Pearls of Wisdom–The Blog

~~ You tell the truth, you tell it well. In the crowded and fetid swamp that is the job market, that is oxygen.” – a reader

The_Professor_Is_In.inddLove the blog? Now get it in handy book form!

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It also makes a great gift for all those struggling grad students in your life!

For bulk orders for use in classes, seminars, and workshops, please call Crown Publishing  (Random House) Customer Service at 1-800-733-3000.



The definitive career guide for grad students, adjuncts, post-docs and anyone else eager to get tenure or turn their Ph.D.  into their ideal job.

Karen Kelsky has made it her mission to help readers join the select few who get the most out of their Ph.D. As a former tenured professor and department head who oversaw numerous academic job searches, she knows from experience exactly what gets an academic applicant a job. And as the creator of the popular and widely respected advice site The Professor is In, she has helped countless Ph.D.’s turn themselves into stronger applicants and land their dream careers.

Now, for the first time ever, Karen has poured all her best advice into a single handy guide that addresses the most important issues facing any Ph.D., including:

-When, where, and what to publish
-Writing a foolproof grant application
-Cultivating references and crafting the perfect CV
-Acing the job talk and campus interview
-Avoiding the adjunct trap
-Making the leap to nonacademic work, when the time is right

The Professor Is In addresses all of these issues, and many more.

If you would like your academic career to begin in delusion and end in disillusionment, then by all means, ignore Karen Kelsky. If, however, you want unvarnished straight talk about the academic job market—and how to navigate it—then heed her, and heed her now.” —Rebecca Schuman, education columnist for Slate.



I post once a week, usually on Friday, on topics related to the academic job market, academic life and politics, general professionalization skills related to writing, publishing, conferencing, networking, and scholarly comportment, and the tenure process.

I also put up posts on the Post-Ac/Non-Ac job search by my Panel of Post-Ac Experts, on Monday or Tuesday.

Let me know if there’s a topic you want to see me post on!  I am always happy to put Special Requests into the queue. Comment here, or email me at:

You can  always get to a particular Category by clicking it in the Categories column to the right.———>

Please note that as of January 2013  the rate of comments to this blog has exceeded my ability to respond individually to each one. I’m sorry that not all comments will get a personal response by Dr. Karen.  If you have a really pressing question, do consider getting in touch to get on my calendar to work together.  I strive to make services affordable to all.

Here’s a short glossary to help you follow the discussions in the blog:

  • TT– tenure track
  • VAP–visiting assistant professor (position)
  • ABD–all but dissertation (status)
  • SLAC–small liberal arts college
  • R1–top ranked research-intensive institution with Ph.D.-granting departments, such as University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan, etc.
  • R2–research institution with primarily MA-granting departments

#MakeupMonday: Skin Care as Coping Mechanism and Catalyst

One of my favorite writers, Jia Tolentino, wrote a piece in The New Yorker recently, The Year Skin Care Became a Coping Mechanism, that spoke to me deeply.  Read this excerpt (actually read the whole thing–every word is brilliant) and you’ll see why:

“There’s … something perversely, unexpectedly hopeful about skin care in today’s political context. Traditionally, skin care represents an attempt to deny the inevitability of the future. For me, right now, it functions as part of a basic dream in which the future simply exists. I recently wrote about the embattled millennial generation, whose members overwhelmingly do not believe that we will receive the Social Security benefits that we are paying for, and for whom conversations about having children commonly invoke fears of climate destruction and violent nationalism and nuclear war. I wonder if women my age are less afraid of looking older than we are of the possibility that there will be no functional world to look old in. Sontag wrote, about anti-aging, “The collapse of the project is only a matter of time.” At the moment, that thought applies much more broadly.

The idea of beauty as a site of resistance rather than capitulation is often traced back to Audre Lorde, who, in 1988, wrote, “Caring for myself is not an act of self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” The context for these words is Lorde’s fight against liver cancer as well as the intersectional politics that she theorized as a black lesbian feminist. But her thought, in a much diluted iteration, has led to the popular idea of “self-care,” in which there is moral and political utility in relaxing with your sheet mask. [bolding added]

This is the core query surrounding makeup and skin care for someone like me: is spending a pretty substantial amount of money on products to look better really any kind of way to resist the current political hellscape of predatory capitalism and its handmaidens of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, and assault on non-billionaires?  Is this form of self care any way to empower oneself and others?

Tolentino quotes writer Arabelle Sicardi: “I think a lot about beauty as propaganda for a success story…We want to be able to not have our suffering visible.”  By looking fresh and glowy in this time of existential despair, am I actually engaging in a form of dishonesty about its impact on me, and on others?

But Sicardi goes on, in Tolentino’s piece: Beauty is a tool that tends to serve those in power, she suggests, and, at the same time, “it fundamentally involves acts of witnessing the body, helping it to endure its conditions.”

Read that again:  “Beauty is a tool that tends to serve those in power…and at the same time, it fundamentally involves acts of witnessing the body, helping it to endure its conditions”

What I have found, for myself  — and I emphatically make no claims with regard to anyone else —  is that attending to my body through dance, clothes, skin care, and makeup has allowed me to better endure what would otherwise be debilitating political conditions.

For me, right now, it functions as part of a basic dream in which the future simply exists.”

This did not happen all at once, and it started earlier than 2017. I began doing skin care intensively in 2014, as a result of growing numbers of invitations to speak on campuses and conferences nationally and internationally. There would always be a photo, and I did not like what I was seeing.

This coincided with my friend Adeline Koh starting her Sabbatical Beauty skincare business.  Already familiar with excellent East Asian skin care regimes from my many years in Japan, I thought, I will kill two birds with one stone: get the kinds of products I know and trust, while supporting the new business venture of a fellow former academic.

I present to you the results, in selfies:








Guys.  Look at my skin. I don’t think it’s amiss to say that it seems to be aging backward.

How many people can say that they look better at 53 than the did at 49 (without any surgical interventions!)?  This is entirely the result of a Sabbatical Beauty regimen faithfully applied twice a day for three years.

[[By the way: please see below for the  list of products I use, if you are curious. And, Adeline Koh is kindly offering 10% off your first order, as a Professor Is In reader, if you visit the site through the link on this page. Disclosure: i will get some reward points if you make any purchases. That is not, however, why I wrote this post!  I wrote it to tell a skin care and politics story, inspired by Jia Tolentino’s essay. But in telling this story, I want to support a fellow feminist entrepreneur by directing readers to her business. Incidentally, because there are a lot of SB products to choose from, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed, you might want to consider also joining her incredibly active and supportive SB Facebook Page to learn more and engage with her highly diverse group of intersectional feminist and academic followers.]]

