Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Marquette goes homophobic on dean hiring.

Following my commentary is an ABC NEWS report on Marquette University’s rescinding of a job offer as dean of their College of Arts and Sciences to Jodi O’Brien who had been Chair of the Seattle University’s sociology department.  Both Seattle and Marquette are Jesuit universities.  Their similarity in being Jesuit colleges apparently is in name only since Marquette’s reneging on O’Brien as Dean lacks any ethical underpinning.

The underpinning of their reneging relates to the fact the O’Brien is lesbian, and she is a lesbian who is not in the closet. Her sexual preference was known to Marquette from the getgo.  And O’Brien was not being hired as a lesbian; she was being hired as an outstanding scholar and an outstanding academic leader.   I know that such is the case for Jodi since I have been a long term admirer of her scholarship and her leadership as President of the Pacific Sociological Association.  And I also know that she helped to create a damn fine sociology department at Seattle.

Marquette denys firing O’Brien because she is gay-

“Officials at Marquette have said they withdrew the offer not because O’Brien was openly gay, but because of the nature of her published vignettes on lesbian sex and same-sex marriage”.

But apparently Marquette has not revealed which passages of her work they found lacking and why such was found to be lacking.   Professional etiquette would have been to bring up said work while Professor O’Brien was at Marquette and going thru their evaluating/vetting process.  Given that such did not occur and given that they now had some reservations about her published work, they could have had her return to campus and in person shared their concerns with her and given her a chance to respond, but such was not the case, no professional courtesies extended in the context of their unprofessional treatment of her.

The dankprofessor has no doubt that Maquette’s backtracking on the hiring of Professor O’Brien as based on her being lesbian.  They did a hatchet job on her.   If they so choose, members of hiring committees and academic administrators can find something or other in any applicant’s writing that they find to be questionable, and use as a basis to justify for not hiring while at the same time attempting to keep in the closet the real reasons for their decision.

I say to the Marquette administration- Shame on you for this outrageous decision.   I say to Seattle U, bravo for the support shown to Jodi O’Brien during this very difficult time for her.  And I say to Jodi that I hope this ultimately works out best for her, and that Seattle trumps Milwaukee as a place to live on just about every possible criterion.

Here’s the ABC News article-

A lesbian sociologist with sterling credentials and countless scholarly works is at the center of a social justice struggle that is playing out at two Catholic universities — one from the liberal Northwest and the other anchored in the conservative heartland.

Jodi O’Brien, a highly respected and openly gay professor at Seattle University, was appointed dean of the college of arts and sciences at Milwaukee’s Marquette University in April, but then on May 2, the offer was rescinded, in part, because of some of her academic writings were at odds with the church.

“I was stunned,” O’Brien, 50, said at the time in the Seattle University Spectator. “I had no idea this was in the works.”

The controversy has brought into sharp relief two Jesuit schools, 2000 miles apart, one where gay students and faculty feel accepted and the other where despite efforts, some students and faculty say anti-gay attitudes still prevail.

Monday, dozens of faculty from both Jesuit universities took out a full page ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, protesting Marquette’s decision to withdraw O’Brien’s appointment based on her sexual orientation.

They called on administrators to offer her the job again with an apology and condemned the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and “other outside influences” in the decision.

The reversal “puts academic freedom at risk at Marquette University,” said the ad. “We reject an intellectual ‘litmus test’ for our faculty, staff, and leaders in the administration.”

“We believe this action has caused significant harm to the reputation of Marquette University,” the statement said. “It threatens our credibility and integrity as a university. It has caused suffering among students, alumni, staff, and faculty, and it will cost Marquette considerably in terms of community relationships, research, and recruiting and retaining students and faculty.”

Officials at Marquette have said they withdrew the offer not because O’Brien was openly gay, but because of the nature of her published vignettes on lesbian sex and same-sex marriage.

O’Brien, who just ended her tenure as chair of Seattle’s sociology department and is not a Catholic, told ABCNews.com that she is no longer granting interviews.

“I have not yet had an official conversation with Seattle University about returning, but colleagues and administrators there have been very gracious and supportive during this time,” she said.

Kathleen La Voy, who worked with O’Brien for 15 years and who wrote her recommendation for the Marquette job, said she was “amazed” at the appointment reversal.

“Jodi has always embraced Catholic values,” said La Voy, chairman of the psychology department and associate dean of the college of arts and sciences at Seattle. “She has upheld the values of the church on a personal level and is able to honor what a Catholic believes.”

“She is great working with people, a great advocate for students and a fair-handed and outstanding administrator,” said La Voy, who signed the protest ad.

Earlier this month, about 100 students protested the action, carrying signs demanding an official four-pronged apology: to O’Brien, to the search committee, and to the Marquette and the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] communities.

