Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Hugo Schwyzer and the sin of coercion

OK, I will begin my reply post to Hugo Schwyzer’s response to me by picking a bone with him as to how he presents me. He indicates that at Cal State Long Beach I had built a name for myself “as a consistent (some would say relentless) advocate for legitimizing sexual relationships between teachers and students”.  If the good professor had done his homework on me, he would have known that I built a name for myself in the area of legitimizing sexual relationships starting in the late 1960s when I relentlessly opposed discrimination against gays, wrote “Coming Out in the Gay World” which came to be regarded as a classic article in the sociology of homosexuality, created the first officially recognized undergraduate course on homosexuality in 1969, and worked to help create the first officially recognized GSU in California at CSULB and last but not least I wrote an article against Anita Bryant and her campaign against homosexuality which was reprinted throughout the United States and helped to defeat the Briggs initiative in 1977, and led to numerous threats against my life, see that article by clicking here.  Post my involvement in the gay rights campaign, I became involved in issues regarding interracial dating and marriage and helped to found the Interrace Association at CSULB.

So prior to my getting involved in the student professor issue I had an extensive background regarding transcending sexual boundaries, standing up for sexual freedom and consent.  In this area I was relentless and remain relentless.  Such relentlessness was not stifled by the small mindedness of too many of my opponents and their attempts to objectify and demonize me. For example, Schwyzer states that I celebrate student professor sexual relationships.  I do not celebrate any form of consensual sexuality.  What I celebrate is the right of consenting adults to engage in sexual fraternization no matter how offensive such fraternization is held to be by others.  What offends me are those who engage in coercion of consenting others who happen to violate their sexual “ethic”.

And as for Schwyzer not being able to see the similarities in the dynamics of those opposing interracial relationships and those opposing student professor relationships, I suggest that he is suffering from a form of cultural blindness.  I suggest that he read Lillian Smith’s book KILLERS OF THE DREAM and then he may understand the southern “ethic” that embraced the notion that a white woman/black man relationship can never be consensual, such always precluded consent, that such always represented rape, and that white men were protective of “their” white women who could not consent for themselves and were in essence children or childlike. Of course, any dissident black man faced a sentence of death via hanging and/or burning for the sin of loving the wrong person.  Of course, today’s sexual dissidents who engage in academia’s love that dare not speak its name do not face being physically killed but rather being socially and psychologically exiled from academia since they have violated the sacred principle of “differential power precludes consent”.  Safer for them to remain in the closet which has historically been the home of the sexually persecuted or those in support of the sexually persecuted.

In response to me, Schwyzer states-

I’m not incapable of drawing distinctions between behavior which is criminal and behavior which is merely unethical. But I also think that folks like Dank fail to recognize three things:

1. College students in their late teens and early twenties are still developing intellectually and emotionally, as this New York Times Magazine article made clear recently. Many young people are in a space between, as the old saying goes, “the Already and the Not Yet.” They are already legal adults and are in many ways fully responsible, but in other key ways continue to need more time to develop the complete capacity for impulse control and moral reasoning. As the Times article put it, the only ones who “got it right” about how long it takes young people to grow up are the car-rental companies, who often refuse to rent their vehicles to drivers under the age of twenty-five. While nineteen year-olds may be ready for sexual relationships with their peers, they are vulnerable to exploitation (whatever protestations may be made to the contrary) by those who are substantially older.

Schwyzer continues to focus on students as young people, apparently teens or just post teenager.  Such reflects Schwyzer’s hangups or possibly his complete immersion in the world of PCC.  To assume that university students are young and immature is absurd.

To assume that being young reflects immaturity is absurd.  To assume that being old reflects maturity is absurd.  To assume nothing and treat and respect the individuality of the other is not absurd. Such reflects in Buberian terms the willingness to employ an I-thou framework.  Schwyzer employs an I-it framework which makes coercing others so much easier.

Then comes his point 2-

2. The power imbalance between a professor and a student, regardless of the latter’s age, makes it impossible for the student to give consent as long as the professor is in a position to evaluate (or recommend) him or her. You can’t trust a “yes” unless the person who says the “yes” also feels free to say “no” in the confidence that there will be no deleterious consequences. And as long as a student is in any position to be evaluated professionally by their professor/lover, they can’t have that knowledge that a “no” will be safe. That’s not infantilizing; that’s common sense.

Here he states it really is not about age, but about power imbalance in general. He holds it axiomatic that students cannot give consent (such assumes of course that the student is not the initiator and the professor is the one consenting).  Such represents the end point of his argument- students cannot consent so we will not allow the student to be in such a position. What he fails to note is that now he and his chosen colleagues are now in the power position and they have taken away the ability to consent of both students and professors. Both students and professors must consent to the will of the all powerful bureaucrat.  Schwyzer and his confereres end up calling for what all authoritarians call for- OBEDIENCE, obedience to them.  And as for his comments about possible deleterious consequences, freedom always represents the possibility of deleterious consequences; lack of freedom always represents the reality of deleterious consequences.

And now to his third point-

3. The damage that professor-student sexual relationships do to the broader academic community is enormous. I’ve written that some of the students with whom I had sexual relationships remembered what we shared fondly; otherssuffered lasting negative consequences for which I take full responsibility and a profound sense of guilt. But leaving aside the essential question of the impact of these relationships on young women’s lives, I can say with certainty that these affairs are impossible to keep secret. Campus gossip made them widely known. Not only was I labeled a lecher, but the legitimacy of the entire college was in some sense compromised. I’ll never know how many young people grew a bit more cynical, a bit less trustful of the system, a bit more suspicious of older men as a result of my sadly well-deserved reputation in the mid-to-late 1990s on this campus.

