What Not To Do When Housemate Hunting

As it happens, I was housemate hunting recently. The following is text from an email-exchange that ensued after a very singular dude replied to the posting. See, while humor is awesome, using this kind of humor when you’re a cis-dude and we don’t know each other at all = not the best choice.


Hey girls!
In response to your CL listing, here I am.  Your listing and requirements are almost exactly what im looking for!
– Im LGBT-friendly (Im currently traveling Europe with a gay friend and a couple straight ones).
– I like to share household utilities (down to groceries, netflix, bar tabs)
– I throw occasional extravagant parties (maybe twice a year).  Dinner parties are great too.

Im a 28 y/o male engineer going in for a masters in entrepreneurship at Brown this fall.

So a little about me.  To sum it up, im a social, spontaneous, sporty, clean(ish) and nerdy guy.  I was born in Oregon, lived all over the US, but living in Boston for the last 5 years working at a tech startup managing the manufacturing and various engineering aspects of our products.  When im not working I enjoy cycling, hiking, snowboarding, ultimate frisbee, inventing/building random things, traveling, meeting new people, and going out with friends.

Now that you know a little about me, id love to hear a little more about you guys.  The only concern that I have at the moment is… living with THREE girls?  But you guys sound pretty awesome.

Best, XXX


Hi XXXX!

What does an “occasional extravagant party” mean to you? That sounds fancy! 😀 Is it more on the “fancy fabulous party” or “beer pong rager” end of things?

And yes—three girls. Have you been primarily living by yourself or with guys…? We’re pretty awesome if I do say so myself. The question is—are we all compatible? That’s what we have to find out! Do you think you could Skype with us for a chat tomorrow or in the coming days?
On our end, we’re all sociable folks with Venn-diagramming lives. We have our own things going on (and it seems like all fervently love our jobs and doing good for society), but do like to spend time together. For example, we hosted a couchsurfer these past two nights, all of us had dinner together yesterday and then watched a movie about an evil Santa Claus in Finland. Then, today, one of the housemates (Jenna) and I got home from work, chatted over some pineapple-y wine, and watched an “offbeat romantic ghost story” about a married fisherman who has to reconcile his love for a man with his life and society’s social mores. Sometime in August we’ll be hosting a monthly (or so?) feminist book club, and there are plans to go down to Newport sometime because I’ve never been and that’s quite a tragedy.

If that sounds at all interesting, let’s set up a time to chat!


Hey Aida,

The occasional extravagant party means I like to throw epic memorable parties which i invest fairly heavily in.  These are no ordinary beer pong ragers, I dont even allow it.  These are epic themed parties where massive props are made, fog machines, disco balls, candles, blacklights, meticulously created playlists, dance floors, etc. and funded by the young professionals who like to show appreciation to their good friends a couple times a year.  Youve never been to a party like this before.  (Note from Aida: I am simultaneously intrigued and put off.)

Ive been living with 3 boys and 1 girl in boston for the last 5 years.  A few people have cycled, but the ratio always remains the same.  I like to live with at least one girl to keep the place in check.

Im daunted by your “feminist book club” and three “social justice minded” women.  Im pretty sure you guys will want to kill me by the first night if you take my asinine crass humor seriously.  Im pretty over-the-top.  While I appreciate your time, I think im going to have to respectfully decline.

Good luck finding someone!


The problem is, while this guy sounded kind of interesting in a way, he can’t expect me to trust his intent once I’ve already been slammed with sexist bullshit over and over. And even if I WERE to think “well he’s just being ironic/funny,” this kind of shit is not funny to me anymore 99% of the time, especially coming from men, and cis, straight men at that.

If we do not have a relationship, do not have a rapport, and do not have ANY remote smidgen of comfort with each other and knowledge about where we’re coming from, this kind of humor doesn’t make sense and doesn’t make me feel good about our interactions. A lot of what he said just sounds like regurgitations from shitty conversations I’ve had with people who have been clueless, sexist, and/or disrespectful. Does anyone think that’s cool or comforting? That it’s funny or cool to make people feel like they might have another person in their life who devalues them, even if only just for a moment, for the sake of humor, and reenacts the daily sexist bullshit they face?

People can’t expect folks from an oppressed/marginalized group to trust the intent of people from a majority/oppressive class when the latter are going down the same path of shittiness. “Oh oh oh, but I was being FUNNY/IRONIC” is not an excuse. Still shitty. When experience has told me and my communities that this kind of behavior is indicative of sexist and misogynist beliefs, WHY in the world would I just “hope” that this person would be different? Why would I even TRY to excuse them and give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if it’s about living together? Come on. Doesn’t make sense.

Does finding this problematic make me humorless? No. It makes me someone who prefers a more sophisticated and less oppressive brand of humor. I used to be one of those “you can joke about anything! bring on the dark humor and horribly offensive shit!” kind of person, especially before I hit college… but once one’s been exposed to how this kind of thing actually plays out and is the lived reality of people, it’s hard to find that shit funny anymore. That shit is REAL and EVERY DAY and EXHAUSTING. The harm these jokes and cracks make is far higher than their funniness, and from a purely utilitarian perspective (as well as one that focuses on kindness and respect more so than momentary wittiness), IT’S BETTER TO REFRAIN FROM SUCH “JOKES.”

And before someone says “well that’s censorship,” welcome to the world. We all have to “censor” ourselves sometimes. We should HAVE the freedom to be shitty people to some extent and say whatever we want, but consciously CHOOSE to not be shitty to others. We need to strive to be better, and create a world that’s a safer place to be. Just because we “can” do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it.

Humor that relies on oppression and marginalization, no matter how small, is LAZY HUMOR. It’s EASY to use the pre-existing power dynamics to “make a funny,” and it pretty much requires no thought or wit or spin–just a pretty straightforward mimicry of what’s going on in the day-to-day. Let’s strive for more instead of just rolling around in the muck.

I asked a friend “Do you think I’m just slowly turning into a pissed off lesbian separatist stereotype?”

Our conclusion was that no, I wasn’t, but I think I’ve more recently come to fully understand those “angry, humorless feminist/woman of color/queer” stereotypes ‘cause I feel that ish right down to my bones. Things that maybe I didn’t care about before, or just let slide by, are no longer okay. Once you start seeing inequality and start realizing how pervasive racism and sexism and homo/trans/biphobia and all these things are, it’s hard to ignore.

Of course I’m angry, after cis-men feel entitled to my body/time and don’t ask for consent, after my queer community is denied rights, after people feel like they have the right to tell me how I can or can’t have sex.

Of course I’m angry when women, especially women of color, make less than men in the same positions; when people of color are vilified in the media and whiteness is insidiously and subtly upheld as the standard; when companies produce skin-lightening creams that reap the benefits of colonialism and ideas about how precious pale skin is.

Of course you’ll think I’m “humorless” when I don’t laugh at the jokes that come at the expense of women/queers/POC, that trivialize inequalities and the fucked up shit some of us have to deal with on a daily basis.

Sorry, but my definition of “funny” no longer encompasses things that rely on oppressive stereotypes and judgments, and yours shouldn’t either. It’s not just being lazy with comedy; it’s outright being a privileged piece of shit who cares more about making a joke than about the harm that joke can cause to people.

SPG Continues to Make Headlines

Click here for it.

“Young men with barely a hair below their chins lured into corners by older Brown “bears,” androgene Asians writhing and squealing on sweaty couches, coins exchanged for boy gropings, girls without bras squeezing each others’ young breasts and showing off pert nipples, WASPs barely out of prep school showing off their hard lacrosse bodies, skinny Euros smelling of hand-rolled cigarettes leering at each and every American body part, jocks spitting into the mouths of effeminate boys, girls urinating standing up…” –From An Anonymous Email Regarding Brown’s Sex Event

Ah, Christwire. This website cannot be anything but a parody. So good. They actually contacted me a week or two before SPG asking if the QA/SPG website was updated with the 2009 info or not. 🙂 For those of you unfamiliar with SPG, a disclaimer: most of what’s in this article is NOT TRUE. Some of it is, but…most of it isn’t. With that said, time for some excellent excerpts from the article:
  • Originally conceived as a gay activist meeting, “Sex Power God” has grown over the years to become, in essence, a drug-fueled condemnation of Christianity laced with unsafe group sexual encounters and radically anti-American ideologies.
  • I had requested a press pass on numerous occasions and information on the time and place of this event. I received a polite reply from a woman named Aida (last name withheld out of respect for her family) that my email would be handled promptly and expected my credentials would be in the mail shortly.
  • But I never heard back from the homosexuals at Brown. Shockingly, I only found out after the fact that the party was held at all.
  • Whereas other universities are known for their fraternity life– where indoctrination can include a little beer drinking and some light-hearted male-oriented fun– Brown has an underground reputation for its uniquely elite brand of extreme perversity.
  • Sadly enough, if you had met these children on the street or in your local coffee shop, you might find them bothersome, dirty, unapproachably foreign, frighteningly unpredictable and plain old unnecessary. They have no promise or beauty about them. The greatest impact a Brown grad may have on the cultural scene of this country is likely to be deciding how low some trailer trash music sensation’s low cut jeans should go. Otherwise, you’ll find them fetching coffee for their better-prepared Ivy League brothers at Goldman Sachs or Merrill Lynch. Or maybe they join “Teach For America” long enough to convince their rich parents to buy them a BMW and a summerhouse.

Gay Marriage Confuses Kids!

“Now they’re saying that we can’t have gay marriage because it would confuse the kids. But you know what else confuses kids? Everything: Time zones. Books without pictures. Cargo pants. Certain hair colors. Jello molds. The magic trick with the quarter behind the ear. Mirrors. Mentadent toothpaste dispensers. Everything confuses kids, because they’re kids. So “Will it confuse kids?” is probably not the best litmus test for, well, anything besides toys and Spongebob plotlines (and even then, there’s a lot of leeway). ”

This Is Your Kid On Gay Marriage | TV | A.V. Club

When ECON-speak fails, try Pokemon analogies

If you don’t know what the hell is going on with the economy and only know that it’s kinda majorly fucked, read on. (This article is resposted from HERE)

——

Economist Kevin Nguyen explains the country’s economic woes to his younger sister, using Pokémon as an analogy. Seriously.

The following is an actual conversation I had with my younger sister, Olivia. She likes to draw, play World of Warcraft, and now, she’s the only fourteen-year-old girl who understands the U.S. economic crisis.

Kevin: Have you been following the news?

Olivia: Yeah, I don’t really get it.

Kevin: Imagine that I let you borrow $50, but in exchange for my generosity, you promise to pay me back the $50 with an extra $10 in interest. To make sure you pay me back, I take your Charizard Pokémon card as collateral.

Olivia: Kevin, I don’t play Pokémon anymore.

Kevin: I’m getting to that. Let’s say that the Charizard is worth $50, so in case you decide to not return my money, at least I’ll have something that’s worth what I loaned out.

Olivia: Okay.

Kevin: But one day, people realize that Pokémon is stupid and everyone decides that the cards are overvalued. That’s right—everybody turned twelve on the same day! Now your Charizard is only worth, say, $25.

Olivia: Uh-huh.

Kevin: At the same time, you’re having trouble paying back the $60 you owe me. So what would you rather do: try and pay me back the $60 or just default and give me your $25 Charizard?

Olivia: I’d give you the Charizard.

Kevin: Exactly. Who wouldn’t? Now, the bank—I mean me—has lost $25 when I expected to make $10. What’s the lesson here?

Olivia: Pokémon is dumb.

Kevin: True, but keep going.

Olivia: That Pokémon cards might be worth less later than they are now?

Kevin: Close. You just can’t rely on them appreciating in value forever. There’s one other good lesson in this analogy.

Olivia: That you shouldn’t lend me money?

Kevin: A-ha, exactly right! You’re fourteen and have no source of income. What would convince me to lend you money if I’m not sure you can pay it back?

Olivia: Because you could’ve taken my $50 Charizard. So you could have either made $10 or gotten something worth what you gave me. If people didn’t realize Pokémon was dumb, then there was no way for you to lose anything.

Kevin: Now, instead of a loan of $50, imagine that it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars; then instead of a Pokémon card, it’s your house. The U.S.’s prosperity was built on the idea that real estate/Pokémon would never go down. Multiply this wishful thinking by thousands of people in America and you can see the scale of our problem.

Since you couldn’t pay me back, I can’t pay my bills and I can’t loan out any more money. Our country is dependent on the ability to borrow money.

Olivia: That doesn’t make any sense. If I borrow money from you, I’m going to spend it.

Kevin: Well, the idea is that you’ll spend it in a way that will make you more money in the future—like college or starting a business.

Olivia: Oh, okay. I have a question for you: did you use the Pokémon example because you think I’m a nerd?

Kevin: I just wanted to make it easy for you to understand.

Olivia: Fine. But stop telling people I play World of Warcraft. I’m totally over that.

Kevin: Don’t worry, Olivia. I used to be into way nerdier things. Have you heard of Magic: The Gathering?

Olivia: What the hell is that?

———–

A friend of mine said this was only half the picture, so I told him to take a crack at explaining it using the same analogy. This is what he came up with:

After loaning the $50 to his little sister and taking the Pokemon card as collateral, Kevin makes ten similar $50 loans to his sister’s friends, who each give him another Pokemon card as collateral. So, now he’s got $600 owed to him by ten different people, and an expected profit of $100. Kevin would like to make more Pokemon Read Moreloans, but he doesn’t have the cash available to do it.

Kevin’s solution is to go to Lyndsey. Lyndsey offers to buy Kevin’s right to collect the Pokemon loans from him for $550 — so that Kevin reduces his profit from $100 to $50, but now has the cash in hand to make more Pokemon loans. Lyndsey is betting that because Kevin has exercised good judgment as a lender and the Pokemon cards are expected to hold their value, she is pretty much assured of a $50 profit…

Meanwhile, Kevin continues to make Pokemon loans, and Lyndsey continues to buy up those loans from him in ten-loan packages. Now that he doesn’t have to bear the risk of the borrowers failing to pay him back, however, Kevin starts giving Pokemon loans to ANYONE. Random 12-year olds walk in off the street and ask him for loans, he hands out Read Morethe money, and then quickly turns around to sell the loans to Lyndsey.

Meanwhile, Lyndsey’s loan-buying strategy becomes popular. All of her friends start buying up Pokemon loans as well.

By the time that Lyndsey realizes that these borrowers are far riskier than she’d thought, Pokemons have been devalued. She is forced to shut down her loan securitization business, files for bankruptcy, and defaults on all of her debts to various other friends. But all of those other friends have made the same risky decisions, though, this causes a domino effect of ever-worsening unpaid debts within her entire social circle.