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Like many people, my head is swirling. It’s been a heady, deep, painful, traumatic, confusing week–and my inclination is to make a joke here about the debt ceiling crisis that was resolved last night. Joking creates space, a distance.

But chances are, you know that what I’m talking about is actually the revelation of harassment in the science blogging community; it, after all, has made it to mainstream media. In very short sum, two young women have named Bora Zivkovic, the Scientific American “blogfather” and editor, as harasser. Zivkovic did not deny Monica Byrne’s accusation or account, and has (as of this writing) been silent regarding Hannah Waters’ account, other than to say there is no need to defend him. Zivkovic has also stepped down from the Science Online board of directors while further involvement in Science Online is being determined, and has apparently taken a temporary leave from Scientific American.

Which leaves everyone–and the conversation–mired in “now what?”

Two answers are already very clear: Twitter has become a clearinghouse for people to discuss harassment and support one another, and Ladybits (on Medium) has issued a call for stories on harassment, with what seems to be the idea of shining a light on what harassment is so that everyone is better at recognizing it, and at shutting it down.

But there’s an elephant in the room, one that people (at least on Twitter) are running up to briefly to tackle before retreating. And that is this: what should happen to Zivkovic? Should he lose his job?

To those of you on the edges or outside of this particular science online writing/blogging community, the answer might seem simple. But in reality, we are talking about a community where many consider Zivkovic a friend and credit him with their career. It’s a lot harder when it’s someone you know; I understand this (really, I do). But the problem is simple: Zivkovic used the influence and power from his position as the Scientific American blogs editor to harass at least two women.

A lot of people have questioned if he actually used his position as blogs editor to ill gain, but this seems pretty clear: the meeting with Byrne was supposed to be regarding freelancing/blogging work, and while contact with Waters spanned SciAm to SciOnline and general science community events, it certainly included his role as editor and mentor on Scientific American.

But it’s about more than just his actions against these two women, as this long, sad, and powerful thread on Twitter shows. Waters questions her talent in her post; is she where she is because she’s talented, or because she’s cute? The flip side is also true: many people are now talking about their doubt; how they wonder if they weren’t nurtured and didn’t get blog posts and exposure because Zivkovic didn’t think they were pretty enough.

This won’t go away with a slap on the wrist.

If Zivkovic remains in his role as Scientific American blogs editor, there will always be the question, people will always wonder: am I getting this because I’m talented or because I’m cute? Was I turned down because I am not pretty enough? Am I too old? Do I not smile enough? Did I earn this?

140_with_great_powerThis isn’t about Zivkovic damaging the Scientific American brand, this is about the trust people have in Zivkovic-as-blogs-editor being broken. And as such, Zivkovic must no longer function in that role; he has shown that he is incapable of properly wielding the great power and responsibility of that position, and should be held accountable. Part of that accountability is removing his power and influence.

When someone abuses a privilege, that privilege is taken away. In this case, that privilege is the power of his position as blogs editor; without the reach and influence that position holds, he would have much less sway over people, many of whom are young and vulnerable based on their junior status and positions.

Does this mean that Zivkovic should lose his job completely? That he is beyond redemption and should be shamed and shunned for eternity by the community at large? This might surprise some people, but no, not necessarily. Zivkovic can be commended for not dragging this out, for stepping down and removing himself, for asking people not to defend him, and showing contrition. Is the contrition genuine? Does he mean the gestures or is he just acting out the proper script, seeking absolution without change? Only time will tell.

And that’s why, in the time until things are told, the following must happen. Zivkovic must:

    • step down from the Science Online board permanently (done, as I understand it);
    • have no further involvement with Science Online, until voted back with full support of the board and/or member resolution;
    • be banned from attending any Science Online-related event, including the flagship conference, for a minimum of one year;
    • step down from or be reassigned to a position other than Scientific American blogs editor. The new position should not be allowed unsupervised contact with freelancers for a minimum period of one year.

