Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

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Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by jcorozza on Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:25 pm

This is going to be a bit rambly, because I'm upset and just kind of exhausted with the world right now, so apologies in advance.

So I'm an organized for a boardgame meetup.  I'm not the leader, but I'm the only other person who organizes events.  So I get a message maybe 2 months ago from a guy asking about the group (in retrospect, I should have wondered why he was messaging me, since the actual leader is the one who shows up on the meetup page without extra clicking), and what kind of games we play.  He starts asking about video games, and just generally veering off the topic of the group.  I tell him the name of the group - he had initially messaged a while back and didn't remember - and then I stop responding because he's asking me things like "what are you up to tonight?" and it feels very much like he's hitting on me.  He messaged me again maybe twice over the next month, with some kind of "what's up?" messages (for some reason, all but the last two messages have been deleted, though I didn't delete them, so I'm doing my best to paraphrase), which I also ignored.  I don't think much of it, since he hasn't come to any events, and figure he's gotten the message.

Then, about two weeks ago, he messages to ask why he was banned from the meetup.  Then he sets up a new Meetup account, and RSVPs for the event.  I find out from our group leader that a leader from another meetup had contacted him about this particular guy, because he had been kicked out of their group (and possibly had his account disabled) due to harassing women and aggressive (possibly violent? I got the Ciffnotes version) behavior in that group.  So I told leaderdude that I had gotten messages that made me uncomfortable, and another women had told him she had as well.  I tell a few people about it, because I'm not sure if the guy will actually show up or if he'll take "I was banned" as a hint that he shouldn't.  Leaderdude even talks to one of the staff (because we meet at a Panera) that there might be a scene.  I go to play a game in one of the back rooms.  
Scary guy turns up, says hi to us, and then moves on to the other tables of gamers.  I think the whole room could tell by my body language that this was the guy and that I wanted him the fuck out.  So I figure our fearless leaderdude will talk to him, and I don't hear anything about an altercation.

I catch up with our leaderdude later about what happened.  He said that the guy seemed pretty high strung, and that he explained to him that messaging women in the group apropos of nothing was not okay, and that we had zero tolerance.  Leaderdude also said that the guy seemed to "really be trying to work on his social skills".  So he didn't tell him he was banned, or not to return.  He basically said, "well, it doesn't even seem like he's that interested in the group anyway" and is just hoping he'll move on.  I emphasized to leaderdude that the group needs to be a safe place for women, to which he agreed.  Sort of.  Apparently like five strikes against the guy wasn't enough, so he said, "if you hear about him harassing anyone" to tell him.  I was...kind of livid.  And shocked.  Like, he has ALREADY harassed two women in this group.  

In the meantime, I get an email from Meetup about another group that someone created in the same town: MGTOWs!!!  Not sure why Meetup thought I'd be interested, but I figured it would be a good idea to keep tabs on them to see if any were people I know and...guess who joined?  Scary dude.  So now he is that much scarier, because I now have even more reason to believe he hates women.  

Guy showed up for this week's meetup.  And while nothing seemed to happen, I basically had to avoid being anywhere near him, which wasn't always easy.  I was on edge the entire night.  I now also won't host any events, because I don't want him knowing where I live, or even being at a small event that isn't in my home where I might have to talk to him.  I'm uncomfortable and frustrated and I'm not sure what I can do about it.  I feel like our leaderdude already made it clear that he didn't care that much about me being uncomfortable.  And while I didn't see anything major happen, I can't know for sure.  And hell, I don't know if some of the women, especially newer members that I don't know well, feel comfortable telling us if this guy (or anyone, really), harassed them in any way.  Would it be weird to send out a group-wide message, with all the harassment we're hearing out these days, to let them know that I will have their back if something like that happens?  

Ugh, sigh.  I feel very helpless.
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by Enail on Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:59 pm

Ugh, ugh, ugh! So sorry you're dealing with that, and that leaderdude's response was so inadequate. Aggressive, possibly violent harassment is not a fucking 'let's wait and see if it happens again' situation! Angry

I wonder if it would be worth talking to leaderdude one more time and making it really, really clear what the situation is? Since it sounds like his original reaction was better and it was only after talking to the guy that he switched to being useless, it kind of seems like maybe he had a reaction of "this guy doesn't seem scary to me so it's fine," and isn't really doing the math, so maybe there's at least a small chance he might take it more seriously if he had it laid out what the consequences of allowing this guy to participate have already been and will be in future? Obviously, that depends on how you read him, if you think there's a chance.

Something reeeeeally spelling it all out, maybe even in point form, things along the lines of:
-this person has been harassing women and behaved aggressively towards them, enough that the other group felt that we needed to be warned, and he has already been contacting women in our group inappropriately, which shows that this is an ongoing pattern and that women in our group are likely to be unsafe as long as he is attending.
-You are asking all the women in this group to gamble their safety and ability to participate without harassment on the hope that being told "there's zero tolerance" is enough to stop a harasser known to be aggressive.
-I no longer feel safe at our events because a known harasser who has been targeting me for inappropriate attention is attending.
-I will no longer be hosting any events because I don't want to risk him knowing where I live.
-Because you have allowed this man to continue attending, in spite of a recent history of threatening behavior towards women and having already targeted two women from this group with unwelcome contact, I have lost confidence that you will take issues of harassment seriously.
-I'm not yet at the point where I'm  leaving this group because of it, but I wanted to make sure you're aware that allowing this person to be part of this meetup group is directly prioritizing his desire to 'work on his social skills' over my ability to enjoy these events and over the safety of myself and other women present.

