Author Topic: Wrong name and too many hands  (Read 10749 times)

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White Lotus

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Wrong name and too many hands
« on: September 09, 2012, 07:31:59 PM »
My husband, Professor Plum, teaches at Huge U in the Elsewhere Studies Department.  His field is a period of Elsewherian history, so, as happens to many Elsewherian Faculty, his courses are double-numbered: they count for history or Elsewhere Studies.  I am an artist and art consultant, not employed by Huge U. Around here, and in my field, PhDs use "doctor".   If they are full professors,  they use "Professor." My name is White Lotus.  I hold a PhD from PrettyBigU, where I met my husband while we were both grad students. Elsewherian women simply do not, for cultural reasons, change their names on marriage and never have, and I am an old-time American feminist, so I never would have even if I wasn't Elsewherian ethnically (I am US born.) That is B/G.

Fall is here, classes are starting and there are parties galore and will be all year long. There is a history prof, let us call him Professor Jerk.  Professor Plum is not subordinate to him and there is no way he can damage Professor Plum's career, but we do have to associate with him.  He does two highly offensive things:

First, he always introduces me as "Mrs Plum."  When he does this, I stick out my hand and say, in a friendly tone, "Hello, I am Dr. Lotus.  Better watch out for Professor Jerk.  He's quite forgetful.  He still can't get my name and title right after (a whole lot of) years." Anyone have a better way of handling this?  He is definitely being deliberately offensive.  I would like to take him down loudly and publicly for being a donkey's behind, but I am pretty sure that would be even ruder than he is.

Second, he is one of those men who likes to "hug", which means he likes to grab women and cop cheap feels, and if called on it goes all hurty/pouty-poo and tries to make the woman wrong because it is "just a hug." Elsewherians do not hug generally and certainly not promiscuously or socially, and I don't like it anyway, even if it isn't an excuse for sexual assault.  What I have done is managed to step on his feet or kick his shins when he tries to pull this on me and blame my own clumsiness "when I am pulled off balance".  Now he treats me with wary respect.  I can get him to back away fast when I remind him how terribly clumsy I am.

Here is the problem: I know he does this to every woman he can grab and I would like to be able to warn women grad students and younger faculty members of his tendencies and give them clues (spike heel applied to instep added to smiling apology) about getting him to stop with jeopardizing their bodily integrity, degrees or jobs.  I have no idea how to do this, or even if I can.  Ideas, anyone?

Professor Plum agrees I am right but thinks I handle Professor Jerk perfectly and need no assistance; it amuses him.  He likes to see Professor Jerk hopping around with heel marks on his insteps.  He is as blank on ways to warn other women as I am, and has even broached the notion that I should leave it alone and let other women either learn by example or figure out their own ways of coping.

I'd like to hear what E-Hellions think!  Thanks.

Firecat

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2012, 07:58:09 PM »
I don't know if you can pre-emptively warn other women. What I think you can do is, immediately and firmly, speak up in support of any other woman who objects to Professor Jerk's "hugs" in front of you. For example, if another woman pulls away or tells him to stop, and he pulls his "it's just a hug and you're so MEANNNNNN" routine, you can say: "She's said she doesn't like it, and it's her choice who touches her. Leave her alone." And then, if you can, invite the other woman to come with you to "get a drink" or "check out the snack table" or "have you met Professor Snow yet? You really should." And, if possible, prime your DH to do much the same, because, sad to say, it often has more impact from another guy.

There's a blog called Paging Dr. Nerdlove that has some great stuff on creepy guys and dealing with same. It's specifically aimed at the "geek" community, but I see a lot of the same creepy behaviors in other places as well (and this guy sounds like a prime example), so some of the same advice may apply.

Only me

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2012, 08:20:07 PM »
Is there anyway to give new grad students a general talk about about etiquette or how to handled unwanted advances in general. And when using examples simply say that it applies to everyone that tries it, no matter a co worker a professor or another .....

gramma dishes

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2012, 09:02:48 PM »
Is there anyway to give new grad students a general talk about about etiquette or how to handled unwanted advances in general. And when using examples simply say that it applies to everyone that tries it, no matter a co worker a professor or another .....

Yes, I don't think you can pull other unsuspecting young women aside and say anything that translates to "Watch out for Dr. Grabbyhands.  He's a real leach and is under the mistaken impression that you will be afraid to put him in his place.  He's counting on it.  So here's what you do ..."

