Toxic Feminism And "Sexual Harassment Creep" Ruining Innocent People's Lives
In legal terms, sexual harassment comes in two flavors -- the coercive, quid pro quo kind ("Have sex with me or you lose your job") and the "hostile environment" kind, which involves a work environment "permeated with sexuality." Wayne State law professor Kingsley Browne, the author of the excellent book, Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality, told me via email: "The legal question is whether the harassment is sufficiently 'severe or pervasive,' and the way you show that something is pervasive is to show that there's a lot of it."
Well there's been what I've deemed "sexual harassment creep," in which sexual harassment is now whatever people say it is, like in the case of a woman who got uncomfortable about the lunch conversation with Bora Zivkovic, the then-Scientific American blogs editor -- who has since been fired over this and other accusations of sexual harassment that in no way meet the standards for it.
I've posted on this -- here are a couple of my posts:
About The Bora Controversy: If There's Anything That Makes Women Unequal To Men, It's The Need To Be Treated Like Fragile Pieces Of China
Announcing "The New Feminism": The Last Thing Some Women Want Is For You To Treat Them As Men's Equals
And because academia has become a sort of witch hunt with ivy for any who don't toe the PC line, I've gotten a number of emails (in addition to comments) from professors who support an equality-driven view of equality, as I do, but who fear academic ruin for saying so publicly.
This means, for example, expecting women to act like adults and speak up when they are uncomfortable about the subject of conversation, rather than tattling to an authority figure. (This is the standard, for instance, in stalking. You can't complain to the police that a person is stalking you unless you've told them you don't want the contact.)
I got a great detailing of some of the injustice that's been done (and the sick thinking that goes into these revelations) from a professor I know who needs to remain anonymous. I'm posting it below.
Here's my timeline about recent events that occurred after Bora Zivkovic was accused of sexual harassment. It paints a dire picture of Stephanie Zvan's eagerness to indict people for "harassment" without identifying first whether the evidence for such behavior exists. This rush to judgment is an endemic problem in the online atheist community, but is particularly pervasive at Freethought Blogs.
1. Bora, who claimed that the first report of harassment (sexually suggestive conversation) was a one-off affair, didn't tell the truth: several other women accused him of similar harassment and, in light of that, he resigned his position as head of science blogs for Scientific American.
2. Christie Wilcox, a grad student at the University of Hawaii who blogs on the Discover network (her site is called "Science Sushi"), was, I believe, mentored by Bora at one time.
3. When the Bora affair happened, Wilcox put up a post on her site expressing disapproval of Bora's behavior.
4. Stephanie Zvan, a particularly nasty and vindictive blogger at Freethought Blogs, had already written a post criticizing Bora, and wrote a message of sympathy on Twitter to one of the women who had reportedly been harassed by Bora.
5. Wilcox "favorited" Zvan's tweet.
6. Zvan then used Wilcox's "favorite" as an excuse for posting some information about Christie that Zvan had been holding onto since 2011.
The information revealed by Zvan was this: Wilcox was at some alcohol-laden karaoke bash and tried to kiss a guy on the lips. He pulled away, which made her angry. Wilcox then tried to kiss a woman on the lips; she pulled away, too.
This was apparently construed by Zvan as "harassment". Zvan then revealed that Wilcox had continued to harass the guy (who was married), sending him "frequent and inappropriate text messages." At the 2012 Science Online conferene, Zvan said that Wilcox even went to his room, winding up on the bed while the guy slept in a chair. This, too, was seen as sexual harassment.
Zvan, then, took Wilcox to task for being infatuated with this guy, casting Wilcox as a harasser almost on par with Bora.
But it turned out that Zvan didn't have all the details.
Wilcox was blindsided, of course; why would Zvan hold onto this information and finally reveal it after two years? Zvan's explanation was that it showed that sexual harassment was not limited to males harassing females, but could go the other way as well. But that doesn't hold water in light of the two-year delay.
7. Then another science blogger--the married guy--outed himself; it turned out to be Brian Switek, who blogs about dinosaurs and paleontology for National Geographic.
I don't know why Switek revealed his identity, since nobody had done so before. Perhaps it was in support of Wilcox, since he also revealed that the attraction was not one-sided: they had both sent salacious text messages to each other. In other words, it was an on-again-off-again business (I don't think they actually had sex), with Switek and Wilcox texting each other amorously, and then Switek, feeling guilty about doing this while married to someone else, repeatedly pulling back. He finally wrote a blog post explaining what happened.
8. Zvan's original post about Wilcox disappeared, and she offered a rather lame apology for her accusations. It included this:
"I mistook being part of a set of events as they unfolded as being the same thing as having a full enough view of those events to know that I could comment on them without getting her perspective. I should not have done that. As a result, I published an account of her actions that has not fully stood up in the face of further scrutiny. For that, I am truly sorry."
I take this convoluted explanation to mean that Zvan rushed to judgment without doing her homework, which to me bespeaks an eagerness to smear someone without proper investigation.
The upshot is that accusations of sexual harassment are flying thick and fast, yet much of it, as in the Switek/Wilcox case, seems to involve normal sexuality, often expressed under the influence of alcohol.
Of course I deplore mistreatment or harassment of anybody by the opposite sex, especially when that involves the coercion inherent in a power imbalance; but this isn't what happened with Wilcox and Switek. The episode appears to depict only two people attracted to each other, with one of them married. Svan mistakenly damaged three lives just to make her point that "women can harass, too." Lord knows what kind of shape Switek's marriage is in. Svan has apologized, but the damage was done. This is what happens in a rush to judgment--a frenzied "witch hunt" to root out all vestiges of perceived sexism. And it has gone too far.
This is probably more than you want to know, but so be it. It's gotten to the point that if two people have sex when both are inebriated, the male--but not the female--is deemed a rapist. I don't understand why the woman isn't a rapist, too.
Several of my female friends, who are strong women, have objected to this "women-as-fragile-china" business, and for so doing have been accused of being "sister shamers" or "chill girls." It's even been insinuated that they do this to court powerful men or get invitations to conferences. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The piling-on of the atheist bloggers, particularly at Freethought Blogs, has been hurtful to these women, which is bad. But I hope it's also been hurtful to Freethought Blogs, which are increasingly turning into the Sex Police. The Freethought-Blog version of feminism seems to be mostly about slut-shaming and defaming anyone who doesn't do exactly what those self-proclaimed Arbiters of Purity deem acceptable behavior. That's hardly freethinking!