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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Power positions

Haven’t we all pined over a sexy TA? The way they push their glasses up the bridge of their nose and come in front of the class, all charismatic and just irresistibly adorable? If your heart is totally fluttering now, then you’re probably envisioning your respective TA hottie. But is that allowed? Can our somewhat X-rated fantasies become reality? And what’s the deal with the forbidden fruit complex regarding student/teacher relations? What are the rules and limitations in these sexualized “power positions”?

Dating an authority figure — someone who has the ability to hire you, fire you, flunk you or pass you — we find this attractive. How can we not? As human beings we are inherently attracted to power. But under UC Davis rule, more specifically the Graduate Student Employment Handbook for Teaching Assistants and Associates, you can’t bite into that forbidden fruit and they can’t bite into yours.

This power that gets us all hot and bothered is described as heightening the “vulnerability of the student and the potential of coercion” in said handbook. COERCION! As in forcing you into the relationship! As in forcing sexual acts! As in abusing power!

But honestly, the threat of that and the possibility of consensually playing subordinate to a superior seems to only enhance the appeal. It tickles a whole lot of fancies. This is why we play teacher/student games behind closed doors — it’s hot. The fact that you can’t have it makes you want it.

Take a TA or even, if you are quite adventurous, a professor, and put them in a different context, and it loses appeal. Admit it — you take your object of desire and all-encompassing lust, put that person at a party or a bar and more than likely you wouldn’t approach them.

This is the major question you want to ask yourself before you pick that fruit or you let yourself be picked. Am I attracted to this person because of their power and the prohibited nature of it all? Or am I really attracted to them — do I seriously want to have sex with them because they are in fact sexy?

The latter happens more so than you think, and these extracurricular activities are quite rampant. TAs make advances, and whether it’s right or wrong is really your choice. Proceed with caution — coercion can actually happen, and not in the fun BDSM way, but in the they-can-fail-you way.

TAs can legally make advances toward you once they know that they are not responsible for any grading responsibilities for the present or the future — so make sure you are both in the clear before you respond to their flirty email or send yours. That is, if you want to follow the rules.

And if you want to unabashedly break the handbook guidelines, well you can. When proceeding with caution, all should be well. What is tantamount to treading lightly when executing these fantasies is making it consensual. You want it bad, but that doesn’t mean the cute small talk means your TA wants it at all.

Seduction can be and should be used in these instances. From experience and from stories, I know that a few flirty glances and suggestive banter is pretty standard. And better yet, effective. This is probably the best option and route to use if hottie TA has winked and pouted in your direction.

But don’t initiate. I don’t want you to venture into sexual harassment.

If you do initiate, the guidebook actually states that you can be reported, so you probably don’t want to go there — that might be the biggest cock block ever.

So let’s review: Do you really want to have sex with power player? Is it attraction or is it the forbidden fruit-complex that has you weak in the knees? If you want it, don’t be bold with your seduction — subtlety is key. Throw some feelers out there, and above all, keep it low-key and free of favors of the academic nature.

Sexual inquiries for MARISSA HERRERA can be sent to mdherrera@ucdavis.edu.

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