March
30th 2011
Shunning as a recourse for bad behavior

Posted under: Gender, jobs, students, unhappy endings, wankers, women's history

Inside Higher Ed has an article today about some conversations on Philosophy blogs about philosophers’ frustrations with institutional and professional redress for sexual harassment and their open call to shun well-known harassers:  don’t invite them to give talks, don’t put them on conference panels or programs, and when approached by them individually, walk away and refuse to speak to them. 

Sexism and sexual harassment can be found in any academic discipline, of course. But philosophy is notable for lagging other humanities disciplines in reaching anything resembling gender parity in most departments. In 2007, the discipline debated its treatment of women after an analysis found that, in top-20 departments, women held only 18.7 percent of tenure-track positions, with two departments under 10 percent. For the past two years, the blog Feminist Philosophers has been drawing attention to conferences in the field at which all speakers are male.

Peggy DesAutels, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Dayton and chair of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on Women, said that the recent public discussion of sexual harassment is long overdue. She said that the stories being posted on blogs are consistent with situations she has witnessed over the years or that she has heard directly from women who have sought her out because of her role in the APA.

This seems like a pretty modest and reasonable remedy to me.  Of course, the first comment by one of the knuckle-draggers who troll IHE‘s comments sections warns darkly about “medieval witch hunting” and claims that “[t]his could be a very risky practice and may result in lawsuits. It inflicts extra-legal punishments in cases where there may not have been any civil or criminal finding, only the subjective opinion of an individual or small cell. . . . Anyone who takes part in it becomes a witness to its effects on the subject, his partner and family and could be liable for damages.” 

This, of course, is completely laughable.  Since when are organizers of conferences or symposia under legal obligation to include particular scholars in their proceedings?  Since when is a department legally obligated to offer someone a job?  I’ve been on the program committee of a major conference and have worked to put together smaller conferences, and we on the program committees did whatever the heck we wanted.  We excluded some people who had followed directions and submitted proposals according to the process we outlined, but we also invited people who hadn’t applied to be on the conference program to give papers because we thought their fields of expertise were underrepresented given the kinds of scholarly conversations we wanted to have.  Guess what?  We volunteered to do the work, so it only seems fair that we would get to make some decisions.

Because the kind of people who get away with serial sexual harassment without confrontation or correction are usually people whose eminence or accomplishments in their fields is what makes their continued bad behavior possible, they can organize their own damn conferences if they begin to feel excluded.  (And that’s a big if.)  Professional shunning seems like a remarkably gentle and even collegial remedy for the kind of havoc that sexual harassment wreaks on other people’s lives and careers. 

Tips for toads:  If you don’t want to get a reputation as a serial sexual harasser or all-around jerk, don’t sexually harass anyone and don’t be a jerk.  That usually works for most people.

38 Comments »

38 Responses to “Shunning as a recourse for bad behavior”

  1. Feminist Avatar on 30 Mar 2011 at 8:50 am #

    I doubt there would be any legal repercussions for conference organisers, but if this was applied within the workplace, I suppose it could be conceived as a form of bullying. Of course, the irony of this would be that someone shunned by colleagues would probably successfully sue, while the sexually harrassed colleague or student would get nowhere!

  2. Widgeon on 30 Mar 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Departmental shunning could be viewed as a form of bullying, but it is also a means of protecting oneself from bullies. Unfortunately what results is a department where colleagues are alienated from one another. But the professional shunning seems entirely fair. Indeed, very difficult people (prima donnas, sexual harassers etc.) are routinely not invited to give public talks or participate in conferences. But how to interact with such folks when they are your immediate colleagues is an open question. One that has filled many an academic blog, and for good reason.

  3. Daniel S. Goldberg on 30 Mar 2011 at 9:32 am #

    See also:

    http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/how-to-avoid-a-gendered-conference/

  4. Historiann on 30 Mar 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Shunning within one’s own department as bullying? I guess if it marginalized and isolating someone who had been treating others badly for years without reprisal, it would be worth the risk. Realistically, how is the shunned harasser going to complain about this? Run crying to the Dean or Provost that the meanies he works with won’t play with him any more? Srsly?

