Solving Gender Equity Issues One Long, Slow, Pleasurable Step At A Time

We are a mere ten years into the 21st century. No jet packs for all yet, but things are moving at a lightning pace at Yale in the policy area.

After more than a quarter century of debate, Yale faculty members are now barred from sexual relationships with undergraduates--not just their own students, but any Yale undergrads.

Well you may ask: can we still nail grad students and postdocs?

Look: PI's and/or faculty really should just satisfy their sexual needs elsewhere. Not with the students, not with the grad students, not with the postdocs. It is not good for anyone. I know, I know, you know a prof who screwed his grad student and they got married and it was a dreamfest. Spare me. You are completely unaware of all the collateral damage such relationships inflict, and the fact that even such "happy outcomes" are not without conflict and cost for the blissful Mrs.Biggy McSchwingerdick.

But oh, the humanity. What are we to do? Especially now that spring is upon us, and the sap is rising!

For god's sake, just siphon off a little of that overhead money everyone contributes and give all the d00ds a Travel Jackmaster. At home, in the lab, in the car, the restroom after teaching class with all those horny coeds, whatever. Ladeez may choose from any of a wide selection of vibrators. The Original Venus Butterfly is pretty in pink and oh-so-discreet. Committee meetings will be ever so much more fun.

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And the consequences for the transgression of a rule that oh, gee, everybody thought was in place already?

More high-fives all 'round (still), I presume.

(I'll beg pardon for my somewhat torrential de-lurk of late!)

By SargassoSea (not verified) on 07 Apr 2010 #permalink

This is a terrible idea -- it's going to have horrible consequences to their ability to recruit faculty.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 07 Apr 2010 #permalink

I can think of a half dozen pairings offhand, all in anthropology. Most I knew personally, almost all male professor : female grad student, mean age difference around 15 years. (They tend to look like father-daughter pairs at first glance.) Several resulting marriages, with the younger spouse sometimes benefitting from university spousal hiring practices.

Professor-grad student sexual and/or romantic liaisons are problematic on a number of levels. Fortunately, it's increasingly frowned upon.

Anecdotal, but I found it thought-provoking: a friend of mine at a small college told me about a professor there who had a habit of dating, marrying, and then divorcing his students. He encouraged them to "help out" in his lab, instead of getting experience working on independent projects or with other professors.

By the time my friend graduated, there were two or three ex-Mrs. Professors, all younger than he was, and none of them with a very good resume: helping the now-ex-husband with his research hadn't gotten them graduate degrees, their names on papers, or paid work that the college HR department would verify if an employer called to ask.

My friend knew the professor's then-fiancee, a college senior, who didn't understand why her friends were warning her against marrying him.

Now that I think of it, there was one archaeologist married to a grad student in the same department (about 15 years younger) who would cheat on her when he was in the field in another continent.

Another anthro prof was initiating a new relationship with a grad student whose course he was supervising, breaking it off with another whom he was advising, and scouting out the prospects of a third, while still seeing his ex-wife on occasion. I don't know if male anthros were especially piggish, or if it was a university wide thing. (Or just a male thing.) We grad students called the syndrome 'exophallotosis.'

I should write a novel.

I don't doubt some people can have truly non-exploitative relationships with their students, but I think there is far too much potential for exploitation, so I'm glad they've banned it.

"Does my pretty little student really really need to pass this class? Better stick your ass in the air and work for it, honey! And if you complain, I'll say you're just upset I rejected you and spreading lies to get back at me."

Good lord, Zuska! Is there anything that Amazon doesn't sell?!

I would rather have a jet pack.

By Anonymous (not verified) on 07 Apr 2010 #permalink

I would think banning the practice is more a benefit to the other students-- the ones not sleeping with the prof -- than it is a concern for the consenting adults. At least I would hope that there's a thought given to the students who are just doing the classwork and not the afterclasswork.

One of my mother's cousin's second wife had been his grad student. It's whispered behind hands that they started dating before she graduated. It's a happy marriage, but no one's very happy with him for it. If she hadn't turned out to be a lovely person, the family would probably have been even more upset.

By MadGastronomer (not verified) on 07 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm trying to remember which English feminist literary scholar it was who back in the 90s claimed that her sexual preference was graduate students, and argued that this sexual preference ought to be respected and protected as an actual orientation. If I were the Yale faculty, I'd be taking this argument straight to the top ;-).

I know a couple of people at Yale who are probably pretty sad right now ;-).


It's sometimes amusing, in a horrifying sort of way, to see what amazing mismatches GoogleAds comes up with based on a few keywords. The large GoogleAds I'm seeing on this post at the moment are for a "My Wedding Dress" online game, with a cartoonish model whose dress flickers on and off to reveal her underwear. I don't think they could have come up with something more inappropriate if they had tried....

(I am certain Zuska has zero control over what GoogleAds appear here, and from what I recall ScienceBlogs doesn't have much control either.)

You know? I have never heard of one of these "magical" marriages coming out of prof/student boffing, that was told first hand. I have heard of marriages to be sure, but those are generally ugly. And two of them involved prof either being unfaithful to the person he was married to before marrying the student, or in another case both to previous wife with student, then student - go figure.

I figure if a prof and student are that very interested in each other, they will be interested enough to wait on dating until student is no longer a student.

As an aside, the travel jack master is more than a little disturbing. It looks like a soda can holder and the advert didn't make it any more appealing. I would also note - though I imagine you were being humorous by linking to it, that the butterfly should be used very sparingly. It can easily lead to desensitization that can be permanent. Possibly most disturbing - I first heard of that in a book I read when I was eleven. Though it has oft been repeated in various how-to sex books and videos I have read and seen over the years.