Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

The Bourrie syndrome

Mark Bourrie in his ongoing diatribe against professors who have an intimate sexual relationship with a student challenged his readership to deal with 6 issues he had brought up on this question.  I took Bourrie seriously, my mistake, and took up his challenge.  My response to his challenge which was published in his blog is highlighted in blue at the end of this post.  His response was quite brief, to say the least, and appears not to even meet his standards of professionalism.  His response follows-

More red herrings, straw men and decayed logic. Give it up.

BTW, it’s “Dr. Bourrie”.

Of course, his response was a non-response.  His non-response is ironic in that it demonstrates that he has ‘given it up’   The only thing marginally of a substantive nature is that he is disturbed that I often refer to him as Bourrie rather than Dr. Bourrie in my posts.  Big deal, particularly given the fact that the only time that he referred to me by name in his posts, he did not give me a title or first name; the referral just used my last name. 

Last name, title or no title, why get hung up on this rather than dealing with the issue?  Well, maybe it is a major issue for Bourrie.  In dealing with the prof student issue, Bourrie invokes professionalism ad nauseam; his appeal or rationale for his position is that he is defending professionalism.  And in that context, professors having sex with students in his terms is an attack on professionalism which functions to demean the reputation of Concordia University or any university that does not ban these relationships and in the present case such functions to demean the reputation of the faculty of Concordia of which he is a member.  So, consequently, Concordia’s non-banning of these relationships, in Bourrie’s terms functions to demean his reputation.  And Bourrie is baffled that a prof engaging in said behavior is not concerned about reputation.  In fact, at times he implies that he is protecting the reputation of the offending professor.

So such MAY be the reason that Bourrie is so zealously promoting his agenda on this issue.  Ultimately, to a significant degree, it is about himself, his reputation and his professionalism.  The most troubling aspect of this is that in his defense of self and professionalism, he throws out fundamental issues such as the right of adults to engage in consensual relationships as “crap”.  And, of course, he trashes others by arguing they do not have the ability to consent; for him women involved in such relationships do not speak for themselves since they cannot speak for themselves.  Once again we have the Man defining a woman’s reality- she is exploited because “I” say so; he doesn’t have to consult with them.  He treats women as if they are children even though he at times argues that age has nothing to do with it.  But I would argue that it does for Bourrie, for most likely Bourrie seems his self as an adult protecting female childlike students.  Such is not terribly surprising since all of us at one time linked child and student together and teacher and adult together and some of us have not grown up to understand that at a certain point the linkage ends.  Too many of us have this default assumption equating student and child and professor and adult and therefore such relationships are always exploitative.  And the true believer is able to do whatever he/she believes is necessary to wipe out the scourge, to protect us from evil, or as Anita Bryant once said, to save our children. 

The problem for all of us is who is going to protect us from the likes of Mark Bourrie?  You have to have a strong skin to deal with Bourrie and his ilk; he already has tried to cast me away as a prof who supposedly seduced his male students.  Of course, those who know me, know I seduced no one, much less male students since I plea guilty to being a committed heterosexual.  Ultimately, the bottom line for us is that we must be able to protect ourselves from the seductive argument of Mark Bourrie.  No external authority will do it.  No professional or politician or preacher will do it, no one but ourselves will do it.

My prior posting to Bourrie’s blog follows-

Bourrie states

“The “consenting adults” stuff is just crap. If there was some sort of Charter right in that regard, surely doctors and lawyers who have been disciplined by their professional associations would have relied on it as a defence.”

and in his first point he states-

“1. The power imbalance between students and faculty, raising the question of whether real consent can exist. That’s why the “consenting adults” argument is a red herring.”

Bourrie find the argument regarding the rights of consenting adults to be “just crap”. So much for his version of professionalism. I would argue that almost all persons who have seriously engaged issues regarding sexual behavior would argue that consent is of central concern, ethically and legally. Taking adults ability to consent away by a third party is damn serious business. It is so serious that the burden should be on the third party who argues there is no consent to prove there is no consent. And to emphasize the seriousness of the issue, let’s put this in rather stark terms. Where there is no sexual consent, there is rape. Even though Bourrie applies demeaning and degrading rhetoric to these so-called predatory professors, he doesn’t call in his terms a spade a spade; he does not call these profs rapists. Calling them rapists might function for some to show how transparently absurd is his argument.

