Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Response to

(This is an article written by Christina Liu which will be posted in the final Maroon News of the semester)

Last semester on October 27 hours after the opening of my show This Is Not A Play About Sex, I received an anonymous email from a self-proclaimed “anonymous douchebag fratboy” using a “throwaway email address” who shared with me some of his thoughts on the hook-up culture at Colgate. He refers particularly to the monologue “Pleasure Party” where a female character who spent her Colgate career negotiating body issues, self-esteem problems, and the imbalance in what she perceives as a male-dominated hook-up scene wonders aloud why it is that women  have to expect to be treated like shit by men on this campus. Here are some of fratstar69’s thoughts on the matter, and here is my long overdue response:

Dear Christina Liu,

Great job on the play…I'd like to offer my perspective as one of those 'douchebag fratboys' that [the monologue] is referring to.
…It seems that every girl complains about guys not 'wanting' to commit, but what it comes down to is - if we show signs that we want to commit, you'll lose interest in us… I used to be that guy my freshmen year. The girls that I were interested in, I treated them with respect. When they were blackout, lost, and confused, I walked down the hill to find them, bring them safely back up to their dorm, get them water and food, and made sure they passed out in their bed without taking advantage of their state of mind - even when they asked me to.  I never got anywhere with those girls.  I didn't realize until joining a fraternity that that was not what girls were actually attracted to…

It really sucks having to pretend to be someone who I'm not to get attention from women that I'm attracted to.  I'm with an amazing girl right now… But to get to this point, I had to be an asshole to her, play with her emotions, and destroy her self-esteem from time to time. It feels terrible having to hurt someone you truly like and care about, hook up with her friends who I did not want to hook up with at all, blow her off to make her wonder what I was up to, just so that she wouldn't write me off as just a friend. I really wish that I could have just asked her out on a date and be upfront with her, but if I did so, we wouldn't be together right now.

Sorry to everyone that I've been a jerk to. Sorry to everyone that I've kept wondering if I'd call back or not, if I'm interested or not.  I hope you'll understand my perspective and why I do these things. I don't know if my actions are justified or not, but the truth is, it does bring results.  I think that most guys here at Colgate will attest to the fact that being a dick attracts more attention and interest than otherwise.

Anonymous Douchebag Fratboy

Dear Anonymous Douchebag Fratboy,
            First of all thank you for attending my play, and thank you for so openly sharing your frustrations, your perspective, and your apologies with me. I’d like to begin by saying that I understand why you feel forced to play the role of the asshole. You have aptly noticed that the hook-up culture is the result of a double narrative where both genders (if we can speak heteronormatively for the moment) play a role in perpetuating it. This being said, I think you missed a crucial point.
You target women as the culprit, women who denied you in the past when you were nice, genuine, and respectful; they were the ones who forced you to play the role. I am similarly dissatisfied with this culture and, like you, I believe it does not foster healthy relationships and instead encourages people to let themselves be treated with disrespect. However, if we are going to speak about feeling victimized by this culture let’s also talk about what different degrees of victimization look like. Yes it does suck having to actively manipulate and hurt someone else when that’s not what you want to do, but it sucks more to be on the receiving end of systemic blows to your self-esteem. Yes it does suck to miss out on an easy hook-up with “blackout, lost, and confused” women, but it sucks more to wake up after a night of being blackout, lost, and confused not remembering the consent you did or did not give and wondering if this uneasy feeling is the result of an assault. It sucks to have to make a habit of tearing down a woman’s self-esteem just to get a date, but it sucks more to have internalized so fully your low self-esteem and oppression that you need the attention of a man in order to feel validated again. I hope it is clear that what is missing from your interpretation is that this culture is not about assholes, it is about power.
             I can see in your email that you are a thoughtful individual at heart, but what I am most troubled by is the justification of what sounds like “I’m sorry I am being forced to hurt you”. It is a displacement of responsibility for your actions which at best results in wondering why a text has not been replied to and at worst results in the current culture of violence we live in where every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in America.
            You say you do the things you do because it attracts attention, that being nice doesn’t bring results but I’d like to ask, why should we be rewarded for treating other people with dignity? Why is human respect dispensable when it doesn’t help you get laid? And why is the focus directed towards getting any someone rather than getting the right someone?
You asked me in your email to think about the men in my life and which ones I have friendzoned and which ones I am attracted to. Here it is. The type of man I am attracted to is one who is strong enough to interrupt a culture he does not agree with, one who can keep me interested not by making me wonder whether he will text or not but by his character, his wit, his passions, his talents, and one who does not have to rely on the hook-up scene as his only means of interacting with me. Find me someone like that and I can assure you he will have my attention.

Christina Liu

(For further questions/comments:


  1. You're so hot, Christina. The reason a guy would have to depend on your getting blackout, lost and confused, is that he's waaaaay intimidated by you. Indeed, I sometimes wonder how, what with the dependency on the hook-up culture at Colgate to find pleasure, it's possible for ANY relationships to start. So often are we seriously embarrassed to let each other know we enjoy each other's company. This isn't only about sex, it's about friendship, scholarship, and human respect. Why does it have to be so hard at Colgate to get what you want? How can we just say what we feel and think? You're right, girl. To let the rest of the culture "force" us to act disrespectfully is a cop-out. But I see where Fratguy is coming from. Awesome job finding a good girl, but I hope you've learned that treating her with respect and love is tons better than treating her like crap.

  2. What an incredibly well thought out and beautifully written response, Christina. You hit the nail on the head! and I hope your play, this response, and all the work folks are contributing on a daily basis at the 'gate continue to foster genuine and productive conversations.

  3. This is beautiful. Anybody who reads this needs to share the heck out of it, because these are conversations we need to be having.

    Thank you.

  4. I don't go to Colgate, but a friend shared this.

    It's beautifully written and very respectful, even when you could have so easily responded aggresively. It's also interesting to consider how we look at commitment in the context of college and our twenties. Starting into a committed relationship or even something more casual while trying to explore possible areas of study or potential careers is stressful, and many just aren't willing or interested in trying to balance the two. I wish I could see your play :)

  5. Beautiful! This is a great response Christina. Lots of support and appreciation going your way! :)

  6. You know, when you first read me this e-mail I had partially agreed with FratStar after seeing so many nice boys - a lot of them my friends - get ignored or stepped on by girls at this school. I never stopped to think about how being mean to people "works." Rude boys aren't a personal preference for women, they just attract women who need to seek affirmation externally and often perpetuate the system in doing so. Deeply insightful, I'm glad that you didn't chew him out... it sounds like he's just confused about a couple of things.

  7. Christina, your response blew me away! Incredibly insightful. Thank you!

    -Myra Guevara