Before I get into this post, let me say: I love The Dice Tower. I have been excited about Dice Tower Con since badges went on sale. I have been a contributor to Token Punch Lunch (formerly Throat Punch Lunch!) for well over a year, and I am the Kickstarter correspondent on Every Night is Game Night, which recently became part of the Dice Tower Network. I am planning to go to Dice Tower Con, have a fantastic time, and follow all of the rules.
But we really need to talk about the news update from June 20. Here is the relevant text:
Alcohol is not allowed in the gaming areas, even during after hours events! If you want to drink, there are other places to do it than in the convention center.
Another convention recently had several issues with people consuming alcohol and doing inappropriate things. We have a strict no-tolerance policy on alcohol and sexual harassment. I would rather ban 100 people for life than let them ruin the con for 3000 people.
I am aware that The Dice Tower has a family friendly vibe, and it makes perfect sense to prohibit alcohol in areas where there will be young children. The ban isn't even what annoys me about this announcement. It's the justification that follows: "Another convention recently had several issues with people consuming alcohol and doing inappropriate things."
I feel patronized by The Dice Tower's attempt to "protect" our community from sexual harassment by implicitly chiding us for our drinking habits.
This news update is an obvious response to sexual harassment that occurred at this year's Origins convention, some of which reportedly involved alcohol. We do not yet have more than rumor to go on, however. Those stories are for those who were impacted to tell when they are ready.
In the meantime, Dice Tower Con has gone and "solved" the sexual harassment problem for all of us. Apparently, the real culprit in all of this isn't sexism—it's Blue Moon. And not the board game.
This is a false solution to a very real problem. The real problem is sexism. And last I checked, alcohol turns people into sexists the way Ambien made Roseanne Barr tweet about Valerie Jarrett.
In fact, the alcohol ban creates an entirely new issue: In an attempt to "solve" the problem of sexual harassment, Dice Tower Con has accidentally fallen back onto familiar—and unwelcome—territory. When women are asked about cases of sexual harassment or assault, some of the first questions they hear are "What were you wearing?" and—most importantly for this conversation—"Had you been drinking?" Those aren't the right questions to ask, and they aren't the actual problems we need to solve.
It's not a topic I discuss much, but I'm a woman in gaming. And I'm not interested in paternalistic "protection." I want to be respected as a professional—and that includes being trusted to make my own judgments about what to drink.
Sexual harassment is a serious problem in our community, one that causes tremendous pain to the men and women who experience it. Every single person in the board gaming community deserves both to be safe and to have fun. That includes feeling safe while having a drink with friends—or not having one, depending on personal preference. We can't let ourselves off the hook by implementing policies that make us feel like we've taken action, but that don't solve the underlying problem.