Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Prostitution, violence and

So a Canadian study has found that “people who buy sex are no more violent than the general population, and any legislation about prostitution should not be based on the incorrect belief that all johns are abusive”, says a Simon Fraser University sociologist researching the subject.

Chris Atchison surveyed more than 1,000 johns between June 2008 and April 2009 for his controversial study, entitled Johns’ Voice.

Based on about 1,000 anonymous online responses and 24 in-depth interviews, Atchison concluded that johns do not appear to be any more aggressive than the rest of the population and should therefore not be painted as uniformly evil.

He said 1.9 per cent reported having hit, pushed or physically attacked a prostitute, one per cent reported having raped or sexually assaulted a prostitute and 1.7 per cent reported having robbed a prostitute.

“The question becomes, ‘How different are sex buyers from any other member of the population?’” said Atchison.

OK, the dankprofessor must have been pretty naïve- I didn’t know that people believed that men who patronized sex workers were more violent than men who did not.  I guess this is on the same level of the idea that pornography causes male viewers to go out and rape. Of course, everyone knows that pornography overwhelmingly causes men to stay home and masturbate.  But then again masturbation is a form of self-abuse.  So I guess one just can’t get away from the idea that sex is harmful to self and if not to self then to others.

But there is more as reported in the Vancouver Sun

The study drew strong criticism from some quarters.

“It’s an outrageous study and it really works towards normalizing sexual assault,” said Aurea Flynn of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter.

“I’m really angry about the emphasis on the compassion for johns that the study provides and I’m very concerned about its impact on the continued normalization of prostitution in Canada because I believe prostitution is violence against women.”

Flynn was particularly angered by what she called the demonizing of a marginalized population that is often forced into the sex trade due to a lack of options.

Atchison said 79.9 per cent of johns surveyed wanted prostitution legalized for “altruistic reasons,” such as to protect prostitutes with health and safety regulations.

But Flynn said: “I believe that is the johns wanting to protect themselves from contracting diseases, which they are very afraid of.

“If they really wanted to help women, they’d be fighting for better welfare rates, universal child care, universal education and job skills training.”

She believes the legalization of prostitution would increase human trafficking and the exploitation of women.

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter — which defines prostitution itself as an act of violence — actively campaigns for its abolition.

And so it goes- prostitution is violence even though it be consensual sex. But what the dankprofessor has learned in this short blog posting is that money is the ultimate arbiter.  Consensual sex turns into violence if you add a financial component. The money does the talking. So the dankprofessor’s advice to men who want to play it safe- empty your pockets before engaging in any kind of sexual fraternization.

OK, one more note- Aurea Flynn of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter says she is really angry regarding the results of the study. She fears that people may become more empathetic toward johns.  As for my empathy, I can feel Ms. Flynn’s anger. I suggest she take her anger home and in the privacy of her home, she relax and try to get some relief.

January 19, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, masturbation, prostitution, rape, sex, sex work, sexual politics | 3 Comments

The Jewish Journal and the Jewish Belle de Jour

The Jewish Journal reports on the University of Bristol  prostitute Belle de Jour who has revealed her identity as a UK cancer researcher, Brooke Magnanti. But why should such be reported in the Jewish Journal?  Well, it turns out that Magnanti is Jewish.

The Jewish Journal found the following quote from Magnanti from the Daily Mail as being particularly tasteless-

‘My mother’s family are Jewish; there’s this hoarding thing, saving, being prepared – if you’re in debt, somebody could come and knock on your door and take it all away tomorrow.’

That explanation sent columnists in a stammering outrage.  Where to take umbrage first: at the ethnic stereotype?  At the leap from debt to paid sex? At the idea of a smart woman taking life-threatening risks?

Leaving the stereotypical reference to Jewish people aside, it is outrageous by implication to liken herself – an educated woman waiting to get her PhD – to the kind of pitifully poverty-stricken and powerless female who, the world over, becomes a prostitute because of need.

The Jewish Journal then reports:

Dr Magnanti, who studied anthropology and math in Florida, was completing a PhD at Sheffield University’s department of forensic pathology when she became a call girl. Realising she had no objection to having sex for money, she contacted an agency and worked as a prostitute from 2003 to late 2004, which she said was ‘so much more enjoyable’ than her shifts in another job as a computer programmer.

The Belle du Jour blog became a hot media property, spurring speculation about the true author, a lucrative book deal.  The book was serialized on UK prime time television in 2007’s “Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” starring actress of Billie Piper, and eventually played on pay cable in the US…

The blog made no secret of Belle du Jour’s Jewish background.  But in a recent post, though, Magnanti provided a slightly different explanation of why she turned to a life of $600 hour sex rather than the workaday grind:
Once upon a (very long) time ago, after being a student and before moving to London, I had a year of working several jobs at the same time. They were, in case you wondered, at an art gallery, a bookshop, a map/travel store, and an internship for the professional employment I later returned to. I put two thirds of my earnings into savings… savings that didn’t last half as long as I needed them to, or thought they would, and were long gone by the time I moved to London.

It was a busy time of my life. So busy, in fact, there were days I literally had to choose between having time enough to eat and getting enough sleep. I lost weight to the point at which my father, all ten stone of him, was concerned for my health. And once out the other side I promised – no, I swore – I would never do that again.
Which is not, incidentally, the reason I became a call girl a couple of years later – though certainly it was an experience informing that decision.

So was it boredom, or a “Jewish” aversion to debt that led Magnanti into her secret life as a hooker with a heart of…Goldstein?  Her father, a plumber who lives in Holiday, Florida, told the Daily Mail it’s all his fault: after his divorce from Magnanti’s mother, he visited as many as 150 prostitutes, and introduced his daughter to many of them. 
‘Of those, four or five were deep emotional relationships, and Brooke met those women. She saw that prostitutes were human. They were women.
‘Brooke did not approve of me seeing the prostitutes, not because they were selling their bodies for sex but because of their drug use.
‘We had a very big falling out. Brooke said some harsh things that she hoped would help me – but which had the opposite effect.’

But the former plumber said he was proud of his daughter, saying: ‘She has not done anything wrong. Brooke is a very independent woman, and I support whatever she has done.’
He added: ‘I am glad that she is no longer a prostitute. In my experience prostitution is wrong and corrupts people. I know that from my own experience.

