Vancouver
3 min

You’re a man

The moment when sportsman-like banter becomes sportsperson aggression

Credit: Xtra West files

It’s been a busy year for our friends on Mole Hill. Will had his heart eaten by a bastard fuckwit and swore never to become emotionally involved again. Then he swiftly became entangled in a monogamous relationship with that Sharif fellow.



Ryan, Will’s roommate, has avoided all his own shit by constantly meddling in the shit of others. And Chris, in the attic suite, remains adamantly straight but is verging on a gender breakdown.



I wonder how everybody is doing today?



Are you sitting comfortably?



Then we’ll begin.



***

For the first session of “Post-Post-Colonial Women’s Studies” Will was the only one who chose to sit in the front row. He was also the only male in the classroom. Much like a puppy that sniffs curiously at the gun in its face, Will looked around himself happily.



When the professor entered, five minutes late, she sloughed a leather tote onto the desk and withdrew an ivory laptop with a little apple on the lid which glowed as the machine came to life. Dr Baba read the roll call off the screen: Jennifer Spearing, Nora Pummel, Heather Cummings, until she came to William Gray and flipped a glance over her half-moon glasses to the boy in the front row. Someone murmured.



As more and more eyes burrowed into the back of Will’s tiny head, he began to realize that something was terribly off in this class: there would be no one here to flirt with. No one to seduce. No one to fantasize over. What could this mean? What was he supposed to do with all these fucking girls?



“Well, I think we should discuss that.” (Had Dr. Baba read his mind? What exactly could that ivory laptop do?) He had drifted and missed the first half of the discussion.



“What do you think, William?” Dr Baba crossed her legs and batted two pounds of mascara at him.



“I’m sorry?” He meant that he hadn’t heard the question. But, since the question was “Why did a man take this course?” the class took Will’s “I’m sorry” as a penitent explanation.



“That’s fair, I think.” Dr Baba nodded her head and ran a hand to smooth her skirt over the bump of her knee.



A woman behind Will took a sip of tea and agreed. “Take rape, for example.”



She gave Will a look he couldn’t read. “You can never know what it means.”



She dropped her chin an inch before delivering her prognosis: “You’re a man.”



That was it. The moment when sportsman-like banter became sportsperson aggression. His eyes grew wider than Frodo’s, his cheeks turned hot with consternation. The cremaster muscle went taut, reining in his balls.



Somewhere between his academic pride and his latent misogyny (there’s no misogynist quite like a homo) a voice told Will that the entire class-the whole gaggle of them-was wrongheaded. That there was nothing in the Woman’s Canon he couldn’t have access to. He said so.



The tea-drinker arched an eyebrow. “Is it so terrifying to think there are some things beyond your own experience?”



“But I’m gay!” pleaded Will, a hand now clamped over his heart. “I’m more oppressed than you are!” Had he really said it? There was an awful hush and the entire class trained their eyes en masse on Dr Baba to see what she would say. But the professor only squinted into her ivory laptop and offered no commentary.



Surely the Faggot Card counted for something here? Couldn’t they see he was no rapist? What the hell was wrong with all of them?



Finally, the tea-drinker replied airily. “You can hide it if you want to. It’s not the same.”



Dr Baba once more took up the reins then, and spent the remainder of the hour detailing the term’s readings. Will boiled, utterly abashed.



The redhead who had answered to “Jennifer Spearing” came up to Will in the hallway after class. “Territorial pissing exercises,” she assured him. “Don’t worry about it.”



“But I am worried.” Will gave her what he hoped was a non-threatening smile. “I need an A in that class to keep my scholarship. If I don’t get the material-if they’re right about me-then I’m fucked.”



Jennifer shook her head. “You’ll be fine. Baba’s always tough on the men in her class.”



“What a bitch. The men who take Women’s Studies aren’t the ones who need castrating.”



“Clearly.” Jennifer nodded at the Student Union Building. “C’mon. I’ll buy you a coffee and we can practice saying Wimmin instead of Woman.”



But a man in a cashmere scarf had caught his eye by then and Will’s attention went racing off into the distance to meet him.