This achieves several things:

    • the Science Online community will have a chance to define itself without Zivkovic’s presence/influence;
    • people will be able to use the flagship conference to discuss sexism and harassment without worrying about a direct confrontation with Zivkovic;
    • there will be no concern or worry from anyone that they’ve been excluded from presenting at Science Online or blogging at Scientific American because of retaliation;
    • freelancers can be assured that their work is being judged based on what it is, not what they look like;
    • there is the possibility for Zivkovic to demonstrate his contrition and improvement;
    • everyone enough time to process, digest, and decide how they as individuals want to engage with Science Online, Scientific American, and Zivkovic himself.

And, most importantly, other victims of harassment will see that there is genuine support to be found in the online science writing and blogging community when speaking out against harassment, against someone beloved and with power; to show that there will be swift and severe consequences for bad behaviour.

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85 Responses to “Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment”

  1. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:24 pmchrisdc77

    RT @rocza: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment – what should happen now to Zivkovic, @SciAm, & the #sciox community http://t.co/hNGdzC…

  2. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:25 pmkejames

    Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/meLbekX3Qh #ripplesofdoubt

  3. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:28 pmGozde786

    RT @rocza: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment – what should happen now to Zivkovic, @SciAm, & the #sciox community http://t.co/hNGdzC…

  4. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:29 pmKMBTweets

    Excellent piece by @rocza w/reccs for how #sciox/@sciam should handle @BoraZ & harassment in general: http://t.co/HLqLlmoZkX

  5. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:29 pmmwkraus

    RT @rocza: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment – what should happen now to Zivkovic, @SciAm, & the #sciox community http://t.co/hNGdzC…

  6. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:33 pmAnneRichards16

    RT @kejames: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/meLbekX3Qh #ripplesofdoubt

  7. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:34 pmeverickert

    RT @rocza: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment – what should happen now to Zivkovic, @SciAm, & the #sciox community http://t.co/hNGdzC…

  8. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:36 pmeverickert

    Thanks for this. It’s what I’ve been chewing on since this started. => MT @rocza: What should happen now http://t.co/XWN1MgvZpu #sciox

  9. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:42 pmmarynmck

    i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co/dWk0ZoNXB3

  10. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:49 pmszvan

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  11. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:51 pmneva9257

    RT @rocza: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment – what should happen now to Zivkovic, @SciAm, & the #sciox community http://t.co/hNGdzC…

  12. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:53 pmdwescott1

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  13. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:54 pmneva9257

    .@rocza’s piece here is a first-rate if writing; a first-rate piece of applied #ethics. Wonderful. http://t.co/7czf0OOqoC

  14. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:57 pmdocfreeride

    RT @rocza: @kejames @docfreeride @KMBTweets I threw out what I think needs to happen http://t.co/hNGdzCrNPI

  15. on 17 Oct 2013 at 2:58 pmmolslarity

    RT @kejames: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/meLbekX3Qh #ripplesofdoubt

  16. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:14 pmLancestrian

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  17. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:16 pmmathewi

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  18. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:23 pmTomLevenson

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  19. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:30 pmShecky R

    I found it interesting that when I clicked on your post the “Random Quote” in upper right of your blog was reading:

    “Thanks to modern society, we’re all Frankenstein’s monster. None of us fit.” — Nick Mamatas

    Quite fitting perhaps!….

  20. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:32 pmsethmnookin

    Another thoughtful take:@rocza: @BoraZ shld be reassigned from @sciamblogs ed; no unsupervised contact w/freelancers http://t.co/1Ff55oJy8G

  21. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:32 pmTomLevenson

    I want to add my name to those recommending @rocza ‘s thoughts on next steps for @BoraZ – http://t.co/a0c2LbkkwI …1/2

  22. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:33 pmCollatingLife

    Life as an Extreme Sport » Blog Archive » Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment http://t.co/nyRtwXwHwj

  23. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:34 pmJBYoder

    RT @TomLevenson: I want to add my name to those recommending @rocza ‘s thoughts on next steps for @BoraZ – http://t.co/a0c2LbkkwI …1/2

  24. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:37 pmTSZuska

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  25. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:38 pmlockwooddewitt

    RT @TomLevenson: I want to add my name to those recommending @rocza ‘s thoughts on next steps for @BoraZ – http://t.co/a0c2LbkkwI …1/2

  26. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:38 pmlisarokusek

    Thoughtful post by @rocza regarding powerscience harassment http://t.co/2CiqAYwpT9

  27. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:41 pmTomLevenson

    5/5 re @BoraZ …and @rocza ‘s plan seems to me to comes as close to right as any I’ve yet heard. http://t.co/a0c2LbkkwI Agree? Contemn?

