Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Sexual messiness and Louisiana Tech

 Turns out that Louisiana Tech has no formal regulations regarding student professor relationships.  Good for Louisiana Tech.  No institutionalized snoopers and no sexual policing by university administrators.  But, of course,not everyone is happy with this laissez policy as indicated in this  publication-

 Student-professor relationships are notoriously messy affairs on college campuses, potentially compromising the classroom interactions between the professor and his students or leaving a professor vulnerable to sexual harassment charges. the lack of any written policy discouraging such actions has student opinion split.

 Notoriously messy?  Is such really the case?  In my pedestrian life as a professor, I do not recollect ever having a notoriously messy relationship with a student.  I can’t even recall a highly messy relationship.  I can’t even recall any of my colleagues sexual relationships with students as being notoriously messy.  At least in my case, maybe this messiness did not occur because the relationships occurred in the context of mutual love and respect.

But, of course, consenting adults have the right to engage in relationships, messy or not messy.  Maybe a little messiness makes the relationship a bit more interesting.  After all, if there was no initial messing around nothing would have gotten off the ground.

March 9, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, higher education, Louisiana Tech, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | 2 Comments

The ethics of TA/student relationships

I like this posting by Prof. Janet D. Stemwedel aka as Dr. Free-ride on advising a TA how to deal or cope with his desire to date one of his students.   In contrast to almost all postings I have read in this area, she treats the student as a mature person and openly grapples with the complexities of the situation.  She does not invoke her own power in telling him what to do.  This prof does not views ethics as dictated from above nor does she preach anything in the name of conformity.  As for her advice, the only place where I think she is off base is when she advises that the final grading of the student should be by the professor not by the TA.  This really is inconsistent with her overall sound notion that the “special” student should not be treated as a special student and be treated just like all the other students.  If the student amour’s final grading is by the prof then all the other students final grading should be by the prof. 

I am posting the entirely of the student’s question and the good professor’s response.  Click here to go to her blog.

Posted on: February 22, 2010 5:04 PM, by Janet D. Stemwedel

By email, a reader asks for advice on a situation in which the personal and the professional seem like they might be on a collision course:

I am a junior at a small (< 2000 students) liberal arts college. I got recruited to be a TA for an upper division science class, and it’s going swimmingly. I’m basically a troubleshooter during labs, which the professor supervises. The problem is that I’ve fallen for one of the students, also a junior. Is it possible for me to ethically date her? The university’s handbooks are little help–sexual harassment is very strictly prohibited, but even faculty are technically allowed to date their students–and my instincts keep flip-flopping. On the one hand, teacher-student relationships are automatically suspect, but on the other I’m not sure that it’s significantly different from TAing the close friends that are in the class.

I obviously have no intention of changing grades or doing anything resembling sexual harassment, and I’m pretty good (sometimes too good) at being objective and keeping work and my social life separate. The grading is also pretty objective, and the professor goes over it to be sure my grades are reasonable. If it is possible, what do I need to look out for? Do I need to inform the professor (she knows I’m friends with the subject of my infatuation)? And in the event that we do go out, do I have to tell her that I grade her tests and labs (it’s unusual for a TA to grade in upper division courses in our department)? It seems like it might be easier if she didn’t know, but it would be at least lying by omission.

I know this probably sounds like it ought to be addressed to Dan Savage, but I’d really appreciate your advice and any advice your readers might have.
Thanks so much,

“Forbidden Chemistry”

I’ll allow as how Dan Savage knows a lot, but when was the last time he thought about the ethical challenges of power gradients in educational and training environments?
This is one of those situations that’s hard to avoid in academia, an instance where normal peer relationships are complicated because one of the peers has been given extra responsibility by someone outside of the peer group.

Maybe it’s not as frequent in all-undergraduate institutions, but it’s not at all uncommon in graduate school to end up having one of your friends TA a course you’re taking (which can entail grading your problem sets and exams). My recollection of these grad school courses is that students and TAs alike were driven by a grim determination to get through all the work they had to do. Rather than taking it personally on either end (the wretched problem set one friend submitted, or the painful grade the other friend assigned to that wretched problem set), everyone pretty much assumed an unfeeling, uncaring universe that was out to get us all equally, one way or another.

Good times.

However, our correspondent here is describing an environment with a baseline of warmer feelings, where members of the junior class are reasonably friendly with each other and the universe is a pretty OK place. An environment where people might even find love.

Except the potential for love here is challenged by a power disparity. A TA may not have a lot of power over his students, but could it be enough to mess things up?

There are some big questions Forbidden Chemistry needs to think about here. High on the list is his ability to fulfill the duties of the TA job. Doing this job well involves helping the students in the lab class so that they have a reasonable shot of getting the experiments to work. This includes being as fair as he can in how he uses his time — not letting a handful of students monopolize his troubleshooting and leaving the rest without the help they need. The job also requires him to do some grading of student work, and to do this as objectively and consistently as he can.

Having a student in the course become a girlfriend could potentially interfere with both of these elements of the job requirements. It might lead, consciously or unconsciously, to a different pattern of providing assistance during the lab periods. And, it might undercut Forbidden Chemistry’s ability to be objective in grading the assignments.

Let’s pause here to recognize that there’s already something a little awkward, as Forbidden Chemistry notes, about grading one’s peers. Even if you’re focused on evaluating their work, it’s hard to keep that completely distinct from evaluating them. And even if you’re clear that it’s just their work you are evaluating, they may not feel as though the lines are that clear when they get their graded work back. I’m inclined to think that this is an issue that professors with TAs who are in the same cohort as the students they are TAing ought to deal with explicitly as they mentor their TAs. (Yes, I think that there ought to be mentoring of one’s TAs, but that’s probably a topic best left to a post of its own.)

Aside from the question of whether a romantic relationship with a student in the course will undercut Forbidden Chemistry’s performance as a TA, there’s also the question of what effects the dynamics of the TA-student relationship could have on his relationship with the object of his affection. How awkward would it be for her to dating someone who’s grading her work? Would she worry that she was being graded more leniently — or, more harshly, if Forbidden Chemistry ends up going too far in an effort not to show favoritism? Even if she were confident that she was getting fair treatment in the class, would her classmates who were not dating a TA share this perception.

Indeed, in some ways the big consequence to fear from asking a student out here is what that would do to Forbidden Chemistry’s relationship with the other students in the class. Would they perceive such a relationship as setting up unfair conditions in the lab course? After all, if Forbidden Chemistry starts dating the object of his affections, they might well start spending a lot more time together. Would this give her greater access to Forbidden Chemistry to get her questions answered about how to make the labs work, or how to analyze the data, or what counts the most on the lab write-ups? The other students might decide that Forbidden Chemistry is falling down on his TA duties if he doesn’t provide them with similar all-access consultations out of class. Maybe this will end up undermining the friendships he had with some of these students before he was the TA for their class.

Finally, Forbidden Chemistry needs to consider the possibility that the object of his affections, if asked out, may decline. How awkward would that make their interactions in the context of the TA-student relationship? How can one party “lie low” after such a rejection without either shirking duties to a student who may need assistance or opting out of getting help she made need from her TA?

So, Forbidden Chemistry wants to find a course of action where he can fulfill his professional and personal obligations, and one that brings about good consequences (and minimizes bad consequences) for himself, the object of his affections, the other students in the course, and the professor supervising him.

Here’s my advice:

Wait until the end of the semester, until the grades are out of your hands. This has the very best chance of keeping professional duties and personal duties from getting tangled up and pulling in opposite directions.

