Reviewed by: Association for Feminist Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Inclusivity
Secondary Theme: Human rights
As businesses and cultural industries across the globe address the entrenchment of sexual harassment/sexual violence, academia has been remarkably silent. Although concrete cases have come to light, they are isolated exceptions. Nicolas Dirks, an anthropologist, resigned as Chancellor of UC Berkeley partly due to his mishandling of three high profile sexual harassment cases. Jorge Dominguez, a political scientist at Harvard, was forced to resign after 19 women accused him of sexual harassment spanning more than three decades. In Québec, the provincial government has demanded that sexual harassment/violence procedures and prevention programs be in place by January 1, 2019, or universities will lose their provincial funding. To paraphrase Catherine McKinnon, if companies (read universities) said “the buck stops here, we’re here to work, and if I hear you’re harassing your colleagues, you’re out,” things might change. The problem is many human resources departments merely add sexual harassment/violence trainings to the mix and they become the butt of jokes — an occasional nudge-nudge, wink-wink — and harassment continues.
Many have pointed out it is not enough to have a policy — it has to be good policy and it must be enforced. One of the most public Canadian sexual harassment/violence cases involved the music promoter, Jian Ghomeshi. Following his acquittal, feminist litigators labeled his trial a major setback for criminal sexual abuse prosecutions in Canada. In academia, we face a spectrum of challenges: from outright denial of sexual violence and harassment, to the systematic retaliation against whistleblowers, to the quiet whispers of ‘it’s been taken care of’, meaning harassers receive small pay cuts, golden handshakes, are asked to refrain from taking on female graduate students, or to hold office hours in public spaces.
In this round table discussion, we invite participants and audience members to consider the state of the question at their universities. What has and has not been done to address the #MeToo/#MoiAussi movement? What have faculty, administrators and students done to ensure that policies and procedures actually do make a difference and do not re-victimize those who come forward and speak out? As activists, what work do we have to do to keep #MeToo moving forward rather than stagnating or receding?
This panel aims to explore these issues with our colleagues in a conversation that will hopefully span several generations, inclusive of second and third wave feminisms, and include younger, LGBTQ and faculty of color. As we know, sexism, racism and homophobia go hand in fist.