As a convention, Continuum is dedicated to creating a culture of respect and a convention where all attendees have a positive experience. Continuum has a Code of Conduct, and we expect all members to read and abide by it.
If you experience or witness any behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable, or that you think violates the code of conduct, we encourage you to come and talk to a C14 committee member about it.
This is detailed in Reporting a Code of Conduct Violation at Continuum 14.
If you choose to formally report an incident, our reporting process focuses on the individual making the report. No action will be taken without discussion, and with the agreement of the individual reporting. In brief, an incident report will be filled out. As soon as possible potential actions will
be discussed and action taken as decided. All reports will be treated confidentially. Any details we make in a formal report will only be discussed between the Continuum, and Continuum Foundation
committees. Names and specific details will only be discussed on a need to know basis.
An ongoing issue in convention spaces is the impact of microaggressions. These are little, every day slights, insults and hurts that are delivered to marginalised people from people of different experiences. The impact of microaggressions is that they contribute to a culture or vibe of unwelcome within a space.
Sometimes microaggressions are subtle and gentle. They’re tiny and insignificant but you need to be on guard for them; sometimes you’re on guard and they happen anyway, and they cut and cut and cut.
Sometimes they’re blatant. Microaggressions are a real issue at Australian conventions (and
conventions internationally), including Continuum. They’re weird comments about the sexual proclivities in our home countries; they’re the inappropriate comments about pronouns or partners or access requirements. Sometimes it’s hard to call out something racist, or sexist, or ableist, or just plain awful, in the moment. But to be a decent human being, you need to be prepared.
So we’ve prepared you this handy guide to help you get into the space of “what to do when I’m observing some inappropriate stuff going down.”
Help us create a space that’s fun for everyone. That doesn’t necessarily mean the space is comfortable, because sometimes you should be challenged and discomforted in your thinking.
But it does mean safe from racial vilification, from misogynistic comments, from people who are punching down instead of punching up because it’s funny.
Here’s what you can do when you witness a microaggression in a social setting at a con:
- Say: “We don’t say things like that here.”
- Say: “Gosh, I wouldn’t have said that.”
- Interrupt it.
- Say: “Wow, that’s an anecdote. How would you relate that to the topic we’re talking about?”
- Remember that you might feel rude, but the person saying the weird racist thing has already been rude, so be rude back.
- Say: “Wow”
- Lean in further: “Wow, that’s racist.” “Wow, do you think that’s appropriate?” “Wow, don’t ever talk to me ever again.” Make it uncomfortable. They already have.
- Non-sequitur and change the subject. I recommend keeping cat, dog, or amazing lego photos handy.
Things to do as a panelist:
- Be prepared. If you’re on a panel that might be problematic, think in advance about some of the problems that might occur. Hold them lightly, so you can recognise them.
- Remember that it’s okay to say that something made you uncomfortable but you’re not sure why, and be prepared to say that out loud.
- Say: “Ooh, wow.” (Let the silence fester for a second before you swing onto the next thing.)
- Say: “Yeah, no.” (Push in on this one.)
- Say: “You don’t think that’s a little bit racist?”
- Say: “I think there are some good points happening here, but it feels like we’re skirting towards some weirdly racist commentary and I don’t think we’ll have time to do the intersection justice.”
- Ignore it and bring it right back to what the panel was talking about before it went into weird sexist territory. Prepare a follow-up to that conversation topic. That way, once you’ve said your piece, if the person starts to argue (“I’m not misogynist, how dare you say that?”), you can calmly redirect the conversation back to the non-awful topic: “Okay! So back to the greatest book ever, Louis Cha’s The Condor Heroes.” This makes you super reasonable.
- Remember that it gets easier. The first time you push back feels rude and hard. Always remember that someone else made it rude first.
Things to do as the moderator
- Prepare for where it might go wrong; and remember that as the moderator you have the authority to stop the panel in its tracks. Don’t be afraid to rein in a panelist, or an audience member, and
don’t be afraid to have them removed from the room.
- Make it clear why you’re stopping a debate.
- You are there to keep the panel going, but sometimes you have to stop the panel, too.
- If someone is whitesplaining to a PoC on a panel (or similar microaggression), please feel free to interrupt that ‘splainer. You are the moderator, please just draw the panel back to where it
needs to be.
Be gentle on yourself. If you don’t react in time, or the way you want, forgive yourself and do better next time.
Finally: Remember that if you’re uncomfortable, someone else probably is as well. Remember that if you’re uncomfortable and the weird racist comment wasn’t directed at you, someone else is DEFINITELY feeling uncomfortable. You are not alone. Please push back.