Given that there is a preexisting friendship in place, though — indeed, a web of preexisting social relationships within the junior class — it’s not unthinkable that an innocent interaction in a social context might get something started. As the romance novelists might put it, maybe despite Forbidden Chemistry’s best efforts, his heart (and that of his beloved) will not be denied. If this happens, do not opt for stealth and try to keep it secret. At a small college, the chances of actually keeping a secret like this are vanishingly small. Moreover, the appearance of a cover-up is likely to have worse effects (especially on Forbidden Chemistry’s professional interactions with the students in the course) than the relationship itself.

While Forbidden Chemistry and his beloved are avoiding hiding in the shadows, though, Forbidden Chemistry will need to take concrete steps to ensure fairness.

In the lab, Forbidden Chemistry will want to keep track of troubleshooting time, to make sure all the students who need his help are getting a fair slice of that time.

Also, I’d think Forbidden Chemistry would need to let the professor for the course grade the girlfriend’s work. To make this easier on the prof, and to maximize the chances for objective grading across the students in the class, this means Forbidden Chemistry should grade all the other papers first; the prof can then use these graded papers as a guide to partial credit. (Alternatively, Forbidden Chemistry can devise a “grading guide” that captures all the point assignments, and hand this over to the professor, with the other graded papers as an additional reference.) Of course, it’s probably fairest if Forbidden Chemistry doesn’t even look at the girlfriend’s paper before grading the other papers and making a grading guide.

There is a chance that the professor for the class will view this sort of effort to avoid a conflict of interest as responsible. There is also a chance that the professor for the class will view this sort of effort to avoid a conflict of interest as a pain in the ass for her. Suddenly she has grading to do that she didn’t have to do before! Couldn’t Forbidden Chemistry just wait until the course is over? Why can’t college juniors separate business and pleasure? However, recall that the context already in place has Forbidden Chemistry grading friends. College life, especially at small residential colleges, tends already to mix business and pleasure. So maybe there is already good reason for professors to have discussions with their TAs about the general issue of how to manage professional and personal responsibilities when worlds collide.

And, if Forbidden Chemistry ends up dating his student before the term is over, he and she must commit to keeping their interactions in the lab all business. Even if the relationship isn’t a secret, and even if no one says anything about it, people will be watching.

Again, I’m inclined to think that if the feelings are real, they’ll be robust enough to pursue after grades are filed. But if something mutual blossoms before then, be grown-ups about it and take the steps you need to in order to ensure your effectiveness as a TA isn’t compromised — including admitting that some situations don’t help our objectivity, and making arrangements to get help from someone not in this particular crucible of love.

Good luck!

February 23, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | 2 Comments

Dining out as risky behavior

Thank you very much for taking the on-line sexual harassment training program that was recently offered by the University.  Preventing sexual harassment on campus is the responsibility of all of us.  I greatly appreciate your participation.

One concern has been raised regarding the training program.  The specific scenario of concern involved a faculty member taking a student to dinner on a weekend.  The program indicated that this conduct was not, in and of itself, sexual harassment.

The University wants to make clear that while this might not be sexual harassment in the absence of other facts, it is not good practice to engage in this type of activity with students as it can clearly lead to charges of sexual harassment.  Of course, University policy forbids any faculty member from having a dating relationship with any student with whom he or she has a teaching, research or advisor relationship.

 I am not sure what university issued the above statement. Link is provided so those who are familiar with the script may be able to determine which university.

 Of course, the absurdity is apparent.  The dankprofessor notes that it is not clear that having dinner with a student can lead to harassment.  The risk of food poisoning, of indigestion, of soup slurping would seem to be higher risk behaviors.  In any case, if one is interested in having a better understanding of this scenario maybe the scenario should be fleshed out a bit, such as the dinner being in celebration of the student graduating, or of the student being accepted into a graduate program or a gesture in helping the student deal with a death in her family.  Or maybe a result of a mutual attraction which could lead to a dating relationship and to marriage and to parentage and to divorce.

But as noted by the higher authority- “Of course, University policy forbids any faculty member from having a dating relationship with any student with whom he or she has a teaching, research or advisor relationship.”

 But if one really attempted to live by these rules one could end up being normal and engaging in everyday worship of the God of Normal and, of course, engaging in appropriate dining behavior

February 18, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, fear, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics | 1 Comment

Otero University and student professor sex

As has been clearly demonstrated over the last few days, violence is no stranger to university campuses. Although it is more frequently violence by students toward other students and toward faculty, faculty to faculty violence is not unknown as was clearly demonstrated at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. We also find there to be faculty violence toward students as recently occurred at Otago University in New Zealand where student Sophie Elliot was murdered by lecturer Clayton Weathersome.

What makes the Otago U tragic murder different is that some people have come up with a way to prevent such violence.  They say the  way to do this is to have stringent measures taken against faculty who become sexually involved with a student. You see the Elliot/Weathersome affair and then murder was a student/prof affair.

Otago University has under taken a review of rules on staff-student romances, a review which was sparked by the brutal murder.  Persons, both inside and outside of the university, have been encouraged to make submissions on the issue. Elliott’s mother Lesley said she wanted vulnerable students who entered into relationships with university academics to be supervised and counseled, and for the academics involved to immediately resign.

The reaction of  the mother of the murdered student is understandable, but unfortunately all too often emotion carries the day when it comes to draconian measures enacted in the attempt to control violence, particularly sexual violence.

To view student professor intimate relationships as somehow intrinsically fostering violence is outrageous.  99.999 percent of such relationships do not lead to lethal violence.  If one was going to focus on relationships that are more likely to lead to violence and lethal violence, such would be student/student relationships.  And, of course, when it comes to campus violence and violence in general, alcohol consumption should be a major area of concern.

The mother stated-

“I feel something should be in the employment contract of staff to the effect that if a relationship develops, they are obliged to resign. We think this policy also needs to be highlighted to students… If students knew a person would have to resign, they may have second thoughts about going out with staff.”

Now it is this last line that irks the dankprofessor.  No student should have second thoughts about going out with a staff member because of this one tragic case.  And, of course, if this sort of thinking is taken seriously, then any person, student or non-student, would have concerns about going out with a lecturer because of the violence implication.

Now I know that some will say I am overreacting to the ramblings of a distraught mother.  Unfortunately, such is often how universities end up imposing stringent controls on student professor relationships.  People become distraught and want immediate action, and universities respond by not dealing with violence or coercion or sexual harassment but rather by demeaning those who are involved in consensual relationships.

Let us hope that Otago University does not go in the aforementioned direction.  What student professor couples want is what most other couples want and that is to be left alone as they pursue their mutual romantic goals.  To consider these couples as sort of criminal couples is not only absurd but is also criminal.

February 15, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, fear, fraternization, higher education, Otero University, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, violence | 2 Comments

On defending Roman Polanski

The blog Shakesville periodically publishes material on the plight of Roman Polanski by guest bloggers or by one of their regular bloggers.  No matter who the blogger is on Shakesville you can be assured that Polanski always represents for them the ultimate societal enemy.  Anyone who deviates from their anti-Polanski party line is considered to be scum, to be a rape apologist.

So it is not surprising that their most recent anti-Polanski rant focuses on Johnny Depp who recently made some very public comments calling for the freeing of Roman Polanski.  And emerging out of the Shakesville closet is a blogger going under the name mschicklet.

mschicklet states-

Johnny Depp wants us all to know that Roman Polanski is no longer a threat. You see, Mr. Depp seems to think that Polanski is no longer capable of raping someone, because he is in his 70s and has a wife and children. So, there you go, nothing to worry about. We can all sit back, relax, and join the “Free Polanski” crowd.

Depp doesn’t say that Polanski is incapable of rape but for some 20 plus years he has been living a pretty sedate life- married with children and engaging in filmmaking and more filmmaking.  Such is the gist of Depp’s comments- that Polanski’s freedom does not represent a risk to society.

mschicklet continues-

Except, wait a minute. The second man who raped me had a wife and children. Every single day, I am blindsided by anxiety attacks brought on by the memory of his scent, his voice, even the sound of his name. Memory is a fickle thing, but I remember what he did to me. He raped me. While he was married. While his two young daughters were sleeping in the next bedroom.

But, Mr. Depp says there’s no way a man with a wife and children would do such a thing. No way someone who’s married for 20+ years, who kisses his daughters goodnight and tucks them into bed, could possibly rape anyone. So, does that mean my experience means nothing? Does that mean it really didn’t happen?

He doesn’t say that no married man with children could do such a thing, but dealing with Roman Polanski in a marital context, Depp says Roman Polanski has not done such a thing.

mschicklet continues-

I take issue with the fact that Johnny Depp is using his privilege to minimize and even deny the horrific events that so many victims have been forced to endure. And, after reading the Survivor Thread and listening to the stories of other rape victims in tear-filled counseling groups, I know my story isn’t all that rare.

Depp is using his privilege?  What privilege?  Speaking out for or against Polanski is not a privilege, it is a right.  He is no more privileged than the dankprofessor, and as far as I know my privileges are quite pesdestrian.  And Johnny Depp has not attempted to deny or minimize the horrors experienced by many victims of rape.

She continues-

Because, as we’ve learned, that’s the thing about rapists. They rape people. A wedding band doesn’t stop them, nor does the fact that they have children. Nor does their age. Denying this, as Mr. Depp is doing, silences rape victims. And, really, haven’t victims already been silenced enough?

Well, mschicklet attributes a whole lot of power to Depp.  He’s just an actor, mschicklet, he has the power to silence no one.  Now, maybe I am missing something, but mschicklet says that Depp is silencing rape victims and mschicklet is a rape victim and she has not been silenced.  OK, I know that victims of violence, rape or otherwise, respond differently to their victimage, but her prior paragraph she indicates that all rape victims respond in the same manner.  Note that I was more restrained, I said “many” rape victims.  But mschicklet stereotypes rape victims.  For example, not all rape victims want Polanski to be imprisoned.

She continues-

In addition to trying to be the final word on what a rapist is or is not, Johnny Depp also wants to know why Polanski was arrested. “Why now?” he asks. Why is this coming up now? Because Polanski fled the country for 30 years and refused to serve his time. By asking “Why now?” Mr. Depp is focusing responsibility on the wrong people – the people who want our justice system to do its job. Instead, he should be holding Polanski accountable. Mr. Depp’s words absolutely scream, “Poor him! Poor guy! Let him go! Leave him alone!” What sort of a society do we live in if so many people feel the need to defend and protect a rapist? If this isn’t rape culture, then I don’t know what is.

I do not believe that for a second that people who are defending Polanski are defending him because they have a need to protect a rapist.  I defend Polanski not out of some psychological need relating to rape but rather the belief that Polanski has been treated unfairly and he has been punished enough.  Whatever the circumstances were with with Samantha Geimer, Polanski cannot just be reduced to a rapist.  The complexities of this man are immense.  Few people in this world have gone thru the sort of horrific events that Roman Polanski has gone thru- a survivor of the Holocaust whose mother was gassed to death and a survivor of his wife’s mutilation and murder by the Manson gang.  mschicklet is distressed that people cannot open themselves to the horror associated with rape while at the same time she seems clueless as to the horrors experienced by Polanski.

And she continues-

And ever since the arrest of Polanski, that’s what I’ve seen from such a large portion of Hollywood and society in general. I’ve seen some of the most respected actors and filmmakers in Hollywood defend someone who doesn’t deserve it. Either they deny that he is a rapist, deny that he ever was a rapist, or blame us for not letting the rapist go. I wish Johnny Depp realized that by adding his name to the long list of rape apologists, he not helping the situation – he is hurting so many people who are now faced with the cold truth that one less person is on their side.

It must be nice to live in the fantasy world that Johnny Depp lives in. In fact, I remember when I had similar beliefs. Men with children are safe, I would think to myself, in large part because that’s what my mother taught me. It wasn’t until I was raped that I finally realized how wrong I had been. But it shouldn’t take something like that to “wake us up.” We shouldn’t have to wake up in the first place.

Unfortunately, mischicklet lives in a kind of fantasy world.  She rants on about rape victims, but if rape victims are so important to her she engages in a giant psychological feat when she never mentions Polanski’s so-called rape victim.  She must know that Samantha Geimer wants Polanski to go free; she must know at the latest judicial hearing Geimer was represented by an attorney who argued for Polanski’s freedom.  mschicklet chooses not to ACKNOWLEDGE a person she considers to be a rape victim.  What utter callousness!

And as for concern for safety which mschicklet mentions, I share her concern.  But my concern for safety entails being protected from persons such as mschicklet, persons who seem to embrace a form of vigilante justice, persons who give full vent to their anger, persons whose self-righteousness seem to know no limit.  And as for safety and Roman Polanski, I personally believe that those people who believe that Polanski represents a clear and present danger to society are in a state of delusion.

And as for her comment about our culture being a rape culture, such a notion has some merit.  But support for a rape culture has nothing to do with defending or opposing Roman Polanski.  Evidence that we are living in a rape culture is that “we” support sending persons to prison in which rape is often supported not only by inmates but also by prison guards.  The fact we can’t protect persons from rape who we send away to prison so we can be protected from being raped is quite damning!!

As for rape victims, speaking up in support of Polanski, click here and for a detailed account of the circumstances involved in the Geimer statutory rape, click here.

February 5, 2010 Posted by | celebrities, rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics, victimization, violence | 10 Comments

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

A rape victim on her rape and on Polanski’s “victim”

I encourage any one who wishes to have a fuller understanding of rape and its long term and short term consequences to read Samskara’s presentation and analysis of her rape.  In the context of her rape experience, Samskara explains why the so-called facts presented by Samantha Geimer, the alleged rape victim of Roman Polanski, leads her to conclude that Geimer was not a victim of forcible rape.

This is a must read for anyone seriously interested in the Polanski case and rape in general.  I hope readers circulate this so it might come to the attention of Polanski and/or his legal defenders.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics | 25 Comments

The mother of Samantha Geimer as suspect

Sometimes comments come into the dankprofessor blog which I feel merit attention as a full fledged post.  Here is a comment from Samskara on Polanski Defenders and Rape Baiting which is now published as a post-

I’ll relate a story I read and heard on Russian actress/model Olga Kurylenko (“Hitman” and “Quantum of Solace”). While in Russia, standing in a food line with her mother, a man noticed her and wanted to photograph her. He said he was an ‘agent’, however, given the Russian underground trade in sex slaves to Thailand and other places, Mrs. Kurylenko (Olga’s mother) refused to believe that this guy was on the up-and-up. So she decided to accompany Olga to this ‘meeting’. It turned out that he was in fact, a bonafide photographer with international connections into the modeling business. Olga, with her mother by her side, signed the contract and lo and behold, she’s a model.

