Sexual harassment workshop

Apparently some of the professors at my university have been having trouble keeping their hands off the grad students, so all the faculty have had to go to workshops on “sexual harassment and workplace discrimination”.  I personally had to endure a required lecture for all college faculty and a required online training session–with a quiz at the end!  Actually, it wasn’t so bad.  For someone outside the bubble, it made for an interesting study in the dynamics of liberal bureaucratic despotism.

Here’s one neat thing I learned.  How do you suppose sexual harassment is categorized by the establishment?  I mean, what sort of an offense is it?  Prior to this workshop, I would have said that sexual harassment is wrong because it makes the victim uncomfortable and therefore  falls under the general category of “harm to others”.  I would have also have called it an offense against workplace professionalism.  According to my state and university, it turns out that sexual harassment falls under the genus of “discrimination”.  That is, the primary reason it’s wrong is because it treats some people differently than other people.

Interestingly, I sensed a sort of tension between the higher and lower authorities in this matter.  The official rules, set by the state and highest levels of the university system, authorize a reign of terror by the human resource bureaucrats over the faculty.  There are official “designated protected classes” who are placed utterly above criticism, in that “insults” to them are deemed a punishable offense.  It is indeed expressly denied that academic freedom gives any warrant to engage in such “insults”.  The incuriosity of academics on certain topics is not surprising.  Sexual harassment is defined extremely broadly to include almost any unwanted behavior, including things as trivial as standing in front of a woman and “moving one’s eyes up and down”.  (Seriously.)  Given the vagueness of the rules for what constitutes “offensive behavior”, an aggressive human resource / equal opportunities office could consider they have a mandate to effectively purge the university of unattractive heterosexual men.

But nothing like this nightmare scenario actually happens, because the actual human resource and equal opportunity officers I heard speak impressed me with their general reasonableness.  The lady who gave the main presentation was careful to begin and end by expressing her respect for the faculty and acknowledging that the number of troublemakers are few.  She assured us (unprompted) of their commitment to giving due process to the accused.  She downplayed the blatantly discriminatory form of the rules (dividing “protected” classes from everyone else) by including examples of unacceptable behavior going the other way (e.g. a female teacher propositioning a male student).  The rules, at least as they were presented and quoted to me, allow an extremely radical interpretation, but the lower level enforcers seem to be trying to maintain another interpretation, the most reasonable one that the text will allow.

So, my university is a quite livable and pleasant place, for now.

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27 thoughts on “Sexual harassment workshop

  1. [...]including things as trivial as standing in front of a woman and “moving one’s eyes up and down”.

    Hilarious! Just goes to show that the best way to make fun of the liberals is to quote them.

  2. That is, the primary reason it’s wrong is because it treats some people differently than other people.

    Aren’t you making a liberal argument against liberals acting in an illiberal fashion? I am surprised to see people here apparently holding the position that the genders should be treated equally.

    You might find this history of feminism interesting:

    What had feminists started? In essence, they had begun to redefine one “custom” after another as crimes. For instance, one of the greatest hidden injuries suffered by women in those years was the predatory sexually behavior of male bosses. In 1975, a group of women at Cornell University coined the term sexual harassment. Previously, some women had called it “sexual blackmail,” but when legal scholar Catherine Mackinnon used the new phrase in the title of her 1979 book, Sexual Harassment of Working Women, both feminists and judges began using it in litigation against predatory bosses. After Anita Hill’s accusations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, the phrase became a household term. In that same year, Congress added amendments to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, accepting the feminist argument that sexual harassment violated a woman’s right to earn a living and work in a non-hostile atmosphere.

    • I fail to see how it is a “liberal” argument to point out that to create a process to rectify perceived abuses with poorly defined, almost impossibly vague ways to detect such abuses. Nor is it particularly “liberal” to point out systems created to rectify perceived abuses of power may set up an arguably more powerful structure at least as pernicious and unaccountable as the systems it is attempting to correct or improve. In short, it is not particularly liberal to point out that the systems liberals create fail to achieve their ostensible goals and usually lead to more (not less) disorder.

    • Aren’t you making a liberal argument against liberals acting in an illiberal fashion? I am surprised to see people here apparently holding the position that the genders should be treated equally.

      You may want to reread that paragraph you quoted a little more carefully; he definitely didn’t that endorse that argument.

    • “Aren’t you making a liberal argument…?”

      No, let me translate for you. This would be like a liberal laughing at a Christian housewife for giving a paid speech about how women should not be in the workplace.

  3. Given the vagueness of the rules for what constitutes “offensive behavior”, an aggressive human resource / equal opportunities office could consider they have a mandate to effectively purge the university of unattractive heterosexual men.

