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What A Girl Wants #25 - Fund Criteria & Update

by Ronee Garcia Bourgeois 2006-04-17

Today’s column will be short and sweet. Less stuff for people to read and dissect or misinterpret this way.

The response to last week’s column and announcement has been overwhelming to say the least. The outpouring of support for Taki has helped her a great deal and is something she has needed for a while. We have had a lot of donations already, from money to artwork to a logo made for the fund by Paul Sizer.

Every week or so, I will be giving an update to this case. Just to keep all the donors abreast of any changes. As of right now, some lawyers are being contacted to see if they would be interested in the case. Richard at Zeus Comics and father of CAPE has offered to run the FOL raffle alongside the CAPE one and to sell tickets for it at the CAPE table; he has also made it possible for FOL to auction some artwork off at the beginning of the Live Art Show on Saturday night. So we are very grateful for that.

The sheer volume of emails is such that answering each of them in turn is taking a great deal of time, so bear with me. In the meantime, hopefully I can answer your questions here. Donations we are looking for include just about anything you think would bring in money. Whether it be original art, memorabilia etc… those items you can send to:

Fol Empowerment Fund

c/o Ronée Bourgeois
569 Ayo st
Raceland La 70394


We are also looking for volunteers, to help at the tables or to volunteer time or expertise. Whatever you want to give! Contact me at ronee@friends-lulu.org

Monetary donations can be done through PayPal at empower@friends-lulu.org

And now on to the details of this fund to hopefully satisfy the nay sayers.

FOL Empowerment Fund

A fund created to aide women in the comics industry who are sexually assaulted or harassed by someone else within the same industry and want to press charges or make a civil suit.

  • Victim must be at work in some capacity in the field of comics. (i.e. retailer, creator, publisher, journalist, freelancer etc)
  • The accused must also work in this field in some capacity OR the incident must take place at a comic related activity (i.e. conventions, auctions, fundraisers for groups etc.)
  • Victim must divulge all details to Friends of Lulu, including police reports and actions taken due to incident so that the Executive Board can determine eligibility
  • Award will be given out by FOL after The Executive Board chooses recipient by majority vote. Depending on the need, this can be awarded in one check or several throughout the duration of the case.
  • Recipient must provide receipts for all monies needed or spent out of fund totaling the amount of award.
  • Recipient agrees if monetary damages are awarded to donate the amount given from the fund back to FOL for future cases.
  • Promotional costs and related expenses for the fund itself may be taken out of fund account but must have receipt of such for every dollar spent.
  • This fund is a part of Friends of Lulu but kept separate from general monies at all times.

Donations

  • Donations consisting of artwork or other items for auction or raffle can send an estimated value of work and a receipt will be made and sent to donor upon request or donor can elect to wait until time of auction and get receipt made for amount item sold for.
  • Paypal donations generate automatic receipts, and other monetary donations will receive a receipt upon request.

At this time all monies given to the fund will be used in Taki Soma’s civil case, paying for legal advice, representation, and any other associated fees that may arise.

The question has arisen about how appropriate this fund is to the purpose of Friends of Lulu. And in response I give you the explanation of our organization as taken from the site, on the FAQ page that has not been altered for years.

What is Friends of Lulu?

Friends of Lulu is a national organization whose main purpose is to promote and encourage female readership and participation in the comic book industry.

Among the goals of the organization are:

1. to increase female readership of comics 2. to promote the work of women in comics 3. to offer networking opportunities and general support to women in comics, and 4. to facilitate communication among women and men who share the organization's purpose.

Yes, our “main purpose” is to promote and encourage readership and participation, but among our goals we see “general support to women in comics”. Is this fund not providing support to women in the industry?

One of the original goals of FOL was to “improve working conditions in the industry for women”. And again, this fund will go a long way to accomplishing that in my opinion.

We are not trying to make this fund our soul focus; just add it to the rest of the great things this group strives to do each year. And above all else, we want to help Taki, and those like her. If a woman struggling with something like this in the industry needs support and somewhere to turn, Friends of Lulu should be the place.

When I initially talked about this fund one of the goals was the education concerning this problem and I tell you that the education and awareness will come as part of this fund by helping out these creators and opening up the lines of communication.

Okay. Short and sweet. Just like I promised.

Ronée is astounded that people can take a good thing and try to make it seem bad and will make no apologies for her passion so stop trying to make her. And Taki? Hang in there girl, we got your back.