Bourrie invokes the medical and legal professions in defense of his argument that universities can prohibit student professor relationships; doctors are banned from having sexual relationships with their patients and lawyers with clients although I think that the lawyer client ban is more variable, more tenuous. But what Bourrie does not say is that the medical profession does not ban intimacies between medical professors and medical students and the legal profession is far from uniform in banning such relationships between law profs and law students.

Just looking at the medical profession, just about anybody would be able to tell you there is a giant leap from being a patient and a doctor to that of being a student and professor. Patients are not a part of
a medical community; students are part of a university community. Patients don’t work, study and assist
medical doctors; students often do all of the aforementioned with professors. Patients don’t hang around the doctors office, students hang out throughout the university campus. Patients don’t socialize with doctors; professors and students socialize and are often encouraged to socialize by university administrators. Bourrie would like to have the university function like a hospital in terms of standards and practices with students. God help students and professors if such becomes fully the case; unfortunately such is gradually becoming the case.

And I don’t want to let the medical and legal professions get a pass re Bourrie’s power imbalance issue. Power imbalances are rife throughout the medical world. Does Bourrie really believe that relationships between doctors and nurses are banned and do not occur? That relationships between doctors and med techs are banned and do not occur? Between doctors and medical staff? I will leave it for Bourrie’s imagination to determine how the ethically engaged legal profession in the real world deals with the power imbalance issue.

I will say this in the legal area- Bourrie would be laughed out of court if he came and testified that he knew that in all student prof affairs there can be no consent, case closed. As indicated, it would be Bourrie’s responsibility to testify regarding a particular case and if he were an expert witness to present
evidence that consent was diminished or abolished in the particular case under consideration.

And if Bourrie is adverse to power imbalances and power abuses, he must know that appointing persons to investigate and control the sexual behavior of others in private requires a power imbalance and is essentially equivalent to power abuse.

I will now skip to Bourrie’s point 5 which is relevant to the points I have just made.

5. The potential liability of the university when it enables this to take place.

I do not believe there is an issue here. I know of no case in which a university was sued successfully for not prohibiting consensual relationships. Who would be doing the suing, not the consenting parties, but some third party, such as Dr. Bourrie. Maybe Bourrie might consider suing Concordia for not prohibiting such relationships. Even Bourrie saying that the university enables these relationships is problematic. Where there is a large number of eligible persons in terms of dating and mating concentrated in the same geographic area, relationships will occur; relationships will occur between profs and students, no matter what the university policy. Of course, if female students did not find some professors attractive, there will be no consensual relationships in this area. For this to occur, we will need some coercive mind manipulation and control and I am sure Bourrie would not want that.

Bourrie’s point 2-

2. The real and apparent conflict of interest re: marks, scholarship evaluation, internships, TA and RA hirings and assignments, and other out-of-class evaluations.

As for conflict of interest, I believe that Concordia as well as most other universities have conflict of interest policies. Where conflict of interest situations occur, the university should attempt to deal with them. No need for a special sexual conflict of interest policy. Of course, the conflict of interest policy as indicated by Bourrie is directed to having fair and objective treatment of students in terms of their various evaluations. Unfortunately, the university is terribly derelict in this policy, such is so apparent in that the university never ever warns profs or anyone else not to differentially treat students or colleagues in terms of personal attractiveness or in terms of personal relationships. I know Bourrie feels the sexual component is different. I don’t. The issue is the same. The issue is creating an environment where it would be unthinkable to grade students based on personal preferences. I know it is an anathema to me.
I know I never let any kind of personal relationship interfere with how I graded a student, etc. And in terms of apparent conflict of of interest, in my case such was not relevant since my private life was private. In any case, universities are terribly delinquent in dealing with conflict of interest policy, particularly when it deals with money. I suggest that people taka a look at the University Diaries blog
and see how medical schools deal with conflict of interest issues.

