Crossposting: Academia, Your Whorephobia is Showing

I wrote a great deal of content for Pedagogy and American Literary Studies over the past year, even though I didn’t spend time in the college classroom. I should clarify my statement given the past year plus: Currently, I don’t work in academia. I don’t work at all. No time in the classroom. Literally? Figuratively? Side note: I am looking for work.

My PALS content for the past year or so covered various topics. I wrote extensively for PALS. One of the most active contributors to the site. Because I had the time? Perhaps. A lot of time to think, certainly. A great deal of time for thinking about the various ways academic life intersects with personal life. How it informs my sense of self. Who I am; and what that career and career path mean / meant to me.

My most recent PALS piece might be the one I’m most proud of… at least in terms of what I wrote overall during the past year or so. The piece hits many topics. Graduate Student life, social media, sex work, BDSM, and the role of advisors in the graduate school experience. However, the main theme explores how academics love the gossip more than committing themselves to addressing underlying intersecting issues. My essay takes on the case of my friend, Dr. Snow. I go on a deep dive into the issues I mentioned earlier in the paragraph. The core of the piece calls out academics for abandoning Snow during a harassment campaign in Fall 2020.

I hope you enjoy reading the essay. You’ll find an excerpt of the essay below, plus a PALS link so you can (hopefully) continue reading.

Academia, Your Whorephobia is Showing

Academics love a good dragging of higher education’s broken systems.

Academics got exactly such a dragging when The Chronicle of Higher Education dropped a long-form feature essay on December 5th, 2019.  The essay detailed a first-person account written by a recent PhD graduate abandoned, shamed, and harassed by their dissertation advisor. The essay’s author found themselves deserted by their advisor in the early throes of the academic job season. The advisor’s simple abandonment wasn’t good enough. The advisor intentionally, and maliciously, pulled their student’s letters of recommendation from Interfolio, doing so for no other reason than they disagreed with the author’s response to an emergency financial situation.

My summary’s broad strokes fail in addressing all the injustices described in the original piece, but readers likely recognize the story of Mistress Snow. A bomb dropped on academia when Mistress Snow’s essay, “I Told My Mentor I Was a Dominatrix” appeared in CHE. The essay quickly went viral. Mistress Snow’s account on Twitter took off. And we all benefited from one more advocate for the precarious, for grad students, for workers, for the marginalized, for sex workers, and for the ignored. The excellent tweets, humor, shitposting, and Snow’s not-gonna-tolerate-your-shit-attitude helped, too.

We know academia finds itself awash in awful advisor stories, provided one listens to voices outside of the echo chamber. In retrospect, the on-the-surface seemingly seedy, salacious, sexual aspect of Snow’s story likely contributed to the essay taking off as academics circulated the essay on social media. Yes, Snow dragged academia, but surely some of the scintillating appeal for academics, at least, derived from Snow’s work as a dominatrix.

Continue reading more here.

Published by Gregory Specter

Writer. Educator. Researcher. I run social media for Pedagogy and American Literary Studies.

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