Did The Gazette's Spoof Issue go too far?

Students, alumni respond

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Labia Majora Carnage”
Mar. 30, 2007

To the Editor:
I was shocked and dismayed when I was alerted to The Gazette article “Labia Majora Carnage.” This article was misogynist and justified the rape of women who vocalize their views.

Furthermore, this article promotes the view women who are raped deserve it.

I enjoy The Gazette’s humour and have often defended the newspaper by disagreeing with students who find some articles distasteful. However, there is a line separating bad taste and hate, and this article crossed the line in promoting hatred against women. I could never in good conscience defend this article as being good-natured fun.

It’s a sad fact university women are raped, and The Gazette should ally itself with those who decry such violent acts instead of ridiculing women. This article not only portrayed members of the Women’s Issue Network in a gross and insensitive fashion, but also portrayed the London police chief as a rapist.

I ask The Gazette be held to higher standards than this. I also believe a formal apology is in order. Articles like this must NEVER be published again.
"Samantha Barr
Women’s Studies/English I

To the Editor,
I was a longtime Gazette staffer and pretty much believe my real undergraduate education happened in the newsroom, not the classroom.

I recently saw the spoof article “Labia Majora Carnage.” What an offensive piece of trash! How dare you?

It’s true Editor-in-Chiefs have all too often been boys, but I also wonder about the intellectual capacity and maturity of the women on The Gazette’s editorial board. Maybe it’s time you all got back in the classroom. Or in the real world.

Take Back the Night is about taking back the fear of something real and painful, something that has destroyed countless lives. Yet The Gazette somehow reasoned this was acceptable joke material?

Given Gazette editors’ history of bad judgment and the size and impressionability of your audience, the paper should institute mandatory sensitivity training in sexism and racism for its staff.
"Meaghen Simms
Gazette Alumnae

To the Editor:
Rape and sexual violence are a reality faced by every single woman in our university community, in London and the world. We are all affected. I recognize the important role of satire in today’s media culture; however, this article crosses the line.

The Gazette’s response to this issue has been unbelievable. I don’t see how rape can be seen as something to be made fun of for many reasons not limited to respect for those who have suffered this unthinkable violation.

Sexual violence isn’t a joke, it’s a reality.
"Janan Dean
Anthropology, III

To the Editor:
I’m a Western alumnus and I’m appalled by the violent “spoof” of the Take Back the Night March/ the Women’s Issues Network/ a specific feminist activist on campus that appeared in The Gazette’s Spoof Issue.

This is hate speech and for the writer to hide behind a pseudonym and the editorial staff to hide behind the anti-intellectual “it’s just a joke” defence suggests a serious lack of accountability, integrity and general humanity on the part of everyone who let this happen.

Here’s an idea: on the day you feel your body is breakable and takeable, and you walk home at night in constant fear someone " anyone " might take you into an alley and rape you, then we’ll talk.
"Sheetal Rawal
Western Alumnae

To the Editor:
Inside the University Community Centre last week there were people holding signs and petitions protesting The Gazette’s controversial remarks in its April Fool’s issue. The Gazette shouldn’t have to apologize; as a media outlet, it does its job.

The beauty of The Gazette is that anyone can write for it without needing any prior experience; this gives us the direct power to make sure all our voices are heard. When something in our paper offends us, we don’t need to take our shirts off, write on our bodies and yell in the UCC to get attention; we can simply " and more effectively " discuss it in the pages of The Gazette.

Handing The Gazette over to administration isn’t the solution (read The Western News if tame is your game). I think we sometimes take The Gazette for granted, and forget how instrumental it is to our lives. If there’s something you want to see in the paper, write about it. Reactionary emotional responses won’t get us anywhere, but thoughtful critical debate will.
"Vince Cifani
Hons. MIT & English II

To the Editor:
After seeing the display by a bunch of angry activists at the University Community Centre last Friday I just couldn’t help myself and wrote in. I personally think they’re reading too much into it.

The activists should spend their time doing something worthwhile, like promoting sexual education and diversity or picking up the trash in front of the UCC.

Sometimes a joke is just a joke. I don’t believe The Gazette wanted to endorse any sexual harassment or homosexual and heterosexual prejudice.
"Joe Ho
MOS/CompSci IV

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