A Fish Tank Full of Sexual Harassment? Why Diversity Helps

We have a beautiful 28-gallon fish tank in our living room with a variety of fish, including Mollies. I don’t know much about fish, so when the lady at the pet store said we needed to keep a ratio of one male Molly to three females, I took her word at face value. She sold us one adult male, two adult females, and two baby females. 

Everything was fine until one adult female and one baby female died.

Then the male Molly began to chase the remaining female continually. She couldn’t get a moment’s rest: he was always right there.

This lasted for a couple of days, and then we went back to the pet store and bought another adult female. I felt somewhat guilty putting her into the tank with a known harasser. And true to his form, he chased her around for a day, while the other female got a rest. But two days into it, and the tank has returned to harmony. All three adult Mollies interact, but there isn’t constant chasing.

As an HR person, I couldn’t help comparing this to office-based sexual harassment. Now, of course, there are some differences. These are fish. Their little fish brains don’t give them the luxury of free will. Additionally, if this were the office, I would have fired the male right after he started spending all his time chasing the lone adult female. Of course, I’d probably be in jail for having two employees die within a short time, but I digress.

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9 thoughts on “A Fish Tank Full of Sexual Harassment? Why Diversity Helps

  1. I don’t think it’s either fair or accurate to say “Plenty of women knew what Harvey Weinstein was up to and they ignored it because it wasn’t happening to them or they were afraid to stand up to him as well.” A lot of people — women and men — knew what Harvey was up to; he was notorious. Those who ignored it — largely company officials and legal counsel — did so because Harvey was, nevertheless, considered commercially valuable to the enterprise, notwithstanding his loathsome morality (or lack of same). Frequently, they went further and defended Weinstein’s actions, either attacking the whistleblowers or paying them off to silence their outcries. It’s not likely that many women who were potential victims “ignored” the harassment. More likely, they were attempting to avoid becoming victims themselves or — if unsuccessful and victimized — cognizant of the fact that reporting it would further harm them more than it would help. NPR currently has a good article on what happens to victims following their Me Too moments. Most are worse off than when they started, and some are remorseful for having spoken up. Those who aren’t remorseful frequently recognize that they were martyrs whose primary accomplishment was to prevent future victimization by the same perpetrators.

    1. Hollywood isn’t like the real world. The only unforgivable sin is being blamed (rightly or not) for a movie not making money. Anything else will, eventually, be forgiven if a person has a track record of successful productions.

  2. I’m with granny bunny on this. If we treated sexual harassment like any other sort of workplace misbehavior or criminality we’d be on the right road.

    “Ideally, women should be supportive of each other.” ideally PEOPLE should be supportive of each other. It’s not women’s work to train men to behave themselves. It’s management’s job; it’s families’ jobs. It’s other men’s job.

    If a man were embezzling from the company would it be his women subordinates’ responsibility to stop his wrongdoing?

  3. Suzanne, I am not sure what definition of “diversity” you are using, but I would say a ratio of one male fish to one female is about as gender diverse as you can get. Once it is 50 / 50, adding more female fish actually decreases diversity.

    1. It’s not a perfect analogy. They are fish. And when one dies, the others eat ti. So, you can only take things so far.

  4. For what it’s worth, live bearers such as mollies and guppies require that ratio so the male gets his attention split enough between the three so he will not harass any one individual female to an early grave.

    Enough hiding places can help too, not only for the females but for all the freaking baby fish you will inevitably have.

    1. We’ve had the mollies for about 6 months with no babies, which has surprised me. But, we also have lots of good hiding places–plants and rocks with holes in them.

      1. Goodness, that IS surprising!

        I wonder if the mollies, who tend to be lower-yield than, say, guppies, are managing to eat them all very quickly. That happens.

        In any case, it’s always great to talk fish with a fellow enthusiast.

        1. They may be eating. We have neon tetras as well and they love to eat each other. I’m sure they’d eat Molly babies.

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