Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful article.

Like with the Azis Ansari reactions, the focus should be on what Ansari should not have done. Had he not done it, there would have been no piece.

I’m glad you focus on that as the keystone and, secondarily, talk about good responses to the issue.

In particular, I wanted to highlight this comment:

Rankine shared a case study in which a romantic relationship between two faculty members of different ranks might create a hostile work environment or favoritism that unfairly disadvantages other junior faculty.

I once knew a professional involved in an intraoffice romance. She mentioned that her paramour was famous for thwarting others from getting the information they needed. Meanwhile, just being his lover opened up to her the depths of the professionally-critical knowledge he hoarded.

When I told her that was sexual harassment, she defended the relationship, claiming it was consensual and among peers [he was not her boss]. Ignoring the obvious power dynamic which probably influenced or initiated the relationship, I want to focus on the point you cited.

The point gets missed that any activity which presents the appearance of impropriety, but most particularly romantic relationships, is wrong.

If you invite a colleague to your BBQ and you leave out the rest of the team, you and your colleague need to be especially careful to treat every member of the team equally thereafter. If you are sleeping with the team subject matter expert on sexual harassment law, even if she only recognizes the legality of the hopelessly limited concepts of “hostile working environment” and “quid pro quo”, you both need to understand that she needs to be especially sharing with her info going forward to everyone equally.

Ideally, you would find your romantic partners outside of the company or organization you work for to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

I appreciate your including this example.


Resident of Frogpondia.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store