#ripplesofdoubt and harassment's collateral damage.

For context, in the event that you want or need it, read my last post, and Hannah's, and Kathleen's, and Erin's. (If you want a dash of irony with your context, read this post I wrote after Bora solicited my support for Kathleen and Erin in the wake of some casual sexism in a professional context.)

Then read Karen's #ripplesofdoubt Storify.

This post is about some of my ripples of doubt.

I am not trolling for reassurance -- I recognize that these doubts are not entirely rational. But I'm presenting a peek at what's going on inside my head right now so that you can get a sense of why sexual harassment (among other instances of treating women in the community as not fully human, not full members of the community) is harmful even to those who are not the direct targets of that harassment.

This is also going to be more stream-of-consciousness than most of my posts. Things inside my head get kind of tangled.

* * * * *

Eight years ago, people who were not my students were just starting to find this blog. A big part of this was because Bora Zivkovic (who had loads of readers, was on lots of blogrolls, and had lots of blogospheric visibility) started regularly linking to my posts.

(Would anyone have found my blog if Bora hadn't promoted it? Did he promote it because it was actually good, or for some other reason?)

And then, I got invited to "sell out" and join ScienceBlogs at its initial launch. Which was exciting, because I was on a network with some very engaging (and very high-traffic) bloggers. I didn't kid myself that this meant I was better than the excellent bloggers I was reading who were blogging elsewhere, but it felt a little like an independent confirmation that my blog crossed some quality threshold. It felt good.

(But the process by which those blogs were selected for the initial Sb launch was opaque to me, and I got the sense later that some of that was shaped by blogospheric tastemakers like Bora -- maybe even by explicit advice from Bora. His judgment is feeling pretty suspect to me, so can I trust his judgment that my blog was quality?)

About a year later, Bora and Anton were planning the first North Carolina Science Blogging Conference, the ancestor of ScienceOnline. Bora invited me to be a keynote speaker. I had never been invited to be a keynote speaker anywhere before. I felt so validated and excited that I jumped up and down on my bed for about five minutes before emailing back to accept the invitation.

(Why was I invited to give a keynote? What real expertise did I have to share on science blogging and its larger significance? Bora and I had never met in real life at that point. I was still in my 30s, and my profile picture was more "flattering" than "accurate". Why did Bora invite me to give a keynote?)

At ScienceBlogs, somehow I developed a reputation as a "voice of reason" kind of sensible person, able to find middle ground where there was some, able to at least grok the impulse driving opposing sides of blogwars.

(In retrospect, I wonder what role Bora played in constructing that narrative. Did people listen to me because he flagged me as reasonable? Was there some ulterior motive for positioning me this way?)

I'm resisting a strong urge to scour my curriculum vitae for workshops and panels I have been on that Bora has also been on, or that I have good reason to believe I was invited to be part of on the basis of Bora's recommendation. Off the top of my head, I'm counting at least four.

(Was it Bora's professional reputation and influence that got me these invitations, rather than anything I had done on my own to demonstrate my own expertise? How on earth could I tell?)

My invitation to blog at Scientific American was definitely due to Bora. There were lots of murmurs at launch (and there continue to be today -- I've seen them on social media, posted literally today) that the way the blogs were selected was inappropriate-to-deeply-flawed.

(That's my blog they're judging as not belonging at Scientific American. It's not good enough to be there, but Bora chose it anyway. What was his game here?)

Bora never hit on me. Bora never veered into inappropriate topics of conversation with me. When we talked about blog network issues, Bora treated me very professionally. When we interacted as friends, he treated me cordially and never disrespected my boundaries.

(But that's not how he treated other women. How did I escape the inappropriate interactions that are coming to light now?)

I took Bora for a real friend -- not just a real friend, but one who grokked systemic gender bias, how important it was to listen to women's accounts of their own experiences, how people's boundaries should be respected. He didn't always get it right away, but he seemed committed to learning.

(While meanwhile, he was ignoring other women clearly asserting their boundaries, telling him to stop.)

He acted like he valued my friendship.

(Maybe he just valued my loyalty and that reputation I had as a reasonable voice in the blogosphere ...)

(Maybe he was using me as cover, a loyal friend who would deny, on the basis of her N=1 personal experience, that he could ever harass a woman or disrespect her boundaries.)

