Monday, May 18, 2009

Gay in the Academy

With the summer upon us, it is just about time for the academic job search process to start spooling up again. Inside Higher Ed asked me to think about any advice that I might have for queer folk who will be entering the market for the first time. My usual advice is not to use anything from my career as a model. Other than that, here is what I came up with for them:


We can be truly astounded by how rapidly general attitudes have shifted toward GLBTQ people over the past decade. As conditions have improved in the nation, so too has the academic world become a bit better for scholars who identify as G ,L, and sometimes Q (Though still has a long way to go for B and especially T ). Because things have generally become better, some might imagine that GLBTQ scholars who enter the job market don’t have significantly different concerns than any other candidate scrambling to assemble a dossier. Alas, we must remember that a transition from overt hostility to disinterested apathy isn’t exactly a triumph of social justice.

Don’t tell Larry Kramer, but I am going to use “queer” as a convenient umbrella term for the rest of this post. After a certain point, it’s just easier.

Certainly queer scholars share the major concerns of every person on the academic market, primarily, “Will I actually get a job?” Yet, being queer in the academy also carries its own set of challenges (and rewards – But why focus on the positive?).

Unlike racial minorities or women, [white] queer [male] scholars have not necessarily been absent from the academy in relation to their percentage of the overall population. Historically, people of color (hetero or otherwise) and women (of color or otherwise, hetero or otherwise) have historically been (and in many cases continue to be) woefully under-represented in the academic ranks. In contrast, [white] queer [male] scholars have been employed as professors. The key difference was that most of those [white male] queer scholars had to stay in the closet to keep, much less obtain, that job. Most of them feared that public exposure would end their careers. In some cases, they were right. It goes without saying that their research rarely focused on queer topics. Silence was their shield.

Given this history, it is not surprising that I found little published advice for queer scholars when I first started thinking about the job search process while still a graduate student a decade ago. What I did find tended to be fairly bleak. More or less, the available advice proposed the academic equivalent of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Since much of my youthful consciousness raising had emphasized the need of being out for political and social gains, that hardly felt like very nice advice. Getting a job was more important, the argument went, than principles or politics.

Fortunately for me, I had a more sensible adviser who rightfully suggested that such strategies wouldn’t yield the best of results in the long run. You might obtain a job, but could end up working for a legion of homophobic colleagues who would ultimately deny you tenure anyway. Since then, I’ve combined her ideas, my own experiences, and the stories I have heard from my queer friends and students who have gone through the process. Rather than advice, here are some of the things that tend to come up over and over again.

Let me, though, start with a few caveats. No short entry can fully cover the experiences or desires of all queer scholars looking for a job. Our diversity and various intersecting identities inform our choices about what is the best “fit.” A single-lesbian-Chicana with a child will likely have significantly different concerns than a partnered Africa-American man without children who, in turn, will have different concerns from a white transgendered woman with grandchildren.

Second, recognize that no job is perfect. As a child, I believed television. It promised my work day would be filled with hilarious hijinks, comedic colleagues, and lots of coffee. Of course, I also imagined that at some point in the middle of the day I would fight crime after dashing off to a broom closet to change into Wonder Woman. None those things has come true -- so far. Every job requires compromises and, for many, simply having a job really is the most important factor. Nonetheless, there are some things that we should all think about as we make career choices.

Consider Being Out During the Search Process

Through all stages of interviewing, it is not appropriate (and in 20 states and the District of Columbia, actually illegal) to consider the sexual orientation of a candidate. Job candidates are under no obligation to reveal their sexual orientation or marital status. So, if you are on the market and aren’t comfortable being out, you are under no duty to do so.

Nonetheless, I actually recommend being out in the later stages of the process. To my way of thinking, being out is one of the only ways to determine whether you will find the campus climate, benefits, and life in the town acceptable.

It is a myth that you must conform to obtain a job in the academy. You should appear professional and serious during the interview. Feel under no obligation, though, to dress or act differently than you would in your day-to-day life. If you identify as a woman, but don’t like to wear skirts in daily life, there is no need to suddenly put one on for an interview. Likewise for those who identify as a man but disdain ties. So too there are good reasons not to conceal your sexuality.

