Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Abstinence at Harvard

Today’s New York Times Magazine had an interesting article entitled “Students of Virginity”. The dankprofessor found the headline to be a misnomer since I thought the article would deal with persons who study virginity, but my professorial instinct was wrong since the article dealt with college students who had made a commitment to remain abstinent until marriage. But at the risk of being too severe on the NY Times, the article was not really about students or college students involvement in the abstinence movement; rather it was primarily about Harvard students who had made an abstinence commitment, or at least a couple of Harvard students who had made such a commitment.

OK, enough for the caveats.The article focused on Harvard student Janie Fredell and how she made a transition from conservative Colorado Springs to Cambridge; how she made the transition form a culture of chastity to a culture of free sexuality.

Fredell began to understand she was in “a culture that says sex is totally O.K.” When a new boyfriend came to her, expressing desire, she managed to “stick to my guns,” she said, but there were “uncouth and socially inept” men, as she considered them, all around, and observing the rituals of her new classmates, Fredell couldn’t help being alarmed. “The hookup culture is so absolutely all-encompassing,” she said. “It’s shocking! It’s everywhere!”

She did nothing about it until her sophomore year. Then she began to read in The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, about a new student group on campus – a band of celibates, men and women, calling themselves True Love Revolution. They were pushing, for reasons entirely secular, the cause of premarital sexual abstinence, and Fredell, by this time, was utterly committed to abstinence. She could hardly bear to see it ridiculed in The Crimson. An article about the group’s ice cream social appeared under the headline “Not Tonight, Honey, I Have a Brain Freeze.” A columnist who wrote about the group joked of getting “very, very aroused” just thinking about virgins and wondered if such people might be available for “dry humping.”

“It’s an odd thing to see one’s lifestyle essentially attacked in The Crimson,” Fredell said. She began to feel a need to stand up for her beliefs, and what she believed in more than anything at Harvard was the value of not having premarital sex. In an essay she wrote for The Crimson, she asserted that “virginity is extremely alluring,” though its “mysterious allure . . . is not rooted in an image of innocence and purity, but rather in the notion of strength.” As she told me later, “It takes a strong woman to be abstinent, and that’s the sort of woman I want to be.”

After the essay appeared a year ago, Fredell was immediately aware of a loss of privacy, of having entered “whatever it is, the public sphere.” As students began responding on The Crimson Web site, she understood that she had defined herself at Harvard. “Everything became very clear to me,” she recalled when we met. She would join True Love Revolution. “I realized it was bigger than me, more important.”

Of course, the name of the abstinence group, True Love Revolution, is somewhat presumptuous. Sex and love can be separate, but to presume that sex trumps true love would appear to me to represent fringe thinking. The article indicated that the group did its “first big outreach effort, on Valentine’s Day 2007. Members had sent out cards to the women of the freshmen class that read: “Why wait? Because you’re worth it.” Some interpreted the card to mean that those who didn’t wait until marriage to have sex would somehow be worth less. One writer for The Crimson concluded that “by targeting women with their cards and didactic message, they perpetuate an age-old values system in which the worth of a young woman is measured by her virginity.””

What other interpretation of this outreach slogan could be given other than preserving virginity was equivalent to preserving ones worth?

Within a short period of time Fredell became Harvard’s most public student in advocacy of abstinence. Such did not represent any easy task since Harvard did not represent an abstinence friendly environment. Friedell saw her situation in these terms-

“People just don’t get it,” Fredell said. “Everyone thinks we’re trying to promote this idea of the meek little virgin female.” She said she was doing no such thing. “I care deeply for women’s rights,” she said. Fredell was studying not just religion but also gender politics – and was reading Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” alongside John Stuart Mill’s “Subjection of Women.” She had awakened to the wage gap, to forced sterilization and female genital mutilation – to the different ways that men have, she said, of controlling women. One of these was sexual. Fredell had seen it often in her own life – men pushing for sex, she said, just to “have something to say in the locker room,” women feeling pressured to have sex in order to maintain a relationship. The more she studied and learned, the more Fredell came to realize that women suffer from having premarital sex, “due to a cultural double standard,” she said, “which devalues women for their sexual pasts and glorifies men for theirs.”

The Times goes into depth with Fredell in terms of her difficulties relating to others in the context of her abstinence commitment, including the difficulties in relating to her boyfriend who had made the same commitment.

To provide a sexual balance for the Harvard scene, the Times interviewed Harvard student Lena Chen who has come to be seen as representing sexual freedom via her blogging. The Times reported-

Chen’s viewpoint, as she explained it to me, was not complicated. “For me, being a strong woman means not being ashamed that I like to have sex,” she said. And “to say that I have to care about every person I have sex with is an unreasonable expectation. It feels good! It feels good!”

Ultimately, Chen and Fredell come together in dramatic form in a debate on sexual freedom vs. sexual abstinence-

THE DEBATE between Fredell and Chen was described on Ivygate, a blog about Ivy League news and gossip. The blogger dutifully recorded that both women looked their parts – Fredell “modestly dressed in jeans” and Chen wearing “a miniskirt that left little to the imagination.” More than a hundred students crowded into a meeting room of Winthrop House, an undergraduate residence, and Fredell said that most of them just wanted “a huge cat fight.”

She and Chen had agreed beforehand, however, to focus on finding “common ground.” What they found, as Chen told me, was that both of them were “out there publicly declaring” who they are. They admitted that they were both, in their own ways, advertising sex appeal. The Crimson pointed out that “both have come under attack for their extreme attitudes toward sex,” and Fredell said they were able to bond over being attacked.

By underscoring their similarities and demonstrating mutual respect for each other, Fredell said she hoped to suggest to the audience that perhaps True Love Revolution was a friendly force at Harvard – and also deserving of a little respect. The Crimson, though, declared the whole event “boring!” and without open disagreement, the debate seems to have been resolved almost as a beauty contest. Two women sitting side by side, posing a silent question to the audience: which of us do you find more appealing?

Chen knew, as she told me later, that “the culture reacts differently when women make the same decisions men do.” Her own decisions were public knowledge, because she revealed them on her blog. Chen’s perspective on society, and Fredell’s, was borne out in the aftermath, as people wrote in to Ivygate, calling Lena Chen a “slut,” a “whore,” a “total whore,” a “whore whore slut.” And then someone by the screen name of Sex v. Marriage wrote in to say that “most guys out there would rather end up with a girl like Janie.”

Fredell was happy that the event had drawn a large crowd. She told me later that she considered it one of the revolution’s finest moments.

What ended up happy was not so happy for Chen. For both women, becoming a public figure in terms of sexual issues was no easy task. But, I gather to Chen’s surprise, her openness in regards to her sexuality was dealt with by many with hostility and sexual name calling. The after effects of the debate led to Chen putting her blog on suspension. However, Lena did do a blog entry today describing how she has been coping with her public notoriety and her reaction to the NY Times piece. I urge dankprofessor blog readers to read Lena’s most recent blog entry. As for the part of her post on the NY Times article, here it is-

Another thing: I have a slight bone to pick with the New York Times for their description of me as a “small Asian woman in a miniskirt and stilettos”. For starters, I was wearing a Cynthia Rowley dress that day and those who know the designer would agree that she hardly makes anything that could be mistaken for a miniskirt. My heels were also far less precarious and more conservative than stilettos (I remember because it was raining and even I wouldn’t have attempted such ambitious footwear on Cambridge’s brick-lined roads). Also, was it really relevant to add “Asian” to the description when my ethnic background had no bearing on the story and my last name already made it evident? And “small”? Really? Is it necessary to couple that with “Asian”? Perhaps I’m being oversensitive, but the whole eight-word description makes me cringe. It reduces me to a New England dragon lady, which is totally inaccurate from the truth but totally suitable for the purposes of portraying me as Janie Fredell’s polar opposite. Maybe that works for the Times‘ purposes but one-dimensional characters don’t make up real life.

The dankprofessor loves Lena’s last line. Yes, one-dimensional characters don’t make up real life, but they do generally populate news life, or if you will, public life. Of course, many of us feed off one-dimensionality. How can we change our complex selves so we eagerly reject one-dimensionality and eagerly embrace multi-dimensionality? One place we can look for multi-dimensionality, might be on Lena’s sexandtheivy blog. Hopefully her post today will not be her last post.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 30, 2008 Posted by | abstinence, dating, ethics, Harvard University, higher education, love, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Israeli court bans consensual sex in the workplace

In what the dankprofessor considers a bizarre ruling, the Israeli National Labor Court found that a sexual relationship between an employer and employee can never be considered consensual even if the employee was the initiator and seducer. And if the relationship was purely sexually focused, the employer has engaged in sexual harassment.

The court stated- “in cases of a relationship that is in essence opportunistic sexual relations in the workplace, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the superior, even if it proven that the subordinate seduced him.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, women activists and experts in work relations have welcomed the court decision even though the relationship was voluntary and mutual and may have been initiated by the subordinate.

Attorney for the plaintiff, Sigal Pa’il stated “there must be a clear and unequivocal message regarding the norms of conduct in hierarchical relations at the workplace to turn it as much as possible into a sterile place free of intimate relations between employer and employee. The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law imposes extra responsibility on the employer to prevent sexual harassment, especially inside the workplace.”

A panel of five judges awarded damages to a 43-year-old woman who maintained a sexual relationship with the chief engineer of the company.  As reported by the Jerusalem Post-

The chief engineer was head of several departments, including the one in which the plaintiff worked. The relationship was entirely sexual and took place in the office, in the car on the way to or from work and at the beach. Each was married when they met.

The district court accepted the man’s claim that the woman had flirted with and tried to seduce him. It also ruled that the plaintiff was obliged to provide stronger proof to back her charges than she would in ordinary civil suit.

Nonetheless, National Labor Court Judge Varda Wirth Livne wrote that “I place the main burden of responsibility on the person who had the authority and attribute less responsibility to the employee who worked under him.

“This is the precedent which I would like to bring to my decision. When we are talking about a relationship that entails nothing more than occasional sex in the security room of the work place, and when, even according to the superior’s version, the relationship did not include anything more than sex, all the responsibility falls on the superior and there is no relevance to the fact that the employee tried to seduce him by wearing provocative clothes or acting in a certain way.” Wirth Livne added that “the aim of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law is to convey a message to employers and superiors that sexual-intimate relations between a superior and an employee which includes no more than sexual acts in the work place should be perceived as inappropriate behavior which should be regarded as sexual harassment while exploiting one’s authority.”

So if one is to take Judge Varda Livne seriously, then a relationship in the workplace between an employer and employee involving both love and sex would be “acceptable”. Some how I doubt that love would be allowed to trump sex.

 The dankprofessor also doubts the Jerusalem Post’s characterization that “women activists and experts in work relations have welcomed the court decision”. Have women activists in Israel really reached a level where they would eagerly embrace such a convoluted decision?

The attorney for the plaintiff did get it right when he stated that this decision will help to turn the workplace as much as possible into a sterile place free of intimate relations. And the consequences of this decision and similar court decisions do lead to sterile workplaces and when applicable to sterile university places. The tragedy and the absurdity is that too many people welcome such sterility although the welcoming may very well be for other people and not for themselves.

ADDENDUM- Some how the dankprofessor missed, but what should have been obvious, is that the court embraced the campus feminist cant that differential power precludes consent.  Unfortunately, this genre of American feminism has found a home in Israeli courts.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 29, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, ethics, feminism, Israel, litigation, love, office romance, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics | 1 Comment

University students engage in public sex in museum

Pravda reports- “In late February a group of young people visited the Timiryazev State Museum of Biology in Moscow. Instead of scrutinizing mammoth tusks and other exhibits they entered a museum room, grouped in pairs and started to have sex.”

Participating sex players were from the art-group Voina (WAR); a number of the participants were students from the Department of Philosophy at Moscow State University.

What is being called as a collective fuck action took place under a banner with the slogan “Fuck for heir Puppy Bear”. For pictures of this sex action click here. Reactions to the action can also be found at that site.

On February 29 the Voina group staged the “Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear!” action 2 days prior to the presidential elections in Russia on March 2.

The action took place in Moscow’s Biological museum underneath the banner with the motto.

An anarchist website reported-

The demonstration was set to support the Kremlin candidate – Vice-premier Dmitry Medvedev, who is to become successor to President Putin after the expected overwhelming majority in Sunday’s vote. While some claim today’s elections a profanation of a just and democratic political process with complete media control and authoritarian oppression of opposition forces by Putin’s govenment, the Voina has decided to step out and show it’s level of involvement in the political process by directing the group’s energy towards the inexperienced “Puppy Bear” at the beginning of his long path – in a situation when the decided outcome demands no passionate voice from the voter.

The pet name “Puppy Bear” is derived from the etymology of Mr. Medvedev’s surname meaning “bear”.

