Long History of 'Lame' Gender Relations

by Jake Tapper | 11/19/97 6:00am

Though I'm only 28, a recent weekend I spent in Hanover clearly indicated that most of you regard anyone my age as a relic. So as long as I've been designated Jurasic, allow me to bestow some wisdom to you, sage accrued during my multi-glacial-epoch tour "round this girdled earth."

Specifically, I want to chastise you all -- both males and females -- for being as socially retarded as we were back when Ronald Reagan was still President. Gender relations should be better than when I was a student; you all should be having more fun. But as I witnessed firsthand, you are clearly not.

President James Freedman was a freshman president when I was just a lame 'shmen myself, way back in 1987. My class was, believe it or not, 60% male. So whatever lame gender relations transpired here back then were somewhat expected. Sure, coeducation was initiated when some of us were still in diapers (or the computer science majors of us, anyway), so a co-ed campus wasn't exactly new. But progress takes time, as we all know.

It wasn't so unusual for someone of my ancient era to graduate with very few women friends. Friends from other schools didn't have the same problem. Friends from other schools had huge groups of both men and women with whom they kept in touch. Not so for us Big Greeners, but we were confident that would assuredly change for future classes as Freedman brought the ratio up to 50-50 and more progressive, smarter classes were admitted. (One administrator told me that while my class was certainly one of the Top Ten in the country, you guys are actually smarter. Maybe even Top Four.)

So despite the Greek System and its shortcomings; regardless of gender politics; whatever the deal for us while in Hanover, WE HAD HOPE. We had hope that Dartmouth would someday become normal. We desired gender relations to improve -- if just a little bit. At the very least, we wanted you guys and gals to have more fun than we did.

Believe me, I know of what I speak. I was both Dartmouth frat-boy (Alpha Chi Alpha) and full-fledged Sensitivo, going inactive my Senior year because of my issues with what the "System" perpetuated towards women. And let me say that what I'm talking about here isn't just a knee-jerk liberal longing for everyone to come around the campfire and sing "Kumbaya." I'm talking about you going on more (or any) dates. I'm talking about you having fun friendships that you're unquestionably missing out on. And yes, I'm even talking about all of you having more sex.

Blame it on the Greek System, say the guys here are jerks, whine that the women here are (insert offensive c-word here), complain that things are just irreparably strange in Hanover, it's such a small town, such a small college, yada yada yada.


The bottom line is you're lame. And that's what's to blame. You could -- you're bitter, Gals -- you're unfriendly.

Of course I generalize here. (And I apologize to those of you who are totally cool and have already figured this out.) And I know it's not all that bad. And yes, you will look back at Hanover with longing and nostalgia and through glasses that block out everything but soft September sunsets and the crunch of feet on snow. But the bottom line is: it's still weird in Hanover.

Both of you genders stop this crap and I swear you heterosexuals will ALL have the fun we could have had, if we'd taken the advice of some crusty '91 who deigned to yell at us via The Dartmouth's op-ed page. (P.S. I don't want to get into the whole gay thing here. It's a world I know little about, but there's nothing wrong with it, and God bless.)

I'm not sure who started it, and really, it's a chicken-or-the-egg debate, but this women-being-unfriendly-guys-being-angry scene is tired. There's no prescription to end it other than for me to yell, Lorax-like, "STOP!" At the minimum, y'all will make a bunch of new friends, and I swear you will be the richer.

Guys: some of you, even the nicest of you, can sometimes seem just as bitter as the worst from the '91 class. (The class that alienated me from my own fraternity.) Don't hate women; Let it go; look at yourself and your own grim rap; don't give in to the dark side just 'cause Princess Leia doesn't want to sleep with you. And maybe lighten up a bit on the alcoholism. That's certainly not helping.

And Gals: you could stand to be a little nicer. Not every guy who tries to talk to you is necessarily trying to sleep with you. Maybe he just thinks you seem cool. And if he does, what does that mean? That he wants to get to know you better? Talk to you? Be nice, for God sakes. You might be surprised what you learn.

As I blitz this to y'all, I couldn't be more disappointed, on behalf of all the classes that came before you. We dealt with 60-40 ratios so you could be normal, so you could have real friends of the opposite sex. We went through nights of attitude and lacking so you wouldn't have to. Don't let us down.

I shared these thoughts with my senior-year girlfriend and she said she thought my analysis completely backwards: she thought the women were too angry, and the men too cold. "I guess it went back and forth," she finally concluded. But it was all defense mechanism horseshit, and all lame. "It toughens you up for the real world," she did offer. After Dartmouth, it's all cake. And I couldn't agree more.

I e-mailed the above to a '90 I recently met. "I remember thinking that men were jerks," she wrote back. "I remember going to frat basements and pretty much being shoved into a corner by some guy slurring his words and smelling pretty lame. But, I did that twice. My world was very different [in a co-ed house]. I'm not sure I see the split as guys, you're bitter, and gals, you're unfriendly as much as I see guys, you're clueless and young, and gals, you're sick and tired of dealing. Perhaps it's just difficult for me to see that girls were unfriendly but I'm not in your shoes."

Regardless of what interpretation you accept, it can all change. And it's all summed up in the simplistic, obvious, preposterously patronizing suggestion that you all just try to be a little nicer to each other. Please. For your own behalf. You're going to have to live with each other for the rest of your lives.

And what on earth have any of you got to lose?

Okay, I have no idea as to why I devoted even one second of my precious time towards writing the above. Back to the real world...