Many, I know, will take exception to the notion of being out during the process because it goes against common wisdom on such matters. They will suggest that it blurs professional and personal matters. Or they will argue that it can cost a candidate a job. For the latter, I suggest that if a department won’t hire you because you are queer, then they will certainly make your life a living hell if they did hire you without knowing. Ask yourself if staying closeted is really worth obtaining a job at a university like Brigham Young.

For the first concern, I would say that the academic world already blurs personal and professional life. Most academics socialize considerably with those with whom they work, especially in small towns. Plus, in a nation that still lacks universal healthcare, your job and its benefits have real consequences for your personal life.

It is important therefore to know how the department and administration responds to an out candidate to know how they will respond to an out employee. During your campus visit, you will likely meet with the Dean (or a Deanlet) and the Department Chair. It is completely reasonable to ask them about how junior queer faculty fair on the campus or in the department. Consider it a bad omen if their response is something along the lines of, “I’ve never really thought about it.” Be equally leery of an administrator who evades a discussion of homophobia on campus or in the community with superficial platitudes. Things like, “Our university doesn’t offer same-sex spousal benefits, but we have an excellent Trader Joe’s in town!” or “There’s an Ikea within driving distance! Don’t your people shop there?” are a far cry from knowing that your potential employer has thought seriously about the actual needs of queer faculty.

When going on a campus visit, I have also usually asked to meet with other gay faculty. They are more likely to give you a sense of their own experiences and sense of the town (though this doesn’t always work out, as I’ll mention in a minute).

Unfortunately, the story that you are likely to be told is a bleak one. According to the best numbers that I could find, only about 40 percent of universities in the United States offer equal benefits to same-sex and opposite sex employees. That is about the same percentage as private companies (larger than 500 employees) that offer equal benefits. Many public universities, moreover, are explicitly forbidden from extending benefits due to discriminatory state constitutions or hateful legislatures. Private universities or those in New England are your best option right now. So, if you aren’t interviewing in Massachusetts, be prepared that your benefits package will likely be less than they would offer a straight professor. The Dean (or Deanlet) doesn’t have much control over those matters.

Nonetheless, the administration should be able to discuss how the university is combating those inequities (law suits, local activism, spousal hires). They should also be aware of how queer faculty, students, and staff are treated and perceived. If they can’t speak intelligently about these matters, bad times are likely in store for a queer employee.

Don’t Fear Asking Key Questions During Your On-Campus Visit

Aside from the administration, you probably also want to ask questions of the regular faculty that you meet through the day. Yet, campus interviews can involve a tricky balance. If the only questions that you ask are about whether or not the town is liveable for queer people, you might inadvertently send the message that your are turned off by the location. The established faculty of a small town might be sensitive about their location and imagine that you are unwilling to live there. So, make conscious decisions to spread out a variety of questions to different faculty that you meet. Also arrange your questions so that they are not accusatory. Try asking, “Can you tell me a bit about the queer community in this lovely town?” instead of, “Can a gay man possibly survive in this backwater Texas hell hole?”

I would ask a couple of different people, but not every person, about what they perceive as the major issues for queer folk on campus. If you are in the humanities or social sciences, you might also ask if any of the existing faculty currently teach on queer topics and how that has been received by students. If you are a queer parent, it seems important to know whether the school system has experience with non-hetero families. It would be a drag to have to spend your time educating the town’s educators.

Expect the Bizarre

The interview process is a grueling gauntlet. Making it worse is the fact that you are sometimes going to encounter looney situations (or people) while a guest of a particular department. You might encounter faculty who have no idea about what is appropriate conduct for an on-campus interview. As a cherished former colleague of mine always recommended, “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.” Indeed, most of the usual interviewing gaffs (but not all) are committed by those who are poorly informed about their professional responsibilities. Nonetheless, it can take you off guard. Let me mention some examples that I have encountered.

Though I have usually made it clear to the search chair before I arrive that I am gay, and my c.v. suggests strongly that I am gay, I have nonetheless been asked if I was [heterosexually] married on every single on-campus interview that I have ever had. Every. Single. One.

Responding to such questions is tricky. Though illegal, are you supposed to call the police? Is there a special “campus interview” division assigned to crack down on such violations? Nope.

