Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Sexual Ignorance

What the author of the previous (and shockingly ridiculous) post mistook for sexual harassment is the environment of joy and excitement that accompanies the sharing and discovery of knowledge.

When, for instance, I come into my History of Latin America class, the 29 students look at me like they are in love. It’s not love of me as an individual and there’s definitely nothing whatsoever erotic about it. What the students are in love with is all of the fascinating knowledge we are discovering in class and the joy of learning and thinking.

In grad school, it’s even more intense because aside from the love of learning, students also feel love for the profession and for their future professional selves that they see in their teachers. If learning is organized correctly, the air crackles with the high voltage of ideas getting generated.

Either wilfully or out of sheer ignorance, the linked author confused this kind of intellectual excitement with erotic arousal. She isn’t totally to blame, of course, given that the degree of puritanism in our supposedly sexually liberated world is such that people seriously proclaim that “the brain is the sexiest organ of all.”

Like in the story of a comic’s failed date, people who see (or offer) such narratives as evidence of sexual harassment are grievously ignorant. And everybody seems too embarrassed to tell them how ridiculous they sound.


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One thought on “Sexual Ignorance

  1. Hm. I’ve had an inappropriate proposition or two but nothing I couldn’t just brush off. I always wonder whether the people who get stuck in situations that are coercive and exploitative are exaggerating the risk of breaking up.

    Then I remember my ex, who was a professor in another department. I did in fact delay breaking up because I feared reprisals via the administration, and time proved I wasn’t wrong because he did eventually try for that with some success. I tend to forget that this is what much sexual harassment is like — it’s not out of the blue demands, it’s relationships that get formed, and that initially seem normal, but that you then realize are potentially dangerous to leave because the person is vengeful and has the means to exact vengeance via career.

    I have to reread the post, though, to find where she talks about sexual harassment. It seemed like a post on gender discrimination, so I must have been reading too fast.


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