We quoted the New APPS blog’s discussion of shunning as saying, among other things, the following:
The Feminist Philosophers blog recently suggested not inviting serial harassers to conferences. One could easily extend this to not inviting them to publish, not conversing with them at conferences, advising students to avoid their graduate program, etc. We can hope that such informal shunning would have a significant effect. Of course, without a naming and shaming mechanism this approach will be limited to folk somehow in the know.
What I’m wondering about is what falls under the “etc” at the end of the second sentence. And that’s because I’m finishing some work that contains a discussion of two views clearly linked to X, where X is a major figure in a sub-area of the field I’m discussing, and a sexual harasser of, in my opinion, a particulary scummy sort.
In fact, someone who supported the shunning idea recommended that I discuss two views the harasser has.
Because I don’t have views connected in my mind to harassment, I’ve only just realized what my citing him means. Now in fact other people have discussed his views with approval, and I can quote them rather than him. So I’m not so concerned about my own work here as I am concerned about somewhat more general princples and questions.
The first set: Should shunning be extended to discussing in journals? I.e., don’t discuss them even if it is a bit strange to avoid mentioning them. How about when we have a world-class figure who started off a field, and the discussion in the literature so far is largely about their view.
The second set: What effect do we think such shunning will have? Clearly, it could be a major thing if the literature omits any discussion of him. But will anything like that happen? And if it doesn’t, how will we feel. Lots of people know about X’s behavior, and I haven’t seen it affect anyone’s professional treatment of him. Will that somehow start to change? And if it doesn’t, won’t one’s own sense of alienation from the field simply increase?
And actually I am now wondering about the shunning. Will women find that shunning’s main effect is to make them feel more like outsiders as the profession itself flocks around the abusers. Of course, shunning has to start somewhere, but if it is principally women who do it, then the effects may overall not be good.
These are just initial questions; I’ve only started to think about it. But I am wondering if in effect the shunning will be effective only when done consistently by the professionally stronger members of our profession, at least at the beginning.