Sunday, June 15, 2008

Said I've Been Crying, My Tears They Fell Like Rain

Anon 5:19 says, "I want to sleep with one of my committee members. I make excuses to ask them about my work, just so I can go to their office. Is that normal?"

You know, this reminds me of the time my friend Steve--an all-round awesome guy--dared me to do a shot of Tabasco sauce. There was this little voice in the back of my head saying, Don't do the shot, asshole. This is a terrible idea. But I disagreed with the little voice. It seemed like an awesome idea to me.

Well, it turns out the little voice was right. After I did the shot, I spent the next half hour blinded by my own tears, trying to shove an entire loaf of bread into my burning mouth, but failing because I was dry-heaving constantly.

Anon 5:19, I'm going to say this is one of those times when you should listen to the little voice.

-- PGS

Update from PGOAT: The discussion of whether this is evidence of a vast Chick Conspiracy to take over the old boy's club by fucking our way to the top continues over at the Feminist Philosophers blog. My favorite comment:
[L]et me start off by asking whether anyone thinks male students in philosophy are advantaged in any way. (Gasp!)
Gasp! Never!


Anonymous said...

unless, of course, s/he's hot..

Anonymous said...

Sleeping with a member of your committee might help you get favorable reports or torpedo your chances of finishing, depending on your ability to please....

Anonymous said...

Bad idea jeans.

Anonymous said...

It is almost never "normal" to want to sleep with a philosopher.

Anonymous said...

Don't do it. In undergrad I had a relationship with a teacher (who was a grad student, but still) and even though it lasted over a year & was a good relationship, it sits badly on the conscience for both of us looking back.

Distract yourself, sign up for kickboxing classes that take up all your free time, whatever it takes.

Don't do it.

Anonymous said...

easy call.

never ever ever sleep with a teacher in a department in which you are a student.

there's a good chance that it will hurt you most, screwing up your career.

it's also possible that it will screw up the teacher's career. there may have been a time when the professoriate condoned this stuff or at least turned a blind eye to it.

but no more. now people can be denied tenure, miss promotions, not get letters for their next job, all sorts of things, just because they sleep with a student. colleagues aren't so forgiving.

really, stick with shots of tabasco sauce. much less destructive of self and others.

Anonymous said...

Academics don't do well outside of the non-academic dating pool. Go for it! Just don't ever think you are qualified to teach/research ethics after that.

Anonymous said...

Just convince yourself that you only think you want to sleep with them because subconsciously you want to do better with your dissertation, and that this gives you an excuse to ask them for a lot of feedback on it. Kind of like sublimation of problematic drives into useful channels.

Anonymous said...

I know of a case where a grad student slept with her advisor. They kept their relationship under wraps. She was a foreign student and struggled with her English grammar. Everyone suspected that her advisor wrote her dissertation for her. After defending, he (the advisor) got a position at another institution and they were married just a few months later. So, there are happy endings...but I would suspect that they are rare.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believe my original comment got a whole new post! (Though I am vaguely disappointed that the title was not a lyric from van Halen's 'Hot for Teacher').

I know the desire to sleep with one's advisor is destructive, which is why I haven't done anything about it so far (well, that and fear of rejection). But has anyone else ever felt like this about their advisor?

to anon 3:30 - I don't want a 'happy ending'. I just want him once.

Anonymous said...

great advice, 3:30pm.

and i know of a woman who was struck by lightning, and after she got out of the hospital her acne improved a lot.

so, hey, everyone with skin problems, make sure to go out on the golf course with an umbrella in the next big storm!

fucking anecdotes....yeah, rare indeed are the happy endings for this shit, and even yours has the "happy" aspect that everyone still thinks she didn't write her own dissertation! yeah, you work really hard and then everyone thinks you slept with him so he'd write your diss for you! and then you get to live a life of respect and fulfillment! happy happy!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I know this is off topic, but does anyone happen to know how many books Brian Leiter has sold, or how many libraries own copies of his books? I can't imagine how to find out something like that, and I really, really want to know.

