Look Somewhere Else for Romance

Feb 03 2016 Published by under Anger, Tribe of Science

Sigh.

Once again, my friends, a professor of science has been found to be harassing women underlings.

Actually it was a bit more:

Lieb allegedly made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students on an off-campus retreat in Galena, Ill., and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent,” according to documents acquired by the New York Times.

Yeah, that last part there pretty much makes Jason Lieb a rapist.

 
Then it turns out that the guy had left Princeton rather abruptly:

Yoav Gilad, a molecular biologist at Chicago who was on the committee that advocated hiring Dr. Lieb, said he and his fellow faculty members knew that in February 2014 Dr. Lieb had abruptly resigned from Princeton University, just seven months after having been recruited from the University of North Carolina to run a high-profile genomics institute.

then it gets very foggy:

molecular biologists on the University of Chicago faculty and at other academic institutions received emails from an anonymous address stating that Dr. Lieb had faced allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct at previous jobs at Princeton and the University of North Carolina.

however:

But Dr. Gilad said that when it was contacted, Princeton said there had been no sexual harassment investigation of Dr. Lieb while he was there. He said efforts to find out more about what prompted Dr. Lieb’s departure proved fruitless. A Princeton spokeswoman said the university does not comment on personnel matters.

hmmm. smells a little bit, doesn't it? But no PROOF. Because, no doubt, of the usual. Murky circumstances. Accusations that can't be proved easily. Wagon circling from the institution and lingering doubt that the accuser is telling the truth. We've seen it a million times.

Separately, Dr. Gilad acknowledged, during the interviews of Dr. Lieb, he admitted that he had had a monthslong affair with a graduate student in his laboratory at the University of North Carolina.

Ok, wait, whoa full stop. The dude had an affair with a graduate student IN HIS LAB!

Done. Right there. The vast majority of Universities that have policies at least say you can't have an affair with a student you have a direct supervisory role over.

Hiring committees are not courts of law and applicants do not have a right to be hired. This committee at U of C should have taken a pass as soon as they learned Lieb was screwing his graduate student.

There are a number of problems that we academics need to confront about this.

First, the guy raped an incapacitated grad student at a dept retreat. This has to put some courage into departments to lay down some rules during their retreats. Like maybe, no faculty partying with grad students after official hours, when the other faculty aren't around. Open the retreat with a discussion of harassment, respect and professional behavior like they do at GRCs now. That sort of thing.

Second, what in the hell do we do about these unproven cases in which the guy (it's almost always a man) who keeps jumping institutions leaves a smell of harassment and bad behavior behind him that hasn't been proven or documented?

It's weird, right?

If you take a rec letter from a trusted colleague about a prospective student or postdoc that has the slightest hint of a problem, professional work wise, you take an automatic pass. You move on to the next candidate. Nobody talks about lawyers and proof and how you "have" to hire this particular postdoc or they will sue you for defamation. Yet when it comes to a faculty hire, the stench of misconduct is treated differently. "well, it hasn't been proven! there's no paper trail! Sure he left in a hurry and the old institution ain't talking but its a coincidence! and we can't listen to these rumors from eight of his previous trainees who all tell the same tale, hearsay! we'll be sued for defamation if we choose not to hire him!".

Something is very wrong here.

We're perfectly okay not hiring a candidate because we suspect they won't like our town and will be soon looking to leave. Ok with violating HR rules to sniff around about a two-body problem and refuse to offer a faculty job to such a problem candidate. Underrepresented minorities? Don't even get me started. Women of childbearing age or with a young child? yeah. Our hiring committees do all kinds of inferring and gossiping and not-offering on the basis of suspected factors. Thinly evidenced. Not proven. Actually illegal reasons in some cases.

But when someone is rumoured to be a harasser of women? Geez, we have to bend over backwards to extend him his alleged right to the job.

Something is very wrong here.

People of science? Please. Just. Look. Somewhere. Else. Would. You? Please? Find your romantic entanglements outside of the workplace. Really. It cannot possibly be this difficult.

88 responses so far

  • Former Technician says:

    My old boss married his technician when no one thought there was a problem with that. He was department chair for nearly 20 years. While these are the gatekeepers, things will not change.

  • DJMH says:

    I can't imagine hearing this sort of allegation about a prospective hire and thinking, "Well, nothing substantiated! Aside from sleeping with his grad student of course." The fact that the UC dept made a unanimous vote to hire him is so damning, though of course probably only a few people were privy to the sex abuse allegations.

  • noname says:

    People date and get married at the workplace in all lines of work.

    Why should academia be an exception given that it's already hard for academics to find a mate and maintain a relationship and not just because of the two-body problem?

    It seems to have worked fine in the past.

    If a faculty member rapes someone, he should suffer the consequences. That much is clear.

    This situation seems quite clear -- there isn't publicly available proof, but there are many independent allegations in different institutions so a lot more likely than not there is a real case.

    But there is a context to it and all other recent similar cases. The climate on campus regarding sexual relationships has become more and more toxic in the last few years due to the activity of rabid 3rd wave feminists and various other SJWs. Because of that, we can only expect those doubts regarding who tells the truth to become stronger and stronger -- the more false rape accusations we learn about and the more crusades against absolutely trivial examples of "harassment" and "oppression" by the patriarchy, the more it will be real rape victims who suffer. You can only cry wolf so many times before people tune out.

    Also, that is creating a double asymmetry in the power relationship -- the professor obviously has power over his students and he should not be using it. But if a male professor's career is certain to be over (which is what all these calls for "why are people getting away with this?, "no proof should not be a justification for no consequences!", etc., with achieve) if a female graduate student/postdoc/technician accuses him of rape or harassment (true or false), then she has a lot of power over him. And that power will be used, just as on occasions professors have been and are using theirs, and it will be used not to obtain sexual gratification but to ensure career advancement. Which will be deeply ironic -- feminists complaining about men treating women like whores will ensure that more women are indeed being whores.

    Evidence should always matter, otherwise we're on a very slippery slope to hell.

  • David Condon says:

    Don't reason from an outlier.

  • dnadrinker says:

    You know people focus on criticizing Prof Creeper for his harassment/rape, but the astounding thing in this case is that the Univ of Chicago acted so quickly. The timeline isn't clear, but it sounds like the events occurred in September. Investigation began in November, and he's fired in January. That's damn fast for a university. If every University handled things as quickly, this wouldn't be such a problem.

    For contrast, check out this sicko Prof of History at UCLA
    http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2015/06/the-ucla-professor-gabriel-piterberg-sexual-harassment-lawsuit-allegations/

    He's hitting on his poor grad student in 2013 and UCLA is still defending him/themselves in a lawsuit three years later. Meanwhile, the grad student is cast aside.

  • jojo says:

    "If you take a rec letter from a trusted colleague about a prospective student or postdoc that has the slightest hint of a problem, professional work wise, you take an automatic pass."

    Yes, this is what I was thinking, right the F here. People talk in faculty and grad recruitment, constantly, about "fit" and "collegiality".

    Someone who secretly f's their grad student (against policy) and harasses a ton of other people at multiple institutions is not "colleagial" nor do they "fit". Anywhere.

