April 01, 2008

Gotta make way for the Homo superior.

For shame, The Oregonian. For shame.

We have an article about a major step being taken by Oregon colleges willing to try out non-gender-strict dorm assignments, and all we can fucking talk about is how now straight couples get to live together. Because, you know, the queer students have really had an unfair advantage up to now under strict gender-segregated dorm arrangements. If you read to the end of the article someone actually fucking says so with a, haha, straight face. THANK GOD WE'VE STOPPED DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THE HETEROS.

It's not that there's anything particularly wrong with straight couples living together in college dorms -- I mean, it's a stupid idea for a shit-ton of reasons, but it's an equally stupid idea for straight couples and queer couples. So, sure, let 'em all give it a shot if they want to and they'll figure it out somehow.

No, my problem is that the article gives the barest mention to, oh, that tiny little aspect that has to do with making respectful and reasonable accommodations for students who are actually uncomfortable with or threatened by gender-segregated dorm arrangements. Honestly, who the fuck do they think pushed for gender-neutral dorms in the first place? Straight couples who couldn't bear to be separated? I fucking doubt it. A tiny handful of queer and trans kids who already spent their high school years fighting with their school administration over things like campus bathrooms? Probably. How much metaphorical or literal balls does it take to move on to college and keep fighting about it? Lots. How awesome is it that it's working? Awesome. How much recognition is that getting? Crickets. Tumbleweeds. Bleached cattle skulls and far-off lonely cowboy harmonica. None, is what I'm trying to say.

I've tried fighting automatically-gender-segregated living arrangements myself. I've tried it on two occasions I can think of, and both times I was in a totally comfy and privileged position compared to, say, your hypothetical 18-year-old transgender kid whose automatically-assigned "same sex" roommate is going to freak out and reject him or her utterly. Me, I was just in it for my own comfort and the principle of the thing. On one of the two occasions I fucked up the whole Kingman room-bid process and royally pissed off the house manager and did eventually win, but on the other -- in Ithaca, where my field-school director decided that male and female students would live in different houses -- I lost utterly. For six weeks that happened to correspond with my androgynous gender-freakout phase and wearing baggy boy jeans and boxers and chest-flattening sportsbras at all times, I lived in the fucking metaphorical red tent surrounded by girly girls who wore makeup and jewelry even while doing fieldwork. I'm pretty sure that they shared my conviction that if we had anything whatsoever in common it was sure as hell not related to gender. Then I imagine that instead of six weeks it's all year, and instead of being 25 I'm an impressionable college freshman, and gosh, this gender-inclusive dorm option is really going to be an enormous relief to some people.

So obviously that's why the headline needs to be "Oregon colleges allow couples to be roommates." For fuck's sake, The Oregonian. Really.

Posted by dianna at April 1, 2008 10:09 AM

Nod to you, not to the Oregonian.

I like the fact that by the time they get around to the meat of the gender-neutrality issue around, oh, page 3 of the article, they even have a quote from a campus administrator pointing out that people break up a lot during their college years and that the point of this move isn't really for the sake of couples living together, straight or otherwise. I like this because someone wrote it into the article, an editor left it there.... and somehow this was still the article that resulted. Ahem:


Eugene, OR -- Campus officials announced new housing policies today, aimed at facilitating sex between opposite-sex roommates.

"What?" said campus officials. "That's not what we're doing. We're just no longer mandating same-gender room assignments for people who aren't comfortable with that."

Clearly, this policy is a leap forward for college students who are looking to have sex with their roommates. "Yeah," said Brock, 21, a senior at Oregon State. "It's like, I've already had sex with my own girlfriends, and most of my roommate's girlfriends. So now I'm looking forward to, like, having sex with my roommate. I mean, if my roommate was a girl. Wait. What?"

For students like Brock, who want to take the ill-advised step of mounting a sexual relationship with a person with whom they share a 9x9' room, this represents a leap forward in equal access.

