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Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment (Public Planet Books) Paperback – May 7, 1997

2.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1991, an English professor at a state university kissed one of her female graduate students. In 1993, she was accused of sexual harassment by that student and one other. The charges, painstakingly described in detail and nuance, were violations of college policy concerning sexual interaction between professors and students. What the author thinks makes these all-too-common events unusual is that she, the accused, is a feminist who has authored other books on feminist history and practice. She uses the particulars of her "case" to generalize about the place of sexuality in teaching and learning and the meanings of sexuality in feminism. Reading this long essay may leave readers with questions the author doesn't address: Where is the line between scholarship and autobiography, or simply self-indulgence? A "local, left leaning, countercultural weekly ran a wrap-up of the university investigation." This isn't exactly a media blitz, but three pages in this very short book are devoted to an analysis of the sidebar accompanying that article. Why not just reprint the thing and let readers decide for themselves what it says? The author seems to be arguing that teaching and feminism depend upon personal and sexual relations between teachers and students, power differential or not. But it's hard to say how much of this position is vindication and how much is scholarly and analytical. On the positive side, Gallop writes well, and here she is obviously writing about her favorite subject. (May) FYI: Helen Garner's The First Stone: Some Questions About Sex and Power (Forecasts, March 10) also looks at sexual harassment on campus.

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Gallop (English and comparative literature, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) here attempts to address the harassment case brought against her in 1993 by two female students. She begins by tracing her own development as a feminist, an academic, and a woman but fails to sustain her argument that learning and erotics are intertwined on any of these bases. Her feminist thesis is perhaps the strongest but is seriously undermined by such facile and irresponsible statements as "[academic] conferences are also inevitably sexual...a good conference is likely to be an eroticized workplace." Only a few pages are devoted to the facts of the case; the reader is left puzzled as to its outcome. What could have been an original and enlightening discussion of a serious issue becomes a portrait of unprofessional behavior glibly sketched. Not recommended.?Barbara Ann Hutcheson, Greater Victoria P.L., B.C.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Public Planet Books
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (May 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822319187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822319184
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jane Gallop's 1997 tract, "Feminist Accused of Sexual Harrassment," is not meant to be an apology for her run in with academic and legal bureaucracies. The tract is not criticism nor critical theory as such. Instead, Gallop gives us an intensely personal overview and examination of her involvement in feminism, culturally and scholastically, since her exposure to the movement in the early 1970s. Gallop's writing is casual, even colloquial, and addresses the various socio-sexual facets of the student-professor relationship, and how they have changed between the early 70s and to-day.
In 1992, Gallop was served notice that she had been accused by two former students of hers of sexually harrassing them. As a feminist, Gallop discusses the initial strangeness in perception that this may generally cause: the fact that most harrassment cases are normally male to female, not female to male, or female to female. She looks at the history of the feminist movement and sexual harrassment as its legacy from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Gallop talks about her explicitly sexual relationships with her own professors as a student, and with students as a professor herself. Making clear that since she began dating her eventual husband, she has completely stopped having these explicit relationships with students, Gallop details the important ways that relationships between students and professors can yet be erotically-charged.
Gallop's defiance of the academic and professional establishment may come off looking like willing ignorance or wistful naivete, but an undercurrent of anger and disappointment runs throughout the tract. Gallop laments the apparent cold distance and rigid formality being fostered in the current environment of academia.
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Format: Paperback
Gallop's short book is a fascinating read of the consternations of an highly sexed woman trying to reconcile her nature with her profession. The book is a lucid yet torturous attempt to make it OK to infuse teaching with lots of hot sex. It is brought off by linking it all to feminism, which is supposed to make it OK to do what male professors would be fired for on the spot. Sure, Socrates merged eros with philosophy and most teachers get a charge out of lighting fires in the minds and souls of their students. But when explicit seduction takes over, things can get so messy that genuine professionals ought to restrain themselves more than Gallop has. Still, Gallop is dead right that much of the sexual harassment hoopla is about sex, not about harassment at all, and we are facing more of a puritanical trend than one of professionalism and decency with all the fuss about keeping sex out of college. All in all, this is a pretty good read.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating, jolting, unsettling book. Gallop makes a disturbingly persuasive (and entertaining) case for the essential harmlessness of sexual relationships between professors and students. Ultimately, I disagree with her thesis for reasons similar to those cited by the other reviewers -- despite her feminist credentials (which are first-rate), Gallop fails to see how the erotic nature of the power differential is a destructive one. It's not that she doesn't acknowledge the power imbalance between teachers and students -- she does -- but she suggests that the imbalance can be easily overcome by entering into consensual amorous relations. (As if once a student and a professor sleep together, all the elements of power are suddenly, uh, "stripped" away!) I am a young male college professor, and I see all too well the temptations in such relationships. But I believe sexual relationships with my students to be fundamentally unethical because if I do sleep with my students (as Gallop slept with hers), I am "trading on" my power, and viscerally reinforcing the notion that for young women sexuality is an appropriate means of getting what you want.
I am glad that most professors are not like Jane Gallop. I am grateful, however, that we HAVE Jane Gallop -- and I sense, whatever her ethics, that she truly must be a marvelous teacher. I reject her thesis, but I applaud her daring and recommend this book enthusiastically, especially to graduate students and younger faculty!
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For someone so well-versed in psychoanalysis, Gallop seems to be incapable of adopting a critical stance with respect to her own private fantasy. All of her musings on love, transference, and teaching are restricted to the narrow point-of-view of a narcissistic and self-absorbed professor. She writes: "At its most intense -- and, I would argue, its most productive --the pedagogical relation between a teacher and a student is, in fact, a `consensual amorous relation'." Unfortunately, Gallop and only Gallop gets to define "the pedagogical relation relation between a teacher and a student." Only Gallop gets to set the limits for "a consensual amorous relation." There is no space for the other's agency in Gallop's fantasy. She can't comprehend, for example, that a student might admire her intellect without, at the same time, developing amorous feelings. She also cannot understand why a student would want to reject the amorous advances of an aging professor. This is the hallmark of a self-absorbed narcissist who is so obsessed with her imagined brilliance that she cannot even begin to envision the possibility of someone not interested in "a consensual amorous relation" with her.
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