    Other thing I was thinking was WTF UNC. It sounds like whatever they were communicating to Princeton and Chicago included nothing about why he was really forced out - Princeton finds out after the fact, Chicago before, both through rumors and tips. I don't understand what the chair was communicating in letters (presumably there were letters)? Was there some kind of a signed termination agreement that involved not discussing the actual reason for termination? Is that a thing?

    Finally, I also have to think that he was either a complete idiot (he's not) or the way that Chicago discussed his previous misconduct with him during hte interview process (and maybe later) must have given him the impression that he could get away with it there. Because obviously he decided it wouldn't be a problem to harass several people and apparently "initiate sexual contact with someone who can't consent" with multiple witnesses present.

  • uchicagoalum says:

    "Investigation began in November, and he's fired in January. "
    If I recall correctly (it's been a few years) the retreat is in early November. So they moved really quickly.

    He was a pretty big deal on the ModEncode project for C. elegans, so my guess is they wanted him in the department for those reasons (fame, big grant money). That's enough to explain the willful overlooking of a potentially serious issue.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    DM - I am curious what you make of this:

    https://twitter.com/amy_harmon/status/695059037453434881

    ‏@amy_harmon
    Fascinated to learn Jennifer Doudna, of CRISPR fame, and Erin O’Shea, named 1st woman prez of HHMI today, both married their grad students
    8:39 PM - 3 Feb 2016

  • drugmonkey says:

    Yuck

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    I would say the *majority* of people I know have had relationships/gotten married to people they've worked with, both in academia and outside it. Quite often one was the supervisor of the other. This isn't "yuck" -- that's reality. That's different than unwanted sexual harassment or actual rape, both of which happened in this case.

  • Dusanbe says:

    For every "happily ever after" story of romance in the workplace, there are 10 stories of coercion, abuse, harassment, and even rape. If old prof hits on ten grad students, maybe one will up for a consensual relationship. For the other nine, it's harassment. The one consensual relationship does not justify the behavior. The ends don't justify the means. Even if it "just happened", anecdotes of happy romances just enables workplace predators to do their thing as if it were normal. Please don't.

  • Jonathan Badger says:

    I really doubt that's the case. Any actual numbers? I could just as equally say it was 10 to 1 the other direction. And not that it really matters, but the people I know are not "old professors" marrying people 20 years or younger than themselves but generally people of similar age who happened to be slightly different in their career progression.

  • Jojo says:

    I've known several decent people that did marry grad students. But like any workplace romance the rules/guidelines for how to handle this are there to protect people. You report as soon as possible, and you get the student out of a power dynamic if at all possible. No advising, no thesis committee. Leib was screwing people in his lab in secret and with no attempts to correct the power dynamic.

  • Dusanbe says:

    But then you get what happened at Caltech- professor fires grad student in order to "correct power dynamic", with disastrous results to grad student's career in science. Sorry, not good enough.

  • girlparts says:

    I don't think that Tweet is correct. According to this bio, Doudna and her husband met while she was a postdoc and he was a graduate student: http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/winter-2014-gender-assumptions/cracking-code-jennifer-doudna-and-her-amazing

  • jojo says:

    Um, no, how is firing grad students being in any way "correcting power dynamic"? That is literally abuse of power - there is no policy anywhere stating "if you develop romantic feelings with your grad students make sure to throw them out of the program ASAP so you can sleep with them". Generally AFAIK policy includes reporting to chair or HR or other authority asap. Then proceeding to preserve careers of both involved. So either relationship ends or someone else advises.

  • jojo says:

    Noname,

    Can you explain to me how falsely accusing a prof of sexual harassment is in any way ever going to help someone's career advancement? Because I don't think that is a thing that happens. What would that even look like? "Hmm... I see from your CV that you were a victim of harassment... how terrible! Here's a job." Like, what?

    Anyway I agree to an extent that people are getting a bit too crazy about the "no sex ever" thing. I do think that it should be acceptable for adults of any life stage (except undergrads) to have sexual relationships provided there are polices in place that prevent abuse of power and can lead to termination if not followed. If we completely "outlaw" it it's still going to happen, it will just happen in secret. Better things are out in the open and transparent.

    BTW part of why there is no official proof that Lieb was a sex fiend is that people often don't press charges BECAUSE of these secret investigations that universities do. Victims are told, don't worry, we'll take care of it, no need to go to the police... Hush hush, in other words.

  • Megan says:

    I think a lot of you are missing the point, which isn't that people in academia shouldn't be able to have sex with/date each other. The problem is in the professor and their grad student, which is a boss dating their employee. That is explicitly *not* allowed at most companies, and generally is considered to be one person taking advantage of a power dynamic. And when you put it in the context of young grad students looking up to their professors so much that they would happily interpret that as love/lust ... It makes me shudder.

    I don't know, I think back to second year grad student me, I probably would have done whatever with my advisor if he'd suggested, just because I thought he was so awesome and wasn't able to separate intellectual respect from other things. Luckily, he was actually a good guy, but the point here is that not everyone is. And that them taking advantage of that power dynamic is wrong, period.

  • a prof says:

    @Dusanbe: Exactly. Allowing romantic relationships between superiors and subordinates in academia is horrible policy, given the power differential, and even the potential can poison the atmosphere in the lab.

    And thank you, DM, thank you:

    "Our hiring committees do all kinds of inferring and gossiping and not-offering on the basis of suspected factors. Thinly evidenced. Not proven."

    I can't tell you how troubling it is that some of my senior colleagues consistently hold SH-related rumors to dramatically higher standards than rumors--sorry, expert opinions--about intellect, potential, etc. They think they're being fair and balanced. It's sickening.

  • Dusanbe says:

    Jojo, I am not saying firing grad students is at all acceptable- but in the specific case, the professor decided he couldn't be the student's advisor anymore because of his feelings- so he asked the student to find another advisor. Which is what some will recommend as "correcting power dynamic", i.e. making sure the student isn't supervised by the prof anymore. But in this case the student never consented to a " relationship" in the first place, which is why she was egregiously harmed in all this. I agree the burde n should never be on the student.

    The real way to correct a confluence of romance and power imbalance in academia, even in the case of even consensual relationships, is for the professor to leave the university. Want to live "happily ever after" with your student? Great. Then go be happy outside academia. Leave it all behind, grants, titles, etc. We all know there are lots of candidates to replace you who are great scientists AND real professionals, who can be effective mentors for students of any gender.

    Even if prof and student are both A.O.K. with a relationship, true love and that, the precedent allows the Jason Liebs of the world to try and bed as many students as they can, because, hey, we're all just looking for love, right?

  • DJMH says:

    It seems to have worked fine in the past.* --noname

    * For men.

    Lateral relationships are imo just fine--can get dicey if two grad students in the same lab get together and then break up, but other than that risk are reasonable agreements between consenting adults. But in a supervisor/trainee situation, it's not the same at all, and actually most workplaces recognize this....it's a conflict of interest, to say the least.

    O'Shea--is it known if she and the grad student started the relationship while he was still in her lab, or after he graduated? It makes a difference. She was exceptionally young when she started her own lab but still, yuck if she was going after a guy in her own group. Can't imagine having someone that cavalier about power structures in charge of the biggest private pot of money for biomedical research.

