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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



Sex as a Pedagogical Failure


Amia Srinivasan • All Souls College, Oxford University

November 29 @ 6 P.M. via Zoom

In the early 1980s, U.S. universities began regulating sexual relationships between professors and students. Such regulations are routinely justified by a rationale drawn from sexual-harassment law: the power differential between professor and student precludes the possibility of genuine consent on the student’s part. This rationale is problematic for its protectionist and infantilizing attitude toward (generally) women students. But it is also problematic in that it fails to register what is truly ethically troubling about consensual professor-student sex. A professor’s having sex with his student, Srinivasan argues, constitutes a pedagogical failure: that is, a failure to satisfy the duties that arise from the practice of teaching. What is more, much consensual professor-student sex constitutes a patriarchal failure: such relationships often feed on, and reinforce, women’s second-class standing in higher education.

Consent & Subjection
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