Sex and the professor

Deborah Stearns, who teaches the psychology of sexuality at Montgomery Community College in Maryland, was named Maryland’s Professor of the Year.  Elsewhere sexuality has proven to be a difficult subject for academics.

Performing in an off-campus burlesque act cost Sheila Addison her job as an assistant professor of psychology at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California. Addison performed as Professor Shimmy in the Hubba Hubba Revue in San Francisco, which mixed strip-tease, dance and comedy with parody and social commentary, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Addison, who worked on contract, was fired on grounds her actions brought “public disrespect, contempt and ridicule to the university.”  She has filed suit on grounds of sex discrimination.

. . .  her firing, Addison alleges in her suit, “evidences the university’s disgust for a woman performing in politically, socially and sexually based performance art.” One basis for her claims of sex discrimination, as she alleges in the complaint, is that a male colleague in another department was performing at the same time in a one-man show in which he was partially nude. Though he publicized his show on campus and invited students and colleagues, he was not disciplined, the complaint alleges.

“This is about the right of college and graduate school faculty to engage in artistic and political activity on their own time,” said her lawyer, Greg Groeneveld.

While Addison lost her job, a male psychology professor at Northwestern is not yet facing consequences for inviting students to stay after his human sexuality class for a live-sex demonstration. The university is investigating the decision by Professor J. Michael Bailey, who has issued an apology. Bailey has tenure.


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