  • geranium says:

    "Find your romantic entanglements outside of the workplace. Really. It cannot possibly be this difficult."

    That conversation is a good one to have but this particular case has little to do with consenting adults making decisions about whether they can date in a workplace.

    Lieb's serial unethical behavior was an open secret. Chicago, like Princeton before them, hired him in spite of it. The question is: when will universities decide the costs outweigh the benefits? We can actually put a price on it, Lieb brought in a lot of money. Let's start exacting the cost to the employer.

  • zb says:

    "If [old] prof hits on ten grad students, maybe one will up for a consensual relationship. For the other nine, it's harassment. "

    Yup, this is the practical math. That's why it should be "dangerous" for a PI to proposition his (or her) student. Maybe, sometimes, they're going to risk it anyway, because a lifetime of love is in the offing, but institutional structures should put the burden of risk on the person in charge.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Megan brings up a good point. Older men in a more advanced position aren't the sole problem here. We are talking about post undergrad adults in their twenties after all. Make good decisions.

  • noname says:

    jojo February 4, 2016 at 10:07 am
    Noname,

    Can you explain to me how falsely accusing a prof of sexual harassment is in any way ever going to help someone's career advancement? Because I don't think that is a thing that happens. What would that even look like? "Hmm... I see from your CV that you were a victim of harassment... how terrible! Here's a job." Like, what?

    You're misrepresenting what I said.

    It's the threat of making the accusation that can be, will be, and in fact has been if what I've heard from people is true, widely used to blackmail senior figures into more vigorously promoting the female's career than they otherwise would have. Sometimes it in fact happens after the female is no longer a graduate student or a postdoc but has her own lab and there can be no consequences to her if she does that.

    And it doesn't even have to be explicitly and forcefully stated.

  • Dusanbe says:

    Blackmailing is illegal. Doing so with no evidence (and there should be none, if it did indeed never happen) is easily dismissed. Even with actual proof, accusers are often not taken seriously, so one can only imagine a random false accusation should be quickly debunked with severe consequences for the false accuser. And why limit it to harassment? You can falsely accuse anybody of anything. Murder. Arson. Fraud. Why are you paranoid specifically about sexual harassment accusations?

    Now, if you mean accusing with evidence in hand because there was indeed harassment, well then I have nothing to add to that.

  • zb says:

    "Why are you paranoid specifically about sexual harassment accusations?"

    Indeed -- it seems like it would be easier to accuse someone of fraud.

    Seems to me that a big part of what is happening today is that there is evidence of the harassment (tumblr poems, chat sessions, emails) and the availability of evidence is encouraging communication that provides collaboration of behavior (i.e. finding 10 people who were propositioned --- though only one of them with documentation, maybe --before someone might have given the qualified consent that can be offered when there is power dynamic).

  • beerbrains says:

    I get that dating in the context of any official power imbalance is generally frowned upon, however I feel in this case people assume that because the professor *DATED* his previous student, everyone should've known he would *RAPE* another student.

    Seriously. Are academics such skeezballs that we can't draw a line between dating and rape?

    Dating is maybe questionable. Marrying your graduate student probably draws eyebrows. But it is absolutely not rape. Doudna / O'shea / everyone else that has married or dated their superior or underling should NOT be mentioned in the same sentence as this jackass from U of Chicago.

  • zb says:

    I wish that women would just be open about the harassment -- it should not be shameful to have been propositioned. I understand the fears, but I think the system would be more likely to change if there was less secrecy.

  • Joni says:

    This case is horrendous and sexual harassment is pervasive in science. But to make the jump to "people should only date people outside of the workplace" is ridiculous. It's nice to date people with shared interests and passions. So for that reason alone workplace romances will continue and that's fine, as long as everyone acts like a mature adult and follows the guidelines with respect to supervisory roles.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It's the threat of making the accusation that can be, will be, and in fact has been if what I've heard from people is true, widely used to blackmail senior figures into more vigorously promoting the female's career than they otherwise would have.

    That sounds like utter horseshit to me. "widely used"? There is no way that this is true.

  • Susan says:

    Princeton: received allegations but did not investigate, so no record of investigation to relay. I think they dropped a big ball there.

    This is a big part of why University responses to allegations need to improve. As in, go somewhere besides -plunk-.

  • DNAdrinker says:

    @girlparts Duodna's husband has a PhD from Yale, where Duodna started her career. So, maybe they met in Colorado and he moved to Yale with her when she got a job, then got married.

  • Dusanbe says:

    "It's nice to date people with shared interests and passions."

    It's a stretch to say you can date people with shared passions to dating co-workers/underlings. If you're a trainee, you can date trainees in other labs! If you're a professor, by all means go and date trainees in other schools/fields!

    It seems some people think academia is a big playground where they can freely pursue their "passions", intellectual/romantic/sexual, with no regard for how this impacts everybody else. Academia is usually held up by these people as an alternative to a "real" job, where pesky "rules" stifle passion and creativity.

  • Jojo says:

    Noname,

    I was not "misrepresenting you" I literally had no idea what you could have been talking about.

    So what you are talking about is being afraid that someone (an underling) would commit a crime (blackmail) if it is considered unacceptable for other people (supervisors) to commit another crime (sexual harassment/assault). I'm guessing you have no more "evidence" that these people have committe blackmail than any number of accusers have that their harassers harassed them. So where's your outrage at those false accusations? Should be an equal and equivalent amount. Also still not seeing how much someone could really advance their career in this way. Is he writing her a good letter instead of a mediocre one? Many letters are needed. Is he putting her on papers she had nothing to do with? That's going to be pretty obvious pretty quick when she really doesn't know what they are about.

    Note that I do know some pretty evil/unethical women in science who use all sorts of dirty tricks. But they are usually pretty smart, too, and know that blackmailing someone to get ahead is not a stable strategy, even if they don't care about the morality of it.

  • Jojo says:

    Zb,

    I think that the university courts / investigations have a chilling effect on this. It's a way for the school to cover their ass legally. Give the victim a forum to "speak" so s/he feels better then seal the file forever and sweep the problem under the rug somehow.

  • Bagger Vance says:

    This is not dissimilar to a case I heard about recently in the comic book field (hey, we all have our hobbies). An editor (with, as it turned out, a history of harrassment) got extremely drunk at an industry party and was extremely inappropriate in front of multiple witnesses.

    http://graphicpolicy.com/2015/10/01/enough-is-enough-dark-horses-scott-allies-assaulting-behavior/

    Both cases seem to me to be flags for alcoholism. Effect or cause?

  • noname says:

    Jojo February 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm
    Noname,

    I was not "misrepresenting you" I literally had no idea what you could have been talking about.

    So what you are talking about is being afraid that someone (an underling) would commit a crime (blackmail) if it is considered unacceptable for other people (supervisors) to commit another crime (sexual harassment/assault). I'm guessing you have no more "evidence" that these people have committe blackmail than any number of accusers have that their harassers harassed them.

