Monday, February 18, 2013

And we even walk upright!

It's taken me a while to get to posting this, but it was such a bizarre interaction that I have to share. I teach at a CC where it isn't unusual for students to just disappear a few weeks into the semester. Sometimes they magically reappear in the last week or so, foolishly believing that showing up the last week will somehow negate the months of absences and they will pass the class. At the end of last semester a student appeared in my class who looked vaguely familiar. He seemed like your average frat-boy-ish kid, chatted with his classmates, both male and female, and participated in class. At the end of class, he asked to speak to me. It turns out he had been in the class the first few weeks and then stopped coming except for the occasional cameo. He wanted to apologize for his lack of attendance and find out if he could possibly pass the class.

"I'm sorry I haven't been in class very much this semester," he said. "I'm really not a bad student or a slacker. I just have this problem when I have women teachers." (while my CM name may suggest otherwise, I am young(ish) and very conventionally feminine). "When my teachers are women I stare at them a lot during class and it just gets really awkward, so I just don't come to class very often."

Me: "....."

I mean, really, what do you say to that? I know, it's amazing, we actually walk and talk like real people! I have a hard time believing it myself!

"It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with female teachers. I stare at them."

I told him that this was something he would have to deal with because the world is full of women and that he had missed too much work to pass. I then suggested that he make sure his professor was a man next time-- we have plenty of them!



24 comments:

  1. MAD LIBS! insert your favorite adjective

    "It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with _______ teachers. I stare at them."

    starters:

    "It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with three-headed teachers. I stare at them."

    "It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with goth teachers. I stare at them."

    "It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with over-60 teachers. I stare at them."

    "It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with chartreuse teachers. I stare at them."

    Ai yi! this student need help - either with his mental condition or his creativity in excuses.


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    1. "It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with Sith teachers. I stare at them. Until they Force choke me for being creepy."

      "It's not that I didn't want to do the work. I just have that problem with teachers with high standards. I stare at them. Incredulously. I mean, I've never been held to any standards before."

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  2. You have to appreciate his...well, unmitigated gall, I would say. What on earth would make him believe that was reasonable excuse? And he presented it like it was perfectly normal. Of course I, as a woman, would understand that he just needs to stare at women teachers. He can't help himself.

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    1. It's your breasts' fault that he's failing. Duh.

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  3. I'm not even sure where to begin. This is... At least he was honest, I guess?

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  4. Sorry, kid, but "misogynistic assholery" is not a valid learning disability.

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  5. This is so weird. Do you think there's something religious afoot? "Guarding his eyes?"
    LOL@Surly.

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    1. possibly... my very religious father-in-law used not wanting to be exposed to the girls at the gym as an excuse for not going, and his wife recently said that she did not want to go square dancing with her 80 year old mother because it would mean dancing with men who were not her husband.

      Still lame ass excuses for something they don't want to do, but they've been fed that line somewhere.

      Delete
    2. I, too, was wondering about this possibility. After all, one perfectly reasonable answer to this highly inappropriate remark would be something along the lines of "well, just try to keep your tongue in your mouth [and, if necessary, a book tented over your crotch]; as long as no one notices, no harm done." The problem really isn't that he looks at (and, presumably, has sexual thoughts about) teachers; all one has to do is consult The Site That Shall Not Be Named (or, as we learned a few weeks ago, Twitter) to realize that that's extremely common (in fact, downright normal, especially for late teenagers/young adults). The problem is that he chose to say something about it to the teacher (or pretty much anyone other than another similar-age student/friend-type person, preferably in an ephemeral medium such as voice). It does sound like he might have been exposed to an environment where there's a great deal of scrutiny of thoughts as well as deeds, and a great deal of policing of some very narrow sexual boundaries. A (progressive) religious blogger I read pointed recently to a post from a more conservative religious blogger who was arguing that women who slept with their husbands (shortly) before marriage shouldn't suffer longterm shame; as someone who had never really considered that possibility, not having grown up in an abstinence-focused culture, I was amazed by the amount of time and energy individuals and whole communities are expending on the question of abstinence (maintaining it, defining it, policing it, etc.). (Mind you, I have no problem with abstinence as a moral choice, but, as several bloggers who took up the theme mentioned, abstinence is close to becoming an idol in some conservative Christian circles -- not something that honors God, but something that takes God's place as an object of worship). If he comes from a background like that, he might really be having major difficulty living up to the norms of a religious culture that focuses obsessively on sex and then tells a young man not to even think about it.

