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 2010-07-02 04:07 am (UTC)
chagrined: ReBoot: giant Hex face confronting Megabyte, from episode Number 7, with text "ORLY?" (ORLY?)
Posted by [personal profile] chagrined
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?'.

Hi! I am transgender, genderqueer, and physically disabled. I have mobility issues and I do not feel comfortable using a "women's" bathroom or a "men's" bathroom. I attended VVC last year! And am attending this year! And posted about my experience last year, which included comments on my bathroom issues. At least one of the con organizers read my post that I know of, so at least one of them is aware I exist. Which I do! I am not hypothetical! Just thought I'd ~let you know~.

on 2010-07-02 04:44 am (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
Thank you! This is exactly what I meant, actually. We don't need to talk about people that may attend the con, we need to figure out how to best suit the needs of the people who *are* attending the con, and as far as I know, only individuals can speak up about their own needs, not a bunch of other people. Personally, if you attend the con in the future and my room is in close proximity to con space (generally? two doors down, almost closer than public bathrooms which concom is not allowed to change labelling of, because it's the hotel's public bathroom and can be used by all hotel guests), I would be pleased to offer it for you to use.

on 2010-07-02 04:51 am (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
We don't need to talk about people that may attend the con, we need to figure out how to best suit the needs of the people who *are* attending the con The second half of this is meant to mean you, as some who is/has attended the con. Knowing your specific needs allows the concom to do its best to find a solution for you to feel like the con is welcoming and accessible. We can't just write down a policy to answer every single hypothetical need, because not everyone in similar situations is gonna have the same needs or desires. Not to mention that it would distract from the people who *are* attending the con and need real physical, emotional or mental assistance.

on 2010-07-02 06:15 am (UTC)
chagrined: Marvel comics: zombie!Spider-Man, holding playing cards, saying "Brains?" (brains?)
Posted by [personal profile] chagrined
So when you said my needs don't need addressing b/c I am hypothetical, what you meant was that I exist and my needs should be addressed? Er, okay. Somehow what I got from your comment was that b/c you didn't know me personally, I must not exist, and you didn't think the con should try to address the potential needs of me or people like me. I don't know how you got from that to thinking we share the same opinions.

It is not my job to announce my disability and needs to every person on the internet so that in discussions of accessibility they can be sure I exist instead of poo-pooing my needs because they don't believe I (or other people like me) are out there. It sure does make me feel crappy to encounter people saying those things, though. I applaud the openness to dialogue and improving the accessibility policies laurashapiro's here post indicated, and hope that continues. The accessibility policy definitely cannot address every possible disability or situation, but I (and others) who are attending think it can be improved. Anyway, I am grateful for those who are able to engage in this dialogue, and I am thankful for those who have advocated for my needs earlier in this discussion. I think this is all I will say in this post.

on 2010-07-02 06:39 am (UTC)
milly: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] milly
No, I said it's impossible to address the needs of hypothetical person. You can only address the needs of someone that goes "Hi, I'm attending the con, I have needs that can be attended to" (and I don't mean saying that to the general public, I mean saying it to the people who can actually do something about it, the concom). If you start planning out for ANY hypothetical situation, then there is no end and no one will ever be completely attended to because needs will overlap and therefore, conflict. The concom can only focus on what needs actually need to be attended to. In saying 'I exist, I attend the con, I have these needs', then you did exactly what I said was needed for this discussion to actually have a solution. The concom can't realistically plan out for every single possible situation - that's not how a policy statement works and that has been my point of view or position through the entire discussion. I never once have said that people with disabilities who are attending the con or planning to attend the con should not be attended to - I've personally assisted people with disabilities and it'll be my pleasure to do it again should it be needed or desired. By saying that this is *your* situation, it's not a hypothetical situation anymore, it moves over to a very real situation we need to do something about. There is a world of difference. I never said you weren't out there or that you yourself were hypothetical. I said the situation of a person with those needs attending the con was hypothetical as far as creating a policy statement was concerned - can you say for sure there WILL be a person in your exact situation attending every year? If there isn't, should the adaptations specific to your needs be applied every single year even though they not be necessary at all some years? A policy statement is a blank canvas, and any modifications applicable to one specific year or a few specific years only should not be part of the canvas, the canvas should just say 'if you need to add something to the canvas or change it this year, we're open to it, just tell us', which it already does. I never said you should wear a label or announce you disability to the world - but the concom? if you're attending one year? Yes. They can't guess. They're not in your shoes, they don't know what your needs are. But the discussion right now is about what should be in a policy statement and the policy statement can't have subsections for every possible situation because every possible situation is not the same for every similar case and it's gonna change from year to year depending on the disability and how it changes/progresses. The policy indicates willingness and openess to work with people with disabilities to make sure they are being assisted and helped as much as possible. There are sadly things the concom cannot do, and that's unfortunate, but it comes with the current reality and world we live in (as in, the hotel cannot allow relabeling the bathrooms because they're used by all the hotel guests, not just the con attendees - so it becomes about finding the next best solution (offering the person a room very close to con space? asking for the people with those rooms to offer their bathrooms? etc)). But we can't tackle a problem if we don't know exactly what the potential problems are or if the solution is acceptable and will make the person comfortable. I don't think that if the policy statement said 'you fit in subsection f. This is the guideline you shall follow as being someone that fits into subsection f and you shall not divert from it' is a very agreeable solution either.

on 2010-07-02 02:54 pm (UTC)
lab: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] lab
Your demonstration of your ~non-hypotheticalness~ (i mean srsly wtf is going on here) followed by your most excellent response has made my day a lot better. Thanks.


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)

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