    That's not how it works -- just as outright violent rape is extremely rare in academia and most of those cases are a lot more subtle than they are usually reported, so is what I was referring to. I used the word "blackmail" to describe the essence of it, just as the word "rape" has been widely used beyond what it actually should be restricted to.

    The way it works is that a professor has a more or less consensual relationship with an underling, (thus the accusation is not strictly false), then he gets asked for various favors for the rest of his life, which he cannot say "no" to, because otherwise. And, as I said, that often continues when the underling has become a PI too -- the male being more senior and connected can exercise some influence to help her get grants, awards, etc.

    If we move from a system where strong evidence is required before there are consequences for the accused to one where strong evidence is not required, which is what people are calling for every time they scream "why are these rapists getting away with it?!" in outrage, then the power dynamics will shift, and will be just as unfair as it has been in the past, but with an opposite sign. Females have used sex as a means of obtaining access to resources since there has been humanity (and before that). Is it reasonable to expect that there won't be abuses if we make the switch the so many are demanding?

    That is all I am saying -- evidence should matter, and then I gave some examples why.

  • drugmonkey says:

    What.....? Why are you not assuming the PI is helping his exlover because he thinks she is an awesome scientist? Or because he thinks she is a great person, just as much as if he thought a trainee he didn't sleep with was awesome?

    I have certainly had mentors that go to bat for me, probably even harder than I deserve, and I am certain I didn't sleep with or date any of them.

  • noname says:

    I am not assuming this is the case. But to assume it will never be is just as unjustified.

    As I said, I have real life examples of that sort of thing I can think of, thus I am not just hypothesizing.

  • jmz4 says:

    "That is all I am saying -- evidence should matter, and then I gave some examples why."
    -In the hypothetical you described, the person still slept with their trainee, which demonstrates extremely poor judgement. Given how competitive the job market it is, I don't understand why you'd take someone with that sort of tarnish on their record.

    It's amazing how much pushback "Don't sleep with your students" is getting (not so much here, but on Twitter).

  • drugmonkey says:

    noname- you said "widely used". That implies common, not just one case you allegedly know about.

  • zb says:

    "The way it works is that a professor has a more or less consensual relationship with an underling, (thus the accusation is not strictly false), then he gets asked for various favors for the rest of his life, which he cannot say "no" to, because otherwise. "

    Oh, how about the system where the professor doesn't sleep with his trainee/employee? I like that system.

    Then, the professor doesn't have to worry about being "blackmailed" into supporting his student; and students don't have to worry about about sleeping with their bosses and the rest of us don't have the opportunity to either worry (or presume) that someone is getting favors because they slept with the boss.

  • zb says:

    "It's amazing how much pushback "Don't sleep with your students" is getting (not so much here, but on Twitter)."

    Really, how hard can it be?

  • jojo says:

    "The way it works is that a professor has a more or less consensual relationship with an underling, (thus the accusation is not strictly false), then he gets asked for various favors for the rest of his life, which he cannot say "no" to, because otherwise. And, as I said, that often continues when the underling has become a PI too -- the male being more senior and connected can exercise some influence to help her get grants, awards, etc."

    More or less consensual... um... ew...

    And as other people have pointed out, professors are beholden to their students, full stop. That's part of what being a mentor is. And yes, it extends to when the former student is also a PI. He's going to be expected to write her letters at the very least for the rest of her career. Since those letters are anonymous, he can even write her a bad letter.

    In any case, if he can't stop himself from sleeping with a student he should be mature enough to deal with it like an adult (and she should as well). It's over, move on, and be professionals again. Apparently what you're talking about is a guy thinking well "I slept with her so I must provide her material goods or she will accuse me of a crime" without her stating anything about there being a quid pro quo. Sounds like he's the one with outdated, sexist beliefs.

    "If we move from a system where strong evidence is required before there are consequences for the accused to one where strong evidence is not required, which is what people are calling for every time they scream "why are these rapists getting away with it?!" in outrage, then the power dynamics will shift, and will be just as unfair as it has been in the past, but with an opposite sign. "

    If we move to a system where there are explicit rules against sexual relationships - consensual or otherwise - between supervisors and their underlings, that should prevent this from happening. Because supervisors will be deterred and will keep it in their pants. If you can't stop yourself from having sex with your own students you have a problem.

    "Females have used sex as a means of obtaining access to resources since there has been humanity (and before that). Is it reasonable to expect that there won't be abuses if we make the switch the so many are demanding?

    That is all I am saying -- evidence should matter, and then I gave some examples why."

    *Beep... boop... Females...*

    If someone is going to screw their students against stated policy they should suffer permanent professional consequences. If someone blackmails or rapes someone else, they should suffer permanent legal consequences.

    In the case of Lieb there was no question that A) he was fucking his own graduate students and B) there were numerous, independent reports of him hitting on students (including inappropriate touching), in many different venues at many different positions. Everyone who knew him professionally knew what a scumbag he was when it came to young women. There is no "legal evidence" on the public record because these actions were not strictly speaking criminal offenses (until we got to him raping someone a couple months ago). And unfortunately when we have actions that are not illegal but ARE against university policy, there is usually no public record because it is considered a "personnel issue". But that is not the same thing as saying there is no evidence. There are many witnesses, both including the victims as well as bystanders, of his previous unprofessional, against-policy behavior. This information however was put in a sealed file (swept under a rug) because no one pressed charges or sued him.

    Now, some of these women at UNC, etc, probably COULD have sued Lieb for sexual harassment, or the University for allowing Lieb to harass them - and in that case there would have been a public record. You seem to be making the assumption that the only reason a woman would not sue is because she has no evidence. There are numerous reasons a woman might not sue, even if there is independent evidence. It's expensive, and even if the evidence is good you're stuck with the flawed legal system, so it's risky. If you're a woman that just wants this douche out of your life, and you're beholden to the University you have a problem - if you sue the University/Department is going to be pissed and might retaliate in subtle, unprovable ways. See the case someone linked above at UCLA. It is much easier to just get the nightmare behind you. Unfortunately what you end up with is women down the road suffering.

  • shrew says:

    There is a world of difference between "don't sleep with your students" and "don't fall in love with someone in your lab". The only thing they haven in common is that both prescriptions don't actually treat the problem.

    The ease and simplicity of saying "don't fall in love with someone you work with", aka "don't shit where you eat" totally ignores the fact that falling in love is an irrational act. People can choose what to do with that emotion, but can't choose whether or not to feel it. Pretending otherwise is ludicrous.

    If it then changes to "don't choose to act on your feelings in lab" that is much easier said than done, and would pointlessly prevent many normal, healthy relationships. In my friends and colleagues I have seen the gamut of lab romantic entanglements, from happy married couples a decade later to relationships of a few years to a few months to one night stands - so pretty much like any other kind of relationship, not any more or less toxic than those occuring between nonscientists. These relationships were largely between trainees, though not always of the same career stage. I frankly don't see what is wrong with these relationships between two consenting adults.

    I have also seen my fair share of sexual harrassment, not only by professors to students, but by senior postdocs to literally anyone junior to them. (Sidebar, I think the protection of harrassers starts before the faculty position - it starts as soon as the scientist is seen as a unique and beautiful snowflake of science that cannot be lost. That perception plays heavily into who gets faculty positions though.) I have helped undergraduates file cases against their supervisors in lab and I have unsuccessfully encouraged junior postdocs to do so. I have even directly engaged with harassers to tell them to stop being such shitty people.

