Savage Love Nov 19, 2019 at 4:00 pm

That Professor

Joe Newton

Comments

1

Firdt?

2

So, even though PHD's students aren't minors, I'm not sure he isn't grooming them. Referring to the students who are in his class, he is in a position of authority over them. I think PHD used the right word when he said, "I don't want my queer male students—many of whom look to me for mentorship—to think I'm grooming them for sex after I'm no longer teaching them." Aside from quibbling with Dan's quibble, I think his advice is sound. And I wonder again, is there an app for gay men who want relationships, not just sex? If PHD is finding nothing but men who want hookups on a hookup app, I can see the cause of his problem. Does he -want- a relationship, or does he just want a series of longer-lived flings? Is PHD's town so rural that every man within a 50-mile radius is or has been connected with his university? If there truly are no other dating pools he could dip his toe in, he might consider changing careers.

I can't add to Dan's good advice to the badly monikered MILF. (Wait -- is the woman she's corresponding with the milf?) My only question for GRIN is why he thought he had to give up bondage when he got married. After all, many people think that marriage IS bondage, ha ha. Did he ask his wife to tie him up, or was he unable to see her in that role? Glad the pro Domme is solving their problem, though I'm unclear on what the problem actually is.

3

PHD, you sure you’re not already known as that professor.. after encounters with several students? Back in my day it was perfectly legit to be on with the Lecturers, Professors.. it was a hot house. Things have changed, so wise up before you are pointed to and giggled at or worse. Dan’s given you a good lickin’ so we can leave it there.
Talk about rationalisations.

4

PHD, I attended a small liberal arts college hours away from a big city. Unsurprisingly, single professors and administrators male and female, straight, gay, and lesbian, had relationships with students. When I arrived on campus, it seemed a bit creepy that a thirty something administrators and professors were having nineteen year-old students over for sex. It was both the age gap, the fact that they were getting sex at their workplace, and the notion that college employees had some responsibility as in parentis loco.

What got me to understand that these relationships were unethical (you ask the wrong question concerning the morality of such conduct) was when the mid-forties chair of a department in which I was studying started a sexual relationship with one of his students who at the time was a nineteen year-old sophomore. He was apparently open with colleagues, and this student transitioned to another advisor, but these steps did not obviate all ethical problems, for instance, his sexual relationship dictated what classes he could teach or she could take. So student majors did not have the benefit of his teaching if their progress through the major aligned with classmate who was sleeping with the department chair.

Moreover, this relationship put others in an untenable position. Specifically, a newly minted PhD in an assistant professor position, hoping to get a tenure track position, had to worry that during pillow talk this student would be commenting on her teaching to the man who would make a huge decision on her professional career. Can anyone believe this assistant professor would treat the lover of the department chair impartially if it might have even a slight effect on her ability to secure the job she had worked for a decade to obtain?

One week, I requested a short extension to submit a homework assignment, which was rejected, but the following week, this student requested that an exam be postponed for the entire class by a week, which she accepted. Were these decisions legitimate and defensible? Well, there is no way that this assistant professor can prove that the sexual relationship between her student and her boss didn’t effect her decisions, and ethics exist to avoid just such circumstances.

In short PhD, you cannot foresee all the ways your sexual relationships will impact others in an academic environment. Given the ethical pitfalls you can open up for yourself and others you should not have sex with students, including recent grads with strong contacts with current students.

5

Semi-agreeing with Ms Fan, I found it odd that A1 chose to lead with a big disagreement about grooming; had it been a quibble at the end, I doubt I'd have found it worth noticing. I'm not immediately sure about the merits.

More later, but at least (this is maybe half-serious) there's potential minor consolation (from LW's point of view) that some of his lesbian students might be glad to be free of the Male Gaze. No time to go into that portion of the situation, but just thought that the omitted ones deserved a quick mention.

6

Some of the straight ones might too, Venn @5.

7

I'm not sure how I feel about profs dating graduates (assuming they're not grad students at the same school). I understand the potential implications if the former student is for example friends with a current student of the prof, but the effects of authority that no longer exists have to stop somewhere, and the ability of a former student (presumably now well into adulthood) to choose who they date has to start somewhere. Graduation (again, assuming they don't become a grad student at the same school) seems like as good a delineation as any. The one thing that absolutely must not happen is for professors to write recommendation letters for grads who are former or current lovers. I also think it would be almost as unethical for a prof to have a relationship/fling with someone they're advising as with a student in their class, even if they're not technically teaching them. Advisors don't exactly have power over their advisees like the instructor of a class has over students (I can't think of a way my advisor could really screw me over if he wanted to), but it still seems manipulative and unethical somehow.

8

Hypothetical:

A college sophomore (20) and a college senior (22) are in a relationship. A year goes by and the sophomore becomes a junior and the senior graduates. The grad becomes a grad student at the same school, and winds up being a T.A. in one of the junior's classes (let's assume it was unavoidable and the grad could not T.A. any other course). Now, through no real fault of their own, one of the couple is in a position of authority over the other (depending on the school and the course structure, T.A.'s can be responsible for a significant portion of instruction and grading). This seems like a potentially plausible situation. What would be the ethical implications here? Does the couple need to break up until the grad is no longer the junior's T.A.? Is there a way they can navigate the inherent power dynamics ethically?

9

CalliopeMuse
@7
I think that once the authority is gone so is the issue as long as no recommendation requests ensue. I waited some months before asking out someone I had had authority over.

@8
Can the student take the class a subsequent time it's offered and the grad not T.A. that course that time? If not, I don't think such inherent power-dynamics are ethically navigable, so they could take a term off from each other.

10

curious2 @9 Let's assume no and no. I know at my school if I weren't able to take certain required courses it would delay my graduation by a full year because they're only offered in the Fall/Spring and are prerequisites for other required courses offered only in the Spring/Fall. I've delayed my graduation by a year several times by having to withdraw from such courses due to mental illness. That and taking time off for treatment and work is why I still haven't graduated. So let's assume that's the case for the junior, and maybe the grad student is working under a certain professor and can only T.A. that specific course taught by that professor. I don't know, I'm just trying to make this hypothetical an unavoidable situation to see what people do with that.

11

@10/CalliopeMuse: The ethical implications include other students having to consider that their classmate will get special treatment or better grades because they are fucking the TA, and that the TA will give special treatment or assistance to keep their sexual relationship harmonious. Is it realistic that there are so few graduate students In the program so that this cannot be avoided? If such a circumstance is unavoidable, the ethical response is to bring this to the head of the department, allow the faculty to determine a course of action in which there is proper oversight of the TA, which might include the condition that the TA does not grade any of the work done by their partner.

12

@11 Fair enough. No, it's not realistic, and the answer in a real-life situation would be for someone else to T.A. the class. I'm just trying to force everybody to explore this very specific hypothetical because I'm curious what form the discussion will take. Looks like the discussion is taking the form of, "What a silly question!", which is fair.

