Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The seven-body problem

Phoebe brings our attention to the following two-body problem, which reminds me of a situation I heard about last year in which someone got a spousal hire for a person to whom it turned out she was not (yet?) married. Or maybe it was he who got the hire for her; these people were not in my field and I'm not sure which was the "upwardly-mobile mate." Anyway, apparently this happens, perhaps especially when you make a point to refer to your non-spouse as "my partner," which is sufficiently ambiguous and politically-charged that it makes people anxious about looming discrimination claims. And this got me thinking about how the idea of a "spousal hire" could be broadened in other ways beyond just "relationship hire," particularly in ways that would benefit me.

Now, my partner is not an academic, so I can't really demand zir hire, but I do have some friends whom I'd really like to have as colleagues in the future. And in academia particularly, where dispersion to the ends of the Earth is the norm and yet the philosophical enterprise itself relies on sociability (see Socrates in the agora, Plato's Academy, Epicurus' garden, and so on), having friends amid the penguins or sheep who will be your primary neighbors is imperative. I don't want to be without my friends, but how to keep them close in such a competitive market? Of course, "friend hire" will never do on its own because it's corrupt to hire one's friends, but what about "polyamorous partner(s) hire"? Certainly no enlightened  institution of higher education continues to limit its conception of "family" to married couples with children, or even married couples, so why continue to privilege couple-hood at all? It's possible that polyamory would require somewhat more active "amory" than my friends and I presently engage in, but I counter that eros is primarily a matter of philosophical affinity, and any physical engagement is merely incidental. Besides, is the hiring committee in a position to demand proof?

And, as Phoebe points out, where a spousal hire could potentially bring under-represented populations to a faculty, it ought to be considered in a more positive light. I happen to have several female friends (and those friends have friends...), so just think of the boon to diversity, future potential hiring committees! You will never again have to go out in search of elusive females because if you hire Miss Self-Important, she will bring you so many ladies that you won't need to worry about gender imbalance until at least 2050. No more leaky pipeline with polyamorous partner hires!

So far, the only major obstacle to my plan is that it seems that ze has to be an outstanding and sought-after scholar to be offered even a regressive spousal hire, and in my case, that is unlikely. However, that is why I'm putting the idea out there now, so that enterprising scholar-readers of this blog better positioned for academic glory can begin paving a new road to progress and personal freedom. Also, when you do that, please remember this good turn I've done you, especially if I am unemployed and in need of some 'amorous' assistance.


Withywindle said...

Si, es un mariage blanc, pero, no obstante, en bloc merecemos titularidades permanentes. Nicht war?

Miss Self-Important said...

Well, I won't pretend that I know this many languages, but is a spousal - I'm sorry, a polyamorous partner - hire a permanent entitlement? You only get it once, and it doesn't prevent you from breaking up with your partner(s) later if things don't work out.

Withywindle said...

Well, if your spousal hire gets tenure, and then you divorce, they still can't turf him/her; so why not generalize?

Miss Self-Important said...

Right. So the effect of the entitlement is permanent, but the actual offer is only extended once to presently enlisted partners at the time of hire. What's the problem there?