“We just had a meeting with the president and there’s no apology yet,” said Desiree Valentine, 22, who graduated on Sunday and was part of the protest.

Marquette Not so Welcoming for LGBT Students

“I wouldn’t say this is a comfortable place on the whole for LGBT students,” said Valentine, a gender studies major who was told she could not bring a transgender speaker to campus.

“I feel like the people on campus are very supportive,” she said, “but it gets more difficult on an institutional level.”

“Marquette was moving in the right direction in the area of diversity, especially LGBT issues, but when this broke, it was a huge set back,” said Valentine. “I appreciate my Jesuit education, but my great love comes with great disappointment.”

O’Brien was hired by Seattle in 1995 to teach sociology, anthropology and women’s studies. Since 2002, she has been chair of its sociology department.

According to an interview with The Advocate, O’Brien said Marquette had recruited her in 2008 and after she made the short list, she withdrew her name. Again in 2009, she was a finalist and accepted the post in mid-April.

The Rev. Robert A. Wild said the school changed its mind about O’Brien after reading a sociological study of lesbian sex she wrote.

“We found some strongly negative statements about marriage and family,” he told The New York Times.

Julie Wolf, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said Archbishop Jerome Listecki had been “very vocal” and “transparent” in discussions with Wild, but does not interfere with hiring at Marquette, which is under the Jesuit Order.

His objections “had nothing to do with her sexuality,” said Wolf. “It was some of her writings.”

Marquette spokeswoman Mary Pat Pfiel referred press to a prepared statement that said the university “remains steadfast in its opposition to any and all forms of discrimination, as reflected in our Statement on Human Dignity and Diversity. In rescinding the employment offer to a recent candidate, the university was aware that there would be those who opposed the decision, and Marquette President Robert A. Wild, S.J., has acknowledged that the search process requires review.

“This was a substantive decision, even if a difficult one, that Father Wild made based on what he believes to be in the best interests of Marquette University and its mission of excellence, faith, leadership and service. It was certainly not a decision based on fear, outside pressure or, as has unfortunately been alleged, on discrimination because of sexual orientation. Nor does this decision challenge a faculty member’s right to academic freedom.”

Some community members had suggested that there may have been interference from other conservative decision makers at the school.

“We hear opinions and viewpoints from multiple people and from various constituencies,” said Pfiel, who said although the university was autonomous when it comes to hiring faculty, O’Brien was a “leadership hire.”

Marquette has also pledged to have an “ongoing dialogue next year with students, faculty and staff about academic freedom, our Catholic identity and the needs of the LGBT community.”

Pfiel said the university was a “welcoming community,” but some faculty and students said that was not the case.

“It’s OK,” said Nancy Snow, 51, who is a professor of psychology and one of about five gay faculty members on campus. She was asked to show O’Brien and her partner around the campus in mid-April before the offer was rescinded.

Snow called the university’s reversal, “a public disgrace and an embarrassment.” She said Marquette officials were “absolutely” aware that O’Brien was gay.

“[O’Brien] was very distinguished, a full professor with an 11-page CV and 17 edited books,” said Snow. “She is an amazing scholar and highly qualified.”

Anti-Gay Remarks at Marquette

“I think the [atmosphere] here is still kind of uncomfortable,” said Snow, though she said attitudes toward gays had improved in her 20 years at the university.

“There is a gay-straight alliance, but there are still problems with students being disrespectful and making offensive comments like, ‘That’s so gay,’ which is so hurtful,” she said. “There are some right-wing Catholics here who think being gay or a lesbian is sinful and satanic.

“The university is not vocally supportive of them,” she said. “The students are really the leaders here with the moral conscience.”

Rachel Stoll, a 22-year-old gender studies and anthropology double major who was proud of her eight years of Jesuit education in high school and in college, said many students have bonded over the O’Brien incident.

“The reason a lot of us took offense in terms of our Jesuit identity,” said Stoll, who graduated this week. “We were raised to believe in social justice and working toward equality for all people and for human dignity. We saw this as an affront to our core Jesuit values.”

Stoll, though she is not gay, said she has faced “gender-based” bias as a woman on campus.

“Every year, we try to do the ‘Vagina Monologues’ to raise money for charity, but they never let us do it on campus,” she said. The administration often gives “vague answers or don’t answer the question asked,” she said.

But Paul Milakovich, Marquette’s associate vice president for university advancement and an openly gay man, said the university has been a “very comfortable place to work.”

“I am completely out and they knew when they hired me,” he said. “My partner attends basketball games with me and everyone is very accepting.”

Milakovich sees no contradiction between Catholic teachings and his own sexuality.