13

Calliope @8: This is the same hypothetical as, let's say my partner tells me about a position where they work. I apply for the position, am offered the job, and it transpires that in this position my partner will be my direct report. Clearly ethics dictates that either the student in your hypothetical takes the class at another time and with another TA or that the TA declines the placement. If neither of these options is practical, I agree with Sublime that the TA should go to their supervisor or the head of department and disclose the conflict of interest. The people in charge can determine whether to make alternate arrangements, for instance deferring the TA's placement for a semester, or as Sublime says, ensure the TA does not grade their partner's work. I don't think it's practicable to say they should break up for a semester, and even if they did, the TA would remain biased (this time potentially -against- the student, rather than in their favour).

This in turn raises another hypothetical: what if the TA in question were not a student's partner but their ex? How long would the relationship need to have been defunct before the TA could impartially grade the student, if ever?

This is making me grateful that, bad decision as it was, I was monogamously married while getting my degree!

14

Don't bang current students. It's not technically in your policy, sure, but it's in the one where I work, and it sure could come bite you in the ass. Grads are fine.

15

@CalliopeMuse
Are you going to tell us you have your eye on a particular TA?

@13 BiDanFan
"I don't think it's practicable to say they should break up for a semester, and even if they did, the TA would remain biased (this time potentially -against- the student, rather than in their favour)."

I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't think of that, but you're right, having authority during a temporary breakup might be /even/ more ethically fraught one way or the other than not breaking up.

Within the hypothetical's constraints Sublime's proposal is sound; might piss off somebody for someone to have to do the TA's job though.

16

I'm not clear if the 40-something professor wants a stable relationship or prefers these flings.

If the former, maybe he could find a gay-friendly (off-campus) church, sports league, or volunteer organization, through which he might meet potential partners.

If the latter, maybe he could arrange to attend conferences in cities with decent gay scenes, and have his flings out of town, with non-students.

Re the woman cheating online -- your partner is chronically ill but not in a coma. Is she also entitled to address her sexual needs elsewhere? I would have the difficult conversation: "we've tried to restart our sexual connection, but apparently it's gone. I love you and am with you for the long run, but I have sexual needs. Shall we just discreetly do our own thing?"

If that question will lead to abusive treatment, then maybe the answer is to end the relationship. If the question sends your partner into depression then you could backtrack and say you'd reconsidered and probably return to your current cheating, having at least tried to give her a heads-up.

17

"the risk of promising and hot gay male students misinterpreting your interest in them as sexual"

Pretty sure that wouldn't be a misinterpretation.

18

curious2 @15 That's funny. Actually, my school doesn't offer any graduate degrees in the natural sciences, so as a consequence there are no grad students to be T.A.'s. It's mostly known as an arts school. The department is pretty small, though, but we all have senior theses that involve research under a professor, so even though the professors mostly have to do everything themselves for classes, they still have students to run their research, just not grad students.

19

Not to discount exclusively online relationships of any kind, I had a few myself, yet one has to consider their worth to begin with as well as the risk of being found in case this is a secretive channel for one or more of the participants.
Another thing to consider is the message pre-possessed agent Cooper used to get in Twin Peaks: the owls aren’t always what they seem to be.

20

About 30 years ago wheb I was in grad school at a Big Ten university I managed to get elected to the Faculty Senate which was interesting and actually had some tangible personal benefits.
One of the interesting issues we tackled was writing a policy about relationships between faculty and students. Now, sexual harassment was forbidden, but technically you could date your very own students if it was mutually consentual. This had become both treacherous and litigious -- faculty suing after they'd been fired, students firing for sexual exploitation, etc. We finally came down with a policy that said you could not have "social interactions" with anyone you had met in a class NOR anyone who was in your college (business, engineering, sciences, etc.) until after their graduation.
For the record, during this process I discovered that the vast majority of the "preditors" out there were straight and the other faculty would black ball them once they found out. It's just not a good look.

21

LW2 is only thirty three, and is supporting financially and surely in physical ways as well,
her chronically ill partner.
You are a very generous woman, LW, and I think you need to see you are this woman’s carer now, it’s no longer a sexual relationship for you. How long are you going to live like this... when you are still a young woman?
The online friendship is going nowhere, as enjoyable as it might be. You may need to have a clear and straight talk with your partner, about your needs, and find a way to have flesh relationships with other women.
LW3; nice one. I hope you don’t haggle about the price your Pro Domme charges.

22

Not related to this column, but there are bugs in this comments software. I wrote a description at the tail end of last weeks commentary, in case the At Risk Youth are looking for a reproducible scenario.

https://www.thestranger.com/savage-love/2019/11/12/41974273/savage-love/comments/205

23

As a TA in my past life, I went to great lengths to ensure that the students in my class who had crushes on me (I was only 3-4 years older but in a totally different stage pf education/life) did not have any chance for mixed signals, let alone anything more. Not only would it have ruined my reputation, it might have ruined theirs, and part of my role was mentoring. Open door/public meetings when possible, having them bring a friend, ensuring that I made sure all my students had the same access to my skills/advice/etc. REGARDLESS of gender/sexuality/etc. were all part of protecting both of us from rumor/scandal. Fwiw, some of them were quite attractive objectively, but they were firmly off-limits in my mind, despite a lack of clear-cut university or department policy, even before my monogamous relationship entered the picture

(Though it didn't apply in my situation, grading was both anonymised and distributed at random amongst the 3 TAs, so I rarely knew who wrote what.)

24

@22 fubar
You are so right; in fact it's only with your URL that I could even see page 3 yet!

Last July I reported this and other issues to webmaster@thestranger.com and then shared this exchange here, which I now repeat:
Here's what I wrote:
"FYI there are some bugs with page changes in the comments webpages.

For example today:
https://www.thestranger.com/savage-love/2019/07/16/40777005/savage-love/comments?page=2

ends at comment 199 and
https://www.thestranger.com/savage-love/2019/07/16/40777005/savage-love/comments?page=3

starts at comment 202

IIRC, after some hours the missing Comments start appearing on one or the other of the pages.
And it takes about one hour for the button for Page 3 to even start appearing on the bottom of Page 2."

The webmaster responded:

"Thanks for the detailed and kind email.

The issue of which pages comments appear on is a bit thorny, and has to do with caching. On an article that receives a lot of comments in a short time, we have to manage serving those pages efficiently with updating the information as new comments come in. Add in pagination and things get pretty complicated. The caches are updated frequently, and explicitly when new comments are posted, but because of how they traverse the page boundaries, there can sometimes be some lag for all the pages to agree on where a given comment displays.

Sorry for the blah blah. Short answer is, we'll look into improving how quickly these changes appear, but it's unfortunately not a simple fix."

The last time I pasted in this exchange, I was surprised to hear that some of us don't experience this delay. I speculated that different ISPs might be at fault. However I changed ISPs since and no help, so maybe it's regional propagation or something.

25

My view of the 40-something professor is that his question is a massive deflection and redirection--his issue is not with whether his hookups with students and ex-students are OK or not, but with why he doesn't have other people, or a partner, to have frequent, exciting, exploratory, humanly supportive and consolatory etc. sex with. I don't see anything immoral or exploitative with a 42yo prof (e.g.) having sex with a 21yo student in another major.

He lives in a rural area and teaches in a small college. Is there no gay scene? Are there no other gays? Not professionals? Fellow faculty? Surely there are! Does he want to keep banging these young men--in a casual, dick-led way on his part--forever? Are they only and always going to be his source of sex? I think I'd move if these were the only options. And why no talk of old friends and fuckbuddies, a flight away in NYC/Chicago/Seattle/SF? Has he only slept with students his whole life? Where are his relationships with adults?

Re MILF, she has ceased to be her partner's gf and become her carer.

She's frustrated with this and has tried to address the bad or dwindling sex--but things haven't worked, and given her partner's illness, it might be hard for them to accept that sex is the highest priority in their ongoing relationship. To me, the ethical course would seem to be for MILF to secure her partner's permission to have sex with other people locally.

At some level, she can believe, it seems to me, that her romantically heavily invested relationship with her new friend, the woman online, is not cheating because it's online (and it doesn't appear to be physically sexual yet; it certainly isn't in-person sexual). This risks being a form of self-deception that eats away at her longstanding relationship. The new, secret relationship won't, most likely, make her a better, more loving and cheerful helper of her partner, but will introduce a secret, a barrier, separating the two. (This is close to what Dan said).

MILF needs to decide whether she is now a lifelong friend and carer and only intermittent or 'for old times' sake' lover of her gf, or whether she can commit in a sexually monogamous way for life. (It sounds to me as if it's the first). In deciding, don't minimise the importance of sex to you; don't conflate it with 'intimacy', as you did in your letter; don't tell yourself that it's 'intimacy, not sex' that matters if it's not true for you; don't sublimate horniness into something else, and don't lie to yourself about your feelings for your new online soulmate. If you want sex outside your current relationship, negotiate it; it won't be impossible, and doing that will be less painful than your falling out of love into a continual state of sex-deprived resentment with your dying partner. Don't visit that on her--and she wouldn't want to visit that on either of you. I think you should perhaps see your online friend and either establish an above-board sexual relationship (at least as far as you and your partner goes) or not. If it's 'not', you can stop romanticising distance and unavailability and find women locally you'd like to enjoy sexual intimacy with.

26

@2. Bi. Yes, MILF wants to F the woman with whom she is at the moment apparently chastely corresponding. I didn't realise that other people would so readily think of the PHD professor guy that his question wasn't asking about his real problem.

@4. Sublime. He isn't having sex with students in his concentration/subject area. The college could be so small, though (e.g. a faculty of 4-8 people, at most) in any arts or social science subject that everyone knows everyone--that, potentially, any undergrad could pass through the hands of the prof teaching Freshman Psych (not in that sense). So of course, his hookups will have consequences he can't foresee. But I think he is observing restraint right now and not acting immorally.

Lava is right that, almost without doubt, he has already become 'that guy'.

@7. Calliope. Proscribing faculty-student relationships always tends to work out as homophobic, especially for small schools. Further, only okaying faculty-grad student relationships is not going to be much good in small liberal arts colleges in the back of beyond where there is no grad school.

For your situation in 8), I think it always is avoidable in practice. The TA takes another course or section? And few schools will require a first year grad student to TA?

@16. Erica. I'm trying to put myself into the shoes of the chronically ill partner. I don't think I'd fear losing my lover's monogamous attachment. I'd fear abandonment--being left to die alone, in uncertain circumstances. Knowing that my partner wanted more sex than I could offer (for whatever reason) or that the relationship was capable of sustaining, alongside her caregiving responsibilities, would also be a burden to me. Go off and find minimally emotionally engaging sex somewhere else--that would be what I'd be happy to say.

29

Harriet_by_the_bulrushes @45, 46 The LW says her partner is "chronically ill," not terminally ill. I see no indication that the partner is dying. It could be something like fibromyalgia, Crohn's disease, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, migraines... All of these and many more examples could be debilitating without being life-threatening.

30

Lots of things can leave a person disabled and dependent on a caretaker without being terminal.

31

Ms Fan @6 - Of course, but I put "I hate (any and all) of that sort of interest in me expressed or implied by [blank]s" on a more pure plane than hating interest from the WRONG [blank]s. In some cases, it makes almost no difference ("I'm here to learn, not to ogle and be ogled"), but I did think the non-OS female students deserved some sort of particular acknowledgement.

32

As to how far word has spread, I'm wondering whether the young men are being mildly flirtatious with LW1 or not, or at least making it clear that interest is not unwelcome - not out of any returning interest, but just in case it's worth a half point here or there.

LW's preference for young partners made me think of Notes on a Scandal and the 40-year-old Sheba's comments about her 15-year-old fling partner Stephen, particularly that his body was still a new toy to him; he hadn't learned to treat it with accustomed neglect. LW seemed to have observed something similar in his young partners; sex is still special to them in a way it isn't for his peers, or at least the peers with whom he's been hooking up. I don't have a clear sense of how far he can carry a change.

33

‘Status and power tend to make a man sexy. ....natural form of male sexual power ....’ Mr D, you having a laugh? Like trump you mean or those unsexy men who own Facebook and Washington Post/ Amazon.

34

@33 Hey, Jeff Bezos may be a billionaire asshole, but he had the gonads to let his blackmail material go public. That makes me like him better than most other billionaire assholes.

35

He is not sexy Muse, and so what. The guy has killed off millions of small businesses, he’s a grade A shit stain.

36

@1 BiDanFan: WA-HOOO!!! Congrats on scoring "Firdt" post! Savor the glory. :)

37

I commend LW1 if he genuinely feels less... particular... interest in straight male students, but think the risk is greater that the straight male students will interpret any interest as being sexual.

Though the message of the advice seems well on point, I'd like the "second-class" worry better if it were focused the other way around on special treatment being meted out to certain others. I don't recall any such concern for non-straight male students dealing with a myriad of straight male teachers. In one direction, this leads to a possible argument why universities fare better with a left-leaning faculty; in another, to an argument in favour of an all-pansexual faculty.

Then we have: [...and your mediocre and not hot gay male students—sorry, your mediocre and not conventionally attractive gay male students—interpreting their failing grades as sexual rejection.]