My skin transformation is also the result of serious study of makeup that began in 2015 (the inspiration for this #MakeupMonday series) which I’ve found helps minimize some of the issues that are beyond the reach of skin care, lol.

And Full Disclosure: It’s also the result of dancing 4 days a week with a group of spectacular women who love and support one another–which is huge for my physical and emotional well-being, and is, I’m sure, reflected in my skin!  And of course: doing work that engages me and feeds my spirit and feels deeply meaningful through The Professor Is In–these things matter also!

But back to this post: why do I share this story and these selfies now?

Because, as Jia Tolentino says, a “beauty project” like this — especially since the cataclysm of the 2016 election — has been about “enduring the conditions” of my current despair.  I have been cast into a frightening level of despondency in the face of assaults on our core democratic institutions, and more personally on women, LGBTQ people, Jews, immigrants, and people of color – which all impact my immediate family.

“There’s something perversely, unexpectedly hopeful about skin care…”

As I explained when I launched #MakeupMonday, dealing in the aesthetic pleasures of color, shimmer, and glow, and the tactile pleasures of serums, and scrubs, and creams, and the slowing-down pleasures of masks, experimentation, and- yes- reading product reviews on Sephora, Ulta, beauty blogs, and indie beauty businesses, has absolutely, 100%, without question, helped me to combat post-election depression.  It has somehow, in some alchemy I can’t explain, helped me to be more bold, more fearless, and more simply delighted to be in the public eye, speaking out against growing racism and authoritarianism.

It is somehow, in a way I can’t explain, related to my determination to stand on a traffic island weekly with a core group of fellow protestors, and protest the Trump administration, in a series of bold lipcolors.

It is related to my desire to be VISIBLE, on terms that I like.

It is even related…in ways I’m still contemplating deeply… in my impulse to launch the Sexual Harassment in the Academy survey.

Is there irony that skin care and makeup would inspire work exposing sexual harassment?  Yes, I’d say so.

Is it strange?  Yes.

Does it seem frivolous that the unprecedented teal color I chose for my manicure with my daughter yesterday would somehow directly result from the Sexual Harassment in the Academy survey and indicate, for me: Fuck the Patriarchy?*


But that doesn’t mean these things are not true.  I look in the mirror every day, and I like what I see. My spirits lift, and I am energized to do more.

Yes, this is participation in consumerism. Yes it’s entirely absorbed in capitalist logic. Yes this is a capitulation to a neoliberal ethos of individual self-care.  And… it is also a pleasure, a joy, a field of accomplishment, a source of connection with my daughter and other women, a means of supporting women entrepreneurs, and most of all, a catalyst to greater protest, greater resistance, greater activism and greater public visibility in the service of the causes I believe in.

Tolentino writes:  “it’s up to us to reframe beauty as the means to something, rather than, as the market would have it, an end in itself.”

So, I will keep on with my creams and masks.  And in conclusion: what I wish for all of you is that you find the things that feed, inspire and energize you, and hang on to them for dear life… because we’ve never needed them more.


*Miyako asked: “Uh oh. Is my ballet pink a capitulation to the patriarchy??”


Sabbatical Beauty products that I use daily, as part of the multi-step regimen that is standard in East Asian skin care, as I learned it in Japan:

  • Goat Milk and Rice Cleanser (day and night)
  • Dorian Gray Anti-Aging Serum (day)
  • Asian Powerhouse Serum (day)
  • Marine Serum (day)
  • Camel Milk Moisturizing Cream (day)
  • Sleeping Beauty Oil (night)
  • Sake and Rice Sleeping Mask (night)
  • Sake Kasu Mask (bi-weekly)

I use two other products daily to target my formerly chronically puffy, saggy under-eye area which I get super-cheap at TJ Maxx (I’m allergic to the Sabbatical Beauty undereye oil and to almost all other eye products, so these two are the outcome of long and dedicated searching):

An exfoliating cleanser that I use every few days to brighten and clarify my skin:

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub

Plus under-eye life masks as needed to deal with seasonal allergies, sleep deprivation, etc. etc.  I’ve tried many and these are the best:

SpaLife Anti-Aging Under Eye Treatment (Diamond)


*My regular intro:

Welcome to #MakeupMonday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:




How Karen Helped Me Land My Dream Job [A Very Nice Guest Post]

Note from Karen:  I am traveling this week on a family matter so will post about the Wall Street Journal coverage of the #MeTooPhD Sexual Harassment in the Academy Survey next week. Today I’m pleased to share this generous guest post by Professor Siobhan Brooks.

Professor Brooks has been in touch with me a few times over the last few years to share her experiences on the job market. After hearing of her success, I asked her if she’d be willing to contribute a guest post for the benefit of others. I didn’t expect that she’d write something so complimentary of The Professor Is In! I’m a little embarrassed but very appreciative!  And, I absolutely love her story as a black, queer, former exotic dancer insisting on doing academia her own way–and prevailing.  Congratulations, Siobhan! You are an inspiration.


By Siobhan Brooks, Ph.D.

Professor Brooks is Chair of African American Studies, Cal State Fullerton


I graduated with a Ph.D. in sociology from the New School in 2008. Anyone who is familiar with the New School knows that it is one of the most difficult grad programs to get out of. The joke was that it is the roach motel of grad programs. Unlike other grad programs, the New School admits students often with no funding, in addition to students working while finishing their dissertations, there is very little mentorship—many leave for other programs or academia altogether. The few who received mentoring were the white boys who were part of the secret club involving white male professors connecting them with publishing opportunities, external funding, and job networks. The rest of us were left to fend for ourselves.

I was also in a unique situation when I started graduated school: I had just quit my five year job as an exotic dancer, and felt out of the academic loop since I graduated from college at age 23. However, I did have some things going for me: I was a union organizer at the club and published articles about the experiences of sex workers, especially of color, and labor conditions. My work was published in academic anthologies, Colorlines Magazine, and I interviewed Angela Davis for the UC Hastings Law Journal. I used this experience to apply for grad school and continue this line of study.

While in grad school I taught in various CUNY colleges after my master’s until I received a dissertation fellowship at UC Santa Barbara; that for the first time in five years would allow me to focus on my writing. I was able to finish my dissertation after two years and was encouraged by professors at UC Santa Barbara to submit my dissertation to a First Book Award in Queer Studies competition by SUNY Press. My dissertation was about the ways Black and Latina exotic dancers experienced racism in both lesbian and straight strip clubs. Sex work was still an edgy topic to research, and I was told by some professors to change my topic because I would never be taken seriously in academia.