Is Schwyzer referring to PCC here being damaged in some way by his relationships with young women?  I speculate that he is projecting his own sense of damage and guilt on to the wider academic community.  He is seeing his campus world thru his guilt tinged lenses.  He ends up dealing with his guilt by coercing others to be “better” than he was; he ends up being an authoritarian do-gooder.  And as for campus gossip, my advice to him is to just get beyond the rumor mongers; do what you consider to be right and don’t focus on the opinions of others.  And, of course, it will often be the case that no matter what one does, one can end up becoming rumor subject matter.

As for recommended pieces regarding this issue, he neglects the most powerful published essay written by then graduate student Cristina Nehring. You can find it on my blog, of course.  I can’t reprint the whole article, but I have reprinted enough to capture the essence of her argument, and do read the recent student comments on this posting.  Of course, you can read a couple of my pieces by clicking here and here as well as reading SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND CONSENT which I co-edited. Daphne Patai’s book although somewhat tangential gives a pretty good portrait of how campuses are becoming less free. And, of course, anything written by Dick Skeen, material based on his doctoral dissertation, should be required reading.

And I bemoan the loss of community on too many campuses.  The implementation of these fraternization rules make informal interaction between students and professors problematic.  Fear too often now structures student professor interaction; fear that there may be a sexual imputation.  Schwyzer never mentions this; never mentions that many campus regulations prohibit both sexual OR amorous relationships.  On a personal note, I became a professor already a part of academic life since I had married a professor’s daughter and took for granted the camaraderie, the informality that was a part of the community of learners, no matter what the age.  It’s basically gone now; replaced by an impersonal bureaucracy, paid bureaucrats making sure things are under control which de facto means keeping things in the closet.

I also want to make clear that I do not condemn or disrespect Schwyzer for his attempt to come to terms with his past sexuality.  His guilt feelings I do not doubt are real; his need for redemption is real. What I question that in his need for redemption or expiation he ends up advocating the coercing of others for engaging in consensual sex he disapproves of.  In the dankprofessor’s framework he commits the sin of coercion which represents his own unacknowledged arrogance.

September 30, 2010 - Posted by | consensual relationships, Daphne Patai, ethics, fear, fraternization, gay rights, higher education, Pasadena City College, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating

25 Comments »

  1. In the real world it is a big no-no to have a boss-employee relationship. Why? because their is no balance of power. In the military world it is a big no-no to have people of different ranks have a relationship without lots of red tape ensuring that neither is actually in a position of power over the other.

    If a professor is attracted to a student, and that attraction is returned, why not wait until the student is no longer in the class? Or have someone else take over as advisor? Anything else is at minimum harassment and at worst rape. If a student can’t give consent because of the power the professor holds, then it is coerced, which makes it rape.

    In the business and military worlds everyone is aware of these issues and take steps to protect those that are vulnerable. While it is an imperfect system, at least there is an awareness of the dangers of taking advantage of one’s power. You seem to dismiss this, without acknowledging the simplicity of simply waiting until the class is over/getting another advisor/taking steps to remove oneself, as a professor, from a profound conflict of interests between one’s personal life and one’s professional life.

    Comment by darlene | October 1, 2010 | Reply

    • ‘In the real world’, you cannot dictate when or how & where to [fall in] love [with] someone – on or off campus, on or off a military base, or any other working relationship scenario. So ‘to wait’, is illusionary folly & can make either party extremely unhappy, & even fail in their teaching/grades e.g. – I wanna see you being hot on someone & he tells you to ‘wait’ because the campus police says so. Equally, just because someone is in a position of ‘power’ does not equal abuse of it. Conversely, someone in a position of no power can easily exploit the one IN power s/he deals with. Such blanket ‘laws’ to forbid prof/student (or any other ‘power’) relationships are unrealistic. Every relationship can become abusive, regardless of any age discrepancies or power dynamics.

      And btw, ‘rape’ by legal definition is ONLY forcible intercourse, NOT what people like you call a ‘power-imbalanced coercion’ situation where no ‘coercion’ had taken place when it was consensual, though the student (or a minor) wasn’t allowed to consent. That’s nothing but dictatorship over your own body & sexuality enforced by the state/uni etc.

      And to address the core of your ‘big no-no’ comment, I’ll post a reply by Dank himself he left on someone else’s equally short-sighted blog: ‘Sometimes love can’t wait until the student graduates. And those who wait often lose out as the potential loved one finds someone who did not choose to wait. In any case, if you wait, you don’t know what you are waiting for – a first date that is turned down. And if you profess your love before she graduates or the class ends, you may end up being charged with sexual harassment. My mother said to me-wait till you are married, I didn’t. Then the university said wait till she graduates, I won’t. When it comes to love, seize the moment!’

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. Seize the moment? What are we, in kindergarten? Adults have some self control, and real love requires patience. Sex, yes, can be pretty powerful stuff. So if you really need to nail someone, someone has to quit the class or change jobs. Period.

    I have had, as a manager, couples come and say they’ve been hanging out and it’s starting to become something more, and so we move person x into another department to avoid any conflicts. My spouse is military, and to date a direct report is grounds for dismissal or other personal action. When something starts, the decision becomes: career or love. Sometimes youvant have both. You can date or even marry, but not as a direct report. If two fall in love, someone has to move from the command.

    If the person is that important, waiting until the right time shouldn’t be an issue. Love is not selfish, and it is not abuse of power.

    And the legal definition of rape does not require force, it requires an inability to consent. That is why having sex with a drunk person or underage person is also rape. And the specific definition differs by state. And legal harassment certainly doesn’t.

    Comment by Darlene | October 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Argue ‘Kindergarten’ with Dank. But, if ‘love is not abuse of power’, then they should be allowed to express it on or off campus in the first place and not be forced to ‘wait’. You just defeated your own arguments with that line.

