The professional crush is a wonderful thing. I sometimes call it the academic crush because academia is where I live, but really it is any platonic crush that occurs in a mentee-mentor relationship where the mentee is looking up to (and crushing on) their mentor. A similar crush phenomenon is the crush that pretty much everyone has on Dr. Andy Roark (Ed Note: Can confirm- JV). I am going to call that a DrAndyRoarKrush. (#ILoveAndy) However, for the purpose of this blog, I am going to call all of this crushiness the professional crush.
First of all, the professional crush is platonic. It has to be platonic. However, it can also be confusing. I can remember the feeling as a vet student. I thought some of my professors were the coolest people in the world. I wanted to be them. Wait, was I feeling more than simple admiration? Of course not, it was just intense reverence, but I was young and I didn’t know what all of these feels meant.
I had a professor who used to make me blush every time he walked past because I was so enamored with him. The low power mentee in this situation may not realize that this crush is platonic because they have never felt these feelings before. They may think that their academic crush is actually a roma
ntic crush and that they are just star-crossed lovers who met their mentor at the wrong place and wrong time and against all odds their love will prevail. They are wrong. The mentor, as the older, wiser and more powerful person in the relationship, needs to be the one to recognize the professional crush for what it is.
I am very distraught by perversion of the professional crush. As a mentor, you nurture the professional crush, you don’t have sex with it. That is so Monica/Clinton, circa 1998. I am sorry to bring up Monica, as I am sure we are going to hear all about it soon in the upcoming election campaign ad nauseum, but it is the best example of the professional crush/misogyny gone awry that I can think of and, no matter what anyone says, I will always be team Monica (#TeamMonica).
Monica was an intern who worked for the most powerful man in the world. Bill should have known better. He could have nurtured her professional crush and instead he literally crushed her career- and, to some degree, his own. Veterinary faculty members and practice owners are not the President of the United States, but they have power. I have students that I know have an academic crush on me. Yes, I am married and they are mostly women, but that is not the point because, as I said, the academic crush is platonic.
The perversion of the professional crush inevitably reeks of misogyny. Older men, dating younger women, and almost never the other way around. Part of me wants to sit these beautiful young girls down and smack their veterinary goggles right off their pretty, innocent, wrinkle-free faces.
Definition: n. Veterinary Goggles (vet(ə)rəˌnerē skōōl gŏg’əls) 1. Figurative term to characterize state of sexual deprivation within veterinary profession that causes the female-dominated population to behave like cats in heat when a minimally acceptable male appears.
And on the other side of this are my male friends and colleagues, who are dating women who could be their daughters, who then have the audacity to tell me that their girlfriend is “really immature” sometimes. It is redundant to say that a 25-year old is immature.
You would think that somehow veterinarians are immune to this old dude-young girl creepiness because we are just a bunch of really nice people caring for cute animals, but we are not exempt. In fact, I would argue that veterinary medicine is in the middle of a perfect storm of misogynistic grossness right now. The face of our profession is changing. In the past, it was male-dominated. And now it is an endless parade of young female vet students, vet technicians and veterinarians, and the ratio of old dudes with power, experience, and/or money to young, beautiful, sometimes naïve women is astonishing.
Add in the power differential, science geeks, and people without a lot of life outside of their work/school and you have a recipe for rampant ickiness. So, to the gorgeous young women out there, you are gorgeous young women! Don’t give your power away. And to all the mentors male and female, please, treat the professional crush with the respect that it deserves. Whole careers were built on strong mentorship and nurturing the aspirations of our brightest apprentices who are crushing on us big time.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Boston is a veterinary surgical oncologist and public speaker. Sarah is also a cancer survivor and author of the best-selling, hilarious memoir, Lucky Dog: How Being a Veterinarian Saved my Life. Follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook.