Carl Trueman has written about the consequences of Wesleyan University’s separation of sex from procreation, manifest in the ways the school endorses the proliferation of sexual identities. Curious about this, I went looking into the situation at Wesleyan, although only in hygienic cyberspace.
Wesleyan University is rather inappropriately located in Middletown, Connecticut; “middle” not being the word best suited to the place, although I’m sure there are in Middletown many middle-class, middle-of-the-road townies and, perhaps, some middling Wesleyan students, but you wouldn’t know it from the university’s website.
Middletown is located along the banks of the Connecticut River in Middlesex County, and now we’re getting somewhere, because there may actually be a “middlesex” or two among the students at Wesleyan, although they’re not currently represented among the descriptors in endlessacronym, which currently has fifteen letters: LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. I’ll explain.
That cutesy word, endlessacronym, is the particular campus LISTSERV “named for the seemingly endless letters” used to describe the way students identify themselves with regard to sexual preference and gender. If you’re thinking, “But, Brad, there are only two genders,” you are, as Wesleyan puts it, a captive of “the oppressive heteronormative sex/gender system in America.” I know I am.
A linguistic aside: the word “gender” is primarily and originally a word about words, nouns and adjectives especially, which in various languages will be masculine or feminine, with some lesser number that are neuter, so already we’re up to three genders. But also in my Shorter Oxford is definition #1b: “Sex as expressed by social or cultural distinctions.” That usage dates only from the middle of the 20th century, and you’ve got to hand it to the person who took the word and exploded it into a peculiar but influential academic movement, assuming it’s not just a fad.
Back to Wesleyan. Now there is no doubt that, historically, homosexuals have had a hard time winning acceptance, as have men who wear women’s clothing, although less so oppositely. I’m not talking about acceptance of their sexual practices or of a specific political agenda such as same-sex “marriage,” but about heterosexuals treating homosexuals as unequal before the law and the Lord. After all, the Church teaches that the “God who is at once truth and love calls the Church to minister to every man, woman and child with the pastoral solicitude of our compassionate Lord.”
But acceptance of a person who is “queer” (Wesleyan celebrates the word) doesn’t mean one must also accept the “queering” of culture. Wesleyan does, of course, and the university has gone to great lengths to give unqualified encouragement to every imaginable version of sexuality, including those yet unnamed, which is the point of LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM, because there is “space at Wesleyan to self-identify with any words that best validate one’s identity.”
“When Wesleyan students use the word ‘queer’ to describe themselves and their communities, they use it with pride.” This is to ensure that all “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderf**k, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, dominance/submission [two letters left out], Sadism/Masochism” – loving 17-to-22-year-old kids can just be themselves with the warm endorsement of faculty and staff.
Another linguistic aside: Three of those concepts deserve (and, for most of us, require) definition. So, courtesy of the Urban Dictionary: flexual: sexually attracted to two or more “genders” and used instead of bisexual; genderf**k: deliberately sending mixed messages about sexuality, usually through dress (e.g., wearing a skirt and having a beard); and polyamorous: the state of having multiple sexually or romantically committed relationships at the same time, with the consent of all partners involved.
Ah, consent . . .
It’s interesting, don’t you think, that a campus with a policy that “prohibits smoking within 25 feet from the perimeter of all university buildings” and “prohibits the underage and unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students” is rather more accepting of bondage and sadism?
I’m sure Wesleyan’s president, Michael S. Roth, would argue that the young adults at his school are almost always over the age of consent (16 in Connecticut). So if a freshman girl, just for fun, consents to having her boyfriend tie her to a bed and whip her, that’s okay, as long as they’re not also smoking a Camel or drinking Bud Lite (the Nutmeg State drinking age is 21).
Wesleyan offers a multitude of Queer Resources, everything from a list of fifty “all gender restroom facilities” on and around campus, to a roster of all twenty-two queer faculty, to information on how one registers a “preferred name,” because there is “space at Wesleyan to self-identify with any words that best validate one’s identity.”
There is missionary activity as well. A group called Peers for Queers “aims to provide an emotional support network for LGBTQ high school students in Middletown.” Whether just succor is offered or there is also proselytizing (or coaching in technique) I don’t know.
Need I add that the university has a Queer Studies program? It’s a concentration (about thirty courses are offered) within the American Studies major. The goal is the “decentering [of] static or stable conceptions of sexual identity.”
What, do you suppose, qualifies as practicum in this area of studies? In 1999 in a Wesleyan course about pornography, students were “required . . . to create their own pornographic works as their final projects.” But, really, that was so 1999 – back before everything became conceptual, although on the CV of the director of Wesleyan’s Queer Studies Course Center, “performance studies” is listed among her research interests, but, to be fair, I don’t know what the heck that means.
Fear not, for the $60,000 per year you’d pay to have your daughter matriculate at Wesleyan, she could take FGSS 309 (Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies): “Christianity and Sexuality,” an exploration of “confession, mysticism, marriage, celibacy, queer and transgendered practices and identities, and reproductive rights.”
It’s your money.