Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Encounter with a Serial Harasser





Today's guest blogger is Anonymous 2; Anonymous 2 describes her creepy encounter with one of Astronomy's most notorious sexual harassers. Her identity is protected.







In
 a 
room
 that 
was 
a 
little 
too 
dark 
(but 
there 
were
 little 
lamps 
with 
incandescent
 bulbs 
on
 to
 shed 
some 
light)
 
With 
the 
door 
a 
little 
too
 closed 
(but
 not 
completely 
closed, 
it 
was 
probably 
set 
at
 something 
like 
~45
degrees)

 
The
 conversation 
wandered 
a 
little 
too 
far 
(he 
must 
have 
asked 
how 
things 
were
 going 
in 
general, 
or
something 
equally 
innocuous)

 
He 
asked 
about 
boy 
troubles 
(not 
something 
I 
would 
bring 
up 
– 
just 
ask
 my 
mother)
 
And
 recommended
 I 
consider 
men 
that 
have 
“spent
 a 
little 
more 
time
 in 
the 
oven,”
 if
 you
 will

I
 don’t 
remember 
how 
I 
got 
out 
of 
there 
(maybe
 we 
were 
interrupted, 
thankfully?)

I 
left 
thinking 
what 
the 
hell 
was 
that

 
I 
left 
thinking 
how 
much 
he
 reminded
 me 
of 
a 
creepy 
colleague
 at 
my
 last 
job 
before
 college
 
I 
left 
thinking 
of 
a 
coworker
 at 
that 
job 
who 
had 
pulled 
my 18‐year‐old 
self 
aside 
and told 
me 
to
practice 
shaking
 my
 finger 
and 
saying 
“girlfriend, 
I 
don’t 
think 
so”


But
 he
 couldn’t 
have 
been 
hitting 
on 
me 
because
 I’m
 not

Pretty 
enough

Thin
 enough

Weak 
enough

Dumb
 enough


For 
that, 
right?


Right?




5 comments :

Anooshirvan D. Jafari said...

Jessica, you are absolutely right!

I think lack of proper education makes some people act inappropriately. However, we should be understanding of them, too, while we take proper measures to defend the innocent.
Don't you think so? I like to hear others views!

Anonymous said...

If these serial harassers are so "well known" within astronomy, why do I not know of even one? I am certain they are out there, but as a graduate student, I have heard no rumors, heard no names, and I don't understand. What if no one warns me about taking a postdoc with Professor Harasser? Does it fall upon my (male) thesis advisor to discover who the harassers are and warn me against them? What if he doesn't know? If he did, I am sure he would warn me against taking a job with Professor Harasser, but what if he knows as little as I? If no one names names, where do I find this information in order to guard myself against possibly horrible experiences? Or do I just have to take my chances?

I understand that publicly naming serial harassers can put their victims at risk, but what about the untold graduate students trying to move forth in their careers? No, it shouldn't have to fall to them to fix the problem, and yes, the problem is institutional and almost cultural in nature, and perhaps on a grander scale naming solves nothing or perhaps not, but shouldn't people have a chance to know whether they are taking a job that will put them straight in the path of a serial harasser?

Anooshirvan Jafari said...

In addition to my previous comment, as a man in sixties with two mature daughters and two young grand-daughters, I strongly, recommend to women, not to show weakness, and be assertive with people of harassment attitude. I think dressing properly and having a chaste life helps you greatly against these types of problems. We should educate our society about harassment. Many men might not know that their behavior might be too offensive to women. At least talking about this evil behaviors, can improve the situation. We Americans are very materialistic in our appearance and thoughts compared to most of other cultures. we should emphasize spirituality. Otherwise, these types of problems might become more serious. These were just a few of my beliefs, as a father. Thank you for having the opportunity to share my views!

Prajval Shastri said...

Being caught in the dilemma of on the one hand wanting to adhere to "due process" for the sake of true long-term justice, and on the other hand landing up "protecting the perpetrators at the expense of their prey" is a very very real dilemma that we all have to cope with. That debate can and should rage in parallel, but does not preclude education, and I agree with jessica. Some of the perpetrators do not even realise that they are perpetrating anything - they seem to believe that they are just being true to their maleness....On the constructive side, is it possible to compile and/or build web-based training modules? I believe many of these are in operation in institutions in the USA...

Anonymous said...

As a father and grandfather, with two grown daughters and two granddaughters well spread in age, I agree with the fact that there is a problem. It is not a new problem, it is decades and even millennia old.