Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

On Roman Polanski

On Roman Polanski

By

Barry M. Dank*

There is no question that what Roman Polanski did to a 13 year old girl in the 1977 was wrong, and illegal. But it is also wrong to drag Polanski back to the US 31 years after the crime and have him spend an unspecified amount of time in prison. What possible good would come about by Polanski doing time for the crime? Obviously, it would not function to rehabilitate him or change him in some way. The fact that Polanski has had a stellar film career and apparently lived a law abiding life for 32 years after the crime is indicative that the case for changing Polanski is simply irrelevant.

Then there is a case for punishment. Polanski did something illegal and he should be punished. Of course, Polanski has been punished. He did 42 days at the Chino Men’s prison under the legal guise of being psychologically evaluated; his stay at Chino was for the purpose of punishment as viewed by the presiding judge. He has been socially stigmatized as a child rapist and has lived in a self-imposed exile. Just as in the cchild sex situation Polanski’s decision making was screwed up when he decided to flee from a possible 16 month sentence and ended up living for 31 years in a situation in which he could be arrested and extradited back to Los Angeles .

But the 42 days and a 31 year exile as punishment dwells into insignificance as compared to the trauma and punishment he experienced as a child surviving the mass murders of the Holocaust while losing his mother to the Nazi murderers in Poland and to the trauma and punishment he endured when his pregnant wife Sharon Tate and his baby to be and his two friends were barbarized and murdered by the Manson gang.

But  many have argued that this insanity Polanski went thru simply had nothing to do with his illegal sex with a 13 year old girl. For example, Ellen Snortland in an open letter to Roman Polanski states: “I assert that the statutory rape in 1977 will plague you until you make some type of sincere public amends. Backing an ‘end violence against women and girls’ film would be an astonishing act of atonement. Consider it. Talk to the lawyers.” Somehow Snortland avoids dealing with the fact that Polanski was intimately familiar with violence against women, that both his mother and wife were murdered, such is simply of no relevance to her.

To argue that his past traumas have relevance to Polanski’s illicit sex with a 13 year old girl in 1977 does not mean that I am excusing Polanski or condoning child abuse of any sort.

What I do argue with is the notion that Polanski’s criminal act should be fragmented off from the rest of his prior life.  To advocate that one should not look at Polanski past as it related to his actions in 1977 is a form of know nothingness.   Being horrified by what Polanski did in 1977 should not close us off from the horrors experienced by Polanski.

I think it is a safe to assume that very few persons would not be adversely affected by the killings of their mother, their wife and their unborn child, as well as being at the scene of mass murder as a child. In fact, some who have been through such extreme situations become psychologically numbed and live a robotic life. Others may be plagued by depression, feelings of alienation and aloneness and anger.

As a person who has worked with Holocaust survivors and Parents of Murdered Children, I know that almost always survivors go thru periods of tortuous survivor guilt. No matter that they are morally and legally innocent, they all too often experience the burden of feeling- ‘I should have been able to do something’, or as Polanski stated in 1985- “Sharon’s death is the only watershed in my life that really matters. Before she died, I sailed a boundless, untroubled sea of expectations and optimism. Afterward, whenever conscious of enjoying myself, I felt guilty. A psychiatrist I met shortly after her death warned me that it would take me “four years of mourning” to overcome this feeling. It has taken far longer than that”.

Polanski’s filmmaking demonstrates that he was intimately familiar with the nature of survivor guilt. Such was quite apparent in his 1976 film THE TENANT, a film which he both directed and starred. This was the last film he made prior to his involvement in the child rape. I believe that this film can provide a partial understanding of Polanski’s psychological state around the time of the crime.

For this film Polanski insisted that he play the role of the protagonist. The viewer saw Polanski playing the role of a French citizen of Polish background (Trelkovsky) living alone in Paris gradually descend into madness. The Polanski character was plagued with feelings of survival guilt, and a complete ungluing of a sense of self as he gave full vent to his feelings of paranoia. Ultimately he buys a gun, has fantasies of killing others but eventually he commits suicide by jumping out of his apartment window. He ends up killing himself in the same manner that the prior tenant of the apartment had killed herself.

Viewers who understood this film and were aware of Polanski’s history “knew” that Polanski chose not only to direct the film but to play the major role because to a significant degree he was playing himself. Polanski and Trelkovsky both had lived alone in Paris, both were French citizens of Polish background; and both felt alienated and alone in their immediate environments. Both had gone thru experiences that separated them off from others, from others who could not possibly understand them and the horrors they had gone thru.

One of the most jolting scenes in the film is when Trelkovsy is sitting in a park looking quite morose and viewing a child playing. He stands up, walks over to the child and slugs the child in the face and then walks way. This image of Trelkovsky sitting in the park came to visually represent Polanski; it was used as the cover photo for his 1985 autobiography and as the photo for the DVD jacket of the documentary, ROMAN POLANSKI; WANTED AND DESIRED.  The usages of this photo by Polanski illustrates the blurring of Polanski’s identity with that of Trelkovsy’s.

polanski

On the other hand, some people believe that all we need to know about Polanski is that he is a pedophile, his sexual preference being children and adolescents.  However, looking at Polanski’s life then and now one can immediately discern Polanski’s attraction.  His present wife, Emmanuelle Seigner is 33 years younger than himself; Samantha Geimer at the time of her victimage was 31 years younger than Polanski.  So Polanski’s ongoing sexual preference is for those who are significantly younger than himself.  Maybe this preference is a defense mechanism used by some who have experienced catastrophic loss.  Such a preference could function to diminish feelings of powerlessness and helplessness in “intimate” relationships; of course, such feelings are illusionary. But for Polanski whose specialty is illusions he could see this as simply being an extension of his role of Director.

Polanski in the 1970s was a man on the fringe; his art saved him for a time but not all the time as evidenced by the rape in 1977. But also during his entire adulthood, Polanski has engaged in extraordinarily creative filmmaking. And his filmmaking may be viewed in part as representing a survivor mission, as a way of his expiating his guilt and his creation of a “monument” to those he loved and to those whose deaths he could not prevent.

In his autobiography Polanski stated: “In moments of unbearable personal tragedy some people find solace in religion.  In my case the opposite happened. Any religious faith I had was shattered by Sharon’s murder.  It reinforced my faith in the absurd.”

To now drag Polanski back in, to put him into a prison is absurd. Over the last 31 years Roman Polanski has freed himself from his psychological prison as evidenced by his devotion to his wife and 2 children.  I fear that Polanski may see his only way out as being the same way out he created in THE TENANT- suicide.

Barry M. Dank is an emeritus professor of sociology at Cal State Long Beach.  He lives in Tubac, Arizona.

© Copyright 2009 by Barry M. Dank

October 7, 2009 Posted by | rape, Roman Polanski, sex, The Tenant, Uncategorized, violence | 43 Comments

Hofstra student rape accuser becomes the accused

The Hofstra student who charged that she was the victim of a group rape on campus is now reported to have completely recanted her story.  Hofstra has apparently suspended her as a student and she faces criminal charges.  Those she charged as rapists have been released from jail.

The dankprofessor takes note of this in the context of an East Georgia College prof who was suspended after he protested that his university had no section in their university’s sexual harassment policy regarding false sexual  harassment charges.

The dankprofessor had hoped that after the Duke university false rape charges against the lacrosse team members that more university faculty and students and administrators would be less prone to jump to conclusions and really embrace notion of the presumption of innocence in relation  to alleged criminals, including those accused of rape. 

I guess that such hopes unfortunately represent a form of pipe dreaming.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, Duke University, East Georgia College, false rape charges, fear, higher education, Hofstra University, rape, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Facebook

You can friend the dankprofessor on Facebook.  Just put my civilian name- Barry Dank- in the search box. When you friend me, use the accompanying message and state- referred from the dankprofessor blog.  I will be posting most of my blog posts on Facebook.

September 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FGCU faculty member speaks out

Charles Lindsey, FCGU faculty member and President of the Academic Senate, speaks out against the hysteria being generated at Florida Gulf Coast University regarding student professor sexual relationships. 

Well, in the dankprofessor’s terms he sort of speaks out condemning those who want to have blanket bans but not confronting the banning of student prof relationships where there is a supervisory component.  He fails to grasp that such consensual relationships should not be subject to the power abuse of the university administration and are not inrinsically “good” or “bad”.

The banning of student prof relationships because they supposedly lead to prejudicial grading functions as a smoke screen which functions to cover up widespread prejudicial grading at almost all universities.  The probability is overwhelming that at FGCU and at almost all universities there have never been workshops on prejudicial grading- how to avoid said grading and what to do about it.

The dankprofessor holds that the so-called problem of student prof sex is miniscule as compared to the problem of prejudicial grading.  Unfortunately, as usual, sex trumps just about everything else.

September 7, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, Florida Gulf Coast University, higher education, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Outing students

The dankprofessor has repeatedly argued  but to no avail that university regulations that require a professor who is in a sexual relationship with a student to report said relationship to the appropriate university administrator is a gross violation of the student’s privacy.  In terms of this policy, there is no requirement that the student must give permission to the professor to report their relationship to the University. 

My advice to professors who are in such a situation is to not report unless there is student consent.  More generally my advice is that if the professor does report to the administration, the probability is that said relationship will become known to the university community.  In effect, the professor will be outing both himself or herself and the student.

In terms of the Warwick case, the outing of the student was disastrous for the student.  She has framed it in the following manner-

“To be frank, this story has never been newsworthy and should never have come to light. Aside from the fact that the details disclosed have been of a deeply personal nature, the widespread disclosure of this has proved very upsetting. It really has.”

And the University World News has reported the following:

When Professor Istvan Pogany, 57, began a consensual relationship with one of his students at Britain’s University of Warwick, he did what many would consider ‘good practice’ and informed his line manager. But the student, who is in her 30s, then fell pregnant and her subsequent anguished decision to have an abortion led to lurid headlines that raised the question again whether intimate relationships between academics and students should be more strongly discouraged, or even prohibited.

Of course, the University World News didn’t get it quite right.  The Warwick case raises the question as to whether professors should be forced to report on their students and their intimate relationships.  If privacy had been respected at Warwick, there is little likelihood that this would have become a media story.  Laissez faire in terms of intimate relationships between adults may at times be problematic, but it is far better than forcible intrusion by government authorities and university administrators into the sex lives of those who they consider to be their subjects.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, outing students, privacy, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized, Warwick University | Leave a comment

Sex Week at Yale: What’s missing?

(The dankprofessor got his dates wrong. Actually, the Yale Sex Week this post deals with was held last February.  I guess I should read my google alerts more closely.  In any case, irrespective of my being dated, my criticisms are still valid.)

Sex Week at Yale starts on February 10 and there will be some excellent speakers and sessions.  Of course, there are sessions dealing with pornography since the Yale Sex Week is partially sponsored by the largest porn producer in the world vivid.com, but there is also a partial Christian sponsorship by xxxchurch.com  And, as to be expected the so-called Christian participation is minimal with participation only occurring on February 15 in the context of the debate on porn.

The director of the Sex Week at Yale Joseph Citarrella states:

There is no ideology behind Sex Week. Its mission is simple: present students with a range of perspectives about sexuality to get them talking, so that they can begin to reconcile serious issues of love, sex, and relationships in their lives. Let the discussion begin.

But the dankprofessor has some difficulty with the assertion of no ideology.  If there is no ideology, why are there no sessions and no speakers on gays and lesbians as well as bisexuals and the transgendered?  If ideology was not relevant to the exclusion or omission, then one might conclude that similar to Iran there are no gays at Yale.  And certainly the creators of this Yale Sex Week could have concluded that some Yale students might have an interest in gay marriage.  Possibly some of the sessions include matters relating to homosexuality, but such is not explicitly stated.  However, looking at the sessions on porn, it is quite clear that there is nothing on gay porn. 

Matters relating to homosexuality and gender reflected the most major exclusion, but there are other major exclusions- S & M completely omitted, nothing on prostitution and no mention of the the most prevalent sexual behavior at Yale- masturbation.  Certainly, pornography generally ends up being about masturbation, but the dreaded M word is infrequently mentioned.  Masturbation  appears to be cloaked at the Sex Week at Yale under the rubric of “pure romance”.

On the positive side for the dankprofessor, there is no required sexual harassment training component, and nothing about how consensual student professor relationship “always” harming the student and the university.  In fact, there is absolutely nothing about consent in the whole program; such does not represent a positive since the mixing of sex and alcohol I trust is commonplace at Yale.  And without any mention of consent there is, of course, nothing on rape.

The entire schedule for Sex Week at Yale can be seen by clicking here.

November 30, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, gay marriage, higher education, homosexual, masturbation, prostitution, rape, sadomasochism, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized, Yale University | Leave a comment

Shame and suicide at the University of Iowa

I have had communications from some UI faculty as to the situation of the recent faculty suicides in the context of sexual harassment charges.  I present below one of those communications and I do so without any name attached which is at the request of the writer.

I think that it can’t be dumb coincidence that the UI should have an epidemic of suicidal professors within a single semester. It defies plausibility. And on the rule that if one person asks a question, ten people have the same question, then presumably there are a lot more people in the same situation we simply don’t know about. So what about the University of Iowa in particular makes it epidemically miserable, when virtually all universities have comparable anti- harassment and anti-fraternization policies?

 

I have an hypothesis to which I think I can lend a certain amount of evidence and plausibility. It’s a perception that the UI (being an Upper Midwestern institution heavily servicing angst-ridden Germanic populations) is more of a shame culture than a guilt culture, although of course we have formal “guilt culture” institutional mechanisms of social control such as policies, procedures, investigations, and sanctions. People here will be influenced much more by self-policing (shame, fear of social stigma, etc.) long before they will be influenced by fear of formal reprisals, and will tend to police their actions to a greater extent than any policy actually stipulates – for instance, if it’s wrong to harass, then we will interpret it as wrong to talk about sex at all; or, if it is wrong to go out on a date, we will ban conversations in coffee shops; etc. and so forth. The result will be a culture in which almost any informal interaction (even of the innocent sort) between students and faculty will be so massively stigmatized that it is unlikely that any such interactions can occur without all parties (both concerned and unconcerned) believing they are inappropriate, and pro-actively signaling avoidance and/or disapproval.

 

I think I can lend plausibility to this. If you look at the first comment on the “Inside Higher Ed” article, you will see that it came from a student of the University of Iowa probably circa the 80s (it references a certain Professor Forell, who was head of the department of religious studies). It shows that a certain complex of attitudes about fraternization – a sense of its obvious impropriety combined with smug self-satisfaction about this prudery – was an element of the culture long predating the institution of formal mechanisms of social control. (And is it a coincidence that the UI has the first formal mechanism of this kind ever imposed in US higher education? No – what you appear to have is a perfect storm of Upper Midwestern shame culture/repression of sexuality combined with the elements you have everywhere else too, like fear of sexual harassment lawsuits and the usual neo-feminist academic Puritanism). The difference is that we have the usual academic Puritanism, but in the context of a shame culture. When do the people involved kill themselves? When they are outed – exposed to massive social shame – before any institutional finding of wrong-doing has actually been made. No one is afraid of what the institution may do to them formally, at least not to the extent of suicide. They are afraid of social stigma.

 

And the Weiger situation is doubly bad. If you look at the Inside Higher Ed article’s summary of the lawsuit, apparently a major part of the aggrieved student’s strategy to show hostile environment sexual harassment is that some sexual banter happened and that there was a consensual relationship between Weiger (who was single) and a student. It is not clear that the student is claiming actual, personal harassment, as opposed to having to endure an environment where fraternization could occur. Surely these aren’t the same thing.

November 19, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, shame, suicide, Uncategorized, University of Iowa | 1 Comment

Feminist bell hooks on erotic student/faculty relationships

Following are key excerpts from an article by feminist author Bell Hooks, “Passionate Pedagogy; erotic student/faculty relationships,” Z MAGAZINE, March 1996, 45-51. This is one of the best articles written on this subject and I urge readers to savor and critically scrutinize this article.

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When I became a professor I was amazed at the extent to which students, male and female, approached me for romantic and/or sexual encounters. Like many unattached female professors in the academy, I was constantly the subject of student gossip. Often the students I loved the most did the most talking. When I complained to them about their obsession with my sex life, they simply responded by telling me to get a grip and accept that it goes with the turf. They wanted to understand female sexual agency. They wanted to know how women professors are coping with working in patriarchal institutions, and how we were juggling issues of sexual desirability, agency, and careerism. They saw us as charting the path they will follow. Many of these students were more than hip to the dangers of getting involved with someone older and more powerful.

Contemporary feminist movement has usefully interrogated the way men in power within patriarchal culture often use that power to abuse and sexually coerce females. That necessary critical intervention is undermined when it obscures recognition of the way in which desire can be acknowledged in relationships between individuals where there is unequal power without being abusive. It is undermined when any individual who is in a less powerful position is represented as being absolutely without choice, as having no agency to act on their own behalf. As long as young females are socialized to see themselves as incapable of choosing those situations of erotic engagement which would be most constructive for their lives, they will always be more vulnerable to victimization. This does not mean that they will not make mistakes, as countless female students did when they chose to have disappointing nonproductive romantic liaisons with professors. Everyone I interviewed for this piece had no regret about these liaisons. We all knew they did not have to be negative. The point is that we were not embracing a psychology of female victimization that would have been utterly disempowering. There is clearly a connection between submitting to abuse and the extent to which any of us already feel that we are destined to be victimized.

The vast majority of women who are heterosexual in this society are likely to be in intimate relations with men at some point in their lives who have greater status and power, however relative, given the nature of capitalism and patriarchy. Clearly, it is more important to learn ways to be “just” in situations where there is a power imbalance, rather than to
assume that exploitation and abuse are the “natural” outcome of all such encounters. Notice how such logic fixes those in power in ways that deny their accountability and choice by assuming that they act on behalf of their interests exclusively. And that their interests will always be antithetical to the interests of those who are less powerful.