      And no: ‘rape’ by LEGAL (NOT COMMON) definition DOES require force, & IS only the act of forcible intercourse [with a penis] against someone’s will; it’s the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse. All other sexual violations/acts with or without physical and/or verbal force, with or no ability to consent fall under sexual assault (like unlawful sex or sodomy, e.g.). The term ‘rape’ is considered as too ‘loaded’, and jurisdictions recognise it in its broader umbrella category of sexual assault alongside any other ‘sex act’ only. Read the law books.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 5, 2010 | Reply

      • No, I did not defeat my own argument. If the person in a position of power is not willing to wait, then it probably isn’t love.

        If the professor and student need to be together, one of them needs to change positions or classes or something so that the professor is not in a position of power over the student. Full stop. If the professor claims love, then that love should want to see a relationship of equals, and there can be no equality when authority and power is so lopsided.
        Lack of consent is a necessary element in every rape. But this qualifier does not mean that a person may make sexual contact with a minor or incapacitated person who actually consented. Lack of consent may result from either forcible compulsion by the perpetrator or an incapacity to consent on the part of the victim. Persons who are physically or mentally helpless or who are under a certain age in relation to the perpetrator are deemed legally incapable of consenting to sex.”

        From http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/_/dict.aspx?word=rape

        Duress, BTW, can be verbal. There was just a rape case where the rapist lied about his religion, and that lie was considered coercive enough for the act to become rape.

        Comment by Darlene | October 5, 2010

      • And, if you want to limit the abuse of power to gain sexual favors to sexual assault, I’m good with that. Still a sex offender. Still a crime. Still something one wouldn’t want to encourage.

        Calling it by a different name doesn’t make it different. Sexual harassment, while not quite rape, is still abhorrent and wrong.

        There is a reason why the military and most companies do not allow relationships between people when one of the parties has power over the other. It is easy to abuse that power. Rational people do not like to see power abused in any form, and sexually it is especially repugnant.

        If I had a professor who wanted to date me, I would drop the class instead of worrying that my grade was based on that relationship. A professor should have the same concerns about an imbalance of power and a conflict of interest and the potential of this being an abusive relationship.

        Sexual harassment, sexual assault and abuse, rape: all these don’t stop being wrong because the setting is a school. Basic precautions and a commitment to fairness within the relationship avoid these issues.

        When it is easy to avoid a problem and dangerous not to, I have a hard time believing those who claim they somehow transend the issue.

        Comment by Darlene | October 5, 2010

    • What you’re saying in regards to the prof/student dynamics is from YOUR POV, not what others might think of it, hence is merely an opinion based on YOUR perspective, not ‘fact’. You can be in full support of what the campus police enforces, but OTHERS do NOT or see it like that, or ‘you’. You’re trying to impose your POV on others by arguing as you do. YOU can live/act like you mentioned, but don’t try to invalidate others’ own POV by forcing them to think/act like YOU do. Just because YOU agree with these rules, doesn’t make them right for OTHERS. There are people who will not be forced by any campus rules or laws to tell them who or where & when to love whom or not just because of the locale, the partners’ age or any ‘power differences’. You go abide by these rules, but others will not be told by the state how and whom to love. People are not robots that can be ‘programmed’ to ‘act’ as ‘society’ says they ‘should’. As long as neither side comes to harm, the ‘state’ has no right to pry onto their bedrooms. As Dank says, we’re being treated like children who cannot even consent to what we want just because Law A says it’s ‘immoral’. The ‘law’ is built on the ‘assumption’ that power imbalances ALWAYS end with the one in power to abuse it. If it were ‘fair to everyone involved’ as you say, then the law would NOT make the adult/power position the AUTOMATIC abuser, but the minor/no-power position TOO. Besides, ‘power’ is relative, since the minor or student can be as abusive as the adult or teacher.

      And to end this right here: ‘rape’ IS only forcible intercourse, though other sexual offences are commonly ‘viewed’ as ‘rape’ & addressed as such by the wider public who don’t know better. We’re not talking power dynamics, coercion or non-consent leading to the act of rape, we’re talking the ACTUAL physical act OF rape. Your own link says it right there: ‘[Rape is] the crime of sexual intercourse (with actual penetration of a woman’s vagina with the man’s penis) without consent and accomplished through force, threat of violence or intimidation… Most states choose to label the crime of rape as sexual assault’. Ergo, rape as in forcible intercourse therefore is nothing more than a subsection of sexual assault, not what ‘you’ want it to be, namely, rape being the umbrella term for all sexual assault. No, it’s the other way round. The law books say rape is THAT act alone, every other is sexual act so & so, & EVERYTHING fall under sexual assault. NOT vice versa.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 6, 2010 | Reply

      • No, others share that POV, to the point where it is clearly defined in rules and policies.

        You don’t have to like it, although I find advocating the imbalance of power in a relationship an unusual position.

        An imbalance of power often leads to abuse. It can also lead to the perception of abuse, which is also harmful.

        And, as I stated, should you choose to actually read the whole of my response, call it assault, call it harassment, but don’t call it love.

        Comment by Darlene | October 7, 2010

    • ‘I’ didn’t call anything ‘love’ – that was Dank’s position I merely cited. Imbalance of power does NOT implicitly imply abuse thereof as YOU believe it to be. Plus, I was referring to YOUR position of POV on THIS blog in regards, not that others might share your view, but that some in fact might NOT share it like myself & Dank. You misconstrued my replies to your comments I read in full more than once, you just happen not to like, since they put your position into one of like-minded others equally not sharing it, just like you have no defence argument re the legal definition of what constitutes rape anymore.

      And ‘assault’? That’s a very strong word for a possible relationship built on this ‘power imbalance’ you so firmly believe results conditionally in abuse, when in fact the one not in power would not see it as ‘assault’ or ‘harassment’, but in fact regard people like yourself & these rules (& their executors) as ignorant of their all-round autonomy & wishes by disallowing them to ‘choose’ whom to fraternise with on or off campus in whichever form. The fact that you don’t leave any room for NO power abuse in your responses is rather ignorant, & as I said, you go live in that one-dimensional view, one of robotic adherence to these rules that implicitly makes the senior position the abuser & the minor position the abused, but don’t force others to conform to it by invalidating their own position of NOT believing that to be the case automatically.

