I'm not especially involved in the SF community anymore, mainly due to lack of time and effort on my part, but I've also heard reports from thewronghands and other tech women about inappropriate groping/wrist-grabbing/whatever from people in the tech field. Now, I have a standard response to things like this: if someone gropes me, I punch the offending party in the face. I don't care if it's a friend, an acquaintance, or a total stranger. A friend might get the courtesy of me saying "Hey, cut that shit out," but if they keep it up, they're going to get punched. Someone at #s decided it would be funny to tickle me, and ended up getting clocked in the throat. Someone at elegantelbow's New Year's Eve party decided it was okay to fondle the scarification piece on my right shoulder, and got an elbow in the ribs for his trouble. This kind of thing doesn't happen to me often -- perhaps I'm just not the most gropeable person in the world -- but the response by now is just instinct.
However, I know there are a lot of people out there who, for some reason or another, don't feel comfortable punching an assaulter in the face. Maybe you've never hit anybody before and think it wouldn't work. Maybe you're worried about getting hit back. Maybe you were brought up to believe that Nice Girls don't do that sort of thing and haven't trained yourself out of it yet.
Well, I am not a Nice Girl, so here is my offer: if I am in your immediate vicinity and someone gropes you, I will punch them in the face for you. All you have to do is alert me -- quickly -- to the problem and the offending party. A nice loud "$name, get your hands off my $bodypart!" should suffice. This serves two purposes: one, it lets me know who to let have it, and two, it draws attention to the asshat in question and directs the condemnation of the rest of the room straight to the offending party. Shame -- particularly shame in the heat of the moment -- is a powerful disincentive toward sexually offensive behaviour. People grope other people because they think can get away with it. Okay, yes, Harlan has drawn the ire of a large part of the SF community after the fact, but unless some form of lasting censure arises from this groundswell, he has gotten away with it. Had someone raised a ruckus at the time, he would have had to deal with a rather more acute form of embarrassment than what he's being subjected to now; the condemnation of peers who are in front of you is a lot more cutting than the condemnation of peers who are far away.
So, SF folks, do what you can after the fact; I applaud that.
But next time, someone punch the asshat in the face, okay?