I will walk with you

 Sasquan-73rd World Science Fiction ConventionI will walk with you

by Vonda N. McIntyre

I’m distressed to see that some folks who were planning to come to Sasquan are thinking of skipping Worldcon this year.

Because they’re frightened.

I understand why people are frightened, given the racist, misogynistic, and dishonest screeds they’ve been subjected to. It isn’t — alas — unusual for verbal abuse to escalate into physical abuse; and anyway verbal abuse is no fun to begin with.

But I was thinking about what might help counterbalance the situation.

Have you seen news reports of people responding to threats against a particular group by offering “I’ll ride with you”? Here’s the first Google hit off that phrase:

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-30479306

I will walk with you at Worldcon.

I’m not very fond of confrontation. I’m a courtesy 5’1″ and my 67th birthday (how did that happen?!) is just after the convention and I’m walking with a hiking pole while recovering from a hiking fall, an injury that’s taking way longer to heal than when I was a pup.

On the other hand I’m a shodan in Aikido.

On the third hand, which I can have because I’m an SF writer, shodan — first degree black belt — is when you realize how much you still have to learn.

But I’m thinking that maybe it would make folks who feel threatened feel a little safer to have someone at their side, maybe even someone with a bunch o’ fancy ribbons fluttering from her name badge, even if that person is shorter, smaller, and older than they are, white-haired and not physically prepossessing. It’s another person’s presence.

It might cause some abuse not to happen.

That would be the perfect Aiki solution.

Have I thought of the many ways this could go wrong? Or be subject to abuse?

For sure I have.

Have I figured out how to organize and manage this offer?

Not so much, yet, but I’m working on it.

Am I restricting this offer to members of one “side” or the other?

No.

Everyone pretty much knows that I’m of the tree-hugging, knee-jerk liberal, feminist stripe. But if you are a Puppy, and you’re frightened, the offer holds for you, too. I may choose not to converse with you (you know why; I don’t like verbal abuse any more than anybody else), but I will walk with you.

This is not a Sasquan event. The con committee members have plenty on their plate already.

I make the offer in good faith. Whoever you are: If you would feel more comfortable walking with me from a program item to another program item, to the con suite, to your room, when my schedule allows, I’ll walk with you.

I probably will decline to enter your hotel room to scare off the monsters under the bed, but I’ll do my best to make sure you get safely to where you’re going, free of monsters.

—Vonda

Edit, 30 April 2015:
Tessa Kum is the originator of “I’ll ride with you.” Here is her extremely gracious response to this post.

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About Vonda N. McIntyre

Vonda N. McIntyre writes science fiction. Her most recent ebook is the short story "Little Sisters," a companion piece to her Nebula-nominated story "Little Faces." She is the author of The Moon and the Sun (Nebula), Dreamsnake (Nebula, Hugo, Locus Award), and the Sherlock Holmes Scientific Romance "The Adventure of the Field Theorems." Her backlist is available at the BVC Ebook Store. For signed hardcovers of her SF novels, visit her website’s Basement Full of Books. The Moon and the Sun has been filmed as a major motion picture, "The King's Daughter," starring Kaya Scodelario, Pierce Brosnan, and William Hurt. Vonda visited the filming at the chateau de Versailles, and wrote several blog posts about the experience.
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50 Responses to I will walk with you

  1. Andi Shechter says:

    Vonda, Thank you for this. I have been thinking of something similar, thinking about friends who are attending and one who has been nominated for an award that is richly deserved, and wondering what to do. Thank you. I’ll be sharing this on FB. I don’t know that I need to, but I WANT to walk with you.

  2. Laurie Mann says:

    This is a great idea. I’ll be walking up and down the convention center a lot over Worldcon, is if you ever need a guide…

  3. Kier Salmon says:

    Can I be a minion to sub for you when you are already walking somebody? If I manage to get there.

  4. I’d be happy to walk with people who are worried or afraid. Maybe we need to come up with a button to indicate our willingness.

    • Jonathan K. Stephens says:

      Hi Joyce,
      The minute I saw your post mentioning ‘buttons’, a very simple idea sprang into my mind: a Ying & Yang with the ‘dots’ replaced with images of the two main factions. Easy, eh? Ha! Absolutely no artistic ability here! My stick figures mock me. Then the voice that lives inside my mind (I think it’s some sort of damn pixie), reasonably suggested “Well, how hard can it be?” Ha! Ha! Well, now I’ve completed the ‘artwork’ (Ha! Ha! Ha!), and reported the process on my Facebook page as a grim warning to all that may be tempted to listen to voices of the mind. Please be kind; hopefully someone with more talent can execute a better version if the concept is deemed worthwhile.
      All Good Wishes,
      JKS

  5. Thanks so much for offering to be there. I will spread this information around.

  6. Sherwood says:

    The last couple days, I have been feeling sympathy for the concom members who are no doubt working like dogs, while fandom goes crazy over this Hugo stuff.

