Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

The dankprofessor as a sexual outsider?

On November 6, I published a post entitled, “The professor as THE sexual outsider”. This post focused on a post by Kentucky Youth Pastor Kyle McDanell which was published on his blog.  The focus of the Pastor was on Paul Abramson and the content of his recent book.  I was quite critical of the pastor’s posting and now Pastor McDanell has responded to my post.  And it is the dankprofessor’s pleasure to respond to this intemperate and misdirected attack on me.

Pastor McDanell was particularly distraught with the following passage from my post which read as follows-


So when the pastor thinks of student professor relationships he thinks of child adult sex. The professor becomes the child molester because the student cannot be an adult. I believe that this is the default assumption held by many persons going way beyond Christian evangelicals. It goes back to our childhood when the teacher is always the adult and the student is always the child. Many persons just can’t get beyond this framework. No matter that the student is 25 or 35 or 55; the student is always a child and always a victim. The idea of student and professor studying and learning together as two adults and loving each other as two adults and as marrying each other as two adults and parenting as two adults just goes beyond the mental capacity of those holding this hardcore default assumption.

So then the pastor states-

“For one, I never said such a think, and two, he only proves everything I have just said. First, let’s deal with the whole child-sex thing. I never said that, and he is simply misinterpreting my own words. Apparently, he thought he saw something that was between the lines that wasn’t there. I am not that dumb to think that most college students are under 18. I am a college graduate and am currently working on my masters, I know what a college student looks like, and how many varying ages there are. I never said that the professor was a child molester, and the further comments that he makes on this false assumption are ludicrous at best.”

 Unfortunately for the pastor somehow he bypasses his own key sentence which I indicated reflects  that he embraces a default assumption that equates student professor sexual relationships with child adult sex.  The sentence read as follows- “He (Abramson) doesn’t want to be told that sex between a student and adult are wrong.”  Obviously, this sentence represents a characterization of the professor as an adult and the student not an adult and not an adult is equivalent to being a child.  Default assumptions are not easily recognized by those holding them; the holder often is unable to see them and if questioned, one often becomes perplexed in the manner in which the pastor is perplexed.  He cannot “see” the default assumption; he cannot find it in his text, but it is there in his text, out in the open so to speak, for all readers to see.

The pastor also characterizes my thinking in the following terms-

“And here lies where Dankprofessor and I differ. He sees my common sense view on human nature “extreme.” Because I argue in favor of traditional morality, common sense, and (oh my gosh) Biblical standards, I am apparently too extreme for our society. I wonder if Dankprofessor ever sees his own views extreme. Probably not, which is typical of closed-minded leftist. They can preach about Conservative Christians like myself being intolerant and closed-minded without even seeing their own bigotry. I would argue that professors like Abramson and Dankprofessor are themselves extreme. But something tells me that I won’t get the fanfare that the left gets.”

But the good pastor will get fanfare and from all places it will come from close-minded “leftists” since it is usually authoritarian feminist leftists who are intolerant and close-minded when it comes to my viewpoint on student professor relationships.  In fact, in the 14 years that I have been involved in this issue, this is the first time I have been labeled as a leftist! So be it; such effectively demonstrates the absurdity of throwing around labels rather than focusing on the issue.   And as far as my being upset about his traditional morality and his Biblical standards, I have no trouble in accepting that the pastor believes what he believes.  What I find troubling is when the pastor takes his views and wants them to be mandated as part of public policy, when he advocates for the abrogation of the rights of adults to engage in consensual sexual relationships.

And the pastor continues-

“Many of Abramson and Dankprofessor’s own arguments prove this point. It doesn’t matter if what they argue makes no sense, the important thing is to just love one another and make sure it’s consensual. I’m all for love and being consensual, but I am also in favor of marriage and commitment. Chances are the student will likely split once they get that passing grade. so much for consensual sex!”

