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09-Jun-2020 11:04

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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.

“It has to do with an archaic custom for the military training of the aristocracy where you send a young recruit with an older guy out into the hills,” he told me.

The smitten man, called the erastes, plies the passive boy student, the eromenos, with gifts and love poetry, until the boy reluctantly surrenders, although he is not expected to find pleasure in the act.

Their coupling is a fair trade, and at least partly an initiation into manhood, one that can be continued without shame until the boy begins to grow a beard, at which point he may become an erastes himself.

My fellow students and I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at our prof if we’d met him at the bus stop or waiting in line at the campus café; he was at least 35—maybe even 40!

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.I was naïve enough to be a bit shocked that girls my age would talk that way about such an exalted figure.