    You all must have seen the SNL sketch about sexual harrassment, which tho’ a bit baudy, forms quite astute commentary on the whole affair. (SNLs unique apostolate to do this sort of thing remains one of the reasons I still watch it from time to time.) And yes the vagueness is a feature, not a bug. Because the real effect of the rules in the corporation/university (as the effect of “law” in DC) is simply to appoint a largely self-regulated, to wit self-sustaining, body of “experts” free from “political” connections to exercise power against non-conformists, and you damn well-better not be an “unattractive” male.

  4. What I was thinking is that this discrimination stuff is the result of people having an innate need for morality, but no longer having a philosophy that is capable of telling something is right or wrong. They feel the need for some values, but they no longer can make value judgements. What follows? Trying to treat value-free facts as morality. This is pretty much the only way out.

    When people treat some people differently than some other people, that is an objective, value-free fact. So by condemning this they can make a moral judgement without actually making a value judgement.

  5. Pingback: On the destruction of the elite. | Dark Brightness

    • I’m wondering about that as well. I read it on Google Reader then tried to follow the link to see comments and it was deleted.

    • Possibly it was published in error and quickly moved back to draft status. I’ve done that before. If so, expect it to be finished/published later.

      We Orthosphereans often work on multiple pieces at the same time (I have 5-6 in the docket), so sometimes it happens that I click on and publish the wrong post in haste.

    • Hi John,

      I was a bit confused by this for a bit myself. I published it and then couldn’t find it. It turned out that, for some reason, the time marker on it was set to late January, so it automatically went way down on the list. I now know how to fix this, but in the process of tinkering with it, I decided this post was too long and rambling. I need to cut it down to about a third of its original size, and then maybe there will be some hope that someone will read it.

  6. We had one of those web training things, too. After watching it, I thought idly about filing a complaint with HR. All the “bad guys” in the various video vignettes were white males. The “good guys” were a mixture of races, sexes, etc. Does this presentation not constitute harassment of me based on my sex and race, by their own (alleged) rules? I know better, of course, but it was amusing to think about.

  7. What’s at root here?

    “Sexual harassment” is a tool by which the devout dyke “nature” enforces a “no hands on my body” policy. At this level there is trickle down effect.

    A “no hands on my body” policy is easily understood as a man may not put his hands on my female body.

    Now, if this is beaten into the heads of young males and females from a very early age then what WILL eventually happen?

    You will get the rise of a homosexual “nature” and a guaranteed wave of self-annihilation.

    This is the goal. This is Final Liberation.

  8. workshops on “sexual harassment and workplace discrimination

    AKA an hour of Angry Birds practice. =)

    According to my state and university, it turns out that sexual harassment falls under the genus of “discrimination”. That is, the primary reason it’s wrong is because it treats some people differently than other people.

    By that logic, she is not allowed to refuse my advances, because in doing so she is treating me differently from those whose advances she accepts!

    • ^^^ And so excising “discrimination” is not at root.

      These seminars serve as a mechanism to propagate devout dyke “nature.” A SELF-annihilating “nature.” They are the product of said “nature.” There is the understanding of trickle down effect. There is the desire to stunt female growth towards womanhood with a dogmatic command for males to keep their hands off our female bodies. This is the dogmatic command found in the devout dyke “nature.”

      A female that does not want a male’s hands on her body is a dyke.

      It’s like 1+1=2.

      Remember… These females JUMPED into the lion’s cage. Got bit. And now skillfully train the lion not to bite eat the young and generally have run of the cage.

  9. Caution: it’s the job of HR to protect the institution — not you — and part of that job is to make the unreasonable seem reasonable. I try not to judge HR people, but — given the experiences of my spouse — I must say I do not trust them. Wise as serpents, gentle as doves is always a good policy.

  10. That ” Sex and the Single Human Resources Department” pingback is SPAM. There is no visible link to the Orthosphere from there. The jackass who wrote the article is just trying to increase his Google page rank using “Search Engine Optimization”, a.k.a. link SPAM.

    I’ve become pretty careful about approving pingbacks myself, because I’ve been getting quite a few of these spammy ones that are just an attempt to plant a one-sided link on my blog. There is a crack in WordPress that is failing to flag these faux-pingbacks as SPAM even though they are one-sided: the SPAM software puts links in the page source, so the WordPress bot sees them, but then hides them from the end user.

    (I also get lots of SPAM “likes”, so I just turned them all off in the web view. Funny enough I still get lots of likes that only I see, as the bots do their thing, though a few of those come from folks using a reader instead of the web view).

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