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married/in grad school w/children

C. A. Stewart cheryl at wijiji.santafe.edu
Wed Aug 17 14:27:40 EST 1994

In article <32p0rr$onr at darkstar.UCSC.EDU> quinones at orchid.UCSC.EDU (Cathy Quinones) writes:
>In article <32om06$n6n at tierra.santafe.ede> cheryl at wijiji.santafe.edu (C. A. Stewart) writes:
>>In article <32mtcn$ga4 at darkstar.UCSC.EDU> quinones at orchid.UCSC.EDU (Cathy Quinones) writes:
>>Look, sexual harassment is SO degrading, women in their 50's just don't
>>talk about it.  And if they've EVER accepted a favor from someone who
>>was sweet on them, I'm sure they feel compromised enough themselves
>>not to blow the whistle on the whole practice.  Furthermore, the kinds
>>of things we talk about being sexual harassment today are just accepted
>>by women that have survived that long.  They just don't see what the
>>problem is.  *They* say "get a thick skin,"  and, coyly, "don't pass
>>up ANY opportunities."  I say, get lawyers, guns and money.  
>This is hilarious.  Now it turns out you *know* these women I mention and
>can comment on their psyche?!  They've told me stories, sure, but they
>are not bitter, they have done their thing; they have their wisdom,
>offer constructive criticism, and I never get tired of listening to them
>talk... which is far more than I can say about these posts.

Well, Gee.  Some of the older women in Geophysics (one a married mother
of three who was banging her boss on "scientific expeditions" to northern
Italy) I've talked to have berated me for being "religious" and "prudish"
and "sexually immature" because I happen to think it's like, really gross
to be screwing the senior PI on your funding source.  Pressed to name ONE 
woman at this particular Large Delightful Geological Observatory who wasn't 
romantically involved with her senior PI, she could not. 

(and No, there ARE NO women faculty there.  In physics and geophysics, 
you usually find either one or none in a department.  In a rare, very 
large faculty, you'll find two, at least one of them married to or banging 
some fatcat.) 

Pressed to discuss the graduate student at this Large Delightful 
Geological Observatory (LDGO) who was raped by a faculty member,this 
senior woman's comment about the student was "Oh, she stayed too late 
at a party, and besides, she was drunk."  Pressed to discuss the senior 
research associate who brought in millions of dollars in funding as 
the first author but necessarily co-invesigator on dozens of grants, who 
just happened to be fired summarily after she ceased dating a particular 
senior faculty member there, the answer was, "Oh, well, she didn't publish 
enough."  She didn't publish because she was spending all of her time 
writing proposals that her s-head faculty boyfriend took all the credit
for, and got all the money on besides.  But it's easier to blame the victim. 

And then there was the graduate student who was gang-raped in the 80's on 
an oceanographic vessel, the captain did NOTHING about it and the school
did nothing about it, since, gee, she didn't have a suit to bring because 
it happened in international waters. She wound up in a mental institution.  
(THAT boat was run out of a UC school.)  I've been told that I've had some 
nerve complaining about propositions coupled with threats and promises of 
reprisals, since well, at least I wasn't gang-raped.  Mentioning this to
other women who have spent time on oceanographic vessels, some of them
get very defensive about the idea of restricting the nighttime movements
of men in the women's quarters and women in the men's quarters as a 
preventative measure.  Seems they don't like the idea of policing "shipboard
romances,"  even if it means that a few of their female *competitors* wind 
up blowing soap bubbles in King's Park after being raped.  The kinds of
stories I hear from these "successful" women is that "oh, that happened
on one boat I was on, but SHE WAS ASKING FOR IT."  When I ask "How?"
"Oh, she wore her TURTLENECK SWEATERS too tight."    So she deserves to
be raped?  Gimme a break!

This is the kind of advice from senior women you get in Geophysics.
The ones that survive.  I'm sorry, I quite frankly think that by
and large they're no better whores, and to hell with them.  It must
be nice having senior women in your field you can have some respect for.

I can count on ONE hand the women geophysics faculty in the country I 
know who haven't "had to make compromises."  They deserve admiration,
but they certainly don't have the plum positions. 

The professor who tried to corner me in the elevator, made threats 
and carried through on them also beat up (as in bruises and black eyes,
gals) one of his undergraduate clerical assistants.  You think he
got in any kind of trouble?  No WAY!  He brought in Federal Funds!
You can't go after an IMPORTANT person like THAT just for some annoying
little harrassment incident!    That's what I was told.  Money makes
right in Academia.  Unless you've got a tape recorder (and USE it), 
a bound journal (and WRITE in it) and additionally tell everything 
that happens to your mother, your pastor and your shrink, you haven't
got a PRAYER.  Academics are pathetic little hypocrites, philistines, 
liars and whores.  A real petty, venal bunch.  You'll find out.

