With this post, I announce a new feature of this blog.
No, it is not posting more than once every two weeks, or posting anything of real substance.
I will begin collecting small scale category/classification schemes that I find amusing or interesting.*
A prize to start the collection… from a story about an MLA conference panel about sex at the MLA conference** that Simon tweeted:***
Many presenters at the MLA use categorization to make their points, and this session was no exception. Jennifer Drouin, an assistant professor of English and women’s studies at Allegheny College, argued that there are eight forms of conference sex (although she noted that some may count additional forms for each of the eight when the partners cross disciplinary, institutional or tenure-track/non-tenure track, or superstar/average academic boundaries).
1. “Conference quickies” for gay male scholars to meet gay men at local bars.
2. “Down low” sex by closeted academics taking advantage of being away from home and in a big city.
3. “Bi-curious” experimentation by “nerdy academics trying to be more hip” (at least at the MLA, where queer studies is hip). This “increases one’s subversiveness” without much risk, she said.
4. The “conference sex get out of jail free” card that attendees (figuratively) trade with academic partners, permitting each to be free at their respective meetings. This freedom tends to take place at large conferences like the MLA, which are “more conducive” to anonymous encounters, Drouin said.
5. “Ongoing flirtations over a series of conferences, possibly over several years” that turn into conference sex. Drouin said this is more common in sub-field conferences, where academics are more certain of seeing one another from year to year if their meetings are “must attend” conferences.
6. “Conference sex as social networking,” where academics are introduced to other academics at receptions and one thing leads to another.
7. “Career building sex,” which generally crosses lines of academic rank. While Drouin said that this form of sex “may be ethically questionable,” she quipped that this type of sex “can lead to increased publication possibilities” or simply a higher profile as the less famous partner tags along to receptions.
8. And last but not least — and this was the surprise of the list: “monogamous sex among academic couples.” Drouin noted that the academic job market is so tight these days that many academics can’t live in the same cities with their partners. While many colleges try to help dual career couples, this isn’t always possible, and is particularly difficult for gay and lesbian couples, since not every college will even take their couple status seriously enough to try to find jobs for partners. So these long distance academic couples, gay and straight, tenured and adjuncts, must take the best academic positions they can, and unite at academic conferences. “The very fucked-upness of the profession leads to conference fucking,” Drouin said.
Sad, sad, sad…
The comfort is that, much like the job market in LIS is not much like the job market in the humanities, my (albeit limited) experience has been that our conferences aren’t much like MLA.
And if I’m wrong, don’t correct me. I like this illusion. Seriously.
* Ok, so this probably doesn’t really count as a new new feature, given that I’ve been posting interesting or amusing subject headings and classes on this blog for ages.
** How meta! We like meta around these parts.
*** Will I ever be able to talk about Twitter without a smirk? Maybe one day it will not seem ridiculous to talk about tweeple tweeting. I mean, circa 1999 or so, “Google” sounded pretty ridiculous, right?