    The difference between the harassers and the relationships is simple - the harassers always continued propositioning and pursuing the harassed even after the harassed told them "no". Even after other people in their circle told them "what you are doing is inappropriate." (I guarantee colleagues have spoken to this fucknut at UC before and he just fucking ignored them because he doesn't know or understand the word "no". I guarantee you he was making women uncomfortable as a postdoc and graduate student, long before he climbed the ladder.)

    We don't have to make sweeping pronouncements that no one in a lab can ever date anyone else from the observation that harassers take advantage of people underneath them. In fact making this sweeping pronouncement is a great way to not be taken seriously by people who are otherwise important allies against harassment, because you are tarring their consentual, happy relationships by the same brush.

    It is also a great way for harassers to blur the lines, pointing to the ridiculousness of such a rule when obviously so many happy couples resulted from it, and so therefore how is it different for them? (BTW this is a real argument I have had to directly address in person from a fucking idiot harasser.)

    The actual rule that would help here is simple, it's "No means no." Reliably distinguishes decent human beings from harassers. Acknowledges that human beings are gonna get attracted to people they are in proximity to, and gives them a rule about whether and how to act on that attraction - if the person is in a position where they cannot tell you no, you cannot pursue this. And for fucks sake if they have told you no, then knock it the fuck off.

  • drugmonkey says:

    shrew- that notion you have no control over who you fall in love with and pursue for a relationship is...wrong.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Also- you don't seem to grasp that lateral, mutually consensual relationships in one lab, even one department, are never free of harms to other people. Never.

  • shrew says:

    Wrong how? Because people absolutely must only pursue opportunities for romantic partners outside of lab? That controls who one is exposed to, but not who one will develop an attraction to - and won't stop people from unexpectedly developing an attraction to a person in the lab.

    If you think that people can completely control who they are attracted to, you should find a way to monetize that. People can't prevent themselves from having feelings, but they can prevent themselves from acting on them. The only people who think you can't prevent yourself from acting on feelings are children and harassers. Asserting that the cure is not to have attractions in the first place is naïve in the extreme and lends itself to reducto ad absurdum, especially by people who don't see harassment as a major problem.

    For the record, I believe "acting on feelings" includes pursuing situations (social gatherings, etc) which will amplify these feelings, which is maybe what you mean when you say people can control this stuff. I think a lot of people have a handle on that though.

  • jmz4 says:

    "We've don't have to make sweeping pronouncements that no one in a lab can ever date anyone else."
    But you do agree about PIs and *their own* trainees (i.e. where saying no can be difficult/damaging).

  • noname says:

    Because people absolutely must only pursue opportunities for romantic partners outside of lab?

    It is worth remembering that before there was modern science, there was natural philosophy, and before there was natural philosophy, there was just philosophy, which was basically theology and was practiced by celibate monks.

    Do we really need to go back to that?

    Because given the demands on people's time in modern science, the rule that you are only allowed to find sexual relationships outside the lab effectively means that you should be celibate. And even if you somehow manage to find someone outside the lab, relationships between a scientist and a non-scientist tend to be quite difficult to work out in the long term.

  • shrew says:

    look, noname is an idiot, because I've been married to a non-scientist for a decade, so it appears to be working out in the "long-term". But the reducto ad absurdum that noname is presenting is exactly the kind of problem I am trying to address - only simpletons assume all feelings must be followed by actions.

    Of course I believe that a PI should not be pursuing any kind of relationship with their trainees, where the trainee may be unwilling or unable to communicate "no". That is my point. The willingness and ability to communicate "no" is paramount, and what distinguishes the healthy conduct of human relationships from dangerous cases of harassment, exploitation, and rape.

    If consensual relationships even between people of equal status cause "harm", then we might as well all go live in a plastic bubble. I don't care about preventing all sexual relationships within the career, and to make that a goal is futile, naive, and actively harming the more important goal of preventing the exploitation of young scientists by their supervisors. Look to noname's idiot fucking followup comment as proof.

  • zb says:

    I wouldn't try to assume that people can control who they "fall in love" with, but I think that one can have a blanket provision that one does not sleep with one's students (and with those over whom one has superviser authority) and for there to be consequences for that behavior in a university or job setting.

    I think universities have been wishy washy on these questions and need to clarify policies to protect the interests of vulnerable students and employees.

    Rules won't fix all the messiness but it might help change standards of behavior in which those with power prey on underlings -- stories of which are becoming far too common.

  • noname says:

    look, noname is an idiot, because I've been married to a non-scientist for a decade, so it appears to be working out in the "long-term".

    I used the words "tend to", you replied with an anecdotal example. That does not look like significant grounds for disagreement to me, much less calling me an idiot.

  • Anon says:

    "Of course I believe that a PI should not be pursuing any kind of relationship with their trainees, where the trainee may be unwilling or unable to communicate "no". That is my point. The willingness and ability to communicate "no" is paramount, and what distinguishes the healthy conduct of human relationships from dangerous cases of harassment, exploitation, and rape."

    I would agree that this is key, but some people need it to be explicitly explained to them that wherever there is a power differential, that potentially compromises a person's "ability and willingness" to say no. So, relationships among equals in the same lab can be messy. Relationships between people where one is in a supervisory capacity over the other should be strictly forbidden. If dating that person means so much to you, find a way to change not to be their trainee or supervisor.

  • jojo says:

    It's not that hard.

    Person A: "I have developed romantic feelings for you, and I realize it would be inappropriate to act on these feelings in any way given my supervisory role over you."

    Person B: "I also have feelings for you, and would like to pursue a relationship."

    Person A: "If that is the case, it is paramount before we pursue anything, to remove any sense, real or imaginary, of a conflict of interest or impropriety. That means I can no longer be in a supervisory role over you. The first thing we should do if we both want to pursue this, is report our intentions to our direct supervisor, and discuss what other arrangement might work."

    Person B: "But I really want to have a relationship with you and stay as your underling."

    Person A: "Sorry but no - that would be inappropriate and create bad feelings in the lab/department. Not to mention there are University policies against such relationships and I could lose my job. We have to choose to either move on to other potential romantic pursuits and keep our professional relationship as it is, or pursue this relationship and end or alter our professional relationship."

    OR

    Person B: "I have developed romantic feelings for you, and I realize it would be inappropriate to act on these feelings in any way given my supervisory role over you."

    Person A: "Oh. My feelings for you are purely professional and I agree it would be very inappropriate in any case, given your supervisory role over me."

    Person B: "I understand. I'm a little disappointed on a personal level, but I wanted you to know so that there was not any discomfort between us. Rest assured that this will in no way change our professional relationship, and I will in no way attempt to pursue this further. If you feel a need to talk to a neutral party about this conversation, I fully understand and support that. Furthermore, if at some point in the future, you don't feel comfortable working with me any longer, I would also understand that and will support you as fully as I can in your transition to a new research group."