It’s not that I care whether the faculty know that I am gay. Rather, it puts me in an uncomfortable situation where I have the choice of either pointing out their erroneous (read: heterocentric) assumptions and, thus, embarrassing them (which, even when I am not interviewing, isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do). Or, I have to evade the question (which makes me feel bad and closeted, too). The best you can do is come up with a plan before you arrive on campus about how to respond in a gracious manner.

Those questions, though, are nothing compared to other awkward moments that I have encountered. During one memorable campus interview (that didn’t go great all the way around), my request to meet with other queer faculty brought me to a nice, but misguided, lesbian. While she intended to be helpful, the sum of her advice for a young gay interviewee was peculiar. Noting that the small town lacked a gay bar, she offered up the various campus bathrooms that were known for their gay male cruising as an alternative. There was no good way to mention that I am not that type of gay. In that instance, I would have preferred she talked up the local Trader Joe’s.

It made me wonder if she actually considered that stating that the only viable option for gay men in the town was anonymous sex near dirty urinals was “selling her university.” It also goes to prove that lesbians and gay men don’t always have insight into the best needs of the other group.

Location, Location, Location

Taking a job as a queer scholar frequently involves moving to a state or location where the majority of voters have declared that we are not eligible for equal rights or protection under the law. Forget questions about a hostile work environment, some queer scholars have to contend with a hostile living environment. From more than one of my friends I have heard stories about their first job’s stress being compounded by harassing phone calls or other threatening behavior because they were one of the few out scholars on campus. While those were extreme instances, decide ahead of time what level of homophobic climate you are willing to tolerate. Only you can decide if any job is worth it.

Even in small towns where homophobia is relatively mild, queer scholars often feel isolated. Indeed, most of my queer friends and colleagues across the nation complain to me about the actual location of their job more than any other factor (Including the rigors of getting tenure). How often have I heard, “I love my colleagues. My students are great. This job would be simply perfect – if it was in Chicago.”?

Most of these complaints have to do with a perceived lack of “community.” It’s a word that really signifies different things for different people. Some are not happy unless there are several gay bars within walking distance (Let me tell you, if a town has only one gay bar, you do get tired of it mighty quick). Others, though, are content to know that there is one other gay person within 50 miles. Still others want to know that there are active community centers or professional organizations. Some want a specific community of queer parents.

Whatever the case, most queer folk prefer to be in an area that can provide at least a reasonable circle of queer friends. If one is single, the need for a larger queer community becomes all the more urgent. Urban centers like New York, Chicago, Boston, and others more than meet that requirement for most people.

Unfortunately, you might have noticed that most of the nation’s universities are located far from urban centers like New York, Chicago, Boston, and others. This was no accident. Most of the nation’s universities opened in the nineteenth century. Their founders imagined that universities had to be isolated from the illicit temptations of city life that would corrupt impressionable students. Queer men were one of the most illicit of those temptations. If you imagine that you can only live in an urban setting, I am here to tell you that the academic deck is stacked against you.

Because queer people are such a tiny minority of the entire population, being in a small town necessarily means that the options for a single queer person seeking a romantic attachment, or even a means to pass the time, is going to be limited. Indeed, many queer people who are not in academia actively choose to move away from those very same towns to reach an urban setting.

Alas, I have no solution to this problem. If I did, my friends would worship me. Or, I should say worship me more than they already do. I am pretty worshipable.

My best recommendation would be to expand your imagination and expect to do a lot of driving. Some opt to live in the closest city-sized place they can find. This, though, usually means a significant commute (which can interfere with your progress towards tenure). Others actively decide to live a life of the mind. Either way, remember that obtaining tenure is your primary goal.

In the end, many queer scholars feel that they don’t have a choice in terms of employment. Assuming that you are going to insist upon living indoors, any job offer is going to seem preferable than nothing at all. We all have to earn those coins. If that is the case, remember that nothing has to be forever. The most important thing to do is to make the best informed choices that one can make, work hard at getting tenure, and always keep an eye on those job postings in New England.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Boldly Going Where We Have Been Before

Star Trek’s latest incarnation warped into theaters this past week. Praised by critics, fans, and newbies alike, the film is more than successful in relaunching the venerable franchise. If you care about such things, spoilers are ahead.

Long time readers know that GayProf has been a die-hard trekker since he was GayFifthGrader. While I have never worn the ears, I will confess to having attended a Star Trek Convention shortly before becoming a teenager. My knowledge of the Trek “universe” would likely frighten the uninitiated. I have opinions on things that you don't want to know, like which was the "best" Enterprise.