      You cite ‘the law is the law’, entirely obliterating the humans element & that NO law can be applied universally to ALL. You go enslave yourself to these rules that can cause more misery than they ‘protect’ anyone by complicating human interactions, since abuse, (like [actual] rape), in ANY form can be established otherwise AFTER THE FACT in ANY relationship – NOT BEFOREHAND by making one party the automatic ‘perpetrator’ & the other the automatic ‘victim’ for their position or age. But I guess, such simple human understanding & ‘perception’, & most of all logic eludes your way of thinking.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 8, 2010 | Reply

  3. In response to Darlene, your comment, “What are we in kindergarten?” If we are not in kindergarten, we are certainly being treated as kindergarteners. Obviously in your terms, we cannot manage our own lives and need adult supervision. In fact, I would hold that throughout your response, you have a framework that is child like in that you see the adult male prof always taking the sexual initiative with female childlike students who are always passive. It boggles my mind that you who appear to be somewhat sophisticated about the ways of the world do not entertain the notion that female students often take the initiative before the class ends. Based on my personal experience it is the female student who takes the initiative
    prior to class ending more often than the male prof taking the initiative. I speculate that for your the terms teacher and student are loaded terms with teacher or professor implying adult and student implying child. If so, no wonder you see female students as powerless or more precisely powerless children. I would go even one step further and speculate that you are so adamantly against student prof sexual relationships since you equate such with child molestation. Of course, your response may be that you are opposed to manifest power imbalanced relationships. If so, why focus just on student prof relationships, why not a more general attack on heterosexuality since heterosexual attraction frequently has an asymmetric component or more precisely women being more attracted to more powerful men, men in power positions. Henry Kissinger knew it, and I bet you know it. I bet you know in female terms what a “good catch” means.

    You go on to say that “Adults have some self control, and real love requires patience. Sex, yes, can be pretty powerful stuff. So if you really need to nail someone, someone has to quit the class or change jobs. Period.”

    Of course, adults have self-control. Seize the moment does not imply a loss of self-control. I think that you see people not having self-control when they do something with which you disagree. Those who conform to your expectations
    are well behaved and in your terms are in control.

    And yes, I in essence agree with you that “real” love requires patience. What it does not require is permission,
    what it does not require is regulation by powerful others who all too often get off thru regulating the sexual life of others. You may trust the Kenneth Starrs of this world, but I don’t. It is all too often the people who appoint themselves as being in control of other peoples lives who
    are out of control- from priests to police to politicians.

    Your controlling nature comes out when you state “So if you really need to nail someone, someone has to quit the class or change jobs.” No one has to do anything, Darlene. Some people are in control of their own lives and are free to choose; eg, they are free to ignore your demands. And as for your usage of the word “nail” such demonstrates your immature degrading view of sexuality. Equating nailing with sex is patently anti-sexual, to say the least. Unfortunately, it appears to me that you are into dehumanizing people who engage in what you consider to be
    unacceptable sexual behavior so that they can be nailed to your cross.

    As for the military, the military does not fall within my framework since the military is an hierarchial authoritarian structure in which obedience to orders is given the highest priority. In any case, military law and norms should not be equated with civilian law and norms. Also prisons do not fall within my purview since inmates are in a situation of coercion and any boundary crossing sex would simply be a part of said coercive environment. Of course, one of the great tragedies relating to prison is that rape flourishes,
    it flourishes in an environment where the controllers have the ability to be in total control and we can see the result and the society as a while doesn’t give a damn.

    Enough said, for now.

    Comment by dankprofessor | October 5, 2010 | Reply

    • First, at no point did I apply a gender role to either position. It is simply that when one is a position of authority and one is a position of submission, there exists an unequal balance of power.

      A university, business, military, or any other public or private institution has a vested interest in protecting it’s vulnerable members from the potential for abuse; for the sake of it’s members and for the more practical reasons of protecting itself, it’s reputation, and it’s recruitment and retention abilities.

      As a private citizen any person is allowed to overtly show love to any other person, within the confines of the law. As an employee, one is bound by both law and the specific rules and requirements of one’s employer.

      Having been that employer I have watched relationship form between various combinations of people. Whenever the situation was such that one was in a subordinate position to another the immediate response was to transfer someone so that the subordinate no longer was a direct report of the other. Period.

      I am not saying that one can’t be a professor and have a relationship with someone who is a student. What I am saying is that if such a relationship occurs it is the responsible course to immediately change circumstances so that the professor is not in a position of authority over the student. Period. If the professor is the teacher, the student can drop out of the class. If the professor is an advisor, a new advisor needs to be found.

      This avoids any perception–in the mind of the professor, the student, and any other interested parties–of abuse of power or conflict of interest.

      You can attempt to justify such an egregious abuse of power, but such justifications do not erase the basic imbalance of power.

      As an employee of a college or university the professor is most certainly not free to do as he or she likes, there are the rules of the specific institution and the expectations of any person in a position of power to not abuse their position.

      In your context seizing the moment does imply a loss of control, otherwise why not wait until the relationship has a chance of not being inherently unbalanced?

      Not waiting means satisfaction now, no matter the cost and no matter the potential harm. Such is your justification: “I want and as long as I want and the person I have power over also claims to want I can justify this relationship in my head.”

      You are trying to pretend I said that people shouldn’t love, I didn’t. I just said it had to be on as even a playing field as possible. And if the playing field is intrinsically uneven, there has to be some rules to even play. Otherwise, not a fair game.

