Thoughts with Richard Bleil
She was my student when I was teaching at a very conservative college in Ohio. She was tall, blonde, svelte, very sexy and she worked in a Gentleman’s club. Although she would have been very popular as a dancer, she wasn’t. Instead, she worked at the bar. Anybody who took the time to really get to know her would quickly realize the quality of her heart, and nobody would doubt her honor. And yet, at a faculty meeting her name came up as the discussion that ensued was whether or not she should be thrown out of school because of where she worked. In a room full of faculty and staff who called themselves Christian, I was the one who pointed out that she is in the perfect place to help people who have stumbled and realize that they need help getting back out. Working in such a “den of inequity” is exactly where you would have found Christ, accepting people without judging and helping those who need it.
Our society is far too judgmental. I’ve never understood how people who enjoy and engage in sexual activities are so quick to criticize others who do the same thing. People (especially men) are so desperate to see nudity, but so quick to judge (especially men) those who provide it.
The reality is that I’ve known a few women who are “erotic dancers” for a living, and even some who make money providing services that some would criticize (technically they provide modeling, company and companionship; anything beyond that is between consenting adults). In our society, sexuality is becoming more open and free, and with increased awareness of sexual orientation, it feels to me as if acceptance of sexual activities is improving as well. Frankly, I love this and hope that my perceptions are true, although the people of my generation (with exceptions) are often still struggling to this new reality.
It seems like most of my life, I’ve lived in situations where I’ve had to hide my feelings and lifestyle. Maybe that’s what this blog is about. Perhaps I’m finally allowed to be who I want to be and don’t have to apologize for it anymore. As a professor, I was constantly surrounded by women I found myself to be far too inappropriately attracted to, usually too young for me but not always, but inevitably I’ve had to keep my feelings to myself. To express an attraction to a student is wildly inappropriate, especially if she’s a current student or could be taking your course in the future. After all, if the feelings are not reciprocated, then it wouldn’t be fair to make her feel uncomfortable coming to you if she has questions.
What’s more, there is also the issue of somebody in a leadership position making others feel uncomfortable. As professor, dean, director of a forensic laboratory, they’re all positions of great authority and high trust. As a man, I still feel attraction, have desires, and fantasize. But to express any of these raise issues because of the role-model positions I’ve held.
One of my students was so very attracted to me, and I to her. She would show up in my lab when I was working late and just sit and talk. The sexual tension was so thick it was incredible, but I couldn’t say anything to her, or try anything. First, she was very much younger than I, and the age difference alone would have made things difficult in any real relationship, but she was also my student. The next year, after she had passed my class, she still came around, but because she had been my student, I still felt awkward about the concept of being with her. It’s a very uncomfortable situation to be in, and takes quite a lot of restraint to avoid acting on what was obviously mutual desires.
Personally, I cannot believe that it is actually healthy to keep such feelings hidden (or to try to). The new sexuality is like a breathe of fresh air, but it still wouldn’t apply to professionals. But some things do not change. Disrespect is still a problem, regardless of the sexual freedom practiced by others. I still believe that if you treat a lady with respect, speak with her as a human being and show that you genuinely are interested in the person rather than her ovaries, it goes a long way. No matter how much sexual freedom permeates our society, that still does not give anybody the right to expect anything from another person, or to disrespect them. We’re all people. It’s unfortunate that there are still so many who don’t see that.