My friends tell me that I was being naïve from the word go about my college professor. Many say that they have already given in to the professor. Apparently he is not that difficult to handle and he tends to leave you alone after a few times. The whole thing disgusts me. I cannot imagine sleeping with a man I do not fancy, let alone knowing how much I despise him for what he is doing to the students. To make matters worse, this is a married man with children who are my age. He is apparently an authority but his morals leave a lot to be desired.
In hindsight, I should have known that there was something a bit irregular about a professor that constantly insisted on students coming in for private consultations. The men did not have a problem with it but the female students were soon put under pressure to give in. Being harassed by my teacher was the last thing on my mind. I was a graduate student so I expected that some of the rubbish that used to happen in the undergraduate class no longer applied here. We were senior people that were trying to become experts in our respective fields. This is a respected university…not a cheap brothel.
The professor started harmlessly enough telling me about how great my work was and how much hope everybody in the department had in me. Then he moved on to less comfortable territory. He told me that his wife was a real “bitch” who had made his life a misery. He wanted to divorce her but was afraid of losing the family house. The kids were grown up but he knew that she would demand a huge alimony payment. How this was supposed to be relevant to our discussion of socialization was beyond me? I just kept quiet and listened patiently, hoping that he would soon get the hint and move back to topic.
The Professor Makes His Move
He then came out with it…just like that. There was no shame or remorse. He had a rather sly look on his face when he whispered: “We are adults so I will not beat about the bush. I want to fuck you.” Wow…just wow! Was this guy on drugs or something? The turn of phrase was such a contrast to our discussions. It was shocking that he would say such a thing to me on a Tuesday afternoon. Just thinking about his age and stature made me cringe. Besides, he was physically repulsive to me. I know I am being a bit unkind but sleeping next to a 60+ year old man is not my idea of romance.
He must have assumed that my silence was acquiescence. That is the only explanation I can come up for how he suddenly leapt up from his chair with alarming agility and grabbed me. I pushed back as violently as I could. I was furious but I instinctively knew that nothing was to be achieved by showing my anger. Besides, it could all get embarrassing if the other students came in. So I mentally moderated my voice and calmly told him: “Please don’t do that again sir. I find it very offensive”. The ice in my voice must have gotten to him because he clammed up immediately. Suddenly he was begging for forgiveness saying that he did not know what came over him. I accepted his apology (unwillingly, I must say) and left the office.
In the coming days, I could not bear to be in the same room with him. This was causing difficulties because we had to be together to work on my thesis. I went to the head of department and requested a change of supervisor. The head asked for a reason and I gave “personal” as a stock answer. He was not convinced but said that they would allocate me another supervisor. However, the unit that I was doing had to be finished in terms of the submission and clearance.
My Academics Go Down the Drain
I am not a particularly conceited person but I am also well aware that I am a very good student. It is not for nothing that I got a first class in sociology and anthropology. My master’s dissertation was published on first reading and I have several articles to my name in respected journals. Imagine my surprise when my grades started falling. It was not a case of marking because we never do that in graduate school. Instead it was an accumulation of petty mistakes and papers that kept getting returned as being unsatisfactory. I started realizing that it was actually the male tutors that were getting harder on me.
This could only mean one thing: the good old boys were closing ranks. I decided to respond in kind by speaking to a few female professors in my college. They were very sympathetic and told me that they had already received some complaints from the undergraduates about that particular professor. However, they seemed powerless to help. One of them came out and told me in no uncertain terms that this was a battle I was never going to win. As I had suspected, the boys worked together when they felt that one of their own was being attacked by a student. Apparently the professor had sold them a line that I was a feminist who had taken offence when he complimented me on my dress. That started a chain of abuse that I am reeling from even to this very day.
Even the head of department turned on me, saying that I was too sensitive and should find ways of working with colleagues who would be close to me when I became a researcher. Someone from the HR department came to see me but the gist of the conversation was to clarify that I was never going to sue the college. It seemed that they had been sent to ensure that I knew that any allegations would be “vigorously defended”. The thing that was so disappointing and so hurtful was that they sent a woman. Word had gotten round that I did not like men and that they should steer clear of me or else I would be making complaints about them.
I am Completely Disillusioned
I managed to pass and get my PHD but was not happy at all with my experience. There was feedback that I thought prejudiced. I was being harmed and torpedoed at every turn. Some of my female colleagues were also turning against me in order to protect themselves. Coming to the college was a lonely and isolating experience. I no longer felt that I could discuss with my tutors as a true graduate student. Instead I went quiet and did my own research privately. The PHD was handed down to me very grudgingly. At the defense stage, the feedback and questions were openly hostile. In fact, a dean from another school was rather alarmed that they were giving me a “hard time”.
The professor that had made the lewd suggestions to me had the nerve to state that they were only being hard because I was so good. He explained that they wanted me to be better than all the other students. Although my dream had been to become a researcher at the university, I ended up taking on a consultancy role with a charity. At least they promised to treat me with respect. Recently I was walking in town when the professor stopped me. I was surprised at someone who had tapped my shoulders. It is rare to get that in this town. I turned round and it was “Mr. Right” in front of me. I could feel the fury-meter rising on my temples. “What the hell are you doing?” I demanded.
“Sorry. I was just saying hi. I can see you are still the same frigid bitch that you were.” I slapped him and walked away. Now I wish I had done more. The cheek of the man was incredible. He had effectively ruined my education and career. Then this…I could not understand how someone could be so brazen, so cynical about things. Maybe this guy was a sociopath and did not know about human feelings or emotions. In any case I hope I do not meet him again. I thought about making a police report but frankly speaking, he is not worth the bother.
A Rotten Culture
I worry that he may be harming some other female students. The college knows about it and his colleagues know about it but they will do nothing. They are all enablers as far as I am concerned and as bad as each other. They have all these lovely policies about equality and respecting women but I think that deep down the college still lives in the past. It was shocking to me that PHD students were talking about having to sleep with their professors in order to pass their papers. It is bad enough for the undergraduates without promoting it even higher.