    I hadn’t considered interdepartmental shunning, since the thrust of the posts linked above had more to do with how the profession as a whole might respond to a serial harasser because institutional remedies had failed to censure or end the behavior.

  5. Perpetua on 30 Mar 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Oh, IHE commenter, how you thrill my persecuting soul. Let’s start with a wee bit of historical accuracy, shall we? “Medieval witch hunts.” Um, no. The so-called witch craze is a product of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, aka early modern Europe, *not* the Middle Ages. However, the knuckle-dragger gets double trolling points for using an historical example of femicide to argue against policies designed to deter sexual harassment. And triple points for the false analogy (yes, d00d, refusing to speak to a colleague is *exactly the same* as setting someone on fire!). But of course that the commenter believes that not inviting some jerk to your conference = fanaticism and “medieval” persecution provide sufficient evidence as to why such practices are needed in the first place.

  6. Historiann on 30 Mar 2011 at 9:58 am #

    Good points Perpetua, but for me the defining idiocy of that comment is the fact that witches were imaginary enemies, whereas harassers are all too real.

  7. Dr. Crazy on 30 Mar 2011 at 10:02 am #

    Re: shunning within a department…. Um, doesn’t that already happen in most departments? With people who are weirdos, or who don’t do the work on committees, or who are jerks? Maybe my department is unique? Because, seriously, there are colleagues that Just Don’t Get Included anymore, for a variety of reasons. I can’t see where throwing *harassers* into that mix would do any harm (or more harm than is already done by that practice anyway).

    As for conferences, I think that this is actually a really great idea, but I wonder whether it’s really *possible* to execute where I’d most want to see it happen. In the One Sexist Society of which I’m a member, there is a NOTORIOUS sexual harasser, who has been preying on young female scholars for about three generations, and he’s treated like a guest of honor at the annual meetings. Something along the lines of, “Oh, you should have seen him in the good old days! When he would take pictures of the female presenters’ breasts while they were giving their talks! Has he invited you to Important Scholarly Place yet?”

    Here’s the thing: VERY few women have much say in the organization, it has been a *consistent* problem that women aren’t invited to participate in plenary sessions or other highly visible panels that the organization puts on, and, at least to this point, there has been little room for “the next generation of scholars” to have a voice in how things are done. The pioneering group of women in the organization are *wonderful*, but their agenda was just getting women on the governing board, and there hasn’t been a whole lot of attention to further change beyond that.

    So, would I love to see that guy excluded? Yes. Do I think it will happen? Not in his lifetime.

  8. Historiann on 30 Mar 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Dr. Crazy, you’re right that the organization you’re describing probably can’t be changed. That’s why you and the other people who agree with you should start the Very Cool Scholars Club as a rival organization. Do an invitation-only conference so that you very cool, very serious people can talk to each other. Advertise it heavily so that people in your field know that it’s a Very Exclusive Very Cool Scholars Club. And see where it goes from there.

    As the saying goes: ownership has its privileges.

  9. Dr. Crazy on 30 Mar 2011 at 10:12 am #

    H – This is why the other similar societies I’m in are explicitly feminist ones. That’s where the very cool pioneering group from the One Sexist Organization and I get together :)

  10. Historiann on 30 Mar 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Oh–then you’ve already figured it out! “Some men you just can’t reach.”

  11. Anonymous on 30 Mar 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Won’t someone please think of the harasser’s children?

    I’ve been shunning the pig in my department for years now, as have all the newer female faculty. Why would we voluntarily subject ourselves to abuse from such a jerk? The idea that we should be held accountable for damages to his tender pig psyche is too funny, in a pained sort of way.

    You’re absolutely right that the worst offenders are the ones who are already established and influential. Actually, I suspect some of them would view being shunned as just more of an entertaining challenge.