49 COMMENTS

(1) Downfall

My check is in the mail. And unlike when I told that to Comcast, I mean it. This is a noble, heroic cause, and if more people took a stand like this, the world would be a much better place. (Well, for this anyway)


(3) Roman_warrior

As soon as I get a job I will donate money. I got bills to pay and I haven't even heard from the unemployment office yet. As soon As I get money though my check will be in the mail too.


(4) Downfall

I'll loan ya a ten-spot...


(5) Roman_warrior

Go for it if you want down. If you do be sure to pm your addy or whatever so I can pay you back as soon as I can.


(6) Vex Machine

That's a great logo. :yay:

Ronee -- You and the rest of the FOL members on this site have gone to great lengths to educate people here about the scope of FOL. You've also clearly put a lot of time and effort into raising awareness about sexual harrassment/assault specifically in the comic industry... but the significance of that particular issue compared with the overall scope of FOL seems relatively minor... So my suggestion disguised as a question is: Are there any plans for FOL to expand the scope of the fund beyond 'Takigate'?

This specific case is certainly as good a reason as any to start up such a cause... but once the Empowerment Fund is up and running and that sweet logo starts popping up all over the comic world, can we expect to see FOL start empowering not only victims of harrassment within the industry but perhaps females writers, artists, etc in need of a monetary boost to help them break into the industry in the first place? That doesn't seem to fall under the fund's scope right now... but it would certainly fit the concept of Empowerment.


(7) sareara

Stay strong...both you and Taki. I know that there's been a lot of attacks on this fund and that truly shocks me. What Friends of LuLu is doing is so good and definitely needed. I'm not quite sure how something so positive can be viewed so negatively, but the support system is strong and there are lot of people who believe in the fund and both of you. I know I do! Much love you both!


(8) Cheesy_Chester

For every person declared great by society, the one thing in common is their commitment to a cause greater than themself. I commend you and the Friends of Lulu for creating a resource available to those who need it most.


(9) Heidi MacDonald

Sareara:

People have not been "attacking" the fund so much as recognizing that there need to be guidelines in place. It is better that questions come from people who are genuinely sympatetic to your goals (as I am) than from people who are not. Unfortunately, as one of the original founders of FoL, and someone who was around when all the legal paperwork necessary to create a 503(c)3 was hashed out, I know it isn't as simple as it sounds. When it comes to legalities, you have to do everything according to form CYA, but these guidelines are a good start.


(10) Ronée Garcia

The reason these guidelines took some time to get up was the fact that I spent DAYS researching the 503(c)3 and whether this fund would fit into that and it appears as though it does.

I just find it funny that we see no criteria for the CBLDF monies. In fact, if anyone knows where that criteria is I would love to see it.


(11) Heidi MacDonald

Ronee:

The CBLDF has been around for 10 years, and its goals and aims are fairly well known. The FOLEF is a new fund, so it's only natural that people would want to know the guidelines, especially since there were conflicting reports when it was initially announced.


(12) Ronée Garcia

Oh I know, I was just curious as to why they don't have criteria up. ACTOR does and they have been around a while too. It was more of a side note, nothing else.


(13) notalabel

Since yesterday was tax day, I’m sure we can all empathize with Ronée about the joys of making sure all your government paperwork is in proper order. Friends of Lulu is a much smaller organization than CBLDF, and we are grateful to have her. Remember, she and the other members of the executive board are putting this together on their own time and on their own dime.

Heidi is correct, everything does need to be in order, and it’s not an attack to say so (though some others chose to add non-constructive criticism/attacks in various posts here and elsewhere). I also agree that Sin City products are not the best way to advertise this fund-- so let’s see some women-friendly items donated! :heh:

Oh, and I love the logo! It reminds me of something…


~chris (member FoL and CBLDF, and fan of the Sin City books & movie)


(14) hawado

Glad to see these up, so naysayers have one less thing to complain about. Also, welcome to the boards Heidi.


(15) WhereIsTony

Ronee, I have honestly never been prouder to know someone.


(16) Ronée Garcia

First I just want to say that I think the "taki-gate" remark was in bad taste though I am sure it was not intended as such.

Second, The Sin City thing is debatable, I for one see the film as showing strong women who fight for what they want.. others do not see it the same, but the prize pack is just one of many that will be given out at that raffle, if you want to see more, as you put it, "women-friendly" items then help me accquire them! FOL would be grateful for the donation.

Hawado, I doubt this will stop those who feel the need to attack instead of help, but I hope it does make things more clear so no one will be confused. and WIT thanks for the donation and you made my day.


