The case of power dynamics / hierarchy / harassment / whatever you call it
So, power dynamics. Sometimes you are only able to recognise how it affects you after the relationship ends, and I say this from experience.
Unfortunately, many (almost all) types of relationships in the world inevitably come with unbalanced power structure. Parent-child relationship, undoubtedly one of the most important one for most people, is among them. Your character, your view of the world, you view of yourself, are affected by your relationship with your parent(s), and how they project everything onto you. Recently I was taking about the thing of my family with a friend, and delightfully surprisingly, we had this conversation as the finale:
FR: Do you think, in retrospect, you would have achieved everything you have achieved today, if it was without the pressure from your family?…And that is percisely the problem! If you have been immersed in a relationship for so long, where the opponent has such power over you, you cannot distinguish anymore between opinions, believes and views of your own and the ones they have made you into accepting.
ME: Er, yeah, I think so? I know I was kind of good…? And I want to explore things…? Oh no, wait,
FR: Do you think you would have been this kind of good, adventerous person without your family telling you to do things out of your reach?
ME: Dammit I'm not sure now.
If that just made your world a little different in any way, congratulations, this has been how I feel about adulting.
Anyway. Another type of relationship I want to talk about is teacher-student / mentor-apprentice. News has been not good for this combination in China, but it was never the other case. The teacher's job is to tell the student things, and the student is expected to raise questions or whatever, but eventually, to accept what the teacher says, which makes this power structure is no less dangerous than parent-child.
To make themselves more believable, which is the job (!), the teacher will, almost certainly, unintentionally or intentionally, behave more admirable and charming than necessary and / or they really are. To make it even worse, a teacher remains a teacher to the student for many years, we are talking about decades here, or even for the whole rest of the student's life. Responsible teachers try their best to not abuse this power dynamics, irreponsible teachers try their best to abuse it.
As a student, you almost cannot tell who's who, so you are in danger; if you were a teacher and yet still referencing me blog but not proper educational ethics, you are a horrible teacher.
(On a second thought: does "proper educational ethics" exist? Something like Hippocratic Oath? No? Oh no this is looking worse.)
At some earlier point in my life, I did not understand the ban on personal relationships, especially romantic relationships between teachers and students. Now I am totally for it. No romantic relationship should be form under power dynamics, certainly not such a strong and long-lasting one as teacher-student.
On a side note, I can see this topic merging with whether free will exists, which is a common sci-fi punchline.
Having been reading sci-fi forever, I still get the panic and sleepless nights wondering what if I don't have free will at all. Well, power dynamics in relationships is a non-sci-fi (aka real!) thing that can impact on the degree of your free will. I can't see why people are not suffering from insomnia caused by this…? We are basically mind-controlled by not aliens, not higher existence, but our own parents / teachers / governers / etc. This is bad. And more Oaths are not going to change it, but would be a damn great start.
I asked the abovementioned friend to read this post, and here's our conversation afterwards: