Sexism and the sex lives of staff 2

January 7, 2005

Meg Barker is extremely critical of male academics who have sexual relationships with their female students. And she is unhappy about male colleagues who make sexist remarks, no matter how brief and innocuous.

What many of your readers will not know is that Barker is a self-confessed "polyamorist" (that is, someone who openly has sexual relationships with a number of different people at the same time), and that last year she was interviewed for an article in the Sunday Telegraph that surveyed the polyamorist subculture. In case anyone had any doubts about who she was, she allowed the article to be illustrated with a photograph of herself.

Her arguments in support of polyamory were not convincing; but the reader was left in no doubt that here was a young academic with a truly heroic appetite for self-publicity.

If Barker insists on drawing attention to her dubious sex life in the mass media, she can scarcely be surprised when male colleagues make explicit remarks in her hearing. Instead of criticising the small number of male academics whose behaviour is genuinely sexist, she should perhaps ask herself whether the example she sets her students is an entirely salubrious one.

Peter Leapman

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