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Spring Break posters objectify women

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(Cartoon by Alexandra Norman)

We’ve all heard the saying “sex sells” a million times. It’s just a little upsetting to find out that Drew University follows that motto. Anyone going into the Commons this week has doubtless seen the gigantic posters for the “The Official Pre-Spring Break Luau Party” in the Commons Concourse.

Sponsored by the Office of Student Activities and Student Government, this colorful piece of graphic design displays a scantily-clad model wearing a jean vest that serves essentially the same purpose as a string bikini, a lei and what appears to be a swimsuit bottom (an opened coconut covers her bottom half)— all while staring seductively at the viewer with pink lips open. It’s a pretty lurid poster and there’s no chance of escaping it—even the napkin dispensers in the Commons feature a miniature version.

The objectification of the female body to sell tickets to what will probably be a pretty boring school-sponsored “party” is gross all on it’s own. Apparently Drew is laboring under the delusion that the student body is only made up of hormonally-charged heterosexual men.

Such a poster isolates women who may not be as titillated by the model, women who are uncomfortable with their form being used to grab the attention of said hormonally-charged heterosexual men. Congratulations Drew, you’ve just sent the message that it’s acceptable to use women’s bodies as cheap advertisement. That sounds like some real “full-impact learning.”
Perhaps the entire fault doesn’t lie with Drew. We’ve all been force fed spring break fantasies by MTV and crappy teen movies for years. Thanks to the ever-progressive “Girls Gone Wild” and every ABC Family show produced in the last decade, every kid our age has a mythic understanding of Spring Break, a glorious week of debauchery in tropical climates. What would a traditional college spring break look like without impractical bikinis and carefully-placed coconut halves?

I mean, you could opt for an “Alternative Spring Break” and help restore areas hurt by Hurricane Sandy, which would be both life changing and immensely rewarding. Or you could sit on your couch and re-watch every episode of “Downton Abbey” like I plan on doing. I really doubt most Drew students are going to be partying it up in the Bahamas—but the stereotype of the booze and sex-filled spring break lives on. And, thanks to the patriarchy, when we imagine booze and sex-filled spring breaks, we don’t see a shirtless Ryan Gosling, but a nameless female model, inviting bored college students to an event in the Ehinger Center

In a perfect world, I’d like Drew to take down the frankly offensive posters and issue an apology for blatant objectification (which has real world consequences, like campus sexual assault), but I doubt that will happen. In a perfect world, I’d like the Drew community to think about the cultural messages being given to us and to decide that what’s important. Rather than spending exorbitant amount of money flying to Florida for a week is helping the local community recover from a disaster. Or, if that’s impossible for financial, family or health reasons, to at least watch some good TV while they’re home.