Archive for the 'Sex Offenders' category

Who Else Would The Perpetrator Be?

I understand full well why some people pressure victims to keep quiet. It's not, despite what they say, for the sake of the perpetrator and his/her reputation/ability to earn a living/the poor family etc. Or not just that. It's to keep to keep us all from looking behind the curtain. We must all continue staring straight ahead at the big green scary head of the great and powerful Oz (where Oz is, variously, patriarchy, racism, heteronormativity, unfettered capitalism, ableism, or some heady stew of it all).



The shouting, the scary noise, the bellowing smoke and flames - the big green head cannot produce these effects on its own. Someone must pull the levers and speak into the microphone. It takes a village, if you will, to run Oz. In Oz, supplicants are given minor rewards and the right to prepare future supplicants to appear before Oz. If they work hard, they can one day pull some of the levers themselves. Indeed, one day they must, or Oz will collapse. Livelihoods and the very architecture of Oz depend upon Oz. It is best to strictly regulate who can get close to Oz, lest the curtain and thus Oz and thus everything be endangered.

All this is logical, and easy enough to understand.

What I don't get is this: Say someone yanks the curtain aside a little bit. Look, see, this person. This person is a perpetrator. And the good people of Oz are shocked and appalled. They are shocked that one of their own is involved in the lever-pulling.

Well, who else would the perpetrator be? It is the colleague who harasses, who casually flings racial insults. It is the brother who molests. It is the priest who rapes. These people do not come from Mars. They come from right here where we live and work, in Oz. They are our neighbors and friends, our co-workers and bosses, our lovers and relatives, our clergy and officers. They may be very good people, but they are very bad friends, bosses, priests. They are, indeed, humbugs. Just as we know that Ted Cruz is a humbug of a member of Congress, we know these people are humbugs of what they purport to be in our lives. Perhaps they are nice to their pets and give generously to good causes. Perhaps they have been good to other people at other times. But their acts behind the curtain have made of them a humbug of the role they would play before it.

When the curtain is pulled back, it is right to feel shock and sadness at what we see - but not at who we see. The levers are being pulled all day long, every day, and somebody you know is doing the pulling. It cannot be otherwise. To continue to think otherwise is to lay bricks in Oz.

Maybe it was you once. Maybe you had a minor lever, just a tiny puff of smoke. Maybe you had to learn how to let go of the lever, try to walk out of Oz, and build something new. Oz is so appealing, though. You know how things work there; the climate's always just right for you; you don't have to think about things so much. You thought you were walking out of Oz but you're right back where you started...will you sigh and once more grasp the lever? or try walking out of Oz again? There is no balloon, and there are no ruby slippers. Just a long, difficult walk, away from everything comfy and safe, with everyone in Oz yelling "come back! come back! you're crazy! we'll kill you!"


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Isn't Rape Really Just All About Sex?

I know I'm supposed to be posting installment three in the work-life balance series - and it's coming tomorrow, I promise - but I was distracted by this post by Isis's new co-blogger. I think there's a relatively strong consensus that this invention is clearly a bit of Technology Gone Bad.
In a really old Saturday Night Live sketch, Gilda Radnor and Dan Akroyd play a befuddled couple at home in the kitchen, arguing over Shimmer. It's a floor wax. No, a dessert topping. But wait! Spokesperson Chevy Chase pops in to tell them it's BOTH!!!!!
What does this have to do with understanding rape?

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29 responses so far

Why Do We Think Only Really Hideously Evil Human Beings Could Be Sexual Harassers?

It's certainly a tragedy when anyone takes their own life. I feel very sorry for the surviving family members and colleagues affected by the suicides of two U. of Iowa professors accused of sexual harassment who took their own lives last year.
And yet. I have little patience with this Chronicle of Higher Education article about them. You can file it under the category of "but he was such a really wonderful person! There's just no way he could have done these things!" Or, alternatively, "Those TERRIBLE women RUINED the lives of these WONDERFUL men!"

