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I was groped by the editor of an OB/GYN medical journal. I’m not the only one.

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In 2014 I was an invited speaker at the International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS). My first day there I attended the session on research. I was excited to hear what Dr. Khalid Khan, the editor of The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology,had to say about writing a good paper. An editor’s take on what gets published, what doesn’t, and why would be invaluable for a future paper! It was clear lots of other people had the same thought and so I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with him after he spoke.

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One night after dinner I was in the bar of the conference hotel networking with other doctors and physical therapists. I saw a friend, we’ll call him Dr. Smith so he isn’t bombarded at work with phone calls (although he is willing to go on the record should that be required), trailing behind Dr. Khan. We started chatting and I was really pleased to have time with Dr. Khan. Given the close confines of the bar Dr. Khan and I were separated from Dr. Smith by the push of the crowd.

We started chatting, ordered a drink, and then Dr. Khan’s arm went over my shoulder in that all too familiar manner and before I could process what was happening his hand was on my breast. I had one of those what-the-fuck-just-happened moments and instead of punching him in the face I did what most women do, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Surely the editor of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology did not just grope my breast. Surely I imagined it.

I moved his hand.

We chatted a little and I pretended he hadn’t groped me and then he started that octopus body crawl that so many women know only too well. He was nuzzling my neck and his disgusting hot breath was in my ear. He was groping my breasts, running his hands up and down my back, and putting his arm around my waist pulling me against his body. Each time I moved one hand or arm another seemed to take his place. 

I told him to stop.

I removed his hands more forcefully each time. You know how it is, doing that half laugh that is part nerves and part hoping it might give the person helping themselves to your body the opportunity to back off gracefully (as if they deserve that) by pretending their groping you was just some kind of joke. 

We women are trained from birth to make these exceptions for men.

I asked a man who I had seen at the conference for help and he just looked away.

I had to resort to yelling and physically pushing Dr. Khan away more than once before he got the idea that my body was not his to fondle.

And then something happened that still shames me. After receiving enough rebukes from me Dr. Khan stumbled over to a group of women who were also at the conference and instead of warning them I went to look for Dr. Smith. I was just so glad to get rid of Dr. Khan and I didn’t want to risk being next to him again.

I told Dr. Smith what happened. He has since told me that he remembers hearing me yell and seeing me upset. And then Dr. Smith told me that he had been called to a restaurant by a colleague to remove Dr. Khan because of Dr. Khan’s behavior towards a female doctor at the dinner. Dr. Smith had brought Dr. Khan back to the hotel hoping he would be embarrassed and head up to his room, but as they walked into the hotel Dr. Khan headed to the bar and so Dr. Smith followed. Dr. Smith assumed that Dr. Khan would be so mortified that he wouldn’t do it again. 

I e-mailed Dr. Smith before I wrote this and he sent me his recollection. The “him” is Dr. Khan:

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I was not being “hit on.” I’ve been hit on many times and I know the difference. Being hit on usually involves a glance that lingers, a touch that is reciprocated, or as Dr. Khan himself wrote in his article on how to convert online content into a first date, “A genuine smile, one that crinkles up your eyes.” 

I found the acknowledgements of that paper very interesting:

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I have never been groped like that at a medical conference, although I have heard that other women have suffered that way. I have also heard worse. Until 2014 my “no” was always accepted, although now I wonder if my career was affected by turning down these men who always held more power than I did?

How many women turned away from academics and conferences because the groping was just too much to bear? How many cures and therapies are we missing because women decided that “publish or perish” had a hidden price tag that was just too steep? And what of the women who paid that price? 

Why come forward now?

If a man is going to grope my body without my permission he gets no say in how I speak about it. I choose now, so now it is. 

I’ve been encouraged to come forward by watching the brave women in Hollywood tell their stories of unwanted sexual advances and assaults as well as the courageous women who have recounted what happened to them at the hands of politicians. I know these stories circulated for years and after hearing of recent issues at the AAGL meeting I realize there is also a whisper network for women in medicine.

The glass ceiling not only keeps women from advancing it also keeps the men at the top from hearing our stories and acting appropriately to stop abuse when it happens. I know it takes someone to start a public conversation so here I am saying what happened to me. 

Everything is designed to protect men. Period. Quietly discussing this doesn’t alert other women and, quite frankly, having any conversation with the men’s club on the sunny side of the glass ceiling usually results in a woman being told she was over reacting and gets her labelled as a bitch or as a trouble maker. 

Men have been taking sexual advantage of women since the beginning of time. If politely telling them in private that they should stop worked we wouldn’t be here. Anyway, we can’t tell them in private because we are afraid to be with them in private. We’re sometimes afraid to be with them in public too. 