      That isn’t about control, it’s about being fair to everyone involved. That it may be harder to be fair doesn’t condemn the act of making it fair, it condemns those who think fairness isn’t worth working towards.

      Comment by Darlene | October 6, 2010 | Reply

      • Darlene stated-
        “You are trying to pretend I said that people shouldn’t love, I didn’t. I just said it had to be on as even a playing field as possible. And if the playing field is intrinsically uneven, there has to be some rules to even play. Otherwise, not a fair game”

        I wasn’t pretending and your statement quoted above demonstrates that I was not pretending. To say that in order for two persons to love each other the playing field has to be equal would veto out the overwhelming percentage of people. You are proposing a tyranny of equality. My suggestion that if you are into judging people you judge them as to how they treat each other rather than what their power positions may or may not be. And you very well know that people who you may regard as being equal can end up abusing each other. There is no vaccine against sexual abuse, everyone is vulnerable.

        As for no waiting, one learns in my terms by not waiting if there is potential here or not for a relationship, if there is interest or no interest. Of course, I am not suggesting that one be an ogre, one can approach another in a civil and discrete manner. Civility and respect for the other is the key to good relationships; such has always characterized how I treat others. OK, a few times in my long life, I have become angry and expressed my anger; my mother did forgive me, bless her soul.

        You stated “Having been that employer I have watched relationship form between various combinations of people. Whenever the situation was such that one was in a subordinate position to another the immediate response was to transfer someone so that the subordinate no longer was a direct report of the other. Period.”

        Yes there were the relationships you saw, but I am quite sure that there were relationships that were effectively hidden form you. You should drop the period you end with. Too much certainty on your part. Be a little skeptical. For example, be a little skeptical that the one in the so-called power position is the one in control. Don’t depend on surface appearances as representing the ultimate reality. Don’t accept cartoon imageries such as the prof is the one always initiating; students do often initiate. Don’t assume that in intimate relationships such as between a prof and student, that the prof is never hurt if there is a break-up. Don’t assume that just because you have read about a few student prof relationships that were really bad that all such relationships are really bad. Remember, the good relationships don’t get attention; bad generally trumps good
        as to media attention.

        If you feel that a student prof relationship axiomatically represents rape or sexual assault you are out in left field.
        You are legally and socially unanchored. And quite offensive. Since you know I have engaged in a student prof relationship and my wife is an ex-student, do you feel that she ended up marrying her rapist? Do you consider me to be a rapist or sex offender? Would you feel comfortable telling this to our children and grandchildren? Do you feel comfortable communicating with me knowing in your terms I was a rapist and sex offender?

        And you are concerned about student prof relationships representing a potential abuse of power. Myself I view ALL intimate relationships as potential abuses of power. Relationships are risky but many people take the risk because they are hoping for love and intimacy; they do this knowing full well that they have a high risk of divorce. And yes there are many people who want no risk and remain single. I respect their choice of marriage or singlehood.
        Whatever my preferences may be should not be forced on them. Darlene, try to reach out to others via blogging or in person to person relationships in an open minded way. Reach out to persons who you may disagree with their life styles rather than condemn them. You may learn so much by not closing yourself off to others.

        Comment by dankprofessor | October 6, 2010

  4. DP says: To say that in order for two persons to love each other the playing field has to be equal would veto out the overwhelming percentage of people. You are proposing a tyranny of equality.

    –What I said was the playing field should be as equal as possible.

    DP: My suggestion that if you are into judging people you judge them as to how they treat each other rather than what their power positions may or may not be.

    –A person in a position of power who does not mitigate that power is demonstrating, by his or her actions, what they think of the subordinate person.

    DP: And you very well know that people who you may regard as being equal can end up abusing each other. There is no vaccine against sexual abuse, everyone is vulnerable.

    –Quite true. Which is why it behooves everyone to ensure that obvious potentials for abuse are eliminated.

    DP: As for no waiting, one learns in my terms by not waiting if there is potential here or not for a relationship, if there is interest or no interest. Of course, I am not suggesting that one be an ogre, one can approach another in a civil and discrete manner. Civility and respect for the other is the key to good relationships; such has always characterized how I treat others. OK, a few times in my long life, I have become angry and expressed my anger; my mother did forgive me, bless her soul.

    — I have no idea what this paragraph means.

    DP:Yes there were the relationships you saw, but I am quite sure that there were relationships that were effectively hidden form you. You should drop the period you end with. Too much certainty on your part.

    — The “Period.” was referencing the need to move one of the people involved so as to avoid conflict of interest. It is impossible to speculate on relations which I did not know about.

    — I did discover relationship which had been kept secret, and were usually revealed after a messy breakup, when one or the other came to request a move so they didn’t have to work together, or complained that they were being treated unfairly since the ending of the relationship. Both issues would have been prevented had they been upfront about the relationship, BTW.

    DP: For example, be a little skeptical that the one in the so-called power position is the one in control.

    — I have no doubt the student (or employee) can be in control, and go do great harm by charging the other with harassment or assault…

    DP: Don’t depend on surface appearances as representing the ultimate reality. Don’t accept cartoon imageries such as the prof is the one always initiating; students do often initiate.

    –And the Professor can always say “Wait” or “No” or “Sure, but first you need to switch out of my class.”

    DP: Don’t assume that in intimate relationships such as between a prof and student, that the prof is never hurt if there is a break-up.

    — I do not assume this. Preventing a conflict helps to protect both parties from hurt greater than a broken heart or a damaged ego.

    DP: Don’t assume that just because you have read about a few student prof relationships that were really bad that all such relationships are really bad. Remember, the good relationships don’t get attention; bad generally trumps good
    as to media attention.

    — Some relationships may end up being lovely. Too bad they started poorly.

    DP: Since you know I have engaged in a student prof relationship and my wife is an ex-student, do you feel that she ended up marrying her rapist? Do you consider me to be a rapist or sex offender? Would you feel comfortable telling this to our children and grandchildren? Do you feel comfortable communicating with me knowing in your terms I was a rapist and sex offender?