  • drugmonkey says:

    That controls who one is exposed to, but not who one will develop an attraction to - and won't stop people from unexpectedly developing an attraction to a person in the lab.

    I seem to notice that those with a life outside of their academic workplace seem to do much better in terms of finding a partner that they don't work with. weird.

    People can't prevent themselves from having feelings, but they can prevent themselves from acting on them.

    right. That's what I'm saying. Look elsewhere for your romance.

    The only people who think you can't prevent yourself from acting on feelings are children and harassers.

    so why are you arguing with me and restating the obvious, unless you intend "can't help who you fall in love with" as some sort of excuse or defense?

    Asserting that the cure is not to have attractions in the first place is naïve in the extreme

    You are fighting a boogeyman of your own invention. I say "look elsewhere". Isisthescientist says it more....colorfully. We are talking about what you choose to act upon.

  • drugmonkey says:

    the rule that you are only allowed to find sexual relationships outside the lab effectively means that you should be celibate.

    Utter nonsense. Complete and total bull.

    And even if you somehow manage to find someone outside the lab, relationships between a scientist and a non-scientist tend to be quite difficult to work out in the long term.

    So find a scientist who does not work in your lab or any of the collaborating labs. Preferably a different department.

    If consensual relationships even between people of equal status cause "harm", then we might as well all go live in a plastic bubble.

    there was a term....reductio ad absurdium....someone used it....can't quite remember who....

  • Bagger Vance says:

    Jojo's right, we should definitely replace the human beings currently working in labs with some sort of cybernetic robots.

  • shrew says:

    The only boogeyman I am fighting is the boogeyman of careless and imprecise rhetoric that equates consensual relationships between peers with the abuse and exploitation of trainees by predators.

    Failing to distinguish the essential difference between these scenarios can alienate the many people in science who are incredible allies, but who feel their own relationships, their marriages and families, are under attack by vocal proponents of the idea that all relationships originating in the lab are mad, bad, and dangerous to have. Examples of this were easy to find on twitter in the days following, for example.

    Lumping these scenarios also provides ammunition to apologists for predators, eg noname. Examples of this outside of the comments on this post include many, many private conversations held between people on hiring and T&P committees.

  • drugmonkey says:

    You know what you sound like right? Every dood who says he won't be a feminist ally anymore because people are making him feel uncomfortable about his privileges and/or inadvertent results of his exercise thereof. Also see white people. And heteros. And Boomers.

    Ooh, don't make people uncomfortable about the real effects of their "perfectly innocent and natural" choices and behaviors or you'll lose their support.

    Screw that.

  • […] Deep-sea ‘purple sock’ provides clues to early life The Zika conspiracies have begun Look Somewhere Else for Romance If you fail to reproduce another scientist’s results, this journal wants to […]

  • noname says:

    Lumping these scenarios also provides ammunition to apologists for predators, eg noname

    ??????????????????????

    Where did the idea that I was an "apologist for predators" come from?

  • noname says:

    You know what you sound like right? Every dood who says he won't be a feminist ally anymore because people are making him feel uncomfortable about his privileges and/or inadvertent results of his exercise thereof.

    Feminism has gone from the reasonable demands against real injustices of decades ago to a totalitarian religious cult today. Fact.

    It might be that your are not seeing it because those developments have been brewing in the background, in the humanities departments, i.e. largely away from us in the science and engineering ones, but they are eventually coming for us too.

    Without intersectional third wave feminism, you don't get students yelling profanities in the face of their professors while demanding that they get fired (and succeeding in that), you don't get the restrictions on free speech that are being imposed on campuses, both in the US and in the UK (and largely by the students themselves), and you don't get "trigger warnings", "safe spaces", "microagressions", and all the other absurd crap that is being pushed on us right now. This is all because of feminism.

    If you have no idea what I am talking about, you should really do some research, because as I said, eventually it will affect you directly, and it is precisely that sort of politically correct sissified behavior and attitude towards confronting BS that will allow that cancer to spread everywhere and take over academia completely. And I don't see how it can not move from restricting free speech and instituting trigger warnings to imposing ideological restrictions on research itself. It already has in the humanities so why would it not in the sciences? And we know which fields will be the most affected -- psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, the likes. BTW, if you haven't noticed, that includes you (and me too).

    These are consequences that, if you really think about it, matter a lot more than a few people getting raped. That is not to trivialize their suffering, but there are greater and lesser evils -- for example, would you sacrifice a billion people to save the whole world? I don't think you have a choice if those are the alternatives.

    In my original post I said two things:

    1) This case seems fairly clear, the guy is guilty, should suffer the consequences. Which should immediately stop anyone from claiming I am an "apologist for predators"

    2) There is context in which this is happening and is being reported. Then I discussed that context, and I discussed it here again. That context matters. A lot.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It is not fact at all. What IS fact is that the more the progressive agenda pushes assholery into an unsafe space, the more the assholes whinge about their loss of the ability to be dicks unconcerned about anyone else.

  • A Salty Scientist says:

    Yes @noname, not being able to date within your lab is totally equal to enforced celibacy. I hope for your sake that your grants and manuscripts contain better logic.

  • Anon says:

    @Jojo: I don't know if you were being serious in your comment, but apparently it's harder than you think. Because

    "I have developed romantic feelings for you, and I realize it would be inappropriate to act on these feelings in any way given my supervisory role over you"

    is something that a supervisor should NEVER say to an underling. (BTW, voicing these feelings to the underling constitutes acting on them.) Because the underling is not truly free to refuse the supervisor without fearing ramifications. Because people -- even really good people -- can be petty and awful. And there is no way an underling can know how, exactly, a supervisor will react if he/she is rejected on a personal level.

    So how, oh how, is a supervisor to express feelings for an underling? They can't. Period. Too bad.

    If the underling initiates the conversation, things can go forward only if said person is willing to be relocated out the former's chain of command, so to speak.

  • dnadrinker says:

    Anon/Jojo,

    The recent Caltech case was basically the professor realizing, but not saying "I have developed romantic feelings for you, and I realize it would be inappropriate to act on these feelings in any way given my supervisory role over you". Then deciding he can't work with the student and telling her to find another advisor. She had no clue he had these romantic feelings.

  • noname says:

    drugmonkey February 6, 2016 at 7:36 pm
    It is not fact at all. What IS fact is that the more the progressive agenda pushes assholery into an unsafe space, the more the assholes whinge about their loss of the ability to be dicks unconcerned about anyone else.

    So, given that this is all you replied with to my post, I take it that you are for the following things:

    1) Trigger warnings, safe spaces, punishments for microagressions, etc.

    2) The imposition of ideological purity control over research results in the humanities. That already exists in many fields, and please note, I am in no way a right wingnut, it's just an objective fact.

    3) The eventual imposition of such ideological purity control over the hard sciences too. Which is inevitable -- these are people for whom the very idea that the human species is sexually dimorphic and that gender and human behavior have biological roots is not just repulsive but considered a blasphemy. If you think they are not going to impose that view onto the hard sciences if given the chance, you are deeply mistaken.

    Of course, in the short term it's much easier to call others "assholes", claim the moral high ground, conform to the politically correct position, and avoid inconveniencing oneself with such unpleasant thoughts, than to take a stand against BS.