As one might expect, the powers that be in Moscow did not have a favorable view of the sex action. Pravda stated- “The students broke a rule of universal human morality with their performance.” However, not to be expected was the fact that there is no law in Russia prohibiting sex in public. However, the sex demonstrators could be penalized via disorderly conduct ordinances. Apparently, such has not occurred.

I could find no information as to why the protesting sex engaging group chose a museum of biology for their exhibition. However, the dankprofessor is free to speculate that since the group has an art orientation and since their exhibit is in part of a biological nature, then a biological museum as their venue could be seen as a logical choice. After all, museums have always been receptive to those with an exhibitionism bent.

Of course, if such sex exhibits were to take pace in the United States, there would be a myriad of reactions. Lawyers would have a field day with some arguing that political public sex acts should be viewed as protected political speech.

I look forward to covering the public sex political situation in Russia, and to covering or uncovering such developments as they may occur in the ongoing U.S. political campaigns.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 28, 2008 Posted by | higher education, Moscow State University, public sex, sex, sexual politics | 1 Comment

University of Chicago law prof ignores civil liberties of student and professor couples

Professor Martha Nussbaum has continued her posting re the the Spitzer case on the University of Chicago Law School Faculty blog. Her latest post deals with the question “Is Sex Special?” and it is in this context that towards the end of the post she comments on issues relating to student and professor consensual sexual relationships.

Professor Nussbaum ends up conflating sexual harassment and student professor consensual dating since in her terms such relationships may start up as consensual ones but “…may evolve in a way that puts undue pressure on the weaker party.” Such would be similar to arguing that heterosexual intercourse should be banned because some of the time it may end up in a rape situation. Or that marriage should be banned since ultimately it may put one party to a relationship being the weaker party. Such is often the case in a myriad of relationships. If one wants to regulate situations of sexual harassment one could do so without banning consensual relationships.

Of course, once these policies come into being it does not matter whether there is sexual harassment. Such is the case since a third party informant can then bring down the consenting couple and trump all concerns about privacy and consent. Professor Nussbaum is obviously naïve about such situations. On the other hand, she may look up to persons such as Linda Tripp when she informed on her “friend” Monica. Does Professor Nussbaum believe that such was a righteous informing since as a White House intern, Monica was the “weaker” party in the relationship?

Naivete also enters when Nussbaum states that Professor Lande’s future need not have been compromised in the context of his dating a particular student. She states: “He could simply have arranged things so that he did not supervise this particular graduate student’s work. That happens all the time.” I do not know that it happens all of the time, but I do know that it is not simple when it does happen. Terming this situation simple obscures the fact that almost always this involves the violation of the student’s privacy, and puts her educational fate in hands of professors and university bureaucrats who now see her as the girlfriend of so and so. Does Professor Nussbaum really think this situations helps the student?

Professor Nussbaum indicates that the aforementioned situation may be impossible

“and suppose Landes had indeed been deterred by the existence of such policies: then, as he says, “I would have been a big loser.” Nonetheless, as Landes himself acknowledges, it is still possible that the overall benefits of such policies (Landes mentions “reducing coercion by men”) exceed their costs.”

Well, it may not have been only Professor Landes who ends up being a big loser; the student could have ended up even being a bigger loser. And there is no escaping the coercion factor. In the Landes scenario both he and the student could very well end up being coerced by the university sexual police which may very well have no interest in civil liberties and due process and in their framework other legal niceties.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 26, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating, University of Chicago | Leave a comment

Eradication of prostitutes and prostitution predicted to occur within 20 years

David Levy, futurist and world renown for his work on artificial intelligence and robots sees a future without prostitution and human sex workers of any kind. Levy is predicting “that prostitution has only about another 20 years before robots take over.”Levy’s robotic vision is one where robots will have human appearing bodies, will be able to fully articulate in a compassionate and passionate manner and will be quite lovable. In order to get a more fully informed vision of Levy’s world, one must read his new book LOVE AND SEX WITH ROBOTS. I have not read it, but I have read about it and it is now on the top of the list of the dankprofessor’s must read books. My interest was peaked by the review which appeared in the Washington Post by Joe Achenback and posted on amazon.com.

Unquestionably Levy does suffer from grandiosity, the whole idea of bringing sex to artificial life seems to be a bit grandiose. Levy emphasizes that humans long for affection and tend to be affectionate toward those who offer it. And in this vision, robots can be programmed to love and facilitate being loved.

And as for sex, it will not be “…cold, mechanical sex that barely incites a feeble meep-meep-meep from your robot lover: No, we’re talking about real elbow-pads-and-helmets sex. Electrifying sex! (And afterward the robot will take a drag on a cigarette and say, “That really recharged my batteries.”) “Love with robots will be as normal as love with other humans,” Levy writes, “while the number of sexual acts and lovemaking positions commonly practiced between humans will be extended, as robots teach us more than is in all of the world’s published sex manuals combined.”

What was once a world populated by prostitutes, will in the future be a world of “”sexbots,” which would offer people a chance to practice their technique before entering a human relationship. “With a robot prostitute,” he writes, “the control of disease is implicit — simply remove the active parts and put them in the disinfecting machine.”

Quoting from the Washington Post review-

At this point you are likely holding up both hands with palms outward in the internationally recognized gesture meaning “Stop.” This sounds crazy. Clearly robots are not going to become plausible objects of sexual relationships, much less actual romance and genuine love, until they have a serious makeover. Human love isn’t so shallow that we’ll fall for the first machine with a nice pair of antennae.

But Levy’s thesis isn’t as silly as you might initially think. We are living in a period of revolutionary advances in computer software and processing speeds. The Japanese already have a multi-billion-dollar robot industry, including robots used to keep an eye on — and even bathe — the elderly. Sony has invented a robotic dog named AIBO. Honda has created an android that can climb stairs. Carnegie-Mellon University invented a robot, Grace, that managed to register by itself (herself?) for an academic conference. Meanwhile, researchers are experimenting with flexible polymers that can be used as artificial skin, an essential leap for the creation of robots you might actually want to cuddle. Most important, robots will have to learn to act like humans; one researcher, Levy reports, has designed robots that can exhibit 77 human behavior patterns.

The key is that these technological advances will someday be complemented by cultural changes, and cavorting with robots just won’t seem weird anymore. “It would not surprise me if a significant proportion of readers deride these ideas until my predictions have been proved correct,” Levy writes…”

Of course, much of contemporary life where sex is integrated into technology would have seemed utterly unreal, beyond comprehension as little as 200 years ago. How could one explain to someone one growing up in 1808 that one can “bring” a man and woman into ones house and could be seen having sex in ones house while they are actually in Europe or China and are beamed off an object in outer space into ones living room? I think you get my point. Such would be seen as representing some kind of lunacy, as being beyond creative imagination.

And technology, artificial as it is, is being used more and more throughout the world for sexual gratification, from vibrators, to adult dvds, to interactive sex on the computer, to sex in virtual life. And robot sex as predicted by Levy would helped to avoid an ultimate dread in the future, the dread of sex leading to reproduction. For in this futuristic world, one generation will not be replaced by another generation, but we will have the generation that will be considered the final generation, a generation with a taken for granted view that there can be life without death and aging with continuing health and beauty.

So in the dankprofessor’s opinion such does not represent other worldly thinking. However, it might very well take some mind boggling mental gymnastics to seriously engage Levy’s futuristic vision. Whatever kind of world we end up creating, it will most likely not be a world where people complain about being sex objects, or sexually objectifying others. Here “we” create “real” sex objects, both an object of desire and a desiring object.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 26, 2008 Posted by | futurist, prostitution, sex, sex work, sex workers, sexbots | Leave a comment

University of Texas Houston sued for alleged retaliation against porn investigator

It was reported in today’s Austin-American Statesman that Cynthia Davis continues to pursue litigation relating to her firing as University of Texas-Houston technology auditor who had investigated the pornography usage of university computers by faculty and other employees of the UT Health Science Center at Houston.

Based on her 2003 investigative findings, “officials of the health center fired one employee and placed a written reprimand in the personnel files of nine others. The officials never ordered a thorough investigation of as many as 300 other employees whose computer records suggested that they also had spent time viewing X-rated Web sites on the job. What’s more, officials acknowledged that the true number of employees viewing pornography could have been far greater.” As a result of her efforts, Davis claimed that she was fired.

The Austin-American Statesman reviewed the details from court records in a lawsuit that Davis “filed in federal court in 2005 against two prominent higher education officials whom she accuses of largely brushing aside the problem and retaliating against her for raising concerns in 2003.”

Excerpts from the Austin-American Statesman report follows-

A federal appeals court ruled last month that Davis can proceed with her suit against Mike McKinney, who left his position as senior executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Houston center in 2006 to become chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, and Charles Chaffin, the UT System’s director of audits. McKinney, a physician and former state representative, has also served as Gov. Rick Perry’s chief of staff, vice chancellor for health affairs at the UT System and commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Davis filed the suit against McKinney and Chaffin, the Houston health science center, the UT System and the UT Board of Regents. A district judge dismissed the case against all but McKinney and Chaffin, who declined through representatives to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

Davis contends that she was pressured to quit her job in late 2003 in the wake of her investigation into the viewing of pornography by faculty members, staff members and students. She is seeking reinstatement, back pay and other damages.

Davis said the lax response by UT officials shocked her. “I thought, people are going to be outraged when they see this,” said Davis, now a computer and accounting consultant in Houston. She said McKinney “handled it the worst of all of them” by narrowing the scope of any investigation from the start.

McKinney said in a deposition supplied by Davis’ lawyer that when he was told how many people were possibly viewing porn, “My immediate reaction was I can’t fire 300 people.”

Davis said McKinney told her, “Bring me the top 10 abusers.”

Davis said she discovered that one pediatric dentist regularly viewed X-rated Web sites in the early morning before seeing patients. She said another employee posted to the Internet pornographic material he had videotaped in his own office.

Davis said officials refused to meet with her to discuss her concerns, even after she wrote a memorandum to James Willerson, president of the Houston center, and sent a copy to Mark Yudof, chancellor of the UT System.

Yudof is expected to be named president of the University of California System next week. A spokesman for Yudof said the chancellor was not available for comment Friday, and Willerson did not respond to a request for comment submitted to a spokesman.

No child pornography, the presence of which would constitute a violation of federal law, was found in the examination of the Houston center computers by UT System police. After being contacted by Davis, the FBI concluded in 2004 that none of the content on the computers constituted child porn.

It’s not clear whether employees who viewed pornographic material broke any state laws. No law specifically bars computer users from visiting pornographic Web sites, said Thomas Johnson, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Information Resources.

However, the Texas Administrative Code, which has the force of law, says information resources “shall be used only for intended purposes as defined by the state agency and consistent with applicable laws.”

…in the deposition, McKinney defended the decision to reprimand all but one of the employees. And he acknowledged that he did not order investigators to examine the computers of as many as 300 other employees to determine the extent of the problem.

Instead, he said, he notified all center employees that viewing pornography was prohibited, on the assumption that the problem was even wider.

“I can tell you that we took an approach that would address the issue for all 4,500 employees, not just those 10, not just the hundred that – they came up with 300, whatever the number was,” McKinney said.

In his deposition, Chaffin testified that Yudof never contacted him about the Houston pornography investigation. Yudof said in an affidavit that Willerson responded to Davis’ memo because this was “an institutional matter.”

Chaffin also said he expressed concern about Davis’ ethics to her supervisor, Sharon Corum, but did not tell Corum to fire Davis. That contrasts with Davis’ and Corum’s views of the matter. In a 2006 deposition, Corum testified that no one directly told her that Davis should be terminated. But, Corum said, Chaffin asked her “on several occasions” whether Davis had been fired.

“I felt under pressure because he repeatedly kept asking me what the status was, and I knew that Charlie did not like it that I had not yet terminated her,” Corum said.

When asked by Shellist, Davis’ lawyer, whether Chaffin’s high-ranking position in the UT System caused her to feel pressure to fire Davis, Corum answered, “Yes, yes.”

“Because I believe he had the authority to impact my career and whether or not I had my job,” Corum testified.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of a January 2007 ruling by U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore of Houston that said Davis could pursue a wide range of free speech claims. The appellate ruling turned on whether Davis’ complaints were made as an employee or as a citizen who was raising issues of public concern. Davis’ claims could proceed only if she made them as a citizen, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit ruled.

The appeals court rejected two of Davis’ claims – both based on her concern about officials’ inadequate response to the disclosure of pornography viewing – and allowed four others to be heard in the trial court. Gilmore has scheduled a September trial.

The claims that were allowed to proceed were made either to outside entities or ones that didn’t relate directly to her job duties. They include complaints about excessive pay for UT-Houston officials, racial discrimination in hiring and firing, and concerns about the presence of pornography on health science center computers.

