This post is not about bat-on-bat harassment. It isn’t really exactly about sexual harassment. Rather, it’s about a very messy and unclear situation at the University College Cork (Ireland) that surrounds a complaint of sexual harassment.
A male professor showed a female professor an article about bat fellatio (which we commented on here). She complained to human resources, and he was censured and is subject to two years of monitoring. The web is full of discussions of the incident, which almost entirely see it in terms of a violation of the right to free speech (though not all do). So presented, the assumption seems to be that he easily could have been just very interested in evolution and sexuality, and she was probably nasty or unstable. And, of course, it is very worrying if one result of all this is that discussions of the sex life of other species are now seen as dangerous to one’s career.
One thing to wonder about here is whether people who are making the assumption of his blamelessness have had much experience in the varieties of sexual harassment. There are people who talk altogether too much about gender characteristics and sexuality; they are at least creepy. I can think of two recent cases in my academic environment: one was sadly disturbed, I thought. It was as though he lacked a “shut off” mechanism that keeps most of us from sharing too much information about our inner lives. After a particularly revolting grad class on Louis Caroll, sex with children and semen, the women in the class complained, but I doubt much was done. The other person was different and in a powerful position. The constant foregrounding of one’s “charm and jewelry” was part of an ongoing power play. I did complain, to no good effect, and I certainly got a very negative scolding from someone in authority.
Still, for all we know, maybe the “he” in this story thought it was just a fun article. Perhaps it was all just a gigantic misunderstanding.
One thing we learn here is once again the perils of complaining about sexual harassment. You may face the judgment of “peers” who are pretty clueless, though not hesitant to judge you negatively. This is not to say that the man in question was harasser. It is to say the facts we know do not settle the issue.
(Thanks to KC and Mr. Jender.)
It is one document split into two pieces.
Addition: having read her account, I have to say it is very believable. I’d be really interested in hearing whether others have had this sort of (alleged) experience.