What's the ethical thing to do when you're questioning your sexuality? According to one advice columnist, you should tell all your sorority sisters! Immediately!
"Nervous Katy Perry Fan" writes to the Cornell Daily Sun's Everyday Ethicist Elisabeth Rosen:
I have recently been struggling with my sexuality. I think I'm a lesbian, but I'm not ready to come out. However, I live in a sorority house where a lot of the girls walk around in skimpy clothes, bathing suits, etc. Is it ethical for me to pretend to be straight? I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable, but I feel bad living a lie, especially because if the other girls knew, their opinions of me would undoubtedly change.
Rosen responds, in part,
Everyone has secrets. Your roommate might not know how to put in a tampon, or the skinniest girl on campus might have secret Twinkie binges every night. But these secrets don't affect anyone else, while yours does. Some girls might have chosen to live in the sorority house because they don't want to live with guys who could be checking them out, and even if you don't have a crush on any specific girl, you're right that your sexual orientation would make them uncomfortable. It would be just as unethical for you to "pretend to be straight" to avoid discomfort as it would be for a guy to get breast implants in order to land a sweet single in Balch. No matter what the motivation, placing your roommates in a situation that could potentially make them very uncomfortable if they knew the truth is just not ethical.
Just for starters, Rosen's comparisons are bizarre. Whose secret is not knowing how to put in a tampon? And in what way is Perry Fan's situation similar to some sort of college-aged Bosom Buddies scenario? Beyond that, though, what Rosen's basically saying is that Perry Fan is morally obliged to come out before she's ready just because the news might make some people uncomfortable. Translation: their comfort — or rather, their ability to register disapproval and possibly move to get her kicked out of the house — is more important than Perry Fan's right to privacy.
Whether or not many women move into a sorority house to avoid being "checked out" is an interesting question, but choosing all-female housing doesn't mean you have the right to ensure that none of your housemates is attracted to you ever. Given the fluidity of human sexuality, this would be pretty impossible to enforce. And let's keep in mind that while Perry Fan does note her sisters' "skimpy clothes," she doesn't mention actually having a crush on any of them. As long as PF isn't harassing her housemates — and there is absolutely no indication that she is — her right to disclose her sexuality if and when she sees fit should trump her sorority sisters' (supposed) desire to not be around a lesbian. Because while the sorority owes its members safety and freedom from harassment, it doesn't owe them a totally attraction-free zone.
Ethics, Everyday-Style [Cornell Daily Sun]