Monday, March 24, 2008

Yonsei University: Taking "the victim's point of view"?

Innocent Child Blowing Bubbles
(Image from Wikipedia)

On Friday, every instructor received a brochure describing Yonsei University's official policy on sexual misconduct, but I didn't look at it carefully until later.

From having now looked at it more closely, I have to wonder who wrote this policy, for it's very poorly worded. Here is the definition of sexual misconduct:
"Sexual misconduct refers to all forms of physical, verbal, and psychological abuse that violate an individual's personal rights and the right to sexual autonomy."
Personal rights? What are those? The term is left undefined, but the scope of personal rights is surely very broad and would include things unrelated to sexual autonomy.

Even worse is the "Principle of Victim-Centrism":
"The procedure of responding to sexual misconduct, including investigation, deliberation, hearing and disciplinary action, will be based on the victim's point of view."
Think about that for a moment. Investigation of the sexual misconduct will be based on the victim's point of view. Shouldn't an investigation ordinarily aim first at determining if there has been any actual sexual misconduct? Without such misconduct, there has been no victim. Or rather, there has been a victim -- the one falsely accused.

The required investigation noted later in the brochure inspires scarcely any greater confidence in the procedure:
"The Committee has the obligation to review and determine whether or not the act of the accused person is a form of sexual misconduct."
At least the "accused person" is not labeled "the perpetrator"! But an "act" is assumed to have taken place. Shouldn't the Committee first attempt to establish whether or not the supposed 'act' has in fact occurred?

But, of course, no 'victim' would ever lie.

Finally, for those readers wondering what the image above of an innocent child blowing bubbles has to do with this post, I say, "Good question." I had the same reaction to the brochure itself, which displays on its cover a cartoon image of an infantilized female student blowing bubbles and standing under a rainbow. This seems wildly inappropriate for an official statement of university policy on sexual misconduct . . . until one realizes that this image perfectly conveys the brochure's depiction of the student as innocent, childlike victim.

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At 6:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Universities are notorious for making sexual harassment cases disappear. This memo sounds like a barking dog with no bite. You can be sure that allegations against veteran profs with connections aren't going to be pursued from the victim's point of view. You, on the other hand, would be more vulnerable. Do you share an office? If not, position your desk by the door and always keep it open if a woman student is alone. This would be prudent not only in Korea but anywhere.


At 7:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Fortunately, I have no office there, so I'd be meeting in the antechamber to the UIC Office. To that degree, I'm safe.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in bible college in a ministerial class, one guest speaker told our class of men that there were three pitfalls preachers had to look out for -- Gold - Glitter - Girls.
The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
The desire for recognition and "success" has caused some to go down the tubes.
In any profession where some has either power, position, or money, there are women who go after them.
And of course, there is our innate sinful nature and desires that trap many a man.
Then there are predators even in the ministry.
I faced some of these, and only by God's grace did I keep from falling.
"Wherefore, let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Whew! Good thing that I'm not a preacher!

Oh . . . you mean that all men can fall.

Well, money doesn't have a great hold over me, and as for success, I've come to terms with my failure there.

But women?

That's nearly every man's weakness. Fortunately, I'm not very attractive, and my lack of power repels most women. Most importantly, I'm married to the best, most beautiful woman imaginable, so no other woman compares anyway.

So . . . I think that I need only worry about false accusations.

But I'll take care anyway.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In any profession where some has either power, position, or money, there are women who go after them.
And of course, there is our innate sinful nature and desires that trap many a man.
Then there are predators even in the ministry.

Yes, indeed. In any profession where someone has either power, position, or money, they use those things to get more power, money, or women. The Korean workplace, Uncle Cran, is very much an old boys' club. Women are openly discriminated against and sexual harassment is rampant. At my first employer in Korea, there was a young Korean secretary being fondled up by a fifty-something Korean manager. She told a fellow secretary what was happening, and guess who the secretaries went to for help? The highest ranking foreign staffer, of course!


At 9:09 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, you mean that they came to you for help?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:11 PM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

Based on S. last comment, perhaps the writer of your policy is assuming that there are too many victims already and going for the heart of the matter, (or perhaps some other part of the anatomy), male of course!
Is there any chance the committee that wrote the policy was primarily women?
Just some thoughts

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jeanie, I'm pretty sure that the part that I quoted was written by somebody at the Women's Center.

Sexism is real, of course, and so is sexual harassment . . . but occasionally, an unscrupulous woman does make a false charge.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for "Whew, glad I'm not a preacher," my comment is that preachers can be biased, greedy, competitave, lustful and sinful, just like college professors, doctors, lawyers, polititians, and most every other class of men not specifically mentioned. But it "takes two to tango," so I suspect lots of women have temptations also.

At 6:07 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I expect that you're right, but men and women seem to be looking for different things when they stray...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say "lots of women," Uncle Cran. I would say "a few." I suspect there are more unsolicited advances by a superior to a subordinate than the other way around, especially in Korea, simply by virtue of the fact that the superior holds some power over the subordinate.

I suspect that in the States there are more false accusations because of the fact that sexual harassment cases are widely publicized, and regulations provide more support for the accuser. The most vulnerable are public school teachers. Even if the accusation cannot be proven, a mere accusation makes it difficult for a district to retain a teacher.


At 8:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, my impression is that men are more likely to pursue sexual encounters.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, Jeffery, but I wonder how many male subordinates hit on female bosses.

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Not many who want to keep their jobs...

Jeffery Hodges

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