“I would be offended by the idea of discriminating against [O’Brien],” he said.

As for the differences between Jesuit universities like Seattle and Marquette, he said, “Schools take on their own culture and how the teachings of the Catholic Church are understood.”

Seattle University, on the other hand, has rehired O’Brien after she resigned in anticipation of the dean’s post at Marquette.

“We welcomed her back, of course,” said Seattle spokeswoman Laura Paskin.

There, the university has recently embraced Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues,” an annual feminist tradition at many American colleges.

“I certainly don’t know about Marquette, I have never worked there, but the environment at Seattle has always been very open and accepting for everyone, whether it’s race or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation,” said O’Brien’s colleague La Voy.

“I’ve taught human sexuality in psychology department panels, about gay pride and the transgendered, on and on, and it always been open and accepting,” she said. “Our gay-straight alliance is a strong group and not some people hiding in a corner somewhere in the university.

“Jesuits have always been very open,” La Voy said. “Really, social justice is the bottom line around here and they live it.”

May 28, 2010 Posted by | ethics, higher education, homosexual, lesbian, Marquette University, Seattle university, sexual politics | Leave a comment


This article originally published in the LA Times in 1977 was picked up by the wire presses and published in papers throughout the United States. Depending on ones perspective, I either became quite famous or infamous as a result of the publication of this article.

I became subjected to reams of hate mail and almost daily bomb threats on campus. Of course, such was to be expected if I what I wrote in the commentary was correct. On the plus side, I also received much positive feedback; Harvey Milk in some of his speeches employed my perspective and the Briggs initiative was
defeated. Actually, the Times used one whole page here; first having Briggs state his position and then having my essay.

Bryant’s Brigade Uses Hitler’s Tactics
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File); Oct23, 1977;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 – 1986)
Bryant’s Brigade Uses Hitler’s Tactics


In recent months, two of the sociology courses I teach have seemed to merge into one. They are titled “The Holocaust” and “So¬cial Psychology of Homosexuality.”

What has made them come together in my mind is the parallel between the rise of Na¬zism in prewar Germany, which ultimately brought about the extermination of 6 million Jews, and the current antihomosexual move¬ment in America, led by singer Anita Bryant and supported by State Sen. John V. Briggs, who wrote the article above.

Although contemporary political figures are often labeled as modern-day Hitlers, the designation usually comes from persons whose knowledge of Hitler and Nazism is rather meager, and so I discount the comparison. In the case of Anita Bryant and her followers, however, such an analogy should not be light¬ly dismissed. As David Lehrer, Western states counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, has noted: “There’s a whole new cadre . .. around who are smart enough not to wear swastikas. They join the Klan now or create churches. . .but they’re Nazis just the same.”

Just as Hitler viewed the Jews as a power¬ful force that was polluting and destroying so¬ciety, so do Bryant and her followers view ho¬mosexuals as social defilers. Hitler reduced the Jews to vermin who were infecting the master Aryan race. The Bryant brigade talks as though homosexuals are alien perverts bent on destroying the fabric of Christian America.
A powerful motivating factor in anti-Semi¬tism throughout the ages has been the myth that Jews engage in ritual murder of Christian children. Playing on fear of this bizarre beha¬vior, Hitler had Jewish teachers fired as one of his first anti-Semitic actions.

Bryant and her supporters invoke a differ¬ent, but similar, idea—that homosexuals subtly recruit children to homosexuality through exposure to their “life-style.” Predictably, the initial goal of their campaign is to prohibit ho¬mosexual schoolteachers from the classroom— a ban that Briggs advocates on this page.

Hitler maintained that being a good German entailed being anti-Jewish, while Bryant preaches that to be a good Christian requires being antihomosexual. But, many Jews were assimilated into the mainstream of prewar Germany and therefore were hard to identify, just as many homosexuals are now integrated into the dominant heterosexual culture in America. In order to avoid being mistaken for Jews, Germans tended to keep their dis¬tance from known Jews and from groups sym¬pathetic to them. Likewise, most heterosexual Americans who do not wish to be mistakenly identified as gay shun known homosexuals and prohomosexual organizations.

Committed to the idea that Germans in par¬ticular, and Aryans in general, were a master race ordained by nature to rule the world, the Fuehrer saw the “subhuman” Jews as the ma¬jor stumbling block. Although they existed as a relatively powerless and vulnerable minori¬ty in every European country, Hitler insisted that the Jews constituted a powerful interna¬tional conspiracy.

Leaders of the present antihomosexual movement do not directly invoke the concept of a divinely ordained master race, and yet they speak as though they are acting as the agents of God. In fact, they diminish their own personal responsibility by appealing to the au¬thority of God’s will.

