Professor exposes double standards with clever questionnaire
Privilege doesn’t just manifest itself in obvious ways. Sometimes it’s made obvious merely by the language one uses to discuss something, especially something as fluid and potentially controversial as sexuality.
A college professor made this clear to the students in her human sexuality course by putting a spin on some common questions.
The questionnaire was titled, “Questions for Heterosexuals in the Class” and included a list of questions typically asked of homosexuals.
One of the students posted a picture of the questionnaire to Twitter.
* What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
* When did you decide you were a heterosexual? * Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase that you may grow out of? * Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Why can’t you just be what you are and keep quiet about it? * Why do you heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into your lifestyle? * Have you considered therapy to change your heterosexual tendencies?
Twenty-year-old college junior Elise shared the photo on Twitter with the caption, “my professor isn’t taking anyone’s shit.” She tells Buzzfeed, “The slide is supposed to be funny, but she made us really think about why it was so funny. A lot of people in the class had probably never been asked these questions before, so I think she was trying to show them what it would be like, but in a humorous way.”
Her tweet took off, with plenty of people praising the professor for her ingenuity.
A few even offered some questions of their own.
It was a masterful lesson in exposing the subtle ways in which people outside of the mainstream are marginalized via something as seemingly innocuous as our word choices.
Suddenly, questions that gay people have had to tolerate for generations seem a lot more absurd, and a lot more offensive, when viewed through this prism. Those of us with the more socially acceptable (in some circles) version of sexuality have never had to stand for such indignities. Through this questionnaire, the professor is putting her students in others’ shoes, and hopefully imparting a little empathy along the way.
Of course, not everyone was pleased with the gambit.
“I’ve had a couple responses talking about getting my professor fired, and even some slurs and death threats,” Elise says. “That’s why I didn’t want to share my professor’s name or my school.”
I beg to differ. College is exactly the place for young people to step out of their respective bubbles and learn about different cultures and lifestyles. Kudos to this professor for shining a light on one of the more insidious ways many of us are kept in the shadows.
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