This is a conversation we should have had years ago. There are a million reasons why it didn't, and none of them are remotely acceptable, but here we are. We're finally talking about how bad it is out there for women in various forms of entertainment and at work. We're talking about it in Hollywood with Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey shining a light on the underbelly of Los Angeles and beyond. We have Louis C.K. showing us the kind of privilege that goes into thinking you're a comedian above it all. We have it in comics with Eddie Berganza and seeing how this behavior doesn't keep you from being promoted. Then we have it within comic and nerd journalism itself with Lucas Seigel.
Earlier this month, Siegel was unceremoniously scrubbed from StarWars.com. He's also a former editor at Newsarama and former managing editor at ComicBook.com. Now he's also gone from Star Wars, and if you try to find a story by him, it just takes you back to the main page.
On November 2nd, Siegel took to Twitter to with what at the time seemed like a pair of unremarkable tweets:
(Note: we have screen shots because Siegel has since protected his tweets.)
However, this prompted allegations by many women he has worked in response, and none of it was particularly pretty.
Are you feeling sad because you sexually harassed multiple women and they're starting to speak up?
— Amy Ratcliffe (@amy_geek) November 3, 2017
I was sad when you offered to sell me to a fan for sex. https://t.co/iNqzFiuhzD
— Ashley V. Robinson (@AshleyVRobinson) November 3, 2017
Siegel emerged after most of this with an apology.
There are a lot of things wrong with that apology, the first of which is Siegel apparently just finding out what sexual harassment means. It's the same sort of non-apology that Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. have both given. It's not really taking responsibility for their actions and offers a "promise to be better", as if this is somehow a revelation.
To the credit of the internet, they largely agreed with this notion and saw through this promise to be better.
You didn't learn this yesterday. You were let go from multiple news outlets before this because you were a harasser. You are lying.
— Jeff Lester (@Lazybastid) November 5, 2017
"I am surprised to learn some women got harassed while in the vicinity of my penis. Who can say how? In conclusion, I am very important."
— Shaenon K. Garrity (@shaenongarrity) November 7, 2017
Twitter user Preacher23 posted a thread that calls out Siegel without mincing words:
Listen. You don't know me and vice versa. But having worked in the mental health field for 14 years and 4 as a therapist, this is BS. First off, there are claims you groped women. When did you first come to the realization that women don't like being groped? When did you learn that women got nervous and wanted to avoid you after you told strangers they could sit on your lap? Was it just in the last few days that you discovered women don't like to be offered up as prostitutes for money? You discuss your wife in your bio. Was she aware of how you treated women when she was not around? Was she ok with your wandering hands? Did you have friends and family who told you that a way to appreciate a woman was to violate her boundaries? At the very least, you exhibit some serious narcissistic traits. Were women just to be used? Did you just learn that women have feelings? I somehow doubt it.
You didn't give a single fuck about those you trapped, groped or harassed until you were held accountable. Now you are trying to re-traumatize your victims by claiming you want to apologize? You are only concerned about YOUR REPUTATION. You don't want to lose what you have because you used your puny power to humiliate women so you could feel virile. Spending a weekend being sad is not sufficient to address the TERRIBLE REPUTATION YOU EARNED. So maybe, get a therapist, repair your marriage and get the fuck out of social media until you figure out if you're done being a predator. Then, if you are LUCKY, people will begin to trust you. But you deserve no amount of trust from the community you preyed on.
It's a problem that runs deep within society itself. Siegel is a problem, but he's not the root of it; he's a symptom. He's a symptom of a world that allows men with even marginal amounts of power to think they're untouchable. It's the then-CEO of Zentropa thinking he doesn't need to listen to any new rules because he's above them. It's Andrew Kriesberg thinking the writers room is an excuse for making a woman lie down on the floor. These are all symptoms, so now it's time to address the problem.
It's changing the way men think of their subordinates. It's making sure people feel like they can come forward when they witness these sorts of thing and not feel like they're going to lose their jobs. It's holding people accountable and addressing systemic problems within the entire industry.
There is a disease within our society, and the first step to curing it is diagnosing the problem. We are diagnosing it now, and treating the symptoms by distancing and firing these men. However, behaviors like those exhibited by Siegel or Weinstein or Ratner will continue to be brushed under the rug if we don't treat the society that helped create them in the first place.