At the same time that they overlook the re¬latively weak position that homosexuals as a group occupy in this country and throughout the world, they capitalize on a long tradition of antihomosexual sentiment in Western civi¬lization.

Initially I was reluctant to extend this anal¬ogy beyond these few significant similarities. After all, Bryant and her followers do not call for the physical elimination of homosexuals. But then I remembered that neither did the original recruits to Nazism contemplate geno¬cide as the ultimate consequence of their fer¬vid anti-Semitism. Even most German Jews at first refused to recognize the danger signals, just as some homosexuals today still regard the antihomosexual crusade as a bad joke that will fade away. But Hitler proved he was in¬deed to be taken seriously, and in recent months the vast majority of homosexuals have come to realize that Anita Bryant’s crusade is no laughing matter.

We know all too well the outcome of Hit¬ler’s campaign: In the late ’30s German Jews found their fate sealed by a ruling cadre of fanatics determined to “purify” the Father¬land. Ultimately, most Germans acquiesced in this goal, only later claiming they lacked the power to thwart Nazi intentions,

Anita Bryant’s crusade is committed to purging American society of homosexuals to “Save Our Children,” and it is here that the analogy with Nazism breaks down, though the movement hardly becomes less ominous. The difference has been expressed many times be¬fore, but it deserves underlining once more: While Germans of the Hitler era attempted to root out their Jewish neighbors, the current target of antihomosexuals in America live not next door but under our own roofs. They are our own children.

It remains to be seen whether we as parents will stand by and watch our children sacri¬ficed in the very name of Christianity and the American family.

Barry M. Dank is an associate professor of sociology at Cal State-Long Beach.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Anita Bryant, gay history, gay rights, homosexual, sexual politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sex Week at Yale: What’s missing?

(The dankprofessor got his dates wrong. Actually, the Yale Sex Week this post deals with was held last February.  I guess I should read my google alerts more closely.  In any case, irrespective of my being dated, my criticisms are still valid.)

Sex Week at Yale starts on February 10 and there will be some excellent speakers and sessions.  Of course, there are sessions dealing with pornography since the Yale Sex Week is partially sponsored by the largest porn producer in the world vivid.com, but there is also a partial Christian sponsorship by xxxchurch.com  And, as to be expected the so-called Christian participation is minimal with participation only occurring on February 15 in the context of the debate on porn.

The director of the Sex Week at Yale Joseph Citarrella states:

There is no ideology behind Sex Week. Its mission is simple: present students with a range of perspectives about sexuality to get them talking, so that they can begin to reconcile serious issues of love, sex, and relationships in their lives. Let the discussion begin.

But the dankprofessor has some difficulty with the assertion of no ideology.  If there is no ideology, why are there no sessions and no speakers on gays and lesbians as well as bisexuals and the transgendered?  If ideology was not relevant to the exclusion or omission, then one might conclude that similar to Iran there are no gays at Yale.  And certainly the creators of this Yale Sex Week could have concluded that some Yale students might have an interest in gay marriage.  Possibly some of the sessions include matters relating to homosexuality, but such is not explicitly stated.  However, looking at the sessions on porn, it is quite clear that there is nothing on gay porn. 

Matters relating to homosexuality and gender reflected the most major exclusion, but there are other major exclusions- S & M completely omitted, nothing on prostitution and no mention of the the most prevalent sexual behavior at Yale- masturbation.  Certainly, pornography generally ends up being about masturbation, but the dreaded M word is infrequently mentioned.  Masturbation  appears to be cloaked at the Sex Week at Yale under the rubric of “pure romance”.

On the positive side for the dankprofessor, there is no required sexual harassment training component, and nothing about how consensual student professor relationship “always” harming the student and the university.  In fact, there is absolutely nothing about consent in the whole program; such does not represent a positive since the mixing of sex and alcohol I trust is commonplace at Yale.  And without any mention of consent there is, of course, nothing on rape.

The entire schedule for Sex Week at Yale can be seen by clicking here.

November 30, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, gay marriage, higher education, homosexual, masturbation, prostitution, rape, sadomasochism, sex, sexual politics, student professor dating, Uncategorized, Yale University | Leave a comment

Keith Olbermann on gay marriage and love

Click here to view Keith Olbermann’s impassioned commentary on the passage of Proposition 8.  This should  be required viewing for everyone.