  7. Glenn Glazer says:

    I’m not particularly afraid, but I would be honored and delighted by the pleasure of your company.

  8. Ellen Saunders says:

    I’m 53 and 5’4″, with just enough training to know to walk away rather than engage, but I would walk with people if companionship would make them feel safer.

  9. Erin Kenny says:

    Won’t be there (because I can’t – finances and distance), but thrilled to see something like this!

  10. John Hartness says:

    this is awesome. We need to take care of each other, any way we can. Kudos.

  11. Neil in Chicago says:

    This makes me wish I wore a turban, so I could lay it at your feet.

  12. Berni Phillips Bratman says:

    That’s a lovely idea/gesture. I hope it catches on and the convention is the safe place it should be. We won’t be there but hope that those who are there have fun.

  13. Cheryl says:

    Wonderful idea!

  14. I am just sayin’, because if we’re there I’ll be with m’wife, and she’s a nidan (even with a walker, she’s awesome) – but I love this post, and this offer.

  15. Diane says:

    Amazon carries canes with built in tazers. Not that you would use such a thing, but it would sure back someone the heck up.

  16. Walter Daniels says:

    I’ve been a “Fan” almost as long as you’ve been alive, and this is what drew me to fandom. The “we’re all in this (fandom) together, and should act like it.” This “Holier, or more fannish, than you,” needs to stop. It doesn’t matter if you came in from books, monthly magazines, movies, games, or osmosis. “We are all Fans.” Those who condemn those “not up to standard,” are acting like those who condemned Fans, for not being “normal enough.” IOW, the people that we justifiably said, about them. “We’re Fans, we are *better* than that.” If the attitude of, “I don’t like your politics/race/gender/religion/whatever, so I’ll fight to prevent your winning an award,” qualifies me as a “Fan.” I choose not to be one. Instead, you shame me, and every other *True* Fan.

    • Anna Feruglio Dal Dan says:

      With all due respect, this is not a question of who’s a fan or not. There have been threats of violence.

  17. This is eighteen shades of awesome. If you need any help, let me know. I would be honored.

  18. I am in, as well. I am probably the epitome of what the haters hate. But nobody bothers me.

  19. Phyllis Irene Radford says:

    This little old lady with a cane will join too. Sometimes the withering glance of a clan matriarch is more awesome than martial arts.

    P.S. my writing collaborator is 6’2″ and 200 lbs of muscle. He’s with me often at a con.

  20. I have no martial arts training, but I have perfected the fine New Yorker art of the stun-with-a-glare, and will gladly walk with anyone who feels a need for that in their virtual pocket.

  21. I’ve always been available to do this on general principles, especially at cons like WorldCon where there’s more than one hotel and people have to walk down unfamiliar streets. Expanding this to address the fears raised by the current conflict seems like a very reasonable approach and I’ll be glad to help out.

  22. Leslie What says:

    Oh, Vonda. You are an awesome writer and person and will be a great GoH. I had not planned to attend Sasquan but I may change my mind. I’d love to walk with you and hope that walk involves a bar where I can buy you a drink.

  23. Sara Stamey says:

    Thanks, Vonda, and everyone else for jumping in on this. I’ll be there, and also happy to walk with people. And my 6’6″ part-Sasquatch husband Thor will likely be available for between-hotel walks as well. I’m looking forward to meeting some of you in person!

  24. Pingback: Every Puppy Has Its Day 4/16 | File 770

  25. Dave Smeds says:

    Echoing the sentiment. This is a path I intend to walk. Good companions to walk it with.

  26. AG says:

    The relevant part of the comment I wrote at File770:

    “(…) the award today has to go to Vonda McIntyre, who thinks convention goers might be in danger and offers her services as bodyguard. We saw that tactic in all its glory last year, when people apparently did not feel safe around Jonathan Ross. If they were scared then it’s not wonder people are also scared now. After all Ross hadn’t done absolutely anything, but I hear these puppies are violent, racist and misogynistic. The Guardian said so. I almost feel frightened myself, until I remember I’m one of them.