So what does Judaism teach about prostitution?  Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, jewishjournal.com’s resident expert on sex and Jewish law, put it this way:
“Don’t believe any balderdash that says Jews can visit prostitutes. Judaism demands that all men and women experience sex the best way. And that is, where they can have really uninhibited sex because they are devoted to each other. They are not ashamed to be around one another because they are totally committed. They are not afraid of exposing their soft underbelly. Many people today have sex with full body armor, with all their inhibitions intact, with their defenses up.”

Judaism condemns prostitution.  Then again, it has some pretty harsh things to say about eating shrimp, and plenty of Jews enjoy that too. So are we shocked, shocked that a bright Jewish woman would turn to tricks to make a living?  No—just that she’d somehow ascribe “a pathological aversion to being in debt”  as a Jewish trait.  Way to shatter one stereotype and spread another.

The dankprofessor feels that the Jewish Journal goes beyond the fringe when it asserts that somehow Magnanti shatters one stereotype and spreads another. I did not even know that there was a stereotype of a Jewish prostitute or of Jews suffering a pathological aversion to being in debt.

In any case, if people are so prone to engage in stereotypical thinking as reported by the Jewish Journal, maybe people will start stereotyping sex workers as cancer researchers. OK, not as cancer researchers but as British cancer researchers.  This sort of thing simply can’t happen in the United States.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Jewish Journal, prostitution, sex, sex work, sex workers, sexual politics, University of Bristol | Leave a 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

UM professor and student consensual prostitution

The Ann Arbor News reports that a University of Michigan Professor of Near Eastern Studies and a UM law student have both plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of using a computer to commit a crime.
 
Now the University of Michigan is investigating tenured Professor Yaron Eliev to determine if the professor paid the law student for sexual acts after meeting her online.
 
Both the professor and student were originally “charged with prostitution/accosting and solicitation, misdemeanors punishable by up to 93 days in jail.”
 
The encounter between the professor and the student came to the attention of the police when the student went to the police and reported she was assaulted by the professor after they met in a hotel room.

The student told police she was advertising sex acts online via Craigslist to help pay tuition costs. For an in-state student, U-M Law School tuition is $41,500 a year; out-of-state students pay $44,500.

The student told police she reluctantly agreed to allow Eliav to strike her buttocks with a belt, but got upset when he slapped her in the face twice, reports said. She said she suffered vision problems afterward, but did not have any lasting injuries.

The rarity of how the case began – with a law student showing up at the police department’s front desk to report she was assaulted while committing a crime herself – was not lost on investigators.

“Perhaps she should have cracked a legal textbook before coming in to the police station to talk about this,” Ann Arbor Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey said.

Both she and Eliav told police they didn’t have intercourse, but engaged in other sex acts, and he paid her $300, according to police reports.

When he was interviewed by police, Eliav said he responded to the online ad because he was interested in experimenting sexually. He said he complied when she told him to stop certain activities and admitted to slapping her face, but said it was “like a game,” reports said.

Eliav also called the woman a willing participant and said they hugged at the end of the encounter, reports said.

It appears Eliav knew the woman was a law school student, but it not clear from the police reports whether he knew that going into the encounter. He told investigators the money he paid the woman was simply “a token,” and called her “a bored college student.”

The law school is also reviewing the matter, said UM spokesperson Kelly Cunningham, adding that student confidentiality rules prevent her from saying more.
Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Steven Hiller said prosecutors didn’t charge Eliav with assault because they didn’t feel they could prove that crime.

“In order to prove a case of assault and battery, you have to prove (nonconsensual) physical contact beyond a reasonable doubt, and based on the circumstances, we did not feel we could prove that,” Hiller said.

Police reports also indicate the student admitted to arranging money-for-sex deals with about eight or nine men in April and May, saying she needed the money for tuition.

The student said she advertised online and got to her appointments using hourly rental cars available on campus through Zipcar, according to police reports.

This is a bizarre case but in part reflects the dominant university perspective that the privacy of a female student must always be protected in a sexually related case.  And the Ann Arbor News as well does not provide the identity of the student-prostitute.  Part of the bizarreness is that in cases involving prostitution the identity  of the prostitute becomes public but not that of the so-called john.  So it is fair to ask, why the Ann Arbor news protects the identity of the student-prostitute but not the john professor?

In any case, a key question is whether this case should fall under the purview of the University of Michigan.  The dankprofessor believes that such should not be the case if both parties did not use their university positions to facilitate the encounter.  However, the university can make their case for an investigation since the activities of the professor and student were criminal even though criminal charges are seldom brought against those involved in prostitution.  Note in the case of Eliot Spitzer, the call girl never faced a criminal charge.

So the university is operating in a rather gray area.  I do not think the university should be operating at all in this area since I do not think prostitution should be treated as a crime.  And, of course, if the university would find it very difficult to take any actions against this professor since he is tenured.  As to their taking actions against the student, the public will probably never know what the university does since she is shielded from being identified.

And the university cannot apply a consensual relationships policy to take actions against the professor since UM policy covers only situations where there is a supervisory relationship.

And regular dankprofessor blog readers should note that the University of New Mexico Linda Chavez case is of another genre since the off campus sex work of Professor Chavez was not illegal.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, prostitution, sex, sex work, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of Michigan | Leave a comment

UNM prima donna professor resigns

In my last posting on the Lisa Chavez controversy at the University Of New Mexico and the resignation of the nationally recognized Native American poet Joy Harjo from the UNM as a protest against the UNM continued employment of Lisa Chavez as a professor in good standing, the dankprofessor believes he was not hard enough on Joy Harjo for her precipitous resignation.

Harjo said she could not continue to work in a program “that has been so deeply compromised” and that she didn’t “trust the University to uphold the rights of its students and faculty.”  But Harjo never spells out what are the rights of students and faculty that the UNM administration were not upholding.  If these rights violations were so serious as to lead Harjo to not provide her expertise and creativity to UNM students, then it certainly should behoove Harjo to spell out in detail the nature of these rights violations.

Harjo did state the following-

“The Chavez-and-students sex-site debacle was mishandled.  Because of this, the creative writing program lost face and credibility locally and nationally. Those of us – a majority of the creative writing program – who pushed for a proper ethics investigation based on policies already in place were retaliated against for speaking up. This whole situation could have been handled in a way that was respectful to all parties.  As it is, only the rights of one person was considered.”

If the UNM creative writing program “lost face and credibility nationally and locally”, such does not represent a violation of the rights of UNM students and faculty.  The academic status game never remains static; the rules of the status game are ambiguous and ever changing.  Today’s academic star may very well end up being tomorrow’s academic embarrassment.