The reason I’m telling this story? Well ever since that day until Olga turned 21, Mrs. Kurylenko accompanied Olga wherever she went, all over the world, no matter where it was. As a Russian scientist, Mrs. Kurylenko knew the money Olga was making was significant and could make a difference as to her daughter’s future. The one thing that Mrs. Kurylenko didn’t do, was allow Olga to go off on her own with anyone until she came of age.

How does this relate to Roman and his story? Plenty. I still say, how much of this whole thing is to be blamed solely on the mother? All of it. What mother allows their young daughter to go off with a man known for his proclivities for liking young-er women? Only a mother who plainly has an ulterior motive. As a woman, I have the right to say this. I have the right to question where Mrs. Gailey’s ethics were. I don’t believe in morals. They’re for those who ascribe to some kind of religious system of believe. I don’t. I’m more in line of a left-of-liberal leaning humanist. While I agree with the fact that as sexual beings we should be able to do whatever we want in terms of our bedrooms, I also believe that there should be an effort to protrect those who may be vulnerable in our culture. But in this case, there was no ‘vulnerable’ little creature to protect. And anyone who doesn’t understand that Geimer was already sexually mature, don’t see the larger picture. And for those who think that it’s ‘okay’ to state things like “if it where your 13 year-old daughter, you’d think differently…” They’re just blowing shit up their own asses. If I had a 13 year-old daughter, I certainly would not be sending her off with someone I didn’t even know that well. Like Olga Kurylenko, I would want to be there to protect my daughter, not send her off to fend for herself.

In a culture that embraces the absurd and the sick, like the American’s do (I’m Canadian), I think it’s ridiculous that most of the condemnation is coming from the US. They’re professing to be this ‘hard-done-by’ nation, yet they love ruling over the world when it comes to global law. And Roman Polanski is not a whipping boy for all that is wrong with the US. Their lawmakers are. And considering that they have worse REAL pedophiles within their own government like those of the C-Street band who believe it’s perectly okay to rape a six year-old and confess it and have it called a ‘power enhancing experience’, but to break with their bretheren is punishable by death, that’s whacked up to me

January 10, 2010 Posted by | rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Polanski defenders and rape baiting

I am tired of how too many persons end their arguments against freedom for Polanski with comments/questions of the following genre.

‘If you had a 13 year old daughter who was raped, would you just let it go?  Allow the rapist to go free? Rape is rape.’

“Rape is rape” but rape is not rape.  One rape does not equal another rape and one rapist does not equal another rapist, etc., etc. It never has and never will. We are not dealing with robots in the courtroom- one could also say that one judge or lawyer does not equal another judge or lawyer.

But when Polanski is seen as not being treated like another accused criminal, people go wild. A case can be made for Polanski having more lenient treatment than others. Of course, too many readers, not all, see defenders of Polanski as just rape apologists- end of discussion for them.

Or I can say that we are not seeing celebrity justice here but rather celebrity injustice.

Or I can say how about laying off Polanski with all the degrading rhetoric when  you know both his wife was murdered and mutilated by the Manson gang and his mother was murdered by the Nazi gang. Should a person who has survived such atrocities be treated like any other person? Or really getting into the absurd should Polanski be treated like any other person whose wife and mother was murdered?

Bottom line just for Polanski- justice for Polanski is letting him go now. Justice for Ms. Gemier is to let him go now.

Such, of course, has no implications for other so-called similar cases.  And even referring to similar cases here is problematic.

And what I would want as a father of a 13 year old daughter who had sex with Polanski after the daughter’s mother gave permission for her to go off somewhere to be photographed by a celebrity? I can’t answer the question, an inane and irrelevant question.

Enough is enough. Polanski has suffered and suffered and suffered…

January 9, 2010 Posted by | rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics | 5 Comments

The university attack on love

In recent years there has been a major change in university policies banning student prof sexual relationships.  The change has been the incorporation of “sexual or amorous” relationships.  Almost all new or revised statements incorporate amorous relationships, eg, the new Yale statement incorporates amorous.  And this change has been without critical comment.

The dankprofessor has been delinquent in addressing the incorporation of amorous.  No longer will such be the case.

OK, let’s start out by being quite clear that these policies do not state sexual AND amorous; it is sexual OR amorous.  So said policies definitely cover relationships that may not have a sexual component.  This hugely increases the size of the population covered by the anti-fraternization policies.

We all know that being in love, that falling in love can occur without sex.  And we know that some loving couples do not engage in sex because for one reason or the other they feel the time is not right.  And some loving  couples believe that their relationship should not be consummated until marriage.  The makers of these policies know this, including the erudite members of the Yale Women Faculty Forum who play a critical role in creating Yale policy.

So are we really confronted here not just with a war against student prof sex but also a war against student prof love?  On the surface, the answer is yes, but there is more, much more.

The reality is that if there was just a ban on sex between student and professors, many couples would be untouchable.  They would be untouchable because they could simply deny having sex and there would be no one available who could dispute this.  Faculty and students come under suspicion based on words and deeds, and appearances.  Loving words, walking too close to a student, being seen too often with a student, having dinner with a student, notes of love to a student, loving emails to a student,  a look of love directed toward a student or a look of love directed to the professor, this is what gets people in trouble.  The assumption that underlying all of the foregoing is sex is just that- an assumption.

And, of course, what the amorous clause does is to not make it necessary to prove that sex has occurred.  For the accusers, staying at the amorous level is just fine.  Being found to be amorous with a student makes one a sex code violator.

But there is still more. What the amorous clause does is to make all close relationships with a student suspect.  And therefore to diminish the possibility of becoming suspect many faculty refuse to be close with any particular student.  Or for some profs playing it safe means that all interactions with students occur in a group context, never on a one to one basis.  Sure having lunch with a student is OK as long as there are others who are partaking in said lunch.

 It comes down to professors keeping their distance, and student professor couples becoming more and more closeted.  Such is the nature of contemporary university life.

January 3, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, love, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student-prof dating, Uncategorized, Yale University | Leave a comment

A step in the right direction

The dankprofessor has been very critical of university policy statements on consensual relationships regulating student professor sexual relationships. Invariably these policies function to degrade both students and professors and subject professors to disciplinary actions, sometimes actions that include dismissal.

Now the West Hills Community College District has come up with a policy statement that is minimally invasive and punitive and not degrading of student prof couples.  There are still some problems.  So here it is followed by my comments-

Consensual Relationships

Romantic or sexual relationships between supervisors and employees or between administrators, faculty or staff members and students are discouraged. There is an inherent imbalance of power and potential for exploitation in such relationships. A conflict of interest may arise if the administrator, faculty or staff member must evaluate the student’s or employee’s work or make decisions affectingthe employee or student. The relationship may create an appearance of impropriety and lead to charges of favoritism by other students or employees.  A consensual sexual relationship may change, with the result that sexual conduct that was once welcome becomes unwelcome and harassing. In the event that such relationships do occur, the District has the authority to transfer any involved employee to eliminate or attenuate the supervisory authority of one over the other, or of a teacher over a student. Such action by the District is a proactive and preventive measure to avoid possible charges of harassment and does not constitute discipline against any affected employee.

 Note that throughout this statement MAY is used, such as “A conflict of interest may arise…”  There is a POTENTIAL for exploitation.  Of course, all relationships have a MAY; there is nothing intrinsic about relationships that pre-determine a result.  But most policy statements have no may and simply state that there is a conflict of interest, etc.

