Sexual Harassment Policy
Posted by: Steph T
Date: September 2, 2015 10:25AM
Text from our closing meeting.
Hi, today we’re going to talk about what is and is not appropriate behavior, especially regarding sexual harassment and our relevant policies. While we have a written policy in our rulebook – and I encourage you to read it – it seems it’s not completely clear.
FI2 is, without a doubt, a mature game. We purposefully write plots that are right on the edge of folks’ comfort zones – plenty of shades-of-grey morality; your opponents are rarely monsters, just people with different priorities than you; a world of desperation where ordinary people sometimes must go to extraordinary – and terrible – lengths to survive.
In addition to this baseline of awful, we often write plots that touch on dark themes – self-harm, addiction, scenes of realistic gore, domestic violence, controlling or abusive relationships. We do this for a number of reasons: for one, it sets a dark and grim aesthetic for our imperfect world. But more importantly, this is a LARP, and being able to explore – and defeat – these very real horrors can be cathartic and powerful, giving us insight and strength that we can carry back to our real lives.
There is a caveat to our writing of those plots, though: we are very, VERY careful to make these plots entirely opt-in – many members of our communities have their own personal reasons for avoiding these sorts of situations, and we have every respect for that. There will never be an unreasonable penalty for walking away from a plot for reasons of out-of-game trauma or similar; Furthermore, if Maria and I know that a particular player or cast member has reason to opt out of that sort of situation, we will take every effort to ensure that the plot does not even come near that person. Maria will schedule the plot carefully for minimal chance of spontaneous involvement. Either Maria or myself will discreetly caution any cast members involved, with no details (of course) out of respect for all parties’ privacy.
So Steph, why are you taking so long to explain this, and what does it have to do with harassment? Simple: I am emphasizing just how seriously we take the safety and comfort of our community. Yes, we will do our best to push the boundaries, create difficult situations, make you THINK, and discomfit you, but we will never show anything but respect for you while we do it.
I’ll quote the rulebook policy for a moment: sexual harassment is a form of misconduct that undermines our desired relationships. No one, male or female, should be subjected verbally or physically to behavior that is not welcome, that is personally offensive, that debilitates morale and, therefore, interferes with our effectiveness.
This expectation carries over not just during our game-on hours, but at any part of any of our events: setup, game-on time, game-off time, cleanup, on the boards or the FI Facebook page or group, any FI-sponsored Craft Days or after-parties, such as at our one-day events. Outside of the umbrella of Future Imperfect, your behavior is your own to police, and I have NO desire to intrude into your personal life. However, when that behavior is in any way associated with my game space – with OUR community – I will not tolerate any form of harassing behavior.
Let me take a moment to be even more explicit about actions that are inappropriate: approaching serious subjects with callousness or offensiveness, such as by making crude rape “jokes” or insensitive references. If you aren’t sure whether or not a reference is insensitive or callous, then err on the side of respect for your fellow community members and don’t make it. If you have trouble discerning whether or not your behavior is acceptable or will make those around you uncomfortable, then once again, err on the side of respect and keep your conversation away from topics that can cause true harm to those around you when approached without sensitivity.
Finally, I will not tolerate any lack of respect towards this policy itself or towards the types of trauma that necessitate it. Mocking remarks about “triggering” or those “too sensitive to take a joke” show a lack of respect towards those suffering from real wounds, even if they aren’t visible ones. If you truly believe that acting with basic respect to the very real people LARPing around you is too much to ask – it interferes with your character concept, ruins your immersion, or in any way inconveniences you – then I ask you to examine your priorities. Your convenience is not more important than someone else’s safety.
Rule zero of LARPing has always been “Real life comes first.” I ask you to take that to include “respect your fellow LARPers as people.”
Thanks for listening all the way through, I love you guys.