The final condition of computer-mediated communication that can intensify problems faced by female writing teachers is that when problems do occur on-line, they are easier to brush off. Our study of student-to-teacher harassment in traditional classrooms showed that women who are harassed by students have an extremely difficult time gaining administrative support. Most are blamed for not "controlling" the class when they report problematic student behavior to their supervisors.
Our study of student-to-teacher harassment in the traditional classroom showed that one of the most difficult problems teachers who have been harassed face is the lack of support and understanding from their colleagues and administrators. In fact, many women who responded to our survey said they did not report problems they had had with students because they feared ridicule or criticism. One respondent described a male student coming to her office for a conference. At one point he told her he wanted to "lay" her on the table. This teacher then said she didn't talk to her supervisor because she could handle the problem on her own and didn't want to "let the student get the best of her."
Another teacher wrote about a student who turned in "several papers filled with obscenities and accounts of violent sexual acts." When she reported this to the administration, they told her to either fail the papers or let the student re-write them. They suggested she was overacting because she wanted him out of her class. It is more difficult, as female teachers, to convince others, and perhaps to believe ourselves, that written harassment can be as harmful and painful as physical harassment. The virtual reality of on-line communication exacerbates this problem. After all, it's ONLY email! And yet, anyone who has experienced on-line harassment knows that the anguish of on-line harassment is just as harsh as in real life. Stephanie Brail, in her study of on-line harassment, says:
-Responsibility--Or Lack Thereof | Invisibility: It's ONLY Email | Back to Problems with Virtual Space