I am glad I didn’t listen to them because to my surprise I had won the competition, which consisted of $3000 and a book contract from SUNY. I was elated—but in academia, happiness does not last long.

I was starting a post-doc when the book was accepted, went on the market, and got a tenure track job that I declined (middle of nowhere Pennsylvania). I was a visiting professor in a gender studies program at an R1 when the book came out in print. A time that was supposed to be joyous quickly came to an end when mentors expressed anger that I published before landing a tenure-tract position. “You’re wasting the publication!” “You’ve published too early—it won’t count for tenure now!”

I had thought about what it would mean to publish a book before I landed a tenure-track job, but I wasn’t going to reject the prize. After months of anxiety, and a few failed job searches, I came across Karen’s website. I paid close attention to how to form a cover letter and learned how to discuss my research in relation to the contributions it makes to the fields sociology, gender studies/ethnic studies. I also found the information on how to give the job talk to be viable information, especially coming from a program where students were not taught to do job talks and did not see job talks in the department. I learned to use visuals, structure it like an article, minus the jargon, and keep teaching demonstrations simple.

But I still needed advise on one last thing: How to handle having a book before a tenure track job. I decided to take a risk and email Karen directly. I explained my situation, and was pleased when I saw that she responded. She stated that while the book would not help me get tenure, it would help me land a tenure track job. She advised me on how to talk about my book in the cover letter and lead into a second project, the one I would be working on at the tenure-track job. I took her advice, and restructured my letter with a focus on a second project. I used my visiting professorship position like a post-doc and got two publications underway.

I saw a job in my home state that fit what I wanted perfectly: it was a teaching position at a state university in African American Studies. The department was restructuring, so it was an opportunity to build a department. I applied and after the campus visit was notified that I had job.

It worked out wonderfully because tenure was based on articles not books, and the articles I were working on came out during my first two years on the tenure-clock. Our department was small (three people) and no one was tenured. I am happy to say that our department went up early for tenure in the fourth year and we all received it! I am also department chair. I can’t thank Karen enough for her advice—it has literally paid off.





#MeTooPhD: The Scourge of Sexual Harassment in the Academy

Welcome new visitors to the blog who found their way here as a result of the Wall Street Journal article by Melissa Korn, Allegations of Groping, Lewd Comments, and Rape: Academia’s #MeToo Moment.

Use This Form


The Sexual Harassment in the Academy Survey is still open.

<—Please use this form to contribute your own stories. Please remember that this survey is focused on graduate training at the Ph.D., MA, MFA, JD, Ed. D, etc. level.



And, here is the Survey Spreadsheet, now over 2100 entries.

The Spreadsheet

I am proud to be one of the many exposing the scourge of sexual predation in the academy, where it is aided and abetted by deeply entrenched hierarchy, a preponderance of powerful males acting as gatekeepers to scare jobs and funding opportunities, and a culture of silence and evasiveness.  The academy is like Hollywood not just because there are so few professional opportunities compared to the thousands of desperate aspirants, but also because a few powerful men control access to careers for junior women and use that power to extract sexual access. This sexual access can take the form of rape and assault, all the way to inappropriate touches, glances, and comments right at the edge of plausible deniability.

I have written more about the damage all of these behaviors cause here in my Chronicle of Higher Education regular column, When Will We Stop Elevating Predators?

I hope the survey makes academic men profoundly uncomfortable. I hope it makes them second-guess every word and gesture they’ve ever made. I also hope it removes all plausible deniability from academic institutions. You are all on notice.

What cure for cancer do we not have because its inventor was hounded out of her lab? What solution do we have for global climate change do we not have because its discoverer was hounded out of her field site?  We will never know.

The women sharing their stories now, anonymously or not, are very brave.   I salute you.


The UK Job Market, Part IV: Interviews, British-Style

By Alice Kelly, Ph.D.

Alice Kelly is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Her academic training has been in the UK and the US. She completed her PhD in English at Cambridge in 2014, with a year as a Fox Fellow at Yale, and before that she studied at Sussex, Reed College (Portland, Oregon), and Oxford. She has taught English and History in the US and the UK. Having applied for academic jobs on both sides of the pond, she understands the challenges and opportunities of being on the transatlantic academic job market. Alongside her academic research on twentieth century literature and culture, she advocates healthy writing practices. At Oxford she founded the TORCH Academic Writing Group, which she has written about in Times Higher Education.


This is the final post of a 4-part series by Alice Kelly on the UK job market. Previous posts are:

Please, Sir, I Want Some More Employment: Applying For UK Jobs, Part I – The Lay of the Land

The UK Job Market Part II: Research By Numbers, or The REF

The UK Job Market, Part III: “I Beg Your Pardon, But May I Have This Job?” (The Winning Cover Letter)



Great news – you’ve received the email inviting you to interview! Unlike the US system, British interviews do not usually have the two- or three-tier process of Skype interview or MLA interview, followed by a campus visit. Instead, you’ll be invited to interview directly at the university for usually one day. This will have a short lead-in time, maybe ten days or two weeks after you receive the invitation, so you need to start preparing immediately. If you can’t attend the university in person, you can ask whether a Skype interview is possible, although this can bring its own problems (ensuring a good connection, screen freezing, etc.).

There are different types of interviews for different jobs. For example, a one-year Teaching Fellowship will understandably have a shorter interview process (a 30-min panel interview and a 15-min teaching demonstration) than a permanent Lectureship (a 30-min panel interview and a 45-min presentation, followed by a question and answer session). Postdoctoral Fellowships may or may not require candidates to be interviewed. In my experience, only candidates for Lectureships will be wined and dined (I mean, ahem, taken to lunch or dinner). Candidates for Teaching Fellowships, Postdocs and Research Assistantships will be in and out fairly quickly – probably 1.5 to 2 hours.

Panel Interviews: These are usually thirty minutes, with a selection committee comprising of the Head of Department, somebody senior in the School (such as the Dean of Humanities), somebody from Human Resources (to check fair protocols are maintained), and sometimes another Faculty member from the Department.

The panel will ask you questions based around some usual themes, which you can usually work out by closely reading the Further Particulars. In preparation, reread your cover letter and write out potential answers for questions on:

  • Your previous research (including methodology) and publications
  • Your current and future research and plans for publication, including how they are timed in relation to the next REF
  • Your teaching experience to date
  • Courses or topics that you would be prepared to teach in their department
  • Your motivation for this particular post – how your research and teaching experience fits into this department and university
  • New ideas or skills you can bring to the post
  • Your administrative skills
  • Your record of public engagement/scholarship
  • Do you have any questions for us?