For a department or academic program or academic to lose credibility, does not represent a violation of the so-called rights of the academic program or academic.  If Joy Harjo had a true commitment to the status and prestige of the UNM creative writing program she would have devoted more of her time and energy to said program.  She would have given paramount importance to continuing to teach the students of the UNM creative writing program.  Rather than having any devotion to these students, she bemoans that these students rights are somehow being violated and then she deserts these same students.  If one cares to look at this situation in a dispassionate manner, the dankprofessor believes one should conclude that Harjo resigned because she was primarily concerned with her own status and prestige needs.

Harjo’s statement that  “I have no plans at this time to join any other University. In the spirit of the teachings of the Mvskoke people, I will continue forward and carry with me only that which nourishes”, is further evidence of her own self-absorption.  No concern here about UNM students or colleagues; her own nourishment is the only thing that counts.  Such represents the orientation of an academic prima donna; prima donnas are not concerned with others or being team players or the prestige of the greater entity.  They are concerned about self, doing their own thing and going their own way.

But Harjo had more to add to her melodrama.   She also asserts that she and other professors who spoke up against the UNM position were “retaliated against for speaking up”.  But, of course, she does not outline the specifics of the alleged retaliations.  It is easy to say that retaliatory behavior should not be tolerated at UNM but it would be a whole lot more responsible to present the specifics of the retaliatory behavior; certainly such is more responsible than simply leaving the university and ones colleagues who have been subject to the alleged retaliatory behavior.

The fact is that the UNM administration has acted responsibly throughout this controversy.  They have acted in a responsible and conciliatory manner and they should be applauded by academics who believe in academic freedom and responsibility, even when it is “only” the rights of one person that are considered.

November 13, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of New Mexico | 2 Comments

University of New Mexico Pummeled by Lisa Chavez foes

There have been no new revelations about aspects of University of New Mexico Creative Writing Professor
Lisa Chavez’s involvement with a student in an S&M scenario which appeared on the internet.   It has been reported on this blog and elsewhere that an investigation by the UNM administration determined that Chavez had violated no university policy and she remains in good standing as a professor at UNM.

However, there does continue to be new distressing revelations concerning some of the creative writing colleagues of Professor Chavez.  It turns out that some significant percentage of faculty of the Creative Writing Program just can’t get over the fact that Chavez remains a professor in good standing given her admitted involvement in S&M activities  and even given that the activities were consensual and that no student or anyone else has charged Chavez with sexual harassment.  Chavez has violated no rule, no New Mexico statute and no Federal law. 

What she has done is engage in “sexual deviance” which has inspired some faculty at UNM to go on a moral crusade to get rid of Chavez or in the dankprofessor’s terms to bound and gag the bad professor.  During all of these shenanigans Chavez has continued to do her professorial work and not engage in any angry responses.

 In a recent letter to the faculty of the English Department, UNM President David Schmidley wrote:
“The university is, first and foremost, a place where students, faculty and administrators alike constantly engage in learning. It’s now time for all of us to learn anew the lessons of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

But the anti-Chavez crusaders refuse to engage in any form of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Rather they engage in various forms of symbolic protest which in the extreme represent a form of self-flagellation.  First, Sharon Warner, the head of the Creative Writing program, a person who had been well known for her devotion to the creative writing program resigns as Director of the program but retains her tenured position.  Warner’s resignation was not a creative act, not an act in support of students or faculty but rather an act of a person who is self possessed and simply is unable to handle things unless one gets their own way.

Of course, Warner’s resignation did not bring reconciliation and peace to the program.  The UNM administration replaced Warner with as new director Julie Shigekuni.  Upon assuming this position, Shigekuni emphasized that she was interested in the welfare of the department and not department politics.  She characterized the situation of the program in the following terms-

“I think that situations such as the one that we’re in are harmful.  They harm the program. I think that it’s an unfortunate situation, but I also think that the program is harmed by people who do not want to be
here and are still here.”

Well, Warner did not heed the advice of Shigekuni and conflict in the program remained.

And now as reported in the Daily Lobo of November 11,  “creative writing professor Joy Harjo has resigned amid rumors that strife between the department’s faculty and senior administrators cannot be resolved.”

Harjo who had previously spoken out publicly against the UNM retention of Lisa Chavez made it clear that this was the reason for her resignation.

Faculty colleagues affirmed that Harjo’s resignation was a major loss for the University of New Mexico.
Harjo was the university ‘s only Joseph Russo Endowed Professor.

Diane Thiel, associate professor in the English department, said Harjo’s resignation is an incalculable loss to the University.   She stated that “Faculty and students have resigned and left UNM over this and will likely continue to. The recent resignation of Joy Harjo, arguably the most well-known Native American poet in the world, highlights the seriousness of the situation, many details of which have yet to be reported to the media.”

Harjo said she could not continue to work in a program “that has been so deeply compromised” and that she didn’t trust the University to uphold the rights of its students and faculty.”

“The Chavez-and-students sex-site debacle was mishandled,” Harjo said. “Because of this, the creative writing program lost face and credibility locally and nationally. Those of us – a majority of the creative writing program – who pushed for a proper ethics investigation based on policies already in place were retaliated against for speaking up. This whole situation could have been handled in a way that was respectful to all parties.  As it is, only the rights of one person was considered.”

Sharon Warner said Harjo’s resignation will leave a huge dent in the already crumbling infrastructure of the department, no matter who is selected to take her place.

Harjo also stated:

“I have no plans at this time to join any other University. In the spirit of the teachings of the Mvskoke people, I will continue forward and carry with me only that which nourishes. I’m suffering a great loss from losing this job. I’m suffering several years of loss.  She also said “It was a hard decision to make when you look at economic times and the strain of being an artist. They didn’t give me anything extra. That was nothing extra. That was the year that I was paid for.”

UNM Vice President Holder said the University had no plans to terminate or reinvestigate Chavez.

“Lisa Chavez remains an employee of the University and a professor of the English department where she has tenure, and the University is not planning to contest her tenure in any way, and if that was a part of Joy Harjo’s reason for resigning, I think we regret that,” Holder said. “I think we would like to say that we very much regret her loss. She was a valuable member of our faculty.”

Harjo bemoaned the fact that “only the rights of one person was considered” as if the rights of one person do not count.  In the dankprofessor’s opinion, the rights of Lisa Chavez do count and that Joy Harjo also has a right to resign in protest even if that resignation hurts the program as a whole and even if her resignation may very well represent an act of self-flagellation on her part. 

The University of New Mexico administration is to be congratulated for standing up to the university’s academic bullies who wish to pummel Lisa Chavez and who are now attempting to apply their pummeling to the university as a whole.

