Comments on: Sexuality and power in recent novels and recent history History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 28 Sep 2014 10:58:43 +0000 hourly 1 By: VashtheStampede Sun, 21 Jul 2013 16:51:40 +0000 The Marilyn book sounds really interesting and I find it fascinating that she still commands scholarly and pop culture attention. But when ever she comes up I think of the scene from the movie Insignificance where “The Actress” aka MM played by Theresa Russell explains the Specific Theory of Relativity to Albert Einstein. Which by the way is the clearest explanation I have come across.

By: Historiann Sat, 20 Jul 2013 11:11:47 +0000 Hector, I hope you’re very clear about your intentions to date your students with your chair, dean, and provost. I’m sure they’ll be very interested in this information.

Anyone over thirty who tries to date undergrads are pathetic as well as morally bankrupt.

By: Hector_St_Clare Sat, 20 Jul 2013 06:09:36 +0000 Feminist Avatar,

That’s awesome. I always enjoy reading these threads, because it’s inspiring to hear about people who are confident enough to break out of silly societal fashions about what age range they should date.

If you’re in your 50s and can still attract 18 years old, all power to you.

By: Hector_St_Clare Sat, 20 Jul 2013 05:17:01 +0000 This conversation is pretty interestng to me, mostly because the (feminist) framework you folks are using to think about these things is so utterly different from my moral framework. One planet, two moral universes, I guess.

Re: In my grad program, plenty of male graduate students date undergrads (and we’re not talking the 23 yr old grad student dating the college senior; we’re talking men in their late 20s/early 30s dating undergrads).

Wow, I wish my grad program had been like that. I’m in more or less that same boat: I just finished up a grad program (in plant biology) this spring, at 32, and I pretty much only date/am attracted to girls in the traditional undergrad age range. (I started grad school at 26, after a few years in the Peace Corps). I think being surrounded by more grad student guys who date undergrads would have made me feel much more comfortable and confident. (I didn’t actually date at all from about 20-30, because of some serious social anxiety issues that I’m only now growing out of, but since then I’ve dated undergrads. I can walk into a nightclub now and get *much* more attention from 18-22 year olds than when I was their age.

And in response to your question, Historiann: I’ll be starting a postdoc job soon, and I’m certainly going to try keep dating the undergrads, until I find someone who wants to marry me and have children (not really interested in grad students). A good female friend of mine told me she thinks I can probably keep dating college girls till I’m 50, so there’s no way I’m not going to try. If I start attracting less interest from younger women my plan is to spend some time overseas and find a spouse there in my desired age-range.

Of course, I wouldn’t ever date someone I taught, who worked for me, or who was under 18. There are more places to meet people besides work, and I have no interest in mixing work life and dating.

As for what interests me about much younger women? Rachel is definitely right that I *need* a power differential in my relationships. I want to be the provider figure, breadwinner, source of emotional stability, mentor, etc. and I’m looking for someone who can look up to me and expect me to provide those things. I have pretty much zero interest in the ‘partnership of equals’ type of relationship that’s fashionable nowadays, and I wouldn’t get involved with anyone who was looking for that.

By: Historiann Tue, 16 Jul 2013 16:36:21 +0000 From what I’ve read, “thin” and “recycled” are exactly the adjectives that some have chosen to describe that “hookup culture” article! (See today’s forthcoming post.)

By: Indyanna Tue, 16 Jul 2013 15:08:21 +0000 For a (probably somwhat non-representative) sampling of some current college women’s analysis of the “cost/benefit” ratio of “dating” v. “hook-up” culture, see the article in the N.Y. Times this past Sunday. I read it too thinly and recycled it too quickly to remember whether it got into student-faculty relationship questions, but think it probably didn’t.

By: truffula Tue, 16 Jul 2013 09:58:32 +0000 Faculty member…who regularly dates his students always dates u/grads

This is not, imho, “dating.”

Feminist Avatar’s observations about attractiveness norms and the timing of physical development are great. I’m currently teaching a group of first year students that is 10:1 male. The relative ages seem very easy to assess.

By: Feminist Avatar Tue, 16 Jul 2013 05:46:50 +0000 The male Faculty member I know well who regularly dates his students always dates u/grads as the p/grads know better. One of the most disturbing things about his behaviour is the impact on the female students he is *not* dating, who see him as predatory and actively avoid him as they are anxious when he is around.

I think rachel is perhaps right about some men ‘need’ that power differential in their relationships, but I also think that this is embedded in heterosexual norms of desire, so that men are encouraged to see young women as the MOST attractive and there is kudos attached to dating young, attractive women. In contrast, women have often been encouraged to like older men and find them desirable, but even in more modern ideals of desirability, age comes in to play. Currently, attractive men (for the female eye) are increasingly those who are muscular (if not completely ripped), broad-shouldered, perhaps with a bit of stubble. And, while men who look like that often play ‘young’ men on TV, most of those actors are (at least) in their mid-late twenties, because developing that level of muscle and build is difficult for young men, who might not stop growing until they’re 24 (perhaps with the exception of a few athletes in particular fields). So, when we see the bulk of our u/grads, we don’t see the ‘hunky’ ‘young’ men of our TV fantasies but teenagers who are still to develop the builds we are taught to desire.

By: Historiann Mon, 15 Jul 2013 15:26:38 +0000 Great points, rachel & anonymous.

Per rachel’s observation, I wonder how or if these male graduate students accustomed to dating undergrads make the transition to faculty life? Do they start dating their grad students instead, or do they continue dating the undergrads? Where’s the line, once it’s crossed in this fashion?

anonymous makes an important point about younger women & older male mentors. In most fields, even in the humanities, it’s a necessity, as ze says. Eroticizing the (sometimes) gender & (persistent) power differences in professor-student or mentor-mentee relationships means that well-meaning people end up shying away from professionally and personally fruitful non-sexual relations because they don’t want or fear that their professional overtures will be misinterpreted as personal/sexual.

By: anonymous Mon, 15 Jul 2013 14:17:09 +0000 Yes, there’s got to be some room to comment. There’s a gulf between speaking the truth about gendered power dynamics and practicing paternalistic victim-making on young women. Everyone’s choices exist in the context of a larger power structure, theirs no more or less so.

It doesn’t matter if a particular undergrad doesn’t feel victimized by her relationship with a male faculty member, if it is in fact the case that she very well might be, the moment she stops playing nice. It doesn’t matter that a relationship might not have a clearly-identifiable victim, if the relationship itself degrades the entire academic enterprise for other young women seeking mentors, including out of necessity older male ones.