At our school, we Johnnies are taught to open doors and be all-around good guys, demonstrating “Johnnie”-like behavior. We are a chivalrous breed of well-groomed gentlemen that instinctively give up our seats to Bennies. We are also quite tolerant of pant fashions that could be mistaken for a thin layer of acrylic paint. Due to recent events, however, I am beginning to eschew the well-established cultural mores of the Johnnie order.
It began the other day when a young woman denied my offer to take my seat on the Link. Why wouldn’t the Bennie welcome my urbane offer? This Rosa Parks reversal really threw me for a loop. Couldn’t she see I am a selfless Johnnie that wanted her to be comfortable? Is she just going to stand there the whole ride in her sheep-skin boots with her spandex-clad hind in my face? I don’t think so. I insisted she take the seat as I stood up, but she still wouldn’t budge, so I sat back down, dejected.
I brushed it off as over-conscientiousness on her part, but I soon learned from a friend that this was not an isolated incident. He had recently offered his seat up to a student of the opposite sex and was met with scorn. Now I was really bowled over. Was I the issue here? Is chivalry now equivalent to chauvinism? As any First-Year Seminar or Ethics professor might say, “it’s a tough issue,” and one that probably won’t get worked out in 500 words. Nonetheless, my benevolent attempt at being a good Johnnie was perceived as sexist. The student I was so eager to accommodate was not on crutches or with child. She had two very able legs that were revealed with exquisite detail thanks to her quasi-pants.
As gender-divided campuses, there are many non-conscious biases we as Johnnies and Bennies may hold that we do not realize. There are also many gender-tethered distinctions between campuses that further the divide. Subtly affirming gender stereotypes with a pale-pink color scheme and furnished with a focus on socializing, Clemens Library is easily the worst place in the collegiate dyad of CSB/SJU. On the other hand, albeit architecturally beautiful, Alcuin is not much better, with a strong, minimalist – and I would venture to say emotionless – design. What’s more, why are there two penis-looking copper statuettes staring at me on the bottom level (maybe I read too much Freud)?
The question is: are these discrepancies so bad? Not necessarily, they give the schools their distinct character, but it is worth taking notice. As with any relationship that lasts four years, I am attached to this place we call CSB/SJU. It is part of me and has taught me many lessons – I just hope being sexist isn’t one of them.