  12. Historiann on 30 Mar 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Heh. What about the children, indeed. “Shun the Pig” actually sounds like a pretty awesome children’s game. Why not teach it to your daughters and sons?

  13. truffula on 30 Mar 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    But how to interact with such folks when they are your immediate colleagues is an open question.

    I mean no ill in writing this, but imho, thinking that it’s an open question is part of the problem. As faculty we exist in positions of relative privilege and perhaps this blinds us a bit to the realities for folks farther down the chain, students, office staff, contingent faculty (and, I suppose, the pre-tenure faculty). If we refuse to take a stand against known harassers then we too play a role in creating the hostile environment that our students (and our colleagues) must endure. The choice to act is ours alone and we must certainly weigh the consequences but if we choose to give the harasser a pass then we should at least own up to what we are doing.

    I know exactly whereof I speak. I did choose to shun somebody and when asked, I told people exactly why I was doing it. Interestingly, the harasser never confronted me directly but did attempt a campaign against me. I didn’t care, I know who I am and what I hold true.

  14. Anonymous (this time) on 30 Mar 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I was on a hiring committee for my department as a student rep this year. One candidate gave a particularly terrible performance during his job talk which included not only sexist and racist statements, but sexually harassing a very attractive and young-looking female assistant professor who was sitting in the front of the room.

    A mostly (or all? I can’t remember) male group of students and I were talking afterward about how awful it had been, and said that he had been “creepy” towards the professor, who is well-liked. I ended up saying that, after that performance, I would never be willing to sit in his office with the door closed. Everyone in the room shut up for a moment, absorbed that, and agreed, pretty much in unison, “Yeah, he’s out.”

    I was pretty proud of my fellow-students at that moment. (And proud that, listening to the faculty discussion later, they were just as horrified by the sexual-harassment aspect of the talk.)

  15. Historiann on 30 Mar 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Good news about your department, Anonymous (this time).

    Truffula raises a great point: faculty are in a position of privilege even to consider shunning a notorious offender–which makes it incumbent on us because of the relative powerlessness of others to resist/avoid working with him.

    Meanwhile over at IHE, the crazzy just gets crazzier in the comments. The majority of commenters are now deeply concerned about the possibility of a “witch hunt,” which they claim will doubtlessly result in lawsuits or other legal sanctions.

    Like I said above: this is truly laughable, especially among academic philosophers where men are a supermajority (> 80% of faculty positions).

  16. Jeremy C. Young on 30 Mar 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Dr. Crazy is absolutely right — shunning goes on all the time in departments, and no lawsuits are filed as far as I can see; it’s just that people are reluctant to shun sexual harassers. In one department I know of, the prof who doesn’t do any research or serve on any committees is shunned, while the two profs rumored to be sexual harassers receive no adverse consequences from other faculty. The problem isn’t the shunning, it’s the double standard.

  17. Emma on 30 Mar 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    If academics want to change academia, make all tenure decisions, hiring decisions, and any other personnel decisions completely transparent and subject to judicial review.

    And, if you want to end sexual harassment, encourage the harassed parties to sue and support them with testimony. And file complaints with your school’s HR department and any place else such complaints are recorded.

    IOW, make a record of harassment and discrimination. Shunning doesn’t do that. It’s emotionally appealing because it feels like you’re doing something. It’s professionally safe because it’s doing nothing.

  18. Janice on 30 Mar 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    It’s absolutely imperative to protect students and junior colleagues from such toxic people. If we can’t do this through the regular channels of legal recourse (and sometimes we can’t if a student is unwilling to go through the painful and often unhelpful process to even get a hearing, let alone a hope of resolution), at the very least we can make sure that prospective students and colleagues know we have their back and that there’s a serious reason they might want to avoid such a person.