    Oh, wait, we’re not actually violent, racist and misogynistic? Well, OK, but we still did more than Jonathan Ross. He did nothing. We actually dared to become members and vote in a way Ms. McIntyre did not approve of. And worst of all, when the usual smear campaign began and the newspapers were calling us a racist and homophobic group out to make sure women, LGBT people and POC get out of science fiction, we were not intimidated in the slightest. On the contrary, we chuckled at the insults. We are already familiar with these tactics, having seen them at work for several years now, and they no longer have power over us.

    So yes, people claiming that they feel unsafe because of us was an unavoidable step. It’s good of Vonda McIntyre to be there and protect them, but do not worry. No one is going to attack you or anyone else. You can enjoy the convention in peace.

    To be fair, she also offers her bodyguarding services to the evil ones. In her own words: “But if you are a Puppy, and you’re frightened, the offer holds for you, too. I may choose not to converse with you (you know why; I don’t like verbal abuse any more than anybody else), but I will walk with you.”

    Reassuring as it may be for frightened puppies to have her grim and silent presence besides them, I also think it is not necessary. No one is going to attack anybody, in spite of all the hate speech (not coming from the puppies, by the way).

    And all of this for voting… Really, people, get a grip. The SPs voted for the kind of things they like and feel are getting ignored for various reasons. You do not agree, and are upset that the concentration of the vote exposed the problems of the nomination system more than usually. OK, fix it, disallow supporting members from voting, whatever. But saying that you fear for your integrity? Come on, you know better than believing your own propaganda.

    • To AG, whoever you are: Do you think that the people who have said they feel unsafe don’t, in fact, feel unsafe? I wouldn’t presume to tell them what they feel.

      Your description of my offer is inaccurate.

      You know nothing about my opinion on the Hugo ballot situation. You could have asked me — my email and street mail addresses are on my website and my phone number is in the Seattle phone book — but you didn’t.

      Vonda

      • AG says:

        I think that, like accusations of racism and sexism, the statement of “feeling unsafe” has unfortunately become a tactic in a war of online bullying, and it is used as a tool of shame against people who do not deserve it and to silence critics of the way social justice bullies act. It was used, for example, during the lynching of Jonathan Ross last year, when a high profile writer said that she would not feel safe if Ross was at the Hugo ceremony. That dehumanized Jonathan Ross and reduced him to the level of an animal that needs to be kept apart from society so that he doesn’t attack people. Ross had done absolutely nothing to deserve that treatment. Later, the writer who had said that added that she did not need any reasons because she was just talking about her feelings. However, it is not just about your feelings when you are using them to attack people who do not deserve it.

        I am not sure why you feel that I should have contacted you to ask your opinion on the Hugo ballot situation. I was replying to your “I will walk with you” post. Is there anything I do not know about your opinions that would change my understanding of this post?

        Please, understand that I did not respond to be confrontational. I have no doubt that you have the best intentions. But this has reached a point where people are no longer willing to be silenced when unfairly accused.

  27. AG says:

    Anyway, sorry if my previous post feels like a too harsh criticism. It’s just that… sheesh!

    Leaving aside any disagreement about this issue, allow me to express my admiration to Ms. McIntyre as a writer. I very much enjoyed Dreamsnake. I had tried to read it in my early teens and it went over my head, but years later I appreciated it.

  28. Thanks to commenters for support. I’ll look forward to seeing many of you at Sasquan.

    Please note that “I’ll walk with you” is a personal offer. It isn’t my intention to recruit anyone else to do the same thing, or to put another item on the con committee’s plate.

    Also, there’s another event — an official Sasquan event that’s happened at several Worldcons — called “Stroll with the stars.” This is a social event, sponsored by the convention. I may not make it to all the Strolls, but I will be at one of them, at least. So if you want to hang out and chat, that’s a good time to do it.

    Vonda

  29. Kari Sperring says:

    I have no martial arts training. And I will be jet-lagged, because Spokane is 14 hours + in flights from where I live. And 4 timezones. But I have a sharp tongue, and, like Laura Anne, I have a hard stare, too (though mine is more of the Paddington Bear variety).
    But I will walk with anyone who feels the need for support, too.

    • Marcia Kelly Illingworth says:

      Kari honey, it’s 8 time zones, unless you’ve moved and not told me. And I’ll walk with anyone, too.

