Vice Squad
Monday, April 07, 2008
 
BDSM Phone Sex and Faculty, Grad Student Relations


Via SWOP-East Vice Squad learns of some ongoing controversy at the University of New Mexico (while generating a much more sensational blog post title than is the Vice Squad norm). Most of our information comes from a series of three articles at Sex in the Public Square (Here are articles one, two, and three.) Seems that a (tenured) faculty member in English was also engaged in some phone sex work with a BDSM angle. The phone sex, of course, is completely legal. (Everyone involved in the story is an adult.) Photos were taken for advertising purposes, and in (at least?) one of the photos, the professor was shown with one of her female graduate students. That student was also working for the phone sex company. News of the photo leaked, some colleagues were outraged, the university investigated, and found that there was no reason to sanction the prof. Then the director of the creative writing program resigned the directorship in protest at the lack of university sanctions; the resignation did not extend to her faculty position, only to the directorship.

The second of the linked articles consists of an interview with the professor involved. (The third article features the voice of the grad student.) She makes a couple of points that cohere with my own personal experience. First, that unmarried faculty often are socially more connected with (mostly unmarried) graduate students than they are with their married faculty colleagues. ("...as an unmarried woman in a department of married people with families, I often find I have more in common with the graduate students than I do with my colleagues.") And second, that vice (or vice policy) work leads to increased recognition and tolerance for other people's "vices". ("I also learned to be even less judgmental than I had been before about other people’s sexual choices. So many callers had felt years of shame for their particular interests, and often it was a relief for them simply to be able to talk without being judged.")

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