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Like many young women, however, we were far from immune to the mystique of a man who can command the admiring attention of a crowd, and if he was like most men, he was sensible to the flattery of all those rapt faces.
Yet at the root of this queasy dynamic was genuine intellectual excitement.
“Bona fide harassers” ought to be punished, she insists, but in the current climate, “the ordinary interpersonal tangles and erotic confusions that pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point in life” are being treated the same way as quid-pro-quo demands for sexual favors in exchange for grades and letters of recommendation.
Her essay was met with outrage by some students, two of whom filed a Title IX suit against her, claiming Kipnis was retaliating against students at her school who had filed a complaint against a professor.
They also said she created a "chilling effect" on students' ability to report sexual misconduct.
Kipnis’s essay, titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe,” drew ire by challenging our propensity for viewing professors in relationships with students as sexual predators, a view that Kipnis regards as hopelessly reductive.
To illustrate her point, Kipnis offered the example of a Northwestern philosophy professor (whom she didn’t know and didn’t name) at the center of a “murky and contested” complaint lodged by an undergraduate.
Instead, it came as I stepped into the women’s restroom afterward, just in time to overhear two of my fellow classmates rhapsodizing over how cute the professor was, with particular attention lavished on his long, slightly bowed, denim-clad legs.