3. The disruption to the teaching environment, as other students believe a conflict and favoritism may exist.

Unfortunately as I have stated previously, students often feel there is favoritism with student x getting a better grade than oneself. Such is rife amongst students; I got a C because the prof did not like me, etc. etc. Does Bourie think that students do not frequently think that he grades based on personal preference.? This belief generally has little or nothing to do with reality. If, IN FACT, a personal relationship of a professor disrupts the learning environment, the student or students should be able to file a complaint and there should be an investigation. I know that Bourrie thinks such disruptions due to a student prof relationship are frequent. I beg to differ. It is rare. Bourrie will of course know of the exceptions, professors and students who are discreet will not be known by Bourrie.

4. The discomfort of students who do not want to be approached by professors seeking a relationship.

Of course, this can be an issue. And when it occurs, such should fall under the sexual harassment policy.
And, of course, Bourrie seems not to get it- that for a relationship to ensue, the professor does not have to approach. In my experience, the “approach” was by the female student or it was apparent that there was a mutual attraction. Or, on a more pedestrian level- I first dated my wife to be after the class ended, after Spring semester. She was not a student of mine in the Fall and we dated and had a serious relationship. Then she told me during registration for the forthcoming Spring courses,, she wanted to take one of my courses and if it was OK with me. I told her that her question was misdirected; the issue for her is whether it was OK with her. I treat all my students the same and as a student I treat her the same as all other students. It was her call to make, not mine. And, I know, unfortunately, there will always be people who think the worst, that she was prostituting herself for the grade; that she was a gradedigger. If you live for these people, then you will end up leading a horrendous life, trying to please people who always think the worst of others.

6. The affect of this behavior on the university’s reputation, as people in the community believe students can literally screw their way to an A.

People will believe what they want, no matter what the policy of the university. I would question if a university’s reputation will go up if they adopt such a policy. Will the status or prestige of Concordia or UT, really change due to this policy? Did the prestige of UC Berkeley go up after a policy was adopted.
In any case, reputation and prestige should be no rationale for taking away fundamental rights such as
choice of romantic partner.

And might I ask Bourrie, did Clinton’s prestige among the voters at large go down and remain down after his relationship with intern Lewinsky was revealed? And now as a “retired” person living with my wife who was my ex-student and meeting persons from all walks of life, including professors, and in terms of getting acquainted, we often relate how we met to others, and no person has ever responded with any degree of negativity. And if our past was a problem for them, then adios. And if we violated the so-called professional standards of whatever profession, no guilt from this party. I feel sorry for people who forego the opportunity to love and be loved in the name of professionalism. In the name of love, I sign off, at least for now.

April 11, 2009 Posted by | Canada, coercing women, Concordia University, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, Mark Bourrie, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | 1 Comment

Student professor intimate relationship attacked, pt. 2

Mark Bourrie on his Ottawa Watch Blog responds to my critique on his wanting to ban student prof intimacies at Concordia University.  He states-

An American university professor/blogger doesn’t get it. He says I want to “coerce” people. Actually, no. I want them to act professionally. I don’t want them to come on to, date and/or sleep with someone, then grade their work, decide on their scholarships, etc.

Of course, Dr. Bourrie is playing words games.  He wants to coerce them if  they act in a manner that he finds unprofessional.  If they act like he wants them to act, if they act like him, no problem.  Nothing new here, particularly in the area of sexuality.  Follow my sexual standards or else!  Nothing new here in reference to authoritarianism, just follow the ethic handed down from above, and all will be OK.

And then there is Bourrie’s naivete or is it verbal manipulation?  Note his statement-  “I don’t want them to come on to, date and/or sleep with someone, then grade their work, decide on their scholarships, etc.” This is sexism to the nth degree!  Male active, female passive.  A female student coming on to a male prof is nothing unusual, such has never been unusual and will never be unusual.  Maybe the case is that female students do not find Bourrie attractive but such does not mean that they do not find other male profs attractive.  I know this to be a fact based on my 35 years of experience as a professor as well as based on the experiences of many other professors and the many female students who have contacted me in regards to their love of their professor.  And if Bourrie is unaware of male profs and female students marrying, such is other worldly. If female students were not attracted to male profs then the issue of consensual relationships would not be an issue.

