by A “Student” of Love
From time to time, The Awl offers its space to everyday citizens with something to say.
In a Chronicle of Higher Education cover story by Laura Kipnis that is just now leaking its way from the academic Internet towards the general interest Internet, the Northwestern film professor savages the growing vogue for victimhood among today’s young people. She writes:
But what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life? What becomes of students so committed to their own vulnerability, conditioned to imagine they have no agency, and protected from unequal power arrangements in romantic life? I can’t help asking, because there’s a distressing little fact about the discomfort of vulnerability, which is that it’s pretty much a daily experience in the world, and every sentient being has to learn how to somehow negotiate the consequences and fallout, or go through life flummoxed at every turn.
A completely unassailable and terribly accurate statement. It’s all bad news for today’s students. If you’ve ever been harassed on campus and found it terrible, just you wait until you get harassed in the workplace! It’s a real treat! The best part is getting up and going to work every day.
And while universities are currently stuck in a senseless loop of idiotic sexual assault investigation processes, creating tribunals that literally make no sense, well… wait till you meet the NYPD. Enough said.
But harrowingly, Kipnis begins her argument with this:
You have to feel a little sorry these days for professors married to their former students. They used to be respectable citizens — leaders in their fields, department chairs, maybe even a dean or two — and now they’re abusers of power avant la lettre. I suspect you can barely throw a stone on most campuses around the country without hitting a few of these neo-miscreants. Who knows what coercions they deployed back in the day to corral those students into submission; at least that’s the fear evinced by today’s new campus dating policies. And think how their kids must feel! A friend of mine is the offspring of such a coupling — does she look at her father a little differently now, I wonder.
I am one of those children who now lives in the darkness.
When people ask me what my parents do, I string together some lies. I tell them: “My father is a professor and… my mother was never a student!”
Yes, using only the power of his mind and of his completed doctoral thesis, he commanded her, Dracula-style, into some filthy teacher’s room. There was nothing she could do but marry him and then, for nine-ish months of torment, she carried me, their unholy intra-departmental fruit.
He didn’t even have the mercy to hunt outside his discipline.
They stayed married until one day she fainted on the quad and was carried off to safety by a group of wily librarians.
I will carry this shame with me forever. A dalliance of a teacher and a student, who had no hope of consent — as unequal as a human and a feline! What hope is there for me?
Some day I will join with others similarly situated and we will found a colony of our own and, most likely, engage in neuterings and spayings. Until then I must let my grotesque existence be the reminder for all students to avoid the gazes and alcoholic offerings of their professors — no matter that professor’s gender, specialty or tenure status. Trust no instructor. Be hot for no teacher.
A “Student” of Love is a lonely RA on an all-gender dorm floor near you.