The decade's most triggering comedy
Academic researchers reacted with horror when college students submitted irreverent responses to the researchers’ LGBT survey.
Academics from Oregon State University wrote they were shocked to receive sarcastic and offensive responses to a survey as part of their research into undergraduate LGBT students in STEM fields.
Out of 349 total survey responses, 50 — or about 15% — were from “malicious respondents” and contained “slurs, hate speech, or direct targeting of the research team,” the researchers said.
One “malicious” responder said his gender was “aerosol,” his race was “Afro/Klingon-Asiatic Galapogayation,” and his disability was “being 2.86% white.”
Another said his gender was “airplane,” his race was “Native American (Elizabeth Warren),” and his disability was “transgenderism.”
Yet another survey respondent entered his gender as “f***ing white male,” his race as “Swedish Muslim,” and his disability as “my country is run by communists.”
One respondent put his gender as “pansexual attack helicopter,” his race as “kangz,” and his disability as “intracranial lead deficiency.”
The survey informed students that they could receive a $5 Amazon gift card as compensation for participating in the survey.
“I identify as a gift card,” wrote one student, adding “I’m an ethnic gift card,” and putting as a disability, “I don’t have enough gift cards.”
The researchers decided to examine how the mocking responses “relate to engineering culture by framing them within larger social contexts — namely, the rise of online fascism.”
They ended up writing a paper titled “Attack Helicopters and White Supremacy: Interpreting Malicious Responses to an Online Questionnaire about Transgender Undergraduate Engineering and Computer Science Student Experiences.”
“The targeting of social justice research and marginalized academics fits into theories of fascism as a pathway the right-wing can use to exert power, one act within a larger effort,” the researchers wrote in the paper, which was published in the Bulletin of Applied Transgender Studies.
“Online memes associated with white nationalist and fascist movements were present throughout the data, alongside memes and content referencing gaming and ‘nerd’ culture,” the researchers said. The academics called for “empowering ‘counterspeech’ to confront hate and reclaim agency.”
The analysis found that 12 students said their gender was related to some kind of helicopter or aircraft, from an F-16 fighter jet to a V22 Osprey. Fifteen of the 30 students who put down a disability referred to transgender identities as a disability.
Some students also called out the researchers themselves in the survey’s “comments” section.
“Please do some research on something that will actually benefit the human race,” one respondent wrote.
“How on earth did this study get funding???” wrote another.
“Stop trying to push gender and convince people that they are more important or discriminated against because [of] how they identify. Let people choose their own path and don’t force them into fields because you think a group isn’t represented enough,” read an email to the research team about the project.
The researchers noted that “reading the data participant by participant, the malicious responses were often immediately and viscerally identifiable.”
One of the graduate student researchers, a trans-identifying man, said reading the students’ tongue-in-cheek responses caused him “significant personal distress,” and he had to take time off the project to “heal from traumatic harm.”
The “malicious” responses directed at the research team had a “profound impact on morale” as well, the team said.