Drexel Law professor Lisa McElroy over the weekend penned an open letter, “After a public shaming, reclaiming my dignity” for the Washington Post in which she sought to address and defend herself after a copy and paste gaffe last month saw her erroneously send an anal bead link to her unsuspecting students.
A link which had the world (rightly or wrongly) asking what was a preeminent law professor doing on an adult site to begin with?
The anal bead faux pas would lead to the professor becoming the butt of jokes (pun intended) and sexual innuendo at the hands of the student body and the tabloid media which naturally feeds off such solicitous instances (tabloid and what passes for popular culture defined to the t). Which of course raises the question have journalists and bloggers lowered the bar for what qualifies for news? In short no (more on that below).
It would also lead to Professor Lisa McElroy, 50 being suspended and ‘briefly’ placed on leave pending an ‘investigation.’
In the end Drexel would decide that McElroy did not violate school policies, had acted with misconduct or had incited sexual harassment (one does wonder if Drexel would have made the same decision had she been a man?).
In her essay, McElroy writes: ‘As a law professor, I care deeply about students and their educational experience. As an employee, I care about my institution of learning. As a mother, I care about being a role model for my adolescent daughters. Selfishly, I care about my dignity.’
Which raises the question how do we define dignity and why did the faux pas become such a big deal anyway? Is it because preeminent law professors are expected to behave in a certain way, because of our society’s inability to digest the reality that yes law professors also have a sexual life and curiosity or the more disturbing notion that most Americans, despite calls for sexual liberty are still conflicted about sexual mores, especially at the hands of moral and legal arbiters- aka law professors?
Contemplates McElroy further: ‘What’s really fascinating about this story is not that a law professor inadvertently shared a porn link with her students. What’s newsworthy is that, actually, there was nothing newsworthy about it. What happened was, in the grand scheme, pretty trivial,’
Which is the law professor’s way of asking how did she end up making it in the news because after all who doesn’t have a sex life, who has never made a mistake and nothing of any real consequence came of anything?
True but that doesn’t take away the notion that at the time it was not understood what McElroy had done was simply a gaffe or something she had orchestrated.
At the time it deserved the attention it got because of the way one law professor’s actions conflicted with society’s understanding of how moral and legal arbiters are supposed to behave, and more importantly it hints at the deep insecurity and unease that most in society have when it comes to sex, what passes for safe sex, when sex ought to be discussed, what type of sex is allowed to be discussed and the dizzy question of how does a law professor end up igniting a conversation about her kinky bedroom fascinations and by extension our very own…