I can’t decide if this qualifies as raising the level of discourse or not

On Monday, there was a pretty terrible column in the Barometer from an alum.  Blamer Melissa and I decided to write a response, which they ran today.  Our response in full:

After reading Cameron Anderson’s March 9th piece, “Bartender’s observations render dating advice for women,” both of us felt compelled to respond.

Setting aside the inexplicable decision for the Barometer to publish this misguided screed, we both found fault with his column in a myriad of ways.

Starting with the very first line of the column, Anderson reinforces out-dated gender roles that prescribe women (let’s be clear – NOT girls, as Anderson chauvinistically suggests) to play passive roles in dating relationships. These types of essentialist statements are rooted in a fundamentally mistaken view of human nature that views women as the supposedly naturally weaker damsel-in-distress who is just sitting there waiting for her ‘prince charming’ to come along and save her and the man as some kind of emotionally stunted oaf.

Pardon us while we barf.

If we have learned anything over the past thirty years, it’s that gender roles are socially constructed (and therefore unnatural), prescribed and just plain unhealthy for everyone. The idea that all women are overly emotional, irrational, passive, responsible for all communication, should put their needs second, must be careful to not take their “man’s” freedoms away, and should have as life goals marriage and watching endless romantic comedies is just simply bizarre…. well, we can’t help but wonder if Anderson has watched one too many romantic comedies himself.

Oh, and excuse us while we barf again. Not only do we think that the way in which Anderson describes women is hurtful and false, we don’t think it’s something anyone should be aspiring to.

We’re not sure what century (or reality) Anderson is living in, but in our lives all parties involved in a relationship have (or should have) the same responsibility to communicate and maintain a healthy relationship with the folks they are involved with. But, unlike our reality, Anderson apparently lives in a reality where men should be held to lower standards and have fewer responsibilities in relationships. He paints the picture that men routinely lead women on, cannot communicate, are not genuinely thoughtful, want to be taken care of, are emotionless, and, to be blunt, view women as sex objects. We’re sorry, but we have higher expectations for men than that, and in our experiences, we know lots of men for whom these statements are both false and offensive.

Making generalized statements about both women’s and men’s gender roles is helpful to no one. Anyone can sit at a bar for a few hours, observe the actions of others and then assume what they see can be applied to everyone. Of course we know that not all women and men act alike. For Anderson to suggest that even after a few years tending bar, he has discovered any great truths about human beings – well, that kind of claim is too arrogant even for us. A little cocky, even.

And what’s with assuming that all women must be looking for a man, anyway? Is everyone in Anderson’s world straight? How does his view of dating and relationships account for the experiences of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender individuals in Corvallis?  How does it account for the millions across the world? It doesn’t, apparently – which is another place we think the story Anderson tells is at odds with reality.

One last thing we want to address is the ludicrous idea of the “freak out.” Anderson talks about this like it’s something all women experience, but once again, we think he’s making a sexist generalization. Does anger have a role in relationships? Absolutely. Do people sometimes get mad at their significant others for reasons that may seem foolish in retrospect? Of course. But to claim that only and all women do this is simply factually incorrect. Case in point: Biological males have a monthly (daily, even) variance in hormone levels, just like biological women. Biological males may be socialized to throw temper tantrums in different ways, but it still happens. For Anderson to suggest otherwise is perhaps the most open and blunt instance of sexism in a column riddled with it.

We find ourselves saddened by the narrow, simplistic view of human nature and human relationships presented by Mr. Anderson in his column. In our experience, one of the amazing things about being human is the incredible range of possible relationships that human beings can create, and we find it unfortunate Anderson would, consciously or not, limit that diversity in favor of something so…. boring.

Melissa Brazeale and Dennis Dugan are a alumni of Oregon State University. The opinions expressed in their columns do not necessarily represent the opinion of The Daily Barometer staff. Brazeale and Dugan can be reached at forum@dailybarometer.com.

Oh, and a note to the Barometer:  People getting mad at the things you run on the Forum page is not evidence that you’re doing a good job.  You need to pay attention to why they are mad.  (In other words, “if we’re pissing them off we must be doing something right” is completely wrong.)

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3 Comments on “I can’t decide if this qualifies as raising the level of discourse or not”

  1. Roxy Says:

    Well said!

  2. Dennis Says:

    Thank you. We do aim to please =)

  3. Travis Says:

    Very glad they ran this, and that you wrote it. But, as we’ve discussed, the Barometer’s approach to initiating/allowing for some public discourse is really counterproductive and unfortunate.

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