Davis filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about discriminatory hiring practices at the Houston center, but the agency didn’t issue any finding, Shellist said.

In the dankprofessor’s opinion, this case provides further evidence that pornography has become an everyday part of American life, including Americans’ working life. It would be fair to state that pornography has become normalized or, if you will, significantly de-stigmatized. Attempts to combat pornography has its limits.

Attempts to penalize or fire employees who have viewed pornography on the university’s or health center’s computers becomes a threat in itself, such could very well disrupt the functioning of the organization. Apparently, such even occurs at institutions that are committed to the health and well being of its citizen-patients. And what is ironic in the current investigation is that many of those who are anti-pornography invoke a health medical framework in articulating their opposition to pornography. Invoking a health rhetoric becomes increasingly difficult when as this case reveals that many health professionals are viewing porn at work, so many that efforts to limit pornography at work must be limited.

So when it comes to limiting porn availability, one can talk the talk, but if one really tries to walk the walk, one can end up walking the plank. This case reaffirms for the dankprofessor that the war on pornography is over. Advocates against porn are on the defensive since there is no defense; so-called filtering is obviously a stopgap measure, the effectiveness of which is severely limited. How to limit access to porn by children still remains a hard issue to resolve, but attempts to limit the access to porn by willing adults is a non-starter. And this is as it should be- adults having the freedom to choose what they view and read and where they view it as long as they do not force it upon the unwilling.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008
 

March 22, 2008 Posted by | ethics, higher education, litigation, pornography, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of Texas Houston, workplace | Leave a comment

Colorado College students protest suspension for “sexual misconduct”

The Gazette of Colorado Springs reports that two Colorado College hockey players – Cody Lampl and Derek Patrosso – suspended in December for unexplained reasons told The Gazette that the penalties were for sexual misconduct and lying. 

Excerpts from this article follow. This Colorado College case provides insight as to how colleges handle issues relating to “sexual misconduct” which “bypass” formal involvement of the criminal justice system. The impact on students affected by this process is clearly given in this article. Readers are encouraged to click the article link and scroll down the article and review reader input.

Lampl and Patrosso said they are innocent of sexual misconduct. Lampl was suspended until 2009. Patrosso returned to school and the hockey team March 12.

Patrosso will try to help CC win a national title. Lampl plans to return to school but is angry that the college’s handling of his suspension has wrongly branded him a “rapist.”

“That’s not who I am and what I did,” Lampl told The Gazette. Friends and family wrote affidavits in support of Lampl when he unsuccessfully appealed the suspension.

The Pathfinder, CC’s student handbook, gives school President Dick Celeste and school administrators wide latitude in punishing students for conduct they deem contrary to the best interests of the school.

The handbook says, in part, “Colorado College reserves the right to suspend or dismiss any student whose conduct is regarded as being in conflict with the best interests of the college or in violation of its Code of Conduct.”

That doesn’t mean interested parties always agree with the college’s decisions, and Lampl said he thought his punishment was unfair given his version of the events.

Lampl, 21, said he, an 18-year-old recruit and a 19-year-old female CC student engaged in consensual sex after a party Nov. 18.

The woman could not be reached for comment. She has not filed a complaint with Colorado Springs police. Her parents said she was unavailable and they would all like to move on. The Gazette usually does not name people who might have been victims of sexual assault without their consent.

The recruit declined comment on the incident, except to say he had the woman’s consent. “Yes, definitely,” he said. The Gazette is not naming the recruit because he is not a CC student and not subject to CC discipline.
A few hours after the threesome, Patrosso and the woman had consensual sex, Patrosso said.When CC officials learned of the episode, Lampl said, they summoned Lampl and Patrosso for a meeting with Celeste. According to Lampl, Celeste said: “What you guys did is wrong. This isn’t what we do at CC.”

Initially, Lampl said, he and Patrosso tried to keep the recruit out of the discussion. That eventually led to the accusation of lying.

Subsequently, Lampl said, he, Patrosso and the woman scheduled a second meeting with Celeste to try to refute the suggestion that the woman did not consent to sex. Lampl said that when they arrived, Celeste was not there. CC attorney Chris Melcher and CC’s sexual assault response coordinator Heather Horton met the three students.
Lampl said Melcher and Horton insisted on meeting with the students individually.

Lampl said he, Patrosso and the woman talked after the three individual meetings. Lampl said the woman told him that Melcher and Horton asked her if she consented to sex and she told them she had.

Asked by The Gazette to describe the conversation with the woman and the recruit in which consent was given, Lampl said, “We were talking. She was like, ‘I really want to hook up with you.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, my friend’s here with me.’ And she’s like, ‘No, no. I want him to stay,’ and stuff like that.”

No charges have been filed with the Colorado Springs Police Department, but Detective Payton Patterson spoke with CC administrators to check on rumors of sexual assault involving student athletes.

…on page 54 of The Pathfinder, in the section on sexual misconduct, the policy says, “The college reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary and appropriate to respond to a charge of sexual misconduct in order to protect students’ safety, physical and mental wellbeing, and individual rights. Such measures include, but are not limited to, immediate modification of living arrangements, summary removal from campus pending a hearing, and reporting to the local police.”

CC’s Turnis declined to explain why the school did not invoke its right to report the information in this case to police.

Patterson recorded his phone conversation with Melcher and then wrote in his report that Melcher told him there was not a problem.

“Chris Melcher told me that there is nothing to hide here,” Patterson wrote. “No one has claimed and no one has brought to his attention that the alleged crime occurred. . . . Chris Melcher said he will assure me and the folks that I will be talking to that no one has brought any information to their attention that indicates or even suggests (inaudible segment) and if that changes, ‘I will call you or I won’t call you. I’ll tell the student to file a complaint.'”

Horton said the school’s general policy has “three classes of behavior” that could be deemed inappropriate and applies to all members of the CC community.

“The first one is just unwanted sexual contact,” Horton said. “That can obviously be a fairly broad range of things, from unwanted touch all the way up to unwanted intercourse. The second class of behavior is behavior of a sexual nature that does not involve physical contact, so that might be things like lewd or harassing kinds of sexual statements or Peeping Tom kind of behavior, those kinds of things. And then, the third class of behavior is called intimate partner violence. So, that’s violence that occurs within the context of a couple relationship.”
Horton and the school’s handbook stress the issue of “active consent.”

The school’s sexual misconduct policy states in part that, “all sexual contact between students must be with each person’s active consent. ‘Active consent’ means that each person involved in sexual contact not only agrees to the sexual activity but also agrees to such activity freely and knowingly. A person who has been threatened or whose judgment is substantially impaired by drugs or alcohol or by other physical or mental impairment cannot, by definition, give consent to sexual contact. It is the responsibility of the initiator of sexual contact to obtain consent from the other person and to determine whether such consent is freely and knowingly given.”

Lampl said he had been drinking at the party, but he said he thought the woman was coherent when the key conversation occurred. Eight people who attended the party signed affidavits in support of Lampl. The eight included Lampl’s parents, five CC friends (including two women) and a non-CC friend. He said all of them attested to the woman’s behavior and level of coherence the night of the party.

Lampl said school leaders did not want to accept that the woman would willingly consent to, much less suggest, sex with multiple partners.

“I’m not going to apologize for that because then it looks like I did something,” Lampl said in the interview with The Gazette. “Why would I do that? I would rather not come back here. I’m not going to bite the bullet when it comes to being perceived as a rapist. Even though they said, ‘There’s no rape here’ – but the words they use imply that. That’s scum of the earth to me. That’s not who I am and what I did.”
Prior to the suspension, Lampl was on track to graduate with degrees in history and education.

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Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 21, 2008 Posted by | Colorado College, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, rape, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics | 1 Comment

Contracted for love

And the dankprofessor does not have in mind anything to do with the Spitzer case. Love contracts in the workplace have become increasing used in the context of the efforts to bans consensual relationship being a dismal failure. A summary of the key aspects of love contracts as presented by attorney Joseph W. Gagnon follows and then I will have some comments as to the applicability of these love contracts to the university.

The essential elements. Although the precise language will vary, an effective love contract should contain the following disclosures: 1. The relationship is consensual and is not based on intimidation, threat, coercion or harassment; 2. The employees have received, read, understood and agree to abide by the company’s policy against harassment and discrimination; 3. The employees agree to act appropriately in the workplace and avoid any behavior that is offensive to others; 4. The employees agree not to let their relationship affect their work or the work of their co-employees; 5. Neither employee will bestow upon the other any favoritism or preferential treatment; 6. Either employee may end the relationship at any time and no retaliation of any kind will result; 7. The human resources department will include its contact information in case either employee feels the relationship is affecting his or her work; and 8. The employees have had sufficient time to read the document and ask questions before executing it of his or her own free will.

. Unenforceability as a contract is a nonissue. Whether the document is an enforceable contract almost doesn’t matter, because the real strength of a love contract lies in the nature of the acknowledgements made. It shows that the employer took affirmative steps to maintain a workplace free from sexual harassment and retaliation, and it serves as powerful evidence that, at least at the time of execution, the relationship was consensual. Finally, it reaffirms that both employees are aware of the existence of a policy prohibiting sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation and their obligation to abide by it.

. A love contract will not prevent all litigation, but it will assist an employer’s defense. Like any other step an employer takes, a love contract can be a strong deterrent to employee claims, but it will not prevent all future litigation arising out of a workplace relationship. Nevertheless, a love contract will, if nothing else, lay the groundwork for a solid defense should litigation ensue. For example, an aggrieved employee can still claim he or she suffered retaliation after a breakup, but a love contract confirming that the relationship began consensually should support a defense that the perceived post-relationship retaliation was based on personal animosity rather than gender-based discrimination.

. Considerations before utilizing love contracts. Although not a concern in Texas, a GC should confirm whether privacy laws of the jurisdiction where the business operates prohibit or limit employer monitoring of workplace relationships. Also consider how to present the idea of a love contract to a couple; unless a relationship is brought to the employer’s attention, the employer must exercise sound judgment in deciding when to address what a manager’s own observations may lead him or her to suspect is a budding relationship. Decide in advance what to do if one of the participants denies the relationship or refuses to sign the document. Finally, since there is no one way of developing an effective love contract, a GC should retain experienced labor and employment counsel to draft the appropriate language that meets the particular needs and objectives of the GC’s company.

Properly implemented and appropriately drafted, love contracts will reduce the likelihood of litigation arising from workplace relationships. In the event of litigation, an effective love contract will bolster an employer’s defenses and increase the prospect for prevailing on summary judgment or at trial.

For the dankprofessor, love contracts as described by Joseph Gagnon definitely appear to be applicable to the university. However, I have not been able to find a single university which has employed a love contract or seriously considered a love contract to deal with student professor consensual sexual relationships. I can only speculate why such is the case. And my speculations are governed by the reasons given by the prohibitors of student professor relationships.

Most likely a reason that would be given to oppose these contracts is that it is impossible to stop prejudicial grading by the professor. When I have been challenged about my own past practices as a professor and I indicate that my grading of the loved one was not impacted by our relationship, many people state that they just do not believe me; they indicate it is an impossibility. Another reason might be that the underlying framework for these bans is that differential power precludes consent and therefore as a result of this situation the student is in a state of diminished capacity and could not consent to a sexual relationship with the professor and would not be able to engage in consent as part of a love contract.

Such are the hypotheticals. What I believe is the major reason for no consideration in the university place is simply that the banning agenda is anti-sexual, and the application of a love contract would function to legitimize these sexual relationships. In the workplace, concern about sexual relationships is generally of a pragmatic kind- avoid litigation. Of course, those companies which have an anti-sexual agenda would not embrace a love contract.

And one additional observation by the dankprofessor, love contracts would seem to me to be a misnomer at least as applied to the university. Universities are not attempting to ban love; their attempt is to ban sex, and I cannot recall a single university policy where love is mentioned. The professor who falls in love with a student and the loves remains a secret love has really no place to turn in the context of attempting to engage in non-prejudicial grading. Can one seriously entertain a professor being excused to grade a student because he or she is in love with the student? Of course, those most vociferously advocating these bans, committed campus purity feminists, have dehumanized male professors to such a degree that they do not consider them to be capable of love. They see them in terms of being lechers, predators, seducers, harassers, abusers, rapists, but as lovers, I have my doubts.

I hope to have more posts on love contracts.  Input from blog readers on love contracts will be greatly appreciated!

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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
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Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 21, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, ethics, fraternization, higher education, litigation, love, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Woman charged with filing false rape accusation against professor

Check out this story on University Diaries.  Do note that the news article shields the professor’s identity which is not the norm when it comes to persons falsely charged with rape.