Then Bourrie states-
“If sex between profs and students is so right, why do the profs involved keep it a secret? I figure anything that can’t take public scrutiny tends to be illegal, immoral or fattening. U of T gets that aspect, too, and it’s a good start.”

I ask Bourrie and his confreres, if in the past homosexuals believed their homosexuality right, then why did homosexuals keep their homosexuality secret?  Why were homosexuals so closeted?  Any person with some degree of common sense knows the answer to these questions.  Being in the closet, keeping such things secret, does not mean that the secreted believe they are wrong, but often means that they do not want to be harassed, stigmatized and fired.   As persons without power, they do not want to be subject to the power abuse of bureaucrats, police and various agents of moral zealots; moral zealots who act self-righteously  in the name of their morality , their professionalism, etc.

And in more general terms about Bourrie’s feeling that “anything can’t take public scrutiny tends to be illegal, immoral or fattening.”  Very funny if one does not believe in the right to privacy, in this case the right to privacy by consenting adults.  I assumed that even so-called professionals believe sexual relationships between adults in private was OK.  If the Concordia prof and student came out publicly, I guess Bourrie would feel OK about this rather than feeling that they were flaunting their relationship. I believe most people who are opposed to student professor relationships want them to be in the closet, not out in public for all to see, not engaging in marriage ceremonies, etc.

Bourrie then cites the University of Toronto policy in he following terms-

Here’s U of T’s policy. At least they recognize the conflict and say the affair must be disclosed, but look at the weasel word “should” in the first paragraph. I would prefer “must”:

University policy does not prohibit sexual relations between consenting adults. However, if you form any kind of intimate personal relationship with someone who teaches you or otherwise makes academic decisions affecting you, that teacher has a conflict of interest. She or he should disclose the conflict of interest to their academic supervisor – usually the Chair of the department or the Dean of the faculty – and should ensure that your work is graded by a colleague.

If your teacher does not disclose the conflict of interest, s/he is not simply in breach of University policy: s/he is showing a negligent disregard for your academic interests, and placing the legitimacy of your academic accomplishments in question.

Has Dr. Bourrie really thought thru the implications and possible consequences of policies of this sort? If not, I suggest that the good professor put himself in the position of the involved student and the professor who is committed to following university rules.  One day, you as the student are removed from the classroom and theoretically put in another class for your own good.  (Sometimes the student may not be physically removed from the class, but graded by another prof, no matter whether she stays or goes, the problems remain essentially the same.)  And, in addition, you know that the university administrators who are “helping” you, know of your sexual activity that led to your removal.  And then you will have to deal with the reality that it is your special professor who informed on you and has helped to remove you from his class.  What kind of professor would do this?  What kind of professor would do this to a woman who he supposedly loved?  And for the involved professor his life goes on, no serious disruption since the disclose dispose policy, as some call it, has been implemented.  I ask Dr. Bourrie, who professes to be a person who believes in this policy, have you ever given one iota of thought to the exiled student?  Or was she simply a non-person who was disposed of?   And this policy is implemented by some to correct a power imbalance; this is power imbalance at its worst.

But, of course, there is more, much more which is damning about this sort of policy.  Supposedly the student is removed from class so that differential non-prejudicial grading can take place.  But once the student is removed one can be assured that differential grading will take place since all the students but one will have the same grader.  For the professor who is committed to fair and objective grading, the professor grades all the students using the same standard irrespective of whether the prof likes or dislikes the student. 

However, dealing with the possible reality of the student being removed from class, who will be the grader and will the grader be able to grade this student as the regular prof grades all of the other students?  How can it be assured that a colleague of the “special” professor will grade the student objectively, that his or her feeling about the special prof or the student, will not interfere with the grading? Will the grader be told that the student is the lover of the prof?  And what if the grade is based on an in class project, on class participation, how will this be dealt with?  And what if the student is taken out of an art or music or theatre arts or sports class?  How can the prof deal with this?  Shouldn’t the grading prof be forced to sit thru the entire class and then grade the student?

