Crushes are deemed "intellectual" by the crusher when the crushee is someone who'd be inappropriate to pursue. It's far more respectable to admit to "admiration" than to a sexual desire for someone 30 years older and married.Oh my, there's so much here I disagree with.
If you know the person is for whatever reason a no-go, you create a reason for why what you feel to be a crush like any other is actually about something other than sex. Problem is, all crushes begin as about something other than sex. One person finds another interesting, then very interesting, then the thought occurs, aha, a crush!
"Intellectual" is just the defense mechanism created for this one variant of the inappropriate crush
For starters, it's hardly "far more respectable to admit to "admiration" than to a sexual desire for someone 30 years older and married." One of Hugo's points was that other women don't buy it when you admit to admiration. In my experience, it is a lot easier to joke about smokin' professors than to earnestly proclaim your esteem. Being earnest in college is a recipe for mockery and heartbreak. I've also seen little evidence of any social norm discouraging college students from saying they are sexually attracted to their professors, save insofar as there is a general idea that younger = hotter and women surrounded by 21-year-old men who fixate on middle-aged guys are focusing on the wrong thing.
Phoebe's crush timeline also seems confusing. If "crushes are deemed "intellectual" by the crusher when the crushee is someone who'd be inappropriate to pursue," but "all crushes begin as about something other than sex," which comes first, the lust or the admiration? It seems like we are talking about two different things here:
1. Student admires prof, becomes sexually drawn to prof, sublimates desire by construing it as an "intellectual crush."
2. Student admires prof, demonstrates admiration by outward behavior that would indicate sexual feelings but which is not backed up by real desire.
In one instance, we have over-intellectualization and sublimation in response to bourgeois norms about appropriate targets of desire, and in the other we have the fumbling responses of young women whose only models of behavior with which they can relate to men are as daddy or date. If, as Hugo observes, it would be infantilizing to interact with an older male prof in a daughterly role, the women fall back on the other scheme until a mode of interaction is established by the professor. If your interactions with non-relative males are typically mediated by your sexuality, it's hard to shift gears without practice.
That bit about all crushes starting with something non-sexual is bunk, by the way. It is entirely possible to see a hot guy, be ignited with desire, and then be predisposed to view anything that comes out of his mouth as a crushworthy bon mot. This is another reason girls go out with hot jerks.