Teaching Demonstrations: These may be anywhere between 15 to 60 mins. It is a slightly weird exercise if you have to pretend the panel is a group of students, but go with it. Alternatively, they may put you in front of an actual class. Just the same as with a teaching demonstration in the US, the challenge with the shorter slot is conciseness – how can you showcase a number of your skills as a teacher in one well-planned exercise? The challenge with the longer slots is devising and organising a series of interlocking, well-planned exercises, which keep students engaged. Obviously be attentive, organised and interesting throughout.

Presentation/Lecture: The UK version of a US job talk. Not all UK universities require this – it’s entirely up to the university. If so, you will be asked to give a 30-45 min talk on your work, which is usually open to anyone in the Department who wants to attend. You may therefore need to pitch your talk to those outside your field and use it as a means of demonstrating that your work has broader implications for the field. You may be asked challenging questions, but take them in your stride – they’re probably testing whether you’ve got anger management problems, rather than the content of your answer.

Tours: You’ll probably only get this if you’ll be at the university for longer than a year. Look interested and remember that you are being judged as a potential colleague for all the time that you are on campus.

Dinner with potential colleagues and/or other candidates: Dinner with potential colleagues – fine. Remember this is a more informal version of the interview, so you will be on all the time, and don’t get drunk. I’ve never been asked to have dinner with other candidates, but I’ve heard horror stories from others. Why anyone thinks this is a good idea, I don’t know. If it happens to you, go with it. Your fellow candidates will also not be appreciating the extra awkwardness of an already difficult situation, so take comfort in that and try to make it work for everybody.

After the interview: Unlike the US, you’ll be contacted fairly quickly – often that day if you’ve got the job, or within a few days if you haven’t. Don’t despair if you don’t get a call that day though. Sometimes one candidate has to interview later, so decisions will be on hold until then. If you’ve got the job, great! If not, you were on the shortlist and your time will come. Every application and interview is useful experience – and usually provides some great stories!

So that rounds up your series on applying for academic jobs in the UK. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Tweet me your British job application wins and fails @DrAliceKelly

#MakeupMonday – Christmas Makeup

When I was a teenager, each Christmas brought disappointment.  Every year I would ask for a book. And every year my mother would get me makeup. It was so upsetting on so many levels. I was a baby-academic striving to find myself and my way in the world. I got no support on this journey whatsoever from my family, especially my mother, who considered college for women essential, yes, but only for finding a college-educated husband. And graduate school? That was unheard of.

This image is called “Perfect Gift for Girlfriend”

And while I wore makeup at the time and enjoyed it, the annual Christmas gift — always one of those huge impersonal gift sets, with 20+ shadows and blush and lipcolor —  still felt like an insult. It was a version of femininity that was not mine, and that I obviously didn’t want. The annual Christmas makeup kit encapsulated my whole struggle as an intellectual young woman in an uber-conventional family in 1970s suburban Pittsburgh.

Flash forward to Christmas 2017.  My daughter got me a Becca Wake-Up Call Kit, and I was thrilled beyond measure. And I got her a Sephora Highlighting Stick, and a Lorac Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales (!) Eyeshadow Palette, and she was delighted.  Because makeup is a love that my daughter Miyako (18) and I share, as readers of #MakeupMonday series know.  There is no conflict for us between our brainiac and our makeup-loving sides.  We geek out to the latest WaPo analysis of gerrymandering (she is a Poli Sci major at Berkeley), and then move directly to the pros and cons of a sunset eyeshadow look and the proper level of highlighter. She’s grown up with me as a makeup and fashion-loving academic mom, and when I visit her at Berkeley our agenda includes going to her lectures AND to Sephora together. It’s really a pleasure.

And our makeup gifts are highly targeted.  I adore all things Becca, and Miyako knows it.  The two items in my Wake-Up Call Kit could not have been more perfect for me–one is the kind of shimmery primer I love, and the other is a Becca version of the YSL Touche Eclat highlighter pen that I had bought at the Berkeley Sephora a few months ago but had to return because it was the wrong shade.  And her Sephora highlighting stick, and goofy Pirates of the Caribbean eyeshadow set that I found on sale at Nordstrom Rack, were just right because a) she has been wanting a stick highlighter, and  she had just been telling me how much she wanted to move out of her customary neutral palette, but didn’t want to commit to any particular color range or high end items until she’d tried lots of different options.

And our makeup gifts are a shared and evolving mutual project.  So, on Christmas morning a little conversation made it apparent to me that Miyako would actually have preferred the colors in the OTHER eyeshadow palette I saw at Nordstrom Rack, the Smashbox Double Exposure set. So when I was out doing some returns the next day, I picked that up for her, planning to take the Lorac back. But then we sat down for a long and intensive comparison of the two sets, we concluded that in fact *I* should keep the Pirates of the Caribbean palette, because it turns out that it has four colors that perfectly substitute for a little Maybelline set I’d bought a few weeks ago to try out a cool gray/taupe range inexpensively.  You can see them on the far right vertical row!

And so I am now the owner of a Pirates of the Caribbean eyeshadow palette (missing its included eye pencil because Miyako immediately made off with that). I just tried it out and love it! 

And Miyako has a new Smashbox palette that looks amazing–she just ran out to show me as I was writing this post.*

All of this to say…  it makes me feel happy in my heart to have Christmas makeup be a way to really see and be seen with my daughter. It’s healing in a way.  It really shows how makeup can be bad OR good–it all depends on how it’s used and shared, and what expectations are embedded in it. It doesn’t have to mean superficiality, and it can be a path to pleasure, creativity, and connection.


*She also just called out, “Mom, I’m out of BoyBrow!”  🙂

And, shoutout to my son Seiji (17) who got me this lovely sparkly tennis bracelet!!  They do know their mom!


*My regular intro:

Welcome to Makeup Monday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:


Dealing with Sexual Harassment Intersectionally

As I continue to think about the outcomes of the Sexual Harassment in the Academy Survey (now at almost 2000 entries; it is still open and you may contribute your own story using this form), I want to direct attention to the incredible work done on the Conditionally Accepted column (originally blog) founded by Eric Anthony Grollman, and currently published in Inside Higher Ed.  That space has featured a series of posts on sexual harassment from POC and queer perspectives over the past year.  I’d like to feature some of those in the coming weeks.  This one is titled,  Navigating Harassment As a Young Black Femme, by Gabi Jordan (pseudonym), an Assistant Professor of Sociology.  The author’s words:

“I am a light-skinned, mixed-race black woman who is visibly feminine, with big curly hair and what is considered to be both a “voluptuous” and “fat” body. Consequently, I have been subjected to aggressive street harassment, followed by men in stores, grabbed by men (and women) in bars, had students write offensive comments about me in their course evaluations, and witnessed rape “jokes” being directed at student athletes in the middle of a writing lab.