>>>If I were to take these posts in the spirit
>>>they were written, I would feel be forced to go shoot all male 
>>>faculty nd while I am it I should also shoot my boyfriend, 
>>>who has such aspirations.  

>>Not all of them.  I've actually run across oh, maybe half a dozen male
>>academics that were at least worth the paper they were printed on.  

>>what's the point of shooting such pathetic creatures that the only way they
>>can get laid is to threaten a subordinate with reprisals or offer them some
>>sad little bottle-washing job?  

>Well, all I can say is that I am really happy I failed to attend the
>distinguished institutions that you listed in your resume.  Somehow you
>have managed to interact with all the scum 

Blame the victim, blame the victim, blame the victim.  See? Now it's
MY FAULT for having been harassed.  It's MY FAULT.  I MANAGED to SEEK
THESE PEOPLE OUT, In the World According to Cathy.  It's MY fault now.

>>>Sexism cuts both ways...
>I said that and I'll say it again.  In all sincerity, if you charge into
>life with a huge banner saying "I hate 98.7% of all males" chances are
>you will run into some guy who is going to take this as fighting words,
>before you can tell him any stories about how ***other*** males abused
>their power.  

In the World According to Cathy, Feminists just Bring It On Themselves.
Our suffering, our oppression is CAUSED by our awareness of its existence.
Go ahead, put your head back in the sand,  Cathy Ostrich.  

If we were just nicer, they'd quit their jobs and give them to us. Dream on.

>A lot of backlash against feminism is from men who are
>sick of being labeled, judged and tried as mysogynists even when
>they haven't really done anything spitefully directed against women, and
>I am not afraid to say I can understand that, because I know such men.

So what you're saying is that we have to coddle the boys' egos and walk
on eggshells around them so they don't get mad when we say things they 
don't like?  What brand of feminism is that?  Did you learn it in Cosmo?

Men with academic power don't have to behave spitefully in order to do
real damage to their female students and colleagues.  They can seem
very kindly when the're patronizing the hell out of someone.  It's
a whole little dance, damning people with faint praise, making left-
handed compliments, calling computer graphics "such a pretty picture" 
when a woman does it, but "scientific visualization" when a man does 
it. You just have to see for yourself.  

>Sexism IS about making unfair generalizations about a group
>of people, generalizations that may be true about some or a few, but which
>aren't necessarily true (about the few or the group as a whole).  

>There are assholes in academia as there are in all walks of life, 
>and some are female (like the administrator in the NYU case... 

Assholes are everywhere. In fact everybody's got one.  It's just that 
in academics, the stakes are so low.  It's just sad.  These people aren't
the best and the brightest.  They're the kiss-ass mamma's boys (and girls)
who couldn't get jobs in the real world if they tried.  You'll find out.

>even if she got her
>position wrapped in a box with a big bow, that doesn't excuse her.  Saying
>that perhaps her mind has been colonized by patriarchy simply says she,
>as a female, can't judge right from wrong and make the right choices,
>which I hope we agree is utter crap).  

No, I think in her case, she was just as corrupt as any other academic.  
She'd learned long ago that the men who dominate adademia just don't 
want to hear about sexual harassment, so her solution was to sweep it 
under the rug.    

>If I were reading these posts and were about to start grad school, without
>having had any previous exposure to it (from undergrad research or the
>such) I would imagine a veritable gauntlet a la Tailhook.  Is this *really*
>what other women have faced upon entering graduate school?  

Don't believe me, believe Mildred Dresselhaus Prof. of Physics at MIT in 
her recent report which appears in Physics Today.   On a grant from the
American Institute of Physics, she went around to 10 different physics 
departments and met with all of the women administrators, faculty, graduate 
students and undergraduates.  

ALL had experienced one form of sexual harassment or another.  In a survey 
designed to assess how comfortable the women were interacting with the male 
faculty compared to the men, how positive they felt about the future of 
their careers, the results for women in physics were on average about 
20% lower than men in ALL categories.

And unemployment for women physicists was TWICE that of male physicists,
adjusting for level of training and numbers of women and men in each 

In other words, The women had it at least twice as bad, but only felt
20% worse about it than the men means that the women were being more
optimistic and resilient than the men.

So yeah, yeah, yeah, ya gotta have heart.  Just don't be surprized when 
they start eating it right out of your chest, or when it starts bleeding
after being pierced one time too many. 

>And if not,
>can someone else give a bit more balanced description?  I know there are
>women who read this newsgroup who are considering grad school or even starting
>next Fall, and I would hate to have them go into school with such a 
>hysterical/paranoiac vision.

