Phone Pranks and Gender on Campus

Phone Pranks and Gender on CampusLiteracy Weblog)

I’m at my desk, working late. The phone rings. An unfamiliar female voice says, “What’s your favorite scary movie?”

I tell her I don’t have one.

“That’s a very nice blue shirt you are wearing,” the voice continues. “It goes well with your red tie.”

I look out my window, but the buildings I can see from here are all dark. It’s a little creepy, but only a little. The student tells me her name, tells me she’s calling from a darkened classroom in the admin building, and tells someone else in the room to turn on the light. I recognize at least one of the students she is with; they all wave cheerfully, and I get back to work. Later, a colleague of mine is rather annoyed to learn of the incident, saying that even if the students had no malicous intent, they were too old for prank calls. But I can’t really get myself worked up about it; I did plenty of silly stuff when I was 20, and I don’t think it harmed anyone.

As a male working at a historically female school — one which is actively recruiting more males — I see some interesting gender dynamics at this school. Some of the upperclass female students are very unhappy about having to share their power with the male students in the sophomore and freshman classes.

Had I been a female, working alone at night, and had a group of male students called me up, made a reference to a movie that features the terrorization and murder of a woman, and made comments about my clothing, would I have felt differently? Food for thought.