Sexual harassment in science generally starts like this: A woman (she is a student, a technician, a professor) gets an email and notices that the subject line is a bit off: “I need to tell you,” or “my feelings.” The opening lines refer to the altered physical and mental state of the author: “It’s late and I can’t sleep” is a favorite, though “Maybe it’s the three glasses of cognac” is popular as well.That's strangely miswritten. It's not possible to believe that the exact phrase “Maybe it’s the three glasses of cognac” appears and reappears with frequency. I'm going to assume what's meant is that the subject lines refer not specifically to 3 cognacs but generally to drinking. Let's continue:
The author goes on to tell her that she is special in some way, that his passion is an unfamiliar feeling that she has awakened in him, the important suggestion being that she has brought this upon herself. He will speak of her as an object with “shiny hair” or “sparkling eyes” — testing the waters before commenting upon the more private parts of her body. Surprisingly, he often acknowledges that he is doing something inappropriate. I’ve seen “Of course you know I could get fired for this” in the closing paragraph; the subject line of the email sent to my former student was “NSFW read at your own risk!”...Oh, I don't know. Why isn't it also "heartless" to deprive this man of the basic information that he is not experiencing a successful response to his attempt to go on a date?
Perhaps she decides to ignore this first email... Once satisfied with her tendency toward secrecy, the sender then finds a way to get her alone: invites her to coffee, into his office, out for some ostensibly group event. At said meeting he will become tentatively physical, insisting that if people knew, they just wouldn’t understand. At this point, any objection on her part wouldn’t just be professionally dangerous, it would seem heartless....
Then there are conferences, field trips, cocktail hours and retreats, whispering co-workers, rolling eyes and sadly shaking heads. On and on it goes, and slowly she realizes that he’s not going to stop because he doesn’t have to....Why is this smart woman so absurdly slow?
If you read on, you'll see that this shockingly uncommunicative woman finally deals with her problem by leaving the field of science.