Why that doctorate is unfinished

Posted: August 4, 2013 by Jender in Uncategorized

I came across your site from a Twitter link […]. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that this conversation if finally happening. I am now a youthful 60 yr. old with an unfinished doctorate in Philosophy: unfinished because of a complicated relationship with my thesis advisor. As a Plato scholar, he loved the dialogue The Phaedrus and its theme of Eros in education. So his year long seduction of me as naive 25 yr. old virgin was, in his mind, an intellectual exercise in “expanding my horizons” and ” helping me break free of the narrow confines of my Christian upbringing”. I was so deeply flattered by the attentions of this urbane and sophisticated older man, that I ignored that inner voice of caution that kept trying to warn me of the danger ahead. At least I resisted the inevitable coupling for almost a year (how I was stoking his love of the seduction game without realizing it!). When I finally became intimate with him, having persuaded myself that he must love me to pay so much attention, I immediately discovered that I was merely a notch on his bedpost.
Even when the very messy relationship ended and I married a fellow grad student (to whom I am still happily married after 30 years), the professor contined to play manipulative games with me until I finally felt so exhausted by the struggle that I just gave up trying to,finish the thesis.
I never pursued action against the man, partly because of my shame at my own stupidity but also because in those days it was so common that such teacher/ student relationships happened and as yet sexual harrasment policies were quite new. Some of,my fellow female students who did complete their doctorates had relationships with male professors but were savvy enough to know how to use the intimacy to their advantage.
The long term outcome for me was a complete undermining of my self- confidence as an intellectual. In spite of having been awarded major graduate scholarships, I kept thinking that my advisor saw me only in sexual terms because I was not a good enough student. That undermining of my already fragile self- confidence stays with me as the sorry legacy of that complicated and confusing time. My deepest sympathies go out to this new generation of smart women having to traverse the minefield of grad school.

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