November 11, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of New Mexico | 5 Comments

Professor Lisa Chavez accused of illegal behavior by former University of New Mexico student

Angela Maria Williams, former Daily Lobo editor, a graduate of the UNM creative writing program and a former student of Lisa Chavez engaged in an emotional rant in today’s New Mexico DAILY LOBO.

Ms. Williams is particularly distressed about the resignation of Sharon Warner as Director of the UNM Creative Writing Program.  According to Sharon Warner, she resigned as a form of protest against the UNM administration decision not to
sanction Lisa Chavez for engaging with a student in a website sm performance. The Warner resignation was completely a voluntary one.  I gather it was an act of moral conscience at least as seen by Professor Warner.

Ms. Williams demeaned Warner’s resignation when she stated: “It alarms me even more that Warner was coerced into resigning for doing the right thing.”  And then went on to state: “I want to convey my heartfelt regret that Warner had to leave this way.”  

Williams does not present an iota of evidence that Warner was coerced to leave or had to leave.  Warner never stated that such was the case.  If she was coerced and the Warner resignation did not represent a form of voluntary protest, then Williams should come forward with evidence of this coercion of Sharon Warner.

In addition, Williams engages in a form of over dramatization when she characterizes Warner’s resignation as a “stunning blow” not just to the English Department but to the entire University since she was such a great teacher and did so much to create an excellent creative writing program.”  The fact is that Warner continues to teach at UNM, and did not give up her tenure at UNM.  And if, as Williams states, she was so successful in establishing such a strong creative writing program, there would be a number of excellent professors in the program who could and would step in as director of the program.  If the creative writing program is all about Sharon Warner and said program cannot survive without her, such is a very poor reflection on both Warner and the creative writing program she created.

Williams goes on to bash Lisa Chavez for in her terms engaging in a sexual act with a student and for Williams sexual acts also include “posing in sadomasochistic photos .” She goes on to strongly imply that Chavez had sexually harassed the SM posing student since she believes: “The power in any such situation belongs entirely to the professor, and this is the reason we have sexual harassment laws in the first place.”  She then asks: “Why was Chavez not properly punished for what amounts to repeated acts of sexual harassment?”

She was not punished since there was no sexual harassment. To have sexual harassment you need a complainant and Williams entirely ignores the fact that the student, Liz Derrington, has publicly stated in no uncertain terms that her participation was completely voluntary.  In fact in a blog interview, Derrington states that the major problem she has experienced is that few take her seriously.  Her interpretations of her own experience are simply dismissed by all too many persons.  And this is exactly what Williams does-she dismisses her as a person with no power, as essentially faceless and non-existent. What Williams purports that Chavez did to the student does not compare as to how badly Williams treats the student, how utterly disrespectfully she has treated Derrington in her essay.

Then Williams attempts to finish off Professor Chavez when she states: “What Chavez did was wrong, unethical and, above all, illegal.”  Above all, illegal!  This is the first time I have heard a charge of illegality lodged against Chavez.  Indeed, such is a very serious charge.  If Williams knows that some form of illegality has occurred, minimally she should tell us what it is exactly and going beyond the readers of her rant, she should go to the Albuquerque district’s attorney’s office with evidence of said illegality.  But she hasn’t, and I trust that she won’t since the illegality is probably a figment of her imagination.  If I am wrong, Williams can quickly prove the wrong beliefs of the dankprofessor, by going to the appropriate authorities in Albuquerque.

Williams states that she has “utmost respect for Warner. She has proven to me consistently over the years that she is one of the most dedicated and competent faculty members at UNM.”  The fact that Williams believes that Sharon Warner is one of the most dedicated faculty members at UNM is beside the point.  What is to the point is that Warner has been involved in a campaign to get rid of Chavez, and as part of that campaign she is willing to sacrifice her involvement in the UNM creative writing program.  Such is Warner’s right to protest and to resign.

What Williams misses is the utter lack of respect by her and Warner and others directed toward Chavez.  I do not know of Professor Chavez engaging in any disrespectful behavior.  And what is needed at the University of New Mexico is a lot more respect to be demonstrated by all the involved parties.

—–
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

May 7, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sexual harassment, sexual politics, University of New Mexico | 2 Comments

Sadomasochistic website viewers to become subject to arrest

CODE RED ALERT (CRA indicates that post reports on a situation that represents a clear and present danger to the civil liberties and privacy of the citizenry.)

 Sadomasochistic website viewers will become subject to arrest in the United Kingdom with the upcoming passage of a new obscenity law.  UK viewers of websites originating from the United States will be subject to arrest while the US website owners will not be subject to criminal prosecution. (Read on to find out how Americans can also be arrested under this law.)

Such is not the unforeseen effect of the law rather it is the intended effect.

The creation of the law was spearheaded by Liz Longhurst, the mother of Jane Longhurst.  Jane Longhurst was murdered five years ago by a person who was revealed to have been accessing websites showing images of women being “abused and violated”.

The law criminalizes the viewing of “extreme pornography”.  The major question then becomes what is extreme pornography.  Extreme pornography is defined in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which is scheduled to get Royal Assent on May 8 .

As reported by the BBC News, extreme pornography is defined in the the following way-

As defined by the new Criminal Justice Bill
An act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life
An act which results in or appears to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals
An act which involves or appears to involve sexual interference with a human corpse
A person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal

Until now pornographers, rather than consumers, have needed to operate within the confines of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act (OPA). While this law will remain, the new act is designed to reflect the realities of the internet age, when pornographic images may be hosted on websites outside the UK.
Under the new rules, criminal responsibility shifts from the producer – who is responsible under the OPA – to the consumer.

But campaigners say the new law risks criminalising thousands of people who use violent pornographic images as part of consensual sexual relationships.

Opposition to the legislation 

is led by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer, a Liberal Democrat peer who has fought to have the legislation amended.

“Obviously anything that leads to violence against women has to be taken very seriously,” says Baroness Miller. “But you have to be very careful about the definition of ‘extreme pornography’ and they have not nearly been careful enough.”

She has suggested the new act adopt the legal test set out in the OPA, which bans images which “tend to deprave and corrupt”.

But the government has sought to broaden the definition and the bill includes phrases such as “an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life”.

Speaking from her home in Berkshire, Mrs Longhurst acknowledges that libertarians see her as “a horrible killjoy”.

“I’m not. I do not approve of this stuff but there is room for all sorts of different people. But anything which is going to cause damage to other people needs to be stopped.”
To those who fear the legislation might criminalise people who use violent pornography as a harmless sex aid, she responds with a blunt “hard luck”.

