Bystander or Busybody?

Our local newspaper reports the publication of an article by “three women leaders” in what amounts to our medical school. One is a “senior vice president and vice chancellor,” another an “associate vice president,” and the third the “chair of the Diversity Leadership Committee.” Their article, published in a major medical journal, contends that misogyny pervades American medicine, that outstanding women are daily driven from the field by a “climate” of “‘incivility’ in which women aren’t given mutual respect,” and that this disrespect for women is an unrecognized form of “sexual harassment.”

A woman is disrespected, and therefore sexually harassed, if she is passed over for promotion, raises, and positions of executive responsibility, or if her opinions are dismissed more readily than those of her male colleagues. The associate vice president likens sexual harassment to an iceberg, and says unwanted advances and bargaining for sexual favors is merely its deceptively diminutive tip. The enormous bottom of the iceberg is “unchecked work climate issues.”

“It’s that big category of behavior that’s the bottom of the iceberg, lying underneath the surface of the water.”

The associate vice president explains that this big category takes in “hostility,” “objectification,” and exclusion, all of which strike me as possibly being responses to female aggression. I know nothing about the mores of medical men, but in my world hostility and exclusion are very often aroused by unwelcome meddling, and objectification sounds suspiciously like indifference to the disappointment of a rebuffed meddler.

In any case, the proposed remedy is a combination of a “diverse leadership team” and “training and leadership skills taught to both women and ‘bystanders.’” In other words, more women in power, more powerful women, and a fifth column of white knights ready to lance any sexist pig who pokes his snout out from the underbrush.

If you follow the evolving discourse of sexual harassment, you will have noticed this lay figure called the “bystander.” The sociological type originated after the 1964 rape and murder of Kitty Genovese, when it was falsely reported that bystanders failed to respond to the poor young woman’s cries for help. We now know that the so-called “bystander effect” can be largely explained by the decent civic habits of minding one’s own business and refraining from rubbernecking, but the notion of bystander complicity lives on.

The line dividing busybodies from bystanders might at first seem exceedingly fine, and this is unsettling given the danger of being caught on the wrong side of it. But the prudent rule would seem to be that one should step in whenever a woman is suffering a reverse, but step aside whenever she is advancing.  It should be needless to say that the methods by which a woman advances are nobody’s business, but her reversals are every white knight’s cri de cœur.

18 thoughts on “Bystander or Busybody?

  1. Pingback: Bystander or Busybody? | @the_arv

  2. You know, this is exactly the sort of language that gets a progressive twitter-mobbed. She just implied that physical harassment is a trifling affair! O, the horror!

    And thus the wheel turns.

  3. Pingback: Bystander or Busybody? | Reaction Times

  4. A woman must be helped by “bystanding” men in her time of need. A woman must not be impeded by “bystanding” men in her ambition. One wonders whether these advocates for “equality” view men as anything other than utilitarian resources. Men are obligated not to let women fall back, but also obligated not to stop their advance.

    I’m sure all the professional women whose merits are unquestioned would have something to say about this viewpoint. Who represents them at these meetings?

    • Women need so much help to advance themselves, positively and negatively, that it seems logical to assume an explanation-that they are a weaker sex, or something. How could one describe this apparent sense of inferiority-the sexism of low expectations, perhaps?

  5. If you want to see a society ruled by these sorts of people, go to Denmark. Everyone is ‘equal’, so excruciatingly so that there is no compassion. If you fall over in the street, no one will help you as that would be an intrusion. If a child shows promise in maths or music or anything, he (or she) is shunned by his peers and his teachers until he displays the same mediocrity as everyone else. Not only does everyone watch their own behaviour, they watch everyone else’s. The Law of Jante (for which, google) reigns supreme – except over the rich, of course. Apart from them, everyone lives in fear of social disapproval. The men have been socially castrated. The government has no need to spy on the people as they do it to themselves.
    As Marvellous prophetically observed: ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’.

  6. This isn’t the first time feminists have talked out of both sides of their mouths. Boys excel at math? Hostile environment or lack of role models! Girls excel at language arts? Well, girls are just naturally smarter, you know. They always manage to manipulate the discourse so that it’s “heads I win, tails you lose,” and they are mysteriously able to wrap themselves simultaneously in both victimhood and superiority.

  7. Dalrock:

    Feminists have faith that men will solve all of their problems, which is why they loudly and regularly insist that only men can solve their problems. Any proposed solution to a feminist “problem” that involves women taking even the smallest of actions is immediately shouted down. They know that the more they falsely accuse men of lacking good will, the more men will strive to prove their good will. The more feminists act in bad faith, the more men will scramble to prove their good faith.
    As absurd as it is it works beautifully so it is hard to argue with. At least in the West, men’s goodwill really does seem inexhaustible.


  8. How many serial killers are heterosexual black husbands and fathers of children besides this killer of “Kitty?”

    This story has the stink of the “Matthew Shepard” revisionism.

  9. It appears all men are being funnelled into the great femiphagous maw of Ungoliant.

    And so in the current Catholic scandal we have on the one hand women who claim that women’s ordination would have prevented it. With this type we have been long familiar.

    But now on the other hand we have a significant number of faithful Catholic women who don’t believe women should be priests or bishops (oh no, no!), but will with relish invite others to ponder what holy nonsense it is that they aren’t.

    • I agree with the line: “Women are able to pose questions that men are unable to understand,” although I might replace “able to pose” with “capable of posing.”

      • I agree also, but add that it is an uninteresting claim, posed as though somewhere therein lies the solution to many of our problems. Women are willing to give the world what is good, true, and beautiful, if men would but get their sinful selves out of the way.

      • I should have written that I agree that the line well expresses the boundless arrogance of womankind. We frequently hear the same claim to prophetic authority from people of color. Assuming there is an ounce of thought behind such claims, they are alleging that God has chosen classes and categories of humanity to act as his mouthpiece. Of course, when a member of such a class or category opens his or her mouth, the prophesy is always to the advantage of his or her class or category. Women have many fine qualities, but the selflessness to act as God’s mouthpiece isn’t one of them.


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