Perhaps it’s possible to separate the thrill of encountering a fascinating mind from the fizz of libido, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to.
That species of desire makes ideas feel more vitally connected to our bodily lives and tells us that passions can be spurred by qualities deeper than six-pack abs.
As a result, Kipnis herself became the subject of a disturbingly opaque investigation, although she was soon cleared.
Then she wrote about Exactly what happened between the philosophy professor and his two students is not all that material to Kipnis’s argument: She is more concerned that the new university strictures permit only one view of student-faculty relationships, when in fact, like most human connections, they sprawl across a bewildering spectrum.
The official model will of course apply in some cases, but it will also do an injustice in a great many others.
In particular, this model invalidates the student’s own desire and self-determination.
Like many vaguely parental relationships, the pedagogic one can have a strong and unsettling erotic undertow.
Yet at the root of this queasy dynamic was genuine intellectual excitement.
His class set off a series of firecrackers in my understanding of books, ideas whose impact I can still recollect vividly.
Like a drunk person or a child, a student, by definition, cannot consent to a tryst with a faculty member.
As Harvard’s policy puts it, “Even when both parties have consented at the outset to the development of a romantic or sexual relationship between individuals of different University status, it is the person in the position of greater authority who, by virtue of his or her special responsibility and the core educational mission [of the faculty of Arts and Sciences], will be held accountable for unprofessional behavior.” How did we get to the point of protecting young adults’ feelings by denying that their feelings count?