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Academic Conference Attendee’s Casual Encounters Ad Goes Viral, Prompts An Apology

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Academic Conference Attendee’s Casual Encounters Ad Goes Viral, Prompts An Apology

Academia: sucking the fun out of everything since the days of Plato.

By Jessie Lochrie

The Modern Language Association, best known for making college students sweat over correctly formatted citations in academic papers, is holding its yearly conference in Chicago, and one attendee has taken to the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist to find some conference companionship. Obviously, the grammar in his ad is flawless: 

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.

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.) 

Over the course of the interview we begin to cast flirtatious sidelong glances, adopt inviting body language and inch toward one other. At the right moment one of us makes the bold move of an innocent touch on the shoulder, followed by leaning in for a kiss. We both know it's wrong, but we're too titillated to stop.”

His academic fantasy having gone viral, the original poster returned to his ad to make an edit, commenting that he realized that it reinforced “power structures” of gender and rank within the academy, and added that, “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.” Realizing that the ad would be on the internet “until Armageddon,” he left the original text up. Upon making this addendum, he was immediately offered a job at Sarah Lawrence College. (Not really.)

While there are undoubtedly very real issues with sexual power structures and harassment in academia, and all other fields, which his ad tapped into, the original poster shouldn’t have felt like he needed to apologize for his fantasy. No one should be made to feel as if their sexual desires or fantasies are wrong: as long as it involves two consenting adults, it doesn’t require an apology. Obviously the presence of these “power structures” are exactly what is so titillating to the poster. It doesn’t mean that sexism or sexual harassment in the academy is okay. But there’s also nothing wrong with fantasizing about getting down with a sexy interviewer. Academia: sucking the fun out of everything since the days of Plato.  

Image via Veer