    Sadly, as Dr. Crazy noted, often times these harassers can be big names in a field. They also don’t harass every possible target so some peoples’ experience may differ from others’ and they will find it hard to believe their hero could be someone else’s villain. But when they do behave badly, do your best to document the bad behaviour and protect the vulnerable if you have any power to do so.

  19. Historiann on 30 Mar 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Emma, I agree that shunning is extremely weak tea compared to a successful lawsuit. Unfortunately, for all of the cases I’ve heard of sexual harassment in universities, in my career I have never seen or heard of a successful lawsuit. Never. This is not because the women in my field are weak or mercenary about their careers. It’s because the deck is so stacked against the plaintiffs that those who have the emotional and intellectual/professional resources to get the hell out are better advised to spend their time looking for another job.

    (I have heard of a few cases of financial settlements offered to women victims of serial harassers in which the uni and the individual admit no harm/guilt. But of course under the terms of their settlements, they are forbidden to discuss them. Ain’t that *special*? It seems to me that by comparison, tenure and promotion are extremely transparent processes compared to the business of settling out of court.)

    The fact is that institutions have infinitely more time and money than individuals, and this is especially true of the individuals who are the kind who are likely to be sexually harassed (younger women, i.e. grad students and junior faculty who face critical professional deadlines like Ph.D. thesis approval and tenure.) They are usually harassed by a man who has the institutional seals of approval like tenure, rank, placement on important committees. Ergo, the institution in 9 cases out of 10 becomes a de facto part of the defense because they hired, promoted, and advanced the senior faculty member.

    For an instructive example (although an atypical one), see Jon Wiener’s chapter on Elizbeth Fox-Genovese in his book Historians in Trouble. Wiener shows how even in the face of documented offenses and even documents from senior administrators attesting to her bad behavior over years of employment and violation of a university’s stated policies against harassment, universities inevitably rally to the side of the offender, not to the victims.

  20. widgeon on 30 Mar 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Thank you Truffula for calling me out on my restraint. You are so right. And for the record I recently reported some particularly egregious behavior on the part of male colleague #1 (who just got a named chair) to the provost’s office. Let the shunning begin! Even if it’s just me and a couple of peeps.

  21. truffula on 30 Mar 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    As both widgeon and Emma write, reporting really is the key to stopping harassment. It’s tricky though, this too I know first hand, and the faculty position of relative privilege matters. An investigation only carries weight if victims go on the record but that is asking a lot of a student who just wants something to stop, may think herself to be alone, and certainly does not want to face retaliation or stigmatization. It helps for the reporter to know that someone has her back. Faculty have more cover than students and we can push back (which I have done) when our colleagues make asinine comments or draw the wrong conclusions.

    It may also be that the university system for handling harassment is problematic (that is, more about lawsuit avoidance than about cultivating a safe campus). There are rules and regulations but depending on how the first report is made, it may take a lot of time for an investigation to run its course. Throughout that time, there may be very few university services to support the student. Having a more powerful ally can help.

    I hope students know they can come to me with issues like this because they see that I am clear, in my words and in my actions, about where I stand. If I look like I’m the harasser’s buddy, a student is not likely to come talk with me about his behavior.

  22. Dr. Crazy on 30 Mar 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    I wouldn’t suggest that reporting is not the most important thing. I think that it is a very important thing. BUT. The situation I noted in my comment? Doesn’t actually fit into an economy of hiring, promotion, or tenure decisions in academe. Rather, it is outside of the purview of universities, really, although clearly and in an unassailable way, within the purview of academic prestige. It helps me that I have played along with people like that; it would have hurted me if I resisted them – even if resisting them would be the “right” thing to do. This is where I think a culture of shunning would help. Because sometimes it’s not about hiring, tenure, or promotion. I think sometimes it really *is* about not inviting, or not welcoming. About not *accepting* even outside of an institutional context. Here’s the thing: there are people, as women, whom we can’t afford to offend or to rebuff, because those people are “important.” Shunning would make those people less important, more obviously not people whom a junior lady has to court. That doesn’t make the act of reporting insignificant, or even diminish it as less important. It’s just to say that the authorized ways of dealing with such issues are not the only ways of doing so, or, on the ground, the most useful.