March 20, 2008 Posted by | higher education, rape, sex | Leave a comment

Gonzaga University shields known rapists?

Gonzaga University student Melissa Kelsay makes an excellent point when she writes in the online Gonzaga Bulletin that
university policy functions to shield students who have been found by the university to have raped a Gonzaga student. What upsets Ms. Kelsay and now upsets the dankprofessor is the following from Gonzaga Student Handbook 2007-2008: “Sanctions for rape: Students found responsible for rape will be suspended or dismissed from the University at least until such time as the reporting party is no longer enrolled in their current course of study.”

Ms. Kelsay writes-

Gonzaga University makes quite a statement in their stance on sexual assault. Of particular interest to me is the conflict-avoidance method the administration seems to default to in cases of sexual assault. The floundering of the University judicial system in such cases is an injustice that requires more in-depth analysis, but this particular stance is plain and simple: Gonzaga condones sexual misconduct. What kind of academic institution allows a dangerous threat to the student community to return at all? What kind of statement is the University making? So long as the immediate conflict is hushed and any bad publicity is avoided, a known rapist can return to campus?

Can anyone take the administration seriously if they hold that a person they believe to have raped a student is not a threat to other students? The dankprofessor is totally baffled. Might the University have a defense for said policy?

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If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
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Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 19, 2008 Posted by | ethics, Gonzaga University, higher education, rape, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

U of Chicago law and ethics prof Martha Nussbaum speaks out on prostitution and the Spitzer case

University of Chicago Law Professor Martha Nussbaum has published an interesting essay on societal attitudes toward prostitution and the Spitzer case. A succinct version of the essay appears below. The dankprofessor’s only quibble with Nussbaum is that she fails to recognize that many people, including myself, feel that the Spitzer resignation was appropriate since Spitzer was a zealous advocate of law reform in which the client or john is penalized for partaking in acts of prostitution. I call this dishonest, hypocritical and unethical. This is almost equivalent to “our” president Bush pre-election commitment to not taking part in overseas nation building. Of course, the dankprofessor would like to welcome Bush’s resignation, but would not look forward to welcoming Cheney as the “new” president.

Trading on America’s puritanical streak  Prostitution laws mean-spirited, penalize women

By Martha Nussbaum

Eliot Spitzer, one of the nation’s most gifted and dedicated
politicians, was hounded into resignation by a Puritanism and
mean-spiritedness that are quintessentially American.

My European colleagues (I write from an academic conference in
Belgium) have a hard time understanding what happened, but they know
that it is one of those things that could only happen in America,
where the topic of sex drives otherwise reasonable people insane. In
Germany and the Netherlands, prostitution is legal and regulated by
public health authorities. A man who did what Spitzer did would have a
lot to discuss with his wife and family, but he would have broken no
laws, and it would be laughable to accuse him of a betrayal of the
public trust. This is as it should be. If Spitzer broke any laws, they
were bad laws, laws that should never have existed.

Why are there laws against prostitution? All of us, with the exception
of the independently wealthy and the unemployed, take money for the
use of our body. Professors, factory workers, opera singers, sex
workers, doctors, legislators – all do things with parts of their
bodies for which others offer them a fee. Some people get good wages
and some do not; some have a relatively high degree of control over
their working conditions and some have little control; some have many
employment options and some have very few. And some are socially
stigmatized and some are not. However, the difference between the sex
worker and the professor – who takes money for the use of a
particularly intimate part of her body, namely her mind – is not the
difference between a “good woman” and a “bad woman.” It is, usually,
the difference between a prosperous well-educated woman and a poor
woman with few employment options.

The sliding stigma scale

Many types of bodily wage labor used to be socially stigmatized. In
the Middle Ages it was widely thought base to take money for the use
of one’s scholarly services. Adam Smith, in “The Wealth of Nations,”
tells us there are “some very agreeable and beautiful talents” that
are admirable so long as no pay is taken for them, “but of which the
exercise for the sake of gain is considered, whether from reason or
prejudice, as a sort of publick prostitution.” For this reason, he
continues, opera singers, actors and dancers must be paid an
“exorbitant” wage, to compensate them for the stigma involved in using
their talents “as the means of subsistence.” His discussion is
revealing for what it shows us about stigma. Today few professions are
more honored than that of opera singer; and yet only 200 years ago,
that public use of one’s body for pay was taken to be a kind of
prostitution.

Some of the stigma attached to opera singers was a general stigma
about wage labor. Wealthy elites have always preferred genteel
amateurism. But the fact that passion was being expressed publicly
with the body – particularly the female body – made singers, dancers
and actors nonrespectable in polite society until very recently. Now
they are respectable, but women who take money for sexual services are
still thought to be doing something that is not only nonrespectable
but so bad that it should remain illegal.

What should really trouble us about sex work? That it is sex that
these women do, with many customers, should not in and of itself
trouble us, from the point of view of legality, even if we personally
don’t share the woman’s values. Nonetheless, it is this one fact that
still-Puritan America finds utterly intolerable. (Note, however, that
we no longer allow a woman’s sexual history to be used in a rape trial
because we know that the fact that a woman may have had sex with many
men does not mean that she has become a debased character who cannot
be raped.)

Exploitation the sordid part

What should trouble us are things like this: The working conditions
for most women in sex work are extremely unhealthy. They are exploited
by pimps, and they enjoy little control over which clients they will
accept. Police harass them and extort sexual favors from them. Some of
these bad features (unhealthiness, little control) sex work shares
with other job options for low-income women, such as factory work of
many kinds. Other bad features (police extortion) are the natural
result of illegality itself.

In general we should be worried about poverty and lack of education.
We should be worried that women have too few decent employment options
and too little health and safety regulation in those that they do
have. And we should be worried if men force women to do things
sexually that they do not want to do. All these things are worth
worrying about, and it is these things that sensible nations do worry
about. But the idea that we ought to penalize women with few choices
by removing one of the ones they do have is grotesque, the
unmistakable fruit of the all-too-American thought that women who
choose to have sex with many men are tainted, vile things who must be
punished.

Spitzer’s offense was an offense against his family. It was not an
offense against the public. If he broke any laws, these are laws that
never should have existed and that have been repudiated by sensible
nations. The hue and cry that has ruined one of the nation’s most
committed political careers shows our country to itself in a very ugly
light.

• Martha Nussbaum is a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago.

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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
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Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 19, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, prostitution, sex, sex workers, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights | Leave a comment

Sadomasochistic posing professor found fit to teach

The Albuquerque Journal reported yesterday that University of New Mexico professor of English Lisa Chvez* was found fit to teach by the UNM Deputy Provost Richard Holder. Provost Holder reported to the English department faculty that he determined that the faculty member had posed on a sadomasochism website with at least one of her graduate students, and that Professor Chvez should not have to face a faculty ethics inquiry.

In a March 10 letter to English department faculty, Deputy Provost Richard Holder said he thinks associate professor Lisa Chvez used poor judgment in participating in the Web site’s activities with one of her students.
But, Holder goes on to say, “In my mind this participation did not rise to the level of calling into question her ‘unfitness for duty.’ ”

Holder’s decision isn’t sitting well with some English department faculty members, 13 of whom had signed a petition calling for the Faculty Senate Ethics and Advisory Committee to review Chvez’s conduct. The petition expressed “serious ethical questions” about Chvez posing with a graduate student who was enrolled in one of her classes at the time.

“It’s not a faculty rights issue, I don’t think. It’s not an academic freedom issue. It is a faculty conduct issue,” professor Gary Scharnhorst said. “I believe that she crossed the line having inappropriate relationships with graduate students.”

Scharnhorst said none of his colleagues are angry that she posed on the Web site.
“What everyone finds troublesome is the fact that she was involved with graduate students,” he said.

Another English faculty member, Anita Obermeier, stated that the issue had “pullled the department apart” and that the non-referral of the matter to the Ethics Committee “was a huge slap in the face.” (double entendre intended?)

The university had hired an attorney to investigate the professor’s behavior and the investigator determined-

Chvez had been moonlighting for People Exchanging Power, a group based in Albuquerque that advertises conversation for cash. The group specializes in fetish exploration…
The investigation determined that “no crimes were committed, that no faculty member engaged in undue influence over any students or created a hostile learning environment, and that there was apparently no use of University-owned computers or telephone equipment.”

“The investigation revealed that the PEP website involvement of two graduate students preceded the involvement of Professor Chvez, and that both she and a third graduate student learned of the PEP website from the graduate students whose involvement preceded their own,” Holder states.

“All four of these adult women reported that their activities were consensual, and all disclaimed any recruitment, solicitation, or coercion.”

Holder said faculty members are free to appeal his decision to the provost.

The dankprofessor finds the UNM decision to be at odds with the present campus trend that embraces a feminist orthodoxy that when it comes to student professor relationships in some way involving sex such means that differential power precludes consent no matter what the student or students might state. Rather than accepting carte blanche that these students could not consent, the University of New Mexico did the right thing by looking into the particulars of the situation. The university did not engage in any a priori assumptions. Findings of no undue influence, no hostile environment, no use of university facilities means in the dankprofessor’s opinion, that there is no case against the professor. Bravo to the University of New Mexico administration for doing the right thing.

However, the dankprofessor is not naïve. It is not over. Offended faculty are likely to appeal. The offended faculty will be spurred on by some offended alumni, and I am sure a myriad of others. And if the appeals are unsuccessful and the good professor returns, she will be faced with a very hostile environment, no collegiality for her and I am sure no preferred teaching schedule, and she will be held under a microscope by faculty attempting to find that she has violated some university rule. Such may sound terribly cynical to many of the dankprofessor’s blog readers. However, for those believing I am embracing cynicism, the dankprofessor’s response is that it is realism that I am embracing. No pipedreams from me when it comes to contemporary university life.

For updates on the Chavez story, click here and here.

*In the originating article, the professor’s name was incorrectly spelled as Lisa Chvez; the correct spelling is Lisa Chavez

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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
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Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 17, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sexual politics, University of New Mexico | 2 Comments

When girls will be boys on campus

The NY Times magazine section has published an excellent article on transmen, biological females who are transitioning to live as men, who are students at traditional women’s colleges, such as Barnard and Smith.  This is a must read article for anyone even minimally interested in  how universities deal with students in the process of gender change  and how these students psychologically deal with these changes.

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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
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Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 16, 2008 Posted by | Barnard College, gender, higher education, sex, sexual identity, Smith College, transmen | Leave a comment

Accuracy of post “Rape on film at Yale”

Presca Ahn has emailed a request to the dankprofessor concerning the dankprofessor post of March 6, 2008
on Rape on Film at Yale. Ms. Ahn who was quoted in that post has questioned the accuracy of the article that relied on the Yale Daily News article of February 18. At her request I am publishing the original Yale Daily News article. She has also requested that I publish her opinion piece that appeared in the Yale Daily News; her opinion piece follows the news article.

Yale Daily News

February 18, 2008

VIOLENT PORN FLICK PROMPTS APOLOGY

By Samantha Broussard-Wilson
Staff Reporter

Sex Week at Yale ran into more controversy Saturday night when porn director Paul Thomas, on campus to participate in the event, screened a graphic porn film that featured violent sado-masochism.

Coordinators said they were appalled by the film – which they had not watched before it was aired in front of an audience of over 200 students – but members of the gender-balanced crowd did not appear upset by the movie and reacted with disappointment when the Sex Week team ended the film early.

On Sunday night, Sex Week coordinators emphasized that they do not support the practices displayed in the film, which depicted fantasy rape, bondage and piercing. Colin Adamo ’10, Sex Week event coordinator, called the screening a grave mistake.

“We really dropped the ball on this one,” he said. “No one watched the movie before Paul showed it to the audience.”

But Sex Week Director Joe Citarella ’08 said he thinks the event was positive overall because it gave people the opportunity to speak out against violent pornography and the effect it can have on the public’s conception of women.

“Part of Sex Week is to challenge what’s being done,” he explained. “And I questioned Paul as to whether these graphic, violent images are OK, knowing that there is someone on the other end who is enjoying it.”

During the question-and-answer period that followed the screening, Adamo described the images as sexually unhealthy and disrespectful to women. But Thomas’ response insinuated that he was a prude and just needed to watch more porn, Adamo said after the screening.

Adamo said several students in the crowd booed when he made his comment, and during the screening there was a “sense of revelry” in the images being displayed among some audience members.

William Wong ’09, who was involved with the Sex Week tech team but not with events planning, said the crowd’s reaction was mostly supportive of the film. He said the vocal members of the audience were not offended by the material and appeared to be enjoying it. Like Adamo, he said the crowd was fairly diverse and was almost evenly divided by gender.

Wong said he himself was not shocked by the material in the film but was slightly taken aback that the Sex Week coordinators had chosen to screen that particular movie.

