Now, regular readers of this blog know that Historiann’s path to career happiness and job satisfaction never did run smoothly until about the summer of 2004 or so. But I’m very happy to report that I was never sexually harassed by anyone in the groves of academe–not in the past 22-1/2 years, anyway. So take this hypothesis for what it’s worth, but, don’t you think that being a “nice guy” is a great cover when you’re sexually harassing people? Men who have good social skills and can read people’s reactions to them accurately are probably much more adept at 1) abusing their power over women students and subordinates, and 2) getting away with it than men who, because they are less socially skilled, aren’t regarded so much as “nice guys,” but rather as creepy, strange, or just socially awkward. Men who are perceived as creepy, strange, or socially awkward may be more likely to be reported as sexual harassers precisely because they’re not perceived as having a large number of allies and therefore they’re not influential in their work environment, whereas men who are socially skilled probably are seen as central rather than marginal players and as people who are decision makers (or who are allies of the decision makers.)
So my guess is that “nice guys” probably get away with sexual harassment much more often than other men precisely because they are more adept socially. Zuska is right that the amazement over the “nice guy” status in the incidents she discusses seems more than a little naive. It’s like people who are surprised to find out that the child molester down the street isn’t the crazed, unkempt loner muttering to himself while he walks the dog, but rather the beloved father of four who is known for the fantastic, show-stopping birthday parties he throws for his children and for his volunteer work with the Boys and Girls Clubs. (Well, duh.)
What have you all seen and heard? Have you known any “nice guys” like this?