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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Swelling heteronormative discourse

Two sentences from two articles from two different publications about sex at Barnard. Guess which one is from the Columbia Daily Spectator and which one is from the barnard bulletin:

"Nobody is quite certain where Barnard's swelling heteronormative discourse
comes from..."

"Barnard girls are easy, and they give good head, the stereotype goes."

The two articles are about a recent "fireside chat" between students and the dean and president of Barnard College about issues of sexuality on campus. The Spectator article focuses on a worry voiced at the event that Barnard students are stereotyped by Columbia students as either sluts or lesbians (in either case, they're inferior intellectually). The bulletin article is about whether the activities at Barnard's Sexhibition week contribute to a sex-positive environment or if they embarrass some students. Both articles made me think, something about being 18-22 years old and subject to a lot of emotional conflicts about sex makes for some truly terrible writing. Personal ambivalence gets turned into generalizations (sometimes hurtful, sometimes false), derogatory comments, misguided attempts at theory, pseudo-psychology, personal attacks, and a lot of [navel]-gazing disguised as transgressive philosophy.

I give lots of credit to the people at Take Back the Night and related organizations, who get flak for anything they do--either they yell too much or they're too open about different types of sexuality--but keep working creatively anyway.

I have to guess there's some amount of humor in this feature from this week's edition of the bulletin, a horoscope organized by icons of "'sexy' things":

Aries: leather jacket over bra
Taurus: condom, leather jacket, bra
Gemini: lacy underwear
Cancer: lilies
Leo: bra
Virgo: puckered mouth
Libra: woman's back
Scorpio: more underwear
Sagitarius: hands unhooking someone's bra
Capricorn: smiling mouth
Aquarius: underwear
Pisces: the word CONSENT

Oh, women's college! But why are there extra quotation marks around 'sexy'? And why are there so few "'sexy' things" that icons have to be repeated? Oh well, I'll take this feature over this apparently unedited column any day.