“There is no reason for this stuff. I can’t see why people need to see it. People say what about our human rights but where are Jane’s human rights?”

Baroness Miller says the new law also threatens people’s privacy.

“The government is effectively walking into people’s bedrooms and saying you can’t do this. It’s a form of thought police.”

She says there’s a danger of “criminalising kinkiness” and fears the legislation has been rushed through Parliament without proper debate because it is a small part of a wider bill.

Another critic of the law states-

“How many tens or hundreds or thousands of people are going to be dragged into a police station, have their homes turned upside down, their computers stolen and their neighbours suspecting them of all sorts?”

Such “victims” won’t feel able to fight the case and “will take a caution, before there are enough test cases to prove that this law is unnecessary and unworkable”.

Another opponent of the new law is Edward Garnier, an MP and part-time judge, who questioned the clause when it was debated in the Commons.

“My primary concern is the vagueness of the offence,” says Mr Garnier. “It was very subjective and it would not be clear to me how anybody would know if an offence had been committed.”

…opponents have also seized on what they see as an anomaly in the new law, noted by Lord Wallace of Tankerness during last week’s debate in the House of Lords.

“If no sexual offence is being committed it seems very odd indeed that there should be an offence for having an image of something which was not an offence,” he said.

With that partly in mind, the government is tabling an amendment that would allow couples to keep pictures of themselves engaged in consensual acts – but not to distribute them. Lord Hunt, who has charge of the bill in the Lords, admits it is being rushed through to meet a deadline. But he denies the law has not been thoroughly considered and maintains it will only affect images that are “grossly offensive and disgusting”.

Such is the nature of the absurdity of what is about to happen in the UK.  And what the dankprofessor finds to be ironic is that the UK initiated change in their laws to legalize same sex sexual consensual behavior way before homosexual law reform occurred in the United States, and now the UK will be criminalizing UK viewers who view consensual sm behaviors on websites originating in the United States.  And for those blog readers who may think this issue has nothing to do with universities and sexual politics, think again since the viewing of such websites in universities throughout the UK will become illegal.

And let us not overlook the Draconian nature of this legislature, images of actual harmful behavior need not be presented in these websites, it is appearances that count.

Such would make the San Francisco website kink.com, which was recently the subject of a feature article in the NY Times, play an unintended role in facilitating the arrest of their UK viewers.  And, of course, some of these viewers in the UK may be American citizens who in a state of naivete access a website that can lead to their being arrested.

Times do change.  In the old days, Americans returning to the US from Britain with copies of Lady Chatterley’s Lover risked having their copy seized and risked being arrested.  Now Americans in Britain could be arrested in Britain for viewing American websites.

Unfortunately, the attack on adult sexual consensual behavior/viewing knows no limits.  This attack on sm consensual behavior/viewing is simply another contemporary example of a sexual crusade which has no respect for individual autonomy, and personal privacy in the implementation of moral zealotry.

FOR AN UPDATE ON THIS STORY, CLICK HERE

—–
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 

 

 

 

April 29, 2008 Posted by | censorship, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sexual politics, speech, Uncategorized, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

Professor Lisa Chavez and higher hypocrisy education

The Albuquerque Journal reported today on the controversy surrounding University of New Mexico Professor of English Lisa Chavez.  On the whole, the Journal piece was primarily a rehashing of prior reports on the the controversy, but there was some unreported items and the major contribution of the Journal story was to provide their readers with additional insights into some of the leading players in this imbroglio.
 
As for a new item, the Journal reported that the identity of Professor Chavez online was Mistress Jade.  The fact that it took several months for any newsgathering source to discover this moniker provides further evidence to the dankprofessor that Chavez had made a concerted attempt to separate her professorial id from her sm performance id.  And an ad for the sm website “characterizes Mistress Jade as “a stern teacher ready to punish unruly students.”” Of course, such is a  frequent sm fantasy.  But as far as punishment goes, it is clear that several persons at UNM would like to punish Chavez in the real world for her acting out punishment scenarios in a fantasy world.
 
The prime would be real world punisher as previously reported is just resigned Creative Writing Director Sharon Warner.  For Warner the fact that UNM refuses to punish Chavez for “moolinghting as a phone sex worker” is beyond the pale.  She had expected UNM to take “swift action to protect the UNM learning environment”.  The only reason she could fathom for UNM not doing this, as is reported in the Journal, is that “UNM instead caved in to threats of litigation”.
 
As for the UNM administration response, they reject the idea that they had caved into anything; they simply see no evidence that that Chavez threatened the integrity of the learning process at UNM.
 
And Deputy Provost Richard Holder who has represented the UNM administration throughout the Chavez controversy is not exactly a laissez faire advocate when it comes to student professor relationships.
 
The one constant principle, Holder said, is that faculty shouldn’t be romantically involved with students enrolled in their classes. “And if such a relationship begins, we try to get the student out of the class and into another class if we know about it,” he said. He said the power inequity between faculty and their students creates too great a potential problem. 
 “If things are going well in the relationship, you could say that the faculty member is more likely to give a very good grade,” Holder said. “But the opposite occurs as often when people are breaking up. They might get an F in the class and not deserve it. It works both ways, and it’s just better not to have that sort of relationship.” 
Holder said in Chávez’s case, there was not a romantic relationship with the student. 
   
Of course Holder’s views are utter poppycock when it comes to student professor romantic relationships.  He cannot present a scintilla of evidence that professors grade the romantically involved in any way differently then they grade the non-romantically involved.  What he believes without any evidence for said belief should not be considered a justification for taking a student out of class and forcing her/his transfer to another class.  Such represents what Holder characterizes as a power inequity, but here it is the university administrator with the power over both student and professor.
 
Holder goes on to state that in the present Chavez case and the student who preformed with her, both the student and professor were adults and their behavior “didn’t seem to impinge on the classroom.”  Yes, Holder apparently got it right in this case, but he doesn’t seem to be aware that this rationale would be the same rationale for not intervening in student professor romantic relationships unless the evidence showed that said relationship impinged on the classroom.
Yes, act based on the evidence which was applied in the Chavez case but then do not turn around and act on what one believes to have happened, and hold as Holder holds in student professor romantic relationships that one can and should act without an investigation of the facts of the case.
 
But for Professor Warner it becomes irrelevant what Deputy Provost Holder’s investigation found since she believes that “faculty members must maintain their objectivity, whatever it takes.” No need for Deputy Holder to investigate since Warner knows that their could not be objectivity in Chavez’s class.
 
