Lessons We Have Yet to Learn
Issue   |   Wed, 04/24/2013 - 00:05

This past year we’ve read the powerful words of rape survivors, as they bravely testified to their experiences of mistreatment at the hands of the Amherst administration.

We’ve seen a fraternity’s sexism and misogyny on full display in a deeply offensive t-shirt.

We’ve read and denounced an Amherst administrator’s shocking reinforcement of rape culture and its corresponding myths right here in The Student.

But it seems we still haven’t learned.

Last week several Amherst students created and distributed an advertisement for “Amherst Hookups” — an on-campus used furniture company — to the entire senior class. The ad features a man crawling up to a woman on the beach beside the words, “Amherst Hookups Clean Edition: One Man’s Trash That’s Another Man’s Come-Up. Sale: May 5-18, 2013.”

Are women — used women — for sale at Amherst College?

This semester in our Feminist Theory class we have studied the ways in which women are commodified based on their sex and used as (sexual) objects of exchange between men. Women who are “trashed,” like the one in the ad, are those who have hooked up with men and are now “bargains” and thus no longer valuable. Economical men are encouraged to take advantage of them for their own gain. Such commodification of women’s bodies directly contributes to rape culture: after all, objects/“trash” lack agency, cannot consent to sexual activity, and are therefore subject only to the whims of their owners.

The value of a commodified woman is derived only through her sexuality.

We are disgusted that our fellow students could so thoughtlessly engage in sexism, misogyny, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming, and we reject any culture that permits and generates these messages.

Lady Jeff '15 (not verified) says:
Wed, 04/24/2013 - 10:37

Wow this is terrible! Didn't even hear about it. Thanks for pointing this out. I hope those responsible for this ad will read this article and realize how deeply offensive and inappropriate their "joke" was. I think the biggest problem at this school, and across our nation as a society, is that we just view punchlines like this as humorous. But instead it just perpetuates rape culture. I'm so glad that we're finally speaking out about things like this and discussing what makes us uncomfortable as a community.

Great piece!

Katherine (not verified) says:
Thu, 04/25/2013 - 22:13

As a student of one of the Five Colleges I have to admit that I do not feel comfortable being at Amherst College. Between the mistreatment of a rape survivor (an issue I followed closely) to the frat t-shirts to this- as a woman I will not being taking a class at Amherst in my four years here, nor will I be attending any campus events because I do not feel safe.