Anonymous said...

absolutely do not do it. the risk is enormous, and the gain cannot possibly be anywhere near what the damage will be.

in all likelihood, the prof will not go along with it. if you make a move, you will find yourself in a terrible situation with your committee member.

do anything you can to curb your infatuation: seek therapy, date anything with a pulse, develop an addiction to computer games -- whatever it takes.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see if we might extend this thread further into a related area.

One presumes, based on the original commenter's adviser being male, that the student who posted the comment is female (though of course, that doesn't HAVE to be the case). The anecdote with the "happy ending" also features a female student and a male adviser. Now, I personally know of two female grad students who have benefited from illicit interaction/relationships with male profs. (For example, one "made out" with a fairly major figure at a very top-ranked program around the time that he wrote her a recommendation.)

My sense is that there's a surprising (even if small) amount of female student/male professor interaction that is inappropriate by any reasonable standard. And while the reverse situation may arise from time to time, I'm personally aware of no story to corroborate even that weak claim.

So the question: Do people think there is an actual asymmetry here? And if so, does anybody think it's of consequence? (Do people think that there is a noteworthy subset of grad students -- more so female than male -- who benefit from illicit relationships with professors?)

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Leiter has ever had any of his books translated into Chinese. There should be an website.

Anonymous said...

Power can make people seem very attractive. You are not seeing him from a very clear perspective.

In addition, since he hasn't been chasing after you (given what you're saying) you risk a whole lot more than rejection. You risk being pitied or scorned for being a sleaze.

O, and ruining your own career, etc.

finally, on the odd chance you aren't the only women in the department, you'll create some large problems for other women too. Like they'll get targeted with resentment, suspected of doing the same, etc.

Anonymous said...

Oh Please! You guys are losing sight of the real issue here. There's a website out there that didn't even count a foreign language translation of one of Leiter's books. Focus people, focus.

Anonymous said...

there may have been a time when the professoriate condoned this stuff or at least turned a blind eye to it.

Seriously... I think this is still true at a lot of places, although maybe not in philosophy, and female students can and do routinely benefit from it professionally. This has been upsetting me for a while, in fact, so if anyone has evidence of retribution or negative consequences that came from the fact of the relationship itself, not just e.g. one party's poor handling of it, it would set my mind a bit more at ease. Or alternately, I guess, has anyone else seen the student-prof hookup informally sanctioned?

I cannot really express how little I want to sleep with anyone in my department, so I am eager to hear that people (female people) unequivocally benefit from not doing it. But maybe it ain't so.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:19, your question surprised me: it seems to me, from personal experience and from that of others, that most frequently, interactions that are 'inappropriate by any reasonable standard' between a senior male and a more junior woman (grad student or otherwise) are to the detriment of the woman, not to her benefit.

Anonymous said...

I think the earlier suggestion that the advisor/grad student relationship is more common where the advisor is male and the student female than vice versa is probably right. After all, there are many more male advisers than female. (this also means there will be a larger number of male advisers in relationships with male students, everything else being equal, than female advisers and female students). If we accept this, we need to ask how this wrong can be righted. Should male graduate students seek out relationships with female advisers in order to balance things out? What if the graduate student feels no attraction at all for his adviser? Is he morally obligated to pursue a relationship with her? I think we can all agree that the answer is yes. (A lingering question: how do same sex relationships between an adviser and his or her advisee affect the stats on this?)

Anonymous said...

I think prof/student relations are generally a bad idea for all the reasons mentioned so please don't take me as condoning them, but these arrangements are not nearly as rare as people are making them out to be. There are dozens of couples in philosophy who 'got started' that way and dozens more where one person in the couple dropped out of philosophy eventually but they stayed a couple. Just a few of the many that leap immediately to mind (the teacher listed first and then the student):

Jennifer Whiting and Tom Berry
John Haugeland and Joan Wellman
Myles and Peggy Brand
Arthur Fine and Mickey Forbes

There are lots and lots and more. So let's not act like this is some rare and strange situation. For better or for worse it is not.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:47:

That's a perfectly fair point, and I should have been clearer in my original formulation of the question. After all, there's no reason the dynamic I'm focusing on must cut only in one direction. As such, it's certainly conceivable that female students -- and maybe even faculty? -- stand to be disadvantaged by "inappropriate interaction" (as I put it) more than they benefit. I haven't got any evidence that this is the case (anecdotal or otherwise), but I can imagine it being true. Can you offer any evidence of this?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:12: Some institutions have stricter policies than others. At my undergrad university it was discovered that a female grad student was in a relationship with a male professor in her department. She was forced to leave the program and he was suspended from teaching for a couple of years.

