Something unexpected happened at Mason’s homecoming game. No, it wasn’t Georgia State beating us by 18 points after our initial lead early on. This unexpected something occurred during halftime: a woman won the Mason Majesty contest.
That might not seem shocking, but let us have context. The last time a woman won a homecoming award was in 2008. In 2009, a drag queen won homecoming queen and in 2010 GMU opted to get rid of the homecoming king and queen titles for “Mason Majesty.” The reason? Diversity. Assistant Director of Programming in Student Activities Michelle Davis said that, “we wanted to be more inclusive to all persons on campus — no matter how they identify.”
This is where things get paradoxical. For diversity, the gender neutral Mason Majesty honor was created. Yet, because of this diversity-driven decision, the percentage of female winners plummeted. Only men won homecoming honors all the way through President Barack Obama’s first term.
In the rush to appease a vocal anti-gender binary minority, campuses have been known to ignore women. Consider New College of California, which in 2005 “de-gendered” its bathrooms. The alteration was enacted to protect transgendered individuals from being uncomfortable or harassed. Apparently, the officials ignored the large number of females who would be uncomfortable with men using the same bathroom or the perfect alibi now given to peeping toms and misogynistic predators who fantasize about harassing women in those facilities.
The response to women being less represented at Mason’s homecoming apparently gets little opposition from the Women and Gender Studies Department. When, in 2009, Ryan Allen became homecoming queen, Associate Director Vicki Kirsch called it a, “significant and positive benchmark in Mason’s history.” Who would have thought the head of a department all about women’s equality would rejoice at the news of a man defeating two women for a prize meant to honor women?
By removing gender specific homecoming titles Mason did not just unintentionally harm women, they also showed a basic hypocrisy prevalent in the overall sexual minorities movement: tolerating different identities.
Back in 2010, when Mason was wondering how to appeal to its transgendered population, it did not decide to add a third category for the competition; rather it got rid of the gender specific categories altogether. So much for “live and let live” and “to each his own.” The pleas for tolerance evaporated the moment the anti-gender binary cause could change society. When they lacked this power—that was when they sought coexistence.
Vianney Torres should be commended for her victory, as she broke the four year absence of female winners at Mason homecoming. Yet, if the first five years of the Mason Majesty are any indicator of what is to come, it’s going to be a while before we get another female victor. How ironic that those who so vocally harangue against male patriarchy have created a venue for it.
No decision by campus institutions is permanent. Bad ideas can be reversed. Consider that, for a brief time, the Office of International Programs and Services banned large flags as part of Mason’s “Parade of Nations.” The result was a horribly diminished procession that hardly represented Mason’s wonderful multicultural environment. Yet, OIPS learned its lesson, and International Week has visibly benefitted. So, Mason Majesty can someday, some year, include gender specific titles once more, so as to put a halt to cold streaks like the one just broken and any others that may come thereafter. Then, we can have diversity that is not at the expense of others.