Producers of the new Trek worked hard to lower expectations from die-hard fans before this film’s release. They noted it would be impossible to retain continuity with the original series and therefore weren’t going to bother. Instead, the film offers an “alternate time line” approach. All the adventures chronicled on the sixties television show, according to this gimmick shocking plot twist, are not to unfold in the same manner.

To make a long story short, a really pissed off Romulan mucked up the time line after an elderly Spock failed to prevent a super nova from destroying Romulus in the future. Of course, now that young Spock knows what will happen one hundred years in the future, he could work to prevent the destruction of Romulus in his old age. If successful, then the pissed off Romulan would not need to travel back in time and muck up the time line. This would then create a temporal paradox, but possibly erase the new time line and restore the first time line chronicled in the sixties t.v. show. Confused? Believe it or not, that’s considered a boilerplate narrative for the franchise.

Let’s be clear: I actually liked the new movie. While the actor playing Spock lacks Leonard Nimoy’s commanding voice (or presence), all the other actors filled the roles quite well. Watching Karl Urban mimic Deforest Kelley even bordered on the eery at times. Besides, after all of the disasters that were the Next Generation films, it was refreshing to see a Trek movie that wasn’t a total embarrassment. And yet. . .

You don’t keep coming back to CoG for sunshine and lollipops. Even though I like something, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be better. Or that I don't have a rambling blog post about it. I am inclined to criticize something I like even more than something that was simply “okay.” Just imagine what type of parent that I would be!

The biggest problem with the “updated” Trek is that it’s not very updated at all. Because Trek has become such a part of the nation’s cultural landscape, we tend to take for granted the many revolutionary innovations it ushered in when it premiered in 1967. Even in the midst of the Cold War, the Star Trek universe (occasionally) promised an end to capitalism and explicitly rejected the accumulation of wealth as a symbol of one’s social worth. It also presented a future peace for earth and an end to national borders. In the middle of the various civil rights movements in the U.S., the show offered an egalitarian future where racism was solved. The show even pledged an end to sexism – Well, sort of.

Despite the show’s credentials, its utopian ideals were obviously always filtered through the social lens of the era it was filmed. Limitations that could be partially justified in the late sixties no longer seem as dismissible in 2009.

As I have complained about in another post, Latinos only appeared as ancillary figures in the Star Trek universe. Aside from attending the convention, I will also confess to having written my own Trek fiction while in middle school. Though I haven’t thought about it in years (and those pages are thankfully lost forever), I do remember feeling the absence of Latino characters so strongly in the Original Series that I created a Latina captain in my fictional accounts. In those stories, she communicated to her crew entirely in Spanish. Given that I wasn’t actually raised in a bilingual household, it was an interesting choice on my part (and I can’t imagine what the Spanish-text even looked like. It’s funny what we internalize, isn’t it?).

Latinos aren't the only group that apparently doesn't exist in the 23rd Century. Producers of Star Trek also explicitly rejected adding any openly gay characters.

Hmm – Limited spots for Latinos and no openly gay people? The bridge of the Enterprise looks a lot like the Obama administration.

I won’t bore you with those complaints – again. This time, I want to talk more about gender in the Trek universe.

When Gene Roddenberry first filmed a pilot for the show, he did have a revolutionary idea for 1967: The second in command of the Enterprise would be a woman (known only as “Number One”). This first version of the show had Captain Christopher Pike commanding the famed ship along with the "logical" Number One as First Officer. That first episode showed Number One making life and death decisions and playing with really big guns. Alas, the network executives didn’t like the notion that an uppity woman would take over command of the ship whenever Captain Pike was in peril (They were even less pleased that Roddenberry was having an affair with Majel Barett, the actor who played “Number One”).

Thus, after a complete rewrite, Roddenberry’s ambitions for women on the show had been significantly altered. Kirk appeared as Captain and women were demoted to “more traditional roles,” such as yeomen or nurses. Instead of taking over command and making decisions for the crew, women on-board the Enterprise took the Captain’s messages and made him coffee. Majel Barett, no longer First Officer, assumed a role as Nurse Chapel who spent her days mooning over Spock and handing out aspirin.