"Actually," explained the campus's Title IX officer, "This policy represents a more meaningful change for a different group of students. For example, a gay student who doesn't feel comfortable sharing that tiny room with another male student can now enjoy a simplified roommate relationship with a female student. Or a transgendered student who might have a more complicated relationship to gender-based room assignm--"

Right. Brock, for example, who wants to be able to date his roommate, now doesn't feel the sting of discrimination. "OK, I was like, I want to do it with a roommate," he says, "but my roommate's a guy. So then I was like, that's not fair."

Some students, however, are unsure where these new policies will leave them. Caitlyn, an OSU sophomore, is still trying to make sense of the new rules. "My boyfriend wants to move in with me and my roommate, because he thinks we can have a threesome. But is that allowed?"

Matt, 20, is the spokesman for the campus Republicans, and he vehemently disagrees. "This is exactly what we're afraid of," Matt says. "As soon as you open up campus housing to mixed-gender arrangements, now you have people asking about threesomes. Next it's going to be people asking if they can live with animals, or with their relatives. That's disgusting. We need to go back to the original arrangement that God had in mind: two sexually charged 19-year-old boys sleeping 3 feet away from each other in a room that smells like socks."

Posted by: katie at April 1, 2008 01:10 PM

Hahahaha! Smork! Dude, this is Onion-level hilarity. I take my hat off to you because if I left it on while nodding this much it would just fall off anyway.

Posted by: Dianna at April 1, 2008 05:45 PM

This is somewhat related; feel free to delete if you think it's too far off-topic.

I've been playing around with this online dating site, OKCupid. It's schtick is that you answer multiple-choice questions, most of them user-submitted, and it uses your answers to help match you with other users, or at least give you a broad sense of how compatible you are with others on the site. So far, so good. There are some odd, ungrammatical, ambiguous or poorly worded questions, but they're distinctly in the minority. But just now I've come across a question that actually has me angry:

Q: What's your opinion of female crossdressers?

A. Isn't that impossible nowadays?

B. I respect them, but they still freak me out.

C. Whatever they do in private is their business.

D. They should be put out of their misery.

When I first read the question, my thought was "Oh, this is easy. I'll just pick the answer that indicates my maximum approval of the practice." Then I read the answers. My options are A. ignorance, B. grudging public tolerance, while expressing my private loathing, C. grudging public tolerance, mixed with implied private loathing and an expression of desire that they remain properly repressed, or D. abject hatred.

Granted this is a user-submitted question, not one created by the site operators, but I'm still angry that they let this into their database. They get thousands of question submissions and only a few make the cut for inclusion, but this one, apparently, not only qualifies for inclusion but also has remained in circulation for several years now.

A further annoyance: The way their system works is that you first answer the question for yourself, then you check boxes for which answer you would like your ideal match to have given (you can only pick one answer for yourself, but can pick multiple possibilities for others). Then you assign an importance to the question, ranging from irrelevant to mandatory, so that they can weight the response in their mathematical formula. My problem is that I'd consider it very important that anyone answering not give any one of the proffered answers. What's more, I can't move on to more questions until I answer this one.

I guess I'll pick the ignorant answer, since it's the only one that isn't outright hateful.

Posted by: MoltenBoron at April 2, 2008 01:33 PM

Gosh, that's -- wow. Huh. I think the weirdest part of this may actually be the fact that the system allows this user-submitted and totally infuriating question to hijack the rest of the question-answering process. I mean, argh. My own impulse, in the absence of any obvious way to protest and/or change the options, would be "well, fuck it, skip it, maybe somebody else submitted a question in response that will allow me to pick a satisfying answer and/or express my opinion of this author's question." But if you can't move on to more questions, nor indicate your desire not to date anyone who gives any of these answers... argh!

Q: What is your opinion of female crossdressers?
A: Mlaahhhgmngmngmng. Potential partners should select answer: mlaahhhgmngmngmng. Importance: high.

I'm trying to figure out a way to work in a question about the adorable butch girl who works near my office and keeps popping in to be adorable at me and at whom I have been shamelessly making googly eyes for several days now, but I've concluded that since she is merely adorably butch and not actually what I consider cross-dressing, I really can't justify bringing it up except in this totally cheating paragraph right here.

I am also trying to learn to be slightly more zen about my blog, and to recognize that this is the internet and conversations go where they will. Part of this involves not chastising people when they don't happen to comment on precisely that aspect of my post about which I wanted them to comment. Please accept my apologies for previous smackdowns which may, on reconsideration, have been rather unwarranted.

Posted by: Dianna at April 2, 2008 04:40 PM

Oh, pish tosh. The disclaimer wasn't specifically about you; I say that any time I post a comment on a blog that is related to the subject matter of the post but not specifically on-topic.

Upon closer inspection, there is an option to skip a question. The site has a few interface annoyances, so I hadn't noticed it. It's possible to make questions unskippable (they throw in some math questions periodically, which tend to be unskippable. The point being, I suppose, so that they can tell whether you actually know the answer or not and to allow other potential mates to judge you according to your mathematical chops) and I hadn't realized that not all questions were unskippable.

Also of note: For user-submitted questions they include the name of the user who submitted the question. Out of curiosity, I followed the link. Apparently I'm not the only one to take issue with the question; her dating profile now begins with a paragraph about the question which states, and I'm paraphrasing, "About that question. I'm really, really sorry about it. I've gotten hundreds of angry e-mails. There's really nothing I can do. I have no control over what questions the site uses and despite my requests they've kept it up for two years now. I was intending the first answer to be the cross dresser-friendly question, but now I see why it wasn't. I wish I could get rid of the question, but I can't."

My guess is that she made a foolish mistake in writing the question and wrote out of ignorance, though I'm suspicious given that 3 out of 4 answers were intended to be cross dresser-negative. Still, I do think the site ought to get rid of the question and I'm more inclined to be mad at them.

It's weird becaue the site is actually pretty damn accomodating of non-heteronormative people. I've probably answered a dozen fair and useful questions on sexuality (Typically variations on "Would you consider dating a transexual?" "Yes, no, not sure, depends on the person." It allows one to screen people for tolerance, it allows people who won't date transexuals to not waste their time, it lets transexuals know who's open to a relationship up front without a lot of awkwardness). And I've answered multiple dozens of questions about non-standard sexual fetishes (for the last time, no, I've never urinated on someone during sex. Stop asking!). So I'm surprised that a question with, for a big segment of their user base, no right answer slipped into the system and has apparently remained there despite protest.

Posted by: MoltenBoron at April 2, 2008 06:07 PM

Alright, I now have a question about another question I've come upon. This is now tangent to my tangent. The question is:

Q:If you were attending Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which house would you want to be sorted into?

A. Gryffindor

B. Slytherin

C. Hufflepuff

D. Ravenclaw

I realize this is Harry Potter related. What, if anything, does this question mean? What do the answers mean? What, if anything, is the right answer?

Posted by: MoltenBoron at April 2, 2008 06:33 PM

I'm torn between my desire to show off the minute knowledge and in-depth understanding that my endless re-reading and re-watching has given me, and my desire to refuse because I simply cannot make the phrase "piggybacking off your friends' Harry Potter knowledge to improve your online dating profile" seem like it ought to occupy any part of a reasonable universe. I am genuinely torn and truly irresolute on this matter. But while I'm debating with myself, just don't pick Hufflepuff.

Posted by: Dianna at April 2, 2008 07:35 PM

Now I'm genuinely curious. What's wrong with Hufflepuff?

Posted by: MoltenBoron at April 2, 2008 07:43 PM

Curses. Now I'm forced to admit that I just sent you an email explaining the whole Hogwarts house system in some detail. Dum de dum de dum. Gosh, how about that weather?

Posted by: Dianna at April 2, 2008 07:54 PM

Ooh! The Boston Globe has just run its own story about gender-neutral dorm assignments, and it's like the alternate-universe twin of the Oregonian one. Observe! It is relevant and reasonable and not filtered through the Stupidizing Machine! Go go Gadget Boston.

Posted by: Dianna at April 7, 2008 08:07 PM