Article soaked in sexism

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Guelph’s wet T-Shirt trouble” & “Guelph U. unhappy with strip club’s tuition giveaway”
Jan. 22, 2007

To the Editor:
The Gazette’s coverage of The Manor’s wet T-shirt contest and your accompanying editorial point to a clear disregard for the competition’s women.

I’m bemused and disgusted by Mr. Cohen’s words. He attempts to dismiss potential criticism by insisting students will embrace his idea, and that “just the women, the feminists don’t like it.” I suppose this means there are no women or feminists in Guelph’s student body.

Further, if this is a contest targeting women, whom besides women does it concern? If it’s “just the women” (the potential participants and those aligned with the participants in their gender) who Cohen imagines will be uneasy with the idea, why is this idea coming to fruition? His concern clearly lies elsewhere " with the customers, with profit.

Your editorial shows little concern for the competition’s women. Though ultimately libertine in spirit, it anticipates opposition by mentioning Guelph University’s reputation, the risk of underage participants, and possible “stereotyping” of the women in the competition. How predictable that The Gazette would dismiss feminist concerns and suggest any opposition on the women’s behalf would be a kind of Victorian coddling.

You claim, “These women participate of their own volition,” without looking carefully at this “choice.” That the grand prize is intended for tuition reveals the truth of the situation: The Manor plans on attracting young women who have trouble paying tuition. In order to win this prize, they must enter a wet T-shirt contest. Am I the only one who finds the idea of a woman displaying her body for male eyes to pay for tuition sad?

What you dismiss as “a few minutes onstage” is still an act of personal objectification for the dominant sex’s pleasure. Can we really deduce students would happily participate in such a situation? And even if they’re happy to do so, isn’t it worth questioning why they would consider such an exploitive situation attractive?

I’m currently studying in France and recently read an article regarding the cost of tuition and living for students there. Fortunately, this newspaper didn’t silence itself in an attempt to appear hip and sexy, and said some French students " specifically women " are forced by their economic situation into stripping to pay tuition.

Canadian schools are also familiar with rising tuition fees, and we can see young Canadian women are also having their bodies used for profit. Perhaps, as a student newspaper, The Gazette could align itself with its student body instead of with the exploiter, and focus less on all things (normative) sex and more on sexism and the cost of tuition.
"Annick MacAskill
French Literature III

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