November 24, 2008 Posted by | ethics, gay marriage, gay rights, homosexual, love, sex, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Chuck Norris and the chucking of the constitution

If democracy doesn’t work, try anarchy, such is the gay baiting chant of Chuck Norris.
Norris doesn’t get why so many Californian gays are upset with the passage of Prop 8 invalidating the California State Supreme Court decision legally affirming the right of same sex marriage.
Maybe Chuck Norris would get it if there was a democratically imposed fiat that took away his right to marry.  In all probability, Norris takes it for granted that he has a fundamental right to marry.
The dankprofessor believes that if a bunch of persons claiming to be religious fundamentalists took away his right to marry he would be damn angry and maybe even engage in some karate ideations.  Presently he is angry that the gay married and those wishing to marry persons of the same sex are angry.  He bemoans the actions of some protesters who revealed the identities of some of those who financially supported Prop 8 as well as bemoaning the actions of protestors who disturbed the tranquility of some who were partaking in church marriage ceremonies and exercising their rights to engage in marital rites.
Norris states that he is disturbed by

“the obvious inability of the minority to accept the will of the majority. Californians have spoken twice, through the elections in 2000 and 2008.

Nearly every county across the state (including Los Angeles County) voted to amend the state constitution in favor of traditional marriage.

Nevertheless, bitter activists simply cannot accept the outcome as being truly reflective of the general public.”

He then invokes “Chuck Colson, who wrote: “This is an outrage. What hypocrisy from those who spend all of their time preaching tolerance to the rest of us! How dare they threaten and attack political opponents? We live a democratic country, not a banana republic ruled by thugs.”

In Norris’s terms: “Political protests are one thing, but when old-fashioned bullying techniques are used that restrict voting liberties and even prompt fear of safety, activists have crossed a line.”

And he concludes on the following note: “Like it or not, it’s the law now. The people have spoken.”
Of course, no where in this diatribe does Norris provide any recognition of the fact that our democracy is a limited democracy, limited by constitutional guarantees.   He does in passing invoke liberties as in “voting liberties”, but just cannot understand that there are also liberties involving freedom of association and the freedom to marry.
For Norris and all too many of his confreres, democracy, the will of the voting majority, trumps the constitution, trumps any civil liberties.  In a sense the constitution should function to protect the citizenry from the thuggery of those using the democratic process to pummel the rights of others.
For the dankprofessor, it doesn’t matter if Norris’s perspective is a result of naivete, of arrogance, of religious zealotry, or all of the aforementioned.  The bottom line is that so-called democrats who do not recognize civil liberties all too often end up as authoritarians who righteously demean and degrade and often jail others as they invoke the good of the people, and affirm their superiority, albeit it a racial or sexual or marital superiority.
The California Supreme Court correctly cited the prior court decisions which nullified laws criminalizing interracial marriage.  No matter that invalidating interracial bans went against the prejudices of many Americans.  The right to marry then and now remains a fundamental right.  And such is why the dankprofessor holds that California Supreme Court should and will invalidate Proposition 8.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, gay marriage, gay rights, homosexual, sexual politics, sexual rights | Leave a comment

Some notes on power and secrecy

The notion that differential power precludes consent has been a core concept in the movement to ban student professor consensual relationships.  In essence, differential power precludes consent has framed the issue.  Such a framing communicates that the banning movement is about decreasing power over others so that people can freely consent to whatever.  Or, in other terms, equality replaces differential power and obtaining the goal of equality is a worthy goal.  The problem is that the banning movement does not abolish or minimize power; the movement does not replace differential power with equality.  Differential power is in effect affirmed by providing institutional power to university administrators to regulate the private sexual lives of both students and professors.  So-called consensual policies are about the legitimization of  the power exerted by administrators to coerce professors and students to follow a mandated sexual script.  And it generally disempowers students more than professors since these policies often mandate that the professor report oneself and the involved student to university authorities.  Note that the student has no part to play in this scenario.  The enforcing administrators do not give any option to a student to report or not to report; consent in this context is considered to be irrelevant.
   Unfortunately, nothing is new here.  Power is taken away and given to powerful others so they can work their will on others.  No one gains any power except those at the top of the hierarchy.  If the power game is successful, then enforcement becomes a police function.  Such is true for the current Bush administration that in the name of protection and security trashes just about all constitutional protections, and attempts to conduct its police function in secret.  The Bush people have learned from the prior Nixon administration not to leave around any damning tapes.  The challenge is always the same for those seeking the truth and this is the piercing of the veil of secrecy.  And secrecy in the university world under the guise of “personnel matters” is extremely difficult to pierce.  In this area of student professor
consensual relationships policy and its enforcement, such will continue to prevail as long as secrecy prevails. Just as  was the case for gays in the the U.S., no significant change occurred until the closet was broken down, and in time with many gays out of the closet, the dominant society gave little deference to those who argued that they were offended by those who “flaunted” their gayness, and argued that such acceptance represented the end of Western civilization.  Such arguments no longer flourish unhindered  but in the university world they are applied to student professor relationships and flourish unhindered.
  The love that dare not speaks its name will remain ensconced in university land until…
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

January 1, 2008 Posted by | coercing women, consensual relationships, fraternization, higher education, homosexual, secrecy, sexual policing, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, the closet | Leave a comment

The dankprofessor as a sexual outsider?

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

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


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

So then the pastor states-

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

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

The pastor also characterizes my thinking in the following terms-

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

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

And the pastor continues-

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

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

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

And the pastor continues-

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

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

And last but not least the pastor concludes-

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

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

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

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

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

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessor™
© Copyright 2007



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

The professor as THE sexual outsider

The professor as THE Outsider seduces students and destroys morality as we know it.  Of all the treatises I have read on the condemning of student professor relationships this one by Kentucky Youth Pastor Kyle McDanell is the most extreme.  It does not come from a feminist perspective.  I assume that the youth pastor articulating this believes he is coming from an Evangelical Christian perspective.  Whatever the underlying theological or ideological framework may be, the good pastor does not hide his utter disgust at the the thought of student-professor intimacies.  As he says, the idea of Professor Abramson allowing such things on campus- “that’s just gross”.  For the pastor, Abramson’s writing just boils down to justifying sin.  And make no mistake about it, he believes having sex with a professor is a sin. As he states- “Thus, man will do everything it can to rationalize, normalize, legalize, and excuse everything; such as, having sex with a professor. Even among “consenting adults.”

Justifying student professor intimacies becomes the last straw for this pastor.  For him, rationalizing such consensual behavior comes to represent a form of human depravity. In his words- “Has our culture come this far that we can rationalize everything. This is the result of human depravity with postmodernism on top. Postmodernism is essentially make it up as you go. And when it comes to ethics, you can justify anything.”

Obviously this pastor has a visceral reaction when it comes to student professor relationships.  I have previously argued that such feelings are of the type that occur when there is a violation of a taboo, such as an incest taboo.  There is a feeling of utter revulsion and that anyone promulgating such a violation must be dealt with severely.  But professor student relationships do not have a history within Christianity of representing such a violation.  So it would be reasonable to ask what might be the origins of this revulsion?  Such is revealed in the following passage “Liberals, therefore, don’t want to be told that any form of sex is wrong; homosexuality, bisexuality, experimenting, multiple partners from multiple genders, transgender, and eventually polygamy, bestiality, and incest. This is how freedom is defined, and you see it in this professors argument. He doesn’t want to be told that sex between a student and an adult are wrong.

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

And yes, there are other reasons that many persons are threatened by professor student relationships, but in the dankprofessor’s opinion, most of these other reasons are age related reasons, eg, the fear of the younger woman taking men from older women, the idea that young women are owned by young men and vice versa.  

In this context of age norm violation, the true believer will almost always see the student as child victim, no matter what the age of the adult female student.  The infantilizing of female college students is maddening to female students so infantilized.  And unfortunately no matter what her protest may be such protests are seen as the cry of a victim who has been brainwashed by her victimizer. Of course, the true believer often presents a veneer that disguises an underlying sexual agenda.  And that veneer is grading.  But the veneer is thinly veiled not anchored in disgust and anger and fear.  The prejudicial grader is not THE Outsider threatening the natural order of things. In fact, as  the dankprofessor has previously argued, academics as a whole put little or no value on grading.  What grading does in the present context is that it functions as a smokescreen hiding the underlying sexual dread.  The professor as outsider is not dreaded as a grader gone awry, but rather as a sexual outsider preying on our children. The professor as a sexual outsider has replaced the homosexual as sexual outsider.  

Note the similarity in rhetoric of the Pastor to the rhetoric of the extreme anti-homosexuality of the 1970s.  One of the leading 1970s

homophobes was psychoanalyst Abram Kardiner.  In 1971 in an open letter to the editor of the American Journal of Psychotherapy he stated:

“Homosexuality cannot make a society, or keep ours going very long.  Homosexuality operates against the cohesive elements in society in the name of a fictitous freedom…And no society can long endure when either the child is neglected or the sexes war upon each other.”

Essentially Pastor McDanell and those of the anti-homosexual genre of Abram Kardiner see themselves standing at the abyss both fighting The sexual outsider united in a stand that they believe will save our children. 

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 2007

November 6, 2007 Posted by | fraternization, higher education, homosexual, political correctness, sexual politics, student professor dating | 1 Comment

The love that dare not speak its name

In my prior post on the LA Times being bamboozled by the UC administration as to the number of professors dismissed for violating the UC student professor dating code, such bamboozling can be quite effective.  Such is likely to be effective since the whole process is usually shrouded in secrecy.  Charges for violation are confidential and the outcome of such cases are confidential.  The name of the alleged victim is confidential as well as the one who is so charged.  Of course, it is much more likely that more persons know the name of the alleged offender than the alleged victim.  Many times there may be no complaining victims.  In the UCLA case, a third party functioned as an informant; whether this informant violated the privacy of of the student and professor was simply of no concern to the UCLA chancellor.  The fact that the UCLA chancellor spoke out on this case is what is so exceptional.  Obviously the chancellor felt that he had to speak out to make it clear to all concerned that UCLA had a no tolerance policy for professors who violated  the consensual dating code and it was of no import to him that the professor had a very strong record of service to the UCLA community; it was also of no concern to him that many students rallied in support of the professor and essentially begged the UCLA administration to not dismiss the professor.  Shortly after these public pronouncements  the professor was no longer seen on campus.

But here is where this situation takes a bizarre turn.  Two years later as far as the UC administration is concerned, this dismissal never occurred.  The UC administration is being quite serious when they state there has never been a faculty dismissal under this code.  What happened to this professor is shrouded in secrecy.  What I speculate happened is that the professor resigned and retired in the context of signing a confidentiality agreement which meant he simply disappeared from campus.  I have no idea how many more professors may have disappeared from UCLA or from any of the other University of California campuses.  I challenge any student or professor to come up with names and numbers in this area.  I doubt that few will take up this challenge since any student or professor seeking such information will probably be held to be under suspicion, and may be subject to various violations of privacy.  The fact is that one professor from a mid-western university who published an article on student professor dating a few years ago in a sociology journal ended up being charged with sexual harassment; the professor so charged is a woman; the outcome of her case I believe is pending. 

The Dankprofessor holds that SECRECY is a key component in attempting to understand the contemporary context of student professor relationships.  A major, if not the most major, function of these codes has been to drive student professor relationships into the closet, the creation of a new campus underground.  Fewer and fewer professors are willing to engage in scholarly writing on the subject.  For those who do and even hint that these bans are problematic one can be pretty sure that the most hideous labels will be applied to them.  When Professor Abramson received his initial public attention in the Chronicle of Higher Education, commentaries published in the Chronicle focused on the good professor’s physical appearance indicating that his look was the look of a lecherous professor.  In the 1990s when I was one of the few male professors speaking out against these bans, I was subject to myriad character assassinations; such did not deter me, but I do feel that these attacks did deter others from speaking out.  Today I can’t find paper presentations in any of the major social science associations meetings, whether it be the ASA, APA, regional sociological and psychological associations.  There are many many papers on homosexuality and gays, the subject is now thoroughly out of the closet, and thoroughly in the closet when it comes to student professor relationships.  Academics play it safe, both students and professors, both tenured and untenured in adhering to appropriate norms regarding the love that dare not speak its name.  Of course, I am one of the few exceptions, I only wrote about gay life when the preponderance of gays were still the closet.  In 1971, I published an article entitled “Coming Out in the Gay World” which foresaw the upcoming positive changes in the creation of a “public” gay world and a world where homosexuality would no longer be the love that dare not speak its name.  Then and now advocates of the closet argue that going public would offend too many good upstanding citizens. So many of the attempts to repress speech and association in contemporary academic life relate to offending sensitive others.  How sad! How utterly sad that more and more academics are committed to not offending others.  How sad that as of this date not a single professor at the University of Connecticut Law School has come forward in defense of their colleague, Robert Birmingham!

It was back in 1994 in the journal Radical Teacher that sociologist Toni H. Oliviero wrote about the dangerous consequences relating to secrecy that would result from banning student professor relationships.  Quoting from this article-

“I am thinking of two things here. First the ways that prohibitions construct the silence of concealment. The establishment of anti-sex rules would create the need to lie (just when gays and lesbians are daring not to in significant numbers). Axiomatic is, There will be sex. There will be consensual relations between all sorts of people. Some of those relations will be only ostensibly consensual, in your view or mine. But sex will happen. Do we want to drive it underground and cause a sexual relationship between two adults to take its shape, even in part, from the narrow and twisted constraints that secrecy imposes? When you prohibit something, you cannot then talk about how to do it as well as possible, or as harmlessly. This constraint on our ability to learn is not in keeping with any notion I can imagine of ourselves as teachers or as citizens.”