    — Actually, I did not know that. There is a couple I know. He was in jail for rape, since she was underage when they met, and he was in his 30’s. She grew up, he got out of jail, they married, they have three kids. He is still a rapist. There are reasons for consent laws, and he violated the law. I have no idea what they tell their kids, but I wouldn’t trust him with my teenage children.

    — If you were the professor and your wife was your student you could have done many things to ensure that her grades were not based on your relationship. You did not know if the relationship was to get that grade. I have no idea what you tell your children, but I wouldn’t trust you with my teenagers. Once it becomes easy to violate a boundary, one never knows when the next might also be easy.

    — I also have to say that knowing you have a vested interest in protecting the rights of professors to have relationships with their students changes my perceptions. You can’t ever admit that it might be wrong, that a student might be vulnerable to an abuse of power. You have to much invested to ever admit that even a sliver might be wrong.

    — Cognitive dissonance is a wild and wacky thing, and the more deeply invested a person is the stronger they refuse to admit wrong, even in the face of overwhelming evidence otherwise.

    — And while the little personal bits of advice are cute, they are also insulting and degrading. I could say the same to you, and neither exchange actually adds to the discussion. An attempt to belittle under the guise of concern is a poor method of trying to prove a point.

    Comment by darlene | October 8, 2010 | Reply

    • As for boundary violations,o read the following excerpt from Cristina Nehring, Her article appears on this blog- A Passionate Defense of Student Professor Relationships

      “One of the astonishing strengths of love and sex is that it can make boundaries between people so easy to break. It can glide, smiling, around social, vocational, and linguistic roadblocks; it can disarm difference, banish history, slice through power divides. It can ease the passage into another culture, mind, generation, or world. As was discovered by Jane Gallop–who seduced her professors as a student and her students as a professor (for which she was accused of sexual harassment in 1992 with far more reason than most)–sex is a great “leveler.” As suspect as Gallop may be in her egotism and promiscuity, in this she is right. Sex is a great leveler, and not just in the bedroom. The most surprising thing you learn when you fall in love with a sage or a student, a prince or a pauper, is not that you can sleep with him but that you can talk with him. This is something understood–unexpectedly, perhaps–by Philip Roth. The highly cultured hero of his new campus novel, The Dying Animal, may have been “inaccessible to [his student lover] in every other arena” but the sexual when they first met–so he says, and, given his general misanthropy, this is probably true. But for all the ways in which their liaison is compromised, what the mannerly Cuban coed and the transgressive Jewish pundit discover is that they can actually talk to each other. The same is true of the cleaning woman in Roth’s previous novel, The Human Stain, who discovers that she can arouse the college dean mentally as much as physically. He can confide in her more than he ever could in his yuppie kids and bookish colleagues. She finds in the privileged, overeducated septuagenarian her first playmate, the first person she can tease and trust.”

      Not “violating” social boundaries makes ones life constricted, living life in a social straitjacket. One of the most excting aspects of my life has been that I have had
      many close relationships with persons who came from different walks of life and were living a life that was quite different than mine. Such is why I was the founder of the Interrace Association at Cal State Long Beach. Being supportive and involved in interracial relationships is much more of a boundary violation than student prof dating; at least it was in the 1990s; many more negative reactions.

      One final tidbit. In many universities, students and professors are banned from dating even if the student is not and has never been in the profs class. For example,at Yale, profs are forbidden to date any undergrad student. In the University of California system, profs cannot date students in which there is a reasonable chance that the student could take a class from the prof; in other words, if you are a psych prof it would be Ok to date an accounting major but not a sociology major.

      I understand that you wish not to cross any boundaries, particularly occupational boundaries. I wish you the best of luck in maintaining your position; I regret that you feel your occupational position must constrain you beyond your occupational setting. I could not handle that, but you can, fine!

      Comment by dankprofessor | October 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Are you serious? You said: ‘There is a couple I know. He was in jail for rape, since she was underage when they met, and he was in his 30′s. She grew up, he got out of jail, they married, they have three kids. He is still a rapist. There are reasons for consent laws, and he violated the law. I have no idea what they tell their kids, but I wouldn’t trust him with my teenage children.’

      So, let me get this straight, you consider someone who slept with his own underaged girlfriend a ‘rapist’? A [male] RAPIST IS SOMEONE WHO FORCED HIMSELF ON A VICTIM THROUGH FORCIBLE INTERCOURSE – PERIOD! But no, hang on, not in YOUR utterly skewed feminist world. Have you any idea what that did to BOTH of them because of ‘your’ oh so sacred ‘law’ that literally tore apart their relationship by his being incarcerated? It’s rare enough that he (obviously) survived jail in one peace as an utterly artificially ‘society-created’ ‘sex offender’, rather than let them be so they’d been happy long before he even married his once underaged love? Are you that that cold & cruel to think that was a ‘moral’ act to sling him inside for ‘sex’, just because the ‘law’ says it was ‘unlawful’ under a certain age? SHE (obviously) WAS HIS GIRLFRIEND WHO SLEPT WITH HIM! Consider the harm that this insidious device of cultural manipulation has had on society, collectively, & on people of ALL ages, races & ‘religions’. How many loving, sound relationships has this ‘age of consent’ infringed upon, based on the capricious, imprecise yardstick that is ‘physical age’? Suddenly in force from one day to the next? How many perfectly consensual sexual encounters have been disrupted, prevented, punished by this oppressive mechanism? How many thousands of years of recorded human history have been spat upon by this modernist, no, insidious feminist idea that sexual activity between adults & juveniles is ‘morally wrong’? The ‘age of consent’ is a tool of social engineering with the putative goal of ‘protecting children’, an anachronistic, counter-productive, utterly harmful concept whose true purpose is to enforce an arbitrary standard of ‘sexual morality’ on EVERYONE dictated by the church and government, people like YOU allow to fester to mercilessly destroy people. No, sorry, men, men – not so much the women. No, it’s always the men who pay for it. This wasn’t ‘rape’ as you so ignorantly love to call anything ‘sexual’ it seems. Have you any idea how many men were destroyed for this kind of consensual sex? BECAUSE ‘YOUR’ COMPLETELY INHUMAN LAWS SAY SO? Oh but sorry, no, YOU don’t care about human interaction or men do you now, DESTROYED FOR LIFE. Rape can be proven otherwise – NOT BY ‘AGE’ or ‘POWER’! But hey, YOU go on believing in this wonderful ‘tool’ of YOUR oh so ‘civilised’ & ‘moral’ society & destroy more people, yay!

