Monday, 12 October 2015

Finding the Strong Place

I'm religious. I make no secret of it, and I openly practice my faith. My faith and the beliefs I learn keep me strong in a drifting world. I'm glad I have this pillar of strength to cling to when the current fights against me.

This week I was saddened to hear about some (more) bad things happening to women (women-I-know and women-who-know-women-I-know).  One of the things that has saddened me is hearing about how prevalent sexual harassment is in Academia. Yes, it is prevalent. I've been a victim of harassment in academia during my undergrad studies. In fact, now that I think about it, I can't name a woman of my acquaintance who has ever said she's never been harassed. That's a sad symptom of a degenerate world.

One issue from Berkeley came to light this week about a supervising professor getting his widdle wrist slapped after four courageous women came forth about his ill treatment of them. Berkeley's response was not sufficient, according to the scientific community at large. However, before you go off and tar Berkeley with the yellow paintbrush of cowardice, please give them some credit for doing something, even if they are woefully out of practice in dealing with such things.

Much discussion online ensued.

In Academia, this sort of behaviour, for the most part, is ignored or even flipped against the victims. I hope it leads to more universities having the courage to call their harassers on their bad behaviour. The more they practice these actions, the better at them they will become.

I believe that leaving these harassers unchecked does more harm than good to our science communities. They chase away dozens if not hundreds of potentially strong talent. Those few who remain are hampered because they spend too much energy fighting harassment--energy that could be put to better use doing science.

If the universities think they are doing the better thing by not alienating their champion researchers, they are not. The scientific value of one sexual harasser, no matter how talented, will never outweigh the collective scientific value of all the victims he hampers or chases away. Never.

Part of the perpetual discussions on these and other issues, which always comes out when something like this happens, is how poorly women are still treated, even after two hundred years of feminism.

Yet women still stand up and say something, even when they are threatened with rape, violence and death.

A friend shared a scripture with me for ponderizing this week. It seemed very apt for those who dare to stand for righteousness in a world that would tear them down: Job 27: 5 - God forbid that I should justify you; til I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.

A few days ago I spent the weekend enjoying General Conference at church. One of the speakers, Russell M Nelson, gave a beautiful talk entitled, "A Plea to my Sisters"--"We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices."

How rare it is in today's world to hear such a powerful message from good men to women. Elder Nelson also quoted other men who share this same message: "President Packer declared, 'We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. …

“We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.'”

It is good to hear men, powerful men--leaders in their communities, utter these words in places where millions can hear them.

I wish more men would say such things more often. Men listen to other men. Until men, on the whole, learn to value and listen to women, perhaps they will listen to men like these.

The world can only be better for it.

Her Grace is glad stuff like this gets preached openly in her faith.

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