  23. Z on 30 Mar 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    Well I’ve actually seen a few fulls taken down on SH since I’ve been here, a couple in municipal courts with great fanfare. Reporting is key.

    I think some of the cases I’ve seen have had to do with the administration not realizing the plaintiff was serious, and with the perpetrator believing they’d get away with it.

    But what I’ve learned is, victims and plaintiffs also have to also know what SH is, and it’s not always obvious what qualifies.

    I didn’t when I was a victim of it — it was an ex — and because it was an ex as opposed to someone just truying their luck, and because I was tenured, I thought of it as harassment, but not sexual harassment, and an OSHA issue but not sexual harassment.

    So everyone needs to go to the workshops on this, I think, so as to know how to identify these situations and what category to put them in. At the time of this event I did have backing but it took all of us forever to figure out that this qualified as SH and could be taken care of under those rules.

  24. Z on 30 Mar 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    @Dr. Crazy, TRUE. I’ve seen this done and it helps, at least at a micro level anyway. And can’t hurt … and the fears of those Philosophy bloggers are laughable.

  25. Emma on 31 Mar 2011 at 8:12 am #

    There are difficulties in bringing a lawsuit. You know what makes bringing a lawsuit less difficult? Corroborating witness testimony. A record of prior sexual harassment. A record of the university’s failure to act on previous complaints. But, mostly, corroborating witness testimony.

    I have heard of a few cases of financial settlements offered to women victims of serial harassers in which the uni and the individual admit no harm/guilt. But of course under the terms of their settlements, they are forbidden to discuss them. Ain’t that *special*? It seems to me that by comparison, tenure and promotion are extremely transparent processes compared to the business of settling out of court.

    a) If there are ENOUGH financial settlements, the harasser will be required to change his behavior by the university — which has to pay the financial settlement. Money talks, bullshit walks.

    b) Tenure decisions are very well protected from litigation and are so secret, and so judicially protected, that without a witness who will blow the whistle on sexism, racism, etc. there is no way to bring a lawsuit. Just no way.

    c) Settling out of court in confidential agreements does have problems. One of which is it may not create a public record. But don’t avoid criticisms of an inherently sexist, racist, etc. hiring and tenure process by criticizing the relief that attorneys manage to get for their clients while working against a stacked deck. If you want the process to change, if you want more fairness and transparency, you have to blow the whistle. That’s not a moral judgment, it’s a factual statement.

    The fact is that institutions have infinitely more time and money than individuals,

    Time? Insitutions have more time? What institutions really have that make litigation so difficult are employees who will not support victims of harassment and discrimination with corroborating testimony.

    Ergo, the institution in 9 cases out of 10 becomes a de facto part of the defense because they hired, promoted, and advanced the senior faculty member.

    Make that 10 times out of 10 it is actually the defendant, and runs the defense, because the university has to pay the bills. See (a) above.

    For an instructive example (although an atypical one), see Jon Wiener’s chapter on Elizbeth Fox-Genovese in his book Historians in Trouble.

    Tell me again how much money that plaintiff got in settlement? Rumored to be $1 million, or close to it, I thought? I’ll tell you what got her that settlement: “documented offenses and even documents from senior administrators attesting to her bad behavior over years of employment and violation of a university’s stated policies against harassment” and corroborating witness statements.

    Now, tell me, did Fox Genovese change her behavior after that? If not, Emory is fucking stupid. And people who are fucking stupid continue to pay money until they wise up.

    Shunning people, unless it is done consistently and vocally enough to ruin careers and reputations, isn’t going to change people’s behavior. Having to pay money, whether it’s you or your employer, will change your behavior. Guaranteed. Regardless of whether that money is attorneys’ fees, a confidential settlement, or a jury verdict.