      Not only that, but then you go on hinting that he might ‘rape’ others’ ‘children’, just because he slept with his partner when she was a minor!? ARE YOU TRULY THAT feminist indoctrinated to think that all men are rapists & child molesters & should be punished for SEX regardless of their feelings!? THE SITUATION!? THE RELATION!? Of course you are, you said it yourself! You love this utterly harmful concept of an ‘age of consent’ (or ‘power dynamics’) where people are destroyed after what began as a consensual sexual encounter degenerated into a witch-hunt that permanently damaged many men, and their young partners they had sex with. A secular, sexually progressive society simply has no room for this arbitrary ‘age of consent’, (as long as it’s consensual & the minor is of pubertal maturity, i.e., a teenager, not prepubescent ‘child’) otherwise it belongs in history’s trash can. But hey, I guess the US we’re talking about here hasn’t got that much of a ‘history’ to begin with to have grown out of their sexual toddlers’ boots finally, seeing what purely punitive anti-sex ‘laws’ they enforce. And you know what, don’t even reply to that or my other comment, you don’t deserve my attention any longer on this blog. I don’t wanna know people like you, who care NOTHING about the human element but the destructive law! People like you are NOT human. I will NOT talk with inhuman elements like yourself. I’m not as ‘diplomatic’ as Dank is in his replies.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 8, 2010 | Reply

  5. Wow, Novalis says I am diplomatic re Darlene and Darlene says
    my personal comments re her are “insulting and degrading”. I guess I am a man for all seasons.

    Comment by dankprofessor | October 9, 2010 | Reply

    • What do you expect from bigots & hypocrites like her, Dank. Wonder what she thinks of my harsh rebukes re her utterly one-dimensional, dehumanising & false rape rhetoric, calling her ‘inhuman’ for entirely ignoring the human element.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 9, 2010 | Reply

  6. I scrolled down before reading # 3, which I will get to, later. So, if this was already covered, please forgive me.
    I am flabbergasted by Darlene’s citing a man lying to a woman about his religion constituting “rape”, after they became intimate. Could Darlene please reference the case, and mention the state this bizarre legal action took place in?
    I am Catholic. Does that mean that if I met a Jewish girl, said I was Jewish, and we became intimate, that I could later be convicted of “rape”, once she found out that I am Catholic?? I think Darlene embellished the outcome of the case she refers to. If not, this was a serious miscarriage of justice, one which should be promptly rectified, upon appeal.
    BTW, I would not tell a Jewish girl that I was Jewish, but lets be reasonable here!
    Also, The Sherman Management Group reported that about 83% of companies had NO “policies”, concerning consensual dating after work. Others “prohibited” inter status dating, and a very few “prohibited” any form of dating. These “policies”, of course, should be viewed as Civil Rights violations, concerning privacy & free association, after work!

    Comment by Donald Visconti | October 10, 2010 | Reply

  7. Dear Darlene,
    Thank you for your prompt response.
    First of all,Sabbar Kashur is indeed a low life bum! However, I agree with the Public Defender that this was a miscarriage of justice, and “paternalistic towards women”. For the Crime Victim’s Advocate to include a man saying he was rich, when he was really poor, being subject to a “rape charge” is the height of insanity!! Do we have to reveal our life histories to a potential mate, prior to any intimacy taking place? What about a man (women do this all the time) down stating his age to a woman he meets, so as to be more appealing to her? Should that also be considered “rape”, if he says he is a decade younger, and can pass for it?
    Thank heavens this took place in Isreal, and not the U.S.!! I still wish Sabbar the best on appeal!

    Donald

    Comment by Donald Visconti | October 11, 2010 | Reply

    • I have issues with this, too. However, in the political climate they are in it is a different issue, and I can also see where consent becomes questionable over certain lies.

      Consent must be freely given, and one must be capable of giving consent: which is why there are statutory laws and why drugging some to have sex with them is illegal and considered rape. But people have been lying to get laid for centuries, so I’m uncomfortable with such a precedent.

      I used the example to show that rape does not need to be an act of physical force, but can be more nuanced.

      Comment by Darlene | October 11, 2010 | Reply

  8. Novalis Lore,
    I must respectfully disagree with you, on the need for statuary rape laws. The application of some of them is what does bother me.
    New York has the age of consent set at 17. Also, there must be a 5-year age gap for statuary rape to exist, for spending time with minors. For example, a 21 year old with a 16-year old would be statuary rape, but not a 19 or 20 year old, with the same 16 year old. There may also be a misdemeanor offense, known as sexual misconduct. I read many years ago that a judge ruled this unconstitutional, as it discriminated against males. I don’t know how a near age partner spending time with someone under 17 would be regarded today, but it wouldn’t be statutory rape, here in N.Y.
    The near age factor is what bothers me. Why should an 18 year old boy face ANY charge, for spending time with a 16 year old girl? Eighteen year olds date 16 year olds, and 17 year olds date 15 year olds all the time! Seniors in high school date sophomores, where there is that 2 year gap. I think the D.A.’s in any county of any state should cease any attempt to prosecute such liasons, despite what archaic laws may still be on the books! Then, we must consider the older partner (usually the boy) turning 18, in an on going relationship. Should he (or she) now be subject to “criminal charges” for doing something that the couple had previously been engaged in?
    I realize that this is all common sense, but, alas, that trait is sorely lacking in some parts of our country!

