University of Maine, never let anyone tell you that your campus is civilized. We’re as primitive as they come. While calling a fraternity a “frat” is viewed as highly offensive, referring to things that are bad as “gay” has become routine.
University dialect reflects the philosophy of the campus. I am ashamed to admit that of the several times that I’ve heard these verbal abuses occur in this college community, most have been met with recognition of a negative connotation and then laughter in acceptance of its use.
My instinct is to offer a deal: I’ll stop calling brothers frat boys when you stop using the words faggot, gay, homo and dyke in derogatory tones. I think we can all agree, however, that respect for everyone is the idea here, not just respect for the reformed values of some fraternities.
In high school, these kinds of expressions may be more understandable because students might not be at a maturity level that allows them to distinguish what is funny from what is crude.
Wake up. We’re not in high school anymore. And although many of us are not yet at a maturity level that allows us to recognize that using “gay” as a synonym for “stupid” is ridiculous, we are college students. That should mean we are intelligent enough to distinguish between a harmless catch phrase and a damaging indication that we are archaic in our social values.
Of course, we’re not exactly given a good example of equality by our nation. The issue of same-sex marriage is still not given the attention it deserves, while we broadcast shows like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire” and “Meet the Folks,” which essentially bring heterosexual commitment back to arranged marriages. Seriously, who was in charge of thinking of ideas that day? Oh wait, we just want to make money, and the best way to do that is give the people something to make their jaws drop. At this point, it’s amazing that our knuckles aren’t dragging on the ground.
If we look further to our society for answers on the issue of homosexuality, we see even more hypocrisy. Movies about true love as portrayed by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jennifer Lopez and their romantic comedy brigade suggest that commitment is about connecting with another human being on a deep level. More importantly, these movies imply what true love is not focused on: sex. So if romantic love is not most substantially based on sex, why should sex matter in the country’s definition of marriage?
Perhaps we at UMaine can make an important statement to our community and state about this issue, but at the bare minimum, we must change our vocabulary to avoid further perpetuating such a gross stereotype.
In a community so offended by a suggestion that a fraternity brother is focused mostly on drinking and partying when they are in fact focused on academics and volunteering, I’m sure we can get out of the habit of using terms regarding sexuality insolently. If we can get out of the time-honored tradition of calling fraternities frats, we can break this habit too.
Tracy Collins is a sophomore journalism major.