When specifics from what he claimed was his one-and-only instance of harassment came out, he asked me to get particular other people in the community on his side, to reach out to them and get them to put down the pitchforks.

(Appealing to me as reasonable. Appealing to me as loyal. Appealing to me as a friend, who should know, from her own experience, that he couldn't have done this more than once, one tragic moment of misunderstanding.)

(Just as he had groomed me to be. As if maybe that was the point all along.)

(Maybe I wasn't actually a valued friend -- not really, not valued for myself so much as my usefulness in a crisis.)

(And maybe my work never was that good.)

(And how can I trust my own judgment, about my own work, my own friends, my own community, if I could have been so wrong for so long about Bora?)

Edited to add:

There are also profound ripples of doubt in my head about why I didn't see the harassment that was happening, what I did to make myself unapproachable to people in the community who who targeted -- who I would have liked to help in some way if I could have. Those are far more painful to me right now, and words fail me when I try to spell them out. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you folks. You didn't deserve to be harassed.

39 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    He asked you to help rein this in on his claim of it being a once-only slip? Really?

    • Janet D. Stemwedel says:


      And, I have learned (via private communications with others), I was not the only one so tasked.

      • DrugMonkey says:

        Sheesh. Self-preservation is perhaps expected. But it also speaks to the continued manipulative behavior. Uncaring that his friends that he convinced to work on his behalf would look really, really bad when the full story emerged.

  • and then some of us -- who helped bora get into scienceblogs no less -- were actively BLOCKED from being added to sciam by none other than bora. how should those people think of this blatant rejection? are those women ugly? stupid? talentless? or, dare i say this aloud ... worthless?

  • Shecky R says:

    It was always my impression that Bora was attracted to very intelligent, very verbal females. I'm annoyed by the idea that some female bloggers (not promoted by him, or 'hit upon' by him) now suffer self-doubts wondering 'wasn't I pretty enough or attractive enough for him?' If one feels compelled to ask such a silly, self-centric question, the question should be 'wasn't I smart enough and interesting enough for him?' I believe he consistently picked the best bloggers/writers he could find for SciAm, based on merit, for the topics covered and the variety sought, and it remains the best stable of science bloggers around.
    Going back now, with current knowledge, and trying to re-interpret or evaluate every encounter one had with Bora in the past, I s'pose is a natural tendency, but ought be done with great caution.

  • Chris Rowan says:

    Oh, Janet.

    Initial success can be driven by a lot of factors - but I'd argue that sustained success and respect, such as you have achieved, is largely driven by your own talent and perseverance.

    You probably can't ever know Bora's true motives for opening some doors for you. But have you wasted the opportunities you were given? Definitely not.

  • Publicly saying that people don't have to defend him while privately doing the opposite. Classy.

    No matter what Bora's real motivations, there are a number of things I have no doubt about. First, that trying to achieve gender equality in science communication is a good thing. Second, that most if not all* of the women he mentored/recommended are really good writers. After all, he may have helped put some of these bloggers in place, but the edifice known as science blogging was built by their writing.

    *I don't think I've read all the writers who fall into this category, but I've read enough that I feel confident generalizing.

  • Amanda says:

    If you were a reasonable taxpaying good-neighbor citizen and a bank sold you a foreclosure, and years later you found out the bank acquired said foreclosure through manipulation of documents and theft of property from the previous owners, would that make you a thief? No. Not even if you wrote a positive review of your experience with the bank and the bank used that in their advertising materials.

    Or to put it another way, I've been reading you for at least 5 years and I don't know this Bora person at all. I found you through the great power of the Goog, and they do some not-so-nice things too, but also some very good things like excellent search.

    You feel used and smirched and this causes you to doubt your judgment, but real pathological manipulators are truly superb at what they do. Don't let this stop you or hold you back in any way!

  • Janet

    That someone of your calibre and wisdom is experiencing self-doubt thanks to Bora's transgressions is perhaps the most devastating fact to emerge so far.

  • Fe says:

    I appreciate the posts on this subject and the general support on the issue.

    But the harassing behavior goes beyond sexual and race and 'gender', so it would be good to find the root cause of it, as in any other science analysis, if that is what you are after.

    I perceive harassment as a misunderstanding and misapplication of concepts leading to a fixed-adapted strategy for achieving immediate gains, which are processed as long term cumulative gains resulting in a big final achievement for posterity. Something like building and maintaining a 'grandiose' concept of self.