Significantly, the show also “sexed up” the women’s uniforms. In place of Number One’s sensible turtle neck and slacks in the first pilot, women officers squeezed into ultra-mini skirts, go-go boots, and beehive hairdos. All of that, I am sure, was real practical for working in space.

Still, even with all those deletions, the show did push for an inclusive universe rarely seen on television to that point. The characters of Uhura and Sulu allowed actors-of-color to play characters that (mostly) avoided racial stereotypes. Most other representations of Asian men on television presented them as either meek flower gardeners or as treacherous (but easily defeated) villains. Lt. Sulu, in contrast, figured as an equally valued crew member.

Comparably, Nichelle Nichols portrayed Lt. Uhura, the most prominent woman on the original series (FYI: Nichols was the keynote speaker at that convention I attended – I got to ride in an elevator with her!). Uhura broke sixties-era boundaries by being a Black-woman bridge officer. Her character offered a much needed corrective to the usual assortment of maids that most African-American women had to play in sixties film and television. For once, a Black woman on television appeared to have more on her mind that scrubbing toilets, making pancakes, or ensuring that the house had a fresh pine scent.

Of course, Uhura’s role as a commanding officer was still heavily proscribed. Instead, her assignment was more-or-less presented as one of a space-receptionist who staffed an intergalactic switchboard. Uhura had little to say beyond “Hailing frequencies open.” Nichelle Nichols found the role boring and contemplated quitting the series after the first season. None other than Martin Luther King, Jr. intervened in that decision. King, who claimed to be a fan of the show, convinced Nichols to stay on board despite her limited role. He argued (apparently convincingly) that her mere presence on the bridge made an important statement about racial politics in the U.S.

Nichols stuck it out through the rest of the show, an animated series, and six films. Through it all, she always advocated for a more elaborate role for Uhura. In particular, she hoped for an opportunity for Uhura to take command of the ship (which she did in one episode of the Saturday-morning cartoon (but only after all the men on board became slaves to an all-woman planet who sought to drain them of their essence (don’t ask)).

The relaunch of the series therefore presented some significant problems to reforming a pretty dated character. Out of the eight main characters on the original series, Uhura was the only woman and one-of-two characters of color (Not even having a Mexican-born producer was apparently enough to add a Latino character to the latest film). Sadly, I have a fairly harsh assessment of Uhura’s new incarnation.

The new Uhura was given a bit more in the way of professional credentials. Rather than being somebody whose greatest accomplishment was mastering the use of a hold button, Uhura is now a skilled linguist. In the opening scenes with her, she also shows significant promise. Uhura deftly ignores the boorish Kirk, his clumsy passes, and a crude joke about blow jobs. It seemed possible that Uhura would be a significant equal of the Enterprise bridge crew. Then things kinda go off track.

Returning to the sixties model, Uhura mostly kept out of the way of the men on board, who clearly had important things to do. Her skills as a linguist were rendered moot as the Romulans jammed all the communications anyway. The difference between Uhura and one of the blinking bridge consoles thereby became minimal. She contented herself by looking pretty and flipping her long, straight hair as often as possible. While each of the men had some profound action sequence, Uhura’s major duty in life focuses on cheering Spock up. She does that task mostly by making out with him.

The implicit premise behind the egalitarian diversity of the original series was that each of the crew members was professionally respected as the best at their particular job. The new film inverted that professionalism by having Uhura be the only crewmember who has an affair with her instructor and her commanding officer, Spock. Apparently Starfleet forgot to write rules and regulations about sexual misconduct among officers (If Trek producers really wanted to push the envelope, they could have had cadet Kirk having an affair with his instructor and commanding officer, Captain Pike!).

The producers' clumsy decisions forever clouds Uhura’s representation of a professional Black woman. I am willing to not tred into the obvious stereotype of women-of-color’s bodies being always available for white men. Nonetheless, Uhura’s success on the Enterprise becomes irrevocably linked to her affair with Spock.

Indeed, the character of Spock even acknowledges this potential when Uhura complains that she was not assigned to Starfleet’s perpetual flagship, the Enterprise. It is her romantic relationship with Spock that initially sends her to another commanding officer to avoid the appearance of “favoritism,” but it is that same romantic relationship that allows her to insist that Spock return her to his command. Uhura becomes a bizarre combination of Spock’s available lover and space-mammy all rolled into one ultra-mini skirt (Which, along with knee-high boots, reappeared on the women in this Star Trek).

