September 01, 2010

A dark force had overtaken our sleepy Midwestern college town. Something wicked this way came, distracting even the most studious members of our liberal arts fiefdom, disturbing the peaceful weed-smoking circle beneath the gnarled oak known as the “wisdom tree.” Flautists put down their instruments, and hacky sacks stopped in midair. The Grendel-monster in our midst was a “confessional” website started by some pimply freshman with an unholy knowledge of HTML.

The site allowed students to post anonymous comments for and about each other. These ranged from the touching (“The girl who sits in front of me in Greek Drama doesn’t know how beautiful she is”) to the tragic (“My roommate was molested as a kid and I hear him crying every night.”) But anonymity was hard liquor, making those who partook bold, and soon the kid gloves were off and names flying. I laughed at the site, the cruelly spot-on sartorial disses and the back-alley secrets revealed. I even laughed a little when my friends were thrown under the bus. “Someone in my experimental video workshop called me an ass clown!” a male friend cried. “And they said I look like George W. Bush!” My best girlfriend, meanwhile, was decried as “slutty enough so that she’s most likely pregnant, but if she were the baby would probably die inside her.” I comforted the wounded parties, but I still laughed—and I laughed until the first Lena Dunham–centric posting appeared.

Then what I experienced was akin to the shame-on-me shock of realizing that a guy who seduced you while he had a girlfriend has seduced someone else now that you’re his girlfriend. I read it again and again, turning the phrase in my mind like a marble: “Lena Dunham is a stupid whore.” I didn’t know who would have written it—I tried hard to be sweet to everyone. And the fact was I wasn’t a whore. My intelligence is, of course, up for debate, but “whore” has a pretty specific meaning, and even now, two years out of college in a recession, I haven’t crossed the sex-for-money line.

A few days later, another appeared: “No one would have sex with Lena Dunham unless they’re into fat little pigs in spotted dresses.” Now this one was just absurd, but it was the second crumb in a trail I was convinced led to a Gender Studies classroom foe who needed vanquishing.

But the third post proved the least conclusive and, in some odd way, the most hurtful: “Lena Dunham is in my World War I History Seminar. And she’s perfectly nice, just not my cup of tea.”

Previous Entry
Play with Form
1.traumatized ex-Oberliner
September 03, 2010 6:10 AM
September 02, 2010 10:48 AM
Actually, a little bit of history: The Oberlin Confessional started 5 or 6 years ago as a thread on livejournal (pre mega-facebook and twitter days) by student named Anna Leuchtenberger, who - I might add, was neither a freshman (we called them first-years), nor pimply faced. It started small, then grew a life of it's own. It came back multiple times on LJ, before another student started a website, which has been passed around to at least people people that I know of, maybe more.

The rest of the article was your own experience, so valid, but next time do a little research on the history of something before you make cliche assumptions.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.
Add Comment