(17) Ronée Garcia

Ohy and Chris, the logo was inspired by Rosie according to Paul. :)


(18) Vex Machine


It wasn't... so how about the question that went with it? Is it possible to build the fund's scope down the road?


(19) Ronée Garcia

I am sure it is possible, but not without lots and lots of checking with other people and red tape.


(20) ambreed

I'd give...But I'm broke....Dang RENT!


(21) Ronée Garcia

S'ok darlin, thanks for the sentiment!


(22) Paul Sizer

Thanks for the nice words on the logo. Thanks also for finding my "secret" inspiration behind the design; Rosie is the bomb, and she's my favorite "strong woman" symbol, so how could I not use her as my muse for this logo?
My hope is that the logo gives visibility to this cause and helps it get the exposure it needs to do the work ahead of it.
Paul Sizer


(23) notalabel

Plus of course another favorite “strong woman”— Justice (with her scales). :yay:

BTW Ronée, my niece also loves Sin City (I still don’t know how she convinced her dad to let her read the books!). But, as you said, it’s debatable. I’m not part of the comics biz, so I’m asking here for people to donate other items so that the SC pack is de-emphasized by being just one item of many.

I’d like the fund to have less debate and more support. (…okay, so there will be no more Sin City comments from me.) :aa:

How about some items with the new spiffy “Rosie/Justice” logo? :cool:


(24) WhereIsTony

Rosie the riveter meet Ronée the riveting.:D


(25) kadymae

Thanks for posting these criteria, Ronee.

I'll be digging through my art collection in the next few days to send something.


(26) Vex Machine

The "The Rest of the Story" thread is closed, I figured I'd post the rest of the rest of the continuing story here...

From LITG: The cause for which Friends Of Lulu are fundraising is a noble, moral and necessary one. The specific case in question that it champions, may end up harming that cause.

The rest is a little ways down the page here.

Discuss.


(27) Ronée Garcia

She never "declined to press charges" that is ridiculous. Why would FOL fundraise for her if she did that? Gimme a break.


(28) pifpog


I haven't read LITG but they are probably relying on the Comics Journal article (http://tcj.com/276/n_soma.html) where they write: According to the un-redacted report, at the end of Soma's account of the incident to police, her last words were that she did not want to pursue criminal charges.

I can't figure out if this article is good or harmful to the Fund. On one hand, it talks about the Fund extensively and provides some information that is useful. On the other, by focusing solely on one case it highlights how difficult it will be for the Fund. You have a victim (because, even if meant as a prank, fiddling with someone's clothing is not alright) and a witness, yet the author of the article raises all sorts of questions about issues like why wasn't the witness interviewed and why does the police report say that no charges were to be filed.


(29) Ronée Garcia

Well now that Charles has publicly spoken about the incident.. at least it is all out.

But to clarify, this fund is not "for" Taki but for women in the industry and at this time no monies have been awarded for this or any case.


(30) Vex Machine

I saw LITG first... but today I see both the Comics Journal piece (here) and a Newsramma write up on the whole matter (here).

The CJ piece is really well done, showing all sides of the issue, criticizing what needs to be criticized and commending what deserves to be commended. I think the writer, Michael Dean, does a great job of putting both the specific incident and the Empowerment Fund itself into perspective. Unfortunately, there is a disclaimer up saying the piece will only be available online for a short time, so check it out.


Lessons to be learned? Hells yeah.

For one -- Jon, you need to relauch the site a little louder. They're all still calling us Buzzscope!


(31) superbadkarma

vex that's because we haven't actually relaunched -- i'm still working on the redesign


(32) WhereIsTony

well not for nothing, but the domain name Tonyisourgod.com is open


(33) CylverSaber

Yeah, I do think that is the one thing that needs to be answered; why there is that apparent discrepancy between Taki's account (saying charges weren't filed because of jurisdictional issues) and the police's account (saying charges weren't filed because Taki declined to). That makes a big difference.


(34) pifpog

Well, I'm sure over time there will be other questions. I'm confused over whether CBDF offered a donation and suspension (which I took from the original WAGW piece) or if Brownstein offer a donation on his own behalf. And the timing of the CBDF investigation is odd... why would the WAGW article called for one after talking to Ms. Taki if, according to Mr. Lillie-Paetz, one was underway when the article was published. I'm sure it is just some miscommunications but I still wonder if Ronee was given the whole story. It would make a good column.

It will also be interesting to see what people say or don't say now versus what they said back in December. Will ____ still want to round a few boys to administer some frontier judgement? Will ____ ask for more information even though in December he/she criticized myself and others for asking for just that?