It is amazing that so many people, so many academics, are taken in by a policy that after a bit of thought one cannot help but label said policy as a sham.  Academics often have knee jerk responses to these policies. Why? Because most academics give little thought to the intricacies, complexities and ethics of grading. Grading is at the bottom of the academic totem pole.  Tell me about one professor at Concordia or UT who was hired in part because of their grading practices.  Tell me about any university that has workshops for new or old faculty on grading practices.  Of course, many faculty don’t grade, they ship out grading to teaching assistants. So much for the importance of grading. 

Bottom line is that the policies that Bourrie, et. al., advocate are not based on a commitment to good grading but are rather based on rooting out those who they see as sexual deviants.  In the dankprofessor’s opinion the irony regarding Bourrie and his concern for his daughter at the hands of a so-called predator professor is that his daughter would probably be at much greater risk if she becomes involved in the hookup and drinking culture associated with all too many colleges than if she became involved with her English or Theatre Arts professor.  As the dankprofessor has indicated previously-
the love of knowledge can lead to the knowledge of love.  Such passions simply cannot be destroyed or regulated by campus bureaucrats or professionals of any kind.

April 6, 2009 Posted by | Canada, coercing women, Concordia University, consensual relationships, ethics, grading, higher education, hooking-up, love, outing students, passion, privacy, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, the closet, University of Toronto | 1 Comment

UM prostitution case becomes fodder for anti-Semites

As more becomes known about the University of Michigan consensual prostitution case between UM Professor Yaron Z. Eliav and an anonymous UM law student, the uglier the case becomes.  And the ugliness has nothing to do with prostitution per se but how this situation is being employed by those wishing to promulgate an anti-Semitic agenda.

It turns out that Professor Eliav is a Jean and Samuel Frankel Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature & Jewish History of Late Antiquity in the UM Department of Near Eastern Studies. 

And along with the fact that Eliav is from or has spent some time in Israel is enough for some anti-Semites (specifically the zionistout blog) to view the Eliav alleged attack on the anonymous sex worker as being reflective of Jewish Israeli attitudes toward Gentile women.

The zionistout blog appears to assume that Professor Eliav is an Orthodox Jew and they hold that Orthodox Jews are major promulgators of prostitution both in Israel and in various western countries.  For them Israel has become a major venue of international sex trafficking and sexual slavery of non-Jewsih women and consequently has withheld support for more stringent measures against international sex trafficking.

So now Professor Eliav has become a possible pawn in another attempt to employ a conspiracy of the genre of the Protocols of Elders of Zion to delegitimate the State Of Israel.

Of course caught in the middle of a fiasco that should have never happened is the University of Michigan.  The dankprofessor cannot speculate as to UM future actions other than that they will state that they can’t comment on personnel matters.  Of course, if prostitution was not illegal,
and it should not be illegal, then the Eliav case would be just another routine case of domestic violence, certainly not a case which would get national and international attention

And it also should be noted that the the zionistout blog assumes that the student sex worker is not Jewish.  How do they know that such is the case?  Of course, if she was Jewish their whole scenario about Jews in Israeli recruiting Gentile women into sexual slavery becomes an irrelevancy.

December 14, 2008 Posted by | anti-semitism, coercing women, consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Israel, prostitution, sex, sex offenders, sex work, sexual policing, sexual politics, University of Michigan | | Leave a 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