  26. Emma on 31 Mar 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Interestingly, Fox-Genovese’s papers re: Gould’s lawsuit have been opened to the public.

    http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/f/Fox-Genovese,Elizabeth.html#d1e3601

    It would be a very interesting read.

  27. Historiann on 01 Apr 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Emma, Jon Wiener’s book reports that the entire Fox-Genovese-Emory University lawsuit collection at UNC-Chapel Hill is closed until 25 years after her death (p. 21 of Historians in Trouble), and the link you provide indicates that some especially hot material is closed until 70 years after her death (2077). So while they will eventually be open to the public, they are not now open to the public.

    As to your larger points: of course institutions have more time and money than individuals! On the time issue: my university has been around for 140 years, which is about twice the average human lifespan, and it will likely be around past my natural lifetime. Individuals who are bound to a human lifespan and who may want to accomplish other personal and professional goals outside of a lawsuit do not have the luxury of time that institutions have. This is a point that was made very clear to me when I consulted an attorney over my tenure and promotion case 7 years ago. He wanted me to be very clear on the personal and emotional costs to individual humans inside individual human bodies, as opposed to the cost to institutions which are only potentially on the hook for money. (This was an attorney who has successfully sued Baa Ram U. in the past, too.)

    As to institutions having more money than individuals: this seems axiomatic to me, but here’s another data point about the Fox-Genovese case. Ginger Gould was married to a physician and wasn’t completely dependent on her graduate stipend or on her potential future earnings as a historian. As I recall, when I met her early in the previous decade and chatted with her briefly, that was the first thing she told me when I complimented her on her guts. So, she was in an extraordinary position (as was I, having another and much larger income coming into my household) to press her case, and that’s not the position that most grad students or junior faculty are in.

  28. Emma on 01 Apr 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Lots of the Fox-Genovese papers are open to the public right now, including deposition transcripts of witnesses, correspondence to and from attorneys, trial notes, just tons of litigation material. It would be a fascinating read.

    Look, as I said before, there are lots of barriers to suing. I’ve said it here several times. As a plaintiff’s lawyer, I hardly need to be educated about the rigors of suing an employer. Yet, oddly enough, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people manage to do it every year. Are they all rich? Are they all extraordinarily tough? Do they all have extraordinary support networks? Do they all have a perfect, bulletproof case? No. They’re just willing to use the law as a tool, albeit an imperfect one, to help themselves.

    I’m telling you from experience: if you had ONE person who would’ve come forward and blown the whistle for and with you, it would’ve been a lot easier for you. And a lot easier to win your lawsuit.

    At the end of the day the Fox-Genovese case was a win. It was a big win. And it was a win because people were willing to do more than look the other way when Fox-Genovese walked down the hall.

    Because these “solutions” where you basically do nothing, are not solutions. They don’t fix anything. And I am gobsmacked that any professional, feminist woman would advocate for them as a solution. No sexual harasser gives a crap if you ever talk to him again. In fact, he’d probably rather you didn’t talk to him. Win-win for him: women he doesn’t like ignore him, he gets to continue harassing, and his victims have no material support to change their situation.

  29. Historiann on 01 Apr 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Yes, I am just weak and advocate that other academic women do nothing about sexual harassment or discrimination.

  30. Emma on 01 Apr 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Right, because that’s what I said.

  31. Z on 01 Apr 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Well actually, re suing and so on, it depends on what you are suing for. When, at another institution, I was turned down for tenure/promotion by the upper administration, I could see that even though I might be right, suing would be pointless. I could have negotiated it – they in fact wanted me to negotiate for a redo of the whole thing – I decided at the time not to, although in retrospect I should have.

    On the other hand, I sued my current institution for costs related to an injury sustained on campus, and they settled. It was worth doing, and there was not retaliation, etc. I could perhaps have done better going to court, but didn’t think it was worth it in terms of energy/time, I was satisfied — and the thing was, my whole injury had happened due to a maintenance/equipment error, not due to malice or anything, so enough’s enough.