I have nothing to gain from disclosing this except peace of mind. It was uncomfortable to think about what happened, I am still ashamed for not warning the other women at the bar, and I was embarrassed e-mailing Dr. Smith. This disclosure will likely cause a lot of aggravation for me, however, the number of women who have been whispering their stories to me has aggrieved me.

I’m angry at the men who do this and I’m angry with society for conspiring to make women like me feel this is somehow our fault. I’m angry that society tells me I should worry more about what happens to the man who groped me than how his behavior has affected me. 

I have written many posts that have attracted a lot of very difficult attention. I brought Ben Carson’s hypocrisy about abortion research to light and was attacked online by his supporters. I was the first to point out that Donald Trump’s medical letter was a sorry excuse that told us nothing and was similarly attacked by his supporters. For writing about abortion I’ve been smeared by right wing news sites and had to contact the FBI over threats. I’ve been smeared by the Toronto Star for calling them out on their tabloid worthy “article” on the HPV vaccine. However, I never once wavered or worried before I hit the “publish” button on any article I’ve ever written until now and yet all I am doing is telling the truth about how a man groped me. I think that speaks volumes on how women have been enculturated to accept the blame for the way men prey on us and how the partriarchy keeps us afraid of the consequences of speaking out.

(By the way, if you ask why I didn’t go to the police you can put yourself firmly in the “how poorly society treats women who speak out” camp).

This is not “my truth” this is the truth.

I am done with the network of whispers and I am so done with giving these men the benefit of the doubt. 












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diannemharris
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Yes, America, Voter ID Is A Poll Tax To Cheat At Elections

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Yes, America, Voter ID Is A Poll Tax To Cheat At Elections:

seandotpolitics:

Meet Marvin.

Marvin is a wonderful, sweet gentleman who lives in a tiny boarding house in Atlanta. We met him this summer and we started working to get him an ID. But Marvin was born in a Jim Crow town that didn’t give birth certificates to black babies. It’s tough enough to get a birth certificate REPLACED, but when you never had one in the first place… that’s a challenge.

So, we had to FOIA the Social Security Administration for something called a Numident Record.

It costs $27.

….It’s basically a history of your Social Security life and in some states, for some forms of ID, if you are a certain age you can use it in place of a birth certificate.

As you can imagine, the SSA is not the fastest agency in the world. It took almost four months to get Marvin’s ID. Our amazing volunteer Karen was on the phone with them every week trying to find out when they would mail the record. And Marvin was calling me every week because this ID means everything to him.

You see, Marvin is trapped in his home because in order to take wheelchair-accessible public transportation you need an ID to sign up. Seriously.

Not only that, but he is spending most of his income on rent for his very small room in the boarding house. He has an opportunity for better, less expensive housing but, you guessed it, he needs ID…

[T]his morning, Karen took Marvin to the DMV and he got his ID!

It cost us $189.

When we went to Marvin’s house this summer and told him that we were getting him an ID, he asked how much it would cost. We told him we would pay for everything and he started to cry. Because, like every single person we work with, he knew that he would never be able to afford an ID on his own.

This was one of the toughest cases we have had so far and it is exactly why I started Spread The Vote. Because voter ID is voter suppression. Because IDs are about a lot more than voting. Because we are changing lives every single day.

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diannemharris
2 days ago
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Seven Years

9 Comments and 30 Shares
[hair in face] "SEVVVENNN YEEEARRRSSS"
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popular
1 day ago
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diannemharris
2 days ago
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8 public comments
chrisrosa
14 hours ago
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😢
San Francisco, CA
rjstegbauer
1 day ago
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Touching and beautiful! One of your best.
alt_text_bot
2 days ago
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[hair in face] "SEVVVENNN YEEEARRRSSS"
ameel
2 days ago
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<3
Melbourne, Australia
MaryEllenCG
2 days ago
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::sniffle::
Greater Bostonia
kyleniemeyer
2 days ago
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😭
Corvallis, OR
marcrichter
2 days ago
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Awesome. I'm speechless.
tbd
deezil
2 days ago
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OKAY I'M CRYING AT MY DESK NOW.
Louisville, Kentucky
sfrazer
2 days ago
God damnit, Randal.
deezil
2 days ago
For those that don't know the whole story: Approximately 7 years ago (imagine that) Randall posted this on the blog https://blog.xkcd.com/2010/11/05/submarines/ and made some vague references to tough times in the comics. On in to 2011, he posted this on the blog, and things seemed to be scary but hopeful. https://blog.xkcd.com/2011/06/30/family-illness/ . He's made mention several times about it over the years inside the comics, and I really believe that "Time" was made for some express purpose as to get his emotions out. But this update seriously is making a grown 32 year old man weep openly at his desk (thankfully I have a door that closes), as I always wondered how things were. Things look good, and this makes my heart happy.