  • mH says:

    noname: I agree. You should panic now. I suggest either seasteading or some kind of a bunker of your own design deep in the Alaskan wilderness. Once the liberal relativist revolution has run its course--as it must, since they only believe in hugging (consensual, between equals) and not in science--it will be safe to emerge or make for shore. We'll let you know.

    Purely objective rationalists like you, who can see the facts as plain as day, will be the first against the wall when a few 20 year old humanities majors seize first the academy and then the reins of government, a foregone conclusion of the ongoing coup that anyone can see if they only took off the blinders of the progressive agenda that clearly dominates our politics and day to day lives.

  • poke says:

    ^^ wins

  • jmz4 says:

    Wake up, sheeple!

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Wake up, sheeple!

    Be careful what you wish for.

  • Anon says:

    @dnadrinker: The particulars of that situation are beside the point. However, I have been in the workforce (both academia and industry) for almost 30 years now. I have been attracted to several men that I have worked with/for. (A couple of times I even dated a co-worker -- an equal -- once with pretty awful results, once it was no big deal.)

    I have never found myself so attracted to an underling or boss that I couldn't continue working with them. Perhaps the Caltech guy is an uber-decent fellow. But I suspect he just took the easy way out, with little regard for his student.

    Many people, day in and day out, have no trouble negotiating that kind of situation when their job is on the line.

  • shrew says:

    <3 mY

    DM:
    Do you really think that this rapist would have had healthy normal relationships if he had only pursued nonscientists? Or is it more likely that this malicious sack of shit doesn't respect women or consent, period? What would have been better about this story if he had raped an acquaintance at a party instead? Absolutely nothing - but at least it wouldn't have been a student? What a depressing fucking conclusion. I don't see that our duties to protect women from harassment are limited to women who happen to be scientists.

    We need to educate men about consent and create real consequences for those who violate it. Full stop. This isn't something special about science faculty. Pretending that it is, and that this kind of terrible thing will never happen if dating in the lab is frowned upon, is completely missing the forest for the trees.

  • shrew says:

    Damn, that was supposed to say <3 mH. Don't tell me how to live, autocorrect.

  • noname says:

    @ mH

    Your can sneer all you want, I am not describing anything that is too far from what is already a reality.

    People's careers or public images have been destroyed for saying the wrong thing. That is an objective empirical fact.

    It is also an objective empirical fact that administrations have capitulated when faced with student protests on numerous occasions. I see a trend towards resisting and that is good. I hope it continues. But people are still walking on eggshells and will be for a long time. It seems in fact more dangerous to openly speak your mind on topics of gender and race than to actually sexually harass someone -- in the latter case the university may indeed protect you, in the former you are are left on your own against the lynch mob.

    You are also deeply mistaken if you think this is coming just from 20-year old humanities students. Those have constituted the most rabid component of the movement, that is true. But this, for example, is not a student, but a faculty member:

    https://youtu.be/iDKIHqYG92E?t=3222

    I suggest that you run the following experiment in your university. You state the following in public, if it's in print, all the better:

    "That gender and sex are completely different things is a deeply mistaken view -- the biological reality is that the human species is sexually dimorphic, and fairly strongly so, with two biological sexes, one with an XX and one with an XY sex chromosome configuration, which >99% of the time correspond to a female and male gender, respectively. The exceptions are the result of either genetic, developmental or psychiatric disorders. Much of feminist and queer theory derives from the denial of that biological reality and is therefore false".

    Try saying that and see what happens to you. If you are a tenured faculty who brings in a lot of grant money, you will survive the attack of the feminist and trans-activist lynch mob that will descend on you. If you are not, you are in trouble.

    Finally, the left has a very long history of creating deeply dystopian realities due to the failure of its more moderate members to first, follow their own arguments where they lead, and second, realize that the more extreme among them will in fact do so and may follow on the conclusions in practice. Keep that in mind.

  • Bacon says:

    Try saying that and see what happens to you

    But from a scientific perspective, that little paragraph is objectively false. Why would I want to say that?

  • sel says:

    Why are folks feeding the troll? I mean, no name made his characteristics pretty clear in his first post:

    "The climate on campus regarding sexual relationships has become more and more toxic in the last few years due to the activity of rabid 3rd wave feminists and various other SJWs."

    There should be a variant on Godwin's law involving the use of "SJW" in a post or comment.

  • noname says:

    Bacon February 7, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    But from a scientific perspective, that little paragraph is objectively false. Why would I want to say that?

    How is it false?

    "Gender dysphoria" replaced "gender identity disorder" in the DSM-5 for purely political reason, not for objectively scientific ones (ask yourself what the selective coefficient of that phenotype is) and that is the only remotely controversial thing in that paragraph.

  • mH says:

    "first they came for the sad creatures gasping on the edges of the MRA fever swamp, and I said nothing..."

  • Evelyn says:

    How did MRAs find DM's blog? Is this a new thing?

  • noname says:

    How easy it is to apply the tactic of tacking a discrediting label to someone's position (without any regard for whether the label applies) and then use the label to discredit his position...

  • jmz4 says:

    @noname: They're applying the MRA label to you because you're using some of their assertions and reasoning. Although, I'd argue that these are general tactics employed often by people desperately trying to rationalize away or otherwise obfuscate their own psychological hangups. In this case, I'd guess, its your general annoyance at people challenging the status quo.

    First off, you're discrediting yourself through your histrionic and shrill characterization of transgender advocacy groups daring to who dare to question your, frankly, narrow and dim view of the biology of gender.

    This, along with your assertion that women would falsely accuse a professor of rape for the purposes of blackmailing them, are both part of a standard trope of the MRAs and other regressive groups (e.g. women are "meant" to be subservient to men).

    This is part of the perverse idea these groups have that we must protect the franchised, who can already protect themselves, at the cost of the disenfranchised. When one side is seeking balance, it is logical fallacy to employ the slippery slope argument (e.g. the continuum fallacy) and assume things will end up asymmetrically unfair in the opposite direction. As shrew pointed out, in these types of discussion, the reductio ad absurdum arguments are often the refuge of those with alternative motives (e.g. the MRAs) to preserve the current environment.

    Secondly, you are employing hints of MRA's attitude that men are entitled to sex when you state the consequences of proposals such as "don't date in your department" as a return to the days of "celibate monks". One, prioritizing one's need to get one's rocks off over the health of one's work environment is, in my view, an entitled position. Also, again, you've taken a modest proposal and carried it through to absurd consequences, which is disingenuous argumentation.

  • mH says:

    To be fair (to myself), I didn't label you an MRA, I imagined you trembling and afraid on the edges of the MRA fever swamp. (It's a spectrum!) You might enter the swamp or you might not, or you might already live in it and just came onto shore, trying to act normal, to drip on us for a while.

    I think you're mostly emotional and confused and scared because you feel disempowered or rejected. You have suddenly reduced circumstances in a culture that is decentralizing people like you and paying marginally less respect to your unearned privileges. You have not found honest or realistic ways to deal with it or express yourself. "noname" indeed.

  • sel says:

    "How easy it is to apply the tactic of tacking a discrediting label to someone's position (without any regard for whether the label applies) and then use the label to discredit his position..."