I spent most of the day going back and forth on whether Mr Savage deserved a lorgnette for this one. I'm still not sure. Had he just designated "not hot" I'd have likely shrugged. Simply using "not conventionally attractive" would have seemed more in keeping for his usual style of reference to women. Making a point of correcting himself to draw attention was rubbing it in in a rather nasty way that I've observed in several leftists recently, especially those who spout the right words most of the time when speaking from the brain but who, when speaking from the heart, not only seem to revel in SS inequality but also make their personal dislike clear. Also, LW used the Q-word, which Mr Savage deliberately changed to the G-word. Very subtle. Mr Savage could give lessons to Michael Brooks, whose claims to be an ally are marred by his being a high-level a*h** of the rub-it-in-HARD variety.

38

Dadddy @28
"Status and power tend to make a man sexy. It's interesting how this natural form of male sexual power has been cast as inherently coercive."

There's nothing coercive about a man flaunting his status & power in order to seduce people who find that attractive.

The coercion comes from encouraging sexual intimacy with people subject to one's direct authority (one's own students, patients, employees, children, tenants, etc.)

39

LW1: Sounds hot. All those guys will think fondly of you as the DILF they banged at uni :) LW2: Ugh, just DTMFA. Sorry she is ill, but do you want to be a caretaker for the rest of your life?

40

Dadddy @27: "Just be your beautiful sexy self, PHD, and don't worry about your job. It's not as if you worked hard to get there or anything." There, fixed it for you. Sure, men with power are attractive. But as you learned, with great power comes great responsibility; it's PHD's responsibility to turn down these men, since it would be unethical, as EricaP @38 states, to engage with them when he is in a position of power over them.

41

Harriet @26, words have meanings. Just because LW2 wants to fuck her online buddy, and just because her online buddy has children, does not make the online buddy a MILF. A MILF is specifically an older woman -- a woman the age of one's own mother. Google the video "Stacy's Mom" for an example of a MILF. Roseanne @39 has correctly used the analogous male acronym @39. PHD is the age of his students' father, therefore, whether he has children or not, he might be a DILF.

42

@29. Calliope. You're right--'chronically ill' isn't the same as 'terminally ill'. Somebody would probably say 'terminally ill' if their partner had a diagnosis of e.g. three years to live with an incurable form of cancer. But then I'm surprised that there's no mention of pain, or of what the caregiver does to relieve it, if what's at issue is an unavoidably debilitating condition. Maybe some conditions can be unavoidably sapping and debilitating, but not painful?

The LW finds it difficult to imagine something different, something that has the possibility of joy or self-discovery in it. She should look for the courage to say,'our relationship isn't sexually fulfilling any more. I was wondering whether you wanted a different kind of relationship?'.

@41. Bi. I thought a 'MILF' was a mother, but a sexy mother on the school run, the mother of a young child and a comparatively young woman herself, not someone one's own mother's age. However, these are terminologically fine hairs.

The letter seems steeped to me in a characteristically, almost a caricaturally lesbian mindset of thinking 'intimacy more important than sex'. Both seem to be important to be MILF. To answer her actual question, 'how can I make the online relationship sustainable?', somewhat cruelly, I think I'd say 'hot sex'. E.g. 'imprint your bi / closeted new gf with hot sex'.

43

@40 BiDanFan
"It's not as if you worked hard to get there or anything."

I just want to add that in another thread long ago (in which I made a million posts), Dadddy told us that when /he/ personally had the choice between his job and his ideals, he chose his job; so this is Dadddy demonstrating bravery vicariously. Perhaps as some sort of coping mechanism.

44

@43 p.s.
In that other thread long ago (where a supervisor saw his subordinate at the same club) Dadddy took the exact same 'do what you want not what won't lose you your job' position.

45

So what do you think Fan, is Mr D trolling or does he really believe that bull about status/power being sexy.. of course it is for some.
The prude line is the give away. Not got anything better to do Mr D than troll us here.

46

This man has already done what he wants, he’s asking Dan can he continue. Dan says no. And most here agree.

47

I can't help but note that LW2 doesn't give us any pluses about her relationship. It sounds like the only reason she's staying is because she feels obligated to as her partner relies on her. Which is not a great reason. I'm not staying kick the gf to the curb, but isn't LW too young to be unsatisfied and staying only out of caretaker guilt?

48

Of course status and power are sexy. Maybe not to everyone, but to many many people. Kissinger's statement that "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac" wasn't made out of thin air--he certainly wasn't getting laid for his good looks. Nor did Monica bang Clinton because he's just so handsome, or, ya know, such a nice person. The acknowledgement that power is an attractive quality is far from trolling, even if you don't like it's application in this context.

Personally, I think there are very few things sexier than competence. Other people may feel otherwise. Power and status--in whatever context--are often the result of competence, at least, in that context. If you care about a given category of thing, you're more likely to be attracted to people who are competent in that category--meaning you're more likely to be attracted to people who have power over you than people who have power over some totally different set of people, for instance. At this moment in time that presents some moral quandaries. But it's not imaginary that it's a real thing for a lot of people. Nor is it sufficient, in my estimation, to say "That's bad! Don't do it!" As if you're equally likely to find common ground/interests/etc. with someone totally outside your area...you're not, that's why it's a problem.

49

EricaP @16: Is this woman cheating? Given that they have decided they will never get physical with each other. Are they having Skype sex, or is this an "emotional affair"? The question can only be answered by the partner. She might not mind an "emotional affair" or even distance wanking. Regardless, I like your approach. MILF is not getting her needs met either in her IRL relationship or her online one. Time to ask her partner for some openness, which will render this online relationship permissible.

Harriet @42, Urban Dictionary defines MILF as
"1. Mom I'd Like to Fuck, or Mature I'd Like to Fuck
A MILF is any woman with children who has men that want to have sexual intercourse with her. The term is also sometimes used to describe women above a certain aged (30 or 40+) who are not mothers themselves, but are deemed to be sexually attractive, and also have men that would like to partake in sexual intercourse with them."
So, could be either really; but I can't envision a woman using the word to describe another woman, therefore I suspect it was not MILF who picked her signoff. (I personally reject the term MILF because I am child free. I prefer the term cougar, so long as one means it as a compliment.) :)

Curious @43, my words were directed towards PHD, not Dadddy. It's PHD who's risking his job if he takes Dadddy's approach.

Lava @45, I'm going with sincere, given Dadddy's history of denouncing vanilla people as prudes, and I'll defer to Curious's superior memory regarding his consistency on matters of job versus groin. I imagine Dadddy is someone who has power and likes to think that this makes him attractive. (To some, I'm sure this is the case.)

50

@49 BiDanFan
Oh yes I knew that you were mocking Dadddy's advice to the LW, not giving advice to Dadddy.
I just wanted to remind people that this isn't the first time Dadddy gave someone in authority advice to risk their job (despite having chosen himself not to risk his own job for his 'ideals'). I can't forget that thread since I personally went off in it.

