Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

The coupling of McCain and Palin

When it comes to mate selection, John  McCain certainly does not engage in any pretentious behavior.  He doesn’t spend very much time personally wooing a prospective mate.  All the pre-selection stuff is handled by his staff.   His first glance and his very first gut reaction most likely tells him whether or not this is the one.  No personal courtship is needed; one date is enough to find the good mate.

So the fact that the good senator immediately wanted Sarah Palin as his running mate should come as no surprise.  He could tell she had what it takes to please him and his base.  She could help him get what he wants.  No need to vet her about Pakistan or Georgia.  McCain knows that politics is in part about love and romance and so the whirlwind began.

There is an uncanny similarity relating to his choice of his other mate, Cindy McCain.  With Cindy it was also love at first sight; he knew right away that she was his wife to be; the complicating problem for him was that he already had  a wife.  This situation was resolved via divorce and then a John and Cindy marriage.
And the fact that both John McCain’s mates were beauty queens should come as no surprise.  Being surrounded by beauty never hurts.   Beauty is power and power is what all politicians want.  Being surrounded by beautiful women affirms for self and many others that one has the power.

And it should not be surprising that both Cindy and Sarah are significantly younger than the senator; Cindy by 18 years and Sarah by 27 years.   Surrounded by beauty and youth one can feel “eternally ” young at heart.  Such may be the case why McCain apparently is unable to give serious consideration to the possibility that his VP selection will become President if he should die.  For McCain it may be that his whole life affirms that he transcends death; he is the survivor par excellence.

I do not mean to indicate that there is no cynical manipulation going on here.  Politics is most often a combination of cynicism and romance.  Certainly John McCain believes that Sarah Palin can help him get a higher percentage of the women’s vote.  But if he thinks that this will help him gain the vote of Hillary supporters and feminist women in general, McCain is engaging in unrestrained pipe dreaming.

For many feminists, a John and Sarah pairing symbolizes their dreaded male patriarchy- that of the older male being in the power position with the younger woman being in the subordinate position.  Nothing new here; it’s the same old same old.  In fact, the more radical feminists might very well argue that this pairing is not a consensual one since for them where there is differential power, there can be no consent.  In other words, they could hold that the Governor was unable to say “no” to the Senator.

What may be even more galling to feminists is that Sarah apparently holds herself up as a replacement for the displaced Hillary.  Of course, Hillary can no longer be a yes woman to anyone. Sarah playing the role of yes woman to John is the antithesis of feminism. 

As for the conservative base, such is entirely another story.  The older male/younger female is a traditional acceptable pairing.  No matter that Palin is inexperienced in national and international affairs. The good VP and the good wife follow traditional values.  And in this framework all that Sarah has to do is to follow the wishes of her running mate who will then become her President.  And just as the devoted wife who loses her husband thru death often inherits the wealth and status of her husband, such would be the case for the devoted VP who then becomes President Palin.

Of course, when it comes to love and politics, one knows that one does not know.  McCain could dump Palin before election day.  Of course, it has happened before.  It was the the Democratic candidate in 1972 George McGovern who dumped his VP choice Tom Eagleton when Eagleton was no longer seen as useful to his candidacy.   And the case of Spiro Agnew illustrates that in dire circumstances a VP can be forced to step down so that a Spiro Agnew cannot become President.

So if the McCain/Palin ticket becomes the winning ticket and then President McCain becomes seriously ill, it could be that Palin is forcibly removed from office and then if McCain dies, Nancy Pelosi will become President Pelosi.

If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.
Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2008

August 29, 2008 Posted by | feminism, John McCain, Sarah Palin, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Framing Duke University

A Science Blog article, “Framing Technique Can Be Used as a Public Relations Strategy in Cases of Sexual Assault” reports on a new study published in the journal Communication, Culture & Critique.  Researcher Barbara Barnett of Kansas University reports on her qualitative textual analysis of public relations materials published by Duke from March 24, 2006 through June 18, 2007 relating to the three white Duke University lacrosse players who were charged with rape.  Professor Barnett found that “Duke University officials framed the crisis in terms of institutional reputation rather than the rape issue at hand.”

The Science Blog reported the following

Allowing for the examination of emphasis and meaning, Barnett’s analysis revealed that the University carefully crafted its response to allegations of rape, presenting itself as a voice of reason in an emotionally charged atmosphere, and as a victim of a rogue prosecutor, whose case relied on rumor rather than solid evidence. In a case that involved allegations of rape, there was surprisingly little discussion on the issue of rape itself.
Duke University proved adept at speaking about its own image and integrity, but failed to address the larger issues in the case, including sexual objectification of women, the risks of sexual violence on college campuses, and the perceptions of privilege in U.S. college athletics.

“In the end, the charges against the Duke athletes turned out not to be true, but for nearly nine months, Duke lived with allegations that three student athletes might have raped a student at a nearby university. Duke focused on its own reputation but missed an opportunity to talk about the larger issue of rape” Barnett notes. “Sexual violence is a serious matter, and organizations that find themselves confronting such charges, even charges they suspect may not be true, need to speak clearly and strongly to the issue of rape.

The dankprofessor finds Professor Barnett’s conclusions to be surreal.  The fact of the matter is that ultimately the Duke lacrosse imbroglio did not deal with rape but with false charges of rape.  What Duke proved adept at was never considering such a possibility but employed a frame which presumed the lacrosse players to be guilty.  Such a framing functioned to encompass the suspension of the players from class, the termination of the lacrosse coach, the termination of the lacrosse playing season, the acceptance of faculty and student stigmatizing of the players and a refusal to confront the flagrant racial objectification of the Duke lacrosse players.

Clearly a due process frame was an alien frame to the Duke University administration.  Ultimately Duke in some way could have employed what happened as a means of educating about the importance of the presumption of innocence, the personal devastation that can result from false charges, and the importance of holding those responsibility who directly and indirectly promulgate such charges.

And now we have Kansas University professor Barnett who avoids dealing with the irresponsible “framing” employed by Duke University.  Such represents another academic engaging in avoidance and denial.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Duke University, ethics, higher education, political correctness, rape, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, victimization, violence | Leave a comment

Getting it right on the Chavez controversy

The recent Albuquerque Journal article as well as my recent post on the Lisa Chavez controversy didn’t quite get it  right. There was only one UNM student who posed with her in the s&m photos and she was not a student of Chavez at the time of the posing.  Said student has previously spoken out on the part she played in these photos; click here to get her words on this matter.  And to get the words of Professor Chavez which are consistent with the student’s words, click here.

August 26, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of New Mexico | Leave a comment

Call for censuring/censoring Chavez continues at UNM

The Albuquerque Journal reports (August 23) that the campaign against UNM S&M performing professor of English Lisa D Chavez continues unabated.  The campaign is conducted by some of her Creative Writing  and English Department colleagues who want the UNM administration to take some sort of sanctions against the professor for engaging in a S&M scenario on a website with UNM students.  However, the UNM administration will not buy into the professorial moral crusade against Chavez. 

In a recent letter to the faculty of the English Department, UNM President David Schmidley wrote:
“The university is, first and foremost, a place where students, faculty and administrators alike constantly engage in learning. It’s now time for all of us to learn anew the lessons of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

The UNM President has brought in an outside consulting firm in an attempt to resolve the situation, but such resolution has not occurred.  Some faculty have refused to engage in any form of mediation.  In fact, some of the faculty are threatening to leave if they don’t get their way-

“How can I stay? I don’t think I can stay,” said Joy Harjo, a full professor in the university’s creative writing program and a well regarded Native American poet who left the University of California Los Angeles for the chance to work for her alma mater. She said she’s bothered there were no consequences and that the university was dismissive of those who expressed concern.
    “Bottom line here is that there’s something of integrity being sacrificed, and that’s what is most disturbing to me,” she said.
    Sharon Warner, who resigned her post as director of the nationally recognized creative writing program in protest of the university’s handling of the Chávez situation, said several faculty members, including her, are looking for employment elsewhere.
    Warner said she attended Friday’s “facilitated discussion” and considered it unproductive.

(from Albuquerque Journal August 23)  

University Diaries blogger Margaret Soltan sympathizes with the offended faculty and refers to Chavez
as a “tenured perv”.   UD has also expressed a concern that the Chavez controversy may lead to the demise of the Creative Writing program which is a very small program.  In her latest blog posting, UD states:

“While UD thinks faculty should do more or less what they want on their own time, she agrees with Warner and Harjo that Lisa Chavez’s behavior was grotesque enough — and you don’t hear her apologizing for it, or saying she won’t do it again — that UNM should have been able to impose some sanctions. UD remains perplexed as to why it does not.”

The fact is that the UNM administration has indicated in no uncertain terms that they will take no action against Chavez since her S&M posing activities were unrelated to any formal university function.  In essence, their position is that Chavez’s off campus activities and the students who were involved in these activities did not represent any involvement of the University of New Mexico.  And the fact that there were no student complaints as to these activities impacting on their role as students at UNM is additional support for the correctness of the UNM position.

And the dankprofessor also holds that university professors do not have a right not to be offended by their colleagues off campus activities.  And this is what academic freedom is all about- the right to offend
even when such offending is off campus and even when such offensive conduct appears to be of a sexual nature.  The fact that UD judges Chavez to be a “tenured perv” is irrelevant; the fact that I find such a characterization offensive is also irrelevant.  It becomes relevant to the dankprofessor when such characterization is used as a means to terminate or sanction a professor.  If tenure has any meaning, it should mean that faculty should not attempt to sanction fellow faculty for what they consider to be offensive.

Critics of Chavez will point to an ad for the sm website which employed Chavez and which “characterizes Mistress Jade” as “a stern teacher ready to punish unruly students.” Of course, such is a  frequent s&m fantasy.  But as far as punishment goes, it is clear that several persons at UNM would like to punish Chavez in the real world for her acting out punishment scenarios in a fantasy world.

Sadistic conduct in the context of attempted coercion and degradation is certainly going on in the real world of UNM but such conduct is not being promulgated by Lisa Chavez; it is being promulgated by some faculty against Lisa Chavez.  Can’t a creative writing faculty tell the difference between fantasy and reality?  Can’t persons who are supposedly committed to creative thought and writing for themselves and their students, restrain their desire to censor and control?  Such represents a minimal expectation for those who are committed to the values of the life of the mind.

August 25, 2008 Posted by | academic freedom, censorship, consensual relationships, ethics, higher education, lisa chavez, sadomasochism, sex, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, University of New Mexico | Leave a comment


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