My minority stress and a case of sexual harrassment
Sunday, May. 28, 2023 - 10:54 am.

I'm currently home alone, as Andrew went to a friend's birthday party in another town. Being married to him makes me happy, but it's such a joy having your place to yourself. It's your time and your space, and for me, it's also quiet time (not that I didn't blast a few tunes last night). It's just delicious.

I'm happy to find comfort all around me, as work is stressing me out. Not because of the job I do (I thoroughly enjoy it) nor the quantity of it, but because of the general social climate in there. It hasn't had an impact on me personally -like, I haven't had a nasty interaction- but it might one day. And maybe this feeling is exacerbated by my minority stress, that has me hypervigilant on some discourses and behaviors.

The most pressing issue at the moment is that my mentor and former boss/now colleague spent a few years in the role of a prosecutor in a case of sexual and work harrassment in uni. It involved an older male academic and his female assistant, and that went on for a long time until she broke. He's highly-esteemed, she wasn't the perfect victim. You may guess what a shitshow this has been.

All infuriating details aside, the case took a health toll on my mentor, who to this day has trouble enunciating properly when she's under stress, much to her own embarrassment. She's an outstanding academic and has received multiple accolades throughout her career, and she did a fantastic job uncovering all the twists and turns of the case. But it came at a cost for her.

Anyway, the pressing isssue is that this case reached the regional government at the time, and this week, from there all the work that my mentor did has been dismissed. All those three years she spent gaining evidence and building arguments for the case have been set aside to start all over. We (my mentor, Andrew, I) guess that this case was reviewed by men in the regional government and they didn't like it.

The whole thing just reminds you why victims of harrassment and violence don't come forward. The accussed has been walking freely around uni because they can't ban him from campus, and the removal from his post took so long that he still spent at least a year there while investigations were underway. Now he'll walk around acting like he's been declared innocent (he hasn't, the decision says that the charges should be rewritten).

On Tuesday, there's an official uni event that my mentor is attending. Andrew and I weren't going to attend, but we will now to support her. People in uni go to these events to see and be seen, and the harrasser will be there. My mentor just did her job as prosecutor, she went into the case free of expectations regarding who was guilty and who was lying. It's just that she did a good job and the evidence was there. The harrasser, of course, didn't like that.

So anyway! This case has joined my low-key concerns surrounding sexuality and gender in uni. Heteronormativity in the workplace, the politics of coming out... I've been focusing on that on my job lately.

Related, Andrew sort of came out to some colleagues this week, I was very proud of him. Though he, like me, tend to do it in a way that you end up wondering if they caught it. But it was good enough that it gave way for one of his older colleagues to tell him about how homosexuals (using the language of that time) were hunted down in our uni during the dictatorship. I mean, the colleague said this to remark that, despite current struggles, things are nevertheless different these days.

I've been thinking about being more open myself. I had an online presentation of my research this week, and maybe I should've come out there. At least just identify myself as non-straight. I know it'd be good for some students, definitely for some that work with me. It'd help interrupt the hetero assumptions that linger in the air. I just worry about mid- and long-term consequences of being known as a queer academic (and a woman) in this climate.

And that plays out along the politics of uni itself, this smaller version of Game of Thrones in which there are power struggles and conflicting interests and divergent goals. I like this job because for the most part I'm left alone to do my thing (do research, some teaching), but here and there you interact with people and you're left wondering about ulterior motives or if they said something to you but meant something else.

But all this has become very salient to me over the weekend, after conversations with Andrew and with my mentor (my mentor called me for coffee on Friday to tell me about the case, and then we met again and Andrew joined us yesterday afternoon). Again, for the most part, I just go into my work station and do my thing, and I do it well, and I have the time of my life doing it.

Whew. I suppose I needed to get this stress out of my chest.


- Still no word on my UK visa. I should be travelling in a month.

- Still no house or apartment for us. We have our eye on an apartment but we're not fully convinced.

- Andrew finished therapy this week! I hope that in a few weeks we'll hear again from the adoption office, and hopefully it'll be to resume our application.

- On the downside, I've only recently realized that having a kid will entail me leaving work for a while, which will be a huge setback for my career, just as it's taking off. Stupid motherhood penalty. Not the kid's fault, though, I'm looking forward to taking them to the park.

- Speaking of going to the park, I'm gonna go work on my comic strip. Never fails to be my happy place.

Be safe. Talk to you soon.

prev / next