Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

A passionate defense of student professor consensual sexual relationships

One of the very best and also the most passionate defenses of student professor sexual relationships has been by
Cristina Nehring, “The Higher Yearning; Bringing eros back to academe,” HARPER’S MAGAZINE, September 1, 2001.
Unfortunately, there is no full text copy available of this article online. It merits reading by all persons seriously interested
in issues relating to student professor fraternization. This is a lengthy article, and following is what I consider to be the
key excerpts from this article. Do get the full text copy of this article. And do savor the forthcoming excerpts. Do keep in mind that this writing is writing that the advocates of banning student professor sexual relationships do not want you to read. It is NEVER cited by these advocates. I will comment on aspects of this article in upcoming posts.Following are the article excerpts-

…Teacher-student chemistry is what sparks much of the best work that goes on at universities, today as always. It need not be reckless; it need not be realized. It need not even be articulated, or mutual. In most cases, in fact, it is none of these. In most cases, academic eros works from behind the scenes. It lingers behind the curtain and ensures that the production onstage is strong. It ensures that the work in the classroom is charged, ambitious, and vigorous. In most cases, it would be counterproductive for it to emerge, itself, into the limelight. That said, it occasionally does. And when it does, it must not be criminalized. For the university campus on which the erotic impulse between teachers and students is criminalized is the campus on which the pedagogical enterprise is deflated. It is the campus on which pedagogy is gutted and gored. This, unfortunately, is the scenario that confronts us today.

My own success would have been perfect had I elected in the last few years to sue my fiance, a professor at the university where I am completing a doctorate, for our relationship. In fact, the suit was very nearly made on my behalf, and against my will. When his superiors learned of our relationship, the wheels of justice and punishment began, immediately, to turn. No matter that I had never taken a class with him, or that I worked in a different department; no matter that we had met off-campus, or, most importantly, that I did not feel in any shape or form harassed by him. Nobody cared. My view of the matter was declared “irrelevant.” As a graduate student, I was presumably too “disempowered” to judge of my own abuse. Deans wrote letters; chairs made calls; hiring committees were warned of the “seriousness of the offense”; jobs were threatened–and I went unconsulted.

…In our enlightened contemporary university, men walk on eggshells and women run from shadows. Every gesture is suspect: if a colleague compliments you on your dress, it smacks of sexism; if a professor is friendly, he is readying you for future sexual abuse. There is no kindness so innocent that women educated in the “patterns” of harassment cannot recognize it as an instance of the newly identified activity experts refer to as “grooming” the victim for the kill. Academic encouragement, easy jesting, an affectionate epithet–all of what used to be the currency of good fellowship as well as teaching–have become cause for vigilance, fodder for complaint, the stuff of suits.

Were the rhetoric of the sexual-harassment authorities pursued with any consistency, it would deepen the rift between classes and between races just as fast as it has, in effect, restored the rift between the sexes. For what is the main trope of university harassment discourse? “Power differential.” Under no circumstances, we hear with metronomic regularity, may we countenance a “power differential” in intimate relationships. A teaching assistant not only should not but cannot give consent to a union with an assistant professor, suggests Billie Dziech, speaking for the consensus of harassment experts in the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy (1999)…

The crackdown on power differentials in student-professor (or senior colleague-junior colleague) relationships presupposes a power-balance in non-pedagogic relationships that is completely fictitious. Where, one might ask, are the symmetrical relationships? If a student falls in love with a lawyer, is that more symmetrical? Should we outlaw relationships between students and nonstudents too? What about between good students and bad students? Rich students and poor students? Were we honest about our disdain for power imbalance we would have to legislate as emphatically against discrepancies in cultural, economic, and racial clout (to give a few examples) as against those in professional clout. It would be well-nigh impossible because of the endless and conflicting ways in which power manifests itself once we relinquish a simplistic model. (If there is “power” in academic rank, for instance, there is power in youth too–in physical attractiveness, in energy. There is power, even, in yet-to-be-fulfilled promise–power in time.) To the extent that such legislation succeeded, it would be a disaster–a reactionary dystopia, a hierarchical hell to which the way had been paved with liberal intentions.

One of the astonishing strengths of love and sex is that it can make boundaries between people so easy to break. It can glide, smiling, around social, vocational, and linguistic roadblocks; it can disarm difference, banish history, slice through power divides. It can ease the passage into another culture, mind, generation, or world. As was discovered by Jane Gallop–who seduced her professors as a student and her students as a professor (for which she was accused of sexual harassment in 1992 with far more reason than most)–sex is a great “leveler.” As suspect as Gallop may be in her egotism and promiscuity, in this she is right. Sex is a great leveler, and not just in the bedroom. The most surprising thing you learn when you fall in love with a sage or a student, a prince or a pauper, is not that you can sleep with him but that you can talk with him. This is something understood–unexpectedly, perhaps–by Philip Roth. The highly cultured hero of his new campus novel, The Dying Animal, may have been “inaccessible to [his student lover] in every other arena” but the sexual when they first met–so he says, and, given his general misanthropy, this is probably true. But for all the ways in which their liaison is compromised, what the mannerly Cuban coed and the transgressive Jewish pundit discover is that they can actually talk to each other. The same is true of the cleaning woman in Roth’s previous novel, The Human Stain, who discovers that she can arouse the college dean mentally as much as physically. He can confide in her more than he ever could in his yuppie kids and bookish colleagues. She finds in the privileged, overeducated septuagenarian her first playmate, the first person she can tease and trust.

Legend has it that love is blind. And lust is blind. Just sometimes, though, they are clairvoyant. They take the glaze from our eyes. They prompt us to look through the odd, unfamiliar exterior of our neighbors and detect a familiar soul, a soul with which, to our surprise, we can communicate. Indifference and industry have made more men blind than eros. If Cupid wears a blindfold now and then, Mammon wears a hood.

One of the least disputed objections to classroom erotics is that they constitute, in the words of harassment author Leslie Pickering Francis, a “distraction from teaching, learning, and research.” Nothing could be further from the truth. To say that chemistry between a student and a teacher distracts from learning is like saying that color distracts from seeing. It does not distract; it enlivens, enhances, intensifies: it fixes the gaze. It gives teeth to the eyes, a digestive tract to the brain.

I will go out on a limb and admit that if crushes between students and teachers could have been prevented when I was in college, I would never have made it through. The fact that I graduated summa cum laude is testimony to the number of crushes that sustained me, that kept me edgy, and eager, and engaged. At the beginnings of quarters I shopped around for teachers to have a crush on, and it was a sad term, a long term, when I found none. I tried. I fanned the flame of minor lights–knowing full well that if I could not generate at least a little heat my mind would freeze.

I do not advocate making a habit of sleeping with professors, but then I would not advocate making a habit of sleeping with plumbers, or realtors, or artists either. I do advocate the exception. If a professor and student fall in love mutually–and let us admit that there are more occasions for this to occur than exist for a professor and a plumber–then there should not be a law or code or set of mores to stop them from giving that love an opportunity to succeed. It may not: as the new campus moralists observe, “the vast majority of students who enter into affairs with their lecturers … do not subsequently report that they were glad to have had the experience. Quite the contrary.” Most relationships don’t succeed–most non-faculty-student relationships don’t succeed, if by success we mean that they go on forever. And when people come out of them, they unfortunately do not often “report that they were glad to have had the experience” either–at least not right afterward. Divorce courts are full of people who say the opposite. We do not, therefore, outlaw marriage.

I learned about more than Renaissance literature from the man I loved as a freshman. Contrary to popular opinion, the relationship did not reinforce my student sense of inferiority; it eliminated it. As much as I admired my teacher, I also found I could talk with him; I had something to offer him that had nothing to do with the old cliches of youth and beauty. Or if it had to do with them, then long live mixed motives, for they certainly were not the most important or lasting cause of our understanding–an understanding that has grown over the last decade and sparked a vivid and voluble literary correspondence. The relationship enfranchised me intellectually; it gave me a voice, and faith in it. And it did this even though, at the outset, it also drew me into the goofiest excesses of adolescent adoration. It drew me to abandon my slot at a top university in order to trek across the country to an obscure one, at which my teaching assistant had just accepted his first professorship. It prompted me to fake an interest in that school’s religious affiliations while working a job as a live lingerie model in a shady local bar to pay my increased private-school dues. It also led me to flee the lightest coffee invitation from my idol. It was not until I returned home (my funds ran out; my talents as a model were limited) that our conversations really began. But even this–the experience of following my heart, however on the surface, vainly–was good for me. It made the love poems I was reading real, immediate, and practical. It was the laboratory component of the Amorous Theory I was assimilating.

All is fair in love and war; people must take their chances, and students are no exception. University students are not children, and women are not children, though to hear harassment officers talk one would think so. They are also not desireless deadwood; they do not drift about aimlessly until angled by a “Lecherous Professor.” They are perfectly capable of finding a professor themselves and seducing him–in fact, I would guess, on the basis of admittedly anecdotal evidence, that this happens far more frequently than the reverse.

Harassment specialists seem unable to believe that female students have the desire or enterprise of an Alcibiades. They do. And the position that they do not–albeit held, as it often is, by bedrock feminists–seems strangely sexist. Why should Greek men have initiative and eros, and American women none? Why should contemporary coeds emerge from a romantic encounter with a teacher–even, as a textbook on the subject tells us, “the most `consensual’ appearing”–with “devastation … real and intense” and “self-esteem” so shattered it demands “years of therapy and reconstructing,” when nobody thinks for one moment that young men like Alcibiades or Agathon sustain incurable wounds? It is only women’s experience that is assumed to be traumatic beyond comprehension or repair. It is only women who are taken to be as frail and faltering as they are devoid of lust and luster. Sexism can be paternalistic as well as aggressive (historically, it more often was), and this is sexism writ large, no matter who’s spreading it.

And it is bad for pedagogy. It’s one thing to disarm a certain type of old-school professor who thought that his students’ bodies (as well as their research and briefcase-toting services) were his birthright. It’s one thing to discourage gross sexist speech and to counsel caution in the initiation of student-teacher relationships. But it is another to stamp out playful and affectionate discourse just because it carries a sexual innuendo and may even, on occasion, make us “uncomfortable.” It is quite another, also, to try to ban professor-student relationships altogether. Knowledge is unremittingly personal: the best students fall in love with teachers; the most engaged teachers respond strongly–and variously–to students. The campus on which the chance of sexual harassment–of sexual “impropriety” between teachers and students–is eliminated is the campus on which pedagogy is eviscerated. It is the campus on which pedagogy is dead.

It is a part of our safety-obsessed culture that we try. In a country where we give children crash helmets with their tricycles (and kneepads with their strollers), perhaps it is no wonder that we give them The Lecherous Professor with their college admissions. Perhaps it is no surprise that we lament, with Leslie Pickering Francis, the possibility that they may not prove “rational consumers of romantic relationships in the way they might be rational consumers of products”; and that we consequently forbid them any romance with a teacher in which they are, to quote David Archard, another expert, “unlikely to be able to determine, for instance, how long it lasts”–as though one were ever able to “determine” how long a relationship lasts; as though lovers were supposed to be “rational consumers.” Love is not commerce; a relationship is not a safety-tested Tonka toy–and any attempt to make it such is bound to be catastrophic. It leads, among other things, to the bizarre situation of our contemporary American society, in which we are in principle forbidden to have relationships not merely with our students (if we are teachers) and our teachers (if we are students) but also with our doctors, lawyers, counselors, therapists, deans, co-workers, clients, employees, or employers–virtually anyone, in fact, with whom we might come into natural contact in the course of everyday life. The result? We find ourselves driven in numbers to dating services and singles clubs, where we spend large amounts of money to meet normal people in abnormal and usually highly stressful contexts. We join volunteer organizations that feel like meat markets, as a majority of members look out more vigilantly for the available bachelor than for the nominal cause of the day. Artificial contexts provoke artificial behavior: we make ill-informed and hasty choices–dating, after all, is such a chore this way–and end up in marriages from which we soon ache to escape. If this is an overstatement, it is less of one than those we hear regularly from the sexual-harassment police.

Should we have forbidden Camille Claudel and Rodin? Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger? Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud? Allan Bloom and his student lovers? Professor bell hooks and her student boyfriend? Heloise and Abelard? To be sure, not one of these relationships, each initially pedagogic, was perfect (which is?), but all were spectacularly productive, revelatory, heated, and formative for both parties–in several cases, formative for Western culture and philosophy. The most beautiful and authentic and complex love poems I know were written by a teacher to his student. They were written by John Donne, in the early seventeenth century, to his employer’s niece, with whom he eloped, and for whom he suffered loss of reputation, money, and career for the next quarter century. Not long after Donne penned these poems, John Milton–whose marriage sustained no similar power differential–drafted “The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce.”

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 16, 2008 - Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, love, secrecy, sex, sexual harassment, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating


  1. From experience I can tell you these relationships are not a good idea, they will in fact distract from ones goals if one is in fact a really serious student — whihc can have serious repurcussions for one success in the future and also one runs the risk of being given special treatment so then you get some advantage in part because you slept with the teacher — which will only haunt you till you die. If this was such a boon to ones development, it should then be offered as a class– “sex with professor 303′. Advocacy for this on a blog that defends the older man/young girl sexual liasons of Roman Polanski does not suprise me–its all about the idea that some “older wiser” man can best mould and benefit a younger women if their sexual organs are involved. Male teachers can best help female students grow and succeed by denying their need to feed their egos by getting involved with the more talented or pretty (or both) of their students –which is ivariably who gets hit on, – and instead give them all the mentoring help possible. Teacher/student relationships can spark good work, but male teachers who allows their ego problems to intrude in their teacher/student relationships and think that introducing their penis’ to the acadmemic process will somehow “spark” a female student to soar to greater ehights are egomamnical deluders who are setting up students to ultimalty acheive less than they might have.

    Comment by cari | May 24, 2010 | Reply

  2. You can only apply your experience to yourself and not to others. Doing as you do indicates your lacking in personal boundaries since you create all others involved in student prof relationships in your own image and experience.
    I am not saying that your experiences were not true or valid for you, but applying them to all others represents an inability to appreciate the experiences of others, and in my opinion, such represents a form of egocentrism. The egocentric person focuses on self; others most often are annoyances to the self-absorbed self. If others do anything for the egocentric, they are simply used to validate how good or right one is.

    If one is truly a serious student, a love affair with a professor or non-professor, will not distract from ones educational goals. In fact, a love affair could possibly reaffirm ones seriousness as a student since both parties to the relationship are likely to share the same values which put a high value on learning and education.

    Of course, all relationships have possible benefits and risks. If one chooses to have a relationship with a prof which involves getting special treatment in class, such represents grossly unethical behavior. If the student recruited the prof so she or he could get good grades, such also represents unethical behavior. But as you should know far from all students involved in these relationships are grade-diggers and far from all profs are lecherous seducers. But if you are prone to think ill of persons and are small minded, you will think that not so rich women who marry wealthy men are gold-diggers and will think all wealthy men affiliating below their station are exploitative seducers.

    I would not advocate creating a class “sex with professor 303”; such would be the case since said relationships have nothing to do with class. Nor are such relationships necessarily a boon to the prof or to the student. As indicated, some work, some don’t.

    The dankprofessor is also not an advocate per se of older male,young female relationships. I am an advocate that students and professors have a right to affiliate irrespective of their ages, assuming that both are legal adults. My wife who is a former student is two years older than myself; my mother was 17 years younger than my father. Neither of these relationships should be banned because someone like yourself disapproves.

    Bottom line is that these relationships would not exist if some students were not attracted to some profs and some profs to some students. Attempts to have authority ban these consensual relations is a violation of human dignity. It is one thing not to like these relationships; it is entirely another to take away the freedom of adults to choose ones date or mate; doing so represents a form of tyranny.

    Comment by dankprofessor | May 24, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m having validation problems with this article. It is said to be writtne by Christina Nehring. Replies are to dankprofessor – an aka for Barry M. Dank. Is this the professor/student couple that is advocating consensual relationshops because it worked for them?
      The article supporting consensual relationships between professors and students appears to be simply biased opinion based on a single personal situation – without the proper citation of any authority for declaring these relationships, on the whole, are better allowed than prohibited. Vague reference to individual rights doesn’t cut it.
      Colleges and universities are for the students – period.
      A large percentage of those students are being partially or fully funded by parents and/or state. Money talks and bullshit walks. It seems to me that pretty significant stakeholders have never been asked how they think this issue should be handled – and it is high time their opinion was obtained and weighed in.
      Looking at the remarkably small percentage of student professor relationships that turn out to be more than just a fanciful satisfaction of lust (the vast majority of which are initiated by male professors) and the much larger percentage that result in trauma of varying degrees to students, it is not hard to understand why parents first, and state next, may be dismayed about funding lecherous professor frolics.
      In order of priority of consideration: students should be first and funders second. The ‘rights’ of some academic to instigate or foster a personal relationship with a student do not exist.
      Professors undoubtedly call themselves professionals and consider themselves professionals. Well, if they want the title and respect they have to assume the mantle. For the real professionals, whether it is a doctor, therapist or lawyer, sexual relationships with patients or clients are proscribed. Simply put, professionalism is inconsistent with power imbalanced relationships. The onus is on the professional to keep the 2 worlds mutually exclusive – without exception.
      These girls aren’t attending university to be hit on by older men hired to teach them and maintain these girls’ respect for the value of education.
      Enough liberal and molly coddling indecision. Be professional or work elsewhere by choice or by sanction.

      Comment by Fedup | September 24, 2010 | Reply

      • Reply to Fedup,

        In the blog post it is clearly stated that the author of the article is Cristina Nehring; article was originally published in Harper’s Magazine. The dankprofessor has never had the good fortune of meeting Cristina.

        I agree with Fedup’s statement- “Colleges and universities are for the students – period.” However, Fedup contradicts herself when she states that parents as stakeholders should have some say as to who students can have sex. Maybe such would be relevant if we are talking about children; of course, only a minute percentage of students are minors or children. We are dealing with adult students here who Fedup wants to have us treat them as children. And if parents want to have control over their child’s sex life better not to allow them to go to college; have them stay home and treat them as dependent children. Fedup must know that the average age of college students is in the 20s with a significant percentage being in their 30s and many beyond their 30s as well.

        Fedup also states: “These girls aren’t attending university to be hit on by older men.” Said statement reflects Fedup’s problem- these female students are girls and not women, not a real grownup like her. Personally, I am fed up with people like Fedup who are comfortable in treating adults as children and use the adult/children pseudo framework to intervene in others persons private lives. There is nothing professional about such tactics; such is just another attempt to tyrannize the lives of consenting adults.

        Oh, one additional point, what’s the problem with younger women affiliating with older men? Isn’t this normative in
        our society??

        our society?

        Comment by dankprofessor | September 24, 2010

  3. Dank’s response is not intellectually honest.
    First off, nowhere do I state ‘I have some say’ in who a student has sex with. My comments are clearly pointed at professors not insinuating themselves into relationships with students. This is not about wo the student can have sex with – it is about who professors should not have sex with.
    “Children” – despite governments, that for practical reasons decide when a child becomes an adult, there is no clear line when a person becomes adult. Maturity certainly varies widely. Maybe there is a streak of pedophilia in professors who hit on students – I don’t know and frankly hadn’t thought of that. This is not about ‘consenting adults’ This is about predatory practices and vulnerability at any age. A person of any of age in a power imbalanced relationship,trusting and respecting the ‘professionalism’ of educators is entitled to not have that imbalance and trust misused and romanticized away from the basic fact that it is the professor’s lust in play. The rest is just smoke and mirrors.
    “Children” when over the age of majority in Canada (18) individuals remain ‘children of the marriage’ for support pruposes if attending legitimate post-secondary education. That is the law whether they are 18 or 25. If a parent can be legally obliged to support the individual and pay for his/her schooling then they have a say in deterring predatory sexual iniatives in the academics whose salaries they pay. It is an established fact that the vast majority of these professor frolics end badly for the student – it is only a question of how badly and how damaging.
    Dank’s logic is inverted. The argument is that victims have the right to be victims – I suppose the inverse of that is that perps have the right to be perps too. It is compelling logic but it should be added that perps should know where the line is and that if crossed, there will be consequences – serious consequences.
    Going off topic for a moment to make an analogy – I don’t much care that a lot of child abusers are the product of child abuse. They know where the line is. When they cross that line, and subject younger people to that pox, it becomes our problem and not just their problem. They have now bought a ticket to our expressing our opinion on them being child abusers – and taking the consequences.
    If professors want academic freedom etc. etc. on parents’ and governments’ tickets they need to learn the boundaries of the candy store. Initiating or promoting sex with students is out of bounds. I wonder what it would take to conduct a representative survey of arents and governments? I have little doubt of the outcome – and then watch out professors.
    I would rather the professors be professional and not oblige us to help them with that.


    Comment by Fedup | September 28, 2010 | Reply

  4. I do not have the time right now for a long reply to Fedup’s response. It does appear to me that Fedup is fed up with essentially adult/child sexual relationships or at least relationships where there is a large age diferential between the two parties. Fedup must know that there are student prof age consonant relationships; that teaching assistants and their students are often close in age and their relationships are prohibited. TAs at some universities are warned ad nauseum that sexual relationships with students are prohibited and can lead to severe consequences. Myself, I dated a student who was two years older than I and ultimately we married and are still married; we just celebrated our 10the anniversary. Soif Fedup’s hang up is age then pressure universities to ban “age differentiated” relationships. Fedup’s desire to criminalize
    student prof consensual relations in terms of perps and victims is obscene. Student prof sexual relationships flourish in academia, they are commonplace but they are out of sight, underground, in the closet. Very few come to the attention of any authorities. They are impossible to eliminate just as homosexuality when it was criminalized was impossible to eliminate. And as for parents,it was my experience that when I dated a student and had the good fortune to meet the students parents, I was welcomed into their family; developed some great friendships with parents.
    Enough said for now.

    Comment by dankprofessor | September 29, 2010 | Reply

  5. Come on Dank, you can do better than prefacing your remarks with ‘not having time for a long reply’. Take your time and consider your arguments and responses. I’m happy to wait for the quality input you imply you have but don’t have time to share. Let’s have that ‘passionate defense’ that might have attracted the attention of Harper’s magazine. Give me your best shots – but let’s keep them above the belt.
    Age differential is a significant component of a professor/student power imbalanced relationship – but it is only one component of many. Eliminating age differential does not result in balance.
    The fundamental nature of the professional relationship is not changed by age. Professionalism in this case includes the powers of; knowledge, related experience, connections or perceived connections, influencing outcomes, – and many, many more ‘power items’ that come into play in professor/student or TA/student relationships (or what have you).
    By the way, recognized authorites in the professor/student relationship area do mention some (very few) of such do turn into long term marriages (even fewer) – but that does not erase or correct what is wrong with professor/student relationships in the first place.
    I never mentioned criminalizing student/professor relationships. For Dank to say I am “obscene” by suggesting criminalization is, again, not honest.
    Sorry Dank, you have gone off the page to say I was promoting something obscene, when I clearly wasn’t. This does not do much for your credibility.
    On criminalizing, let’s all understand plainly that indecent, or sexual, assault is more about the intent of the touching than the location of the touching. The difficulty is proving the intent. So, with professor/student relationships, it is necessary to sweep out all the ‘he said she said’ trashy excuses and exit strategies for predatory professors such as ‘she started it’ and bring it down to the level of commonly accepted and expected views of decency and professionalism. So, yes a broad brush may be necessary to establish the boundaries and show some concern for the students who suffer emotionally from these professors’ actions – and whose suffering goes on and on through processes that can become elongated into years of process at different levels and psychiatric treatment.
    Dank should understand that my concern is applicable to employer/employee relationships, armed forces superior/subordinate relationships and so on.
    Dank should also know that 38 years ago, being an unswerving heterosexual, I very publicly took the stage and stated homosexuals had the right to be homosexuals without being sanctioned by state or others for the fact of their being the way that they are. And it wasn’t because I was running for office 🙂
    As one of the noted authors in this area of professor/student relationships noted, among other indicators for a student to realize that she was not in a right relationship, was that – it was secret. Yes Dank – secret – you call it ‘out of sight’ ‘underground’ instead. Comparing professor/student relationships with homosexual relationsips is unfair to homosexuals and the struggle they have had not to be unfairly treated and discriminted. You are attempting to upgrade professor/student relationships by using homosexual relationships as a comparative.
    To say “very few come to the attention of authorities” requires understanding some troubling negatives. Those who have studied professor/student relationships believe that fewer than 10% of outright bald sexual harassment incidents are reported for the stigmatizing and uncertainty reasons so many rapes are not reported + + + the professor, as opposed to the opportunistic rapist, remains in a position to harm the student who does complain.
    Because we may not be able to eliminate something does not mean we should accept or embrace it.
    To how many of the families of students were you introduced as the student’s lover?

    Comment by Fedup | September 29, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m fed up with Fedup’s paternalism too.

      I’m a female graduate student in my thirties. I’m actually older than some of the professors in my department – and if not a more mature adult than they are, presumably I am equally so. For the record, I am not considered a dependent for financial aid purposes (very few graduate students are), and in fact provide a substantial amount of financial support for my mother (who is unemployed and otherwise without financial means). I never received financial support for my education from any member of my family. There is no intelligible sense in which I could be considered “dependent” on anybody or which would justify them having a say about my romantic preferences.

      I’ve been attracted exclusively to teachers and professors since puberty for pretty much the same reasons Cristina Nehring articulates in her article – intellectual stimulation is the most powerful form of eros for me, and when that eros is entirely absent, it’s difficult to get through course work. I’ve fallen in love with at least a dozen teachers over the years, but I’ve never been able to follow through on a relationship (and very seldom even indicate that I would be interested in having a relationship) because I am terrified I would get them fired and that my advances will necessarily be rejected. Imagine being in love more-or-less constantly since your teens with people who are absolutely prohibited from having a relationship with you under any circumstances, and then try having a little sympathy

      If the university is really for me (the “vulnerable” female student), then I should be able to initiate a consensual romantic relationship if I want, rather than being “protected” in a way that has at times made me so hopeless and conflicted about my love life that I have at times wished I were dead.

      A consensual relationship is just that – a consensual relationship. Ban sexual harassment, but don’t make it impossible for me to form a relationship. This is the same if the professional I am interested in is a doctor, therapist, lawyer, professor, or whatever – if the relationship is initiated by me, is consensual, etc. then it should be possible for me to pursue it and it is absurd to punish anyone I pursue it with.

      PS: For what it’s worth, even my grandmother (hardly a newfangled liberal) knew that I was attracted to teachers and totally approved my orientation. “I want you to be with someone who will make you happy, so go for it,” she said. So you must not assume that family members will necessarily oppose student/professor relationships.

      Comment by Heloise | September 29, 2010 | Reply

      • I wholly agree with what Heliose is saying. And even disregarding her forlorn circumstances, she points out the key problems in Fedup’s argument: the student body is simply to diverse and varied at a post-secondary institute for there to be statutes and laws constraining sexual behavior. All that are legal adults have that right. And if the issue is parents, that is between the parents and their child. If the parents disapprove of who the child is dating, it’s up to them to “put their foot down.” But it is not their right to control this aspect of their ADULT child’s life. That kind of logic runs the way of arranged marriages and the like. It simply doesn’t make sense.

        And the victim/perpetrator terminology is horrendous… appalling. Enough said.

        Finally, if this romantic relation distracts a serious student or causes them “trauma,” how can you say that isn’t entirely possible in a student-student consensual relationship. Shouldn’t a “serious” student be enough of an adult to be able to balance the many facets of their life.

        Heliose got it spot on: ban sexual harassment (which is the only place where the power-differential comes into play). Don’t ban consensual relationships.

        As far as what Christine has to say…

        “The fact that I graduated summa cum laude is testimony to the number of crushes that sustained me, that kept me edgy, and eager, and engaged.”

        I am on the verge of graduating summer cum laude as well and for the same exact reason. If you know anything about Freudian theory, we displace sexual energy everyday and use it for very productive and socially acceptable things. This is just another example of that. My attraction to my professor is harmless, and if it helps light the intellectual and emotional fire that produces learning and quality work, how can that be a bad thing?

        This entire statement also speaks of my first extracurricular engagement (verbal, not sexual) with my professors as a freshman:

        “Contrary to popular opinion, the relationship did not reinforce my student sense of inferiority; it eliminated it. As much as I admired my teacher, I also found I could talk with him; I had something to offer him that had nothing to do with the old cliches of youth and beauty. Or if it had to do with them, then long live mixed motives, for they certainly were not the most important or lasting cause of our understanding–an understanding that has grown over the last decade and sparked a vivid and voluble literary correspondence. The relationship enfranchised me intellectually; it gave me a voice, and faith in it. And it did this even though, at the outset, it also drew me into the goofiest excesses of adolescent adoration.”

        When I first started to go out to lunch and coffee and things with my professors it was because I found their classes intellectually stimulating. I offered to meet with them and they accepted. We would talk about a lot of things that deepened our understanding of one another and allowed us to strengthen the sacred bond that drives students and teachers alike to learn and explore. In the end, a professor became one of my best friends for three years. The “power-differential” between student and teacher eventually dissolved. We no longer thought of each other in those terms and therefore the entire concept was irrelevant to the relationship that we engaged in. A romantic relationship turned out to just not be an option based on incompatibilities related to age and maturity–NOT the student-teacher bond through which we initially met. And the friendship I got out of that relationship SAVED MY LIFE. I went through a deep depression over family circumstances and this former professor of mine was a true friend to me. And, despite potent sexual tension at times, he was infinitely respectful and always looking out for me.

        I wrote my best papers during a poetry class in which I found the professor highly attractive. He was married, and so I did not dare to push any boundaries. But merely talking with him and admiring him was fuel for intellectual creativity–fuel which I have no doubt in my mind was infused with desire.

        So I’m not saying that there aren’t circumstances in which a relationship might inappropriate or detrimental, such as when a student and professor are working closely with others and each other on some particular pursuit. But if they handle it like professionals, the relationship will have no noticeable impact. And is that really a reason to ban consensual relationships outright? A university is a workplace like anywhere else. People are going to be attracted to each other. If we grant them that right and respect it, there will be less hostility between all parties. There are rules of professionalism that apply in any workplace situation, but what explains the need to go above and beyond those rules?

        The REAL power differential I can see arising out of this situation is that between consensually-amorous student-professor couples and the peers and superiors who smear them with shame.

        And I’ve actually just rekindled a lovely and amorous friendship with a different former professor (not the one whom I mention above and whom I was in love with for a long time). We very much enjoy each other’s company. We have come close to a relationship a few times, but we currently remain friends. And this friendship is among the most wonderful and rewarding that I have. And if I were to pursue it as a romantic relationship, I don’t think that there should be stigma around that. He doesn’t grade my papers anymore, and it’s not about the “sexy professor” stereotype. It’s about the connection between us. He’s a person. And so am I. And when so-called ethics start to disregard that, I’m sorry it just makes me want to vomit with disgust.

        Comment by Dankstudent | September 29, 2010

      • Thank you for weighing in. In several ways though you are a ‘one off’ – not being the mainstream that restrictions are directed toward.
        Of course it would be heartless to say there should be no sympathy for your plight. Let’s call your romantic inclinations ‘unusual’ – are you comfortable with that? If not please provide the adjective that works for you – but is fair.
        I find it interesting that you expect a little sympathy. It’s not an unreasonable expectation – particularly from someone in a helping profession – like a therapist. Have you tried that? I would be interested to hear a therapist’s opinion on whether society should relax standards of expectation for professional behaviour. Standards whose application seriously affect millions of students – to accommodate an individual with an unusual romantic predilection.
        I really think you should talk to some of the people that deal with the massive amounts of emotional wreckage from professor/student relationships. Oddly, it’s not the professors (who tout that their ‘rights’ to be predators should be untramelled) that are the ones on the therapists’ couches.
        ‘Consensual’ is not there in a power imbalanced relationship. That’s why there are statutory rape laws – a person might argue that it is unreasonable for a consensual relationship to be rape one day and not the day following when the person has their birthday. No right minded adult is going to have a romantic relationship with a 13, 14, 15 etc. ‘child’. But the laws are not intended for the right minded – they are for the predators.
        It is curious that you can have these terrifying would be romantic experiences but not double back on them – at the various points of graduation for instance. Or is it only romantic while forbidden or the target is a person in authority?
        I would venture to say that your grandmother would also be suppportive if your only interest was lesbian relationships – that’s what families do. How’s that for paternal?
        Sorry Heloise – I do have sympathy for your plight but I can’t really get past the selfishness implicit in your belief that we should expose so many to suffering to alleviate yours.

        Comment by Fedup | September 30, 2010

  6. […] this issue, he neglects the most powerful published essay written by then graduate student Cristina Nehring. You can find it on my blog, of course.  I can’t reprint the whole article, but I have reprinted […]

    Pingback by Hugo Schwyzer and the sin of coercion « Dankprofessor’s Weblog | September 30, 2010 | Reply

    • I am not e-savvy enough to know what either ” […] ” in your reply is.
      I am very interested in reviewing the article you mention if you can point me to where I can get it or if you can email it to me.

      Comment by Fedup | October 1, 2010 | Reply

      • I know this is far after you’ve posted, but Im getting so frustrated reading the inaccurate assertions you continue to spout off. This last inaccuracy, probably because it was paired with such pompous judgement of Heloise grating like fingernails on a chalkboard, proved too much for my self control. While I do have a lot to say on the matter, given that im a couple years late to the party, I will just say my brief piece as it compelled my participation.

        That ‘consensual” is not in power imbalance relationships is absolutely NOT why we have statutory rape laws. We have statutory rape laws because we perceive the minor 13, 14, 15 year olds you reference as legally incapable of giving valid consent. We say this because we perceive them as being mentally incapable of understanding the implications of the decision(s) they are making, so even if they say “yes” they don’t understand enough about what that yes means for it to have any real weight, so to protect them we (society) say that others may not rely on this consent. It is paternalism that most would deem permissible because they are children, with the age at which such consent is deemed valid varying based on the jurisdiction and the age of the sexual partner. It is also relevant to your straw-man arguments (if you are going to make them, make them right) that there has been much debate over the reasonableness of consent being valid one day and invalid the next because of a birthday that can not be ignored with such an irrelevant toss as “the laws arent for the right minded – they are for the predators” in light of the fact that statutory rape laws apply to two 16 year olds having sex (both would be charged with statutory rape because laws are now gender neutral as they should be) but the day one of these teens turns 17 then the sex is no longer statutory rape and is a permissible sexual relation with valid consent (unless its forcible rape of course). So your points are not only bat-s*** but flat out wrong, and actually disprove your own arguments. It is precisely applying the theory of statutory rape law of mental incapacity to consent to adult females in power-imbalanced relationships that is so wrong. It is that paternalism that is so wrong. It is by making such an argument, and assuming you or others know what is best for young females but they don’t, that women continued to be demeaned and subjugated in our society. Women should not promote an image of other women as helpless victims incapable of functioning under unequal conditions of power. Women should not be in the business of reducing the range of available choices to other women, not matter how much they may disagree with those womens decisions or the wisdom behind them. And women absolutely should not be urging INSTITUTIONS to disregard other womens’ own testimony about their lives, goals, and emotional commitments. To subjugate each other as such dis-serves our gender overall, and combined with the proposed paternalism, risks returning us to a state submissive to male dominance rather than the empowerment towards which we have been working so diligently .

        Comment by Suzy Q | November 10, 2012

  7. I respectfully submit that you have a very skewed view of student-professor relationships if you think the usual outcome is emotional wreckage or that they’re any more dysfunctional than other relationships. I may not be romantically lucky myself, but I do know of a number of student/professor relationships within my social circle, and in most cases they have led to marriage – some happy, some unhappy, not discernibly different in distribution than romantic relationships in society at large. There is probably a self-selection bias of some kind leading to your perception that such relationships are necessarily unhealthy – most of the successful student/professor relationships will remain hidden, so you’re never going to hear about them unless you happen to know the parties involved on a fairly personal basis or else everything goes to hell in a handbasket in a very public way. If one had the same kind of reporting bias in one’s knowledge of homosexual or even heterosexual relationships, one would be likely to conclude they were necessarily dysfunctional as well.

    I may be somewhat unusual in my romantic preferences, but I do not believe that it is my romantic preferences (as opposed to stigmatizing social reactions to the same) that are a cause of suffering. I resent your diplomatic attempt to claim there is a kind of sexual normativity from which major departures are medical disorders and ought to be treated. I may not be statistically common, but being uncommon does not make one pathological.

    Comment by Heloise | September 30, 2010 | Reply

    • Heloise – your sexual preferences are as they are and are dealt with as you choose and I respect that. They just seem terribly confining and I would think they could be changeable with a little profesional help – probably not medical frankly. I don’t think there is a pill or procedure that would enlarge your range of possible romantic partners.
      I haven’t made any reference to ‘pathological’. My gut reaction is that your situation might improve with dealing with a psychologist. They are really getting quite good at a number of things from phobias to PTSD and it might be worth a try. I also take some comfort from their ethics that relationships with patients are taboo.
      As I promised dankstudent, I will give you plenty of validation that professor/student relationsips are causing significant emotional wreckage out there.

      Comment by Fedup | October 1, 2010 | Reply

      • You seem to miss the basic point that I think that my preferences are positive and good, rather than confining and something that can or should be changed.

        Comment by Heloise | October 1, 2010

  8. Responding to Dankstudent’s comments about Heloise situation and how her comments are supposed to highlight the weaknesses of my arguments. I truly hope this blizzard of verbiage is not all one person trying to be cute.
    I have never said parents should attempt to control their children’s romantic lives. It would seem there are no parents in this debate. To blithely state “should put their foot down” displays a cosmic ignorance of the time and resources parents put into their children – particularly if they have more than 1 child. Parents don’t have the time, nor (in most cases) the inclination to micromanage their childrens’ first steps into the world of adult matters such as romantic relationships with professors that are much more adult than they are (although that may be questionable).
    Parents and independents should be able to expect they are putting their money into a respectable institution that will do right by them. There should be every effort to ensure no predators are let into the institution. For those that manage to, they risk delicencing and banishment. If they can’t behave in the setting to which they have been entrusted, then find some other way to make a living.
    Simply put the rule should be that no profesional staff should initiate or partipate in a romantic relationship with a student at their institution. Surely what remains for these professors is the entire world full of fish and you would think that would do. Or do these professors need the power imabalanced relationships to cut it in the often competitive world of romance?
    I think it is tremendously selfish to assert that, because your creative juices flow best in times of sexual tension, millions of other students should be less protected from predatory professors.
    Your new amorous relationship with a former professor is not objectionable and shouldn’t be placed in juxtaposition to your rant aobut ethics and wanting to vomit.
    It is frankly invalidating that you people ‘shout’ your points, distort others’ points, and use emotional argumentive devices (rather than clearly available statistical evidence.
    If you want “horrendous” and “appalling” go to speak with the therapists and others dealing with the fallout from professor/student relationships. I am going to send you some of the things coming off “victims” and websites put up to help them.
    Have a care for someone other than your precious selves people. If you really want input your input valued and considered, I suggest you focus on how to create create escape situation scenarios where there is some kind of independent review of an emerging professor/student situation and exceptions clarified such as former student/professor situations.
    Arguing as you are simply invalidates whatever good points you may be able to provide to the issue.

    Comment by Fedup | October 1, 2010 | Reply

  9. I am going to start by establishing that I am in no position to begin trying to outline even a hypothetical draft of sexual consent/harassment/etc. statutes for any university.

    I will also openly admit that I am not likely to be the most well-read person on the subject of victimization of students by their professors. Like I said, in all my involvements with professors (of varying degrees of intimacy) I have never had any of them trying to utilize their position of power in ANY way at all to make me feel inferior, not even to win an argument or something silly like that.

    And so my point of view is indeed somewhat solipsistic, but I don’t think it is entirely that way–as I am not arguing at all that we should disregard people who have not had good experiences in this area. And I can only imagine the kinds of emotional/psychological consequences manifest in all experiences of coercion (sexual and otherwise).

    However, I believe all sides of this issue need to be considered by those given the power to establish campus policies. And yet I think it is important that people are not taken advantage of and that we enforce whatever reasonable policies and procedures can prevent that. There are many, many sides to the issue and thought and consideration should be given to as many as possible before restrictions are made. Everyone’s professional AND personal rights ought to be respected.

    I do not disagree that a professor in a position of power who uses that power as a way of coercion is a rapist.

    And maybe this isn’t the most effective analogy, but do think about any laws and procedures that are established to prevent criminal activity. Then take shoplifting as a loose comparison: salespeople are taught to keep a respectful and non-accusative eye on the situation, and if someone is blatantly shoplifting they are instructed to turn that situation over to higher authorities. But, if they only suspect a person–who may well be entirely innocent–they are told not to accuse that person. And they certainly have no right to burst into a private changing room to try to catch someone shoving a sweater under their coat. They are restricted from doing these things in order to save innocent people from public embarrassment that might be caused by an overly zealous and suspicious salesperson, and to keep from scaring shoppers away from making legitimate purchases.

    Now the problems with this analogy are obvious, I think. If we take the comparison too far, the diction would lend a sort of crude and nauseating undertone to the entire situation that does not acknowledge the real human relationships that are being affected by these policies. So please don’t use that against me. I’m not saying the two things are even remotely interchangeable. I’m just trying to show you that when policies are made to prevent criminal activity in our country, they take into consideration the possibility of innocent people being falsely accused, and the harmful consequences that those false accusations can cause for all parties involved.

    Okay. I think I have fully shared my point of view. And I welcome commentary, but I will most likely leave the rest of this discussion up to those who seem to be accumulating evidence (Dankprofessor and Fedup). Fedup makes a good point about “emotional” argumentation, and I don’t want to overstep my bounds and the limits of my expertise.

    I thank you both for discussing this issue and for welcoming me into the discussion. There is much to be said by all involved.

    Comment by Dankstudent | October 3, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m sorry to butt in here, but to say: ‘I do not disagree that a professor in a position of power who uses that power as a way of coercion is a rapist’, is more than irresponsible rhetoric. You apparently have no idea what a ‘rapist’ is or you’d not phrased it like that. A [male] rapist by legal definition is ONLY someone who forcibly penetrated a female’s vagina with his penis, through any physical/psychological means again her will. Every other ‘sexual violation’, no matter how harmless or violent, ranging from unwanted touching to unlawful sex with a minor, or vaginal penetration by a foreign object to anal invasion even by a penis, is just that: ‘sexual assault’ in given aggravating degrees, or sodomy, not ‘rape’. (Though people would call anyone a rapist, like someone who slept with his own underaged girlfriend [or student], as just seen with your blanket comment.) Hence, these people are ‘sex offenders’, not ‘rapists’. To say that some professor, who took ‘advantage’ of some student using his ‘power position’ to get her into bed (& she surely could have said no to any advances), suffered no physical or mental ills or she’d in fact called on the law to report it as [actual] rape, is a ‘rapist’, perpetuates the insidious feminist dogma of all men/profs are rapists & all females/students are victims you just fed unwittingly, or maybe even deliberately. It puts the adult/prof into the same bracket as a violent rapist, & a ‘power-imbalanced’ liaison into a higher crime bracket, in turn minimising actual rape, just as feminists and blanket anti-sex laws want it.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 3, 2010 | Reply

  10. I would also like to add that in rereading the shoplifting analogy, I see that it might lead some to believe I think sexual coercion and rape ought to be taken about as seriously as shoplifting.

    That is definitely not the case, and maybe using that analogy for the point I was trying to make does more harm to my argument than good (LOL, whoops, you live and you learn)… It was probably more like circumlocution than argumentation. But I stand by the point that it’s trying to make about protecting the innocent. (And sexually-consenting, legal adults acting professionally while on campus are innocent people.)

    Comment by Dankstudent | October 3, 2010 | Reply

  11. Finally, I am back and a lot has transpired since my last comment. I am not going to deal with all of my concerns in one post. Just take it one post at a time and I hope that Fedup will not be fedup with me.

    Fedup stated-

    I really think you should talk to some of the people that deal with the massive amounts of emotional wreckage from professor/student relationships. Oddly, it’s not the professors (who tout that their ‘rights’ to be predators should be untramelled) that are the ones on the therapists’ couches.
    Dank responds-

    Much to my dismay Fedup appears to commit what I call the psychiatric fallacy which is that if you want to understand some particular social phenomena go to the psychiatrist, psychotherapist and you will find out just how damning unhealthy said practice is. And, wow, Fedup is right when she writes that you will find there massive amounts of emotional damage re student prof sexual relationships. But what Fedup does not state but I am sure knows that you will find massive amounts of emotional damage re marriage, parenting, drug usage, working, living when you rely on psychiatric reports. Up to the 60s the dominant society bought into the psychiatric mantra that homosexuality is an
    illness based on psychiatric studies that did not venture beyond their clinical practices since then we generally have gotten beyond the tendency to accept psychiatric findings as relevant to the general population. All one needs to know is that there are many student prof couples who did just fine with their relationship, and that the student prof framework is quite transitory; you stay together and said classifications are in the past. In any case, as many people who are in intimate relationships they deal with each other
    in Buberian terms in an I-thou framework, not in an I-it relationship or in a categorical relationship.

    Fedup continues

    ‘Consensual’ is not there in a power imbalanced relationship. That’s why there are statutory rape laws – a person might argue that it is unreasonable for a consensual relationship to be rape one day and not the day following when the person has their birthday. No right minded adult is going to have a romantic relationship with a 13, 14, 15 etc. ‘child’. But the laws are not intended for the right minded – they are for the predators.

    Dank responds-

    Yes, the laws are for predators. And just because a person is 21 and another is 35, and the 35 year old is a lawyer or a professor or an optometrist and the other is a student and the relationship is not overtly power balanced does not mean that the relationship is not consensual, and that the older partner is a predator. Such would represent quite a bigoted view. And, of course, asymmetric relationships between adults are not criminal. And in the context of traditional heterosexuality, many women are attracted to older more powerful men, some times famous men, some times celebrities.
    Too many of these women end up harassing these men, become groupies,and some even stalkers. So the predatory behavior can come from the less powerful not just the more powerful. And in very personal terms, my father was 20 years older than my mother and he was not an abuser or a predator of any kind. And was he more powerful than my mother? Well such is hard to say. Sexuality, sexual pairings are a complex and varicolored thing; really not subject to dealing with in one dimensional terms.

    Comment by dankprofessor | October 3, 2010 | Reply

  12. Fedup states- To how many of the families of students were you introduced as the student’s lover?

    Dank responds. I was not introduced in overtly sexual terms. I was introed as a person who was dating their daughter and who was or is their daughter’s professor. If the relationship with their daughter continued, I often ended up being great friends with their parents. One time when a particular relationship was not working out, we had broken up, the father called me and asked me to join him for lunch and then indicated he would pay for counseling if I and his daughter went into couple counseling. We accepted his offer. But unfortunately the counseling could not resolve our incompatibilities. The good part is that 25 years later, my former partner and myself remain good friends.

    Comment by dankprofessor | October 3, 2010 | Reply

  13. I noted that Fedup has not responded to the question I asked-

    “Oh, one additional point, what’s the problem with younger women affiliating with older men? Isn’t this normative in
    our society??”

    Whatever the reasons for your preferences, they cannot and will not be written into law. I know that some older women resent younger women affiliating with older men. Maybe you are one of those older women who want to criminalize the competition. Of course, I am far from sure you are a woman.
    But I am sure you want to stay in the closet as far as your identity is concerned. And you have every right to do so. But if you look to openness as an ideal in social life, you might consider being open as to who you are on this blog.
    I would welcome it.

    Comment by dankprofessor | October 3, 2010 | Reply

  14. I got from Novalis Lore her point using shoplifting as an analogy. I suppose the spinoff in our situation would be bugging and surveiling professors and their offices – horror of horrors. The point that caution and thoughtfulness should be exercised is made. Kind of a “Better a thousand guilty go free than one innocent be imprisoned” approach as common law based criminal justice systems work. There is merit in that approach. On the other hand, it calls for clear lines and boundaries and consequences.
    As for Dank’s latest additions, there are some troubling features to his comments generally. He tends to talk around the points and does not address them head on. For instance Dank introduces a term that he says he calls the ‘psychiatric fallacy’. Dank does not say that the various victim web sites, victim statements etc. are false, exaggerated or whatever and he doesn’t refer to a study or anything to validate his point. He seems to say that if there is a psychiatrist (or similar) involved, the information is somehow without value or false. So there are no criminally insane, mentally incompetent etc. Dank? Is Dank postulating that psychiatrists, social workers etc. are dishonest or deluded and somehow Dank is the only one who really sees these things clearly? Okay……. But forgive me if it does not assist me in giving Dank credibility.
    Certainly there is a lot of mental trauma out there. But because there is a lot of it does not mean we should not try to reduce what we can – feasibility and affordability considered. In speaking of ‘rights’, I find it difficult to believe that the right of students to be educated without the distraction of anything sexual from professors do not far outweigh the ‘rights’ of professors to consider the institution a candy shop for their sexual desires – or for that matter the ‘rights’ of students who have gotten entangled with a professor.
    For Dank to say he knows of ‘many’ student/professor relationships to have worked out is not honest statement it is put in the context of studies showing they are an almost statistically insignificant number relative to those that don’t ‘work out’ – not to mention the even greater number that couldn’t imaginably be called relationships because they are more toward the harassment spectrum.
    On consensual and power imbalance, I have said before and I’ll say again: age in itself is not determinative of creating a power imbalanced relationship. Dank mixes age with profession to then state that is not overtly power imbalanced. I guess the key word is ‘overtly’. What is that supposed to mean? Power imbalance is generally more covert than overt, unstated vs. trumpeted and so on. The weaker does not have the luxury of screaming indignation or for help just because of the power imbalance – a silence of the lambs situation.
    Estimates by the knowledgeable doing studies in the area are that probably less than 10% of the incidents of sexual harassment are reported. Leaving us with the specter of multiplying by 10 the mayhem we know about – and we don’t know about most of it.
    There are myriad sites and literature galore to document what a plague professor/student ‘relationships’ are – sexualharassmentsupoort.org has portions dealing with it. I could go on and on and you know it is all out there.
    Returning to age and imbalance – I am fine with any age difference after, say 21. If it works for each, that is the end of it. Their relationship is their exclusive property and I don’t think anyone else has a say in the matter.
    Dank’s reference to students being predators, stalkers etc. is not documented and I can honestly say that in the extensive reading I have so far done I can only repeat that I never saw reference to a professor’s help site or that a professor was ever on a therapist’s couch. In other words, while there may be the odd unhinged student out there who is pushing at a professor somewhere, why do we hear virtually nothing of this being reported? You would think professors would be all over it for self-preservation the way Dank puts it. In other words; that is intentional distraction from the nuclear issue at hand.
    I am touched by Dank’s interest in particulars about me. I am not shy about telling you but I think it is preferable for you to not be afforded the opportunity of pigeonholing or categorizing. If the time were to come for it I would have no problem standing behind, and taking responsibility for, anything I have said.
    I am a professional – (not a psychiatrist etc.) who coincidentally witnessed various (but far from all) acts of seduction by a male professor practiced upon a woman student half his age. I caught bits and pieces over about 3 months. Doubtlessly each one of these dramas has it’s own twists and spins according to the varied characters but the central themes are the same old same old – unilateral sexual gratification. I observed the student ricochet out of the ‘relationship’ and the numbing mental upset it caused, and contiues to cause, her. It was, and is, really quite astonishing that it went unreported and without consequence for the perp professor. It caught my attention sufficiently that I thought I would look into this underworld of predatory professors. Wonder of wonders – what a rat’s nest of sexism and wormholes it has been turned into by the many with a vested interest in it’s continuation. It’s shameful.
    Dank, for the moment I’ll take you at your word about all the innocent and wholesome wonders professor/student relationships have held for you. I wonder why so many relationships but choose to leave it alone for now.
    I tuned into this blog because of a couple of references to you and then your blog. In my review of materials on this subject, I found less than a handful of those who defend professor/student relationships. I thought I would tune in and hear your side of things.
    “A passionate defense of student professor consensual sexual relationships”. There really is no substance or verifiable fact to your ‘defense’. ‘Passionate’, in the sense of sexual, is about all I come away with when I distill out all the hyperbolic arguments I’ve seen here. There is a Jerry Springer quality of authenticity in this ‘passionate defense’ if it is really being put forward as having legitimate universal application.
    I respect the right to express these opinions but I do not respect the opinions and hold suspect that they are honestly derived.
    Let’s cut to the chase. Here is my question.
    Do you believe that a professor should be allowed to engage in any behaviour that could reasonably be construed as attempting to initiate, or promote, a personal relationship (that could conceivably become romantic) with a student at the university they both attend?
    Kindly fully and fairly address the question. I do not consider the use of emotional language like ‘horrified’ as appropriate. You might also note this is not an exercise in absolutism. Enforcement and consequence are, of course, variable and presumed to be humanly commensurate with the insignificance or severity of any given situation.

    Comment by Fedup | October 5, 2010 | Reply

    • A brief note about my use of the concept of psychiatric fallacy. A psychiatric fallacy occurs when one believes that one can gain an adequate view of some population by only studying psychiatric patients; in other words, you generalizing from the psychiatric population to the population as a whole. Historically, it was not surprising that homosexuals were considered to be mentally ill since almost all studies of homosexuals up to 1960 were of psychiatric patients. Psychiatrists refused to go out of their office and do some real research. Since the overwhelming percentage of homosexuals were in the closet, few were actually seen. And let me emphasize that I do not consider all psychiatrists as incompetent in this area. In 1969, I was invited to become a member of the UCLA Gender Identity and Research Program and present my ongoing out of the office research on homosexuality to a group primarily composed of psychiatrists; a couple of these psychiatrists went on to play a key role in removing homosexuality as a mental illness in the psychiatric nomenclature.

      And remember as far as the media is concerned bad almost always trumps good. yes, there have been some students who have been victims of profs and some profs who have been victims of students. But to see all or almost all such relationships as representing victimage is indicative of being victim obsessed. For example, marriage often leads to divorce but solely focusing on how terrible marriage is a rather narrow view. Yes, sex can lead to people to have stds, but there is even good sex with no stds.

      Comment by dankprofessor | October 6, 2010 | Reply

  15. “I will go out on a limb and admit that if crushes between students and teachers could have been prevented when I was in college, I would never have made it through. The fact that I graduated summa cum laude is testimony to the number of crushes that sustained me, that kept me edgy, and eager, and engaged. At the beginnings of quarters I shopped around for teachers to have a crush on, and it was a sad term, a long term, when I found none. I tried. I fanned the flame of minor lights–knowing full well that if I could not generate at least a little heat my mind would freeze.”

    I very much agree with Nehring in that paragraph. As a female student myself, I discovered that whenever I find a professor attractive (physically and personality-wise), I become more encouraged and motivated to work harder and study harder in the class that the attractive professor is teaching. Most of the time, if not all of the time, this usually results in doing much better in the class than I would had I not worked as hard in that class. And of course, absolutely none of the professors I crushed on have the slightest idea that I was infatuated by them. I bend over backwards to hide such feelings whenever I do talk to them, not because I believe professor-student relationships are wrong (because I don’t) but simply because all of the professors I liked so far were married.

    Now had one of them been single…that might’ve been a different story. As I said before, I certainly see nothing wrong with professor-student relationships, especially after the student is no longer in the professor’s class. And my parents, themselves, see nothing wrong with it (they actually much rather I date a professor than some street hooligan). As for the age differences, well, I admit all of the professors I’ve liked so far are very young but even if I did see a young female student with an older male professor or a young male student with an older female professor, I still won’t be bothered by it. To me, age is just a number. So long as the people in the relationship are all physically mature and legally able to date those who are 18 and over, I really don’t see the problem with it.

    What I really do love most about this article is that it’s coming from a female writer, seeing it from the female student’s perspective. Opponents of professor-student relationships are like the KKK to interracial relationships. They like to make assumptions of what the student want and doesn’t want and then goes and decides what they think is best for the student. They are generally very naive. They make the huge leap of assumption that professor-student relationships are always initiated by the professor and that the student had nothing to do with it him/herself. Nehring was able to show in this article that such a situation is not always the case and that we, the female students, are also capable of lustful feelings (no matter how shocking that may seem to professor-student opponents out there). Throughout my teenage years, I have witnessed so many of my girl friends who tried hitting on their middle school and high school teachers, only in vain because these teachers were aware of the underage law. It was not the teachers who flirted first, it was the students. Even when the teachers refused to reciprocate the girls’ advances, even brushed them off, some of the more persistent girls still pursued these men.

    So if women were able to feel lust during the youngest of adolescent years like twelve, what makes these opponents think that they’re not able to feel lust during the more mature years of eighteen and older? These opponents, in a way, are very sexist. They seem to think that only men are able to feel infatuated, no matter at what age, and that women, in general, are cold, emotionless creatures who are incapable of feeling the same passionate desires as men, therefore, could not possibly initiate any kind of relationship, and much less, professor-student relationships. I think these opponents, to put it nicely, are simply naive. Either that, or they (being sexist as they are) simply like to think all women as weak victims.

    In any case, this is a great article. I find it very admirable that Nehring chose to speak out about professor-student relationships. The more I think about it, the more I realized that the anti-professor/student sentiment seems to be fueled by sexism. Notice how critics are much quicker to attack a professor/student affair if it was a male professor/female student one than if it was a female professor/male student relationship? Like I said before, it’s probably because they believe male students are partly to blamed while female students have been completely victimized. Jeez…I only know that had at least one of the professors I crushed on had been single, I would’ve tried to make the first move right after I’m no longer in his class.

    Comment by Vanessa | October 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Great post, Vanessa. I would add that opponents are often both sexist and naive, and sometimes outright manipulative and power orientated. As far as making the first move right after you are no longer in class, you would still have to be careful since many universities also ban students from fraternizing with profs after class as well as some universities totally ban any fraternization between students and profs. And as for parents liking the prof you may bring home, I NEVER experienced any parent who disliked me although thru the blog I have had contact with outraged parents whose daughter was dating a prof. So obviously we are not all equally like-able. Of course, some parents never like anyone that their daughter or son may bring home.

      Comment by dankprofessor | October 9, 2010 | Reply

      • Spot on, Dank – Vanessa. Looks like Fedup got fed up after all to relay her world consisting of: male = predator, & female = victim & would never think first: ‘innocent until proven guilty’. And Dankstudent got the idea what a rapist is, or rather not is. (And btw , Novalis is NOT a woman’s name, not a ‘her’. I made my comment to Dankstudent re #9, not #10.)

        After all, that’s exactly what this ‘power-oriented’ [feminist-‘inspired’] dogma wants: no ‘minors’ or younger females being allowed to fish for the eligible alpha male (or vice versa), be it some professor or any other older male, let alone sleep with them. That’s why [mostly] the man gets slung into prison for it; they’re miserable sexist misandrists to the bone. This by Dank sums it all up: ‘But to see all or almost all such relationships as representing victimage is indicative of being victim obsessed. Sexuality, sexual pairings are a complex and varicolored thing; really not subject to dealing with in one-dimensional terms.’ – Or blanket laws.

        Comment by Novalis Lore | October 10, 2010

      • Maybe this will help all those out there who think ‘rape’, sexual abuse or harassment is rampant on or off campus, as our feminism-poisoned ‘rape culture’ society wants us to believe. Indeed, how do we know if ‘rape’ is ‘under-reported’ as they always claim, if it isn’t ‘reported’ in the first place? Sounds more like dumb feminist logic.


        Comment by Novalis Lore | October 10, 2010

  16. Interesting. My last blog appears to have been taken down. The short version, lacking response to those bloggers that followed my next to last blog is: You are all using Ms. Nehring’s article to defend your self- interest in promoting professor/student sexual relationships. I asked for help to get a copy of the whole article but noboby responded. I went and found it.
    What is interesting is that, while Dank has voluminous ‘excerpts’ from Ms. Nehring’s article, he does not include one simple line:
    “In the vast majority of cases, students and teachers should not sleep with each other, if you ask me.”
    If Vanessa is a real person, I find it difficult to reconcile the extremes she displays. Leaving married professors alone shows a good amount of sensibility (even thought they might be her most vulnerable prey). But saying “Opponents of professor-student relationships are like the KKK to interracial relationships.” is plain crazy. The ‘sexist’ and ‘sexism’ comments are totally twisted. A lot of good people have come to learn what a shameful problem predatory professors are and have come forward to shield young women from this behaviour. To refer to them as KKK or sexist is insane.
    Dank encourages it! “I would add that opponents are often both sexist and naive, and sometimes outright manipulative and power orientated.” You gotta be kidding.
    The one I really enjoy to date though is Novalis’ latest thrust “…no ‘minors’ or younger females being allowed to fish for the eligible alpha male (or vice versa), be it some professor or any other older male, let alone sleep with them.” LOL – ‘alpha male’. I suppose Dank should be given time to agree with that too – being the epitome of the ‘alpha male’ referred to – by virtue of his many student conquests.
    The eligible alpha males will be the ones who are professional with commensurate ethics that care more for the well being of students than satisfying their thirst at a doggie dish.
    You’re hopeless.
    If there is more than one of you, I am sorry, you are simply not credible with those kinds of statements.

    Comment by Fedup | October 10, 2010 | Reply

    • Well, Vanessa put your excerpt of Nehring in its proper context. As for conquest, I was not a conqueror, just a humble professor. If you assume that there is always a war between the sexes then I concede that conquest is a good term for you, but not for me.

      Comment by dankprofessor | October 11, 2010 | Reply

  17. @dankprofessor, my university seems to discourage romantic relationships between professors and students but it doesn’t straight out ban them. It seems to be very vague when it comes to the topic of relationships between professors and students, but from what I’ve read in the school’s newspapers, it only discourages such relationships, but doesn’t ban them. However, I guess to be on the safe side (and to make sure the professor I like doesn’t loose his job), I suppose it’s better off to wait until after graduation when I’m no longer in the school.

    @Novalis Lore, sometimes accusations of sexual harassment and abuse isn’t always what it seems either. Some people like to yell out sexual harassment just to sue the establishment where the so-called harassment had taken place. I had first learned this when my dad told us how one of his male coworkers was being sued just for tapping a female coworker on the shoulder. Another thing to add is that it is more often the wealthier male celebrities or very rich businessmen who constantly get complaints of sexual harassment filed against them, but not so often the common middle-class or lower-class men. That’s something interesting to note.

    I think the same thing applies as to why most business establishments discourage/straight out ban relationships between coworkers and manager/coworker and why universities discourage/ban relationships between professor/student (and professor/professor as well, since they’re coworkers). Both universities and businesses are well aware that if anything goes wrong within these relationships, quite commonly, the female partner who are upset by their boyfriend for whatever reason, may yell out sexual harassment or abuse to sue their boyfriend. But obviously, if the boyfriend can’t afford to pay (which is usually the case), then these women’s lawyers would automatically look to sue the university or business for not “protecting” these women in the first place.

    So generally speaking, universities that have rules against professor/student relationships don’t have these rules because they believe these female students are honestly innocent victims who need to be protected. No, they have these rules so that they can protect themselves from female students who may potentially sue them. You would think that if ALL male professor/female student relationships consists of victimizing the student, the federal or state government would’ve declared all such relationships as illegal but as it goes, the government have enough sense to realize that these relationships are between TWO CONSENTING ADULTS, so therefore will not intervene unless rape or sexual harassment is involved. And so these universities need to make up these rules banning professor/student relationships not because they think it’s immoral but because they believe they could easily be sued by the women in these relationships. In other words, these universities don’t buy into the idea that all of these women are truly “innocent victims,” it’s quite the contrary.

    @Fedup, there’s nothing crazy about comparing the opponents of professor/student relationships to the KKK of interracial relationships, as the KKK often uses a similar line as you as their excuse for lynching blacks, especially black men, “A lot of good people have come to learn what a shameful problem predatory black men are and have come forward to shield white women from this behaviour.” Just replace “professor” with “black men” and “young women” with “white women” and you instantly see the similarities. And yes, these opponents are sexist, just as the KKK is racist. To immediately jump to the conclusion that all female students romantically involved with male professors are poor, weak, and helpless victims is a massive leap of assumption. That implies that all women are incapable of controlling the relationship they’re in because they’re somehow mentally or emotionally deficient compared to men is nothing short of sexism.

    Comment by Vanessa | October 11, 2010 | Reply

    • Your address to me is spot on, Vanessa – the entire ‘sexual harassment/abuse & [false] rape accusations (on or more so off campus) have long gone out of hand, & so have the lawsuits to get x amounts of easy & dirty $ for someone even looking at you in a [perceived] ‘sexual manner’ where the accused has ZERO chances of defence & NO evidence is required even for serious rape allegations. We’re not talking actual rape which IS provable if handled fairly to BOTH parties, indeed, the high-profile men or celebrities are the best & easiest targets to slander/milk. I have argued that fact often enough on other blogs. But even they have no better chance of defence no matter how rich; their reputation is equally destroyed, forever, but more ‘publicly’, making it even more damaging, which is all some of these cowardly accusers want. Some of these accusations are in fact so preposterous that one has to wonder why the courts in fact allowed for them. Oh I forgot, money.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 11, 2010 | Reply

  18. @Fedup, oh, and I realized you taken that single line completely out of context.

    So to everyone else, here is the line within Nehring’s paragraph:

    “In the vast majority of cases, erotic energy does better work when channeled and curtailed than spilled. In the vast majority of cases, students and teachers should not sleep with each other, if you ask me. Not for the reasons often cited—not because of power differentials and disillusion with authority and lifelong trauma, which occur no more or less in these than in other relationships—but because it would very quickly become dull and sap away too much energy. When a student has a crush on a teacher, it is a powerful and productive thing: she or he works much harder, listens far more voraciously, appropriates, in many cases, the teacher’s intellectual enthusiasms. The student becomes a sponge for knowledge.”

    And I actually agree. I suppose it is better to crush and fantasize about a professor than actually sleep with him because the erotic tension will, thus, always linger, making you, the student, to want to impress him more–just to catch his slightest attention–by studying harder and paying much closer attention to him as you would to an attractive celebrity you admire.

    Comment by Vanessa | October 11, 2010 | Reply

  19. Vanessa, I would love to know what university you are attending. If your critical mind was to some degree a product of said university then bravo to that university. Did you have a number of courses that facilitated your passion for learning? That facilitated critical thinking?

    Comment by dankprofessor | October 11, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m from CSU East Bay (or formerly known as CSU Hayward). As for the kinds of courses I’ve taken, it depends on what you would define as critical thinking. I’m a science major, so I’ve taken a lot of classes that required me to analyze and evaluate different methods to creating my own hypothesis. But I have taken a fair amount of GE classes that deals with how members of society interact with one another and why they may or may not behave a certain way. Although I wouldn’t say my university, itself, was what drove my passion for learning. I’ve been a bit of a bookworm since I was a child.

      Comment by Vanessa | October 13, 2010 | Reply

  20. Reference has been made to the workplace with the assumption that these bans work in the corporate world and should be applicable to the university world, here is one of my “best” post on the corporate workplace- https://dankprofessor.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/workplace-dating-taboo-and-the-workplace-con-as-applied-to-the-acadcemic-world/

    Note that if differential power precludes consent was taken seriously then Melinda Gates never consented to Bill Gates. Since Bill Gates was the chief executive at Microsoft
    and having greater power than anyone else at Microsoft he could date no one at Microsoft. Interesting whether it be outside or inside Microsoft I have heard no criticism of the Gates/French union.

    Comment by dankprofessor | October 11, 2010 | Reply

  21. Finally, I have read the recent responses to this blog! I appreciate the sentiments advanced by Heloise, Dankstudent, Novalis Lore, Vanessa, and, of course, the dankprofessor.
    I especially like the comparison of professor/student bans to the KKK objecting to interracial dating. I disagree that only the student should initiate the encounter; either party should be able to ask the other out. Remember, sexual harassment policy would cover a situation where the professor “got back” at the student, by lowering her/his grade, for declining the date.
    People like Fedup slay me, with their victimization, meddling, and utter authoritarian stances! I’ll present my admittedly overused question of enforcement, concerning a dating ban. Would a mere sighting of a student with her/his professor at a restaurant, movie theater, or of one entering the others’ residence, after the school day was over, be grounds for “disciplining” the professor? Anyone who answers in the affirmative has no sense of Civil Rights, and Constitutional Rights, if the school is a public institution. Consenting adults have the rights of privacy & free association, when away from their schools, or places of employment.
    I feel that these matters are so egregious that professors/employees are justified in “bending society’s rules” to rectify this situation. I have said this before, too. A private investigator could be hired, with unmarried professors pooling their resources for the detective’s fee. Likely, nothing would be uncovered, against the administrator/s enforcing such a ban. Let’s imagine, though, that the private eye found any of the following:
    A) The administrator is a married man, who often cheats on his wife.
    B) He has an outside source of income, which he is not reporting for tax purposes.
    C) He uses illegal drugs, like cocaine.
    Any professor brought up on “disciplinary charges” for consensually dating a student could bring documentation of any of the 3 to his hearing. He could say, “I wouldn’t want your wife, the I.R.S. or the campus/local police to see this, old boy”. I would bet that the meddling dean would drop all “charges” against the teacher immediately!
    A lawyer informally told me that most D.A.’s would not prosecute something like this, unless there was a political motivation. For example, if the professor was also head of the Republican Party, in his district, and the D.A. was a Democrat, the D.A. might want to put the teacher in a bad light. This may be so, even if he knew the jury wouldn’t convict the professor on blackmail or criminal coercion charges.
    To repeat a 3rd sentiment on this topic, when are we going to see some legal challenges, to dating bans? I would think that the American Association of Professors would take up the cudgels for a professor facing “discipline”, over consensual dating. Same should apply to the N.Y. State Professors Association, which joined my union, PEF (Professional Employees Federation)when we protested Gov. David Paterson’s wage freeze, lay-off & furlough proposals. If they chose not to, I would consider them to be equivalent to company/sweetheart unions!
    Yes, individual rights should always “trump” group/feminist & victimization “rights”!

    Comment by Donald Visconti | October 19, 2010 | Reply

    • Spot on, Donald. Love your ‘ABC’ example – since almost everyone has ‘something’ to ‘hide’ that could be used against them. Rightly or wrongly.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 20, 2010 | Reply

  22. Thanks, Novalis!
    One small clarification, regarding unions. Some of them are underfunded, hence their resources may be limited, where such things as grievances are concerned. In these instances, they should not be considered “company/sweetheart unions”, although the comparison is tempting to make. Any union, or professional association which is well funded, and chooses not to stand up for someone being disciplined over consensual dating, may well be a tool of management. If not, then they just don’t care for the well being of their members, and should be replaced by the membership. That’s the way I see it!


    Comment by Donald Visconti | October 21, 2010 | Reply

    • True, anything well-funded has a better chance of managements or members looking deeper into issues, & eventuality get it right for both parties.

      Comment by Novalis Lore | October 21, 2010 | Reply

  23. Sorry, I can not sanction this type of relationship between a professor and a student. During my college years, I knew one professor who was a well known lecher. He traded grades for sexual favors and many of the young women involved with him openely bragged about the easy “A” they would get from him. The innate inequality to these types of relationships do not foster personal growth. Adults behaving badly in a professional environment (being a professor is a job) is not tolerated anywhere.

    Comment by Melissa | December 29, 2010 | Reply

  24. Melissa,
    I agree that this cad is not the type of professor who acts in a responsible way. My problem is with ANY teacher associating with ANY student after school facing “discipline”. Lecherous professors are one matter, those engaging in responsible relationships with adult students are quite another. The college should not act as surrogate “mommy & daddy”, when the students are adults.

    Comment by Donald Visconti | December 31, 2010 | Reply

    • Hear hear. Happy New Year all!

      Comment by Novalis Lore | December 31, 2010 | Reply

    • The students may be adults but the professors may not act like adults.

      Also if there happens to be a married couple male and female – who are both professors if the male professor looks a little too admiringly at his students, the female professor may retaliate against and make it difficult for – the female student(s) that her husband is flirting with.

      Comment by Sonny | September 12, 2011 | Reply

  25. Student professor consensual sexual relationships may work out depending on who is involved – but the relationship is inherently unequal and dangerous.

    If the relationship goes sour and south problems can arise in the kinds of grade a student might receive,

    or far worse the professor, or the chair of the department, and the University itself such as California State University may put many different kinds of obstacles in the way of the student’s advancement, effectively blocking them from moving forward in their major or obtaining their degree.

    In addition Professors looking for relationships with students, regardless of whether any real relationship actually takes place, and regardless of whether any real sex actually takes place, just the act of looking for a relationship with a student – can turn into discrimination – if the student shuns the professor’s advances.

    This is because the teacher may retaliate with all favors & “privileges” in the class or major itself – denied. A systematic block to advancement may be put in place against the student that shunned the professor.

    And students cannot rely on the University or College or the University or College police to protect and serve them, or for any support whatsoever.

    Since professors are only human, and may in the face of rejection – retaliate by blackening the student’s name, and stopping their advancement by whatever means available to them.

    Student’s beware! Its a dog eat dog world.

    Comment by Sonny | September 12, 2011 | Reply

  26. […] is another good one from the Dank […]

    Pingback by Forbidden Fruit? « Beach Time | April 27, 2012 | Reply

  27. Thank you for your excerpts of a fascinating article.

    Interesting how the framework of female student/male professor goes virtually unchallenged in these comments; one might ask how convenient this presumption is to the various arguments made.

    I would opine that the KKK analogy is a bit over the top, and using it does not serve the interest of those who advocate student/professor relationships. It’s also a bit insensitive– professors are not being lynched and murdered, after all, for the merest perceived impropriety. Perhaps it is more serviceable to invoke the McCarthy hearings; ‘sexual McCarthyism’ is a wonderfully provocative phrase.

    Comment by Holly W. | May 7, 2012 | Reply

    • Good post, Holly! I never taught, but as a never married guy, I take exception to ANY employer trying to dictate who its employees can go out with, after work. So long as the dating is consensual, and the younger party is not a minor, bosses should not stick their noses into these matters!
      I like your comparison of “dating bans” to “sexual McCarthyism”! I have often referred to “political correctness” as “left wing McCarthyism”! Liberals feel that individual rights should be abridged, to fulfill some nebulous “higher goal”. Well, I believe in Civil & Constitutional Rights, which trump “sexual McCarthyism”!

      Comment by Donald Visconti | June 3, 2012 | Reply

  28. “A passionate defense of student professor consensual sexual relationships Dankprofessors
    Weblog” was indeed a great blog. If it had much more photos this would likely be even better.

    Thank u -Alexandra

    Comment by http://tinyurl.com/cmcohart13514 | January 30, 2013 | Reply

  29. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and also the rest of the website is also really good.

    Comment by one piece cut out bathing suit | April 3, 2013 | Reply

  30. I feel bad that the Dankprofessor has apparently abandoned this cause. I enjoy seeing his Facebook page, but would like it even better if he had new incidents to discuss on this very sensitive subject.
    As I have previously indicated, I BELIEVE most schools don’t rigidly enforce “dating bans”, unless incidents of sexual harassment take place. The presence of such a “policy” covers the school’s butts, where feminists are concerned. However, I haven’t read of any school meting out “discipline” over a sighting of a teacher and student, at an off campus location. Similarly, a T/A (Teaching Assistant) dancing with one of his/her students, at an on campus dance shouldn’t invite administrative action. I do believe the Dankprofessor indicated this (written policies put in place, but not rigidly enforced), in one of his articles.
    I would welcome further insights and news on this matter.
    Donald Visconti

    Comment by Donald Visconti | April 3, 2013 | Reply

  31. Don, I have not abandoned the cause. Unfortunately, due to personal medical issues I am unable to maintain a text focused blog; this could change in the near future. In any case, the blog remains as a resource for persons who are interested in this issue.

    Comment by dankprofessor | April 3, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks, Professor Barry! Please check out my message on Facebook.

      Comment by Donald Visconti | April 4, 2013 | Reply

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