  28. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:41 pmneva9257

    RT @TomLevenson: I want to add my name to those recommending @rocza ‘s thoughts on next steps for @BoraZ – http://t.co/a0c2LbkkwI …1/2

  29. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:42 pmneva9257

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  30. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:43 pmneva9257

    RT @TomLevenson: 5/5 re @BoraZ …and @rocza ‘s plan seems to me to comes as close to right as any I’ve yet heard. http://t.co/a0c2LbkkwI Ag…

  31. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:43 pmpsychmesu

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  32. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:47 pmjoshwitten

    Need time to decide if I agree w every pt. But @rocza’s discussion of @BoraZ’s future scicomm is smart & thoughtful http://t.co/lyvslPKyul

  33. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:49 pmdocfreeride

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  34. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:54 pmTriploidTree

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  35. on 17 Oct 2013 at 3:56 pmMagicTony

    Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/O4SyGHmjBt

  36. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:01 pmgregladen

    I completely agree with everything you say here, but I want to add that I can’t think of a time, ever, reading a Scientific American Blogs blog written by anyone (any gender, anywhatever) where I thought this person was not good enough to be writing a post on this relatively high end classy network. In my view the subset of people who are questioning their worth vis-a-vis Bora, Sci-Am, etc. who have guested or have a regular gig on Sci Am should be confident that they are PDG, though I’ve not read everything and mine is only one opinion, of course.

    That doesn’t change anything you say here, of course. But I look at that twitter feed and see all these people who I know write good stuff questioning themselves and it is truly a bummer.

    And of course, even if Bora turns out to have alos attended to quality (the evicence suggests that he did) this does not cover such things as the EXclusionary (as opposed to INclusionary) side of thigns ie “there will be no concern or worry from anyone that they’ve been excluded from presenting at Science Online or blogging at Scientific American because of retaliation”

  37. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:02 pmgregladen

    VERY IMPORTANT POST: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/AdpKMWueZL

  38. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:06 pmHPS_Vanessa

    Agree MT: @TomLevenson: re @Boraz @rocza ‘s plan seems to come as close to right as any I’ve heard yet http://t.co/CIqsZ5g49j Agree?Contemn?

  39. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:07 pmrachelsklar

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  40. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:08 pmhelenfields

    A proposal “@gregladen: VERY IMPORTANT POST: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/xgAWYp1HtL

  41. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:11 pmacarvin

    Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment, by @rocza http://t.co/ZJDAHj4ujh

  42. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:11 pmScottMadin

    RT @acarvin: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment, by @rocza http://t.co/ZJDAHj4ujh

  43. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:12 pmkimoco

    RT @acarvin: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment, by @rocza http://t.co/ZJDAHj4ujh

  44. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:18 pmStephen_Curry

    RT @TomLevenson: 5/5 re @BoraZ …and @rocza ‘s plan seems to me to comes as close to right as any I’ve yet heard. http://t.co/a0c2LbkkwI Ag…

  45. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:25 pmstevesilberman

    This post on the @BoraZ affair seems very fair and sensible. http://t.co/zkSu5jpZmP

  46. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:35 pmsnapdragon830

    RT @stevesilberman: This post on the @BoraZ affair seems very fair and sensible. http://t.co/zkSu5jpZmP

  47. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:43 pmdupuisj

    RT @stevesilberman: This post on the @BoraZ affair seems very fair and sensible. http://t.co/zkSu5jpZmP

  48. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:49 pmBriannaPhilly

    RT @gregladen: VERY IMPORTANT POST: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/AdpKMWueZL

  49. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:57 pmAnaLuzRedux

    RT @sethmnookin: Another thoughtful take:@rocza: @BoraZ shld be reassigned from @sciamblogs ed; no unsupervised contact w/freelancers http…

  50. on 17 Oct 2013 at 4:58 pmmsofuego

    RT @Allochthonous: Abuse your power? Then you should lose that power. Always. We may not like it, but @rocza has this exactly right. http:/…

