A complaint to HR would be valid

An informative comment at PZ’s (on PZ’s post about Glenn Reynolds):

Yesterday I completed an online sexual harassment training for the community college (in the US) where I am currently teaching. I was thinking about this while I was going through the course and this shirt would ABSOLUTELY fall under sexual harassment. That’s not to say that the person would lose their job over it, if it was a one time thing, but a complaint to HR would be valid. Most likely in this scenario (if it happened where I teach) the person wearing the shirt would be told by their supervisor that the shirt is inappropriate and may be brought in for a talk with HR. Either way the incident would be noted in case any further incidents with that same person occurred in the future. This outcome does also depend on if there were any previous incidences of sexual harassment complaints.

See? It’s not a huge deal, unless there’s an existing pattern, but it’s an issue, worth noting and correcting. That’s all. It’s magnified if it’s seen by millions of people all over the world, but then again, an apology will suffice.

It’s not the worst thing ever, but no one said it was. It is something, which is all anyone said.

We were not wrong to say that.


  1. themadtapper says

    The thing that completely blows my mind about the whole ordeal is that in ANY professional context that shirt would be considered unprofessional at best and outright inappropriate in almost every case. And people like Richard Dawkins know damn well it would be. If Dawkins went to a speaking engagement at Oxford and a fellow speaker showed up wearing a shirt like that, would he smile approvingly? I very seriously doubt it. At the very least he’d give it a sigh and a shake of his head, but most likely he’d ask the speaker to please not go out on stage like that.

    The only reason anyone at all is stirred up is that FEMINISTS pointed out that it’s inappropriate. They’re only defending the shirt because feminists disapprove of it. In essence, they’re not even defending the shirt; they’re opposing feminists. Which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. If feminists are against it and it isn’t literal physical violence or perpetrated by Muslims, then it de facto must be something that’s blown out of proportion. Ironically, it’s always the anti-feminists that blow the issue out of proportion. Feminists say “that shirt is highly inappropriate and contributes to the negative stereotypes that make woman uncomfortable in STEM fields”, anti-feminists say “feminists are BULLYING this poor man over his clothes, no make that ATTACKING him over his clothes, no wait they are WAGING WAR over a shirt”. They come out of the woodwork to defend the man, and no insignificant amount of them run active campaigns of harassment and threats against women who dared to voice their opinion on what is and isn’t appropriate attire. And “deep-thinkers” like Dawkins will lament how far feminists have fallen that they would make such a mountain out of a molehill.

  2. Scr... Archivist says

    I might have expected someone at ESA to say something about the shirt, considering their policy regarding gender equality. But really, I’ve been learning that people walk past a lot of standards they say they don’t support.

    Here is the ESA’s page about recruitment, and at the bottom you will find some words about how they encourage gender equality at the agency. http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Recruitment_policy2 (Click “Continue” if you don’t see it.)

  3. says

    The only reason anyone at all is stirred up is that FEMINISTS pointed out that it’s inappropriate.

    Yep. When I started graduate school, I had to attend a multi-day sexual harassment educational seminar because I had an appointment to be a teaching assistant. (Anyone paid by the department had to take the seminar before starting work.) We were told in no uncertain terms that as representatives of our department and the university, and as teachers, that we had to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, and that it was our job to make the classroom an effective learning environment for everyone regardless of gender or orientation. That meant policing our appearance and behavior, as well as that of our students, and that we had to report+forward any harassment complaints. This was in 1999.

    This is standard, ho-hum, nobody-even-debates-it sort of policy at large institutions, and it has been this way (as least in my personal experience) for 30+ years. I have no doubt that Matt Taylor probably attended something similar, which would help account for his heartfelt apology. No professional would debate this point today, at least not seriously.

    So yep–the reason they’re stirred up is because it’s feminists objecting, or because the people who are stirred up are not professionals who have ever worked in a diverse environment and been exposed to all kinds of people (and a few official HR policies). Given that the TIME magazine “poll” about which word should be banished from the language that was hijacked by 4chan trolls to upvote “feminist” for that honor, I just assume at this point that it’s them. So now it seems that the natural allies of Dawkins et al. are those kind of people.

  4. Kevin Kehres says

    It’s like saying “if only black people wouldn’t complain about getting crosses burned on their lawns, it would be totes OK.”

  5. musubk says

    I’m a US rocket scientist and I too have completed a required online training in sexual harassment in professional environments, probably the same one parasiteboy mentioned in the OP. The training makes it clear a shirt like that is inappropriate for the workplace and should be reported. For a first offence that probably just means the person will be reminded why it’s inappropriate. So even rocket scientists are expected to abide by these standards.

  6. carlie says

    Not only normal workplace harassment laws, but I assume that ESA is government-funded, the way that NASA is in the US? Being a government employee adds a whole extra layer of anti-harassment legal requirements one has to adhere to.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *