Indeed, a defining characteristic of university life is the entanglement of stimulating ideas and charismatic people. Would erotic educators write such things about any other work environment?
No, Education Is Not Erotic
Would they write about, say, the need to acknowledge eroticism between law firm partners and first-year associates? But not everybody accepts the same about professors and students; there is always a voice in the back decrying attempts to address the power differential as paternalistic, patronizing, infantilizing. It is unsurprising that erotic educators prefer to rely on texts and pop culture rather than empirical evidence from present-day, real-life universities.
Similarly, it may be true that professors sleep with students in movies like Irrational Man and novels like On Beauty. But sometimes professors and students are attracted to each other. What do we make of that? And yes, people can find authority attractive. And we were all very nerdy.
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This is not an untold tale of passions too lofty for ordinary minds to grasp. This is the old, boring story of people being attracted to power. That is why it happens everywhere. Nor, incidentally, is abuse.
A lot, I would say. Unlike philia or agape or storge , eros has a sexual dimension; what is at stake is not love but sex. Inequality is baked into the Myth. I guess the fixation on sex is consistent with the reproductive undertone of the conversation: the professor lavishes attention on the student, and maybe later ravishes the student, in order to create a likeness of themselves that can inherit their space in the academy and preserve their legacy.
Putting the Vater in Doktorvater. But as long as the vast majority of the gatekeepers are white men at elite institutions, people outside of that one demographic are going to lose under this procreative model.
A Myth on Campus
You might think that the answer is to stop those older white men. This myth feeds into a general tendency to prioritize sex over the many other ways that people meaningfully relate to each other, and to other things. This shorthand, like all shorthand, is convenient yet imprecise. The lack of imagination also manifests in the difficulties that erotic educators seem to have thinking outside of strict dyads: professor and student, mind and body, sexually charged vitality and completely soulless torpor.
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But in actuality, there are acres of middle ground. Even if eroticism in education were a thing, why would its removal be such a huge loss, anyway?
Really, where my peers got screwed over was not a lack of hothouse mentorship but professors failing at the nuts and bolts of their job: not responding to urgent emails, refusing to read drafts, leaving comments on the wrong draft, not submitting references on time. You could even go a step further and argue that, beyond a certain point, close mentorship does more harm than good; what makes mentorship effective is distance rather than closeness. Related Pages. Center for Hellenic Studies Library. Society for Classical Studies Nonprofit Organization. Eidolon Magazine. Classics For All Education.
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