How to get rejected – intolerant of intolerance

Back when i gave the Friday night orientation to new visitors, i used to say “i want to tell you how you can get rejected for membership during your visit to Twin Oaks.” Since some wanted to join and the others were curious this tended to catch their attention.

The easiest way to blow your chance and actually get a free ride to the bus station in Charlottesville is to haul off and punch someone, anyone actually.  We are a non-violent community and pretty much any physical violence from a visitor or guest will be met with instant expulsion from the community (we are not as good with psychological violence between members).

The most subtle and difficult to detect way to get rejected is to have a poor sense of boundaries.  While not exclusively a male problem, perhaps 80% of the time it is males who are rejected for this reason.  This manifests in interrupting and dominating conversations, moving into social or personal spaces where you have not check to be sure you are welcome, ignoring requests made by others for space or quiet or privacy.

But the focus of this post is visitors being rejected for what i call the communities intolerance of intolerance.  If during your visitor period you make a homophobic joke, or a racist remark, or exhibit sexist beliefs or behaviors, we will burn you when you apply for membership.  What i claim when i bring this point up is that the community collectively is not judging these behaviors are right or wrong – we are just convinced if you are predisposed to them, Twin Oaks is the wrong place for you to live.

This is a lie.  We are, i believe, by and large, convinced these behaviors are wrong,  It is not simply that we would like you to find a racist, homophobic or sexist community for you to happily live out the rest of your days.  What we would actually like is for you to clean up your act and get over these ignorant and oppressive behaviors.  And we have little willingness to help you on this journey by offering you membership while we wait for our flavor of enlightenment to hit you.  Frankly, you can do this work elsewhere, we are not a therapeutic community.

To be clear, this does not happen that often.  If you get to a visitor period at Twin Oaks (which is 3 weeks long) you have likely read enough about this feminist, embrace diversity, egalitarian commune to know that discrimination on almost any basis is not going to work well in our culture.

So if you think you are structurally better than others because of your religion, sex, orientation or race save us both some time and dont drop by.