The major difference in the policy is that there will be no “discipline taken against any affected employee.”  Bravo to West Hills. Of course, never ever should there have been any discipline taken against any party to a consensual relationship at any university.

But there is one caveat regarding the goodness of this policy and that is the statement that “the District has the authority to transfer any involved employee to eliminate or attenuate the supervisory authority of one over the other, or of a teacher over a student.”   OK, most policies state that the university can unilaterally pull out a student from the class.  This policy leaves that out which is good, but pulling out a prof from a class in the middle of a semester functions to disrupt the entire class and may lead to punishing an entire class of students.

The dankprofessor still believes that this policy is a step in the right direction.

January 3, 2010 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Campus all gender bathrooms beyond the dorms?

The insidehighereducation article, A Bathroom of Her Own(along with the comments) on gender segregated or gender integrated bathrooms in college dormitories explores just about all the issues/concerns/solutions regarding the gendering of bathrooms in college dorms.  The dankprofessor hold that this is a must read article for persons who are seriously interested in campus sexual and gender politics.

Almost all but not all the issues are explored in the article, such as why the all gender bathroom option does not exist on the campus as a whole? Or why should the option only apply to dorms?

On some of the campuses where there are non-gendered bathrooms, there are still faculty and non-faculty bathrooms.  I have no doubt that the existence of non-gendered bathrooms on campus with no attention given to student, faculty or staff status would not be given the green light. Why?  Potential sexual harassment issues would be immediately brought up as well as fraternization issues- if persons who are banned from having sex with each other are allowed to frequent the same bathroom said bans would be undermined.  Or to put it in other terms, bathroom fraternization could very well lead to the undermining of the whole campus stratification system.

No mattter what is happening in the dorms, outside of the dorms whether it be at Oberlin or Williams or Reed, et. al, people are expected to know their place.  People who are seen out of place may very well be at risk of being displaced or replaced.

December 21, 2009 Posted by | bathrooms, fraternization, higher education, nudity, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Investigation clears prof of sex charges

Naplenews.com reports that Florida Gulf Coast University Professor Patrick Davis has been cleared of charges that he had an inappropriate relationship with a student who he had impregnated and had plans to marry, and that he had inappropriately engaged in changing grades that he had assigned to the student.

After the university investigated all of these charges, the FGCU administration sent a letter to Professor Davis indicating all of the charges were unfounded.  However, in that same letter, the university administration chastised Professor Davis for engaging in what they termed “retaliation” against Professors Russell Sabella and Marilyn Isaacs, the colleagues of Professor Davis who had initiated the charges against him.   The university indicated that the retaliation took the form of sending an email to a reporter of a local TV station in which the identities of the charging professors were revealed.  In the letter to Davis, Provost Ronald Toll stated-“The University finds your behavior in this matter to be irresponsible, unprofessional, and retaliatory. The particularly malicious level of your accusations provided directly to the media reflects a disregard for FGCU regulations, policies and procedures that cannot and will not be condoned by the University.”

Davis was also chastised in the letter for not being responsive to his Dean’s questions regarding the charges lodged against him.

The naplenews.com also reported-

in his appeal letter, dated Nov. 14, Davis writes that the administration was aware he had not violated FGCU’s policies or procedures, as Associate Vice President Hudson Rogers conducted a previous investigation a year ago and found no improprieties.

“FGCU not only pursued this matter to its already predetermined conclusion (UNFOUNDED) by conducting yet another investigation (without any new supporting evidence), FGCU released knowingly false, albeit salacious accusations against me to the media in what appears as a deliberate, coordinated effort to defame my character and humiliate me,” he wrote. “The damage done to my reputation can not be undone.”

Provost Toll also found Professor Isaacs responsible for retaliation against Davis and she was given a written reprimand for her behavior.

Davis who has been suspended from classroom teaching will not be allowed to return to the classroom as a result of the investigation clearing him since another investigation of him has not been completed. This investigation relates to a complaint from a student “alleging unprofessional behavior in the classroom” by Davis.

The dankprofessor finds it to be quite clear that the FGCU administration does not honor in any way the presumption of innocence.  No matter that Davis has been cleared of rather serious charges, he has not been cleared in an ultimate sense since another charge is still pending. And once that charge is resolved in the favor of Davis another charge could be brought and Davis could remain in a state of “suspended animation” with no end in sight. 

The dankprofessor says enough is enough.  Let Professor Davis do his job.  But apparently too many key persons at FGCU just can’t handle reinstating a professor who had sex with a student, not only had sex but also fathered a child with the student and became engaged to the student and I assume married the student.

Of course, the Davis case was complicated by the fact that the charges also involved the charge that Davis had inappropriately changed a student grade.  However, the involved parties in this case very well know that if there was no sexual component there would have been very little attention given to Davis.  Prejudicial grading is widespread in just about all universities much more widespread than sex between a student and a professor.  If there were fewer of the sexually obsessed at our universities, there would be more attempts to engage major problems at universities, such as plagiarism, conflicts of interest that involve huge amounts of money and, of course, the tolerance of cavalier attitudes toward grading and the tolerance of  prejudicial grading. 

The hardcore bottom line at universities is that students care about grading and most professors do not; if most professors could have their way most of the time, grading would be left in the hands of inexperienced TAs.

 

December 20, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, Florida Gulf Coast University, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating | Leave a comment

Anti-sexual zealotry at Yale

The witch hunt for sexual deviants is just beginning at Yale.  As reported in the Yale Daily News, the Women Faculty Forum wants to employ the new consensual relationships policy as a launch pad for a more encompassing sexual control policy.

In its report, the Women Faculty Forum also recommended that new, University-wide policies against sexual misconduct replace existing policies, which vary across Yale College, the Graduate School and the professional schools. They also want Yale to shift its focus from sexual harassment to the broader issue of sexual misconduct — an umbrella term that applies to both sexual harassment and assault, and includes other sexually motivated behaviors intended to intimidate or threaten.

The Women Faculty Forum also called for the creation of a centralized sexual misconduct grievance board to administer the new policy and address complaints from undergraduates, graduate and professional students, faculty and staff alike. Currently, complaints are evaluated by four different grievance boards across the University.

“We don’t think there’s a lot of additional study necessary in terms of outside research,” Woman Faculty Forum report co-author and School of Management professor Connie Bagley said. “I hope the group is serious about the issues and willing to roll up their sleeves, dig into the [Women Faculty Forum] report and policy and just get this done.”

Miller said the University’s quick response to the report’s demand for a review committee and new policy on student-faculty relationships signals a “recommitment” to preventing sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.

“The administrators we’ve been working with agree that sexual misconduct has no place at Yale,” Bagley said last month. “They’re serious about trying to take additional steps to eliminate it.”

Both Bagley and Priya Natarajan, a professor of astronomy and physics and a co-chair of the committee that authored the report, said they are pleased with the University’s response to the Women Faculty Forum report so far, but added that this is just the beginning of the process. The new committee must act quickly and decisively and follow the policy changes outlined in the report, Bagley said.

The report came from over a year of research, writing and consultation with faculty and administrators, most of whom supported the group’s proposed policies, Bagley said. Members of the committee responsible for the report worked with the General Counsel’s Office to ensure that the policy changes offered in the report were legally feasible.

The Women Faculty Forum began work on its report on sexual misconduct in fall 2008, after several pledges to the fraternity Zeta Psi posed for pictures outside the Women’s Center with signs that read “We Love Yale Sluts” and 100 medical students wrote a letter to School of Medicine administrators in December 2007 expressing concern over the prevalence of sexual harassment at the school, according to the report. The Women Faculty Forum’s goal in writing the report was to help administrators to develop a workable, University-wide anti-sexual misconduct policy, Bagley said.

The dankprofessor finds it breathtaking that the report promulgates a policy of eliminating all sexual misconduct at Yale while at the same time insuring that the policies are legally “feasible”.   Eliminating/eradicating sexual misconduct is simply not compatible with law that recognizes due process and civil liberties.  Such elimination can occur but only in an authoritarian state ruled by sexual zealots.  Of course, “elimination” should be in quotes since so-called sexual misconduct is never completely eliminated.  The anti-sexual zealots know this and know that their work is never completed; vigilance is always necessary in their world view.

What this and other similar policies also foment is the use of informants, third party informants who will report on sexual dissidents.  Based on reports to me from distraught students and profs, the usage of informants is commonplace in  American universities.  Getting a handle on this situation is difficult since the identity of such informants is kept secret by university authorities.  In fact, most often the entire proceeding against sexual dissidents is of a secretive nature.  What makes the Yale policy even more fertile for the fomenting of informants is the usage of the nebulous term “amorous relationships”.  So if the behavior is perceived as not sexual but amorous such is enough to initiate the charges.

But one may ask who would be prone to become informants at Yale or any other university?  The prone would be distraught or jealous students or faculty.  A student who believes that she or he was unfairly given a poor grade may come forward with a false charge knowing that ones identity is protected and knowing in some cases that there are no rules regarding false charges.  Or one may be jealous of a fellow student or fellow faculty member or one may be a distraught ex-boyfriend.  The list can go on and on.

The world of Yale is no different than the worlds beyond the walls of ivy.  The small minded are everywhere.  The paranoid are everywhere.  The sexual zealots are everywhere.  The question is whether they will be allowed to takeover Yale and recreate Yale in their image.

For my prior posting on the Zeta Psi fraternity controversy, click here.

The dankprofessor will also be reporting on prior incidents of sexual hysteria at Yale and on a faculty member who was subjected to said hysteria.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fear, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized, Yale University | 2 Comments

Yale bans undergrad/prof sex and love

 The December 11 headline in the Yale Alumni Magazine reads-

“New policy for profs: don’t sleep with undergrads. Period.”

Of course, it could have read-

“New Policy for undergrads, don’t sleep with profs. Period.”

The article reported on the new Yale policy which prohibits all “sexual or amorous” relationships between Yale undergrads and their teachers.

In a memo to the faculty, Provost Peter Salovey  announced a stricter stance toward consensual faculty-student relationships. Previously, such relationships with undergrads were permitted if the teacher had no “pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities” over the student.  For grad students, a sexual or amorous relationship remains OK if there is no pedagogical relationship.

Why Yale grad students have a sexual prerogative with profs and undergrads do not is explained in the policy-

Undergraduate students are particularly vulnerable to the unequal institutional power inherent in the teacher-student relationship and the potential for coercion, because of their age and relative lack of maturity. Therefore, no teacher. . . shall have a sexual or amorous relationship with any undergraduate student, regardless of whether the teacher currently exercises or expects to have any pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities over that student.”

So putting the justification in dankprofessor terms, Yale undergrads are just too immature, they are not real adults like the Yale grad students and profs. So when these Yale undergrad kids grow up, Yale will allow them to have sex with the grownups of their choice, but still with some limitations, of course.

Maybe it might be better for Yale to reevaluate their whole admissions policy and only accept applicants who are mature.  An elite Yale education should be for persons who are already grownups.  If such was the policy, maybe Yale administrators would stop regarding Yale students as kids.

Of course, there is more.  The policy explains that without the new ban the integrity of the student prof relationship is at risk- “The integrity of the teacher-student relationship is the foundation of the University’s educational mission.”

What utter poppycock! If such puts the foundation of Yale at such great risk, how has Yale managed to survive for so many years and have had so many outstanding graduates?

But there is still more.  The policy goes on to state-

“In addition to creating the potential for coercion, any such relationship jeopardizes the integrity of the educational process by creating a conflict of interest and may impair the learning environment for other students…such situations may expose the University and the teacher to liability for violation of laws against sexual harassment and sex discrimination.”

The dankprofessor calls this the demonization of sex.  Sexual demonization is the underlying dynamic fueling all the crusades to ban, degrade, eradicate myriad forms of sexuality.  Yale becomes at one with the Christian right and the New England witch hunting zealots of centuries past.

And without doubt just about anyone could stand accused under this policy.  Those who are not sexual but just a bit too amorous can easily become suspect.  And as many of us know, those sexually accused are all too often assumed to be guilty, even at Yale!

This situation at Yale exposes the University to possibly becoming violators of human rights and human dignity.  But such a possibility hardly ever restrains those who are committed to eradicating the sexually impure in our midst.

December 14, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, love, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Yale University | 2 Comments

Martin Amis on Roman Polanski

Amis interviewed Polanski in 1979 in Paris and comments on Polanski’s current situation.

December 7, 2009 Posted by | rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

On raping Polanski

There is a blogging group called themselves the astute bloggers, but from what I have read by them, whatever they have to offer it is not astuteness.  Here is their “take: on Roman Polanski being transferred from a Swiss jail to his Swiss chalet-

INSTEAD OF RELAXING IN A CHALET IN GSTAAD, POLANSKI DESERVES JUSTICE.

LET’S SEND HIM TO PRISON WHERE OTHER INMATES CAN DO TO HIM WHAT HE DID TO THAT 13 YEAR OLD GIRL

Well, even if  the above comment is not astute, it is unadulterated honest bigotry.  Or to put it in other terms, it is blatant hatemongering.  Or in modern day lingo, it’s Polanski haters unplugged.

And for those who still believe in civility , let us not forget that Polanski was in that Swiss jail not for punishment but rather as a detainee.  We detain detainees not for the sake of punishment.  Polanski was detained in jail and now is detained in his chalet. 

The fact that the chalet is a very hospitable environment is really beside the point.  Unfortunately, what is the point to all too many Americans is that jails for detainees, the presumed innocent, should be like New York City’s Riker’s Island, an island where the presumed innocent are punished and degraded on an everyday basis.

Riker’s Island and other similar institutions in America and around the world indicate the game will remain the same.  It means that those calling themselves astute create insitutions that have more rapists exiting than entering.

The dankprofessoer knows where rape is going on and it is not in a plush Swiss chalet but rather in our jails and prisons.

December 5, 2009 Posted by | rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Tenant of Chinatown

Dave Phillips has published an interesting essay on Polanski on his blog The Tenant of Chinatown.  Phillips is one of the few analysts (possibly the only analyst) who has gone into a microanalysis of the sexual encounter between Polanski and Geimer in attempting to determine whether said encounter represents rape beyond “statutory” rape.

Phillip’s analysis is heavily based on the grand jury testimony of Polanski and  Geimer. Of course, relying on said testimony is problematic since there is no cross examination of witnesses testifying before a grand jury.  Given that the allegations against Polanski never reached the adversarial stage since a plea bargain was reached due to the request of the Geimer’s family that she not be subjected to cross examination at a trial, it is likely that the specifics of this case will continue to remain clouded.