Don't go with a paranoiac vision.  Go with a bound journal, where you
write down NAMES, DATES, DIRECT QUOTES, even if it seems like a trivial
incident.  Tell your shrink, tell your pastor, tell your mother when things
happen.  In light of later incidents, it might not seem so trivial. Carry 
a tape recorder.  Don't wait until something happens to find out how to 
operate it.  

>Sexual harassment and discrimination happen, but that doesn't mean one
>has to sit about, waiting and wondering which faculty member will be
>the first one to start a endless hell of harassment.  

Of course not.  Just rest assured that if they can't nail you on performance 
issues, one of them will try to nail you anyway.  

Do you wait until you get raped walking through a demonstrably dangerous 
neighborhood every night before learning basic self-defense or getting
a car, or walking with a buddy, or carrying a weapon?    No.  Do you
wait until someone breaks into your apartment before figuring out how 
to lock the doors?  No.  You take preventative measures.  You don't
flirt with danger.  

>It is much easier,
>upon arrival to a new institution, to look up the policy on sexual
>harassment and to simply be mentally prepared that, should an incident
>happen, one will look at the offender in the face and say "that was not
>acceptable" and let the person know one won't take it (and start a
>paper trail).  

Just whistle past the graveyard, be MENTALLY prepared?  

Be SOCIALLY prepared, be LEGALLY prepared, be FINANCIALLY prepared.    

Always have some fairly lucrative backup job training or experience 
that has little to do with your academic field if you have to wait 
out a 5-10 year legal process.   If I had to do it over again, I 
would have worked for 5 years and saved up quite a bit of money
before going to graduate school, not so I could live better than
the average graduate student, but just so I could afford a lawyer
and have a better fall-back WHEN harassment and discrimination happened.  

I was in a MUCH better position the second time than the first, and I 
sure wish someone had told me what I'm telling you now before the first 

Women don't exercise their legal options or defend their rights because 
they DON'T have a fall-back. So Universities know damn well they can keep
trampling women's rights.   Sure, a lot of things are illegal.   Do you
think a university cares, knowing they probably won't get called on it?

While you do have to exhaust your internal remedies before filing suit,
don't expect crap from the people in Universities whose job it is to
handle these complaints.  Their primary purpose is to insure "free
discovery," whereby the University finds out all of the evidence you
have against them, so they know how or whether they can counter it in
court.  That's what those internal offices are for.  Don't expect anything
but false sympathy from them.  And keep a few thousand in the bank set 
aside for a lawyer.  Real easy to do when you're making the typical than 
$15K a year that a grad student makes.   This is where the working 
for 5 years before going to graduate school comes in. 

>Obviously, handling an actual incident would be a bit
>more complicated than that, but I personally believe that sure beats
>the hell out of assuming every male academian/researcher/staff you run
>into is a sexist pig waiting to strike.

Handling an incident is a LOT more complicated.  The whole purpose 
of universitys handling sexual harassment complaints internally is
to buy them time to squash the complainant...a few months, and they
can modify the fellowship program you're on, find a male grad student 
to take your place on the project, reorganize the program you're in, 
make lots of mistakes when communicating with your creditor on your 
student loans so they start coming after you thinking you're no longer 
in school, assign you to odious lab rat tasks, move your office, 
postpone scheduling your oral qualifying exams, lose your written 
qualifying exams, changing the course requirements for your sub-program, 
start attacking your research performance, start attacking your 
personality, try to provoke you into losing your temper, spread rumors 
about your personal life and/or childbearing plans, require you to 
reproduce a fraudulent result and then criticize you for "not getting
the right results" when your investigations don't match the fraudulent
claim, and so forth.  

Not all of these things have happened to ME, but I have seen them ALL 
happen to women graduate students who DID NOT deserve it, since I 
graduated from college 12 years ago.  I've seen some of these things 
happen more than once.  It's a regular pattern.  

While this technically is illegal retaliation for opposition to an 
unlawful practice, it still hurts and they know it's hard to prove.  

>And if that makes me naive, so it goes... I don't like to be tried and
>judged before people even get to know me, and I would find it reprehensible
>to do so to others.

So go ahead!  Walk through West Oakland at 2 in the morning thinking
your fine fur coat and high-heel shoes are going to protect you.  Shit.
Thinking that oh, you wouldn't want to be prejudiced toward the minorities
that live there, on principle.  You and THAT principle will keep eachother
company all the way to the morgue.   Don't be prejudiced.  Just look at 
the crime statistics and realize that, no matter what the color of the
people in that neighborhood, it is DANGEROUS in West Oakland. 

So is graduate school. 


Note New Address for SFI:

Santa Fe Institute 

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