I would like to respond to BB, the white woman with the African-American boyfriend who wrote in about her Amistad-slavery fantasy. I saw Amistad, and I think some scenes were supposed to be turn-ons. It sexualized oppression, objectification, and slavery.
Amistad aside, I think BB is very courageous to admit to a fantasy that many of us share but are too ashamed to discuss. Having the freedom to be open to sexual objectification is so satisfying. It is equally amazing how power relations are racially mapped on interracial couplings, especially black-white couplings. I recall how in one relationship my lover and I, who loved talking nasty while looking at our reflections in a mirror, started talking reductively: i.e., my black dick, her white cunt, etc. It was so exciting to let go. We finally worked up to her calling me “nigger” and me calling her “bitch.” It was thrilling and scary, and I can’t really describe it.
I think that people want to recognize how racialized bodies are sexy. I know a few interracial couples (black male/white female) where the word “nigger” uttered during sex play puts everything on the table. BB is on the right path: when you have a desire, you need to confront it. It takes true bravery, trust, and understanding to explore that terrain, and I wish her luck. Until we do face up to our racist and racialized desires, racism will continue to flourish.
–Freeing to Be Me
Some folks find reveling in the sexual stereotypes attributed to their race, gender, sexual orientation–whatever–to be thrilling, exciting, and intensely erotic. Some folks have also found that, absent preplanning, springing these kinds of revels on an unprepared partner can get you punched in the nose. We all internalize powerful prejudices and stereotypes–about ourselves and others–and indulging them during sex can be so naughty, so forbidden, that under the right circumstances and with the right partner, letting it rip can be intensely erotic. BUT: for playful nigger/bitch, trade/faggot, john/whore banter to work–and by “work” I mean “not do emotional harm to one or both participants”–you both gotta be on the same page. Never spring “nigger,” “cunt,” “bitch,” or “faggot” on an unprepared sex partner. Before you hurl epithets, you need to have a nice long chat about why this loaded language is a turn-on for you and whether it could be a turn-on for your partner.
Making sure you’re both on the same page doesn’t mean you have to talk it over with a shrink or present your lover with a written proposal–that would definitely kill the romance of being called “bitch” in the heat of the moment. From your letter, FTBM, it seems clear that you didn’t have a chat with your ex but built up to nigger/bitch very slowly. I’m all for gradually pushing the envelope and avoiding a pleasure-smothering nuts-and-bolts conversation, and I’m glad that worked for you. But folks should bear in mind that this terrain is so contested that it may be wiser to risk a spontaneity-killing talk than risk a spontaneous trip to the emergency room to set a broken nose.
Thank you for printing the letter from Don’t Use My Name, the male teacher with a crush on a young woman who was recently one of his students. Thank you for giving me an insight into the mind of a dangerous and manipulative man, a man who is indirectly responsible for making my life more difficult.
I am also a young male teacher. I have also sometimes wondered why teacher-education programs don’t focus on the subject of teacher-student romances. One answer could be found in DUMN’s letter: such romances are “just plain WRONG no matter what.” I think that many people would agree with that–so why should teacher-education programs waste time talking about it? It is just wrong to sleep with one of your students. If someone has to brace himself not to fall for some kid in his homeroom, he should get out of the profession.
The real question he seems to be asking is this: “Why is it wrong to sleep with an 18-year-old girl who I don’t teach anymore?” I’ve got an answer for you, DUMN: It’s manipulative, unethical, dishonest, and pathetic. You (and I) were hired to teach, and a big part of that job is trust. You met this young woman while in a position of responsibility, and even if she is 18 and an adult, you were flat-out wrong to have pursued her. It doesn’t matter if she hung up on you or sent you a Valentine’s Day card. Your decision to ignore professional ethics, the expectations of the community, and the express wishes of this girl’s family pisses me off.
Why? Because for every mind-warping con artist like you, there are a hundred teachers who have to remember to keep their doors open when they talk to students one-to-one. Thanks to your indulgent, immature behavior, serious teachers have yet one more reminder of how an innocuous remark could be passed on to a parent who, sick to death of hearing about the LeTourneaus of the world, has no choice but to assume the worst. Regardless of what decision you make, you’ve already done a fair amount of damage. Leave her alone.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, Dan, and thanks for calling this guy what he is: a potential sex offender.
I didn’t call DUMN a sex offender, potential or otherwise. He’s 25 years old, and his former student is 18. Last time I checked, there’s no sex offense when a 25-year-old bangs an 18-year-old, even if the 18-year-old used to be his student. It may not be ethical, but it ain’t illegal.
I did say that if DUMN went ahead and established a support group for teachers with similar feelings, they would be viewed as a bunch of sex offenders. While I generally agree with your hard-line stance vis-a-vis teacher-student relations, I also know that there’s nothing uncommon about 25-year-olds falling in love with 18-year-olds. People can’t always help how they feel or where they meet. So while I’m hep to your hard line, I also think there’s room for gray in this picture.
If DUMN really wants a clue as to what’s going on, tell him to check out Peter Rutter’s book Sex in the Forbidden Zone: When Men in Power–Therapists, Doctors, Clergy, Teachers and Others–Betray Women’s Trust. Its “dated” heterosexist bias (male professionals, female clients-students) shouldn’t be a hindrance in this case. I wish I’d been as smart as the student who gave him the cold shoulder.
–Burned but Still Blistered
Here’s your letter, and thanks for the suggested reading.
Confidential to Rachel in Chicago:
Who says lawyers can’t date stoners? Don’t change him. He’s good to you, likes being a musician, and, most importantly, he’s good to Peaches. Also, the late Harry Caray was not the voice of the Chicago Cubs. Caray dragged his funny-drunk shtick over to Wrigley from Comiskey Park, where he was the voice of the Chicago White Sox. JACK BRICKHOUSE was the real voice of the Chicago Cubs–Caray was just visiting. Hey, hey!
Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.