Academic Erotica Turns Apologetic Over PC Backlash

Infidelity is fine, but conforming to traditional gender roles is a no-no

A Craigslist ad asking for some erotic role-play taken out in advance of a literature conference made national headlines last week because of the perverse and unusual descriptions it contained. Vitae broke the story:

“I will arrive at your MLA hotel room, in my interview suit, ready to discuss my research, my place in my field, my theoretical approaches, my teaching methods, etc.,” he writes. “You ask me the appropriate questions and listen, interrupt, challenge, acting as a typical faculty member of a hiring committee. You explain that your colleagues are respectively ill in bed and unable to attend because of personal obligations, but, yes, you are authorized to advance my candidacy.”

That said, he’s also open to “flipping the script” and letting the woman play the job applicant. Either way, one can assume where the interview heads next. (I’ll give you a hint—He probably won’t ask about her Fulbright scholarship).

The author, who identified himself as married, and employed at a major research University, told Vitae that he had engaged in casual encounters of the sort previously:

The author, a successful guy who works at a research university, has had a few flings at MLA conferences in the past. Out of seven trips to the annual event, he says, he’s “gotten together with someone twice”—good for a solid .286 batting average. What’s more, he says, “one woman turned out to be from a nearby school, and we made plans and went on several dates over a period of months.”

But he adds: “This was my first attempt to do something via Craigslist.”

But the author is now apologizing, not for the unapologetic pursuits of infidelity, but for running afoul of the politically correct guidelines the academic culture holds so dear:

“I am rather ashamed to have been blind to the fact that my proposal can be easily seen as playing into power structures and abuses toward which I harbor great opposition—having to do with gender and rank,” he said. “I am now trying to think of ways I can remedy what damage I have done.”

He considered taking the post down, he said, but “it is likely out there on the web until armageddon now.” So he instead published an addendum to the ad to clarify his intentions. In academic fashion, pillow talk quickly turned into theory-and-praxis.

“It came to my attention rather belatedly that this post has gone rather viral and caused much consternation and controversy,” the note states. “The debate has drawn my attention to the fact that the post can be seen to perpetuate two power structures within the academy: those of gender and academic rank. The fact that this was inadvertent is irrelevant; I understand now I have done a disservice to all scholars who are victim of these structures, and all those who will be victims of it in the future. I am sorry.”

So, for wondering what’s wrong with America’s universities, this episode provides at least some insight: Academics can't even cheat without delving into self-effacing fealty over primal interest in gender roles