How can we know?

From What is it like to be a woman in philosophy – some commentary.

How can we know who the predators are?

On a day when the profession is all abuzz about the resignation of a senior philosopher due to allegations of sexual harassment, I find myself wondering about all the women who have been suffering in silence.  Many commentators on this issue add remarks along the lines that they know of much worse cases where nothing has been done.  So how are we supposed to feel safe in our professional community?  I’m left with a sense of depression and dread at that the thought that there are serial sexual harassers in our midst, walking around us anonymously, ready to strike again at any time.  “Oh, but everyone knows who they are,” it’s often said.  Well, I don’t know who they are, and I’ve been around awhile and am fairly active in the profession.  I don’t know whether I’ve unknowingly invited a serial sexual harasser to speak at a conference I’ve organized, or contribute to a book that I’ve edited, or …  So how can the young women in our profession expect to know who these predators are?

Quite. Everyone doesn’t know who they are. And woe betide any woman who tries to say who some of them are…

Stories of harassment being taken seriously?

The recent news of a prominent philosopher having to quit his job because of accusations of sexual harassment is so radical because it seems that philosophers never get in trouble for sexual harassment.  I’m a tenured woman philosopher with an excellent job.  I’m very well-connected.  I have heard tons of detailed stories about sexual harassment that went unpunished, either because the victims chose not to pursue (dangerous and perhaps fruitless) attempts at formal charges or because departments and administrators refused to respond in a serious manner.

Women just have to rise above it.


  1. Stacy says

    And woe betide any woman who tries to say who some of them are…

    Seriously. Just asserting that you know serial sexual harassers exist within a given population (say, skepticism) without naming them is enough to bring a shitstorm down on somebody’s head.

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