Contemporary focus on victimization tends to leave very little cultural space for recognition of the erotic as a space of transgression that can undermine politics of domination. Rather than perceiving desire between faculty and students as always dangerous, negative and destructive, what does it mean for us to consider the positive uses of that desire, the way the erotic can serve to enhance self-actualization and growth. We hear much more about the way in which individuals have abused power in faculty/students relations where there is erotic engagement. We rarely hear anything about the ways erotic desire between teacher and student enhances individual growth. We do not hear about the affectionate bonds that spring from erotic encounters which challenge conventional notions of what is appropriate behavior.

Most professors, even the ones who are guilty, would acknowledge that it is highly problematic and usually unproductive to be romantically involved with students you are directly working with, either in the classroom or on a more individual basis. Yet, prohibitions, rules and regulations, will not keep these relationships from happening. The place of vigilance is not in forbidding such encounters but having a system that effectively prevents harassment and abuse. At every college campus in this country there are individual male professors who repeatedly harass and coerce students to engage in sexual relations. For the most part, even when there have been ongoing complaints, college administrators have not confronted these individuals or used the already institutionalized procedures governing harassment to compel them to stop abusive behavior. Even though everyone seems to be quite capable of recognizing the difference between those professors who abuse their power and those who may have a romantic relationship with a student that is consensual, by imposing rules and regulations that would effect all faculty and students they deny this difference. Some folks want to argue there is no difference that the student is always more vulnerable. It is true that relationships where there are serious power  imbalances  can be  a  breeding ground for victimization. They can begin with mutual consent yet this does not ensure that they may not become conflictual in ways that lead  the more powerful party to become coercive or abusive. This is true in all relationships in life.  Power must be negotiated.   Part  of maturing is learning how to cope with conflict. Many of the cases where students cite serious exploitation on the part of  professors involve graduate students and professors. It is difficult to believe that any graduate student is not fully aware of the risks when they become erotically involved with a professor who has some control over their career.  Concurrently,  sexism and misogyny have to be seen as factors at   work, when individual powerful male professors direct their attention at exceptionally smart female graduate students who  could easily become their competitors.  If campuses really want to effectively address the problems of abuse in faculty-student relations then we should be socializing undergraduates to be realistic about the problems that can arise in such encounters.

The Time magazine story on romantic relations between students and faculty begins with this confession: “During the three months in 1993 when she was sleeping with her English professor, Lisa Topol lost 18 pounds. She lost interest in her classes at the University of Pennsylvania, lost her reputation as an honor student and wondered if she was losing her mind. If she tried to break up, she thought, he could ruin her academic career. Then she made some phone calls and learned a bit more about the professor she had come to view as a predator.” If one took out the words academic and professor this would read like the troubled narrative of anyone involved with someone on the job who is their supervisor. The problem with this story is not that it does not tell the truth but rather that it tells a partial truth. We have no idea why Lisa Topol entered this relationship. We do not know if it was consensual. We do not know how or why the male involved became abusive. We do know that he did not become abusive simply because he was her professor. The problem here does not lie with faculty-student relations but with this individual male, and the large numbers of men like him who prey upon females.  The cultural context that condones this abuse is patriarchy and male domination. Yet most men and women in the academy, like society as a whole, are not engaged in activism that would target patriarchy. There are many faculty-student romances that end in friendship, some that lead to marriage and/or partnership. The professors in these relationships are able to conduct themselves in a way that is not exploitative despite the imbalance of power. There are many more male professors involved with students who are not abusive than those that are.

Realistically, our pedagogy is failing both inside and outside the classroom if students have no awareness of their agency when it comes to choosing a relationship of intimacy with a faculty member. Some folks oppose faculty/student erotic bonding because they say it creates a climate of favoritism that can be deeply disruptive. In actuality, any intimate bonding between a professor and a student is a potential context for favoritism, whether or not that intimacy is erotic. Favoritism often surfaces in the classroom and has nothing to do with desire. For example: Most professors are especially partial to students that do assigned work with rigor and intellectual enthusiasm. This is as much a context for favoritism but no one is seeking to either eliminate, question, or police it. Young females and males entering college are in the process of claiming and asserting adult status. Sexuality is as much a site where that evolution and maturation is registered as is the classroom.

A college environment should strengthen a student’s ability to make responsible mature decisions and choices. Those faculty members who become involved in romantic relationships with a student (whether they initiated it or responded to an overture by the student) who are not exploitative or dominating will nurture this maturation process. In my teaching career I have had a relationship with one student. Although he was a student in my class, I did not approach him during the time that he studied with me because I did not want to bring that dynamic into the classroom or into my evaluation of his work. He was not an exceptional student in my class. When the course ended, we became intimate. From the start we had conflicts about power. The relationship did not work yet we became friends. Recently, I shared with him that I was writing this piece. I wanted to know if he thought I had taken advantage of him. He reminded me of how shocked he was that I desired him because he primarily thought of me as this teacher that he admired and looked up to. He shared his perspective: “I did not feel in any way coerced. I found it intriguing that I would be able to talk to you one on one about issues raised in the class. I was happy to have a chance to get to know you better because I knew you were this smart and gifted professor. We all thought you were special. I was young and inexperienced and even though it was exciting that you desired me, it was also frightening.” Our romance failed. We had our share of miserable conflictual moments. Our friendship has deepened over the years and is grounded in respect and care.

Student devotion to a teacher can easily be a context where erotic longings emerge. Passionate pedagogy in any setting is likely to spark erotic energy. It cannot be policed or outlawed. This erotic energy can be used in constructive ways both in individual relationships and in the classroom setting. Just as it is important that we be vigilant in challenging abuses of power wherein the erotic becomes a terrain of exploitation, it is equally important to recognize that space where erotic interaction is enabling and positively transforming. Desire in the context of relations where hierarchy and unequal power separate individuals is always potentially disruptive and simultaneously potentially transformative. Desire can be a democratic equalizing force—the fierce reminder of the limitations of hierarchy and status—as much as it can be a context for abuse and exploitation. The erotic is always present, always with us. When we deny that erotic feelings will emerge between teachers and students, this denial precludes the recognition of accountability and responsibility. The implications of entering intimate relations where there is an imbalance of power cannot be understood, or those relations handled with care in a cultural context where desire that disrupts is seen as so taboo that it cannot be spoken, acknowledged, and addressed. Banning relations between faculty and students would create a climate of silence and taboo that would only intensify dynamics of coercion and exploitation. The moment power differences are articulated in a dialogue where erotic desire surfaces, a space is created where choice is possible, where accountability can be clearly assessed.

June 1, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, passion, secrecy, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized, victimization | 6 Comments

NUDE POSERS IN BERKELEY TREE

nude tree people

I am not sure as to how to frame the above photo. NUDES IN A TREE would seem to be an appropriate caption. But some might argue that the caption does not provide a protest discourse since without an initial organized protest this photo would never have been taken.

And what was the nature of the protest?

Last year, the University of California announced that it was going to build a new athletic training facility next to Memorial Stadium at the eastern edge of the Berkeley campus. Unfortunately, in order to build the facility as planned, the University must remove several oak trees that are currently growing on the site.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, local activists have seized on the fate of the “Memorial Oak Grove” as the cause du jour, and a vigorous campaign has been launched to stop the project and save the trees. To that end, protesters have been actually living in the trees since December of 2006, alternating in shifts every few days or weeks. The controversy has received an inordinate amount of media coverage.

OK, so maybe the caption should have been NUDE TREE DWELLERS. But there is more.

Completely unrelated to any of this, a local art photographer named Jack Gescheidt has recently become well-known for a photo series he calls the “TreeSpirit Project,” which involves naked models pictured climbing and hugging trees. But when Gescheidt heard about the Memorial Oak Grove brouhaha, he sensed a perfect media opportunity. He announced that the next installment in his Tree Spirit Project would be a nude photo shoot among the oak trees next to Memorial Stadium. And this time he wouldn’t use only professional models: he issued an open call for anyone and everyone to come get naked for the trees.

And so on Saturday, March 17, 2007, the planets came into alignment and a disparate confluence of people found themselves gathered together in the oak grove: tree-sitters, nudists, activists, journalists, Jack Gescheidt and his assistant, perverts, pornographers, the police and passersby…

OK, how about NUDE POSERS IN BERKELEY TREE?

The whole scene could or should be dedicated to the UC Berkeley nude guy of yesteryear, Andrew Martinez.

For the complete photo shoot, click here.

May 3, 2008 Posted by | exhibitionism, higher education, hugging, nudity, sexual politics, UC Berkeley, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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

Colorado College persists in persecution of CC students

I have previously posted on the absurd decision of the Colorado College administration to persecute Colorado College students by equating student parodying with student violence.  When FIRE entered the case, I was hopeful that the Colorado College administration would see the light. However, as reported in FIRE’s latest update on the case, such has not occurred.  The FIRE press release in its entirety follows.

Colorado College Denies Appeal of Students Responsible for ‘Violent’ Parody

 COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 28, 2008-Colorado College has denied student Chris Robinson’s appeal of its finding that he and another student violated the school’s “violence” policy for posting a flyer that parodied a flyer of the Feminist and Gender Studies program. The school also has decided not to remove any letters about the case from the students’ files until after graduation. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is assisting Robinson in his case against the school.

