Oberlin College is the pricey liberal arts school which lost a massive defamation lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Bakery back in 2019. Oberlin has a fancy house called Baldwin Cottage which was built in 1886 and which is currently home to the Women and Trans Collective. The school’s website describes the collective as “a close-knit community that provides women and transgendered persons with a safe space for discussion, communal living, and personal development.” Basically it’s a special dorm that has living space for about 30 people.
The student paper, the Oberlin Review, reported last week that the school decided to upgrade the radiators in Baldwin Cottage but, to the dismay of some residents, they sent “cisgender men” to do the work. [emphasis added]
In general, I am very averse to people entering my personal space. This anxiety was compounded by the fact that the crew would be strangers, and they were more than likely to be cisgender men.
Baldwin Cottage is the home of the Women and Trans Collective. The College website describes the dorm as “a close-knit community that provides women and transgendered persons with a safe space for discussion, communal living, and personal development.” Cisgender men are not allowed to live on the second and third floors, and many residents choose not to invite cisgender men to that space.
I was angry, scared, and confused. Why didn’t the College complete the installation over the summer, when the building was empty?
A day later, the moment came. There was a knock on the door and a group of construction workers had to be let in to make the repairs. The student left for class and when he returned they were done. But they came back the next day to check on the work. The author writes, “I felt mildly violated and a little peeved.”
When the author asked around he found that some residents shared his concerns. One person was even asked to “hurry up in the shower” so workers could perform repairs in the bathroom. The author concludes that Oberlin “should have taken measures to keep students comfortable and safe” especially the ones in this special dorm.
Of course there’s no evidence anyone wasn’t safe during the renovations and the evidence that they weren’t comfortable is pretty thin. Literally, the author, whose name is Peter, says he felt “scared” and “mildly violated.” But Peter isn’t a woman or trans woman so his feelings don’t seem very relevant on that point.
The deeper question is this: How can someone this fragile ever do anything in the real world? Seriously, if you see every straight male as a threat to your safety, how do you get through life? This piece seems to exemplify the stupidity of treating people as undifferentiated members of collective groups rather than as individuals. Maybe those sweaty workmen are really nice guys with families and daughters of their own that they care about. Peter will never know. To him they are just a collective danger.