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Female students are victims of pathetic, attention-seeking male professors

October 29, 2013

Or so says a “popular feminist blogger”:

The intellectual and physical seduction of young female students by older, male professors – usually in the humanities, and in the throes of midlife crises – is so common in movies and books that it’s become a cliché.

But a recent Twitter thread started by a popular feminist blogger examines a dark side of that cliché in real-life academe, one in which professors’ advances – intellectual and otherwise – feed a need for validation and flattery, and at times cross the line into sexual harassment.

“Please share with me all your stories of the male professors you had in college who thrived upon and demanded female admiration to function,” Mallory Ortberg, editor of the website “The Toast,” tweeted.

Granted, some of the professorial conduct described by Ortberg’s tweeters sounds like weirdo horndoggery–such as the professor who “accidentally” had some porn on his screen when he invited a student into his office to talk about the course material. But I wonder if those women would be so quick to cry “sexual harassment” and “feed a need for validation and flattery” if Professor Tom Brady were teaching the class.
The only sane voice in the conversation:

William Deresiewicz, a former academic and writer, published a 2007 essay in American Scholar discussing the professor-seducer stereotype, tracing its literary roots and arguing that it has largely supplanted the once-pervasive notion of the absent-minded professor, due to various cultural factors. It also advocates a certain kind of erotic intensity between professor and student, based on the Classical mentorship models. He said via email: “I think that it’s a stereotype, but I also think it’s sometimes true – just as it is also sometimes true that female students seek validation from male professors, and male students from female professors, and so on all the way around in both directions and for every gender combination.”

Yes, the professor-student relationship can have an erotic component–and it’s just as often the female student getting weak in the knees over Prof. Handsome Plato Scholar. Remember this scene from the first Indiana Jones movie?
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