laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
[personal profile] laurashapiro
Note: This post is addressed to friends of mine in the vidding community who have expressed anger and frustration that the current discussions around Vividcon's policies, accessibility, and trigger warnings are taking place.

Vidding is my fandom. For me, Vividcon is its nexus, the highlight of my year, my favorite place to be, where almost all of my very best friends are. It's where I see great vids and have great conversations, where I dance my ass off and have my mind blown. All of it is made possible by a fastidiously-organized concom and the vidders and vid fans who volunteer and participate. I love it.

Vidding is my fandom. Vividcon is my con. I am part of it. I feel responsible for it. That's why I'm making this statement.

The VVC concom asked people to offer concerns and suggestions about their Background and Policies document. The fact that many people have done so does not mean they are "bashing the con", just as giving critique in vid review does not make a person "mean". I have complete confidence that when the concom says "VividCon welcomes comments and feedback on the VividCon Background and Policies statement. We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to make a comment or write to us about their concerns" they mean exactly that. I respect the people on that concom, some of my best friends in fandom, and I know that they are sincere in wanting to hear criticism so they can learn and improve -- the same way many vidders who come to the con sincerely want criticism on our vids so we can learn and improve.

This is not about being "politically correct", a phrase that I have a lot of problems with. This is about trying to make Vividcon accessible and fun for everyone.

Regarding the trigger warnings debate specifically, I'm going to quote [personal profile] thuviaptarth here because she says just what I would have:
Last year's discussions about warnings in fanfiction changed my mind about warnings. I am firmly opposed to censorship. I don't have triggers myself. Generally I prefer to avoid vid warnings. I am almost certain that my position on my premiering vid will be "Choose not to warn." And I am in favor of implementing warnings for common PTSD and physical triggers, preferably as a separate list rather than included on the vid or in the vidshow itself.

...

The thing is, I am opposed to requiring warnings for "offensive content." That's something I consider a free expression issue. I am in favor of warnings for "triggers," which is more of a disability and accessibility issue. I don't feel that my artistic freedom of expression is best served by my incapicitating people with flashbacks or inducing a migraine.


Her entire post is worth reading.

A person who requests trigger warnings is not a crybaby. They are a survivor of trauma or a person with disabilities trying to protect themselves from serious harm. They are not asking other people to take responsibility for them. They are taking responsibility for themselves.

To return to the subject of the con itself: in order for to make Vividcon accessible and fun for everyone, some things will have to change. Change is upsetting, and it takes work. It's particularly hard for people who have loved VVC for years just the way it is. We feel protective of VVC and of the people who make it happen.

But I want to work for the change, because I believe that my pleasure is not worth more than other people's pain, and because as much as I love Vividcon, I believe that it's possible for it to be better. I want to be sure that everyone who is interested in coming to Vividcon can come, can feel welcome and safe there the way I do, can return home with the same cherished memories of fannish delight and deep thinkiness and social hilarity that I do. I want everyone to love it the way I do.

I want everyone to say, the way I do, "Is it August yet?"

ETA July 1, 2010 4:35 pm: I am reading every comment but I may not be able to reply to them all. At this time I am also not moderating comments, but will do so should it become necessary. I am working full-time, busy tonight, and going away for the weekend, where Internet access will be limited. But I am taking it all in. Please do continue to discuss among yourselves.

on 2010-07-01 03:13 pm (UTC)
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] cofax7
A person who requests trigger warnings is not a crybaby. They are a survivor of trauma or a person with disabilities trying to protect themselves from serious harm. They are not asking other people to take responsibility for them. They are taking responsibility for themselves.

Yes, this. I changed my position on trigger warnings last year, for the same reasons as Thuvia did.

Thanks for making this post.

on 2010-07-01 05:00 pm (UTC)
lim: baby Spock peeks over the bottom of the icon (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] lim
Laura I love you, and Toft etc, but I…feel you have been swallowed by the monster of your good intentions. Please set some achievable, reality-based goals instead of this showboating:

I want to be sure that everyone who is interested in coming to Vividcon can come

That's very nice but it's never going to happen. VVC is a small con based in the US and even given the scholarship they offer there are plenty of people who simply CANNOT GO. For example: I cannot come to Vividcon. I can't come! You can't fix it with a flyer or a list. You can make it better for some people, but that's not everyone. (And that's OK! Life has limits; there are other things we can do) It's never going to be everyone and this condescending self congratulating BULLSHITTERY is massively, now, doing my swede in. God, let's all take you poor dears on a bus to Blackpool and sing a song about inspiration; here's a sodding chufty badge.

By all means make a flyer about triggers or whathaveyou for those people that want/need those things but can we PLEASE STOP with this PREPOSTEROUS assertion that it's making cons/fandom/wtfever accessible to everyone?? PLEASE? It's a 125 person con! A post and a warning flyer will not change that fact and I'm o.O at you pretending that it does in order to make yousen feel good. VVC has limits, and I'd rather you own up to it than pretend that this grandstanding is changing the world.  It's so embarrassingly hamhanded and I just feel like the bullshit is pressing down on my face and oozing past my collar and I might die of it.

*flails*

Drowning! 125 people! Tell the truth to yourself.

I realise this is probably a nuclear bomb of a comment and I'm sorry for that, but also, I have now had to make a stupid filter to filter off you lot who discovered disability ten fucking minutes ago..

I don't accept this thesis that disabled fen are a disempowered or minority group in fandom and framing all these things in terms of weakness and kindness means I must actually socially DISEMPOWER myself in this model. How about that Vidder87 won't come to VVC because VVC is not GOOD ENOUGH and that is VVC's LOSS? How about if you build a house with no doors or windows I will LAFF at you and think you built a BAD HOUSE? I'm not ready to give up my power in fandom. I won't have you do gooders take it off me. I'll fight you for it.

on 2010-07-01 05:05 pm (UTC)
lim: Mulder making an "uh huh" face (uh huh)
Posted by [personal profile] lim
BTW, to somewhat deflate my last comment, I have no idea how I posted this as a reply to dear Cofax. Complete mistake. Sorry! Wrong button!

on 2010-07-01 05:06 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
I have to say, that I agree.

Actually, I'll add that all of this is making me not want to attend the con in the future, so it's actually making the con the opposite of a fun and acessible place.

on 2010-07-01 05:13 pm (UTC)
jonquil: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] jonquil
For clarity -- are you saying that both the "The con needs better access" and the "The con is doing fine" sides are making you feel unwelcome and disempowered?

I am trying to phrase this neutrally; if I'm biasing it, I apologize. I'm trying to educate myself so I avoid future mistakes.

on 2010-07-01 05:31 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
I actually meant 'all of this' as in, the wank itself. I agree that we need to help people with accessibility issues as much as realistically possible, but the trouble is that right now, maybe of the comments aren't being realistic.

As someone with strong triggers, and eye/brain condition , I'm well aware of the effect vids can have. I just think people are approaching the problem from entirely the wrong way (building the policy around the exceptions instead of seeing that the policy is open the exceptions while still being built upon common sense, which I applaud the concom for). I think the con is doing fine as far as access is concerned. It's currently making me feel unwelcomed because I feel as though there is so much concern and rules over making the con fun that it actually makes the con not fun anymore. It's not the only reason I've been feeling unwelcomed at a con I'll be attending for the third time and for which I've/I'll have modded four panels and created a vidshow - I feel as though my opinion, especially on stuff I personally experience, is not being respected and is being scoffed at by people who actually claim to want to protect and make the con accessible by people in my situation. We've ceased using common sense.

on 2010-07-01 05:40 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
The thing that makes me sad personally is that we've come to be burried so much in these discussions, rules and guidelines that we're creating an environment that holds together with strings and duct tape. It's impossible to make everyone feel as welcomed as the next person. That's just how life works. It's sad and it sucks, but that's reality and no amount of trigger warning or bathroom labelling is going to change that. It feels as though we need a clean slate - which I had seen the policy as. Implementing basic guidelines, which are actually just the general 'you can, but you don't *have* to' and fit the need of the majority, and then as exceptions arise (different gender identification, etc), try to accomodate them. I also see mountains being built out of non-issued, especially with the bathroom debate - everyone has a bathroom in their room that is less than three minutes away from con space, even if they're on the top floor in the corner suite. People expressed concern over the *hypothetical* person who might have mobility issues and might not make it in time - by which I mean someone with both mobility issues and who has issues using the common bathrooms near con space. This person is hypothetical. This person has not raised their hand and said 'actually, I have an issue with that, could we find a solution please?'. We can't build a con space around maybes and possiblys. We can do our best to adapt to the need of the people AT THE CON. As wonderful as it would be if everyone could have the ideal con experience, it's never going to happen. It sucks, it's sad, but it's life.