I have even experienced sexual harassment at the hands of fellow academics. For example, at the 2016 American Sociological Association annual meeting, I had the unfortunate experience of having a male professor comment on my “beauty” in the middle of a conversation about my research, with him reaching out to caress my face.

A lifetime of men (and many women, too) feeling entitled to make lewd comments or touch me without my permission has, in some ways, made me numb to the ways in which my body is viewed as accessible. My research on the intersections of race, gender and sexuality has allowed me to intellectualize why such harassment often happens. Yet even with the minor protections that an intellectual understanding of these experiences lends me, I continue to struggle with being socialized to believe that I am somehow complicit. I often feel guilty about wearing makeup and dressing in formfitting clothing, even as I wear high necklines and hemlines that come to the knee. Despite teaching my students about how the notion that women are sexual gatekeepers is part of an oppressive gender structure, I have a hard time not blaming myself for the harassment I experience.

My physical appearance remains a factor in everything that I experience in the academy, particularly the ways that my students and my colleagues find it appropriate to speak on my attractiveness (or lack thereof)….

I spent most of my graduate training unsure to whom to report these encounters and feeling awkward about discussing them with my (black, cisgender) male adviser. That awkwardness mostly stems from my own insecurities about admitting that I am vulnerable rather than deficiencies on my adviser’s part; in bringing up my harassment, I confirm that I am a sexualized body. Due to having had colleagues who are men of color tell me that the racialized and gendered harassment that runs rampant in higher education is something that I should “get used to,” I feel hesitant to bring up how my appearance impacts my ability to teach, to network with others or to conduct my research.

When I did report to one of my university’s human resources offices, I was told that I was not guaranteed any anonymity and, in the case of the coach’s unwanted attention that I described above, he would be let off with what they called a “positive confrontation” that I was assured would not enter his employee record. Instead, I was moved to another writing center and forbidden to work with student athletes who were members of that coach’s team. Essentially, this suggested that I was actually at fault, rather than the man who invaded my personal space and asked me inappropriate questions.”

A recent story on sexual harassment in the academy notes that women of color may experience especially high rates of harassment:

“In a 2017 survey of astronomers and planetary scientists, 40 percent of women of color felt unsafe in the workplace because of their gender, compared with about 20 percent of white women. Twenty-eight percent of women of color in the survey felt unsafe because of their race” (

Many stories in the Sexual Harassment Survey by women of color echo Dr. Jordan’s. Here is one:

“I was dressed up to give a lecture in a tasteful outfit which included a knee-length pencil skirt and knee-high boots–holdovers from a previous job in an non-profit office setting. He came up to me in a hallway and stood much too close to tell me how “sexy” he thought my outfit was and how I should dress like that more often.”

The impact of this kind of aggression cannot be overstated.  The Survey contributor goes on:

“That was the last time I ever wore a skirt. The rest of the time in the program, I dressed androgynously in jeans and over-sized t-shirts. I also stopped going by his office. Whatever contacts or advice he could have given me was not worth having to listen to his creepy comments about his loneliness or how he’d love to have his female students to his apartment, but “the bed is much too small.” I felt that he was testing the waters to see if he could get away with more than just saying something questionable. I decided I never wanted to be alone with him, ever.”

As story after story on the survey show, the impact extends profoundly into the victim’s ability to work in the field, and sense of worth as a scholar:

“I changed the direction of my study so I would not have to take his courses, or include him on my dissertation committee. It caused me stress and made me doubt myself and my worth as an academic.”  She went on, “It made me question why I was in academia in the first place.”

In this case as in almost all others, the harassment goes completely unpunished. “Comparing notes with other females students, I found out he did it to almost every women he encountered, but since he was a decades-long member of the faculty, nothing was ever done about his behavior. He may have received a slap on the wrist about 15 years ago, but that’s about all.”

Dr. Jordan comments that her experience contributes to “well-documented evidence of the ways that femme people are subjected to particular kinds of surveillance and, subsequently, harassment and violence. My membership in a discipline that recognizes and produces knowledge about various forms of sexual violence yet also fails to address harassment forces me to realize that there are still many gaps in how sociology departments and national organizations take steps to protect scholars.”

As the contributor writes: “The worst part of all this is that I am a 1st gen graduate student and a WOC and this person makes a big show of being a friend to women and underrepresented groups in academia. I can see how he can be manipulative, especially with younger women who may not know how the professor/student relationship is supposed to work.”

Dr. Jordan ends with a call to departments and campuses to become far more proactive in creating transparent systems for “those with social and institutional power to intervene and quickly shut down inappropriate behavior.”

As departments, campuses, and disciplinary associations grapple with the results of the Survey (and informal accounts suggest many are), I urge them to be aware of the particularly damaging impacts to women and femmes of color, who, as Dr. Jordan notes, “already must anticipate that they will be viewed as less capable based on racist and sexist assumptions,” and who lack a deep bench of potential mentors due to the under-representation of women and people of color on campus.  While Dr. Jordan was able to overcome this experience and continue on in her field, countless stories in the Survey show victims hounded out of the academy entirely. Any stated commitment to “diversifying” the department or field must engage directly with the ways that systems of racism, classism, ableism, and homophobia intersect with gender in these structures of power and harassment.


There Is No Moral Relativity in Sexual Harassment – a Guest Post

I am still contemplating my own words in response to the Sexual Harassment in the Academy Survey. For now, I want to share some astonishingly beautiful and poignant words by Dr. Ani Kokobobo, who wrote the following for the Chronicle of Higher Education: There Is No Moral Relativity in Sexual Harassment. I share with Dr. Kokobobo’s permission.


Dr. Ani Kokobobo

Ani Kokobobo is assistant professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Slavic Department at the University of Kansas. She has written over twenty academic articles on questions of the body, violence, and sexuality in Russian literature and has a monograph forthcoming in February 2018. Her writings have also appeared in The Washington Post, Salon.comLA Review of Books, and the Chronicle of Higher Ed. When not writing, she teaches Russian literature and mentors graduate students.


In a recent article for New York Magazine, Rebecca Traister notes that the #metoo movement is as much about work as it is about sex, or the “economics of sexual harassment.” In other words, besides the punishable sex crimes and the harm sustained because of harassment, this movement also documents the harm done to women’s career aspirations.

