So what's going on here? Is the problem solely with the choice of language, or is there a more fundamental problem? Before making a judgement about this, let us first subject this controversy to a VPEC-T analysis.
|Contents || |
|Events || |
|Policy || |
|Values and Beliefs |
|Trust || |
That’s a good start, but it fails to make a critical distinction between three things: real sex, imaginary sex and symbolic sex.
|Real sex ||The teacher physically gropes the student, the student deliberately brushes her curves against the teacher, the teacher and the student go to bed together.|
|Imaginary sex ||Blatant desire or interest, flirtation, fantasy, gaze. The teacher’s desire (unconsciously) influences the mark awarded to that student. |
|Symbolic sex ||Coded messages, which may hint at desire, interest or availability. (There is a small but significant difference between "If you give me good marks, I might go to bed with you" and "If you go to bed with me, I might give you good marks".) |
So what happens when we put the columns and rows together?
|Real ||Imaginary ||Symbolic |
|V ||Sleeping with students is wrong ||Fantasizing about sleeping with students is wrong. Curvy female students are a "perk of the job". ||Talking about fantasizing about sleeping with students is wrong. Sex as a bargaining chip is wrong. |
|P ||“Look but don’t touch.” ||Blind marking – prevents teacher (even unconsciously) favouring some students. ||Blind marking – prevents student trying to bribe teacher. |
|E ||Teacher and student are caught in the act. ||Teacher mentally undresses student. Student misperceives friendly interest as lust. Teacher misperceives friendly interest as availability. ||Rumour and suspicion of sexual relationship between a teacher and a student. False accusation of sexual harassment by student. |
|C ||The object of desire is the physical body of the student. ||The object of desire is the (reciprocated) desire of the student. ||The object of desire is a transaction (exchange) between the teacher and the student. |
|T ||Acting on one’s desires can result in trouble. ||Suppressing or concealing one’s desires can result in inauthentic (creepy or cold) behaviour. ||Even just talking about the issue threatens the innocence of the teacher-student relationship. |
Bringing this extra dimension into the VPEC-T analysis seems to offer a way of talking about the meaning of some complex questions. The RSI lens is complementary to the VPEC-T lens.
The apparent intention of the article in question was to encourage lecturers to separate the REAL from the IMAGINARY, and to keep any sexual thoughts about the students firmly in the realm of the IMAGINARY. The VPEC-T x RSI analysis allows us to see some of the tension points in this exercise. Does Dr Kealey's intention make sense, and could there have been a better way of achieving it?