52

@7 CalliopeMuse -- you hit the nail on the head with the advice to not write recommendation letters for former students you have become involved with! I briefly dated a former student after they had graduated. After the first date and some making out, they asked if I'd be willing to write a recommendation letter. I was like, uh, NO, because professional ethics. They didn't get it and got huffy about it. We did not date for much longer.

53

@52 Farty- well, there ya go. They were using you for that recommendation...if they were decent, they would agree with your saying no.

54

@1 Bdf- yay! You were first- congrats on winning. Now who’s going to be the lucky 69er?! I’m excited to see who gets that number.

55

I received phone calls /years/ later for recommendations on former employees.

56

Ok Fan, thanks for answering. Interesting how perceptions can vary.

57

Daddy @51, I'm surprised this seems so unclear to you.

In situations where one person has authority over another, it's hard for the one in authority to know that the other one is participating out of love rather than coercion. It's sometimes illegal and usually ill-advised to assume the power dynamics don't amount to coercion.

For instance, Stockholm Syndrome is a thing, but that doesn't mean it's okay to kidnap people and build their dependence on you for their survival and then rely on their new-found love for you to support the sexual intimacy you enjoy with them.

In other words, yes, some professors have long happy sexual relationships with their students and some psychiatrists have long happy sexual relationships with their patients and some coaches have long happy sexual relationships with athletes under their care, and some parents have long happy sexual relationships with their children -- but the presumption is that those relationships are a bad idea and if you can avoid them (from either side), you're well advised to.

58

I agree with Dan re the word grooming. There’s a power imbalance here, between student and teacher, that doesn’t follow this man is grooming young men by being a working teacher. He can’t but help notice the good looking young gay men, and there’s nothing wrong with appreciating their youth and beauty. It stops there though, and he finds his sexual partners elsewhere.

59

... good looking young gay and bi men...

60

According to my quick research, adults can be groomed. It involves sinister motives and secrecy, which seem absent here. Recklessness and not reading the culture is this man’s problem.

61

@34 CalliopeMuse: Yuck! I'd rather Jeff be served his his Bezos balls for lunch.
@35 LavaGirl: Agreed and seconded.
@54 aeros66: I hope I get it this week! :)

62

So this is a situation where one person had power over another for a limited time (a semester, say) and in a limited context, then time passed, the other person graduated and moved out of that power structure (the university environment), and now the power differential is closer to even. Both people are adults. It just doesn't seem morally questionable to me. Doing it over and over and getting a rep is probably unwise, just at the appearances level, but I don't think the power differential is an issue here in terms of how he's actually treating people.

Erica @57: I agree that a lot of caution is warranted in a relationship with an initial power differential. And in many cases, especially ones where that differential is temporary (e.g. prof/students), it's good to avoid those relationships. But presumably at some point, with adults, you also have to believe people. To me it feels a bit patronizing or infantilizing or denying agency or whatever to say the person with less power can't make that decision, can't express that they are there because they want to be and not because of coercion. Especially since so often the power differential favors men, it feels dangerously close to asserting that women can't properly do their own risk/reward calculations. (I don't mean there should be no caution or guidelines--the person with the power should not make the initial advances, etc. And you do say "usually ill-advised," which I agree with. But I don't think it's always bad.)

One common way people get to like each other is through interaction and through common interests. School and work both provide that. They also take up much of your time, decreasing your chances of meeting someone outside that environment. Most pairings are likely to be at a peer level--students with students, and so on. But other pairings will occasionally happen, and if people are thoughtful about them, they can be fine. (I miss italics.)

When I was in graduate school mostly students dated other students. A couple dated undergrads, a couple dated visiting profs. I knew one person who dated a professor (not their advisor). I saw some relationships blow up and make things awkward for a while--and as far as I could tell, that was in no way correlated to the shape of the relationship or the power differential, but rather the personalities of the people involved.

I had one professor ask me out after I had finished taking his class. I said thanks but no thanks and that was that. Maybe if I had still been in the class, I would have felt coerced? I dunno. But I wasn't, so it was easy to say no. I never dated a student, although several asked. There was one who I might have considered dating, if he had asked me after the class was over--but he didn't, and I wasn't going to make the first move since I had been his TA.

To be clear, I don't think people should date when there's a current, obvious conflict involved in the power differential, e.g. a prof and one of their current students, or a boss and someone working directly underneath them. But an ex-student who has now graduated? Or someone in a different division? There's nothing to coerce with. Go for it.

63

Ciods @62, I agree. I don't think PHD is in fact grooming students, nor taking advantage of his position in any way other than being a person who is looked up to. I agree with Dan that it's not the ethics or morality of his behaviour, it's the potential for it to come back and bite him on the ass, for instance undermining the authority he now has by giving him a reputation. He's not fucking his own students, but he is fucking other students at the school who may sign up for future classes. In order to make sure that ass of his is covered, he should tell any student who flirts with him that he'd be happy to take them up on their offer -- after they graduate.

64

No Fan, he doesn’t indicate to any students he’ll catch him at the exit door. Might as well fuck him now as promise it later.
A small college, word gets back.. it’s his call. A teacher/ professor only has the authority he/ she creates.

64

ciods @48 "Personally, I think there are very few things sexier than competence."

Assuming that someone would find me sexy, I would find it depressing to find out that the reason was some perceived "competence" I had, rather than just "me".

65

Tied RE. Make a wish.

66

Joe Newton is a clever Artist. It’s true LW, you are sitting on a precarious set of cards. And if you don’t stop being a sleaze bag Professor, you’ll be known as the Joker.

67

@RE, what do you think "you" consists of, if that doesn't include the things you're good at?

I guess I have a hard time understanding it when people say they want someone who loves them for "them" and not (insert quality they have), as if the two are easily separable.

For me, "me" consists of my body, and the things I care about--and the fact that I'm competent at a number of them is a big part of that.

68

To me, “competent” is damming with faint praise. How would you rate Donny’s pussy licking skills? “Well... he’s competent, I guess.”

69

BTW, seeing as how there are TWO #64s in this thread, I claim the magic 69 for my own personal glory.

70

And, yes I do know how to spell “damning”... stupid autocorrect!

71

@DonnyK, I get what you're saying, and sure, if someone were to answer a question about a particular skill and be told they were "competent" at it, that would be damning with faint praise. But I think when it's used the way ciods used it, it's got a different connotation.

I, too, find competence, which is something I think is all-too-often lacking, to be sexy. Power is sexy--but one still has to be decent person; being a jerk in a position of power, doesn't make one sexy (to me). And competency at anything, but especially in more than one thing, is sexy. Perhaps the better word choice would be "mastery."

@RegEur: I agree with BiDanFan: one's skill-set is part of what makes the person that person. If someone likes /me/, I assume they like those parts of me which are good at the things I'm good at. After all, my competencies, as well as my failings and my foibles, are all part of what makes me, /me/.
Boy, do I miss the ability to make italics.

72

DonnyKlicious Considering you got 68, 69, and 70, I think you have your bases covered. Mazel!

73

Congrats on the 69, DonnyK. You earned it fair and square.

74

Donny @68, if you were using dental dams while providing your competent pussy licking, that would indeed be damming with faint praise. ;)
I agree that "competent" in the context of ciods's post @48 seems to mean very good at something, rather than just passably good. Good enough at the thing to rise to a position of power and authority; respected by peers in their field. Achievement might be another synonym.

NoCute @71, wasn't me! But yeah, I too would be more flattered by someone who liked me for my talents and achievements AND my cute butt. Isn't this the difference between attraction to the person and objectification? Please clarify, RE, but you seem to want someone to objectify you; it should be obvious why most women would want the opposite.

75

ciods @67 "@RE, what do you think "you" consists of, if that doesn't include the things you're good at?"

Yes, at the moment I was writing my post @64 I was already thinking of this myself. What can I say? I don't have a good answer to that. To me, it feels like I would still be "me" if I wouldn't have the competences I have. I guess I was expressing a vague and probably irrational wish for unconditional rather than conditional love.

79

Dadddy @76, no one is saying that dating an underling or overling makes someone a bad person. I've driven drunk many times without anything bad happening, doesn't mean it's a good idea. Your friends got lucky. A three-year relationship is also somewhat different than short-lived sex flings with students half one's age. So you can't logically conclude, "My friends did something risky that didn't blow up in their face, therefore go ahead and bang all the students you want, PHD. What could go wrong?" The answer is plenty. I'll see your friends and raise you a friend who dated a colleague, she broke up with him, he sent her some wishful thinking flirtatious e-mails in an attempt to change her mind, she reported him for sexual harassment. You yourself said your friend risked his career. PHD is asking whether he's risking his career; by your own example, the answer is yes.

80

BiDanFan @79 - I think Dadddy agrees that it's risky in our current environment. But he seems to wish for a world where these sexual relationships wouldn't be viewed as a probable abuse of power or even poor judgment.

81

@106 EricaP
" I think Dadddy agrees that it's risky in our current environment. But he seems to wish for a world..."

And is he trying to get to to us that world on the backs of the LW's he has repeatedly advised to take the risks in /this/ current world? I put it that way because his advice to them never acknowledges that he's seeking to place them at risk, which I think irresponsibly violates of any proper code of advice-giving, and I would fire anyone on my team of advice-givers who persisted like this.

Even if perhaps he regrets choosing the job security he himself chose over his (unspecified IIRC) ideals (as he told us about a year ago the last time a LW like this needed similar advice).

82

@81
p.s. oops I meant @80 EricaP
p.p.s. EricaP is absolutely right, Dadddy wants that world so much that even when a LW's sole concern is their job security, Dadddy gives advice whose goal is to get to that world and never acknowledges that that entails risking the LW's job security.

83

oops I meant to say that Dadddy has /told/ us that this is about him wanting that world.

84

@69: WA-HOOOOO!!! Major congrats to our own Savage Love Pecker Checker, DonnyKlicious, for scoring this week's Lucky @69 Award! Bask in the glory and may your weekend be wickedly de-lick-table. :)

Who's up for the Big Hunsky? Tick...tick...tick...

85

Mr Curious - While I agree with #s 81 and 82, may I ask hopefully whether you've had any progress in making corporate HR culture any less evil and intrusive? I do sympathize, as you seem to be in a similar position to that of the title character of The Abstinence Teacher (a sex-positive Sex Ed teacher trying to cope with a sudden lurch to the evangelical right in her school board and class curriculum).

86

[Egad - I just saw a commercial advertising a drug called "ixekizumab" and my mind immediately jumped to wanting to see it played in the World Scrabble Championship]

Amusingly, I was just posting elsewhere yesterday on how any male competence in the film Love, Simon came with a cost. In line with this discussion, I've been contemplating the difference between one's skills that are just things one can do, and those that become part of who one is. And then we throw in whether one wants to be loved FOR skill/characteristic A, DESPITE B or REGARDLESS OF C.

87

@85 vennominon
Hi Venn!

Oh I wish I could remember what I wrote in response to a comment in which you brought this up about a month ago, because I'm a little under the weather and figure I must have written it much better last time.

During the years I took part in the labor movement I was proud to help build a number of unions, and help many people. Particularly, looking back, given that we were swimming upstream because during those decades unions in the US pretty much collapsed. I'm not working now, so I'm not doing that, though I would like to be if I weren't beyond busy with other less satisfying things now.

Achieving such dreams is complicated. For starters, a union can do little unless it's strong enough to sustain a strike.

And (I think I recall saying this last time) corporate culture is sure to lag behind even the mass culture, and to insist upon being dragged towards progress only when that's what's profitable.

And consumers demanding it isn't even the most crucial thing to the concerns in such letters.

Such letters (as others say upthread) illuminate how complicated and problematic hierarchical authority can be. All that potential for complication and problems is often unfortunately realized, to harm real people, and efforts to address those affects and their potentials are all over the justice system. And I don't know that that even /can/ change, because...

As BiDanFan mentioned upthread, somethings such things turn out well, other times they turn out badly. How does a justice system address the times they turn out badly without removing protections for a much wider spectrum of abuses by people in authority?

People in authority who misuse it horribly can't be immune (as the Trump administration wants him to be) from all repercussions.

Maybe what we're all concerned about here(1) is unfortunately the lesser evil.

(1) By which I mean issues we've discussed like:

That supervisor a year ago who wrote Dan that he didn't know what to do when he saw a guy who reported to him at a gay club...

This Professor whose job is impacted in many ways by relationships with students...

A boss dating someone who reports to them.

tl;dr
People with power over others can harm others with it. I think the necessary structures to deal with that necessitate that with power comes limitations that, until a thoughtful person thinks about it, seem totally unnecessary.

(I dated quite a few people in the same workplace I didn't report to or vice versa. I think no-workplace-dating rules are ridiculous, though it's of course not great to keep seeing someone you just broke up with every day. [Ack!] Sure plenty of workplace relationships are great; but I did try to remember going in that if it didn't work they'd still be there every day.)

Of course maybe you're thinking of more general corporate employment issues such as discrimination for sexual orientation, race, etc.
I think there's no sound basis for that. Oh, a vacuum cleaner company might say they don't want to send a gay or black salesperson to a certain area to sell their product, but I have no sympathy for that company. With the gay black salesman, sure, who might not earn as many commissions if assigned there. But not with the company (which after all is not a person anyway); or with the prejudice residents of the area, let them be without a vacuum if they need a straight white male to sell it to them.

