Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Response to “Right to Romance” article

There was only one published letter to the editor in response to Paul Abramson’s Boston Globe “Right to Romance” article; the letter was by Harvey A. Silvergate.  And it is an excellent letter that merits our attention.

October 7, 2007 Posted by | consensual relationships, higher education, ivory tower romance, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

No younger male profs and older female students in Inside Higher Education

 Somehow I missed the September 27  Inside Higher Education article,  “Do I Dare Eat a Peach?” and the accompanying reader forum.  My only excuse is that on the 26th I was changing time zones from EST to PST and consequently for the next few days I was in a state of malaise.  Fortunately not all the Dankprofessor blog readers missed it and I thank them for bringing it to my attention.

Reading over the article and the responses I found that the overwhelming concern was age differentiated relationships and that student/professor relationships were seen as a subset of said relationships.  In the university world it is still axiomatic that the older prof is always male and the younger student is always female.  No exceptions.  Such was only one of of numerous stereotypes promulgated in the accompanying forum.  No matter how many times I read about how it is ALWAYS the male professor who is older, I still know that my wife to be who I dated while she was a student in my class still remains two years older than myself.  As for the campus banning ideologues, we did not exist then and we never existed.  I do not deny that on some abstract intellectual level they could entertain the idea that such an exception could exist. But in the real world personal face to face situation they denied that we were a real student/prof couple, and therefore should not be subject to their wrath.  We just didn’t count as the real thing and consequently were simply discounted. Also, I do not discount the possibility that some of our committed CSULB feminist ideologues believed I was playing a game to see if they would actually go after a mature female student who was more mature then them and did not suffer from any ideological disability.

In any case, not all the commentators were escapees from the real world of exceptional people.  Following is the comment of Jan Arnold. It deserves to be savored; so few academics are willing to write the truth as he writes it.

 “What a refreshing (and unfortunately a probably soon to be trashed by many who will willfully miss the point) discussion on sexuality and our American obsession with Pauline-Augustinian notions of “sin” (though you didn’t bring that term in) when broaching life’s most exciting gift. The myth of the negotiability of a feeling state underlies the misbegotten notions of human autonomy that pervades our culture from Plato to W. Nietzsche summed it up in Twilight of the Idols when he collapsed the problems of Western culture to 2,000 years of sexual repression. The very feeling of sexual excitement itself has been demonized and the repressions of vocal zealous fews have put us all into a world of circumspect “quotation marks.” Is power predation acceptable? Of course not. Does this mean sex is a burden of unspeakable sin, that like the pathetic Augustine we must despise ourselves and despair of ever being “innocent” and “pure”? What bosh. We might as well blaim the knife for the murder. Terry, you said it all. Why the delusion that passion and desire is something that can, and must, be controlled, not in its acting out, but in its very phenomenal emergence? Augustine saw his inability to prevent this emergence as proof positive of his fundamental, innate depravity, rather than the actuality that his ego demanded to be supernatural, godlike. You speak of the codes telling us, and assuming, that sexual feelings are negotiable, rational behaviors. This has been something I have argued against to others only to the return of askance blank incomprehensive stares. I take those required “ethics” courses online several times a year for every school that employs me as an adjunct, and normally ace them. Yet I once erred in an answer when I had missed the important point that any time an (adult) person has occupational superiority over another (adult) person, despite interest on the side of both persons, dating is strictly verboten. These were the stated conditions of the case: Ms. Lolly Gagge shows interest in supervisor, Jack Goff, a nice, kind, decidedly unabusive type guy, who after a few months asks her to dinner. Is this “ethical”? Sure, why not.? Oh no, says the tube god — he is her supervisor. Go back and answer it right. Case closed. “I’m depraved,” I reasoned. The vast majority of sex is not predation, and there is no sin in having natural hypothalamic processes. Sexual attraction to adolescents is not the same as sexual activity with them, and it is not pedophilia, either (check the DSM for what that actually is — for now, it is sufficient that one must have not reached puberty to qualify as the “ped” with which the “phile” is enamored). ” The power of sex? It must be equal, and take place only between- — or among — equals. Never mind that to much of the rest of the world such notions about sex are fatuous.” This is a courageous (ironically framed) statement in the present American puritan revival, in which we attempt to ignore the slaughter we have directly and indirectly wrought on Iraq while we piously swath ourselves in deeming “moral” such things as demanding abstinence only sex education, federal laws preventing brain-dead patients from being allowed to die (Terry Schiavala) and refering to blastulae as “Boys and girls” when disallowing potentially lifesaving stem-cell research. The dilemmas you wrote of and particularly heartening, to stand up for the right to have sexual passion and feelings, gave a good start to my day.” Jan Arnold

Jan Arnold, at 12:35 pm EDT on September 27, 2007

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If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.
© Copyright 2007

October 7, 2007 Posted by | ethics, higher education, sexual politics, student professor dating | 1 Comment

   

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