In his analyis, Phillips is concerned about the “real” motives of Geimer and her mother.  Given his skepticism and critical acumen, the dankprofessor finds it somewhat surprising that he never speculates why Geimer has repeatedly insisted that she wants no part of a Polanski trial and has called for the charges against Polanski be dropped. Possibly, said insistence may be due to a fear that if she is subjected to cross examination loopholes in her original grand jury testimony may be discovered.

November 28, 2009 Posted by | rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics | 3 Comments

Emma Thompson remains mute on Polanski

The actress Emma Thompson has made no public statement regarding her alleged withdrawal of her support for Roman Polanski. 

Yes, a student has reported that Emma has told her that she would take her name off a petition supporting Polanski, but she has told no one else and she has released no statement indicating said withdrawal. 

The Shakesville blog which had first reported on the student comment has had nothing to say on this since November 4.

Personally, the dankprofessor does not care what Thompson’s position is on Polanski.  I am not into the celebrity cult.  But hardcore left feminists apparently are into said cult.  They care about what Thompson says or not says on Polanski and they care about Polanski because he is a male and a celebrity.

I know the retort would be that they care about Polanski because they believe he is a rapist in the most ideal form.  Now if they really cared about bringing rapists to justice they would be picketing the city hall in Los Angeles and other major cities because DA’s do little or nothing about rape.  They leave the rape kits in storage unexamined.

And there is little or no emphasis on rapists at large.  Of course, the LA Times says that Roman Polanski is still a danger.  They must know something that we don’t know. Or maybe they have seen too many Polanski movies.  Maybe they and others really believe that it was Polanski who slammed the kid in the face in THE TENANT.

Here is what the dankprofessor knows.  The LA DA, the talking and writing heads all want to be on the Larry King Show which means they are “real” celebrities.  As Celebrity Paris Hilton said on the Larry King Show, “you (Larry ) are a legend”.

Now there are two people I know of who definitely don’t want to be on that show- Roman Polanski and Sarah Geimer.  They just want to be left alone.  Ironic isn’t it!

Enough said, at least for now.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | celebrities, Emma Thompson, public sex, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics | 1 Comment

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

Identity revealed of Belle de Jour blogger

The identity of the Belle de Jour blogger has been revealed.  She is Brooks Magnanti a child health researcher at the University of Bristol.

Belle de Jour portrayed the life of Dr. Magnanti as a call girl and her stories were eventually turned into three books and a TV series, “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” .  She told the Sunday Times that she got into sex work to support her finishing her Ph.D. 

On her Belle de Jour blog,  Magnanti stated:

Anonymity had a purpose then – it will always have a reason to exist, for writers whose work is too damaging or too controversial to put their names on. But for me, it became important to acknowledge that aspect of my life and my personality to the world at large.

I am a woman. I lived in London. I was a call girl.

The people, the places, the actions and feelings are as true now as they were then, and I stand behind every word with pride. Thank you for reading and following my adventures.

Magnanti also reported that her university colleagues have been “amazingly kind and supportive”.  And the University of Bristol said her past was of no relevance to her university position.

Wow! Supportive colleagues and a supportive university administration.  Such would be a pipedream in the United States.

November 15, 2009 Posted by | prostitution, sex, sexual politics, University of Bristol | Leave a comment

My 1977 article BRYANT’S BRIGADE USES HITLER’S TACTICS

This article originally published in the LA Times in 1977 was picked up by the wire presses and published in papers throughout the United States. Depending on ones perspective, I either became quite famous or infamous as a result of the publication of this article.

I became subjected to reams of hate mail and almost daily bomb threats on campus. Of course, such was to be expected if I what I wrote in the commentary was correct. On the plus side, I also received much positive feedback; Harvey Milk in some of his speeches employed my perspective and the Briggs initiative was
defeated. Actually, the Times used one whole page here; first having Briggs state his position and then having my essay.
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Bryant’s Brigade Uses Hitler’s Tactics
BARRY M DANK
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File); Oct23, 1977;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 – 1986)
pg.H5
Bryant’s Brigade Uses Hitler’s Tactics

BY BARRY M. DANK

In recent months, two of the sociology courses I teach have seemed to merge into one. They are titled “The Holocaust” and “So¬cial Psychology of Homosexuality.”

What has made them come together in my mind is the parallel between the rise of Na¬zism in prewar Germany, which ultimately brought about the extermination of 6 million Jews, and the current antihomosexual move¬ment in America, led by singer Anita Bryant and supported by State Sen. John V. Briggs, who wrote the article above.

Although contemporary political figures are often labeled as modern-day Hitlers, the designation usually comes from persons whose knowledge of Hitler and Nazism is rather meager, and so I discount the comparison. In the case of Anita Bryant and her followers, however, such an analogy should not be light¬ly dismissed. As David Lehrer, Western states counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, has noted: “There’s a whole new cadre . .. around who are smart enough not to wear swastikas. They join the Klan now or create churches. . .but they’re Nazis just the same.”

Just as Hitler viewed the Jews as a power¬ful force that was polluting and destroying so¬ciety, so do Bryant and her followers view ho¬mosexuals as social defilers. Hitler reduced the Jews to vermin who were infecting the master Aryan race. The Bryant brigade talks as though homosexuals are alien perverts bent on destroying the fabric of Christian America.
A powerful motivating factor in anti-Semi¬tism throughout the ages has been the myth that Jews engage in ritual murder of Christian children. Playing on fear of this bizarre beha¬vior, Hitler had Jewish teachers fired as one of his first anti-Semitic actions.

Bryant and her supporters invoke a differ¬ent, but similar, idea—that homosexuals subtly recruit children to homosexuality through exposure to their “life-style.” Predictably, the initial goal of their campaign is to prohibit ho¬mosexual schoolteachers from the classroom— a ban that Briggs advocates on this page.

Hitler maintained that being a good German entailed being anti-Jewish, while Bryant preaches that to be a good Christian requires being antihomosexual. But, many Jews were assimilated into the mainstream of prewar Germany and therefore were hard to identify, just as many homosexuals are now integrated into the dominant heterosexual culture in America. In order to avoid being mistaken for Jews, Germans tended to keep their dis¬tance from known Jews and from groups sym¬pathetic to them. Likewise, most heterosexual Americans who do not wish to be mistakenly identified as gay shun known homosexuals and prohomosexual organizations.

Committed to the idea that Germans in par¬ticular, and Aryans in general, were a master race ordained by nature to rule the world, the Fuehrer saw the “subhuman” Jews as the ma¬jor stumbling block. Although they existed as a relatively powerless and vulnerable minori¬ty in every European country, Hitler insisted that the Jews constituted a powerful interna¬tional conspiracy.

Leaders of the present antihomosexual movement do not directly invoke the concept of a divinely ordained master race, and yet they speak as though they are acting as the agents of God. In fact, they diminish their own personal responsibility by appealing to the au¬thority of God’s will.

At the same time that they overlook the re¬latively weak position that homosexuals as a group occupy in this country and throughout the world, they capitalize on a long tradition of antihomosexual sentiment in Western civi¬lization.

Initially I was reluctant to extend this anal¬ogy beyond these few significant similarities. After all, Bryant and her followers do not call for the physical elimination of homosexuals. But then I remembered that neither did the original recruits to Nazism contemplate geno¬cide as the ultimate consequence of their fer¬vid anti-Semitism. Even most German Jews at first refused to recognize the danger signals, just as some homosexuals today still regard the antihomosexual crusade as a bad joke that will fade away. But Hitler proved he was in¬deed to be taken seriously, and in recent months the vast majority of homosexuals have come to realize that Anita Bryant’s crusade is no laughing matter.

