humiliation of officemate

Tonya Frederic frederic at
Wed Feb 2 00:21:46 EST 1994

This letter is in response to Una Smith's attack.

My husband would advise me not to respond to such a vicious letter
written by someone who has chosen to misunderstand almost everything
about the situation.   However, I can't let this go without a response,
so I apologize to all the other readers who have to put up with what must
seem like petty bickering.  

>Why Mike chose to protect his directories and files is entirely beside
>the point.  It could well be coincidental;  Mike may be learning new 
>things about Unix computers, such as how to use FTP, and how to protect
>the privacy of files he doesn't want to be public.  That Mike made group
>files private suggests that he is a novice, and doesn't know how to set
>permissions selectively.  In any case, it's his business.
>You already know that he has been viewing pornography at the office; 
>this other "evidence" says more about you than it does about him.  
>After this, no doubt, everyone in your research group will want to
>protect their files against your prying, lest you find something
>even more damaging to use against them.

1)  Just to show you how little you know about either one of us and how
  silly your characterizations seem,  I'll say a few things about prying
  into other peoples files and computer knowledge.  I rarely look in
  anyone else's directories, and when I do it is usually by invitation.
  However, since the person who has been viewing pornography was the one 
  who taught me that searching for something among other's unprotected 
  directories within the group was ok, I felt I didn't need to be 
  particularly worried about looking for a certain program among his files.  
  I could not help noticing that he had suddenly protected everything, 
  although I certainly made a mistake in voicing my opinion to this newgroup
  that in retrospect it seemed as though he had a particular reason for 
  protecting his files.  You must not have read either of my letters very 
  carefully since you seem to think I went looking for 'evidence' AFTER 
  stumbling upon the pornography he was displaying.   

  To imply that this person may have protected his directories in ignorance 
  is ludicrous.  He is sort of the group expert when it comes to computer use.
  I agree that the whole protection issue is unimportant and could have been 
  for other reasons.   
>Tonya, you *used* bionet.women-in-bio to conduct a vicious, vindictive
>campaign to humiliate your officemate Mike.  
>..., involving us all in your crime against him.  Did you stop to consider
>that now Mike won't be able to post anything here without other readers
>noticing the similarity between his address and yours, and assuming that
>he is the porno-viewing hypocrite that you described.  What gave you the
>right to compromise Mike's reputation like that?

2)  I think writing the letter to this anonymous newsgroup and not revealing
  the person's identity was one of the least humiliating things I could have
  done.  I did not even make the issue known to the rest of the research
  group.  If he wants to uphold some sort of reputation, then he should be
  more careful about what he does in public.

>Mike should have had enough self-discipline not to look at those pictures
>at work, especially when other people might see them.  Had you made a
>polite, decent request that he not do it when you might see them, and had
>he continued to look at those pictures when you were present, then you
>might have taken the issue to the other graduate students, as a next step.
>You showed such utter disrespect for your officemate that, were you in
>my department, I have no doubt that public sentiment would be strongly
>against you now, in light of what you have done to him.

3)  I don't think I had to politely request he not display such pictures.
  What he was doing was completely unprofessional and inconsiderate.  Just
  plain wrong.  Besides that, he had slandered another member of the group 
  and even gone so far as to call that person PK ('porno king') behind 
  his back.  I'll respect officemates who deserve it. 

>You should have had enough personal integrity and discipline to deal with
>this very minor problem in a more respectful and dignified, and less
>vindictive way.  
>...good reason to despise you and hold you in contempt.  And who knows how
>many tens or even hundreds of strangers who read bionet.women-in-bio also
>hold you in contempt for your self-serving use of this public forum to
>attack your own officemate...
>Personally, I do not think this is an appropriate forum in which to give
>counseling or support to people in their personal conflicts with others.

4)  Call me vindictive, but I was thinking more of my humiliation than his.
  I don't casually accept pornography nor consider its display in the workplace
  a minor problem, as do you.  I don't wish to be made to feel like a sex
  object at any time, and especially not in my office where I expect respect
  for myself and my gender.  While Una Smith may think it's always better to
  ask nicely when someone hurts or offends you, I am not against fighting
  back on occasion. 

5)  My use of this newgroup as a forum was not entirely selfish.  I was aware
  of the fact that this sort of thing is occurring at other universities since 
  I'd seen MIT newspaper editorials of women complaining about fellow students
  using pornographic pictures as the background on their terminals.   I was
  fairly certain that I wouldn't be the only one who had something to say
  about this issue.  In fact, I was especially angry about the whole episode
  because I don't see it as simply a 'personal conflict'.

6)  Talk about not having good intentions toward others ...


More information about the Womenbio mailing list