Looking at the problem from this vantage point leaves less room for moral gradations. If the problem is primarily sexual, there is quite a bit of room for distinguishing, as Masha Gessen does, among degrees of sexual infractions. From this perspective, groping is less problematic than full-on sexual assault, being propositioned is less objectionable than groping and forceful kissing, and so on. The Al Franken case has been an important test of the moral relativity of the #metoo movement. In the end, some people, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who recently called for Franken to step down, are uncomfortable with the idea of gradations.

Yet when it comes to professional damage, the financial impact of sexual harassment is an issue no matter how seemingly minor the incident — and this is markedly apparent in academia. A recent survey conducted by Karen Kelsky, founder and president of the consulting firm The Professor Is In and a columnist for The Chronicle, has elicited some 1,600 stories* of sexual abuse in higher education. The number of these #metooPhD stories is growing daily, capturing a problem of enormous scope.

As Kelsky writes about the database of stories, her objective is to make “visible” the “systemic, institutional, and patterned nature of sexual abuse in the academy. … You cannot solve a problem if you can’t see it.” What her survey makes visible is the astonishing array of examples of trust-based mentoring relationships — intended to guide and empower — that have resulted in the objectification and sexualization of students.

At times the entries relate incidents of outright sexual assault. At times they consist of grooming for a sexual relationship. I wondered what was worse: the random groping at a conference or the inappropriate sexual conduct of a trusted mentor whose intellectual approval someone cherished.

The survey also tells an equally devastating story of professional and economic loss. The worst predators systematically sought to destroy the academic careers of their victims, discrediting their dissertations and research interests. Often the sheer presence of the harassment pushed women off their career paths. Many respondents noted being forced to switch fields or advisers, transition out of hard-earned tenure-track jobs to escape their predators, or simply giving up on academe.

The survey suggests that even in cases of mild harassment, in the form of indirect remarks or a timid proposition when rejection was immediately accepted, the damage done to professional lives could be overwhelming. Often in these reports, colleges protected their investment in superstar professors, while the harassed saw their careers derailed, with the loss of both time and money.

The economic detriment to harassment victims exists in every profession where #metoo stories are emerging. In higher education, and particularly in fields like the humanities, where economic factors are already stacked against aspiring scholars, the professional damage seems all the more disturbing.

Kelsky’s survey also reveals the considerable mental-health damage done by the harassment, as virtually all participants listed themselves as sufferers of anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Even if the immediate sexual trauma was not overwhelming, the resulting impostor syndrome and general sense of failure were crushing.

Power is an essential element n most of the harassment and abuse cases being reported. But at colleges, the classroom considerably amplifies that power. Besides the expectation that professors be experts in their fields, they are simultaneously ascribed larger roles — not only scholars and teachers but also priests, therapists, life coaches, parental figures. These roles intensify both the conventional power dynamics involved in most stories of harassment and the vulnerability of our students and subordinates.

I remember my own lack of professional self-esteem when I entered graduate school, at Columbia University, many years ago. In a small humanities field with marginal job prospects, I needed desperately to believe that I could succeed, even though employment statistics said otherwise. In retrospect, the #metooPhD stories suggest that I was extraordinarily fortunate to find mentors who showed enthusiasm for my ideas and the intellectual contributions I could make.

I recall being considered an intellectual with worthwhile new ideas by a faculty member who went on to advise my dissertation. I cannot emphasize enough how important this endorsement was to me at 22. It helped me keep moving forward, past the crippling self-doubt and career uncertainties. Anything other than absolute support and encouragement would have altered my path.

Kelsky’s survey suggests that many other students were not so fortunate: Some found ways to survive despite financial and psychological damage, but many voices have been lost.

So I wonder: Is there really any room for gradations of sexual harassment and abuse in higher education, at least where students are concerned? The result ends up being the same — victims fail to live up to their potential. Can we afford that failure? Should we not hold ourselves to a higher moral standard? I don’t have all the answers, but the questions must be asked.

*Now about 1850 (12/17/17)

#MakeupMonday: The Makeup Tool I Can’t Do Without

Ok, technically it’s Thursday but it’s been a big week. The Sexual Harassment Survey continues to fill; we’re now at 1760 entries, and I’ve received over 150 emails sharing the names of perpetrators (oftentimes more than one name per email, by the way,  with no significant overlap among names so far.  When I do see multiple victims name the same perpetrator, I intend to ask if they’d like to be put in touch). I’ve been interviewed repeatedly about the Survey, most recently by the Wall Street Journal. Reporters seem to be stunned and horrified. And why wouldn’t they be?

Anyway, that has been consuming.

And then the Alabama election. There’s so much to say about that, but I’ll limit myself to this observation–>

So it’s Thursday when my Monday post goes up. Ah well… it’s OK, because this may be the last one for awhile.* That doesn’t mean I won’t do more (for example, I recently upgraded my blush–and I had one expensive misstep, and one completely free solution!), but the arc I imagined ended here, with the makeup tool that has transformed my makeup life.

It is: De’Lanci Makeup Brush Wrist Holder with brush-cleaning sponge!

This product is so marvelous!  When I first started seriously doing makeup, especially eye makeup that required lots of different small brushes, I would inevitably end up fumbling and dropping them all over the dresser and the floor.

A little fur… a little poop…

It is one of my struggles in life that I absolutely, pathologically, cannot stand to fumble objects. I go completely ballistic. I lose my shit. This is in fact the reason that I will only use cordless vacuums.  One too many sobbing jags trying to get the cord past the table leg….and I was…. just…. “that’s it, i’m out.”  And for a decade cordless is how it’s been.  Amazingly, only in the last two months did I finally get a Dyson.  With two rabbits just now, and their collective fur, hay, and bunny poops everywhere, something needed to be done.  Yeah, the Dyson deserves the hype, I have to admit.

But anyway, back to makeup.  My struggle to juggle the makeup and the brushes, all while leaning into the magnifying mirror, in the midst of the chaos that always prevails on my dresser-top… well,  makup just wasn’t fun anymore; it was becoming an exercise in frustration.

But as we know there are few logistical frustrations in life that a little shopping won’t solve, so of course I turned to Amazon, and lo, these wrist-thingies exist.

Now, reviewers on Amazon seem much more excited by the fact that it is covered in that brush-cleaning spongey material, than that it is a super-convenient way to hold your brushes in the morning before coffee. I’m not sure why that is.  I do like and use the brush-cleaning spongey stuff, but it’s not a deal-breaker. I have the same spongey stuff in a little canister as well (I found it at TJ Maxx for a couple bucks) and sure, it’s great! I love it! It means you can reuse the same brush with a different color, right away! Super convenient!

But for me the real draw of the wrist-thingie is:  no fumbling. Every brush I need is right there when I need it.

