Ms. Adventures in Higher Education




I BEGAN WORK on this project long before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, long before women began sharing their stories of harassment online with #metoo. For years, at more than one job, at more than one academic institution, I’ve been harassed. And I’ve remained silent, no matter how grievous the harassment. As a graduate student, then a job candidate, and now an assistant professor, I’ve always felt that speaking out was too risky. But with every instance, my silence felt like complicity: a kind of betrayal that helped perpetuate the problem. I knew I had to speak out, but I didn’t know how. But then, Ms. Adventures, created by my brilliant collaborator Chet, came along like a good superhero to save the day. I hope that the situations depicted here will resonate with the many women that have had similar experiences. Maybe this format will also attract the notice of readers less inclined to read about behaviors that create a hostile gender climate. In my current job at a Research One institution, I’ve been asked on dates by senior colleagues, physically intimidated by a male supervisor, and groped by an administrator. But it’s the more subtle, everyday conduct that Ms. Adventures documents. The format might imply a light-hearted tone that I don’t intend, but I hope it also conveys the spectatorial nature of women’s vulnerability and visibility in the workplace.

 

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Katherine West teaches at an R1 University in the United States. She also publishes scholarly work under her real name and does have some excellent colleagues who have adjusted to 21st-century life.

Chet Whipley is an illustrator and storyteller in the Northeast United States. He is currently at work on a children’s story and a graphic novel celebrating the works of David Bowie.


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