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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Choosing roommates

I've recently been informed that at a lot of colleges, you're not allowed to say on your freshman rooming application that you don't want a homosexual roommate

But if, say, a guy isn't allowed to say that that he doesn't want a homosexual roommate (who might find him sexually attractive), then why should girls not be randomly paired with male roommates (who might find them sexually attractive)? 

This argument sounds silly, but really, the same logic applies. Some people feel uncomfortable dressing or taking a shower in front of someone who might pop a boner while watching them do so. And if you have to sleep in the same room with that person night after night, it's understandable that the atmosphere might feel a little oppressive.

Most women, of course, wouldn't feel comfortable if they were forced to change all the time in front of some random guy. But if they have the right not to room with some leering potential predator, shouldn't men have that same right? 

Now it's far less likely that the average football player is going to be raped by the average theater major than it is that any given female will be raped by a random male. But male on male rapes have been known to occur -- though mostly in prison. 

When you go to prison, by the way, they don't ask you to fill out a questionnaire detailing your likes and dislikes so that the warden can carefully match you up with a simpatico roomie. You're simply thrown in with someone randomly, and you may get raped as a result. (Should wardens ask for such forms?) 

I'm not being entirely serious by pointing out these parallels, of course. I'm generally for homosexual rights, and I certainly wouldn't have wanted my daughter (who's currently in college) paired with some random male roommate. And, the fact is, you never hear of male on male rapes on college campuses.

But awkwardness is a constant presence on every campus, and lessening it in any context -- particularly the context of a dorm room -- doesn't seem like that much of a crime to me. If you're against sexual harassment, you should be against all sexual harassment.

I realize that I've just made an argument against gays in the military. But the military is different: everybody is put in large barracks, and the presence of a few gays there is not going to make any one hetero feel particularly oppressed.  

And if it ever did get too awkward at the unit level, the military could allow for all-gay units and all straight units. The reason I've always been for allowing gays in the military because I'm for equal rights -- not because I favor forced fraternization.

It wouldn't bother me to have a gay roommate. But there are those it would, so why not allow incoming college freshmen to have straight roommates if they prefer? 


Anonymous said...

Years back, I worked with a Marine (black guy) who had another black Marine for a roommate. They were close friends, until the night his roommate crawled into bed with him and started whacking him off. It wasn't a shower rape, but it did mess with his head, and like many women, he didn't report it. Forced mixing of gay and straight men is a recipe for disaster. At that age, when their sexuality is becoming fully realized, spending all day in classrooms looking and thinking about chicks, the idea or prospect of sodomy is repulsive to most young men, and is sometimes expressed with violence. I've not looked up the statistics, but my general impression is that most "gay bashings" are done by young men. With age, you take less offense to the thought of it, as it has been long since filed away in the "not for me" bin. You even tell a few choad-chugging jokes that would have horrified you at 19.
One other thing about the Marine: there was some awkward comedy in the telling of his story. He made the too-common "low IQ black guy overstepping his vocabulary" faux pas, and had to repeat himself, "he tryto jackelatemypenis" a couple times before I understood, "ohhh, he tried to jack you off."

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
That's an interesting story, and your description of one's attitude towards homosexuality changing with age is perfect. The story illustrates what I said about two man rooms (vs. barracks) not being conducive to hetero-homo pairings.

"He tried to ejaculate my penis"? I guess that's one way of putting it.

lowly said...

I suspect that more troops live in rooms than in open barracks these days.

And, oddly enough, from my service days many moons ago, I have a pic of a gent waking up in the same bed with another one, after a night of drink.

This gent, who crawled into bed with the other fellow, was a married bi-sexual. He was married, with children, an ex-boxer, and built like one. Not what you'd call an effeminate dude.

John Craig said...

Lowly --
Wow, that's even scarier: "Give me a blow job or I'll beat the crap out of you."

It wouldn't have bothered me to have a theater major for a roommate, but no thanks to that guy.

Pete said...

Seems strange that an organization that is a business and takes your money feels powerful enough to tell you your feelings don't matter, it's what they dictate to you that counts. The customer is always right. Maybe that needs to be drummed into their heads. If a paying customer wants a roommate with a mohawk then they should get one pronto.

John Craig said...

Pete --
Good point. Colleges take your money, generally don't give you much value in return, and then act as if they're doing you a favor.