      Either that, or he might have some sort of mental illness (OCD?) where thoughts, and their potential perceived consequences, take on tremendous significance.

      Or he's a psychopath/bully who's *trying* to creep you out.

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  6. How was this particular issue dealt with in elementary and high school? Surely there was a female or two during those years. Maybe he was homeschooled and had "Mommy" issues.

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  7. Although you probably don't want to know it, my guess is that some small part of this guy's mind was running the script resembling the first three minutes of a pornographic movie.

    "Why?" she said, casually crunching a nub of chalk between here sparking teeth. "Is there something about me that _particularly_ distracts you?"

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    1. So maybe Dick Tingle is really a student? No, he expressed a preference for librarians, not proffies.

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    2. Y'know, if you don't wear baggy sackcloth and cover your face and hair, guys just can't help noticing how incredibly female you are... they just can't help themselves. ;)

      But I really did have to work hard not to laugh out loud at Dr. N's comment. It's probably true.

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    3. Eeew! Eeew! Eeeew!

      (oh my god, that would have been so awesome if I had had the balls to do that, just to see him run from the room in sheer bluff-called terror. Although "coffee stained" teeth would be more accurate)

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  8. I like your response – "no, you have missed too much class time to pass the course". That puts the problem squarely where it belongs, on him. I'm not sure about the advice that he make sure his professors are male, though. Since that makes it sound as if you accept that he should deal with this problem by changing his environment so that doesn't include women in positions of authority, and there's already way too much of western culture that's doing that for him.

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  9. I like your response – "no, you have missed too much class time to pass the course". That puts the problem squarely where it belongs, on him. I'm not sure about the advice that he make sure his professors are male, though. Since that makes it sound as if you accept that he should deal with this problem by changing his environment so that doesn't include women in positions of authority, and there's already way too much of western culture that's doing that for him.

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    1. Well, I did also tell him that this is an issue he's going to be facing (or not!) a lot, so he'll have to deal with it. But for the immediate future I figured everyone's lives would be easier if he just had a male professor next semester. Of course, I was also thinking "what THE FUCK, dude! How do I get OUT of this conversation as quickly as possible?"

      And the thing is, he appears to be a local kid and interacted with his peers seemingly normally (as in, not like someone so sheltered he didn't know how things work around here), so he should be familiar with women teachers!

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    2. "And the thing is, he appears to be a local kid and interacted with his peers seemingly normally (as in, not like someone so sheltered he didn't know how things work around here), so he should be familiar with women teachers!"

      Perhaps he's really socially clueless, but the whole thing sounds like it could be an intimidation tactic. Or perhaps a wayward attempt to flatter you (because what all women secretly want is to be desired, etc.). He wants to let you know that he's leering. And I'd probably let someone else know that he wants to let you know that he's leering.

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    3. Good point, GG. It's a bit creepy and intimidating; best to tell someone else too. Perhaps in email which can be tracked and dated.

      re: response, did tell him he was going to run into this problem in the real world too, AD, and I can certainly understand wanting to get out of that conversation pronto, particularly if it was happening where no one else was around, i.e.

      (Large Undergrad: "I can't even think when you're in front of the class from staring at your b**bs!"
      Proffie: "really? Then maybe you should ... get the hell away from me ..." (edging for door ...)

      Delete
  10. Can't wait until this guy gets to the workplace--he'll stare himself into a lawsuit. "It's not that I can't do the work. It's just that I have a problem with female coworkers. I stare at them. When my bosses are women I stare at them a lot during work hours and it just gets really awkward, so I just don't come to work very often."

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  11. Academic Drag: Thank you for sharing this with us. Of all the excuses we hear from students, this has got to be one of the most pathetic. I've heard the same excuse several years ago but I got the impression they were simply trying to appeal to my vanity so I might pass them out of pity. I'm not sure what would be worse, if your student is being genuine or if they are trying to play you for a grade. I think you did a good job handling it, with the possible exception of telling them to take the course with a male professor; in that regard, you may only be passing the buck onto the next female professor.

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  12. I wonder if that excuse has worked for him before. I mean... really??? Was he home schooled? Surely, he doesn't function on that level all the time. Thanks for the incredulity today. :)

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  13. The profound stupidity of this modern student amazes even me. That it would even occur to him to say this to anyone, much less to anyone's face, much less to a teacher who controls his grade, and in a class in which he needs lenient treatment, shows a disconnect with reality no less than astonishing! Indeed, has he been home schooled? He's showing behavior that's just plain abnormal. Even if he has, a major component must be that this kid is just plain stupid, and cannot be helped, except out the door.

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