I also see the warning debate as a non issue. I'm one of the people that could benefit from the warnings, but I would never enforce them. Why is this an issue now? the policy is the same as it has always been. You can, but you don't have to. Not to mention, it's never gonna be ideal, because the definition of what constitutes a trigger varies from person to person and therefore, the warnings are not going to be applied in a uniform way.

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on 2010-07-01 05:26 pm (UTC)
klia: (flowers)
Posted by [personal profile] klia
This. I registered, then decided not to go, because I don't have the emotional resources  energy spoons to deal with this face to face.

on 2010-07-01 05:43 pm (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
THIS. This is exactly what I meant. My family is crumbling under illness and deaths, my life has been turned upside down (though in a good way, but still spoon consuming), and I'm finishing a thesis. I'm almost out of spoons and at this rate, I think I'm gonna be all out by August.

... And when I'm out of spoons, I tend to use knives, and that's probably not the best idea.

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on 2010-07-01 05:28 pm (UTC)
klia: (flowers)
Posted by [personal profile] klia
Thank you for this.

on 2010-07-02 02:06 am (UTC)
merryish: X - elephant tv (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] merryish
I agree with this so much. I think there's something getting lost in all of these discussions. Which is:

Vividcon is basically 10-15 fans trying to make the weekend an accessible and welcoming place for 125-150 fans, and -- for the most part, and from the reports of actual attendees who have actual experience dealing with the staff and the con regarding accessibility -- succeeding on a regular basis.

They aren't trying to make it accessible for every person everywhere. Just for these 125-150 real actual people, who are different people every year, in different combinations every year, with differing needs, every year. And again, if people pay attention to the reports of actual attendees, the story they will hear is far different from the one I see playing out in posts like this one, where all disabled people are welcomed to comment on their experiences -- unless they are positive, and actual experiences, in which case shut up we're trying to HELP people here! Right?

And I just have to say this, too: If a fan is old enough to come to VividCon, I expect them to be old enough to ask for what they need. I've seen posts talking about how people don't want to "out themselves" as disabled by asking for the things they need, and I'm sorry, but that's not a valid criticism of the con's policies. You don't get to say the concom is denying you what you need when you never asked for what you needed. If you don't ask what you need you don't get what you need.

That's not a concom policy; that's the world. That's being an adult in the world.

on 2010-07-02 03:08 am (UTC)
amadi: A stylized photo of two calla lily flowers (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] amadi
It's extremely problematic to cast people whose disabilities and their experience of being constantly forced to ask for accommodations which are often not made as being insufficiently "adult" because they do not feel able (or actually are not able as a result of their disabilities) to ask for accommodations that other cons, of various sizes, manage to put in place as a matter of operation, not just because someone finds the ability to ask.

The ultimate accessibility is invisibility, to go about life without having to constantly ask people for things that are taken for granted for TAB people. Having to ask to be accommodated is an extra burden upon people with disabilities, an extra cost to our every day lives that can often take a substantial toll. Self-advocacy is a great thing, but not being able to advocate for oneself, especially in view of a written policy that enumerates all of the different ways in which accommodations are a problem, a hassle, or outright impossible, is not as sign of insufficient adulthood or insufficient anything other than, perhaps, the will to deal with yet another situation where things that are taken for granted for TAB people, like a place to sit, are things that we have to beg for.

on 2010-07-02 03:52 am (UTC)
merryish: X - elephant tv (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] merryish
Having to ask to be accommodated is an extra burden upon people with disabilities, an extra cost to our every day lives that can often take a substantial toll.

I don't disagree with that at all -- of course it's a burden. But being disabled at all is a burden, and no one can take that away. The concom can't take that away. And part of that burden is having to ask if we want other parts of that burden to be accommodated.

I say this as a person who deals with pain every single day of my life. Every time I walk more than the length of a room with a friend I have to decide if I will try to keep up with them and have more pain tomorrow, or if I'll ask my friends to slow down so I can have the joy of my normal amount of pain tomorrow. If I'm not sitting in a specific chair in my living room I can't watch TV in my living room, because I can't turn my head certain ways for more than a few minutes at a time. If someone takes that chair, I have to decide if I want to ask them to move, or if I want to miss the show.

Having to make decisions like that sucks, but they are my decisions. And what would suck even more would be getting pissed off at my friends for not reading my mind and knowing I need to stop or go slower when I don't ask, or knowing I need to sit at a certain place at the table or in the tv room when I haven't said so.

And frankly, the number of people in fandom right now telling me that these decisions are too hard is really off-putting. Self-advocacy isn't beyond any of us. It's what we have. Choosing not to ask for accommodation because what would be better is the imaginary perfect world where we don't need to is self-defeating. It's deliberately giving up resources. I don't get it.

edited due to wacky grammar
Edited on 2010-07-02 03:56 am (UTC)

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on 2010-07-04 10:44 pm (UTC)
thefourthvine: A compass rose.  (Compass)
Posted by [personal profile] thefourthvine
I've been thinking about this comment for a while, and, okay. I disagree.

I attended VVC in 2007. I hope to go back next year. I also have a developmental disability that I manage very well in day-to-day life; I am a stay-at-home mother now, with all that entails, and I've had and been good at challenging careers, and I take care of my family and balance my budget and cook and clean and do almost all the other things adults do. I'm very good at managing my disability, so much so that in my regular life I can make it almost invisible to other people - they may think I'm weird, but I don't think it ever occurs to the people who know me now that I have a developmental disability severe enough that my parents were once told I'd end up in an institution, unable to care for myself, or that I spent half my schooling career in extreme special education, anything like that.

But that is in ordinary life, which is predictable and familiar. VVC is neither of those things. I manage my disability in part by being careful and by devoting tons, and I do mean tons, of energy and effort to arranging things in advance. I couldn't do that with VVC, because I couldn't find the kind of information I'd need in advance. I read lots of con reports from past years and checked the website and asked past attendees what it was like, but - still. People mostly do not know the kinds of things I need to know, because why should they? They don't have my disability, and they're never going to need that information.

My disability is mostly one that cannot be accommodated in a setting like VVC - no one is going to arrange to have a community member eat with me or walk into crowded rooms with me or talk to me or help me start conversations or anything like that. (And I am not for a moment suggesting that they should.) But there are some things that can be done easily in any large setting. At VVC, they mostly weren't done. (Some were, but that is a different story, one about community standards.) That's not a surprise; this is something I always have to advocate for.

Except. I couldn't advocate for it in advance, because I didn't know until I got there what I would need. And once I did get there, the first step to asking would be finding a concom member, right? I can't recognize faces, and you have to be in just the right place to see a badge. (I met elyn several times. I still have no idea what she looks like. The only person who I think is a concom member who I might recognize if I saw her again is Luminosity, because she has such gorgeous hair. And even then, it's might.) And I can't start conversations (I have some workarounds that help with this, but none of them worked for this particular situation, because they involve parroting, and I can't parrot things no one else is saying). And on the rare occasion you see a concom member, she's, understandably, completely surrounded by people. So I could not ask. I mean, seriously, I have worked this disability my whole life, and I am not kidding when I tell you that I am really damn good at it. And I was completely stymied by step one.

I managed, though; I can survive without accommodations and function pretty well, because, again, I've worked this a long time and I know what to do, and I also know what limits I'm going to have to embrace if I want to stay functional without accommodations. But I know this: at 20, I would have gone back to my hotel room after registration and not come out until it was time to leave for the plane home. And that would have been sad for me; I had so much fun at VVC, and I had such a wonderful experience (despite, you know, the random bouts of crying and pacing in my hotel room and the missing meals because it took me a while to figure out the food thing and so on), and I would have hated to miss it.

So, you know, I am just saying: it is possible to have a disability, and be an adult, and be good at managing and advocating for your disability, and find yourself in a situation where you cannot advocate for what you need. I am an unusual case, maybe, but I am probably not the only person who has tried to advocate for her disability only to be stopped by the disability itself.
Edited on 2010-07-04 10:47 pm (UTC)

on 2010-07-04 11:01 pm (UTC)
merryish: X - elephant tv (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] merryish
Yeah. I mean, this is absolutely something important for me to hear, because it's nothing I would ever have thought of - it reminds me of how narrowly I tend to define things sometimes. "Adult" was a really bad way for me to have put things, and honestly, it didn't belong here -- I was reacting to a statement in another journal altogether and brought my emotions about that here, and dropped them in out of context.

Mainly, though, what you've said here (and what I've seen in other places too) is making me rethink my own coping mechanisms and realize that what works for me -- which is mainly clinging fiercely to my independence out of sheer terror of losing it at some point -- is not what's going to work for everybody, or in every situation. Like -- I tell myself to suck it up and get over myself and whatever the hard thing is just DO it and stop whinging about it. And that makes my life easier, I can't even really explain how, it just makes me feel normal and more in control. But I can't graft that onto other people, in situations different from mine, and expect to see it reflected back at me.

Anyway, thanks for the perspective, I was in need of it!

on 2010-07-08 01:11 am (UTC)
merryish: X - elephant tv (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] merryish
And I just have to say this, too: If a fan is old enough to come to VividCon, I expect them to be old enough to ask for what they need. I've seen posts talking about how people don't want to "out themselves" as disabled by asking for the things they need, and I'm sorry, but that's not a valid criticism of the con's policies. You don't get to say the concom is denying you what you need when you never asked for what you needed. If you don't ask what you need you don't get what you need.

That's not a concom policy; that's the world. That's being an adult in the world.


So, this is way the hell down in replies to my original comment, and probably nobody will ever see it! But since I can't edit the comment to add this, I add it here --

That was a particularly unthinking and unkind thing to say, and it sucks -- I was just very narrowly focused on mobility issues only, since those are what I have, and not even thinking about people who might not have the emotional or physical resources to ask for help that I do. I don't actually think that's lacking in adulthood at all, which makes saying it especially loser-like, and I'm sorry about that.

on 2010-07-02 09:11 pm (UTC)
toft: oranges (food_oranges)
Posted by [personal profile] toft
Hey, Lim. I'm sorry. You're right, and this is a good comment to make. But, y'know. I still feel like VVC should have a warnings flyer. VVC does have limits, but I don't see why this should be one, that's all.

on 2010-07-03 02:15 pm (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
I don't accept this thesis that disabled fen are a disempowered or minority group in fandom

Wait, are you serious? Because you're arguing against reality now. How about arguing that the moon is cheese-based next?

Is it really so hard to, oh no, not immediately assume disabled people are frauds, and doing INCREDIBLY MINOR, EASY things to help them? is this really so difficult to you?

Oh, yes it is, according to you:

I must actually socially DISEMPOWER myself in this model.

Indeed, giving up your superiority over others is disempowering you, so you're unwilling to do it.

Wow. People really didn't ask for much, nor built "a monster of their good intentions". People simply ask for tiny things that'd need barely any effort.

And that you're attacking this as "unreasonable" and "too much" is telling a lot about you.

Your posting? A summary of classic ablism bingo. Your post alone gave me a bingo. I hope you're happy. Thanks for further dehumanizing and silencing those of us who are disabled and attended the con, and thanks for telling us how unwelcome our very existance is.

on 2010-07-03 09:48 pm (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
I read lim's comment to mean that lim is disabled in some way and feels disempowered by the current fandom conceptual model of disability-as-minority-group.

There are different ways of framing the same factual circumstances (ex: "rape victim" vs. "rape survivor") and it's perfectly valid for someone whom those circumstances apply to to object to one mode of framing and prefer another, even if the mode they object to is the preferred mode for other members of the same group.

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on 2010-07-04 03:50 am (UTC)
bop_radar: Boppy default (Boppy default)
Posted by [personal profile] bop_radar
Dude, every time I think you could not possibly rock more than you already do... you rock more.

I heart you too, Laura (I know you know that), and I do respect your (and other people's Very Good Intentions, but yeah... I'd be soooo much more comfortable if Vividcon specifically and vidding more generally would just settle the hell down and admit to being a small group of people that do their best to accommodate specific members' needs within limits, instead of trying to be some all-encompassing utopian melting pot.

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