[personal profile] asterroc
Trigger warning: sexual harassment, sexual assault

Got to emailing with my father about the Geoff Marcy case, and decided to share here.

You read those trigger warnings right?

Here's my email to my dad, summarizing the whole thing. One thing potentially worth mentioning is that I don't usually curse in front of my father, only when something's really important or I'm really worked up about something. Here it was in an email, so I had ample time to decide to censor myself, and deliberately chose not to.

The whole Marcy thing was an absolute fucking shitstorm, from what he did, to how he was punished. To give you some context, Marcy's about as famous within astronomy as Stephen Hawking or Einstein, and some people had him pegged for a Nobel Prize in Physics within the next few years. At the same time he had a reputation of being someone that you shouldn't be alone in a room with.

As for what he did, they're calling it 10 years of sexual harassment, but to me something described as "Marcy placed his hand on her leg, slid his hand up her thigh and grabbed her crotch" isn't just words, that's assault. It then came out in Oct that Berkeley had secretly investigated him that summer and secretly gave him a slap on the wrist, saying don't do it again or we'll have to punish you. Buzzfeed broke the story, and this is the first that anyone else at Berkeley (faculty, students, his own damned department where he was serially assaulting the women undergraduates and grads) heard about it.

When the story broke, Marcy wrote a non-apology including the phrase "my behavior was unwelcomed by some women" - which is the equivalent of punching someone in the face and then saying "I'm sorry you're such a crybaby." Then in response to the non-response of the Berkeley administration, the astronomy graduate students wrote a letter condemning his actions. So did the astronomy postdocs. And so did the astronomy faculty. In the end he voluntarily resigned, probably as a result of the faculty letter, but I'm sure he's going to find another job elsewhere, or he's going to just keep doing research under soft money (that is, grants based only).

So yeah, this's the biggest fucking deal in astronomy scandals, like ever. And here's the thing to keep in mind: Marcy is just one perpetrator. There's dozens of them in astronomy, more in physics, more in other STEM fields, and heck, a few probably live on the same block as either you or me, we probably interact with more dickwads like this on a daily basis and just don't realize it. Marcy's just one of the really rare ones who got dragged into the light.



If you want to read more about it, here's the original Buzzfeed article breaking the news (yes, Buzzfeed was the first news outlet to get ahold of this, and they have thus risen immensely in my esteem), and their coverage of the denoument. There was also a public letter calling for his resignation, signed by around 2,500 astronomers. Which is really amazing, I mean, you can't even get 2,500 astronomers to agree whether Pluto's a planet or not, and yet 2,500 astronomers said Marcy's a piece of shit.


Edit: I mean seriously, I've known professors to get fired over talking about condoms in class. This creep PUT HIS HAND ON A STUDENT'S CROTCH and was told "don't do it again." And then the school covered it up, and I still don't know how Buzzfeed got ahold of this info to make it public. I'm hoping some reasonable person involved in the coverup leaked it to Buzzfeed. Seriously, that Buzzfeed writer, Azeen Ghorayshi, should get a Pulitzer for this, this article raised Buzzfeed's status in my head to be on par with the NY Times, and I'm not shitting you.

Originally posted on Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments there. Comment here or there.
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asterroc

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