But you can do as Onlyme suggests.  The problem here is that apparently you don't work at the same place so you wouldn't have direct private access to the women who might be subjected to Dr. Grabbyhands.  Or did I misread that part?

In any case, if these are themselves professors or have their doctorates or are in graduate level classes, I think you have to assume that they will figure out for themselves how to handle men like him just as you did. 

As far as the deliberate name thing? Act like you have no idea that it's being done on purpose.  Act like you think he's just simply senile.  Just look at him like he's from some other planetary system and laugh.  "Poor Dr. Jerk!  After all these decades, he STILL can never remember my name!  So sad."
« Last Edit: September 09, 2012, 09:04:50 PM by gramma dishes »

sweetonsno

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2012, 11:19:58 PM »
I'm going to echo gramma dishes here and say that you should pretend that you don't realize he's doing it on purpose. Smile at the person to whom you are being introduced and say, "Actually, it's Dr. Lotus. I'm pleased to meet you." Don't make a crack about senility or any of that. You'll want people to remember you as professional and pleasant, and show him that he isn't getting under your skin.

As for warning other women, I'm not sure you can do so in a professional way. I agree with Firecat about speaking up in support of others if you catch him behaving inappropriately. If any of them volunteer information about his misbehavior (or you witness it and their objections), you can encourage them to file a complaint with the university, but otherwise, it's probably out of your hands.

Pippen

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2012, 12:57:06 AM »
I'm going to echo gramma dishes here and say that you should pretend that you don't realize he's doing it on purpose. Smile at the person to whom you are being introduced and say, "Actually, it's Dr. Lotus. I'm pleased to meet you." Don't make a crack about senility or any of that. You'll want people to remember you as professional and pleasant, and show him that he isn't getting under your skin.


Totally agree. Otherwise it puts the person you are introduced to in an uncomfortable position as well trying to figure out the weird dynamic at play.

He sound revolting and while it would be nice to give people a heads up on what to expect it could well backfire on you if you do try and warn them, esp if you don't  know them well. It sounds like someone at the University needs to have a chat with him about acceptable behaviour. Quite a serious chat.


Miss Unleaded

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2012, 03:20:31 AM »
I think you should file a formal complaint about him to his department head or the HR division. 

nyarlathotep

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2012, 04:04:12 AM »
I'm going to echo gramma dishes here and say that you should pretend that you don't realize he's doing it on purpose. Smile at the person to whom you are being introduced and say, "Actually, it's Dr. Lotus. I'm pleased to meet you." Don't make a crack about senility or any of that. You'll want people to remember you as professional and pleasant, and show him that he isn't getting under your skin.

POD. Don't make excuses for him. Anyone with an ounce of sense will see through what he's trying to do and get an idea of what kind of person he is.

I'm also seconding Miss Unleaded - talk to his department head.

cicero

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2012, 05:06:31 AM »
I'm going to echo gramma dishes here and say that you should pretend that you don't realize he's doing it on purpose. Smile at the person to whom you are being introduced and say, "Actually, it's Dr. Lotus. I'm pleased to meet you." Don't make a crack about senility or any of that. You'll want people to remember you as professional and pleasant, and show him that he isn't getting under your skin.

Yes, this is what i would suggest. 

Is there anyway to give new grad students a general talk about about etiquette or how to handled unwanted advances in general. And when using examples simply say that it applies to everyone that tries it, no matter a co worker a professor or another .....
this is a good idea.

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kherbert05

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2012, 06:33:29 AM »
Is there anyway to give new grad students a general talk about about etiquette or how to handled unwanted advances in general. And when using examples simply say that it applies to everyone that tries it, no matter a co worker a professor or another .....
This - without talking about Professor Jerk. We had a quick how to handle jerks tips given to us at my University. I thought it was strange because it was stuff my parents and PE teachers had been teaching me since kinder. I can bring a knuckle breaker to his knees if I have to.


Could you go just a little bit further in defending yourself and LOUDLY say Professor Jerk I told you repeatedly to keep your hands off of me.  Also if a female staff/grad student look like they don't know what to do - approach them seperately show them what to do descreatly and ask them to pass it on to at least 2 others being harrassed
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QueenofAllThings

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2012, 07:23:52 AM »
As to warning other women re the hugging - they aren't your children. They are adult women (who may not be as offended as you are by the hugging). They will handle it on their own, so I'd leave it alone unless someone else asks for your help directly.

