I'm not sure why, but I think I grew up putting women on a pedestal. Maybe it's because I was close with my mother or because society tells you that girls mature faster than boys. On TV, I saw an awful lot of jerk guys being mean to sensitive girls. Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie was one of the few mean girls I knew.
Today, you might enjoy her performance as King Joffrey on Game of Thrones.
I have to admit, in high school, the girls didn't seem all that cool. I wasn't impressed by too many, but perhaps they were just stuck in the overbearing middle-class peer pressure that made them puff their hair and wear Champion sweatshirts backward. I was sure it would be different in college. I'd meet a whole university of wonderful women.
Yeah, you see where this one is going, huh?
To this day, I'm still a bigger fan of women in general than men, but on the whole, I have to say that college taught me that girls are every bit as stupid as boys. I saw them getting drunk and stoned to dangerous excess, dating all the wrong people who treated them like crap and being as close-minded and shallow as their peers who had a penis. That makes total sense. We're all human, and men and women have the right and the capacity to suck equally. It was just kind of a drag to learn that they do.
College was the first place I ever saw people getting away with stuff. Important stuff. In high school, the kids who stole an exam usually got caught. When the principal's car was vandalized, someone ended up suspended. And even when people did get away with being jerks, somewhere in the back of my naive little mind was the notion that the universe would not abide such behavior from an adult. But college showed me that not all actions have consequences.
And there is no shortage of examples. For one, I wish it were only one or two girls at school who had stories about getting date raped, but it seemed like it was at least 25 percent of all women I knew. And in almost none of those cases was there a criminal investigation. That's a lot of rapists walking around in the world, remembering that time they crawled inside that nearly comatose girl with a fond smile.
Yeah, sorry, I checked, but there are no jokes about date rape.
Or then there was a group of students who took over the administration building during my time at school. Amen! Civil disobedience! It's admirable having convictions so strong that you're willing to break laws and get arrested to bring attention to your struggle. Except these particular students agreed to leave the building they occupied only on the condition that their criminal trespass would not go on their records. And you thought only kids today could stage a crappy protest!
Oh, and then there was the student newspaper that, in a fundamentally flawed misunderstanding of the First Amendment, printed a full-page advertisement by a neo-Nazi claiming that the Holocaust had never happened. Oh, they also ran a teaser on the front page pointing to an editorial about why as journalists they had to run it. This was the same newspaper that wouldn't run an ad in the personals if they thought it would be offensive to one person. Can you believe a bunch of Ivy League journalism majors thought that there was somehow a constitutional right in this country to have a newspaper print any ad you wanted to run? They seriously claimed that. That would be like me insisting that the Constitution forced Cracked to run an ad where I explain in detail how Seanbaby is an impotent meth head. (Just kidding, Sean. I'd never pay for an ad.)
Of course, there is no such constitutional right. And of course, the president of the university wrote a letter in response to the outrage, saying ... he understood the constitutional concerns that prompted the paper's actions. Proof that you can be a genius at a venerable institution and still have no idea what you're talking about.
So college was a good way to prepare for life. It showed me that having expectations is the first step in being disappointed. There are no magical places filled with envisioned friends you've created with your mind. There are only people. And some of them will behave as badly as anything you've seen or will see. They might suffer the consequences of their failings and transgressions, or they might not, because those in power are just as flawed.
That was a lot for me to accept at 18. It's a lot for me to accept now. But it's good to know, and there is a bright spot when it comes to people: There are an awful lot of them. Good, bad, sane, crazy, boring, bland, exciting, sophisticated, dull and brilliant. The older you get, the more control you have over which ones fill your life. And the older you get, the less you keep looking for some concept of authority to set things right. You either become that sniveling kid who thinks he's smart because he's figured he can game the system without consequence, or you do things for you in your way, knowing that it might be the only reward.
Speaking of college, the new HBN is about college! And boobs! Yep, watch the new episode of HATE BY NUMBERS. Also follow Gladstone on Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest regarding Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. And then there's his website and Tumblr, too.