“It’s really the team’s fault for not pre-screening,” Wong said. “And I think it’s probably difficult for Paul Thomas to judge what’s appropriate and what is not because he’s been in the business so long.”

Wong said he thinks the debate is really over whether it is right or wrong to use those kinds of violent images for sexual satisfaction, rather than whether screening the film was a responsible decision on the part of Sex Week organizers.

Shazan Jiwa ’09, who attended the screening, said Thomas was unfairly attacked by members of the audience. Thomas’ intent was to showcase aspects of the porn industry that people are not familiar with, Jiwa said, and the director had provided a disclaimer before the screening in which he said the audience should be prepared for graphic images.

“He was trying to show us that not all porn is about happy sex or has a happy atmosphere,” Jiwa said.

Jiwa said it would have been interesting to hear the motive behind the movie rather than listening to Thomas defend himself.

The last Sex Week events will be held today.

————————————————————————

Yale Daily News
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For Sex Week at Yale, pullout method fails
By Presca Ahn

On Saturday night, as part of a pornography-themed day, Sex Week at Yale held a porn screening in the Law School auditorium. The featured pornography was a series of trailer-type clips, chosen by director Paul Thomas from among his own films. The Sex Week team, however, didn’t preview all the footage Thomas chose. This is why, partway through the showing, graphic rape fantasies began to play onscreen.

Rape fantasies, bondage, the piercing of a woman’s nipples and the labeling of a woman as a “slut” who “deserved” violent sexual degradation – this was some of the footage played at one of Sex Week’s final events. Its inclusion, from the Sex Week organizers’ point of view, was an embarrassing mistake, and a potential public relationns disaster.

So damage control came quickly. After a panicked powwow out in the hall, the Sex Week organizers stopped the screening and moved directly into the scheduled Q & A session. The next day, one Sex Week organizer asked to meet with the Women’s Center board to explain how it could be that rape pornography was shown as part of the program. He said there would be a panel discussion on Monday night led by the Sex Week team, which would address those shocked by the screening. He apologized, saying the Sex Week team had had a tiring week – if the organizers had vetted the film, they would never have allowed the rape scenes to be played.

I could only think that this Sex Week organizer had completely missed the point.

The lesson of the Sex Week pornography screening is not that the Sex Week organizers should have edited out the rape footage. The lesson is that editing jobs are necessary to make pornography – even the “high quality,” “mainstream” pornography touted by Vivid Entertainment – look inoffensive.

Better minds (read: Dworkin, MacKinnon) have addressed the far-reaching harm caused by the porn industry and the dubious empowerment that porn stars are claimed to, or claim to, attain. The conversation that we should be having at Yale is one that Sex Week failed to frame for us: how pornography and pornographic cultural products affect the way we have sex.

Debates involving porn stars and Q & A sessions with porn directors are not good ways to start this conversation. Besides, the question of “porn or no porn” is a fallacious one. Pornography is inevitable; to ban it is “censorship.” What we need to understand is the scope of pornography’s influence. Porn isn’t just what teenage boys watch in locked bedrooms (or, in this enlightened age, what lots of people watch on YouPorn.com). Porn and the sexual expectations it propagates – those of big penises and big breasts, violent intercourse, massive orgasms and so forth – infiltrate our culture, and our sex lives.

The overwhelming amount of Sex Week that was devoted to pornography created a false equivalence between porn and sex. Here’s the thing: Porn is not sex.

Sex Week glamorized pornography. Advertised via e-mail to all Yale students (subject line: “Day O’ Porn”), Saturday’s screening was followed by the Sex Week at Yale dance party, where (said the e-mail) you’d “[d]ress as a pornstar, party like a pornstar, with the porn stars.” The e-mail promised free Vivid DVDs and the chance (for “40 Lucky Yalies”) to pre-game with the “Vivid Girls.” Suddenly, you were invited into a context sexier than your own – the glamorous world of porn stars, who definitely have better sex than you do.

Pornography decontextualizes sex. Drawing the line between pornography and “racy” films with “sexy” content involves this realization: that in porn, the act of sex – including, but not limited to, intercourse – is translated into an alternate reality, or a distorted one. In porn, sex is not a normal, healthy part of normal, healthy lives; it’s fetishized, exaggerated or embellished. Porn isn’t honest. We need to talk honestly about it: It hurts women.

Presca Ahn is a junior in Branford College. She is the Amy Rossborough Fellowship Coordinator of the Yale Women’s Center.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 15, 2008 Posted by | ethics, feminism, higher education, rape, sex, sexual politics, Yale University | Leave a comment

Saudi psychology professor chained, beaten and to receive lashing and jail time for having “coffee” with a female “student”

A Saudi professor of psychology at UMM al-Qra University in the city of Mecca has been arrested, chained, beaten, and convicted for meeting in a public café where he supposedly engaged in having coffee with a woman who had claimed to be his student. He has been sentenced to eight months in prison and 180 lashes. However, it is reported that almost everyone believes that the professor is innocent and that he was set-up by the Saudi religious police. Religious police aka mutaween, patrol public places looking for persons in violation of the prohibition of contact between unrelated men and women.

Abdullah Al-Sanousi, the academic’s lawyer, told local newspapers that his client had drawn the ire of some of the Commission’s staffers for speaking at length during a training session about how important it was for them to be polite to the public. Some of the trainees also wanted revenge because they had failed the course while others were not happy with their examination results.

Ruzaiz is said to have received a call from a girl purporting to be one of his students who asked to meet to discuss a problem that she did not want to talk about over the phone. The professor agreed to meet at a family cafe, provided she brought her brother along as a chaperone.

When he arrived, he was surprised to find the girl alone, and was promptly surrounded by religious policemen who handcuffed him and hauled him into custody. He was accused of being in a state of khulwa – seclusion – with an unrelated woman.

His lawyer insisted that because the two met in a public place frequented by hundreds of families, the question of khulwa, or illegal seclusion, never arose. The commission, however, insists that the family sections at coffee shops and restaurants are meant only for families and close relatives.

The professor is said to have taped a later conversation with the girl in which she admitted that she had been sent to the cafe by the religious police. The professor is relying on an appeals court to overturn the verdict. His lawyer has urged local human rights associations to back his plea for reviewing the case.

A local paper, Al-Madina Arabic published a detailed account of his defence. The academic in his account to Al-Madina Arabic daily, persisted with his charge that staffers of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had framed him. Following are key excerpts from this article.

He claimed that he was the victim of a plot engineered by the staffers in revenge for issues he had raised with them during a 2006 training course…

The professor told the paper that he had seven pieces of circumstantial evidence that would prove his innocence. Besides, he said, he has another piece of evidence that would upset the entire course of the investigations but this he would reveal only when the time comes.

The professor claimed that the Commission had masterminded the incident in which he was seen meeting a lone and unrelated woman in the family section of a hotel.

The paper carried a narrative by the professor of his version of what had transpired.

The academic said while he was lecturing at the 2006 training course for men, a man handed him a sealed envelop containing a message from a woman, which claimed that she had a problem with her husband and wanted the academic’s help in solving it.

The message contained the woman’s telephone number.

At the bottom of the message was the woman’s telephone number.

“I called her for more details,” the professor told the paper, “and I requested her to tell her husband to contact me. This was so that I may hear his side of the story as well -since it has been my habit to listen to both sides.

“She told me that her husband was angry with her and had walked out. So I told her that a Mehram (a male relative) should come along with her to talk to me.”

“Thus, someone called me telling me that he was her brother. He asked me to come to the house to help his sister in solving her problem.

“But I apologized saying that I don’t call on people in their homes unless all the conflicting parties are present.

However, “Owing to his insistence and pressure, which was tantamount to pleading, we agreed to meet at a place to be determined later.

“The very next day he called after Dhuhr prayers and said that due to unforeseen circumstances he wanted me to see him after half an hour in a public restaurant that serves luncheon meals to families. He told me that the meeting would not last more than half an hour.

“In view of his circumstance and since I was on my way home after finishing from a training course which was close to the restaurant, I went to the restaurant.

“I stepped through the door into the restaurant and started looking for the person who had made me understand that he would be there waiting for me.

“But I was taken aback when a veiled woman appeared before me, asking for my name. I answered her, saying that I was the man she was expecting and that I had expected her to be with her brother.

In reply, she introduced herself, saying that she was the one seeking my help.

“Amazed, I asked her about her brother who had asked to see me. She replied that he was on his way.

“I spontaneously walked out to wait for the so-called person but was stunned when two of the Commission’s staffers tried to forcibly arrest me.

“One of them was in police uniform. They overpowered me and led me outside the restaurant where they forcibly seized all my personal belongings -papers, ID, mobile phone, keys, money and other things. Then they handcuffed me and pushed me to their van after they covered my face with my Ghutra.”

The professor said he was driven to the Commission’s detention centre and held for more than three hours during which he was exposed to all kinds of mental and psychological pressure.

For example, he said, they handcuffed him from the time of arrest until he was sent to police custody -more than three hours in all with the exception of five minutes when they removed the chain.

“They used all methods of deception and eventually made me sign some papers the contents of which I did not realize then because of my poor health and psychological condition. Not only this, but they also mocked and made fun of me and some of them offended me. They didn’t care about my health condition, that I am a diabetic.

“Because of their inhumane treatment, I suffered from hypoglycemia and developed sugar-coma more than once during that period.

“One of them dressed in a police uniform stood close overbearingly. He humiliated me and brutally treated me.

“After several pleas he agreed to give me water to quench my thirst and alleviate my suffering. The very same person had refused to unchain me when I needed to go to the toilet, which affected my bladder. I am still suffering from pain in my bladder.

They questioned in a manner characterized by deception, threat and cunning…

“In addition, they overpowered me and forcibly took my car’s keys and searched my papers. They seized my laptop and tampered with its contents. They also forcibly seized my cellular phone and also tampered with its contents.

“Thus, they encroached on my privacy as a human being.”

The professor went on to make his defence, listing point by point, his arguments.

“I would like to acquaint the readers with a dangerous violation committed by the commission’s staffers,” he said, “as manifested in the Ministry of Interior’s circular dated 2-7-2007 based on the Royal Order dated 3-12-81, which clearly states that the role of the Commission ends upon arresting a person and directly handing him to the police.

“The circular also strictly prohibits transfer of any person, female or male, to the Commission’s centres regardless of the circumstances.”

“And any staffer found sending the arrested person to any of the Commission’s centres shall be immediately stopped from working and also be referred for interrogation,” he said, citing the circular.

“The staffers who appeared before the judge admitted that they had interrogated me as well as the woman. Doubtless, this dangerous attitude explicitly shows that they adamantly ignored the instruction, which therefore nullifies all their actions on the basis of the legal principle that ‘What is based on falsehood is false.'”

The academic then narrated part of the testimony of the staffers before the judge, which was recorded in the charge sheet.

According to the academic, the testimony says: “We received a call from a keenly religious person reporting a man in illegal seclusion with a woman who is not her guardian, sitting in the family section of a restaurant … in a compromising position.

The academic said the charge sheet also said that “the man entered from one door and the woman entered from another door.”

The academic claimed that the testimony proves premeditated intention, an engineered plot to defame him.

The professor then raised several questions that can be reviewed at the paper’s website.

The paper also published the The Woman’s Alleged Letter Pleading for Help

This is the letter that was allegedly sent in a sealed envelope to the professor through a messenger. It was published by the Arabic daily Al-Madina. To His Excellency Dr ……..

After greetings

I am writing my problem to you hoping to find a solution for it.

Sir, I am a married woman aged 24. I am married to a businessman and I have a girl child who is the light of my dark life.

My marriage was a traditional one; thus I didn’t see my husband or talk to him until the marriage, which took place in haste.

But after the marriage I discovered that he was not the man I had dreamt of, nor did he have the qualities I was looking for. I didn’t find in him a warm heart that I was dreaming of, who would be close to me or lend an ear to my pains. In addition, he frequently travels abroad because of the nature of his business. How this made me feel miserable and sad. This has created a huge vacuum in my broken heart. This is why I go out a lot, roaming the markets and amusement parks and attending all wedding parties.

I made a lot of spontaneous friendships and became addicted to chatting on the phone in order to fill the vacuum caused by my husband’s absences. I am suffering from pain in my ears due excessive use of the mobile phone, which compounds my pains.

Despite all my suffering, I am still missing the warm company of my husband, which consoles me and takes me away from my illusions. He never ever enquires about my pains, delusions or even about the family affairs.

This made me suspect that my husband has dubious relations and affairs with other women. I sat with him several times to find a solution to this peculiar situation but all my attempts were in vain.

Sir, I want you to guide me in order to save my life from destruction.

With all my due respect and appreciation.