Now I must confess to being insulted, insulted when he implies that I am not in favor of marriage and commitment.  Nothing could be farther from the truth since I am married and I am committed to my wife who I met when she was a student of mine in 1998, and then we married in 2000.  And I have supported her through her battles with a number of life threatening illnesses as she has supported me.  In illness and in health we have been there for each other.  And to imply, as he clearly does, that female students who are involved with professors are prostituting themselves for grades is, of course, insulting not only to female students but to females in general.  Believing that female students are gradediggers is similar to believing that females in general are golddiggers and reflects the sexual fantasies of the holder of such views.  The reality here is that the pastor ends up pornographizing student professor relationships which might very well represent a form of psychological projection.

If the pastor knew anything at all about student professor relationships, he would know that often such relationships are formed in the context of a mutual love for a particular subject matter- of literature, or of history or of sociology, etc.  Such love can become transformed from a love of knowledge to a knowledge of love.  What I find ironic is that such love is so alien to what is so prevalent on today’s university campuses- hookup sex, often in the context of binge drinking and then more drinking and then more sex…Of course, the pastor may not find there to be any significant differences between hookup and committed non-marital relationships since he apparently holds all pre-marital sex to be equally sinful, no matter the form of said sex.

And the pastor continues-

“Secondly, the argument that Dankprofessor lays out here proves my previous points. Notice the Utopian worldview. It seems just normal to him, apparently, that a college student can walk into class, fall in love with the professor, and they go off and get married and have “consensual” sex, and none of that would affect the professors professional opinion of the student. Somehow he can make the assumption that the two can be both sexual partners and then be unbias in grades and favoritism in the classroom. Such a world doesn’t exist!”

If as the pastor claims that I am Utopian, I would counter claim that he is confusing utopianism with an ethical commitment.  As a professor, I was ethically committed to treating/grading students as students equally.  No matter whether I personally liked or disliked the student; no matter whether the student was a child of committed evangelical Christians; no matter whether the child of Christian or a Jew or an atheist.  I know that few professors actually have such a commitment, however this was not the case for me.  As a professor, I frequently engaged in questioning and self questioning not only in regards to the grading process but in regards to my life in general.  As for conflicts of interest, I find it interesting that conflicts of interest are rife on campus, but it is often only so-called sexual conflicts of interest that receive the attention of more than a handful of faculty.  In any case, I do not believe for a second that the pastor’s predominant interest in this area is one of non-prejudicial grading or conflicts of interest. His interest in this issue is because it is a sexual issue.  Take the sexual component out, and I think that the good pastor will ask to be excused.

And last but not least the pastor concludes-

“Finally, what my argument against Dr. Abramson’s book have to do with homosexuality, I have no idea…

Apparently it is also extreme to oppose homosexuality. Apparently what is “mainstream” to him, and how the typical liberal like himself would define freedom, is liberation from all shackles of morality. That is, except for the morality that he defends, like opposing extremist like me. That is the moral thing to do apparently.Again, how he goes from me being against student-professor relationships to anti-homosexuals is unclear to me. Perhaps he could clarify for me. But I hope that it is obvious how right I was in my original posts concerning Professor Abramson and how Dankprofessor has only proven me right. I stand by my first post, and I welcome others to a friendly debate.”

Well, as requested, here is my clarification.  The pastor is clearly opposed to adult consensual sexual relationships which offend his version of morality.  The problem as I see it occurs when the pastor wishes to impose his moral shackles in the framework of coercive institutional regulations to consenting adults; in the first case he wishes to coerce consenting students and professors and in the second case he wishesto coerce persons engaging in same sex consenting sexual behavior. And as I stated previously, true believers who view themselves as fighting what they consider the good fight against sexual “debauchery” and sexual predators often “see themselves standing at the abyss…fighting The sexual outsider united in a stand that they believe will save our children.”

And, in conclusion, for the knowledge of the pastor, I spent a good part of my academic life working with Christian campus ministries in the engagement of ethical issues.  However, in these partnerships I never dealt with Christians who wished to impose their morality on others.  Rather the Christians I worked with were characterized by a humility and a communication of love.  Such as I was told was compatible with the teachings of Jesus who never embraced any form of institutional formal religion and never practiced authoritarianism in any form.

If you wish, you can write to me directly at bdank22@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2007



December 2, 2007 - Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, fraternization, grading, higher education, homosexual, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating

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