‘That Is Not the Law… You Don’t Know That?’

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As we wait for the votes to be counted in Alabama, Jake Tapper’s interview today with Roy Moore (R) spokesman Ted Crockett is priceless.

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diannemharris
3 days ago
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wow.
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2 public comments
Technicalleigh
2 days ago
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I had to check the CNN Countdown To Whatever timer to convince myself the video wasn't stuck buffering. Honest.
SF Bay area, CA (formerly ATL)
jhamill
3 days ago
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Speech.......less
California

Rich People Skip TSA Body Scanner, Get PreCheck Access at JFK Thanks to AA “Flagship First” Entrance

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AA Flagship First Dining
The menu I received for the “free” restaurant access with AA Flagship First

I don’t often purchase full-fare first class tickets, and at the beginning of the year I switched loyalty programs from American to Delta after merging with US Airways caused AA’s service to plummet (hey, who could have predicted that merger would hurt consumers?!).  So I’ve never had access to AA’s Flagship First program before, which entitles guests to ultra-premium lounge access, including no-charge “fine dining,” and a special airport entrance, for those flying in first class direct between JFK and either LAX or SFO.  But, I had some AA miles to burn and booked the flight for today.

You’ll imagine my surprise when I walked through the VIP entrance and was immediately placed in the PreCheck queue.

TSA PreCheck is designed to allow people to submit to a background check and thereafter skip the most invasive of the security the TSA imposes upon us — including the nude body scanners and full-body pat-down.  The idea is that passengers can be pre-screened to ensure that they are less of a security risk and thus it becomes unnecessary to use normal security practices.

The wisdom of PreCheck not withstanding (it relies on the premise that the government can predict who is a terrorist and who is not, a premise that I’m not sure is founded), the program is entirely undercut if one can get PreCheck benefits by splurging about $1K (or 50,000 AAdvantage miles, in my case) on a premium ticket.  American Airlines and the TSA are literally allowing flyers to buy their way out of security procedures.

In the meantime, your 80-year-old grandmother is still getting rubbed down for weapons and your 2-year-old’s baby bottle is still being tested for explosive residue.

Anything for our profits safety, right?

 






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diannemharris
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The Failures of American Capitalism

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I don’t see how there is any interpretation of people camping out to get free health care other than an indictment of the complete failure of American capitalism to distribute resources where necessary for people to live dignified lives.

Shanda King pulled on a second pair of pants and a fleece sweatshirt before heading out the door Friday afternoon. She tossed a tent into her trunk, just in case she’d be required to wait outside in the cold. She grabbed a bucket, too, in case there wasn’t a bathroom for those in line.

Then she got in her car and drove west, away from Baytown and, she hoped, all her problems.

King, 41, couldn’t believe it when a friend told her about the two-day mobile clinic held Saturday and Sunday at the Chua Viên Thông Tu Buddhist Temple in west Houston. Free medical care. Free vision screenings and prescription glasses. And, most important to King, free dental.

This was the chance she’d been waiting for. To gain access to the Remote Area Medical clinic, she just needed to be one of the first 400 people in line before it opened 6 a.m. Saturday.

King wasn’t taking any chances.

When she arrived at 4 p.m. Friday — a full 14 hours early — she was the first. Thirty minutes later, another car parked behind her outside the temple, a retired husband and wife who’d driven four hours from Dallas, hoping for new dentures. An hour later, another car pulled up, this one driven by a retail worker from Pearland who’d gone four years without new glasses. Then another, a 19-year-old construction worker from Dickinson who for more than a year had suffered the constant pain of an untreated toothache.

By 3 a.m., a few dozen cars had lined up behind King, each carrying a story of despair.

Similar scenes play out every time Remote Area Medical arrives in a town. The Tennessee-based nonprofit, better known as RAM, has hosted similar clinics across the country, each time drawing massive crowds. In a country where more than 114 million people have no dental coverage — far more than the 28 million who lack medical coverage — RAM clinics and others like them are a lifeline for those most desperate for help.

“There are tens of thousands of people in Houston who lack access to affordable care,” said Stan Brock, who founded RAM in 1985 and, of late, has made headlines by inviting President Donald Trump to attend one of his events. “No matter how much we talk about improving our health care system, unless we add vision and dental coverage, people will continue to be in pain and suffering.”

Good for the RAM people. They are doing the best they can. But this sounds like a story of American health care professionals doing volunteer work in Zambia. Instead, it is Houston. This is a gigantic failure of American capitalism and the American state. I hardly need to state this obvious point, but it is a shocking outrage that such a nonprofit is necessary in this nation. It’s of course completely avoidable, but then think of low corporate taxes and I think we know which is the most important moral cause.

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