Double Standard in Action

We called him Loofty. We teased him good-naturedly about how grumpy he was. We screeched and hollered with delight when he’d do something that previous classes had received as evidence of his hardness. . . One day, he came to class wearing, instead of his ancient, tattered, fatigues-green lab coat, a bright, crisp, new white lab coat. “Loofy, looking FOXY!” I said. C and I made exaggerative “sexy” gestures, hands against our foreheads as we pretended to faint, licking our index fingers and sizzling them against our butts.

Of course, if male students did that to a female teacher, that would be bullying, sexual harassment, and evidence that women are sexually objectified at work. When this is something that female students did to a male teacher, it becomes a cute little anecdote a feminist blogger shares with her audience while said feminist audience swoons with delight.

And that, my friends, is the double standard in action.

Mental Health and Grad School

He said that he does not know the historical period in question, and invited me to send my academic material to his boyfriend who is a specialist. If you don’t see that this is not appropriate, you are either incompetent or corrupted. Which one is it?

You say that there is no need for Bailey to apologize?

He referred to the Mother of God as a “symbol” that is not really true. In class, he talked about the “boobs” of the Vigin Mary. What is your field, Barnaby, administration or academics? Do you not know that people can be dismissed for saying this sort of nonsense against other people’s faith? . . .

God comes like a thief in the night for all the corrupted hypocrites of this world. He says so both in the Old and in the New Testament: do you also think that the Word of God is “unprofessional and unacceptable”?

Why don’t you tell Him so when you appear before His Throne, and see how He reacts to that.

Who will save you from your “feeling of grievance” then?

You’d think this is a petulant 11-year-old, firing off angry Facebook status updates, right? You’d be mistaken, though. In a new weird development surrounding my alma mater, a graduate student has been writing numerous long and rude emails to the Assistant Dean of Yale’s graduate school.

I know Dean Barnaby and he always seemed a highly professional and helpful administrator. There were several administrative issues I faced as a grad student (having to do with my visa and financial status) that Dean Barnaby resolved very effectively. I can’t imagine him having any interest in discriminating against anybody because of their Catholicism, which is what this student accuses him off. In my numerous interactions with the Dean, he never addressed my religious affiliation in any way. I always got the impression that he had way too much administrative issues on his plate to care about anything like that. By the way, at my department at Yale, most people were Catholic (for the obvious reasons), and I can’t remember their faith being any sort of an issue for anybody at any point.

In the correspondence with this irate grad student, Dean Barnaby goes out of his way to be helpful. He even states that the student will continue receiving the full stipend in spite of not being able to work as a TA, which is something everybody is required to do at this point of grad school:

Because you have shown no understanding of the inappropriateness of your behavior, you will not be able to continue in your role as a teaching fellow. However, the University will provide you with the standard stipend for a University Fellowship this term.

The student, however, continues to rant in a way that makes one very worried about her mental health.

The reason why I’m posting these excerpts from an extremely weird correspondence between a grad student and an administrator is that people often fail to realize what an enormous emotional and psychological toll grad school can take on them. I’ve known several people who ended up at psychiatric facilities or in alcohol rehab centers because grad school turned out to be too much for them.

Read the entire correspondence, folks. Read it and remember that grad school is very tough. You need to take care of your mental health just like you need to take care of your physical well-being. If you don’t engage in constant and very deliberate psychological hygiene, you might start to unravel. And then, one day, you just might find yourselves firing off completely unhinged emails about Virgin Mary’s boobs.

Thank you, dear fellow Yalie, for sending me this priceless link.

Sloppiness Is Not a Marketable Skill

Out of 41 students (in two sections), 36 lost points on the mini-quiz because they didn’t notice one of the questions. The question was accompanied by a picture that occupied almost a quarter of the page. (This is Spanish Elementary II, we describe pictures a lot.) Mind you, the students knew how to do the assignment because the absolute majority did four very similar tasks perfectly. They just didn’t notice this question. When I asked them why they thought the huge picture was even there if it wasn’t supposed to be addressed as part of the mini-quiz, they just stared at me blankly.

There were several ways of realizing that the question and the picture were part of this mini-quiz. Yet, most students just skipped it. These are very good students, people. They could have all gotten As and Bs if they had done the entire set of assignments. And there was time aplenty. The students rushed out of the classroom at least 10 minutes before the time had run out.