We know all too well the outcome of Hit¬ler’s campaign: In the late ’30s German Jews found their fate sealed by a ruling cadre of fanatics determined to “purify” the Father¬land. Ultimately, most Germans acquiesced in this goal, only later claiming they lacked the power to thwart Nazi intentions,

Anita Bryant’s crusade is committed to purging American society of homosexuals to “Save Our Children,” and it is here that the analogy with Nazism breaks down, though the movement hardly becomes less ominous. The difference has been expressed many times be¬fore, but it deserves underlining once more: While Germans of the Hitler era attempted to root out their Jewish neighbors, the current target of antihomosexuals in America live not next door but under our own roofs. They are our own children.

It remains to be seen whether we as parents will stand by and watch our children sacri¬ficed in the very name of Christianity and the American family.

Barry M. Dank is an associate professor of sociology at Cal State-Long Beach.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Anita Bryant, gay history, gay rights, homosexual, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kangaroo court

This is a comment from Grant on the blog Thoughtleader-

“I have run out of ways to say the same thing. I suspect that you may be a person for whom the law has always worked and worked well and hence you have great faith in it. I agree that it is the best system we have for handling crimes and disputes and in most cases it works very well indeed.  However, when the fallability of the law presents itself, the law is outdated or the law is under the control of people who do not have its fair and logical elements foremost in their minds, the law becomes a very scary thing indeed. Where you once had justice you now have a system with massive power to abuse. I suggest you look north to the Zimbabwean trial of Roy Bennet for terrorism for a great example. There seems to be a widely held belief that this personal abuse side of the law was in evidence at the Polanski trial. As such I understand why he fled. You do not consider this to even be an option because for you the law is absolute, untaintable, especially in the free, democratic USA. I wish it were so. The possibility exists that Polanski fled because he raped a young girl and the judge was onto him. The possibility also exists that he fled because the legal system became a kangaroo court and he knew the signs better than most…”

 I think that he understand the dilemmas that Polanski has faced re justice in LA.  But I would hesitate in embracing his belief that the criminal justice system works in most cases.

November 11, 2009 Posted by | rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

On THE VIEW Emma Thompson silent on Polanski

The Emma Thompson scenario re Roman Polanski is getting more and more bizarre. As I   indicated in a previous post, a number of feminist blogs and then the media in general reported that Thompson was to withdraw her name from a petition in support of Roman Polanski.  Apparently Thompson indicated to a student at Exeter College where she was lecturing that her name would be withdrawn from the petition.

What the dankprofessor found to be strange was that there was no public statement by Thompson announcing said withdrawal.  And to add to this strangeness, yesterday Thompson appeared on THE VIEW with an audience of a couple of million and said absolutely nothing about Polanski.

Such must have been disheartening to those avowed feminists who were very excited about Emma’s apparent withdrawal.  But as the dankprofessor has previously stated such is contradictory with feminism since these people are looking up to a power figure for validation, and, in this particular case, looking up to a celebrity.

And what also disturbs the dankprofessor is not that Emma Thompson signed or not signed or changed her mind about signing a petition, but rather that she finds signing to be sufficent.   Is it too much to expect the Emma Thompson make a public statement indicating her reasons for signing or not signing?  Signing a petition is easy, explaining why one signed is not so easy.  Are the anit-Polanski crusaders going to give a pass to Thomspson because she is a celebrity?

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Emma Thompson, rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Roman Polanski on Sharon Tate

The sensational Sharon Tate blog reports on a Polanski 1974 Rolling Stone interview, “The Restoration of Roman Polanski” by Tom Burke, July 18, 1974

Polanski’s recollections of SharonTate and his life with her merits the attention of any person who wishes to have an accurate understanding of Roman Polanski.

Later, when he does talk about Sharon this is what he says: “Meeting Sharon?  When I hired her for ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’, of course.  We got married in 1968.  By the summer of ’69 she was very pregnant and I was very busy, working on a film script in London.  It seemed best she went back to the house we rented in LA and I could stay on and finish the film and get back to LA as soon as I could.  Everyday we would talk on the phone.  When it rang one day, I thought it was her but it was my agent in LA.  He was crying.  My reaction first was, naturally, no reaction, stunned disbelief, I suppose you call it.  Friends came to me quickly, I think we went out for a long walk, they called a doctor who gave me something, a shot and I slept.  Then I took a plane to LA. You must understand, there is much which now I cannot recall, which I have blocked out of recollection.  After the funeral, I stayed on in LA because I had the ludicrous notion that finding the murderer would somehow ease my grief.  I worked very close with the police for a long time, who, I have got to tell you, were quite human and wonderful.  I had no idea cops could be like this.  Sharon’s parents worked with them too.  Yes, I am still in touch with the Tates, naturally.  What a question!  I don’t think this is known: that just before the police found Manson and all of them, I offered a reward, $20,000 for public information leading to the arrest of the killers.  It wasn’t collected, no.  As soon as the police discovered Manson, I get the hell out of LA immediately, I could take no more, there was no more point to staying.  I had begun then to accept Sharon’s death, which I’d never really done before, which is really all that matters to me about it all anymore, that she is gone.  The worst started: I went to Switzerland and tried to ski and become very jet-set, the idea of work was impossible.  Everybody kept saying to me, get to work immediately.  Idiotic.  Only Stanley Kubrick understood, he told me, ‘You cannot and must not work now.’ “

The reporter then writes: “It is clear he wishes to get up, to pace the room, break it up perhaps. but he remains quietly seated and purposefully motionless.”

Roman goes on to say: “See I attempted for awhile there, before starting ‘Macbeth’, to become a hedonist, as the papers said we all were.  Jesus, I hated the press for a long time after it, because, I swear this, although I already knew how the press exaggerates, especially in sensational matters, I could not believe what was being printed about Sharon!  My God, ‘The Sharon Tate Orgies.’  Interviews given by people that Sharon and I never met!  I swear I could not find one word of truth in any story printed about us anywhere, and I would not and could not lie about this fact!  If there had been anything to any of that shit, I would admit it to you now.  My God, it was, is, unbelievable.  The murder was all a horrible mistake, you know.  Manson’s people were after somebody else entirely, who’d been renting the house before us!  What was actually going on there was this: Gibby Folger and Voyteck were staying in the house to keep Sharon company, we’d agreed on this, they were good friends and the place was big and it seemed a good idea since she was eight and half months pregnant.  Gibby was working very hard as a social worker, getting up at dawn everyday to go to work in Watts and studying speed-reading at night.  I was planning a film involving dolphins–‘The Day of the Dolphin’–and Voyteck wanted very much to work in movies and was devoting lots of time to research on dolphins for me.  Jay Sebring was another friend who came up often, but never stayed all night one night at the house.  I was dying to finish work and get there; the last time I talked to Sharon, only hours before her murder, I told her I’d get there the following Monday even if work wasn’t finished.  Things had been so perfect between us: we’d had some nice times in that LA house.  Sharon would cook dinner for friends and after we’d all sit outside and look at the sky, the constellations, and talk about everything.  Just quiet, pleasant evenings.  Sharon and I would make plans, we had a wonderful future extensively mapped …”

The reporter closes this part of the interview adding: “Still he sits perfectly calm, though his eyes are such that it is uncomfortable to meet them.”

November 9, 2009 Posted by | rape, Roman Polanski, sex, sexual politics, Sharon Tate | 5 Comments

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