A recent article in the New York Times has come to the attention of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education) world, a world which I am plugged into as a student in STEM. This article She Wanted to Do Her Research. He Wanted to Talk Feelings by Hope Jahren talked about the omnipresence of sexual harassment for females studying STEM.
In particular, the piece quoted a love letter that made a student feel uncomfortable:
Last year, after one of my most talented students left to start her next adventure, she would text me now and then: “This is such a great place,” “I am learning so much here” and “I know this is where I am supposed to be.”
Then, a month ago, she wrote and asked me what to do. She forwarded an email she had received from a senior colleague that opened, “Can I share something deeply personal with you?” Within the email, he detonates what he described as a “truth bomb”: “All I know is that from the first day I talked to you, there hadn’t been a single day or hour when you weren’t on my mind.” He tells her she is “incredibly attractive” and “adorably dorky.” He reminds her, in detail, of how he has helped her professionally: “I couldn’t believe the things I was compelled to do for you.” He describes being near her as “exhilarating and frustrating at the same time” and himself as “utterly unable to get a grip” as a result. He closes by assuring her, “That’s just the way things are and you’re gonna have to deal with me until one of us leaves.”
So much for the contents of the first email; now let’s picture its recipient. She’s shocked: Is this for real? She’s confused: Did she do something to make him think she wanted this?”
With International Women’s Day having only recently passed by, I feel compelled to blog about this article
Because you see, I wrote that letter to a female colleague of mine.
And I have to speak out and defend myself. Because I was misrepresented in that article as a senior university staff member preying on young and vulnerable women. It was not like that. We were students of the same seniority, in the same program and doing the same courses. From repeated contact, I developed a crush on her. And there’s nothing wrong with having a crush as a student on a fellow student. Many of you reading this today probably found your significant other in a similar way. There will always be love between high school sweethearts, college students, roommates and workmates, until the dying of the light.
That is why I feel I need to publish the letter I sent in full, so the world can see that I had only innocent intentions. Because what can I say? I’m just a hopeless romantic. This then is the letter in full. This is my confession. So let me be judged.
Subject: can I share something deeply personal with you?
Ever since I first met you in our student hall, I knew you were something special. You are vibrant, kind, charming, magnetic. The more I’ve seen you around campus and the more I’ve got to know you, the more I’ve come to admire you. You’ve shown grit and determination, smarts and drive. You are courageous and adventurous beyond all measure. I would even say that my admiration has deepened into affection and love.
I know how you might not be able to see how amazing you are and why someone might fall head over heels for you, but it’s the truth. And I’m here to give you the truth bomb: I love you.
I love you because you challenge me and are my intellectual equal. I love you for your physical form. I love you for all your strengths, incredibly attractive as they are, and all your adorably dorky quirks. It has come to the point where you intoxicate me. Just being near you exhilarates and frustrates me at the same time, and as a result I’m unable to get a grip. You wouldn’t believe the things I felt compelled to do for you, to secretly win your favor. To be a manly man to measure up to your girly girl, even though with my ungainly body, nature would say that I can never be a superhero. You’ve made me change my habits and my lifestyle to be a better man for you.
All I know is that from the first day I talked to you, there hasn’t been a single day or hour when you weren’t on my mind
I know that the conventional wisdom is that roommate romances are to be avoided. That you shouldn’t shit where you eat, and that it always leads to awkwardness. But I’ve been the stereotypically shy, socially inept maths nerd all my life, and for once I’m going to embrace that awkwardness rather than feel crippled by it. Because I’d rather be awkward than let the potential love of my life slip by me.
In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. If you will have me, have me. If not, there is no shame. The only shame would have been not telling you. University studies only occupy us for a few years, and most of us then go on our separate paths. But how can I move on, knowing that I never tried with you? How can I believe in a future, when I could have happily spent my entire life with you?
Forever in love with you,
Disclaimer/edit: never mind, this is a hoax. I made up this love letter as an epic troll. I just didn’t think the NYT article was true, because my university seems nice, I treat all people with respect in STEM (apart from my friends who, thick as thieves as we are, I prank) and the letter excerpts didn’t sound bad (I’ve been trying to get the NYT author, Hope Jahren, to release the full letter, which would undoubtedly cast things in a harsher light). So of course I had to rush out to defend my field from all those shrill SJWs you keep hearing about. And well they do say the best way to grow a blog is to poke a lot of more famous bloggers and create controversy. But after talking to some girls in my lab, it seems that sexual harassment happens a lot (e.g. this girl I know said she’s already been sent creepy love letters by “two useless guys in the office.” Oh yeah, and I sent her this letter, but then I realized the joke was getting a bit out of control so I apologized). So er, think of this blog post as an Onion spoof article and mad respect to Hope Jahren for bringing a problem to light …
No, I won’t absolve you yet Hope Jahren. You’re probably still a victim culture promoting, closed minded, man hating publicity hound, in the vein of Anita Sarkeesian, that has hijacked the good name of feminism when it was about actual discrimination and is only in it for the money (dem book sales, huh?), attention and fame. Why do I say this? Because you still have not given me any reason to believe you, in spite of very polite e-mails asking for further information (which like all opinions counter to your own, you ignore and pretend don’t exist), that the love letter was not just a very shy computer nerd trying to express his innermost feelings.
People of the internet, rise up! There is a secret globe-spanning war going on, between us gamers on the one side and social justice warriors, feminazis, and censorship, self-hate and slavery masquerading as political correctness on the other side. We gamers are the underdogs in this fight. They, those who preach liberty while manacling us, have the establishment and all the sinister machinery of the state behind them. But we will fight and we will win: because we have on our side our God (right) and guns (for the weapons that will win this war, the internet and information, we know like the back of our hands), and we cling to them with all our might.
For the sake of the free world Trump must win, and Merkel and Hillary must lose. They called Franklin Delano Roosevelt a dictator once, while appeasing the real fascists. Now once again an authoritarian, Frau Merkel, reigns over Europe with an iron fist while her cohorts of feminazis spread fear, terror and slavery. Once again, the whole world looks to America for their last and only hope, and, from that bountiful land of patriots from whence George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and FDR sprang, comes Trump. Trump will win and must win! And 50 years on, when historians come to write of this war they will call gamers the greatest generation. For this is our World War II and the stakes have never been higher: the soul of the world is at stake.