Of course, the students were unhappy about losing points. I, however, think that I was right in reducing their grades. Sloppiness is not a marketable skill. No matter how bright you are, if you can’t be careful and meticulous about your work, you will not be very successful. I say this from personal experience. I don’t find it hard to generate ideas and come up with interesting new readings of the works of literature that I analyze. It’s the sloppiness that often gets me down. Checking all quotes, dates of publication, names, places, spellings – what a drag! I realized, however, that my carelessness was an act of disrespect towards my own work.

Believe me, it is very humiliating to get a response from a reviewer who mentions that I used the word “faucet” instead of “facet” (my written English is very good, so I really know the difference) and that I quoted the title of the novel I analyze incorrectly.

Now that I have learned for myself how detrimental sloppiness can be, I think it’s my duty to transmit this knowledge to the students.

What do you, people, think? Was I right to reduce the grades because of this act of sloppiness?

Why Should My Partner Want to Have Sex With Me?

I have to confess, folks, the following line of argument scares the living bejeesus out of me:

The great sex therapist, David Schnarch, writes in his Passionate Marriage (the best sex advice book for couples in long-term relationships I’ve ever seen) that we do well to avoid the question “Why doesn’t my wife (or my husband, or my bf, gf, what-have-you) want to have sex with me?” The whole structure of the question, Schnarch says, misses the point. It assumes a strong libido is the default setting in any romantic relationship. Rather, we should ask “Why should my partner want to have sex with me?” And also “Why do I really want to have sex with him or her?”

I know there are huge fans of Schnarch hanging around this blog (wink, wink), but, with all due respect, seriously? To me, this entire paragraph sounds like all shades of crazy. What is this “strong libido” thing even supposed to mean?

The way I see it, the only possibility of coexisting happily, joyfully and peacefully with another person is predicated on a profound mutual sexual attraction. If that overpowering physical desire is not there, people will just eat each other alive because of their small quirks and differences. (Or will become so emotionally distanced as to turn into de facto roommates.)

I know I’m super annoying as a partner. I blab on the phone with my sister for hours every day, I’m messy, I cover every area of the apartment with cups of unfinished beverages, I overspend and go on and on about how guilty it makes me feel. Probably, one could see N. as annoying, too. He plays Call of Duty until very late at night every night and then he is cranky and exhausted on the next day.

We never get annoyed with each other, though. Everything he does looks indescribably attractive to me. And he feels the same about me, of course. The reason why we cherish every aspect of each other’s being is our boundless sexual passion for each other. There hasn’t been a single moment in our relationship when I did not passionately desire him.

Desiring a person doesn’t, of course, mean being able to perform sexually at every point. Everybody is human. People get sick, exhausted, whatever. But incapacity to perform right at this very moment does not translate into an absence of desire.

So to answer the title question of this post, “Why should my partner want to have sex with me?”: because if he doesn’t, this means he doesn’t love me. If this ever happens to me in my relationship, I will know that it’s time to move on and let him find a person he will really love.

I believe that if it comes to the point of “Why doesn’t my wife (or my husband, or my bf, gf, what-have-you) want to have sex with me?” (emphasis mine), as opposed to “Of course, he desires me passionately but just can’t perform a traditional, full-blown sex act right now because of health / exhaustion / whatever else”, this is the end of a romantic relationship as I see it.

If you want a really stupid piece of writing on the subject from one Amanda Marcotte, however, here is an excerpt:

It’s an indicator of how male-dominated our society is that the fact that women have diminishing libidos and don’t seem to care that much about it is treated as the problem, when in fact it’s merely the symptom of a larger problem–that women feel overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, understimulated, and shamed about their bodies. If we treated the actual problems that women face, higher libidos would be the happy result, I’m sure.

Got it? Women feel sexual desire in response to being paid more money and being given more help, encouragement, and compliments. From men, as far as I can gather. This is what passes for mainstream feminism this days, folks. Give her a huge cash gift, pay for a nanny and a housekeeper, praise her, and her desire for you – or for somebody – will shoot straight up. The possibility of women experiencing sexual desire as a basic human need is not even discussed. Just substitute any other basic physiological necessity for sexual desire in this paragraph (eating, sleeping, excreting, etc.) and see how much sense it makes to analyze one’s hunger or need for sleep in terms if one has been “appreciated” enough.

As I said before, I’m yet to meet a male chauvinist pig who can manage to make me feel as humiliated as some feminists do.