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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Ask the Queer Resource Center

Published: October 9, 2009
Section: Arts, Etc.

Do you have questions about gender, sexuality, diversity, or acceptance? Would you like anonymous advice from friendly peer counselors? Check out the Queer Resource Center, the educational branch of Triskelion, the Brandeis LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual/ally) group. We provide free, confidential peer counseling to people of all identities, in Shapiro Campus Center room 328, Mondays through Fridays from 1 to 5 PM.

Now you can have your questions answered anonymously in print! Submit a question to “Ask the QRC” at Put “Hoot” in the subject line, and you’ll see your question addressed anonymously in next week’s paper!

Dear QRC, I really want to learn more about queer theory, but Brandeis University doesn’t have a queer studies major. Help me out! Sincerely, Unfulfilled in Usen

Dear Unfulfilled,

Brandeis recently appointed Alison Better as the official Advisor to LGBTQIA Affairs. She is a great resource for getting information on Brandeis’ queer and gender related studies. You can get in touch with her through her email at Also, the QRC is a great place to learn about queer theory – we have a full library and movie catalog which are available to everyone in the Brandeis community. Feel free to stop by and check something out!

Also, Trisk has a new group called Sex and Sexualities Symposium, an intellectually based group created for discussion of topics in the realm of sex and sexuality. They host conferences and hold regular discussions pertaining to queer theory. You can email Tommy Arnott at Love, The QRC

Dear QRC, What does BDSM mean? Sincerely, Prurient in Pomerantz

Dear Prurient,

BDSM is an umbrella term that signifies a number of things. First, the acronym itself has many connotations. BDSM can stand for any combination of bondage, domination and submission, sadomasochism, master and slave relationships, and many others. It is also important to note that saying one is “into BDSM” does not actually specify any activity in particular. Activities that fall under the BDSM umbrella could be flogging, breath play, spanking, role-playing, rope or scarf bondage, and/or much more.

A few words that are often associated with the term BDSM are “kink” or “kinky”, “play” and “scene”, “dom” and “sub” and “safe word”. Kink is often used as a sort of synonym to BDSM, especially when referring to one’s identity, sexual identity, or community. Saying something is “kinky” might mean it falls under the BDSM umbrella, but it also might depend on who you ask!

The second set of terms are generally used to describe activity. “Play” can be any activity, both sexual and non-sexual, and “scene” can be used to describe a more complex activity once in session. “Dom”, short for dominant, and “sub”, short for submissive, are often interchanged with “top” and “bottom”. Doms are generally the ones doing the activity, while subs are generally the ones receiving the activity. Again, it is important to not that dom and sub/top and bottom in the BDSM community don’t necessarily imply position, role, or any sexual, penetrative or otherwise, activity. “Safe word”, an important part of any kink scene, is often used in BDSM play as a way for the bottom to say stop without breaking the scene. Love, The QRC

Dear QRC, If I live on a mixed-gender hall with both male and female bathrooms, why would we need a gender-neutral bathroom? Sincerely, Bewildered in B-Tower

Dear Bewildered,

When a person enters a gendered bathroom, they must declare a certain identity: both to themselves, and to whoever may be outside or inside the bathroom. This can be a constant, stifling experience, especially for those who identify under the transgender or intersex umbrellas. Gender-neutral bathrooms, then allow the opportunity to enter a bathroom as an individual rather than as a “man” or “woman.” The presence of gender-neutral bathrooms on halls helps to create an inclusive environment for all genders, sexes, and sexualities. Love, The QRC