If you think there is enough potential that he'd listen that it's worth it, I'd do that first, and then send out a group-wide message like you were saying - if he did come on board, you could suggest that you do it in a slightly more official capacity as an organizer, which might be a little less awkward and is probably a good policy to have something like that in place in general. But I think it's definitely a good idea to do the group-wide message regardless; even if it's a bit weird, the benefit of making sure other members know they can talk to you rather than just drifting away because of this guy, by far outweighs that.
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by jcorozza on Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:06 pm

This all sounds...very good. I wish I'd said some of this two weeks ago, but at the time, I guess I also hoped he wouldn't show up (leaderdude had also suggested meetups to him, because he seemed more interested in video games than board games, but I'm not sure that sending him to harass a *different* group of women is a good solution, either). I'm not sure I have the courage to do it, though.

Re: sending out a message: I'm wondering if it might be something useful to have as a permanent message somewhere on our front page, too? I'm also debating how to phrase it in a way that doesn't sound like I'm *forcing* people who are harassed to talk to me about it, just that if they want to, I want them to feel comfortable doing so, if that makes any sense?

It's bugging me that I wrote "Scar" instead of "Scary".
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by Enail on Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:43 pm

I think it was totally reasonable to want to wait and see if he'd been dissuaded rather than go to the mat straight away, it's stressful having to deal with this shit, and there's always a risk of leaderdude or other group members reacting badly. If you don't feel like confronting him like that is the best course of action or don't feel comfortable with it, absolutely don't.

Yeah, I think a permanent message on the front page is a great idea. You could probably find a boilerplate text to copy or get some ideas on how to phrase it by searching for other groups' anti-harassment messages?

I'll change the title!
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by jcorozza on Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:49 pm

Haha, thanks. I kept picturing a sassy evil lion coming to my Meetup, which is definitely an improvement.
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by Izmuth on Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:18 pm

I agree with Enail 100%.

You could also ask the leader dude that you really appreciate the effort he puts in in organizing the meetups (always start off with something positive, otherwise people get defensive real fast), but that he should really think for a moment how he's going to explain to the next victim of the guy that a) his zero-tolerance policy for harrassment is actual a three-strikes tolerance policy, since you and the other woman were already harrassed and he didn't do anything about it, b) he was already warned that this guy was a violent harrasser, and c) he just let the next victim be victimized anyway, just because he felt sorry for the guy.

When this guy strikes again (not if, when) group leader will have officially enabled him because he had enough information to know this was going to happen.

Hopefully pointing that out will make him realize how stupid he's being.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but before I hone skills I read up on the theory, and I happen to know a good theoretical blog (DNL anyone?) which mr. Creep can read before approaching the next meetup group, so he can show he read up on some rudimentary social skills like *don't message people who don't message back*, instead of mr. Group Leader using you all for a social experiment where you guys have nothing to gain and a lot to lose.
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by jcorozza on Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:30 pm

Agreed. I tire of being part of certain men's experiments with social skills.
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by jcorozza on Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:04 pm

Finally talked to my group leader, and he was totally fine with banning him (though we both thought it best to do so through the site, not at the event in case he wanted to make a scene). Within a day he had messaged another friend of mine to basically ask her to "Avalon and chill" with her (which makes no sense, as that is a game that requires 5+ people), so...I guess he's found a way to bug other women.
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by Enail on Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:37 pm

Yay to banning him, boo to messaging your friend still. Glad things worked out with talking to the leader and that you won't have to deal with him in your fun events.
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by Datelessman on Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:56 pm

jcorozza wrote:Finally talked to my group leader, and he was totally fine with banning him (though we both thought it best to do so through the site, not at the event in case he wanted to make a scene).  Within a day he had messaged another friend of mine to basically ask her to "Avalon and chill" with her (which makes no sense, as that is a game that requires 5+ people), so...I guess he's found a way to bug other women.

Guy sounds like a creep or worse, glad you banned him!
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by Izmuth on Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:23 pm

Glad the zero-tolerance policy was a two-strike policy after all!

I personally think now would be good timing to introduce a permanent message to your group.

Something like:

""Do you have any concerns? Suggestions how the group should be run better? Problems with fellow players? Please contact [insert at least three names here]"

(Unrelated note: even if it was someone I was 100% attracted to, if you promise me Avalon and then it transpires you lied and you just wanted to have sex with me, shame on you! Avalon beats sex every day!)
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by jcorozza on Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:04 am

We actually added a permament harassment policy, and he sent a message out to members as well. Most of the regulars don't look at the Meetup page anymore, but at least new members will know!

If I had to choose between "no more sexytimes ever" and "no more Avalon ever", I'd choose celibacy, easily!
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Re: Potentially Scary Dude in my Meetup - Advice Please!

Post by Datelessman on Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:33 pm

jcorozza wrote:We actually added a permament harassment policy, and he sent a message out to members as well.  Most of the regulars don't look at the Meetup page anymore, but at least new members will know!

If I had to choose between "no more sexytimes ever" and "no more Avalon ever", I'd choose celibacy, easily!

It is always good to get such policies down in the parchment, as it were. Make it set in stone that there's no tolerance for that stuff.
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