For the past week or so, there’s been a storm brewing in comics fandom regarding Star Wars writer Brian Wood being accused of harassment by another comics creator, Tess Fowler. There’s been much written about this (on high-profile outlets like The Beat, The Mary Sue and Doctor Nerdlove; Wood himself has released a statement) but for those who haven’t been following, I found the most helpful roundup to be Beccatoria’s.
The incident Fowler writes of may be fairly low key by harassment – if not ethical – standards, but it’s still extremely skeevy and far, far from uncommon. Bad, drunken passes happen all the time, above and beyond conventions. And that’s the problem.
That kind of behavior is not acceptable. Whether it’s from a noted professional or just a random dude off the long boxes.
Feel free to give Wood the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know Tess Fowler; I’ve never met Wood. I certainly can’t vouch for her story or his response. But I’ve heard stories like this far, far too many times to instantly doubt that she’s telling the truth. (And when it comes to naming – or not naming – harassers, there’s simply no way to win.)
Awareness of harassment and harassers is important to fandom – all fandoms. All conventions. The more people talk about harassment, the more visibility we give it, the less we pretend that these things are isolated incidents, the more people won’t be afraid to speak up when it happens to them. To talk about it. To name names. To report. To, if nothing else, stand up and say THIS IS NOT OKAY.
Because it’s not okay.