I don’t object to either Uhura or Spock having romantic relationships per se. Indeed, the original series suggested that Spock did have romantic entanglements while a young officer. The problem with this incarnation, though, is that Uhura becomes defined only by her relationship to Spock. In contrast, Spock’s relationship to Uhura is one of many elements of his history and character that we get to see on film. Lots of celluloid is spent charting Spock’s goals, childhood experiences, relationships with the other crew, and even his old-age shenanigans. Uhura’s needs or ambitions, meanwhile, are never explored. We are even unsure whether she wanted to be on board the Enterprise for the sake of her career or just so that she could whisper sweet nothings into Spock’s pointed ears.

Add onto that the fact that the only other woman in the film with any significance is Spock’s mother and we start to see some serious (and Freudian) problems here. After forty years, one would have hoped that Star Trek would allow more roles for women than as the mothers or lovers of the male leads. Turns out, not so much.

According to some reports, Paramount executives understood that Star Trek (and science fiction in general) has had a poor record for attracting adult women as audience members. They therefore charged the current Trek producers to solve that problem. How did they tackle this issue? Astoundingly they suggested their solution came from consulting their wives about what women wanted in a film. Yeah, ‘cuz asking your spouse over morning bagels is just as good as, you know, hiring a professional woman onto the writing/producing team. Wow, they really did master time travel and returned us all to 1967!

The new Trek makes it clear that the job of saving the universe rests exclusively with men, preferably white men. Indeed, Starfleet values white, male leadership so much that Kirk gets to skip up the ranks from Academy Cadet to Captain of his own Starship all in one go! Let me tell you, if I was on the Enterprise and had actually earned the rank of Ensign, Lieutenant, Lieutenant-Commander, or Commander, I would push for a mutiny against the woefully unqualified “Captain” Kirk.

Unlike 1967, it is no longer revolutionary to just acknowledge the presence of people-of-color or women. They can’t be the tokens who promise future inclusion, but then step aside when the “real” decisions need to be made. This new Star Trek only sneaked around questions of gender and racial equality. In the end, it is still a “boy’s” franchise that no longer wants to think about contemporary problems of racism and sexism.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Of Blogs and Trolls

Geez – I return to [landlocked] Paradise Island for just a few days and patriarch’s world totally falls apart. People lost their damn minds over a flu outbreak currently affecting 0.00000003 percent of the nation’s population; Larry Krammer missed his own point in a shrill screed; a Supreme Court Justice called it quits; and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. Okay, that last one was as predictable as the sunrise. Still, those others took me off guard.

All that aside, I recently had an e-mail exchange with HistoriAnn concerning a reoccurring troll outbreak on her space. No, I am not talking about Timothy Geithner -- This time. Rather, it's a reader who just won't take a hint -- or an explicit statement -- or an outright demand to just go away.

It got me to thinking, do trolls know that they are trolls? Maybe they actually think of themselves as a force of good rather than an unnecessary drag on humanity.

So, I devised this helpful quiz to determine whether you are a troll or not. Answer the following questions to know for sure:

1. I read blogs because:

    A. I want to be exposed to wider range of viewpoints than is available through mainstream media.

    B. My computer has a porn filter installed.

    C. I believe that I am the only person qualified to police the internet.

2. When I encounter a blog post that I disagree with, I:

    A. Simply move on and read another blog. Life is too short to worry about what other people are doing on their blogs.

    B. Leave a short comment of disagreement with an explanation.

    C. Leave comments suggesting that the blogger has questionable parentage. Then I click on all of that bloggers links and leave additional comments asking them all to just shut up.