Sigh. Everything is so effed up. And has been getting worse for many decades. But I have hope that the arc of the moral universe is just really long so if we zoomed out we could see it still bends toward justice. I remind myself that all in all there's more justice than there was in medieval times when nearly everyone was a serf with no belongings, than there was 180 years ago when even children slaved 18 mind-numbing hours a day in factories, than there was a century ago when women still had no rights.

@86 vennominon
"a drug called "ixekizumab" and my mind immediately jumped to wanting to see it played in the World Scrabble Championship"

omg rotflmao!

88

@87 (curious2) and anyone else:

If you'd like to see a particular comment you've ever made (though I've never tested how far back), just click on your name at the bottom of your comment and you'll be on the page with your profile and comment history (including date and original column title).

89

Curious - I think we would all like to fantasise that in an ideal world, a boss could ask out a subordinate without it coming across as coercive or creepy; that the subordinate could politely say no without that affecting their job in any way; that the subordinate could say yes, and a relationship ensue, without that leading to favoritism; and that the relationship could end without that poisoning workplace dynamics. But all of this would only be possible if we were emotionless robots. Human beings have inconveniently messy emotions, which makes the odds of any of the above scenarios unlikely at best. In the real world one is playing with fire by getting involved with people they work closely with, so the best advice (as we are here in advice land) is to not go there. If you are developing irresistible mutual feelings for someone who works for you, CHANGE JOBS. Then have at it. (I think we would all like to fantasise that in an ideal world we could all have as much casual sex as we want without condoms and never catch any STIs or get pregnant, but that is similarly unrealistic. We need to work with the world we are living in, agree 100%.)

Helenka @88, correct. This works much better for people unlike myself, who don't make multiple comments per thread (whistles innocently)...

90

@62. ciods. I went to grad school at a big state institution a train ride away from a major Babylonian fleshpot. Though there was a mature gay scene in the city, the college town and its queer community (sizeable and diverse) still partied, partly, in their own locations. This meant that I would brush up against the sex lives of my own professors and advisers--never actually have sex with (some were negative, unsexy 'advance warnings' of what I risked becoming--I supposed), but be at the same nightclub or orgy with them, where we were both indulging our different tastes. I always thought there was less scope for coercion in this than in het dating. People knew each other so well that the scene was self-policing. And no one could have been less covert than my trailblazing activist profs--if anyone was exposed, so that any questionable action on their part would be called into question, it was them. Another side of it was that among the 'younger people', it was a given that the 'professors of sex', the lifelong activists and liberationists and theoretical Foucauldians, where not monogamously cuffed, would be lay-down lousy lays.

@68. Donny. Someone who can e.g. bake, or make a pithivier, competently may be highly accomplished. 'Competent' just means you 'can do it' in an activity where someone either can do it or they can't.

Ineptitude is definitely unsexy.

91

@76. Dadddy. I'd say he had the power, in that any low-grade bad actions either of them could have gotten up in the context of a rocky relationship, or the wake of a break-up--any badmouthing, any act of petty vindictiveness, attempt vengefully to embarrass or discomfit, any fishing for the support of others taking 'sides'--are likely to disadvantage the junior much more than the senior.

Sure, they could 'go nuclear' in their post-relationship animosity ... and here 'she' could say he came onto her and abused his position. He would have more to lose. And it would be 'his' word against hers, and it could go either way. But I'm not sure the fallout from imbalanced relationships always involves the parties making such irreconcilable and diametrically opposed claims. There are rather regrets and recriminations--at-odds narratives where any onlooker would think that, at most, one party is 65% right and the other 35%. In situations like this, where the exes can't work together, which is going to be more valuable to any organisation or company? Which will be let go? The junior colleague sets themselves up for an iniquitous position in entering into any relationship with the boss.

It either has to work or 'she' needs an alternative career path, possibly outside her current networks. But I'm pleased for your friends who have made a success of it.

92

Harriet @90, "major Babylonian fleshpot" is the turn of phrase of the day, thank you for that!

I think there's a difference between using one's own campus as a hunting ground and running into fellow students or faculty off campus. The scene you describe would seem to at least confine any gossip to the gay/queer community itself, whereas talk of a professor taking liberties with students he met via official university business would be more likely to spread to the straights, who might be more inclined to make an issue of it. What happens in Vegas/Babylon, and all.

93

@88 Helenka (also a Canuck)
Thanks, yes, but I just couldn't bear paging through the the vast numbers of comments (in even one month) I make to find the right one.

94

Babylonian Fleshpot -- another idea for a band name?

95

@75: RegEur, you said: "To me, it feels like I would still be "me" if I wouldn't have the competences I have. I guess I was expressing a vague and probably irrational wish for unconditional rather than conditional love."
Ah, I think I understand you better. I don't meant that I only find a man attractive if he has one skill he performs well; that I don't like anything else about him, and should he lose the ability to perform that skill adroitly, I'd stop caring for him.

I see it much like the issue of physical objectification: most of us don't want to be reduced to a body part (or even several of them); we want to be wanted and/or loved for who we are, inside and out (probably inside more that outside, since outsides will most definitely change over time, and the core essence of who we are is internal and hopefully something that is impervious to serious change--though illnesses such as stroke or dementia can still change the the part of that essence that is observable by others). But we still want to be appreciated BECAUSE of, rather than DESPITE our physical attributes. In other words, I want someone to love or want to be with me because of (most) everything I am, including my gorgeous breasts and gigantic balloon ass--which means that those attracted to ectomorphs won't find me attractive, no matter how much they might appreciate my sense of humor, competency in cooking, taste in music, or ability to knit--but I don't want to be wanted ONLY because of my breasts and ass, no matter how hot someone finds them.

In the same way, I couldn't be attracted to a man I found physically repulsive but who has a highly developed skill set around, say, the ability to take charge and make decisions, or who can cook well, or who is incredibly patient and doesn't condescend to me--but assuming that the man met basic baseline criteria for being sexually attractive to me, those qualities and the competencies displayed, would be huge selling points in his favor.

It's true that Henry Kissinger said that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, but at least in my case, his proximity to power (in the 1970s, assuming that I was transported to that time period) would not compensate for his policies and the fact that I found him physically unappealing. But it might make up for a lot of other deficiencies to a lot of other people--and I can only assume that was true (hence the quote).

I can be attracted to and love someone despite their failings, and often because of their foibles, but I am not attracted to nor do I love someone solely for their abilities or skills or competencies. Nor can I love someone based only on his physical attributes. There's more to a person than that. And if someone I loved lost a skill, which will happen to all of us, whether that skill is grounded more in the mental or the physical realm, I wouldn't stop loving him.