(35) CylverSaber

Yeah, people haven't behaved too well in this situation. I think it's really just going to get uglier, because either way you look at it, SOMEBODY'S reputation will have been besmirched unjustly, whether it's the accuser being called a liar, or the accused over the allegation. I hope it doesn't come to legal action over that, but I honestly couldn't blame anyone if it did.


(36) Timberoo

Newsarama has an article with his statement as well.


(37) Vex Machine

Another angle here.


(38) glecharles

The TCJ article was great; Brady's coverage on NEWSarama, not so much, what with the unsourced, out-of-left-field slam on Lillie-Paetz. The axe-grinding and agenda-pushing that's going on in that thread is absolutely ridiculous! I'm always suspicious of first-time posters who jump into controversial threads supporting one side or the other.


(39) Vex Machine


I don't know... they do raise a lot of really good points in that Newsramma thread. There were only a few of us on this site trying to cool the flames rather than fan them until more info was available. It looks like I wouldn't have been in the minority over there.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this site's official response to all of the new info and opinion coming out today.


(40) batonpatrol

Hi, just figured I would get my 2 cents in on this subject.

It seems that everyday something new comes out about this case.

I am just sticking to the basic fact that a wrongful act was committed here. It doesn't matter who was having an affair with whom or they were in a hot tub or the brand of beer the guy was drinking was Odoule's.

What matters to me is that there could be worse situations than this one where there might be bodily harm done to the victim. And, I am grateful that Ronee and others have started this fund in order to create awareness for this type of situation.

Cons should be about fun and the exchanging of ideas.


(41) notalabel

I’m keeping my CBLDF and Friends of Lulu membership cards, and will continue donating to both organizations (I’ve already donated to FoL’s new Empowerment Fund). I also expect/insist that both organizations handle everything in a professional and civil manner, in accordance with the facts of the case. Anything less will hurt the reputation of these needed organizations, and unfortunately would discourage future donations.

A measure of guilt has been admitted (note that an admission of “a stupid, drunken prank” does not equal an admission of a criminal act, nor is it an excuse from one), and I expect/insist that some measure of punishment/penance be carried out, again according to the facts. Those of us on the outside of the case, with trickles of facts and downpours of hearsay, should not decide on what that punishment/penance ought to be.

I appreciated reading more facts in Michael Dean’s excellent Comic Journal article, though I think he is too accepting of one Detective’s explanation of procedure as the truth of what the authorities actually did. Further, he poses questions (hopefully he’s only playing devil’s advocate and not asking his own questions) about why Taki said what she said to the police, when he has only concluded what she said to the police, not established it as a fact.

BTW, I don’t have any “right to know” all the facts, but I think Taki has a right to more of the truth than what it appears she is being given.

This is a terrible case all around. A woman I don’t know says she was attacked, and I believe her story. A man I don’t know, who has done much good for comics says his actions were misinterpreted, and I believe his story. I ask him, and all men, to consider how any woman is supposed to interpret such behavior at the time, and what the man should do when the woman tells him to stop. (My short answers: (1) Exactly as Taki interpreted it, and (2) Stop.)

We have a choice. We can make things better. I think the Empowerment Fund is a step in that direction. For those with qualms about the fund, please make friendly positive suggestions on how to improve it. Or consider donating to other worthy organizations; Colleen Doran (http://adistantsoil.com/blog/?p=360) mentions one that provides legal help to artists-- Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (http://www.vlany.org).

~chris


(42) Ronée Garcia

I just want to jump in here and say that I support the CBLDF and thier cause.

Sad thing is, I have so much to say but can't yet due to outside constraints. But I tell you that my only desire was to help.


(43) notalabel

In case my last post sounded like I am backing off from my earlier beliefs, let me make this clear— unless a woman is your wife/lover and she would normally let you take her top off in a given situation, and you are in private, you should never “feign to lift up her shirt.” NEVER.

To Ronée: you’ve taken a lot of heat for this. Should you have been more of a detached objective reporter, cognizant of every possible reaction/rumor/accusation resulting from your columns? Perhaps. Are you required to show both sides in an unbiased manner? No. (Not in an op-ed piece.) Should everything you reported as fact been checked? Yes. But I for one am grateful for your strong opinions and passionate caring for a woman who was wronged.

I look forward to the time when you are able to provide more information and make everything clear. Now that the primary names have been made public, hopefully all facts (including the ones you have been unable to provide, even if they back up your previous statements) can be told, the matter can be settled to Taki’s satisfaction, and we can achieve the common goal of preventing any such behavior from ever again occurring.

