What’s goin’ on?

Things we’ve been reading:

First, a friend of mine shared this.

I lightly broke it down (do read it) with this response:

1. Referring to yourself and/or group of friends as “bro” seriously might as well be a sign you’re a douchcanoe.
2. “Midnight or after, if you have been talking for awhile and they’ve had a couple drinks, ask if they want to dance. If you see an untalked to group or a solo girl, go up to her and ask if she wants anything to drink. If she says yes, get her a drink and then ask if she wants to dance. If she says no, ask her to dance. DANCING IS FUN!!!!! Always try to dance. If she does not want to dance and is with friends, say “aw thats no fun” (or something like that) and then ask one of her friends.”
I thought the stereotype was that guys don’t like to dance, which made the all caps insistence DANCING IS FUN massively humorous. But is DANCING FUN with creepy guys who call each other “bro?”
He really does need to learn about the body though. There’s a lot in between “just under the boob” and “fingering her.”  Just sayin’.
3. “If she starts putting her hair over her ear, THAT MEANS SHE WANTS A KISS.”
I had no idea this was part of the mating ritual of humans. I’m sure my husband is stewing “That feminist bitch I married never puts her hair over my ear, dammit.”
WTF is he talking about? Well, he sure is fond OF ALL CAPS.
4. ” 6. Ejaculate (should also be self explanatory) ”
No, I’m sorry, I don’t follow, care to explain? Preferably in ALL CAPS, AMIRITE BROS? How many women do you think this “bro” *shudder* has so cleverly used this MASSIVELY AWESOME ADVICE ON, [name of friend]? Success rates count.

Also, why are people so stupid to think emails won’t be leaked, etc? Geez.

In other news:

Two Decades and Counting…

I recall quite well when the military first addressed sexual misconduct in the ranks: Tailhook, 1991. I recall because I was in the Navy, in an aviation squadron, located on then-Naval Air Station Miramar, home of the ever-popular Top Gun. Yes, the pilots on Miramar had a bit of extra swagger, so this unfortunate occurrence was more than a little annoying to them.

As is the tradition in the military, copious training ensued; most of it directed at the Enlisted sailors, none of whom were present at Tailhook. A military-style investigation was launched, which resulted in the ominous conclusion that the entire incident was caused by junior pilots who were not adequately supervised. That’s right: men who were regularly “given the keys” to multi-million dollar weapons platforms could not be trusted to behave themselves standing in the corridors of a hotel. There were also aspersions cast upon the whistle-blowing victim: she knew The Gauntlet was being staged there: she did not have to go that way. Never mind that she was the Admiral’s aide, and The Gauntlet lay on the only path from the elevators to the Admiral’s suite. Even more disappointing was the investigation’s finding that the Admiral knew absolutely nothing about The Gauntlet, though he had traversed that corridor not much in advance of the aide. And even giving him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps this Gauntlet had sprung up spontaneously in his wake, the investigation clearly showed that The Gauntlet was a long-standing tradition of the Tailhook Association‘s Symposia, and this was most assuredly not the Admiral’s first time at this particular rodeo. Once again, it became all about women making trouble in “This Man’s Navy.”

While this type of behavior was originally termed “Sexual Harassment,” there was evidence – however guarded – of sexual assault at least as early as 1996. The first official recognition of the occurrence of sexual violence in the military came in the form of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Response Policy, issued in the wake of the 2003 Air Force Academy scandal, but the giant was not fully awakened until OEF/OIF and the increased presence of women across the full spectrum of combat operations. And while we now know that sexual assault is far more prevalent in the armed services than we ever imagined, we also know that too much of what is being done to address this violent and criminal behavior has been PR efforts and Norman Rockwell programs. Because now we know 80% – 90% of all military sexual assaults go unreported, and 62% of those who have reported the assault have been victimized a second time through retaliation.