    Maybe the concept of competition, among others and in a progressively concentrated harsh environment, is wrongly understood and applied. As if the ‘anything goes’ approach is triggered by a conditioned approach with an attached ‘reward’ at every event. At the end of it the initial purpose of a rightful and beneficial goal should not be defeated by the means to achieve it.

    If the ways out of a maze are progressively closed leading to a bottle neck effect, the questions would be if they can be open, and how. So, if the negative effects originate at a main controlling node of society that would be the obvious place to work for change.

  • Quench your doubts. Your reputation on Scienceblogs as a voice of reason, was a reputation that you earned. I don't think Bora had anything to do with that.

  • bsci says:

    I think you've gotten at one issue that's been stuck in my head, but hasn't been addressed elsewhere. Bora was known for promoting young new bloggers, often female bloggers. Some of them have come forward with horror stories. Others, including a few who have, in the past, publicly thanked him for his mentorship, have remained silent. How many of them were like you, with no direct negative experiences. How many had similar verbal/written harassment, but haven't stepped forward? How many did the harassment or interaction go beyond words? It's none of my business, but these are also ripples of doubt that now affect at least this reader's perception of everyone he mentored.

    Also, I first found you on scienceblogs, which, I guess, is to Bora's credit, but I've followed your phenomenal writing ever since.

  • aidel says:

    Try being blindly married to it.#monsoons of doubt. Janet and others, there is probably no way to reassure you, but I SWEAR you and others were chosen for your talent as writers and thinkers. Whatever else you can say about him (plenty) he loved his work and took it very seriously. And although it is clearly a contradiction, Bora did advocate for women in science/science writing, even if he also engaged in inappropriate behavior. All of the positive memories you have of him deserve s place in your grey matter as much as the negative ones. I DO NOT WISH TO MINIMIZE ANYONE'S HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE. But most of the time a person is a mixed bag. Now imagine having to wonder if you have built your whole life, father of your children, on lies. Women still hurt women by validating some ecperiences while devaluing others. Why? Domesticity?

  • Dario Ringach says:

    If you distrust your own judgment take it from me... take it from the rest of us... You are good!

  • maryn says:

    This is extraordinarily good, Janet - fair on all sides, and yet so deeply personal, beautifully written yet wrenching, and so illuminating of how far those ripples can go. Brava.

  • This particular brand of fallout is what's been making me most upset, since first reading Monica's post.

    Janet: if you weren't good at it, people wouldn't read you. People do read you.

  • Isabel says:

    bsci asks some great questions. I understand that people are in shock. But if we end up letting this mostly fade into a hazy "people are a mixed bag....we should protect the family...he had his good side..." and don't face facts here and now, then THAT would be failure, in my opinion. Not what has happened so far, but not facing reality now.

    Do people not understand what a sociopath is, or a narcissist? Or, are we pretending these categories do not exist? And if we were to look around to see where those 1 out of 25 or whatever exist in our lives we would look first toward the Bora-types, not be shocked to find pathology there. The charisma, the boldness, the gregariousness, charm, energy, apparent good works, are all part of the picture. I'm no expert, but I have had enough traumatic experiences of this type to have done my own research.

    Again, no one slips once and does any of these things. Ever. Now, some middle-aged guys may be a little nervous because they also like the attention (esp the occasional adoration) of young female students and mentees. Maybe they willingly pay more attention to these mentees, thinking it's harmless, not even noticing the manipulative ones (males don't have a monopoly on anti-social behavior). Maybe they can imagine taking it further, if only in their fantasies. Here's my advice 1. Grow up- right now. Why do we feel sympathy with older men who feel a sudden urge to "open up" with a much-younger, attractive woman. Or think it's cute when a professor is obviously flattered by the attentions of young women students? Or worry about how vulnerable mature men are to manipulative young women? 2. Even if you do make an ass of yourself you probably won't ramble on for hours about your sexuality- Bora is sick. Not in the heal-able way either. It isn't just sexism at work, there is an obvious pathology here, but sexism is what allows the situation to play out and continue.

