropriate behavior/attire for a given venue. Oddly, the few groups that still seem to understand that are ones who, in their own venues, are pretty loose. The most concern I saw about some the really obnoxious tween Halloween costumes was on the old Boston Netgoth mailing list. That's a list of people who, when clubbing, considered four pieces of electrical tape, a tong, fishnets, and boots an appropriate outfit but still wore a coat over it going to and from the club.

Still, maybe I should join the Puritans and demand the people who display things offensive to me (who are often those very same Puritans) need to respect my right not to be offended.

Somehow, I doubt my being offended counts.

Brandon said...

I should point out that the items themselves are not the harassers, but rather the vendor is (even if unwittingly). The items are the tools of harassment.

I think items like that, offensive as they are, should be allowed to be sold. However, placing them in a publicly visible place on the outside of the vendor stall was problematic, given the potential for offense. I do not think complainants had grounds for complaint once the items were moved to the inside of the booth.

Still, harassment, as a current legal principle, is as much about the perception of the harassee as the intent or perception of the harasser. Because the con and the exhibit hall, despite being restricted to attendees, are largely public spaces, there does have to be some accommodation to others.

This is one of those delicate issues that is hard to suss, and hard to have reasonable conversations about, because for many feelings run high. And feelings run high not because some people are offended, but rather because some people are actually intimidated. For someone who has been personally harassed, or sexually assaulted, or even raped, such things can be emotionally threatening and not simply offensive.

Kevin Weiser said...

Hey, I'm pretty sure I'm the gentleman who complained at the booth about the offending panties. I just wanted to step in and clarify a couple things.

First, the owner of the booth in the private email said: "I walked over, took both down and put them in a box. I then said, I am not required to do so, but you made an adult presentation and even though I do not agree, I will respect you feelings and remove those two."

This absolutely did not happen. He told me he WOULD remove the offending articles, but at no time during our conversation did he make any move away whatsoever. I don't know if he removed the clothes after the fact or not, but I can say for sure he did not remove them in my presence.

Second, I believe you are misunderstanding the complaint about the clothing. There were several pairs there that were very pro-sex. "Must be this long to ride" and other stuff like that. Those were not the problem. The problem with these two articles is they take consent out of the picture. The very definition of harassment is that it happens without the person's consent. Same with the drinking one. Alcohol removes consent. THAT is the problem. It's not about women liking sex. It's about trivializing the idea that consent is needed for sex.

These individual articles in and of themselves are indicative of just how seriously we as a culture take the problem of violence against women. No, they are not a direct cause, they are a symptom of our cultural apathy to the problem. I, for one, complained because I'm tired of jokes about consent being ok when upwards of 20% of women in the US are sexually assaulted in some way. I don't think it's something we should trivialize, so I asked for the articles to be removed.

Phil Broeders said...

If someone is daft enough to wear a pair of panties with a slogan on, then so be it. No-one holds a gun to their head to make them buy it.

alzrius said...

Kudos to Joe for this post, and the previous one on the subject. With "outrage towards anything that could conceivably be taken as offensive towards women" being the zeitgeist of the day, speaking out against that takes courage. Bravo, sir.

While there is something to be said for the idea that people in favor of sexual repression have simply migrated from far-right "enforcing morality" to far-left "protect the most-scandalized among us," I think there's a different explanation.

Feminism, unto itself, is (I think)a good thing. Being in favor of equality generally is.

The problem tends to come when making the shift from confronting sexist policies/actions to trying to root out the causes of sexism. That's when things tend to go off the rails.

The reason for this is, quite simply, that the causes of sexism are exceptionally difficult to definitively identify and/or virtually impossible to address by any sort of government action or societal convention.

Because of this, attempts to root out the causes of sexism tend to focus their efforts on passive elements (usually some sort of creative expression) that has (what they feel are) sexist elements, misidentifying them as causing sexist policies/actions, and then trying to remove/demonize them.

The real loss here is that even if they succeed, they're not addressing the underlying problem, making their efforts not only harmful to the people they're targeting, but ultimately futile with regard to the people they want to protect.

John Ardine said...

Slut shaming, harassment, puritanism, whatever about just some common decency? Or is society beyond that?

There is no need for panties that say "How about some sexual harassment". I am all for free speech, but come on, that is just not in good taste. Yet, there is no need to get in a frenzy and ban them....if we just acted like civilized and respectful people we wouldn't have a problem.

I don't like puritanism nor do I like the whole sexual promiscuity in my face angle either.

I think we as humans should just behave civil, decent, and respectful.

Byteninja said...

And this is why I enjoy the Army. If something like those panties had been sold by AAFES or a vendor, they would taken down as offensive. No rhetoric or diatribes, just gone. Heck, the person saying take them down might even think their funny.

The flip side to that coin, is people like Gareth, have caused the Army to become so frigging PC, we have to spend several hours (almost a full work day) quarterly being trained on variety of topics that all boil down to common sense, respect, and have thick skin.

An aside: when I ran the slogans by my wife, her reaction was "Are you buying those for me?" with a big grin. When told no and why I asked, she said yeah, those are offensive, but she'd still wear them.

Joseph Bloch said...

And that is exactly the point. What folks like Brandon and Kevin don't understand is that "I am offended" is not the same thing as "I am being harassed."

"Harassment" is only a club that gets used by folks who want to shut down speech or activities that offend them. Since they know they can't silence others by merely being offended, they reach for the only weapon they have, misapplied though it may be.

noisms said...

Nice post. I just wanted to weigh-in on the matter in some small part and say that this idea that there is a legal principle saying "harassment is defined by the victim" is almost certainly nonsense. I'm not an expert on US law but in English law the definition is what a "reasonable person" would consider to be harassment if possessed of all the facts, and I would be astonished if in US jurisdictions the definition was not effectively the same.

Joseph Bloch said...

Since we're talking about Indiana, here's how the state law defines harassment (from

"As used in this chapter, "harassment" means conduct directed toward a victim that includes but is not limited to repeated or continuing impermissible contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress and that actually causes the victim to suffer emotional distress. Harassment does not include statutorily or constitutionally protected activity, such as lawful picketing pursuant to labor disputes or lawful employer-related activities pursuant to labor disputes."