Friday, October 18, 2013

Sciam problem reaches critical mass

I recently wrote a post called "Trial by Blog Post," in which I denounced what I thought (and still think) to be irresponsible handling of an accusation of sexual misconduct. Now, there is a different set of accusations against a different person (albeit again a person with a connection to my former part-time employer Scientific American): Bora Zivkovic, editor of Sciam's blog network. I never met him though I did exchange a couple of emails with him in my capacity as copy editor/fact checker. These accusations--again, set of accusations--are different from what I discussed earlier in that they come from women who have given their names and details of what happened. They also give the lie to Zivkovic's initial response (after the first accusation of sexual harassment) that it was true but a "singular, regrettable" episode unlike anything he'd done before or since. There should at this point be a strong presumption that he is not fit for the position he has held at Sciam.

UPDATE 4:11 PM: The announcement of his resignation.


amy said...

About "irresponsible handling of allegations of sexual abuse": Ken, how exactly do you propose the allegations be made? Have you any idea what it costs a woman to attempt to do this through legal channels? Apart from years of her life and all her money as she fights a business or institution, rather than the person who actually harassed her: she's likely to lose her job and her career, and spend those years having her personal life, her sexual life, picked through publicly, and defending herself against allegations of being a slut (which, last I checked, isn't actually a crime, but it's what lawyers do to discredit women who've gone legal with harassment charges).

How many women do you think are going to do this? How many do you think can afford it? I deal with sexual harassment at work, too -- as do a great many women -- but am I going to speak up, do something about it? Hell no. I don't have someone else paying my bills, looking after my child.

Get real, man. The fact is that most women cannot afford to report harassment through administrative and legal channels, so it happens, and the men roll merrily along, and other men get to imagine that there are no problems wherever they work. (Or, if they catch wind of something -- the tut-tut, the distancing, the 'she ought to say something then...or maybe she likes it.' And then the change of subject.) Monica and the rest did exactly as they ought. They went where they would be heard, and they were heard, and it was all over in days, not years. No lawyer fees, no investigations into their use of birth control, no nuthin of that sort. Remains to be seen what happens to their careers, because from now on, wherever they go, anytime they talk to men, a little sign will be hanging over them: "She will report you." We'll see how that all goes.

I will also ask you if any of the people who spoke up are responsible for children, and ask you to think about whether that has anything to do with what they could afford to say.

Kenneth Silber said...

My reference to "irresponsible handling" had to do with the specific situation described at my "Trial by Blog Post" item, in which I also described how (in my opinion) that particular situation should have been handled.