Recently, a couple of organizations have advertised themselves using posters that use women as sex objects. It started out innocuously enough; KAOS used the image of a sexy woman to emphasize that killing the target is one’s utmost prerogative. Whatever other thoughts might cross one’s mind must be pushed aside for the higher glory of KAOS.
Then came the WCFM poster. I appreciate the fact that humor often functions by toeing the line of social convention and norms of decency; using an image straight from a centerfold however, is completely unacceptable. The image of woman as a sexual object is degrading and insulting not only to the women of this campus, but to anyone who has respect for the people as individuals. To reduce a person to an object is dehumanizing; the image takes the female body and places it on the level of a masturbation aid.
The central problem, however, is with the message that is sent. I have since heard that the poster was not officially sanctioned by WCFM; that the actual source of the poster is unknown. I also realize that from whatever source the picture was taken from, the woman was probably compensated; erotica itself in the context of a person’s personal life is not the issue here. Erotica becomes pornography in the public sphere, where it is exploitative and creates an uncomfortable environment. The posters make it clear that the action of objectifying women and their bodies is regarded as acceptable by some people on this campus. This issue cannot, and should not, be ignored.
Caroline Messmer ’02