No sex for the President

With apologies for the salacious title of this post.

When you and I were students, and when we were staying in some student residence or other, some of us (if we’re old enough) may have been subject to a regulation that prohibited the overnight stay in our rooms of a guest of the opposite sex (our gay friends, curiously, were less restricted). Well, you probably thought that this kind of rule has long been abandoned or that it certainly has become unenforceable. Think again. And don’t think students. Think university presidents.

The new President of the University of Alabama in the United States, Dr Gwendolyn Boyd, has the use of a presidential residence that comes with the job. But her contract contains the following stipulation:

‘For so long as Dr. Boyd is president and a single person, she shall not be allowed to cohabitate in the president’s residence with any person with whom she has a romantic relation.’

Well no, there is no such word as ‘cohabitate’, but we’ll let that pass for a moment. What we see here is a rule prohibiting a woman president from having romantic liaisons at home. She may have all sorts of other visitors, including family, and if she acquires one, a husband; but not someone about whom she has pre-nuptial romantic feelings. Leaving aside the extraordinary assault on her human rights, how on earth can a university impose such conditions (notwithstanding her own apparent tolerance of them) in this day and age? And how can they possibly believe they are legally entitled to do this? And aren’t they at all worried that they will be mocked for this? Whatever next?

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19 Comments on “No sex for the President”

  1. Anna Notaro Says:

    One should read this carefully what the contract says is that she is not allowed to cohabitate with anyone with whom she is romantically involved who is not her *husband*. This has to do with the ‘sanctity’ of marriage and pre-marital sex..She can have all the sex she wants, provided that she is married…

    • … or, presumably, that the sex is totally unromantic.

      • Anna Notaro Says:

        from a conservative/religious perspective sex can be totally unromantic, its only scope is procreation, also the expression ‘romantically involved’ is an obvious, prudish euphemism in order to avoid the more sexually connoted term ‘affair’..
        Delightful topic for a Friday afternoon..

  2. V.H Says:

    Proper order too. There’s way too much unsanctioned presidential nooky going on for comfort. Hell, a fellow cannot even stroll a Haussmann boulevard without the sight of the presidential spats akimbo pillion on a Bavarian motorbike.
    Curious though, would a man be subject to the same clauses. And FYI, I don’t think pre-nuptial romantic feelings are the issue.

  3. Al Says:

    Does it read more like sex is allowed but not romance?

  4. no-name Says:

    “Well no, there is no such word as ‘cohabitate’….”

    The Oxford English Dictionary disagrees with you.

    • Well, it was the OED (and I have one) that I checked, and my copy doesn’t include it!

      • no-name Says:

        You don’t additionally make use of, then? It is more frequently updated than the print edition you have to hand; `cohabitate’ has an entry in the online resource.

        • See my reply to Anna below. I have the OED in bound form (several volumes) as well as online access, and I’m afraid “cohabitate” doesn’t feature in the search I’ve made!

          • no-name Says:


            (verified January 25, 2014)

            “† coˈhabitate, v.
            View as:

            Outline |
            Full entry


            Show all |
            Hide all

            Etymology: < late Latin cohabitāt- participial stem of cohabitāre.
            Obs. rare.
            Thesaurus »
            Categories »

            = cohabit v. 1.
            1624 T. Adams Temple 62 Shall the graces of God cohabitate with the vices of Satan?"

          • Isn’t that weird? In my (electronic) OED the words appearing around there are, in this order:


            Cog-wood, as I’m sure everyone knows, is ‘the hard timber of a W. Indian tree, Ziziphus chloroxylon, of the buckthorn family.’

          • no-name Says:

            Yes, that is odd.

  5. Anna Notaro Says:

    It would appear that the term cohabitation (clearly from Latin) is common currency in the US (rather that in the UK), I don’t have a problem with it per se (clinical psychologists use it )

    however, I find awful terms like ‘marrieds’ and ‘cohabitators’ which also recur in this discussion, see the following quote from one conservative site: ‘Marrieds have a better sex life than cohabitators’
    disputable ideas apart, that is a linguistic crime!

  6. Dan Uimhir a hAon Says:

    Ha ha! You do realise that this started as a discussion about potential sex in presidents’ residences, then it became a pedantic discussion on the etymology of the word cohabitate and the differences between online and hard copy dictionaries. Us academics eh, and on our day off! 🙂

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