Astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson was in the headlines this weekend, accused by three women of offenses ranging from unwanted sexual advances to inappropriate touching to rape.
Katelyn N. Allers, a professor at Bucknell University claims that Tyson grabbed her arm and reached into her dress during a party in 2009.
Tyson stated that it was “simply a search (for the tattoo) under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress” and that he didn’t know Allers felt uncomfortable by his behavior.
He said, “I only just learned (nine years after) that she thought this behavior creepy. That was never my intent and I’m deeply sorry to have made her feel that way.”
So why did he do it, according to his Facebook post?
“As we all know, I have professional history with the demotion of Pluto, which had occurred officially just three years earlier. So whether people include it or not in their tattoos is of great interest to me. ”
He is SO focused on the demotion of Pluto that when a woman has a tattoo of the solar system, he simply cannot help himself. He MUST move her clothing aside to see if she included Pluto?
Ashley Watson, Tyson’s former assistant on his television show alleges Tyson attempted to seduce her. Tyson invited her to his home where he “spoke about people needing human physical releases” and gave her an “awkward and incredibly intimate handshake.” When she decided to get out of there, she alleges Tyson put his hands on her shoulders and told her, “he wanted to hug her, but if he did, he’d just want more.”
His take on the incident according to his Facebook post?
“In the final week of shooting, with just a few days left, as a capstone of our friendship, I invited her to wine & cheese at my place upon dropping me off from work. No pressure. She freely chose to come by for wine & cheese and I was delighted.”
He was her boss. Her contract was ending, and she was clearly interested in continuing to work for the show. He leaves-out the part of her accusation that he took off his shirt and sat in just a t-shirt. That she came willingly for a snack does not mean she came willingly asking for sexual advances. And, worth repeating, he was her boss.
Tchiya Amet alleges Tyson pulled a “Bill Cosby” by drugging and raping her in 1984 when they were both graduate students at the University of Texas, that she blacked-out after Tyson gave her a drink and woke-up naked in his bed.
On the rape accusation, he offers some classic defenses. First, he discusses the number of times they had consensual sex. He does know that prior consensual sex is not consent, right? And that drugged people cannot consent, right?
“I remember being intimate only a few times, all at her apartment, but the chemistry wasn’t there.”
Then, he questions the victim’s intelligence and mental stability.
“…after dropping out of astrophysics graduate school, she was posting videos of colored tuning forks endowed with vibrational therapeutic energy that she channels from the orbiting planets.”
Tyson’s defense to this accusation was, “It is as though a false memory had been implanted, which, because it never actually happened, had to be remembered as an evening she doesn’t remember.” What does that even mean? She claims she was “roofied” and raped and his defense is that her inability to remember the details proves his innocence?
Along the way during his Facebook post, he attacks the #MeToo movement and the “guilty by accusation” climate it has fostered. He puts it out there that the rape accusation may be the result of a “solicitation-bait” effort by a journalist with an agenda.
What stunned me were the comments on his Facebook post from women. Here are some samples:
“He gave what appears to be an honest recount of what his version is, and apologized where needed if his gestures were unwanted.”
“Being uncomfortable is not assault.”
“As a #MeToo supporter, I am so sickened by the manhunt these accusations have become.”
“HOW have women become so fucking weak? Flirtation is not sexual assault. For fucks sake’s, this is embarrassing.”
“Another example of a man who has lived his life in the most decent respectful way and yet has to go back and reanalyze and question every move he has made..every gesture…every spoken word because those actions and words have been twisted into something lecherous by this out of control “me too” movement. I feel the same way about this as I did about many of the other men who were accused with no evidence.”
“Dr. Tyson, the more I learn about you as a person, the more I like you. I might even hug you if you promise not to take it the wrong way!”
“This is similar to what I thought when Senator Al Franken was accused. In photo ops, hands sometime brush ‘sensitive’ areas as you step in and out with a group of people. If the person with you feels ‘creeped out’ at any time, they are free excuse themselves. I am tired of this mess.”
After the 2016 election, I was stunned to read that 42% of women voted for Donald Trump. Now, having watched the Kavanaugh hearings and reading the comments on Tyson’s post, I am not surprised at all. Saddened, but not surprised.