 “First, Colorado College trampled over Chris Robinson’s right to engage in an obvious parody, and now the school has further embarrassed itself by denying his appeal,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “The judicial procedure was a joke: the same administrator who found Robinson guilty in the first place was the final judge of his appeal. FIRE calls on Colorado College to remove this guilty finding once and for all from the students’ records. As long as they are deemed guilty for engaging in satire, the school’s extensive promises of free expression are brazen misrepresentations.”

 In early 2008, Colorado College’s “Feminist and Gender Studies Interns” distributed a flyer called “The Monthly Rag,” which included a reference to “male castration,” an announcement about a lecture on “feminist porn,” and an explanation of “packing” (pretending to have a phallus). As a parody of “The Monthly Rag,” Robinson and a second student, who wishes to remain anonymous, distributed a flyer in February called “The Monthly Bag” under the pseudonym “The Coalition of Some Dudes.” The flyer included references to “tough guy wisdom,” “chainsaw etiquette,” the shooting range of a sniper rifle, and a quotation about “female violence and abuse” of men from the website batteredmen.com.

 Shortly thereafter, Colorado College President Richard F. Celeste sent out a campus-wide e-mail declaring that “The Monthly Bag” included “threatening and demeaning content, which is categorically unacceptable in this community,” and asking the “Dudes” to come forward. When they did less than an hour later, they were subjected to a three-hour hearing and charged with “bias” and violating the college’s values of respect and integrity.

 FIRE wrote to Celeste on March 21, 2008, pointing out that any punishment would contradict Colorado College’s own policies and advertised commitments to free expression, including a policy that states, “On a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden. No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful that it may not be expressed.”

 After the “Dudes” faced penalties including expulsion for three weeks, Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Mike Edmonds finally wrote to the “Coalition of Some Dudes” students on March 25, stating that they had been found guilty of “violating the student code of conduct policy on violence.” The punishments included having the finding of guilt placed in their student files and being required to hold a forum to “discuss issues and questions raised” by their parody. Although Edmonds acknowledged that the intent of the publication was to satirize “The Monthly Rag,” he wrote that “in the climate in which we find ourselves today, violence-or implied violence-of any kind cannot be tolerated on a college campus.” According to Edmonds, “the juxtaposition of weaponry and sexuality” in an anonymous parody made students subjectively feel threatened by chainsaws or rifles.

 Robinson appealed Edmonds’s decision, but the final judge of the appeal was Edmonds himself. Robinson was notified on April 21, in a letter dated April 11, that his appeal had failed and that the finding would remain in his student file until he graduates.

 Also on April 21, the Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, Adam Kissel, spoke on campus to some controversy. Posters announcing his speech were found to have had the words “Political Science Department” scratched out from the line “sponsored by the Political Science Department,” although that department did invite Kissel to speak.

 “Colorado College should declare the students innocent immediately,” Kissel said. “FIRE will continue to pursue this case until these students’ records are completely cleared of any alleged wrongdoing. President Celeste still has a chance to do justice in this case.”

 FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty at Colorado College and at campuses nationwide can be viewed at thefire.org. 

 CONTACT:
Adam Kissel, Director, Individual Rights Defense Program, FIRE: 215-717-3473; adam@thefire.org

Richard F. Celeste, President, Colorado College: 719-389-6700; president@coloradocollege.edu

Mike Edmonds, Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students, Colorado College: 719-389-6684; medmonds@coloradocollege.edu

Nancy Woodrow, Secretary, Board of Trustees, Colorado College: 270 Bushaway Road, Wayzata, Minnesota 55391

 

 

 

April 28, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, Colorado College, ethics, higher education, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rape charges dropped against Penn State football star Austin Scott

All rape and sexual assault charges have been dropped against Penn State football star Austin Scott. The charges were dropped by the Centre County district attorney.  The District Attorney’s office filed the charges in early October 2007 one week after Scott had been suspended from the Penn State football team.

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said Saturday that he wants to help former player Austin Scott get to the NFL but does not regret his decision to suspend Scott from the team last fall.  Scott’s attorney, John P. Karoly characterized the prosecution of Karoly as being “overzealous”.

The rape charge, and the suspension put Scott in a state of psychological and career limbo.  The forfeiting of his senior football year and the stigma of the rape charge created severe doubt as whether Scott could ever play in the NFL.

In withdrawing the charges, the Centre County district attorney’s office issued a statement saying its case was handicapped by a ruling to allow the defense to cross-examine the accuser about rape allegations she made in 2003 against a Moravian College student who was later acquitted.

In a written decision, Centre County Judge Thomas King Kistler cited as reasons to allow the cross-examination, 19 similarities between the two cases, including assertions that the woman never cried for help and that she kissed both men goodbye after intercourse.

Karoly, who has won multimillion-dollar settlements in brutality and misconduct suits against the Bethlehem and Easton police departments, said he is still hoping for an apology from Paterno or the university or both.

Before Saturday’s Blue-White spring football game at Beaver Stadium, Paterno said Scott — a running back who led Parkland High School to a state championship in 2002 — was suspended for the remainder of the season because he was out late two nights before a football game.

”My problem with Austin, irrespective of [the charges], was the fact that he was out until 3-4 o’clock in the morning during the season — period,” Paterno said. ”He knows that.”

He also said he would like to help Scott, 23, pursue a future in the NFL.

With the District Attorney’s office knowing of the prior rape charge and the 19 similarities of the two cases, in the dankprofessor’s opinion this case should have never gone forward.  The decision to go forward functioned to punish Scott without trial.  Even though the ruling judge effectively undid the prosecution’s case, the District Attorney’s office needlessly allowed this charge to stand for some seven months until they were forced to admit that they had no case against Scott.

In a press conference held by Scott’s lawyer and by Scott, they implied that a lawsuit would be forthcoming.  By clicking here, one can click on and see the entirety of the press conference video.  I urge my blog readers to do so.  The video allows viewers to experience the plight of Austin Scott in a more up close and personal manner.  In the video it was also stated that a lawsuit against Penn State University was not being ruled out.  Scott is hoping to receive an apology from the university.

As for his coach Joe Paterno, he sated the following- ”Austin and I talked last week on the phone, and I said as soon as we get through this thing, you should come up and we can talk about your future a little. I told him, if I can help him get a better opportunity with a pro team after this thing is over with, I’d do that.”

As for the university’s handling of the case, such appears quite similar to how Duke University handled the rape charge against the members of their lacrosse team.  Assume guilt and offer no refuge to the presumed guilty.  Such is the world view of too many university administrators, particularly when charges of some sort of illicit sex are involved. The Duke University administrators who facilitated Duke moving against the lacrosse players still remain at Duke in good stead. Let us hope that Penn State takes a more proactive stand in attempting to right their wrongs against Austin Scott

And the Morning Call which has reported on this case and which I cite as my source in this posting has not righted their wrongs.  In the Morning call article, the Morning Call did not use the name of the woman; the Call stated that the woman’s name is being withheld “because it does not identify alleged rape victims”.  But the Call just doesn’t get it.  The woman is no longer an alleged rape victim.  The victim has been shown to be Austin Scott who was was the subject of a false rape report. 

It appears self-evident to the dankprofessor that a charge against the woman for filing a false complaint should be forthcoming.   Will the Call then reveal the woman’s identity?  And even if a charge which should be charged is not filed, the Call should still reveal the woman’s identity.  If her identity is not revealed, it will be demonstrated to like minded others that one can make false rape charges with minimal public opprobrium.

—–
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 22, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, litigation, rape, sex, sexual politics, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Chavez student speaks out

Marisa Demarco, a student of Lisa Chavez, has spoken out in defense of Professor Chavez in part in the following terms-

“I’m a graduate of UNM’s English-creative writing department. This story in the Daily Lobo this morning hit me in the face like a bag of nails. Sharon Warner, the program’s director, is stepping down. Apparently, Lisa Chavez, an instructor, posed on an S&M website with some graduate students and didn’t get punished (enough?) for it. (There’s a punishment joke in here somewhere, but I’m not going for it.)

 I’m a huge Lisa Chavez fan. I had a couple of classes with her and thought she was brilliant. Her poetry is often breathtaking. It’s clear to me that I don’t have an unbiased view of this situation.”

Oh, and the drawing, it’s not by the dankprofessor; I am artistically challenged.

—–
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 | higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, Uncategorized, University of New Mexico | Leave a comment

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

Poetics

Poetics will periodically appear in the dankprofessor’s blog. Why not start in the area of dementia?

THE PURE MAD POETIC DEMENTIA by Larry M. Blumenfeld © Copyright 2008 (larrymblumenfeld@yahoo.com)

The pure mad poetic dementia becomes the transcendental vision of the personal perspective-driven reality of the omnipresent wordslinging streets…..that special reality given only to those few scruffy angels who fearlessly seek the veracious flash of ultimate truth. These magnificent misbegotten troubadours somehow survive amidst the neverending swarm of fascist zombies crawling out from every toxic planted rock in every false dead suburb of the burning polluting murdering white rape of all black and brown pagan pawns from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to the Congo. But the believe it or not clarion call goes out under the following banner of boom doom and soon: Trust me these milky white Jesus days are on the fringes of over.

The pure mad poetic dementia makes my balls ache with voodoo transformations of wild and frenzied nights and the tumbling free magic of the ejaculated word: You want a piece of me is coming from the back seat of a car boombox the girl’s raspy sex-charged voice igniting my libido to the image of the piece of meat carnality of her transmitted song in a delicious reflection of tits and young skin and ass and wet cunt and my exploding cock…..all of this blister-beetled orgasmic desperately wished for congress amidst endless newscasts of blasted bloody beaten dark damned dead arabs mixed in with hosts of scream-visaged women and stunned ripped and broken babies, not to mention the thousands of American dead blown away chunks of meat and the surviving thousand mile stares oblivious to their missing arms and legs left in some mass Iraqi ditch.

The pure mad poetic dementia grinds away in timeless memories of raw jungles and freezing wandering tundras filled with bugs and snakes and huge cunning predators waiting in ambush for the smartass crafty cunning beast who walks upright getting past his spears and stone weapons in just enough time to rip his fucking guts out hanging them in
tall trees for a dark moonlit feast with their hungry cubs…..The purpose to survive but the hoped for result is to thin the population of these packs of killers who love to kill even when their guts are sated…..Yea, Reader, there will come a time…..believe me, there will come a time.

The pure mad poetic dementia includes feasts of stars a soft wind in the trees the low roar of well fed lions rolling on cool leaves loving only the moment…..no plans for world wide dominion…..only the powerful but
closed-clawed paws cuffing their young in playful but instant satisfaction with no crafty serpentine rationale for alt their tomorrows: God bless the natural order but Goddamn those who refuse to leave it alone…..The ultimate result may be the universal denial of dominion and the extinction of its pontificators.

April 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Heather Mac Donald responds to critics of her ‘campus rape crisis myth’ article

In a March 2 City Journal article Heather Mac Donald responds to the feminist criticisms of her prior article on the campus rape crisis myth.

Key excerpts of the current article follow.

Let me propose a thought experiment. An unapprehended rapist has assaulted two women in a particular area of State University’s campus-.04 percent of the female undergraduate population. Would the State University administrators tell girls to stay away from the area until the rapist is caught? Or would they remain silent about whether girls should continue to frequent that area of the campus, because “rape is never a woman’s fault”? The first, of course, because students’ safety is the administrators’ paramount concern, regardless of whether female students have a “right” to frequent that dangerous area at night.

Campus rape researchers and advocates, modifying Koss’s statistic slightly, say that they believe that a whopping one-fifth to one-quarter of college women are raped by their fellow students. Virtually all of these alleged rapes could be avoided if the girls took certain steps: don’t get into bed with a guy when you are very drunk, don’t take off your clothes, don’t get involved in oral sex, and so on. Such advice is fully consistent with female empowerment. It recognizes that girls have the power to stop “campus rape.” It treats them as moral agents able to control their fates.

But when I suggest to campus sexual assault administrators that they could stop what Koss calls the “rape pandemic” overnight if they persuaded girls to exercise more prudence, I inevitably receive responses like the following (these are my interlocutors’ actual words): “I am uncomfortable with the idea of ‘recommending that female students exercise more modesty and restraint’-this indicates that if they are raped it could be their fault-it is never their fault.” Or: “Yes, modesty would have a certain impact, but who’s responsible?”

There are two possible reasons why the administrators refuse to take the most efficacious, practical action to end campus rape-counseling sexual prudence. Either they know in their heart of hearts that what is happening on campuses is not really rape, but something much more ambiguous and also much less traumatic than real rape. Or-and this possibility is too horrible to contemplate-these self-professed women’s advocates really do believe that a drunken hookup is rape, and yet are withholding from women the simplest, surest way to prevent being raped, simply in order to preserve the principle of male fault. If the latter situation actually prevails, I conclude that the campus rape movement is purely political, interested solely in casting men as the evil perpetrators of the patriarchy rather than in most effectively protecting potential victims of a traumatic crime.

In her response, Koss says that “Men are supposed to know that [it is] wrong to have sex with a woman who is unable to consent due to intoxication.” Some men may know that; others may not. By all means, try to educate as many as you can. But the point is, if you want to protect women right now, the surest way of doing so is persuading them to avoid risky sexual encounters, rather than hoping that the drunken men with whom they have gotten into bed have a solid sense of ethics. What if a man knows that it is wrong to have sex with a very drunk woman but is himself too drunk to act on that knowledge-who’s going to protect the woman then? It is certainly ironic that feminists are relying on men to protect women when the women are perfectly able to determine whether a drunken night ends in intercourse. Moreover, if drunkenness cancels a woman’s responsibility for her actions, why does a drunken man who has sex that he may regret the next day nevertheless remain responsible? Are women less responsible for their actions than men?

If it were the case that millions of rape victims graduated from college each year with serious emotional trauma, we’d have heard about it. Their parents would have demanded that colleges prevent this crime “pandemic.” Alternative academic institutions would have sprung up, guaranteeing a safe place for women to study and learn. None of this has happened, because the millions of women whom campus rape researchers designate as victims don’t suffer serious emotional trauma and don’t think of themselves as victims. You would have thought that that would be celebrated as a sign of strong womanhood.

Putting the above argument in part in the dankprofessor’s terms, what Mac Donald is saying is that the feminist campus anti-rape movement is cynically using female students as a means to an end, as a means to hit back at men; that this movement is fueled by sex hatred and effective rape prevention is of secondary concern. Empirically demonstrating this argument is, of course, an impossibility. What can only be addressed is whether Mac Donald’s argument makes sense of the “facts”.

Such does make sense for me in terms of my engagement of essentially the same campus activists in regards to the campaign to prohibit consensual sexual relationships between students and professors. In the student/professor context, the campus feminist activists present male professors who are sexually involved with students in the most dehumanizing terms. They are presented as de facto rapists since it is held that female students can never give consent because differential power precludes consent. In their terms, female students do not count; if they protest that they consented to the relationship, they are ignored. Campus activist feminists reduce dissenting female students to the status of being children, and view themselves as their Big Sister protectors and all too often this protection means getting these students to do and to believe what they want them to do and to believe. Interesting, in a sense the anti-rape movement feminists may be similar to campus rapists- wanting to control women for the sake of their own power.

What the dankprofessor believes is at play here is authoritarianism. Authoritarians attempting to exert their control over others. Too many campus feminists have created an authoritarian sisterhood, a sisterhood that is merciless on women who dissent from their orthodoxy, one such woman being Heather Mac Donald. Yes, there has been some polite critiques of Mac Donald’s first article on campus rape. But to my knowledge, no feminist, no member of the campus anti-rape movement has come forward chastising their feminist confreres who name call and heap abuse on Mac Donald. The restraint Heather Mac Donald has demonstrated in response to this abuse has been admirable.

In addition, the dankprofessor wishes to recommend two books by Daphne Patai which provide tremendous insight into authoritarian campus feminism- HETEROPHOBIA; SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND THE FUTURE OF FEMINISM and PROFESSING FEMINISM: CAUTIONARY TALES FROM THE STRANGE WORLD OF WOMEN’S STUDIES.

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

March 3, 2008 Posted by | coercing women, consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, Heather Mac Donald, higher education, rape, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A “feminist” rape rhetoric

The intemperate attack on Heather Mac Donald for her LA Times and City Journal articles on the campus rape crisis myth continues unabated. Typical characterizations of Heather MacDonald and/or her writings have been stupid, disgusting and “asshole”. Now the dankprofessor has become the subject of this tirade. Such is indicated in the following posting from the Astraea’s Scales blog.

The disgusting editorial by Heather Mac Donald in the LA Times has been making the rounds and is being used by rape apologists already. All the more reason to write the LA Times and tell them how irresponsible it was to give a rape apologist so much space in a major newspaper.

Some examples (not linking, you can see for yourself and challenge them if you’re braver than I):

Asshole Michael of 2blowhards.com uses it to justify his anti-feminism in a January 26th post:

It’s funny, isn’t it, the way some people claim that Political Correctness (or Sexual Correctness) never existed, isn’t it? Of course it did. I’m reminded of the way some people, when thinking back to (or remembering) ’70s-style feminism, say, “Oh, it wasn’t so bad.” Sure it was.

And super asshole dankprofessor at dankprofessor.wordpress.com twists it around to a rather creepy personal issue in a Feburary 25th post:

Ignoring of women’s own interpretations of their experience sounds quite familiar to the dankprofessor. Such is familiar since in the feminist framework regarding student professor sexual relationships, the student is never able to consent since the feminist axiom is that differential power precludes consent. In this framework students are never asked if they consented. Their interpretations are of no import unless they reflect a feminist orthodoxy. Female students who protest that they did consent are simply ignored.

The campus rape myth and the predator professor/female student myth come from the same source – anti-sexual campus feminists.
This is exactly why giving legitimacy to people like Heather Mac Donald – who works for a conservative think tank and has no previous experience with sexual assault or rape issues – is so dangerous. It reinforces widespread misconceptions about rape and gives rape apologists ammunition.

So such is the manner in which too many campus feminists deal with their critics, name-calling and degradation. No place for reasoned debate here.

