A Calculated Response
Erika Hall

OK. It is a minefield. It is too complicated to discuss in one day let alone the three minutes I have available and my head is too full of the complications. Oh, what the hell? I will try to clearly state the truth as I see it.

Firstly, I am glad to see that a woman, an intelligent woman, an intelligent and inspiring woman of some academic note and credibility, has had the courage to speak truthfully.

Secondly, I am horrified that someone made a mistake. Someone made a mistake which resounded nationally nay, internationally. I am tempted to make with deep sarcasm, some insulting generalisation about women but I cannot because that is the point: she said what she thought and because she is supposed to “be supportive of women” she is villified.

Thirdly, women make mistakes. Men make mistakes constantly. Men are constantly wrong in almost all they say and do. Men, poor helpless puppies that they are, piss on the floor every day and women must clean the mess. Good old dependable women who are not allowed to make any visible mistakes, do actually err. Occasionaly women speak without their Feminism Guard in place and it is possible in those moments to say The Wrong Thing!

The truth is simple: human relationships are extremely difficult to navigate and there is no correct method which works in every situation. She could and should have been a little wiser but then she could have said: if you are post doc then you are not a vulnerable little girl, not a quivering co-ed alone in the big university world for the first time, this is not, in fact, your first rodeo: No woman should feel unable to speak directly to any man or woman who is not physically threatening them with a weapon.

I mean: the fact that the guy is a mentor or manager or supervisor or simply a colleague or a student in the library should not incapacitate the “victim”. Unless you really believe that your assertive response to his inappropriate behaviour would negatively affect the outcome of your work/study/life then grow up. There will be times when you feel awkward, there will be times when you think that someone is thinking about you sexually and you don’t like it, when you think: eugh! Presumably some guy has already asked you for a date. Presumably you have already declined some offer of a drink or a kiss or casual sex or a coffee or even had to move to another chair because you felt uncomfortable when the girl beside you made gossipy comments about your friend?

The terrible mistake made by the amazing Dr Huang was that she did not clearly say “Man-Up!” (I have no idea what the female expression of this might be). The fact is that some men honestly do not know when they have crossed the line and the truth is that woman has throughout history, made clear to man what is acceptable and what is not. If you are over 21 then you should have understood by now the truth: women run society. Men might still run politics and war but women run society in all cases short of Saudi Arabia and its ilk.

Yes, Dr Huang was unwise to express the truth so openly but I am glad to see it done. Yes, Dr Huang should have followed the unwritten and unspoken code of womanhood and spoken of the terrible beast who needs restraint but no, Dr Huang was not actually wrong. Dr Huang’s mistake was to speak openly and thus open herself to the slings and arrows of outraged feminism. She should have said:

If you are not happy with his behaviour then tell him. Say “I enjoy your help as my mentor and I value your support but I think I should make it clear that I want to keep our relationship strictly professional.” If he says he does not understand then add: “I feel uncomfortable when you look at me sometimes. I am sure you understand. It is distracting me from study.” If he really does not understand or if you are the only girl over sixteen who cannot put down any man in five seconds flat then you must approach his superior.

Obviously these situations are difficult and some girls are not confident enough to speak for themselves but if you can rise though academia to a doctorate then you surely know how to complain. Congratulations to Dr Huang for admitting that sex is one of the driving forces of humanity and it is not easily controlled. In truth as someone once said: “Every man looks, from a sweep to a bishop, any man who says he does not is a liar or a homosexual.”

It is almost impossible to not look, HOWEVER that only counts the first time and every man must control himself thereafter. If it is true that he is looking every time then he must be told because that’s just impolite (and wildly inappropriate). For his own sake, he needs to be told.

Now, I assume I shall suffer the wrath of womanhood but I accept that because I am wrong; I am a man it is in the JD; I am always wrong (my wife told me). Please remember I am not supporting the letching professor, he should know better; I am not saying she should change her clothing to cover herself; I am not saying that Dr Huang said the right thing; I am saying that soicety’s rules are tricky and women usually control men and it was good to hear the truth for once.

OK off you go …

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.