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 2007

November 2, 2007 Posted by | academic freedom, ethics, fraternization, higher education, homosexual, political correctness, secrecy, sexual politics, sexual rights, student professor dating, the closet, UC, UCLA | Leave a comment

Speaking out on engaging in homosexuality but not gay

  Dankprofessor comments follow this emailRestroom Sex

August 28th, 2007

I’m in the middle of cutting Ozark Mtn. Exit 8: Mens Room III as the latest political public restroom sex scandal hits. Of course, this case isn’t really about sex, it’s about hypocricy. Here are the thoughts of someone on a political site (hufffingtonpost.com) that hit the nail squarely on the head:
Craig is not “gay”. By every definition of society, Craig is straight. This is a straight man caught soliciting sex in a public place. PERIOD. Let’s not turn him into a member of a misunderstood, oppressed minority. Craig is obviously someone who is, IN SOME MEASURE, attracted to homosexual sex. That doesn’t make him gay, anymore than my occasional sexual attraction to a female makes me “straight.” I don’t live a straight life nor do I want to. Craig, like McGreevy and Haggard, is a straight man. These men are married with children living with a woman. That sounds pretty straight to me. What Craig is indulging in is not entirely uncommon behavior for straight men, who ever once in a while would like a little homo action.Gay is a personal identity and a set of social and personal choices. What’s confusing everyone is the conflation of the word “gay” with the behavior of “homosexuality.” The assumption being that simply because someone engages in homosexual behavior then therefore he MUST BE GAY! WRONG!  Most homosexual behavior, in human populations, the world over, and throughout history, has been and is engaged in by people who are otherwise partnered with someone of the opposite sex. The boundary between homo/hetero states of mind is fluid and amorphous.

Let’s beat the crap out of Craig for his hypocrisy but let’s not insult and besmirch the reputation and moral integrity of thousands of gay men by associating Craig’s behavior with being GAY. Craig is STRAIGHT.


This was emailed to me; authorship unknown; and has apparently been circulated via email since 8/28. The writer makes the point in strong terms that most people who engage in homosexual behavior do not consider themselves to be gay. This was the major point I made in my prior posting, a point that has been hard to fathom by the mainstream press and society.  Why?  It should not be surprising that people who engage in homosexuality and do not consider themselves gay will not have a proclivity to write about it or publicly indicate that such is their sexual orientation.  They are the closeted, and understandably the press has more available  to them self-identified gay men who are free to write and be quoted as gay men on whatever issue.  In terms of the student-professor issue, the problem of communication is similar; the campus puritans have driven the fraternizers underground, and it is few professors and even ex-professors and students and ex-students  who are willing to inform others publicly of their realities.  Their fears and their timidity incapacitate them. 

September 4, 2007 Posted by | homosexual, Larry Craig, sexual identity, sexual politics | Leave a comment

Senator Larry Craig

Watching Senator Craig opine “I am not gay” was surreal.  If Senator Craig believed that he was gay, it is quite likely that he would not have ended up in a tearoom cruising scenario and become a part of a sting operation.   For those who wish to maintain a heterosexual facade  and are same sex attracted,  mens rooms have functioned for persons of this genre as a psuedo public and pseudo private cruising ground.  As pointed out by Laud Humphreys in his infamous study TEAROOM TRADE, heterosexually married homosexually attracted men have found such scenes particularly attractive for impersonal sex in a same sex setting in which any man can enter with no implication concerning ones sexuality.   Bathrooms in transient settings, such as roadside bathrooms and airport restrooms facilitate said impersonality.  Of course, the Senator has put not only his career at risk but also his his friends, relatives and wife to whom he probably lied to about who he is in his attempt at passing.  Of course, the Senator Craigs of this world have lived lives via passing in a breastplate of righteousness; they did not flaunt their homosexuality but rather denied and repressed, a denial and repression that was a product of homophobia.  How tragic!  I remember when I was doing research in the 1970s on heterosexually married homosexually attracted men, I was particularly taken by one man who I had interviewed- he was about 50 at the time of the interview, and had accepted himself as being homesexual for the last 5 years.  Prior to that time he had denied to himself he was homosexual, had heterosexually married and was the father of two children.   At the time of his arrest in a mens room for soliciting sex, he had been a minister for some 20 years.  The woman he had married who he had always loved and always lied to was traumatized and humiliated by his arrest; she saw her primary role in life as being the minister’s wife.  Unfortunately, she dealt with the situation by taking a gun and killing herself.  Her husband when I interviewed him was overwhelmed with guilt and bemoaned the fact he could not have come to terms with his homosexuality at younger age so that he would not have involved an innocent woman who married him and believed in him.  At the time of the interview he was giving all the support he could to his son who was gay and was a president of a university gay students union.  What a difference a generation made.  Of course, the irony being he did whatt the dominant society wanted him to do- pass as straight, providing homage to the powers that be.  Now those powers will be morally outraged, will distance themselves from this disgusting pervert believing that they had nothing to do with how this man ending up living his life, living a life of lies; I guess such a life is not all that much at odds with living the political life.

August 30, 2007 Posted by | homosexual, Senator Craig, sexual politics | Leave a comment


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