Well, another con season has come and gone. For me, that meant ArmadilloCon, GenCon, and CopperCon. For many of you, it also meant DragonCon, World Fantasy, or PAX.

It was, overall, a positive experience for me, and for most of the people I’ve spoken to. And I really wish that was the entirety of the takeaway, all that we had to focus on. Unfortunately, it’s not; because, like every con season, it came with its share of horror stories.

I cannot believe that, in 2012, we still have to talk about this crap, but here it is. Fellow gamer/fandom guys? "No means no" applies across the board. It has no exceptions. It has no windows. It has no loopholes.

And it isn’t just about sex. It’s about any sort of social interaction. If a woman tells you to back off, back the hell off. She tells you she’s not interested, she’s not playing hard to get; she’s not fucking interested. You want to know when there are exceptions to this rule? Here, I’ll list them.

This concludes our list.

It doesn’t matter how friendly she’s been. It doesn’t matter what she’s wearing. It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard about her. "No"–or any of its variants, such as "I’m not interested" or "Leave me alone" or "Please stop staring at my chest"–trumps everything. It trumps any "signals" you think she’s giving you.

And by the way? "Oh, [I’m/he’s] just socially awkward" is not a God damn excuse. It’s a handwave. It’s saying "Oh, I disapprove of this sort of behavior unless it’s me or someone I know, in which case it’s fine." Social awkwardness might explain an initial approach that makes someone uncomfortable; but the instant it becomes recurring, it goes beyond "awkward" to "I’m choosing not to listen."

Also by the way? Spreading rumors with the intent of destroying a relationship because you want someone in that relationship to be available? Completely counts as sexual harassment. Just to be crystal clear.

Some of this is even coming from guys who work in the industry; guys who work alongside these women, and should know better even more than most people should know better.

I shouldn’t have to say this. Nobody should have to say this. Nobody should have to think about saying this. This should be as self-evident as the idea that you don’t want up to a complete stranger at a con and punch him in the jaw for no better reason than that you felt like it. This is not okay. The fact that it’s "just words" or "just a suggestion" or "just a touch" or "look at that costume!" or "she’s acting so friendly"… It’s still not okay.

Cut it. The fuck. Out.