What the dankprofessor finds ironic is that the writer of this post has an attitudinal framework which is similar to the psychological framework of many rapists. Rapists attempt to psychologically degrade their victims. If such degradation is successful, the rapist ends up creating victims in their own image- victims who feel angry, hurt, powerless, guilty*, fearful and vengeful. Such is often called passing the sting.

It is no easy task to transcend this vicious cycle of degradation. If victims are to get beyond their victimage, such is more likely to occur in a situation of empathy, and empowerment, not one characterized by anger and hostility.

Another rapist dynamic is impersonality and dehumanization. For rapists, their victims are faceless; they use their victims for their own psychological gratifications; any personal knowledge of the victims is irrelevant. A victim is just another asshole. And for the writer of this Astraea’s Scales blog, there is no need to know the dankprofessor; I am faceless, just another asshole; just another rape enabler.

I suggest that the writer of the Scales blog consider the possibility that her rhetoric is a rhetoric of rape.

*I want to make it clear that I am not indicating that rape victims have anything to feel guilty about. Survivor guilt is a common feeling of survivors of violence- whether the survivors be rape survivors, Holocaust survivors, military combat survivors, et. al.

—–
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

February 27, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, Heather Mac Donald, higher education, rape, sex offenders, sexual politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Just words?

In my last post I quoted the following from ABC News as reported by Susan Donaldson James-“In 1989, Chicago lawyer Michelle Robinson was assigned the role of adviser to a summer associate from Harvard University her future husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

According to an interview in the Illinois Journal Gazette and Times-Courier, she took the high road and refused to go out with Obama for a month.”

And, of course, the implication remains that Michelle took the low road when she went out with Barack.

Given the recent presidential campaign rhetoric, should one write this off as “just words”? I think not. ABC attributes the high road phrasing to the Illinois Journal Gazette and the Times-Courier. I could not find any such phrasing in the aforementioned publication. The high road phrasing was that of ABC News.

Implying that Michelle Obama took the low road when she decided to date Barack, is a journalistic low blow. What is clear is that the road taken by ABC in this news report was not the high road.

—–
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

February 18, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, consensual relationships, just words, Michelle Obama, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ABC Reports on Michelle and Barack and Student Professor Relationships

ABC News had a report on student professor relationships that was not all that bad. There were a few errors, once again the law dean at UC Berkeley was portrayed as having an affair with a law student; maybe I am out of touch but when someone says so and so had an affair the implication is that the “relationship” was more than just a few hours.

In any case, the catalyst for this ABC report was the revelation by Michelle Robinson, now Michelle Obama, had met Barack in the context of a formal power differentiated relationship. Here is how ABC News put it in the context of discussing student professor relationships-

“But not all such love affairs end in disaster. In 1989, Chicago lawyer Michelle Robinson was assigned the role of adviser to a summer associate from Harvard University, her future husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. According to an interview in the Illinois Journal Gazette and Times-Courier, she took the high road and refused to go out with Obama for a month.”

Is the ABC implication that Michelle took the low road when she decided to go out with him? If it was a low road, it turned out to be a pretty good road.

Might there be some campus feminists out there who wish to apply the feminist tenet that Barack could not have freely consented since differential power precludes consent and he was in the subordinate position? According to Michelle he did the asking. Attempting to apply the feminist perspective leads one into the absurd.

Of course, the Hillary Clinton campaign might have had an initial inclination to exploit this situation, but such could not occur without an immediate flashing back to Bill and Monica with Monica doing the initiating in her role of subordinate intern.  Employing the feminist doctrine, Monica could not consent because she was in the subordinate position.

The absurdity of the differential power precludes consent is so blatant but somehow so many academics accept it as axiomatic.

In addition, too may academics give lip service to the assumption that student professor relationships are doomed to a disastrous failure.

ABC did not accept this scenario and provided an example of a student view contrary to the cartoon stereotypes.

ABC interviewed Harvard student Aarti-

“Aarti, 22, who didn’t want her last name used, graduated from Harvard University last year. She told ABCNews.com that romances between professors and their students were “very, very prevalent” on her campus.
“For someone who loves learning, who is more appealing than the professor?” she asked.

She went on to state that “His vocabulary, which I have yet to see challenged, was a regular subject of discussion among the females,” “and for those females who didn’t feel this way at the beginning, well, they definitely changed by the end of the semester.”

One of her friends at Harvard dated her thesis adviser while he was teaching her class. That couple dated for a year.

“Frankly, I don’t think the romantic involvement itself is unethical, as long as the student is not receiving preferential treatment in any way,” she said. “Then, it is not just a private romantic endeavor, but rather a case of unfair treatment that essentially affects all the students in the class.”

Aarti said she would not pursue a teacher because of the double standard for women when it comes to sex.”

—–
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

February 15, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, consensual relationships, dating, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, Michelle Obama, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Female student speaks of her relationship with a professor

Returning to the University of Southern Maine student newspaper story about student professor consensual sexual relationships, the story focused on the experiences of Rebecca, a student, who is in a four year relationship with a professor.

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“When I walked into class, it was like, ‘this guy is my teacher,’ and it’s different than outside,” she said. “He never gave me preference, and since I was very good at the subject anyway, I knew, and it was obvious to everyone else, that I earned my grades.”

Her relationship, which began four years ago, has gone unreported to anyone of supervisory power over the professor, because by the time their friendship had evolved into something bigger, the couple saw no need for the ‘mediation’ provided by the university’s policy-they had already established boundaries for themselves, and she was no longer his student.

While she says that the relationship is great, she still struggles, because she has been forced to lie about it for so long: “It sucks to connect something I’m so uncomfortable about to something that makes me happy.”

It has affected her friendships and family relationships, because she is never able to be fully open about her life – even her two best friends don’t know about it.

“My time with him and the rest of my life are completely separate realities,” she says, “When they cross, it’s really uncomfortable, and I get paranoid.” She has also come to realize the affect it has had on her college experience, removing her from the social situations that most students traditionally become a part of.

The secrets have been painful. Her friendships, old and potential, have suffered, and there’s a constant paranoia ­­– for his sake — that it will somehow come out.

“But at the same time,” she says, “I’ve had a blast! You think about it, he’s my boyfriend. I love him. And four years! That’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had.”

Rebecca puts a knuckle between her teeth and tugs at her collar with the other hand, looking at me with a sideways glance that is almost coy, “I was just sort of taken by him, his looks, and his intelligence – sometimes I think the bad outweighs the good, but, I’m still with him. I mean, he’s awesome, he’s the best!”

She pauses and smiles, straightening her neck. After a minute, she begins again, “The biggest thing is that I still have a lot of respect for professors – if anything, it has made me realize that really, they have the same issues everyone else has, they’re just people.”

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What the dankprofessor finds most disturbing about this relationship is the secrecy. Neither the professor nor the student feel they have the option of integrating this relationship into the rest of their lives. Possibly, they are misjudging the reactions of others. During my 35 year career as a professor I dated many students and former students, and I met many of these students’ parents and siblings. And never did I find that parents were not accepting of their daughter’s relationship with me. Such was the case even when there was a significant age differential. Not one parent objected to the fact that their daughter was dating a professor. In fact, the reaction was just the opposite to rejection, it was enthusiastic acceptance. The reality was that I often found myself dating a very interesting woman and befriending her very interesting parents. It was a plus plus situation.

But universities which have these problems are not interested in hearing about parental acceptance. Advocates of these relationships do not want them to exist and if they do, they want them to be in the closet.

At the University of Southern Maine, an administrative apparatus has been set up which investigates complaints relating to student professor dating. As reported in this article: “Any concerns about sexual harassment or preferential treatment stemming from student-faculty romance are taken to the Office of Campus Diversity and Equity, which investigates all discriminatory complaints at USM. For the past couple years, the office has not received any complaints of this nature. The 2004-05 school year saw three complaints, and in 2003-04 there was only one.”

Obviously the parties to these relationships do not report to the appropriate authorities since it is likely that both parties to these relationships do not feel they need administrative regulation and do not feel that the administration is their to help them navigate thru the terrain of university life.

However, USM administrator Daryl McIlwain disagrees with my analysis, according to him “probably most issues are not reported, for fear of the grade or because they don’t want to cause problems for the faculty member or draw embarrassing attention to themselves.”

However, the dankprofessor believes it is the fear of administrators such as Daryl McIlwain which leads couples not to report. And based on the input I have received from couples around the nation, I would advise couples never to report. Better to deny than to report to the campus authoritarians. I have heard too many stories of couples feeling utterly betrayed by the powers that be who end up violating the confidentiality of the relationship and often demean both the student and professor.

—–
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

February 14, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, secrecy, sexual policing, sexual politics, student professor dating, student-prof dating, Uncategorized, University of Southern Maine | 3 Comments

THE HANDY HANDBOOK OF OFFICE LOVE*

The Sacramento Business Journal has THE solution; they know how to protect business owners, particularly small business owners,  from the pitfalls of intraoffice romance and sexual harassment lawsuits

Quoting from the business journal-

“Advisers to small businesses agree that a company can’t forbid romantic relationships in the workplace, but say they should consider policies that strongly discourage dating, especially between supervisors and subordinates. Experts also say companies should clearly outline policies on harassment and dating in an employee handbook — something many small businesses lack.

Love can bloom between coworkers at any time. Companies small and large would be wise to make sure an employee handbook is in place and policies on relationships are included, said Panda Morgan, director of the Greater Sacramento Small Business Development Center.

An employee handbook might seem like a trivial aspect of business, but it can be an important tool when relationships turn sour and harassment complaints or wrongful termination claims are made.

“The problem with small businesses is most don’t have employee handbooks because they don’t really see a need until something happens, and they realize their hands are tied and they can’t do anything about it,” Morgan said.”

After reading this article, The dankprofessor went out into the field in search of the handbook.  He found one entitled THE HANDY HANDBOOK OF OFFICE LOVE which was revised from the pioneer HANDY HANDBOOK ON UNIVERSITY LOVE*.  No date or publisher listed.  The dankprofessor will summarize the core handbook rules-

HANDS OFF

NO HANDS IN POCKETS

HANDS ON THE TABLE

HANDS UP

NO HANDY MEN

HANDLE WITH CARE

NO SHAKY HANDS

NO HANDSOME MEN

HANDS TIED

and if all else fails- KEEP HANDS CUFFED AT ALL TIMES.

—–
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

February 14, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, corporate dating bans, dating, love, office romance, Uncategorized, workplace | Leave a comment

Middlebury College Update

The Burlington Free Press published an article entitled “Academic Affairs Rile Middlebury”( February 10) which deals with the ongoing consideration of a new student professor consenting sexual relationship policy. The dankprofessor has published a number of prior posts on the Middlebury situation.The headline of the article “Academic Affairs Rile Middlebury” was a misnomer since there was no academic affair of any sort mentioned in the article, and the dankprofessor has been unable to find any mention of any academic affair at any time of any kind, riling or otherwise, at Middlebury College. The fact of the matter is that the current Middlebury College policy discouraging such relationships has worked.

What riled up the Middlebury campus community was the visit of Ann Lane this past September to Middlebury College in the context of her presentation of a talk entitled “Consensual Relations in the Academy: Gender, Power and Sexuality”. The Burlington Free Press article stated: “Her speech lent some perspective to a discussion Middlebury’s faculty was beginning to have about one of academia’s thornier issues: faculty-student “amorous relationships” and what to do about them.” Of course, no where in the article was it demonstrated that the need had come up in the past at Middlebury to do anything about them.

However, Professor Lane did not see it that way. She stated in the Free Press article: “What struck me about my presentation at Middlebury were the number of students who attended, particularly the male students, probably half and half,” Lane wrote in an e-mail, “and the interest they showed in questions. I was impressed….At dinner that evening with administrators, faculty and students, what was interesting was that the faculty and administrators, thanking me for my talk, then went on to say how such relationships are rare or non-existent in their school. The students made eye contact and began to talk about several such relationships they all knew of, not naming anyone.”

So the good Professor Lane simply discards professorial input that these relationships are rare or non-existent at Middlebury and rather cites student scuttlebutt to support her position. Of course, the issue becomes whether gossip, and rumor should ever be the basis of any academic policy. Professor Lane or the Free Press did not report that any of these students have testified or are planning to testify concerning any such affairs. I think it is fair to say that at this point such affairs are simply a part of Lane’s fertile imagination.

In contrast to Professor Lane’s perception that there is great student interest in this issue, the Free Press reported the following student input:

“Among Middlebury students, by one account, this is not exactly a hot issue. Sarah Franco, a senior who writes Midd Blog, said she has “broached the subject of faculty/student relationships at least twice” but received no comments. “I stopped writing about it,” she said in an e-mail, “because students do not seem interested. I can only speculate as to why. For one thing, students speak up only if they fervently disagree with something and no student is going to openly advocate to have a relationship with a professor.”

Yes, I agree with Ms. Franco that no student is likely to advocate for student professor relationships and no professor is likely to engage in a similar advocacy. At Middlebury any such relationships if they have occurred remain out of sight
and out of mind, and this is as it should be if we respect the privacy rights of those engaging in intimate relationships.

What I find to be most depressing is the absence of any student or professor advocating for the right of any student or any professor to have a consensual relationship. Nowhere in the article is a rights perspective included or alluded to. If the Free Press writer had done his homework he would have found that over the last six months there has been much attention given in the media to a civil liberties perspective, particularly by UCLA professor Paul R. Abramson in his book ROMANCE IN THE IVORY TOWER: THE RIGHTS OF LIBERTY AND CONSCIENCE.  In fact, the Boston Globe recently carried an excellent op ed piece by Abramson which was totally ignored in the Free Press piece.

For example, the Free Press writer fails to understand the civil liberties implication when the opinion of feminist Bernice Sandler is cited: “A better option, Sandler said, citing an approach adopted at the University of Michigan, is a policy that requires disclosure. Such a policy “handles it without prohibiting,” she said, “but it gets at the professional issues involved.” After disclosure, a professor’s duties with respect to the student in question are assigned to someone else.”

What the article fails to note is that the student’s privacy is violated by a policy that would force the professor to reveal her identity to college authorities with the consequence that she is forcibly removed from the classroom. This seems like a pretty major omission, but never does Bernice Sandler in her media interviews state how this policy directly impacts on female students. The amazing thing is that for a feminist such as Sandler female students are invisible.

Another place where the article did not get it right was in the interview with Frank Vinik , a lawyer and risk manager for United Educators. The Free Press article reported:

“We think having no policy is a mistake,” said Frank Vinik, a lawyer and risk manager for United Educators, an insurance co-op with 800 college and university members. Vinik cited as an example the University of California, where a law school dean resigned in 2002 after engaging in an affair that he termed “consensual” and that the student deemed “harassment.” After that, Vinik said, the university formulated a consensual-relationships policy to go along with its harassment policy.”

One of the problems with the Vinik statement is that the law dean and the law student never had an affair. The length of their knowing each other was for a couple of hours. They met at a bar/restaurant in the context of a dining and drinking celebration of other students recent achievements. The student became inebriated; the dean drove her home, and while at her home while she was asleep the dean was reported to have assaulted her. How could one characterize such as representing an affair? How could one argue that this incident had any relevance to the current policy evaluation at Middlebury? Vinik must know that UC had a sexual harassment policy at that time that was applicable to the dean’s actions. The dean quickly resigned in the context of an impending sexual harassment charge. In fact, Frank Vinik engages in the same misstatement of the facts of this situation in a report on WCBV-TV Boston. If Mr. Vinik believes the dankprofessor has misrepresented him, I would welcome his input on this matter and if he wishes, I would publish his response on the dankprofessor blog.

The writer of the Free Press article, Tim Johnson, characterized this issue as being one of “academia’s thornier issues”. If such be the case, one would have been led to believe that the article would have made some attempt to bring forth the
conflicting perspectives on the student professor consenting sexual relationships issue. Such was not the case.
I had expected more from one of Vermont’s leading newspapers, a newspaper which is well known for its concern with civil liberty issues.

—–
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

February 11, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, Middlebury College, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 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

The Final Chapter: The dissection of the Ohio State University Task Force Report

The Dankprofessor will continue to plow thru the OSU Task Force on Consensual Relationships; it is important for persons interested in determining how a university arrives at a point in time at which a formal prohibition on student professor consensual relationships is adopted.  For the prior post on OSU and relevant documents click hereFollowing is a section of the Task Force Report that merits our attention.
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“The Task Force was apprised of the variety of harms caused by sexual relationships between faculty and students. Apparently, a familiar pattern involves a faculty member who initiates a sexual relationship with a student, often a student in the same department with whom the faculty member frequently interacts. Initially, the student may be flattered by the attention and may give little thought to the power dynamics in the relationship. When the relationship ends or turns sour, however, the effect on the student changes sharply: the student then experiences hurt, guilt, shame and a lack of connection with her peers as a result of the relationship and worries about the effect of the relationship on her career, particularly if she feels that the faculty member is in a position to influence her future. The Task Force heard reports of faculty members who were known to have had multiple relationships with students, suggesting a propensity to misuse their power as professors.”
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     Note the overt dehumanizing rhetoric employed in this excerpt.  Now we have THE student and THE faculty member presented in completely homogenous terms.  Such is illustrative of the I-it I-thou framework put forth by Martin Buber.  Here, we only have the I-it.  In such a depersonalized world there is only THE student, The professor, THE homosexual, THE Jew.  Once one knows who is who then one
knows the script and therefore without any personal knowledge of any particular student or any particular professor, one already knows how THE student and THE professor will act; what will happen to them once they cross into the forbidden territory of sexuality.  In this fiction as presented by the Task Force, “the student then experiences hurt, guilt and shame…”; no ifs here; such is Her fate.  And what happens to the faculty member? What about “his” experiencing hurt, guilt and shame?  Nothing here; absolutely nothing.  Haven’t we all heard this sort of muckraking?  Didn’t we hear it as children from parents warning us about sex or homosexuality or dating interracially or …?  Do we not know what this sort of rhetoric is all about, that this is about fear and possibly hysteria and ultimately obedience?  In the dankprofessor’s opinion, persons who engage in such rhetoric would be likely candidates for speech writers in the Bush administration.  However, it is hard for me to accept that engaging in this rhetoric  is compatible with being an academic.  What a sorrowful state we are in!
   Unfortunately, there is more from the Task Force illustrating academia’s sorrowful state
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“The Task Force also discussed the third-party and reputational effects of faculty/student consensual relationships. We were told of a notorious case in which the fallout from a sexual relationship in the department caused the student in the relationship and other graduate students in the department to seek counseling and to consider transferring to other universities to complete their degrees. Persons in the department expressed their belief that the reputation of the department suffered as a result.”