And a day that doesn’t begin with me dropping things is a day that is at least starting out halfway decent. Even if Miyako remarks, appalled, “Mom! What even is that?? Only makeup artists use those!”

I highly recommend!


*My regular intro:

Welcome to Makeup Monday, my weekly series on makeup; academic and postacademic job market and productivity posts will continue on Tuesday and Friday as usual.

Here is my weekly reminder:  I will not engage with makeup-shaming here or on any Facebook or Twitter comment threads. I support your right to not wear makeup, and anyone who dislikes makeup, disapproves of makeup, or wants to argue that no academic woman should be judged on the basis of makeup (which nobody is claiming anyway), I suggest you come back for my other posts on other topics.

For previous posts, see the following:


Our #MeTooPhD Moment

Today is Friday, when I post academic advice blog posts.  This week, I would certainly expect to post about the anonymous Sexual Harassment in the Academy Crowdsource Survey which in the space of exactly one week has garnered 1378 entries, and counting.*  That is 197 per day since it went live.  THIRTEEN more were added just in the time I have been writing this post.

If you wish to contribute your own completely anonymous account, please do so through this submission form, which will automatically enter your text into the spreadsheet.

I created the Survey, and the #MeTooPhD hashtag on Twitter, to provide a place for women to share their stories without fear of censorship or judgment, to know they are not alone, and to find strength in numbers and a foundation from which to recover and perhaps take action. There are many awful outcomes of sexual harassment in the academy, but perhaps the worst is that women are forced out of the academy entirely because of it, depriving the world of their talent, their gifts, their insights. And in truth, is this not ultimately the agenda of all sexual harassment in all fields?

The Survey has had quite an impact. I was interviewed for the CBC As It Happens radio show (which also aired on NPR), and have talked to reporters from Buzzfeed, Marie Claire, and Toronto Metro and fielded many other inquiries.

I can’t bring myself to write in detail about the contents of this Survey right now, however, because I find it completely overwhelming.  I can only read it in short bursts, because the things the brave contributors describe make me feel ill.  And not only the survey–my email inbox is filled with almost 100 emails from women naming their rapists and harassers, as well as the university administrators who protected them. They don’t send these names, and I don’t receive them, because we want to go public. They send them because they just want to tell someone.  They just want someone to know.  I am honored to be trusted with these names.

The stories are distressing to read, but they are not personally triggering to me.  I was not sexually harassed during my years in the academy. My male professors and colleagues treated me reasonably well, and when they didn’t, it was more in the realm of general shittiness than anything that could be listed in this survey.

I want to make that clear, because there are a couple of entries on the spreadsheet that try to make the point that “truly accurate representation” would include mention of women not being harassed, of women being treated with respect, in the academy. I can barely find words to express my rejection of this view.

Nobody gets a cookie for refraining from harassing women.

The fact that I personally didn’t experience a personal case of sexual harassment does not mean that such harassment was not rampant in my surroundings, and that it did not fundamentally shape the conditions under which I and all other women pursued our academic careers.

What the survey shows is that sexual predation is utterly pervasive in academic settings, and colors virtually everything we do.  As I said to reporter Colleen Flaherty, when she asked me for my thoughts on the Survey for her (excellent) piece covering it (thank you, Colleen) in Inside Higher Ed:

“I created the survey to give victims a place to share their stories, to know they are not alone and to realize the systemic, institutional, and patterned nature of sexual abuse in the academy. This is not meant to be a scientific survey; my goal is to provide a public space for the truth of sexual predation to be shared to help lessen the shame that victims feel in a context of secrecy, intimidation and silence, and also to remove plausible deniability by institutions. You cannot solve a problem if you can’t see it. This survey aims to make the problem visible to all.

What we see from the survey stories are three themes: first the pervasiveness and severity of the abuse — extending to rape, intimidation, and terrifying levels of stalking over months and years; second, the systematic protection of abusers over victims, and the sheer force of patriarchal solidarity in keeping powerful men insulated from consequences, and thus able to continue harassing tens or hundreds of victims over decades (and as bell hooks says: patriarchy has no gender, meaning, powerful women often support abusive patriarchal academic structures that victimize junior women); and third, the devastating consequences for academic women, leading to the loss of their contributions to the world of scholarship. Countless women on the survey describe being hounded out of the Ph.D. entirely, being forced to change projects or advisors or institutions, resulting in disrupted work and loss of funding and continuity, being forced to conduct their work under conditions of terror and siege — some even describe having to hide in closets and empty rooms to avoid their harasser, or having to move their residence repeatedly, or avoid certain conferences or meetings. How can best work be done under such circumstances??? The result is an incalculable loss of women’s contribution to scholarly life. When people bemoan the loss of the contribution of Famous Man X, they are ignoring the loss of contribution of the 5 or 25 or 50 or more women he harassed out of the field entirely.

I hope that this survey makes for a powerful #MeTooPhD moment in the academy which will disrupt its entrenched systems of sexual abuse once and for all. I hope it makes men feel uncomfortable, and makes them closely examine their own behavior and that of their male colleagues, and ask: how have I participated in or enabled similar stories to those I am reading here? The goal is not for women to try and stop being harassed. It’s for men to stop being sexual predators.”

I can do no better than to end this post with the piece Dirty Old Men on the Faculty by Sheila McMillen in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week (bolding added).  McMillen had a long career and has things to say. Her words burn.

Let me provide a little history.

In December 1973, when I was a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, Esquire magazine published an article by R.V. (Verlin) Cassill, a professor at Brown University, called “Up the Down Coed,” subtitled “Notes on the Eternal Problem of Fornication With Students.” It begins with a student — “the girl,” as he calls her — coming to his office and asking his help on interpreting the Rilke poems he has assigned. He reads aloud the line giving her difficulty: “Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic orders?”

He dismisses her trembling earnestness, her clothes: “dungarees with a patched jacket — a costume I find boring and pretentious,” and assures the reader that the meeting “can not lead to something the reader might find … reprehensible.” He goes on to lament his aging and the end of “the golden era of faculty-student copulation on our campuses,” and adds jocular reminiscences of his escapades with coeds when he was younger. In his view, they were the instigators: “Many girls matriculate knowing that if the professorial lamp is properly rubbed, the phallic genie will pop out.”

Though not well known now, Cassill was at the time a respected writer and teacher. The author of 24 novels, he was a founder of the Associated Writing Programs and, before his time at Brown University, a faculty member at the Writers Workshop of the University of Iowa. Shortly after the Esquire piece was published, The Brown Daily Herald, the student newspaper, ran a story with the headline “Verlin Cassill: Another D.H. Lawrence or Just a Dirty Old Man?” Cassill’s article was outrageous even for its day, and I suspect he intended it to be so — he said in a sarcastic reply that the piece had been written “out of laughter and tenderness” and that he “sneered deliberately.” He certainly ended his Esquire essay on a note of droll waggery, referring back to the Rilke quote: “Who — if she and I cried out in unison — gladly — would hear us among the angelic orders? (A professorial joke. Heh, heh).

