Is he on the island?

I used to have a very elaborate inside joke with a few other women in media. It was called The Island, and the narrative went like this: All of the editors we know to be sexual harassers or professional bullies are on a plane together, probably heading to some sort of “ideas festival,” when the plane goes down on a small island. There, they are forced to live out the rest of their days with only each other to harass. In their absence, the rest of us go on to remake the media industry into a creative, forward-thinking, gender-equitable paradise. Fin.

It was funny to picture this scenario, but also sort of a sad coping mechanism. We knew these dudes were too professionally powerful, too entrenched to really be held accountable for their behavior. The Island became a code for telling each other who was a good guy and who was a bad guy—which upper-masthead men actually wanted to mentor us, and which ones just wanted the thrill of having a cocktail with an attractive younger woman under the guise of professionalism: “Is he on The Island or not?” Or, “Watch out, that guy’s totally on The Island.”

Such a familiar feeling, reading this.

(Thanks, R!)

7 thoughts on “Is he on the island?

  1. Why? Perhaps for the same reason that a guy or a woman who is not both young and attractive would go out for a drink with a colleague… friendship, mentoring, networking…

  2. I know whenever I share a drink with someone, I’m secretly hoping they will aggressively flirt with me in spite of our professional relationship and/or my body language.

    …and regardless, consent is a package deal, right? Consent to getting a drink includes consent to all behavior that might plausibly occur once drinks are had?

    I know if I’m sharing a drink with a man and I’m talking about philosophy or some other academic subject he’s safe to assume I’m more interested in flirting. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should he assume I’m interested in talking about philosophy or some other academic subject. That’s just ridiculous. And uncalled for, really.

  3. I think that Andreas is referring to the case when the women knows that the man “is on the island” and accepts his invitation for cocktails.

  4. Andreas: “I don’t know if there can be sexual harassment with consent” – consent to what?

    In any case, even if swallerstein is right about what you meant… seriously? You don’t think young women feel pressured in various ways to acquiesce to the social invitations of much more powerful men in their field, even if they know those men are ‘creepy’? And are you actually suggesting that doing so means that they are fair game for creepy behavior??

  5. Honestly Andreas, I know you like pushing boundaries on this blog and that’s fine – there is a place for that. But with all due respect, your comment quite literally makes me sick to my stomach. And I assure you I am no prude and no delicate flower.

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