I may be initially attracted to someone based primarily on the way that he looks and a general ease of conversation, because I don't yet know him, and there has to be a point of entry, but if after say, 6 months of dating, his looks are really all that I find attractive or likable about him, the relationship is not going to work. Conversely, I may be initially neutral about a man's physical appearance, but find his sense of humor, or intelligence, or KINDNESS--far too often underemphasized, in my opinion--or a competency in some area or other (the ability to problem solve, for example) to be compelling enough to spend time with him, but as I get to know him, and see him in his element, demonstrating his competencies, the more physically attracted I often become. When I'm in love with a man, I think he is handsome; when I'm not, I see him more objectively, and he's often less handsome--this can occur at both the beginning and ending of a relationship. In much the same way, I find all my female friends to be gorgeous, even though I know that I'm viewing them through eyes that have affection in them, and that probably very few of us middle-aged women would be considered "gorgeous" by a stranger with no context; and in fact, they may not have seemed particularly beautiful to me when I first met them, before I knew them, even though in some cases that was more than 30 years ago, when all of us were objectively more attractive, because youth is beautiful in itself.

96

@95 nocutename
Thanks for the beautiful comment!

98

Assuming "traditional college age" (18-22) for the student, PHD is being also being reckless because he's putting his career in the hands of people who often have very little concept of or experience with personal consequences. Do you really trust a 19 year old to be discreet and thoughtful about the consequences of their actions? Yes, that's ageist, but there's some brain science to back it up, and I know how much of a total idiot I was when I was 18.

Doubly risky if the student has had a sheltered life and/or gigantic sense of entitlement. Triple risky if the administration, like a lot of schools, is facing pressure to crack down on sexual harassment. Regardless of what really happens, the school will usually see the faculty as a predator and student as innocent victim.

If you want to explode your career and go down (so to speak) in a blaze of glory, then go for it. There's a hungry, 10-year backlog of recently minted PhD's waiting to take your job.

99

And this week's Big Hunsky winner IS..........

101

@100: WA-HOOO! Congratulations, Ken, on scoring tis week's Big Hunsky. Savor the glory of the magic number. :) One polite caveat, however. I'm not interested in viewing the link you posted, but if you're trolling here, please stop.

102

Harriet@90~ It pays to increase your word power! Thanks to you, I now know that a "pithivier" is a round, enclosed pie usually made by baking two disks of puff pastry, with filling stuffed in between. It has the appearance of a hump and is traditionally decorated with spiral lines drawn from the top outwards with the point of a knife, and scalloping on the edge.

103

I'm curious why PhD seems to be worrying about what might be the lesser problem - for him personally. He is a gay prof. at a small rural college, which means there might be quite a few people at the college and/or in the community who are not happy to have him there, and looking for excuses to get rid of him without showing themselves to the world as bigots. And he is having hook-ups with undergrads at the school, whose homophobic parents could definitely see him as trying to turn their son to the Devil's gay ways, and will move heaven and earth to get him fired, or falsely accuse him of rape and try to get him prosecuted and imprisoned should they find out about the hook-up. I'm not saying that most people in small rural areas are bigots, but it only takes one parent who is, to destroy PhD's life if he's unlucky. As someone else mentioned earlier, it takes years of hard work and misery, and sometimes a boatload of luck to get a decent post in Academia. If this is a Liberal Arts college, PhD will not be able to get another position at another should he get thrown out of this one, with all the small colleges going under all over the country lately.

PhD needs to be more concerned about what would happen if the parents find out, and whether he is willing to face the possible consequenses, which could be a whole lot worse than beimg known as 'that professor', (which I'm pretty sure has already happened, since he has been having these relationships with several students for years!). Trusting 18-22 year-olds to not talk about their hook-ups, especially since these might be their first same-sex ones, is so unrealistic that I think PhD must be lying to himself to minimize the risks so he can keep doing it. All the other stuff about the dearth of opportunity and how they are less jaded about sex, hookups with older men are transactional, only doing it with kids in other departments and grads, Dan's campsite rules etc. are all rationalizations and don't matter.

What matters, PhD, are these: you are endangering your job, your career, your reputation, you future, and possibly even your freedom. If you get accused by a homophobic parent of rape, consider that you might get convicted eventhough your acivities were consensual. Because people lie, and young people who are dependent on their parents support can and will be willing to lie or be convinced/brainwashed into saying that you raped them or groomed and manipulated them into hooking up with you. About the morality of your actions I have no opinion, it could be yes or no depending on how mature the student is, or their motivations. Ethically it is not a good look for you, there is a big disparity in maturity, confidence and power here. And I believe you know this, thus the letter to Dan.

Go back on Tinder, there are millions of young, unjaded guys there. Drive to the closest city for you hookups. Save yourself from lots of expensive professional and legal disasters.

104

@96: Aw, shcuks, curious2!

105

Dadddy @97 wrote " I can't say whether I'm worth risking anything over, but I've definitely met women who are, assuming they fell for me and our chemistry was good."

In my view, the person in authority is not merely risking their career (which is ethically their own call), but they are also risking the career of the underling they try to seduce, and that person's respect, and the respect of others who find out what's going on, and those other people's respect for the underling. And the person in authority is also contributing to a culture which says it's fine to pressure underlings into sexual situations.

Do you look favorably on sexual relationships between prison guards and prisoners? Between psychiatrists and their patients?

106

Mr Curious - It was a gay sex club, not just a gay club. I can see the point of advising someone to stop attending a sex club, but, had you seriously said someone would have to give up going to an ordinary gay club just because someone lower in the company hierarchy showed up there, you'd have had about as much chance of convincing me you're on the side of the angels as Mr Collins had of convincing his cousin Elizabeth to marry him.

Having acquired particular insight into evil as you've done through working in both telemarketing (and I sincerely applaud the growth of your conscience when you could easily have just grown a hard shell) and Human Resources, you ought to have the best ideas about how to eradicate it. I fear that, if your best hope lies simply in time, we're doomed.

107

Ms Cute @95 - You do realize, I hope, that you are nearly quoting Jane Fairfax, when she corrects Miss Bates' recollection that Miss Campbell would not allow Mr Dixon to be plain and that Jane herself... "Oh, as for me, my judgment is worth nothing. Where I have regard, I always think a person well-looking. But I gave what I believed the general opinion, when I called him plain."

I note with some amusement that men who rise to the pinnacle of your being in love with them merely attain the dignity of "handsome" (rather like Mary Elliot Musgrove being at her best only "a fine girl"), but that your having (even slight?) friendly regard for a woman will eventually elevate her to "gorgeous", a much higher compliment. If you're like me, though, and do not bestow the F word lightly, that's a mitigating factor.

I'm not sure whether we can reconcile being loved for or despite X. Perhaps it's just a difference in definitions. What do you make of straight chasers or f** h**s, or other people who want to be basically the only [blank] someone's ever loved? I would put that into the "despite" category on the grounds that they don't want to convert their love objects.

As it happens, while I never drew any straight male interest (a good thing, as I wouldn't want it), I did once almost date an admirer of Miss Bronte, E who called me the only Austenian he could ever stand. It fizzled out before I had time to determine what to make of such an advance.


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