The Insidious Power of Not-Quite-Harassment — LadyBits on Medium — Medium
Bora has been a friend and mentor for years. He recruited me to blog for Scientific American. And yet, even if she hadn’t named him, I would have recognized him from his behavior because I have gone through it too.
When I first met Bora at a Philadelphia pub in June 2010, I was new to the scene; hardly anyone read my blog. He was enormously enthusiastic and supportive of my efforts to blog about science and, soon thereafter, he began to share my posts. Suddenly, I was getting readers, making friends, and connecting to a community. It was wonderful, and I felt I owed it to him.
I saw him at various events and he began flirting a little. It didn’t ring any alarm bells; he is flirtatious by nature. But sometimes talk would veer into more uncomfortable territory, but only vaguely uncomfortable, which made it hard to call out. He would talk about how he gets to hang out with so many smart, beautiful women for his job (as if we should be flattered), make offhand comments about his own sex life, and occasionally tell me that he loved me. Once, while the two of us were outside Ninth Ward in New York City at a science tweetup, he bought a flower for his wife, who was inside. The seller gave him an extra for free, which he gave to me, joking that I was his “concubine.” I didn’t even know how to respond, awkwardly laughing it off, but fled the scene without goodbyes soon after. “I just want to call him out when he makes any kind of offhand comment,” I wrote to my best friend later. “But what I could lose by doing so is too great, so it’s really just degrading.”