The dankprofessor will attempt to find out how persons living in the West can support the professor. Of course, public support could hurt the professor by inciting the religious police. So if such occurs, it must be done with great care.

For more details on the case do click on the link to the Al-Madina Arabic article.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 15, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, Islamic law, Saudi Arabia, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Eliot Spitzer as anti-sex work crusader and as sex worker client

Eliot Spitzer has a track record of breaking up prostitution rings, and now his behavior has led to the breaking up of the prostitution ring in which he had an involvement. Some might very well argue that the anti-prostitution crusader ended up having a psychological meltdown with the consequence of not only punishing himself for behavior that he significantly helped to criminalize, but to punish as well those women who accompanied him on his crusade.

In 2004 Eliot Spitzer as the New York State Attorney General was involved in the attempt to break up an international sex tourism organization based in Queens. According to the New York Times, he began to listen “to the entreaties of women’s advocates long frustrated by state laws that fell short of dealing with a sex trade expanding rapidly across borders.” And it was at this point that he embraced the idea that in order to effectively combat prostitution one had to “go after the men who seek out prostitutes”. However, in order to engage in such combat in New York, there had to be significant changes in the law. Such proposed legal changes met with defeat.

“We had tremendous difficulty trying to get this law passed, year after year,” said Taina Bien-Aimé, executive director of Equality Now. “Our only hope was for Eliot Spitzer to be elected governor.”

“He understood,” she added. “He got it, unlike hundreds of other politicians and law enforcement officials that we talked to.”

She and Ms. Leidholdt said the governor put his muscle behind the legislation, detailing top aides to work with sponsors of piecemeal bills that had languished, to consult with a coalition of human rights and women’s groups, and to lobby labor unions whose support was won through provisions addressing the trafficking and exploitation of workers.

This legislation went into effect on November 1, 2007. According to Spitzer’s former aide, Ken Franzblau, Spitzer wholeheartedly supported the bill and in Franzblau’s terms, the reason that the bill was so important was that

“In fact, the demand is really the lower-hanging fruit,” he added. “The johns are really afraid of being caught. The idea is that if we get some real penalties, and get D.A.’s to insist on them, we really could create a deterrent to this.”

As for Taina Bien-Aimé present feelings about Eliot Spitzer, “He was our hero”.

Of course, it is hard to fathom the psychological dynamics of Eliot Spitzer. Was Spitzer a cynical political manipulator zealously campaigning against prostitution while in his private behavior supporting sex work and sex workers? Or did he start out as a crusading true believer and then possibly as a result of his involvement in anti-sex work prosecutions become converted to that of a sex work client?

If in some sense he was converted, the dankprofessor does not hold this to be surprising. Many persons engaging in various forms of the regulating of criminal behavior end up adopting the behaviors of those they are attempting to regulate. Bribery and various forms of theft is an occupational hazard of police work. Vice officers regulating prostitution often do not share the disdain held by the public toward prostitutes, and, in fact, it is not a rarity for police to engage in sex with prostitutes. Such can occur for what many would regard as more serious violations, such as in police becoming informants for hire or assassins for hire by the mob. And there have been notorious cases in the area of arson in which arson investigators end up engaging in investigations of the results of their own arsonous and often lethal behavior.

Whatever the Spitzer dynamic may have been, the result has been betrayal and pain for all too many persons- the anti-prostitution advocates he politically supported; the sex worker who he hired; his wife and family, and a myriad of others.

And the dankprofessor wishes to make it clear that he supports the rights of sex workers to do their sex work; the dankprofessor regards prostitution as a form of commercial consensual sex that the government should not have the right to prohibit. Sex worker groups have spoken out on the Spitzer matter and sex worker advocates based in New York have issued the following statement-

Desiree Alliance, http://www.desireealliance.org/-

WHAT ABOUT KRISTEN? New York Sex Worker Organizations Respond to Spitzer Scandal

…As sex worker advocates, we are concerned about the representation and fate of “Kristen” and sex workers who are being thrust into the spotlight because of the investigation into the Governor. We also share the widespread concern for Governor Spitzer’s family.

Sex worker organizations urge the press and the public to focus on the violation of sex workers rights and the need to change these laws and policies, rather than simply on the story of one individual who has purchased sexual services.

“Nobody is talking about the impact of this story on ‘Kristen’ and other women, men and trans people who are currently working in the sex industry,” Shakti Ziller of SWANK in NYC added, “Prostitutes disproportionately face punitive action after arrest as compared to clients. Whether or not she will face prison time, “Kristen” has been dragged into the spotlight and will be subjected to public humiliation. Shouldn’t the police emphasis be on catching perpetrators of violent crime and protecting sex workers – not exposing adults who are consenting to a transaction? All she did was try to make a living.”

Governor Spitzer took a lead role in developing the NY State Anti-Trafficking Law. Over the objections of advocates who worked directly with victims of human trafficking and with sex workers, Governor Spitzer pushed through penalty enhancements against clients of all sex workers. Sex worker advocates fought against such provisions because these policies drive people who need help further underground.

The press has picked up on the relationship that inter-state trafficking laws (under the Mann Act) have to this case. This connection illustrates a point that sex worker advocates have been making for a long time: Laws against inter-state transportation for the purposes of commercial sex are too often used for punishing people working as sex workers and those who work with and patronize them.

“The criminalization of prostitution breeds …hypocrisy and makes our politicians (and other public figures) vulnerable,” says Carol Leigh of Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA. “This vulnerability exists until our society recognizes that consensual sexual behavior is private and these private acts should no longer be criminalized.”

“Many of our clients are politicians, judges, lawyers and even police,” Monica S., 26 of Brooklyn said. “It’s odd that they spend so much effort putting us into jail, but then turn around and give us their money in exchange for sex. Why do they think they won’t get caught breaking the laws that they make?”

The commentary on Dealbreaker.com, a Wall-Street news site, says about Wall-street’s anti-Spitzer reaction to the ‘Client 9′ story: “‘There is a God’ was the first thought on Wall Street. The next thought is, ‘Please don’t let it be revealed that I’m Lucky Number 7.”

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 13, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, prostitution, sex, sex work, sex workers, sexual politics | Leave a comment

“Vag Club” depicts giant vagina at Harvard

The Harvard’s College Women’s Center is presenting an art exhibition which focuses on body issues. The Harvard Crimson reported that the “largest piece in the show is an over-sized photograph of a vagina, complete with pubic hair and a manifesto. The work, entitled “The Vag Club,” connects final clubs to the vulva and is just one of the many works that illuminates how art can address social issues at Harvard.”The dankprofessor was not surprised to learn that of all the art exhibited, “The Vag Club” has received by far the most attention. In fact, it is apparently quite difficult to avoid. As the Harvard Crimson reports-

“The Vag Club,” for instance, is not a reiteration of hackneyed sentiments about the body. As people walked by the over-sized photograph of a vagina, they expressed shock, enthusiastic approval, and understanding. Jenna M. Mellor ’08, who created the piece in response to an assignment for Visual and Environmental Studies 65: “Tactics-Art, Politics and Performance,” admits that she wanted her work to border on absurdity. “Vaginas do not always treat vaginas nicely. In fact it seems as though vaginas hate vaginas,” one manifesto statement reads. “Non vaginas promise to bring the vagina lots of wet vaginas with big tits,” another asserts. These strong declarations help elicit the reflective reactions that the artist had intended.

“I was shocked to see a vagina that big in my face. It’s not something that we’re used to seeing,” says Natasha Alford ’08, who calls “The Vag Club” her favorite piece. “But as somebody who frequents final clubs, I never really made that explicit connection, how body and spaces are connected. It was really thought-provoking.”

The “Vag Club” manifesto creates a linkage between the Harvard elite final clubs with their very restrictive membership which is sex segregated and predominantly male to the very restrictive policies regarding entry into vaginal space. As the Harvard Crimson puts it: “Both are exclusive sites to which access is desired by many but granted to few.”

However, it is unclear as to how far “The Vag” manifesto wishes to take this comparison. There has been much opposition to the sex segregation as practiced by the Harvard final clubs and some discard these final clubs as archaic fraternal organization, or to put it more bluntly, they are fraternities wrapping themselves in a pseudo-sophisticated rhetoric. In other words, final clubs should be demystified and discarded.

If one takes the vaginal comparison seriously then one could argue that vaginas should be demystified and be open to pedestrian entry. If such be the case, “Vag Club” art and/or manifesto is not really needed since pornography often effectively functions to demystify and pedestrian vaginal entry is considered to be axiomatic in the porn world.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 13, 2008 Posted by | ethics, feminism, Harvard University, higher education, pornography, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Sexual trouble along the Florida Gulf Coast

Naplesnews.com of Naples, Florida reports that too many of the faculty of the Florida Gulf Coast University have in the past been too sexually involved with their students. Reporter Brad Kane found that FCGU fired two of its coaches over “suspicions of having improper affairs with students”. Interesting that suspicions, not findings of fact, are apparently enough for FGCU to fire faculty.

In the dankprofessor’s opinion it is pretty damning that any university would fire any faculty or administrator or staff persons because they had come under suspicion. If such be the case, maybe the university should screen out all suspicious persons during the hiring person. And, of course, they should be upfront about it in their employments ads- Suspicious persons need not apply. But maybe the problem is the dankprofessor’s. Maybe I am not suspicious enough, particularly not suspicious of the news media that all too often gets the story wrong, particularly when the story deals with sex. Maybe the naplesnews.com got it wrong when it is stated the suspicions relating to faculty having “improper affairs” with students. Of course, such implies that there also can be proper faculty student affairs. And, yes, it is the dankpofessor’s position that there are per se no improper student professor affairs; something more needs to have occurred to make them improper.

But upon further perusal of this article, I learn more about what might be considered to be improper as “…when two professors in 2001 were let go for the same reasons. One was even caught in the back of a van with a student.” Combining a student professor romance with auto erotica apparently goes beyond the moral sensibilities of many Floridians. Maybe it would have been a less serious offense if the affair was held in an indoor venue, such as an hotel or apartment or even in a condo.

However, I may be digressing from he main point of the article and that was to report that the FGCU administration is taking a dim view of student professor affairs. FGCU spokeswoman Susan Evans sets things straight when she stated-

“The issue is power and authority, whether it is professor/student or coach/student-athlete. All the students should be able to learn in an environment free of unwanted advances.”

Now the dankprofessor considers Ms. Evans thinking on this matter to be distorted, stereotypical and anti-female. What “offends” me is the part about all students being free of unwanted advances with the assumption being that students never make advances regarding faculty. Such is patently untrue. In any case, if these affairs are now regarded as improper by the administration, shouldn’t faculty also have the ability to teach in an environment free of unwanted advances?

In addition, the following is stated in the article-

FGCU employees are strictly forbidden from having amorous relationships with students directly under their authority whether it’s students in their classes, players on their teams or interns under their employment.

For students not directly under their authority, the issue gets slightly cloudier as affairs are frowned upon but not expressly against the rules.

“It is a serious offense that can and does include termination of an employee,” Evans said.

Even though the relationship may start between two consenting adults, it can descend into a sexual harassment situation, which undermines the learning process.

“Faculty should not have affairs with students even when the student is not in the faculty member’s class, because when the relationship goes sour – even if that relationship is based on mutual consent – that could be something that turns into harassment,” said Halcyon St. Hill, FGCU faculty senate president.

My God, both Ms. Evans and the faculty senate president share the same fears, a consensual relationship turning into a situation of sexual harassment. Maybe their fears might be lessened by their confronting the possibility that student professor relationships can end in friendship and love and marriage and even parenthood. Why trump student professor affairs because some have unhappy endings? Would they trump marriage since marriage often leads too divorce?

The reporter does allow a FGCU student to have the last word.

“It is pretty much the same stories you hear about in high schools all over, except, even now, we are all adult,” said Kimberly Freeman, a sophomore biotechnology major. “I don’t condone it, but everyone has their own moral standard.

“I’d never date a professor. That’s kind of wrong.”

Despite all FGCU’s rules and regulations, stopping student-professor affairs altogether might be impossible.

“It goes on everywhere,” Freeman said. “I’m sure there’s not one college out there where it hasn’t happened.”

As is the practice on the dankprofessor blog, the dankprofessor gets the last word. Of course, the student is right when she states it goes on everywhere. But in almost all of the everywheres there are the moral zealots eager to enforce their sexual agenda on unsuspecting others, unsuspecting others who believe in the right to privacy, the right of adults to have the freedom to choose with whom they have intimate associations. If the FGCU administration is to protect students and faculty from power abuse, the protection they need is from moral zealots who occupy positions of authority.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 12, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, Florida Gulf Coast University, fraternization, higher education, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Harvard coeds to go nude

(For an update, 11/18/09/, on this story click here. And for a post relating to a Harvard coed and her  sexual relationship with a Harvard TF, click here.)

