*A Collaborative Statement*
We, the undersigned, have all been involved in the production of Shibaricon in past years. Whether instructing, attending, volunteering, sponsoring, or staffing, we have enjoyed and supported the efforts towards creating a safe learning environment and community space for rope enthusiasts.
There have been growing concerns over the years regarding several aspects of the way Shibaricon is run. These concerns increased at Shibaricon 2013 to the point where we no longer were able to keep silent. Several attempts were made before, during, and after the convention to contact both staff members and the lead administrator by individuals. There was no response, either publicly or privately, and so we have reluctantly chosen to make this public statement.
Our concerns include (but are not limited to) the following:
1. In 2013, the unilateral decision was made by a single individual to bypass Shibaricon’s normally-rigorous standards for presenter selection. This resulted in a presenter being chosen who has had many allegations of consent violations from multiple sources including Shibaricon attendees. While it is understood that it is difficult to judge the validity of individual accusations, the Shibaricon Administrator and board were aware of the allegations last year when the decision was made after extensive discussion and evaluation by the Planning Advisory Board and administration not to include this presenter. In fact, this presenter had not even put in an application to teach for 2013, so it is baffling that this year a single individual selected this presenter over the many applications available.
2. This presenter also taught information that many of us believe to be not only inaccurate but dangerous to attendees. These include (but are not limited to) hydration, stretching, and exercise not being valuable before play and advising that negotiation is not a necessary or effective tool for rope bondage or BDSM in general. Considering the importance that consent has been given in the kink community at large, it is appalling that this philosophy or method would be sanctioned by an organization like Shibaricon.
3. It is also understood that the organization and running of a convention like Shibaricon can be a stressful environment. However, for several years it has been observed that the management style of Shibaricon has been steadily moving beyond “urgency” and into “abuse” both verbal and psychological. The staff and volunteers worked very hard to try and meet what we feel to be unreasonable and manufactured demands in a fear-driven and passive-aggressive management style.
Until such a time as these concerns are addressed in a publicly transparent and constructive way, we, the undersigned, cannot endorse or support Shibaricon as a safe or supportive environment.
We feel that we can no longer remain silent about these concerns. We do not hold any judgement against those who continue to attend or support Shibaricon. However, we cannot in good conscience support an event while these problems remain. We will be glad to engage in constructive dialogue regarding these concerns with any interested parties either in the public forums or in private dialogue.
Making this statement was a very tough decision. We make it not because we wish to cause harm to Shibaricon but because we wish to see an end to the harm currently being inflicted upon it and its attendees.
It is our sincere hope that positive action to resolve these issues rather than argument, recrimination and deflection comes from this action and we can all again enjoy this wonderful event.
If you would like to add your voice for change and would like to copy and paste this to your own writing, please feel free to do so. However, if you make any changes, please do not include the signatures without prior consent.
Gray Miller, aka Graydancer, volunteer, presenter, and staff member of Shibaricon, 2004-2013.
WykD Dave and Clover ~ Presenters, and performers 2011, 2012, 2013
Lochai – Planning Advisory Board member 2008-2012, Presenter, performer, Keynote Speaker, photographer, graphic designer 2004-2013
Mara, volunteer 2012, Ropenspace facilitator 2013
Evan, Ropenspace facilitator, 2012-2013
Spicy, Ropenspace facilitator, 2012-2013
JP Robichaud, RopenSpace Facilitator, 2012-2013
LotusLily – Presenter 2011, 2012, 2013
Russ & Kashmira, presenters 2011-2013, attendee 2010
Murphy Blue- Shibaricon presenter 2010-2013, Ropenspace facilitator 2012-2013.