If you learn nothing else from this

Oct 18 2013 Published by under [Science in Society]

The first post was just dismissed as a misunderstanding. The second one made a pattern of behavior that was mostly harmless. And now the third. Holy fuck, people.

Misunderstanding? No.

Calculated and persistent predation obscured by friendly promotion? Yes.

If you're one of those commenters who claimed this was all blown out of proportion, go read Katleen Raven's post again. If you dismissed the first account as some one off misunderstanding, go read Katleen Raven's post again. If you felt like this was just a socially awkward man dealing with some personal issues, go read Katleen Raven's post again.

If only one thing comes of all this, I hope it is that people investigate claims of harassment thoroughly, no matter who is the accused. Realize that there is almost nothing to be gained by a woman falsely accusing a superior of sexual misconduct and everything to be lost, even when the claim is true.

15 responses so far

  • Hermitage says:

    The fact he kept this relentless angle of attack with multiple women probably means someone, somewhere said "yes" out of fear.

  • Nat says:

    So, so awful. Shocking, and yet one thing to take away from this entire episode is that I shouldn't be. None of us should.

    Thanks to all the women who are sharing what they've gone through, so that we might all learn.

  • throwaway says:

    I was one of those defending BoraZ actions at first. My PhD advisor was socially awkward and made some people mildly uncomfortable at times, with off handed comments. never any touching or anything but he TRULY was oblivious to all as well as being mildly autistic and also brilliant.

    What distinguished him was was the fiercest of promotors of his grad students I had and have ever seen. People who were the tops of their fields would line up to talk to him at conferences and what did he do first? He would tell them that if they wanted to talk to him they would have to talk to his grad students first.

    For my advisor, it really was a mental 'disability' that would result in the odd awkward comment to come out and I, and all that knew him, honestly knew that it wasn't intentional, he just didn't understand social cues very well. His actions of fierce promotion of his students is what really set him apart as someone who truly did champion the weak.

    That's what I thought the situation was with BoraZ. Obviously with all the stories that have come out i was completely wrong.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    It's worth noting that "fierce promotion" was a feature here too. A track record of promotion was a major aspect of the cover story that was very effective.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It is almost inevitable that we'll eventually hear the revelation of "yeah I succumbed and I shouldn't have", don't you think Hermitage?

  • proflikesubstance says:

    I don't know. I think it'll be harder to admit to giving in than saying "I took a stand". When others are being praised for strength though all of this, I would have a hard time adding my voice from the perspective of having gone along with it.

  • Hermitage says:

    Exactly PLS, the price for admitting that you were coerced is huge, the backlash will also be much bigger.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I retract my speculation for unjustifiable prurient interest

  • Next time he threatens suicide in order to try to manipulate one of his victims, I think he should be encouraged to follow through. That last post is horrific.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    I'm not going to advocate suicide for anything, but yeah, that last post shows the depths that were sunk to. It took me a while to get through that one.

  • Oh, I'm sure the only reason he threatened it was for purposes of manipulation. Same as the his wife neglects him thing. One of those common techniques that abusers use. Gets my hackles up. And, of course, if he did actually commit suicide it would in no way be the victim's fault. Even if she told him to f*ck himself kindly and go right ahead.

  • icearoni says:

    @throwaway:

    We all know people who could be categorized as "mildly autistic", "oblivious to all", and who don't "understand social cues very well". Those people can be abusers too. I'm not saying your advisor was.

    I dismissed warning signs with someone for years (decades), attributing the inappropriate comments and boundaries and faux pas to an awkward personality. But he means well! He loves me more than anything!

    Only to find out later from someone else that I was totally right, even in my naive little girl mind, to feel uncomfortable in all those small confusing moments over all those years. All those years I could have protected and supported her.

    Might his brain physiology contribute to difficulty in navigating certain social situations or lack of understanding boundaries? Absolutely. Do I give a fuck about whatever might be going on in his brain? Absolutely not. Not anymore. Any sympathy I ever had for him before I knew has been buried by the grief I feel for her. He still loves me more than anything, but I don't love him anymore.

    He was in the hospital recently and I pretended to care on the phone. Then I immediately called her to tell her that I already knew she would feel relieved if he died, and to tell her it's OK. I would feel relieved too.

    These things cannot be tolerated or brushed aside or second-guessed, because they destroy people when they are not questioned (and obviously even when they are, because so few will listen).

  • throwaway says:

    @icearoni

    What is missing from a lot of these posts is context and tone. One of the more famous on is he tended to encourage his students to 'finish their degrees and make babies". Why? Simply because his home life was great and he loved his children and he wanted his students to enjoy the same joy that he was experiencing.

    Some people would call that harassment some would call it encouraging your students to have a good work/life balance. There was no harassment at all, he didn't mean to offend and any that were, were being hypersensitive. Context matters.

    He's dead now and all of his past students miss him terribly.

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