    And the fallout continues. Not even just what is related in this post. It goes on. Those attractive women Bora helped may have already unsuspectingly made enemies who perceived favoritism, even if it is not true. This may hurt them later in ways they don't even realize. In my case, just one example, when some charismatic sociopathic type I had unfortunately become professionally entangled with told other people we had gone on a "date" I didn't hear that version until months or in one case years later, also that he had told people *I* acted weird on our "date" - I was never able to correct the record. And he was even able to convince some of my (former) friends (that he only met after I had already regrettably become professionally entangled with him) of his side of the story. That betrayal, of the supposedly good people, never healed- that is what concerns me here. People are STILL sympathizing with Bora. You can stop now!

    Yes, a lot of people know a lot more than they are admitting here, people who are usually willing to go public with just about every other type of information and unfortunately that is the tragic part. Zuska's post hit the nail on the head. We will go along, with all our excuses because we don't want to upset the applecart. First symptom was the excessive, desperate non-sensical worry/hope that it might be a one time thing, not a pattern, as if that makes any difference? There is a lot to process here, and a great opportunity. Please resist the urge to sweep it under the rug.

    • Isabel says:

      "had told people *I* acted weird on our "date" - I was never able to correct the record. And he was even able to convince some of my (former) friends (that he only met after I had already regrettably become professionally entangled with him) of his side of the story."

      Just to be clear I meant his side of the story regarding various aspects of the professional entanglement, which they ended up marginally involved in also. My friends at least knew the date story wasn't true, though they were annoyingly sympathetic to his misunderstanding, as people are now/were being with Bora. I still cringe to think of the gossip I was unaware of at the time though, acquaintances thinking I had dated him, especially as I found him repulsive.

      Now, on second thought, it might be unreasonable and a little insensitive to demand that people just all now spill out the details publicly of their dealings with Bora. But the uncharacteristic silence is also weird. Somehow, it does feel like the status quo is being protected. I don't know what the answer is 🙁

  • razib says:

    99% sure that bora had nothing to do with your selection. i asked ppl who were staff at SEED back then once at a party how i'd gotten selected, and it didn't seem systematic aside from pz (i.e., he was in, period). chris mims once offhandedly commented in a storify that pz had warned them about me because i was a rightwing crank (pretty much true if you are a liberal, so i don't hold it against him). if they let me join despite pz's warning that means that no outside blogger really had much power in selection. they also kicked out people periodically who weren't up to snuff if you recall.

    btw, there was a clique of ppl who were 'tight' at SB by 2008 or so. everyone from back there knows who was in, and who wasn't (you're on the thread, so you know). bora was part of it and enjoyed brandishing collective action a little too much for my taste. i told my gf (now wife) that i was going pull away from the 'community' because it seemed too trigger happy, and back-scratching. but i made sure to be nice to bora in part over all these years because i wasn't too keen on having to fend off a moronic mob he sent my way for some infraction. that's reality. it will always be, because hume was right in a description, if not normative (i wish it weren't so), sense in regards to the relationship between passion and reason.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    I see this as the pernicious collateral damage of an abuser. It reminds me of drug abuse. There seems to be different versions of a person- the person who acts in the abuse and the version who maintains the non-abusive facade or appropriate boundaries in some relationships but not others, and there are many forms of denial, both in the abuser about their behavior until it is utterly exposed, and in the betrayed- the ones unaware of the "other side". I don't know if these people are completely manipulative sociopaths, because they can be unwell in other ways, and in denial and rationalizing behavior, just like addicts, but they will have to live with the fact that their actions now have the shadow of exactly that. How can there be any trust with such collateral betrayal heaped upon deeply inappropriate behavior? Just very depressing, as Janet illuminates here.

  • Torkel Glad says:

    I have followed your blogging since you were Dr Free-ride. Your way of reasoning about ethics has impressed me: how you carefully lay out the foundations of your reasoning and what conclusions you can draw. Your recent blogs about misconduct in Science are especially valuable since you go deeply into the cases and their various aspects. If you could somehow step out of yourself and see things objectively from the outside you would realize what a fantastic job you are doing. Anyway please go on doing your work. Scientific American should be proud of having you as a blogger.

  • throwaway says:

    I have an idea. Maybe Bora is actually a really nice guy and valued you as a friend and colleague and genuinely respected your talents? Please keep in mind that what he did was distasteful and absolutely 'over-shares' but maybe he honestly thought the comments he was making to these women were within the boundaries of their (and boy was he ever wrong). I haven't seen any evidence where people suffered any sanctions because they rejected his comments (oddly, it seems no one really did besides feeling uncomfortable and being fiercely promoted even though they rejected his advances).

