a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications
I’m sitting in my room, right now, at 8:50pm on this Sunday evening. It’s the last week of school, and I feel like I’ve made it even though there are millions of things yet to be done. Only one more week. And as I sit here, the four boys who live in the doubles next door to me are playing video games, as usual.
When these boys play videogames, however, they are anything but peaceful. At all hours of the day they might be playing, and as they do so, shouting things like “YOU FUCKING PUSSY!” or “yeah, you CAN SUCK MY DICK, ASSHOLE!” Often, they call each other cunts, and faggots, and gay, and go on about how they totally just got raped in that last round.
I tell them to be quiet every once in a while but that doesn’t stop them, and it doesn’t stop the pit in my stomach from growing larger and larger. Sometimes they all come in on weekend nights around 3am, shouting in the hallways so that they wake me up. I have to tell them to go into their rooms but I can still always hear them through the thin walls. They’re almost always talking about the girls they “totally could’ve fucked” on such nights, or which ones were total sluts for coming onto them too hard. Sometimes, one or two of them is throwing up in the bathroom across from me (or in the hallway).
I usually look forward to my time in my room when I can relax and recharge, or just do some homework or hang out with a couple friends. But I almost never feel like I have peace in my room. And not only is there no peace, but there is no safety.
I’ve been patient with the horrible things I’ve overheard throughout the year and tried to brush them off, because I’ve needed to survive the year and needed to feel like I have a home in my room and like I can be comfortable. Clearly, patience isn’t working for me. I’ve caught myself crying more than a few times, once recently when I overheard the boys describe a party “that had so many black people that were just getting down, I felt intimidated just watching them.”And proceed to hear them describe the black people they saw at whatever party in such triggering ways that it shocked me that they didn’t stop themselves, or hear the racism leaden within their words.
Even when I need to just go to the bathroom, they might be playing their first person shooter games in which case the sounds of the gunshots coming from their TV screen makes my hallway sound like a battlefield.
Why don’t I talk to them? Truthfully, I’m afraid to—I can guess the response and the way they would brush me off. In this scenario, I have no power. I would be seen as just some girl who complains for no reason, or who is too sensitive. But these words they spew are more than simply words—they reinforce the rape culture that is so damn prevalent at this school and enforce the oppressive hierarchy that persists in every space (with a few exceptions) on this campus. They position themselves through their conversations at the top of the chain as straight, rich, gender-conforming, white men, who can acquire women like possessions and treat them like dirt, or throw homophobic slurs out with no care at all (after all, they need to assert their masculinity somehow, right?).
These boys are the ones who hold all of the power, who feel entitled to space in such a fundamental way. It is in my own hallway and in my own room that I am made to feel small and vulnerable, and am subjected to the violent and oppressive language that they throw out into the air flippantly.
I’m sitting in my room, right now, at 9:32pm on this Sunday evening. And even though it’s the last week of school, I refuse to let these boys and their words dominate my space. If I don’t muster up the strength to talk to them tonight, at least I’ve written these words.