The push-back against equality is now trying to rewrite history and retroactively rehabilitate Bora Zivkovic. In a terrible article that ignores all the facts and instead throws around sexist terms (“witch hunt”, “bitches”, “pussies”, “harpies”) utterly oblivious to the fact that they undermine her own argument, we get this ignorant bullshit.
As I noted above, what Bora did in no way met any legal or reasonable standard for sexual harassment — a crew of harpies who accused him just said it did; and all these supposed “skeptics” who make up the science-writing community just piled on.
To recap the incident, Bora was widely recognized as an important gatekeeper to the online science writing community — he knew everyone, was a real activist in building communities and bringing diverse writers together, and was also widely liked. But that all came crashing down when it was discovered that he treated men and women differently, that women were subjected to uncomfortably sexual talk, and that maybe he wasn’t such a great community builder after all, if women were feeling reluctant and betrayed.
There were no legal issues. This was not brought to court. He is not currently in jail. All it was was that he was discovered to be biased in the execution of his work, and therefore wasn’t doing the job he was expected to do — so, like a dishwasher who does a poor job washing dishes, he lost his position as a community manager at Scientific American, and resigned from his position on the board of Science Online. This was right and appropriate — when you lose the trust of a community in a position that is all about the community, of course you should lose that position.
What’s beyond crazy and what’s sick is that we’ve gotten to the point where accusations of sexual harassment are simply believed out of hand. There has been a push from within feminism to never question an (alleged) victim.
Well, the truth is, false accusations are made, and part of a fair investigation is questioning whether there’s validity to an accusation and not simply looking on the calendar to schedule the witch burning for the accused.
This is absurd and dishonest. First, yes, you should believe it when someone testifies to their personal experience, especially when it is not an unusual experience. Our first response to someone saying they were injured in an accident or mugged on the street is not and should not be “No! I think it’s more likely that you made that up!” But we should also verify the story before taking action.
Second, read this summary of the Bora case. The accusations of simply believing out of hand and charging off in a witch hunt are totally false. Many of us were friends of Bora, and we were horrified by the accusation, and we waited to learn more, and hoped that it was an ugly aberration in an otherwise commendable career. Instead, what we got was more women stepping forward, more confirmation, and then, a regretful confession and apology from Bora.
Get that? The story was verified before anyone took any action…and the sum total of that action was to lose confidence in Bora’s ability to do his job. Are people now trying to erase the facts? Because you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to call the accusers “bitches” and pretend that no concerned investigation was carried out. Bora is not and can not be reinstated in a position of high regard in the community he abused.
It’s also incredibly dishonest to claim that he was the target of a hysterical inquisition to bring Bora down. This was a community that very much liked Bora, and responded in a deliberative and thoughtful way to the revelations. It’s telling that the way some people react to disclosures of casual sexism is with extremely over-the-top accusations of witch-hunting and McCarthyite show trials and conspiracy theories about evil feminists out to destroy the reputations of good men, to the point that they have to lie about the actual facts of the case.