    There is so much 'well he did this, so he MUST have done that, or he MUST have been thinking THIS!!! ACK!!" It's so much hyperbole and hard to stomach.

    Bora wasn't perfect, he made some serious mistakes but please, lets try to keep all of this in perspective. Anyone who has ever spent time with him knows that social cues were not his strong suit.

    Here's an awkward question: would the status of women science writers be where it's at now without Bora? Unfortunately (and I mean that), no, it probably wouldn't. Are we then supposed to fall into the 'ends justify the means' narrative that has been used for this week-long shame-fest? i.e these women were justifiable collateral damage? No.

    What Bora did was wrong but so have the actions of so many who called Bora their friend.

    What he did wasn't across the threshold that you simply throw him away.

    How about this: why not ask him back - go to some counselling and rehabilitate? Wouldn't that be a better science-based solution rather than just getting rid of the problem. How about accepting the problem as your own, keep all the good stuff (because Bora was awesome at so many things) and get rid of the bad stuff by counselling and putting in proper safe guards. Isn't a science-base vs emotion based solution a better course of action?

    • Chad Jones says:

      So you're saying that Bora was so influential and did so many good things that a few reports of misconduct shouldn't ruin his career? Honestly, I can see your point. Bora was an integral part of the community. He helped me get started writing and participating in the science community. There's bound to be (at least for a bit) a hole where his influence once was. But the real problem with inviting him back - even with a counseling requirement - is that you're sending a pretty clear message that harassment (of any kind) is acceptable as long as you're an influential or important enough person.

      But what was Bora's problem? (and let me say that again - Bora's problem - it's not our job to "[accept] the problem as [our] own". It's Bora's problem. It's not the victim's problem and it's not my problem as a spectator. It's Bora's problem).

      Where was I . . .

      Oh yes, what was Bora's problem? He was influential. He had power. Whether he was "bad at social cues" or whether he knowingly used that influence for sexual conquests isn't the point. The point is he was in an influential position of power and misused the trust given him.

      In other words you can't excuse his actions because he's influential; his actions are offensive BECAUSE he's influential. Yes, we could invite him back, but we'd be inviting back with him an acceptance of harassment, of bigotry, of sexism, of racism, and of any other type of power imbalance you could imagine. Things wouldn't go back to how they were (and they shouldn't), things would get worse because every person in a position of power would know they could get away with whatever they want - as long as they were in a position of power.

      A few more of my thoughts along these lines here: http://www.thecollapsedwavefunction.com/2013/10/bora-zivkovic-resigned-today-from-his.html

    • Throwaway,

      ...sorry what?

      Okay so first, it is entirely beside the point if Bora thought that he was within his boundaries. He wasn't. He harassed a number of women, and that it is harassment is independent of his thought process. Don't do the women Bora harmed the disservice of denying them _their_ experiences by downgrading what he did to "distasteful and absolutely 'over-shares'." He sexually harassed them. They felt violated. To even imply that it is somehow overreacting to believe them is awful.

      Second, the idea of it being a mere "over-share" is ludicrous. Have you read, for instance, Kathleen Raven story? You should. I defy you to explain the emails she shares as something anything else than sexual harassment. I'm not saying he must have been thinking X, Y, or Z; I'm saying that he *should* have been aware. "Lapse" or not, he's culpable. The fact the Bora admitted what he'd done should be enough, and I can't understand what is so complicated about that.

      Third, even if Bora didn't understand what he was doing, he should have. And he should have because he's an editor. And if he _couldn't?_ He shouldn't be an editor. People who can't be trusted to understand that what Bora said is _never_ what a person in a position of power should say to someone vulnerable to them---much less anyone else---shouldn't be in positions of power. That he helped these women in their careers is completely irrelevant to judging what he did.

      Here's a "science-based" (what a fucked up thing for someone to say) alternative for you: Bora should go seek counselling and rehabilitation AND not be in a position of power. The two conclusions aren't mutually exclusive.

      That you have nicely defined for Janet what is acceptable to be feeling or doing is inappropriate; that you seem hell-bent on downplaying what has happened or explaining it away by claiming that Bora might not have meant it (which is irrelevant as to whether or not it is harrassment), and ignoring that it was in no way a one-time thing, is obnoxious. Three's a pattern, mate. Get with the program.

  • throwaway says:


    Those are some really good points and I'll think about them seriously. Perhaps you're right that welcoming him back could be misconstrued as acceptance for his actions. I don't think that's necessarily so if handled properly but I can see how it could appear.

    I think what bothers me the most about all of this is it seems that Bora is being directly linked to every harassment that any woman has ever suffered. Let me be clear here, what he did was wrong, harassment of women is a serious issue both in the work place and outside of it, and all of this needs attention and needs to be addressed. Before I get pilloried I like to think I try to be a good guy, honestly, I'm the one who tells guys to cut the crap out, to stop using sexist language (i.e any woman older than 16 should not be referred to as a 'girl' particularly in a professional context) and I do my best to be gender neutral as possible (because honestly I don't really care whether a colleague is a man or woman - i love my wife and kids, I'm done). Heck, I even have a post on the #ripplesofdoubt storify apparently because I sent Karen a sincere email - honestly, I try (and apparently am horribly failing) of being a decent human being.

    Because of all this Bora has suffered (and I know some will say he brought it on himself and deserves it all) such a tremendous public shaming that at it just seems so completely cruel. I really do think this could all of been handled a different way and the same end point would have been reached. At the bare minimum, Kathleen could have left so much of the 'gory' details from her post and the end result would have been the same - the graphicness in it to me just seemed cruel.

    Anyway, as I said, I'll think about this more. I've flipflopped a number of times on this and am still trying to find a firm footing. As much as many would like to say it, I don't believe this is black and white - it is a little more complicated.

    It really is the cruelty of it all. As much as Boras actions were reprehensible it seems over the top to me, and as a result, will ultimately prove to be a net loss to men & women being respectful to each other in the workplace.

    It made me this of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY8iWJ5h5aM

    Thanks again.

    • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

      Kathleen could have left so much of the 'gory' details from her post and the end result would have been
      ...some guy minimizing what was done to her, and dismissing it as "not really harassment". And guess what, that happened even with the gory details included.

      It is interesting to me how cruelty is called out so asymmetrically.

      And, anyone who wants to argue "none of this stuff was harassment really" should read Jennifer Ouelette's excellent post on what harassment looks like.

    • Chad Jones says:

      I appreciate the reply. Again, I can see your points, but want to make a few of my own.

      As to the cruelty - I agree, there was absolutely a "trial by Twitter" mentality that happened. If the accusations had been false it probably would have seriously hurt his career anyways. That being said, they're not your emotions to temper. I made a similar comment during the start of all this:


      So I'm obviously of the opinion that "cooler heads prevail". I get it, forgive and forget. Water off a duck's back. Etc. Etc. Etc.

      I nearly retracted that Tweet, though, and here's why. I think there's a significant difference between:

      1) Being calm.
      2) Being calm and telling others their emotions are wrong.

      The video you linked to is a great example of a calm, peaceful response when faced with a difficult situation. It's admirable, I'll admit. But tell me, are the other speakers wrong? Take the sister and mother that begin the video - would you call them unreasonable? I wouldn't. That's their emotion, and it's just as acceptable as the forgiveness.

      You're also right that Bora's victims could have handled it in a different way, but I think you're wrong in assuming that would make it a better way. They could have left out details, names, places, etc. BUT - they didn't have to do that and they're not wrong for including them. There hasn't been a single story I've read that had the tone of being "out to get" Bora. I don't think it's right to tell someone what details they can't share. Do you think it's easy for someone to be so vocal about a moment they felt so small? To me the details they share are up to them and them alone.

      You're upset that Bora is being linked to every harassment, but I think that's one of the best things that has happened from all of this. Women (and men) are sharing stories of harassment openly and with much less fear of repercussion. I've read stories in the past week that have been heartbreaking and painful with every word - but they were also eye-opening and I think we'll see some real positive change come from this. If Bora quietly sinks into the night and we never speak of harassment again we've learned nothing. I don't think Bora is being BLAMED for every act of harassment, I think the events of the past few days/weeks have served as a catalyst for real discussion that will hopefully lead to real change.

  • throwaway says:


    That's really insightful. Thanks for that, I really appreciate it. Honestly, I want to come out the other end of this having gained something: a better appreciation of women issues or something.