    When I went looking for attorneys on the sexual harassment issue, I ended up not needing one because just a letter from a scary firm sufficed (and they wrote the letter as a courtesy / loss leader). But it wasn’t too hard to find people willing to take the case and to work with me on finances, because it was all pretty clear what was going on, who the witnesses would be, what kind of prior reporting there had been, etc., and how it fit into existing law.

    Maybe this is just me in my coldheartedness. I’m not a lawyer but I do have some experience with courts and law because of the prison work I do. People freak out when they sue or contemplate it because they haven’t figured out that the law is about the law, and not really about justice. This means that there are some unfair events one should walk away from because you really will just waste energy and time and get yourself beaten up if you pursue the issue. Other times, though, it may be worth it and it really is worth doing. How to find out if in doubt – consult.

    In my experience people tend to be unrealistically afraid to report / sue about SH, and unrealistically optimistic about suing re things like tenure.

    On not pursuing, 1: I have a brother who also didn’t make tenure the first time (it seems to run in the family, Dad was afraid he wouldn’t, either, and we both realized his fear for him, unfortunately). From what I can tell this was truly unfair but I also read the faculty handbook of his institution and he really had no recourse. His wife, not in field, was convinced he should sue and he was all, no, I should put every piece of energy into the job market, for an academic job or any job, and they had a huge conflict over this. I am convinced, though, that he would have wasted his time trying to sue, right though he may have been.

    On not pursuing, 2: I had another harassment type situation here, if you can define it as that which I am still not convinced of. I was very distressed in any case. A friend elsewhere basically insisted I start a semiformal procedure about it. It was my view that, bad though things were, it would be smarter just to wait the situation out. But, I took her advice. It sure did all blow up in my face, let me tell you.

    So,summing up: you have to do what you’re comfortable with / what your gut feeling is, but also, you should really consult on these SH issues — it may be easier than you fear.

    Footnote: when I sued for the injury, people kept asking how is it going, how is it going, how are you feeling, is it scary, etc. … and really it wasn’t, I wasn’t going pro se, the lawyer was doing it, I was just waiting. I think people get tied into knots just because it is the courts, or it is the IRS, or whatever, but I recommend avoiding that if you can. And as I say, I think that’s easier if you can accept that what you’re working for is to have the law followed … justice may coincide with that, but the coincidence may not be perfect, and you have to remain cool headed about that.

  32. Z on 01 Apr 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    P.S. “You won’t want to sue [or strike, or whatever] because it will be so hard on you personally and financially, you should do something nice for yourself to feel better, and then move on to the rest of your life” is the line I’ve heard, both first and second hand, from administrations.

    I do not think that this putative kindness and sensitiveness to individuals’ situations is mouthed with the prospective plaintiff’s best interests at heart. It protects institutions to have people realize “oh, it will be so hard on me, so no, I will not complain” and go away.

    Again, I don’t mean to say everyone should complain / sue about everything. But it really is worth checking out reporting, and bringing action, before rejecting the idea out of hand. You have to be careful, and ask advice. The old timers on your faculty who are in AAUP and AAUW and senate, may seem ancient now but remember they are in the generation of SNCC and all that; now they will have had experience sitting on grievance committees; they can tell you discreetly what the lay of the land is and how things may go down. It’s worth talking to these people, preferably ones not in your department, off the record before you do anything. They know a lot, in my experience.

  33. Z on 01 Apr 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Re the shunning — it’s fine but it’s not a replacement for other action. What amuses me on the philosophy blogs is that they’re just now considering it. In my fields (I have 3 disciplines and they are all large, so you can’t control everyone) there has in my time always been an informal knowledge about these things … don’t invite so and so, or if you do, realize that he is likely to xxxx … and it does at least help people avoid being caught unawares (sometimes).