I – among many others – was hopeful, if not skeptical that this situation had hit critical mass and something truly constructive would finally be done. However, this rather disappointing NPR interview with the new Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response director, Major General Margaret Woodward, shows that the prevailing attitudes are so ingrained in military culture that even this female Major General defends the status quo of leaving the adjudication of sexual assault allegations in the hands of Commanders – exactly where it does not need to be. Commanders are human. Some do not want a scandal to mar the reputation of their organization, or fear such a scandal will put their career in jeopardy.  And some Commanders are just loathe to ruin the career of a fellow warrior. The one important reality these attitudes fail to address is that these predators choose to commit these offenses. Year after year, the message is drilled home. By this time, it should be obvious to the most casual observer that some people will never grasp the concepts of “No means no” and “Keep your hands to yourself.”  In these cases, more training is not better; it is futile.  But it affords the painfully traditional and out-of-touch military leadership an excuse to continue to fool themselves that they are actually doing something.

Following the most recent rash of events, the Department of Defense announced a Sexual Assault Stand-down. During a stand-down, all operations cease and intensive training and re-training occurs. The agency for which I presently work decided to take a rather curious angle: instead of addressing the issue of sexual assault head-on, they chose to frame the entire day’s discussion in terms of “equal opportunity.” Once again, DoD opted out of an opportunity to “man up” and make its mess its message.

Luckily, there is hope on the horizon in the form of The Military Justice Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y), and backed by a bi-partisan group of 33 Senators provides some hope for change, but in an historically do-nothing Congress, chances of any meaningful legislation being passed remain slim. This act would remove the chain of command from the adjudication process and place it in the hands of specially trained, impartial personnel. Is it a perfect solution? No. Military leaders are loathe to yield any of their dominion to civilians, many of whom have no military “cred,”  and if the system is set up so that the civilians adjudicating the cases are former military, there is the distinct possibility outcomes will be no different. However, at this point, it seems to be the best we have. I highly encourage you contact your Senators and Representatives and encourage them to support this bill and ensure its passage. Our men and women in uniform deserve the chance to serve honorably. One way to ensure this is to maintain a Military Justice system that provides equal protection to all servicemembers in all cases. This may well be the next big National Security threat, as it significantly and adversely affects the morale of our military. It’s not just their problem. It’s our problem. And the time to act is now.

On MAKERS: The Women’s Rights Movement is Alive and Kicking

Last night, PBS aired a mostly wonderful show entitled MAKERS: Women Who Make America.

The description from the PBS site of the show:

MAKERS: Women Who Make America tells the remarkable story of the most sweeping social revolution in American history, as women have asserted their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity, and personal autonomy. It’s a revolution that has unfolded in public and private, in courts and Congress, in the boardroom and the bedroom, changing not only what the world expects from women, but what women expect from themselves. MAKERS brings this story to life with priceless archival treasures and poignant, often funny interviews with those who led the fight, those who opposed it, and those first generations to benefit from its success. Trailblazing women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey share their memories, as do countless women who challenged the status quo in industries from coal-mining to medicine. Makers captures with music, humor, and the voices of the women who lived through these turbulent times the dizzying joy, aching frustration and ultimate triumph of a movement that turned America upside-down.

It is remarkable how women were treated unfairly and denied civil rights.

It is remarkable that so many women fought back and tried to gain these rights.

Wait—I just said “tried.”  Why the past tense?

We (women) still don’t have the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), as even Justice Scalia noted two years ago. Many people were outraged by his comments, but as a feminist activist, I was almost thankful he pointed out that women don’t have equal rights under the Constitution. (Having taught Philosophy of Law, I am no fan of Scalia’s Constitutional interpretations, but I sadly must agree with him on this issue. Sadly because I believe it to be true.)

We (women and men who believe in equality) are still FIGHTING to get the ERA ratified. You wouldn’t know it from the third part of the MAKERS series aired last night, however. For someone like me, involved in women’s liberation and NOW, it was nothing new yet something I think the general, non-feminist—identifying public was unaware of. This is good.

