Fiduciary Relationship—that is, a relationship based on an inherent trust or trustworthiness. I first came across that term while doing research for GIRL RUNNING and PORTRAIT OF A PROTEGE. I found it in the article Sexualization* of the doctor–patient relationship: is it ever ethically permissible? by Katherine H Hall. While these two stories do touch briefly on Doctor-Patient ethics, I was more interested in Teacher-Student relationships, and I believe many of the principles cited in Hall’s article apply.
The fiduciary relationship is based on trust, wherein one party has greater power and thus control. Granted, many relationships incorporate a fiduciary element. I maintain that a healthy relationship distributes such power, contingent upon the assets each party brings to the table; that power is ever shifting. Oftentimes, principles of the fiduciary relationship are manifest when one party is significantly older than the other, though it surely holds true in other ways—such as when it comes to the intellectual, financial and social status of each party.
In my novel, GIRL RUNNING, I’ve chosen to explore the Teacher-Student relationship, particularly wherein pre-existing contact—outside of school—levels the playing field (a bit).
GIRL RUNNING explores the emotionally intense relationship between 17 year-old, orphaned and unsupervised Leila and her math teacher from hell, alongside, and often at conflict with, a blossoming romantic relationship with the track coach.
The author of the above-mentioned article concludes: “…[sexualized] relationships with former patients should not be regarded as ethically permissible except under such rare circumstances.” I believe the same holds true for Teacher-Student relationships. And so, I have attempted to explore that “rare circumstance.”
What do you think? Can such ‘unequal’ relationships succeed, long-term?
* just to clarity, neither of my stories contain sex between a student and teacher.