Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It's all yours, Sweetie

Do I LOOK like
a sweetie?
My lab was blocked this afternoon by a colleague who is not normally in the obnoxious category. Stuffy? Opinionated? Unctuous? Sure. We've skirmished a few times, but generally Dr. X has been on my side, applauding what I do.

I marched in and announced that it was my lab from right about now and would they please clear out asap. The students looked up from what they were doing (real work, not Facebook) and then Dr. X came over and patronizingly said: Sure, it's all yours, Sweetie.

And he stroked both of my cheeks with his fingers.

I managed to keep from swatting him, although he roundly deserved it. Instead, I got very angry and told him that I would not tolerate such behavior AT ALL and stormed out of the lab. My students, waiting outside, were rather surprised to see my mood change.

Dr. X came out and wanted me to come into his office for a private chat about the "situation". I was not about to go into a 1:1 situation with him and flatly refused. He whispered "Let's not fight in front of the students". I insisted: I want to state here and now that such behavior is completely unacceptable. And now let me start my class.

It was a 4-hour long seminar, and the dean (who manages to get wind of pretty much everything and was holding office hours in our wing) told me later that Dr. X was sweating blood and tears all afternoon, he kept knocking on my door, hoping I was in.

When class was over Dr. X fluttered in and profusely apologized. He said that they have a new colleague, a woman, who greets all the colleagues with a hug. He just didn't quite realize that I wasn't that colleague..... I almost started to scream when he took my hands as part of his apology. I stated, loud enough for all the students standing around to hear, that I did not want to be touched AT ALL was that clear? He apologized again, and I said okay, don't let that happen EVER AGAIN.

I think the four hours of worry were a wonderful punishment, so I won't be pressing charges. I have enough other crap to deal with at the moment. Had a good laugh with the dean about it, so he knows to keep an eye out for additional misbehavior.

25 comments:

  1. Holy jesus h christ on a cracker.
    I would have slugged him.
    And then directed a flaming bunsen burner at his crotch while he lay unconscious on the floor.
    And then pissed on him to put out the fire.
    Unless I was in a really bad mood.

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    1. Really bad mood = burn the building down Strel-style.

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  2. I don't think I could have responded that coherently and awesomely. I'm sorry your colleague thought it was ok to treat you like that. Way to go on your response!

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  3. You are my hero, Suzy. Sometimes you've got to keep it real.

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  4. Strange. This is 2013. If I ever, for some reason I can't even think of, did anything anywhere close to what Dr. X did, I'd fully expect to be placed on "administrative leave" before the week was out, while the revocation of my tenure was processed. Dr. X and the dean must be counting their lucky stars.

    And maybe a "teachable moment" was missed (or underutilized). Maybe some students in both groups are thinking "oh, hysterical". Dr. X was far from humiliated enough in front of his own students. When I run the movie in my mind, a happy ending has Suzy saying in a clear and level voice, the students enraptured at the controlled anger:

    "X, listen carefully: this is textbook harassment. When my class ends, I am going to write a report to the dean, with copy to the provost. I don't know what they'll do with it, but it will be in your personnel file forever. Now get out of here before I call the cops."



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  5. I'd like to say 'way to go', but my overwhelming feeling right now is more like : (jaw dropping to the floor, small tomato dropped into pants...) "Holy Shit! Holy Teapartying Shit!!!"

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  6. It was wrong for him to touch you in any way without your permission regardless of the intention. I am very sorry you had to deal with that, and I think you did a good job of dealing with a shitty situation.

    That being said, what if the situation was reversed and a female faculty member touched a male faculty member in that way? It's a but off topic, but I have to wonder if the situation would go down the same way, or if jokes of slugging people would still be acceptable. Sorry for going off the track a bit, I had a long conversation with somebody today about gender equality and men's rights. Feel free not to respond to this. lol

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    1. You know, I am used to women getting gaslighted and "WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ!!!"-ed on sexist shitholes like reddit, but I really would have thought that the CM community was a bit more evolved than that. Guess not.

      You suck, as does your "Feel free not to respond to this" P/A bullshit. lol.

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    2. but I really would have thought that the CM community was a bit more evolved than that

      What page have you been reading?

      This is something that comes up in the mail fairly often, and all I can do is ask for folks to consider that this is a community made up of a variety of readers (not just those that post and comment).

      There are a number of folks on the page interested in gender equality (for lack of a better term), and we sometimes see it portrayed, and we sometimes don't.

      I'd think this post by Suzy is a pretty good reminder for all of us tothink about our own communities.

      - The RGM

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  7. That's so far over the line that, since you've dealt with him before without such problems, I have to wonder about a medical problem (and/or medication or self-medication) that's causing a change in personality (i.e. loss of impulse control). The fact that he got touchy-feely again after spending the afternoon in a swivet suggests that the circuits aren't quite connecting up (and also suggests that he wasn't simply drunk, unless he was alternating between knocking on your door and taking a swig of something, but I suspect you would have noticed that).

    @Naughty: professors (and people generally) ought never to swat or slug each other. Among other things, that rarely makes a bad situation better. But fantasizing about it (i.e. admitting how angry one is) doesn't do any harm, and might even be healthy. But I get your point; even fantasizing/hyperbolizing about hitting a woman (especially if one is a man) still comes off differently (women in combat and other signs of gender equality notwithstanding).

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  8. Wow--what? I probably would have responded with an incredulous: "Did you just caress my cheeks and call me, Sweetie?" before shouting something equally condescending that would have escalated the situation. Good job on keeping your composure. I wish so badly you were still a dean! :)

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  9. You handled it well. That really sucks.

    I would have slapped him then berated him in front of the students. He would not forget being humiliated in front of his students. Neither would they.

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  10. Holy shit, what an asshole. I'm sorry you had to deal with that. But you were wonderful! Talk about inspiring your students. Standing amazed.

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  11. I'm sorry you've had this nonsense posed on you, Suzy. Say, you didn't mention what sort of lab this was. If it's a chemistry lab, might you be able to set this person on fire, or something equally unpleasant?

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  12. I'm with CC. If this is something new and out-of-the-blue, there may be an underlying biochemical problem. Which is not to say that your response wasn't appropriate.

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    1. I wondered about that too. Maybe medical attention required.

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  13. You handled it better than most people I know. What a completely unhinged colleague.

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  14. I had a colleague who "sweetie"ed me and patted me on the shoulder and did a bunch of shit like that until I finally called him out, but he was always careful not to do it in front of anyone.

    Good for you for making him sweat, but I would seriously think about filing some kind of report. You know, so the next woman he does it to has a paper trail.

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  15. I'm constantly astounded by the type of behavior that some people still seem to think is acceptable in the twenty-first century.

    Even more depressing is that, considering the ideas a few of my students seem to have about gender relations, I'll bet that at least a few of the students who witnessed this incident were thinking something like, "What the hell is her problem? He was was just messing around."

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  16. I think you got it right and he was wrong.

    I don't think it's wrong to consider how it might have played out if the genders were reversed. You are still right.

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  17. I would have found this behavior equally offensive, as a woman, whether it was a man or a woman who was stroking my cheek and calling me sweetie. Eeewww. Don't do that.

    This was about inappropriate behavior, full stop. I really don't think the gender of the parties involved made any difference at all.

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    1. I agree, gender made no difference in the story. However, I think it makes a difference in some of the comments (as I mentioned above).

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