But the women’s rights movement hasn’t stopped. The third section of MAKERS spread the message that “women are fighting for these rights on their own.” There was no me mention that NOW and Women’s Liberation, along with others, are still fighting for seemingly basic human rights.

No doubt women have been empowered to expect to be treated as human beings by our sisters who fought so hard!

But we aren’t all fighting this on our own. The women’s rights movement remains active. (Why else would the terms “feminazi”, “femistasi”, bitch, whore, slut, cunt, etc are still “acceptable” criticism that is tossed our ways for speaking up? Or even taking up space? The Seth MacFarlane debacle? Affirmative Action? Etc)

You wouldn’t know from the way it was presented in MAKERS that it’s still very much an active movement.

And for many women, this is a constant battle. Fair pay? We haven’t achieved that yet. Paid parental leave? (Which again, benefits both genders. In fact, most of the feminist movement has benefited both genders.) Got equality?

My main impression of MAKERS, condensed, is:

“MAKERS” was fun (“Oh, I know her!”) [and yes, I do know some of the women who appeared on the show], not really new to me (thanks feminist friends for the education and CRs!) but also depressing.

Lots of work to give women basic civil rights has been done. Thank you to those who made my life easier.

But watching “MAKERS”, I couldn’t help but be painfully reminded that many gains for equality have been or is being eroded. We still don’t have the ERA (WHY?), victims of sexual assault are still put on trial (not the extent it was, but some cases are scarily close to the woman’s lifestyle being on trial), and lots of folks still think “sexual harassment” means a woman just can’t take a joke. There were women of color, but not enough.  It was frustrating to see not see third wave feminism mentioned at all and instead told that “women are doing it themselves” (and that somehow, fighting alone is acceptable). or that we take those before us for granted.

*I* don’t take this for granted, and I can only speak from my own experiences, but in general, I think feminists are aware of the injustices that happened before our time–and the injustices happening now….well, we, as feminists, are very much at risk of losing rights we have now with no Constitutional protections.

There were women of color in MOVERS, but it wasn’t enough for 2013. (Where was Loretta Ross and her lifelong activism?)

Despite my own criticism, I would recommend it with caution. It was a good, honest history…up until what, 1986?

Well, I didn’t expect this.

No one expects the Spanish Inquistion!

And I certainly didn’t expect the events I’m about to relay to you…

I was in grad school working on my doctorate at generic State University in Florida from 2002 until 2006. I should have my Ph.D, now.

I don’t.

It’s very awkward for me when I am asked “Why don’t you have your Ph.D?” It’s a long story.

I went to Generic State School in Florida to study ancient philosophy with someone very highly ranked in this not-very-popular field. For the sake of this post, we’ll call him “Ted.”

Ted’s well known for work in ancient philosophy, and State School was on many lists of being one of THE schools to study ancient philosophy.

I took more than half my classes with Ted. I probably don’t have to tell you that ancient Greek philosophy is even less popular than philosophy, and philosophy has a notorious problem with treatment of women. See also: This  and even The Huffington Post. (Many sciences have more females than philosophy does; philosophy averages about 80% male. Inquiring minds have to wonder why? Is it because women don’t like to think or are afraid to argue?  Hmmm …)

As I worked on my dissertation in September 2005, Ted posed a really tough question he had never solved that happened to be in my area of work.

I thought the question over. And then, as I was hanging with some friends, watching football and doodling, and I came up with something that just might work. Actually, I doodled a looping line that was the inspiration for an issue with Stoic causation and free will.

(Do you really want to be know about Stoic causation and hard determinism? I love it, but I don’t expect everyone to love this stuff.)

The next Friday I showed Ted, and he was … well, he was flabbergasted. Ted said something along the lines of, “By golly, that works!”

SO … that night, we had our annual philosophy party with students and professors at a professors house. (By the way, I later learned this counts as a school event).

