College Student Receives An Email From Her Professor Saying Her Short Skirt Might Encourage Others To 'Fantasize' About Her

Her professor claimed the outfit she wore for a presentation was "distracting" to the other students in the class.

college student reading email on computer NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock

After giving a presentation in class, a college student received a disparaging email from a professor that left her disgusted. She was expecting to see feedback on her assignment and instead got his unsolicited and inappropriate opinion of her outfit. 

Her professor sent her an email saying that her short skirt would encourage others to 'fantasize' about her.

In a TikTok, Abby Hicks, a student at the University of Memphis, revealed that she felt "so completely grossed out and violated" by the inappropriate and sexualizing comments her professor made about her and other young women in the class.


Hicks explained that she had given an honors presentation for class, and her professor was supposed to email her with feedback and her overall grade. However, his email went "off the rails" as he began talking about the outfit she wore for the presentation — more specifically, her skirt.

Her 75-year-old psychology professor claimed that her outfit was "encouraging people to fantasize" about her. She showed a screenshot of the email, emphasizing a certain part that was shocking to hear come from her professor.



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"'While I really liked it that you dressed for the occasion of your presentation, the short skirt that you chose to wear could be distracting to some folks in your audience,'" the email read. "You did remain behind the computer station during most of your presentation, so your attire truly did not distract your audience. The issue with clothing that encourages fantasy is that it has the potential to distract from your presented content."

Not only was this an incredibly inappropriate thing to say to a student, but the professor outwardly tried to victim-blame Hicks by insinuating that she was responsible for potential distractions because of her attire. The real issue lies with the behavior of those who would be "distracted" — including the professor, whose email revealed his own biases, sexualization, and discomfort. 



Hicks pointed out that there was no dress code requirement for the presentation, thus no need for her professor to make any comment regarding her outfit unless it was blatantly inappropriate for class, which it wasn't. She also revealed that her professor made similar comments to other women in the class.


She recalled that one girl had worn a T-shirt and jeans, and her professor had told her that her "tight shirt was distracting to the audience because people would be paying more attention to her shapely form than to her words."

Showcasing the exact outfit she had worn for her presentation, Hicks had on a loose cardigan, a skort with black tights on underneath, and black boots. Nothing about her outfit was unseemly, distracting, or inappropriate. "You can't even see bare skin on my legs," she exclaimed. 

Hicks ended up forwarding the email to the head of the psychology department.

She explained that within five minutes of receiving the email, she sent it to the department chair of the psych department at her college. He promptly responded and assured Hicks that this email was concerning and shouldn't have happened.

The department chair let her know that he'd spoken to the Title IX office about the situation. However, Hicks admitted that she doesn't have a lot of confidence in their ability to handle this situation delicately or provide the appropriate justice.




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"I was dealing with [the Title IX office] last semester for a situation involving my ex-boyfriend that I felt got really victim-blamey, really siding with the perpetrator, and really didn't protect me from some stuff that they should have," she recalled. "I have zero confidence that if I do decide to escalate this to filing a formal complaint with the Title IX office that literally anything will happen."

Unfortunately, this is a bleak reality for many women who have experienced sexual harassment or other forms of sexual assault.

Not only are women terrified of reporting incidents like this because of having to relive the trauma, but they also fear retaliation, disbelief, and further victimization from their peers, communities, or even the very institutions that are meant to protect them. This culture of silence and choosing to side with the perpetrator instead of the victim has left survivors feeling powerless, isolated, and unable to seek the rightful justice and support they deserve.




"The best I can hope for is that they can find a way to give me some sort of accommodation to not have to return to his class without me failing the class," she said, adding that the semester is almost over.

In reality, the best solution would be for this professor to receive immediate termination. A person like that should not be able to keep their job, as their behavior not only violates professional standards but creates an unsafe environment for their students, especially the young women in the class.

If Hicks's school truly wants to protect its students, they need to send a clear message that misconduct and sexual harassment of any kind is never tolerated. Thankfully, this seems to be the case.


In a follow-up video, Hicks shared that the professor will not be returning next semester.

“I don't know if he got fired or if he was just politely asked to not return,” she said. “All I know is that they are letting him finish the semester, but he will not be returning to the classroom next semester.”



While the school was unable to immediately terminate the professor, as there were only three weeks until exams, the department chair will be overseeing all of his remaining classes. Hicks, and another woman who reported the professor, will be completing the class online with recorded lectures, and a third party will be grading their work to avoid retaliation. 


"That is the best possible outcome I could have asked for," Hicks concluded. "I am so incredibly happy."

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.