KateNorlock said...

Anon 9:08 AM wrote:
I am eager to hear that people (female people) unequivocally benefit from not doing it. But maybe it ain't so.

As a tenured woman, I can safely state that I unequivocally benefit from being perceived to write my own work and get my job via my teaching and research efforts, rather than being perceived to be the beneficiary of my superior-philosopher-man-mentor-fucker.

Just the other day, a coworker admired my work, without even a hint of wonder as to whether a man did it for me.

Anonymous said...

Faculty-student is bad enough, but these days universities really will take action against someone who is sleeping with someone he has supervisory relations with also.

The correspondent really needs to forget it if she like/cares about him at all. Or herself.

Anonymous said...

I had sex with an u-grad while a grad, and I quickly realized I couldn't grade her stuff anymore. So, I told the prof I couldn't. No big on his end, but I soon realized that the student now had real power over me. Luckily she was smart, sane, and just awesome to be with. She went to grad school and all was fine.

But, let me say that if you want a relationship with this prof, then see if that can work. Your odds of that are probably better than getting a great job. If you just want to do the nasty, then I would suggest you surf porn in your office and take care of business right there. You will feel better.

I don't think there are any absolutes here b/c sometimes these things work out for the best when you start a relationship like this.

I say don't rule it out! But don't show up to prof's office with your bits hanging out.

Anonymous said...

A "happy ending" sounds exactly like what you want.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:12, anon 9:47 here.

i think in part where it's most obvious that the junior female is harmed is in the kind of talk that popped up above, and which katenorlock so eloquently reacted to: the suspicion routinely sticks to women that they only got there (wherever 'there' may be) because they slept with somebody.
(and how is that supposed to work exactly? i was never clear on the mechanism by which this could be achieved).

another aspect is usually attested to anecdotally, indeed: i know of female grad students dropping out because the situation has become unpleasant; i even know someone who went on to marry the prof she was involved with, but still dropped out, because it was too weird around the department (not for him... he stayed on). and i also know a female professor who married her advisor (or was he just a senior professor where she did her phd, i can't recall), and now, many years later, is still somehow seen as only having made it because of him (although she definitely has made a name for herself).

then there is of course the more immediate dissertation damage: once there is any kind of sexual tension, or if a prof is sexually interested in an advisee (even without any sexual harassment inclinations on his part)it is not her work that's being assessed, nor does she get the advising she needs.

i assume the very last point holds for men with female advisors as well, but the former points do not, for all the usual reasons. now, what happens when such 'inappropriate interactions' occur between advisor and advisee of the same sex, i have no clue!

Anonymous said...

claiming that you "only want to sleep with him once" (5:03) suggests to me in a BIG way that this is more about a power-admiration-intellectualinsecurity dynamic than anything else. if one had the simple, straightforward hots for someone, surely one would want to do it at least, say, ten times. a day. whereas if one's subconscious was just trying to make a point ("this person is not, contrary to belief, completely out of your league"), once would be enough.

i speak from (non)experience. i've wanted to sleep with a philosophy professor in my dept for years, badly, but in my imagination it only ever happens once, and that's all i want.

Anonymous said...

PGOAT can glibly write off the original question by mis-characterizing it as a charge of a "Chick Conspiracy," but the ACTUAL question remains legitimate. I personally know female grad students who HAVE capitalized on illicit relations with male profs, and who have advanced their careers as a result. Meanwhile, while I know many more male grad students overall, I know none who've done the same thing. And so far, nobody else seems to either.

It may well be that the disadvantages of being a woman in this profession outweigh any potential benefits (such as they are) that could be gained (cynically or otherwise) by pursuing a relationship with an adviser. Even if that's true, though, it certainly doesn't justify the (perhaps rare) behavior of some female grad students that is the subject of this discussion.

Anonymous said...

"so I am eager to hear that people (female people) unequivocally benefit from not doing it. "

what are you asking for, 9:08?

you have already heard that vice is often punished; now you want us to tell you that virtue is rewarded, too?

