Tuesday, January 20
"But it was all right with me"
At some stage the sex issue will always come up. Unsuspectingly usually, tragic always.
Sir had one of these moments on Saturday night. It accompanied the open happy face of a young woman, probably about 25 years old now. She crept up on Sir at a party in the school holidays... one is never safe from ex students....She was proud and useless, clinging to the act like it was a trophy of her childhood. Perhaps she thought it was? Power and control can be sexy... between explicitly consenting adults. After she told and smiled, a previously happy drunk became a morbidly smashed one. Luckily Sir has an amazing and understanding partner who coaxed her home and locked her in for the night without complaining at all about Sir's fruity methanoic breath and misunderstood grunts at a cuddle puddle.
But what of the taboo?
Sir has had many conversations with other teachers about the fundamental organic sexuality of students. Most teachers will acknowledge a beautiful student, a student with lovely eyes, or lovely hair, or a pleasant manner. The way that these adults justify their feeling is by projecting these qualities onto the future student, the grown up student, in a manner that explains away both inherent role of mentor in teaching as well as the dodgy position they find themselves in by verbally objectifying the student.
Sir always feels like her skin wants to crawl off her body after these conversation, which incidently inevitably turn nasty. "Don't you ever think about it?" is the usual question put to the horrified look on Sir's face, while Sir starts to questions whether perhaps her boundaries around under 18 yr olds are indeed archaic, and perhaps intrinsic beauty can be spoken of in the secondary school context if it is purely philosophical?....
No. As adult teachers, we occupy the space of highly sexually charged adolescent bodies. The brains of these young people are rewiring. They are lucky to be able to connect their social identity with their (r)age. They are bodies without heads, trying to order and qualify the sexualised ideas that soak society and social interactions while literally pickled in hormones.
So these disjointed teacher conversations are not about beauty, or platonic admiration. They cannot be disguised as absent minded harmless talk. They are not about teachers being cool with sexuality and hip with bodies. The sex issue is about power and ambition. Its about boundaries and trading in body capital. Its about teachers being clear about the motivation behind their relationships with students. Its about explicit and assumed consent.
Its not a difficult relationship to have. It just requires the teacher to assume the position of an adult in order to allow the student to remain safe.