However, the Journal went on to report that many of the UNM English faculty who are critical of Professor Chavez do socialize with students. As reported by one faculty member, “colleagues invite graduate students to their homes for end-of-semester parties and other gatherings. “But the faculty member said “faculty members should respect appropriate boundaries””. 
 
Now in the dankprofessor’s opinion this ‘I socialize with students’ smacks of that now dreaded word “elitism”.  Yes, I will drink with students at the appropriate time and place; reminds me of Hillary guzzling beers at the appropriate time and place which supposedly functioned to shed her elitist performance face.
 
And then last but not least the Journal cites another Chavez colleague, Diane Thiel, who indicated what disturbed her the most “was that the student who posed with Chávez was enrolled in her pedagogy class at the time”.  “The point of the class is to cover such things as teaching ethics,” she said.
 
Bless the ethics teaching professors since they know in some ultimate sense what is ethical versus unethical.  And the student who does not internalize ethics from above has ethically strayed.  So much for independent critical thinking. So much for objectivity in the classroom; you believe in what I believe and you are a good student. Hypocrisy is existent throughout our society but it utterly knows no bounds in the land of higher hypocrisy education.
—–
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
 
  

April 20, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sex workers, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating, University of New Mexico | 1 Comment

The dankprofessor will not back down

Students as well as some administrators at Princeton University have taken a stand against internet website JuicyCampus. JuicyCampus primarily relies on anonymous postings, the majority of which specialize in character assassinations, mudslinging and unsupported rumors of every kind.

Inside Higher Ed reports on the Princeton protest-

The issues raised by anonymity – online, in bathroom graffiti and in more mundane contexts such as defaced or removed posters – aren’t unique to Princeton, whose section on JuicyCampus is relatively tame compared to those of other campuses. But the collective impact of expression that lacks accountability and even contributes to the decay of a campus culture, they believe, led some students to try a more constructive response than calling for banning the site or denouncing those who use it.

The petition declares a “stand against anonymous character assassination, a culture of gossip, and all other acts of ethical and intellectual cowardice.” It continues: “Anonymity may have its place in certain kinds of political speech, journalistic endeavors, and other arenas, but its overuse and abuse is not consistent with the standard of behavior we, as members of an academic community, wish to maintain.”

About 250 students arrived on campus both last Tuesday and Friday with T-shirts bearing the equation “anonymity = cowardice,” said Thomas Dunne, the associate dean of undergraduate students who worked with Diemand-Yauman on the campaign. The campaign has also produced posters with the message “You Can’t Take Me Down”: “Tearing down posters on campus because you don’t support the viewpoints expressed by the organizations involved or the content of the program is a type of vandalism and an act of censorship.”

In the dankprofessor’s opinion the Princeton students and their administrator supporters are doing the right thing.  Anonymous attacks accompanied by unsupported materials have no place in academic discourse or for that matter in any kind of discourse.

Such anonymous postings have no place on the dankprofessor blog.  I have refused to allow such postings, most recently as comments regarding the Lisa Chavez case.  If I published postings from unidentified posters whose posts contain unsupported scurrilous attacks, such would represent the trashing of this blog.  I have been attacked on another blog for not publishing these posts.  All of these posts may have originated from one or several posters.  I do not know.  I have informed them and I now inform my readership that these posts will not be published on my blog.  Sex in the public square which also has had a focus on the UNM Lisa Chavez case has also refused to publish these postings; to read their position statement, click here.

Unfortunately, there are some academic blogs which disagree with our stance.  Such is unfortunate.  Such also represents their right of publication.  I will continue to cover the UNM case as well as report on and comment on sexual politics on campuses while attempting to maintain the highest possible journalistic standards.  I hope that my readership continues to support my quest for truth and justice in academia. 

—–
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

 

 

April 17, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, Princeton University, sadomasochism, secrecy, sex, sex work, sexual politics, speech, University of New Mexico | Leave a comment

Sexual crusade likely at the University of New Mexico

Once again Elizabeth Wood of sexinthepublicsquare.com has performed a great service in facilitating student Liz Derrington writing about her relationship with Professor Lisa Chavez.  

As Liz indicates in her essay, which is excerpted below and can be read in its entirely by clicking here, she never had any kind of sexual relationship with Professor Chavez; they had a  relationship first as co-workers and then as friends.  As for the pictures of herself and Lisa Chavez, Liz indicates that the

the pictures we took during the two or three photo shoots we engaged in were entirely staged. Professor Chávez and I were playing characters, essentially: we worked under pseudonyms, along with assumed personas. As Professor Chávez has said in the past, it’s not like our photos bore captions with our real names and explanations of our connection to UNM, so I think it’s a stretch to say our work for PEP could be construed as damaging to the reputation of UNM, the English department, or the Creative Writing division.

Whatever the relationship that Liz and Lisa had, it was not a sexual relationship, and that their relationship in no way impacted on Professor Chavez’s fitness to teach.  In what I consider to be a key passage in her essay, Liz states-

Again, many of those people are the ones claiming that their objection to Professor Chávez being called fit to teach comes from a concern for students, but none of them ever asked me what happened; they simply stopped speaking to me.

Such is key to understanding the utter hypocrisy of persons attacking Professor Chavez, particularly Creative Writing Director Sharon Warner. Warner, et. al., have cloaked themselves in a garb of being committed to protecting students.  But as we see here such a cloaking is quite transparent.  Professors of this genre simply use students to promulgate their agenda aimed at stigmatizing and punishing professors they consider to be deviant.  The reality is that the student becomes an invisible, non-person.  Students only become visible when they are robotic in the sense of affirming everything the sexually crusading professors have said.

Complicating matters in this case is that both Lisa Chavez and Liz Derrington have become for too many effectively sexually objectified.  No matter what they say or do, they will be interpreted in sexual terms.  Or to put it in other terms, people who are sex workers, people who are phone sex workers,  are seen by the man in the street or by unthinking professors as being totally defined by the sex in sex worker.  Professor Chavez’s status as a professor is trumped for them by her sex worker status.  She and student Liz are mediated thru sexually tinged lenses. They become “prisoners” of the labels put upon them. For persons adhering to this framework, the idea of a person being a professor and a sex worker is an impossibility.  For them, the fact that the UNM VP welcomes Lisa Chavez back to the university is simply intolerable.