"reader, i didn't fuck him. and i got the plum job, because everyone thought i was so awesomely ethical!"

ain't going to happen. and you probably wouldn't want it to.

philosophers have enough difficulty already policing the bad actors. and, yes, there is some policing of bad actors, despite the fact that we can all list lots of older-generation types who slept with their grad students.

but generally the sanctions are directed at the supervisor, not the student. if girl-student sleeps with boy-advisor, boy-advisor may find his career slows down for unknown reasons. he's considered 'uncollegial', 'unreliable with students', 'not a trustworthy advisor', etc.

isn't that enough?

trust me: you really don't want a bunch of philosophers trying to reward virtue.

anyhow, virtue is only triumphant in theatrical performances.

Anonymous said...

Just keep in mind, those of you worried about illicit advantages, that for every one woman grad student who "gets ahead" by sleeping with her male advisor, there are another two or three or four who have been hit on by old lecherous bearded jerks who either gave up, felt they should change advisors, or lost all confidence in their own abilities because whenever they talked to a professor or fellow grad student they feared the person was only interested in fucking them.

Anonymous said...

I'll address this to the original anon in case (s)he's still reading.

Judging by your second comment, it sounds like you're afraid that having a crush on your advisor makes you bad or freakish. I want to reassure you that you're normal and OK: the fact that this person is your advisor makes them appear smart and powerful (it's a sort of perspective trick), and brains and power are inherently sexy. Hell, I had huge crushes on some of my professors when I was an undergrad. I've grown out of that phase, but I am very happy that I did not sleep with any professors while I was undergoing it. You may find yourself less interested in sleeping with your advisor when you've been around longer, gained more confidence in your own abilities, and gotten more used to the dynamics of the sexy perspective trick. It definitely worked that way for me.

Just to be totally clear, I think actually sleeping with your advisor is a terrible idea. But you're not a bad person for wanting to.

Anonymous said...

I personally know female grad students who HAVE capitalized on illicit relations with male profs, and who have advanced their careers as a result.

I know more female students who have been harassed or assaulted by faculty than I have those who have slept around to get ahead. Easy to do, since the latter is zero.

What's that show? Not a whole lot, really. Anecdotes don't show much.

My sense is that the worry in the undercurrent here, of women sleeping around to get ahead and providing yet another reason why The Job Market, She is So Cruel, is mostly unfounded.

To the Questioner, while many people meet and partner up with other academics, it's never a good idea when it's an advisor-advisee relationship. Even if it's not against university policy, the best case here is that you end up being someone's anecdote about how someone they knew screwed their advisor to get ahead. Who needs that for a one-night stand?

Anonymous said...

If it helps at all, folks, I am super randy and want to fuck everyone, both male and female. In fact, I probably have or will have fucked most people rockin' this Squaresville blog. Your failures are your failures alone; your successes, however, belong to my wang.

Anonymous said...

I am a male graduate student and I am struggling in my program to get good marks. I read this blog every day and I would like to try to sleep in a bed and have intercourse with the female faculty for strategic reasons and romantic reasons also. I have sent out a few electronic mails already to "test the waters" as my American friends say. So far no one has marked the "intercourse now" box that I put on the webmessage. Several of my romantic prospects wrote words back in their electronic mails that surprised me, such as "restraining" and "order" and "fuck off" and other exciting but mysterious phrases. Is this a way of politely declining my offer or are they flirting? Some of these phrases, I have learned, refer to romantic anatomy and actions. I am shy by nature and worry that I have made a mistake but my american friends tell me that I shouldn't worry. they didn't say this exactly but they laugh at me in an encouraging way that makes me send more and more emails! I don't like these unusual mating rituals but I do like my happy americans friends.
I hope this helps with the original question.

Anonymous said...

I think most of you are reading too much into this. The original poster just wants to sleep with her advisor. This doesn't imply that she wants to _get ahead_ by sleeping with her advisor. In fact, it may very well be the threat of in-class tittering and accusatory finger-pointing that has her hot to trot. I mean, why the fuck not risk everything on a one-nighter with one of very few men who could possibly lord his power over her for the remainder of her career? Alternatively, she too could come out on top: able to lord this fling over _him_ at every APA from now until the end of _his_ career; sweet justice for the years of anguish that he put her through as she wrote her dissertation.