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20 responses so far

Locking the Barn Door

Aug 14 2008 Published by under Outrage of the Week, Sex Offenders, Sexual Harassment

You are a university president. You naturally wish to avoid scandal and negative publicity during your administration. The time to make it mandatory for all faculty and staff to undergo training in how to avoid sexual harassment is:
A: When you take office, or shortly thereafter.
B: After one of your professors is caught emailing female students a quid pro quo: A's if they would expose their breasts and allow him to fondle them.
If you are University of Iowa president Sally Mason, you will, of course, pick option B.
If this is only the first time the esteemed Professor Miller has engaged in such shenanigans, I will eat his shoes rather than puke on them. I'm betting it's not.
Meanwhile, over at the University of Missouri,

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21 responses so far

The Authorities: Always Looking Out For Women

So I'm skimming along in Google Reader, thinking it's the year 2007, when whoa! I happen upon this post by Female Science Professor. Did he actually call her "science lady"? WTF? What millennium are we living in?
And this is the kind of response you get from the authorities when you are calling about a long-standing, well-documented problem of stalking/harassment. But hey, she wasn't actually physically assaulted by the stalker, so what's the big deal, right? Plus, she was asking for it.

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5 responses so far

Joeseph Schlessinger: Yale's Liability

The Chronicle of Higher Education's news blog has a little item on Joseph Schlessinger. You may know him as the "internationally known researcher and head of the pharmacology department at Yale University" famous for his "his work in figuring out how information flows between a cell surface and the cell -- studies credited with laying the groundwork for several treatments for cancer".
Or you may know him now as the jerk-ass who allegedly sexually harassed his secretary so frequently and so long that she eventually had to quit her job to get away from him.

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7 responses so far

Methods of Prohibition

Following up on my entry on Joanna Russ's book, How to Suppress Women's Writing, and its application to women in science and engineering...
In discussing "prohibitions", Russ notes"

First of all, it's important to realize that the absence of formal prohibitions against committing art [or science] does not preclude the presence of powerful, informal ones.

These include poverty and lack of leisure, the latter arising from overwhelming duties to family and home. Even our heroines had to overcome this latter prohibition:

Marie Curie's biographer, her daughter Eve, describes her mother's cleaning, shopping, cooking, and child care, all unshared by Pierre Curie and all added to a full working day during Madame Curie's early domestic years, which were also the beginnings of her scientific career

Makes those two Nobels look even more impressive, doesn't it?

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2 responses so far

Hostile Environment - Examples

So, what would be an example of someone creating a hostile environment in the workplace or educational setting?

An example of "frequent, non-trivial acts of a sexual nature" might be, oh, say repeatedly raping your lab assistant nearly 80 times. The rapist in this case was R. Igor Gamow, "a prominent inventor and chemical engineer who was fired by the [University of Colorado] in 2004 for 'moral turpitude.' " The multiple rapes took place between 1995 and 1998. (See The Chronicle of Higher Education daily news, May 5, 2006.)

Or, as Kay Weber alleges in Weber v. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, having jock straps and condoms placed in your mailbox and having derogatory sexual comments including your name written on a public blackboard. Among other things.

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20 responses so far

A Hard Doom

It was Faramir in The Lord of the Rings who described Frodo's task as "a hard doom and a hopeless errand". I must confess to feeling that way myself about my own self-imposed task of reporting to you about the pond scum of academia, those who discriminate and harass, the bilious lechers and sexual abusers of the young. And yet it must be done. Because if I don't do it, who will? And these miscreants must not be allowed to slither away into the dark recesses of our classrooms and buildings, attempting to rehabilitate their reputations or escape scandal altogether. No, they must be publicly denounced and shamed, as much as can possibly be done from my vantage point.

So today I introduce three new categories on Thus Spake Zuska:

  • Sex discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sex offenders

Here's what the AAUW has to say about sexual harassment and the law:

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the educational context, sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with a student's ability to learn, study, work or participate in school activities. In the employment context, it is unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with an employees work performance or creates a hostile or intimidating work environment. Sexual assault and rape are the most severe physical forms of sexual harassment.

Have you ever heard male privilege and white privilege described as the water fish swim in? It's all around them, so all-encompassing as to be taken for granted, hardly to be noticed, just a condition of existence. Consider these new categories on Thus Spake Zuska as an attempt to help you notice the water. Think of it this way: Women scientists and engineers are swimming - and choking - in the effluent from the discrimination and harassment factories, while the white males are splashing around happily in the clear little pond preserve. What they don't realize is how limited and insipid their sterile little world is. And how costly to the rest of us is its maintenance.

Here's a nifty statistic from AAUW: 51% of male college students admit to sexually harassing someone in college. Yep, that's 51%, and they admitted it, folks. And that's just the students.

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4 responses so far