“Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women.” -Phyllis Schlafly
If you’re not aware, there’s been a lot of drama in the skeptic community around women, feminism, and sexual harassment of late. I’m not going to rehash all of the issues at hand but simply discuss this one incident.
Elyse Anders of Skepchick (and other sites) blogged about an incident which happened to her at the Skepticamp Ohio after her keynote speech. In a nutshell, a couple, with whom Elyse had very limited contact, handed her a business card after her speech which included a naked photo of the couple and indicated that they were interested in her sexually.
Dr. Marty Klein over at Psychology Today thinks that Elyse is overreacting. Apparently this behavior wasn’t sexuall harassment but “unwanted sexual attention*.” Dr. Klein, who apparently got his degree from Fuckstick University, goes on to describe the woman in question (he doesn’t mention Elyse by name) as hysterical, irrational and completely over-reactive.
I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that a man would disregard a woman’s viewpoint by painting her as hysterical, irrational and completely over-reactive. Those are most certainly not insults frequently hurled at women who dare to disagree with the patriarchy.
Despite Dr. Know-little’s assertions, the actions of this couple are grossly inappropriate. Just because I want to be painfully clear, let me outline why, exactly, this is fucked the fuck up.
- 1. CONTEXT
This is a professional conference for professional people talking about professional things. Professional adults go to professional events to do professional things, like discuss research, exchange ideas, network, job hunt, etc.
Every conference I’ve ever attended has social events such as dinners and drinks. These are the appropriate times to discuss non-professional activities and, if you’re going to, flirt. During the professional portions of conferences (like before, during, and after speeches,) is absolutely not the time to hit on someone, show off pictures of your kids (or dog,) or knock back a few whiskey sours.
It would be completely out of line for the couple to flash Elyse, therefore it is out of line for them to show a picture of them doing so. Period.
This couple handed Elyse a card with a sexually explicit message and ran off. This is literally the paper form of yelling “Let’s Fuck” out of your window while you drive past a woman. Doing a “hit and run,” where you say something sexually suggestive and then walk/run/drive/unicycle off is not flirting, it’s harassment. Always.
If you have no relationship with someone (being friends on Facebook, commenting on someone’s blog, or seeing them once through their window doesn’t count as a relationship) means it’s totally inappropriate to ask them if they want to fuck.
If you wouldn’t ask them to borrow $20 bucks, how the fuck is it ok for you to ask them to fuck you? Oh right, it’s not.
This couple chose an improper time to make an inappropriate approach to a unwelcoming person. It’s wrong on essentially every level.
Elyse has blogged her own response, complete with hilarious photos which you should, of course, read.
*Exactly what the fuck is sexual harassment if not unwanted sexual attention?