When Sexual Harassment Is Murky, Ctd

A reader writes:

I know nothing about this case.  But if the professor had fought the allegations, his life would have ruined by everything being aired in public, true or not.  As someone once said after being found not guilty, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”  I think a reasonable case can be made for an innocent person to walk away from untrue allegations rather than fight them, especially in today’s media atmosphere.


As a female post-doc in a male-dominated field, I read with interest the article you linked to. I am sure affairs and sexual harassment happen in all work places, but I think there is something about the professor/student, mentor/mentee relationship that contributes to it. I have been hit on/flirted with/sexually harassed (depends on how you define it) by multiple male professors over the years. And I admit I don’t always send entirely clear signals. I have no desire to have affairs with these men (I am gay), but I do sometimes enjoy playing (and trying to win) their game.

It gives me power in the relationship – not because I think I will get special treatment professionally, but because, perhaps in a twisted response to their egos, I like seeing how far I can get them to go. It makes them human; no longer are they “important professors” – just men thinking like men. When it gets too far or just awkward, I put up boundaries and declare myself the winner.

So I can understand the student in the article up to the point of turning her professor in. I recognize my role in the game and am not out to ruin careers or marriages. But I suppose it is a dangerous game to be playing, especially for the professors …