    ....Says the guy who rails against SJWs. Pot, kettle, black.

  • noname says:

    mH February 8, 2016 at 7:35 pm
    I think you're mostly emotional and confused and scared because you feel disempowered or rejected. You have suddenly reduced circumstances in a culture that is decentralizing people like you and paying marginally less respect to your unearned privileges

    1) How much do you know about me to be making such generalizations? Hint: I do not belong to the priveleged white male category that you might think I do

    jmz4 February 8, 2016 at 6:15 pm
    @noname: They're applying the MRA label to you because you're using some of their assertions and reasoning.

    2) Isn't it possible that I have come to similar conclusions on my own?

    3) What does the source of an argument have to do with its quality?

    First off, you're discrediting yourself through your histrionic and shrill characterization of transgender advocacy groups daring to who dare to question your, frankly, narrow and dim view of the biology of gender.

    4) I am still waiting to hear more about why exactly my view of sex and gender is narrow, dim, shrill, etc. I have seen enough characterization of it using such labels but nothing of substance.

    This, along with your assertion that women would falsely accuse a professor of rape for the purposes of blackmailing them

    5) You are putting words in my mouth -- I didn't say "falsely", I just said that once there has been physical contact, including when it is totally consensual, that becomes a tool for the female to use because there is no way to establish whether there was consent or not except when a real rape occurs and not even then in absolutely all cases. I said that power the female has has been used, and I said so because I know specific people who have advanced their careers that way (first seduce a powerful male figure who has a family and is in a position that does not allow him to have anything but perfectly clean image, then you can guess how things proceed from there, and no, it does not have to be a direct blackmail with severed fingers mailed to the guy) and I have heard about a number of others.

    I also said that if we relax the current standards for what constitutes sufficient evidence to judge one guilty of sexual harassment, that power females have will be misused even more (both in terms of frequency and the severity of the dishonesty), and the pendulum will swing in the other direction.

    Just because there has been sexism discriminating females for a long time it does not follow that now there should be sexism favoring females (what does my generation have to do with what people did 50 years ago?), and it absolutely does not mean we should fire/throw people in jail without sufficient evidence. But that is precisely what everyone who is screaming about how the bastards are getting away with it is calling for. Currently there are rules and laws against sexual harassment and against rape. What more is needed?

    , are both part of a standard trope of the MRAs and other regressive groups (e.g. women are "meant" to be subservient to men).

    6) You are once again putting words in my mouth -- where did I say that?

    When one side is seeking balance, it is logical fallacy to employ the slippery slope argument (e.g. the continuum fallacy) and assume things will end up asymmetrically unfair in the opposite direction

    7) I don't have to assume anything. I posted a video above. Here it is again:

    https://youtu.be/iDKIHqYG92E?t=3222

    Watch it.

    Then tell me isn't this sexual discrimination against males?

    Also, there is a simple test to determine whether feminists are calling for a reverse discrimination system. Take any feminist text calling for something, switch the genders, then ask yourself "Does this sound sexist now?". More often than not it absolutely does.

    I mentioned something above about how my generation has nothing to do with past oppression. But that is not how the feminists see it -- they view past oppression as some sort of original sin of white males that they still have to pay for. And I am not making this up -- I can show you more videos that will make it very clear to you.

    Finally, I am not aware of any male ever calling for the extermination of all females. I have, however, seen radical feminists do that. Yes, this does not mean that this what all feminists do -- it's a small radical group that does that. But its very existence is telling.

    8) Last and most important. You are completely misunderstanding my motivations. Honestly, I absolutely do not care about gender issues, I care about good science first and foremost. But I see more and more subversion of objective scientific truth for political reasons from the left (it used to be the right that was the worst offender, but I am not at all sure it's not a tie at this point on overall anti-scientific attitude) and I see this obsession with gender issues as completely distracting from the much more important issues with the state of the scientific enterprise (and the world as a whole) that scientists have to deal with urgently. There are a lot of historical parallels to be drawn, for example, with eastern orthodox monks at war with each other during the hesychasm controversy of the 14th century while in the same time the former Eastern Roman Empire was being conquered by the Ottoman Turks, i.e. people obsessing over trivial insignificant issues while everything around them is going to hell.

    You are actually demonstrating why I have these concerns right here -- I see many people in science who let their political allegiances influence their thinking on purely scientific topics. This is why I brought the whole "What is gender?" issue and how there is no such thing as "gender". "Gender" is indeed a "social construct" but only in the colloquial sense of the term as "something that doesn't really exist". It indeed doesn't -- there are two sexes and then various deviations from the norm that either are at severe selective disadvantage (selective coefficients approaching or exactly equal to 1) or would be in the wild (in which we no longer live); the rest is cultural fluff that is heavily constrained by the reality of biological sex. And from a biological point of view (i.e. the point of view of objective reality) biological sex is what matters. The rest is indeed a social construct -- because it doesn't matter and you can define the terms in whatever way you want.

    The problem is that this is not how the terms are used in practice. In practice a switch-of-meaning tactic is applied -- people start with "gender is social construct", then they switch the meaning of the words "social construct" and proceed from that to deny biological reality. And people buy it because it's "progressive". Including people working in the sciences who should know better but do not, either because they are just scientific workers and not real scientists and/or because they let politics cloud their judgement.

    That sort of thing bothers me to no end and it should be obvious why.

  • noname says:

    One more thing:

    If you really want to solve the problems of discrimination according to sex, race, sexual orientation, or any other trait you can think of, there is only one way to do so, and it is to eliminate the perception of difference between groups that leads to them separating into in- and out-groups. Humans seem to be unable to not do that once such differences are identified.

    That means that the more we focus on identity politics, the more we make sure the problems that identity politics is supposedly aiming to solve will never be solved, because by its very nature it perpetuates and deepens these divisions. The more men are being told that they are bad because they are men, the more that makes them think about these issues from an identity politics point of view, and that is not a good thing - it is the reason why the MRAs appeared.

    This is also why the trans issue is such a good example of the pathology of the social justice movement. Trans people are a fraction of a percent of the total population, and a good portion it have never even seen one (I've only encountered one such person in my whole life). Yet the more they try to differentiate themselves from the "cis-ies", the more enemies they make, including among people who would otherwise be completely indifferent or even friendly to them. And the more they try to twist well established biological facts in their favor, the more that annoys people like me, who also have nothing against individual trans people and would have had nothing against their movement either, if it wasn't for stupidities like trying to claim that a M2F person is a "true" woman, trying to enforce silly made up pronouns on everyone and to even change language by eliminating all gendered forms so that they don't feel "discriminated". I still have absolutely nothing against individual trans people but the trans movement as a whole has completely discredited itself in my eyes.

    The same happened with feminism, and other components of the social justice moment. It's just too much postmodernist BS for someone in the physical sciences.

    It should be like that for every scientist, and the fact that it is not means that there is something deeply wrong with the practice of science these days (see my remark above about the distinction between those who merely work in science and those who are true scientists, i.e. they take a scientific approach to life in general and manage to keep politics and other tribalisms out of their thinking as much as possible).

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