Thursday, July 22, 2004


Anonymity, Academic Blogs, and the Word Fuck

Ok, 3 posts in one day.  What this says to me is that my procrastinating is going very, very well.  This, however, will be the last one.  Over at on Monday, some interesting commentary on the prevalence of anonymous academic blogging, so I feel like I should explain my own anonymity.  My colleagues (and anybody who's ever met me, or seen me speak at a conference, or read my published work) know that I say the word "fuck."  And it's not about thinking tenure depends upon putting forward an image that I have no hobbies but work constantly.  It is, however lame it may seem, about privacy and maintaining a certain amount of respect as a professor, both with students and colleagues. 

Let me tell a little story and perhaps that will make my position clear.

Earlier in the summer I had sex (on more than one occasion) with one of my colleagues.  Let's say I am writing a blog with my name on it.  And I want this blog to deal not only with what books I'm reading but also with the personal side of academic life as a single woman.  And let's say I discuss the fact that I am fucking my colleague in secret, to let other sex-having-but-unmarried professors know that they are not alone.  First, that compromises my colleague's privacy.  Second, if anyone we work with reads it, things automatically become dicy at collegial functions.  Third, if my students read it, they know that I had crazy sex with the professor down the hall, they see me as a crazy sex-haver, and all of a sudden I have even more male students writing inappropriate descriptive essays about women's tits than I've got already. 

Simply, my anonymity means that I can write about being sexual without fearing that I will be punished for being a whore.  The fact of the matter is, academic culture - in spite of all of its theorizing about gender and sexuality - does not leave room for sex and sexuality, particularly where women are concerned.  As a woman professor, I'm supposed to be leading a life of the mind, and I'm not supposed to be regularly getting drunk out of my mind and fucking people whom I don't love.  And if my colleagues or students or administration know that, well, then they will think of me differently precisely because I am a woman.  And, to be quite honest, I don't think it's really any of their business. 

Finally, a thought: I wonder how one might relate this tendency toward anonymous blogging to the tradition of anonymous or pseudonymous writing prior to the 20th century -  by women writers most notably, but also by pornographic writers.  On the one hand the issue of gender/sexuality seems central, but also perhaps this tendency toward anonymity signals an attempt to circumvent the increased surveillance that technology allows?  I know I wouldn't want somebody to google my name looking to see what conferences I've attended recently and to happen upon this blog.... 


OMG, omg: do not give up this blog.

I say fuck too. In the classroom even (my coastal urban students took it in stride, but the midwestern provincials I have now make fun of me and it pisses me off).

You said a lot of things here that I was trying to say, much better than I did. And your thoughts on technology/surveillance are suggestive for something I'm working on. It'll have to remember to thank "Dr. Crazy" in my acknowledgments ;)

Let me buy you a drink.
Do you seriously get male students writing inappropriate descriptive essays about tits? I admit, in my own juvenile way, I find that hilarious. Although I might not if I were the recipient of said essays and had to comment on them. My ex once got an essay about the finer points of selecting a tampon. I think it scarred him for life.

Sigh. My grad students are just so boring. They wouldn't dare do anything like that. On the one hand, their predictability can be nice ... but some days I long to just shake up their world a little bit.
Well, I exaggerated a _tiny_ bit about the boys in my classes writing about tits.... It has happened - and more than once - and always for some reason with the descriptive essay assignment - but it's not like 75% of them are doing this or anything. The worst one was last semester when for his descriptive essay a student went to the auto show and observed the Trim Spa girls there. I seem to recall that the words "bosom," "breast," and "chest" were all featured. Obviously his need for synonyms illustrates just how much of this two-page assignment was about boobs. My comments were something to the effect of:

"Wow. You did a great job of describing your subject, and I really do see her from your perspective. That said, I'm not sure I'm comfortable seeing her exactly through your eyes. Perhaps one thing you can work on is thinking about your audience more as you write?"

God, being a teacher at Regional Crap University where there aren't really grad students (more on that in a future post) is grueling, but it's definitely interesting. And yes, it was kind of funny, but also hard to deal with tactfully, as I didn't want to hurt his feelings by telling him he was a pig.

I _love_ that somebody wrote a tampon essay for your ex. I think more of those are definitely in order for the male professoriate so that they can feel the pain of the similar harassment that I experience - hehe!
Do*NOT*stop blogging! This is the funniest, most perceptive posting I've come across this year. Just re-entered academia after a 20-year hiatus (after a highly successful media career..a lot of satisfying work balanced with infrequent wild affairs). Older but no wiser in academia ...Still have the same problems...procrastination, alcohol,men (and I'm considerably older than you). Plus the eternal 'smart woman'/sex dichotomy. The answer? Keep your anonymity, have sex as often as you please, and keep blogging. Women in academia need more role models like you and Bitch Phd. Life is too short. Thanks for reminding me about life's priorities.
As a student, I have to say I'm not that surprised. . . A psycology professor at my local community college teaches a human sexuality class and one of the lessons involved video porn. The students had to take notes on all the different positions used, emotions of the participants, etc. Needless to say it was the gossip of the week, but more professors seemed to be more interested in how she got away with showing porn than being offended. I don't know where the administration stood on it, but I suppose academic freedom protects it. . . Just hope the religious right doesn't find out! Anyway, I forgot what this had to do with your blog - I suppose thats what I get for writing comments around 1am after studying my brain to mush over physics.
As a male professor who is young, single, in shape, and fairly good looking, I have a hard time differentiating between female students who are genuinely interested in me or merely attracted to authority. Yes, I am looking for a mate---and no I don’t comb over my students for one---but the attraction is there. The mini-skirt equation is always difficult because I don’t know where to place my eyes when the old “peeka boo” hits. I believe I should take what’s given and enjoy the scenery---those long tan legs are so inviting, but the warning voice preaches on. I do admit to fantasizing about fucking a few of them, but know this will lead me into a tangled web. When I hear about the boldness of other professors inviting students to their houses for dinner—I just wonder at their recklessness.
Its tough being good—and I wonder if being good in the end is really worth that much when you are alone.
You guys are sick f----. I hope u all take a long look in the mirror and smile on..
When you are on your death bed..will you think of the lives of people that you literally fucked up or will you just be reincarnated as a trash whore who gets raped everyday of his/her life.

women admit to having sex just for pleasure and adventure at a higher rate than in previous years …
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