Persons such as Professor Warner feel morally violated and they will deal with the pain of their violation by embarking on a sexual crusade.  And if enough people are recruited to becoming part of this campaign, no one will be safe, not VP Holder, not the Chair of the Department of English, not any faculty member who publicly supports Professor Chavez and certainly not Liz Derrington, unless she disavows her friendship with Professor Chavez.

I am not engaging in any hysterical thinking here; I am basing this on what I have seen occur on university campuses and beyond over and over again.  I can’t definitively say what will be the outcome at the University of New Mexico since I do not have enough familiarity with the political and “moral” climate at the university and its environs.  I will be surprised if we do not see in the near future New Mexico state legislators involved in this imbroglio with threats of financial retribution being directed toward the university. 

My advice to persons at UNM who are concerned with civil liberties and academic freedom at UNM is too hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  And don’t engage in pipedreams about good and decent academics who will not do nasty things; engage in knowing ones enemy and fighting for values that would be unthinkable to abandon, such abandonment could put university life in the hands of moral absolutists.  Most immediately publicly support the UNM administration.

As indicated, here are the excerpts from the Derrington essay-

I am the graduate student referred to in the Sex in the Public Square post from April 4, entitled “Lisa Chavez speaks out.” I wanted to take some time to do some speaking out myself, as I have not done so before now aside from during the official investigation.

I began working for PEP in February 2007. Lisa Chávez and I began taking calls at the same time, but that was entirely a coincidence. I was taking a class with her that semester; it was an elective for me that I opted to take partly because I thought I would learn a lot and it would look good on my CV, but also because I had a great deal of respect for Professor Chávez as a writer and had heard good things about her as a teacher. As was the case with many of my professors in graduate school, I was able to be friends with Professor Chávez outside the classroom while still respecting her authority in the classroom. We never discussed our phone sex work in class, nor did we discuss class during the two or three photo shoots we engaged in. As Elizabeth has pointed out, the pictures we took during the two or three photo shoots we engaged in were entirely staged. Professor Chávez and I were playing characters, essentially: we worked under pseudonyms, along with assumed personas. As Professor Chávez has said in the past, it’s not like our photos bore captions with our real names and explanations of our connection to UNM, so I think it’s a stretch to say our work for PEP could be construed as damaging to the reputation of UNM, the English department, or the Creative Writing division…

As Lisa said, though, in July an “anonymous” letter arrived in the English department, “outing” Professor Chávez as a PSO. My understanding — Professor Chávez is the only one who has both seen the letter and talked to me about it — is that the letter contained photos from the website, some of which included me. Or it might be that the letter referred to the website, and upon viewing the website, other professors recognized me as well as Professor Chávez. At any rate, it came out that the two of us, along with a student who’d graduated in May 2006, were working for this company. At first it seemed like UNM’s lawyers didn’t see anything wrong with Professor Chávez participating in PEP activities with an adult graduate student, but by the fall an official investigation was underway.

People were ostensibly concerned for me. They wanted to make sure I hadn’t been coerced into working for PEP, hadn’t been recruited via the University, that my grades hadn’t been contingent on my work for PEP, that I didn’t feel like I’d been harassed or made uncomfortable, etc. Honestly, though, at this point I have a hard time believing that they want Professor Chávez to be punished, or at least for further investigations or reviews to be made, because they’re concerned for students. One reason for my skepticism is that the official investigation was thorough. As the Daily Lobo article points out, the Deputy Provost found that “the graduate students involved ‘reported their activities were consensual, and all disclaimed any recruitment, solicitation or coercion.’” And yet the anti-Professor Chávez contingent continues to call for her head.

Another, more pointed (for me) reason for my skepticism is the fact that once word of my involvement with PEP (not to mention the photos) began to spread, many of the professors in the department began to shun me. Most notably, my dissertation advisor at the time refused to work with me anymore, meaning I had to switch advisors less than three months before my dissertation defense. That same professor also told more than one other person that she felt she ought to contact the university where I now work — I had the job lined up last semester — to tell them that I’m not morally fit to teach. I hadn’t intended to continue doing phone sex work once I started teaching anyway (largely because I found it mentally and emotionally draining), but I ended up having to quit several months sooner than I’d planned because I began to have panic attacks anytime the phone rang — I was afraid it was someone from the English department calling to check up on me, to accuse me further of engaging in immorality. My credit card balances still show the damage that quitting before I had another job available did to my finances. I sank into depression, not because of anything Professor Chávez did — indeed, she has never been anything but supportive of me, professionally and personally — but because I felt betrayed and abandoned by a number of other people in the department whom I had trusted and respected.

Again, many of those people are the ones claiming that their objection to Professor Chávez being called fit to teach comes from a concern for students, but none of them ever asked me what happened; they simply stopped speaking to me.

Furthermore, word reached me at one point that I was being blatantly slandered within the department, that people were being told that Professor Chávez and I were engaging in a sexual relationship, and that we were also engaging in prostitution. PEP does offer in-person domination sessions, and while I appreciate that such sessions tread a very fine legal line as they are sexual in nature without involving actual sex, the fact of the matter is that Professor Chávez and I never participated in such sessions; the work we did was strictly over the phone. I hired an attorney once the official investigation was underway, because I feared being slandered further, and I felt that the English department was doing a poor job of representing my interests. In the end, the only evidence I had of the slander was hearsay, and so I didn’t take legal action, but I felt a great deal of hostility directed at me within the department, particularly on the part of many of the same people who would like to see Professor Chávez punished further, if not fired…

I graduated in December, and am now working as an adjunct instructor. I want to focus now on my teaching and writing, on trying to establish my career, but this scandal continues to occupy my thoughts, and not just because I consider Professor Chávez a good friend and it upsets me to see her being treated the way she’s being treated. I still have concerns about my professional future: I know that there are a number of faculty members at the University of New Mexico who would give me a strong recommendation if asked. However, I also fear that there are faculty members who, if asked about me, would give me a negative evaluation based not on the work I actually did at UNM, but on their disapproval of my work as a phone sex operator. I dislike feeling like I have to keep looking over my shoulder, so to speak, every time I put UNM down as a former employer. I’m not foolish enough to put the professors who have clear objections to my behavior down as references, but my fear is that if another department were to take it upon themselves to do an exceptionally thorough background check on me, the aforementioned professors would be all too willing to bring up subjects that would be inappropriate in that context. My hope is that by speaking out, I will, if nothing else, be able to control the narrative being told about me, at least to a certain extent.

