Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Campus zealotry and demagoguery

Here is the quickest way to eliminate female student male professor consensual sexual relationships from the university place, simply do not allow college entrée to female students who are privy to be sexually attracted to any professor. Of course, the immediate reaction by anyone of sound mind, of anyone who has an iota of understanding of the sexual scene, knows that such would be an impossibility. In an environment in which there is a high density of of eligible single men and women, there will be sexual attraction, and dating and mating.

But here is the nub of the matter, those who fuel the movement to ban these relationships have a retrograde view of female sexual attraction and sexuality. They simply eliminate said sexual attraction. They uniformly engage in a psychological denial that female students could be attracted to male professors and have the capacity to act on that attraction. Note that in the dankprofessor’s presentation of the initiation of the banning movement at Ohio State, there was absolutely no deviation from the line that female students could ever be attracted to a professor or act on such an attraction. This was consistent with the fact that one-third of the appointees to the Working Group had made a commitment to rape prevention and rape counseling. Arguments of the type made in support of these bans at Ohio State and at most other universities are at their core arguments against rape. To advocate against this position, sets up the advocate as advocating against rape prevention. No wonder that at Ohio State the reception of the Working Group report was embraced and never directly criticized.

Once one understands that the core proponents of the movement to ban student professor sexual relationships see themselves as campaigning against rape and rapists, their self-righteousness and disdain for anyone introducing a civil liberties perspective becomes understandable. Arguing for due process, presumption of innocence in their view simply becomes an argument in support of rape and rapists. Putting forth an argument as I have done that professor
student relationships would not be a problem for anyone if female students were not sexually attracted to professors at one time or another is simply discarded. Such is discarded since in their rape framework the female student is never capable of consent, and always merits the protection of the powerful and benevolent other.

And here we come to the utter mystification of the whole process. In order to protect the female student from the predator/rapist professor they deny the very existence of female power in the context of sexuality. They strip away the female student’s sexuality by reducing her to a childlike status in which the consent of the female-child is an impossibility. Banning advocates continuing mantra is that differential power precludes consent while they put themselves in a higher power position and attempt to preclude female students from dissenting to their power dynamic. Antithetical to this framework is the view that female students have sexual autonomy, are not in an agentic state, are capable of consent and the burden of proof is on those persons who argue that in any particular case, a female student or for that matter any student is not capable of consent.

Of course, many persons might critique my analysis by arguing that most of the support for these bans come from those who are against conflicts of interest and prejudicial grading. And such may have some validity since most often at a point prior to the adoption of these sexual codes, the arguments are put into a desexualized and bureaucratized policy code lingo. They end up being put forth in a polite and impersonal framework. So at a certain point the zealots and true believers are in part replaced by the bureaucrats who now do their dirty work. But irrespective of whether it is the zealots doing the arguing or the bureaucrats doing the enforcing, their framework is the same- authoritarian, authoritarians demanding obedience. And if the authoritarians have won or in Thomas Hanna’s perspective, the humanoids are in control, their will be few dissenters since the mass of the professoriate are in a state of fear, of being afraid that if they speak out that they will end up being one of the accused.

Or summing up my argument in more cogent terms, when it comes to dealing with student professor romances, zealotry and demagoguery on campus have effectively displaced pedagogy.

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 27, 2008 - Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, fraternization, higher education, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating

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