3. My favorite blogs:

    A. Challenge me to think in new ways.

    B. Give helpful hints on knitting.

    C. Are written by people against whom I have sworn a blood oath to defeat.

4. Most bloggers respond to my comments by:

    A. Acknowledging them politely.

    B. Linking to my own blog.

    C. Deleting them.

5. After reading blogs, I feel:

    A. Like I spent time more productively than reading a magazine.

    B. Like I should have spent that time watching porn.

    C. Like I need to seek revenge.

6. My day job is:

    A. Clerical/Industrial.

    B. Technical/Professional.

    C. Handing out riddles before allowing people to pass over bridges.

7. The bloggers who I read most often:

    A. Write about events in their daily lives.

    B. Assess popular culture or news stories.

    C. Have filed a restraining order against me.

8. The best way to engage in an on-line discussion is to:

    A. Ask more questions of the author.

    B. Offer a counter example.

    C. Leave half a dozen comments on a single entry, all of which are longer than the author's original post.

9. If a blogger asks me to stop reading/commenting on their blog, I:

    A. Stop reading/commenting on their blog.

    B. Apologize for offending them and then stop reading/commenting on their blog.

    C. Develop a new alias to trick them so that I can keep commenting on their blog. After all, they clearly need my help to show them the errors of their ways.

10. If I find a blogger who has made a mistake on their blog, I:

    A. Send them a private e-mail noting the error.

    B. Leave a short comment.

    C. Phone their employer and ask that they be fired.

11. To my mind, the least interesting blogs are:

    A. Not updated often.

    B. Depend upon gimmicks, like campy comic book covers.

    C. Are written by people with whom I actually agree.

12. Before leaving an accusatory comment, I:

    A. Re-read the entry to make sure that I understand the tone and reasoning behind the post.

    B. Read some of the blog archive to get a sense of that blogger’s overall politics and purpose.

    C. Don’t bother reading the entry or anything else on the blog – I just know when a blogger is wrong.

13. When I read a blog written by somebody who identifies as a different race/gender/sexual orientation as myself, I:

    A. Take it as an opportunity to expand my own understanding of different experiences.

    B. Consider points of common humanity.

    C. Assume that their blog is part of a vast conspiracy intended to rob my race/gender/sexual orientation of our basic rights.

14. In real life, my friends:

    A. Don’t know that I read blogs.

    B. Occasionally receive e-mails from me recommending particular blogs or entries.

    C. Don’t exist outside the confines of my imagination.

15. The last time I spent a night on the town, I:

    A. Went for cocktails at my favorite bar.

    B. Saw a musical/play/movie.

    C. Replaced a newborn infant with a changeling.

16. If another commentator disagrees with me on a third-party’s blog, I:

    A. Allow the conversation to continue on its own. I said what I needed to say the first time.

    B. Leave it to the blog author to respond, or not respond, as s/he sees fit.

    C. Depend upon sarcasm and ALL CAPS to silence and intimidate my critics.

17. If a blogger makes reference to an event or issue that I didn’t previously know about, I:

    A. Look to read more about it in my local library or from reliable internet sources.

    B. Ask my friends about their knowledge of the event or issue.

    C. This has never happened because I know everything about everything.

18. My own blog:

    A. Is very similar in scope and content as the blogs that I read.

    B. Allows me to experiment with different ideas and sharpen my writing.

    C. I don’t have a blog – It would detract from all the time I need to spend “correcting” other bloggers.

19. When I have met bloggers in real life, I:

    A. Have been pleasantly surprised by their approachability.

    B. Exchanged helpful tips about html code.

    C. Predicted that their eldest daughter would prick her finger on a spindle and die.

20. Many blogs are explicitly partisan. I think:

    A. This is an important part of free speech and the exchange of ideas.

    B. This has been an important transformation in political discourse over the past ten years.

    C. This demands police intervention.

21. Without blogs, I would:

    A. Watch more television.

    B. Read more books.

    C. Beat up small school children.

22. I think of blog space as:

    A. The equivalent to an individual’s living room. We are all guests.

    B. Akin to a coffee shop. I use the same basic manners as I use in polite society. If I wouldn't say it out loud, I won't write it.

    C. A war zone where one must kill, kill, KILL.

23. Anonymity on blogs:

    A. Allows individuals to be free to express their ideas without fear of reprisal.

    B. Is often fragile, but should be respected.

    C. Is my exclusive right. Everybody else is a coward.

24. If I were only able to leave one last comment on a blog ever again, I would:

    A. Thank a particular blogger for hours of free entertainment over the years.

    B. Ask why a certain blogger is disturbingly haunted by Wonder Woman.

    C. Write, “To the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” Or words to that effect.

25. As a child, I:

    A. Learned basic manners.

    B. Read too many comic books.

    C. Never received the attention that I felt that I deserved.