Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

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.

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

Barry M. Dank aka the 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

   

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