    Comment by Donald Visconti | October 11, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m not with you, Donald – are you saying that you NEED SR laws, or NOT? I’m in the UK & we don’t have them. In case it didn’t come across – I’m completely against them no matter the age gap as long as it’s consensual & the minor is of pubertal maturity. It’s preposterous to incarcerate [usually only] men for consensual sex, so I agree with most of what you’re saying. But men have been destroyed for the state to say it’s ‘unlawful’ to sleep with your own girlfriend because she’s ‘underage’. From one day to the next, it’s either unlawful or lawful, & then again can be unlawful if one of the minors is suddenly of age, or you cross state borders where you’re suddenly either of or not of age anymore. It’s pure lunacy & all over ‘sex’. Sex is a private matter, NOT the dogmatic feminist-[over]run states’ [& their insidious anti-sex laws, wide open for literal abuse]. Actual rape can be proven otherwise. Only if abuse is evident, then it warrants charges, NOT for mere sex. It’s equally insane to sling a 30 yr old inside because he slept with a 17 yr old as it is if both are minors, where STILL only the male ends up in prison but NEVER the girl (where he is most likely being raped by other men). Conversely, if a 30 yr old woman sleeps with a 17 yr old boy, she never gets done for ‘rape’ either, or a laughable slap-on-the-wrist sentence. It’s sexist, it’s pointless punishment, it’s systematic violation of your constitutional rights of freedom & destroys perfectly fine relationships, even lives.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 11, 2010 | Reply

  9. Novalis Lore,

    England is unique, in not having statuary rape laws, the way I see it. Women ARE prosecuted now for the offense. A famous case involved a 34 year old married teacher getting involved with a Samoan boy, who was 13. You are correct, though, on the frequent disparity of punishment. At first, she only had to serve 6 months. When she was released, she was caught in her car with the boy, who impregnated her, a 2nd time!! The Asian woman judge then sent her back to serve the balance of her 7 year sentence. The boy’s mom cared for the 2 babies. When she was released, a term of probation was that she have not have any contact with the boy, by then 21. However, he went to court, assuring the judge that, at 21, he certainly was no “victim”, and wished to see the woman. Happily, the judge took that probation restriction away. The woman was by then divorced, and she married her younger partner. She created a website, entitled something like “If This be Wrong”, concerning her activity with the then underage boy.
    For myself, I was the type of boy who would have been frightened by the advances of a grown woman, when I was 15. By age 17, I would no longer have been frightened, but wouldn’t have accepted, either. I wouldn’t have reported the teacher to the principal, or to my parents. Still, I would have felt, at 17, that a woman even as young as 22-25 was a bit “over my head”. I know many other 17 year old boys would have certainly felt otherwise, but that was the way I was.
    I’m happy to share my feelings, and an actual American case, involving statuary rape.

    Donald

    Comment by Donald Visconti | October 12, 2010 | Reply

    • Your example is a fairly unique one – & again, I find it preposterous that she had to serve jail time for a loving relationship with someone she even married later. There are plenty stories of that kind that are role-reversed & only serves to destroy a perfectly happy union. Though you speak from your point of view, there are boys who’d prefer an ‘experienced’ woman. Or of course another boy/man, or a girl another girl/woman. In the 70s e.g., a brother or even father sometimes brought his son to a ‘sex worker’ to get his first taste of ‘real’ sex. Of course, many same-sex liaisons formed weren’t ‘punished’ that pointlessly since they rather stayed ‘closeted’ to begin with. But the vast majority again is role-reversed, where the younger partner is female & the adult an older male – that’s why the male is punished more frequently over this than the female in general to start with, on top given exception purely for her gender even here. I find it wrong either way to incarcerate anyone for sex – given, as I said, it was consensual, the minor is of pubertal maturity & has informed understanding of the situation.

      Though we don’t have SR laws, we certainly have age of consent (set to 16 across Britain, not arbitrarily different from ‘state to state’), & gender-neutral sexual abuse & rape laws. But if a ‘victim’ doesn’t want a case brought to trial, or wants the charges dismissed, (unless the parents might press for it out of spite or even the girl, also known as false rape accuser/s), the ‘state’ has no say over it. Unlike in the US, where ‘People vs Defendant’ can pursue a man mercilessly & mill him through the legal process without the slightest defence to destruction, despite the minor not wanting to see him in prison either, even after she wants the case dropped as an adult. Not a chance. It’s State vindictiveness. If an accusation turns out a lie, here you have a better chance of vindication & the liar being punished. Unlike in the US, where they keep men imprisoned even after the accuser recanted or was found a liar, & she hardly sees a prison from the inside for perverting the course of justice. It’s insane.

      The term ‘statutory ‘rape” is a terrible misnomer to start with – since many people take it as ‘actual [forcible] rape’, when it’s merely underage sex, or unlawful sexual intercourse. Just conveniently drop the word statutory in a news article, or irresponsibly replace it with something like ‘brutal’, whoever is accused of it, proven or not, famous or not, is wrongly seen as rapist, though he’s technically only a (‘society’ created) ‘sex offender’ who didn’t violate anyone. BIG difference. Here that can’t happen, since we don’t have SR as definition. Even in the US the term is not a legal one; in the courts it’s also called unlawful sexual intercourse [with a minor]. That’s why the public gets hung up on the word ‘rape’, (with radical feminists jumping all over it since to them everything is rape) when it’s not. Too many boys & men have been destroyed because of it.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 12, 2010 | Reply


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