  30. As a long-time committed Vonda N. McIntyre fan, I am simply appreciating how right I am to be one.

  31. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan says:

    You know, I am almost insanely brave in many ways. I have always walked alone at night in any town, including parts of Palermo that made my friends choke on their granitas when I told them, including driving alone and unconcerned around the Arizona desert which got my yelled at by TNH. And I know that most of the rhetoric flying around about physical violence is just that – talk.
    But it’s not difficult to find one nutso with a gun and a grudge (on either side). So while I hope people have a great and peaceful convention, I also hope Sasquan is taking adeguate precautions. I suppose one useful thing people can do is volunteer for Security – the convention is likely to need more volunteers in that sector. I know I’d offer if I could go there. I am sure it is not only people with martial arts training need apply.

  32. Marcia Kelly Illingworth says:

    Wonderful offer. I’ll be happy to accompany anyone of any stripe. I’m one of those radicals calling for discussion and compromise. I’m not easily intimidated, and I really don’t think it’s going to be necessary.

  33. Kat says:

    I’m not skilled in martial arts, but may I also volunteer to walk with someone if they’re feeling afraid? I’ll be at the con Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

  34. The Phantom says:

    Its my considered opinion Ms. McIntyre that anyone who shows up at Sasquan with a Monster Hunter International shoulder patch, or is otherwise somehow identified and a Sad Puppies supporter, has a better than even chance of being mobbed and punched out by righteous people screaming “RAAAACIST!!!”

    The one thing my experience has taught me is “don’t be the target”. Targets always get hit.

    Therefore I will not be attending. I can think of many better things to do than be assaulted by idiots who hate me just for showing up. Like a root canal. At least when the pain stops something useful has been accomplished.

    • KJ says:

      Phantom, I’m so sorry to hear that your experience has been that you feel you need to seek out targets and always hit them.

      Have you been to a Worldcon? I assume not – what you describe is pretty much exactly the opposite of the atmosphere you find at Worldcon.

      Take a moment to breathe and look around you – you’ll find that most of us don’t interact with the world in this way you seem to feel is normal.

      • The Phantom says:

        “Phantom, I’m so sorry to hear that your experience has been that you feel you need to seek out targets and always hit them.”

        KJ, I’m very sorry to see that your reading comprehension is so terrible. I don’t want to BE the target. Understand? Being the target is -bad-. Not being the target is -good-.

        And if Vonda feels the need to form up in groups for mutual safety from sad puppies, meaning people who [gasp!] voted for books in a book award, this WorldCon is going to be a barrel of laughs. The atmosphere will be one of hate, fear and paranoia.

        Just what I want in a vacation, right?

        • KJ says:

          It’s a commentary on the serious projecting you seem to be doing here, friend. What you’re yelling here has no basis in the reality of the atmosphere at Worldcon, or in what Ms. McIntyre is actually saying here.

          Please consider getting some therapy – it can really help with the anger and pain.

  35. Marcia Illingworth says:

    I’m so distressed that someone who isn’t coming anyway, still has to hide their name. If you werw really coming, and intended to cause trouble, then good riddance! If you really thinnk that anyone is really in physical danger, then I thinl you are mistaken. If you are posting to make people feel bad for you, and weren’t really coming anyway, then the jokke’s on you, because we won’t.

    • The Phantom says:

      Gee Marcia, I think you missed the point of my post. Which was, I don’t like my chances in an atmosphere where y’all are moving in groups looking for somebody to jump.

  36. Both anonymous posters have misstated what I said.

    I offered my company. Including to them, since they sound frightened.

    Though I am amused by the idea of groups of grim 5’1″ 67-year-old women rampaging around the Worldcon emitting fearons.

    Vonda

    • The Phantom says:

      “Though I am amused by the idea of groups of grim 5’1? 67-year-old women rampaging around the Worldcon emitting fearons.”

      I’m not. Amused that is. Because I’ve seen that particular elephant. Martial arts and weapons are useless in the face of it, its a social attack and its damaging.

      Sasquan will be a hellish nightmare of rage and hate this year with the likes of you walking around looking for racist/bigot/homophobe/misogynists to “protect yourself” from. If there aren’t any (and there won’t be) you will MAKE some. I pity the poor fool who shows up in a Sad Puppy tshirt all fat and happy, and gets set upon by a group of cane wielding 67 year old women.

      What you’re doing Ms. McIntyre is the fastest possible way to destroy the fun and bonhomie of WorldCon and turn it into a witch hunt.

      As expected. Way to be predictable.

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