  34. John Protevi on 10 Apr 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Thanks for the link and especially for the good discussion. We have a follow-up post here you might be interested in: http://www.newappsblog.com/2011/04/following-up-on-our-posts.html

  35. Bob Weete on 03 Jun 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Interesting discussion. I didn’t really know that shunning was still used. That is, until I personally experienced it – in my church, for goodness sake! I was lay leader, had played the organ there for some 30 years, established and conducted a very successful bell choir, and my wife and I were instrumental in a number of inovations, projects, etc. and we were very devoted and dedicated persons to God and the church. Then, we got a narcissist pastor, followed by several more of the same. The first one was here for three months, and in that time I was suddenly shunned because a letter I had written was interpreted as a “resignation” from the church. I had taught English for 41 years, and suggested that I did, indeed, know how to write a letter of resignation, but the pastor told lie after lie about me, and the “leaders” believed it. I was called a wolf in sheep’s clothing from the pulpit, and many other negative statements ensued. The DS did nothing. I wrote him a letter concerning her “shacking up” with her boyfriend – something that really gets around in a small town. I was told I could attend church, (which included giving them a weekly check), but I would not be allowed to participate in activities in any way. When we planned and organized for a youth group, I was told he would resign if I went ahead. He was later fired, for sexual harrassment of the secretary. Now, we have another narcissist who has not allowed me to participate in anything. This, even though I have “volunteered” in many areas and he rejected me. And all this finally ended. My wife had had 4 strokes, and was disabled with short-term memory loss. For three years not one of the leadershiip bothered to ask how she was doing, yet they claimed to “love” her. “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” really sounds good, but like the politicians, doesn’t mean a thing. Finally, I had to actually resign; I could not take their brand of “love they neighbor” any longer. Shunning os barbaric treatment. I can’t think of anything more horrible. And I did not “sin”. Actually, nobody has evern told me “why?”

  36. Historiann on 03 Jun 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    Bob–I am so sorry to hear your story. I hope that you’ve found a more supportive spiritual community, although I know from experience that even when one moves on, there is still a lot of anger and a lot of damage that doesn’t move on as quickly.

    I really hope that your wife’s health improves, too. That’s quite a burden for you to carry on your own, much as you love her and want to do it.

  37. Bob Weete on 03 Jun 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Actually,though I am still fighting the bitterness, I am “healing”. It is relatively easy to forgive here, because the pastors involved have been narcissists. I know this, as my wife has a neuro-psychologist, a great Christian, and, she has “diagnosed” him from our discussions. After reading about them, he is a dead ringer, and he is a dedicated one. Since this is a “disease”, I have to forgive what he can’t really help. The doctor says that psychologist/psychiatrists don’t have much success with these types as they don’t believe they have a problem. However, we are going to a Nazarene church now, and it is great. We are lovingly welcomed, with real smiles and body language says they are not “obligated” to say “good morning.” They actually talk with us, and the sermons are the kind that, when you leave, you know that your have been inspired. He is creative and humorous. Last Sunday we went to the adult Sunday School, and I was really impressed. There were at least 15 people there, and they were apologizing for such a small group, because all the snowbirds were gone. At our former church, there had been a group, but there were only 5 people, and two of the “leaders” of the church just sat there. In the Nazarene group, although we studied a very brief passage, EVERYONE participated, and felt comfortable in sharing their ideas, and it was great. So, I am hopeful. The only thing is that my wife has trouble leaving a church she has served for over 50 years. I do too, but I think this is the right move. Thanks for writing.

  38. Bullied out & shunning on 14 Dec 2013 at 10:10 am #

    I was sexually harassed and reported it while on a tenure track. I was retaliated against, was denied tenure but overcame it in appeal. The next 10 years were one form of retaliation after another until it coalesced into large scale dept and administrator bullying. Make no mistake. The jerks and bully are not only in the domain of faculty. And, yes. The System protects the bully. I was thr recipient of shunning. No matter how you look at it it is hurtful and demeaning. It is used as a tactic to bully certain people out and it is not the sexual harasser!