It's clear you don't like this man, and for good reason. But you don't work at Huge U, and his behavior is not your problem to manage or correct. If he introduces you incorrectly, simply re-introduce yourself and move on - don't give him the satisfaction of getting your goat.

SleepyKitty

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2012, 08:34:40 AM »
As to warning other women re the hugging - they aren't your children. They are adult women (who may not be as offended as you are by the hugging). They will handle it on their own, so I'd leave it alone unless someone else asks for your help directly.

It's clear you don't like this man, and for good reason. But you don't work at Huge U, and his behavior is not your problem to manage or correct. If he introduces you incorrectly, simply re-introduce yourself and move on - don't give him the satisfaction of getting your goat.

I have to agree. I'm a history grad student, and I have to admit, that if I came into the department as a new student and the wife of one of the professors (not employed at or professionally involved in the department) warned me off one of the professors, it would make me very uneasy. Not having had a chance yet to develop my own opinion of Professor Jerk, it would always make me wonder if you simply had it out for the guy for reasons I didn't know about (I know this isn't the case, but as an imaginary new grad student, that's what I would be wondering).

Additionally, like it or not, grad students and new faculty who are not protected by tenure have to be more careful about how they handle situations like this. A "clumsy" spike heel to the instep is not the way for someone in a vulnerable position to go about handling this in my university's culture. It would, at this university, probably endanger their position, which I know it not what you want. It would reflect poorly on both people involved, in the best case scenario. Obviously the situation needs to be handled - no one should simply deal with unwanted touching - but it would be better to quietly have a word with one's mentor or the head of the department about how to handle the situation. This protects the student and brings the problem to the attention of the correct people without having to get even more physical.

camlan

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2012, 08:49:48 AM »
When I was a grad student, every new female grad student in my department got warned by other grad students about one professor. It was phrased sort of vaguely, "Don't let him close the office door when you see him during office hours," or something like that, but the message was clear.

He was very annoying. And he knew the line and never crossed it, so there was nothing we could do. The department never gave him undergraduate classes to teach, so we were all pretty sure that the powers that be knew there was a problem, but weren't interested in dealing with it.

He ended up getting fired when he mistook a very young-looking professor from another department as an undergraduate. No one ever knew the exact details, but I've never seen a tenured faculty member dismissed in the middle of a semester before.
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Twik

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2012, 10:30:38 AM »
Additionally, like it or not, grad students and new faculty who are not protected by tenure have to be more careful about how they handle situations like this. A "clumsy" spike heel to the instep is not the way for someone in a vulnerable position to go about handling this in my university's culture. It would, at this university, probably endanger their position, which I know it not what you want. It would reflect poorly on both people involved, in the best case scenario. Obviously the situation needs to be handled - no one should simply deal with unwanted touching - but it would be better to quietly have a word with one's mentor or the head of the department about how to handle the situation. This protects the student and brings the problem to the attention of the correct people without having to get even more physical.

I suspect the "correct people" already know, and are pulling a Penn State about it. So much easier to pretend it's just "horseplay"....

The only time I was subjected to unwanted touching in an academic setting, I elbowed the offender in the stomach with great vigor. It was not a thought-out response, it was an automatic reaction, but it worked - I was harassed no longer. if it hurt my position, I do not regret it.

What I do regret now is leaving it at that. I should have raised Hades until that person was removed from dealing with young people.
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VorFemme

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Re: Wrong name and too many hands
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2012, 12:02:02 PM »
Active duty military - female officer a foot shorter and a hundred pounds lighter than than the highest ranking NCO in the next office - who had the keys to the supply shed.  After a comment from one of my two female junior enlisted clerks - I took over getting the supplies.  I also reported Chief Gropy to the commander.

Who told me that I was imagining things.  Shortly thereafter, we had two male clerks transfer in and I let them take over getting the supplies again.  Apparently Chief Gropy didn't go for young men....

But I never trusted either Chief Gropy or the commander who didn't believe my report on what the two female clerks had told me and what I had experienced "first hand", ever again.  If either said it was a bright & sunny day, I waited until I went outside to check (and this base was in Arizona, in the Greater Sonoran Desert - bright & sunny was kind of the default expectation, for those who don't know USA geography). 
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?