Some notes on power and secrecy

The notion that differential power precludes consent has been a core concept in the movement to ban student professor consensual relationships.  In essence, differential power precludes consent has framed the issue.  Such a framing communicates that the banning movement is about decreasing power over others so that people can freely consent to whatever.  Or, in other terms, equality replaces differential power and obtaining the goal of equality is a worthy goal.  The problem is that the banning movement does not abolish or minimize power; the movement does not replace differential power with equality.  Differential power is in effect affirmed by providing institutional power to university administrators to regulate the private sexual lives of both students and professors.  So-called consensual policies are about the legitimization of  the power exerted by administrators to coerce professors and students to follow a mandated sexual script.  And it generally disempowers students more than professors since these policies often mandate that the professor report oneself and the involved student to university authorities.  Note that the student has no part to play in this scenario.  The enforcing administrators do not give any option to a student to report or not to report; consent in this context is considered to be irrelevant.
   Unfortunately, nothing is new here.  Power is taken away and given to powerful others so they can work their will on others.  No one gains any power except those at the top of the hierarchy.  If the power game is successful, then enforcement becomes a police function.  Such is true for the current Bush administration that in the name of protection and security trashes just about all constitutional protections, and attempts to conduct its police function in secret.  The Bush people have learned from the prior Nixon administration not to leave around any damning tapes.  The challenge is always the same for those seeking the truth and this is the piercing of the veil of secrecy.  And secrecy in the university world under the guise of “personnel matters” is extremely difficult to pierce.  In this area of student professor
consensual relationships policy and its enforcement, such will continue to prevail as long as secrecy prevails. Just as  was the case for gays in the the U.S., no significant change occurred until the closet was broken down, and in time with many gays out of the closet, the dominant society gave little deference to those who argued that they were offended by those who “flaunted” their gayness, and argued that such acceptance represented the end of Western civilization.  Such arguments no longer flourish unhindered  but in the university world they are applied to student professor relationships and flourish unhindered.
  The love that dare not speaks its name will remain ensconced in university land until…
 —–
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

January 1, 2008 Posted by | coercing women, consensual relationships, fraternization, higher education, homosexual, secrecy, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, the closet | Leave a comment

Lashing of rape victim defended by Saudi fundamantalist

I am sure that we all have heard about the case in  Saudi Arabia where a rape victim was sentenced to 90 lashes as a result of being in a car without a male relative.  And after her lawyer appealed the case, the judge significantly increased the number of lashes and suspended her lawyer from practicing law.  Outrageous behavior except for those fundamentalists who believe that the woman is getting what she deserves.  And given the importance of fundamentalism in todays world whether in Saudi Arabia or middle America, it becomes  incumbent for us non-fundamentalists to have an understanding of the fundamentalist mind.  So in the quest for that understanding, do click this message from the Islamic Shield.

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2007

December 10, 2007 Posted by | coercing women, ethics, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights | Leave a comment

Campus Fear and Loathing

Here are two letters in response to the LA Times article on Professor Abramson.

Challenges facing women on campus

Re “Professor makes a case for faculty-student romance,” Oct. 22

“UCLA professor Paul R. Abramson’s delusional “love contract” proposal to provide cover for professors preying on coeds is not only reprehensible but unethical. Every valid profession rightly prohibits such predatory behavior, whether within the context of doctor-patient, lawyer-client or military officer-subordinate. Our culture is damaged when the powerful take advantage of the weak, who may feel compelled to permit such predatory advances for fear of lower grades or employee evaluations. These relationships are certain to cause psychological damage, making it shocking that a psychologist would disregard such effects. Parents make financial sacrifices to send children to college. If they cannot trust the educators, then higher education must be completely revamped.” Rick Coston Melbourne, Fla.

The dankprofessor believes that if there is any delusional thinking going on here, it is not the thinking of Professor Abramson.  Somehow the letter writer is certain that any student-professor relationship is certain to cause damage; I assume he means damage to the student or professor and not to the observer.  What can be so mystifying is that very certainty. How can one be so sure that Abramson is advocating professorial predatory behavior which leaves the subject of such behavior incapacitated, unable to defend oneself, to ward off such monstrous behavior? Going beyond the obvious that the letter writer is objectifying the involved parties, I would speculate that this reflects a default assumption held by many believing in such views.  The default assumption occurs when one envisages a professor-student relationship one also envisages an adult-child relationship; it is an automatic unthinking visceral reaction.  It is consistent with the notion that professor student relationships are always age differentiated. I have previously discussed this imagery in prior postings. Clearly this letter writer is committed to this thinking since he sees parents like himself being betrayed by universities which fail to protect their children, which fail to protect parents’ investment in their children.  More generally such a view is indicative of a hierarchal world view.  In such a world order any crossing of borders that facilitates informal interaction between subordinates and superiors threatens the natural order of things.  This framework which the existentialist social psychologist Thomas Hanna called humanoidistic is synonymous with being in a perpetual state of fear.  This situation is exasperated when there are a number of similarly situated others, and when there is is an emergence of leaders (demagogues) who manipulate the fearful to combat some external enemy.

