Sexual Harrassment in the Comics Industry

This was originally published here in February 2014 but with recent events it's worth noting again here.    I'm going to be honest and say I had never heard of Harvey Weinstein before this news of his sexual harrassment and RAPE of several women over the course of his career as a powerful player in Hollywood broke, but I did laugh out loud that the revered Meryl Streep once called this bag of trash a "god". 

And some people look to Hollywood for morality advice??

Here's the original article;

 

In an industry where a lead female character could be dressed like this and it's found acceptable, how can there NOT be a problem with sexual harrassment??

In an industry where a lead female character could be dressed like this and it's found acceptable, how can there NOT be a problem with sexual harrassment??

Got this in from a fellow creator looking for advice-- and sadly they are not alone.  There is a fair amount of this going on, especially directed at young men or women trying to enter the field.  I answered them personally but I thought there might be others with the same problem so I'll post everything here:

Hi Andy
I had a bad experience last year when a pro in the industry approached me expressing a lot of interest in my work, then turned around and spent months sexually harassing me through a social media site, never mentioning my work again. 

I did get the situation shut down, but I'm a pretty skeeved out by the whole experience.

So I guess I'm just asking... do you have any ideas for identifying when someone is genuinely interested in my work, and when they're just using it (and their pro status) as leverage to try to hit on you? 

I would really like to save the time and stress not having to deal with things like that. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how to deal with the harassment itself (being as professional as possible without being cold, shutting down flirting as soon as i notice it, bringing up the fact I have a significant other as soon as possible, taking notes and reporting behavior if it crosses the line into harassment, etc) but it still happens sometimes.

It's annoying and frustrating to have to put so much brain-space into all of that, and the last thing I want to do is become jaded and put people off that genuinely do just want to talk shop.  Any advice?


The first thing I have to say about this is I'm not an expert in any of what I'm going to suggest but it's basic common sense, consider me your caring Uncle Andy.  The behavior you describe is annoying and frustrating to say the least, what you encountered is criminal. 

It's rare, but unfortunately a lot of the pro's are just fanboys and girls with luck who got jobs.  You can't always recognize skeev when you first see it but it'll become more noticeable as you're around longer.

I agree with you to be careful about crossing the flirting line, but sometimes one person's banter is another person's come on-- remember you're dealing with a lot of folks who's experience with a potential mate is from Battlestar Galactica.   Really when it comes to any kind of verbal or text exchange is what is being said or written something that you would have no problem with your significant other hearing?    If it isn't then it's likely its going too far.  The second ANY kind of harrassment starts go with your instinct and shut it down.  Don't give thought to the damage this clown can do--  it needs to be stopped.   Harrassment is a form of bullying and the only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them.

But what about your career?

Remember the ONLY ones who can ever help you are EDITORS.  That's it.  A pro cannot.  A pro can recommend you to an editor, but there's NEVER a reason they would have to do anything but give you an editors email.   A Pro can't hire you or even get you a gig.  Even big name pros.  They may tell you they can ask for you on a project, but again all decisions go through editors.  I don't care who the pro is, this is how it works.

All right-- does that mean an Editor won't hit on you?  No.  But it's FAR less likely.  They can lose their job if they do and they SHOULD.

Boiling it down-- ANY one offering you help should instantly set off a flag that says to you "WHY?"  Why are they helping you?   And I agree this is a horrible way to have to live, but it's the best way to keep you safe from this.


What's in it for them?

For an editor-- that's their job, to find new talent.

For a fellow pro-- there's far less reason they'd help you.  So that you can get hired on a book they might have gotten hired for?  Doesn't seem likely.   It doesn't mean their aren't pro's who have helped people out in the past.  It's happened for me and I've done it myself.    

There is no hard rule here.

Pro Status means bubkiss too.  Today's superstar is tomorrow's Who?!  So don't let someone convince you otherwise.

Fanboys and girls often don't know how to talk to the people they are attracted to, and they certainly don't want to deal with a wife, a husband or a significant other.  You can always try "My fiancee...." as a response to any initial offer.  The legit ones won't be shaken off.

Sounds like a lousy way to go about it, but it works.
Very sorry it happened to you but the one thing that is important here is that like this piece of shit Weinstein you don't blame yourself and you should let someone in power know what this person has done, and if that person doesn't do something about it find someone who will.

They will only be stopped when a spotlight is shown on their behavior.