  51. on 17 Oct 2013 at 5:03 pmtan123

    “This won’t go away with a slap on the wrist” – Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment http://t.co/QnTsAHRYzk @mdichristina #boraz

  52. on 17 Oct 2013 at 5:04 pmAur_ora

    +1 MT @TomLevenson: re @BoraZ @rocza ‘s plan seems to me to come as close to right as any I’ve yet heard. http://t.co/ihieFsavnS

  53. on 17 Oct 2013 at 5:22 pmJenLucPiquant

    Some good advice here. Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/ku5Jz0jAs1

  54. on 17 Oct 2013 at 5:29 pmhleman

    RT @stevesilberman: This post on the @BoraZ affair seems very fair and sensible. http://t.co/zkSu5jpZmP

  55. on 17 Oct 2013 at 5:30 pmuofcfreethinker

    RT @JenLucPiquant: Some good advice here. Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/ku5Jz0jAs1

  56. on 17 Oct 2013 at 6:03 pmSvobodster

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  57. on 17 Oct 2013 at 6:11 pmthsaey

    RT @helenfields: A proposal “@gregladen: VERY IMPORTANT POST: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/xgAWYp1HtL

  58. on 17 Oct 2013 at 6:26 pmRachelShadoan

    Brilliant suggestion of next steps for a community dealing with harassment http://t.co/WSuTMrH3iO #ripplesofdoubt

  59. on 17 Oct 2013 at 6:37 pmgravitazeroeu

    RT @stevesilberman: This post on the @BoraZ affair seems very fair and sensible. http://t.co/zkSu5jpZmP

  60. on 17 Oct 2013 at 6:44 pmkristazala

    RT @RachelShadoan: Brilliant suggestion of next steps for a community dealing with harassment http://t.co/WSuTMrH3iO #ripplesofdoubt

  61. on 17 Oct 2013 at 6:59 pmlittleatoms

    Excellent essay, a great response.. RT @kejames Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/DhldcMjnVN #ripplesofdoubt

  62. on 17 Oct 2013 at 7:38 pmJudeBurger

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  63. on 17 Oct 2013 at 7:44 pmdiiq

    RT @RachelShadoan: Brilliant suggestion of next steps for a community dealing with harassment http://t.co/WSuTMrH3iO #ripplesofdoubt

  64. on 17 Oct 2013 at 9:50 pmSunWeight

    RT @sethmnookin: Another thoughtful take:@rocza: @BoraZ shld be reassigned from @sciamblogs ed; no unsupervised contact w/freelancers http…

  65. on 17 Oct 2013 at 9:53 pmKelly

    Thanks Greg. I have my quibbles over how the Scientific American blogs network is run (which Nicholas Evans addresses in this post on the idea of writing authority and responsibility); I guess in summary, I do think that there are people who shouldn’t be writing because they don’t have the expertise to be writing under the Scientific American brand, or given that particular bit of legitimacy.

    That said, I am 100% certain it has absolutely nothing to do with the sex or prettiness of the bloggers in question, because the ones whose blogs I think need to be either more focused or not there? All dudes. ;-)

    I do genuinely ache for the women who are now questioning what criteria was used to select them as bloggers, either as guests or permanent. The ones I’ve seen give voice to that concern, like Hannah Waters or Melanie Tannenbaum, are exceedingly talented young writers that often make me want to gnaw my own liver in jealousy over their talent.

    But, as you point out, there is also the flip side, which PSchiendelam and David Dobbs both wondered: how many women didn’t get mentored, or blogging posts, because Zivkovic didn’t find them attractive? Quite a few exceptionally talented women, like Allie Wilkinson, are now left wondering that. And, of course, the #ripplesofdoubt hashtag are showing quite a few people also wondering that (as well as showcasing other issues that make people doubt their talent and ability).