Harvard women prepare to go nude in the new online magazine Diamond to be published by Harvard student Matthew M. Di Pasquale. Di Pasquale began to solicit Harvard coeds for nude photo opportunities via the Dunston House email list in February. The Harvard Crimson reported yesterday that “Harvard women posing nude alongside their theses just might be the way Diamond magazine wins over feminists.”

On Thursday evening Diamond founder Di Pasquale and Harvard student H Bomb editor Brandon Perkovich (H Bomb is an ongoing sexually orientated publication at Harvard) met with a dozen Harvard undergraduates at the Harvard Women’s Center to discuss the sexually orientated publications. The discussion was sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students.

Much of the discussion put Di Pasquale on the defensive. He told the crowd numerous times that Diamond’s purpose is to allow women to “express themselves” in a pro-sex light-not to objectify them-and that he understands their concerns about typical pornography.

“One of the ideas behind Diamond is that [the models] are not just sexy girls, but intelligent, smart, successful, Harvard girls,” he said. “I want the reader to understand who they are what they’re doing in their lives. I read the interviews in Maxim.”

While H Bomb received praise-Julia T. Havard ’11 said that it was “artistic expression” with “a message behind it”-some of those present feared that Diamond would be less like H Bomb and more like mainstream pornography.

“[Pornography] perpetuates the idea in society that it’s okay to see women on a page, that it’s acceptable in society to objectify women in terms of sexual attractiveness,” said Shanti S. Kris ’11, who identified herself as a feminist.

“In rape, you’re objectifying women through a violent action, so the danger is that it makes it acceptable to look at women as objects,” she said.

But despite the fact that the discussion became spirited at times, the conversation ended on a positive note, with those present praising the rise in sexual publications on campus.

Di Pasquale indicated that the premiere issue of Diamond will be on May 12. “Di Pasquale said that day will be a celebration of women and pornography-and perhaps the start of a profitable, enjoyable business venture.”

In a February article, the Harvard Crimson reported that the then  Harvard student editor of H Bomb, Michelle E. Crentsil, supports the efforts of Di Pasquale. “I think artistic magazines involving the way people think about their bodies is always a great thing,” Crentsil said.

DiPasquale did not dispute the reference to Diamond as an artistic magazine.

“Diamond will be more mainstream-“more Hollywood”-à la Maxim or Playboy, he said. Diamond will feature nude female models and possibly shirtless males, but not explicit sex acts, he said.

He said that he sees potential in Harvard women to make Diamond a “really sexy magazine.”

Not everyone is excited about Diamond’s debut. Leo J. Keliher ‘10, co-president of the premarital sexual abstinence group True Love Revolution said he believes that anything that allows men to look at and fantasize about women “just objectifies women.”

But campus sex blogger Lena Chen ‘09 gave her nod of approval to Diamond. “I think that any increase in dialogue about sex on campus is certainly positive because Harvard is kind of Puritanical,” she said.

Maybe somewhat Puritanical but not as puritanical as Yale. The dankprofessor cannot imagine the Yale Women’s Center hosting a discussion with the editor of a campus publication which was recruiting Yale female students to pose nude. We have two different worlds here. In fact, the Yale Women’s Center ultimatum to the Yale administration to respond to their demand for corrective action by March 7 regarding the Yale fraternity “I love Yale sluts” imbroglio did not pass  without notice.  Click here for an update.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 8, 2008 Posted by | ethics, feminism, Harvard University, higher education, nudity, pornography, sex, sexual politics, Yale University | 1 Comment

Rape on film at Yale

It was only a couple of weeks ago, February 13 to be exact, that the dankprofessor blogged on the escalating rhetoric at Yale regarding male fraternity members holding up a “Yale sluts” placard in the front of the Women’s Center; the Women’s Center Board characterized the placard incident and photos of the incident being circulated on email “as fraternity- sponsored or enabled sexual harassment, assault and rape”. Certainly, the fraternity members use of this placard was untoward, but the statement that the placard in essence sponsored rape seemed to the dankprofessor as inflammatory, and ultimately functions to “trivialize” rape. Name-calling should not be conflated with rape; words should not be conflated with actions. Social scientist know based on decades of research that words are not predictive of deeds.

Presently Yale is having its annual “Sex Week at Yale”. The dankprofessor was not surprised to learn that a component of sex week was on pornography. As reported by L. Brent Bozell on on the Media Research Center blog, the sex week organizers invited Paul Thomas of Vivid Entertainment to show films and have a question and answer period. The Vivid films were shown without any pre-screening by the sex week organizers. “Some of the footage shown by Thomas included graphic rape fantasies and the labeling of a woman as a “slut” who “deserved” violent sexual degradation.”

Before the films excerpts were completed, feminists from the Yale Women’s Center entered and “Presca Ahn, who is the “fellowship coordinator” there, declared: “In porn, sex is not a normal, healthy part of normal, healthy lives; it’s fetishized, exaggerated or embellished. Porn isn’t honest. We need to talk honestly about it: it hurts women.” Then the session went right into Q and A.

The Yale Daily News reported that Colin Adamo, Sex Week event coordinator, called the screening a grave mistake. “We really dropped the ball on this one,” he said. “No one watched the movie before Paul showed it to the audience.” But the Vivid representative “insinuated that he (Adamo) was a prude and just needed to watch more porn.”

The dankprofessor has no comment on the prudishness characterization of Adamo; certainly Adamo can be characterized as naïve. To assume that Vivid porn DVDs would not cause offense to some of those in attendance is naïve. I would also consider it to be naïve that holding a sex week which would not be offensive to some of the Yale students some of the time is extremely naïve. To have a completely inoffensive sex week one would have to go back to the American tradition of sex censorship. To really deal with the offensiveness issue, Yale would have to prohibit sex week.

As for the Yale Women’s Center rep indicating that porn “hurts women”, such is a problematic characterization. What we do know about porn is that porn leads most of the time to viewer masturbation. Just about everyone knows this, the producers, the actors, the observers, the condemners, the viewers. So if one holds that male masturbation hurts women then the Yale Women’s Center rep has a point.

However, solitary “consensual” masturbation, or mutual consensual masturbation is now ofen viewed as safe sex. But obviously some hold that so-called safe sex is actually hurtful sex. And when it comes to masturbation from an historical perspective, those believing in the hurtful scenario carry the day.

So I do not think I am going out on a limb when I state that too many campus feminists, too many Yale campus feminists, too often engage in traditional anti-sexual Puritanism, an anti-sexual Puritanism that has not been unknown in Yale’s home state, Connecticut.

(Click here for an addendum on this post.)

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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
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Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 6, 2008 Posted by | ethics, feminism, higher education, masturbation, pornography, rape, sex, Yale University | 2 Comments

Review of ROMANCE IN THE IVORY TOWER, II

Abusus Non Tollit Usum or Do Not Throw Out the Baby with the Bath Water

Review of Paul R. Abramson: Romance in the Ivory Tower: The Rights and Liberty of Conscience, MIT Press, 2007, 176 pp.

Reviewed by Joseph S. Fulda

The original publication of this review is located at http://www.springerlink.com

http://springerlink.com/content/a302108548m64201/fulltext.html

DOI: 10.1007/s12119-007-9017-3

Forthcoming in SEXUALITY AND CULTURE, vol. 12 #1, March 2008, pp. 68-70

The Conceptual Aims and Practical Goal of the Book
Abramson wrote this book with two aims in mind: (1) To avoid giving offense to any, while (2) arguing for “safeguarding the right to think and choose, according to one’s conscience, as it applies to faculty-student romance” and the choice of whom to romance, more generally. The explicit goal of the book is to “reverse [the] situation” where when “you lose your heart, you could lose your job.”

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The False Issue and the Real Issue
Abramson does not deny that conflicts of interest are possible, but believes rather that such solutions as “recusal, disclosure, and third-party evaluations” are the answer, not simply banning romance. Moreover, Abramson does deny-and we agree-that were universities honestly motivated by conflicts of interest, they would not routinely place inappropriate pressure on faculty to favor athletes (who bring in money), and argues that when it comes to banning romances the issue is, once again, money. Money. Listen to Abramson on p. 30:
Why, you may wonder, do companies prohibit romance in the first place? …[T]he truth of the matter is that the primary motivation for the nonfraternization policy is the belief that it reduces civil liability in sexual harassment lawsuits …the rhetoric about power differentials and favoritism notwithstanding. …How, you may wonder, can this be true? Or more specifically, what does romance among consenting adults have to do with sexual harassment? The real answer is precisely nothing. …The big question, then, is why should consensual romance be denied in the service of protecting against sexual harassment lawsuits?

And, on pp. 32-33:
Is this fair? Or more important, is this legal?

It is, of course, patently unfair. The only real question is whether it is legal, or more significantly, treated as legal?

Before going on to Abramson’s own answer to this question, it is well to remark that he is not against saving money per se; he advocates that consenting partners sign a “love contract” releasing the university from liability. But the current approach, he likens to banning purses and laptops because some may be stolen or eliminating parking lots and cars on campus when problems arise in these domains.
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The Framework of Abramson’s Argument
Space and the desire to leave something for the reader to discover on his own preclude us from giving more than a bulleted outline-a sketch-of Abramson’s argument, with one hopes not too considerable damage to the subtleties and nuances-for which, of course, the reader of this review must purchase the book. Here is the sketch: • The First Amendment protects both the free exercise of religion and precludes the establishment of a national religion or preference between religious systems.
• The draft of the Amendment originally written by Madison included a third clause regarding “the rights of conscience.”
• The constitutional archives, by which Abramson means the entire corpus of writings of the Founding and Framing eras, are not ultimately dispositive about whether the oft-mentioned rights of conscience were parallel to, underlay, or were a synonym for the free exercise of religion and the proscription of preference between religious systems-or perhaps some combination of all three.
• The constitutional archives are not ultimately dispositive as to whether the free exercise clause extends to behavior not injurious to others, but leans in that direction.
• The Ninth Amendment protecting unenumerated rights can certainly be read as extending to the rights of conscience broadly considered.
• Anchoring the liberty of conscience in the First or Ninth Amendments grants it affirmative protection as something inherently worthwhile, while recognizing a zone of privacy merely walls it off from certain intrusions.
• For something as fundamental as the liberty of conscience, extending both to beliefs and behavior not injurious to others, a firmer footing than the negative right to privacy is desirable.
• Sexual and romantic choices are ultimately matters of conscience and were pretty uniformly so regarded at the time and place of the Framing.
• Universities receiving federal funds ought to recognize the liberty of conscience in its entirety, because it is the right thing to do and because it is mandated by the Constitution’s core principles if not perhaps by its text and if decidedly not by the history of that text’s interpretation.
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The Flaws
A few small problems mar this book, and one significantly larger issue. The small problems include, inter alia, the absence of citations for legal cases, the repeated use of “discrete” for “discreet,” and the reversal of meanings given “impartiality” and “partiality.”

The larger issue is that Abramson sees fit to properly ally the rights of religion and conscience in the choice of romantic partners throughout most of the book, but towards the ends adopts a strange (given his first aim) and entirely unnecessary (given his second aim) and, indeed, counterproductive hostility towards religion.

The Decalogue commands respect for parents, but a core religious teaching is that children may entirely disregard their parents’ wishes when it comes to a choice of spouse. Moreover, even the young are not to be married without their consent. This lesson is taught in Genesis where Rebecca, a child prodigy who spoke and reasoned at 3 years of age, had to be consulted before Milcah and Laban released her to Abraham’s servant Eliezer as a mate for Isaac.

This hostility undermines his own parallel throughout the book’s body between religion and conscience and I cannot divine what impelled him to do this to his own argument.

Still, the book remains largely persuasive and deserves a fair hearing from the (anyway) largely secular academy to which it is directed.

March 5, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, ivory tower romance, reviews, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Writing right about rape and Heather Mac Donald

University of Virginia student, Patrick Cronin has an op ed piece, THE RIGHT RAPE STATISTICS, in today’s LA Times. It should come as no surprise that this op ed was primarily devoted to attacking Heather Mac Donald’s earlier LA Times piece on the campus rape crisis myth. As for right rape statistics which the title implies the column is all about, the dankprofessor ended up disappointed since Cronin did not write about right rape statistics. Almost all of the column was a rehash of previous criticisms of Mac Donald, many of which have already been commented on by the dankprofessor. So I will only take a couple of excerpts from this column and keep my commentary to a minimum and hopefully avoid engaging in redundancy.

Cronin states-

Mac Donald makes several false assumptions when constructing her argument. First, she assumes studies on campus rape are irrelevant because many survivors do not call their experience rape. She later blames the victims, citing their behavior as a contributory factor to their experience. Such victim-blaming has a direct and obvious effect on reporting. If people like Mac Donald stigmatize a survivor as a promiscuous, irresponsible alcoholic, is there really much incentive to come forward? And if a victim convinces himself or herself that no assault took place, why use the resources available?

