On Monday at 3:09 p.m., Donald Douglas belittled Roy Edroso's feminist credentials for publishing at the Village Voice alongside a link to a bikini burlesque slide-show that a web-editor had slapped on half the site. Edroso is a hypocrite, you see, because he claims to be a feminist and someone else created an active element that appears on his page.
On Tuesday at 12:41 p.m., Donald Douglas wrote a post about the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in which he complains that "Photobucket deletes any bikini images I've ever saved from SI, and it took practically no time for their prowling image-hawks to delete the brand new cover shot of Brooklyn Decker." Because Douglas never claimed to be a feminist, his saving bikini photographs to Photobucket for future use and prominently featuring an image of a topless woman on his blog is not hypocritical.
It is, however, extraordinarily odious and, in all seriousness, absolutely unprofessional. Many have been fired for less.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a female in one of his classes who is having trouble with her assignment. He tells you to come talk to him during office hours, and when you do there are posters of women in various states of undress covering his walls. How comfortable would you feel? Would you consider his office a safe place, or would you be worried about where his eyes wandered when they broke contact with yours?I only ask because a blog functions somewhat like a virtual office: it is a private space that the public, including students, can access. It functions as an extension of your professional persona. I could understand if it transpired—as it often did when I taught literary journalism and had issues of Rolling Stone, GQ, and the like in my office—that a magazine on your desk contains provocative advertisements that are visible when you read the articles on the pages opposite them. This incidental appearance of contemporary marketing tactic would be the equivalent of Edroso's post at the Village Voice.
I cannot, however, understand the rationale behind plastering the walls with images of objectified women approximately the same age as the students you teach. This deliberate decision to decorate with photographs that stimulate him would be the equivalent of the seventeen posts Douglas has devoted to what he himself calls "fawning" this year alone.
"If you don't like my fawning," he writes in that post, "don't read the blog."
Which is fine for readers of his blog—but what if you were a financially strapped female student in his course at Long Beach City College? What if you were searching for course materials and stumbled upon American Power—a blog written by the very person you needed to impress—and clicked through only to find countless images of objectified women and your professor complaining that the copyright holder of others prevents him from saving and displaying more? How comfortable would you feel sitting their in during office hours?
Would the intensity in his eyes indicate an earnest and abiding commitment to teaching, or merely how far he had undressed you with them?
Update. In his defense, Douglas offers a link to a post in which he claims:
This is a private blogging matter. American Power is hosted on Blogger. None of my college identification pages link to my blog. I recommend my blog for students to read, on a voluntary, non-assignment basis. Occasionally I'll pull up an academic post in class as a lecture launcher -- and actually, THAT'S A GOOD TEACHING THING!Translation: "This blog is a private, unaffiliated entity that I recommend students read and display in class." The mind boggles.