—–
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

 

 

April 6, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sex workers, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of New Mexico | 3 Comments

UNM Prof Lisa Chavez speaks out

There have been major developments on the UNM Lisa Chavez story. The website sexinthepublicsquare has published an in-depth and definitely worth reading interview with Professor Chavez.  Professor Elizabeth Wood, the interviewer, is to be congratulated for her good work.  The dankprofessor urges blog readers to read the entirety of the interview. And sexinthepublicsquare is now on the dankprofessor’s very selective list of blogs that merit reading on a regular basis. 

In addition, TV station krqe had a news segment on the Chavez sitution in which Sharon Warner was interviewed and images of Professor Chavez partaking in a sm scene were shown.

In the interview, Professor Chavez makes it quite clear that this incident did not involved a sexual relationship with a student-

I was not in a relationship with the student in the photos–other than the relationship between co-workers at PEP and as friends.I do not think adult students need to be protected from faculty. Of course I believe sexual harassment and any coercion are wrong, but I don’t believe consensual relationships are wrong. In fact, there are cases of such relationships in my department, but they have always been heterosexual. There are also cases of true harassment, which have not been pursued. I believe I am being treated this way partially because the purported relationship was between two women, and also because they see a certain “luridness” in what some in my department called  the “sex trade.”

I do think students and faculty both can benefit from close relationships–not sexual relationships per se, but friendships–and this is especially true in my field of creative writing. I have become friends with a number of the students I’ve worked with (and, for the record, I have never had a sexual relationship with a student, though I do not mean to condemn all such relationships), and I believe that the friendship helps us work better together. Creating writing is often a sort of soul-baring, and I believe that to work well together, we need to build up a mutual trust, which is something that goes beyond a formal student/teacher distance.

Bravo to Professor Chavez for not engaging in a condemnation of student professor relationships and reciting the cant that differential power precludes consent.  But even given her non-sexual involvement with students, the campaign against her will in all likelihood continue unabated.

What has become most clear to the dankprofessor is that resigned UNM Writing Director Sharon Warner is the major protagonist.  One does not have to read between the lines to figure out that she has de facto communicated that she was the one who broke this “story”.  She appears to be the “third party informant”. There was no story until she came forward.  Prior to her coming forward, Professor Chavez as part of an sm scene or performance was not recognized as such on the internet; she was not identified personally on the website.

Professor Warner in essence wrote the story.  And she is the story, not Lisa Chavez.  She is the absolutist moral entrepreneur attempting to sell her story at the expense of Lisa Chavez.  In essence, Warner’s story is summed up in the following quote- “We think a message must be sent out not only to her but to other faculty members because: If this is not unethical, what is unethical?”

Nothing here about protecting students from harm; it’s primarily about sending out a message to other faculty members, a message reaffirming traditional sexual morality.   For her, Lisa Chavez is a sexual outsider.  I have no doubt that this woman will not rest until Lisa is exiled or excommunicated from UNM. 

Adding melodrama to the story is Professor Warner’s resignation as Writing Director.  She just couldn’t handle Lisa Chavez not being punished by the UNM administration and she could not handle her colleague returning from sabbatical still in good university standing.  So she resigns in protest. The dankprofessor’s reaction is “big deal”.  Such was a symbolic protest with no substance; she did not resign as a tenured English professor; hardly anything as an academic really changes for her.

Professor Warner has promised to continue to campaign for the university censuring of Professor Chavez; she indicates that she will take this to the desk of Governor Richardson if such becomes necessary.  Not boding well for Professor Chavez is none of her English faculty colleagues have publicly indicated any kind of support for her while 13 of her colleagues have signed a petition asking for further university evaluation of her actions.  The dankprofessor estimates that there are 43 tenured faculty, including faculty who may be untenured but are on a tenure track in the UNM English department. Even if the UNM administration maintains its position as to not punish Professor Chavez, Chavez could very well find upon her return a very hostile and non-welcoming English faculty.  The fact is that bullying of academics by fellow academics is rife in the academic world; in this context, do checkout the website bulliedacademics.blogspot.com

Academic bullying can range from outright shunning to verbal hostility to a myriad of false charges having nothing to do with the original charge to the assignment of particularly unattractive teaching schedules to never getting another sabbatical leave to never getting promoted.  Of course, the intent is to punish the bullied and to make life so difficult that the bullied “chooses” to resign.  I call this a definite example of power abuse!  Nothing consensual about this, my point being that Professor Chavez engaged in a consensual SM performance.  Those trying to get rid of Chavez or bullying of her in the future, if such be the case, do not give a damn about consent and are the ones engaging in power abuse.

To date the administration of the University of New Mexico has been exemplary as to how they have dealt with this situation.  They merit the support of academics who truly take academic freedom seriously.  Unquestionably their power is and will be continued to be challenged.  Let us hope that they do not capitulate.

—–
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

April 5, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, nudity, pornography, sadomasochism, sex, sex work, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, Uncategorized, University of New Mexico | 7 Comments

Eradication of prostitutes and prostitution predicted to occur within 20 years

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

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

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

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

Quoting from the Washington Post review-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

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

Undergrad students prostitute themselves to pay college fees

The British Guardian reported yesterday that a large number of French undergraduates have been engaging in prostitution to pay for their university fees and books.

 As reported in the Guardian:”A memoir by a 19-year-old language student and a book of interviews with undergraduate sex workers has shocked France, lifting the lid on a practice which appears to be increasingly common. A new study showed a large online market for student prostitutes, describing how male clients, who are often rich, married executives, advertise online for young, undergraduate “escorts” whom they prefer to street prostitutes. These clients pay on average €400 (£300) for a two hour meeting with a student, including sex and “time to talk”.

One student union estimated that 40,000 students are working as prostitutes. Others dispute that number, but the minister for higher education, Valérie Pécresse, acknowledged that the “phenomenon” was hard to quantify because of the taboo surrounding it. She said the government had not done enough to “concentrate efforts” on helping poor students juggle conventional part-time jobs.

Laura D, a 19-year-old student of Spanish and Italian, details in her memoir, Mes Chères Etudes, how she began working as a prostitute aged 18 when she could not afford her rent, books, or food, despite a part-time telesales job. Her parents – a nurse and a labourer earning just above the minimum wage – could not support her, but their jobs meant she did not qualify for aid.

Once, she asked a client for a laptop computer as payment. He brought one to their hotel meeting, but subjected her to violent sadism without her consent.

Eva Clouet, author of the book of interviews with student sex workers and clients, said those who had spoken out wanted a review of student aid, an increase in purpose-built student housing and the ability to combine normal part-time jobs with a university workload.”

—–
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

January 22, 2008 Posted by | higher education, prostitution, sex, sex work, sex workers, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

   

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