A few days ago, David Lat broke the story of Lisa McElroy, the Drexel University law professor who sent her students a link to a porn video instead of a link to the “great article on writing briefs” that the rest of the message referred to. As David explained, there’s plenty of reason to think that McElroy inadvertently copied and pasted the wrong link and that her greatest sin amounts to nothing more than a particularly embarrassing failure to proofread. She certainly wouldn’t be the first person to make such a mistake. (Just ask ESPN analyst Gerry Hamilton.)
Nevertheless, Drexel put the professor on leave pending an investigation under the school’s sexual harassment and misconduct policy. David later interviewed Professor Michael A. Olivas of the University of Houston Law Center, an expert in education law. Professor Olivas explained why, under Title IX, universities have little choice but to undertake an investigation in situations like this. Title IX is, of course, the federal civil rights law that forbids sex discrimination at schools receiving federal financial support.
Lisa McElroy probably did not intend to create a hostile environment for anyone. She may not have actually offended most of her students. Common sense and compassion will probably lead to a quiet resolution to the case. I hope so.
But what if Lisa McElroy were a man? Would observers be as quick to give the benefit of the doubt? If a male professor foisted anal-bead porn on an unsuspecting class of students, would we wonder, even if just a little bit longer, if he meant to do it?
Of course. Men are inherently evil; women are presumptively pure. Because equality!