I could see the intended humor of the Esquire article, but as a “girl” myself, I also felt like the butt of the joke. When I visited professors during office hours with questions, did they see me giving “wide-eyed … signals of consent,” as a “sly little wonder” eager for their sexual attention? Did they see my eyes as “little jeweled orifices, quivering vortices down which the noblest intentions might plunge and be lost”? I had one more semester until graduation; cautioned, I don’t think I went to any more faculty-student conferences.

Beyond the Daily Herald article and a letter or two, there weren’t any repercussions for Cassill, who continued to teach at Brown until his retirement, as an emeritus professor, in 1983.

That was such a long time ago, you might think.

In 1993, by which time I was teaching in the English department at the University of Virginia, Harper’s magazine published the transcript of a forum titled “New Rules About Sex on Campus.” An editor at Harper’s, Jack Hitt, led the discussion with four faculty members: John Boswell, a professor of history at Yale University; Joan Blythe, an associate professor of English at the University of Kentucky; William Kerrigan, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; and Leon Botstein, president of Bard College. The topic under consideration: Should campuses institute prohibitions against romantic entanglements between professors and students?

All four academics opposed a ban. The reasons for Kerrigan’s opposition were astonishing. He said that he often dealt with “a kind of student … working through something that only a professor could help her with. I’m talking about a female student who, for one reason or another has unnaturally prolonged her virginity.” He made it clear that he had been willing to be that helpful professor: “There have been times when this virginity has been presented to me as something that I … can handle.”

Could there be a creepier perversion of noblesse oblige?

To Botstein’s credit, he said. “Let me say this: I think sexual relations trigger a set of ethical obligations,” to which both Blythe and Kerrigan responded: “Ethical obligations?” As if the idea were absurd.

At a subsequent meeting at the University of Massachusetts, the Faculty Senate disavowed Kerrigan’s comments without censuring him. No one at Kentucky seemed bothered by Blythe’s comment.

That was such a long time ago, you might think.

Nearly a quarter-century later, I’m retired. I hope that those in the academic world who are tempted to make the kind of comments Cassill and Kerrigan found acceptable would think twice in this era of social media, when an intemperate remark can bring out the online pitchforks.

But the recent accusations of sexual harassment against faculty members at Berklee College of Music and the University of California at Berkeley, at the University of Virginia, Columbia University, and Dartmouth College, suggest that while faculty members may now be more circumspect about what they say, they remain less so about what they do.

Unfortunately, none of this happened a long time ago.

While faculty members may now be more circumspect about what they say, they remain less so about what they do.

I’ve often wondered if there are more sexual predators in academia than in other environments. Where else is there an unending procession — renewed annually — of enticingly attractive young men and women, often unsure of themselves and eager to be in your good graces? It’s a setup rife with possibilities for manipulation, if one is so inclined. Rather like “shooting fish in a barrel,” as Cassill said, and all too easy.

Some argue that what professors say to students in and out of classrooms is an issue of free speech — oh, campuses are full of sensitive snowflakes who can’t take a joke or compliment. But, according to a study forthcoming in the Utah Law Review, the majority of harassment charges that the researchers investigated included not only verbal abuse but also unwelcome physical contact. That’s when harassment crosses the line to assault.

I’d like to think we’ve finally reached a tipping point in awareness, that the surge in accusations of harassment signals that the attitudes and behavior that Cassill and Kerrigan endorsed will now get the condemnation they deserve. But it’s not enough that predators realize they need to watch their words. They also need to consider their deeds — or be hit with more than a slap on the wrist. I certainly hope that’s what the future holds. I’d hate to think students must wait another 45 years to see real change.


For now, this is what I can write.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the women who have contributed to the survey.

*Please note that the number of lines in the spreadsheet does not equal the number of substantive entries. The content is entered through a form, and if someone starts the form but doesn’t submit it, that leads to a blank line in the spreadsheet. Thus there are more lines than there are entries. I have access to an accurate running tally of actual substantive entries, and that is the figure that I cite here and in other writing and interviews.

#MakeupMonday: Introducing Sailor-J, the Beauty Blogger U Need When Ur Exposing Sexual Harassment in the Academy

This week I launched the Sexual Harassment in the Academy Crowdsource Survey and 600+ entries into it, I am just a little…ummm…





Professor Friend: I hate people
Did I ever tell you that my boyfriend told me that he found out a few years ago that female students in his department keep a list of “safe” male professors?

Not a list of unsafe or predatory ones — but a list of “safe” ones

Like unsafe is the default

KK: Wow that is terrible

Professor Friend: I know right??
Somehow it was more upsetting than if he had said it was a list of “bad” faculty tho that still would have been upsetting
I asked him if it was a list of profs who didn’t harass women and he said not only that but also profs who wouldn’t as he put it “act bro-ey” and make women uncomfortable in any way.

And that is really the default isn’t it.

KK: Yes
Bag o dicks
Box o dicks

Professor Friend: Yes
Bowl of dicks

KK: Bucket o dicks

Professor Friend: Bidet of dicks

KK: Basket o dicks

Professor Friend: You beat me! I was going to say basket!!!!


Professor Friend:  Bundle of dicks
What’s a term of venery for dicks?

KK: That I don’t know

Professor Friend: A meta-dick? Since toxic masculinity is fractal?

KK: Ur-dick

Professor Friend: Yes!
One dick to rule them all, one dick to bind them

KK:  Hahahahahaha!!!!
Ask not what your dick can do for you but what you can do for your dick.
Give me dick or give me death!

Professor Friend:  Hahahahaha
Because I could not stop for dick it kindly stopped for me

KK:  Hahaha!!!!

Professor Friend: Dance like no one is watching, love like it’s never going to hurt and work towards your PhD like academia isn’t a giant shitbowl of dicks

I wonder if I should put this on the blog. The whole thread.

Professor Friend: I don’t know! It’s kind of cathartic — but will it detract from the gravitas?

KK:  After this fucking survey do I care?

And so for Makeup Monday I leave you in the hands of Sailor J, the beauty blogger we all need today.


As she informs us, “Since it’s simply for the dick, we have to do it.”




And remember: “So long as you look like a newborn baby, men are willing to mate with you.”

(Find more Sailor J here: Twitter: @_xjjsmithx_ Insta: xx_jjsmith_xx )