We knew it was coming and here it is. An open source spreadsheet designed by The Professor Is In blog’s Karen L. Kelsky for the purpose of collecting up stories of sexual harassment, abuse, and plain old taking advantage from within the Academy in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
“I am not surprised at the number. I am surprised at the severity of many of the stories. I expected more quid pro quo or handsy passes made after drinking at an open bar at a conference. I didn’t expect as many stories of rape and stalking and abuse.” (Kelsky)
Unlimited to the discipline of International Relations (IR), we know that stories shared here – and countless like them – derive from inside our Departments, Schools, and conferences. As an extremely male dominated and masculinised discipline, feminist and queer IR have been telling us for years about the profound effects such a gender imbalance has. On not only how women and femininity are treated and so often marginalised but on how such patriarchy has detrimentally produced IR’s traditional and primary units of analysis – man, the state, and war – in the very image of their very particular (male, white, cis etc) authors.
Speaking to the extent of the ‘scourge‘ (as Kelsky puts it), as a recently graduated, female, IR PhD working (happily) in the discipline, I count myself lucky for making it this far without having accumulated much to add to the spreadsheet’s 1,600 (and counting) entries. However, if I’m honest there are probably things that I could/should say. The women coming forward to share their stories – even anonymously – are braver than I.
Of course, in Higher Education, the lines between work/personal life and teacher/student become blurred (and these blurrings are some of what make academia and University life good). Of course, there is a difference between rape and mis-judged flirting or an extra-marital affair. However, consent is complicated and the extreme power imbalance between parties involved make the stakes high and skew the consequences in favour of the most often older, most often senior, most often male participant in even seemingly ‘harmless’ interactions. Just read the spreadsheet to see for yourself. After doing so I’m thinking now is surely the time for us to re-draw the lines and bring to account the ones so far un-named who went too far (we/you know who you are).