I don’t think that Mac Donald characterized campus rape victims as promiscuous irresponsible alcoholics. She simply indicated that putting oneself in a highly sexualize environment in which alcohol is being consumed by self and many others can put women at risk of being sexually victimized. To indicate that Mac Donald’s cautionary rhetoric represents a form of stigmatization is in the dankprofessor’s opinion other worldly thinking.

Acknowledging having been assaulted can be a very difficult first step toward recovery. That’s why sociologists performing these studies ask if a person experienced what’s defined as rape or sexual assault without putting those words into the questions. As a result, these studies catch people who were raped or assaulted according to the legal definition, even if they do not recognize their experience as such. Mac Donald asserts that this style of questioning undermines the validity of these studies, but, in fact, it exposes the difficulty and trauma of reporting.

If the alleged victim of rape does not recognize, or psychologically construct her experience as rape, it does not matter how a researcher may characterize the verbiage of the respondent. It only matters if one does not consider the woman’s definition of the situation to be paramount. As for these studies exposing the difficulty and trauma of reporting, almost all crimes are underreported, whether they be violent or non-violent crimes. As far as I know, there is no trauma reporting syndrome. In fact, it is usually the opposite, telling others of ones experiences is usually therapeutic. And one could go even one step further and argue that if potentially violent persons had the opportunity to verbalize to others their violent feelings and inclinations, there would probably be less violence. The dankprofessor finds it interesting that there are suicide hotlines for potential suicide offenders but no homicide or rape hotlines for potential violent offenders.

There are those in our society who choose to ignore rape and sexual assault because of its gravity, frequency and complexity. They choose to blame the survivor, dismiss the statistics or question the political motivation of those who try to end rape and sexual assault and mitigate the life-altering consequences of its occurrence. They rely on antiquated notions of drunken frat boys and promiscuous young women looking to “have a good time.” I know plenty of the people Mac Donald chooses to define based on these stereotypes. None has ever asked to be raped. Some have been raped anyway.

The dankprofessor agrees that stereotypes do play a role in rape and sexual assault. But I would argue that both men and women have to free themselves of stereotypes such as “these guys are not the type of guys who would commit rape”, “college guys are cool, no need to worry” or “women wouldn’t be acting and imbibing if they really didn’t want sex” if we are going to decrease rate of rape and sexual assaults.

And Cronin doesn’t do anything to improve the “sexual climate” when he ends his essay on this note: “None has ever asked to be raped. Some have been raped anyway.” Using nonsensical word play is no way to deal with rape or any other form of violence.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 4, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, Heather Mac Donald, higher education, rape, sex, sexual politics | 1 Comment

Undergrad female students as sex workers

The Australian publication, THE SUNDAY AGE reports that “HUNDREDS of university students in Victoria have turned to prostitution to pay their way through higher education…Up to 40% of the female sex workers in Melbourne’s brothels are attending the city’s eight universities and other colleges.

Monetary issues appear to be the main motivation for Australian coeds to become sex workers. One 22 year old coed who has been working as a prostitute for 18 months stated- “In an ideal world I wouldn’t be doing this work but it’s well paid and there’s no way I could afford to complete university and live out of home if I had any other part-time job.”

THE SUNDAY AGE contacted the managers of all Australian brothels; and nearly all of the managers estimated that 40 to 50% of their sex workers were full-time students.

Glen Barnes, general manager at Melbourne’s largest brothel, the Daily Planet, said that university students often made the best workers. He explained: “We’ve got nearly 200 girls on our books and I’d say at least 35% are students, and they’re nearly always a pleasure to deal with.

“Typically they’re very career-oriented and know exactly what they want to get out of the job. Going to uni is obviously getting more and more expensive, and for many who haven’t got wealthy parents, this is the best way to make ends meet. Most of the girls say it’s the rising costs of fees and being a student in an expensive city like Melbourne that is making them consider the sex industry.

“We’re happy to have them and try to provide an environment which supports them. That means that if it’s quiet and they’re not with a client we allow them to get out their laptops and study in a spare room.”

A spokeswoman for Top of the Town, another large brothel in the CBD, with about 90 girls on its books, said that girls from all backgrounds were involved.

“You really can’t generalise about the type of girl that will become a sex worker,” she said.

“We’ve got workers who went to the most prestigious schools in Melbourne and come from very affluent families. In their cases I think they’ve made the decision that they’d want to earn their own money rather than accepting handouts from their parents.

“We’ve also got girls who come from more disadvantaged situations, who can’t live at home while they study, or perhaps they don’t want to be a burden on their parents.

“By working in the sex industry they can earn a lot of money in a relatively short period of time.

“The shift work also means that it’s fairly easy for them to combine it with their studies.

“Brothels in Melbourne are very well run and offer a safe, clean environment and, after all, these ladies aren’t doing anything that’s illegal. Some people may object to it, but it really is very professional.”

The Top of the Town spokeswoman said one former sex worker had paid her way through a law degree by working one or two nights a week and, once qualified, had returned to the brothel to give legal advice to some of the girls.

“A lot of the time with students, the girls are very clear that they’ll only work while they’re studying,” the spokeswoman said. “Once they’ve got their degree or qualification that’s it, they’ll walk away.

“It’s not necessarily a choice for the rest of your life, just a way of paying your way until you get to where you want to go.”

In terms of the financial needs of university students living in Melbourne, “Statistics from the University of Melbourne show that rent and living expenses for those students who live in the city totals about $25,000 if living in university or shared accommodation in the city. This does not include tuition fees, which are deferred until after graduation. For a student living in a one-bedroom flat or studio, this cost can rise to more than $30,000.”

Apparently, universities are aware of this situation-

A spokeswoman for Monash University said: “Obviously these ladies are adults and are free to make their own choices about what work they want to enter into. However, we do have extensive services for those who are suffering money problems. Any student can visit our financial counsellors, who are available on all campuses.

“We also offer a wide range of grants, scholarships and bursaries, to those from financially challenged backgrounds.”

The dankprofessor notes that the article reported only on students employed as prostitutes in brothels. Other avenues for prostitution may have been via self-employment, advertising on the internet, employment as escorts as well as employment as escorts for the entertainment of clients of large corporations. Of course, female students may also be employed in other areas of sex work, such as strippers and as actors in pornography.

The article does fail to give any attention to male students who are employed in some capacity as sex workers.

So to date, the dankprofessor blog has reported on students employed as sex workers in France and Australia. Blog readers references to articles dealing with other countries, particularly the USA, will be most appreciated.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 4, 2008 Posted by | higher education, prostitution, sex, sex workers | 1 Comment

Heather Mac Donald responds to critics of her ‘campus rape crisis myth’ article

In a March 2 City Journal article Heather Mac Donald responds to the feminist criticisms of her prior article on the campus rape crisis myth.

Key excerpts of the current article follow.

Let me propose a thought experiment. An unapprehended rapist has assaulted two women in a particular area of State University’s campus-.04 percent of the female undergraduate population. Would the State University administrators tell girls to stay away from the area until the rapist is caught? Or would they remain silent about whether girls should continue to frequent that area of the campus, because “rape is never a woman’s fault”? The first, of course, because students’ safety is the administrators’ paramount concern, regardless of whether female students have a “right” to frequent that dangerous area at night.

Campus rape researchers and advocates, modifying Koss’s statistic slightly, say that they believe that a whopping one-fifth to one-quarter of college women are raped by their fellow students. Virtually all of these alleged rapes could be avoided if the girls took certain steps: don’t get into bed with a guy when you are very drunk, don’t take off your clothes, don’t get involved in oral sex, and so on. Such advice is fully consistent with female empowerment. It recognizes that girls have the power to stop “campus rape.” It treats them as moral agents able to control their fates.

But when I suggest to campus sexual assault administrators that they could stop what Koss calls the “rape pandemic” overnight if they persuaded girls to exercise more prudence, I inevitably receive responses like the following (these are my interlocutors’ actual words): “I am uncomfortable with the idea of ‘recommending that female students exercise more modesty and restraint’-this indicates that if they are raped it could be their fault-it is never their fault.” Or: “Yes, modesty would have a certain impact, but who’s responsible?”

There are two possible reasons why the administrators refuse to take the most efficacious, practical action to end campus rape-counseling sexual prudence. Either they know in their heart of hearts that what is happening on campuses is not really rape, but something much more ambiguous and also much less traumatic than real rape. Or-and this possibility is too horrible to contemplate-these self-professed women’s advocates really do believe that a drunken hookup is rape, and yet are withholding from women the simplest, surest way to prevent being raped, simply in order to preserve the principle of male fault. If the latter situation actually prevails, I conclude that the campus rape movement is purely political, interested solely in casting men as the evil perpetrators of the patriarchy rather than in most effectively protecting potential victims of a traumatic crime.

In her response, Koss says that “Men are supposed to know that [it is] wrong to have sex with a woman who is unable to consent due to intoxication.” Some men may know that; others may not. By all means, try to educate as many as you can. But the point is, if you want to protect women right now, the surest way of doing so is persuading them to avoid risky sexual encounters, rather than hoping that the drunken men with whom they have gotten into bed have a solid sense of ethics. What if a man knows that it is wrong to have sex with a very drunk woman but is himself too drunk to act on that knowledge-who’s going to protect the woman then? It is certainly ironic that feminists are relying on men to protect women when the women are perfectly able to determine whether a drunken night ends in intercourse. Moreover, if drunkenness cancels a woman’s responsibility for her actions, why does a drunken man who has sex that he may regret the next day nevertheless remain responsible? Are women less responsible for their actions than men?

If it were the case that millions of rape victims graduated from college each year with serious emotional trauma, we’d have heard about it. Their parents would have demanded that colleges prevent this crime “pandemic.” Alternative academic institutions would have sprung up, guaranteeing a safe place for women to study and learn. None of this has happened, because the millions of women whom campus rape researchers designate as victims don’t suffer serious emotional trauma and don’t think of themselves as victims. You would have thought that that would be celebrated as a sign of strong womanhood.

Putting the above argument in part in the dankprofessor’s terms, what Mac Donald is saying is that the feminist campus anti-rape movement is cynically using female students as a means to an end, as a means to hit back at men; that this movement is fueled by sex hatred and effective rape prevention is of secondary concern. Empirically demonstrating this argument is, of course, an impossibility. What can only be addressed is whether Mac Donald’s argument makes sense of the “facts”.

Such does make sense for me in terms of my engagement of essentially the same campus activists in regards to the campaign to prohibit consensual sexual relationships between students and professors. In the student/professor context, the campus feminist activists present male professors who are sexually involved with students in the most dehumanizing terms. They are presented as de facto rapists since it is held that female students can never give consent because differential power precludes consent. In their terms, female students do not count; if they protest that they consented to the relationship, they are ignored. Campus activist feminists reduce dissenting female students to the status of being children, and view themselves as their Big Sister protectors and all too often this protection means getting these students to do and to believe what they want them to do and to believe. Interesting, in a sense the anti-rape movement feminists may be similar to campus rapists- wanting to control women for the sake of their own power.

What the dankprofessor believes is at play here is authoritarianism. Authoritarians attempting to exert their control over others. Too many campus feminists have created an authoritarian sisterhood, a sisterhood that is merciless on women who dissent from their orthodoxy, one such woman being Heather Mac Donald. Yes, there has been some polite critiques of Mac Donald’s first article on campus rape. But to my knowledge, no feminist, no member of the campus anti-rape movement has come forward chastising their feminist confreres who name call and heap abuse on Mac Donald. The restraint Heather Mac Donald has demonstrated in response to this abuse has been admirable.

In addition, the dankprofessor wishes to recommend two books by Daphne Patai which provide tremendous insight into authoritarian campus feminism- HETEROPHOBIA; SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND THE FUTURE OF FEMINISM and PROFESSING FEMINISM: CAUTIONARY TALES FROM THE STRANGE WORLD OF WOMEN’S STUDIES.

—–
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 dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 3, 2008 Posted by | coercing women, consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, Heather Mac Donald, higher education, rape, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Clemson student arrested on false rape complaint

Clemson University student, Krutika Mediwala, was arrested on February 28 for filing a false sexual assault complaint. The sexual assault charge was made in January and Clemson students were alerted that a rape had occurred on campus.  In January “she told police two guys knocked her down and assaulted her from behind in a dark parking lot on campus. But according to the police, her story did not add up and she was arrested for the lie”.  As a result of her complaint, extra police patrols were put on campus.  Mediwala was released from jail on $5,000 bond.

—–
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 2008

March 2, 2008 Posted by | Clemson University, higher education, rape | 3 Comments

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