I was talking and making smart-ass (i.e., lame) philosophy jokes with other grad students and suddenly the mood changed. Ted was standing behind me. I turned around to acknowledge him and include him in the circle. He praised my work.

If it ended there, everything would be fine. There would be no story to read here.

But after praising my looks–my dress, my lips, my eyes, my legs–(yes, you read that correctly), he told me how much he wanted to take my dress off me. Then he put both hands on my cheeks and kissed me very forcefully on the mouth.

I immediately went to the bathroom. Did that really just happen?  Three students later came forward as witnesses.

I took the weekend to cool off. I hung out with my football watching friends. Maybe he was drunk? No, it doesn’t excuse it, but #$^*, I’d known the man for four years, why would he do this NOW? (Oh, naivety.)

So next week, we had our Greek translation group on Friday morning. All four of us showed up, ready to take on Aristotle’s Metaphysics Zeta.

That was fine.

Then I met Ted (alone, door open) in his office to go over where I was in my work.

Again, that was fine. I had made more progress. I left  feeling pretty positive about my work in understanding Stoic logic and hard determinism.

I went back down to my office to grade or work or something. He came downstairs to my office to recommend I look at a paper online. I remember it was a paper by W.V.O. Quine, someone  who was a prominent professor of his at Harvard.

I found the paper online, turned my head to Ted to let him know I found it … and from behind, he groped me quite … um, adamantly … ?  Intimately?  And kissed me (if shoving your tongue in someone’s mouth counts as kissing) — and then left.  Quickly.

I closed the door to my office, which automatically locked.

I was in shock.

I knew at this moment I HAD to report his behavior. I knew that this meant I couldn’t work with him. I know that I couldn’t finish my work at the university where I had already invested so much time.

I knew everything had changed.

My office mate (and good friend) came in (one of the witnesses) and found me curled up in a ball, crying.

He took one look at me.  “He did it again, didn’t he? You have to report it.”

I begged him to give me a half hour to process it, to calm down. But he didn’t give me that time and reported it himself.

So I was called down to some room without windows.

What were you wearing?
Was he drunk?
Have you had sex with him?
Did you lead him on?
Did you say anything suggestive to him?
How many people in the department have you slept with?

Yes. In 2005, I was actually asked these questions at a State University in Florida.
All my witnesses were asked them too.  Some of them told the “fair and impartial” investigators off.
I was numb and stupidly answered the questions … I just happened to be “lucky” that I hadn’t had sex with anyone in my department, or for that matter, the school. I could not be the  “slut” they seemed to think I must have been.

I was told in February (yes, FEBRUARY) that they made a decision. Ted would no longer be alone with women with the door closed (Uh … door was never closed) and I’d have to go elsewhere without Letters of Rec except one from the dean.

I couldn’t fight it. Other philosophy profs said “I could have told you this would happen.” (Thanks.) and, “Well, you must have done something to deserve it.”

I was supported by other philosophers, but they weren’t tenured so their pull in the department wasn’t as strong. Still, I shall never forget their basic human decency and not treating me like a paraiah.  I was even told by the head of the department that he wished I came to him first so we could address it. It was “obviously a misunderstanding”. (I learned later that this move on his part was also illegal.)

Ted’s wife worked in the department too. No female has ever completed their Ph.D with him. Only males. The females leave with their masters degrees; other professors couldn’t seem to understand why this was the case. “She was so bright and promising.”  I heard several times about my female predecessors.

And I found out later this was not the first time he had done this. How the hell did he still have a job? He’st now professor emeritus  and I’m making the most with my degree, but I’d be much happier if I was just allowed to pursue what I love.

I’m not bitter. I just fail to believe that sexual harassment laws are being enforced as intended, particularly in the academy.

As for the three witnesses who stood by me, they all left the school within two years. One finished his Ph.D elsewhere, and two left with an M.A. the next year; one teaches, one  practices law. Both have law degrees.

All supporters of me during that time were male.

But that’s the overall make-up of the field.