No doubt about it, gambling with such power scenarios parallels the sexual fantasies of many.

Anonymous said...

Wait, which Plato dialogue covers sleeping with your professor? Phaedrus?

Anonymous said...

I just want to point out that I'm not interested in my committee member for the sake of marks. I'm doing extremely well on my own, thanks.

After all this very sensible advice, I think I should just get to know anon 8:17 a little better...

Anonymous said...

Well, I've changed my mind and my having changed my mind should absolutely change the mind of our anonymous philosopher.

Assuming that the adviser doesn't have a significant other of any sort and this isn't some attempt to screw someone over/screw your way to the top, our adviser is healthy, and the adviser/advisee relationship has not undermined your autonomy you should finish the dissertation and make a night of it. Just do it in that order.

Yes, the desire to sleep with a philosopher is abnormal. However, the abnormality of that desire does not make the acting on it wrong. I hope not. Every woman I've slept with has wanted to sleep with me precisely because I'm a philosopher with philosopher's traits (i.e., I dress in black, I don't eat much meat, I can't give two shits about football, I'm starved for attention from women and the desperation is adorable, I listen to Yo La Tango etc...).

Good luck, have fun, and don't forget to write after it happens.

Anonymous said...

I would really like to hear how sleeping your way anywhere is supposed to work. Seriously: those who claim that there are any advantages attained by women philosophers by sleeping with their advisors or with anyone in the profession, I truly want to hear how one assumes these advantages are cashed out.
(Faculty meeting:
I think we should hire Ms X., I fucked her last year, and she gives awesome head?)

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:00:

Really? I hope you're joking. It's one thing to say that the type of case in question is rare. That's plausible enough, albeit hard to verify. But it's something completely different to say what you're saying -- namely, that you can't see how such cases would confer an advantage on the student involved. Your example is of sleeping with someone on the search committee at a particular program where you're trying to get hired. That's really not the most likely scenario, is it? Try this: Sleeping with a prof in your OWN department, and thereby getting inflated recommendations -- whether for graduate school applications or for the job market. That's how the advantage is "cashed out." And we need not "assume" anything at all, since it does happen, at least sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Ack! Inflated recommendations? In philosophy? Heaven forbid!

Anonymous said...

...right. Who cares if people get inflated recommendations purely on the basis of sexual relationships with professors.... Are you people serious? How is that in itself a matter of indifference? That's such an obviously untenable position. For a graduate philosophy blog, this comment strand has featured the most absurd (non)argumentation I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

Here is an argument for you:

Since most rec letters are inflated already, the problem isn't fucking to get an inflated rec letter. Why? Cuz if you get a rec letter simpliciter, chances are that shit will be inflated. So fucking doesn't cause inflated rec letters, rec letter writing causes inflated rec letters. Fucking, however, could get someone to write you a rec letter that otherwise wouldn't, and that would be the problem--rather than having a letter include praise you don't deserve, the problem is having a letter you don't deserve including praise you don't deserve.

You like that, Anon 9:34? That make you all tingle-licious?

Anonymous said...

You people are creeps. You're way too outraged and aggressive at the prospect of someone using Teh Sex to get their non-white-dude leg up in the field. What's conspicuously absent is your outrage over the zillions of perks guys get in this discipline. Heaven fucking forbid someone other than you should dare capitalize on an unfair advantage.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:34

Of course, if you had read the ACTUAL question and the conversation that followed, you could've saved yourself an embolism. It was noted earlier on that there may very well be more disadvantages to being a woman than could ever be made up for by this particular way of carrying oneself. And nobody ever suggested that it's super common, or that because it's possible to do this, you're better off as a woman in the profession. Can you, you know, respond to the actual statements that have been made as opposed to reflexively getting offended? I was just asking for perspectives on how common of a phenomenon this is.

Let's take a look at the argument we can distill from YOUR comments:
P1: White dudes have advantages (presumably over non-white dudes).
Therefore: Even though being a white dude is genetically-determined and not a choice, it's a matter of indifference if everyone who isn't a white dude does (almost?) whatever they can to advance their careers.