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Is this what it boils down to, reputational effects?  Since something supposedly hurts the reputation of some persons or some entity then the liberty to fraternize is suspended.  Reputations of departments vary from department to department and in the same department over time.  Selecting out student and professors in a sexual relationship who generally just want to be left alone for responsibility for the “reputational” effects is just other worldly!  In any case, the extreme effects of the particular case highlighted by the Task Force may just be academic gossip.  And if the case was so notorious, why didn’t the Task Force specifically name names?

———————————————————-

 And the Task Force continues-

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Regardless of the scope of any new rule, Task Force members were strongly of the view that little would change if the new policy did not have “teeth” or if persons were unaware of the restrictions. To be effective, there must be a duty placed on the faculty member to disclose the existence of any sexual relationship with a student – current or in the past – and to cooperate in making alternative arrangements for the supervision, teaching, grading, advising, counseling or other responsibility relating to the student. Additionally, any supervisor notified of such a relationship or who becomes aware of such a relationship should have a duty to take immediate action to provide an acceptable alternative arrangement. The Task Force was mindful of the potential hazards with requiring disclosure, particularly in cases of same-sex relationships or other socially disapproved relationships. For this reason, the supervisor should take all feasible steps to maintain the confidentiality of such information. Finally, to insure against multiple offenders escaping notice, any action taken in response to a report of a consensual sexual relationship or alternative arrangements made as a result should be reported to Human Resources. The Task Force agreed that policy and procedure for regulating consensual sexual relationships should remain as part of the University’s policy against sexual harassment.”

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 So the Task Force wants to give this policy “teeth”.   And what better way to give it teeth than to bring third parties into the scenarios; informers in the genre of the Linda Tripps; informers who really care about the Monica Lewinskys of the world and have no agenda, emotional or otherwise, concerning presidents and professors of the world.  And in this world of third party informants, the good administrator (police) will take immediate action to correct the so-called problem, no need for for acting in a slow and cautious manner.  Here academic justice and sidewalk justice become one. 

And in a true Orwellian fashion the Task Force urges supervisors to maintain confidentiality of all information.  But if confidentiality mattered, if the privacy of the couple mattered, if one granted even minimal rights to those in the closet, then there would no third party informants.  The truth is as the Task Force apparently does not know that once the couple is compromised there is no confidentiality; confidentiality is history.  The Task Force is engaging in delusional thinking unless what they meant by confidentiality is secrecy and therefore the ability of the so- called supervisors to act knowing that their acts will not be in public view.  So the administrators are given their secrecy and the involved students and professors are stripped of their secrecy.  No sexcrecy(my word); no secret love.  Fortunately there were some OSU professors who saw thru this game at an OSU forum on the Task Force report.  The campus newspaper, The Lantern, reported-

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“Faculty at the meeting voiced concerns on the notification clause in the policy change. Originally, the revised policy required that human resources be notified if a faculty member entered into any consensual relationship with a student, even in cases where the faculty member was not in a supervisory position. Some faculty were concerned with this central reporting mechanism and with the creation of records of the relationships within human resources. In response to these concerns, human resources has revised the policy to require faculty to report the relationships only to their department chairs. No notification of human resources is required and no central records will be kept.With the adoption of the anonymous reporting line on March 1, T.K. Daniels, chair of the faculty council of the University Senate, expressed concerns that third-party reporting would be encouraged in instances of consensual relationships between faculty and students.”It’s a romantic police state,” Daniels said. “It’s even more so a police state because it can be reported anonymously.”Lewellen said the policy needs to be revised to discourage third-party reporting and that he believes this is a matter of professional ethics.”

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 We shall see whether  third party reporting was modified when we look at the policy as adopted.   But suffice to state at this point that Professor Daniels understands what it takes to create an effective police state, it takes informers and more informers, and it takes the true believing ideologues to help the informers rationalize that they are doing the right thing.

  Of course, the Task Force recommended that there be a prohibition on faculty student professor relationships.  We will terminate this post with their summary of their recommendations.

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“In summary, the Task Force recommends:

(1) That the OSU policy be revised to prohibit consensual sexual relationships between faculty and students or between university employees and students, whenever the faculty member or employee has supervisory, teaching, evaluation, advisory, coaching or counseling responsibilities for the student or would otherwise be likely to be asked to take on such a role in the future.

(a) That OSU implement the consensual relationship policy to impose a duty on faculty and staff to report and disclose any sexual relationship with a student encompassed within (1) above, either to their supervisor or to Human Resources and to cooperate in making acceptable alternative arrangements. The policy should also impose a duty on supervisors to notify Human Resources of any such relationships reported to them or that come to their knowledge and to take immediate steps to provide acceptable alternative arrangements.

(b) That the OSU consensual relationship policy contain a clear statement that disciplinary action will be taken against faculty or staff who violate the policy, either by entering into or engaging in a sexual relationship with a student encompassed with (1) above, or by failing to report such relationship or cooperate in making alternative arrangements.”

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

 

January 5, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Ohio State University, secrecy, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Ohio State University Melodrama Continues; Task Force Examining Consensual Relationships

   Once the Ohio State University Work Group completed its report and recommendations, the report was then  forwarded to the OSU Task Force Examining the Policy on Consensual Relationships.  The Task Force issued its report on July 11, 2005 and it was then forwarded to the OSU Academic Senate.  A complete copy of the Task Force report along with the Work Group report can be reviewed by clicking here.
   From the get go the Task Force makes it clear that the report of the Work Group was of critical import to the Task Force:  “Because of the high quality and comprehensiveness of the Work Group report, the Task Force has used it as a foundation for our deliberations.”  Given the specifics of the Work Group’s report, it becomes quite damning that the Task Force accepts this report with absolutely no critical evaluation.  It is therefore not surprising that the Task Force relied on persons who were remarkably similar in background to the members of the Work Group: “We particularly benefited from the expertise of six individuals, including four Task Force members, who reported to our Task Force on their professional experience dealing with OSU students. They were: (1) Deborah Schipper and (2) Rebecca Gurney from the Rape Education & Prevention Program (3) Karen Kyle from the Student Advocacy Office (4) Eunice Hornsby from Human Resources (5) Karen Taylor from Counseling and Consultation Service.”  
   It also should not be very surprising that the Task Force report was to a significant degree just a rehashing of the Work Group report.  Such is indicated by what the Task Force attempted to pass off as data which was used as a basis for their conclusions: “Those persons who supplied information to the Task Force indicated that serious problems relating to faculty/student consensual relationships had come to their attention in the last few years. The number of reported cases clearly seems to have risen, with one respondent indicating that her office received 7 such complaints in one year, involving 7 different departments on campus. Although there is no reliable way to determine the precise incidence of such relationships – now or in the past – we heard reports that consensual sexual relationships were regarded as “not an unusual event.”…All the cases described involved male faculty and female students. For that reason, this report uses the masculine pronoun when referring to faculty or staff and the feminine pronoun when referring to students.”
   The abysmal lack of data did not escape the notice of some OSU faculty at a meeting of the OSU Academic Senate: ” Dr. Carl Allen, an OSU dental professor, said the report is outdated, unscientific and that there’s no evidence to indicate more stringent rules would make a difference. “It’s embarrassing that we don’t have statistics,” he said. “The proper response would be: ‘Let’s find out what the extent of the problem is and let’s educate people about this.’ ” Physics professor Gordon Aubrecht said a prohibition “smacks of a police state.” (Quoted from “Ohio state professors bristle at proposed ban”, COLUMBUS DISPATCH, February 6, 2006.)
   Yes it is embarrassing, but it is something more, I would call it outrageous.  Outrageous that a university would seriously consider suspending basic rights of both students and faculty based solely on anecdotal reports which were anonymous and unverifiable.  I would go one step further and state that those reporting these anecdotes had an axe to grind, a personal investment in the issue, and that just about everyone involved in this situation knew that such was the case.  But so what, as Gordon Albrecht states, this “smacks of a police state”.  
   And at this Academic Senate meeting all Senate members, except for Task Force Group members, opposed the prohibition policy.  But given this opposition, the police mentality immediately came to the forefront  when grad student Inna Caron asked the group, “Why do you have a problem with this being prohibited?  Do you want to reserve the opportunity to do this?”  Then as reported, Caron “…pointed out that everyone who spoke out against the prohibition was male”.(Quoted from Columbus Dispatch article.)
   There we have it.  Speak out against the proposed prohibition, and the motive mongers come into play and the dissenters are discarded since they are all males.  Identity politics at its worse.  University life at its worse.  But the reality is that few are outraged, it’s just business as usual.
TO BE CONTINUED
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If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.
Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

 

January 4, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, higher education, Ohio State University, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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