The word “herpetology,” which is the study of amphibians and reptiles, comes from the Greek “herpein,” which means “to creep.” Interesting. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised, then, that the field is male-dominated and apparently full of goddamn creeps. One such creep is this creepy turtle researcher: Richard Vogt.
Richard Vogt was honored last week for his achievements in herpetology at an annual meeting of herpetologists and ichthyologists (fish scientists) in Rochester, N.Y. In a lecture on Thursday, Vogt presented attendees with images of researchers in water environments interspersed with revealing photos of women, censored, according to the New York Times, with blue boxes. (The censoring was done by the conference staff.) “Did Vogt including a revealing photo of his own damn wife in the presentation?” I’m sure you’re wondering.
The lecture, which reportedly caused some in attendance to walk out, was not the first time Vogt was an unabashed creep in public for no apparent reason other than he’d gotten away with it in the past and had literally just gotten an award, so why would he expect there to be consequences of any kind. According to the Times, Vogt had a history of inappropriate behavior with colleagues and oddly breast-focused turtle presentations.
The Times spoke with Emily Taylor, a herpetologist who’d seen this presentation and others from Vogt; she said presentations she’d seen from him in the past repeatedly included “sexually explicit gratuitous images of women’s breasts in bikinis.” “We’re scientists,” she said. “We are there to learn about the animals. We are not there to be subjected to pictures of half-naked women holding the animals.”
The Herpetologists’ League rescinded Vogt’s award — which was reportedly “strongly advised against” by some board members — on Friday. In a statement released on Sunday, the league said:
“Many members of all genders took strong offense to the images that were presented and to the awarding of this distinction to someone whose extremely inappropriate behavior toward other attendees has been long known. … We acknowledge that scientific achievement does not excuse misconduct in the profession at any level.”
In general, please stop giving awards to known sexual harassers.
And in closing, here are two good photos of turtles: