Occasionally one of my (usually male) readers will take me to task for what he considers to be my unwarranted angry – dare I say, strident? – tone of voice. Can I not be more polite? More reasonable? Would I not catch more flies with honey? Only speak sweet reason, dear crazy bitch Zuska, they plead, and we will assuredly attend to the substance of your message. But not while you rant and rave so. No indeed. That can only turn us off.
Well, as someone I knew once said, I don’t want to catch flies. I want to kill them.
I told the story of the origins of the “Puke On His Shoes” phrase which gives one set of reasons why I am not polite.
Another reason, as I have mentioned before, is that I speak on behalf of women who feel silenced, who are not able to speak the rage within their hearts because of the careers they must protect. Today I received an email from a new reader that speaks eloquently to this. My reader gave me permission to share the email; I have changed only a few identifying details.
I just found your blog today, and thank you so much for all your anger with the hostile men in science who get in our way. I fought my way to a Ph.D. in [a biomedical field] (graduated in [sometime in last 5 years]) after switching labs and filing a sexual harassment complaint against my former advisor. My university actually found in my favor, that my advisor was guilty of quid pro quo sexual harassment, but then apparently decided that no disciplinary action was necessary because nothing happened. About a year later, my former advisor moved on and got a job as chair of a department at another institution. I had to switch labs and endure significant delays in my research progress along with everything that that means for a CV.
I am so angry too! Especially because I am convinced that this asshat harassed other women in my department and also because I know of several other powerful male faculty at that medical school who sexually harass women. Nobody speaks out about it except for hushed whispers in the graduate student lounge. I generally don’t speak out about it either because when I do I look like a trouble maker or like someone who has “career problems” and everyone in academia avoids such people like the plague.
I have now moved on to another school and I’m having success as a postdoc, but I’m still so angry. Thank you for being a voice of anger for women who feel unable to speak out for themselves.
Just in case you weren’t sure, quid pro quo sexual harassment is “when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances“.
I regret that for the sake of my reader’s career, I cannot direct you to the new place of employment of her former advisor/harasser so that you may puke heartily upon his shoes. So I just ask that you all send cosmic karma puke vibes out into the universe meant generally for him. And I curse him, as I curse every sexual harrasser, in the following manner:
May all his grants go unfunded; may all his research experiments fail; may all his postdocs flee for other labs; may his colleagues depose him from department chair and shun him at faculty meetings and make his life on campus living hell; may the dean take a hearty dislike unto him; may his wife wake up one day and realize he is a total asshat and declare that she is leaving him; may his children refuse to visit him at holiday time; may he find his car dented and scratched in the faculty parking lot, with a flat tire; may he suffer horribly from a foul, foul rash visible upon his face but also afflicting his most private parts; may his dog bite him when he returns home at the end of a long day; may students in all his classes be bored, disruptive, inattentive, and rude (more than usual); may he attend professional meetings and find that no one wishes to hobnob with him; may he be assigned to all the worst committees on campus and asked to be notekeeper of every one; may he never find parking again in the faculty lot and be forced to creative parking solutions; and then may Campus Police ticket him freely and often; may his evil behavior become widely known through the campus gossip grapevine, so that women students, staff, and faculty may keep a wide berth from him; may he die miserable, without further promotion, alone and unloved, in a public messy humiliating accident which causes much painful suffering before he finally kicks off. Amen.