~chris


(44) notalabel

Ronée: Sorry, one more thing. Regarding the false accusations against ACTOR president Jim McLauchlin, due to the rush to judgment without facts by many who misinterpreted your initial column: I know you can’t fully predict what every person is going to infer when you are unable to provide all information, but could you post an apology to Mr. McLauchlin?

Unfortunately, this mess started by one man’s actions has devolved into a situation where good people are arguing with each other. Kind words from you to Jim would help to get people back to important matters that good people do agree on (like helping Taki and preventing future such “actions”).

~chris, asking sweetly


(45) CylverSaber

If I were Ronee's legal counsel, I'd strongly advise against that. Let's say, worst case scenario, Jim is really pissed and doesn't accept her apology. He could then use it to argue that she's admitted her culpability in damaging his reputation, in any legal suit against her. She wouldn't even necessarily have to actually admit it, he could just use it to make that argument. It has been known to happen.


(46) notalabel

I’m not a lawyer; it would be a shame if there is no way she can say “I’m sorry you were hurt.” If what you’re saying is true, thanks for posting. :yay:

I just want everyone to get along. :)

~chris


(47) Ronée Garcia

I have already spoken to Jim privatley.


(48) Rich

This is the only public statement I will make regarding Ronee and her reporting of the Mid-Ohio Con incident. I will not respond to any subsequent posts; anyone who wants to discuss it with me further can do so privately.

Was her handling of the story an example of bad journalism? Yes, and I want it made clear for the record that I disapprove of the way she reported it. If you’ll look in the follow-up posts in Ronee’s original column about Taki Soma, you’ll see that I expressed my reservations about it. Ultimately, though, I trusted Guy’s judgment on going forward with the story, believing he was privy to Ronee’s long-term plans and would thus help guide her in the proper direction this story would take. I see now that this was a mistake on my part.

I was angry at Ronee for quite awhile, because I believed she damaged the reputation of Buzzscope/PCS in general (and that may not be too far from the truth right now), and I was ready to send an e-mail to Jon demanding she be dropped from this site altogether. But I never sent it. I thought about the situation some more, and came to the conclusion that I cannot chastise Ronee because I’ve been exactly where she is.

I have written in righteous anger before. I have let my heart overrule my head and said things in print in the belief that the cause I was serving was just, only to have it blow up in my face completely. People who have read my columns over the past five-plus years I’ve been doing this know what I’m talking about.

I call myself a “reporter” to impress people, but I’m not, not really. I’m just a guy who has been fortunate enough to have venues for me to express my love of comics. I am far from perfect; I’ve had to learn everything about journalism on my own, through trial and error, and I’m still learning. I am not half the writer people like Heidi McDonald, Tom Spurgeon, Dirk Deppey, and Matt Brady are but I like to think that someday I could be. So I keep at it, and I try not to let the mistakes weigh me down too much.

While I do not condone how Ronee did what she did, I will no longer condemn her for it either. I will do my best to forgive… because others have shown me forgiveness when I needed it, and I suspect she could use some now. I realize there may be repercussions to this controversy that may affect Ronee directly. Everyone has to draw their own conclusions and act on their own consciences. I’m speaking solely for myself here, and the bottom line is that I would be a tremendous hypocrite if I could not find it within myself to forgive Ronee. Won’t be easy. But I feel it’s right for me, so that's what I'll do.

Rich Watson
NYC


(49) Downfall

Ummm, isn't this in the wrong forum? If it's an issue with Ronee's column, then why not bring it up in her column?

Second, why is everyone blaming Ronee? A professional came to her, saying that her boss sexually harassed her. What would you want her to do about it, say nothing and stare at her shoes? If something wasn't done about this guy, QUICK, he would think he got away with it, and he would continue to do whatever he wanted. And what then, huh? What if he assaulted someone you love? Sort of reminiscent of Spider-man's origin to me... great responsibility and all.

Asking that Ronee's column be pulled, for what? Reporting the truth? Then I guess hard hitting expose's should be pulled all the time. I guess a local paper shouldn't run a story about a city councilman sexually harassing his secretarty because it gives the city and the newspaper a bad name? I mean, where does it end? If nobody says anything about anything, yeah reputations stay intact, but the truth and more importantly JUSTICE are basically sh*t on.

I mean, no offense, it's good you're willing to let trying to get my friend fired go... but come on. All she did was stand up for the little guy as it were. I mean, has our culture become so desensitized that people trying to stand up and do the right thing aren't applauded anymore, they're told to sit down and shut up, you're rocking the boat?