Is that about right? Hmm... compelling! And I say that as a "non-white dude," so I don't get to take full advantage of the "zillions of perks" you so vaguely refer to.

As for Anon 10:44, that's ALSO a bad argument. First of all, saying that most rec letters are inflated is questionable on its face. Second, even if it were true, that doesn't meant that having sex with someone couldn't ALSO cause inflated rec letters. Third, and related to number two, if almost all rec letters are "inflated" and that's part of the convention, as long as the inflation tracks academic performance, then it really doesn't advantage anybody illicitly (since almost everyone benefits from it) -- as opposed to, say, having sex with the recommender (or anything else, for that matter, like bribery). Finally, even if none of those problems were present, the conclusion of your argument is pretty much as noteworthy as the conclusion of mine, so I don't see why that should prevent one from asking about it.

Apparently this subject is too sensitive for a rational discussion, even among anonymous participants. As such, I withdraw it until everyone can grow up.

Anonymous said...

You know, it sounds as if most you simply need to be on the receiving end of a solid fucking. Chill the fuck out, peeps. Let the maestro fiddle with your diddle parts so you can purge yourself of all these pent up frustrations and juices. I promise to write you a stellar rec letter (except for Anon 2:37, you just get a hardcore spite fucking).

Anonymous said...

OMG, Anon 3:33. Spitefuck me too. I'm a good philosophygirl. But spitefuck me anyway. That's so hot.

Anonymous said...

"[L]et me start off by asking whether anyone thinks male students in philosophy are advantaged in any way. (Gasp!)"

This strikes me as rather poor argument that it's morally permissible for a woman (or anyone else) to further their careers in this way. Even if it were true that male students are advantaged in philosophy, that seems to be totally independent of this question.

Unfortunately it's all too easy to acquire a victim complex. I see this kind of reasoning used all the time to justify unacceptable behaviour.

Anonymous said...

way earlier on this thread, a few ppl asked about same-sex inappropriate behavior. ask and ye shall receive....

so i'm a poof, and i've had some experience with this. of course, there are like, what, eight senior gay philosophers in the English speaking world? So it doesn't come up very often. (There may be slightly more lesbian philosophers, but I can only speculate.) There are of course more and more gay grad students and Asst Profs, but this is pretty recent.

As it happens, I had two encounters with gay professors. both turned out horribly. in the first instance, i fucked a senior professor at a conference very early on in my career. i'm sure i had mixed motives, as he was more than twice my age. still, fame and intellect are very sexy. we were together for the whole conference, and then he wanted to keep in touch. he offered to read some of my manuscripts, etc etc. but once i made it clear that i didnt want to continue a romantic relationship with him--all i wanted was that conference experience--he stopped giving me professional advice and encouragement. so i basically lost a mentor in the profession bc of a three-day fuck. or maybe he was never interested in my work in the first place. of course, i'll never know. thankfully, he retired soon after, so i dont have to confront this again.

having learned my lesson, i resolved to keep my zipper up in professional settings. a few years later, a member of my committee outright propositioned me. i politely declined, even though i was attracted to him. but he must have taken the rejection badly or something, and he turned on me. i eventually had to alter the dissertation so that i could plausibly request to replace him on the committee. it was extremely awkward and unpleasant.

in the end, it's like you get screwed either way.... and at least in my case, the student is at a distinct power disadvantage. ppl who said that professors get in trouble for this sort of thing don't know what they are talking about. the university / department / the powers that be will almost always side with the prof, unless there is clear, demonstrable abuse of power.

in the end, i dont think that same-sex inappropriate relationships are any different, beyond being rarer. student-teacher relationships are a bad, bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Experience has convinced me of what none of you could.

Despite your collective advice that sleeping with one's advisor is a bad idea, I retained the desire to do so - right up until three days ago, when one of my undergraduate students hit on me. I rejected him. Not because I think he's unattractive, but because I realized that 1) it's totally unethical for me to fuck him 2) it could get messy and 3) he is too young to be much good at it.

This made me realize that my advisor quite possibly thinks of me in the same way as I think of the undergraduate. (Wrongly, I might add, since I am rather good in bed). *Voila* Desire gone!