Second letter to the editor-

“This article failed to capture some of the devastating changes written into the faculty manual. The arguments put forward by political scientist Gayle Binion of UC Santa Barbara seem to have been lifted from the protocols of the Ministry of Fear in George Orwell’s “1984.” To provide just one example, perception of favoritism constitutes harassment and is grounds for censure or even dismissal. The worst of it is that women, especially in the sciences, will not be helped and advanced because male professors will be leery of anything resembling close communication. It’s a grotesque consequence of puritanical constraints.”

Jascha Kessler

Santa Monica

The writer is a professor of English and modern literature at UCLA.

Bravo to Professor Kessler.  The Ministry of Fear is not a misnomer.  I am not overstating when I state that Gayle Binion is a fear monger; I do not know if she is a professional fear monger but nevertheless a fear monger.  She suffers from fear of lawsuits, fear of professors, fear of students, fear of parents of students and she functions as a catalyst for the creation of fear based campuses where those who are involved in consensual relationships become outlaws; where professors and administrators and graduate students are continually warned about the dangers of any campus display of sexuality, any display of affection,  and where they must submit themselves periodically to “workshops” which will supposedly  help them obey the rules of the new campus Puritanism, and avoid facing secret campus tribunals. 

Enough said for now on the LA Times article.  More on the LA Times article in upcoming posts.

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.

© Copyright 2007

 

October 27, 2007 Posted by | coercing women, consensual relationships, dating, fraternization, higher education, ivory tower romance, sexual harassment, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Coercing women in the name of protection

Following is a comment in response to a comment I had on the

D’Souza blog -

 

Dear Barry Dank:

You miss the point completely. It is not merely the age difference as it is a difference in power. A young college girl is going into the ‘real world’ for the first time and the potential for manipulation is too great. Anyone who has ever been a boss knows this is true. I have never gotten involved with anyone from my work because the potential for workplace romance-related disaster is just too great. Clergy, bosses, teachers have as much sway over a young woman as a rock star! It just isn’t right.

Keith J. Mohrhoff at 8:04AM on Aug 27th 2007

 

Dankprofessor response-

The response of mine which Keith did not like focused on age issues since so many persons who had comments on the D’souza blog argued for a student-prof ban because of the alleged age differential between students and professors.  None of the respondents assumed that there might not be an age differential or that the professor might be younger than the student which was the case in my relationship which led to marriage.  Protection is assumed to be paramount; protection of young women from the older male.  When I stated that persons so offended by a significant age differential might wish to consider a ban on age differentiated relationships, no response was forthcoming.  Of course, this attitude may be a result of the student-teacher labels which for many imply adult-child relationships.  If such is the case, the professor is seen as a predatory molester, and there can be no discussion or debate, issue closed.  I think the professor-student as adult-child functions as a default assumption for many.

 

As Keith notes, “it is not merely the age difference as it is a difference in power.”  What Keith fails to understand is that the position he and others advocate functions to take away the power of young women; they are held to be incapable of consent.  In this framework, the power goes to the so-called protector- the chair, the dean, the sexual harassment officer; protectors who are all too often zealous feminists who can now asssume Big Sister roles in exerting power/abuse over male professors and who view consenting female students as non-existent since in their view differential power precludes consent.

In more direct terms, the female dissenting student just doesn’t count.  Big Sister counts; of course, Big Sister is wrapped in a therapeutic language of caring and concern; caring and concern which is coercive; coercive caring, what a great concept.  It still amazes me that so many people are so easily seduced by

the Big Sister rhetoric which stripped down is just old fashioned authoritarian rhetoric.

 

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

 

 

August 30, 2007 Posted by | coercing women, consensual relationships, D'souza blog, higher education, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers

%d bloggers like this: