Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Coercing women in the name of protection

Following is a comment in response to a comment I had on the

D’Souza blog –


Dear Barry Dank:

You miss the point completely. It is not merely the age difference as it is a difference in power. A young college girl is going into the ‘real world’ for the first time and the potential for manipulation is too great. Anyone who has ever been a boss knows this is true. I have never gotten involved with anyone from my work because the potential for workplace romance-related disaster is just too great. Clergy, bosses, teachers have as much sway over a young woman as a rock star! It just isn’t right.

Keith J. Mohrhoff at 8:04AM on Aug 27th 2007


Dankprofessor response-

The response of mine which Keith did not like focused on age issues since so many persons who had comments on the D’souza blog argued for a student-prof ban because of the alleged age differential between students and professors.  None of the respondents assumed that there might not be an age differential or that the professor might be younger than the student which was the case in my relationship which led to marriage.  Protection is assumed to be paramount; protection of young women from the older male.  When I stated that persons so offended by a significant age differential might wish to consider a ban on age differentiated relationships, no response was forthcoming.  Of course, this attitude may be a result of the student-teacher labels which for many imply adult-child relationships.  If such is the case, the professor is seen as a predatory molester, and there can be no discussion or debate, issue closed.  I think the professor-student as adult-child functions as a default assumption for many.


As Keith notes, “it is not merely the age difference as it is a difference in power.”  What Keith fails to understand is that the position he and others advocate functions to take away the power of young women; they are held to be incapable of consent.  In this framework, the power goes to the so-called protector- the chair, the dean, the sexual harassment officer; protectors who are all too often zealous feminists who can now asssume Big Sister roles in exerting power/abuse over male professors and who view consenting female students as non-existent since in their view differential power precludes consent.

In more direct terms, the female dissenting student just doesn’t count.  Big Sister counts; of course, Big Sister is wrapped in a therapeutic language of caring and concern; caring and concern which is coercive; coercive caring, what a great concept.  It still amazes me that so many people are so easily seduced by

the Big Sister rhetoric which stripped down is just old fashioned authoritarian rhetoric.


If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor.



August 30, 2007 Posted by | coercing women, consensual relationships, D'souza blog, higher education, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating | Leave a comment

D’Souza’s column on IVORY TOWER ROMANCE

D’souza had a blog column on right to romance book with numerous commentaries.  I contributed a comment which occurs at the very end of the comments column.

Also Abahamson contributed a comment which I could not find on their comments log.  He sent me the commentary which follows-


How ironic. Dinesh D’Souza advertises himself as a careful reader of the Constitution; yet he dismisses my legal argument about faculty-student romance on the basis of a onepage interview in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Volume 53, Issue 50, page A8) about my forthcoming book “Romance in the Ivory Tower: The Rights and Liberty of Conscience” (MIT Press). He concludes: “The whole concept is a legal absurdity. Professor Abramson is certainly entitled to cruise the bars of Los Angeles looking for love if he wants to. I just think [he] should leave his copy of the Constitution behind”.

Lord Robert May (a member of British Parliament, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, and Professor at Oxford), interestingly, had a different opinion. After reading the entire book, Lord May concluded: “Make no mistake. Paul Abramson’s book is a serious and thought-provoking examination of the extent to which institutions should proscribe individual actions. Although I do not endorse all of the conclusions, I strongly recommend this book”.

My advice? Wait until the book is published (October 2007). If, at that point, Mr. D’Souza (or anyone else) would like to start a serious debate, that is a discussion I’d welcome.

August 26, 2007 Posted by | D'souza blog, ivory tower romance, student professor dating | Leave a comment


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