    One hard thing I have a hard time reconciling is that someone's feeling are justified regardless of cause or context. IF we could go back in time and ask Bora: would you rather beaten for 5 hours or be twitter shamed for a week - which would you choose? I think he would choose (a) which, if we believe that all feeling are justified and matter regardless of cause or context isn't what the community has done worse than beating Bora for 5 hours? (according to him at least).? So shouldn't the community feel a level of guilt on that? please tell me where my logic flaw is.

    I really appreciate your efforts in trying to educate me in this, honestly I'm trying. I, and MANY people get lost, when comments like Janet put on twitter about my post crop up - it comes off as a massive man hating circle jerk which is hardly helpful and I honestly believe is undermining and destructive to these very serious issues (sorry Janet!).

    All the best.

    • Chad Jones says:

      One more thought before I head to sleep. Most of the reasons why you're not sexist sound like the sexist equivalent of "I'm not racist, I have a black friends."

      • throwaway says:

        Although one cannot preclude that someone with many black friends is a racist, I think one can assume at the very minimum that the extremism of a person's racist views are likely tempered by the number of back friends he or she may have. I seriously doubt the grand wizard has many black friends.

        Equally, I think the line of reasoning that I've seen that: you don't have black friends and therefore you must be racist is far more incorrect.

  • Isabel says:

    "Because of all this Bora has suffered (and I know some will say he brought it on himself and deserves it all) such a tremendous public shaming that at it just seems so completely cruel. I really do think this could all of been handled a different way and the same end point would have been reached. At the bare minimum, Kathleen could have left so much of the 'gory' details from her post and the end result would have been the same - the graphicness in it to me just seemed cruel."

    Yes mature men should get to tell young women all kinds of creepy sexual things in complete privacy. It is very cruel when the young women publicly reveal what these men have done.

    Another unique quality of his offenses. First, everybody holds back judgement until they are sure it's a *pattern*. A single (or two? where exactly is the cut-off?) offense is apparently acceptable. It could happen to anyone under a little stress. Now we add another unusual aspect. The offenses should be kept private- it's very cruel to tell people about them - especially the details!! Victims who refuse to suffer in silence are bringing so much pain to so many.

  • bsci says:

    "Third, even if Bora didn't understand what he was doing, he should have. And he should have because he's an editor. And if he _couldn't?_ He shouldn't be an editor. " That quote from Nicholas Evans' comment is the most succinct statement I've seen that gets at the heart of the matter here.

    It doesn't matter if he couldn't read social cues. Not doing this type of thing was a fundamental part of his job. Anyone managing a large team won't have all the skills or strengths of team members, but having an awareness of one's strengths and weaknesses and setting up a system so that personal weaknesses don't cause institutional problems is a basic management responsibility.

    • throwaway says:

      So what you're saying is that the comments and emails that Bora said/sent showed such a massive level of incompetence that he obviously isn't qualified for the job? Hmmm... you know, that's actually a pretty solid argument - it makes me think of the DNLee thing. I think you're right.

      I'm still a bit off of why the massive never ending internet shaming was necessary and encouraged (besides: it happened in the blogger community - what did I think would happen). Actually, that's not a bad justification (or at least explanation at the very least). Bloggers do blog after all... and blog and blog and blog.

      One thing that annoys me is that the more radical black-white man hating posts make @amyalkon look reasonable when really she's just as nuts as they are.

  • Patti says:

    "I'm still a bit off of why the massive never ending internet shaming was necessary and encouraged"

    Yes, that's because you're not really very interested in actually listening to the responses to your comments. You repeatedly engage with some of the bits, and ignore the comments that are inconvenient for you. It's a testament to some people's patience and good will that they keep trying to educate you. I would have been done with you after your first several tweets/blog comments. If you're really interested in learning, go back and read the words of the people who took your questions in good faith. It's all there, it's very clear.

  • throwaway says:

    No it's not that at all - I just didn't find their arguments terribly convincing.
    I just can't swallow the kool-aid.

    For example, I think capital punishment is wrong. That doesn't mean I necessarily think that every rapist, murderer and pedophile out there is innocent and doesn't deserve some form of punishment.

    • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

      Throwaway, you seem not to be engaging with the substance of what I (and others) have written here, at least not productively.

      Could you please work through what you're trying to work through somewhere else?

      • throwaway says:

        Sure. Thanks - there are some very good points here that I will definitely consider. All the best.