  66. on 17 Oct 2013 at 9:55 pmrocza

    Thanks for such a thoughtful comment, @gregladen http://t.co/J0b9Tnzbki I don’t have nested replies (yet), but did: http://t.co/xvJIZ6kOc1

  67. on 17 Oct 2013 at 9:57 pmneva9257

    RT @rocza: Thanks for such a thoughtful comment, @gregladen http://t.co/J0b9Tnzbki I don’t have nested replies (yet), but did: http://t.co/…

  68. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:07 pmsci2mrow

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  69. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:11 pmdeborahblum

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  70. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:12 pmdeborahblum

    Essential (and wonderfully smart) reading: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/WZXc8g0m6H

  71. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:13 pmdaniel_lende

    RT @deborahblum: Essential (and wonderfully smart) reading: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/WZXc8g0m6H

  72. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:16 pmneva9257

    RT @deborahblum: Essential (and wonderfully smart) reading: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/WZXc8g0m6H

  73. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:24 pmgoshling

    RT @deborahblum: Essential (and wonderfully smart) reading: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/WZXc8g0m6H

  74. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:34 pmpyrrho12

    RT @rocza: @kejames @docfreeride @KMBTweets I threw out what I think needs to happen http://t.co/hNGdzCrNPI

  75. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:35 pmMad_Science_Guy

    RT @deborahblum: Essential (and wonderfully smart) reading: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/WZXc8g0m6H

  76. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:50 pmCat_Warren

    RT @deborahblum: Essential (and wonderfully smart) reading: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/WZXc8g0m6H

  77. on 17 Oct 2013 at 10:53 pmCircleReader

    RT @deborahblum: Essential (and wonderfully smart) reading: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/WZXc8g0m6H

  78. on 18 Oct 2013 at 1:24 amHealthCulture

    Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment http://t.co/YleRBMNikM @rocza What should happen when women speak out on harassment @SciAm #sciox

  79. on 18 Oct 2013 at 3:23 amborngeek

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  80. on 18 Oct 2013 at 7:31 ammhdelaney

    RT @marynmck: i endorse the compassionate and forthright recs by @rocza, an ethicist, re what’s-next for @BoraZ, @SciAm, #SciOx http://t.co…

  81. […] the ensuing Twitter conversations about my post on revoking power in the face of harassment, I noticed that one thing was left out of the conversation: that my prescriptions, the things that […]

  82. on 18 Oct 2013 at 2:16 pmCarolyn Thomas

    Interesting that the number of Bora’s Twitter followers has increased since the scandal broke, not decreased.

  83. […] of the situation, especially given Zivkovic’s high regard in the field. Kelly Hills advised the science writing community remove Zivkovic from all positions of power immediately to prevent further abuse. Priya Shetty […]

  84. on 19 Oct 2013 at 10:27 pmLucia Stern

    The women who were targeted by Bora and those whose blogs he declined to pick up should not feel either that they were chosen because they were “attractive” to him or declined because they were not.

    His sex talk has the quality of a compulsion (which is not to excuse him or to suggest anyone feel sorry for him). But because it sounds prescriptive, a self-arousal for him to go through this script, I suspect he delivered it to many more women than have so far come forward.

    Those he chose for mentoring may have been chosen more because he could imagine himself delivering the script to them without their confronting him or walking away. It makes sense if you picture his having delivered it many, many times. He may have had an informed sense of who would listen.

    As a graduate student I experienced a professor who told a story very similar to the one recounted by Bora in the email Kathleen shared. It turned out that he systematically approached women with a similar story with sexual content. When some told him to stop, he would act innocent and wounded and call them unsympathetic, and then they would not be invited to social gatherings or to go out for a drink with a group of faculty and grad students at a conference or after a class.

    What was almost equally disturbing, other professors knew about it, and remarked that he was “very democratic” in his tastes, approaching an older department secretary as well as young women. Also, it happened that his wife, who was one of those who knew, was a star in another department, and when she was recruited by the university it was a package deal.

    The dean of the grad school was confronted with this report and as many as 20 women attested to having been approached in this way. His response? Crocodile tears: the accused must be confronted by his accusers, and none of the students wanted to come forward, because it would have been impossible to remain in one of several departments if they had done so. It became clear that this couple had had to leave a university on another continent owing to this behavior.

  85. on 20 Oct 2013 at 4:01 pmschierholz

    RT @deborahblum: Essential (and wonderfully smart) reading: Revoking Power in the Face of Harassment by @rocza http://t.co/YJbq6NWqHv

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