I woke up to a message from a colleague, asking for advice and expressing her outrage. She recently learned that a former student, who had studied for her Masters Degree under my colleague’s supervision, has been driven out of her PhD program due to a sexually harassing professor. What to do? I offered the standard package of advice, knowing this young woman will most likely go quietly for fear of retaliation and career-ending retribution if she reports this professor. All of which leads me to consider #TheMissingWomen. From the actresses who left the film industry due to Harvey Weinstein; the musicians/composers/singers run out and ruined by Russell Simmons; the hostesses/servers/sous-chefs who gritted their teeth and let their pot of rage simmer on low; the hotel maids who escaped groping guests; to the young women who leave academia to avoid sexually harassing professors whose power over them makes or breaks careers — how can we begin to measure the missing women who leave their careers of choice (or necessity) because they have been ground down, groped, sexually harassed and driven out? This is about sexual assault and harassment, to be sure. It is about the violation of bodily integrity and personal dignity, with equal certainty. It is also about the loss of employment, career aspirations, dreams and economic security. How can we begin to measure the economic fallout for #TheMissingWomen?
Posted by kimberlytheidon | Filed under Announcements, Title IX Issues and Updates on My Lawsuit Against Harvard
I fervently hope my lawsuit makes it safer for concerned faculty to step forward and speak out about campus sexual assault and harassment, and that this ruling helps to challenge the retaliation against faculty who join our students in working to ensure that college campuses are safer and more equitable learning environments. The brave young women and men who are organizing across this country deserve our admiration and support. They are my inspiration.
We watched “Spotlight” last night and it is a powerful film which I highly recommend. It is based upon the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting of widespread clerical sexual abuse in our city. As I watched, the parallels to professorial sexual harassment were stunning: complicity of those in power (and colleagues in the know who said nothing); structurally vulnerable young people who feared speaking out; priests who preyed upon poorer students whose parents were delighted their children were being singled out for the attention; a church policy of moving priestly predators from one parish to another when their actions became so extreme as to draw attention (akin to moving professors from one center or department on campus to another when their harassing ways cannot be swept under the carpet, or encouraging them to take a paid leave or early retirement); and Cardinal Law who knew about all of it for years and did nothing (the deans and campus presidents who file away the harassment reports in ever-thickening-and-sickening-folders to gather dust while lives are wrenched apart and academic careers derailed). If all the students and untenured faculty who have been targeted for harassment joined forces with formerly complicit senior faculty who finally found their courage and their voices —- this could equal the power of the student-led Title IX Movement spreading from one side of this country to the other. For every person who watches “Spotlight” and is justifiably horrified by all of those who silently stood by, isn’t it time to stand up and speak out?